And so begins another late blog post. Social distance…
What a weird time this has been…It’s been two months since we last left the gates of the Finca. Two long months inside the chain-link/barbed-wire fence that separates our Finca community from the outside world. And a little under two months ago, four other missionaries and I decided that Honduras was where we were going to ride out this weird, weird season of pandemia.
And so here we are…
The school and clinic closed just under 2 months ago. I think March 16 or 18 was my last day of scheduled clinic. Funnily enough, I jumped on that opportunity to paint the clinic (with my wonderful crew of missionaries), which had last been painted in 2013 (I believe). It looks so fresh and clean (ish) now. I just wanted to aprovechar (take advantage of) the time we were closed, not knowing how long it would last. Now I’m thinking of how silly it was to rush to get that done.
It’s hard to realize or remember or imagine what is going on in the rest of the world. We have no TVs, no radios, and we get 2 hours of WiFi a week (which is usually spent making phone calls to loved ones). I have heard a bit from family and friends, seen some videos, and looked at Facebook every once in a while, but I don’t know the reality or the gravity of the effects of COVID on the world.
Honduras took a no-shit approach to COVID, desde el inicio. Within days of the first case, everything closed, masses cancelled, shops, restaurants, and everything in between closed. They closed streets and put military/police at the planchas in the roads to enforce that people were not allowed to travel. The borders to Honduras closed, no one in and no one out. And just like that, my excitement of having any visitors was flipped inside out. No visitors, no vacation.
As missionaries with very specific roles, we were left with a kind of “what now?” We have started to take on some new roles as time has gone on, but things are certainly different than anticipated and different than they have ever been before.
Emanuel (the baby with the cleft lip/palate) unfortunately did not end up getting his surgery in March. Operacion Sonrisa (Operation Smile) came, and they said that he was still too small. That left another difficulty of where we were going to get more supplies for OG feeds until September… Rosa called me and told me that she had no more leche to give Emanuel, so Maria, our director, ordered leche with a special order from La Ceiba. With that, I asked Rosa to come with the baby, and we weighed Emanuel (while maintaining crazy social distance and what not). He is still gaining weight. He’s 9 months and 16.55 lb-still below normal, but catching up, which is a huge blessing!! We just recently ran out of pH strips. Apparently, pH strips are not a thing here in Honduras-we looked in Hospitals, stores, and pharmacies throughout many cities, sin exito. After consulting a US doctor for consejos, we decided that the auscultation of an air bolus would be the best option for confirming placement of the tube, considering the resources that we have. When they came to weigh the baby, I taught Rosa to use a stethoscope and auscultate an air bolus through the tube. Please continue to pray for Emanuel and Rosa during this journey. Si Dios lo permite, nuestra próxima fecha es en septiembre.
I have still been attending to the needs of the Finca community recently (because we’re all stuck here juntos). So that’s keeping me somewhat busy, and then de vez en cuando, someone will come to the gate needing a consult. I have gotten (moderately) good at looking in ears with an otoscope because there is no doctor here to do it. I have done consults through the fence at 1 AM, comforted scared mothers, sent a baby with obvious hydrocephalus to the hospital, and given out lots of chronic disease maintenance medications.
Two weeks ago, one of our little 6-year-old girls came to me with a large ulceration above her front tooth, which we had known was a rotten tooth. The dentist had advised us to just wait until it fell out if it wasn’t causing problems. And, of course, this pandemia made the tooth decide to flare up-inopportune timing. After consulting the dentist, I gave her a regimen of antibiotics and we decided that the tooth needed to come out. Gracias a Dios, we have a dental chair in the clinic that was donated last year by the dental brigade. We have none of the instruments or machines, but the good news about pulling teeth is that we don’t need drills, suction, or even water. The dentist was able to come to the clinic, and she pulled out a small front tooth. She does all the dental work for the Finca free-she has been so generous with us, a true bendición.
The women’s group has been put on hold for the unforeseen future, as there is a stay-at-home order in place. However, the food donation program is needed more than ever. All of the social distancing has many without any type of work, which makes obtaining food so so difficult for our neighbors. After about a month of COVID here, one of the women called my phone and said, “There’s just no food, Marisa.” She told me that her plan was to eat a cup of beans that she had. That was for lunch. No breakfast and no dinner. I asked her about the following day, and she said that she would have to see what she could find from neighors. However, she said that many of the neighbors were in the same boat as she. We had her make a list of neighbors in need of assistance, and 17 families received humble provisions that day.
We have been trying to keep some sort of normalcy for the kids and jovenes here, but there is a fine line between letting them think everything is normal and showing them that there is suffering outside our gates. And a lot of it. We’ve been doing our best here and each day brings new information, new joys, and new challenges.
This time of uncertainty really gives us a beautiful opportunity to trust in the Lord. Our Christian faith teaches us and gives us the blessing of hope-hope that there is a God who loves us and wants the best for us. ALL, truly all, that we have is a blessing and is because He willed it and someone said, “yes” to His will. What a beautiful thing. We have the capacity to make his will be done here and now, and not only in the big decisions, but in small, ordinary things too. I have been reading a book about Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and in the chapter on humility, the author describes that “Mother Teresa considered herself ‘a little pencil’ in the hand of God…she understood the dynamic that if you admire a certain kind of hand-writing, or if you enjoy a particular book, you don’t thank the pencil.” You thank the artist who uses the pencil to make such a work. What a beautiful way to look at our lives. “It is all God’s doing, all Gods work. All praise and glory belong to Him.”
The newly painted clinic!! 😍😍😍
Our food provisions for the neighbors.
One of our younger girls made a study spot outside her house.
Quarantine in paradise isn't all that bad.
La dentista in FULL garb.
The girls LOVE to do zumba, but they always choose right after dinner.