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Medical mission reveals ‘the most powerful thing’

Spirit

Richard Orth, DO, a family medicine physician with Adventist Health Portland’s Gresham Station Primary Care (pictured here, left), spent two weeks in July providing free medical care in Honduras. He and other doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants partnered with Health Teams International to serve mountain communities surrounding the capital city, Tegucigalpa.

Each day the team rode a bus two to three hours to a new village. Once there, they set up a clinic for the day to provide local people what is for many the only medical care they receive. “We are all they get for most of their lives,” Dr. Orth says.

The team treated whoever walked in. They typically saw 150 to 200 patients each day. Sometimes they could help; other times, a patient’s condition was too advance for any medical or dental cure. Then all Dr. Orth and the others could do was offer prayer, admitting, “That’s probably the most powerful thing I can do for you.” It proved a humbling experience.

This health care program in Honduras started when a doctor and her husband, a pastor in the capital city, started visiting outlying areas. They found subsistence farming families living on just $2,000 a year.

The need for health care was so great, the couple got in touch with Health Teams International. Honduras soon became one of many countries around the globe served by these volunteer health care teams.

This year’s trip follows missions Dr. Orth (pictured on the left) took to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 2016 and 2018. He finds these experiences get him out of his routines and ruts and remind him how complacent we become in our American comforts.

“We don’t go there because of what we can give,” he says. “We gain so much. It’s very humbling and brings you a lot closer to your faith.”

To his community in the greater Portland area, Dr. Orth’s advice is clear: slow down and look around. “We have the same thing here. There are people who need us,” he says. “I didn’t have to go to Honduras to find people in need. Just open your eyes — we have opportunities to heal and share God.”