Keep Fighting

Sometimes the poverty can be overwhelming, and you truly do not know what to do. There really is nothing one person can do to change a community. But one person can touch another, even if it is just one at a time. I like this article from the hospital website that reminds us to keep trying to make a difference even under seemingly unsurmountable odds.

Dr. Martina John: “We will fight. She is way too young and her children way too small!”


A missionary doctor with great determination

Nightfall arrived quite some time ago, as Dr. Martina John knocks on the door of a clay house in Curahuasi. She wants to visit her patient Maria Pacheca.* This mother of 2 small children suffers with Lupus, an autoimmune system disease. The doctor walks into the dreary room and finds Maria on a mattress. Her legs are swollen and her stomach extended with water. A gaping wet wound is on her buttocks, because she has been lying in one position and the skin has rubbed off.

Martina looks over the gloomy room. Plastic bags are hanging on the walls to cover up the spots where the cement is falling off. Since there is no furniture, the room is quite disorderly. “This is not a nice place to die”, is the thought going through the missionary doctors’ mind.
A few weeks ago, a computer tomography showed the suspicion of tuberculosis in the right lung. Dr. John sent Maria to a pulmonologist in Abancay with the request that a bronchoscopy be performed. Their comment: “Maria, there is no hope for you anymore!”

“We have to admit her to the hospital- Diopsi Suyana”, Martina says. “I don’t want to go into another hospital”, Maria says “they treated me so badly in Abancay!” The doctor remains quiet and looks sadly at the two children who are still lying under their covers. When Maria dies they will become orphans. And their mother is only 35 years old.

Dr. John brought several medications with her. Antibiotics, pain meds and even a medication to get rid of the edema. “Tommorow I will return to take care of your wound!” She comforts the patient. “Hasta manana!” (See you tomorrow).
At midnight the doctor writes an email to her husband: ”We will fight. She is way too young and her children way too small!” – Is it possible to win this fight?- * name changed


This mattress could be her deathbed? Dr. Martina wants to stop that from happening.


Pictures with Patients

Peru is one of the few places in the world where I am tall.

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Pictures with patients

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Doing Business

I thought this was an interesting article from the hospital website regarding how much of the business is done in rural Peru. Things can get accomplished, and transactions can be made, but it is hardly ever in the most direct manner.

Grassroots democracy in a village community


Diospi Suyana needs a spot for an antenna

The highest spot in the district Curahuasi is located in the village Totorrai. Exactly there Diospi Suyana would like to build the antenna tower. So a negotiation with the village was necessary. At 6am on Saturday morning Administration director Stefan Seiler, Dr. Martina John and the Chief of the workshop, Oebele de Haan left.

The meeting was planned for 6:30 am. Martina John writes: ”At first the villagers were very hesitant, but then they were all summoned with a Megaphone!”

The President of Totorrai greeted the delegation from Diospi Suyana and then explained to the Campesinos what decision had to be made. Dr. Martina John described the vision of Diospi Suyana, which included now Radio- and Televison work.

Now the negotiation started. For the lot of 100 squaremeters, which Diospi Suyana asked for, the inhabitants demanded free entry to the mission hospital for every villager. Others suggested an 80% discount for future hospital bills (Diospi Suyana has anyways the cheapest prices in the whole country). Or rather have Diospi pay an astronomical amount for rent? Every member of the village community had a chance to participate.

At the end they came to an agreement over an acceptable rent and the assembled signed satisfied a declaration of intent. The finalized contract is supposed to be signed the first week of June.


From left to right: Dr. Martina John, Stefan Seiler, Oebele de Haan


Chief of the workshop Obele de Haan is collecting signatures.


The Summer of No Water

There is a state of emergency in Curahuasi and Apurimac because there was not much rain during the rainy season.  The farmers’ crops have failed, because they do not have enough water to keep their crops alive. And now there is not enough water for the city. We run out of water every week in our house. Last year we were without water just a few times. And we are only one month into the dry season. The problem really is not a lack of water. A water development expert who has spent his entire career working in poor nations and communities, helping them with their water supply, has come to Curahuasi.  He states there is plenty of water, but it has to be managed better. For some reason there is no political will to accomplish this. So therefore, even when we have enough water, we only get it for one hour each day. We fill our tank that holds 1000 liters, and then closely watch how we use it the rest of the day. Unfortunately, now there is not that much water passing through the city pipes, and so there is not enough pressure to fill our tank. So that leaves us with one hour of water, and maybe 200-300 liters in the tank. Bummer! But that is not as bad as having all your income falter because the crops failed. We need help in Curahuasi. We need community leadership that will build an adequate irrigation system for the farmers and a sufficient water storage system for the people in town. We need leaders who will use the resources of the community for the good of the community.

Choosing a School


God love ACU

We have had interns every summer from Abilene Christian University, and we have been so impressed with them.  Sadly, this year we will not have any. But I look forward to possibly having more in the future. Having these students with us, and then visiting ACU while we were in the US last fall has given us a great appreciation for the education and culture that our alma mater provides. We made great Christian friends while we were there, and we are continually impressed by what they are doing in the world. I will not tell my kids where to go to school, as I want them to choose. But I will be very happy if they choose to be Wildcats. I read an article that was linked on Facebook, and it made me remember the culture of ACU as it strives to educate students to have an impact for Christ in the world.  Here is a little bit of the article titled Why It’s Time to Re-think College: An Interview with David Hicks.

David Kern: I have heard you say before that parents should ask the same questions of a university that they would if they were going to a boarding school. Can you explain this a bit? What would those questions be? 

David Hicks: When I said that, I’m sure I was thinking about the profound influence the culture of the school has upon the formation of a young man or woman.  That, in my opinion, is the single most important factor in the decision of where to go to school or college, if one has a choice. I say this, reminding my reader that in ancient Greek, the word for culture and education was one and the same: paideia. 

So, what questions might get at the nature of the culture? How do the students at this school or college typically use their leisure time (An Aristotelean question)? What is the life of the school or college like on the weekends, particularly Saturday nights? How many of the students typically attend church on Sunday or synagogue on Shabbat? What opportunities does a student have to engage with the community outside the school or college? How much and what type of interaction do students have with their professors outside of class?