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.
Tuesday night I had the pleasure of teaching a basic medicine course at the Bible Institute that SIM partners with here in Arequipa. The main subject was, "How to stay healthy and productive in the ministries God has called us" We were discussing all sorts of subjects from filtering one's drinking water to immunizations. I like to keep my classes interactive, so I let the students ask any questions that they might have. Sometimes I have a hard time hearing because they are so timid and soft spoken and other times, despite 17 years in Peru, I just don't understand some Spanish words that they choose. One question in particular left me baffled as to what he was asking, "I'm a welder. Why do I get sick when I heat of leftovers in plastic containers?" His question was kind of out of the blue and it didn't seem to make sense. "I'm sorry. Could you repeat your question?" I asked as I moved closer to hear better and maybe get some clues from his body language what his question really was. He repeated the question. That really was his question. I briefly discussed the lack of studies on microwaving food in tupperware and told him to use glass or ceramic in the microwave before surrendering with, "I don't know."
I guess they weren't too disappointed with my lack of knowlege about leftover food as they invited me back in two weeks for a course on first aid!
Yesterday, Mary Beth and I went to a funeral/burial of Elizabeth's mother who died in a freak auto accident on Thursday. Mary Beth was Elizabeth's camp counselor in the past, so they have grown close over the years. I was amazed at Elizabeth's dad who directed a lot of the funeral himself without a tear or quivering voice. I think people here get so used to tragedy they become hardened to it.
This year we have had an unusual amount of rain for the desert and yesterday it continued. We got rained on at the cemetery and were thankful that another friend loaned us her umbrella. Since the city isn't prepared for rain, the streets become rivers and on our way home the traffic was so bad that at one point it took over 30 minutes to go half a mile. Since we were sitting in traffic we decided it was a good time to change our 'relationship status' on Facebook. We had initially thought we would do it on Valentine's Day, shortly after we started going out, but there were a few people that we needed to tell in person, and Elizabeth was one of the last ones.
So yes, it's true! I have an 'enamorada' now. Mary Beth is a fellow SIM missionary from Canada, whom I have known for about 12 years. Over the years she has spent a lot of time with my family, working with the horses with Sarah out at camp and coming over after youth events. She puts Christ first in her life, has a servant's heart (at yesterday's funeral she got up to help serve drinks), is sincere and genuine, and funloving. I feel so fortunate and think often of James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I feel even more blessed than usual!
Last night we arrived in Pullman, Washington, home of Amy's brother Mike Kessler and his wife Michelle. This is where Ben will be living for the next six months, hopefully finding a job and making some money before starting university in the fall. Pullman is also home of WSU (Washington State University) which has a good engineering school. We got Ben's car registered without difficulty this morning, but he won't be able to take the driving test for his driving license until February 16th. Yes, he already had a Nebraska license, but it expired while we were overseas. Let's just say it's complicated...
Thursday, Ben went on his first college campus tour. While in Peru he used the internet search engines to look for good engineering schools, and Colorado popped up repeatedly. Since it is kind of on the way to Amy's parents' home, we went to Boulder and stayed with our friends the Henzes (Gregor is an engineering professor and their daughter Sophia is an engineering student at Colorado so we felt like we got a bit of an inside look at things). It is an impressive program with a good reputation so Ben is still interested in finishing the application process. Boulder is a beautiful city with running/biking trails all over that contribute to its ranking as the 'fittest city in America'. One can even skateboard to class and lock up his board on the rack (I've never seen one of those before):
Pray that God guide Ben to a university where he will grow spiritually and be academically prepared for the world.
Okay, I guess it should be 'Joggers Find Body', but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Today's run was supposed to be Paul's 15K run in preparation for his first half marathon in 3 weeks. My friend, Dr. Wayne Centrone joined us. We were letting Paul set the pace and were just along for dog control. A little past the 2-mile point we saw a few people on the side of the road with a Sachaca Seguridad (the local municipality security) car stopped on the road. As we approached, I could see a body on the side of the road so I told Paul, "Sorry, Paul. We gotta stop. Pause your Garmin." Several years ago I made a conscious deal with myself that I will always stop to render aid for bodies on the road, even if I'm 10 meters away from setting a new marathon personal record. (Okay, maybe 50 meters away from setting a record. I'd run 10m and come back in the first case.) We found a young guy in agonal breathing laying on his side. "We're doctors!" I told the officer. The guy was unresponsive. Some in the crowd said, "He was beaten up and thrown from a taxi!" Okay, let's try to figure out how we can move him safely. We tried moving him to his back to evaluate him, but he started choking on a huge ball of phlegm, so we moved him back to his side. We couldn't see any signs of trauma and his wallet was in the front pouch of his sweatshirt. I thought it a bit odd for someone recently robbed to still have his wallet. It had his ID and so we could tell that he was 25 years old and there were phone numbers of family members that some of the crowd around us called. Strangely, we couldn't find any signs of trauma: No blood, no bruising, no lacerations. "Who saw him thrown out of a taxi?" I asked the crowd. No one knew. It appears it was just a made up story. I guess they've seen enough people assaulted and robbed and thrown out of taxis, they assumed this was just another such case. But he could have been drunk or drugged or have had a seizure. "Is an ambulance coming?" I asked. "No. It's Sunday." Really? No emergency response on Sundays here? I'll remember that for my next life-threatening accident. We contemplated taking him to my house (with IVs and oxygen) but wisely decided "Let's get him to the hospital," even though it was further away. We loaded him into the municipality's car and Wayne went with him to the hospital and Paul and I got a ride home from a good samaritan. I left Paul at home and hurried to the hospital where I quickly found Wayne and the patient. It looked like they were doing all they could do so we left. Thirty minutes later, Wayned called to say he was in a taxi listening to the radio and they were reporting that two American doctors were running and 'rescued' this kid, though they went on to say that they didn't think he'd survive. I'll have to check tomorrow's paper to see how it all came out.
PS. The title is a bit wrong. We aren't 'joggers'. We're 'runners'. The importance of this distinction is best explained here.