Sunday, March 29, 2009


Dr. Lee arrived at the airport in Tegucigalpa after spending the night in the airport in Miami after she flew all the way from Hawaii to help Hondurans in need of hernia surgery. When her plane landed, I was waiting for her inside the area where arriving passengers go through immigration. When she came down the escalator she looked refreshed and ready to start surgeries. She curls up in a ball and sleeps anywhere. She never gets excited about anything and she is a picture of peace.

I had deliberately notified only 25 of the hernia patients which I have on my list, knowing that more would show up unannounced and knowing that the local doctors from Choluteca would have even more waiting for her when she arrived.

When we arrived at the hospital, the exam room was not open, so she had to start seeing patients on the front porch. Before long the keys arrived to open the exam room and things became less complicated. By the time she finished interviewing the patients, it was time to start surgeries, or was it? We arrived at the surgical operating rooms to be met with the news that:

1. There are NO clean patient gowns
2. There are 3 emergency cesarean sections, one in progress (twins)
3. There are 2 emergency appendicitis surgeries
4. There are not enough nurses to help Dr. Lee
5. There are not enough operating rooms because of all the emergencies so we have to wait

And wait we did and WE WAITED AND WAITED AND WAITED SOME MORE! By 7:00 PM the first surgery room finally opened up, but we had to “punt” in order to complete the first two surgeries. We used hospital instruments, since the “lady” who sterilizes the instruments was no where to be found. Somehow we made it through the first 2 surgeries before more emergencies came in. We called it a night at about 10:00 PM and went to the hotel. We figured bright and early the next morning we would start again. BUT…. It was not to be! When we arrived there were yet another two cesarean sections and several other emergency type surgeries, including a woman who had just had a baby and was bleeding to death. She was sent from another hospital about 30 minutes up the road, after they ran out of blood. So there we were, in the middle of all this, already 5 patients behind schedule and what does Dr. Lee do? She lays down, puts her feet in the air and sleeps.

Dr. Lee is efficient, meticulous, a teacher and has over 50 years of surgical experience. In the less than perfect conditions she thrives. She has a philosophy that everything will work out and it does.

Lights went on and off several times, helpers in the operating room changed more than several times, there were so many emergencies that there was no operating room several times, it was hot, the food arrived late, the recovery room was full, there were no patient gowns at times, there were no doctor surgery gowns at times, the instruments were NOT sterilized on time, just about anything that could go wrong, tried to present itself during this weekend. BUT all turned out well and 13 patients received hernia surgery. Thank you Dr. Lee!

Sometimes I feel really challenged working in a third world hospital, sometimes, I want to throw in the towel, but always I warn my team participants that there is only one thing which you can count on in Honduras and that is, “NOTHING EVER GOES AS PLANNED IN HONDURAS!”

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vericose Vein Surgery Trip To Choluteca

First I had to reschedule the SMART Team for a week later, because the house in Kansas sold and I had to move furniture AND then I arrived late in Tegucigalpa NOT because of poor planning on my part, but because of uncooperative weather and because of late airplane traffic, read the previous BLOG.

When I arrived, a few hours after Dr. Spitz had already arrived in Tegucigalpa and found he and Jose wandering around the airport waiting for me, he was smiling and taking photos at the airport. I thought to myself, “This guy is a keeper!” I got into the truck at the airport and realized that I didn’t have some things I needed, so we had to go to the apartment to pick them up. Now we were even later!

With the trip off to a bad start, I was convinced that things could only get better and sure enough they did. Dr. Gregory Spitz is a trooper and has a heart of gold.

Patient waiting for surgery with his leg marked!

When we arrived at the hospital, I think he may have been a little overwhelmed at the lines of people waiting to be evaluated by him. There must have been 50 or so patients all crowded onto the front porch of the “alberge” (Honduran version of the Ronald McDonald house where people stay when they live to far away to go home) waiting for him.

Legs, legs and more legs! In the recovery room.

Dr. Spitz was fast, efficient and extremely well organized in light of the less than perfect conditions which presented themselves at the hospital. Lights went on and off several times, helpers in the operating room changed several times, it was hot, the food arrived late, the recovery room was full, there were no patient gowns at times, there were no doctor surgery gowns at times, the instruments weren’t sterilized on time, just about anything that could go wrong, tried to present itself during this team. BUT all turned out well and he was able to help 28 patients with varicose vein surgery. Thank you Dr. Spitz!

