Peru, Days 4 & 5
Days 4 and 5 were intense.
We spent much of day 4 waiting. We waited for the truck with the container of 550 wheelchairs to be delivered. Unfortunately, we arrived about noon and the container was delayed. We were told 1. Then when 1:30 rolled around, that was changed to 5. We finally saw the container at about 4:30.
The container arrived and we started unloading it and filling the warehouse. It was tough. With a team of only 11, we realized we had some holes in our “bucket line.” We occasionally got backed up at various points along the process.
Late that night we finished unloading and organizing. We were so exhausted that we went back to the mission house, ordered pizza, and fell asleep.
Today we did quite a lot. We went back to the warehouse to fill a truck and take to the build site. Unfortunately, that truck was very late. We took this opportunity to learn how to build a wheelchair. We broke into two groups and started working on a chair. It took us about 30 minutes to get a full chair done with a group of 5 people per chair. Tomorrow we will have 2 people per chair and 20 minutes to complete it.
We then split the group into two. The women got on the bus, went back to the outreach house, and started making 125 box dinners with stir fry in them. The men waited for the truck, loaded it, and drove it to the build site.
Let me tell you, I was wishing I had gone with the women.
When we arrived, we found the build site. It was at the top of a 3-story building. We had to carry all 100 chairs to the top of the 3rd floor. By the end, my back, legs, and arms were done.
The area is just filled with abject poverty. It was amazing to see the number of houses that were on the dirt hills behind the build site. The photos and video doesn’t do it justice!
After unloading, we met up with the women and took the box dinners they made to a local cancer hospital. We had the opportunity to break into groups and speak with people who were waiting on their loved ones. I wish I could show pictures of the scene but we were not allowed to take them. My words, and even if I did show pictures, I would not completely explain the desperation, the sadness, the frustration, and the sheer insanity of the health care system of Peru.
The first man we approached said he was from the northern area of Peru near the Ecuador border. He is required to stay outside in the cold and wait. There are no real waiting rooms. The lawn outside is the waiting room. He left his 7 and 13 year old boys in his village and traveled weeks to get there with his wife, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has been waiting for 10 months, sleeping on the grass, for the day when they come to him and say he can either see her, take her home, or she is dead.
The next man we spoke to said that his only baby is in the hospital with a cancerous tumor in his head. His wife, while waiting there, has been rushed inside to the emergency area because she has a sickness she couldn’t get rid of.
So he waits.
His spirit was so crushed that I could barely even say the words to the prayer. My mind kept racing to his family and how separated they were. His mind must be thinking how naïve we are for coming from America with a hollow prayer and that people would be healed.
But let me talk about that for a minute. We are not necessarily here praying for healing. Yes, that is part of it. But we are here to simply be the hands and feet of Christ. We brought a hot meal and a smile, probably something they have been without for a long time now.
And we maybe brought a little hope.
The final 2 girls we spoke to were both under 18 and their babies were in the cancer ward. One woman was wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and it was low 60s for the temperature. They have been there for a few weeks.
My wife gave her sweatshirt on her back to the girl.
I almost started crying because of my wife’s generosity.
The look on the girl’s face was priceless.
So we finished that, went to dinner, and back to the mission house by 11pm to fall asleep. A 14-hour day in the field, but one that is filled with glimmers of grace.
Tomorrow, we will begin building the 100 wheelchairs we were sent to build.