Honduras #2, 2011
The following information is from Dr Richard Charlick, President of Health Teams International and author of the book "Mission Possible". Click this link to Amazon.com where the book can be purchased. Dr Charlick started using the Kendall Optometry Ministry system in chapter 34 of this book.
Health Teams International has reached several thousand people and introduced them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Kendal Optometry Ministries under the direction and leadership of Holland Kendall and his unique computerized auto refractor program has been a very valuable part of our joint ministry.
Not only have we been able to help people who would have never otherwise had the chance see better but it has showed them the love of Jesus in a very real and meaningful way that has opened their hearts to listen to the Good News of Jesus Christ and many have become Christians. We consider Holland and Kendal Optometry Ministries a vital partner of the many missions we have taken which have resulted in thousands of unreached people opening their heart and accepting Jesus. Many thanks to an important team partner.
Richard Charlick DDS MS
Pres/ CEO Health Teams International.
HONDURAS MISSION 2011 SUMMARY
Health Teams International was invited for the 2nd year by Thelma Arturo and her wonderful, loving, extended family to return to Honduras for an evangelical health care mission.
After many months of preparation 17 evangelists and health care providers left the U.S. on July 10th for Tegucigalpa, Honduras where we were met by Thelma and her family. We had no problems with immigrations or customs because Thelma’s family had made prior arrangements for our complete clearance, even though we were carrying over $50,000 of supplies and equipment. Out of our 51 pieces of luggage we were only missing 2 which came the next day.
We were also missing Dr. Ray Lake, a dentist who did not meet up with us in Atlanta before our international flight. Tillie, one of our 6 returning team members had the wisdom to text Dr. Lake on her cell phone. He immediately returned the text indicating he had a fairly serious auto accident at 3 a.m. while traveling to the Tulsa, Oklahoma airport to join us. Thankfully, the 3 occupants in the car were not seriously injured. After 2 days of rearranging air flights, Delta Airlines got him to Tegucigalpa with no extra charge. We sure needed him because patients requesting extractions of abscessed teeth seemed to be more popular than getting eyeglasses or seeing medical doctors.
Thelma’s sister, Sandra, is a M.D. and she and her husband, Omar had started and were pastoring a church in Tegucigalpa. One of their church’s goals was to reach the unreached for Christ, the same as HTI. They had built a basic mission church in the mountains surrounding Tegucigalpa and held extensive church services there on Saturday.
We had clinic in 5 different mountain areas where Omar had made arrangements with struggling, local pastors to use a large house or church type building to hold our clinics. We needed to be under cover because it was the rainy season and it showered every day we were there except one. Because of the elevation the temperature ran between 65-80 degrees F.
One committed Christian mountain man went to 11 different village areas in the mountains over the last several months that were within 2 - 3 hours walking distance to the buildings where we had clinics. He handed out specific invitations to 180 people in each village for each of the 11 days to come and get free health care. These villages had no access to health care. Several of the areas we held clinic had never had health care providers come to their village. Omar indicated that as a result his wife Sandra had been trying to provide health care to these isolated people by herself in the past. Omar was concerned that if we did not hand out specific health care invitations or tickets there would be masses of people that we may not have been able to control. We had many mothers that walked 2 to 3-1/2 hours, bringing all their children to seek health care. Some of these remote villages were not accessible by road and none had facilities for us to set up our clinics.
Our day started at 5 a.m. with team prayer and devotions followed by breakfast at our nice hotel. One of Thelma’s sisters is married to the secretary of the Honduran Army so we were transported from our hotel in Tegucigalpa to the mountain villages by 2 large 4-wheel drive army trucks with all our team, hosts, translators, helpers and supplies. The army furnished 6 military personnel, 4 carrying automatic rifles to help in any type of need. The ride in the back of the army truck to get to these mountain villages took about 2 - 3 ½ hours one way. There is no way any other type of vehicle could have traveled over some of these mountain roads. Our worst road over the mountains took 1 ½ hours to travel 5 miles, an average of 3 miles per hour over a ravine, washed out, rocky road on the top and side of the mountain; four-wheel drive was needed frequently.
Upon arrival at the clinics there was a large crowd of patients waiting. We set up our medical, dental, optical and pharmacy clinics. We had 3 M.D.’s, 1 R.N., 1 E.M.T. and 2 premed students running the pharmacy. We had 3 dentists with 2 helpers, including my 15 year old grandson, Marcus, and 4 experienced people fitting eyeglasses. Two of our optical people were using Holland Kendall’s auto refractor and computer program to fit prescription eyeglasses while the other 2 were fitting reader glasses. We had 2 team members who were full time evangelists while all other team members helped in sharing The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Six nights we could leave our clinics set up by locking the building and leaving guards. We closed up our clinics around 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. to try to get back to Tegucigalpa by dark.
Returning home late one afternoon after an unusually heavy daily rain shower we drove one hour on this one track steep up and down mountain road with nowhere to turn around. We came to a major rock slide which totally blocked the road, probably brought on by the unusual heavy rain. Fortunately none of the rocks were much bigger than a bushel basket and we, with the help of our army helpers, were able to push the rocks over the side of the mountain enough so we could just get by. The soldiers were so happy they fired their rifles in the air to celebrate.
Lunch for our U.S. team consisted of U.S. snacks that we took with us. Thelma furnished bottled drinks and had some of their church members and friends cook lunch for our translators and Honduran helpers.
My translator was a committed Christian supervisor at the Bank of Honduras who took his two weeks of vacation to translate for me free every day. Through his translation he helped me lead over 25 of my patients, who did not know what a Christian believed, to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!
Thelma’s mother and dad, in their mid 80’s, wanted to be a part of our mission so every night upon returning to Tegucigalpa, they cooked us a big, safe home cooked supper with lots of safe, bottled drinks. We had a great time eating, unwinding and fellowshipping together in their home at supper. We returned to our hotel that was close by about 8-9 p.m. and most were in bed shortly after. Sandra’s daughter who was married and had a young child wanted to be a part of our mission also so she stayed home and washed the whole team’s scrubs and clothes every day.
Sunday we slept in a little, attended Sandra, Omar and family’s very inspiring 2 house church service. We had a light lunch and did some sightseeing and shopping before our great home cooked supper again at Thelma’s parent’s house.
The last day of our 11 days of clinic Thelma’s parents invited everyone, our team, translators, helpers, the 6 army soldiers who had been with us every day and anyone associated with helping with the mission to supper. After supper many people spoke and expressed what the mission had meant to them, often with some tears. We had an exchange of gifts, including something for our 6 soldiers.
It was difficult saying good bye after working so close for 2 weeks. A couple of our young men team members found it particularly hard to say good bye after establishing a close friendship with a special, personable, beautiful, intelligent, Christian female translators.
We treated about 3000 patients, fit almost 1000 pair of eyeglasses and extracted several hundred abscessed teeth all on beautiful people who would otherwise never had an opportunity to be treated. Most importantly, we had an opportunity to lead almost 200 people to Christ for the first time and they became Christians. Although some patients were nominal Christians there were many who rededicated their lives to Christ and experienced the love that we, as Christians, showed them in a very important and meaningful way. Our host family and the local pastors we worked with have committed to follow up with these new Christians.
Overall I feel this mission was a great success that would be pleasing to our Lord. Some teammates indicated that they felt they were blessed as much as our patients. The love that was shown to our team by Thelma, her family, translators and helpers was beyond description.
REMEMBER: One life will soon be past and only what is done for Christ will last.
Peace and Joy in Jesus Christ
Richard Charlick, D.D.S., M.S.