This little one took away everyones attention for a while, she was BLUE! But all turned out well, thanks to fast acting nurses, anesthesia and doctors, meanwhile Dr. Spitz continued in the other room.

The result? Look at the face and you can see more than words can tell!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Trip Back From Kansas To Tegucigalpa

What a week! I packed furniture, loaded and loaded some more. But finally I got everything moved. In 1994 the Lord spoke to me that Mike and I that we would be moving to Honduras a missionaries and we both believed Him. That same year we purchased a not so beautiful farm in Valle de Angeles and started construction on a small house.

Later we continued to purchase more and more land until finally we had purchased seven parcels equaling about 21 acres. Mike never had much of a vision for that specific land; he always said it was “A double black diamond ski slope without the snow.” But nevertheless, we began to invest in the land. I invested time and energy and he invested money. We built a shed for the animals, we built a huge warehouse and we continued to build and make improvements.

Now, 15 years later, the farm is beautiful, carefully planted with hundreds of fruit trees, anoni, nanci, guava, almond, cashew, Japanese plums, mandarin oranges, lemons, grapefruit, several varieties of oranges and of course bananas of 5 different varieties.

Over the years I brought seeds and planted perennials and bulbs and planted iris, always planning for the “move”. Many of the wood fences have been carefully replaced with PVC white 4” posts and little by little the farm has become more and more beautiful.

I never imagined at the time of the word from the Lord and the purchase how much effort it would be to get prepared to move from one country to another and to actually make the move.

Hundreds of hospital gowns were donated (they will be given to the hospital in Choluteca upon arrival) and they were used to cover the wood legs and sides of each piece of furniture as it was meticulously wrapped for the long journey. More than 30 pillows were purchased and they were used to pack chairs one on another where they would not slip and slide and ruin the wood carving. These pillows also will be donated upon arrival in Honduras. I worked alongside my parents and several friends until 2:00 AM on Wednesday morning and then we were close enough to termination that I was able to take a shower and head to the airport. My intention was to get to Honduras on Wednesday, do the last minute running around which I always do before every medical team arrives and then rest and go to the airport on Thursday to meet the team. BUT ALAS it was not to be.

I arrived at the airport on time, mom drove while dad and I fell in and out of La La Land somewhere between exhaustion and sleep. Thanks MOM! When I arrived at the airport, for the first time in my life, dad was too fatigued to wait to make sure the flight left. I ate a bagel alone at the bagel stand and made small talk with some Mexicans waiting for their flights.

Finally I was on the plane and that is the last thing I remember until we landed in San Antonio. I remember waking up with a JOLT hearing the flight attendant say, “Prepare for landing in San Antonio.” I was sitting in the first seat and I looked at her and said, “Houston.” Then she repeated, “San Antonio.” “Oh my God,” I thought, “I got on the wrong plane!” I told her I was going to Houston, not San Antonio and she said, “I know, but Houston is fogged in and we have to sit here until the fog lifts.” Evidently while I was snoozing we circled Houston for an hour and then were diverted to San Antonio. We sat on the tarmac waiting for three hours and finally we flew to Houston, but we didn’t arrive before my flight to Tegucigalpa had already left and so I was stuck!

When I walked out of my gate and into the terminal, I thought I was on the off ramp after a Kansas City Chiefs Game. There were wall to wall people. Photo to the left. I have never seen an airport so full! People were one on top of the other stacked like cordwood.

I checked into the Marriot at the airport and slept. And I slept. And I slept some more! Finally I woke up around 9:00 PM ordered a huge salad from room service ate and slept some more. I woke up just in time to take a quick shower and race to my gate. Alas, just to wait and wait and wait some more. Houston was totally fogged in, AGAIN!

The doc coming for the trip was a new doc and now I was going to be late, but how late? I arrived finally in Tegucigalpa 26 hours after my intended arrival. Thank you Doctor Spitz for being so understanding!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Moving From Kansas To Honduras

It has finally happened, the house in Kansas sold. The furniture is packed and the move to Honduras will be completed soon. I spent almost two weeks in Kansas preparing for the move. I am so glad to be HOME in Honduras again.

