Thursday, January 8, 2015

Global Passion Ministries Planning 6th Trip to Nicaragua

Editor's Note: I so admire the members of Global Passion Ministries so much for all of their work in Nicaragua! I know several of the members of the team personally and whenever I talk with them about their work, I can tell how touched they are by their time in Nicaragua. They all speak of how their lives have been changed. I know they've changed many lives in their work, as well. Please prayerfully consider supporting the team with your prayers and donations! 

This article appears in the January issue of the Nebraska Family Times. A follow-up article will appear in the March issue of the paper. 

Global Passions Ministries Planning 6th Trip to Nicaragua
By Shelly Burke, Editor

A team including Sue and Karl Tillinghast from Lincoln, NE, and Tamra Boettcher and Carolyn and 
The Global Passion Ministries participants
will travel to Nicaragua in February.
Dean Athey from Columbus, NE, will be joining 12 members from a California team in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, February 5th - 14th to treat area residents.

Three members from the California team recently went to Nicaragua to triage potential patients in the small villages in the jungle and gold mining region north and west of Puerto Cabezas; many of these patients will have surgery to repair a cleft palate and/or lip. A family of one of the cleft lip patients on the last trip reported that there are as many as 35 children with a cleft lip and or palate in a rural church in that area; the team anticipates doing more cleft lip and or palate surgeries this year than they have in the past.

There are many theories as to why there are so many clefts in this area. Genetics is of course is one cause as this is a rather closed society. There is also a lot of heavy metal contamination of the ground water from the mining industry. One other theory the team was told about during their last trip was that pregnant women who have an exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide have a higher incident of having a baby with a cleft. Because the women cook over an open fire and many times the stoves inside of their houses are not vented to the outside, they are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide.

These patients have little or no chance of having these defects repaired if not for our team.  Last year the team treated a 16 year old girl with a cleft lip and palate. These children are often rejected by their villages and sometimes even by their own family. This young lady would probably never have had another opportunity to have this repair done because to do so she would have had to travel to Managua by bus on terrible roads for 14 to 20 hours depending on weather conditions. The passengers are subject to the possibility of robbery or assault along the way. There is no certainty that her surgery would have been done once she got there;  these people are extremely poor and could not afford the travel, food and lodging expenses that it would require.

Dean Athey says, “We have been told that the reason we are so well accepted and respected by the people of this area is that we say we are coming and we come and we say we are coming back and we come back. It is so gratifying to return each year and be welcomed with open arms by the people at church, the hospital and the community. They are like family to us. We want your readers to know that this is a Christian mission first and a medical and service mission second. We have the privilege of knowing for the time we are there serving God’s children we are exactly where God wants us to be doing exactly what He wants us to do. That is a feeling that I would wish for everyone to feel at some time in their lives. We did about 50 surgical procedures and another 100 or so minor or what we call “ditzel” procedures last year. These small cases may not seem significant to us but it is so meaningful to these people that someone will take the time to do these procedures. I would guess that this year we will probably do a few more surgical procedures and about the same for the minor cases. That will make for some long tiring days. As with most missions we always receive more than we give. There will be plenty of service projects for our maintenance team to tackle. We always take cash from our fund raiser with us and decide  on how to use it once we find an area of most need.”

To read about previous mission trips the team has taken, and receive updates on the 2015 trip, follow the blog at

Monetary donations may be sent to Dean Athey, 3471 E. 14th Ave., Columbus, NE, 68601. For more information contact Dean at (402) 276-0638.

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