Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I am writing today to catch up on the past couple of weeks.  After three days of work in the clinic, we loaded up all the equipment including portable X-ray equipment, generators, instruments, chairs, portable operatories, supplies and educational materials, toothbrushes and toothpaste, etc.  Then on Friday we added to the load our person bags for the seven days we would be gone.  We headed through the city out into the country.  
     Looking out the windows we were awed by the green hills, mountains and valleys.  The land never seems to flatten out, but just falls and rises as far as the eye can see.  Most of the vegetation is tropical looking with broad green leaves on trees and bushes.  In some places the hills have been planted with corn.  We didn't see any farm equipment and we couldn't imagine machinery able to climb and cling to the steep hillsides.
Never ending hills
     We traveled through these hills along with hundreds of trucks, cars, and motor scooters.  Everyone seemed to know how to pass, and they timed it to the split second tucking safely in just ahead of the oncoming semi.  I tried not to pay attention because I was scared to death.  If I had been driving the trip would have taken hours more time because I would never have passed anyone.  We drove past little villages where we saw men carrying bundles of wood necessary for the fires they use to cook their meals.  Many children were selling fruits: grapes, nuts papayas, bananas and avocados along the roads.  Road crews were trimming the grass and weeds along the highway with machetes.  We even saw one woman washing clothes in a stream.                                        
     We stopped at an interesting site along the way, Quirigua.  It is a Mayan ruin dated back to 300-900AD.  There were many stellas like the ones in the Easter Islands, standing on the perimeter of a flat area like a plaza.  At one end was a huge staircase with buildings on top.  One was the King's dwelling and another was a temple.  Of course, all these are explained on signs at the site, because we couldn't tell what they were.  There was an athletic field a little distance away.  This is considered a minor ruin, but it was amazing to see the carvings and to realize they are 2000 years old.  All this trip made me think of the Book of Mormon and the battles, the temples and the travels through the wilderness.
     It was pointed out to us that the fence posts along the roadside were actually growing trees.  Turns out that they cut fresh branches and stick them in the ground, stringing wire between them and then "tropical" Mother Nature takes over and the cut pieces begin to grow.  Soon you have shade lined highways.
     We arrived at the town of Puerto Barrios in the afternoon.  The streets were busy with rush hour traffic.  Hundreds of scooter and motorcycles, some carrying three or four people zipped in and out and through the roads.  We saw a lady nursing a baby while she was driving her scooter.  Dr. Call has a record setting picture of a family of seven on a scooter.
A common sight.
     One way streets are common and many of them are not marked; you don't know they are one way until you're heading down the wrong way.
     We arrived at our hotel in the afternoon and discovered it was a resort called Amatique Bay.  It was themed like a pirates' cove on the Caribbean Sea.  When we asked about the history of the place, we were told that it was created 20 years ago and had no history of pirates.  It did have a beautiful restaurant, a pool, water slides and a harbor area where you could rent boats, go fishing or go on tours. Our room was a duplex and not really that special,  Just a bed, desk and a chair in the sleeping area, and a bathroom with a shower.  The shower worked and the room was clean.  The grounds of the hotel were the strong point.  There were beautiful flowering trees and fragrant flowers.  In the early morning geese and a peacock came up to our door; at night the lawns sparkled with fire flies.
     We stayed there 3 days and then felt guilty spending so much money so we changed to a smaller hotel in town.  It was cheaper but had a continental breakfast and was right across the street from McDonalds and a Dominos Pizza.
     It was eye opening to go into the fast food places.  You enter a controlled gate and they give you a little tag which you are going to need to get your car out. (anti-theft)  Then you enter a door which may have an armed guard.  See the picture at McDonalds!
     Working in the makeshift clinic of the converted chapel (we took out all the chairs and brought in our gear) was an experience.  We all had headlamps strapped to our heads and we took only xrays we deemed necessary.  Then we filled, extracted, cleaned and taught hygeine to all comers.  Mostly it was the upcoming missionaries and indigent members who the Branch Presidents had referred.  We had a centrally located sterilization and instrument set-up table; members of the local ward were trained to take care of this.  The compressors were humming and the vacuums sucking and we did pretty well till the afternoon strorms knocked out the power and we had to finish while there was still a little compressed air.  This is interesting in the pitch black with only the headlamps cutting the dark.
As we drove into town looking for our hotel, we passed the volunteer fire department.  Later we saw another station and decided to go back and take a picture, because we knew Q would be interested.  The firemen were thrilled to have us take their pictures, and we were surprised to read the city name Huntington Beach Fire Department on one of the trucks.  It's a small world after all!  

 After three days of pretty steady work, we told the patients good-bye and reloaded everything for the long trek back; about 7 hours.  So now we have seen and even swam in the Caribbean Sea, and we have roughed it with some marginal equipment, and we are all exhausted, and all blessed.  We hope that our efforts make a difference in Heavenly Father's family.  We truly are no more strangers and foreigners in His kingdom.


Willie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your travails with us! We are so proud of you, and feel so blessed when we hear about the conditions under which most of the world live. You are truly making a lasting difference in the lives of those you serve, and you are blessed for the gift of your service.

bickford bunch said...

YES! How wonderful it is to hear the details of your trip and service so many hours from "home". You literally know the worth of "letting your light SO shine" ... the difference you're making surely brings Heavenly Father's glory into the hearts of all those you meet. We miss you being in Primary, DD. Maggie and her presidency are doing a great job, but your influence still touches us sweetly. I personally think of you every time I stack the chairs 4 high :) and myriad moments in between. Having a 24th of July celebration without Wayne seems practically impossible ~ but knowing you are both involved in such great work makes your absence tolerable. Beautiful Blogging ~ I will anxiously read everything to Richard as a 4th of July treat! KIT, and webelo readers! love, tb

Anonymous said...

Happy, Happy Birthday ~ Deedee dear! Sorry I missed missed this saturday's special event when there was still time to get in touch by snail mail -- but while i am "here" let me send this wish out anyway. Happy highrise, too - that is one great building you posted a picture of on june 13 :) Maybe I'll make it to your e-mail next time ... but for now, take care! Love, theresa

Jennifer said...

I love hearing about your travels through the wilderness!!! Did you know I just recently learned that the Easter Island Stellas aren't just heads. Dave apparently already knew. I totally felt a little behind the times. I can't believe that McDonald's has an armed guard. That is crazy! I can not believe you did dentistry through a storm in the pitch black. Now that is something I bet you never forget!!!

Brenda Shipley said...

oh so happy to read about the wonderful things you are doing and to read about that Fire Truck from Huntington Beach. It is a small world. Love you God be with you. the Shipley's