We are now day 14 of the State of Emergency. It was extended until Easter, but looking at the 'new cases in Peru' graph makes me think we won't be getting out of this that soon. We're playing lots of board games and doing telemedicine, just like my doctor colleagues in the USA.
Unfortunately, our new cases continue to rise exponentially despite the quarantine efforts. Though it would probably be even worse without them.
People have been asking how we are doing, so I thought I better write an update. I don't have any pictures. I guess I could show streets without cars taken from our rooftop. We can't drive our SUV under threat of having my license taken away and the SUV impounded. We actually aren't supposed to leave the house except for Wednesdays and Saturdays to buy food. We had 10 kg of potatoes delivered to our house this morning. There is plenty of food for sale in our neighborhood store. One can't buy alcohol which makes me wonder about alcoholics going into withdrawal and no hospital willing to treat them. Coronavirus cases might be dropping in Peru; we'll find out in a few more days. This morning, we had church via internet, watching Christ Community Church's service (cccomaha.org) at 9 and then the Blumenort Community Church's service at 10:30. Since we can't run outdoors, I've been doing sit-ups and pushups and going up and down the stairs of our 3-story home. I've been losing weight despite not running. All my patients are virtual now. They either message me or call. Mary Beth is happy to finally relax after the camp season. Paul is bored and improving his juggling skills. I've taken up guitar. Mary Beth and the kids are playing piano. I hope to get a lot of continuing medical education done too. Mia is still doing classes online from Azusa Pacific U. We're playing lots of board games and skyping often. Most of my meetings are being held on Skype or Zoom. I'm finding plenty to do!
Saturday morning, Mia asked about coming home since her university was closed. MB and I both prayed during our devotional times and when we finished we both felt strongly that God was telling us to get her home ASAP. So after we talked to her we bought her flights for that same night. She had to frantically pack her things and a friend’s parents took her to LAX that night. We were worried that they might cancel her flights since Peru was talking about closing its borders, and worried that she might get stuck in Mexico City or Lima along the way. Thankfully, the rains in Arequipa stopped yesterday afternoon and her flight, though delayed, arrived at 10:45 last night! Tickets were only $366 despite buying the tickets last minute! She said the Mexico City to Lima flight was still pretty empty. There were tickets as cheap as $78 on Spirit for Wednesday. I really doubt that they can pay for the extra fuel for carrying Mia for that price. But that flight isn’t going now. I just checked Travelocity and they are still offering flights through several airlines for Wednesday, but those flights aren’t going to be landing in Lima either.
Both Mia and Ben are supposed to be finishing their semesters online.
Things are shut down here. We are only allowed to leave the house to buy groceries, or go to the bank or the hospital/pharmacy. I'm not even allowed to go running.
“For some of us, quitting work and quarantining ourselves for fear of Corona Virus is not an option. If we don’t work, we don’t eat and we die either way,” our taxi driver (an ex-vice president of a large beer factory in Venezuela) told us last night. We were talking about all the schools shutting down in Peru and how it seems like the economy will probably grind to a halt here during the next few weeks. He said the Corona Virus would be extremely devastating in Venezuela if it becomes an issue there, though pretty much the only border movement is with Colombia at the moment.
Makro, the Peruvian equivalent to Costco, has been inundated with shoppers preparing for the 'siege'. Things that Peruvians buy are toilet paper and cleaning supplies as well as food essentials such as rice, eggs and sugar.
For lunch today we went to Papa John's Pizza to celebrate summer camps being over for the season. The last camp, an equestrian camp, finished yesterday and we came home in the pouring rain. Thankfully, all the parents were able to pick up the kids in spite of a few roads being closed because rain destroys desert city roads unprepared for large amounts of water.
In the past, parents have asked me (Mary Beth writing) what 'equestrian' means and I tell them it is horse-riding camp. This year, two boys showed up expecting 50 other kids and a week filled with large-group-games and Bible teaching. "Where's the big bus? Where are all the people?" the mom asked me as the 10-seater van drove up and the small group excitedly gathered around to say good-bye to the seven campers. Uh oh, I thought... I hope these boys like horses.
I had a counselor cancel last minute for this camp, so with much prayer, going off a tip from someone, I sent a message to fellow SIM missionary, Siegfried Reuter, to ask if he'd be willing to step in. He and his wife helped start the camps in 1993. Since he was on vacation and planning to return to Arequipa 1 day before the camp, and because he's a stereotypical German in that he likes to be well prepared, I was dubious he'd come. But to my great surprise, he was overjoyed at the opportunity. He told me later that the Lord had been speaking to his heart for months that he should be willing if the opportunity came up. He was so excited about the horses and great at making the two young men feel loved and motivated even though they were extremely out of their comfort zone and riding horses was not what they expected.
This morning I had a two-month-old with an extra toe on his right foot. Polydactyly, as it is called, is fairly common. They say it happens every 500 births. (wouldn't it be cool if 1 in 500 people were born with tails?) If you are thinking, 'It can't be that common, I've never seen it,' it's because most parents have them removed from their babies shortly after birth. I've seen polydactyly several times in my career.
I saw this patient at our Dorcas Project a month ago and since this particular toe didn't have any bony or cartilaginous attachments (it did have a toe nail, which isn't visible in the picture), I told his mother we could easily take it off at our house where I have my minor surgery equipment. One important piece of equipment I didn't have was a papoose board. It is basically a way to restrain a baby so that one can do surgery or dental work. So 30 minutes before the patient arrived I was drilling holes and cutting slits with a jig-saw into leftovers from last year's kitchen remodeling project.
It worked great. The baby has 10 toes now and was as cool as a cucumber as I cut off his extra toe!
Today marks 20 years since we arrived in Peru! This is a picture of our first place before we had any furniture. Someone loaned us a table and a high chair and for chairs we sat on our Action Packers. It looks like a pretty bleak lunch of 7-Up and ketchup. I know we had something else to eat. Probably potatoes.
At times it seems like yesterday and at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago. We've seen people come to Christ (including last week through the medical assistance project), innumerable village medical trips, churches started, a hospital built, kids grow up and go to Germany and college, Amy go on to heaven, fellow missionaries come and go and Zach and Mary Beth join the family. What will the next 20 years have for us?
Join us as we thank God for both the good and the difficult.