Packin' Papas

05 May 2020

'Papa' is the word for potato in Spanish.  It's also the word for 'Pope' which has made for some pretty hilarious menu translations in some restaurants.  (e.g. 'baked pope'!) Right now potatoes are cheap.  This week our emergency relief project bought 3 tons of potatoes for 3.34¢ (USD) per pound!  (CAD 10.33¢/kg)  Our job today was to divide them into plastic bags of 3kg each (6.6 pounds) to give to hungry families this week.

Mia and Mary Beth stand in the midst of our task.  Each sack of potatoes weighs about 220 pounds (100kg).

If you want to help feed hungry Venezuelan refugees and poor Peruvians please consider donating here.

Can we do 700 bags this week?

01 May 2020
“Can we do 700 bags this week?”  was the question posed last Monday to the team of workers responsible for packing food bags.   We had done about 600 the previous week, so what was 100 more?  God has been gracious in providing the funds and faithful workers to serve in this ministry.  
 
An obstacle we have faced is finding enough food and getting it to the place where bags are packed.  Our vehicles were packed to capacity carrying food for just 300 bags.  It was also getting increasingly difficult to find enough food without spending hours driving around to different places, avoiding roads that had been blocked off, explaining our work to police who regularly stopped us, and finding that stores that had been open previously, were now closed.  
 
A colleague runs a Breakfast Program which delivers food to churches to provide breakfasts for children in need.  He recommended his delivery person, and we made contact with her.  She now weekly delivers some of the food we need.  This has been a great help.
 
Packed car
 
Another concern was preventing “burn-out” for those who were working long hours every day packing and delivering.  The work was divided into morning and afternoon “shifts” so people could have a break.  The Lord was also faithful in providing new people to pack, so that the same people didn’t have to come every day.   Some regular workers had to take days off because of illness or injury, but we were still able to get the required number of bags packed.  
 
Packing food
 
A quick update on a previous blog —- Oriana’s baby boy recovered from his fever with the medication we were able to provide, and her niece who was covered with a rash also improved within one day after receiving medicated cream.  She is also now fully recovered.  Thanks to all who prayed!  
 
We are in the process of making this an official project of SIM which people can donate directly to.  We don’t know how long the quarantine will last, or for how long people will need this service.  God knows, though, and our prayer is that God will provide the funds for as long as this project is needed.  Please join us in prayer.  In a future blog we will give information on donating directly to the project.  Another way to help with similar needs around the world is to donate to SIM’s emergency fund.  

Food for Refugees

22 Apr 2020

For over a month, Peru has shut down all but essential businesses to try to contain the corona virus.  If you have money saved up you can survive easily enough.  You can order food delivered to your door and go to the banks and pharmacies still.  But if you are a refugee from Venezuela (there are an estimated 800,000 in Peru alone), life is much harder.  You probably don't have any money saved up.  Your job as a waitress in a restaurant is gone.  You probably don't have a home and the landlord of the tiny apartment you are living in is probably threatening to kick you out for not paying your rent.  Even begging on the street is hard as few people are out and foreigners (even us from North America) are held somewhat suspect during crises like this.

Because of this, SIM Peru has been delivering bags of food to Venezuelan refugees here. Today Mia, Mary Beth and I helped prepare 289 bags of rice, potatoes, spaghetti, tuna, evaporated milk, lentils, sugar, beans and a Gospel tract that others will take out to people on Friday and Saturday.

 

If you are interested in helping out with relief efforts like this, you can donate through this website.  If you are in Peru and would like to help, contact me and I will give you bank information.

Please pray for me

17 Apr 2020
“Please pray for me.  Pray for my children and my family.”  This request came from Oriana, a woman we are helping through our Venzuelan Refugee Project.  Oriana came to Peru as part of a group of 5 families who belonged to the same church in Venezuela.  She has a 5-month old baby boy who was suffering from fever, and an online doctor had advised antibiotics.  (Antibiotics are sadly very over-prescribed here.)  She was asking for help in buying the antibiotics.  I had her talk to a colleague who is also a doctor, and he advised her to simply treat the fever with fever medication instead of using such strong medicine.  We provided the medication for her, and her son is now doing much better. 
Pronadol
 
 
Oriana lives with her sister and brother-in-law, who also escaped from Venezuela.  Her 3-year-old niece has become covered with an unidentified itchy rash.  In these times, the only way non-emergency cases like this may be treated is by phone and photos.  So we showed photos of the child’s condition to the pharmacist (who often double as doctors here) and she recommended Vaseline and another medicated cream to put on at night.  Please pray for healing for this child.  
 
