Operación San Andrés Fall 2016 Mission Trip, Post #2

Published October 12, 2016 by Sam Law

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.“ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Friday morning - Off to Peru

I would never wish a day like I had this past Friday on anyone. It was one issue after another. I had done surgery on Wednesday for a rather complicated patient, and had expected her to go home on Friday. Instead, things had gotten a little bit more complicated and required extra time.

At this point I should explain that when I travel, I think ahead of time about what I am going to take with me. The actual packing takes place the morning before my flight. So when I got home from the hospital, I was 30 minutes behind schedule. Things were going well until the time that I was to leave. I went to the place where I always keep my passport and it wasn't there. PANIC! I thought, “I am going to have to call Ruth and Luis and tell them that I can't go.” After 30 minutes of panicked searching, I found it where I sometimes keep Sunday School materials.

Thirty minutes before I was scheduled to be at the airport, I called Ruth and told her I was on my way but would be a little late. She was gracious. Traffic was terrible at first, but, fortunately, after that it was smooth sailing to the airport, parking, getting the shuttle to the terminal, and boarding the airplane. I had paid a little extra for United's Economy Plus and sure enough, more legroom was better. However, a seatmate that took his seat and half of mine, plus an uncomfortable seat cushion, made it difficult to rest. Our flight was not too bothered by Hurricane Matthew, but there was a little more turbulence than usual. We got to the hotel about 2AM and I was able to get 4 to 5 hours of good sleep.

Saturday, things improved. We met the new workers in our group. We went to Collique and had a very good lunch of chicken and rice prepared by the OSA mothers. Then we went to our areas and arranged things for our work on Monday. Dinner was at Pardo's rotisserie chicken and it was good. I got another good night's sleep until 2AM when a party in an apartment across the street involved loud music and fireworks. Sunday was a good day. We worshipped with Union Church of Lima and enjoyed a Peruvian buffet lunch.

Monday - Our first day to see patients in Collique

I was so excited to begin our mission work that I woke 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off (4:30AM). I was able to prepare at a more leisurely pace and was on time to board the bus. Unfortunately, one of our party, who was on his first trip with us, was not on the bus at 7AM. There was a miscommunication and he had to call one of his friends to have the bus turn around to get him. A moderate amount of good-natured ribbing ensued.

The traffic was a little heavier than usual. The bus drivers will tweak the route, but this time we were a little late arriving. Mondays are slow anyway because of new people and trying to improve the process, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Tomorrow we should do better with getting everyone seen. We saw 6 patients in the morning and 6 in the afternoon. Some of the patients had complicated histories and took more time to see. I think we did a good job with what we had to deal with, but tomorrow we hope to see more patients.

All in all, it was a good day. The lunchtime peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were made with love by Charis (a.k.a. the lunch lady) and tasted just a little better than the usual PB&J. And I had one favorite patient today. She is 39 and has carried 7 term pregnancies. She has a smile on her face and a pleasant personality. She looks 5 to 10 years younger, but that is hard for me to assess. I saw her 2 years ago when she was midway through her last pregnancy. It was not planned, but she was smiling and gracious and talked about God's blessing on her and her family. She had a healthy baby and a normal delivery.

Our group had a lively discussion on the bus ride home talking about our experiences during the day and our families at home. My coworkers are good people, happy doing God's work to the best of their abilities. I look forward to tomorrow.

I guess my experience demonstrates that even when you are doing the Lord's work, you don't always get a rose garden. As I told the group during our orientation meeting on Saturday, it is important to remember that you do what you can do each day and understand that while you will not solve every problem, you are making a difference.

Sam Law is an Ob/Gyn. He leads the Chafin's New Beginnings Sunday School Community at South Main Baptist Church and has been traveling to Collique since the first OSA medical campaign.