Yesterday was our first day of seeing patients at the Dorcas Project since the government-mandated shut down last March! We saw about 15 mothers and their babies. The majority still come in having been told that their babies have hip dysplasia, something that normally has an incidence of 1/200 newborns, but here they tell almost everyone that their babies have it to sell them harnesses and other 'services'. Not surprisingly, none of the babies I saw had hip dysplasia.
It has been an exciting week. Yesterday, we talked to a Baptist pastor who is enthusiastic about the possibility of sending a competent young couple out from his congregation to pastor a new church with us along the coast. Today, a dear sister in Christ, who is knowledgeable about the towns and their congregations, donated her time to accompany us on our first scouting trip to the coast to see where the gaps are in church planting. On the way, we saw much need and several believers begged us to come work in their towns, but one area struck us especially. Nestled in a valley a few kilometers off the coast, we found four medium-sized towns where no doctrinally-sound congregations meet (as far as we know). There is much work to be done yet, but it is fun to see and dream about the possibilities starting to arise. What a good way to spend our 3rd anniversary of marriage!
Yesterday, on our way to our team Christmas party our Nissan Patrol started overheating. I noticed a small leak last week and already had an appointment for today to get it repaired. I pulled over to take a look and found the small leak had turned into a big leak and the radiator was approaching empty. Thankfully, there was a irrigation canal next to where we stopped and 1200 ml at a time (we had 3 old Powerade bottles in the car) I refilled the radiator. It was enough to get to the Christmas party, where we refilled it again. That allowed us enough time to get to the mechanic, about 10 minutes away, with a trail of water marking our route! We are so glad that that happened here in Arequipa and not on our 17-hour trip through the desert from Lima 3 weeks ago! Carlos, the mechanic, says he'll have it fixed today.
We made it! We are back in Arequipa, quarantining again, until December 12th. Things were looking a bit uncertain the day before our flight because we hadn't gotten our COVID test results back yet. Peru requires that those entering the country get a COVID test done within 3 days of their flight, but COVID tests take around 3 days for results. With Thanksgiving in the midst, we worried they might take even longer. Thankfully, at 9:46 pm we got our negative results so we were good to fly out the next morning!
Our friend Luz, who was housesitting, bought us groceries and left a clean house for us to move back into. It has been a bit surreal. We have a kind of a 'what just happened?' feeling as our brains wrap around the events of the last 4 months.
Yesterday, I had 3 virtual patients. They didn't waste much time finding out we were home!
Photo 1: COVID-19 testing station in Chicago
Photo 2: A truck accident that reminded us to drive carefully
Whenever we go back to Peru we get requests to bring things. We've been asked to bring computers, guitars, iPhones, projectors, candy, books, wetsuits, communion platters, Buzz Lightyear and many other things. If we have space we try to help out. But usually, we are bringing so many things that we need we don't have room. Our favorite request has to be, "Can you bring us a Saint Bernard?"
We couldn't pull that one off, but that does bring me to the reason we are posting to our blog: We're planning on going back to Peru November 28th!
We know far better than to say, "We're going back to Peru" because this is 2020 and things are a bit uncertain. (James 4:14-15) But that is our plan. As you may have heard, Peru just sacked her president and there are demonstrations in the streets, so pray for things to work out. We will fly to the States on the 20th to spend Thanksgiving with the kids and then on to Lima on the 28th. On the 29th, we will drive to Arequipa where we will quarantine in our home for 2 weeks.
Our bodies change as we get older, in a bad way, and when I reached my mid-30’s I noticed I was having more trouble keeping my weight under control and my back was beginning to ache, a lot. I’ve always tried to keep active in some way, thinking ‘When I’m an old woman, I want to still be able get out and walk’. So instead of sitting back and accepting my fate, and inspired by the 2016 Olympics, our annual mission ‘Race to the Rocks’, and a few past room-mates, I decided to change my diet (more veggies, less bread ) and start running.
I’ve never been a runner and I felt like I looked incredibly dumb when I did, not like most lithe and athletic people I see running down the side of the road but more like a lumbering ox. I figured I was old enough not to care. It was also excruciatingly hard. Often, I’d count my breaths as encouragement to keep going… 1,2,5,3… I would get mixed up because it was hard to focus.
