History of the Honduras Medical Mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi

Bob Thompson was an early team leader and continues to be active

The Honduras Medical Mission began as an outreach ministry of St. John's Episcopal Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The mission was a vision of a small group of parishoners which included Dr. Bob Donald and Gene Asbury. After an aborted attempt to sponsor a mission to Guatemala - all of the medical supplies were confiscated by Guatemalan customs officials - a goup of doctors, translators and support personnel from St. John's and other parishes in the Episcopal diocese of Mississippi went to Honduras.

On the ground in Honduras, their work was facilitated by John Wortham and his wife Lilly. Wortham, a U.S. citizen, had retired from the U.S. Army and was living in Honduras where he worked as a nurse out of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras' clinic in Proteccion, Santa Barbara. For the first several years of the mission John and Lilly were the principal contacts in Honduras for Mississippi mission. John made local arrangements, and Lilly arranged for the cooking of meals after the team moved its clinic to San Joaquin. Their contribution in the early years was invaluable. After John's retirement and move to the coast, the bishop's wife, Diana Frade, began to oversee local arrangements.

St. John's parish was the sponsoring parish for the first two years of the mission. After those first two years, sponsorship was transferred to the parish of St. Columb's in Jackson. This set a pattern which has continued until today. The sponsoring parish assumes a two-year obligation after which the sponsorship is transferred to another parish. The sponsoring parishes are as follows:
St. John's Episcopal Church in Pascagoula for 1982-83
St. Columb's Episcopal Church in Jackson for 1984-85
All Saints' Episcopal Church in Jackson for 1986-87
The yoked Episcopal parishes of The Church of the Mediator in McComb and the Church of the Redeemer in Magnolia for 1988-89
The Episcopal Mission of St. Patrick's in Long Beach and Trinity Epsicopal Church in Pass Christian for 1990-91
St. Peter's Episcopal Chruch in Oxford for 1992-93
St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson for 1994-95

The sponsoring parishes for future missions include:
Episcopal Church of the Creator in Clinton for 1996-97
Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Starkville in 1998-99

Over the years Ruth and John Paz, Episcopal laymen living in San Pedro Sula, have provided valuable assistance with hotel reservations and meals in San Pedro Sula, customs officials and the storage of medicine and other supplies.

Since the second year, the mission has operated a five day clinic in the small town of San Joaquin, Santa Barbara. The clinic serves not only San Joaquin but also many of the surrounding towns. On average, the team physicians will see 3,500 individuals. The dentist will pull teeth from several hundred more. The veterinarian will treat 500 - 600 horses and assorted dogs, pigs and other animals. Everyone who comes through the clinic will be treated for intestinal parasites. Everyone will also receive vitamins. The pharmacist will dispense drugs as prescibed by the physicians and dentists.

Videos and lectures are used to teach villagers about hygene and nutrition.

Some years, eye glasses have been fitted.

During the team's stay in the village, there are daily worship services. These are voluntary for the villages and visitors from surrounding communities. Treatment at the clinic is not dependent upon attendance at a religious service.

Over the years, the Mississippi tean has had a number of visitors from other dioceses. Some of these have returned to their own dioceses and organized medical missions to Hondurs which compliment the work done by the group from Mississippi. Groups trained by the Mississippi team include:
Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, Louisiana
Huntsville, Alabama
Charleston, South Carolina
Bay City, Texas
St. Mary's, Florida

Return to Ed Sisson's homepage