Work begins at 7 a.m. each morning at the clinic with the nurses preparing for the doctors. At 7:30, the staff has a time of devotions, prayer and singing. One member of the staff also speaks about his or her faith with the patients. After devotions, the clinic is open for patients. "We have people coming from several villages," Rev. Mendoza says. "They like to come to our clinic because they say they are well-treated by the doctors as well as by the support personnel." The clinic sees around 50 patients a day with 12,000 consults a year.
The clinic houses the only private laboratory in the Lempira province and one of the few private ultrasounds. Therefore, many of the private doctors send their patients to the clinic for tests.
Several families have received medical care at this clinic when they wouldn’t have received care at the public hospitals. "In addition to the subsidized fee for all people, the clinic has a relief program," explains Rev. Mendoza. "Several families have come with no money and have received all the medical attention for free. "
The community health program is one of the main programs. This staff works in the villages of the municipality of San Sebastian, which is a 2 1/2 hour drive. "Some of the villages of San Sebastian are very remote. The road for driving a car ends in San Sebastian," Rev. Mendoza says. "In order to get to other villages from there, we have to ride a horse for three hours or walk for five hours."
The work done in these communities includes constructing latrines, making water storage, cleaning up garbage, dispensing medicine, managing four "pregnant women’s clubs," monitoring respiratory infections, and providing primary medical care and dental extractions.
"The need for dentistry in this province is huge," says Rev. Mendoza. "There is an average of 20,000 people for each dentist, which means that more than 60% of the population doesn’t have any access to dental services. We are happy to have this blessing to be able to assist at least some children in remote areas."
In order to empower the children in the villages, Rev. Mendoza and his staff formed two health committees with school children from cooperating schools. "These children have carried out two ‘collecting trash campaigns,’ which also involves the people to clean the trash out of their villages," he explains. "The purpose of this project is to create a custom among the parents of these children for better hygiene."
Forty-six families are part of the economic development program in Gracias. "The Luke Society has provided small loans up to $400 to work in micro-projects like grocery stores, metal projects, piglet farms, grain farming, fish ponds, cattle rearing and a plastics business," says Rev. Mendoza. "The participants get organized in solidarity groups where the partners are accountable with each other."
"This program has been a great blessing for these families because they have improved their economic status, and have helped themselves in getting more resources for their families as well," Rev. Mendoza says. "The solidarity groups have generated additional income, enabling them to give loans to their own people. In this way, the community will continue to have income-generating projects even if the Luke Society withdraws from this place."
Reverend Mendoza has found it very important to train and place community health workers and midwives in the remote villages. Because they are trained in disease prevention, hygiene, proper care for infants, etc., they can change the quality of life of an entire village. "The trained leaders have been capable to assist several people from their communities and make referrals of the cases they know are critical and send them to the hospital or to our clinic in Gracias," explains Rev. Mendoza.
The community health workers are also in charge of their own community pharmacies. The Gracias clinic provides $150 in medicine for each pharmacy. "We provide this fund of medicines as a loan to the community health worker, " Rev. Mendoza says. "If, after some time, this person proves to be a good manager of that fund, we will continue to fund that pharmacy."
The community health worker is responsible for coming to the Gracias clinic to purchase the medicine and bring it back to the community. The clinic sells the medicine to them at a discount price so they can keep their pharmacy running and have some profit.
As a pastor, evangelism and church planting are the heart of Rev. Mendoza’s ministry. "We are happy that we can share with the people about Jesus," he says. Every day in the waiting room there is someone from the staff who shares the Gospel with the patients. "We preach to them from the Word and pray for their healing. People like to come to the Clinic San Lucas because they like that we pray for their needs."
The evangelism program includes bringing the gospel to the villages by showing evangelistic films and having Bible studies. "We have planted several churches since we began partnership with the Luke Society," says Rev. Mendoza. "It’s even our goal to start a new church every year. I have organized a team of pastors who help to nurture the new churches and help with the old ones. As a pastor, I am so grateful with the Luke Society for the great opportunity of sharing the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ."