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2014: Ashley Simon

Honduras Veterinary and Public Health Ministry Trip 2014


Day One: Travel
Early Saturday morning, while the stars are still bright, around thirty of God’s servants are in route to the airport. But, the hour of the day does not matter to them, for they are eager to do the Lord’s work. Chaos ensues as the travelers navigate the maze that is the airport: check in, security, locating the gate. Finally, they all meet: greetings and introductions all around. Some are new, looking for a friendly face; some are experienced, looking for familiar ones. All recognize each other, though, for they are all a part of the same family: God’s family. They board the plane together forming connections with their fellow believers. After just a few hours, the Honduran runway smokes with the force of their plane’s landing gear as they touch down in San Pedro Sula. Then it’s onto the bus that will take them to their base camp: Hotel Zari in Siguatepeque. After dropping off personal luggage, the group makes its way to Café Cohorsil to drop off supplies and sort equipment. Duffel bags filled with such things as vaccines, dewormer, dosing guns, syringes, needles, and other medical supplies needed for teaching the locals. All these items will be required during the week to come in order to fulfill their mission of addressing veterinary needs in a country where animals are the way of life. This gift they give the people of Honduras, though, is not of themselves. I am one of them, and we give because God has sent us to help His people both physically and spiritually.


Day Two: Praise and Preparation
Worship this Sunday morning is not like at home with our grand cathedrals and fancy clothes, but it is no less a praise and thanksgiving to God. Our voices join the members of Iglesia Episcopal San Bartolomé Apostol in worshiping our Lord. The praise was from the heart, and the experience was uplifting. Translations in English and Spanish were in constant partnership with laughs all around when meanings went awry. After the gathering of the church, preparation for the next day of work began at Café Cohorsil. Supply boxes were loaded, equipment was divvied up, and teams got acquainted. The four teams prepared themselves for the days ahead. Special thanks are in order to Oscar Ochoa and Oscar Gross for their help in coordinating this trip.


Days Three, Four, Five, and Six: God’s Work
The early morning light streams through our windows as we open our sleep-leaden eyes. Then anticipation of the new day and new experiences ahead wake us from our lingering dreams and give us energy for the coming work. We gather as God’s chosen people in the park singing praises to Him and meditating on His word so that we are prepared for the day before us. A delicious breakfast is prepared for us in a restaurant down the street as we conclude our gathering. Many dishes of native and familiar foods are laid out for us as well as various kinds of succulent fruits. Our bellies full, we travel back to Café Cohorsil to gather the day’s supplies and vaccines. We pack them in our little trucks according to our different teams and destinations then climb in the back ourselves. We hold on tight, for where we are going the road is a little bumpy (not to mention the cliffs a few feet away from the edge of the road). The land, as we arrive on site, teems with various creatures all jostling for position, moving this
way and that. A fight between two horses breaks out here; a bull causes a ruckus over there. Children carry an assortment of small animals: dogs, cats, chickens, parrots, pigs, turkeys, rabbits. We even see a goat or two. The chute for the large animals is constructed of mismatched boards and logs nailed or roped together. Sometimes they hold only a single animal at a time; others hold up to ten. It takes a few minutes to set up our equipment, but before long we are steady at work, vaccinating one after the next as they flow through the shoot or come up next in line at the small animal site. Local cowboys herd the animals through the chute while neighbor children gather stray cats and dogs. Excitement breaks out as a large bull breaks free causing us to scramble out of the way, but in a few seconds the local men have it under control and we continue in our work. Small children and adults alike press in on us from all sides wanting to be close to these strangers who are doing them such a great service. One group this year also had the great pleasure to teach some local men the basics of veterinary medicine and give out supplies such as suture, gauze, surgical tools, medicines, and others. The local men were taught animal nutrition, wound care, and vaccinations. With this service, we hope to teach them how to fish and not just give them a fish (teach them how to care for their own animals not just care for them once a year when we return). And the day passes thus, with a few minutes spared for a lunch break during which time we are also able to converse with the locals. Then as the numbers begin to dwindle late in the day and our time in that place comes to a close, we pack up our supplies into the truck once again and wave our goodbyes to the people of that village. We pass out candy or clothes as the children gather around: another small gift to the people there; then we scramble once again into the back of the pick-up and ride back down the mountain to Café Cohorsil. There we unload our truck, throw away the day’s trash, and restock for the next day. On Friday, this step turns into tallying up all left over supplies and storing them for next year. When the day is through, we head back to our hotels where we shower and, later, have nightly devotionals. These devotionals were a new addition to the trip this year and gave us an opportunity to relive the joys of the day and think on the ways we can spread God’s love for the coming day. Each night we slept with contentment for a job well done in the Lord.


Day Seven: Coming Home
This day starts before the sun even thinks about coming up. The stars still shine bright in the sky as the team loads the bus with luggage. We all climb in and, as the bus pulls away from the hotel, close our eyes to catch some “Z’s” on the way to San Pedro Sula. Our thoughts still linger on the amazing week we shared with each other and the people of Honduras. We arrive and eat breakfast in a hotel restaurant then have a free hour for souvenir shopping before making our way to the airport. The team gathers up their luggage, passes through security, and steps onto the plane taking their last looks at Honduras and thinking back on the memories they made there. Some will return to this place next year, some will be unable to do so, but all will remember the time they spent furthering the Kingdom of God.


Special thanks to all that were involved in coordinating this amazing trip.
Written by: Ashley Simon (2014)