It is Sunday morning at the hotel Pascana in Iquitos Peru, and I am listening to a number of our volunteers packing and preparing the supplies for our next project in Pucallpa that begins in just over a week. What an amazing experience that this has been. First of all, the fear of the unknown has passed, as I now understand that a medical clinic can be administered by a bunch of crazy Extreme long term volunteers. We now know how it works!
For the details of our project, we just finished a medical/impact project where we were able to set up 7 different clinic locations throughout some of the communities of the city of Iquitos. We targeted some existing church locations and some brand new areas as well. In all, we treated about 1300 patients in the clinics.
As far as the impact goes, we held kid festivals each day at the clinic locations. We had programs for thousands of kids which included puppet shows, jump rope, parachutes, face painting , crafts, and tons of soccer.
After 7 days of soccer, most of which was on uneven surfaces, the ankles and feet are pretty torn up, but the grin is permanent.
Our project went without any hiccups. For us, that is an abnormal thing. In a culture where nothing is confirmed, everything is subject to change and is strange if it doesn’t, we had a flawless project. Tons of people were reached by our medical clinics as well as our impact. In all, we had about 400 decisions for Christ. In addition, there are thousands of potential converts as our local leadership and our 40/40 missionaries will be following up with a contact. It was a blessed project in everything we did. God was and is still with us.
There were a couple of notable stories that really stick out. Many more that I do not have the time nor the space to write, but I will share a few of those with you.
I will try to keep it short and give you the highlights.
Story of Trust
First of all, the second morning that we were in Iquitos, I had a number of errands to run. Instead of paying the fares for dozens of motorcar rides (three wheeled motorcycle taxis used in the jungles), I thought I would check into renting a motorcycle for the day to run all of the errands. When I got to the shop and asked if they rented motos, the guy reached into his pocket and offered me his keys. Blown away by this gracious act of kindness, I stammered to figure out his motives. In the end, he just wanted me to use his moto. So I did. I drove all around town, filled it up after I was done, and returned it in one piece. I did finally introduce myself to him once I started out the driveway. He trusted me like I was his brother. I thought to myself, what a wonderful world. I love this town!
Another strange thing that happened was that I met a guy that was paralyzed as a boy when a fruit fell out of a tree and hit him on the head. He owned a little store near where we set up a clinic and he offered to let us use some chairs. Great guy, crazy story!
One that touched me really deep down was the story of Pastor Enrique. This is a pastor at the Malvinas Church of the Nazarene. He has a couple of sons, one of which is a pastor at another Nazarene church. It was at the end of the day of our clinic at the church, when Pastor asked to visit with me. He was a bit torn up and I could tell something was eating at him. He brought me into his house and slid the curtain divider to the side and showed me his son.
Ever is his son’s name. Ever was laying in a fetal position on a wooden bed frame, eyes rolled back, rocking from side to side, totally out of his mind. Pastor continued to tell me the story about how 9 years previously his son went to bed one night and woke up like this. Violent and unable to communicate or function, this boy had existed in this state for 9 years. We, as a group of doctors provided hope to this father and pastor. He asked me if we could help. Not knowing what we could do for him, I volunteered to pray. I put one arm around his wife and the other around Pastor and prayed like I had never prayed before. While I was standing there, Ever jumped out of bed like a scared rabbit and ran past me, out the door, and into the back courtyard area.
Keep in mind, that the pastor had already told me that he was violent. I immediately thought that he might be running into the clinic area. I knew that there were kids, women and volunteers in the room next doors so I went into protect mode. I ran to the door and about the time I got there, Ever had retreated on a full sprint back through the door, turning the corner, and then proceeded to dive back into the concrete corner where he had spent the last 9 years.
My heart was broken for this pastor. What could I do? He told me that he could not get his son to the doctor because he was so violent, but he could not afford a doctor anyway. The only thing he could think of was to have the doctor come to the house to observe Ever and see if he could diagnose the problem. He asked me if I could help. I had to do something. I knew that if I asked this group of volunteers to help, it would happen. That is exactly what we did. We took up an offering and raised enough money to have a psychiatrist come out and figure out the problem, provide a prescription, as well as a follow up plan. The next day, I had the honor of handing over the cash so that he could finally figure out the problem that his son had been fighting for 9 years. He called me that same afternoon to tell me that he got an appointment and that the next day his son was going to be seen at their house by the doctor.
The doctor gave his diagnosis as schizophrenia. It can be treated with medication, and although the kid may never function at 100%, he will probably be able to function much better. It was a blessing to be a part of this process. We lifted a burden from this pastor. He now knows what the problem is. He can now combat it with medicine.
The pastor wrote a letter that expressed his feelings. I was able to translate it and read it to our volunteers during one of our devotion times. On the paper were many emotional words that came from deep within the heart of a beaten down pastor. I think we were able to make a difference in a pastor’s life that day. Keep Pastor Enrique and his son, Ever, in your prayers.
I need to tell you about two of the sweetest little missionary girls that I know. Kayle and Emma were in action during this project. They jumped in and helped out with the clinic and with Impact. Kayle found her niche writing down weights and blood pressures for the nurses in the clinics. She was a huge blessing. Emma was observed with a bunch of Peruvian kids showing them some cool jump rope moves. They each helped with some of the puppet shows and face painting as well. I am so proud of how they have jumped in taken the roll as missionaries, not just missionary kids.
40/40’s in Iquitos
Our 40/40 missionaries that are in Iquitos right now for their training were very involved in the work that we did during this project. They were a delight to work with. They brought energy and ideas to the mix and allowed us to reach
thousands more people. I am so proud of all of the 40/40’s. I am convinced that we chose the right people for this mission. Please keep them in your prayers as they will be going back to class after we wore them out for almost two weeks.
God Bless you all and we ask that you keep us in your prayers. We have a lot of projects all lined up. It will be taxing on our family, our bodies, and our relationships. We will continue to keep you all in our prayers as we wish showers of blessing on your lives.