The World as Best I Remember It

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Allison teaching Sunday school.

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And they’re trying to help them to believe

What is too good to be real

But is more real than the air they breathe –

Rich Mullins – from The World as Best I Remember It

Water, Suffering, Perseverence

Do you ever feel like crying when you get water in your house. I do. Right now water is weakly coming through our pipes so that we can quickly wash dishes and take showers, and I feel a little bit of a lump in my throat. It is only the third time in the last two weeks to hear the sweet sound of water in the tubes. It is really hard to live without water. We felt like we had a Thanksgiving miracle this past Thursday, because all of a sudden in the middle of the day when we never get water, we received 1 1/2 hours of precious agua. Thanksgiving was going to happen anyway, but it was a relief to have water to clean with afterward. Not having water is a form of suffering. It is not persecution, but it is suffering, especially for a person from the United States who is accustomed to water on demand. It is something we have to deal with because of the decision we made to do medical mission work in this poor community, and therefore it is a consequence of our faith. And so this morning as I read my Bible wondering when water would come again, I turned to Romans 5:3-4 where it says “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” So I am trying during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season to embrace the formation of character in my life in hope that who I am on the other side of the suffering is a better reflection of Christ in me.

Water at the School

Can you imagine a school without running water? That has been the situation at Colegio Diospi Suyana for much of it’s existence. If you have read our blog you know that the town of Curahuasi has water problems. In our home last week, we received water only one day. In fact we are in Cuzco now  to renew our kid’s passports, but also so we can wash clothes and take showers at leisure. But a school without running water is simply gross. And that has been the case much of the time due to the lack of fair water distribution in town. Thankfully, Diospi Suyana has had success with drilling a well. We are thankful and praise God for his providence. Here is the article from the Diospi Suyana Hospital website.

Success

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Crystal clear water gushes from our well at the school

Email from Peru 2 p.m. CET: The well drilling was stopped at a depth of 71,40 m due to extremely hard solid rock.  The installation of the pipework went smoothly.  At 8 p.m. last night a provisional pump started swilling the well.  An hour later the water was “as clean as possible” so that the filter gravel could be built into the aquiferous layers.  Our own measurements showed that 6,000 litres of water could be pumped in an hour.

Today the pump is going to be installed 5,00 metres lower, as last night everything had to be done very quickly.  The solid rock has made the drill completely useless.  Perhaps will be able to exhibit the drill in the school at some point in the future.  Best regards, Oebele + Udo.

Email from Peru 6:06 p.m. CET: Crystal clear water is now gushing at a rate of 150 litres/min = 9,000 litres/hour and is tasteless.  Greetings, Udo.

Email from Peru 8:19 p.m. CET: I attach two pictures of the drilling head.  The diamonds are totally spent and parts of them are broken away.  Normally they can drill between 500 and 600 metres; in Curahuasi they only managed 70 m.  We were told they were new!  It is impossible to put the diamonds back into the drilling head.  Greetings, Udo

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An hour later the water was almost clean.

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A mountain stream tastes just as good.

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The broken drilling head.

Alcoholism

I wrote about drunkenness a few days ago. Today on my way to the hospital, I saw this guy collapsed just down the street from our house. I don’t recognize him. He is not one of our usual drunks. This was while I drove to see a patient who was in liver failure with severe anemia caused by alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a real drain on our community.

Drunkenness

This was something that was not a big part of my experience before Peru, but now it is. I am not talking about personnel experience, but what I see in the street. Curahuasi is a depressed community in one of the poorest parts of Peru. There is a lot of hopelessness. That is why we are here . . . to bring hope to the hopeless. Still there are those who have not yet heard or refuse to hear. And I see these guys every evening as I ride my bike home from the hospital or as I drive through town. They come staggering out of the corner bars or chicherias and then wobble up and down the hills to their homes. There are so many staggering drunks. Today as I went down to the internet cafe to print some papers off my USB, I passed by six isolated men staggering through the street. That was in less than four blocks. It is really sad. Drinking in the US is more hidden. Here it is in the open. I hope and pray that my kids are never tempted to drink heavily. They are certainly able to see the ill affects of drunkenness. They are very wary, for good reason, of the drunk men who can be unpredictably violent. As the kids go through town on their bikes, they always make sure to steer clear. And yet, we have seen some victories. In our church we have a man who was a drunk, and through the power of a changed life by the Holy Spirit he is now sober and a testimony to the faithfulness of God. I praise God for him and for the gift of changed lives that we can have through Jesus Christ.

