Sunday, September 28, 2008

Just Another Uneventful Day In Honduras!

Valeria Miller, RN & Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee were still sound asleep in their beds after working until 3:15 AM Saturday morning with the one team of local, Choluteca, dedicated nurses and CRNAs who stayed to help.

Dr. Margaret Lee is on the left (the short one) and Val Miller is on the right. (the tall one)

Everything seemed to be going well, at least in my dream, when all the niceness was interrupted by a call from a frustrated Dr. Chung. "No one speaks English here and I want to get started and there are no sterile gowns and, and, and ....." I immediately knew that it was to be one more uneventful day of surgery in Honduras. Dr. Chung was at the hospital chomping at the bit to start surgeries at 7:00 AM but it was not to be. The surgical gowns (photo above) didn't arrive clean and sterile until almost 11:00 AM. Dr. Chung was alert and ready to go, because he had returned to the hotel at 7:00 PM where the other surgeon could take her turn in the OR.

Due to one uncooperative local CRNA we were relegated to one surgery room and one team of surgeons the afternoon and evening on Thursday and Friday and it looked like Saturday was shaping up to be similar.

We were able to accomplish one surgery before lunch break on Friday, at which time the CRNA announced that she was taking a one hour lunch. I pleaded with Albertina Cruz to help, but she flatly refused. With no patience left and ready for a fight, instead of fighting, I did the next best thing and called the hospital director and reported her. The head nurse was sent to make a written report and the war was on. Albertina had refused to help the day before and we were way behind on the surgeries which we had promised to perform. Patients were losing patience! ... and so were we.

When the head nurse came and Doña Albertina realized that I was making a written report of her actions, or lack thereof, she walked out of the hospital NEVER to return. She left her post. She didn't talk to anyone, she just left. This is a HUMAN RIGHTS violation in Honduras, because she was the CRNA on duty for emergencies.

Evidently Albertina had been a bit of a problem since the beginning of her time at the hospital, but no one was willing to face the wrath of Albertina so they all walked around on eggshells and no one said anything. As I was writing my report with the head nurse, several of the nurses walked by and gave me the thumbs up sign and I was instantly a hero among her co-workers. All of the sudden, nurses and CRNAs who were NOT on duty began to show up to help. Albertina stuck her head out the door and I pointed to her with my finger and said, "She is the one."

Anyway, back to Saturday, when the telephone rang, it was almost 10:00 AM. I jumped out of bed, quickly ate my cold breakfast which I am sure was wonderful at the time when it was ready to eat at 7:00 AM. By the time I woke the other team members, the ones that had worked late, we were on schedule to arrive at the hospital a little before 11:00 AM. When we arrived the surgery gowns were STILL not clean and sterile from the night before. But, they arrived shortly thereafter and a frustrated Dr. Chung was able to get to work.

Everything went well after that until about 5:30 PM when we had a torrential rainfall and the entire OR flooded. Dr. Chung was a "trooper" and in the midst of all the water, he finished the surgery and then we unplugged all of the electrical cords in the OR. Dr. Chung worked perched on top of a wooded box as he used the cautery machine and finished the thyroid surgery.

Val and a local nurse then moved the patient to the flooded recovery room, photo on the left and then we all started cleaning up the mess.

Dr. Chung grabbed a broom and started working. For almost an hour we all cleaned and took photos of course.

When all of the water was finally out, I called a supper break and we left for the hotel to eat, while the floors were sanitized where we could start work again after supper.

We all arrived at the hotel, soaked to the bone, shoes wet, socks wet, pants bottoms wet and we were all tired, but exhilarated from all the excitement.

Dr. Charles Chung below, showing his broom expertise!

Sometimes I laugh when think about the differences in Mike and I. Mike would not have done very well in this particular situation. There were too many variables. Mike is Mr. Schedule, so the late surgical gowns would have driven him crazy. Mike is Mr. Plan Ahead, so the lack of having a backup plan in case of a flood would have driven him to drink. But the chances of a flood were so slim, who would have thought that you would need a backup plan.

Meanwhile, I laughed and waded through the situation along with my adventurous friends.

God makes each one of us different and I know that I am called to be here in Honduras living adventure after adventure, because I thrive on making sense out of the chaos.

When there is a crisis, I seem to be at my best. Many years ago I learned NOT to pray for patience, because the Bible says that tribulation makes us learn patience. I am not a fan of tribulation, so I don't pray for patience. However, I have learned through the tribulation which has passed my way unexpectedly that we can be happy and make the best of bad situations or we can grumble and complain and lose our chance to be blessed.

Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee and Val Miller, RN smiling in the midst of our trial. Booties wet and no longer sterile, shoes wet, socks wet and still smiling!

I was taking the photo! SMILING of course!

Romans 5:3 but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Planned Chaos!!!!!

We arrived at the hospital a little late, but all was well. The flights came in on time and almost all went well at the airport as I picked up this week's 3 team members. Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee came all the way from Hawaii on American Airlines and Valeria Miller and Dr. Charles Chung came in on Continental from Texas.

As usual CUSTOMS decided that they would confiscate or make me pay tax for the car parts for the FORD F-350 ministry truck, which Val brought down in her luggage. After a couple of minutes of wrangling and a firm look, they decided that in fact I did have a dispensa, as one of the guys remembered me from before and knew that it was useless to try to wait me out for a bribe. Finally the last few parts for the transmission arrived.

Then as we were closing up her bag, they discovered the Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing. It was fun to try to explain why she was bringing poppy seed dressing to Honduras. I had sent Val a wish list and asked for my favorite dressing and for some really special vinegar which I use to cook with. She was wonderful and brought those things plus the car parts! Thank you Val!!!!

It has been years since I have been to Hawaii and Dr. Margaret brought me Macadamia Nuts. I have plans for those! A cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust! Maybe I will give you all the recipe the day I make it and dig it out of my archives. I still have recipes from Home Economics class in the early 1970s at Hall High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. I had a Home Ec teacher that was a wonderful cook. The thought of her makes me hungry for Mexican Wedding Cookies made from her recipe.

After finally getting cut loose by customs, we headed to a friend's Italian Restaurant to eat. While we ate, Jose went to downtown Tegucigalpa with the transmission parts to deliver them to the transmission guy. I had called him a few days earlier to have him meet me at the airport and then I called and reminded him at 10:00 am, but he never arrived. When I called him as we were leaving the airport he had a million excuses why he didn't make it to his scheduled appointment. So Jose had to leave the team and go to deliver the parts.

Upon his arrival, he wolfed down a few pieces of pizza and some lasagna and we were on our way to Choluteca.

When we arrived, it was the usual CHAOS at the hospital. There were lines of hungry patients and all were very impatient. Sandra from Caimito had arrived with several patients and was furious when I refused to see her patients first. The Hospital papers have a time sheet on them and so I go by the time the patient arrives and do not "play favorites". She demanded that I see her patients first and each time I politely refused until the last time, I said to her, "We are seeing the patients according to time of arrival." She then lied and stated that they had arrived at 6:30 am. I showed her the paperwork saying that they had arrived at 10:36 and 10:37 and she got mad and stormed out. She was obviously unaware that the paperwork was time stamped and that I would find out that she was lying.

Finally we had all the patients arranged and ready for surgery. Dr. Chung was already operating by the time we finished reviewing the general surgery patients. So we then went to start the General Surgeries, but they were doing an emergency c-section, so we played the waiting game, while Dr. Chung did his 2 thyroidectomies. A few hernia cases later and we were off to the Hotel Flamingo to rest for the night!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What a Week Continued!

I have continued working in the HEAT in southern Honduras this week. I am looking in every nook and cranny for patients for the hernia brigade and the thyroid, nose, ENT brigade this week. In fact, I leave in a few minutes to pick up the GRINGOS at the airport. It looks like we will do around 40 hernia surgeries this week plus what the ENT doc can get done.

Jose's campaign is in full swing with HUGE posters everywhere. It is really interesting to see how people have flocked to him, saying they want an honest candidate for a change.

This week someone donated 700, yes that is seven hundred, t-shirts to his campaign. 100s of 1,000s of vitamins have also been donated and the campaign is going great! Last weekend the presidential candidate spent a couple of days with us in the south and was able to witness first hand the types of vitamin brigades we are having. He was impressed.
One of Jose's slogans is "Chepe tiene pueblo!" Meaning "the people like Chepe."
Below the circle design is the t-shirt logo!
Jose's running mate is a Doctor, who is the wife of a pastor. He had prayed and prayed for an honest person to be a candidate with him on his ticket. Three days before the final paperwork was due, she was introduced to him.

