by Dr. Tom Sullivan ’78
When the idea was raised to send undergraduates from Gamma Zeta to Honduras to participate in the medical mission, I was confident that the brothers would find this a worthy effort and provide financial assistance… and I was not disappointed. Having been part of this trip for three years now, I knew it would be awesome for these guys to experience something of this magnitude. Although I did not get the chance to meet or work with Paul and Joe, Dr. Berl has expressed how great the guys were as part of the team in week #2.
I’d like to thank all the brothers who provided financial assistance to give Paul and Joe the opportunity to be part of something special. Your generosity exhibits one of the reasons we are all bound together in the pledge we took years before. The communication system that Dane has set up is a great way for all of us to stay in touch. I’m proud of all of Gamma Zeta nation and proud to call you brothers.
Providing the dental care to this impoverished people is a privilege and an honor. Working with Seth and Linda and the others I’ve met has enhanced my life; it can’t help but change you.
We are countlessly blessed as a people and a nation to be living in America. We truly take many things for granted. I’m confident that Paul and Joe will “pay it forward” and pass on the experience to others to continue in their footsteps.
If any of you have ever thought of participating in a mission such as this, I’d be happy to give you the necessary insight to help answer any questions or concerns. Thanks again for all your help.
Just got the following note from Dr. Seth Berl ’78 who led the Medical/Dental Mission trip to Honduras that Paul Jaroslawski ’15 and Joe Pearson ’15 recently joined. Here’s what Seth had to say about Paul and Joe…
“Paul and Joe were perfect for the team. We asked them what they would like to do and their response was ‘anything you need us to do’. We hear that response all the time and we ask a few more questions and get each member to tell us what he really wants to do. Joe ended up in the pharmacy. That’s not a hard job but many consider it boring. Joe did not think it was boring at all. He loved the pharmacy. Paul was assigned to help the dentists and did a great job. Neither ever complained. When they got caught up in their area of work, both would go around asking us if we needed any help. We always need help. If additional ATO’s come and are the quality of Joe and Paul, I will be happy as I will know we have an unselfish worker that puts the patients in front of their own needs.”
Great work Paul and Joe!!
Paul and Joe with the children of El Cacao
by Joe Pearson ’15
First, I would like to thank the generous alumni who have made this trip possible for Paul and me…. Stu Meacham, Ted Ahlem, John Aymond, Dane Luhrsen, Dr. Doug McGregor, Jeff Piper, Dr. Neil Schlupp, Dr. Ken Venos, Dr. Dave Teuscher, Dr. Don Rubenstein, Dr. John Geiser and Dr. Seth Berl.
My name is Joe Pearson and I am a senior studying Economics and Political Science. My motivation for joining the medical mission trip to Honduras was to gain insight into the Foreign Service field, which I hope to pursue after graduation. I think my obsession with international affairs formed during one of my countless discussions with my grandfather. A combat veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, my grandfather was always glued to a TIME magazine or the international section of the Tribune. Being the oldest male grandchild, he would always make an effort to discuss the latest worldly events with me but all the intricacies and details would go in one ear and out the other. I remember sitting down with him following the 9/11 attacks and asking him “Why?” and receiving an answer that was far too complex for anyone to understand, let alone a confused 8 year old. Continue reading
Hello Gamma Zeta,
On Friday, we spent our last day assisting Seth’s team in the village of Santa Cruz. When we arrived there was only one person in line, but soon enough a long line formed. As always, I began by helping the dental clinic set up. The process begins with sanitizing all the tables and then placing clean sheets over them. Following this, I wash the dental chairs before placing four garbage bags around the room, two for each dentist. Once the dentists finish setting up their utensils, I call in patients one by one by saying proximo, which means next. I take the patient, point to the middle of the chair, and say siente sei aqui, which means sit right here. If they do not sit in the middle of the chair, the chair flips over. Once the patient is seated, I take their info sheet and place a drape and bib on them. When the patient is done, I clean the drape and call the next patient. This is how most of my days looked like. After being able to assist the team this past week, I cannot be more thankful to Seth and his whole team for allowing Joe and I to come. I am also very thankful to Dane for organizing the whole trip and for donating along with Stu Meacham, Ted Ahlem, John Aymond, Dr. Doug McGregor, Jeff Piper, Dr. Neil Schlupp, Dr. Ken Venos, Dr. Dave Teuscher, Dr. Don Reubenstein, and Dr. John Geiser. Being able to assist Dr. Seth Berl, Dr. David Adcock, Dr. Michael Dent, Dr. Bob Wright, Linda, Elaine, Jennie, Rhonda, Amy, and Devon was an extraordinary experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Although, I wish I could have contributed more, I am very thankful for having the opportunity to assist the team. If anyone has ever an opportunity to be a part of a medical mission team, I highly recommend it. You learn a lot about people’s reality in third world countries and how spoiled we actually are. I hope to assist Seth’s team again the future.
Walking through the market on our last day.
Our view outside of the clinic in Santa Cruz.
