In early August, we returned safely from a two week eye mission in Ayacucho, Peru. At 9,000 feet in the Andes, Ayacucho is a lovely Spanish colonial town. In cool mornings and warm afternoons, we had beautiful clear weather to walk through the center of town to and from the clinic. We stayed in a quaint hotel run by a faithful Christian family who suffered terribly during the terrorist reign of the Shining Path in the 80s. What a wonderful experience to serve the Lord and help the Peruvian and Quechuan people, descendants of the Incas, recover their sight. Our Medical Missions International team of 48 saw 3,001 people, dispensed 2,492 pairs of glasses, and performed 117 surgeries (cataract and pterigium). What a tremendous blessing to all.
Each morning began with a lively worship service with team members and our patients. The good news of Jesus was shared as they began their trip through the clinic. Many lives were transformed with that awesome story.
There were many individual stories of changed lives during our trip. One young boy was told he had retinitis pigmentosa, or night blindness, that would eventually rob him of his sight. He had family members with the same disease but the confirming news was devastating. Our local pastor, Astrubal, spent an hour with him and his family sharing the light of the good news of Jesus. Although he would eventually lose his physical sight, he received eternal life from Jesus that day, spiritual sight that would last an eternity.
Many teens and young adults were a part of our team and worked very hard. Several were brought by their parents, aunts or grandparents but one came by himself. He is a firefighter from Vancouver and his grandmother was a well known multi-trip MMIer. Her stories of changed lives inspired him to join the MMI team. It was a blessing to work with the next generation of missionaries.
Ayacucho was the birth place of the Shining Path, a Peruvian Maoist terrorist group that brought terror to Peru in the 80s. Our hosts, owners of the hotel we stayed in, had a number of family members martyred for their unwavering Christian faith. We heard their story and were inspired by their witness for their Lord, Jesus Christ (a book called One Bright Shining Path by W. Terry Whalin and Chris Woehr describes their story).
As the glow of the trip fades, the clothes are washed and the equipment put away, we are left with enduring memories of God’s powerful work among peoples of different cultures and languages. There are many challenges and discomforts on an overseas mission (cold showers, missing luggage/supplies/equipment for 6 days, among others) but to see changed lives in our patients and team members, stirs within you a strong desire to return. We will travel again with MMI to Sucre, Bolivia, from Feb 23, 2013, to March 9, 2013, for an eye mission. You do not have to be medically trained to participate in these missions. Just have a desire to be used by God. Please join us. You will be blessed!
Bob Rice, MD