Interestingly she had prayed that if the Lord wanted her to be a candidate, that He would have to bring someone to her door asking her to run with them, that the person must be a Christian, that the person must be interested in working for the people and not for themselves.
Another interesting thing is that everywhere we go people want to sell their land. I am finding parcels of land all over for as low as $1,000.00 per acre. I had no idea that land could be so cheap, here in Honduras.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What A Week

To say the least it has been an eventful week. A week filled with activity like: 6 Vitamin Brigades, a political leaders meeting where we trained people to work in their communities looking for patients and asking people to vote for Jose, Honduras Independence Day, a birthday party and 1,000s of kilometers of driving.

Sunday night was the most eventful, we went to a birthday party and I ate some meat, which I later found out had MSG in it. Sunday night I almost died. I was sound asleep and dreaming that someone was choking me. I kept trying to fight off the dream, but couldn't. Finally, I awoke with my throat almost totally closed. I could not breath through my nose at all and barely was breathing through my mouth. I was staying at some doctor friends' home, so I crawled out my bed and tried to get them to answer their bedroom door, but I couldn't talk, I could only squeak.

So I went into the room where Jose was staying and pushed on him until he woke up and explained to him with squeaks that I needed to get to the hospital NOW! He woke up Margarita and she went to the pharmacy and got some meds for me. I took them immediately and then laid down in her bed for about an hour where she could monitor me until the swelling in my throat went down. What a horrible feeling to not be able to breath.

Then Monday I got up and went to the Independence Day Parade. We gave away 1,500 bags of water to the parade participants and to the parade watchers. The water was donated to us to give away, so we gave water to everyone until it was all gone.

When I woke up I was still "queezy" but it got worse as the day went on. I spent most of the day in bed today, but finally feel like I am going to make it. I made up a list of errands and sent Jose to do them all and basically directed traffic from my bedroom.

My truck transmission which was supposed to be done tomorrow will not be completed until day after tomorrow at the earliest.

It looks like there will be several hernia patients next week and also several thyroid patients. I have a doctor coming from Hawaii to perform surgeries! And she is bringing me some macadamia nuts. It has been several years since I have had a taste of macadamia nuts, so I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Transmission Insides

To the left is a cutaway of a Ford transmission, in a perfect world.
Below is what gears with teeth look like.
As you can tell, for some reason, I am interested in transmissions. It is a long story dating back several months. The ministry truck, the Ford F350 started shifting hard between 1st and 2nd gear. I nursed it along had it looked at. Anyway, it was recommended that I buy a new celonoid and I did, but before it could be installed, the truck started jolting between 2nd and 3rd. So I called my friend Kent Harmless, who is a fellow missionary here in Honduras and he said that the second problem was worse news than the original problem. Tim, my regular mechanic, who hates the word transmission, took of the transmission pan and found the following, which he documented with the photos below.
My next call to Kent was not a call which I like to remember. "BAD, BAD, NOT GOOD, REALLY BAD NEWS," was Kent's response to my explanation of what was in the photos. "THIS IS NOT GOOD." I braced myself and then I asked, "How much will it cost and how long will it take." But I was unprepared for the answers to both questions. $4,000 more or less plus shipping and I can't fix it, I am not qualified to do so, you need a transmission guy.
My first thought was to call my friend and ministry prayer partner Michael. He knows all about FORD trucks and he called his friends who know all about transmissions. It seemed strange to me that Tim "hates transmissions", Kent, who is Mr. FIX IT "isn't qualified" and then Michael "has to call his friends". I was starting to think that it must be some kind of "male" thing to make this a bigger deal than it really was, after all how hard can it be to fix a transmission?

So while they were all passing the buck, I talked to a Honduran mechanic who is the guy that is known to be able to fix anything and everything. When the big ships break down, they call him to the port to fix them. Surely, I though this guy can do this. "Well," he says, "This is something that is really bad, I can't fix it and I only know one person in Honduras that can."

I was beginning to think that this transmission guy must be surreal. If four of the smartest most capable mechanics and FORD guys won't touch it, then I need to find this one guy in all of Honduras, who can. What is his telephone, I asked. "I don't know," he responded. "So where does he work?" In typical Honduran style the reply was, "It has been about 6 or 7 years, since I have seen him, but his shop used to be behind the Social Security Hospital down the hill, behind a tin fence, but that has been a while." Finally I ask, "What is the guys name?" "Padhett." he says. So now I know more or less what I am looking for or do I?????

Next thing I know, I am driving down the hill behind the Social Security Hospital in a "not so safe area" in my rental pickup, an Awful...bishi. I am looking for a shop with a tin fence, at least that is what it was 6 or 7 years ago. I am praying without much faith, how in the world can you have faith to find a transmission shop that was "somewhere behind the hospital" 6 or 7 years ago and is owned by a guy by the name of Pahett, which doesn't sound like any name I have ever heard anywhere, much less in Honduras. Never the less, I prayed.

