I think Deborah does some of the best work in the hospital. Social service are difficult in the US. It is even harder here.
The struggle for social assistance
Nicolas Quispe is 93 years old, and he is only expected to live for a few days. In an emergency surgery at the Diospi Suyana hospital, the surgeon found that Nicolas had a twisted colon and advanced inflammation (peritonitis). Now he may die with dignity in his own bed at home.
Social worker Debora Centner writes: “His three daughters have become his full-time caregivers. But they were struggling to make ends meet, because in order to withdraw their financial aid from the bank, their terminally ill father had to be physically present. So we grabbed the ambulance and took Nicolas directly to the bank. As a social worker, I helped negotiate with the bank employees. Then the person in charge of the program came to the ambulance armed with a clipboard and an official document. He pressed the patient’s finger onto the document as a signature, and then the money was paid.
“You have received your money,” I told Nicolas, who is blind. In a weak voice, he replied, “Gracias, Mamita.”
This money can now sustain him and his daughters until his last breath at home. He will be able to leave this earth surrounded by those he loves most.
Moving the patient to the stretcher.
The patient is finally at home in his own bed, with Debora Centner seated alongside.
Some pictures from the recent medical campaign to a community a couple hours from Curahuasi.
Our interns ready to start the day.
Roads on the edge.
Above the treelike.
Arriving in the early morning to a cloud covered town.
Dr. Martina giving expert care.
Patricia waiting for the kids to arrive.
Registering the patients.
Patty doing a club for kids.
Singing and sharing the gospel.
Teaching about dental health.
Dr. Ruth checking out a patient.
Jumping in celebration after a long day of work.
We have had two very nice witnesses with us this summer. When I talk about witnesses, I am referring to the World Wide Witness program that is a class on missions at Abilene Christian University. In this class students learn about missions, and then they do a practicum where they spend time with missionaries in the field. We had two witnesses last summer who were great! And we have not been disappointed with the two fun witnesses we have had this time around. It has been a little different for them, as it feels like the summer has been a little bit crazy and busy, but we trust that God gives them what they need in each moment to grow in their faith and in their understanding of the mission life. I thought it might be nice to give a little publicity to their blog which is called Hasta los Confines de la Tierra. Click the blog name to go see what they have had to say about their experiences over the last 5 weeks. Here is a picture of Allison with Natalie and Haley that I stole from their blog. It was taken on a recent trip to Cuzco where they bonded and bought hippie backpacker pants.
Allison, Natalie, and Haley
My pastor Agustin called. His daughter was crying when she urinated, and they were concerned she had a bladder infection. I was just on my way home from the hospital after attending an emergency, and I told I would turn right around and meet him there. We all arrived around the same time, while another patient arrived with us. This patient was very sick. I walked into the emergency, took one look at him and I knew he had liver failure. I said, “Do you know already he has liver failure?” and they said yes. He was actually bleeding when he had bowel movements, and his abdomen had swollen greatly in the past month. He was obviously a terminal case in one glance (and later his laboratory studies confirmed that he had end-stage liver failure, end-stage kidney failure, and a severe problem with his blood clotting). As I worked on caring from him as well as Agustin’s young daughter, Agustin asked if he could talk to the patient. I said it would be a very good idea to talk with him. I later came back in to see this scene.
Agustin giving prayer and comfort to a man dying of liver and renal failure.
I don’t know the details of the conversation, but I know Agustin shares the gospel. As Agustin walked out, he said to me “I think this is why God had us here tonight”. I could not have agreed more.
Cuy, its more than just a delicious dinner.
Dr. Ari came into my consultorio laughing in the afternoon and asked if I had ever heard of a cuy x-ray. Interested, I said no, but please tell me. She said she had a patient who came into her office telling her he had problems with his gall bladder. He knew because when he went to the local witch doctor, they had taken a cuy (guinea pig), placed it on his abdomen for some time, and then afterward killed the cuy, dissecting it and examining all its organs. During the dissection they found that the cuy’s gallbladder was inflamed, indicating that the patient himself had an inflamed gallbladder. A Cuy X-Ray!
Here’s something I’m thinking about this morning: grace sufficient. We Christians believe that God’s grace extends into the saddest circumstances, into the darkest sin. We tell people that no matter what they have done, they can find God’s forgiveness and grace. Maybe this message loses some of it effectiveness when we extend so little grace to one another.
Before I go on, some of this comes from observing American Christian culture from afar on Facebook, which is unfair. Of course, there are so many beautiful acts of service, friendship, and help that are real interpersonal interactions and my perception of things from the other side of the computer screen reflects only a minute portion of what my “friends” really think, feel, and do from day to day.
But, surely, if God’s grace can cover heinous sin, there is freedom among Christians to eat sugar or not; exercise in a variety of ways or not; send their children to public school, private school, or homeschool; send those kids to a million camps and activities, or abstain; vote for the candidate they like; use essential oils or take medicine; post recipes for quinoa salad or cinnamon roll cake. It feels as if many posts have a subtle agenda for your lifestyle choices, not only to promote what you feel is working for your family, but also to discourage those who have chosen an alternative. Let’s be a beautiful variety of people and celebrate that. Let’s give grace to one another and give a grander grace to those who don’t yet know our Lord.
Even in my own family, maybe there is grace to skip homework one night, laugh an impressive burp at the table, leave the breakfast dishes all morning, forgive a grouchy comment instead of waiting for the apology, eat two cookies just because. Showing little graces helps me believe in bigger grace and extend it when needed.
John 1:16 “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”