Honduras after lift off.
by Dr. Seth Berl ’78
day #13 honduras….. i know heritage church is readying itself for mega-impact week but here in honduras we are in relax mode. bob wright, oral surgeon from sarasota, David adcock, OB-GYN from moultrie as well as my wife linda and myself have been here in honduras working for 2 weeks. the mission field is so much harder than you can imagine and i have nothing but respect and praise for those who serve in another country. our host missionaries are rhonda and TR sweeney from augusta, ga. they have lived the last 15 years in honduras. Just think about that!
team 2 had a great week. by the numbers we saw about 1080 patients with 2 doctors. our 2 dentists, bob and michael dent from sylvester saw about 160 patients. our team only had 12 members so we were very worried about how we could run all our areas and still get home by dark. you do not want to be driving on a mountain in honduras after dark. you have a very good chance to run into a car with no lights as well as a cow, horse with or without a rider, a 5 year old child walking alone on the side of the road, a bicycle going faster than you or a motorcycle passing you on a mountain curve with a double yellow and a truck coming the other way. i have never had a team so willing to pitch in anywhere they are needed. it actually felt like we had too many team members and many got to play with the honduran children. how many american kids would be happy just to blow or chase bubbles for hours? in the 2 weeks, we had a total of 6 college student who elected to spend their spring break in honduras rather than the beach or elsewhere. that is remarkable. i imagine most of us were not thinking of serving others in a third world foreign country during college spring break but just having a good time. maybe there is hope for this younger generation. 3 of our students are from university of florida, 2 are from university of illinois where linda and i went to college and 1 is from emmanuel college in boston, mass. i wish we could get some UGA students to join in.
saturday is our travel day. up early and home late.
for those of you who have read my posts in previous years where i wrote about exciting or scary adventures, everything just went too smooth this year. i never let the facts get in the way of a good story but this year i just did not have the material to work with. I mentioned this lack of life threatening adventure to Linda and she just said to thank God for good weather, a good bus driver, great team members, a supportive church, excellent missionaries to work with and a God that had prepared everything in advance. amen i knew there was a reason i married her!!!
Buenos Dias Gamma Zeta,
Today we helped the village of Buena Vista, which is also a small village 30 minutes away from La Esperanza. Seth told me that this week our team is visiting smaller villages because they have only half the doctors and dentists compared to last week’s team. Since I have got accustomed to setting up the dental clinic and assisting the dentists, I decided to spend the whole day helping them. We were able to help 45 patients with 26 of them being before lunch, which was really good. After lunch, Joe and I played soccer with two kids before returning to our positions (Joe worked at the pharmacy). I continued assisting at the dental clinic till 3 and then helped load the bus back to La Esperanza. When we arrived back, I asked Jonathan (one of our translators) to take me to a local barber, where I received the Honduran haircut for $2. It was a nice price, only a tenth of what I pay back home. Afterwards we drove to Rhonda’s mission for some good dinner and then played a good game of pig on the basketball court outside. Hocobo came in first, it was a surprise to us, but out of respect Joe and I thought it was the right thing to do by letting him win (I hope Seth and Linda do not read this haha). Following our game we came back to our hotel. Tomorrow morning we are loading the bus at 6:10 and driving to Santa Cruz.
The dental clinic at work
A home next to the schools soccer field
A brother and sister watch as their father has their teeth pulled out
Today was our day off. Although breakfast was served at 9:45, I went for a nice 6 mile run around La Esperanza with Dr. Bob Wright and his wife Anne at 7:30. I enjoy running in new places and when I found out Dr. Wright and Anne were going for a run I couldn’t resist. The farm lands that are a little north of the city are really pretty. It was a great way to start the day. Following our run, we had breakfast at Rhonda’s mission before doing some shopping with the local translators, Hocobo (Jacob in English) and Elaine. Joe bought a machete, a popular item for tourists, while I bought my younger sister a Honduran sling shot. After completing our shopping, Hocobo was kind enough to drive us to two lagoons. Seth, Linda, Bob, and Anne tagged along in Seth’s truck, while Hocobo drove the rest of us. The views were picturesque, as you can see from the photos I posted. Around 4:30 we arrived back at our hotel and sorted some medication prior to enjoying our team dinner at La Hacienda. Seth ordered four large platters containing all sorts of meat and plantains. It was the best meal so far and I’ve been eating well throughout the week. Once dinner was complete, Hocobo took Joe, Devon and I on a walk through the center of the city and then up to La Gruta. La Gruta is on a hill and contains a statue of the Virgin Mary, it is one of the landmarks in La Esperanza. Following our walk, Joe and I showered and headed to bed for a 6:25AM wake up call.
Farmlands north of La Esperanza
A lagoon Hocobo took us to
Ox enjoying some water before going up a very steep hill
La Gruta, one of the landmarks in La Esperanza
This little boy ran up to me to hug my leg
Joe and I overlooking the Honduran mountains. Our team stopped here on our way back from Buena’s Aires.
