You never know when you may come to the end. Maybe as a physician you think about it more, or maybe as you get older you contemplate the end of life. I still feel pretty invincible, but sometimes in the hospital these accidents come through and you realize that you need to make your life count this very day, because each day really is a blessing from God. Here is an article from the hospital website.
Saturday, 5:00 p.m. A pick-up truck drives carefully on the gravel road down the mountain. Three people are sitting in the vehicle and three are standing in the bed of the truck. The sun is shining. It is a peaceful afternoon and the six Peruvians are looking forward to their well deserved quitting time. The work in the Chacra (field) has been strenuous. Suddenly the truck jerks and for some unknown reason begins to fall down the embankment. During the fall, the three in the bed of the truck are thrown out. Those inside fearfully experience the pick-up rolling several times until it finally comes to a stop at the bottom. One woman dies at the scene, while the other five are rescued by firefighters and brought to Diospi Suyana.
After extensive diagnostics, it is clear that the five have had quite a scare, but only have external injuries. Out of the blue and despite reasonable driving habits, six individuals unsuspectingly met a horrible event. One dies and five live on. Why? Was it bad luck or good fortune, a number in the accident statistics or a fateful tragedy?
In 1974 songwriter Manfred Siebald sang the following song:
The last verse: If at any time, whether late or early, expected or unexpected, my life comes to an end, when my clock hand stops moving, it doesn’t matter how it comes. Whether I take my last breath on a white pillow or somewhere in dust and blood on the side of the road- I know only that the departure must come.
I also go on, just a little further, Go in joy of God, go into God’s light.
I stayed for a few years as your companion, but now I go on to be with my Lord.
Our new neighbors, but old Curahuasi friends, Stephen and Finley Wright, are a huge part of this new little barrio in which we live. Stephen has a real gift for kids, with himself being young at heart and full of energy. He is also a runner, and just under two years ago when he arrived he started running with the neighborhood kids. This little group grew into a running club called Corre Curahausi, a group of kids ranging from very young to some adults who run every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Then every couple months there is an official race, with a banner, music, finish line, and awards. Stephen shares a small devotional before the runs and then the kids go for it with all their might. And boy can they run! Flat out they go at 9000 feet elevation! These kids start gathering outside Stephen and Finley’s house about two hours before each run, eager to be a part of something. I am so challenged by the example of love that this family has given to our community, and I am also motivated to try a little love experiment, reaching out even when it is not comfortable, so that these kids can come to know the love of God! The Wrights leave in just a few weeks. Everyone is really going to miss them, and none of us can take their place. But hopefully we can fill the gap in part. Thank you Wright Family for all you have done! You will be missed.
Our friends, Jens and Damaris Hassfeld have four kids. The two oldest boys have been into downhill biking, and are quite good. There are probably few places in the world better for doing downhill than our little region of Peru. Through some connections Dirt Magazine (the german edition) came and made a short video and wrote a longform article about the local downhill scene. The article is in German and the video is in Spanish with German subtitles, so be warned. Still it is interesting for the photos, and it will give you a little picture of what life is like here in Curahausi. At the beginning of the article is the video link, and at the bottom of the article is a photo gallery. Take a look.
We had Johannes, the new engineer, and his future wife Angela to our home Saturday night to play Dominion and Splendor. As well we ate some American hamburgers and enjoyed some fun conversation. We are thankful for Johannes as he works to get the school building project completed. It is a blessing to have him here. Here is his most recent report from the Diospi Suyana Hospital website.
Dear Diospi Suyana friends and readers of the building report, this message may even be a surprise to the architects. They really only drew us plans for eight buildings, however, for the school garden we added a small bamboo hut to help with the “jungle” feel. The roof is made of grass, imitating the material they used to use. I think we have done a pretty good job, even without an architects plan.
The green areas are now finally ready and we have even a small campfire ring in the corner. The grass is improving on the sports field, but unfortunately isn’t growing as well as it should. It seems to be doing better now with some improved soil.
We were able to add some soil to this area because we had to remove good soil from the new building site. This means a lot of hard work with pick and shovel, but one is able to see the progress.
Currently a lab in Cusco is investigating our site and advising us on proper building material. They have helped us refine our concrete mix, so we not only have to rely on our past experience, but we have black and white results that help us achieve the required strengths needed for this building.
At the school, the electric and paint room were cleared. These two areas were still missing the second covering and skirting board around the floors, which has now been started. The school also lacked a cash room were payments can be made. In order to safely install the necessary safe, a second wall was built.
Can you lose your soul while doing the work of God? I have seen my own sinfulness more obviously while being in the mission field, doing what I hope is “the work of God”. The stresses of life are greater, the tension is magnified, and you have to depend on God so much. I am not very well trained in depending on God. I was very self-sufficient in the US (or at least that is the way I felt and perceived myself). Here in the mission field, I am dependent on others to pay for everything (thank you supporters), we can barely get work done on anything in the house when we need help (we will be there tomorrow turns into one month later), our kids education is a constant struggle (how long can you continue hoping that next year it will work out?), and the list goes on and on. I worry, complain, and indulge my sinful nature instead of clinging to the one who is in control of all things. I watch other missionaries experience the same. I see the sinfulness and weakness of our leadership (no greater than my own), as they try and cope with the strain of carrying the hospital on their weary shoulders. I was talking with a friend and she told me how she had been to a lecture about leadership, and the teachers had said that two thirds of all the men of leadership in the Bible ended poorly. Only one third (especially in the old testament) persevered in faithfulness until the end. The burden and weight of the office drove them to look for strength in themselves or in other things instead of in God. These men chosen by God in the end rejected the one who made them who they were.
