Thursday, January 15, 2009

"The Case of the Missing Finger" or "Money, Medical, and Matrimony

We are really immersed in Andahuaylas now. We have gotten started
with the Bible Institute work, joined a church (the Iglesia Evangelica
Peruana Central) in Andahuaylas, and we are really seeing all of the
Challenges here - including ones that we hadn't expected. That's what
I want to share with you.
One new challenge is managing our money - but not in the way that is
usually meant. Since we have been in Peru, we have been using ATM
machines to withdraw our salary. It is deposited once a month, and we
are used to taking out a little as we need it and leaving the rest in
our U.S. bank account to avoid carrying much or having much money
stored in our apartment. That worked great in Lima, but it is a
different story here. Monday we went into town, the ONLY ATM machine
in the city to withdraw money for this week - but it was down for
service. We decided to wait on Chris's Birthday present until the
next day - which was his birthday. But, the ATM was still down, we
asked the manager, what was going on, and he told us that it should be
fixed that day, the technical service guy was on his way. So, we
decided to mostly postpone Chris's Birthday and come back to town the
next day. But, you guessed it, the ATM still was down, and the
manager told us, "Sorry, but he is a long way away and he's taking a
while getting here." In the meantime, we are wondering how we can pay
for the rest of our freight, eat and have a birthday for a 12 year
old. And we have learned a valuable lesson. When the ATM works
withdraw everything at as soon as possible and deposit it in our new
bank account at the local bank.

The second challenge is to be "testigos", official witnesses at a
wedding. Here in Peru you have to have a Civil wedding to be
officially married. A religious wedding is important for Christians,
but without the Civil, there is no official wedding. Another local
custom is that the "Testigos" play hard to get and demand payment,
meals, bribes, etc. to sign on the line. Well, there is a young
couple, a Peruvian who went to Brazil to be trained a as a pastor and
his betrothed, a Brazilian. Now we know from experience that it is
hard for a foreigner to marry a Peruvian - since we just went through
this with Becky. So we understand they are in the middle of a lot of
complicated paperwork - and a lot of costs. This young couple are
coming here to work, he has accepted a call to serve as a pastor here
and she is happy to come here as well. However, they don't have
anything to pay the "testigos" - without them there is no legal
wedding. To make a long story short, someone suggested to them that
Tammy and I would be perfect to be "testigos" and that in the US no
one pays witnesses for a wedding and we wouldn't ask for anything. So
we agreed, now we find out if there is a second shoe to drop. Because
one of our capacities here is Marriage counselor, we were also asked
to counsel them. Oh, and we have to fit it all in in 5 days.

Our third new challenge is medical. Where we live, Munay Wasi, has in
the past had regular medical teams from France, and the locals assume
that anytime there is a foreign group living at Munay, they can come
here and get medical attention, we have been asked to do eye exams and
cataract surgery, to set a broken leg, and to treat a child who has
some sort of crippling disease. But the most memorable happened this
last Saturday morning there was a big meeting of local farmers at
Munay Wasi. We were eating breakfast when there came a knock at the
door, I went to answer it and there were 2 men, some of the farmers,
one who had a rather dirty gauze pad on his hand. In broken Spanish,
because they were Quechua speakers they asked if we could "do a cure "
on his cut finger. Now, we have two boys, and so we always have
bandaids, and antiseptic and antibacterial ointment on hand, and we
are pretty competent to handle a cut finger - we thought! Tammy had
come to the door by this time and she asked him to remove the bandage
so we could get a look at his finger. He unwrapped the gauze and
showed his cut finger - only it wasn't a cut on his finger, it was a
CUT OFF FINGER! It looked like something only sort of sharp but heavy
or forceful had cut/mashed the first joint and a half of his finger
(probably a machete) - I didn't faint (but the world did become a
little blurry for a moment. We had to tell him that we couldn't help
him with this, and asked if he had gone to the medical post. He had,
but didn't have enough money to stitch him up. God intervened in that
Drs. Julio & Maria Elena happened to come out for a visit shortly
thereafter, and the man was still here for the farmers meeting. They
were able to get him treatment.

Whatever else it may be Missionary life is never dull.

God bless,
Mike