A desire to serve (Part III)

March 13, 2017 at 6:00 AM

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A crowd gathers outside Clinica Medica San Lucas in Gracias, Honduras, anxious to receive medical care at the clinic.          (Photo by Dan Breen)

(Editor’s note: Eileen Dolan is a registered nurse from Long Island, New York. She was a member of her first Luke Society medical bridged to Gracias, Honduras in October 2016.)

A desire to serve (Part III)

By Eileen Dolan

(Note: This is the third entry in a three-part blog series by Eileen Dolan about her experience on a brigade to Gracias, Honduras.)

I noticed that the doctors all worked in harmony and were so extremely kind and patient.

I had the opportunity to see the children before the dentists came in to examine them and help decide who needed what. The children sang a song and let me videotape them.

I observed the dentists and their able assistants working in adverse conditions of rain, humidity and lack of light without complaint. Ergonomically speaking, it was awful for them to be bending down for hours but their only concern was for the patients.

It touched my heart to see a 60-year-old woman receive shoes, and Becky (Veenstra) so lovingly and humbly helping her get them to fit.  We had a little girl on the last day also without shoes, and to see her face as I tried to fasten the sandals to make them as small as possible is something I’ll never forget. Her brother was wearing rubber boots and asked me if I had one more pair of the adjustable sandals for him. Unfortunately, I had to say that we had no more left.

It was a joy to see the guys all playing soccer with the new balls that they had given to the kids. It was rainy and muddy in the village, and yet the kids loved it.

My roommate has her Ph.D. in psychology and had no idea that we’d have a girl come to the village ready to take her life. God put Heather there that day for her to step in and use her skills.

How lucky was I to have the opportunity to spend a day at the surgery center working with Bette in Rec. Room? I was overwhelmed and shed a tear behind my mask as Dr. Mark (Veenstra) led the team of anesthesiologists, Dr. Steve, Chantal, Lauren, and Bette, in prayer with the patients before surgery.  I have never seen such a thing; and I thought to myself that if patients could have that experience on a regular basis in the United States, they would really appreciate it.

I witnessed the longest surgery in Clinica Medica as Dr. Steve Kokmeyer , Chantal and Lauren worked without stopping even though they were offered the chance for a break. The anesthesia team and surgical team was determined to give the best care to a man who had no use of his left arm. I can only imagine how his life will change after this surgery.  This team did not complain about the long hours they stood on their feet; they were happy to serve.

I was impressed that Dr. Mark thanked and acknowledged this team at breakfast the next morning and did it with sincerity and humor.

I witnessed very dedicated Cubs fan see their team win the World Series!

Although I felt nervous to come too close in the operating room, Dr. Mark encouraged me and  Anselmo, the 15-year-old interpreter who was with me, to stand behind him to observe our first ACL repair. Fascinating! He does it with ease and grace. I was grateful to the rest of the staff in the OR for allowing us to get up close and personal.

I volunteered to sing a song on the Friday night farewell dinner and play guitar. I didn’t think many would know the song, so I printed up the words the night before I left for Honduras and made 30 copies.  After giving them out, I saw a guitar that I assumed belonged to Carlos. I took it outside to check if it was in tune and started playing the song “Open The Eyes of My Heart” and a boy came out saying it was his guitar and that the song I was singing to check the guitar was the very same song that he and the other kids had planned on singing for us that night. That was more than a coincidence in my eyes. Of the thousands of songs in the world, they chose the exact same song as me? Of course I said to the boy that he should play the guitar, not me, and that I would sit at my table and listen to them but they insisted that I join them in singing the song in both English and Spanish. That really touched my heart!

At the farewell banquet, we all said goodbye to the teenage volunteer interpreters and got ready for the departure the next morning. Although I was looking forward to going back home and sleeping in my own bed, taking a very long and hot shower, and drinking water without thinking about it, I didn’t really want my time with these people to end. I felt like we were a “family” of sorts – all with the same goals, led by the extra special parents: the Veenstras.

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