On the third day we held the medical clinic in our own town of Pucacaca. One lady came in with her elderly cousin, an 88-year-old frail woman who struggled to walk. The sweet elderly woman must have had her hair colored for the occasion, as she still had the remnants of dye on the skin around her hairline. She had a pleasant demeanor and may have been blissfully unaware of what was going on around her.
These few weeks have taught me more about living in sync with nature. We cook with foods that are available locally instead of going to a grocery store with hundreds of options. We decide when to wash our laundry based on the rain forecast, since they are hung to dry—after they are hand washed. Many conveniences that I’ve taken for granted are not part of our life here. There is both beauty and challenge in the simplicity of it. But we choose this route so that we can walk in solidarity with the poor whom we serve.
When we first met Señor David, he was refusing food and drank a sip of water once a day. He was wearing only his underwear and was so skinny that I could count nearly every bone. He was groaning in pain and anxiously asking if Jesus would come get him. According to the family, he lived a sinful life, and now at his dying hour, was wondering if God could possibly forgive and receive him.
I must confess: at times I can feel so inadequate to serve God’s people here. I feel like Moses when, “From out of the burning bush, God called him to speak for him before Pharaoh. And Moses answered, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue. Please send someone else.’”
Lex is one of the boys that befriended us over seven months ago, the first week we were here. He loves to play with Gabriel and he looks up to Julianna as a big sister. We seldom see Lex with shoes on. He is always walking around barefoot, except when he goes to school. Here in Shimbillo, the students are under a strict dress code. They are to wear a school uniform which includes a tie and dress shoes.
Her mother was shot and killed in front of her when she was only six years old. Her father tried his best to raise her… …I will never forget the look on her face as she lifted up her sleeve to show me her pain that she has been dealing with in silence. Daniela began to pour her heart out and started explaining how she is just wanting to be loved and each time she tries she just gets hurt even more. She asked me how I was able to overcome the silence of cutting. She was so eager to know how Christ was able to love me more than any human on this earth could ever.
In our Pueblo, there is a group of middle aged/older women who are always blessing us with gifts and taking care of us—Miguel and I call them our “moms.” As they were coming in to the room, I quickly covered myself with a sheet (I had close to nothing on as I was burning up with fever). They took their turns reprimanding me for…
As I proceeded to describe why we have a prayer station at our clinic I said, “Jesús le importa sobre nuestras vidas y quiere ayudar.” Which means, “Jesus cares about our lives and he wants to help.” I could tell something flashed in her eyes, like a small little flicker of hope rose up for a moment.
We came out of the airport to be greeted by the whole missionary community already present in Perú. As we loaded into the back of Taylor Schmidt’s truck, we began our laundry list of questions regarding what to expect in missions. I’ll never forget what Karen Carmody said: “Get ready to discover what your relationship with parasites is going to look like.”
As of a few years ago the folks in our town could only receive Jesus when a missionary priest was visiting. Historically, some pueblos in our region have been blessed to see a priest several times a year, while others have had to wait years between visits. In addition to the shortage of priests, there were neither missionaries nor qualified laity able to distribute communion.
Jose and Fernando stole from us every chance they got. They constantly climbed all over our van, played inside and left the lights on, which drained our battery. They would tell us that they were hungry and then throw the food we gave them on the ground. Although we felt sorry for these kids, our desire to help them was skewed by the irritation that welled within us when they came around.