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Sharing faith, medical help in Honduras

Fruit trees grow everywhere, and there is a soft breeze blowing through their leaves. Children run barefoot in the villages, playing soccer. The land is beautiful, but littered with trash. There is no running water, and the people have little to nothing. The sight of them puts things into perspective for Chris Fortenberry.

Fortenberry recently accompanied a team of 42 people to Guaimaca, Honduras, to administer medical care to people who cannot afford it. Half of the group came from Brookhaven, which included a mix of medical professionals. The team performed dozens of surgeries during their seven-day stay.

“It’s just the little things we take for granted, but to me it was a breath of fresh air,” Fortenberry said. “They’re so appreciative, but they’re the ones who helped me.”

This was the first time for Fortenberry, a nurse anesthetist who lives in Brookhaven, to go on a medical mission trip. With work and children, things can get incredibly busy, but she says that she’ll go back anytime she can.

Leigh-Cher Gray, an OB-GYN in Brookhaven, was part of the team that went to Guaimaca. She had previously been to Honduras two years ago. Gray saw about 25 patients during the mission trip.

“To think that people that have so little were still full of joy at us being willing to help them,” Gray said. “I’m certainly appreciative of what I have.”

Although the country is full of poverty and disorganization, Gray says the people of Honduras were nothing but loving, gracious and full of smiles.

Medical care is not widely available in Honduras, and so people drive hours just to see a doctor. As a general surgeon in Brookhaven, this came as a small shock to Dr. Michael Peavey.

Peavey had the opportunity to perform surgeries on the people of Guaimaca. He was part of the team that had been to Honduras two years before. This year, he completed 25 cases, with a total of 75 surgeries performed in total.

“I already miss it,” Peavey said. “I never met anyone that went on a mission trip and regretted it.”

Traveling to the hospital in Guaimaca made the team’s job easier, as it gave the people in the area a central location to receive the medical care they needed. Peavey said getting to share the blessings that God has given him only comes back double.

The children in Honduras are undereducated, and many drop out by the sixth or seventh grade. Like anyone else in a hard situation, the children of Honduras are in need. Rebecca Peavey, who made the trip with her father, was glad to give them her time and attention.

“We were the only facility in Guaimaca to have clean water, and so we shared that and gave out rice and beans for their meals,” Peavey said. “Because of this, we were able to share the Gospel with them.”

The children of the medical staff could either assist with minor tasks in the hospital, or they could work with the children and conduct Vacation Bible School. Some of them knew Spanish, so they could communicate with the local children.

Story by Gracie Byrne