Another Perspective

Our friend Ari Cale is a doctor in the hospital. She is married to one of the teachers at the school. David, her husband, is the homeroom teacher for our daughter Annie. Recently Ari posted a long discussion on her blog about her discipleship group as well as a weekend retreat David had with his class. The post has a lot of pictures, and gives a different view of life in Curahuasi. You can read it at her website at this link.

Saying Goodbye to Volunteers

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With DeJesus family in Curahuasi watching the first game of the World Series.

We were so glad during the month of October to have the DeJesus family with us working in the hospital. Sam is a surgeon and spent a lot of time in the operating room. It was a great relief to us, because we are currently without a long term surgeon. He hit the ground running and never looked back. He was born in Puerto Rico, so he has a very nice, fluid, Spanish. I think he may have felt more at home here after a month than we do after 3 1/2 years. His wife Amanda and kids Jack and Grace also went a 100 mph while they were here. The kids attended Colegio Diospi Suyana (Jack was in Peter’s class and Grace was in Annie’s), and Amanda helped out all over the place. It was weird when they left. I felt a little more lonely than I had before. There are no other Americans working in the hospital currently, and so I think their absence the day after they left was a little more painful than normal. I read an article about how kids who grow up in the mission field have said goodbye to people more often by the time they are adults than many people do in a lifetime. The article was stating that as parents we need to be aware of this and to be sure that we were available to our kids as needed to help them process this. That is good advice, but I think this time it was harder for me and the kids took it more in stride.

Sarah with Friends

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Sarah as the youngest in our family sometimes gets to do the least. For sure her life is full in some ways. She lives in a foreign country. Speaks two languages without an accent. She is free (within reason) to explore town on her bicycle on her own. When we talk about possibly coming home to the US, she is the one child in the family who adamantly wants to keep living internationally. She says she likes waking up in her bed in the morning knowing she is living in a foreign country. However with all of that, the rest of the kids get to do a lot of extra activities that she does not get to do because of her age. So it did my heart good to come home from work on Thursday and see the backyard full of her friends from school. They have to perform a play for a future school event and Sarah was put in charge. So she wrote the play and drafted her actors. They were over to practice. Sarah is one of the “policia” for her class, which means she is a “boss”. She seems to take to it naturally, guiding the afternoon’s activities with a fair but firm hand. She told all her friends they could have a tour of the inside of the house. “Put your hand on the shoulder of the person in front of you, and we will walk through the house.” Future world, international leader in training. I am a happy Dad seeing a house full of happy eight year old girls!

Guinea Pig Craze

Cuy is not our favorite dish, but the people here love it! It is a little too greasy for my tastebuds. It is not bad, it is just not my preference. Plus they serve these guinea pig with heads and claws. Watching your friend suck a guinea pig head can drain the appetite of anyone who is not completely culturally assimilated. I don’t think we would ever claim to be culturally in tune with the Quechua. Here is a good article from NPR on the new guinea pig craze. Click the paragraph below to be taken to the article.

In the past decade or so, guinea pig popularity has exploded, as the cosmopolitan dining culture of Lima and other Peruvian cities has taken a liking to the animals — not so much for their big fawn-like eyes but more for their fatty flesh. The guinea pig’s skin, crispy when fried, is also coveted.

For farmers in the high mountains of southern Peru, the rising interest in this rabbit-sized rodent comes as a chance to cash in. The average income for a household here may run the equivalent of only $100 a month, according to Lionel Vigil, the Lima-based regional director for the social aid organization World Neighbors.

“These people really are the poorest of the poor,” Vigil says. “But when we incorporate guinea pigs into their lives, they can add an extra $100 per month.”