Today was Saturday and our fourth day of the trip. Grab a cup of coffee, settle in and listen to three stories of God at work here in Honduras.
Trish Taylor’s Story:
Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are… valuable to God.” Today, I was overwhelmed to witness the greatness of our God as I traveled to see the “Forgotten People.” These people are called forgotten because they live so far from civilization that they may seem to be invisible and invaluable by the world’s standards. However, they are of great worth to God. He has never forgotten them, and I will forever remember my own experience with them as well.
The medical team did a clinic today for the Cloud People who live in the mountains outside of La Ceiba. After the team was set up for the day, I had a very unique opportunity. Heath Kidder and I piled into a truck with Evelyn, an American woman living in Honduras who has devoted her life to reaching the people of this region. The three of us drove deep into the mountains with the goal of ministering to families whose conditions prohibited them from traveling down to our main clinic. Eventually we reached a point where our truck could no longer be driven, and then we went on foot. Heath was carrying a heavy backpack, and we were both more than a little nervous. We crossed a swinging bridge that was broken in places, and Evelyn instructed us to walk in the middle so that we wouldn’t fall.
Along our journey, we saw sights that I know break God’s heart. We entered a darkened hut where I pulled out my flashlight to see a paralyzed man who was lying in filth. When he saw us, the man began to weep with gratitude that someone had cared enough to come. Heath prayed with him, and I felt my own heart break.
And then there were the children. Many of them were infested with worms, and we heard terrible stories of babies dying of starvation. One of the children that we visited was a ten month old baby named William. He had contracted chicken pox, and an infection had resulted from lack of treatment and unsanitary living conditions. The infection was spreading up his leg, and I knew that it was serious. Fearing that William’s leg would become septic and result in his death, we asked his mother for permission to take him with us. His entire family piled into the back of our truck, and quickly we traveled back down the mountain to the main clinic. When we arrived, Dr. Connor debrided William’s leg to remove the dead infected tissue. I really believe that if William hadn’t received this care, he would have died. His condition is still serious, so please pray with us for the perfect healing of this precious child.
One of my favorite songs contains the lyrics, “Follow Me into the homes of the broken.” Today, Heath and I entered the homes of the broken. It was a day that I will never forget, and I pray that these special people would know that they are not forgotten by our great and mighty God.
Ethan Pettigrew’s Story:
Including my trip last year, today was the 14th day that I’ve spent in Honduras and it was probably by far the most awesome.
To start the day’s activities, my van went to the hardware store to get 50 gallon drums for Paul to make water filters. When we got there I hopped out the van and went inside with Paul, Johnny and Shane, our driver. Needless to say, the hardware store was nothing like a Lowe’s. Every item was attached to the wall and you had to point out what you wanted. When a worker noticed you, they would write down what you wanted and type in to a computer in the middle of the store. Next, you walk to one side to pay another person. To complete the process, you walk to the other side of the store to where you would pick up your item of choice. The store we where at didn’t have the barrels we were looking for though, so we instead bought 1 big 250 gallon tank.
Next, we drove downtown and once again all of the guys in the van got off. I, however, didn’t feel comfortable leaving 13 of our women and girls, including Mrs. Anita, alone in one of the most crowded places I have been to in La Cieba. After sitting in the van for about 45 minutes, we finally see Shane walking back. He drove us around a couple of streets to where Paul and Johnny were so we could load the 4 50 gallon barrels we were looking for originally.
After a quick bathroom stop, we were on our way to Belaire. When we got there we started to do our children’s ministry stuff. I started with the Bible story team and we did our Moses and Samuel skits. We followed those up with the salvation cups and a skit about Jesus. When it was time to switch I moved over to recreation where I played soccer and threw frisbee with a little boy. While throwing frisbee I got called to go eat lunch.
After lunch, I went back out to the soccer field and found out that 4 of our girls had been asked to play for the soccer team that uses the soccer field at Belaire, so I decided that I’d help them warm up. They asked me to get in goal and they took turns taking penalty kicks of a sort. Everything was going pretty good until Camryn got the ball and dribbled up a little before kicking (which they had done a few times prior). I kinda scooted up, thinking that I might try to take the ball if she got too close. She took her shot before I decided and kicked the ball straight at my throat, hitting me square in the Adam’s apple and jaw. I figured it would be best if I took a break after that.
I sat down and started talking to Jose one of the owners of the property under our tent. After some time passed Paul asked me to run up to the clinic and get the allen wrench set from Dean, on of the doctors, so he could work on a prosthetic leg. As soon as I got up there, Dean looked at me and pointed at my feet, saying that he needed those. I asked him what he was talking about and he said that he needed one of my socks to put over a lady’s stump so a prosthetic leg for her would fit. I walked into the clinic with 2 socks and walked out with 1.
After we passed out 7 tubs full of shoes, which was a hectic event that I honestly don’t even want to think about again before I go to bed, every person that needed to go to the youth service tonight had to pile into 1 van. We fit 22 people into that Toyota Hiace, including a former college offensive tackle at North Greenville so that should tell you how much space we had in that van. NONE AT ALL.
