Whew! What a day it was yesterday. We left the hotel a bit earlier than normal and headed out to Peji to begin our free medical clinics. Peji is a piece of property that is 27 acres outside of the city of Santa Cruz that was gifted to Pastor Ruben and the Faro del Cielo church several years ago by a doctor who had come to Bolivia on a medical mission. The story of how Pastor Ruben was given the money for this church piece of land is another story of faith. We can learn so much from Pastor Ruben! He will go down in my mind as one of the great heroes of faith. He believed that God would fulfill the dream God had given him for that piece of property and the Lord provided as only He can…in the form of a check that paid for the property completely. It’s a story full of the miraculous and it shows that if God births a dream, He will be the fulfiller of that dream if we have the faith to believe He can.
We arrived at the Peji property and were greeted by Robinson and Simona. The are precious missionaries from Colombia who moved to Bolivia to serve with this church. They live at Peji full time and Robinson, who is a bread-maker by trade, bakes bread and sells it to various places in Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas to help support the work out at Peji. When you arrive at the property, you can smell the amazing aroma of fresh baked bread. There is nothing like it. We all sampled some of his bread throughout the day and he promised to bring us a few loaves that we could purchase on Saturday so we could bring it home with us. It’s too good not to share.
We then went over to a clinic about a block away that was allowing us to use two of their rooms for the day. We set up the medications we had purchased beforehand and got everything ready to begin seeing patients. Two medical personnel from the church came out as well so we had a physical therapist and a dentist with us to help with the patients. The patients started to trickle in and we got busy. Karina and Pastor Robert worked to document blood pressure; pulse and temperature and then the patients went to Elsie and Mark or Genelle and Dana to be seen. We saw everything in those hours. Because of the poverty in the area, there were many skin infections, fungal infections, and bacterial infections that we needed to treat. There was also one sweet baby with seizures who was completely unresponsive. He was our miracle baby for the day as Dana believed that if the parents had continued to medicate him as heavily as they had been, that he wouldn’t be alive much longer. Patients were warm and wonderful and it was a joy to serve them.
We worked for half of the day and then went back to the Peji property to have lunch. Maribel hadn’t quite finished getting lunch ready when we arrived so we started a game of volleyball with some of the Bolivian young adults who had joined us out at the property. Pastor Robert, Genelle, Dana, Robbie, Carson and two Bolivian young adults were on one team and Jim, Mark, Ann, Karina, and two Bolivian young adults were on the other team. Pastor Ruben sat and watched the whole game and laughed at us continuously. To say we were a bit competitive was an understatement. It didn’t help that Mark and Dana were against each other and so were Jim and Genelle. There’s nothing like a game that pits spouse against spouse! Pastor Robert was hysterical and was animated and competitive. He did a great job of psyching out the other team when they were getting ready to hit a ball. Karina was especially susceptible to his screams and they scared her every single time… usually to our team’s advantage! Pastor Robert named our team the Bolivian Bombers and we won all three games. Jim and Mark didn’t enjoy losing to their wives but they were pretty good sports through it all. It was such fun to play with our Bolivian friends and brothers and it was a great release after a day full of translation, sickness and non-stop encounters.
After the game, we ate a short lunch and while we were eating, we asked Pastor Ruben to share the story of the Peji property with the team. There were several who hadn’t heard about God’s goodness that was shown to Pastor Ruben through Peji. Each time we hear the story, someone ends up crying. It is such a precious testimony and Pastor Ruben is so gentle and humble. It’s impossible not to feel moved by his story. When he talks, it lights a fire in each person to live a life more dependent on the Lord, with more faith and more trust than they had before.
After lunch we had a short tour of the bread factory and then we got back to work. Some of the men stayed behind to do some work at Peji. Pastor Gil got to ride a tractor to cut back some grass and others cut back some of the plants that were growing around the area. The rest of us went back to the clinic and kept working with the patients. In total, we saw 40 patients out at Peji, the vast majority of whom have no medical care, no doctor and no way to get medications on our own. It was such an honor to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these people. One of my favorite moments was when we were able to see a gentleman we had seen last year. He is a very old gentleman and was there with his two daughters. His body is riddled with cancer and his prognosis is poor. We did our best to give him some pain medication to help alleviate his pain but there was little we could do except to explain what was happening to his daughters who did not quite understand what was going on with their father. At one moment, Dana leaned over to him and asked him if he knows Jesus. He said, “Yes. I can’t do anything without Jesus.” This precious man in his last days, riddled with cancer, blind from cataracts and in obvious discomfort still had time to say, “Yes. Jesus. I know Him. He is still the reason that I live.” Oh, what a joy it is to serve the Lord and to know that, when we know Him and we pass from this life to the next, we will be able to meet our Jesus face to face. What a day that will be.
When we finished at the clinic, the rest of the team was waiting for us. We had gone longer than we had planned but we didn’t want to leave any patient unattended. We packed up our medical supplies and loaded the bus to head back to town. We dropped off the physical therapist and the dentist near their homes and we went straight to dinner. We were exhausted. The clinic job was mentally taxing and emotionally taxing more than it was physically taxing but we all felt spent after the day in that clinic. We went to a late dinner and then returned to the hotel to finally rest and recover from the day. It was an honor to work out at Peji but we needed rest so we could continue today. God is good! He continues to restore us day by day. He is renewing our strength and helping us to keep moving even when we are tired. He is the sustainer and the lifter of our heads. What a great God we serve and what a privilege it is to get to serve the people He loves so very much.