It has been a series of miracles to see this come to completion, but God has been immensely faithful and helpful to me! My family and friends rallied around me and have helped tirelessly as I made preparations to move everything to Honduras.

Preparing for the move I happened to be reading the New Testament and found that Jesus' adult followers were stuck in a rut and suffered from never-ending lack of imagination. Their minds were shackled by traditionalism. They saw things only from a traditional human point of view. They didn’t see things from God's point of view. When a huge storm threatened their very lives while at sea, they were terrified. They woke Jesus up and He calmed the wind and waves with “a word”, and then Jesus rebuked their lack of faith.

Reading this story I felt a twinge of dissatisfaction at how I was preparing for the move from Kansas to Honduras. During preparations for this move, I found that my mind needed to be set free from traditionalism. I called the traditional movers and they wanted $28,000 to move my furniture to Honduras. For over a year, I thought about this quote and continued to tell myself that this was ridiculous! Maybe I should sell the furniture and return to Honduras with nothing. But I could never get peace about selling everything. So, I prayed, I fasted, I read my Bible and I continued to ask the Lord for an answer.

Again I read that a short time after seeing Jesus feed four thousand people with just a few loaves and fish, the disciples started complaining about not having any food for their journey. His response was not exactly sweet as he corrected them saying, "Do you not yet perceive or understand?" Mark 8:17-18. "Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?"

I thought I needed a loaves and fishes type of multiplication of money in order for my household items to be moved. I was wrong! I didn’t need money, I needed a divine idea, a miracle from the Lord. I went to a Christian man in Honduras, whom I greatly respect and I asked for counsel. I explained that I needed to move my furniture and that I needed $28,000 to do so. “What can I do to make that kind of money in a month?” Since he is in the car business, he said that I could bring in 25 cars and sell them and have the money to make the move. As I sat there speaking with him, I was suddenly inspired. Can I bring down a truck? “Yes,” he replied. “Can I bring it down full?” I asked. “Si.” He responded. “But,” he continued, “Right now I need to buy several trucks to sell.” “How about if you look for the trucks when you are there, find what I want within certain parameters, send me photos via email, I will approve of them or not and then you can load your stuff in them. He continued, “My friends and I will drive them to Honduras and you will have your stuff here and I will have my trucks to sell.”

For a year I had been fretting when God had everything planned out way in advance. My mind had been shackled with traditionalism. I needed to think “outside of the box” and by praying and reading the Word of God I was able to do so. I didn’t need money, I needed an idea from the Lord. Several truck purchases later, Marco's trucks are purchased and NO they are not all full of my stuff. (I learned about wire transfers from another country in the process and the reluctance of Honduran banks to let go of money.)

A word spoken in faith can calm a storm; a few fish and loaves can feed a few thousand; continuing to look for answers from God in untraditional places can make a 3,000 mile move across 5 countries that should have cost $28,000 become free. Today I am blessed and I encourage you to look to the Lord for answers in untraditional places. What seems impossible to us is more than possible with Him, as long as we listen.

Yesterday someone left a HUGE bag of pecans on my doorstep! I was completely out of pecans and didn’t have any space left in my suitcases when I returned from Kansas. A missionary brought them to me. This means I need to bake some Oatmeal Pecan cookies this afternoon and that means you will have my favorite Oatmeal Pecan Cookie recipe on tomorrows BLOG! If I only had some maple syrup, I would make a pecan pie. I might make one anyway in honor of my son-in-law Rene Maldonado who loves pecan pie. Even though he doesn’t rate my Pecan Pie as the “BEST” in the world, every time I make it I think of him. Maybe I will have time to bake both.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What A Wonderful Afternoon and Evening With Two Of My Grandchildren

Because of a "problemita" in the family, which will soon be resolved, my daughter Sarah has refused to speak with me for several months. I continue to send her emails and leave telephone messages every once in a while, but alas so far she remains stubborn and refuses to speak to me.

I am sure that some of you reading this BLOG have had tough times with your families and all that I can tell you is "wait" and pray and watch the Lord move. The heartache that children sometimes cause their parents is tough but there is nothing compared to a mother's love. A mother's love never dies, no matter how they are treated. A mother's love never fails, I have seen this as I watch 18th Street Gang members and their mothers which visit them in jail and love them even though they are accused of all kinds of terrible crimes.

