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The wonderful volunteers from International Health Service returned to MAG’s mission base in Rus Rus from February 18-26, 2013 to conduct a free medical and dental clinic. This is the third consecutive year that MAG has partnered with IHS to deliver critically needed care to the Miskito people of Eastern Honduras. As usual, most people arrived on foot. Some came on horseback, some on stretchers, some as whole families, some as entire villages, many walking for several days – just for the chance to see a doctor, to have a tooth pulled, or to have their eyes examined.
This year the MAG team working with HIS was a little larger than in past years. MAG pilot and Honduras Program Director Westley Wiles oversaw the clinic and flew patients to other IHS sites for special medical attention. Carlos Paz, Director of Pastoral Ministries, spent his days translating between patients and medical staff and spent evenings preaching and sharing God’s love with the transient families and groups populating MAG’s missionary compound. Denise Wiles handled the hospitality needs of the thirteen member IHS team and MAG staff. The Wiles’ daughter, Rachel, and two visiting missionary kids also assisted with translation efforts while Karen Dodson, MAG’s Medical Services Coordinator, observed clinic operations and assisted with hospital procedures. Geraldina Coleman, Rus Rus Hospital’s Head Nurse, translated, directed patient flow, and helped with triage. Our national staff as well as volunteers from the village, also helped to make this year’s IHS clinic a great success.
Over the course of the ten day clinic the IHS team saw: 1041 medical patients. 12 cases required Westley to fly them to other IHS team locations for specialized treatment or surgery. 287 dental patients. This included the extraction of 235 teeth and flouride treatments being given to 74 children. 156 eye patients. 75 sets of reading glasses and 119 pairs of sunglasses were dispensed. 3,538 prescriptions filled. This included vitamins for those who came to the clinic and for family members unable to make the arduous journey.
This was also special as it was the first year that evening worship services were held, enabling Carlos to preach to all those who had travelled in to our village and were basically camping there waiting to receive care. Many people responded during these services by making commitments to follow Christ. One was Eduardo, who had been a critical medical patient at last year’s IHS clinic in Rus Rus. Last year Eduardo’s physical life was saved, this year he gained eternal life!
One family from a remote village came to the clinic for help. It seems their village had just killed their local witchdoctor for not doing a proper job of preventing illness and disease among them. They’d cut off his head and buried it believing that would make them healthy. It hadn’t worked. Many in their village were still sick and dying. Consequently this family walked to the clinic believing their problems remained because the villagers hadn’t buried the witchdoctor’s head deep enough in the ground. From out of that utter darkness they travelled to the village of Rus Rus – a beacon of light for them – where they received needed physical healing as well as spiritual truth – both in the Name of Jesus. It was a successful clinic, indeed!
For a fabulously detailed account of the day by day adventures of the MAG crew in Rus Rus, check out Karen Dodson's blog. (Keith & Karen's Missionaries, Mutts, and Stuff) She even has a short highlight video of this years IHS brigade.
Bobby Dobbs, one of Missionary Air Group’s volunteers, recently received an Emmy Award from the Nashville Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for one of his video productions in conjunction with the University of North Carolina Center for Public Television (UNC-TV). Emmys are awarded to recognize outstanding programming broadcast over commercial and public television stations across the country.
Bobby is a North Carolina native, a UNC grad, and a long-time Burlington resident who worked 30 years in the television industry before starting his own company in 2005 which provides a wide range of professional services for corporate, private, and non-profit clients from across the media spectrum.
A volunteer with MAG since February 2011, Bobby has shot, edited, and produced four videos for the mission as well as several “special purpose” pieces. Shortly after being introduced to MAG through a friend, Bobby met Sean Donnelly, MAG’s President. “Sean’s passion is contagious. The ministry they do in Rus Rus (Honduras) is amazing. It’s great when God connects you to something that is helping people and sharing Christ’s love. MAG’s need for video was immediate, I was available, and God just made it happen.” Three weeks later, Bobby was at MAG’s jungle hospital in Honduras shooting video of International Health Services’ two week medical clinic. (Click here to watch that video) "Video is a powerful tool to tell stories. The more people that see how God is using MAG, the more people will support them.”
Bobby’s local and international volunteer experiences with MAG have shown him the critical role volunteers play in helping MAG accomplish its mission of delivering help and hope by air. “MAG is such a small ministry they are in constant need of people who can volunteer to do a wide range of tasks. Everyone should have the experience of going to an underdeveloped country to see what it’s like to live every day in that situation.”
