Mission Trip to Nicaragua a Success!
“This is God’s team.”
By Shelly Burke, Editor
The Global Passion Ministries Mission Team recently returned from their fifth trip to Puerto Cabezas , Nicaragua. By all accounts it was a success—as much for the members of the team as for the patients they treated.
The team, who worked with a team of surgeons and other medical professionals from California, did approximately 50 procedures in the operating room, including about 15 surgeries to repair cleft lip and palates. Other surgeries were to remove tonsils and repair hernias.
Tamra Boettcher, a Nurse Practioner from Columbus, NE, was on her third trip. She worked in the minor procedure room where they performed about 100 surgeries, removing moles, skin tags and other lesions and keloids (keloids are overgrown tissue at the site of scars; the people in Puerto Cabezas are prone to severe scarring from even minor injuries). Tamra also worked in triage, determining who could be treated while the team was in Puerto Cabezas. She remembers, “This was a tough job; we had to send some people away because we just could not help them. “
The patients ranged in age from 9 months to over 90 years old.
Sue Tillinghast, from Lincoln, NE, was on her fifth trip to Nicaragua. She is a surgical scrub nurse and her favorite memory of this year’s trip is of a little girl, about 6 years old, named Ana. Ana had been badly burned (the people of Puerto Cabezas cook over open fires and children are frequently severely burned when they fall into these fires) and the scar tissue caused her arm and hand to contract, meaning Ana could not move them fully. Doctors had released her scars, restoring mobility to her hand and arm. Sue said, “When Ana was at the hospital she would stand and wait in the same corner. Every time I saw her she flashed that beautiful smile and we would hug. She has no idea how much that fortified me. If I was tired I felt renewed; if the amount of need overwhelmed me I was reminded of what a difference we made in her life. Her bright and hopeful face makes me believe all things are possible through Christ!”
Dean Athey, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist from Columbus, NE, was also on his fifth trip to Nicaragua. One of his blog entries says that their “rule” is not to put infants under the age of 10 months, or under the weight of 10 kilograms, under anesthesia. His entry continues, “That lasted until our first patient. She was only 7 months old and weighed just 9 kilograms but we called her Kid Too Cute, meaning she was too cute not to do surgery on.” (Read more at the blog at Global Passion Ministries )
Although the trip takes them away from their families and puts them in a less-than-optimal work and living environment, it is clear that the team members are grateful to honor God by using the talents and gifts that He has given them. All of the team members mentioned the long, difficult days, and all of them made it clear that in blessing the people of Nicaragua, they themselves were blessed.
Sue reflects, “It is so fulfilling to be a small part of the team that changes a child’s life. Even though those cleft lips and palates are a birth defect those families and children feel shame. To witness the shame lift and the true spirit start shining is wonderful! It is extremely hard work; our patients so appreciate our efforts and that fills us too.”
Tamra Boettcher says of her work in Nicaragua, “It’s about being a Christian and doing God’s work with the talents He has blessed us with. God gives us the strength to work long, hard days and we honor Him at all times by starting the day with worship and ending with prayer and worship as well. God allows His people to trust us with their lives, undergoing surgery done by perfect strangers.”