Friday, December 5, 2014


The last days of November and first days of December are the time of graduations here in Honduras. School ends in November, usually before Rainy season starts. This year Rainy season got an earlier start than normal and some kids had trouble getting to school the last two weeks or so.
In the last week, I have had two graduations. One for Sara, my employee Irina's oldest daughter. She was graduating from Kindergarten, which is a big deal here. It was fun to get to spend time with Irina's family, something I hadn't done in quite a long time since she lives kind of far away.
Sara in front of the graduation banner

Receiving her diploma

The family

Calix and I were her Godparents for her graduation.
Yesterday I went to a 9th grade graduation for Joni, a teenage youth from the church. I have been in charge of his scholarship at a local bilingual school for the last 2 years. I help him with any school needs he has, as well as sometimes his English school work, or whatever he needs. His graduation was a very formal graduation with appetizers and a full meal and dessert. The decorations were exceptional.

Joni and I waiting for the graduation to start

All of Joni's family and friends that joined him.

Joni's 9th grade class

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rat trap...or not

I was awakened this morning at 4:30am with noise coming from outside of my room. The power was out last night, so I had left more windows open than usual, so I thought about what could be happening...maybe someone stealing stuff through the window, maybe a gecko or cockroach stuck in something. I didn't leave anything of value by the windows, but got up with my flashlight to check and see what it might be.
Then, I see it...the's a chunky brown mouse in my kitchen. He was perched up on my red spatula, just staring right back at me with his beady little eyes. We had a stare down for a minute. Man he was a loud mouse...moving all kinds of things around in the kitchen...enough to wake me up. So I turn on the light...and that kind of startles him. Then go to get the machete...because that's what all the Hondurans I decided that was what I was going to do too.
So I get back and he finally crawls down off of my red spatula and is by the soap and...WHACK!!! with the machete. WHACK!!! again by the kitchen utensils. WHACK!!! again by the drain board. WHACK!!! again on the stove. WHACK!!! again behind the stove. Then, he's gone into the stove.
I then tried to go back to sleep...yeah right after just trying to kill a mouse. I thought I should have trapped him, not tried to kill him. It's pretty obvious that I don't have any kind of accuracy!
So, then I got this ingenious idea to get back up out of bed and turn on the stove to see if I could force him out with the heat...well he never came out. So, maybe I cooked him and will have dead mouse smell in my house until I can find someone to take apart my stove and get him out. Or maybe he is not dead and just withstood the heat and will need traps to catch him. Only time will tell, but I will ask someone for mouse traps today!
Plate that was in my sink that took the blow of the machete instead of the mouse.

The wall beside the stove that took the blow instead of the mouse.
Sorry...didn't get any pictures of the fat little brown mouse...just my missed machete markings.

Hospital Curtains

After a couple in my church donated some patient divider curtains to the hospital, we had to figure out how to get them down to Honduras.They are nice curtains, just very heavy. So, several people who have Delta flight privileges offered to fly down for the day (literally 24 hours in Honduras) in order to bring the curtains down. It was a great idea. And after my flight was delayed so much I would miss my connection, I took the refund they offered me and went with them on the Delta flight the next day. (Oh and by the way, we got to fly first class...lovely)
They arrived in Honduras to the hotel to pick us up, then sorting of the curtains, and packing them into garbage bags for transport back to the hospital. We loaded them in the trailer, then were free the rest of the day. We took naps, then went to dinner and the pool. Then sleep, and a nice big hotel breakfast in the morning before they headed to the airport once again for their flight. I stayed waiting for another missionary to pick me up and take me and all the curtains back home.
Thank you to the couple who donated the curtains. Thank you to those who brought the curtains down. Here are a few pictures of the first curtains hung.
Patient room

Window covering

Emergency room with one of our nurses attending to a patient on the other side of the curtain.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One day at a time

So, last week when I wrote about the boating accident, everything was still so new and we didn't really know very much. Since then, so much has happened and I have shed lots of tears with many dear people. Last Sunday, the 29th, the Navy did a dive into the boat and was able to recover 3 bodies. Two were from our community of Lucinda and the other one was from Rio Coco (the community at the end of the road about 25 mins past the hospital). They were brought by road from the nearest port directly to the cemetery, arriving about 10:20pm. After much grieving for about an hour, they were laid in their above ground graves and topped with cement. All ended about 1:30am. It was a very sad, very exhausting couple of days as we waited with the families for any news of life or death. Many people didn't sleep from Wednesday until Monday of the next week. Many people stopped eating. Many didn't want to do anything.
Yesterday they did one final dive to see if they could recover any more bodies to give these families closure. They were able to recover 3 more bodies and found 2 more that they were not able to bring up for a total of 5 found yesterday. So, all the 8 people that were missing have all been found. One of them was also one of the 5 missing from Lucinda. He was brought right to the cemetery and buried about 12 midnight last night.
The hope of the families has been crushed. Many hoped that their loved one had escaped alive. Many hear the horror stories from the survivors of how their loved ones seemed to be screaming for help in their last minutes of life. But, despite all the tragedy, despair, and hopelessness, they are seeing hope. They are seeing love. They are living one day at a time.
I don't think that it's coincidence that just about a month before they left and died, that we had started having church services at our friend Elias' house. He had welcomed us with open arms and was so excited to host us in his house. He was excited to use his house to glorify God and to have opportunities to invite his family and His wife's family to join. This is a community where there is no current church, so we have been able to come in in the midst of this tragedy after already having been established for a couple of weeks and meet people in their despair.
The hospital has started a Fisherman Family fund to help the families of those who lost their loved ones in this tragic accident. Any funds donated will go directly to the families for food and building projects to make the homes they live in safe. (Most of these young men were sole providers for their families, so with them gone, it is going to be really hard financially) Many of them went to sea to make money for a specific project...providing for schooling for their child, finishing their house, buying property to start building a home, etc.
If you're interested in sending donations to help these families please send it to:
Global Outreach International
P.O. Box 1 
Tupelo, MS 38802
In the memo line please make sure to write "Pirkle Fishermen's Family Fund" The Pirkles are another missionary family here at Loma de Luz who will continue to make sure the money goes directly to the families.

Friday, June 27, 2014


If I had to describe the last few days and last few weeks in one word, it would have to be the word SADNESS. My heart is heavy with all the heartache around me. Where do I begin?

The week before last, I was notified that one of the little boys (Julio) who was sent for cancer treatment passed away. He wasn't responding well to the treatment, and had a stroke that he never woke up from. I can only imagine the grief of his mother and his family. It breaks my heart.

That same day, I found out that Yajaira, Calix's little cousin who I took to San Pedro for the cancer foundation, is stage 4. The Wilms tumor that she has that is typically very easy to treat, has spread to other parts of her body. She may be inoperable. One of our doctors here recently (a couple of days ago) told me they should just take her home to die. (What do you do when someone tells you this in the cafeteria and you can't break out in tears)
For a week and a half, we were taking care of a patient and her 4 kids. Her family went to our church. 2 of the kids were at the children's center (we brought them there to help the family out) and 2 with her in the hospital. The 12 year old was watching her mom and helping her with whatever she needed and watching the 2 year old baby who was still breastfeeding at the time. I went in with another missionary last Tuesday to do a CT scan bc the pain she was having in her head wasn't getting better and was not calmed by any medications. The CT scan showed swelling in the brain. That day was really hard and we started to see her decline that day. Her body became limp and she had slurred speech and we had trouble getting her back in the car. She digressed from that day until she passed away on Saturday night. Sunday we had the funeral at the church and buried her that evening. It was a very sad day, but grateful to the Lord that she had professed faith in Jesus Christ.

On Tuesday, I had run up to the hospital on my day off to see if I could see our little cancer patient, Osiris who was supposed to come in for a Chemo injection. When looking for her, a bus pulled up to the front of the hospital with a guy who looked like he had fallen off the bus. There was blood everywhere. They quickly brought a gurney and rolled him to the ER. The question to the driver was...did you run over him? He was in such shock...he couldn't really answer. He said I don't know...I think maybe. He had in fact been run over and had  a crushed pelvis and some crushed organs that caused lots of internal bleeding. We did lots of X-rays and blood work that day and ended up giving him 6 units of blood. We pretty much completely replaced his blood volume. I had to call in all of my lab staff to help because there was so much work with this one patient.He went to surgery about 5 hours after arriving to stop the bleeding. He is doing well, thus far. Please continue to pray for him. He has a very long road to recovery. He is from the same community as the following story.

Wednesday, just seemed like a normal day...until we got a call that a fishing boat had sank and many from our local community were on it. There were 6 young men that went out on that boat, they left Saturday and planned to be back in 6 months with some money to provide for their families. Work is very scarce here. There are very few jobs. Many live off the land. Many leave to find work in other places. Many go out to sea to fish. Why? Because there aren't many other options. Many tried to convince them not to go. Many were young and it was their first trip out to sea. It was a hard decision they made to go. They agonized over making the decision, and then after they had made it.
When the call came on Wednesday, there were several rumors saying all were ok, then one that said only 7 had made it to the islands that we can see across the ocean call the Cayos Cochinos. The second of the 2 turned out to be the truth. The 7 were soon brought to the mainland and questioned by the Navy and coast guard who were out looking for other survivors at this point. Only one of the 7 was one of the 6 that left from our community. That left 5 young men still missing from our community and 4 from other surrounding communities. According to the testimony of the survivors, the boat went down so fast, that those who were down below sleeping (the 9), would not have had time to get out. However, they are still declared missing, not anything further as of yet.