Bobby is married to Kaye, his wife of 38 years. They have two grown children, Taylor and Anna. The Dobbs attend Westover Church in Greensboro, NC.
Is the Lord leading YOU to help MAG deliver "help and hope" to the people of the Moskitia region of Honduras? To discover how you too can volunteer your time and talents with Missionary Air Group, please submit the form on our CONTACT page.
July and August saw a tremendous amount of cargo arrive at the Rus Rus Hospital, much of it donated supplies and equipment that will have a great and immediate impact upon the people living along our little section of the Rio Coco. World Medical Mission, an arm of Samaritan's Purse of Boone, NC, donated a number of new and used medical instruments that will directly impact patient care. Adult and infant scales, oxygen generators, IV pumps, fetal monitors, and nebulizers were all donated to assist MAG in its mission to show genuine compassion to the Miskito people by meeting their need for medical care. Other equipment, purchased from donated funds, was brought in to upgrade the labratory capabilities of the hospital, enabling some basic blood analysis critical to "everyday" patient care in the jungle. More equipment and staff training is needed.
Another critical need – that of clean drinking water – was met by another generous company. Aquamira, a Logan, Utah based company specializing in water purification, donated two DIVVY mobile water treatment systems to allow MAG to meet the need for clean water not only in the hospital, but in the entire village – and beyond. One system was installed on the hospital grounds to serve Rus Rus and the other is prepared for emergency deployment anywhere in the region by MAG aircraft as a disaster reponse asset.
Much of the village turned out to pump the first purified water that some of these families have ever had. Many people, particularly young children, die each year in this area due to dysentery and other water-borne parasitic illnesses. MAG President Sean Donnelly, while on assignment as the relief pilot in Rus Rus in July and August, had the opportunity to fly the system in and do the installation. Sean reports, "The people were so appreciative. It meant alot to them to be given this gift – not the system per se, but a way to keep their children from getting sick from dirty water. They understand how important this is – and were truly grateful. What a blessing [for me] to be the one who got to bring this in to them. Really cool!"
The Rus Rus Hospital has been privileged to once again host a medical team from International Health Service (IHS). IHS has been sending medical teams to the far reaches of Honduras for nearly 30 years and has committed to make Rus Rus an annual venue for its international volunteer teams. The team members might change each year, but one thing is certain – when the word gets out that IHS is arriving with a cadre of doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and possibly a surgeon, people will come.
And come they did!
This year IHS brought an 11 member team that was joined by several MAG staff members and even some helpers from the village. MAG pilot Westley Wiles and Head Nurse Geraldina Coleman, along with some of our national hospital workers, were key to the success of the mission – to say nothing of Denise Wiles who hosted and fed everyone! MAG volunteer Carlos Paz did all the Spanish translation. He was joined by Alfredo Perez, from Rus Rus, who translated into Miskito for those who didn't speak Spanish. Over the course of 8 clinic days held from February 14 through February 22, entire families walked (some for up to 2 days each way) to receive medical and dental care. All care was given at no charge to the patients. The entire village of Rus Rus got involved, even opening their homes to give travelers from other villages places to sleep and cook.
The numbers for the 2012 brigade looked like this:
Adult Medical visits=494
Pediatric Medical visits=389
for a total of 1269 patient visits.
Adult Medical visits=494
Pediatric Medical visits=389
for a total of 1269 patient visits.
Other interesting statistics were: Pharmacists filled 3677 prescriptions. The Dentist pulled 654 teeth. Eyeglasses were given out to 113 people, and 27 patients received medical referrals for more advanced evaluation or care out of the area. Some of them were transported by MAG, at IHS expense, to receive follow-up care.
Several on the IHS team had been to Rus Rus the previous year, noting that 2012 saw slightly smaller numbers of patients, but far more serious cases. Several critical cases required emergency medical flights by MAG pilot Westley Wiles, which were directly responsible for saving their lives! One case was a gunshot victim with an abdominal wound who arrived in the middle of the night. He would not have survived the night if IHS had not been there to stabilize him and had MAG not been able to fly in a surgeon from another IHS team in another village to the north. Another case was a young expectant mother who needed to be flown out for an emergency C-section. Still another was a 3-month old baby boy named Marcello who was sick, severely malnourished, and near death. (He weighed 7 pounds.) Marcello and another little patient named Grelis, a 2-month old girl in respiratory distress, had to be flown to another hospital to receive higher-level care. Last report is that both survived and are doing very well!
