January 2006 Trip

Diana Betsworth with Clara
To desire and expect nothing for oneself – and to have
profound sympathy for others – is genuine holiness.
~ Ivan Turgenev


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Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras
‘Changing Lives’
Medical Team Trip
January 2006

On Wednesday, January 18th, 2006, fifteen medical volunteers from throughout the United States left for central Honduras and a medical mission that would last nine days, and touch the lives of many native Hondurans.  They were met in Honduras by an entire group of native Hondurans that would assist them in their mission.  (Click here to go directly to the Photo Album.)

Warren Steinbrueck & Gene Lydon fill prescriptions

Whatever your hand finds to do,
do it with all your might. 

                         ~Ecclesiastes 9:10


Warren Steinbrueck and Gene Lydon work to fill prescriptions.

Warren Steinbrueck commented, “We didn’t change the world but we were able to positively affect the lives of those we saw. This experience adds a whole new vision to the meaning of life. A spiritually rewarding mission with a group of the best people you could ever know.”

Each year Gehlen Catholic High School, Le Mars, Iowa, sponsors this medical mission to the ‘Hurricane Mitch’ ravaged areas of central Honduras.  It is seven years since Hurricane Mitch literally destroyed the small country of Honduras and much of the country’s infrastructure.  It is still in great disrepair and health care is minimal at best in many of the outlying areas.  The program from Gehlen has successfully sent five straight medical teams during each January of the past five years.  Along with the high school and university teams that go each year, Gehlen Catholic has placed 249 missioners on the ground in the third poorest country in the western hemisphere.

In helping others, we shall help ourselves,
for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us
                                  ~ Flora Edwards

the mountainous terrain of Honduras

View of mountainous Honduras, the third poorest country in the western hemisphere

Along with the Gehlen program, a not-for-profit foundation was established years ago to carry out aid to the people in and around El Guante, Honduras.  To date, Mission Honduras Le Mars, has done many wonderful things from clinic construction, food programs, medicine programs, and water projects.  The organization continues to raise money for the benefit of these wonderful people. For more information on MHL, click this link: www.missionhonduraslemars.org.
Medical group poses with their Honduran helpers

Medical team 2006 pauses for a group photo

Be good Christians.... Only by good example can you change the world. 
                       ~ Padre Pio

This year's medical brigade was composed of: Francis Seivert, team leader, Elkton, SD; Dr. Carlos Delgado, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Dr. David Goo, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Dr. Gary Carlton, Mercy Medical Center, Sioux City, IA; Warren Steinbrueck, pharmacist, Le Mars, IA; Gene Lydon, pharmacist, Sioux City, IA; Richard Hettinger, dentist, Sioux City, IA; Thomas Bjorge, dentist, Le Mars, IA; Diana Betsworth, nurse, Merrill, IA; Susan Doyle, nurse-midwife, Atlanta, GA; Jessica Sitzmann, nurse, Iowa City, IA; Sister Shirley Waldschmitt, interpreter, Sioux City, IA; Julio Rivera, interpreter, Atlanta, GA; Micah Kiel, interpreter, Des Moines, IA; Jesse Claeys, photojournalist, Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, IA; Sister Fatima Carcamo, interpreter, Sulaco, Yoro, Honduras; Fausto, interpreter/driver, El Guante, Honduras; Jorge, interpreter/driver, Sulaco, Honduras; Angel, driver, El Guante, Honduras; David Castro, program assistant, El Guante, Honduras; Tacha Alverado, pharmacy assistant/program assistant, Esquias, Honduras; Dona Dilci, cook, El Guante, Honduras; Dona Amelia, laundry, El Guante, Honduras; and program director, Richard Seivert, Gehlen Catholic High School, Le Mars, IA.

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The greatest good you can do for another
is just not share your riches,
but reveal to them
their own.

                               ~Benjamin Disraeli

Xicaque family wait their turn to see the doctors

Xicaque family in traditional dress - waiting for a medical consultation

Planning for this year's mission trip began last spring. An early decision was made to reduce the trip from ten days to nine and not take a day off, as previous missions had done.  It was further decided that this team would double their time, from a day and a half to three full days in the Montana de la Flor region working with the Xicaque people.  For a fuller explanation of the Xicaque people go to the internet – you will find many fascinating things.

On arriving in Honduras our team spent their first night in the mission church of San Rafael in El Guante.  There they prepared for the next seven working days.  Day one found them in clinic in Limones where they saw 173 villagers. From Limones they overnighted in Sulaco, Honduras, on their way to Montana de la Flor. Early the second day they arrived in Montana de la Flor and would overnight two nights in the mountains and work three full days. Over the three working days in MDLF this medical team saw 459 patients. They left the MDLF region the afternoon of the third day and drove all the way back to the base camp in El Guante.

Dr. Carlos Delgado visits wtih young patients
The best way to find yourself,
is to lose yourself in the
service of others.
                         ~ Gandhi
Dr. Delgado visiting with some young patients

Carlos Delgado commented, “One of the most remarkable things this year was to see how grateful some of the Tolupan Indians were to see us back as we had promised.  We were able to develop a sense of trust to the point they were also encouraging other members of the tribe to come down and let us examine and treat them. The Tolupan made bead necklaces for us, symbolizing mutural friendship and respect.”