Anything that says, transmission will do. I drive and see one that says, "Aircondionado" then one that says, "Frenos" finally in hand painted letters, miracle of miracles, I find "transmission". I go into the shop and take one look at a "youngster" and ask how long the shop has been there. "25 years!" So far so good. "And do you work on Automatic transmissions?," I asked, more than sure that this would be the answer that ended it all. "Yes!" He answered. This is too good to be true, so then I ask, "What is your name?" "Nelson Padgett," he smiles and replies.

I wanted to hit myself in the head to make sure I was still alive. So then I showed him the photos.

The "poo poo de transmision" in the "tranny tray" was not a good sign he reported. But he could fix the transmission. Seems that the curved spiral in the photo to the left is metal filings from teeth disintegrating as the transmission ground itself to pieces.

I still am not convinced that this is such a big deal and when he gives me the price quote, I am not happy. Seeing the disbelief on my face, he takes me to look at a transmission, he is working on. There must have been 1,000 pieces in it, NO LIE. The transmission is like a mega puzzle in 3D.
This photo is kinda like what I saw in real life. I am now in shock. I am now beginning to understand why Tim and Kent and Michael and the Honduran super mechanic were all "NOT QUALIFIED" to touch it.

I HAVE A NEW FOUND ADMIRATION FOR GUYS THAT CAN FIX AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS. By the way, this transmission weighs a mere 300+ pounds.

It has been a long hard few days, the seat in the AWFUL...bichi is tilted just far enough back to make my hips and back hurt. The seats remind me of a sports car that Mike bought several years ago and that I hated. I think it was a Lexus, but the seats were horrible. I will be glad when I am back to my wonderful FORD seats, which I can move every which way imaginable. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the gas mileage of the smaller pickup.
Meanwhile I am reminded of a verse that is the basis of why I am in Honduras doing what I am doing.
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

If I had not put action to the information which I had available, then I would never have found the "SUPER MECHANIC". Even though I had little faith, I acted on what I knew and asked the Lord to help me and He did. God is so good to me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Cow Raffle, Piñatas, A Voice From The Past, A Sick Transmission And....

Today I received an email from an "old" friend from Arkansas. I had sent some copies of some old photos from 1971 to another dear "old" friend Rev. David Bentley and he forwarded the photos to Marquis Jones.

"Joey" Reid from Meridian, Mississippi had been on several Lay Witness Missions Trips with all of us from Markham Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. His dad, Papa Joe, was an avid "picture taker".

In this photo on the back left is Rev. David Bentley who at the time was the Inspector of the Little Rock Police Department. Roberta and Elmer Sims are on the front row squatting with Geneva Bentley and Gayla Bentley is on the row behind them with her mouth open and laughing. Ike Mohr is next to Gayla, half squatting and David Bruce Bentley is 3rd from the left on the back row and next to him, but a little behind him is Joey Reid (with the long hair). Perhaps someone else knows the other people in the photo.

Ellen Crowder at Aldersgate Camp, below the cross. What ever happened to Ellen Crowder?

An "old enemy" also came to visit today. That enemies name is transmission problems. The Ford is down again. Tim continues to work on her, this time trying to see what is wrong with the transmission. I am praying that it is not anything expensive. As I was driving this week, all the dashboard lights would come for no reason at all. I think part of the problem might be electrical, but I am not a mechanic and mechanics seem to be adverse to checking out electrical stuff.

I spent the day working hard on medical teams, accounting (ugh) and .... Where did the day go? I was so busy all day that I never ate lunch and when I returned home from the "drop the Ford off at the mechanic errand", I crawled into bed and watched CNN, too tired to move. I sat for about 30 minutes, ate a single chicken wing, a biscuit and a dab of mashed potatoes left over from last night's late run to Churches Chicken and then I started working again. It seems like everything I do is multi-tasking.

I am preparing for a medical team from the USA that will be here September 24-28. I am calling and rounding up patients in every nook and cranny imaginable. Here, you can't send a letter or an e-mail or make a telephone call to get a message to a patient. Instead, you call a telephone number of Gracie and Gracie may or may not have her telephone charged up and turned on and she may or may not answer when you call. But finally when you get her, if you get her, she is the neighbor down the road from the sister of the person you are trying to find. So you leave a message with Gracie to give to the sister to give to the patient and then you wait and wait and wait and finally the day before the surgery (if you are lucky) or the day after the doctors were here (if you aren't) the sister of the sister will call and maybe the patient who you have had on a list for 6 or 8 months for a surgery will make it to the hospital for their surgery!