Playing soccer with the children
Buenas Gamma Zeta,
We woke up today at 7AM to load the bus and then proceeded to Rhonda’s mission for breakfast. After breakfast, we headed 30 minutes north to the village of Buena’s Aires. Throughout the first two hours I helped the dental clinic set up and bring in patients. After the two hours I went to the pharmacy where I helped fill prescriptions till lunch time. Once Joe and I finished lunch, we went to go play soccer with the kids. We actually started a game of 5 on 5 cause the kids were asking for it. After enjoying our time with the children we headed back into the pharmacy for an hour. Since it was a smaller village, we ended up finishing a little earlier than average so Joe and I passed some candy out before packing the bus back to La Esperanza. Back in La Esperanza, Joe and I went with Devon (the only other student) to La Hacienda again for some authentic Honduran food, which I have really enjoyed. Following our dinner we went back to Hotel Mina and watched an older American movie with Spanish dubbing. I’ve really enjoyed the trip so far and have been able to pick up some Spanish along the way.
by Linda (Jones) Berl (Dr. Seth Berl’s ’78 wife, Larry Jones ’75 sister, Gamma Zeta Little Sister)
Honduras team 2 update: I tried to post last night, but the Internet was down as it was most of today.
Tuesday the team drove to one of the smallest villages we go to called Buenas Aires. It is down a dirt road from Yamaringuila for those who have been here. As was the case on Monday, we weren’t greeted with a long line when we got there for clinic, but they just kept coming little by little all day until about 1:30. The dentists were actually finished before the doctors. Ithink this only happened because they didn’t have any “problem cases.”
We were almost through with people around 2 pm to see the 2 doctors so we began to pack the medicines in the pharmacy. A few minutes later here comes a small group of people walking up to the school where we had clinic.. “What to do?” Say we are closed now or reopen which means we have to unpack the meds again. To tell you the truth, we initially told them we were closed, but after they turned and walked away, we changed our mind and called them back. One of them told me they had walked from “muy lejos” or very far. so we started the check in procedure again. Then we looked up the road and some more were heading our way including an obviously crippled lady with severe arthritis. I don’t know how far she had walked but I was so glad she didn’t walk it in vain to find us closed. We probably only were able to provide short term anti-inflammatory medicine for her arthritis but these people will walk miles just to get short term relief.
The highlight of my day was to give my 2 books of Spanish children’s bible stories to their pastor, Rubenia for her to read to the children as they waited. She & one of translators, Gabby, read to separate groups of “ninos” for over an hour. The amazing thing was that Rubenia had the older group standing the entire time as she read while showing them the colorful pictures. Not one of them left or sat down. Not sure that would have happened in the states.
After we packed up around 3:00 we drove a short way to walk out onto the Yasi valley overlook. This was on the other side of this beautiful canyon-like valley than we’ve gone before. So beautiful! I will try to post some pics from my iPhone in another post.
Bare with me one more paragraph about today, our free day. One of our dearest Honduran friends, Margot Sanchez, passed on to be with her beloved Jesus on Monday. Those of us who knew her went to her funeral this morning. It was a beautiful and typical long service, paying tribute to Margot, but also full of praise to the Lord. It was a blessing for us that Mera, who is Dilcia’s sister, translated so we could understand. She had lived with Margot for several years so I know she was grieving, but she did a wonderful job. It was beautiful singing How Great Thou Art” with them in different languages but to the same Lord.
Hola Gamma Zeta,
Today we went to our first village, El Cacao, which is located 33 miles (54 km) north of La Esperanza. We woke up at 6AM to load the bus and then headed to Rhonda’s mission for breakfast. After breakfast we got on the bus and arrived in El Cacao around 8 after driving on the all-dirt-road for a little over an hour. I began setting up with the dental clinic, where Dr. Mike Dent and Dr. Bob Wright were the dentists. Setting up required sterilizing the tables, chairs, other equipment the dentists use. I assisted the dentists for about two hours. I mostly brought in new patients, sat them, placed a drape and bib on them, and cleaned the drape when they were finished. Joe and I switched after two hours and I started working at the pharmacy. In the beginning, I just made sure the nurses placed the correct medication for each script before handing it over to the families. After getting the hang of it, I was able to fill the prescriptions myself. We ate lunch at noon and afterwards Joe and I were able to play soccer with the children. It was truly a great experience, especially seeing all the smiles from the children being able to kick around the soccer ball with us. Following soccer, Joe and I went back to the pharmacy for a couple more hours. Before cleaning up for the day, Linda (Seth’s wife) brought us to one of the homes in the village. Although the family was very poor they welcomed us and we were able to talk to them in spanglish for a few minutes. Following our talk, we packed the bus and headed back to La Esperanza. It was a great first day and we both learned a lot about how the volunteering days look like. Tomorrow we will be better prepared to help the Honduran people in Buenas Aires (not the capital of Argentina).
Joe and I overlooking the view at the school in El Cacao.
Entrance to the school in El Cacao
Joe and I with the children of El Cacao