“For it seems to me that the first responsibility of a man of faith is to make his faith really part of his own life, not by rationalizing it but by living it.” - Thomas Merton
Day one of patient care started early with a mixture of excitement and nervous tension as the first day is full of the unknown. The nervous tension was broken with laughter and singing during the ride up the mountain as we sang the Indiana Jones soundtrack, likening the terrain and bouncing down the road to the theme ride at Disney Land. While I couldn't understand them, I'm sure the other three bus drivers who were riding with us were giving Marco (our driver) a hard time all the way up the mountain. It was an adventure and I enjoyed every minute of it. We arrived at La Masica coming to a stop at the literal end of the road.
We set up in three different buildings: Dental, Eye, and Medical. Shane and Nolan assisted Dr. Arita with tooth extractions. Tammy and Marco fitted 55 pairs of glasses to kids and adults aged 12-87. Deb Davey and Annabelle passed out vitamins, deworming pills, and most importantly stickers. I have been to many countries and the one thing that never fails to create a bond with children are stickers. The rest of the team set up 7 stations in the medical building and began assessing families as a group. In general, the children looked clean, healthy and happy.
The day went quickly and before I knew it we were packing up to go home. As we were loading the bus, Gabie, Annabelle and some of the local girls were playing various forms of patty cake in a large group and I’m sure the sounds of their giggling could be heard all around the town. In the end we saw 251 patients and the ride home was filled with joyful stories of the day.
After dinner we debriefed with the team. The common theme was “it took a little while to figure out how we were going to do things and then we got into the groove.”
We had some good laughs about some goofy things we did (Dr. Ed “took” a B.P. and didn’t hear anything, looked down and realized his stethoscope was dangling in midair. To play it off he put a concerned look on his face, calmly switched the cuff to the other arm and took it again). The highlight of the day was with Tammy who saw an older lady in the eye clinic. She was carried to the clinic as she was unable to walk. The first pair of glasses weren’t the right prescription. However, upon placing the second pair on her nose, her face lit up with a huge smile and she pulled Tammy in close and gave her a big hug.
Each day I reflect on what a blessing it is to be in Honduras. We are blessed by the cooks, the drivers, the translators, and the leadership of the town who welcome us and feed us while we are on the mountain. Two years ago Dr. Chambers visited this same town. The father of the last family to go through today stood up, shook his hand and said, “Thank you for coming back to my town to take care of my family.” These simple words were an incredible blessing and it is these special moments we will remember for a lifetime.