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Unfinished Business…

When I returned to the States from the early fall trip in 2014, I sensed a strong urging to return to El Ayudante as soon as possible. Why? Part of the reason was a (selfish) desire to get plugged back into a ministry environment which is rich and thriving in relationship with God and His people, and serving the “least of these” with compassion, integrity and excellence. Although located in a literal (agricultural) valley, El Ayudante provided the proverbial “mountain top” experience that week. Also, just being around the Mohagens, Howards, and Hovestols would bless anyone, as any team member would tell you! However, there was a specific reason I wanted to get back sooner than later.

On the last day of the October clinic, I was told that there was an “emergency” coming in to be seen by me. blogpic1When you hear the word “emergency” in Honduras, it’s unsettling at best. It turned out that a mother and son were literally led into the clinic, both with significant visual problems. A 16 year-old boy (Carlos) had fallen in a cornfield, and his left eye was full of corn silk, which had caused a severe corneal abrasion, similar to what fiberglass would do to your eye. We spent nearly two hours removing one strand after another, until there was nothing remaining. As I was working on him, it was apparent he had had cataract surgery in both eyes, which we found out was performed in Cuba about six years ago. There were no post-operative implants, and he had no glasses, so his vision was very poor, and he was extremely light sensitive, because the irises, which form the pupil, were missing as well. Fortunately, we had the right antibiotics to treat his condition, and it resolved well. However, it was not possible to check his vision that day for corrective eyewear, due to the severity of the eye injury. It would have to wait…

blogpic2As far as his mom was concerned, she had lost her vision a couple of years ago due to exposure to lye, which is used to remove the husk off the corn when making tortillas. Both eyes were completely non-functional. In the 20+ years traveling to Honduras doing medical brigade work, I had never seen bilateral blindness as a result of lye burns.

So on that final day of clinic, there was the joy of taking care of Carlos’ acute eye condition that left untreated would have been sight threatening, balanced with the sorrow of seeing his mom with two permanently blinded eyes, a result of just cooking for her family. That last day of clinic really undid me…

Because of El Ayudante’s permanent presence in the community, and knowing that Carlos and his mom lived in the area, Jon Hovestol assured me that I could see them again to do some further testing. So this past January, I headed back down by myself for another week of clinic. Along with seeing a full schedule of patients, Jon arranged for me to see Carlos and his mom. The good news for Carlos is glasses are being made to correct as much of his vision as we can to take care of his large refractive error. The “unfinished business” with his mom was that we had not taken the opportunity to personally pray with her last year. The Lord graciously gave us another opportunity to do so. Several of us gathered to pray, and we went before the Lord on her behalf. Although there was no manifestation of healing at that moment, we were obedient to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We are called to pray, and leave the results up to Him…I’m still in the process of learning that lesson.

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On a practical level, I spent the afternoons helping Dr. Idis become more familiar with the biomicrocope, so she would be able to follow up on some of the patients I saw that week, and handle eye inflammation/infection issues she may see during her normal work flow.

 

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My translator/pre-tester Jose, who served with us on the initial trip, was gracious enough to commute daily from Comayagua to be available again to help me with all of the patients I saw. This young man has the aptitude and servant’s heart to be in the medical profession. We’ll see if he continues on the engineering path.

I cannot adequately express my admiration for the leadership of El Ayudante, and the foundation they have laid to Biblically and holistically serve the communities they have been placed in. It is truly a ministry “of another kind”…

So very grateful to the Lord for this ongoing opportunity,

Dr. Jeff Johnson

 

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