The very next day they set up clinic in the village of Candelaria and saw 269 patients – returning to El Guante in the late afternoon.  Day six found the team on the road again to the remote village of Zalitre where they helped 86 people and returned to base camp in the late afternoon. The last working day of the mission the team drove to Las Quebradas but discovered the village unprepared for their visit – a breakdown in communication.  We did take about an hour and a half, distributed vitamins, soaps, shampoos, toys, etc. and, without insulting their culture, drove back to our base camp, mission complete.  In total, the medical team saw 930 patients, 22% five years of age and younger. The dental team saw 132 patients and extracted 379 teeth, which averaged out to 2.9 per patient.

Throughout the entire mission both teams saw a total of 1062 patients, 60% of whom were female and 40% male. The pharmacists issued approximately 5,580 prescriptions.


Patients wait in line to see a doctor Waiting in line to see the doctors and dentists


The trucks traveled through every type of terrain to get medical treatment to those who don't normally have ready access to it.

What lies behind us
and what lies before us
are small matters
compared to what lies
within us.
                   ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Typical road condtions as the team travels to their destination

The team remained fast and mobile this mission using four Toyota pickup trucks for transportation.  During their seven working days this general medicine team dealt with the following: cough and cold, diarrhea, parasites, funguses, scabies, lice, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory illnesses (asthma and pneumonias), urinary and vaginal problems, headaches, total body pain, otitis media, significant malnutrition in Montana de la Flor, strep throat, most indigenous women without prenatal care in the Montana de la Flor, many nebulizer treatments, some injections.  We saw a great many eye problems due primarily to the burning of wood in the homes.  We performed a good number of ultrasounds right in the field and consulted with every known pregnancy about health issues.  The dentists pulled up to 15 teeth from one patient. We saw many other health related issues from neurological ones to heart. Our dental team did a great deal of oral hygiene education on each patient seen. We had the able assistance of the Honduran dentist from El Guante for two days and coupled with our translators they made a formidable educational team. Our nurses checked blood pressure on all patients, temps on some, and gave shots when necessary. They also gave ‘pip’ and mebendazole when necessary.   We treated a great many skin and varicose vein patients but not as many as in years past. We did not see as many bad leg ulcers this year either.

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Dr. Tom Bjorge works on a dental patient

Dr. Tom Bjorge works in primitive conditions
Let us love,
not in word or speech,
but in truth and action.
                         ~ 1 John 3:18

In a typical year, Gehlen Catholic High School obtains free medicines from four different humanitarian agencies to be used during international medical mission trips like this.  This year we were able to get all our medicines from MAP International, Brunswick, Georgia, and purchase the rest right here in Le Mars.

All patients received soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, vitamins, parasite and pain medication along with the prescription medicines ordered by the doctors.

Pharmacy prepares medicines before clinic begins The value of life
does not depend on the place we occupy. 
It depends upon the way
we occupy that place.
                                              ~ St. Thérèse de Lisieux
Vitamins and over the counter medicines ready for distribution

The children in Montana de la Flor: we have begun a data base for the next time we set up clinic.  We measured and weighed each child. We also collected a good deal of family information on each with the hope that we can use it in the future.

We make a living
by what we get,
but we make a life
by what we give. 
                                         ~Winston Churchill
Dr. David Goo poses with some patients

Dr. Goo takes a break to pose with some of his patients.

Dr. David Goo commented, “This year, as stated by Sister Fatima, the team was a ‘family.’ We worked, learned, ate, slept, and took care of one another like brothers and sisters. What we saw and did became a collective experience, shared by all, and changing us one by one, together. Our mission was to seek the invisible, help the needy, and bring our lives meaning and fulfillment. We accomplished all of that and more. Giving is a gift.”

All villages chosen for clinic this year were hand picked because of their lack of access to regular medicine.  They were very rural, remote, mountainous, and hard to access.  For example, the village of Zalitre: In Zalitre it takes a person 4 hours to walk to the nearest clinic in Suyatel.  To do this they leave at 2 A.M. to get back before dark.  They told us the standard practice is to carry all children under three years of age while all those three years old and older must walk themselves.

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Dr. Gary Carlton poses wtih Alvaro
You really can change the world
if you care enough. 
                                                        ~Marian Wright Edelman

Dr. Gary Carlton poses with an Xicaque man

Dr. Gary Carlton commented, “I have seen progress in Honduras since my last visit two years ago, but the problems are still the same - clean water, malnutrition, poverty, and sanitation.  It is rewarding to see the difference that has been made.”

Please click on the ‘photo album icon’ below.  It will open hundreds of pictures from this year's mission trip for you to view.

The theme for this year's medical mission trip was Faith.  In our school we often use the following:

Sees the Invisible,
Believes the Impossible,
Achieves the Incredible.

This was an INCREDIBLE mission trip. Our lives will be changed forever.

Thank you for viewing our web site and thanks to all team members for having FAITH.

Also, please feel free to contact us at the address below.  We would love to hear from you.

Richard E. Seivert
Gehlen Catholic High
709 Plymouth St. N.E.
Le Mars, Iowa 51031

Click above to browse the January 2006 Trip Photo Album...

Click here to watch a Flash movie of the trip.

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                        Gehlen Catholic School          Phone: 712-546-4181 or 712-540-3062
709 Plymouth St. NE           Fax: 712-546-9384    
                                                              Le Mars, IA 51031             E-mail:  or