My wife Kathy and I recently returned to Honduras from March 11-24 with a Christian Veterinary Mission team. I have previously led several teams to Danli in southeastern Honduras and Kathy has often accompanied me. This time we were leading a team of 6 veterinarians, 1 veterinary technician, 5 family members, 3 Honduran veterinary students, 3 Honduran drivers, and 3 Honduran high school translators. We traveled under the auspices of Christian Veterinary Mission, an interdenominational professional Christian group, and SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) and were working within the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras to provide veterinary services to animals in the Danli area. Our local contact was SAMS missionary Jeannie Loving.
Our team carried in medicines, equipment and supplies. Each team member paid their own travel expenses and we had additional financial support from St. John’s, Franklin, as well as from several individual donations.
The team began each day with morning devotions. Then, after breakfast, we would load our gear and travel to one of the many rural communities in the Danli area. Each village that we visited was within the parish boundaries of one of the churches in the Danli Deanery.
Upon entering a village our team would divide into a livestock team and a pet animal team. We then provided vaccinations, parasite treatments, medications, and surgeries as needed to horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits. The services and medications were provided gratis but the local churches collected a donation of about $0.80 to $1.50 for surgical services. We had some very happy church members as the donations for each church were generally greater than a Sunday offering. In the end we had treated over 1600 animals.
Our accompanying family members supported us by preparing the daily lunches for our team and an
always unknown number of hungry local helpers. One spouse organized our daily devotions. Another was a fluent translator. They also helped with crowd control when necessary and were able to help spread the message that we came as Christians and were representing HIM by sharing HIS love.
We had purposely scheduled our trip to straddle a weekend so that we could attend church services together in a village where we had worked. This year we attended the new rural church of Santa Maria Magdalena. We were fortunate that we were there on a communion Sunday as a priest is only available on alternate weekends. We recognized several faces in the church of people who had been to our veterinary clinics earlier in the week, including one canine patient who walked in during the service and napped under the altar.
For myself, the entire short-term mission experience is a spiritual renewal. Yes, the work is satisfying. There is satisfaction in sharing your own resources, your wealth, your strengths, your faith, and all of your abilities with others. We were called to go and share the Love of Christ. Answering that call was a blessing.
Dan Paulo is a member of St. John’s, Franklin.