8/4/2011 -- A good friend of mine told me several weeks ago that I should continue blogging my life, not necessarily for any of you that happen to read this, but for me. So my goal with my new start is to reflect on things that have happened, how they've changed me, and how I can apply what I've learned to the future. Feel free to follow along or whatever, I got things under control even if no one ever reads this.
First post is something like half done, expected time of arrival: 1 week.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Wowee it's been a crazy week down here in Peru. A lot of ridiculous things have happened since Monday when I last posted. The only logical place to start is the beginning, so here we go:
Tuesday morning we all got packed up to head out on to the river to do some mobile clinics. I was relatively excited considering that I was finally getting used to living here on the compound, so I drug my feet, but went along with it for the adventure of boating part of the Amazon.
We rolled out at something like 9 with a truck and the back of a taxi stuffed full of all of our junk, we had a ton of stuff between the girls and the medical and dental teams. We drove out to another Adventist mission base and met our two little tourist boats at their dock. The boats were each probably 25 feet in length with 8 rows of 2 seats and a lawn mower engine with a rebar handle. It was quite the sight, but they were to be our homes for the next several days.
After several hours of travel on the boat, we got to our first destination and set up shop to see patients for medical and dental needs. We probably saw about 50 patients total, not a lot compared to when we were in Pucallpa seeing 150 medical and 40 or 50 dental.
The doctor (whenever I say “the doctor” I'm referring to Dr. Richard Matthews, the Peruvian in charge of the compound down here) cooked us up some sweet plantain slop, not sure what it was supposed to be, but it was interesting, I'll leave it at that. After we had a plate of weirdness, we headed down the river to the next village and before we knew it, darkness was upon us and we were traversing the river with flashlights.
We got to the next village late and some people headed up on shore to find a place to sleep and Chris, Caleb, and I set up shop on the boat. Greatest sleep I've ever had due to some guy bailing out his boat three times at evenly spaced intervals throughout the night.
We were up with the sun and I was tired, hungry and ready to take a nice clean shower. Lo and behold, everyone who had gone ashore to bed down for the night had eaten at a little village version of a restaurant the night before. Lucky for me, they didn't quite eat the owner out of house and home, so I was able to eat a good breakfast and then a good afternoon meal as well.
The village there was bigger and nicer than expected. Most of the buildings were on stilts and built to at least look nice. Most of them did have thatched roofs, but it was a nice little place. We set up shop in a building that looked as though it had been built by some organization for the village. It was a nice open building and suited our purposes well.
By early afternoon, we were done with patients, so we ate some coconuts, drinking the milk of course, and got ready to head out. On the way out, Dr. Shire (a doctor from Wisconsin who was with us for two weeks, left yesterday 10/9) found a monkey that one of the little shops was looking to sell, and on our way back to the boat we were dragging a little Martin Monkey with us (that's what the locals called him). He is the cutest thing ever! But really dirty and hard to take care up.
The consensus was to stop and swim to clean ourselves off, but due to our boat driver getting confused on the details, the other boat stopped while we went on ahead to the village. My boat ended up coming back to a cleaner part of the river to river shower.
The village we ended up at was probably smaller than the one before and a good mile off the river. So we were lucky they had 2 tractor type things to haul all our stuff to where we were staying. That night we had a house (the school) to stay in! So I was able to lay out and not worry about insects biting me! You have to realize at this point, most of us has so many bug bites that it looked like chicken pox or something. It's crazy itching so much!! Some of the guys broke out some hemorrhoids cream to stop all the itching (0.5% cortisone 3% lidicaine).
We survived all the bugs, and when Thursday came around we were woken up to the local alarm clock. Some local was rambling away on the local loud speaker at 5 am. He played music and talked for close to 10 minutes, while I was trying to sleep. We managed to catch some more sleep and stumble next door for the clinic after the girls cooked up some food at one of the local's cooking fire.
&nbps;There was probably about the same amount of patients there as the village before, so we were down by mid afternoon and free to do whatever! So we cooked up some lentils and chilled for the remainder of the day. The guys, minus me, all went fishing. The caught a piranha, a catfish, and some other fish that they cooked and ate that night and the next morning.
This whole time we had the monkey tied up in the corner (we stilled haven't officially named him) and we tried getting him to eat one of the tarantulas that was occupying one of the screen windows, but he was a bit scared of it and left it alone.
For most of the clinic, Jonathan and I pumped the local well water through a little travel filter that one of the girls had to give everyone water to drink, water to rinse dental tools, and water to mix some of the drugs in suspension.
The next day was our free day, but no one wanted to stick around, so we packed up and left as soon as we could after breakfast. The tractor things were out in the jungle working, and after waiting 45 minutes, we didn't expect them to show even after one of the locals said 20 minutes to start with. So we turned pack animal and hauled all of our stuff down to the boat, not easy hauling all our belongings and all the medical and dental supplies, but we made it and shipped out by 11 am.
Word from the doctor told us to expect a 4 hour boat ride, but after four hours and previous experiences with the doctor, I decided that he's either not the greatest at estimating or he just doesn't care. We were still floating out in the river after 4 hours, and none of us were enjoying it a whole lot. The monkey was sleeping and we were all awkwardly trying to do the same.
