Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Half-time oranges

Well, with Monday marking half way through my time here in Peru, I thought I'd better reflect on the last 3 months, and what the next 3 might bring. The first question I must tackle is why I haven't posted on this blog in a while, over a month in fact. It's not as if I haven't got plenty of stories, but I think I've reached the point where my life and “work” here have, at least in part, stopped being new and strange to me; this is what my life is now. Well, it's either that or I'm incredibly lazy, make up your own minds.

This being said, the work I'm doing here with Dr Cooper still excites and interests me a great deal. The double-edged sword of it is the changeability, which is due to a combination of the work and the culture; I often find myself in the position of not knowing what I'll be doing tomorrow, and even then it's likely to change in some way. This is infuriating and exciting in equal measure. I experienced a prime example of this the other day, when we were due to go out to the south of Lima to check up on a few children who needed extra attention. After we reached the church, it transpired that we were actually going to be working at another site, an unfinished church building further up in the hills, which we duly took a taxi to. Here we stayed for a while. I watered the plants, Townsend saw the patients. We were then told that there was a girl who needed to be seen, but couldn't physically get out of the house. All of us there (myself, the doctor, the pastor, and various other volunteers) proceeded to walk up the (surprisingly steep) hill to this particular house, which could actually only be reached by climbing down a ladder.

I have to say that the situation in the house was not an easy one to see, it being basically being a two room shack. The girl we had come to see has cerebral palsy, and can't leave the house, or even move about of her own accord. As a result, she is left alone, in the same spot, during the day when her single mother has to go out to work. Not wishing to intrude, I stayed by the door, but could hear the girl screaming. Then, as is fairly common for the medical ministry here, we were thrown a curveball. Two other children were there in the house (cousins, I believe), and they were both lying in a double bed in the main room when we arrived, happily watching television. Now the pastor (Father Aurelio) noticed that one of them, a girl of about 4, was fairly ill. He called Townsend back through, who had gone straight to the other girl, the source of the shouting and screaming, to take a look. Townsend examined the girl and realised that she needed to go to hospital as soon as possible. To use his words: “At the very least it's pneumonia.”
By the time someone had explained this, and it's urgency to the sick girl's mother, it had gotten dark outside. We emerged from the house into a darkness punctuated by the moon and the electric lights of the houses that cover the hillsides: strangely beautiful. I hope that's given you a snapshot into what work is like here, though I have to say that was an extreme day.

My church life is going on well. I worship at a spanish-speaking anglican church, not dissimilar in practice to Christ Church. The anglican church here in Peru is relatively small, but incredibly friendly and although I can never quite understand all of the sermon, I enjoy it immensely. I also help out with the youth group, which is small but growing, as much as I can.

I'm glad to say that I don't spend all my free time at home, and have a number of friends here: mostly (but by no means exclusively) ex-pats. I can often be found at the Coopers' playing Settlers of Catan or MarioKart, though I have to say my experience of Peruvian history has been limited, despite the number of museums and archaeological sites in the city. Hopefully that will change soon.

So, all in all, I'm enjoying my time here. I would be lying if I said I haven't missed home at times, or struggled with language or health, but those things can all be overcome with perseverance and prayer. I am massively grateful to all those praying for me at home, I know I'd be in trouble without you all.

Which leads me nicely to my prayer requests:
  • Firstly, against complacency. Now that I am half way, I know my mind will be drawn even more to going home, but I still have 3 months of work to do.
  • Also, for the various short-term teams coming into Peru in the next few weeks and months. We will be working with at least two.
  • Finally, that I would continue enjoy myself.

God bless and much love

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