Sunday, November 26, 2017

Reflection on the week in Peru

Poverty: it’s not just the absence of currency or materialistic possessions. It’s the absence of feeling like you belong. It’s the absence of feeling like you have a purpose. It’s the absence of hope. 

Poverty is everywhere. It’s where I’m from in Alabama. It’s where I go to school in Missouri. And it’s here, in Lima, Peru. Scripture says in Luke chapter 10, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well, who is my neighbor you ask? It’s the one who needs you! That truth was with me every day this week. For the past five days we have served as physical therapists, but more importantly, I believe our service extended beyond the physical and into the spiritual lives of every patient we encountered. 

These days were filled with early mornings, late nights, and chicken and rice... a lot of chicken and rice. But in between all of that were people we encountered that are just just like you and I. People with beating hearts, air in their lungs, and blood in their veins. These people had needs just the same as us, but I think it looks different here. Where we are from, a need that is met is sometimes not enough. Here, a need that is met is an answered prayer. It is a miracle. 

In preparation for this trip, our weekly meetings consisted of how we could meet the needs of the people we would serve. We prayed for the Lord to intercede and that He would use us as His tools.

He did just that. Somehow, someway, day-in and day-out the Lord worked through our team and provided for the needs of the patients. Was it a struggle? Yes. Was it frustrating? Absolutely. Was it all worth it? Without a doubt.

I think I can speak for the whole team when I say, we have learned so much about ourselves, our hearts, and just how intricate our God’s plan is. 

Isaiah 61 says, “He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn…to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes”

Ellie Holcomb wrote a song and it was inspired on this truth, “He is the fulfillment of these beautiful promises. He IS the good news, the Living Word of God. He is our chain-breaker, our healer, our rescuer, or burden-bearer, and our bridge from death to life. Even when things don’t turn out like we thought they would, He will bring healing and hope. He WILL be who He says He is.”

When our efforts seemed to fail and we felt defeated....We looked to Him. We recognized that He can and He will. 

To wrap up our blog posts regarding our experience in the clinic this week, 1 Peter 3: 8 says, “All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, Love one another, be compassionate and humble.” I think if we embody scriptures such as this, then no matter where we go or who we meet, the gospel will shine bright and can help change the world all for the sake of the gospel. 

Thank you for following us on this journey and for your prayers. Every breath is a gift and we are thankful to be serving the One True God.

We are climbing Machu Picchu today so please keep the team in your prayers!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Clinic Week Finished

The team has successfully finished the week of service and is headed to enjoy some cultural R & R at Machu Picchu this weekend. Here are a few more pictures from the week of clinic.





Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from Peru!

Day 4 in the clinc in Ventanilla (in the Patecutchec District) was fantastic. We saw lots of children and a few adult patients. One family came in with a daughter and son who both had CP.  The daughter was evaluated and received a new wheelchair that fit perfectly. Next we saw her brother, who wanted to be a preacher when he gets older. He is only 13 years old and currently needs help to get around. Some days people are unable to take him out of his home and he gets upset that he is unable to share the Gospel. We initally evaluated him for a wheelchair, but after careful examination several people noticed that he could potentially walk. He was then assessed for a walker. The patient who is 13 years old had a hard time standing and would almost fall over after 2 steps. The patient had no control. Then several people rigged up a chest strap to work as a suspension system in the walker. This improved his ambulation immediately. Next he was fitted for 2 AFO's and an Ace bandage to help with his externally rotated hips. We tried to find him a pair of shoes but we were out of his size. However, one of our therapist offered up her Shoes and gave them to the young boy. He was then placed in the suspension system and allowed to walk. The child who could not walk was now  walking by himself! With the help of a little pressure and therapy over the next year, he should be able to ambulate without help. It is amazing to see how minor adjustments and outside the box thinking allowed for this future preacher to become mobile.

Each person on this team has different views and knowledge and have been able to contribute to the wonderful advancement of each patient.

Tonight we walked down to the Coast and we were able to watch the Sunset over the Pacific. It was crazy too see how quickly this event happened at such a long distance away. 

Tonight Mrs. Estelle cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. Our team and the MMI members ate together as a Family and have grown closer over these past few days. We will always be familia now!

PS. We did see a turkey on the roof of a house.

