Originally created 04/11/98

Mission teams will take hope



He was a boy of 13 yet so weak his family had brought him to the mission clinic on a horse. The medical team from Augusta tried all day to get fluids in him to reverse the child's dehydration. They urged the family to get him to a hospital.

"I do not know the end result," said the Rev. Roger Henderson, associate pastor at Warren Baptist Church. It's a memory from last summer's trip to Ecuador's rain forests that he will carry with him when he returns Thursday for a 10-day mission.

"At that time, we did not take IV solutions, but this time we are," he said. The 21-member team will work out of Lago Agrio, a village at the Colombian border, about 100 miles northeast of Quinto.

A second Augusta medical mission with about 40 workers will be leaving for 10 days in Romania on May 15, said pediatrician Gary Billingsley.

The Rev. Henderson will serve as clinic administrator on the Ecuador mission. He will make sure that the pharmacy and everything else runs well despite no running water, electricity, fans or proper sanitation. "We are in a rain forest and they need a lot of fluids to drink," he said.

The team will also be prepared with antibiotics and fungal medicines. Clinic workers typically set broken arms, remove growths, and treat impetigo, parasites and worms or maybe stitch up someone who's come in contact with the wrong end of a machete, he said.

The Indians in Ecuador are descended from the Aztecs. In most South American countries, native peoples no longer exist as a distinct body, he said. The major religion is Roman Catholicism. "They are very open to Christianity. There is also some native religion," the Rev. Henderson said.

The Augustans will present the gospel and vacation Bible school to them. "It enhances the missionaries's work," he said.

Airlines allow two bags per passenger, said Dr. Billingsley. Each mission worker will carry one piece of personal luggage; the other will have medicines. "We just sent a shipment (of donated medicines) this last Saturday. It cost about $3,500 to ship," he said.

Dr. Billingsley and his team will work in the area around Targu Jiu, a city of about 80,000 in western Romania. John Posa, a Romanian Baptist pastor, and his wife, Dr. Jenny Posa, a pediatrician, have organized interpreters, said Dr. Billingsley, a member of Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church.

The missionaries's day starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. The team will set up an outdoor clinic using pews borrowed from a Baptist church. At night, the team will hold evangelistic services, he said.

Last year's mission treated 1,500 patients. This year he hopes to double that. "We will actually have surgeons there," he said. But operating in Romania will be like turning the clock back to 1956 or 1958.

"(The Augusta surgeons) realize they will have to do surgery without all the monitoring machines they are used to," he said. A Romanian surgeon will assist them.

The team will pack rubber pants and baby bottles with their other supplies. Parents have to wash their children's clothes in the hospitals in Romania, he said. "If these children get soiled, without rubber pants, the bedding is also soiled."

All services and medicines are offered at no cost, said Dr. Billingsley. "It gives us a chance to minister."