We had a prayer service led by the local pastors last night in Lucinda. It was a very emotional time, but very good for us to rally together as a community to give hugs, show love, and pray for one another. Sometimes all you can do is hold someone and let them cry when there is so much sadness. You try to encourage them that God is good and He knows best and that His will is perfect. However, in such circumstances, the way seems so narrow, and the tunnel seems so small that the light will never appear. Several families are suffering double loss, because the community is so small. Some have lost brothers and also sons. Some have lost nephews and also brothers in law. 5 men from one community involves just about every family in the community in one form or another. 
The navy has supposedly found the ship and they were supposed to be trying to dive it last night. We will probably find out today or tomorrow for sure how many people were still on board. Many of the loved ones still have so much hope that some of them escaped from the bunks down below...and so we hope with them until we have reason not to.
I knew 3 of the 5 young men who are among the missing from the local community. So, while we are sad for their disappearance and probable death, we cling to the Lord as our strength and our fortress.

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him; 
God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62:5-8

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday School classroom dedication

Today we dedicated our 3rd Sunday School classroom and it was ready for use. It only took one week to build it, but not without lots of help. This is the class for our preschoolers and kindergartners. They got to enjoy their new classroom today without the teachers having to worry about if the roof was going to fall on top of them.
All gathered around to dedicate the new classroom.

Rigo reading scripture before we prayed to dedicate the class.

A fun picture from my porch this afternoon!

4 of the kids from the children's center ready to go on a trip!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Public hospital

So, I want to record my first experience in the public hospital. When we arrived at the Pediatric emergency room, it was just a small waiting room with several desks for doctors to see patients. The line was on a bench and that was how you were seen. If you arrive around lunch time, forget being seen for at least 2 hours. If it's a true emergency, you will probably die before anyone gets around to seeing you. They have many medical students all over the hospital to help, but they all have to be supervised in what they do, even-though they are a huge help since there is such a lack of personnel. They lack so much staffing for as many patients as they see. If you don't know how the system works, you can be yelled at easily by the secretary, and even called a liar.
When they brought us to see the oncologist, the medical student took us through the actual pediatric ER where all the patients were. Yajaira started crying hysterically as I wanted to as well. There were so many kids on ventilators, someone breathing for them, tubes going everywhere and screaming constantly. They only accept 3 children in the pediatric ICU, so the rest are admitted to the emergency room, where they have way less than ICU type care. Also, the pediatric unit upstairs was full as well as the cancer ward. So many sick kids that sometimes they are 3 to a bed. 3 sick kids in one bed!!! Horrible! The doctors start the IVs, draw blood for labs, etc. They have like 2 nurses for about 30 inpatient kids in the ER. This is where they wanted to admit Yajaira to keep her overnight. I am so glad we got to take her home. I think just the stress of being there would have made her even more sick.
The general ER overflow is in the hallway that goes to the lab and X-ray area. If you have a bed, it surely doesn't have sheets or a pillow. If you don't want to sleep on a plastic bed mat, you have to bring your own sheet. There are many sick patients and just not enough staff or space to attend to them.
So, my perception of the public hospitals was that the healthcare was free. This is not the case. If you are poor, this is where you go, but it is not free. Many things that the doctors order require money, and sometimes lots. Any hardware for orthopedic surgeries, you could  pay up to $1000 for. An x-ray we had done cost like $2.50. The CT scan they ordered costs about $70. They had one done in La Ceiba at a private hospital and it was like $225, so it's significantly cheaper, but not free. Medications that the hospital doesn't have, you have to purchase.  Honduras doesn't have many medications right now, including no medication in the entire country to treat Tuberculosis, so patients are having to buy more than usual.
So, many people bring their family members from far away (3-4 hours) to the hospital and they admit them. Only one person can stay with the family member on the ward, so everyone else lives outside sleeping on cardboard boxes or straw mats under the trees until their loved one is release from the hospital and they can take them home. Many of the bathroom stalls have no doors, and sometimes the shower stalls also. You can't find toilet paper or soap anywhere, so if you have to go to the bathroom, you better bring your own.
If there is a woman in labor, only she can go into the hospital, mothers, and husbands, etc have to wait outside to see the list of deliveries to see when their wife delivered and their child was born.
There are guards at every entrance and they only let people in if you have a specific reason to be there. I didn't have any problems with the guards thankfully and they let me in usually whenever I asked.
With Yajaira being associated now with the Children's cancer foundation, her Chemo drugs will be free and they will also help her with bus fares, and testing. It's a wonderful program that I am so happy to see that it exists. This is truly a wonderful gift to the children of Honduras.
This is just a small glimpse of what I saw that past week. I am sure it doesn't even begin to touch the reality of what is.