After the 45 minute drive, I cleaned up and got ready to leave at 6:10 to practice music at the church. The van was a little late, however so we lost some time there but that was no big deal.
The church we did the service at was awesome. They were doing some construction so it wasn’t entirely organized. Early in the practice we realized that there could be a sound problem because the tin roof was deafening when the relentless rain made contact. We had to delay the service a little too, since we wanted to wait for the whole team to arrive before starting.
The service started with us playing 2 songs. These were 2 of the funnest I’ve ever performed because we got to play with the church’s drummer, keyboard player, and electric guitarist. After we sang, Charley gave her testimony, which was awesome! Then my favorite part of the service and possibly of the day happened. Guys from the church had prepared a skit about Jesus stepping in for us when we’re in trouble and then died on the cross for us. The beginning was kinda slow because the power cut off a couple times, but once it started it was amazing. To conclude the service, Nathan gave his sermon on the importance of being in God’s word. We passed out Bibles before the service so everyone should’ve had one. The boy beside me, however didn’t and he also didn’t seem like he really cared about being there because for almost the whole service he just sat there with this indifferent look on his face and he didn’t once cheer or clap when people finished their part of the service. When I realized he didn’t get a Bible I walked around to the part of the stage where we had some extras and I brought him one back. I found Psalm 119 (Salmo in that Bible) for him, which we were reading at the time, and immediately started praying that he would be influenced by the Bible that I just gave him. After a dismissing prayer a pastor of the church asked for a round of applause for us and the boy beside me was first person to start clapping, which I took as a small victory for God’s Kingdom.
Even though I have all these awesome stories, I could’ve made today a bad day. At Belaire there was a span of 15 minutes in which I got hit in the throat by the soccer ball, found dog poop on my sock by wiping some grass off with my hand (not the sock I gave Dean), and my shoes got covered in ants. With the help of God though I didn’t just roll over and pout, trust me the thought crossed my mind once or twice though, but I kept pushing and experienced things that are once in a lifetime opportunities, like watching Rachel play striker in a boys soccer game or seeing Mrs. Anita roast Paul on the van. Yesterday at the dump, I was baffled by the joy that the children had in their situation and today I’m glad that I am able to say when I was in difficult situations, I was able to find the joy in them and make the most out of what was put in front of me.
Dr. Leslie Pittman & Dean Huiet’s Story:
As we are writing this, we’re t the end of a very long day, a very rewarding day and the beginning of a new journey. Someone once said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Today we witnessed a wonderful step.
Today’s clinic was in the mountains, “in the clouds” at a village called Belaire (pronounced bo-la-ray) There is a clinic there run by an American woman named Evelyn. She bring in local doctors and nurses whenever she can, but we were the only large medical team there (with actual medical supplies) going there the whole summer. We saw many patients, but one in particular exemplifies “the reason we are here.”
This patient was a middle-aged lady who had a left below-the-knee amputation approximately four years ago that was related to a chronic illness. She had not taken a single step under her own power since. When I (Dean) saw her, she had already had her stump fitted for prosthetics, but the lengths had not been trimmed and she couldn’t use them. I am grateful though, that God put someone there before us to prepare this for her, so that we could be part of her amazing story.
The patient waited most of the day. We initially saw her early in the morning, but we had nothing to cut the metal poles. So, she waited while Evelyn went looking for a hacksaw strong enough to cut them. Finally, the poles were trimmed to the exact right lengths (which is very important so that she wouldn’t be unsteady and hurt herself walking). It was then that I noticed that the prosthetic leg was right footed (it was on her left). Taking a chance I called my friend Allen back in the USA and because God was in this, Allen answered. I asked, and within minutes he was mailing a left replacement foot to Miami where Evelyn had contact who could send it to her to give to this patient.
So everything was ready and I brought my patient back in. At the last moment we realized we needed another wrap to go over her leg before the stump could be put on. In that moment one of our team members (Ethan Pettigrew) walked in with clean cotton socks. He was a little surprised, but very willing, to donate his sock to a good cause. And now, the prosthetics were attached to her leg and she stood up. For the first time in four years, she could walk. She walked slowly at first, with a crutch under her and me at her elbow for balance – and then more confidently and faster, out of the building and down the ramp. Her smile grew larger with every step, even when I asked her to slow down. She is walking again! Free again! By the grace of God and those he brought together to help her. She will still need the crutch for a few weeks until her left foot can join her and make a properly balanced set, but she is off now for home on two new (right) feet.
When we are crippled, whether in body or in spirit, let’s remember the God who heals our infirmities and covered our iniquities. He can make the blind see and the lame to walk. Daily he heals brokers spirits. I (Dean) am glad to have been here to witness this great joy of healing He has brought.
* the cross was passed this morning from Turner Arnold to Ethan Pettigrew.