Medical Missionary in Honduras: “We See You. We’re Here, and We Will Help”
Dr. Judith Blumhofer is a pediatrician, medical missionary, and MedSend grant recipient who has been serving in Honduras for nine years now through Christian Health Services Corp.
She is affiliated with Hospital Loma de Luz. Translated, this means “Light on a Hill.” The facility consists of a hospital, bilingual school, and children’s ministry. The footnote on the entrance sign to the hospital says “Dios Obra Aqui,” which means “God is at work here.”
The facility is located about an hour and a half from the nearest town. Power outages are frequent, and the water goes out at least once a month. Trips to the city for groceries and other errands happen twice monthly.
After nine years, this has become “normal” for Dr. Blumhofer.
Treating Physical Needs: The “Easy” Part
Dr. Blumhofer spent her first five years at Hospital Loma de Luz doing clinical medicine. For the last four, she has been providing residential care for children in the foster care system. Kids who enter the foster care system in Honduras aren’t coming from the best backgrounds, she says, which has significant ramifications on their overall well-being.
“I take care of the physical ailments of the children as they occur, ” she says. “In all honesty, that’s probably the easiest thing I do here. That’s what I was trained to do.”
One of the biggest eye-opening things she has learned in this role, she says, is how great the neuropsychological and developmental needs are for children in the foster care system there. Understanding this need has prompted her to deepen her research on trauma care, behavioral problems, diagnostics, and treatment plans.
Dr. Blumhofer has also had to learn more in other advanced areas as well. She currently cares for two children in the system who have special needs, and she monitors their medications, nutrition, and therapies.
“One of the realities of working in an under-resourced area is there’s no specialist to refer anything to,” she says. “So, if you need to figure out nutrition, you’re it. There’s no nutritionist to send them to. If I need to work on physical therapy, I don’t have a physical therapist. When I need occupational and speech therapy, I don’t have those either.”
An Incredible Amount of Loss
The coronavirus pandemic was not the only hardship that Hondurans faced in 2020.
“COVID has hit all of Honduras, for sure,” Dr. Blumhofer says. “COVID hit the cities and the public hospitals. And it completely devastated and decimated them. And that is still going on. Hospitals are at capacity, they are understaffed, there’s not enough equipment, there’s not enough protective gear…the story keeps playing out.”
In addition to the virus, however, Honduras was also hit by two Category 4 hurricanes in quick succession at the end of 2020. “A lot of devastation was wrought in a very short amount of time,” Dr. Blumhofer says.
“One of the realities that COVID really highlighted here in Honduras was just the incredible amount of loss that the people got hit with,” she says. “It was really a time when the usual answers – the pats on the back, the ‘it’s all gonna be okays’ just didn’t cut it. People couldn’t see an end.
“There was a lot of emotional and personal grief, there was economic hardship, there was financial hardship, there was food insecurity, there were homes that were lost, and it was one thing after another. It just kept coming and coming and coming,” she says.
Providing Extra Relief
After the hurricanes came through, Dr. Blumhofer’s team looked for more ways to help their community.
They came together to measure out rice, beans, and potatoes to distribute to those in need.
They also began sending teams of men to San Pedro Sula once a month. This area was particularly hard-hit by the hurricanes, with many still left homeless and living under tarps and tents and sheet metal. “They just lost everything,” says Dr. Blumhofer.
The extra outreach was a new initiative but a very needed area of ministry in the past year, she says. It was just another way for her team, as Christians, to tell the people of Honduras, “You’re not abandoned. We see you. We’re here and we will help.”
A Thirst for Hope
“It was a crazy year and a hard year for sure, but it was also a beautiful year to really see the spirit and the sense of community that were brought about,” says Dr. Blumhofer.
When she thinks about the translation of the name of the hospital – light on a hill – Dr. Blumhofer says she realizes “That is what we really had to offer more than anything else in the past year. We told people of a Savior. We told them of the One whose presence is with them- in hard times, in despair, in incredible sadness and grief. There is One who doesn’t ever leave them or abandon them. ”
This message of hope, she says, has been needed in a way this past year like no other. There has been “a thirst” for it that has been different than what she has seen in any of the nine years that she has been in Honduras.
“I Thank My God for You”
When speaking about the MedSend grant that she has received, Dr. Blumhofer says that it is a “very tangible provision of the Lord” that she sees each month. She says that she feels Him saying, “I’ve got this. I’ll provide for you.”
To all MedSend supporters, she expresses her appreciation with this verse from Philippians 1:3. “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
If you’d like to help more healthcare professionals like Dr. Blumhofer be able to serve during this time of great need in the world, please consider making a donation to MedSend.
You can hear the passion in her voice!
Listen to Dr. Blumhofer share more about her experiences as a medical missionary in Honduras below:
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