Please pray for the leadership of our hospital. Please pray for the rest of us who try and serve faithfully in stressful and tiring circumstances. We need God’s help and we welcome your prayers. I hope we all can remember that is God who makes us able to do the things he has prepared in advance for us to do!
We went to Cuzco on Wednesday. We have a package stuck in customs that was supposed to be there. When we arrived they told us it was in Lima instead. So I had to fill out some paperwork to have it sent. The lady working the desk told me to write the request on a paper she gave me and then make a copy. At least that was what I understood. It turned out that the paper she gave me was her last copy (it was dated from 2014) and that I was supposed to copy it before I filled it out so that she would have a copy to give to her next customer. I used her last copy . . . she was not pleased, but when I told her I would review her mammogram if she brought it to our hospital, she forgave me.
That trip to Cuzco was a big shopping trip for us. We bought two mattresses that we needed. We bought some plastic fake wicker closets for our new rental house. And we bought a ton of groceries including silly things like Captain Crunch cereal for the kids. When we arrived home in the evening the boys that live across the street came and stood five feet away from us as we unloaded everything. Most of the missionaries like to unload in secret, behind closed doors if possible because the discrepancy in purchasing power is pretty significant. Plus, missionaries buy in bulk, and the Quechua do not. We look crazy and crazy rich when we unload. These three boys have an alcoholic mother who does not take care of them. There is no father involved. They get enough to eat, but just enough. They are skinny! And they beg constantly for food. They never have an excess, and there we were unloading so much food right in front of their thin faces. What do you do with that?
A Quechua Peruvian family lives near us. They are full of smiles, and if there was one family that you thought you could trust and had it all together it would be them. Quechua families have a structure that is often so different than what we are used to, that sometimes it seems impossible to relate. Yet this family seemed similar to us in many ways. That is until the night their daughter came to our missionary neighbor’s house crying, saying that the father had pulled a knife and was threatening to kill the mother. As I went over to the house to help, I could not help but think how you never know, and how we all deceive one another with one sin or another. Yet nothing is really done in secret in the sight of God. That little girl spent the night with us and thought that the fact we refrigerated our milk was crazy! She could barely drink it down. And “Phineas and Ferb” can cross cultural divides as big as American and Quechua.
Sarah and Annie dressed in traditional Quechua gear.
The following is a song in Quechua, one of the tongues proclaiming the glory of God around His throne, but a tongue which on Earth is a challenge for outsiders. Before moving to Peru, I thought that Quechua had something to do with Spanish, some unique dialect, but it is not so. They throw in lots of Spanish because they lack the word in Quechua, so a person can pick out a word or two now and then. Many people have lived here for years without learning much Quechua. However, one of our friends, a Washingtonian who lives in Abancay, can speak it fluently, even with the clicks, and it is so impressive.
The only words I know in this song are Dios, God, which is the same in Spanish, and Taytáy, which Sarah taught me is “father.” I can guess that the last word has something to do with service. Imagine it being sung in a whiny nasal voice with a lilting rhythm. We hear a lot more Quechua music now that we live in town, and it is an acquired taste. I’m glad to know it pleases God’s ears.
Driving in Curahuasi is an adventure. People do anything and everything in the streets—drive their sheep, cattle, and pigs up them; stop to pee; run and play; spread a huge tarp to dry corn; sift building sand; and a lot of times stand still in the center and stare down cars. There is a pile of construction materials at least every block. There is just barely enough room for two cars to scrape by one another on many streets and motorcycles and motorcycle taxis come whizzing by to keep you on your toes. For some reason, there are huge, bigger-than-basketball-sized rocks in many narrow streets and more explicably, kids put softball-sized rocks as soccer goals about tire-width apart.
Today as I was driving the kids to school, I was thinking “It’s better to just keep trying to keep moving straight forward than try to do any turns or reverses here. Hey, that applies to life!” Just keep moving forward as you can. Even when there is an obstacle– a car parked opposite a huge rock that you’re not sure you can pass without hitting one or the other, try to carefully move forward. Sometimes you need patience to wait for someone to close their car door or for that motorcycle behind you to swerve to the front. You might need someone’s help to see what just over that steep drop off or just how deep that puddle is or to direct you straight in squeezing through, but just trust them and go on ahead. Every once in a while, you make a blind turn and there is a pile of eucalyptus logs lying across the road. There is a bull that just won’t move or a big trailer parked in the road with no driver in sight. You must reverse your way out of the situation. You must admit that you cannot go forward. You may even have to do it twice, but you’ll find another way to your destination. You might have to park your car, get out, walk, and find that it’s a nice day. But there is so much to do, so much worth seeing and experiencing, you’ve got to keep moving forward, one block at a time. God’s blessings as you press on today.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12
Albums I have been enjoying recently include Martin Sexton’s “Mixtape of the Open Road”, “Lost in the Dream” by The War on Drugs, John Mark McMillan’s “Borderland”, and very recently “Home” by Josh Garrels. I have also recently begun enjoying Sara Groves (I know I am late to the party), and we logged a lot of old Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith on our trip to the south of Peru.
Do you have any recommendations? I think I am more interested in good Christian music in general. I want my thoughts turned toward God as much as possible. Our friend Finley wrote a post on her blog a while back about how you can teach your mind to think correctly. The post is called Hope For Our Characters and it is on their blog. So what are you listening to and what is making you consider your life in the light of God’s truth?