Friday July 24, 2009 in Puente Piedra
We left the hotel about 8:30 this morning. Our first fright was when Michael, Maddy and Gabriel were coming back from Vivanda Grocery Store with our water and crossed the narrow but busy street at the light. Michael was last and as he started across on the green light a car who had the red light ran the light and came right at Michael. Michael saw him and was able to do an acrobatic jump or he would have been hit. There is an arrogance here that some feel they are above the law and can do what they wish especially when driving their cars. The government is trying to crack down on a lot of this but there is rebellion and thus the strikes. Actually there have been 2 days of strikes this week but it failed in Lima. However we saw on the news that it was successful all over the rest of the country and tour buses were attack, rocks thrown in the windows etc. We were spared.
Thank you, God, for your protection. I think a lot of you are praying for our protection.
We arrived at the church and as we turned the corner we were met with a multitude. More children than you can imagine. Adults as well. We had told them we would be here ½ day. There are more people than yesterday which was for a full day. We have to think what to do. The team is working fast and how do we see so many. And more keep coming. So Amigos in America can you come back and help? We can’t even touch the need. They are such sweet and humble people. They appreciate even a hug and smile. As we got off the bus the crowd broke into a loud clap as if we were the National champs of some great athletic team. We think why would they do that. We have so little to offer.
Debbie Drain, one of our clowns, came to this church with a group about 5 years ago. She fell in love with these people and decided she needed to come back. She studied Spanish and not finding a group to come back with she just came by herself. In 2008 she heard about Regency and joined us. She has prayed we would be able to come to this church and community.
During the past year Pedro’s brother, Luis, has met with the pastor several times and in April he and Pedro spent some time with him. We decided that even though it meant shortening our time in Rimac we had to come here. Pedro observed that the church had no tables and chairs in the rooms we would use for the medical clinics. He wrote Luis to get some tables so the doctors would at least have a place to work. In Rimac furniture but no space, in this place lots of space but no furniture. Regency sent the $400 needed to have the tables made knowing God would provide. Simple but sufficient.
When Debbie raised her funds for this trip she raised $395 more than she needed. She asked if it could be used here. There was the money needed to cover the tables. God is so creative and surprising in His provisions.
The bus is parked very near the entrance to the church. The driver stays with the bus so we can leave our bags and personal items on the bus. When our box lunches come that is where we eat them. I decided to come back to the bus and start writing this blog since most of my work is done and to give the driver a break if he needed it.
Pastor Segundo walked by with a tiny little Quechua lady. She looked as if she was in agony holding her hand against her body. He asked if she could sit here for a minute. Then as we talked we found she had fallen and injured her hand and wrist and also her shoulder. She had seen one of our doctors who thought she had a fracture. There is no way she could get help. The doctor wrote orders for what she needed and then added $$ to it. Pastor was finding someone to go with her to the hospital in Lima to get an x-ray. With money they would do it and probably follow up with the help she needs.
Debbie just came to me almost in tears to tell me a story. We are on the side of a mountain. There is a little park right in front of the church where the children’s workers are doing their projects. Debbie had looked up the path that comes down the mountain near the park and saw this older lady (70 years old but looked 90) hardly able to walk. She met her and found she was in great pain. She did not have an appointment but heard there were doctors down here. She had walked a long way. Instead of her going the rest of the way inside the church Debbie had her sit on the park bench and went to get Joan and Diana. Joan and her translator came out to help. There was little or nothing to do. Her back probably has stress fractures. She has severe OA. Those are the situations that make us cry. We could give her something for pain temporarily. She needs long term care for osteoporosis, calcium. In her poverty we know there is nothing that will be done.
Debbie had to come to the bus for a moment to gain her composure so we both cried. Except for the grace of God it could be you or me walking in that ladies shoes. Why do we have so much and she has so little? Why was I born in the USA and she was born in these dirty barren, rocky mountains? There is no answer but if you are reading this please stop and pray for these people, for the poverty. We know that first and foremost the poverty of the soul is the thing most needing care. We can share our Lord. God will use our being here to open doors for the Pastor and the other Christians in this church to minister to the needs of these people. We can only say as we are here for today for such a time as this. We will never know what if any impact we will have on a single person but we do know our Lord has far more compassion for them than we could ever have. I know God’s heart hurts for them more than does ours. I know we cannot know why other than we know that the sin of this world brings about much injustice and sorrow and god of the darkness of this world wants it to stay that way.
