AMIGOS 50 Years of Stories Contest – 1965-1974 Decade Winner
What ties Amigos together through our 50 years is our stories: the stories of young people and community members, of giving and receiving, of challenging ourselves, and of changing our communities and ultimately ourselves.
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing the winning stories from our 50th anniversary story contest, which was held this spring. The competition was fierce, with 43 entries, and our panel of judges from all 5 decades enjoyed each submission. We are so excited to be able to share the winning essays with you now! So grab a cup of coffee or tea, find a comfortable chair, and enjoy reading our 1965-74 decade winner…
A Fifty Year Old Memory
By Cindy Spurger
Missions and serving others was an integral part of my life from an early age. To the best of my ability I did what I could to share my faith and help others. But, in 1965 I was introduced to an interdenominational service project through River Oaks Baptist Church and their Youth Minister, Guy Bevil. In looking over my journal from this trip, it is hard to believe that was fifty years ago!
Amigos de Honduras was an opportunity afforded for teenagers to volunteer their summer to serve health needs in Honduras. The teens were trained to give injections and administer vaccines to children in rural parts of the country. We learned about the culture and how we were expected to represent ourselves and Amigos de Honduras. Part of that training was to read The Ugly American.
After training, we departed Houston, Texas on July 12, 1965 bound for San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We were met there by Major Mundo Guzman and a reception committee. Major Guzman, myself, Judy Coe, and Pat Chum, a medical student, proceeded on a five hour jeep trip to Colinas Santa Barbara. There we met a missionary couple, Brother and Mrs. Pablo Cross. They introduced us to our living quarters, a small house with three single beds and a shower.
For our three weeks in country we were provided with fried bananas, Vienna Sausages, beans, bread, and eggs. We only had electricity from 6 to 11 pm. It was hard to sleep with all the noises we were not used to hearing. Then breakfast was delivered when the sun came up, coffee that could float the spoon, some bread and sometimes cookies. The start of another day in which to work at the clinic.
On our first day we saw twenty five patients. As time passed, the needles became so dull we were actually “jabbing” the children. With a limited number of needles, we simply sterilized them and started over. At lunch, our houseboy, Lucindo, would bring us carrots, potatoes, rice, beans, eggs, and boiled water. Boiling the water was essential since the natural water was not clean enough to drink.
We attended Brother Cross’s church the first night we were there. When we arrived back at our small house we were greeted by many Honduran visitors. There were two military officers, the doctor, the missionaries, and most of the town’s people.
By the third day, most of our supplies had still not arrived. We continued to work with Doctor Iriz and provide what help we could. We distributed powdered milk for the babies, but in most cases the mothers drank it.
Finally our supplies arrived in Colinas. We left immediately with a guide to administer type 1 polio immunizations to the children of the area. Our first trip was 3 ½ miles to a small village, Lama Largo, where we treated one hundred and twelve children with oral doses of the vaccine. On July 22nd, we went to Elama by way of a small boat across a fast moving river.
The next evening we were wakened at mid-night by the sounds of guitars and unknown serenaders. We got back to sleep at 1:00 am, just before the bat invasion at 2:00 am. On another day, July 27th, we gave two hundred and twenty five small pox vaccinations.
This was pretty much our pattern for three weeks, going from village to village and doing what we could. My eyes were truly opened to the needs of these village people. Poverty and lack of basic sanitation were among the most pressing issues. I was forever changed by what I saw and experienced.
I have always felt that my greatest “gift” from this trip was learning about myself. God had given me a heart to help people, whether through prayer or giving or becoming involved in a personal way. I am so thankful to Him for allowing me to walk this road with the first Amigos de Honduras, and to see the amazing growth of this organization through the past fifty years.