Whew! What a day!
Tuesday was slightly different than we had originally anticipated. We finished all of the construction prep-work we could finish on Monday and Edwin needed a little bit of time to finish building the forms we will be using to fill with concrete. He needed a half of a day to complete those forms but didn’t want to start pouring cement after lunch as he didn’t think that would be enough time to finish all the cement work in one day.
So, we went to plan “B” for Tuesday. Instead of taking only a small medical group out to Peji for the day, we took the majority of the team out to the little town outside of Santa Cruz. Robert and Andrew stayed behind at the church and continued working with the pastors and volunteers at the church to set up the sound equipment while the rest of the team drove the 45 minutes out to Peji to do our first ministry day there.
The last two years we have traveled out to Peji to do medical work. The first year, we only brought one doctor and saw 18 patients. We only went out in the morning and tried to walk through what it would like like in future years to do the medical clinics well. We learned a lot that first year and were able to do more clinics last year. Last year’s team saw 48 people at Peji. We brought two doctors and had medication ready and waiting for those who needed to be seen in that town. The task of seeing 48 people in that area was a big one last year but we were ready to see as many as we could this year. When we pulled up to Peji, there was already a long line of people waiting to be seen in the clinic. It took a few minutes to get things set up and then we started…two doctors, two nurses, one paramedic, and one physical therapist.
We worked non-stop for the entire morning. We didn’t break for lunch until 1:45 and only did then so we could grab something quickly before we got back to work. By the time we had finished at the end of the evening, we had to send a few people away and still saw a total of 91 patients. Tina and Nathan did all of the intake and triage for the patients, Mark and Dana split up the patients and saw patients in two different rooms with Genelle and our precious new translator there to translate, Brandy was in charge of all of the medications and making sure everyone was covered with what they needed for treatment and Ann kept everyone organized and collected all of the data from our patients on her computer so we will be prepared for future years with the proper medication for the needs we encounter. When needed, the patients went over to they physical therapist as well for physical therapy needs. We also had our nurses helping to diagnose what prescription reading glasses some of the elderly patients would need and get them their glasses according to their needs. It was busy! By the time we finished, we were worn out! It was a tiring and busy day but it was a great one. We were able to see more patients in one day than we had ever seen before and were able to help many who needed it. It was a gift to be used in that way.
While the medical team worked, the rest of the team spent the day outside ministering to the many children out in that area. Someone counted at least 50 kids were outside playing, doing crafts, playing with bubbles and engaging in some serious soccer battles with our team members. There was even a dance time and everyone joined in…pastors included! The kids loved it and were precious as they spent time enjoying our group and the games and crafts we had set up for them. Little children who have so few earthly possessions are so excited and thankful for special days like these. It’s such a good reminder for us to be thankful for the many gifts we have in our own lives.
Eventually we finished up the clinic, packed up the supplies and headed back to Santa Cruz. We were pretty exhausted so went back to the church to unload our supplies and then went straight to dinner without getting cleaned up first. Before we left the church, we had what was my favorite part of the day. Our sweet sister in Christ, Karla, whom we met on Sunday and who spoke English, was not able to come to Peji today. She didn’t want to leave us without an interpreter so she asked her younger sister, Camila, to join us. Precious Camila didn’t know any of us and doesn’t go to church. This was something that was completely unknown to her and completely out of her comfort zone. She was incredibly brave and joined us today. There aren’t words to describe how amazing she was. She did an incredible job and worked with Mark in his clinic room doing all of the talking with the patients. She was fantastic and fit right into the team as if she had been with us all along. She was a joy.
As we dropped her off at the church at the end of the night and she was ready to head home, we couldn’t thank her enough for all the work she did with us during the day. We really couldn’t have done all the work without her. As we spoke to her, her eyes filled with tears and she said that she didn’t realize the amount of people in need in her own city. She is in the center of the city and doesn’t see things on the outskirts and wasn’t accustomed to that kind poverty and sickness. She shared that today meant so much to her and that she was thankful for us coming to help her own people. She just melted our hearts. We already loved her but in that moment, we loved her all the more. We are praying that this day draws her close to God and that she feels His love drawing her towards him in the coming days. What a gift she is.
We were all tired as we went back to the hotel to rest but it was a day well spent. We got to spend the day loving people and doing what God has called us to do. It was tiring but it was such a blessing for each one of us. We got to be the hands and feet of Jesus today. It doesn’t get any better than that!