Vision for All

Greetings from Cusco! I have no voice left after last week's short-term team from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Wichita Falls, TX (yes, they also went to Jamaica in June!), so the first day and a half of my extra week in Peru for vacation has consisted largely of drinking hot beverages in cute coffee shops. Rest and rejuvenation > sightseeing, at least until I get picked up at 4 am tomorrow for my Inca Trail trek. 

It wasn't the team did my vocal chords in, but rather interpreting for their 5 1/2 day, multi-site "Vision for All" clinic. Hundreds of people received the gift of physical sight, but more importantly, every man, woman, and child that came through the door, whether blind as a bat or with 20/20 vision, was led to see the Savior. Team members, too, saw Christ reflected in local partners who went above and beyond to make the clinic possible and in the smiles, hugs, and at times, kisses from happy patients. Here's how it all went down:

Unlike clinics of this type that I've been involved with in the past, ORLC custom-made distance glasses for those who needed them after first taking a prescription reading using an auto-refractor. The team leader, Rev. Dale Snyder, tested it out on me so I could see how it worked. 

Set-up begins after church in Los Olivos on Sunday. All clinic supplies were transported in nine red footlockers, which made for a few cramped bus rides. 

The first patient, Vicar Elvis, has exceptional vision. We were joking that he's going to be like Moses (look up Deuteronomy 34:7). 

Rev. Walterson Siewert, the newest member of the Peru church planting team, giving a brief Gospel presentation before the first batch of patients went into the queue. 

Thanks to interpreters Lorena and Jimena, the "readers" station is ready for its first patients. After registration, patients went to "Chapel" (see above), and then on to Triage where an eye chart and a few basic questions helped determine their needs and provided further opportunity for engagement. From there, they were funneled to the auto-refractor for distance glasses and/or these ladies. 

Day 1 is in the books! If you haven't noticed by now, the team wore scrubs on clinic days. They even brought me some! Confession: I felt a teeny bit deceptive when people who didn't know any better called me "Dr.!"

Days 2 and 3 in Los Olivos weren't run out of the church building but rather a reception facility about two blocks away. It was bright, spacious, and paved the way for a connection with community leaders that may prove beneficial again in the future. 

Dinner in Elvis and wife Alba's home (the 3rd floor of the church building!) on Monday. 

The team was eleven people. Seeing as how it's possible to run an ORLC-style clinic with seven or eight, the team leader requested a few side projects. In Los Olivos: replacing the church sign, making Advent/Christmas banners, and touching up the paint job. In La Victoria later in the week: more banners plus turning a dirt median in the sidewalk into a garden. With a little direction, ladies from both congregations took ownership of the banner-making. I can't wait to see pictures of the finished products adorning the respective sanctuaries in a few weeks. 

The team plus local partners before pulling away from Los Olivos for the last time.

Before switching gears to La Victoria, I wisely scheduled Wednesday as a cultural day. I was looking forward to Pachacamac, the catacombs, and Miraflores even though I've done all three before, but a freak 24-hour stomach virus knocked me and two others flat and meant we had to stay back. It was pretty miserable and made me extra thankful for the good health I'm blessed with 99.9% of the time. 

Day 1 in La Victoria was, again, offsite, this time at the - brightly painted, inside and out - community center in the San Cosme neighborhood.

Nevertheless, Pastors Osmel and Walterson were on hand to bring the Gospel. 

We were graced by a local eye Dr. all three days in La Victoria and even made her clinic's Facebook page! The mayor took advantage of the free PR, too; I think his entourage did a pretty nice job on this video (pay special attention to 0:31). 

We dropped the footlockers off at church Thursday afternoon before heading back to San Borja, where we stayed, and started digging in the dirt...with a little help. 

Friday morning briefing before day 1 in our forth and final location (day 5 overall). WHY didn't we come up with the idea to register people and run them through chapel and triage in groups of eight earlier???

Word got around...
Piero, one of my little buddies from my first time to Peru in July, got some much-needed new specs. 

The "builders" (team members whose job it was to custom-build distance glasses according to auto-refractor readings) enjoyed relative peace and quiet in the upstairs classrooms compared to the noise level and number of bodies at any one time in the sanctuary space below. 

Outside, the garden project was in full-swing. 

I was thrilled to see another familiar face, that of Norma, Castillo Fuerte's sweet, hardworking cook. 

Brenda and I walked the block and a half from the office in San Borja on Friday before dinner to explore an organic market with the CUTEST carts. 

A lovely Friday evening sharing food and traditions with the Siewert family. Three team members were off to the airport later that night due to obligations back home that prevented them from traveling back with the majority. 

In Pastor Snyder's absence, the builders' second story refuge underwent a name change. 

A skeleton crew didn't put the brakes on banner-making, though!

Brenda H. and Maribel. 

The group transitioned quickly from seeing patients to packing up to putting the sanctuary in order with time to space before Saturday evening's Divine Service, during which Fernando was welcomed into God's family through Baptism. As soon as his head bent down and Pastor Osmel dipped his fingers into the basin, all the kids made a beeline for the seats with an unobstructed view. 

The team and congregation shared a meal together afterwards before they headed to the airport and I to Elvis's for a few hours of sleep, at least (who thought up 5 am flighs?). I felt incredibly loved and welcomed based on the amount of people who wanted pictures with me while waiting for our Uber. 

On to the next adventure...

Until next time, blessings!