Oriana’s family is only one of many, many needy Venezuelan families here in Arequipa.  As you can see, food is not the only need they have.  Please pray for our project, as we seek to help these families with their critical needs.  Pray for wisdom, guidance, and provision.  
 
We currently have the funds to continue this project for only one more week.  The quarantine is currently until April 26th, and may be extended.  If you would like to donate to our project, please see the information below.

How can we increase our capacity?

17 Apr 2020
What started as a project to help feed 150 families through this critical time has exploded. This week, we’re delivering these care packages to almost 500 families and we’re looking at ways we can continue to expand to meet the need. Estimates are that there are over 12,000 Venezuelan refugees in our city.
 
Here’s an example of what we put into one package to give to each family. It costs us roughly USD12 to help feed a family for a week.
 
Care Package
 
Our big challenge now is how can we increase our capacity. In the last week we’ve become more efficient in buying food and packing it but there’s a limit to how much more efficient we can become. We can’t expand our team or bring in volunteers because the government has put in place strict restrictions about who can work. These are generally a good thing because it forces people to stay at home but this is unfortunate for us.
 
A large group of Venezuelans wait for their package. The police are here too ensuring that people keep a distance from each other.
Keeping distance
 
We’re also spending more than we expected. We’ve opened the project to let Peruvians give financially or donate food and we already received a few generous gifts. If you’d like to support a family you can give through the SIM International Relief Fund:
 
A gift of $24 will help 2 families with food for a week. $240 will help 20 families.
 
Please pray for wisdom in how we use our time and resources. Please pray that we can make an impact greater than simply feeding people. Pray that we can show love to the people that we serve with food.
 
 

We needed a Miracle

06 Apr 2020
We started Saturday needing a miracle.  We had coordinated with a two groups of Venezuelans to deliver food bags to them that afternoon.  The second group was quite large, and we feared we wouldn’t have quite enough bags.  Matthias read the story of the feeding of the 5,000 from the Bible, and we prayed that God would once again provide so that these hungry people could be fed.
 
A team of 8 people spent the morning packaging the different food items and making bags; they came to 85.  The bags were then packed into two waiting vehicles.  
 
We visited the first group of 11 families, all living in the same hostel.  After giving them their food bags, we talked with them about the Lord.  They all seemed to be believers.  One lady asked me for prayer for a family member who was hospitalized in Bolivia.  What must it be like to have family members scattered among different countries at a time like this?  We had a time of prayer in the group, then we bid them farewell and went to where we were to meet with the second group.
 
Giving food
 
They were waiting for us in the street.  There were also police waiting, because there was a crowd.  Matthias went to talk with the police to explain to them what we were doing.  We encouraged the people to maintain several feet of distance between them as they formed a line.  This group was rather organized and had composed a list of the people who were coming — according to the list, we were going to run out.  We started handing out the food bags, and the last one went to the last person in line.  We had exactly enough!  God is truly our Provider! 
 
Giving food
 
Please pray that God will continue to provide, and give us wisdom and strength as we seek to minister to these people in this time of crisis.
 
 
Friends
 

 

Getting Food to people in Need

03 Apr 2020
We've just started a project to support some of the most vulnerable people in this crisis in Peru. There are thousands of Venezuelan refugees who normally make a living selling on the streets. But now the streets are empty and they have no source of income.
 
We buy food in bulk. Here we bought 260 kg of potatoes.
Buying food in bulk
 
The team divides the food and creates a bag that can help support a family for a week
Packing the food
 
We deliver it to families in need along with an evangelistic tract and health info.
Getting food to families in need
 
Please pray for energy and wisdom so that the food gets to the right people. Please pray that we can show the love of Jesus at a time when we're wearing masks and can't even shake hands.
 
Please click here to support SIM's Emergency Fund which helps this project and others like it.
 

Keeping our Distance

29 Mar 2020

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.

Everyone gives others a wide berth (unusual for this culture where personal space is usually much smaller!) while waiting in line to go into our neighborhood store.

Unfortunately, our new cases continue to rise exponentially despite the quarantine efforts.  Though it would probably be even worse without them.

Nothing going on in Peru

22 Mar 2020

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!  

Mia Arrived!

16 Mar 2020

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.  

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