I feel I want to stop the story telling here and start preaching, begging all of you to see what we see and feel what we see. God reminded me that that is not for me to do. I can share with you but anything that you feel or sense has to come from Him. I go back to the stories.
Joy James just came over to tell me that they were sharing with the kids and several of the children asked Jesus in their hearts. They are giving the names to the pastor for follow up. Yesterday Gabriel (the man from Rimac who is helping us this week) shared as he walked around and talked to people and 4 people prayed to receive the Lord.
Note: At the end of the day when the team got on the bus Jamie Hite told us that over 30 children prayed to receive Christ.
It is now 12:45 PM. We were supposed to shut down at 1:00. The place is packed with people probably 50-60 just to see the doctors, others to see the dentist and the eye clinic. They keep coming. I think if there were sufficient lighting and we could stay to midnight there would still be people coming. Where do we stop? The doctors decided that we would see 25 more patients and then cut it off. No one is happy patients or the team but we know we are not indispensible. We have to stop somewhere. I remember the passage in Mark 6 at the end of the chapter. Jesus had been preaching to the crowds, had fed the 5000 and He and disciples were tired. Jesus looked at the crowds and had great compassion but He turned to the disciples and told them to get into the boat and they all went away to rest. Thus the sadness of missions.
I just saw the cutest little Quechua lady come down the stairs from the 3rd floor where the eye clinic is located. She was with some younger family and they were all laughing and happy. She waited until she reached the street and turned to one of her family who was carrying her new glasses. She has such a tiny little face that they looked quite big on her but as she put them on I saw the thickness and wondered if she were nearly blind. All smiles she started walking and so happy. She had new glasses. Thank you, Jim Mays, for coming and using your expertise in this way and thank you, Daniel Hast, for learning and doing the “construction” of the lenses into the frames. Thank you, Esther, (Peruvian medical student) for translating and triaging. You have seen and helped so many patients. I believe the number yesterday was over seventy. Thank you, Life Church, for providing the equipment and materials for Jim to use.
I love going up to the area where the doctors are seeing patients. Next to them are the two “pharmacists”, Stacey and Stephanie. They are so good. The doctors will call out. I need 20 tablets of _____ and they immediately find it, bag it and take to the doctor. Such a great team. Last night they told us that we were out of such and such and were worried about today. We were able to find those things at a pharmacy (a large chain called Inka Farma). When you are the team leaders it is so great to have people that you put in charge and then never have to think about it again. That is the way with Stacey and Stephanie and our “drugs”.
Several of the team have told me today that they wish we had spent the whole week here in this place. They love these people. The team is so impressed with the kindness of these people. They are so friendly. The children are so well behaved, so content, so happy. There is a lifestyle here that is removed from the Lima madness. They are a close-knit community and you can see that. The pastor is well known here and well respect somewhat a leader even though not an officially elected one. He loves what he does and it reflects.
Our half-day went much longer and without the team stopping for lunch. The pastor finally had to talk to them and say we could see no more. They were so disappointed but orderly.
That is the story of our last day working in Lima.
Tomorrow is a day for the team. We have found that it is crucial to have time for them to learn something of the culture and history of this great country. We have a short tour of old Lima tomorrow and then to the well-known restaurant, La Rustica, in Barronco for late lunch. They serve a huge buffet with foods typical of most of the areas of Peru. The salad bar is to die for but sorry, team, hands off. You have to fly home at midnight tomorrow night. Nothing uncooked. Actually there is one dish that has such strong vinegar and lemon dressing it would kill any bugs. Pedro will tell them they can eat that salad.
We have zillions of pictures. We will post them later. They tell an even better story.
We know we can’t write the emotions we feel here. We can only give you a glimpse.
May God put into your heart anything He wants you to know from this trip. May He allow you to have a vision of His vast world and the people He chose to create. We pray that something we write will touch your heart for His kingdom’s sake.