Saturday, March 16, 2013

Honduras Missions Minded at Crystal Lake Dentist

Getting ready for our 9th mission trip to Honduras.

Honduras, Central America

What in the World are we doing in Honduras?

We have been going to Honduras since 2006 with a doing a medical brigade with an organization called World Gospel Outreach based in Tegucigalpa Honduras. The teams would stay for a week of activities including two separate brigades in the city of Tegucigalpa.

2011 team

The Brigade Week.

These brigades would be announced by a local pastor and were set up in either the church or a nearby school. we would arrive on a Saturday in the spring and stay at the mission house in the mountains overlooking the city. On Sunday  we would attend church and lunch at a popular Honduran restaurant. following this was a trip to Valley of the Angles for shopping and souvenir hunting. On Monday morning we would travel into the poorer areas of the city and set up a medical brigade providing medical, dental treatment, delice children's hair and advance the gospel for the residents. These brigades would be announced by a local pastor and were set up in either the church or a nearby school. We would return on Tuesday and finish the brigade. We would take Wednesday off to visit Rancho Ebenezer in the mountains, on of the .he other facilities run by WGO. Thursday and Friday and repeat the brigade at another local church in the city. Saturday was a debrief session and head back to the airport to be stateside later that evening.
People lining up to be seen at the brigade

Providing Medical Care

Dispensing Medication in Pharmacy

Providing Dental Care
Washing and Delidcng Hair

Praying with families

A New Opportunity.

A few years back, our brigade leader from World Gospel Outreach asked if we would be interested in doing our brigade out of the city. In this instance, we would travel to a local town remote from the mission house and stay in a local motel with out Honduran interpreters and other Honduran professionals accompanying us. My wife and I agreed to try this adventure.

Our Motel in El Triunfo

Holy Week. ..  "Semana Santa".

 The decision to do so also surrounded Semana Santa or Holy Week. This is the week starting with Palm Sunday, leading up to Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Latin American countries are predominantly Catholic in faith, and Semana Santa is one of the most celebrated times of the year. In Honduras during Holy Week, there are many traditional events including the reenactment of  Jesus taking a cross and walking to His Crucifiction in several communities.  Many local artists have also made a tradition of creating colorful sawdust carpets for the participants (actors) to walk on to "soften the walk for Jesus". The entire week of Semana Santa is virtually a national holiday. Most businesses, transportation companies, government offices reaturaunts and shops close for the week. Many of the residents head for the beaches.
Semana Santa Event

Colored Sawdust Carpets created for the Crucifiction Walk

A Little Different Brigade Routine.

 Running a normal brigade during this week would not work due to the inability of the interpreters and others to get to and from the brigade sites. A trip to an isolated small community however is quite possible during this week. Our brigade leader had contacts in the southern Honduran community of El Triunfo and was able to arrange for our accommodations.  In 2011 we took our first trip to this community and visited 3 churches. We left on Sunday arriving in the afternoon and began our week. We were able to participate in 2 church services that week as well as visit an island on our last day as a treat. We returned in 2012 to visit the same community and visit 4 churches. In addition we were able to participate in  street evangelism. 

A Common Scene on the Steets of El Trounfo

Why We Wanted to go back to this Community.

There are so many churches and areas needing medical  attention, that scheduling a return trip to the exact same site with the exact same team is unlikely.Typically we never see the same pastors or local residents when we return for brigades year after year.  The El Triunfo trip allows us to visit the same churches, pastors and residents. We are able to build trust and relationships with the people of the community which is special for those of us who return every year to serve.

One of the Pastors we have come to know and love.

America is so blessed.

Americans are in the top 5% of wealthy people of the world, and in as such we need to share
If you ever have the opportunity to serve on a short term mission trip, you will be blessed as much as you bless those whom you serve. I urge you to seek an opportunity to take a mission trip and see how most of your brothers and sisters live. I love leading teams to Honduras ans seeing how hand in hand we connect with our brothers and sisters at a soul level. the health changes that we can provide are often temporary, but the soul changes and hope for a future as a child of God are priceless. In addition I get to watch in awe as north Americans return home changed on the inside with a resolve not to let the experience fade away. I believe from the bottom of my heart that the ripple effect of all of these miracles can transform generations. 