Since my daughter has a "burr under her saddle" and refused to answer emails or telephone calls, and since I am not one to miss the opportunity to see my precious grandchildren, I called her husband and asked to see the grandchildren which I have not seen for a year since I last visited Kansas City.

It was hard to get a good photo of Michael as he is such a clown. But needless to say he did enjoy his Ice Cream Shake.

Michael, Christina, Great Grandpa ("Pawpaw") and Great grandma ("Nana") and Grandma (me) all went to Winsteads and ate ice cream.

Christina was really into the Chocolate as you can see by the evidence below her lower lip.

Christina also loved MY Onion Rings!

I was really bad and did something which I NEVER would have done as a parent. We went to Winsteads first where we ate dessert first then we went to SmokeStack BBQ and ate BBQ afterwards.

Pawpaw and Christina enjoying each other's company.

I dragged Christina away from her Sundae for long enough to get a quick photo with me. Nana is telling her to smile but she would rather be eating ice cream.

Nana and Pawpaw are still madly in love after 56 years of marriage. I am so blessed to have been raised in a godly, kind and caring family. My mom and dad and their parents, my grandparents, are precisely who taught me to live a life of giving to the poor and helping those in need. I am who I am because of all of them.

After ice cream and onion rings we were off to SmokeStack for BBQ. Casey my son-in-law joined us.

The kids took time to play and pester each other while we ate BBQ.

Unfortunately I was unable to see our other three grandchildren while visiting the USA. I hate it that I live so far away, but I know without a doubt that I am in the perfect plan of God for my life and that the work I do in Honduras has benefits and rewards some of which I may never know.

Time heals and truth always comes into the light.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wheelchair Giveaway in Nacaome, Valle, Honduras

Today was a day when the depth of my Christianity was put to test. If you have not read the BLOG from November 14th, 2008 you will need to read it in order to get the full impact of this story.

The Bible says to "bless those that persecute you and pray for those whom despitefully use you" and today I had a chance to do just that. In my BLOG on November 14th, I spoke about a corrupt congressman who filed FALSE charges against Jose Benavides and I in an attempt to gain a political advantage over Jose in the election.

Today, this corrupt congressman's "Tia" (aunt) showed up at one of the wheelchair brigades in need of a wheelchair. We scheduled Church of Christ in Nacaome with Pastor Santos Ramirez. Today was the day! When I arrived, there were several people already waiting outside for the event. As I started reading the paperwork and looking over the people's applications, I noticed that one of the possible recipients was Diputado Eleazer Juarez's family member. I asked her if she knew him and she responded that she was his aunt.

It was one of those times when idignation rose up inside of me and I wanted to say something like, "Why don't you have him donate you a chair? He is a man with power and position!" I fumed for a while and thought of all the chairs he had given away a few months prior (which came from the First Lady's stash and then I thought "I wonder why he didn't take care of his own family?" And then I thought, "I ought to call that rascal and give him a piece of my mind." I am sure all of those fleeting thoughts crossed my mind in just a matter of seconds and then I thought "Revenge!!!!" And then I thought, "Bless them that persecute you, pray for them which despitefully use you." Needless to say, this poor lady is probably a sweet person, affected by diabetes and probably doesn't have a clue how her nephew has tried to hurt me. SMART Teams and COVA performed cataract surgery on her sister who also has an amputated leg and diabetes just a few short months ago and we have scheduled cataract surgery on yet a third aunt of the same infamous Diputado, who by the way is also a doctor and has access to all kinds of healthcare benefits due to the position he holds.

Now would someone who is a statistics major please give me the statistical possibilities of this: I am in Honduras working with people whom I do not know and in three different medical brigades in three different towns, Playa Grande (an eye brigade), Nacaome (a wheelchair brigade) and San Lorenzo (an eye brigade), and three different patients all the "tias" of a man who filed false charges against me show up at those three different places and need my help. And then to add to that what are the chances that I would be in the process of publishing a book on "False Accusations" at the same time that the congressman decided to falsely accuse me?

Today we were able to give away another 7 wheelchairs which were donated by Free Wheelchair Mission. And today I was able to be a blessing to a family member of someone who had falsely accused me and and maligned my name.