In native Peruvian culture, any disfigurement to the face is shameful. This can impact a person for the rest of their life. In our first clinic we had a young girl come in that had been in a motorcycle accident a few days before we arrived. Her face was covered because of her injuries. Some non-medical stitches had been placed, but the wounds hadn’t even been cleaned out. It was obvious that she needed much more care than had been available.
We ushered her into the clinic and were able to use some lidocaine to make the worst part of the cleaning more bearable for her. We spent quite some time trying to, as gently as possible, clean out these wounds that were on her face, her hands and arms, and legs. We told her that we would like to see her again the next day to continue cleaning and redress her wounds. After she left that first day, we were sad for her as we feared that she would have significant scarring, and began to realize that may mean that she would have to keep her face covered for the rest of her life. As the second day neared a close, we were thinking that we would never see her again. Just before we closed for the day, she returned and we were thrilled to see her! On that second day we were still finding dirt and gravel in some of her wounds, that were now about 4 days old. We were concerned for infection, and had given her antibiotics the first visit. Again, we asked her to return the next day to check again and redress the wounds. She came a little earlier on the third day and we continued to do everything that we could to help her heal as well as possible under the difficult circumstances. By the last day that we were holding the clinic we could start to see some healing, and we began to hope that maybe the scarring would be minimal. We thought of her often after leaving and often wondered how she turned out.
The following year I was able to return to help with the clinic again. I wondered how she was doing, but hadn’t see her around at all. About three days in Pablo comes up smiling and tells me that she is here. I go outside to see her, and can’t believe what I see. She is smiling and is walking around uncovered. I could see a tiny bit of scarring, but I knew where the injuries were and was looking for them. It was much better than we anticipated, and the important part was that she was happy, healthy, and not forced to walk around in shame! While this was not the particular goal of the clinic, it was a great example of what we can do when the resources are available at the right time. It made the need for a permanent clinic even more clearly defined.
Missions have always appealed to me, and since I started in the medical field, I have wanted to do medical missions. Yet, I always had ten excuses why anything that came up never worked. I couldn't get time off of work, couldn't afford time off of work, had kids to take care of, couldn't afford the extra money to go, etc. It was beginning to feel like though I always had this desire that it was never going to happen. A couple of years ago, that all changed. I heard about a medical mission trip from a friend. Several people from work expressed interest, as did I. I decided that if my friend ended up leading the trip I would probably go along. My wife finally said, just sign up for the trip and go. I wasn’t sure, but I eventually let her convince me and I signed up. Four other people from work joined me on the trip, but my friend didn’t get to lead it. Of course, we don’t know for sure what would have happened if I hadn’t listened to my wife, but I can tell you what happened after I did.
Our team traveled to Peru to set up a medical clinic in a small village in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, and at the edge of the Amazon Rain Forest. We worked with a Peruvian church from the capital. They had been traveling to this village several times a year for a couple of years by then, and had started to build a mission base in the village. It was a great week of serving the native villagers in the clinic during the day, and holding church services with the missionaries at night. By Thursday, the pastor asked if I had ever considered being a missionary. I said that I had. He then asked if I might consider joining them there. I found myself surprisingly ready to say yes. However, moving my family to a remote jungle village with extremely limited access to healthcare that she had never been to was not as appealing to my wife. I initially thought that she would come around and we would be going at some point. I eventually realized that this was a planted seed, and while we probably wouldn’t be moving there, it would be the beginning of a long-term partnership.
I found myself often thinking of the village, the people there, and the missionaries I had worked with on that first trip, and praying for them. I realized that it fulfilled a longing that I had been unable to fill my entire life. I was hooked and couldn’t wait to do it again! Soon I’ll share about the return trip where the next steps were revealed.
While on a medical mission in Peru, God called me to provide aid and support to those that I can, and to those that are already helping others. This resulted in Healing Hands Ministries. Seeking like minded individuals and organizations to multiply the work that we can do alone.