We are called.

After all this is what Christians are called to do in the great commission. In other parts of the bible, there is a distinct call to serve the less fortunate. In fact the bible speaks about taking care of the poor over and over. 

What do I do?

I am a dentist and as such I along with a few Honduran dentists, and dental students provide simple dental care and emergency care to hundreds of patients during the brigade week. Due to the poor diet, poor hygiene, and limited access to care, most Hondurans have raging tooth decay. Often we have to ask which tooth or teeth hurt the most, and only attend to a very few of the dental problems a typical Honduran may have. The three most common procedures provided are cleanings, fillings and extractions. Replacement of missing teeth at a brigade is not possible since the brigade is only at one location for 2 days and the lines are too long to provide that kind of extended free service.

Who can go on a Medical Brigade?

Anyone age 14 or over in decent health who can arrange the transportation and funding for the trip may be eligible  If you are not a Christian, you must check with the team leaders as you turn in you application to see if they are willing to take you along as this is central to the mission of the brigade. I have brought non-Christians before, but I will only allow them to participate in certain activities.

What if My church is not planning to do something like a Medical Brigade

You can join another brigade.   Contact WGO and let them know when you would be available and they can help you coordinate a trip with another team. My first brigade was a combined effort between my church and another local church. We had not met the team from the other church until the day of our trip. Several of our brigades were combination teams from all over the United States.  Eventually we were able to build up enough local interest that we began to lead our own teams.

What are the various activities that I may be doing during a brigade?

If you are a health care professional  you most likely will be using your profession to serve the people. If you do not have this skill set, you are still needed in children's areas, or as an assistant to the doctors, helping in pharmacy, or in evangelism. If your brigade is able to you may be asked to help place a cement floor for one of the local Hondurans (many people live in shacks on dirt floors).

Other Options with WGO

WGO also has need of people who can do construction and people in the trades are often needed to build homes at Rancho Ebenezer and other projects. WGO is occasionally on the lookout for individuals with teaching skills and other public health skills to come on staff. In addition, many times a  young adult can do an apprenticeship with WGO for up to a fee months helping out at the mission house and on brigades.

What does it take to prepare for a Medical Brigade?

WGO often runs two brigades at at time and scheduling a team often begins one year in advance. 
There is quite a bit of background work going on to make sure that ta brigade has the right number of interpreters, and other Honduran professionals to supplement and supply the North American team. Months ahead fundraising for the trip and supplies , medicine, vitamins, are collected and packed. Making sure all applications are in, money collected and passports in order, airline tickets purchased in advanced takes some planning. WGO is very helpful in providing information packet for the team leaders to help coordinate these activities.

About World Gospel Outreach

Founded about 30 years ago, World Gospel Outreach is a non-denominational Christian based organization  headquartered in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. They coordinate medical brigade mission trips year round with churches and schools principally in North America. WGO also runs a housing facility where teams help raise displaced Honduran children in a traditional family setting. In addition, a facility called the Bridge House helps the  "graduates" of Rancho Ebenexer re-enter Honduran life. Here they can look for employment or continue ont to college preparing to for life  as bilingual, healthy, Christian young adults. 

With this advantage, these Hondurans can thrive and become future leaders of this beautiful country 

The mission statement of WGO is as follows: 

WGO exists to do three things well. 
1.  To serve and reach the poor. for Christ.  
2.  To provide care for displaced or abandoned children.
3.  To provide opportunities for the North American Church to  experience the joy that comes through serving. 

If you would like to learn more about World Gospel Outreach, or you desire to contact them about serving click the link below.

If you have questions of me about serving, please leave a comment on this blog and I will get back to you.

 Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about dentistry dental care at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.


 815 459 2202

 Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about dentistry dental care at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Your comments are welcome


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About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.