“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Going to another country to do the work of the Lord can be very intimidating to think about. Not only are you leaving behind everything you know as far as day to day life, but you are most likely going to the not-so-great parts of that country. I have known for a long time that I wanted to do missions work, but the right time never came, so when I was presented with an opportunity to join a couple of my U of I Vet Med friends to go to Honduras, I jumped to take it.
“Oh my goodness, it’s so dangerous there, be safe!”
“Why are you going there, don’t you know how dangerous it is?”
Questions from various friends and family about why I chose “such a place” to go and bring the word of God to. My only answer was the truth: This is where I was called, and I trust that God has wonderful things in store. I never once doubted my safety and knew that God would protect no matter what. Even when we missed our flight from Atlanta to Tegucigalpa. Even when we got off the plane and there were guards with huge guns standing all around and outside the airport. Even when our van drive didn’t speak much English and kept stopping to pick up more random men on the hours-long drive to the Ranch. We made it safely, and what an amazing couple of weeks were waiting for us.
Each day we drove to a different village in the area, where we set up a big tent to perform the small animal surgeries. During the day, we were split into four different groups: Prep team, Small Animal, Large Animal, and Kids team. Prep team helped give flea and tick prevention and de-wormer, administer vaccinations, and prep dogs and cats for spays and neuters. The Small Animal group performed the spays and neuters on dogs and cats. The Large Animal team did anything from horse and pig castrations to administering de-wormer to various farm species. And finally, the Kids team spent the day with the children in the area playing games, teaching them about Jesus, and doing crafts. Needless to say, every day was a great adventure.
One of the hardest things to deal with was the difference in how animals are treated in Honduras. Most of them are work animals, and those that are considered “pets” are still allowed free reign of the outdoors. They were not coddled or spoiled like many animals are here in the United States, and many were treated in manners that would be considered downright abuse in our society. They don’t have the same conception of their furry friends as we do, and laughing at an animal in pain or being abused is the norm. Part of what we were there to do, is to show them that there is a better way. You don’t have to drag the puppy by a chain around it’s neck and kick it to do what you want. There is a better, kinder, more loving way. We had the joy of trying to show some of those we interacted with such things.
One of the days, I had the amazing opportunity to go around the village we visited, with the Honduras International Pastor, to pray with families in their homes. We were able to pray for specific needs of various families, even if they were not believers. They allowed us in to love on them and their families through the name of Jesus, and it was so amazing to pray over them. This was a big part of what I was here to do.
Another reason I was called to Honduras was to grow in my own faith. Spending time every evening with the group in worship and study was a blessing above all else. One of the doctors brought her guitar, and a student her violin… I can’t even begin to describe the amazing worship and other musical experiences those two brought to us.
The last thing I want to touch on was the heartache that I went through in losing a patient while there. A little girl brought us her cat so that we could spay her. Now, the cats in Honduras are much like any angry stray cat here in the States – they don’t like to be touched. And a bite from them was a very bad thing. I was on Prep Team that day, and was not comfortable doing an “intra-cat” injection through the bag she was presented to us in so that we could sedate her for surgery. So, I asked one of my fellow missionaries to help hold the cat while I gave the injection. As predicted, the cat freaked out and everyone was yelling “LET GO” – so my friend let go and the cat ran off. My immediate thought was, “she’s going to get trampled by a horse or something.” The little girl hunted her down and brought her back. Well, as it turns out, she fell in a puddle and drowned because I did get the full injection administered and she couldn’t get out of the puddle. I was absolutely devastated and felt as though I had just killed this girl’s cat. I spent the rest of the day crying and wondering why this could have possibly happened? I was here to love, not kill people’s animals. I went to shower, and upon coming back I had a note from one of the doctors I was rooming with on my pillow. She reminded me that we all must deal with the consequences of circumstance sometimes – that this was not my fault.
This was a major teaching moment for me – to come to terms with something that has gone horribly wrong and know that I still made the best decisions that I could have made. We will all face this in various ways once we become veterinarians. We will always ask if we did everything we could, if we made the right choices. These are the times we must take courage and move forward, trusting God that He will never fail us – that everything is apart of His bigger plan.
Overall, this was part story, part encouragement for you as you move through today, as you move through tomorrow, and as you move through every day. I strongly encourage you to listen to were you are called, because some amazing things come from following God.
And a quick shout-out to everyone I met in Honduras – you are a wonderful family to have standing with me through any storm. I am ever blessed and thankful to have you in my life. <3