Also we found the tiniest bathroom in the world.

And we may or may not of played Whose Line is it Anyway with a bolster....At the end of the day!

Thanks for your prayers! The team members are feeling much better today. We are headed to a new clinic tomorrow. Please pray for a smooth transition and that we see every patient that needs to be seen. 






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday

This morning, Ethan and Josh shared a devotional over the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37. One of the things they emphasized was that compassion requires an action. For us, that action is spending our Thanksgiving break in Peru. It's so cool how the Lord gives us devotion topics to share that end up being a theme for our day.

Our drive to the new site was longer than our previous drive the last couple days, and our view turned out to be quite different as well. We went to a town north of Lima called Pachacutec and traveled up a giant hill to an area where the poorest of the poor live. The crazy thing is, there was an incredible ocean view from the top of the mountain. If it were in America, there would likely be million dollar homes lining the roads. Yet, here we were passing wooden shacks with tin roofs on a dirt road that wasn't made for the giant coach bus we've been traveling in. It's a paradox of sorts. This poor area on top of the hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A paradox just like many of the parables that Jesus shared, including the one we discussed this morning. 

It was a busy, tiring day for most of us. Filled with its own set of challenges and accomplishments. It was emotional in certain ways, and we wanted to share some of those stories from our first day in Pachacutec.

From Devon:
Sam, Jerry, and I had the unique experience of doing some home health today! There were members of the community that weren’t able to make it into the clinic for various reasons so we went to them. We got to experience first hand the home environments of the Peruvian people in this area. 

Our first patient had a stroke about two months ago and since leaving the hospital he has had no medial care. His support system was very eager to learn everything we had to teach them. We spent the entire time educating them on various exercises, how to get him sitting up, the importance of proper posture for eating, as well as good skincare. Our patient showed incredible potential for recovery and I’ll never forget the excitement and hope that his family showed when Jerry told them that his prognosis was good. 

Our second patient was a young man with a tough diagnosis of transverse myelitis. He has had the condition for 20 years and has been in his bed for the previous 6. He was in an extreme amount of pain but there was nothing that we could do to help him. So we turned to prayer. When we asked him if we could pray with him, he told us that he didn’t participate in prayer but that he would with us. Christina, the woman who runs the clinic, came running out after us to share how grateful she was that we prayed with him. In the last 20 years of working with him, he had only allowed her to pray with him one time. We may not be able to help every patient physically but through prayer we are able to help them emotionally and spiritually. I ask that you keep this patient in your prayers as my hope is that we were able to plant a seed within him and he will turn to the Lord to find strength and comfort.”

From Kailyn:
"Today we didn't have enough therapists for all of our team members to work with one, so Ethan and I jumped back and forth doing various things. We spent the whole morning doing wheelchair modifications for one patient, a total of 4.5 hours from start to finish. It was not a task for the faint of heart, but we got it done! We ate lunch late and were feeling pretty tired, but in the afternoon we ended up evaling a couple of patient's basically on our own, with the help of a translator of course. Our first afternoon patient couldn't walk well at all, and she came looking to get a wheelchair. She has 5 children and basically sits in her house all day because it's too painful for her to walk due to lack of strength and some deformities. All the wheelchairs we have given away so far were already assigned to certain patients who were evaluated last year. We told her that we could take measurements and hopefully get a chair for her next year. The disappointment that flooded her face made my heart ache. As we were talking more, I just about felt sick at the thought of sending her home with nothing. 

I looked over in the corner of the room and saw a beat up wheelchair that had been left by a man that had just picked up his new wheelchair. It looked a little beat up, but nothing was wrong with it that I knew of. I asked about the possibility of giving her that chair and ended up getting permission to do so. We had her try it and we didn't even have to make adjustments. It wasn't in great shape, but it was enough. The only thing I'm certain of is that the Lord was there in that moment. He orchestrated everything perfectly for the previous patient to leave behind the old wheelchair so that it could in turn be passed on to this dear woman who could barely walk. It brought me to tears, and I can't express the gratitude on her face. Nor can I express the thankfulness in my heart. I have no idea how much that wheelchair will impact her life as she waits for a new chair next year, but I hope she is able to interact with her kids more and leave her house more frequently. It was a long day, but it was so incredibely good!"

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our team - they are greatly appreciated! A few of our team members haven't been feeling the greatest, so please lift them up during the next couple of days! We have another day in Pachacutec tomorrow, and we're excited for what's in store!




Tuesday - Day two in the clinic!

Today was our last day at Shalom clinic. We expected to fix a lot of wheelchairs, similar to the prior day. Some of us were, as Sam and Devon were tasked with putting together a wheelchair from 20 years ago. It required blood sweat and tears. Instead, for Denae, Sierra and Eric, it was filled with a lot of hands on experience. From the start of the day, we took lead taking the patient's history and initiating treatment. It was a little intimidating at first but we gained more and more confidence as we went on. By the end of the day, we were treating patients by ourselves. It was one of these patients where we made a very special connection.

We met our patient, Angelica, after lunch. Most of the PT's were busy and we were behind so we took the patient back to begin taking her history. By this time in the day we gained enough confidence in ourselves that we decided to continue with treatment. We fit her with a cane and some new shoes which provided a major improvement to her gait. Besides the improvement to her mobility, Angelica was extremely grateful for receiving treatment. This patient has never received physical therapy for her stroke nearly 20 years ago. She expressed her thanks while becoming emotional in telling us her story. I believe each one of us in the room became emotional in the moment. We felt a part of Angelica's story now and prayed with her before she left. It was moments like these that inspired me to come on this trip.

The day was full of laughs as well. Caleb, Ethan and Kailyn treated one little girl named Chamila. She was 4 years old and had Spina Bifida. As they were fitting her for AFO's, she tattled on Caleb for sticking his tongue out at her. Everyone laughed and made the situation fun. 

Please continue to pray for health and wellness for the team members. 
Please pray for the group tomorrow as we venture to a new clinic.

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God" Hebrews 13:16. 

PS - never eat 100% choco chocolate.





Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday

Today was our first day with patients! Ms. Estel (our cook) made us an amazing breakfast and sent us off with full stomachs and a Buen día to start our day! Our short devotion this morning was over being flexible both in our relationship with God and in our lives. We have to be flexible so no matter what God asks we are ready to do as he wills. We also have to be flexible with our patients, we see so many different diagnoses we have to be able to adapt to whatever situation we are presented with. Today we saw all kinds of patients, from small children to a sweet old lady named Maria who could barely walk until we gave her a walker and she was off to the races! The very next patient was a woman named Marína who had lots of issues she was concerned with. Her past medical history amazed me! You can definitely tell the difference between our healthcare system and Peru's. She had surgery after her daughter was born and when the doctors had sewn her up they realized they had left some of their tools inside her abdomen! I couldn't believe it, they had caused her unnecessary pain that could have easily been avoided. She went on to tell us that when she had surgery on her cervical spine they left her in a neck brace for 8 months! She was so stiff she couldn't flex or extend her neck! Our last patient, Freddy, was a stroke patient. He was a fun patient, you could hear him entertaining everyone in the waiting room by leading them in songs. He had recently gone through a really bad time but you could tell he had a heart of gold. He immediately felt better after we were done giving him therapy. We all agreed that God had sent him there that day especially after our main therapist, Jerry, told us he learned a technique within the last two weeks that he used on Freddy. All our patients were very motivated and eager to do therapy with us today! It felt great to finally apply what we have been learning on real patients. We did everything from documentation to fixing wheelchairs. There are very limited resources in the clinic we are working in and at one point today my only job was holding a germ-x bottle for the exercises we were performing. God is opening up all kinds of doors for us here in Peru and we hope you continue to pray for us and our patients! Muchos Gracias! 


Prayer requests
-a translator on the team is trying to get out of the country and God has finally opened the door for him moneywise and so please pray for guidance in the path God has given him
-For Sam, one of our team members, that he would have a pure heart and the endurance to do Gods work
-kailyn- she felt sick this morning but now she feels better just pray that she continues to feel good
-pray that the clinic continues to go well and communication between us and the patients is clear and we are able to tell them about Jesus
-pray for the other clinicians and everyone working
-pray for the 2 clinics we have yet to go to (pachuacutec and callao)
-pray for Ada, she has Hoffman's disease and its a degenerative disease that is terminal