Contrary to what I had previously thought, I’ve discovered that most people don’t run for the health benefits or even to have great looking bodies. Most people who run, run because they actually enjoy it! (except for doctors and nurses- lots of them do it for the health benefits). And runners are excited about anyone who wants to join the club, fast or slow. It’s not a competition at all. That was a myth buster for me!
After 4 years of running a few times a week I didn’t have to count for encouragement anymore, and could even sometimes follow a conversation while running! But I was discouraged because I still couldn’t keep up with anyone unless they slowed down for me ( l looked back at my times today and realized I had actually been getting slower instead of faster despite my consistent training). Mia and Allen were great! They were always willing to join me, even on days I couldn’t listen or talk to them. One in three runs usually ended in an ‘asthma/panic attack’… or as we know now, heart stress.
It was such a relief to find out that there really was something wrong with me and now, months after surgery to rejoice that the problem has been fixed! Allen says that someday he’ll have to ride a bicycle alongside me as I run just to keep up. We’ll see…
Today was going to be our 2nd picarones/buñuelos cooking event. Picarones are a Peruvian pastry, much like a donut but made with sweet potatoes. Last Saturday we had 30-40 people come out to the farm as we made picarones over an open fire and talked about Peru. Today we had to cancel because of the rapidly-increasing COVID cases in Manitoba. As it turned out, the weather wasn't very nice either with 1˚C/33˚F temps and 40kmh/24mph winds. We also felt it best to cancel our evening visits with supporters next week as Manitoba enters 'level orange' which limits the number of people one can have in gatherings. Once again, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Prov 16:9 NIV)"
Sometimes visiting with supporters can be very interesting. One of the pastors at my home church, who makes special effort to make sure missionaries are supported on the field and did our marriage counseling, discovered he and Allen had a mutual hobby in metal detecting. Together they decided they needed to go sometime. Yesterday, a chilly autumn day (Allen’s from far enough south he called it winter), it finally happened. My dad, who also has a passing interest in metal detecting suggested his old school yard might be a good place to find old coins. Today it’s just a patch of grass with a few trees planted around it but he had some fun memories to share with us of where everything had been and what they had all done there. Pastor Anthony was super excited to find an old silver quarter and a silver dime and Allen came home with a penny worth 1 in 22 million. In 1954, for some reason, only 22 million Canadian pennies were minted as opposed to the usual 70 million minted yearly in that time period. My dad has been collecting pennies ever since I can remember and he needed that one to complete his set. It was an exciting day.
Yesterday, we flew from Detroit to Winnipeg. The airports were all fairly empty and getting through security never took more than 3 minutes. The only delay we had was leaving Minneapolis, as Vice President Pence and his retinue were flying out on Air Force Two at the time we were scheduled to leave. As we waited, 20 cars with flashing lights drove up to their jet, they boarded and off they went.
There were only 20 people on our flight, so we had lots of room. When we arrived, the immigrations official was pretty strict with us, as we were coming from America. I had to show them our Peruvian marriage license with all of its official stamps and translations and we had to give them our plan for quaratining for the next 14 days. Mary Beth's parents brought us a Honda Odyssey that Adrian and Zarah Fast loaned us for our time in Canada. Without hugs, we drove to the Penners' house that they are remodeling in Blumenort to start our quarantine. Linda stocked the kitchen with food and others have brought over books and instruments and scrapbooking materials to keep us occupied.
You wouldn't think that being put under strict quarantine would be seen as a blessing, but it is! I still have maybe an hour a day of mission emails to tend to, but otherwise there are no interruptions! I figured out that it takes 8 laps around the perimeter of the property to reach a km, so I'll start my running program tomorrow, looking forward to getting a bit more scenery after October 9th.
It seems strange to go from being single to being an empty-nester in 3 years. Never could have predicted that! So it’s with some nostalgia we arrive in Michigan to visit Allen’s sister Sandra and her husband Mike who run a vet clinic in Hillsdale County. This marks the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one as we leave Paul to live with them as he works toward the required hours he'll need to apply to vet school some day. We are thankful he has such a great opportunity and that we can leave him in such good hands. Allen and I, on the other hand, are looking forward to spending a second honey-moon (otherwise known as 14-day quarantine) in Blumenort next week!
Paul holding a recovering Sharp-Shinned Hawk that rammed into the window on Saturday.