"In my lifetime I have experienced few days that I recall as life changing. Monday, March 19, 2012 was a day I will always remember and be forever grateful. The day, location, and mission affected me profoundly and are permanently engraved on my heart. I was a member of a team whose mission was to serve remote villages in central Honduras. Our team representing the Friends of Barnabas Foundation consisted of fourteen North Americans visiting for a week and Central Americans who call Honduras home. We were a mountain medical team. We serve by providing medical services but most importantly we serve with heart. A team working together to care, teach, and support. We traveled to select communities in need to provide primary and preventative healthcare. The communities welcomed us graciously into their lives, homes, schools, and churches. We set up stations which included anti-parasite, vitamin A, general medicine, eye, and dental. Our medical team was greeted at our first mountain village with a large sign that said “Welcome American Medical Team”. We were not only welcomed; we were embraced by the villagers. With great pride, they smiled, had children present pledges and song, hugged us warmly, feed us, prayed for us, and enriched our lives! While we were traveling to the first village, we learned a worship song in Spanish. In each village after introductions were made and details of the clinic explained we sang “Yo tengo un Amigo que me Ama” (I have a friend who loves me..His name is Jesus) as a team. Everyone joined in! What a beautiful way to start the day with our newest family members!
I arrived in Honduras without expectations. Less than three years ago, I completed a career change and became an RN. My desire for my first medical mission experience was to listen, learn, and serve. On Sunday, we prepared the supplies and inventory required for Monday. This preparation sparked a mixture of feelings that I cannot adequately describe: joy, fear, excitement, and the awareness of much needed grace. On Monday morning we left early to provide care to our first village. The drive was beautiful and breath-taking. When I say breath-taking, I don’t just mean the vistas but the road or lack thereof! Our road ended in the heart of the village. I looked out of the window of our trusty school bus and saw hundreds of people smiling and waving. Off we went to set up our stations! I was assigned to the general medical team. I was supported and encouraged by a nurse who has served on many previous mountain medical teams. She graciously allowed me to set up my station next to her so I could ask questions and learn as I watched her serve the community. My job was to apply nursing skills to access, listen, and provide care. In the US, I provide care to adults who have had general and orthopedic surgery but in Honduras I was to serve all ages. The day was filled with miracles. I was amazed at how a group of virtual strangers became a close team. A team who served with strength and joy among new people, culture, and surroundings. One of the first patients I met was an elderly woman, almost ninety. This woman was amazing! The translator communicated what medical concerns she had but the most important message she wanted to share with me was that she had great faith. She said she knew God would provide healing in her village today and she wanted to pray for me and our team. As she lives alone with no income, she lives her life with the certainty of God’s power, love, and provision. A senora I will never forget.
Each day we visited a different village. We became faster at set up but nothing was routine. Greeting each person, family, and village was like a breath of life, each encounter remarkable and unforgettable. We were fortunate to provide care to everyone requesting medical attention in each village. At the end of the week, the medical clinic team had served 998 patients. Many had never seen a healthcare professional. As a team we identified concerns in children that would require additional care. The Friends of Barnabas organization will continue to follow and support patients and communities in need. The generous, organized, and ongoing care provided by the organization greatly increases the value of our mission. We may have provided a drop of service but our drop starts the ripple of hope, love, and care sustained and nourished by many.
My career as a nurse pales in description to my experience as healthcare volunteer. I arrived with a heart to serve and was humbled by the great love and acceptance I received. It was a privilege to explore a new country, fall in love with its people, and learn.
How does this affect life now? If I could I would be sending this note from Honduras! I count the minutes to return but while I wait my heart to serve has been refreshed and renewed. I am a nurse. I am blessed with the opportunity to serve, encourage, teach, and provide hope daily. As wonderful as it was to serve villages in Honduras, where I am right now matters. I am thankful for One Nurse at a Time for choosing to compassionately serve people and provide much needed resources both financial and informational. The seeds they plant and nurture bring life to lasting change. "
Robin Phillips, RN