Love Honduras Veterinary and Vision Team Report 2019
By Heidi Forgione
For several years now, I’ve felt God’s hand leading me toward a mission trip, and He, with some help from Noreen Hendley, guided me to the Love Honduras Veterinary and Vision team in May 2019 to help on the Vision Team. My husband and our youngest son, age fifteen, went as well. I will readily admit that I was very nervous in the two weeks leading up to this trip, even though I received many assurances that it was safe. As typically happens when I push on the boundaries of my comfort zone, I change and grow during the process, and this experience proved no different. While my intent was to go and be a blessing to the people, particularly children, of Honduras, what happened is that I came away receiving more blessings than I feel like I gave.
And gave we did. In the course of four days, we screened 1835 people using two Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screeners, and found that 275 of them needed glasses. Most of these are students in grades K through 6, although we also screened any teachers and parents or family members who wished to be assessed. We are now in the process of ordering those glasses and will sent them to the recipients. Eight students had such significant issues that our screeners wouldn’t work on them, and they are receiving a certificate to see an optometrist in Siguatapeque.
I will say that our numbers would likely not have been this high had our initial plans not changed. From the get-go, I had been told that in Honduras one needs to “be flexible”. Our intent was to travel into the mountain villages each day, stopping at several small schools along the way. But as it is appropriately put in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” It turned out that there was a strike in the Ministry of Education and all but one of the mountain schools we were planning to visit were closed. Instead we stayed in the city and visited twelve additional schools, with four of them having several hundred students. Most of the kids had
never had their vision checked before seeing us. We saw some teenagers who have probably for years been unable to see what the teacher is writing on the blackboard or read from a book. What a blessing we hope it will be for all of those students to be able to see clearly in school and when they are navigating their daily lives. Education is already an uphill battle for so many of these kids. Hopefully one of the obstacles they face will be removed with better eyesight.
Just what did I receive in return?
First, the people on the mission team were an incredible blessing. Our son, who has some personal struggles with communication, was invited to serve with a veterinary team and they welcomed him with open arms. We saw him open up, laugh, and talk with others. He felt included and a part of the team, and this was beautiful to watch unfold. Seeing the way everyone served tirelessly and with joyful hearts was inspiring. New friendships were forged and everyone had a unique story.
As for the Honduran people, they are amazing. There were smiles, hugs, and a warm welcome wherever we went. Gracious hospitality was shown by people who have so little materially compared to us. The country is beautiful – another part of God’s amazing creation that I feel fortunate to be able to have seen. The mountains around Siguatapeque include coffee, banana, and pineapple plantations, lush farmland, and pine forests. Most importantly, I was reminded that all of the “stuff” in our American lives, especially our phones, computers, and hectic lifestyles, get in the way of what matters most. Our relationships with family, friends, and our community should be the fabric of our lives, as it is for the Honduran people.
The success of this mission is due in no small part to the bond between the leaders and returning members of the team and the Honduran people who work with them to coordinate, transport, and assist in any way they can. They have a relationship that goes back over thirty years. It truly is love in action between the two cultures. Romans 12:9-13 describes it perfectly: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
I hope I have the opportunity to serve on this mission team again. There is still a great need in so many areas of their society -for access to health care and quality education, access to care for their animals on which their livelihood often depends. Yet I still have more to learn from them about how I can live more simply and love well.