As you may have read/heard, I went to Peru last summer with our church. I had such a great time that I decided to do it again, and this time to take my lovely wife with me. I’m going to go with BEST. IDEA. EVER. on that one. As one of our doctors joked, had they known she’d be such an asset to our team and so much cooler than me, they’d have left me home last year and taken her.
We flew into Lima late on a Friday night after spending the night in a hotel there, boarded a bus headed for Huaraz, which is located about 8 hours northeast of Peru in the center of the country and nestled in the Andes mountains. We were met by the Rockwell family, missionaries that have been serving in the outlying communities of Huaraz for the last 8 years. They brought us to the mission compound where they live and made us feel extremely welcome. We got to know the Rockwells pretty well across the week and loved being able to spend time with them. Their heart for the Quechua people (the indigenous people of the Andes mountains) was incredible and challenging.
We awoke Sunday and had a time of worship in our meeting room and then headed up into the mountains for our first clinic.
We ended up doing 6 different clinics in 6 different locations, all of them up in the mountains and moderately accessible by our van. Our locations were strategically chosen by the Rockwells as they were villages where they are either trying to make some inroads or they are currently serving some of the people there. Our clinic buildings ranged from a well-equipped medical outpost with many rooms to use to an open field between a few buildings where we could enjoy the sunlight while seeing people.
Kristen spent most of her time manning the Triage desk where she welcomed people to the clinic, took their vitals and got their information, and then found out why they had come to see the doctor. To say that she was great at this would be an understatement, as the doctors raved about her thoroughness and everyone else was amazed at her organizational skills. She also had occasion to bust out her Spanish skills, which were much improved by the end of the week.
Meanwhile I was finding places to fit in all over the place. I was slated to be in the pastoral spot, spending time talking and praying with people that wanted to speak with someone after receiving their medical care, but sometimes there were not people to talk to so I found other things to do. I spent some time in triage, got pretty good at giving people eye tests and figuring out what kind of reading glasses they needed, built an alcohol stove out of a tin can so that I could heat some liquid for a ear cleaning, then
performed some of said ear cleaning, filled in the pharmacy for a bit, and generally helped out where needed. I did get to spend a fair amount of time talking with people and was also able to speak to some of the people waiting in line and also told the story of David and Goliath (not ever forgetting the many smoked meats and cheeses that David carried to the front lines of the battle) to a group of children.
We ended up seeing a total of over 600 people and were able to give most of them some relief from the ailments that they came to see us for. We were able to share with almost everyone we saw about why we were there, namely because Jesus loves them and died on the cross for their sins. We were able to meet some of the needs of what Jesus calls “the least of these” and we had a great time doing it. All in all, I have to admit that this trip was one of my favorite I’ve ever taken. So thanks to all of those that supported us monetarily, prayed for us while we were gone, and encouraged us in our endeavor.