A couple of weeks ago, Mary Beth and I went to a wedding that was held at the 'Club de Abogados' (the lawyers' social club) in Arequipa. The wedding was outdoors, next to the swimming pool. I love to swim, so I could relate to these kids that wanted to take off their hot, stuffy wedding clothes and go swimming! The wedding was scheduled for noon and we arrived shortly before it started at 1 pm. (We've learned after our combined 29 years in Peru!) We stayed until about 7:00 observing things we liked and might want to include in our wedding. Wedding? Yes, if you hadn't heard, Mary Beth and I got engaged in April! Sarah told me this morning that we announced our engagement on Faceboook but we hadn't mentioned that we are engaged on my blog, so I'm doing that right now! The wedding will be at the SIM camp here in Peru on December 29th. Pray for us as we make wedding plans and get the paperwork needed to get married in Peru!
This week we went on a medical campaign to the nearby Colca Canyon. I say 'we' because the kids were on school break at the same time as the campaign, so they and Mary Beth joined me! This is an annual trip that is organized by Medical Ministries International (MMI) and we were part of a team about about 30 volunteers. About 10 were from Canada, 10 from the USA and 10 from Peru. I saw patients while Mary Beth, Mia and Paul translated for the visiting doctors and nurses.
Monday night, after a day of seeing patients in Chivay, I was asked to do a house call to see Paulo, a patient with a tremor. His cousin (or niece, it wasn't clear) described it as a bad tremor. “How old is he?” “49,” she told me. Very young, I categorized him. The cousin went on to say, “His sister had the same thing and died.” “Huntington’s,” I told those in my car as we drove to his house. His cousin took us to the ‘wrong house’ initially, while she cleaned up Paulo's house before our unannounced arrival. When I saw him flailing his arms on the floor of his shack, my initial diagnosis was confirmed. I knew that there was nothing that can be done to alter the course of his disease, but I didn’t know which medicines could help his symptoms in the meantime. Despite our remote location, I had cell service and internet access. I found a reliable source that said that Keppra is a drug that’s been shown to help control movements in HD and I knew that I have a bunch left over from Amy’s last days. Unfortunately, I hadn't brought the Keppra with me with me, but will send them with Gamaliel, the missionary in the stocking cap, who is going back to visit him next week. Paulo was actually quite happy and said that he had accepted Jesus as his Savior before, so we prayed with him and went back to join the rest of our medical team.
Today, Mary Beth and I were going over to Alejandro's house to paint another wall. Someone had visited him after we painted one of his walls last week and was so impressed by how improved it looked that they gave him $15 to buy another bucket of paint to continue the job! On the way there we encountered a bit of a traffic jam at a railroad crossing. A small truck was stopped on the tracks! It was 10:30 and the 11 o'clock train was certainly on its way. The back wheels were stuck between the rails, inextricable to the two women trying to push it out. "Can we help?" We tied on the tow rope I always keep in my truck and pulled their truck about 10 meters forward to get it out of the way of the 11 o'clock. "How much do we owe you?" "Just thanks. The Bible tells the story of the good Samaritan and we should do the same." "We just learned something!" they replied as we headed off singing "Bill Grogan's Goat". We painted one more of Alejandro's walls just in time to get Mary Beth to the school she was teaching at at 11:30.
Our home just went through a milestone event. Paul beat me in a fair-and-square game with 15 minutes on the chess clock for each player! Here's the final position and the moves for the chess geeks out there:
1. e4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Be7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O Re8 8. Re1 Bg4 9. Bf4 c6 10. Be2 Bd6 11. Bxd6 Qxd6 12. h3 Bh5 13. Ng5 Bxe2 14. Rxe2 Nbd7 15. Rxe8+ Rxe8 16. Qd2 h6 17. Nf3 Ne4 18. Nxe4 Rxe4 19. Re1 f5 20. Rxe4 dxe4 21. Nh4 Qe6 22. Qf4 g5 23. Qxf5 Qe8 24. Ng6 Kg7 25. Ne5 Nxe5 26. dxe5 Qg6 27. Qd7+ Kf8 28. Qxb7 Qe8 29. Qb4+ Kg7 30. Qd6 Kh7 31. Qf6 Qd7 32. e6 Qd1+ 33. Kh2 Qd6+ 34. Kh1 Qd1+ 35. Kh2 Qd6+ 36. g3 g4 37. Qf7+ Kh8 38. e7 Qd7 39. e8=Q+ Qxe8 40. Qxe8+ Kh7 41. Qe6 gxh3 42. Kxh3 a5 43. Kg4 a4 44. Qf7+ Kh8 45. Kf5 a3 46. Kg6 axb2 47. Qg7#
Just yesterday, the kids and I were talking about how different our childhoods are. I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. Everyone spoke English and most people we knew were involved in agriculture. They are growing up in Arequipa, Peru and speak English at home and German and Spanish at school raised by their widowed doctor father who sees patients in our living room on many days of the week.
As a poignant reminder of how different our childhoods are, while hanging laundry on the roof of our house this morning, I pointed to the northwest, "Look the Volcano Sabancaya is errupting!" No worries, it is about 50 miles from our house and we aren't among the unfortunate living downwind from it.
The view from our rooftop this morning.
Alejandro lives in a difficult situation. Crippled, 84 years old and without work, he depends on his $80/month pension and the compassion of others to survive. I visit him weekly to talk, bring him food and water (his room has no running water) and again to take him to church. His room is cluttered and noticeably dark because of the dark walls and the lone light bulb (his landlord nephew won't allow him to have more than one bulb because of the cost of electricity!) Mary Beth went with me to visit him a couple of weeks ago and remarked, "You know what would make his room better? A new paint job!" "I was given the wrong color of paint a few months ago when I was painting my bedroom, so I've got some nice ivory-colored paint to use!" I noted. So today we painted the back wall of his room, making it much brighter and him happy. Sometimes it helps to have some new eyes look at a situation.
"Dad I need a pig heart! It's for biology class. We're going to dissect it."
"Sorry, I'm fresh out!" But that's not a problem in Peru! I went to the market and asked for pig hearts. For about $1.50 a pound one can buy pig hearts in bulk. This lady was a bit disappointed that I only wanted one.
I hope you had a good Easter! I was the special speaker at a men's retreat on Saturday out at our camp and then Easter morning Mary Beth and I went out for a run/bike ride during the sunrise and the kids slept in. The church near camp (where Mary Beth attends) had a baptism service Easter morning and the pastor from my church officiated it!
The mayor of one of the districts in Lima is a Christian. SIM Peru partnered with several local churches and the mayor to provide relief to people affected by the flooding in an area of Lima called Paramonga. SIM helped with the purchase of blankets, cans of tuna, diapers and insect repellent for these efforts. You can see a video of relief efforts here. Thanks for your donations and prayers! Pray that people are introduced to our Savior Jesus during this difficult time! I accidentally posted this on my blog instead of the flooding blog which you can see here.
I'm in Lima for the regional meeting for the SIM Americas directors (the field directors for countries like Peru, the US, Uruguay, etc.). One of the Lima missionaries has had an annoying cyst on her back for a couple of years and last year went to a Peruvian clinic to ask to have it taken out. They told her they'd need to do it in an operating room in case there was a lot of bleeding! So I threw a laceration kit into my luggage and her husband picked me up at the airport. It took me about 10 minutes to remove the cyst (I could look up the exact time since they filmed it so she could watch her own surgery later!) and there was less than 1 ml of blood. Clearly the 'too much blood' excuse was a ploy to be able to charge a lot more money than I did (which was a ride from the airport)!
Peru is currently experiencing some of the worst flooding in years. Riverbeds that are often dry are spilling over their banks in the capital city of Lima. Many people, including missionaries, are ironically without water as the canals have been damaged. The death count is currently (18MAR17) at 62. Please pray for opportunities to use this crisis to share about the Living Water that Jesus provides and to show compassion to our fellow man. I am currently helping coordinate funds for relief efforts in Lima to help provide food and water to those that have lost their homes.
Please pray for those who have lost everything. Give praise that our water came back last night after being cut off since Tuesday (except for a couple of hours Thursday morning). Pray for wisdom in knowing how we can help most in this crisis.