Monday, July 27, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A new place today. Far far away at least it seemed that way. We had a new (old but new to us) bus and great chauffer as they call the driver here.

We are in Puente Piedra – the Rock Bridge. It is in the far southwest side of Lima going up into the mountains. It is one of the largest districts of Lima and goes to the remote area of Lima.

We traveled south on the Pan American Highway which was so crowded. As we turned off Pastor Segundo Torres and Dr. Jiu, the Peruvian dentist, were waiting for us at the main road and rode up with us the last mile. The road narrowed considerably became dirt and then to mostly a lane. As we turned the corner we saw the crowds waiting. Crowd it was. Pastor said they started coming at 7:00 AM. We were to arrive at 9:30.

As we got off the bus one by one they clapped for each of us. There is a difference in this crowd and the ones the last two days as we worked in the mayor’s clinics. There is more order, calmness. Looking out the bus upward I see areas of mountain being cut out and a flat area made to build another “house”. Looking in front of the bus are one and two storied houses partially with brick and the front “wall is cardboard supported by wooden strips. The windows for now are cardboard. I see a tarp like material on the top as a roof. Further up is a row of houses mostly completed, painted with glass in the windows. Most build here as they can pay for the materials but move in as soon as possible finished or not.

Everyone looks clean and the children have happy faces and seem well cared for and loved. There are so many babies and small children. As the patients come out from the clinics there is a smile on their faces. Joy because someone “touched them” and listened. For those of you who have been here in past, Puente Piedra makes the Rimac church look rich.

The day was so busy and active. The church leaders had organized well. Appointments were given so they knew when they were to be seen. At one point I was on the bus and the door was open where I could see out. It was parked close to where the church wall starts. I was startled to see the cutest little boy about 2-3 years old probably of Quechua Indian descent pull down his pants, relieve himself and quickly pull up his pants. But my surprise was when he bent down and carefully and meticulously grabbed hands full of dirt and covered the wet ground to perfection. Satisfied he quickly ran to play. I have to remind my self this is a way of life. It is survival.

At noon while they were eating their lunch I asked the team to tell about their morning. A blur they said. Rachael Hulstine is translating for Joan. They all have bone pain she said. That is how they describe their aches and pains.

A man showed up and found Pedro near the bus. His mother goes to the Rimac church and had told him we were going to be here today. This area is far away from Rimac but he came with his wife to see Pedro. At that point there was no room to examine his knee. Pedro brought him to the bus and realized his knee was very inflamed. He needed an injection. Pedro told me we have to do it here. So we made a place and he got his injection on the bus. I watched his face as the loooong needle went in and he did not flinch even. Later he said, “That did not hurt.” I sensed an element of surprise and wonder in his voice as if he were not sure Pedro had really done anything. Later the pastor gave Pedro his office to see patients.

Lunchtime came and the team came to the bus to eat our box lunches one by one so no clinic shut down. All were telling about their experiences for the morning. Some of the people had a dialect of Spanish that even the translators had difficulty. They were of Quechua descent or were Quechua who came from the province of Ancosh about an hour south. They have never had any kind of medical care come to them so for some this was a very new experience. I watched as Stu gave baby Tylenol to one mother for her child. She had never seen a medicine with a dropper. Rachele was translating and had to explain several times to her.

The children’s team set up a lot for the children to do in the afternoon but the hit was the jump ropes. Jamie had brought several long ropes and she and Gabriel (our helper from Rimac) and Maddy and Michael and Joy James started throwing the ropes but most of the children did not have a clue. Michael got someone to throw for him and started jumping. AW!!! So that is how it is done. One of the teens probably about 12-13 started. Slowly after a while others got into the jumping. They did not want to stop. They jumped for hours it seems. The first girl wanted to have a contest with Michael as to who could jump the longest. She won! Jamie left the ropes with the pastor as well as some individual ropes. I think they will be used.

One of the older boys there had a large green parrot. As I walked over to see him the bird jumped from his shoulder onto mine. He started pulling my hair and screeching loudly. I told him I knew it was a mess but not to advertise it. The boy wanted to sell it to me for $100. I told him no thanks so then he offered him for $20. I tried to tell him even if I wanted to buy him I could not take him on the plane. His eyes got so big as it he could not imagine flying on a plane. He kept trying but I finally convinced him, I think, even though he offered him again the next day.

At the end of the day as we were leaving, Daniel commented to us that this place felt peaceful and there was a sense of community. We wondered what made it so different. Was it the remoteness from the chaos of Lima? Was it because they have so little exposure to the lifestyle of Lima? They are not that far away from the beginning of the Lima craziness but something is different.

We left late, arrived back to the hotel and most were ready to crash. What a day!

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