Words From The Past
Whether a you're a volunteer on a mission trip or an optometrist volunteering in your free time, our mission trips to help the under-served wouldn't be available without you. Don't take our word for it. Read about volunteering experiences from our past volunteers.
HONDURAS MARCH 2017
“We Always Have Room for One More.” This is Sister Maria Rosa Leggol’s motto at “Sociedad Amigos de los Niños (SAN)” in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. And it quickly became the motto in March 2017 for the small but mighty “See The Lord (STL)” team visiting Central America for the first time.
I visited SAN on my very first mission trip in February 2015. Three short months later, God put STL in my path when I responded to a request for Spanish translators for an STL eye clinic in Central California.
My heart was overwhelmingly moved by the compassion and dedication of the doctors so I asked about the STL mission to other countries. While Taiwan is a regular stop for STL, Central America was uncharted territory. After a brief discussion with Dr. Kelly Kao and some follow-up emails, detailed mission planning for Honduras began.
The trip was originally scheduled for March 2016 but was wisely postponed due to the spread and growing concerns of the Zika Virus in the area we had planned to visit. The postponement served as a lesson in faith as I continually prayed that if this mission trip was truly God’s will, He would gather the right team… at the right time. For we all know that God’s timing is ALWAYS right… in spite of us wanting things to happen on our time.
And did God ever respond… in the most AWESOME way possible!!
Although we had been to hands-on training on how to setup the clinic and take measurements, you never know what will be encountered when boots land on the ground, especially when it involves a different language with an extended team in Honduras only known thru email.
It wasn’t long before we realized that sometimes things are lost in translation. For instance, when our team would begin seeing patients… which ended up being about 4 hours after touching down in Tegucigalpa after an overnight flight and a harrowing trip to the local box store to get some remaining supplies. Going into the trip, we knew that there was a serious need for quality eye care, especially in the rural areas such as Nuevo Paraiso (also visited by the STL team), but we were still surprised to see the 100+ people that had been in line since 4am to be blessed enough to get a number for the 40 or so daily slots.
And just when we thought we were done for the day, there always seemed to be one more patient who didn’t receive a number but was asking to be seen anyhow…
My favorite part of the trip was doing the intake for the 283 patients we eventually examined. That was when I realized that my talent was speaking Spanish (my first language… I used to think it was engineering)!! Our patients ranged in age from toddlers to the young at heart… from all walks of life with varying visual-related conditions… many of whom had never had an opportunity to be examined by an eye specialist prior to the STL visit. These were the patients that I most enjoyed telling that it was a pleasure for STL to be the first to exam them… and then watching the team show them!!
The STL goal is also for the volunteers to have an eye-opening experience and, for me, this trip was way more of a blessing than I could ever have imagined!! While inspired by the people we encountered and their gratitude, I was most inspired by my God-sent team members… not only from STL but also the SAN staff who helped us both in Tegucigalpa as well as Nuevo Paraiso!!
I had initially prayed that the STL team might be bigger but, in hindsight, this team was THE PERFECT size at the perfect time to lay a solid foundation for future STL visits!! I was continuously impressed at how well this team worked together in a quite small hospital exam room with just enough space to handle 3 (but sometimes up to 6) patients comfortably… without ever physically bumping into each other!!
I am so thankful and most appreciative for having had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Vivien, who (we were told by the SAN staff) provided the most thorough eye exam that rural area had ever seen in spite of how tired she was; and my best friend Michelle who stepped completely above her faith zone to do something she had never done to discover a talent she didn’t know she had!! Nine months after our trip I am still amazed at seeing Michelle’s faith continue to grow as this trip was truly life-changing for her as well as for myself!!
Honduras was my third volunteer effort with STL and I look forward to many more!! As an eye-glass wearer, I do not take my vision for granted so I am always looking for new opportunities to share the STL mission. Upon my return from my second trip to Honduras, I had a new opportunity in my Inbox to move to Saint Louis (STL)… that was the second time in a row that happened to me which only reinforced that God truly is faithful to those who are faithful to Him!! So when I volunteered to be a Spanish translator at a health clinic here in STL, I talked with the clinic coordinator about why vision services were not being offered. After a brief discussion with Dr. Kelly Kao over an email, detailed mission planning for STL will soon begin….
VIVIEN TSE, OD
HONDURAS MARCH 2017
PATIENTS SERVED: 283
DAYS OF SERVICE: 7
NUMBER OF TEAM MEMBERS: 3
It was an amazing opportunity to examine many patients in Honduras through the help of Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos (SAN) organization and STL. During our week there, we saw patients at two locations: El Paraiso and Tegucigalpa. We were in Honduras for 8 days, worked in the clinic for 7 days and saw 283 patients. I was part of a small team of 3 people (one optometrist and 2 volunteers) but we did our best to make a huge impact in their community. As a team, we worked very well together and synchronized our duties instantly. Once we landed into Honduras, we were asked to see patients right away due to the high demand in the area. Many days in the clinic turned into late nights because it was difficult to turn any patients away. Many patients had never gotten their eyes checked before and they desperately needed a simple pair of glasses and someone to update them on their eye conditions. The patients were very grateful for the services. They brought us food when we were busy and some stayed until the end of the night to make sure we went home to sleep. Going to Honduras last year was one of the best decisions I made in 2017 and I hope to return again soon in the near future. The size of this team was small; however it does not correlate with the amount of passion and care surrounding us.