Hope Found in Honduras

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Our youth group’s most recent mission trip to Honduras was filled with high experiences of high mountain tops, as well as deep, low valleys. God was truly present during every moment, but sometimes things felt hopeless. One particular incident rocked me so hard, that it took a few days to recover. It happened on site with one of the medical clinics that was attached to a church in a low income neighborhood outside of Tegucigalpa. I was working with triage and intake of patients for the clinic. My team was responsible for taking blood pressure, weight, temperature, and glucose levels of the locals waiting to be seen by the doctors. The way our clinic was set up in such a small space, our triage team, the doctors, and the make-shift pharmacy were all within five feet of each other.

It was midmorning in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where the weather was surprisingly mild for the end of June. Our whole medical team was just clicking along as usual, when I got a bit of a jolt to the system from the respiratory therapist, (our team leader), Tracy.  “Let’s get him in quick! Make room for this sick little boy!” Her medical background came in handy all week at the clinic, especially when situations like this one came around. We didn’t realize at that moment how sick this boy really was, and how quick we really did need to move in order to give him the best chance at survival. 

“Somebody take his temperature and O2 levels quick!” You could hear the stress in Tracy’s voice, as she took charge of our team of inexperienced medical volunteers, which was made up of myself and a small group of teenagers. 

“We’ve got to cool this boy down! His temperature is 107*. If we don’t act fast, he’s going to be in real trouble!” I really saw Tracy in her element during the week, but in moments of stress like this, she really shined. 

This precious child who came into the clinic had cerebral palsy, and had just been released from the hospital not too long ago, for reasons that escape me at the moment. His mother was beyond stressed, and was looking to us as a source of hope. After thorough examination, Tracy began to believe that the boy’s left lung was collapsed, and his right one was currently filling up with fluid. The boy’s mother had been doing her best in feeding him liquids due to his condition, but Tracy believed that the liquid’s consistency was too thin, which made them to go directly into his lungs instead of his stomach. I am certain there are other factors that were contributing to this child’s hopeless condition, but all I knew at the time, was that we really needed to get him some help. 

“Ice! Get me some Ice!” Tracey yelled from the flat concrete slab where the clinic was located. One of the teens and myself rushed upstairs to where the lunch coolers were, and started to fill up rubber gloves with ice to put on the 4 year old boy. If we didn’t get his temperature down quick, things were only going to get worse. 

Eventually, with makeshift bags of ice, partnered with some children’s fever reducer, the medical team was able to get the boy’s fever down to 101*. This caused us to have a short lived moment of celebration. When his fever began to drop, his O2 levels began to come up, giving us hope that he was going to make it. I don’t remember much after this point. Once the doctors were able to see him, the whole situation began to become cloudy for me. My adrenaline had given me tunnel vision up until that point, and anything else around me came to a screeching halt. All I really did was retrieve some ice in my latex gloves, while attempting to be a fresh hand on deck for Tracy and the doctors. I really felt like this situation was hopeless, that the little boy was not going to make it. But as we worked, the boy became responsive again, and hope began to peak through…

This happened about the middle of the week, but it took me a few days to start to process what I had experienced in the clinic that day. You see emergency situations on television, but seeing them first hand, and actually taking part in the work, really got in my head. I truly thought things were hopeless for at least a half an hour there. All we did at the clinic was get him stable, then the doctors told the mother to rush him to the hospital immediately. 

Who knows what ever happened to him once he left our little clinic. All I know, was that the team of medical folks took a pretty dark, hopeless situation, and by the grace of God, doused it with all the teamwork and hope we could muster. God was present with us that day. I will never know if he ever made it to the hospital, or if he made a successful recovery, but I do know that we did our best to help save his life. We tried our best to bring hope to a hopeless situation, with the tools and strength given to us by God. I pray that you will take the moments in life when you feel hopeless and realize that regardless the outcome, God is still present. In the deepest and darkest of pits, even on a little concrete slab at a medical clinic set up at a church in Honduras, God is present. God is still at work; God is always with you. There is still HOPE!