This medical team will be performing surgeries on hernias, gall stones, thyroid tumors etc. Then next month a team from Mayo Clinic will arrive to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries.

Today: Answered e-mails, paid bills, arranged for everything to be delivered to make piñatas for Children's Day, talked to my parents (how many times?), made sure the Ford got dropped off at the mechanic, worked on finding patients for the medical team, fixed the computer printer, fixed dad's email account, designed 4 poster signs, designed bumper stickers, designed wall posters, dropped off info to the medical college for reciprocal licensing, fixed my reading glasses (the screw dropped out), sorted medicines for the vitamin brigades coming up Saturday and Sunday, arranged for raffle tickets for a fund raiser (a cow is being raffled), counseled a friend who is sad, set up a week of cataract surgeries and I can't even remember what else...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When It Rains It Pours - BBQ and Plantain Bananas

Just returned from San Lorenzo, Valle, Honduras. It was a wonderful weekend. The blessings poured in. The Pastor's Seminar was a great success with over 25 pastors attending the 2 day seminar. I had a wonderful much needed half day break at the beach. I returned to Tegucigalpa to my apartment and found my poodle Esther very happy to see me and to find all of my clothes washed and ironed, the house spotless and friends waiting to see me.

Michael Rudd a missionary who lives in Siguatepeque, Honduras near the middle of the country spoke on Friday and Saturday at the Pastor's Seminar. Mike, his wife and some of his children are missionaries in Honduras and work with the deaf.

Mike spoke on "Prayer", how to pray, prayer lists and finding scriptures that support what you are asking for in prayer.

He brought with him a few hundred Bibles, which he gave to the pastors in attendance to share with people in their church who do not have money to buy a Bible.

The pastors were all thrilled with the 12 Bibles they each received. Pastors attended from all parts of the Department of Valle.

John Carrette from Valle de Angeles, Honduras spoke on Saturday. Below is a photo of John and his wife Tarah Jurka Carrette and their 17 children. John spoke about faith, hearing from God, taking steps of faith, actually, he spoke about many different topics all bundled together in an easy to understand message.

Erlinda cooked for all the pastors and we fed them all, to the point of too full. When it came time for dessert, many wrapped dessert in a napkin to take home, because they were too full to eat it.

Sunday morning I preached at the local church Shaddi where I attend on the weekends when I am in the south. Then Sunday afternoon, the pastor Joel Garcia, his wife Margarita, their two kids, Jose Cobra, our friend Gustavo and I all went to the beach in the Gulf of Fonseca.

Friends invited us to visit their beach house and spend the afternoon. It was a wonderful afternoon and we BBQ-ed beef filet with BBQ-ed Plantain bananas. This was a treat which I had never experienced, but they were great! Pastor Joel poked fork holes in the skins and then BBQ-ed them until the skin was black. When we took them off of the grill, we skinned them, added sour cream on top and they were scrumptious!

I promise this is worth a try.

After the BBQ, we all walked 1/2 block to the beach and while most of the guys swam, Margarita and I walked in the sand and enjoyed looking at the sea shells. We had a beautiful view of Amapala, one of the best known Honduran islands as well as Padre Island. Padre Island is uninhabited, but way back when a "padre" (priest lived there), thus the name Padre Island. Now there is a cemetery and nothing else.

The pastor found a piece of driftwood, nestled into a large crevice and laid back and rested as though he was in a lounge chair. Then it rained, then it poured. All of us that could, got into the pickup, but that left Jose Cobra and Gustavo in the bed of the truck. It is a good thing they were already wet. A strong wind kicked up and it rained cats and dogs for over 30 minutes. We drove in the driving rain, windshield wipers at full speed. Thank goodness, it was almost dark when the rain arrived.

When we arrived back at the pastor's home, we were all sitting around talking and eating again, after the beach everyone was hungry and we heard several gun shots. It seems that the pastor's pharmacy was in the process of being broken into. The pastor is also a doctor, as is his wife and their house is on one end of the block and the pharmacy is on the other end of the block. The police just happened by as two thieves tried to break into the pharmacy. The police told them to stop, they didn't they ran instead, the police fired shots at them and they returned the fire with shots of their own. We heard the shots but thought it was firecrackers.