Dinner Bell: Daniel and Gwen Herrera

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Daniel Herrera, formerly of Manila, and his wife, Gwen, live in Jonesboro. Both have ties to Manila as he attended school at Manila High School and her father, Larkin Enlow, also once lived in Manila. Her paternal grandmother's family was also from Manila.

Mrs. Herrera was raised in Knoxville, Tenn. Her father is an Assembly of God minister and Mr. Herrera's parents are also evangelists.

The young couple met at church in 2001 and will celebrate their second wedding anniversary in September.

He is employed at Arkansas State University and she is a dental assistant for Dr. Andrew Gray in Jonesboro.

The couple fulfilled a dream in January by spending a week on a medical missionary trip to San Marcos Village in Honduras.

They both agree they feel very blessed to have had the experience and they are already planning their next trip.

Mr. Herrera was called into the ministry a year ago and they both have an interest in missionary work.

The doctor Mrs. Herrera works for was going on a medical missionary trip and she was asked to join them as a dental assistant and her husband was asked to go as a translator.

As a senior, Mrs. Herrera had accompanied a church group on a missionary trip to Ecuador where they witnessed on the streets, performing dramas. She had always wanted to return.

When the opportunity came about for the young couple to travel to Honduras, they were very excited about the trip. At one point, their sponsor backed out and they were not sure how they would pay for the trip, but a church and their pastor donated the remainder of the money they needed.

The team consisted of 30 volunteers including two dentists and five medical doctors (three specialists) nurses, dental assistants, and helpers. It was a mixture of young people and retired people all working together with one goal, to help the less fortunate.

Two weeks before they left on Jan. 18, they started taking malaria medication and a parasite medication.

"Our doctors took good care of us, also," Mrs. Herrera said.

It was Mr. Herrera's first airplane trip and his first trip out of the country. They flew from Little Rock to Houston to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. From there they took a six hour bus trip to San Marcos.

They both agreed that the bus trip was more exciting than the airplane. A lot of the trip was up the mountains with no traffic rules and cattle crossings.

Mr. Herrera said he speaks Castilian Spanish and the people there spoke a mixture of Spanish and Mayan.

"I could understand them better than they could understand me at times," he said.

He immediately started translating at the airport as most of the services were in Spanish.

They arrived at the village on Saturday and started setting up the clinic to go to work on Monday. The group distributed over 90,000 vitamin tablets, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

The 60 bed hospital served a region with a population of 60,000. They had eight doctors on staff. The hospital was only 10 years old but the equipment was outdated by American standards.

"It was a busy four days of work. The dentists extracted 385 teeth. So many of people did not have the money to take their children for regular medical and dental appointments so our doctors and dentists tried to care for as many as they could," Mrs. Herrera said. "They saw 957 patients of all ages in the four day clinic."

One of the most difficult parts of Mr. Herrera's job as translator was explaining to three people through the doctors that they had cancer.

Among the friends the couple made was a 12-year-old young man named Paul.

Paul could speak English and he took time out of school to help as one of the local translators. The Herreras have kept in touch with his family and they hope that he can someday visit them in the States.

"It is a different world we visited. There was so much poverty. We take water for granted, but there water has to be conserved," Mrs. Herrera said. "We saw children that had been abandoned in the cities because their parents could not feed and care for them. So many had no shoes, no clothes and had made their houses out of dirt and straw. Many were using old towels for coats."

The group took mostly medical supplies and medicine and did not have extra clothing but everyone left their extra tee shirts and scrubs there to be used by the people.

The Herreras said they want to start collecting shoes and clothes to send to the children. While there they worked on an orphanage/school building.

The water was turned on in the mornings and in the evenings for only short times at the hotel where they stayed.

"We were fortunate to have a hotel to stay in. A group that went the year before camped out for the week of their stay," Mrs. Herrera said.

They got acquainted with the people that cooked for them and found everyone to be very friendly.

"They cooked our meals outside. We had bananas at every meal. We had fried bananas, banana chips, refried beans for lunch and dinner, and had meat twice during the week," she said.

"If God is willing and the door is opened, we hope to go with our church youth group to Mexico to work where we are needed," Mr. Herrera said.

The Herreras attend Trinity Independent Pentecostal Church in Jonesboro. They work with a Mission's Outreach on Gee Street on Saturday nights.

They said they plan to start saving now for a future missionary trip. Both agree they want to go to Calcutta, India. Hopefully, in a couple years they will be able to make that dream come true.

The young couple stays busy with their jobs, church work, and visiting their family.

When they cook, they cook together, but admit they do eat out often with their busy schedule. They are sharing one of their favorite Greek recipes, Bierocks.


1 pound ground beef

tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

3 cups cabbage-chopped

2 cups onions-chopped

1 pkg. hot roll mix

Brown ground beef and chopped onions in skillet. Add salt and pepper. Add chopped cabbage and cook five minutes. Let cool. Roll out dough. Cut in 9-inch squares. Place three tablespoons of meat mixture in center. Fold corners together. Place in warm place to rise. Bake at 350 degree until brown. Place folded side down. Top will look like a hamburger bun.

Chocolate-Orange Truffle Cake

1 pkg. chocolate cake mix

Water, oil and eggs as called for on cake mix package directors

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 tablespoon chocolate frosting

1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake and cool cake as directed on package for two 8 or 9 inch round pans -- except add orange peel with the water. Fill layers and frost cake with frosting. Heat whipping cream in one quart saucepan over medium heat until hot (do not boil); remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Let stand 5 minutes. Carefully pour chocolate mixture onto top center of cake; spread to edge; allowing some to drizzle down side. Refrigerate about one hour or until chocolate is set.

Green Rice Casserole

2 (10 oz.) boxes frozen broccoli

1 small jar Cheese Whiz or 1 pound. Velveeta Cheese

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1-1/2 cups cooked rice

1/4 cup onion

Mix ingredients: Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. For microwave, put broccoli in casserole dish. Cook for 10-12 minutes on high power. Add remainder of ingredients and cook approximately three minutes on high power. Cooking time may vary according to different microwaves.

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