School, bugs, and medicine in Honduras

The boys have been attending a school in Rio Esteban, which is a school in a nearby village.  This has been difficult for them, as I have mentioned before.  They go 2 days a week, and our main goal is for them to learn Spanish and integrate with local kids.  There is only a couple kids there that speak english, and the boys are the only ‘Gringos’ that attend.  We’ve had a few tearful mornings as they resist.  We are continuing the experiment to see if they will eventually adjust and thrive, or if they will feel more and more segregated.  If nothing else, I think they will gain some enlightening perspective on how it feels to be different, alienated, isolated. No one wants their kids to feel pain, but this is one situation where I hope they can rise above their circumstance.

As a writing exercise, I assigned Will to do a short essay on ‘Honduran School.’  We had to throw out his first 2 drafts. The first one was just him complaining about every facet of the school.  The second was his attempt to just get-er’-done, path of least resistance, by writing ‘falsifications,’ which is a happier word for ‘lies.’  He basically wrote how everything was wonderful, fun, awesome.  Wheeeee!   His final draft was a better mix of realty, see below.






Will, waiting for the bus. His heart is really not into it

OK, now about bugs. It’s like, enough about the Frickin’ bugs already, right?! How many of my posts contain some mention of, or some enlightened observation of, or some complaint about bugs. But seriously, they are just so ‘buggy.’ Every day there are new bites to itch, new rashes to ponder, new ant marches to avert. You know when you feel a little something on your skin and think, ewwh, that’s a bug?  But then you realize, nah, that can’t be a bug. And you look, and sure enough, it’s not a bug. Here, it’s ALWAYS going to be a bug.

As the heat and humidity is picking up, so are the bugs.  Last night, sitting inside our apartment, inside the confines of screens and doors, I had to kill, like, 50 bugs that landed on me.

Heidi has a mosquito bite that now has evolved into a secondary infection with bacteria, so she’s developing a bit of a cankle on her left side.  Had to start some antibiotics today.

But lets get some perspective: We have screens on all our windows. In fact, one of the maintenance guys just repaired all of the screens for us. Next, I found some silicone caulk and went around the edges of all the screens to seal them. Then, I discovered all the spots where ants were sneaking in, and I caulked their little tunnels shut. THEN, I went outside and sprayed some ultra potent, bug repellant around the window ledges (stuff is probably mega-neurotoxic, I think I saw Owen convulsing the next day after inhaling it all night). So, I’ve got this place as bug proof as it is possible to be. Yet I think of the local people sleeping in their little shacks out in the jungle: no windows. maybe no doors. ceilings possibly made of thatched palm tree fronds. No fans to blow the bugs off your skin. No bug repellant. And then I realize that I am a total wuss… And I am grateful for my situation.

Last note on bugs, they are called ‘Bichos’ here.  Kind of sounds like bitches.  So far, I haven’t heard anyone say:  If you don’t knock that off, I’m gonna’ Bug slap you!  (Mrs. Jahn’s, can you edit this paragraph for Juliet’s kindergarten class?  –thanks)

I continue to be amazed by the medical dilemmas we face here. Peter, the ER doc here, notes that he is basically completing his residency in Oncology (cancer medicine) while here, because we see so many patients with cancer.   For various reasons, many patients come from far and wide to our hospital for treatment of their cancer, and it is usually very advanced.   Unfortunately, we usually can’t help them with their cancer very much, unless there is a surgical fix.  But we sure try to love on them, give them comfort, and help them sort out their souls—which is certainly more important.

This past week I saw a young woman (younger than me…) of age 37, who came in with the chief complaint of “I need a hysterectomy.”  She had a referral from a honduran doctor requesting that we do a hysterectomy for her (which means remove all her girlie parts.)  So, I set to figuring out why this was necessary.  She had an ultrasound report which was nice and normal. She produced 3 pap smear reports from the last 6 months.  All 3 were negative for any signs of cervical cancer.  What they did show was that she had severe inflammation of the cervix with yeast infection.   All 3 times.  She apparently took some medicine to help with the yeast, and then for some reason they decided to freeze her Cervix (the opening to her uterus) to eradicate the problem.  The last pap smear still showed the inflammation and yeast infection. So apparently this was enough in their estimation to just take the whole contraption out, uterus, cervix, and ovaries.  I think they wanted to amputate her leg as well, but I couldn’t make that last bit out of their report.

At any rate, I decided to check a urine and blood test to see why she kept having yeast infections.  Her blood sugar test was elevated, and she had a bunch of sugar in her urine.   We call this diabetes.  And guess what yeast like to eat?  Sugar!  So she was going to have a hysterectomy as a treatment for her underlying diabetes… dat not good.

An update on the patient that I saw with Leukemia, Hey-zeus (Jesus).  He didn’t follow up with me as he was supposed to, so I had our ‘social worker’ try to get in contact with him.  Unfortunately, he and his family had decided not to pursue any further care. But maybe that’s ok, because he was very confident in, and comforted by his faith in Jesus.

An update on the conjoined twin who underwent surgery, she is doing great!  Thanks for your prayers.



We saw this buzzing around the lights outside one night, thought it was a bat at first… just a big ol’ moth


look closely or you’ll miss it


Some leaf-cutter ants decided to relocate to the hill behind our apartment



Heidi, buying some produce at ‘our favorite’ little stand in the city



This is our dryer


85. not outside, but inside our home, with fans running.


Sunset from the hill. Dat der’s purdy…


Looking down on the hospital peeking out of the jungle


2 thoughts on “School, bugs, and medicine in Honduras

  1. Nancy K. says:

    Thanks for all you share. Love hearing of your adventures and what God is doing in and through you all. The reality of the bugs makes me extra thankful for our modern conveniences and know God will take care of you all down there. You are missed!


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