Introduction and First day

June 2nd, 2017 by Sean Mark

My name is Sean Mark and I chose to do my service learning experience at Clinica Esperanza in Roatan, Honduras. I just graduated medical school less than 2 weeks ago from the University of Missouri-Kansas City after 6 years of studying hard and working long hours. Ever since I started medical school, I have felt a calling on my life to serve the poor and marginalized people of the world both in the United States and abroad. Doing missions work was one of the main reasons I decided to go into medicine in the first place. I married my high school sweet-heart just before starting medical school and we now have been blessed with 4 beautiful children under the age of 5 years old (crazy I know but they are so fun!). My wife comes from a missionary family where she has traveled to every continent except Antarctica doing missions work. I have dreamed about traveling to do missions work but have not had the opportunity the last 6 years due to my busy family and school schedule. However, my time to serve has finally come and I am excited to lay hold of it.

 

Here is my beautiful family at my medical school graduation.

 

I have attended INMED conferences, gone through the INMED course, and studied public health but I have never had an opportunity to travel to another country outside the U.S. to use my medical skills.  This trip is a dream come true for me as so many of my aspirations are finally being realized. Although I know this is just the beginning of my lifelong career of service, I am excited for all this trip has to bring and what God is going to show me during this time through my experiences.  My wife and I have been praying over this trip for months and we are expectant that it is going to be a significant time for our entire family where we gain a great heart of compassion for the poor and afflicted of the world.

The first day has been a world wind of excitement and anticipation. I woke up at 3:15AM to get to the airport in time for my departure. I only got a few hours of sleep but I was so excited it didn’t seem to bother me. I drove to the airport with my mother-in-law and newly married sister-in-law with her husband. They prayed over me on the drive which gave me a greater sense of anticipation for what the Lord is going to do on this trip.

When I sat down for my first flight, I found out I was seated next to a medical student from MU who had just finished his first board exam (USMLE STEP 1). I can remember so vividly studying for that exam with my wife being pregnant with our third son Caleb. The Lord provided and gave me grace in such a supernatural way during that season and by his grace I was able to score in the top 5% of the nation. Speaking with this medical student made me remember how much the Lord has done for me and how he has led me every step of the way.

 

Here is the medical student (middle) I met on the flight with his wife (right). They were traveling to Belize for vacation.

 

I had a short lay over in Houston and then boarded my flight to Roatan. Everything on the trip went smoothly which was a blessing. I went through customs and immigration without any issues and found my driver at the airport ready to take me around town. His name was Mr. Dee and he was a delight to talk to and hear how the Lord sovereignly led me to come to Roatan and serve in the clinic. He actually drives all of the volunteers for the clinic so he can minister to them and try to share the love of Christ. We stopped at the grocery store and I quickly realized the currency system is very different in Honduras and the conversion from Lempiras to dollars is not exactly simple (23.5 Limps to $1). However, I did my best to convert as I shopped to avoid a large bill at the end.  I was not sure about my accommodations at the Roatan Backpackers Hostel so I tried to stay away from perishables and get lots of PB&J. Many of the food commodities that are cheap in the U.S. are expensive on the island such as name brand cereal or tortilla chips ($9 for a medium size bag). Thankfully my bill didn’t turn out bad in the end

 

Here is the picture of the airport in Roatan. It was small with a few runways and best of all – outdoor boarding and exiting from the plane. I felt the island heat and humidity right away :).

 

Mr. Dee then proceeded to drive me around town and show me some of the sites including the coral reef area of sandy bay and the clinic I will be working at during my time here. I was quickly introduced to some of the key clinic staff and told to report for duty the next morning at 8:30AM. I dropped off my large duffle bag full of dental supplies at the clinic which was greatly appreciated (thanks to my generous father Richard Mark who is a dentist in Independence, MO for donating these supplies).

 

Here is the sign for Clinica Esperanza founded by Ms. Peggy

 

Here is the Orange van Mr. Dee drove me around in on the island. It is one of 3 orange vehicles in all of Roatan

 

Mr. Dee then drove me to the Roatan Backpacker’s hostel where I will be staying for at least the next few days. The owner of the hostel is very kind and hospitable. The hostel is organized like a close-knit community with the owner living amidst all the other apartment rooms. There is free Wifi which is a huge blessing. I rented a small private room so I have had a little peace and quiet to pray, talk with my wife, and reflect on the day’s events. I can already tell that this trip is going to be marking time in my life. I have already seen small glimpses of poverty around the neighborhood where I am staying and I’m sure I will see much more once I start working at the clinic tomorrow. Although these types of environments are not always aesthetically pleasing to the flesh, I know that Jesus has a big heart for the poor and has compassion for the afflicted. I have been studying his compassion in my bible today and praying for the Lord to give me his heart. I hope during the next few days he answers my prayers.