I happen to be looking at a friend’s Instagram feed. He works with a ministry to medical students at Southwestern Medical School. I saw myself on the brochure cover for a conference some of his students are attending. That is me in the white coat working in the ER at Diospi Suyana Hospital in Peru. (It is not that surprising as the conference is hosted by the Christian Health Service Corps, our mission agency.)
When we worked at Diospi Suyana Hospital in Curahuasi, Peru we loved our short term volunteers. The first time they came it was nice to get to know them. But then the second or third time they came it was a great treat! We knew them already, and we could rejoin our friendship that was formed previously. And there was something about the sensation that we were not forgotten, and that they were in it with us. We have been fortunate to even visit some of these friends in the US when we have come home. And now we are making an entire new set of short term volunteer friends in Kijabe. I know we will be so glad to see them when they return again in the future. If you want to do short term missions, find your place, and then go. Then go again. You will be a blessing to those who receive you.
“A calling is sturdy. I don’t have to protect it. I don’t need to be afraid of not getting every step right. Obviously, we need to be faithful to what’s revealed in Scripture, but we need to trust the Holy Spirit. If a calling is from God, it’s not up to us to make it happen.” – Tish Harrison. Why Tish Harrison Gave Up on Being a ‘Good Church Kid’. Christianity Today.
There are things that are hard to explain. I find it hard to explain why we are going to Africa when there is a large part of me that does not want to go. I look at my friends and my family and I think to myself “They have got it right. Stay home in your own culture and make a difference where you are from.” I look at jobs in the US in great places to live, and I think “It would be so cool to live there!” I see that my kids are happy in the United States, and I wonder “Why am I making my kids move again?” But when I think about staying I cannot feel settled. Something here will seem so perfect, but it will not seem right. I was talking to my friend Matt about it, barely expressing something I cannot understand in myself. I wondered aloud to him that I see people’s lives and I think they are great and meaningful and worthy of respect. And I wonder why I cannot have that life which I think is possibly a better use of my own personality and gifts. Why can I not stay, when I want to stay? Matt answered simply “It’s because you are called. You have a calling.” I knew he was right; but I want my calling to be an intense desire to do something. At times it is. Sometimes I feel the fire in my belly to go. But much of the time it is an unsettled feeling that I cannot do anything else except keep moving in the direction God has pointed us. And I think it is alright. I do not see in the history of the Bible that every person called by God was skipping in eagerness to the work set before them. In fact, many (most?) times it is the opposite. But they did not stop because they knew the truth of what God had called them to do. And I know it too. God has called me to serve the poor and the hurting through medicine. He has called me to share the gospel through compassion. And I go despite myself, eyes wide open, praying for God to give me strength to do the work he has given me to do. Please pray for us to be faithful and to live up to the calling we have received.
We are not at the hospital any longer, but it is still fun to see what is going on. We have new plans to explain in the several days. A new continent and a new work is on the horizon.
Annie does not know what to think of this stranger hugging her for the photo!
Today we are on the road. We would sure appreciate prayers for safety, that our luggage would arrive without delay, that we would be emotionally stable amidst too many goodbyes and too much packing and traveling. Tomorrow, God willing, we will arrive to Dallas in the morning.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13
I have a friend named Harry. Harry is a young German man who is exceptional in my mind for many reasons. One is that he is a single man in the mission field. Those guys are super rare. Another is that he is a German and a Christian. Some of the best people we know are German, but there are not too many Christians in Germany. And so those believers have a faith that is real and active as it has stood up to misunderstanding and ridicule. But probably the thing that is the most outstanding to me about Harry is that he likes to encourage people. He will come to me on some mornings with a big smile on his face (like always) and give me a quote from Oswald Chambers. Or he will remember to me something I said in a sermon at church. He encourages me, and it reminds me that we are to encourage one another. Encouragement stirs our faith, and it helps us to open our eyes to the deceitfulness of sin. We need each other, and as one body in Christ we need to take care of one another. Let us encourage each other daily.
The best miracles are the stories of a miraculously changed lives. The best place to be during Christmas time are with your friends and family celebrating life, God’s grace of sending Jesus Christ. From the Diospi Suyana Hospital website, the story of the annual Christmas party.
But for three hours it was the best place to be in Curahuasi
One could call it “the same procedure as every year”: the Christmas party for all the staff of the Hospital Diospi Suyana. It has become a tradition that the director gives his end-of-the-year review and thanks all staff. Musical contributions come next, followed by a delicious dinner and a gift bag for each member of staff. The number of people in the auditorium grows yearly. Tables were set for 224 people – this number should exhaust the room’s capacity. The Colegio had their Christmas Party at the same time. But this year was a memorable celebration for everyone. Why? Because of head chef Michael.
The popular chef has headed the hospital’s kitchen for several years. Everyone knows and likes the affable colleague. It was his own wish to address us and as he went up to the microphone we waited with bated breath for what he was going say. None of us wanted to miss even one of his words. Michael told us about his two lives: the one without, the other with God.
“I had made a right old mess of my life,” he says dryly. “I was a hero of the wine bottle and liked to enjoy myself. But I was not there for my wife and children.” He continued describing his life – a life that is lived by so many in South America. “But then I became a Christian and this turned my life upside down!”
In doing so Michael is sharing his own Christmas Story. God became flesh, because he loves us. Change is possible. We must not keep on being the same person. Christmas has more to it than candles, pudding and presents. The power of the crucified and risen child in the manger is real.
The kitchen chef is about to embark on his theological training. He burns with a fire of thankfulness towards God. We wish him God’s richest blessings for the new stage of his life. /KDJ
I will confess that some of the days like the one below make me a little nervous. Can you imagine traveling for two days to get to the hospital with all your hopes wrapped up in a cure you imagine will be waiting for you, only to be turned away because there are not enough appointments? People get angry, and I am not surprised that they do. It has never become violent as far as I know, but there is a certain restlessness and murmuring that can be felt when the crowds gather as they do in the picture below. I am sure this is a problem for almost all mission hospitals, and I do not know how to fix it. It makes me sad for the patients, it makes me concerned for the watchmen who deal with the crowds, and it makes me wonder how Jesus would deal with the situation. Many people came to Jesus for healing, but possibly even more for his compassion. And even Jesus, God in the flesh, did not help everyone who came to see him. I can promise you we are not Jesus with our many flaws, but we try to resemble his characteristics. I think people come here for healing. But even more I think they come for the compassionate care. God help us to show compassion even among the stress and push of the crowds. Help us to be more like your son, Jesus Christ. Here is the article from the Hospital Diospi Suyana website.
An angry crowd in front of the Hospital Diospi Suyana
On Sunday evening the precursors of the disaster waiting to happen were visible: over 100 people had assembled in front of the hospital’s main gate hoping to get a doctor’s appointment. By Monday morning the crowd had swelled to 500. Roughly 300 of them (patients and their relatives) were allowed in, the remaining 200 exasperated Peruvians were not. The atmosphere was strung to breaking point.
At nine o’clock I slowly move towards this dark wall; a truly threatening backdrop. Our wardens place a bench in front of the gate and then it’s my turn. Armed with a megaphone I try to calm the crowd: “Most of you have had bus journeys of over 15 hours to reach Curahuasi. On your way here you passed and ignored several state hospitals. Our missionary hospital has reached its limit.”
The ensuing hour is filled with questions and answers. Everyone wants to be treated in the hospital, but we have reached our capacity limit. On the one hand I can truly understand the patients’ disappointment, but on the other hand some of them act as though it is their right to be treated by Diospi staff.
“We will never be able to meet all your demands,” I call through the megaphone. “Every thankful patient, who returns to his village, encourages ten other neighbours to head to Curahuasi!”
A spokesperson makes his standpoint crystal clear: I am a high-ranking official from Cusco State. “You have got it all wrong,” I explain to him, “our hospital wants to help the poor, not the upper middle class!”
An hour later I can climb down from my bench. The long conversation successfully diffused the situation. Many of the crowd realised that our missionary hospital by itself cannot put right all the weak-points of a dysfunctional health care system.
We are concerned about what the future may bring. When the long holidays start (from Christmas to March) the run of people could assume explosive proportions. Will the hospital then need police protection?/KDJ
Some photos from our recent hospital retreat. This article is from the hospital website. The people at the hospital are a great group, and they are a great example to us of Christian love and brotherhood.
A day of creative joy
If 107 grown-ups and children play and make handicrafts fun is not far away. The several workshops on offer rediscovered and promoted talents. Santa Claus came as a surprise visitor and brought presents for all the 45 children there. The “Olympic Games” ensured that there was not a dry eye in the house. The group honoured seven exceptional athletes for their excellent support over the past years: Dr Will and Allison Caire, Harry Dürksen, Patti Piepiora, Simon and Belen Giesbrecht and Dr Marlen Luckow all of whom are finishing their multi-year working-stints at Diospi Suyana. Thus drops of sadness mingled with the joyful atmosphere. But we as Christians believe that we will see each other again one day.