Unlikely spring break destination for 2008 Bremen graduate
While winter was in full force, most college students geared up for spring break excursions to the beaches of Florida. Julie Manges went to Florida — for a brief layover on her way to Honduras.
Along with two fellow Huntington University students, Manges, a 2008 Bremen High School graduate, traveled to Honduras last month through World Gospel Outreach (WGO). The group offers medical and dental screenings to residents in impoverished countries, with the stated goal of healing and treating them “physically as well as spiritually.”
“It was a really great experience,” said Manges, who was on her first journey outside of the United States. “We are a Christian university and like to help out and share the message of Christ.”
As part of a “Medical Evangelism Brigade,” Manges spent four days at two different churches in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital. There, medical stations were set up with doctors and nurses who treated patients and prescribed donated medications from an on-site pharmacy. Because of demand, locals had to choose weather to see a doctor or dentist. If selecting the latter, they could get cleanings, extractions or other needed care.
Children were a major focus. They were checked for lice and given shampoo regardless of the diagnosis, and saw an optometrist. They were then told the story of Jesus and creation, which was also offered to adult patients.
The reaction from the locals was heart-warming.
“They love it when we come,” Manges said. “They’re really excited to get to know you, and especially with what we were doing in helping them with medical needs, they were really grateful.”
Seeing what the local inhabitants deal with on a daily basis was an eye-opening experience.
“Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the world, so we definitely saw things we weren’t used to,” Manges said. “They warned us ahead of time that it would be different, so we knew going in.
“It’s hard to see how privileged we are compared to them because most of them don’t have anything. The poor in our country are a lot richer than most of the people we saw.”
Manges stayed at a WGO mission house, which provided basic necessities despite sleeping up to 15 in a room. While in-country, most missionaries cleansed themselves of modern conveniences.
“They encouraged us to go on a ‘technology fast,’” Manges said. “Some people used the Internet to contact home while they were there, but I didn’t have a phone or anything.”
The trip came about through Huntington’s Joe Mertz Center, a campus organization dedicated to public service which Manges volunteers at. The center also sent a group to New Orleans, where students helped clean areas still devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
As for Manges, the mission trip probably will not be her last.
“If things worked out where I could do it again, I definitely would,” Manges said.