8:00AM Chepen. Our medical mission is in a building as different from an American clinic as is a new Lexus from one of the many Volkswagen Beetles we see rattling along Peruvian highways. But the team has figured out a way to make it work, and in a space barely large enough for a family of four, we served 180 people yesterday. We’re looking for more today.
Patients are greeted under an awning set up outside the front door and extending into a street busy with taxis, motorcycles, cars and an occasional truck. The sidewalks are packed with people walking to work, students dressed in black and white uniforms on their way to school, and housewives pulling children by the hand to the grocery store. Horns beep constantly, people chatter with one another, motors race and salesmen push their handcarts through the melee calling for customers in sing-song voices.
Many of the passing crowd find their way to the registration desk, where Allison–dressed in blue scrubs as are most of our medical people–records their contact information and medical problems. The patients then sit in a waiting area under the awning. The sun here is brutal since we’re so close to the equator and shade is an essential part of any ministry.
When their names are called the patients move through a cycle of several small rooms set aside for different needs. Eye patients (half of our patients have eye problems) squeeze up a narrow staircase to the second floor where they meet with our ophthalmologist John in an examination room set up in a back bedroom. Some have problems like cataracts that we’re unable to help. Some have conditions that can be helped. All receive free eye exams along with free eyeglasses if they need them.
John is assisted by a translator along with another Peruvian assistant–both from the mission’s home church back in Trujillo.
Patients with medical conditions go downstairs to the larger team,. They’re escorted through the narrow room that serves as the chapel for the evening’s revival services, past a compact kitchen and the single bathroom and into the examination room, where a rotating team of Amy (a nurse), Sarah, (a nurse-practitioner), Daniel (family practice) and Bobby (cardiologist) take turns examining, diagnosing and prescribing medication. The medical problems they encounter include everything from children’s viruses to bronchial problems to STDs.
Our medical professionals are assisted by a couple of translators and often have the opportunity to share their own Christian testimonies with the patients.
The next step for patients upstairs in the eye clinic and downstairs in the medical clinic is to talk with one of several spiritual counsellors. James from our team serves in that capacity, working with a translator to share the gospel. But the larger work of evangelism is done by the team of Peruvians who accompanied us from Trujillo. Passionate and articulate, these folks (men, women and students) are serious about the local people here in Chepen hearing the gospel. You see small groups scattered about the house wherever they can find a corner to sit in, talking, reading Scripture and praying.
Roland and Margia, the Peruvian missionary couple who will lead this new church after we’re gone, are the most active evangelists of all. They meet everyone and set up future appointments for follow up.
Meanwhile in the streets surrounding the clinic, team member Todd meets people and hands out flyers. But since his Spanish mainly consists of a half-dozen names for Mexican food, I’m sure more than one person was puzzled when they saw the clinic advertised on the paper he gave them but what they heard him say was, “Where can I get a taco?”
The last station in the clinic is the free pharmacy, donated by people at Lexington Baptist Church as well as others . The team brought with them several large trunks packed with prescription and over-the-counter medicines and our pharmacist, Elizabeth, somehow organized the hundreds of different bottles in a way that allows fast and accurate service to the patients. She’s tucked beneath the stairs.
Pray for us! This mission trip–like all of them–is filled with un-planned for situations as well unexpected blessings and I’m proud of every team member for their grace, humor and faith. We’re all so grateful to our church family for the opportunity to serve the Kingdom and the people of Peru.