People have been asking how we are doing, so I thought I better write an update. I don't have any pictures. I guess I could show streets without cars taken from our rooftop. We can't drive our SUV under threat of having my license taken away and the SUV impounded. We actually aren't supposed to leave the house except for Wednesdays and Saturdays to buy food. We had 10 kg of potatoes delivered to our house this morning. There is plenty of food for sale in our neighborhood store. One can't buy alcohol which makes me wonder about alcoholics going into withdrawal and no hospital willing to treat them. Coronavirus cases might be dropping in Peru; we'll find out in a few more days. This morning, we had church via internet, watching Christ Community Church's service (cccomaha.org) at 9 and then the Blumenort Community Church's service at 10:30. Since we can't run outdoors, I've been doing sit-ups and pushups and going up and down the stairs of our 3-story home. I've been losing weight despite not running. All my patients are virtual now. They either message me or call. Mary Beth is happy to finally relax after the camp season. Paul is bored and improving his juggling skills. I've taken up guitar. Mary Beth and the kids are playing piano. I hope to get a lot of continuing medical education done too. Mia is still doing classes online from Azusa Pacific U. We're playing lots of board games and skyping often. Most of my meetings are being held on Skype or Zoom. I'm finding plenty to do!
Saturday morning, Mia asked about coming home since her university was closed. MB and I both prayed during our devotional times and when we finished we both felt strongly that God was telling us to get her home ASAP. So after we talked to her we bought her flights for that same night. She had to frantically pack her things and a friend’s parents took her to LAX that night. We were worried that they might cancel her flights since Peru was talking about closing its borders, and worried that she might get stuck in Mexico City or Lima along the way. Thankfully, the rains in Arequipa stopped yesterday afternoon and her flight, though delayed, arrived at 10:45 last night! Tickets were only $366 despite buying the tickets last minute! She said the Mexico City to Lima flight was still pretty empty. There were tickets as cheap as $78 on Spirit for Wednesday. >I really doubt that they can pay for the extra fuel for carrying Mia for that price. But that flight isn’t going now. I just checked Travelocity and they are still offering flights through several airlines for Wednesday, but those flights aren’t going to be landing in Lima either.
Both Mia and Ben are supposed to be finishing their semesters online.
Things are shut down here. We are only allowed to leave the house to buy groceries, or go to the bank or the hospital/pharmacy. I'm not even allowed to go running.
“For some of us, quitting work and quarantining ourselves for fear of Corona Virus is not an option. If we don’t work, we don’t eat and we die either way,” our taxi driver (an ex-vice president of a large beer factory in Venezuela) told us last night. We were talking about all the schools shutting down in Peru and how it seems like the economy will probably grind to a halt here during the next few weeks. He said the Corona Virus would be extremely devastating in Venezuela if it becomes an issue there, though pretty much the only border movement is with Colombia at the moment.
Makro, the Peruvian equivalent to Costco, has been inundated with shoppers preparing for the 'siege'. Things that Peruvians buy are toilet paper and cleaning supplies as well as food essentials such as rice, eggs and sugar.
For lunch today we went to Papa John's Pizza to celebrate summer camps being over for the season. The last camp, an equestrian camp, finished yesterday and we came home in the pouring rain. Thankfully, all the parents were able to pick up the kids in spite of a few roads being closed because rain destroys desert city roads unprepared for large amounts of water.
In the past, parents have asked me (Mary Beth writing) what 'equestrian' means and I tell them it is horse-riding camp. This year, two boys showed up expecting 50 other kids and a week filled with large-group-games and Bible teaching. "Where's the big bus? Where are all the people?" the mom asked me as the 10-seater van drove up and the small group excitedly gathered around to say good-bye to the seven campers. Uh oh, I thought... I hope these boys like horses.
I had a counselor cancel last minute for this camp, so with much prayer, going off a tip from someone, I sent a message to fellow SIM missionary, Siegfried Reuter, to ask if he'd be willing to step in. He and his wife helped start the camps in 1993. Since he was on vacation and planning to return to Arequipa 1 day before the camp, and because he's a stereotypical German in that he likes to be well prepared, I was dubious he'd come. But to my great surprise, he was overjoyed at the opportunity. He told me later that the Lord had been speaking to his heart for months that he should be willing if the opportunity came up. He was so excited about the horses and great at making the two young men feel loved and motivated even though they were extremely out of their comfort zone and riding horses was not what they expected.
This morning I had a two-month-old with an extra toe on his right foot. Polydactyly, as it is called, is fairly common. They say it happens every 500 births. (wouldn't it be cool if 1 in 500 people were born with tails?) If you are thinking, 'It can't be that common, I've never seen it,' it's because most parents have them removed from their babies shortly after birth. I've seen polydactyly several times in my career.
