Puppet season began yesterday! 'What is puppet season?' the gentle reader might be asking. Does one shoot them? No. Not usually. Instead, each year, Mary Beth puts together a team of interested people to write a script, make the puppets and create the backgrounds for their program. They then present their show to groups that request it. The premier was yesterday at a church anniversary event and about 40 kids watched as Mary Beth's team put on a great show based on the parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price found in Matthew 13:44-45.
We heard through the grapevine that when Mary Beth and I were at church in Omaha in July some murmured, "How tall is she?!"
In December, before we were dating, we put a ruler across our heads as we stood back to back in the kitchen and one of the kids announced, "She's about 1 centimeter taller!" A month later when Mary Beth and I started talking about dating, we discussed what were our 'deal breakers'. I jokingly asked her, "You remember I'm shorter than you. Are you okay with that?" Thankfully, she said it wasn't a deal breaker! I've told lots of people that Mary Beth is taller than I am, though something wasn't quite right. She kept saying she is 5-feet 9 and 3/4 inches tall, and I'm just over 5 foot 10 inches. Canadian inches must be bigger.
Friday, we had a medical campaign and Mary Beth helped translate for a physical therapist who was taking care of this very short patient! Mary Beth looks like an Amazon woman in comparison! We showed this picture to Mia, which led to everyone wanting to get measured. I guess Mary Beth must have shrunk since December, because she is now 2 cm shorter than I am!
She's 176 cm for us metric people.
"If you leave him here, he'll just be abandoned and thrown into a common grave," the social assistence employee told me. I didn't really believe her, but I didn't think taking Alejandro back to his home from the hospital was going to be much better than her threat. His home has no running water, and with his broken left arm he suffered while trying to get up from his bed in the hospital, he can't even use his bedside commode. His infected foot that was the reason for his hospitalization was worse than when I took him in before going to North America in July. What am I going to do? I can't sit at his side and take care of him like I did with Amy. I have children to raise and ministries to do. He needs a nurse that can come visit him. I called some of the guys from church, who help out with Alejandro, if they knew of any nurses that could help. Nope. No one had any leads.
I rode in the ambulance with Alejandro and Maruja (the employee that said Alejandro would be left to die) and we carried him up to his bed. His niece came by and we tidied up his room and boiled him some water before I needed to head back downtown for a meeting.
I started walking, not sure how far I'd have to go to find a taxi. One showed up after I'd walked a block or two and I asked him (Edgar) how his day had been. "Slow. So many people are striking, there are less people needing taxis. The teachers are striking. The nurses are striking. The miners are striking."
"Yeah, I saw the nurses marching with signs at the hospital an hour ago," I replied.
Edgar said, "My daughter studied nursing."
"I need a nurse for a disabled patient nearby," I said, not really expecting anything in particular.
"Are you the guy that helps take care of Alejandro?"
"Yes," I said, a bit surprised that Edgar had heard of me.
"My daughter helped take care of him a couple of years ago! He always called her an angel, he liked her so much!"
"Is she working right now?" I asked, starting to get excited with the prospect of finding a nurse for Alejandro.
"No, she has a baby now and no job."
"Where does she live?"
"With me, near where you got in my taxi."
"Would she like a job of visiting Alejandro everyday to help take care of him?"
"I'll ask her."
To make a long story a little less long, María was happy for a chance of employment, and she seemed to be so caring, taking Alejandro's hand when she came to meet me at his house to see what the job entailed. Lots of people have been praying for Alejandro and it was incredible to see God provide for him in such a timely, precise way! And I even got a chance to clearly present God's plan of salvation to the ambulance driver on the way to Alejandro's house!
We are in Canada! We actually arrived on Monday, but I haven't had time to update the blog until now. We are taking advantage of the kids' school's winter break to introduce Mary Beth to my family in Nebraska and South Dakota and for the rest of us to meet her family in Manitoba. We've had a great time doing lots of fun things and are very happy to see our families get along so well.
Wait! You only have four kids! Is one of those Mary Beth's son? No, she doesn't have any kids. Peering out of the 'b' is Zach Davis, Sarah's boyfriend.
The road between my house and Mary Beth's apartment has been under construction for about a year. Yesterday was a happy day because they opened up the bridge between our two homes! It took me only 9 minutes to get home from her house yesterday afternoon instead of the 20-30 minutes that the congested detour route required! (It takes 45-50 minutes during rush hour!) This will save me 30 minutes a day, an average of 5 days a week for the next 26 weeks, or 65 hours less time spent in the truck! Yay!
A picture from the median of the new bridge looking at the continuing construction below and behind us.
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.