Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Honduran Angel

I recently returned from my 3 mission trip to Honduras in 4 years. We skipped a year due to political unrest a couple of years ago. This journey, all the 2 previous was filled with joy, spirit, suffering, pain, happiness and was both draining and refilling of mind, body and spirit.

Each year there are many stories and events that stick in my mind, but there is always one which stands out the most, the first year was bringing the bible back to a village, the next year was being an "official" police transport for 3 Honduran prisoners and their captors.

This year was no different. It was the 3 day of the medial clinics and we were set up in a village called Rancho de Obispo I have been to Rancho at least one other time before this. 

There was something in the air, I could not put my finger on it but I knew God would be using our team in this village that day. It is not unusual to feel that way, but on this day it was particularly strong.

Early in the day, before our treatment nurse was completely set up, one of the providers, Dr. Greg, was performing 2 "minor" surgeries, which I found out about because someone came running into the pharmacy area and in a non-calm way announced "We need gauze, there is blood everywhere!"  it wasn't bad, but there was a lot of blood from the cancerous growth being removed from an older gentleman's nose.

I thought maybe this was what we were here, for but the feeling didn't pass. As the day went on it was relatively calm and going along smoothly, we only say about 50 patients before lunch (a light load), it seemed that it might be an early day. Boy was I wrong... by the end of the day we had seen over 170 patients, a very long afternoon/evening.

In the middle of the afternoon, Dr. Greg sent someone to find me, I was performing the role of Administrator of the Day, a.k.a. the guy walking around with the cup of coffee :-)  He needed me to talk with a family and the local church to see what, if anything we could do. This is when I met the Honduran Angel, literally her name was Angelica, Angel for short, she was 5 years old, and had the most beautiful smile.  It hit me almost immediately I had noticed her playing earlier, which is not odd I have a tendency to remember many of the face of people i meet but in this moment it was almost as if I knew her.  I think looking back i was not seeing Angel the little girl, rather I was seeing God in her eyes.

Dr. Greg went on to explain that Angel was almost completely deaf, they are not sure if she was born that way or if it has slowly deteriorated and they want to know if there is anything we can do to help. My first thought was not much except pray for a miracle. I then proceed to talk through two different interpreters to Angel's family as well as the local guardian, who would know about their financial needs and ability. I am not sure why I used 2 interpreters to talk to the family, maybe availability, but more likely I was making sure I was monitoring myself and asking all the right questions etc. 

What I learned was Angel and her family had been to 3 doctors, one or two of which were hearing specialist, which had confirmed it was not external blockage or non-addressable internal issue. She was about 90% deaf in both ears. Her family had been working with her to include her in society as much as possible, they had their own version of sign language and could community on a rudimentary level. Toward the end i found myself signing as I talked to her, granted my signing is about as good as my picito Spanish but it was enough.

Toward the end of the conversation I took Angel's picture and showed her the camera. Most of the time, when you take a picture and show it to a Honduran they will point to the picture and look at it and may identify themselves or others in the picture.  Angel however GRABBED the camera from me and studied it, then after a few seconds, she pointed to the picture of herself and said, what I guessed to be her version of the word "that" in Angel it is "dddddddddddt" then she pointed to herself. Next she said "that" again, pointed to her grandmother in the picture and to her grandmother sitting next to her, and a third time for her younger sibling sleeping in grandma's arms. She was SCREAMING in her soft voice, "I want to communicate!" "I want to learn!"  I then helped her take a picture of Dr. Greg, and she repeated the "that" process and then indicated she wanted to she the picture of herself again.

Angel, Her Grandmother and baby sibling

So here we have an intelligent 5 year old little girl with a family that loves her and wants to help her be a productive member of society. I later found out in talking with the team at Rancho others had noticed her, as soon as I started to describe her, people responded with "the girl in the blue dress?" or "the little girl with the big smile"  this to me was confirmation that i was not the only person God was talking to about Angel. Additionally, our pied piper (person who plays with the kids while parents wait/visit with the doctor) told me that the other kids had told her, the piper, that she couldn't talk, but had you not been told, you would have never know, she was right in the middle of the other kids, running, playing and laughing, even playing "duck, duck, goose" or as we call it in Honduras "gato, gato, raton" for 2 hours. 

So what could be done, how could we help her, simple the specialist had already diagnosed her, she was a candidate for hearing aids but her family could not afford them, and they did not ask us to pay for them, they simply asked, if there was anything we could do to help them take the next step of the journey.  How much are the hearing aides I asked... " 8,000 limpera each" with the current exchange rate that would be about $860 US for both ears. Not a small amount of money but to a Honduran a HUGE amount.

In my heart I had already decided I would find a way for Angel to hear her mother's voice, and I would be back to Rancho next year to hear directly from her what it was like. i also knew at that moment this is where God needs me for years to come and I would get the privilege of watching from a distance to see what God was going to do with Angel, it was clear to me he had a plan. 

However, i could not tell the family this, all i could say was, we would pray about it and see where God leads us, and IF it was possible we would work with the local church to help in whatever way we could.  We wrote down the Angel's name, her mother's name and an "address" and cell number where they should be able to be reached.

Later in the week I talked with our local person who helps with situations like this about what our options might be etc. i also talked with the leadership of Honduras Good Works to see what our financial options might be. On the financial side, HGW was able to "loan": the money with the intention of fund raising to back fill the coffers. on the medical side, Josephina was confident we would be able to mind a good doctor and the needed hearing aids and be able to get everything scheduled. Josephina would start working on it this week.

Tuesday night comes around and I got a message on facebook from Josephina, they had found and were working with a couple of other small cases we had identified and it was going well. However, so far they had been unsuccessful in finding Angel.

So, how can you help?  Three ways, the first two are free and relatively easy. If you are so moved, PRAY!  Pray that God's will is done in this situation, if it is His will for Angel to be found and for her to hear then Amen. If however, if it was enough for me and the others there, and you by extension to experience Him through our limited interaction with Angel then Amen.  Pray!  The second is share Angel's story and ask them to Pray!

The third is not free and I would only ask you to participate in a way that was not a burden to you, and that of course is financially, whether God leads us to find Angel or not, there are many kids who have medical needs which we are not able to address on our once a year visit but we can work thought the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras to help with as they come up.  If you are lead to contribute to this or any of the other programs that Honduras Good Works does you can find out more about HGWs  ( and make a contribution ( at their website.
If you are specifically donating to help Angel then in the Donation Designation area please  choose "Mission Honduras" and add a note about Angel on your contribution.

More Stories about this years journey to come, but had to get that out out there :-)

And as the story progresses I will add updates!
Your Brother,


Sister Pat said...

So the situation is that Josephina and the other locals cannot find Angel and her family? Not that Angel is lost from her family, correct??? Are you fearful that she may have been harmed? At any rate I shall pray that Angel is safe and happy and that the HGW folks are able to locate her and give her the gift of hearing.

Randall said...

yes, the assumption is she is with her family, however the Honduran team cannot locate her.