The day started at 7am with a family-style breakfast prepared for our team and the Friends of Barnabas staff. Breaking bread with the staff members gave our team the opportunity to get to know the people behind the scenes of Friends of Barnabas. The devotion the staff members have to serve our fellow human beings is awe-inspiring. The people at FOB have truly dedicated their lives to service, and have graciously offered our team a profoundly uplifting experience that words cannot fully describe. And to think, Friends of Barnabas charges patients nothing for the life-saving care they provide. This explains why the people we visit are so profoundly grateful to see us. It’s in their smiling faces as our bus pulls up in the village. It’s why parents put their children in their “Sunday best” to greet us. All the unsolicited hugs and prayers emotionally overwhelm us at times, and caring for these people is a duty we are happy to assume.
Although we anticipated a less treacherous terrain compared to yesterday, each mountain visit is quite a journey to a remote community with restricted access to basic medical care. As our bus climbed up the rocky mountain path to San Antonio de Yure, we took in the breath-taking view of Lake Yojoa, the largest lake in Honduras. Dr. Ed was over-joyed to return to this village. He visited Reynaldo, a 2-year-old boy whom he met on his last medical mission. Dr. Ed discovered a very loud heart murmur in Reynaldo a year ago, a finding that required cardiology follow-up. Given the geographic barriers, it was unclear if he would be found again. However, Friends of Barnabas was able to get him the cardiology referral he needed. Today, Dr. Ed had the opportunity to visit Reynaldo’s village, and he was relieved and touched to see Reynaldo doing well.
Kindle and Dr. Rebecca evaluated an elderly gentleman with Parkinson’s disease. As Kindle continued to translate, she realized the hardship he was undergoing: he traveled by foot for some distance to come to our mobile clinic. He could not afford his $1.25-per-pill Parkinson’s medication, and desperately hoped for a refill of the medication, in order to take care of an elderly lady living down the street from him. He knew he was better on medication because when he ran out of the medication, his tremors worsened. Overcome with love and devotion, Kindle offered her cross to him to give to the elderly woman so that she would know the team was praying for her. Friends of Barnabas staff advised us that he would be referred to a doctor that should be able to care for him.
Dr. Ed saved a life today. As he was evaluating a family of 5, he realized that the 6 week-old infant, swaddled in a blanket, was having great difficulty breathing. The patient’s young mother did not seem aware of the seriousness of the condition, but thank goodness she brought her baby to the clinic. Dr. Ed diagnosed the child with bronchiolitis and immediately started a nebulizer treatment. Dr. Ed discussed with Nury and others the options, since leaving the child would mean no monitoring, no access to nebulizer (no electricity in the village), and a 1 ½ hour trek by foot for the mother and her three small children back to a home so remote there are no roads. Then it dawned on us: if our mountain medical team were not at San Antonio de Yure today, this child would have died by tomorrow. We paused and appreciated the significance of this day, and acknowledged a higher presence wanted us here. Dr. Ed gave his cross to the mother of the infant to remind her that we are praying for her, her baby and her family.