Former Charlottesville city bus is reincarnated as mobile medical clinic bound for Central America
By Bob Ruegsegger--Correspondent for the Virginian-Pilot
Bobby Hoyle, 80, is a retired pastor who now heads up LendAHand Mission Teams, based in Virginia Beach.
more infoTo learn more about LendAHand Mission Team, visit www.lendahandmissionteam.org.
This view from the OB/GYN center at the back of the vehicle offers an idea of the space available in the bus and the general layout.
Bobby Hoyle, a retired Pentecostal Holiness pastor, is on a mission from God. That’s how the 80-year-old perceives his team’s latest project.
Hoyle is president of LendAHand Mission Teams, an organization designed to “come alongside” missionaries and pastors in the field and help provide them with needed resources. The group’s latest project is creating a mobile medical clinic for Nicaragua.
“We are an all-volunteer organization. Every trip takes care of itself. The volunteers pay their own way,” Hoyle said. “Nobody gets a salary from the organization in any way.”
LendAHand Mission Teams has constructed buildings, helped conduct medical clinics, and done ministry with groups of children and adults. The organization has been in “business” for 16 years and has made 79 mission trips to Central America.
“We’ve built some 25 church buildings. We built an orphanage. We worked on some schools,” Hoyle said.
Four or five years ago, Hoyle was in El Salvador with a medical team, staying on a missions compound. One evening, Kurt Ackermann of World Missions Advance went out to feed the homeless. Hoyle pitched in and helped pack the 192 meals, which they distributed in San Salvador.
Hoyle told Ackermann he wanted to do more to help. Soon LendAHand sent a team to El Salvador to build homes. Ten 20-foot-by-20-foot, two-bedroom, homes were built for deserving people.
The land was provided by another mission organization. LendAHand provided the labor and materials at a cost of $3,800 per home.
“They call them ‘forever’ homes because we built them earthquake-proof with cement floors, block walls, and metal roofs,” Hoyle said.
LendAHand Mission Teams is currently outfitting a medical bus that will provide basic health care services for those in remote areas of Nicaragua. The mobile clinic will allow health care professionals to bring medical services where they are most desperately needed.
The mobile clinic project was inspired by two medical clinics LendAHand previously built inside 40-foot shipping containers that were sent to El Salvador and Haiti.
While the group was building the container-clinics, Hoyle said he thought it would be even better to make clinics that were mobile.
“(The idea) stayed there for four years before (the time) was right,” he said. “Finally, we got started on it.”
LendAHand purchased the bus through an online auction. It was previously a regular city bus of the Charlottesville Area Transit fleet. Hoyle had a couple of mechanics help him evaluate the condition of the vehicle before he bid on it.
When Hoyle joined the bidding, the bus was at $2,900. There were 13 others bidding. Hoyle made his final offer of $3,000, and for 72 hours no one else bid. Hoyle got the bus for $3,208, which included auction fees. He attributes his extreme good fortune to “divine intervention.” The bus was brought to Parkway Christian Center, located on Volvo Parkway in Chesapeake, where volunteers started the necessary modifications.
Up front, the mobile clinic will feature a triage station equipped with an EKG, defibrillator and equipment for checking blood pressure. The center section will contain a fully equipped dental suite with a sterilizer and storage cabinets. The rear of the clinic will house an obstetrics/gynecology area.
The vehicle’s electrical and air-conditioning systems will be powered by an ultra-quiet portable generator whenever the clinic is stationary.
Hoyle said the mobile clinic project will cost about $30,000 when complete. The price includes the bus and its conversion costs, medical equipment and supplies. He hopes to negotiate a deal with the U.S. Navy to ship the completed clinic to Nicaragua without charge through the Denton Program, which allows private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on military transports to deliver humanitarian goods to countries in need.
The mobile clinic will be sent to Metanoia Missions International in Managua, Nicaragua, which will manage the clinic’s deployment.
Contractor Edwin Guerra of Virginia Beach and his associates, Santos Ramirez and Edwin O. Guerra Jr., were among about 15 volunteers who helped modify the former city bus.
“We started with the flooring,” Guerra said. “The flooring was good, but it didn’t lend itself to be sanitized properly, so we had to install linoleum throughout the whole thing.”
Guerra also created custom cabinetry for medical equipment, storage, and installed an electrical panel and electrical circuits on the bus.
“Bobby Hoyle is a role model to me,” Guerra said. “He’s glorifying God. That’s why I help him. He’s the inspiration. He has the vision. All I am is a tool to try to help him out.”
Bob Ruegsegger, firstname.lastname@example.org
[Editor's comment: I have known Bobby Hoyle since 1952. He is younger than I am. He is doing a great work for God. I commend him to you for your consideration in contributing to his ministry.]