"If we don't work, we don't eat and we die either way!"

13 Mar 2020

“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.

What did we sign up for again?

22 Feb 2020

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.

Papoose

18 Feb 2020

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!

20 Years in Peru!

11 Feb 2020

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.

It doesn't Rain in the Desert!

25 Jan 2020

Monday was the first day of summer camp.  Forty-three kids loaded the bus going to camp for a week of fun.  The first day was completely normal, with swimming, archery, horsebackriding, Bible studies and other camp activities.  SIM's camp is located in a valley in the desert about an hour from Arequipa.  It is so dry that without irrigation even cacti wouldn't grow.  There are places on the drive out to camp where one can't see any plants at all.  It looks like moonscape.  This makes it a great environment for planning events.  One doesn't have to have a contingency plan for rain.  When Mary Beth and I got married, we didn't even consider what we might do if it rained.  I was told that in the early 2000's the camp went almost 10 years without it raining!  So we were all a bit surprised when Monday night we could hear sprinkles on the roof of our cabins!  And the rain kept going off and on the rest of the week.  Mary Beth and her team did a great job changing plans to keep the kids occupied.  We almost canceled our mud games because everyone thought they'd be too cold to do while raining, but the rain stopped and it warmed up enough to play in the mud.  When we planned the camp we thought it would be a lot of effort to prepare the mud.  It clearly wasn't!

Living Vicariously through our Kids

17 Jan 2020

Last week was SIM Peru's Spiritual Life Conference near Lima.  Our fantastic speakers were Bob and Kamrin Evans from the Bay Area in California.  SIM Peru missionaries come from 9-12 different countries (depends on if you count where they were born or where their passports say they are from) so we pick English for presentations since we have new people that don't speak Spanish yet and our Swiss and German missionaries speak excellent English.  But some words are new to them.  During one of the talks Bob used the word 'vicarious' and was asked what it meant.  It means to experience through another person's actions.

Wednesday, was the tenth edition of the Race to the Rocks, a 7.2 km race on the beach.  I've reached that stage in life when my kids are beating me in about everything, including foot races.  I have chosen to vicariously claim their victories as my own, as was the case in Paul's victory in the race!

Photo taken right before the start of the race 'we' won.

Last night, I was preaching at a church for the first time.  I asked for a volunteer to read a verse and one woman raised her hand but then declined when she realized that she didn't have her reading glasses, so someone else read the verse.  A bit later, I asked for another volunteer to read a three-verse passage and the woman without her glasses volunteered again.  She stood up, looked straight ahead and without her bible recited all three verses word-perfectly from memory!  I was amazed until I realized that the guy running the projector was putting up all the verses on the screen behind me!

More than doubling search traffic

14 Dec 2019
We’d like to see more Latin American churches send missionaries. We play a small role in that project with a website (movilicemos.org)  that provides resources for churches and Christians interested in serving in missions. Last year we uploaded more than 1400 resources - PDFs, Powerpoint Presentations and more to a website we created. Read more about the project here.
 
The homepage says “The job is huge, search for resources here”
 
This year we wanted to help lots of people to find these resources. We’ve more than doubled the number of people who found us through Google searches and this is how we did it.
 
We identified the top 150 resources on the website - the resources with the highest downloads. We then created a summary of the file in a format that Google and other search engines could index - using HTML. 
 
The main work we did was putting a summary of the text from resources into HTML so Google could index it and improve search traffic. The results are better than we expected. Since December there has been almost a 4 times improvement.
 
Traffic via Search
Movilicemos-Analytics
 
We’ve also worked on making this site load quickly, especially for mobile users. It ranks in the top 5% of websites in terms of performance.
 
Through this website we will continue to provide training and resources for Latin American Christians interested in missions. Please pray that the Latin American church becomes a powerhouse in sending missionaries - especially to unreached people groups.
 

They say it's all Technique

08 Dec 2019

Today was the CONREDE track meet.  It pits the doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, accountants, etc. against each other on the track and field.  I went into the 1500m planning on winning the event since I can usually run it 10 or 15 seconds faster than last year's winning time.  Unfortunately, I got an asthma attack about half way into the event and didn't even finish.  How embarrassing!  For the last two months I've been forced to quit really hard runs because I can't breathe.  I've seen a lung doctor and even did a treadmill test with a cardiologist and it appears to be exercise-induced asthma.  I guess I'll have to stick with the longer, slower runs or the really short ones (100m to 400m) that don't give the asthma time to close my bronchii.  Our team coach had been encouraging me to throw the shotput at the event, so I was signed up for it. I've only thrown the shotput once before in my life at a school 'Parents Olympics', so I don't really know what I'm doing.  All the other competitors signing up for the event were bigger than me (not a very common occurance in Peru).  I was chatting with a team mate before the event who looked like an olympic shotputter.  "I'm not very good, he said.  It's all technique."  I was dubious.  He looked like he could throw me 10 meters and a shotput probably much further.  God has a sense of humor.  I won the event.  I'm not convinced it was due to my great technique, as you can see below:

Doctor, do you make 'Car Calls'?

05 Dec 2019

I make a lot more house calls in Peru than I would in the USA.  I don't have set clinic hours, so I'm able to go to a patient's house if needed.  I've had to hike to some places, like once when I went to see a patient with Huntington's Chorea, who couldn't walk.  Today was my first 'car call'.  Pastor Simón asked me if I would see a patient in Clínica Arequipa with multiple leg fractures from a car accident to see if she would qualify for financial assistance from our Medical Assistance Project.  After I saw her, Pastor Simón asked if I would see another lady from his church who had been told that she had pancreatitis and sent home.  "Okay.  Where is she?" I asked.  "In my car!"  Simón said.  He's a taxi driver and had brought her to see me and had her wait in his car while I saw the first patient.  

Pray both patients recover.

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