The boat I was in had all the guy SMs, Dr. Shire, and two of the girls plus the boat driver. The other boat had the doctor and his wife, plus the rest of the girl SMs. Since we were way ahead of the other boat, it was no big deal when Janessa needed to go relieve herself. We were at a relatively straight stretch of river, so we were looking around for the other boat back behind us. We saw what looked liked our boat pulled over to the side, not sure what was going on, we just waited to see what would happen. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention, but a metal dingy came flying by us (it had an outboard motor, much faster than anything of the standard lawn mower type engines we'd seen) and as soon as it did our driver (a Peruvian) started shouting at us in rapid Spanish and making gun motions to his head. All we understood from him was that something was wrong and we had to hurrry.
We shouted for Janessa, who had walked quite the distance to pee, and pushed back out on to the river. The boat that was pulled over was now for sure the other one of ours, and so we turned around and headed back out to meet them. When they caught up to us, we figured out why they had been stopped and why our driver had been shooting himself in the head with his fingers. The other boat had been robbed by 4 shotgun wielding masked guys.
The ladrones (thieves) had made off with all their cash, anything they deemed valuable, and the boat driver's gas. Some of the girls had packed in some nice backpacking bags, and the robbers just took the whole thing, clothes and all. It was not a pretty sight seeing all the girls crying from the happenstance. Everyone in my boat hid all our valuables as best we could just in case the thieves came back for more, but they determined that they didn't need anything more and didn't come back for us. The boat driver in the other boat had told the robbers that we were all men and armed, so I guesse they didn't want to mess with us and our guns.
The robbery was pretty serious considering that we now had to get two boats back on one supply of gas. There wasn't much we could do about the thieves loose on the river because they were at least 3 times faster than anything we'd seen on the river and the polica of Peru drive nice cars, but aren't good for much else.
That was a very disappointing experience far all, not just the girls, but we pulled through and everyone is doing better now, but still missing what was stolen.
We pulled into Pucallpa about 7:30ish and between unpacking the boats, packing the truck, and finding a taxi, we probably made it back by 11 or so. I then remembered that I still had a sermon to write in Spanish, so I got to that quick and had it done by 12:30 when I went to sleep.
Sabbath morning I got up a bit earlier than usual and perfected my sermon. I delivered it at church, and the other SMs that were there said it was good, so I was happy. I talked about love, my favorite emotion, citing 1 John 4:16, John 13:34-5, John 15:9-13, and closing with the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Good stuff. Those are my verses of the week.
Sabbath afternoon was relatively relaxing, the girls were set on cleaning up their house and the kitchen, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle. Not something I like doing on the Sabbath, but who am I to tell them what to do.
After lunch, Jonathan and I did the dishes and then tried to take a nap, but Jonathan and I ended having a long heart to heart talk all afternoon as we rested. We talked about what kinda woman we want to marry (we have different opinions here), why or why not we thought the Bible to be true, discussed miracles, and conversed about logic mixed with religion. Quite the range of stuff, but it kept us going for several hours.
Last night we played some social games with the girls before stumbling back to our room to watch a movie and then fall into bed to sleep really well.
This last week has been insanely tiring. With living on the river, sleeping little, doing a lot, the mosquitoes, and getting back late, I'm still really tired. For some reason the girls aren't much for sleeping in even after staying up late, so sleeping in around here is something that rarely happens.
I still miss home like crazy, but after living up the river for a week, it isn't so bad here on the compound. Right about now I would do anything to not be sweating 24/7 and to see the beach or hug my mom or take a warm shower. After getting hit this hard by homesickness, I will probably never do this again without taking home with me!! Home is where the heart is, and I left my heart back in Oregon.
Peruvian culture is definitely different from American culture. You're probably thinking 'Duh Anthony', but listen! It's super different! The whole concept of time around here is not cool. I think they just say what you want to hear whether it's true or not. I'm getting sick of that. It's disgustingly dirty around here, every one just burns their trash every night, and in town there's garbage everywhere. Instead of having a problem with overflowing dumps, the Peruvians are just spreading it out.
I miss home. Can't wait to drive my car, skimboard, really relax, not have to worry about if they'll be something to eat, hug my mom, drink good tasting cold water, have internet in my place of residence, and to actually make a difference.
Around here, at least to the places we've gone, the people we've been helping expect to be helped. It's hard to explain, but their mentality is to expect us to serve them. It makes it hard for me to feel like I'm really making a difference. It feels more like I'm living up to what they want, not what they need. In the villages we went to, I saw some medicine already there from other missionaries or from the doctor from before. So are we making a difference or making them dependent on us? I dunno, but it's hard to justify the clinic work when people complain about not getting any medication or because their kid didn't get as many stickers from the dental team or complaining about someone getting called to the doctor before them. Maybe it's just me, but that's what I've been experiencing.
This next week, Jonathan and I are back on the manual labor team! Woot! So we go back to working with the local Peruvian 'Chicos' (as the girls call them), which means learning Spanish! The only way we can communicate with them is our limited amount of Spanish and hand signals, not very efficient. So This will be good!
Off to CampoVerde to post this. Keep praying for me, please please please!! Need all I can get. Pray that God will bring me home safe. I miss home! Keep the girls that got robbed in your prayers, it was a pretty traumatic event getting a shotgun waved in their faces by some screaming Peruvians.
Miss you all. Paz, Esperar, y Amor a todos! (Peace, hope, and love to all!)