The Valdosta Daily Times
One of the signs posted around the Mexican orphanage property says those who enter “will never be the same.” And so it was for a 9-year-old Mexican boy with webbed fingers on both hands, who looked on in amazement after the webs were removed; for Valdosta Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Kevin Collins, who did the surgery, and for Chiropractor Dr. Randy Griffis, who was on his first mission trip as was Collins.
The Valdostans were two of the 31 people led by Dr. Mark Eanes on his annual medical mission trip to the “Hogar Para Ninos” orphanage in Vicente Guerrero, Mexico, on the Baja Peninsula.
The 50-year-old orphanage was begun by Charla Pereau, a housewife in North Hollywood, Calif., when she saw abandoned sick and needy children on the Baja Peninsula, Eanes said. The orphanage spreads over 70 acres and includes a clinic, a 1,000-member church, a school and “countless” ministries including a sewing shop. Volunteers are a vital part of the ministry, such as a mechanical engineer from Canada, who sold all he had to go minister to the handicapped there. The ministry is funded by macadamia nuts grown from 2,800 trees on the property.
One hundred and fifteen plus members of Valdosta’s Morningside Baptist Church have been to Mexico since Eanes began taking medical mission trips there more than a decade ago.
“I am always excited that physicians desire to serve on the mission field as I know how the Lord has used this to bless my life,” Eanes said.
“Whenever we receive requests from missionaries for medical specialties, they most often include orthopedics and chiropractic services. At this orphanage, where we have now gone 12 years, there is a disability ministry that desperately needs these services and often has to struggle to get children seen at hospitals very far away. This causes the use of precious monetary resources that could otherwise be used for other ministries. But the real blessing was watching Kevin and Randy (Dr. Collins and Dr. Griffis) serve from their hearts.”
Eanes had approached Griffis several months prior to this year’s trip and asked him to pray about going.
“I had always thought about going ‘one day,’ but came up with all the excuses why I couldn’t go: money, time away from work, etc.,” Griffis said. “So I thought about it, prayed about it, and I just couldn’t get away from it. Soon, I was packing up my portable table and off to Mexico.
“I was able to see approximately 200 patients for chiropractic care, including children, locals, and staff. Most of the patients I saw presented with chronic lower back and neck pain, from being bent over all day working in the fields, picking vegetables. It was a joy to be able to provide some temporary relief ...
“It was such a blessed week on so many levels. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to minister with some 30 other volunteers, all focused on a singular purpose, to share Christ’s love through the medium of health care. I was especially blessed to be able to share the experience with my 17-year old daughter Charlie, and see the Lord work in her life throughout the week.”
In addition to the child with webbed hands, some of the cases that Dr. Kevin Collins handled included a patient with a big mass on the back of his head and patients with six toes and six fingers.
“This was the first time in many years that orthopedic care was provided,” Collins said. “As word of mouth spread, each day brought increasing numbers of patients. Approximately 75 orthopedic patients were treated as part of our multimedical mission group. A total of 30 surgical procedures were performed under local anesthesia in the clinic or under anesthesia in the operating room.”
Each day was begun with a worship service, and the Lord was shared with the patients after surgery.
“All of these encounters provided the opportunity to share the Gospel in a caring and nurturing environment,” Collins said.
Other medical providers included Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Nelson, Nurse Midwife Sharon Eanes, Optometrist Dr. Lance Haluka and Dentist Dr. Scott Summers.
Support staff volunteers included Tiffany Beckett, Mollie Christian, Shelly Collins, Rachel Cronk, Robbie and Marcie Dixon, Jo Eanes, Becky Goodman, Deborah Haluka, Jeffrey and Allison Jones, Haliegh Lewis, David Nelson, Annette Owens, Miranda Robertson, Kelley Simms, Charlie Jean Sullivan, Dawn, Faith and Hope Summers, Randy Walker, Dawn Wood, Micaela and Kendra Wood.
Like Griffis, Collins said he was blessed by the mission trip.
“Every day I felt that the blessings I received from the encounters with patients far outweighed any blessings that I gave,” the orthopedic surgeon said. “I feel the Lord used this trip to promote my growth spiritually, to refine my sense of service, and to enrich my ministering to others. He also reminded me how fortunate I am to have been born in America, in a Christian country, into a Christian home.”