Río de Agua Viva is a new concept. Instead of building, evangelizing, or holding medical brigades, we hold educational discussion groups. Last year's was a remarkable debut. 2014's was not the same team as last year. We have many new faces this go around. And with many new faces came many new talents! In the next coming blog posts I will feature short stories about our experiences in Honduras over the last month. First, however, I just want to introduce the team, a little about each person's background, and what we went down to accomplish.
(Young) Nathan Whitley (From Decatur, Alabama)
NathanWhitley is nothing short of an impressive person. He is a master of the french horn. He is a scholar and a gentleman. His faith in God is only surpassed by his unbreakable character. Nathan returns as an alumni from the innaugural Río team to teach about household water filtration devices (Ceramic, Hydraid, & Sawyer). What a smart choice for a future engineering student at Georgia Tech.
Dr. Ben Copelan
Dr. Coplan is a retired pediatrician and has lived in Northern California in the East Bay for 38 years. He was employed at Kaiser Fremont for 36 years. He has 2 children, one of whom, Amelia, is a nurse and has been on several trips to Honduras with AHMEN. His family is orthodox Jewish by faith, and tries to keep kosher, but believes bringing care to people is more important than rigidly following the rules. He believes this is his 14th trip to honduras with AHMEN and CHIMES. Ben joins the Río team to teach the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative workshop attendees in Jutiapa how to better care for newborns during the first two minutes of life, which he believes set the course for the years to come in a child's development.
ElaineMarshall is the Community Healthcare professor at the Ida V. MoffettSchool of Nursing at Samford University. She joined the Río team as Lane Turbeville's mentor and Chief Assistant, and we were blessed by her membership. Her 30+ years experience as a missionary nurse in Mexico, community health researcher across the U.S., and selfless years working with Alabama's homeless population added a priceless aspect to our team. Elaine is a one of a kind type of person. I can't wait to tell you more about what all she accomplished, and I pray that her contribution to AHMEN and the people of Honduras does not stop with the baseline health study she and Lane Turbeville implemented through our team.
A self-described Army brat whose parents are native Puerto Rican, Nelly Fielding is a remarkable person for so many other reasons. She is a devout lover and follower of Jesus Christ, Spanish teacher, “NerdClub” sponsor at Curry High School, and just as smart as a whip. Nelly joined this team after much prayer. After deciding that Jesus had called her to travel to Honduras on the Río team, she developed an awesome VBS for the kids at Los Laureles to follow up on that of last year's team. Nelly also served as George Wong-Chong's community gardening translator. I have many stories to come about Nelly's experiences in Honduras. I believe her future role with AHMEN will be deep and long-lasting.
Mari-Lou is a retired microbiologist from the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Upon retirement, Mari-Lou and her husband George moved to North Carolina. She now serves at the Chair of the Brunswick County InterculturalFestival, has served as the President on the Board of Directors of the Brunswick County Literacy Council, Multicultural division President of the Brunswick Arts Council. She is also a distinguished Toastmaster. Mari-Lou joined this team to put her microbiology skills to work by teaching all about the “worms and germs” in the Honduran water supply. This talk coupled with that of Young Nathan Whitley from Decatur, Alabama on water filtration and the Samford University water study Elaine Marshall and Lane Turbeville developed for this team.
Dr. George Wong-Chong
George is a retired Environmental Engineer in Water Pollution Control. He earned his PhD from Cornell University and his BS in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, Quebec Canada. When I asked George whether he was responding to our advertisement with UMVIM because we were a water team, he said “Nope!” George saw our request for a community gardening expert and decided it was time to put his Master Gardener credentials to work. He traveled with us to discuss the basics of plants, why we need them, what plants need, and how to start a community garden. George also developed an “Business Essentials” class for the Los Laureles jewelry school. George's mind never stopped while we were in Honduras, and I hope neither will his volunteership.
Lane is a 27 years old “Jill of All Trades.” She is from Birmingham Alabama, has a bachelor's in Studio Art from Sewanee: The Universityof the South, a bachelor's in nursing from Samford University, and served as an AmeriCorps alum. She just finished working in the Emergency Department at Children's of Alabama and will begin a new job as an ICU nurse in July at UAB! She has been to Honduras one other time before last August with the AHMEN Jungle Team and had the experience of a lifetime providing direct patient care. She is joining this team to prove the effectiveness of outreach work in Honduras by leading a water project, baseline health survey, and study.
No team is ever complete without the one and only Caden Camp. Caden is a trained and licensed massage therapist. She is also a Río veteran and looks forward to this year's team as a way to reconnect with friends, spend quality time with her loved ones, and share her special gift of loving touch by teaching massage therapy. I can't wait to share Caden's stories from this team! (Call for a massage today at 205-300-7520)
Dr. Tom Camp (Assistant Team Leader)
Tom Camp is a retired General Practice doctor who now works with drug addiction. He has been traveling to Honduras on teams and helping develop projects since 1998. One thing people notice immediately about Tom is his bushy hair/beard and unbiased love for all those around him. He owns llamas, has many friends in Honduras, does not let his poor Spanish prevent him from building relationships with everyone he meets, and is joining the Río team for the second time. Camp believes this type of team “has the greatest potential to have positive long term results for families in Honduras.”
Michael Franklin (Team Leader)
I am a Spanish and Social Science teacher by trade and hold an MA in Women's Studies from Texas Woman's University (BA from Millsaps College). My true full-time job, however, is mission work with AHMEN. I have been working in Honduras for over 15 years and truly have an appreciation for the people and their culture. This team is really special to me. I have never come back from Honduras more invigorated and re-energized about what we do than when I came back from this team last year. I built this year's Río team to redouble our efforts, concentrate on the most essential teaching areas for the ASI-Jutiapa Community Agents, and lay the lines of communication between our partners on the ground and volunteers back home.
We are all different, but we traveled to Honduras together to achieve common goals. Stay tuned to learn what we achieved. If you are already reading and feel like this team is right for you, contact me today to learn more about how to sign up for Río de Agua Viva – 2015!