Guest Post: Team Nicaragua Medical Mission, October 2015, part 2

From October 24th-30th, 2015 Team Nicaragua traveled to Managua share The Gospel and serve the medical needs of the beautiful Nicaraguan people in the Bluefields area on the eastern coast. Two LBC members, Brita Zuehlke and Angela Robinson were part of the team. The following are excerpts from Brita's daily Facebook posts during the trip. (Read part 1 HERE!) We are thankful for the work that was done to advance God's Kingdom and for Brita's willingness to share her story with us.

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October 29th - Hospital Tour and Travel back to Managua:
We had the opportunity to tour the hospital in Bluefields.  For several of us it was like a step back in time and for others (our younger providers) it was quite eye opening.  One woman delivered a baby right there in the hallway and we were able to witness the baby's first cry.  The equipment is old and supplies are low and patients bring their own linen and medicine before they can have surgery.  Privacy, comfort and rest are not priorities here.  The one similarity that stood out was the medical students who acted just like our medical students filing in behind their attending like little ducklings and writing patient notes.


At 10 am we were back on the pangas heading back toward El Rama and the long bus ride back to Managua.  On the river we observed many shoreline dwellings, rusty but functioning fishing boats and small canoes.  This was yet another day without rain and we were again amazed at the beauty of His creation.

During the bus ride and at the evening devotion we shared stories and reflections from the previous few days.  Leith told us about a young family consisting of mom and 4 children who showed up as we were closing the clinic.  Leith was tired, we were running out of supplies and all of the kids needed glasses and had respiratory problems.  The children aged 8-15 and were very polite and answered all questions clearly.  The youngest was a girl and was asked:

“Danielle, do you need glasses, too?” 

“Yes ma'am, so I can read my Bible.”  

“Well, do you have your own Bible?”

“No ma'am.”  

We had just given away our last Spanish Bible, but Leith had a hunch that she had something in her bag and sure enough, there was the New Testament in Spanish that had been packed for another mission trip 5 years ago.  The girl was beaming and her eyes lit up as her name was written on the front page.  She was very proud to have her very own Bible.  The mom winked a “thank you” with her beautiful brown eyes.

Craig and Jackie told a story about a mother and a daughter who came to clinic around lunchtime.  The mother had a severe leg injury that required vascular surgery at the hospital or she would be at risk of losing her foot.  We tried to convince her that she had to go there immediately but she said she could not go because she had no one to take care of her daughter.  As a team we prayed for her, involved the church members to help take care of the young girl, then we called for a taxi to take her to the hospital.  During the tour of the hospital we saw her in a bed awaiting surgery and her face lit up when she saw us and she thanked us for everything. Father David, Craig, and Jackie had a touching moment where they prayed over her bed in preparation for her surgery and reassured her that her daughter was doing well.

Dr. Tellez, Indira, and Vladimir all thanked us on behalf of all the patients and were commenting the fact that we all are willing to give up our own vacation, pay for part or all of the trip out of our own pockets, and then work long days to take care of los Nicaraguense—“their people.” They were all amazed that there can  still be such kind and selfless people who give so much and get “nothing” in return.

October 30th - The Las Torres Neighborhood:
We spent a lot of time sitting on the school bus from Bluefields to Managua. But it was not until Friday, as we drove into Las Torres, that it was evident of something special. As our bus arrived at CALT, Christian Academy of Las Torres, we were greeted by the huge smiles and overwhelming excitement of children screaming with joy and laughter. This was quite a surprise!

When we started setting up clinic in the school, it was a culture shock to see dirt floors, poor utilities, and an infrastructure that didn't match the warmth and joy that all the children and teachers showed us. Before we saw our first patients, we toured the local neighborhood and housing arrangements of the people in the area. Often, small houses no larger than an American kitchen were home to whole families of parents and multiple kids.

One of the families invited us into their home and introduced us to Brittani, a 4-year old girl afflicted with cancer. Father David was asked to come in and lay hands on her and offer prayer. We would later see her in the clinic. Bordering between houses was a drainage ditch that emptied into Lake Managua and was full of trash and sewage. There were kids in the water collecting plastic bottles to recycle. It was truly an eye-opening experience to see the conditions people can live in.

In clinic, we saw a wide array of diseases ranging from chicken pox to congestive heart failure. Although the patients were all in need of medical care and prayer ministry, their spirits could not have been brighter. When Brittani arrived, she ran to us with open arms and began to “play doctor” with our stethoscopes and headlamps. She was playful and hopeful, as any 4-year-old kid should be. The group reflected on this patient encounter and were tremendously touched by how she was like any other kid, she just wanted to play! She demonstrated pure innocence.

Humbling. The one word that could describe the entire day for all of us. It was a reminder of morning devotion by Father David where we discussed humility and how God calls us to be humble so he can raise us up.

Final Reflections:
We have now all returned home to our respective families and friends and are processing and reliving all the stories and experiences from this past week.  We are posting on Facebook and longing to share.  But, how do you respond to a co-worker who asks how it was but only has 10 seconds to listen?  We can talk for hours if you let us.  What do you highlight? Which picture can sum it all up? We have all been changed by this trip, through the leadership from Ali, from the new friendships that were developed and by all the love that was showered upon us by the people of Nicaragua, young and old.  God worked through and in each of us this week and we were all blessed by it.

Brita Zuehlke and her husband, Reed, live in Orlando and are members of Lake Baldwin Church. Brita is originally from Sweden but has lived in the US since 1983. She works as a physical therapist at Florida Hospital, Winter Park. Brita started traveling to Nicaragua in 2004 with the Medical Mission Team from Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta. She is also on the board of a Christian School in Managua for impoverished children where she has been able to develop deep lasting relationships with both teachers and students. She has a special place in her heart for the children of Nicaragua.