I saw this patient at our Dorcas Project a month ago and since this particular toe didn't have any bony or cartilaginous attachments (it did have a toe nail, which isn't visible in the picture), I told his mother we could easily take it off at our house where I have my minor surgery equipment. One important piece of equipment I didn't have was a papoose board. It is basically a way to restrain a baby so that one can do surgery or dental work. So 30 minutes before the patient arrived I was drilling holes and cutting slits with a jig-saw into leftovers from last year's kitchen remodeling project.
It worked great. The baby has 10 toes now and was as cool as a cucumber as I cut off his extra toe!
Today marks 20 years since we arrived in Peru! This is a picture of our first place before we had any furniture. Someone loaned us a table and a high chair and for chairs we sat on our Action Packers. It looks like a pretty bleak lunch of 7-Up and ketchup. I know we had something else to eat. Probably potatoes.
At times it seems like yesterday and at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago. We've seen people come to Christ (including last week through the medical assistance project), innumerable village medical trips, churches started, a hospital built, kids grow up and go to Germany and college, Amy go on to heaven, fellow missionaries come and go and Zach and Mary Beth join the family. What will the next 20 years have for us?
Join us as we thank God for both the good and the difficult.
This is the most dogs I've ever seen sleeping in one spot during the day: 11
Monday was the first day of summer camp. Forty-three kids loaded the bus going to camp for a week of fun. The first day was completely normal, with swimming, archery, horsebackriding, Bible studies and other camp activities. SIM's camp is located in a valley in the desert about an hour from Arequipa. It is so dry that without irrigation even cacti wouldn't grow. There are places on the drive out to camp where one can't see any plants at all. It looks like moonscape. This makes it a great environment for planning events. One doesn't have to have a contingency plan for rain. When Mary Beth and I got married, we didn't even consider what we might do if it rained. I was told that in the early 2000's the camp went almost 10 years without it raining! So we were all a bit surprised when Monday night we could hear sprinkles on the roof of our cabins! And the rain kept going off and on the rest of the week. Mary Beth and her team did a great job changing plans to keep the kids occupied. We almost canceled our mud games because everyone thought they'd be too cold to do while raining, but the rain stopped and it warmed up enough to play in the mud. When we planned the camp we thought it would be a lot of effort to prepare the mud. It clearly wasn't!
Last week was SIM Peru's Spiritual Life Conference near Lima. Our fantastic speakers were Bob and Kamrin Evans from the Bay Area in California. SIM Peru missionaries come from 9-12 different countries (depends on if you count where they were born or where their passports say they are from) so we pick English for presentations since we have new people that don't speak Spanish yet and our Swiss and German missionaries speak excellent English. But some words are new to them. During one of the talks Bob used the word 'vicarious' and was asked what it meant. It means to experience through another person's actions.
Wednesday, was the tenth edition of the Race to the Rocks, a 7.2 km race on the beach. I've reached that stage in life when my kids are beating me in about everything, including foot races. I have chosen to vicariously claim their victories as my own, as was the case in Paul's victory in the race!
Last night, I was preaching at a church for the first time. I asked for a volunteer to read a verse and one woman raised her hand but then declined when she realized that she didn't have her reading glasses, so someone else read the verse. A bit later, I asked for another volunteer to read a three-verse passage and the woman without her glasses volunteered again. She stood up, looked straight ahead and without her bible recited all three verses word-perfectly from memory! I was amazed until I realized that the guy running the projector was putting up all the verses on the screen behind me!
Today was the CONREDE track meet. It pits the doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, accountants, etc. against each other on the track and field. I went into the 1500m planning on winning the event since I can usually run it 10 or 15 seconds faster than last year's winning time. Unfortunately, I got an asthma attack about half way into the event and didn't even finish. How embarrassing! For the last two months I've been forced to quit really hard runs because I can't breathe. I've seen a lung doctor and even did a treadmill test with a cardiologist and it appears to be exercise-induced asthma. I guess I'll have to stick with the longer, slower runs or the really short ones (100m to 400m) that don't give the asthma time to close my bronchii. Our team coach had been encouraging me to throw the shotput at the event, so I was signed up for it. I've only thrown the shotput once before in my life at a school 'Parents Olympics', so I don't really know what I'm doing. All the other competitors signing up for the event were bigger than me (not a very common occurance in Peru). I was chatting with a team mate before the event who looked like an olympic shotputter. "I'm not very good, he said. It's all technique." I was dubious. He looked like he could throw me 10 meters and a shotput probably much further. God has a sense of humor. I won the event. I'm not convinced it was due to my great technique, as you can see below: