Our Friend

We arrived here with Gabby!  She arrived in Lima from Paraguay the same time that we arrived to Lima from the United States.  We spent several days driving around Lima with her as we worked on our Peruvian residency visas, and she was generous in her friendship to us.  We enjoyed being with her, and in a short time felt comfortable with our christian sister from Paraguay.  When we had to make a week long trip to Lima without the kids, she generously watched them for us . . . this is a big task for a woman who does not speak English as a first language taking care of four english speaking kids who did not have much spanish in their vocabulary at that time.  She did it with that same smile you see below.  We are thankful for her, and gladly share the post below from the Hospital Diospi Suyana website.

Gabriele Wall –The Woman from Filadelfia


Just as life goes – or how God plans it

It is February 15, 2013.  In the German colony of Fernheim a storm is brewing.  The farmers are happy about this because for the past few days they have seen nothing but scorching heat here in the Chaco of Paraguay.

This evening at 8 pm Dr. John will present the work of Diospi Suyana in a church in the city of Filadelfia.   Gabriele Wall is too tired, actually, to attend the lecture.  That afternoon, however, both the missionary doctor and Gabriele’s aunt personally invited her to come.  Of course, you can’t refuse a request from a  dear relative.

With the weather being lousy, only 40 people find their way to the large church hall; Gabi is one of them.  The program begins a few minutes late due to problems with the projector.  Having seen some 240 pictures in the course of the talk, the German-born Paraguayan is convinced about Diospi Suyana and she quietly thinks to herself  “Maybe I should join their team in two or three years’ time.”

Life, however, often works out quite differently.  Exactly three months later her application arrived at Diospi Suyana.  The secretary from west Paraguay knows God has called her to this service.

Her curriculum vitae seems to predestine the convinced Christian for working with Diospi Suyana.  Over the past two years she has been helping with a medical project among Indians in the Chaco.  Now she lives in Curahuasi, translates texts for the website, manages our 10 visitor apartments and supervises the cleaning team at the hospital.  Every Friday she is an active volunteer helping at Diospi Suyana’s kids club.

Gabriele Wall singing in the morning service. On the right, Belen Giesbrecht from Argentina.

Gabriele Wall singing in the morning service. On the right, Belen Giesbrecht from Argentina.

Gabi plans to return to her country in 2015.  Before that, however, she must pedal her bike the 125 km to Cusco faster than Dr. Jens Hassfeld and beat Dr. John in a game of chess.  So, who knows? Perhaps this young woman with her hearty way to laugh will stay in Curahuasi for 10 years or longer.  Life is just full of surprises.

Bienvenidos a Curahuasi!

They got out of school, packed their bags, packed another four bags full of stuff for us, and traveled for many hours all the way to Curahuasi.  We love the Reid family!  The Reids are nearly always our gracious hosts when we go visiting in Oklahoma and our kids know them as “the ones with the cool pool,” “the place where we always have a great breakfast,” and “the people who have Rocket (their water-loving dog).”  Will has known Robert since their show choir days in high school and loves to claim that he introduced Robert to Amy, his lovely wife, who went to church with Will during med school.  They are faithful and generous supporters of our life here in Curahuasi and what an honor it was to share life with them for a few short days.

Benjamin, 13, and Chloe, 10, enjoyed Peruvian pan común, sort of a puffy pita, and our kids’ bunny rabbits probably best of all.  Amy took in all the views, Robert enjoyed the stars with Will, and everyone seemed to enjoy a little down time away from the pressures of running a business in Oklahoma, being a mom and PT, and going to school.  They got to do a million dishes after supper, hang and take down laundry on the lines, fill the water filter, eat what we eat, meet our friends, tour the hospital and school, and go to women’s prayer group.  I want to congratulate Robert, who had the most authentic experience by getting a stomach bug/ travelers’ sickness/ parasite/ something.

We got to do some traveling with the Reids after their Curahuasi experience.  We did the Sacred Valley ruins tour that we recently accomplished with my dad– Moray, Maras, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and we added Machu Picchu.  Wow!  It was incredible.  We had gorgeous weather for traveling and we had much-appreciated good restaurant food and lovely lodging.  Machu Picchu and its surrounding mountains were surprising for the jungle growth and the development of the Peruvian tourism.  I was impressed by how well it seemed to be maintained.  It was a great first trip to the famous site with wonderful people.  Our kids really got along well and it was so fun to spend relaxed time together.

I have seen how meaningful it is to just go and be with someone in their daily lives.  It can be an enormous encouragement, whether around the corner or to a far corner of the world.  Thank you, thank you, Reids, for spending the time, money, energy, and sacrifice of comfort to come be with us.  We pray that God will bless you through it and for it in new ways over the next few months.

People are People

Community meeting at 5:30 AM.

Community meeting at 5:30 AM.  Our neighbors.

Tuesday morning of this week I awoke at around 5 AM to someone banging on our door.  Some of the neighborhood teenagers were going around waking people up to remind them to come to the meeting at 5:30 AM.  An interesting thing about living here is the world is up and going by 5:00 and the people are very busy by 5:15 AM.  I walked down the road for a meeting about the coming electrical engineers and the need to have a reception for them (I think if someone is coming to do public works in a community – like install power transformers – the community is responsible to welcome them with a party, hopefully with lots of Cuy!)  As I sat there, trying to understand what was going on, I was able to watch how everyone interacted with one another.  They joked and teased, got frustrated with some situations, some came with a voice of reason, others just wanted to get the meeting over with as quickly as possible.  It was just like a meeting back home.  And I will tell you that I was convicted of my pride during this meeting.  I see patients all day long, The physician-patient relationship is unequal, with power on the doctor’s side of the equation.  And that has colored how I have seen the people here.  They come to me with needs and desires, in a position of weakness, hoping for help.  And so I feel superior, like I know better and have all the answers.  Yet at this meeting, I was in a position of equality or even weakness since I cannot understand everything perfectly, and I saw that they act just like I would if I was in a similar situation.  We are all equal.  We have cultural differences, but those are small differences in comparison to the ways in which we are the same.  So I am asking God to help me to see them how they really are, not how I see them in the hospital.  I want to see myself as I really am, not in the way my position in the hospital elevates my status.  I am asking God to help me to be humble in my interactions with the people that we are serving so that we can possibly have friendships that are genuine.  I am asking God to help me to be like Christ.

Thanks Hassfelds

People make a difference.  We are living here in Curahuasi, and we are definitely strangers.  When we arrived we knew no one, but we were hopeful to make friends quickly.  We live here in a great mix of cultures, and sometimes finding our way around is a little difficult.

We are thankful for the Hassfeld family for helping us through the transition.  Jens and Damaris Hassfeld, missionaries from Germany, have really taken care of us, and they have been persistent in extending friendship toward us.  It has been great to learn from them since they have worked at Diospi Suyana since its inauguration in 2007.  Jens has been very patient with Will’s stuttering spanish, and Damaris has shown Allison around the town teaching her where she can buy meat, grains, and other necessities.  They have helped us know where to go and who to call, have loaned us several of their things and taken us on a couple of sightseeing trips; but on a day to day basis, we just really enjoy their company.  Thank you Hassfelds.

Damaris teaches Annie to knit.

Damaris teaches Annie to knit.

Four more months and Friendship

Yesterday we watched the group of students that are one trimester ahead of us graduate from the Spanish Language Institute.  It was a sweet moment to watch them finish what has been a good and sometimes hard year.  It was also sad to see them leave, realizing that we may not (and likely will not) see them again this side of heaven.  Language school is a little bit like summer camp.  You make friends quickly, and they are very important in your life because you really need their friendship.  And then they leave, and you realize a big chapter of your life is coming to a close.  And you move on to the rest of your life without these friends, yet you are not the same as you were before because of them.  These types of friendships happen both inside of Christ and outside of Christ.  There is a common grace that God has given to all people that allows us to make friends.  Yet the friendships that that are bonded through our faith leave us with an assurance of future reunion that is not found outside of Christ.  For that I am thankful.  And, I am thankful to God that I will see all these people again and we will be able to talk about everything that has happened since the time we were with each other, and that we will rejoice in the presence of God as we praise Him for what he has done.  And part of our praise will be for the friendships he gave us along the way as we followed him.

How your presence affects missionaries.

Did you know that missionaries get lonely?  Of course it is not a surprise, but it is more true than you may realize.  One of the greatest gifts any person in the mission field can receive is the presence of their family or their friends with them.  I remember when David (Allison’s father) came during Thanksgiving.  It was a short visit, but all of us lived off the memories of the visit for several weeks.  He brought a suitcase filled with gifts as well as things we miss from the United States.  It was like Christmas in November.  Will’s mother (Ruth) came for a week during Christmas.  It was possibly our best week of the year.  We cooked a traditional American Christmas dinner and showed her the sights around San Jose.  The kids still talk about both of their grandparent’s visits.  We were so thankful to have them with us.

If you ever feel like visiting a friend or a family member in the mission field, I recommend that you do it.  They may be busy, but they will be glad to share their day with you as you see what their normal life is like.  You can understand their world better, and they will be more thankful than they will probably be able to express.  This is something I did not understand before I left the United States.  I underestimated the value that my friendship and my actual presence would have for my missionary friends.  We supported many, but we always waited for them to come home to see them.  I wish I had known, because I actually wanted to visit them, but I didn’t pursue the idea because it seemed impractical.  I realize that many people do not have the money to visit different countries, but your presence is felt when your missionary friends receive cards, Skype phone calls, comments on their blogs, or emails.  Even a “like” via Facebook lets your friends know they are remembered.  I wish I had known the difference it made in the past, but I am learning how to be better in the future.  So to all my friends who are missionaries, I am going to try and do better.  To those who are supporting others, please know that every little action makes a difference.  And to my friends and family back home, we miss you and we will try and be better about reaching back home to let you know we remember you as well.