Commentary: These cases only highlight the urgency of MAG's placing a full-time doctor on staff at the Rus Rus Hospital. The overall goal is for the Rus Rus Hospital to become the regional provider of consistent, ongoing care to the estimated 25,000 Miskito people living in this remote area along the Rio Coco – ongoing care being augmented by periodic specialist care (from groups like IHS). Our goal is to see that an annual IHS medical brigade is NOT the ONLY time these folks can see a doctor.
Imagine you're a pilot needing to do an emergency medical flight with a critically injured patient. You need to make a 300 nm flight over rugged mountains and remote jungle. You have no radar services or radio communications and absolutely no idea what the conditions are just over the horizon, let alone whether or not you can even LAND when you get there!
Thanks to some generous donors, this is no longer the case for the MAG pilots operating from the remote Rus Rus mission base. Through the newly installed system, broadband internet is now available as well as regular telephone service. This not only provides better safety and security for our missionaries, but access to logistics and technical support that was simply never possible before.
Scheduling construction teams, medical flights, and supply shipments; Being able to access medical information, and order parts for the aircraft; Seeing real-time weather satellite images – $300.per month. Being able to call home and talk to your family – Priceless!
Volunteer work teams from around the United States have been in Rus Rus almost non-stop since October making tremendous progress with key infrastructure upgrades. In fact, almost the entire list of 2011 projects has been completed!
In September and October (2011), the old spliced-together overhead electrical lines (that actually crossed the end of the airstrip) were removed. They were replaced with brand-new underground lines in conduit. A 3 foot-deep by 400 foot-long trench had to be dug. Painting of the hospital exterior was completed and a new windsock for the airstrip was also installed.
In January 2012 an electrical team arrived to replace and upgrade the entire electrical service on both the hospital and generator "ends" of the new underground line. Team members, and donated electrical components, came together from from North Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Florida. This was a true team effort, a lot of work, and a wonderful job done by all involved!
In February 2012, a team from West Church, in Haverhill, MA arrived to install a new suspended ceiling in the hospital, complete interior painting, and construct a concrete "deck" as a new outdoor waiting area at the front of the hospital. This will eventually be covered by a roof, but simply having people able to wait on cement (rather than mud) is a big improvement – especially evident during large medical brigades when hundreds of people per day are waiting to receive medical care.
Perhaps the biggest impact this team had on the village, however, came as the ladies on the team took several afternoons off from "construction" and opened up a makeshift beauty salon. "Extreme Makeover Jungle Edition" brought a dimension of love and compassion directly to the women of the village that none had ever experienced in their normally very hard lives. Way to go West Church ladies!
Work teams are needed for 2012 to complete a number of additional projects that are critical to the Rus Rus mission base and hospital. Several existing building need new roofs – including the main generator shed and the inpatient ward. Please contact MAG if you can help!
The Missionary Air Group / Harvesters International Mission family is saddened to announce the death of one of the members of our Board of Directors, Mr. Tom Coble. Tom served on our board since 2009 and will be missed deeply. The following is an excerpt from the family’s official press release.
GREENSBORO, NC – Tom Coble, founder and president of Greensboro, NC-based Coble Trench Safety (CTS), died in a plane crash January 20, 2012, shortly after takeoff from a regional airport in Rainbow City, AL.
Traveling alone, Coble was flying his L-39 Albatross fighter jet back to Burlington, NC. His plane, a Czechoslovakian experimental class aircraft, had undergone routine service and maintenance in Gadsen, AL. Less than a minute after takeoff, the plane caught fire and came down in a wooded, marshy area approximately two miles from the airport. Authorities are investigating the accident; the cause has not yet been determined.
Coble was 58 years old. With more than 42 years of flying experience, he was a well experienced pilot who owned multiple planes and was happiest when in the cockpit. He often joked with friends and family that he stayed in business to support his flying habit.
In 2002, he founded Coble Trench Safety, a regional firm specializing in the rental and sales of trench and traffic safety equipment, as well as OSHA-compliant training classes. CTS has 11 branches from Baltimore, MD, to Knoxville, TN, to Atlanta, GA.
