On this one trip to Honduras, it was so very hot and humid. I worked mostly in the dental clinic, for there were always way more people needing relief from severe dental problems than we could possibly treat.
Before we go, I always ask the doctors going for the first time to go back and study some of the things that they had in medical school but have never seen in their practice in the US. On this one occasion I remember that an older man came in with advanced jungle rot. His whole foot was grossly swollen and just covered in a mass of it. The doctor came over to me and said: “Ronald, I don’t know what to do about this. I can’t do an amputation down here. What shall I do?”
I told his nurse to spray it all down with Hydrogen Peroxide and bandage it up. The old gentleman went away happy and smiling.
Also, on this trip, I was walking through the room where the ladies were finding the glasses from all those that had been donated to match the prescriptions that Dr. Youngerman had written. They were then adjusting them to fit the heads of the patients with that prescription after those glasses had been found. Just as I was about to leave, I noticed this one lady who was just standing there, quietly crying.
Of course, I asked her what was wrong, like was she ill? She assured me that she was fine, but that it had to do with this one older Hispanic lady who had just left. She said that after she had fitted the lady with her new glasses, she just stood there looking at her hands. She asked the lady if something was wrong with her hands.
Did she need to go see one of the doctors? The Hispanic lady said that her hands were fine.
She just said: “This is the first time that I have been able to see my hands in as long as I can remember.”
This just struck an emotional chord with this lovely lady volunteer from Hurst, Texas and brought her to tears.
As you might suspect, finding the optimum job for each volunteer cam be a challenge. And in that heat and pressure, some folk’s temper gets the better of them late in the day.
On several trips this one guy went with us who was not mean, but just very aggressive. The other team members called him “Rambo”. I finally found just the right job for Rambo. Almost without exception almost everyone down there needs worming. It won’t last that long with the grownups, but we hope that the children will be able to stay worm free long enough for their mental facilities to develop so that they will not be impaired later in life. I learned to put Rambo out in the very front of each clinic. His job was to worm every single person coming into the clinic. It worked great, and he really “adapted himself” to the task.
But this trip, we encountered a major catastrophe. We ran out of worm medicine with several more days to go. I rely on the doctors to furnish the particular drugs that they think that they will need. Much of the time they are able to use the samples that the drug salesmen leave at their offices. However, someone slipped up this time and did not order nearly enough worm medicine.
On this trip our pharmacist was the pharmacy director for a Sack-and-Save store in Denton, Texas. He was a real character. Some might have described him as a “real piece of work.” He told me not to worry about it, that he would take care of it. And he for sure did. He went to the one agricultural store in that town of Tela and bought a supply of cattle spray. He was good; he knew what he was doing. He diluted it down sufficiently with some organic chemicals and that became our worm medicine. It turned out to be a bright pink, and, wow, was it effective. I kid you not, for years after that I got calls from down there wanting some more of that pink worm medicine. They had never had anything so effective.
So, I kept hearing a rumor on this one trip that some of the people had found a little girl and were planning on bringing her back with us. I did not investigate and did not talk with them, but only when we got to the airport at San Pedro Sula did I see the little girl. Her mother had dressed her in her best dress, and she was just a darling girl with the most engaging smile. Her problem was that this massive growth covered the whole area of what would have been her right eye…….that whole area of her face. I guessed her to be about 9 years old.
One of the doctors with us had called his friend in Mississippi who he knew specialized in such things. The doctor in Mississippi had promised to operate on her. Other than that horrible growth, she was just the cutest thing with her very best dress on. Her name is Valentina.
I did not see her again until we got to Houston. I waited until most all of our group had gone through immigration. Then I looked way over where those huge curtains were pulled back from the floor to ceiling windows in the Houston terminal. There was this group of our people with the little girl. No one was headed toward immigration so I went over to see what was wrong.
They had panicked. They had realized that this girl had no passport and no visa to enter the United States. No one wanted to be the person to try to take her up to immigration, so they just handed her to me.
I don’t know how to tell you what happened next. Just believe me.
At that moment this powerful rush of power or energy just invaded my body. It seemed to permeate every single cell. I suddenly felt as if I could walk through fire or even walk on water. I just took that little girl by the hand and said: “Come on ‘little darlin’ Valentina, let’s go to the Estados Unidos”. I headed straight ahead to the first open immigration station.
I had my passport out, but, of course, she had nothing, not even any ID. There behind the counter was this huge black man in his green uniform. He was not fat, he was just really huge and quit official and imposing looking. He looked down at that little girl, and she just smiled up at him. Big tears welled up in his eyes. All he could say was: “Lord bless you sir, Lord bless you sir. You all just go right on.”
He did not check my passport or anything as respects Valentina. So, we just went right on. She sat next to me on the flight to Dallas. When we got there, I took her on up to my ranch west of Denton, Texas. She really enjoyed visiting with my two daughters and my two youngest sons by the swimming pool that looks out over the prairie. They were so kind to her.
Before dark, I took her back to Carrollton to Onelia. Onelia escorted her to Mississippi the next morning.
A few days later I called Onelia to inquire about the operation. She said that it was successful, but that the doctors told her that they estimated that the girl would have died in only 3 more weeks without that operation.
Onelia hopes to get her an artificial eye, later, some day.
On every trip that I took to Honduras, this wonderful, impressive lady went with us. Her name is Barbara Borre. She is over six feet tall and perfectly proportioned, not overweight and not skinny and very nice looking. She was one of the top Immigration Officials in the Dallas Region. Barbara just effused authority. Since her shoulders were a little wider than most women and the military way in which she carried herself made her all the more impressive, especially when she put on her Immigration uniform.
It was very helpful to have her on those trips, since she could tell us what we could take out of the US and what we could bring in. On every trip she worked in the Dental Clinic.
When she heard about the little Honduran girl that I have just described and how she was able to get into the US without a passport or even a visa, here is what Barbara said to me: “Ronald, I can tell you with authority, that was absolutely a miracle from God!”
PS: When writing this, I became curious about whatever happened to Valentina, so I called down there to Honduras just now. They told me that she was living up in the mountains with her father and doing fine.