Anjanette works at a Christian clinic called 'La Fuente' and it is a great place for members of the community to receive high quality and affordable healthcare. The nurses and health care assistant also provide after-care by visiting people afterwards where necessary. I have had the privilege of accompanying them on 2 visits in the last few days, along with members of the Bristol team.
The visits were both moving. Yesterday, I visited Adrianna. She has been in a wheelchair all of her life, and we visited her at her work. She sits for 9 hours a day outside the public toilets in the square of a beautiful village outside of Cusco. People pay her to use the toilet, the irony being that she herself can't use the bathroom and is struggling to pay for the pads that she needs to wear every day. She was lovely to chat to, and very grateful for the little that we gave to her. We chatted, shared the Bible and prayed for her, as well as holding an umbrella to shelter her from the strong sun. Nancy, the Peruvian nurse, strongly shared the message of God's love. To my ears, I found this very different, as we wouldn't be so forthright in the UK, but I think that for many people, their faith is more zealous here in the best possible way, as they see so much hopelessness, but also want to share the hope that they know God brings.
I have included a couple of pictures of where we were. It shows again the breathtaking beauty of where we live. But as you look again, imagine trying to get around these narrow, steep, rough streets in an old wheelchair that really needs repairing. We find it hard enough with Sophia's buggy, but I can't imagine how hard things must be in a wheelchair, needing to pay taxis, as well as medical costs, incontinence pads as well as the normal costs of raising a family. But as Nancy shared the message of 1 Corinthians 13, I could see the difference that these words made to her, as Adrianna was encouraged to also share God's love with those around her.
The other visit we made had a different feel to it, and was probably my most dramatic exposure so far of the poverty that surrounds us. We visited Maricel, a 1 year old, who is under-nourished and absolutely beautiful. Her mum was very welcoming and lovely, and it was again a privilege to sit and listen as Nancy shared nutrition info, and we prayed for her, as well as playing with a very bright little 2 year old called Gabrielle. We found out that the home didn't have a bathroom and Maricel's mum explained that they used the public bathroom. Afterwards, I asked the nurses to show us the bathroom, which turned out to be a hole in the ground with no cover and is therefore very dirty and dangerous. Their water is collected from a communal tap as they are not connected to the mains water.
These are often forgotten people and communities, but the love and work of a small group of Christians is showing that these people are not forgotten, but loved and valued. It is hard to sit here in my nice flat with hot water, internet and 2 bathrooms and know that there are families living such a short way away whose lives are so different. We all want the best for our children, yet the odds seem stacked against so many people. I know that my response should not be based in guilt, but first I need to turn to God, see his heart and discern where he is leading us to work, when the work seems so vast. I know my role here isn't just to stride in and try and solve it all, but to work alongside Peruvians to support projects in a sustainable way. We already knew that our contribution as a family over the next couple of years in Cusco would be just a drop in the ocean, but wasn't it Mother Theresa who said that the ocean is made up of drops such as these?
1 Corinthians 13 (TNIV)
1 If I speak in human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.