Prior to founding CTS, Coble established and grew Coble Cranes & Equipment/Coble Rents, a Greensboro, NC-based firm he sold in 1999 to a publicly traded company. Coble’s natural entrepreneurial bent was evident early in his career. After graduating from Liberty University, he became the executive pilot for the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, former president of Liberty University. While waiting for Falwell to finish speaking engagements, Coble would work the phones at regional airports, calling local construction firms to see if they were interested in buying or selling equipment. His sideline interest soon turned into a full-scale brokerage. Conflicted by a desire to be in ministry and business, his mind was set at ease by a piece of timely advice from Rev. Falwell: “Tom, God needs businessmen just like he needs pastors.” Emboldened and freed by that advice, Coble went into business full time and launched what was to be a truly remarkable career.
Coble developed a philosophy of business that was firmly grounded in his faith. Among his heroes were R.G. LeTourneau, Art DeMoss and Stanley Tam, men whose beliefs and generosity were unashamedly intertwined with the companies they operated. When asked about his personal success in business, Coble would often reply, “Business is simple. Faith and hard work go hand-in-hand. You pray as if everything depends on God, and you work as if everything depends on you. ”
Among numerous other honors, Coble received the 2011 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, given in recognition of his leadership at Coble Trench Safety in the Carolinas and beyond. Coble’s quick wit, positive attitude, unstoppable drive and solid faith made him a force in his industry. Despite the business success that would distinguish a lesser man, those who knew Tom will remember him for a higher purpose. Coble leveraged his natural affinity for business to fund numerous ministries and charities on the local, regional, national and international levels. One of his greatest delights was personally signing checks each month for the outreaches and efforts he supported. Coble was particularly interested in helping young people grow into motivated Christian leaders, a conviction that caused him to be involved in Alamance County’s Young Life chapter.
A solid and unapologetic Christian, Coble attended Harvest Baptist Church in Burlington and led Alamance County’s Coalition of Concerned Christians. Among other charitable contributions, Coble personally paid for a radio tower in South America to open a new region for the Bible Broadcasting Network. In every check his company issued, Coble made sure a Gospel tract was tucked in to prompt the recipients to consider where they would spend eternity.
Coble is survived by his wife, Debby Coble; parents, PJ and Donna Coble; son, Matt Coble; future daughter-in-law, Ning Yang Gu; daughter, Misty Hedspeth; son-in-law, Matt Hedspeth; and grandchildren: Ryan, Peter and Rosemary.
Click on the link to view the latest from MAG videographer Bobby Dobbs.
Twice a year, doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and technicians from all over the world form an all volunteer force under the banner of International Health Service (IHS) and spread out across the country of Honduras to deliver care to the impoverished. (see www.ihsmn.org) In February 2011, IHS came to Rus Rus!
The word went out throughout the jungle villages that a free medical clinic would be held at the Rus Rus Hospital. People were invited to come – and come they did! The medical and dental team of 13, led by Dr. Doug Pflaum, saw over 1200 people over the course of 7 days. They also did a lot of work assessing and servicing medical equipment in the hospital and even got the operating room up and running for some minor surgeries. The newly operational dental clinic saw a lot of action as well.
Most people arrived on foot, many having walked for an entire day – some for two days – coming from villages all along the Rio Coco, including many from Nicaragua.
The numbers looked like this:
Adult medical visits = 580
Child medical visits = 364
Dental visits = 328
Eye glass recipients = 171
Total visits in 7 days = 1443
Total individual people served = over 1200
That’s over 200 visits or procedures per day!
Just as impressive as the numbers was how the tiny village of Rus Rus jumped into action to help even as they were quickly outnumbered by those arriving for medical care. Homes were opened. Vacant houses were made available. People’s yards became makeshift campsites. Cooking fires were started. Over the course of that week, it became clear to the people of Rus Rus that their village had became a hub of “Help and Hope” such as it had not been since the late 1980’s – since the war and the refugee time and the hospital’s “glory days”. The IHS visit served as a wonderful testimonial to the people – that better days lie not behind but ahead!
The IHS visit was also particularly timely in light of the recent dysentery outbreak faced by the area reported in the January 21, 2011 MAG Blog post. We are happy to report that the care and supplies delivered (free of charge) by the IHS team in addition to the medicine and flights funded by MAG donors, seem to have brought an end to the crisis as no new cases or deaths have been reported since the team left.
The team is reportedly hoping to make the partnership with the Rus Rus Hospital an ongoing part of their annual commitment to the people of Honduras. We suspect that Denise Wiles’ cooking has something to do with it!