HEALTH TALENTS INTERNATIONAL
NICARAGUA MOBILE MEDICAL TRIP
JANUARY 2003

By Dave Ellis, RhP

Clouds of acrid smoke, dust and buzzards were everywhere. Another garbage truck would arrive and immediately a dozen or so people would descend on the waste as it was poured on the ground, sorting out anything of value. If it was edible, they ate it. If it was vegetable-based, the Brahman cattle got it. Scraps of anything metal or plastic were sorted into individual piles to be sold. As for the rest, either the buzzards got it or it was tossed onto one of the many smoldering heaps of refuse deemed to be of no value whatsoever. People actually live and work there. It is the best they can do. There actually were children playing in the midst of what one of the preachers sitting behind me in the van referred to as the nearest thing he had ever seen to "Gehenna." Such was the scene at the Managua, Nicaragua, city dump on the morning of January 27, 2003.

A medical team of 14 under the leadership of Health Talents International had traveled to Managua the previous Thursday for three days of medical clinics in the city. The first two days were at the Rene Polanco Church of Christ, but the third day was scheduled for the Santa Ana Church of Christ, located a scant few blocks south of the Managua city dump. It was a first for a medical clinic at this location so we had little idea of what to expect. Jose, a local church worker, wanted us to see how the people we were about to serve lived. Somehow, they showed up fairly neat and clean considering their circumstances. The demand for medical attention was so great we began to run out of medication in the middle of the afternoon. Intestinal parasites, as you would expect, were rampant. Lice and scabies were prevalent. We frequently saw rashes, fungal and bacterial infections as well as the usual respiratory infections. Adults suffered from aches and pains that required the same non-steroidal inflammatory meds (i.e., Ibuprophen) we take here.

One young mother we observed early in the day was later determined to be 19 years old with a 25-day-old baby. The beautiful baby had red splotches over much its body. The rash was later diagnosed as scabies. Scabies is the result of a female insect only .5 mm long, shaped like a turtle burrowing under the skin and laying its eggs. When the eggs hatch, the young in turn continue to bore new tunnels producing an intense itching and irritation. It was very warm that day, and the baby appeared rather listless and each time it whimpered it was once again nursed. As the day wore on, the young mother and baby were seen several times in different areas of the church building and after dark she was still on one of the church pews. I never saw a diaper bag or any other vestige of motherhood usually seen in this country. Where did she live? How could she be expected to care for her precious child? Such was a typical day in the life of one who lived near the Managua city dump.

For the three days of clinics in Managua, the team saw and ministered to 1,475 patients and dispensed more than 6,000 prescriptions. Our thanks Health Talents International, along with to Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, Americares, and Christians across America. Without their help, this trip would not have been possible.

To Hell and Back
By Steve Fox, Kanawha City
Church of Christ Charleston, West Virginia


Matt. 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Ever been to hell? I was there on Monday, January 27. Fourteen of us North Americans drove through it and then returned to civilization. On the way there, 1,485 Nicaraguans were help in four days with medical care, prescriptions, dental work, and new glasses. But the one hour in Gehenna is the memory most deeply etched in my mind.

Jesus often spoke of Gehenna (a Jerusalem garbage dump) where trash and refuse and unclaimed bodies (Matt. 23:33) were burned day and night. Continual fire and smoke and consumption. Fourteen of us drove through Gehenna last Monday. Only two of us ventured outside the van.

We visited the Managua city dump where a small village had its genesis in 1972 after THE earthquake. Cardboard box houses line both sides of the dirt roads. Cattle and vultures are everywhere. Smoke and dust fill the skies. And as each truck deposits its trash, adults and children run to the new piles to hunt for scraps of food and junk that they can sell on the city streets. Sleep didn’t come easy for me that Monday night. As I tried to fall asleep, I kept telling myself over and over that even though it sometimes doesn’t look like it, GOD is still in control.

Before you sleep tonight, read Hebrews 2:8. It’s the only thing that allowed me to fall asleep after my trip through Hell that Monday. Messiah lives and one day God will be all in all.