To say there have been trials in these first two weeks would be a gross understatement.
I had just settled into a routine and become quiet in my spirit when it was time for the first group to arrive. My three guys from First Presbyterian, Sumter, SC came bounding in last Saturday morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready to work (well, maybe they weren't so energetic at first since they had been up all night in the Lima airport). They did a tremendous job of working with Pastor Rony in Quistacocha to begin construction of a Sunday School room behind the church. We had a lot of laughs, mostly at Jim Gee's expense (don't worry Jim, I won't publish the story about your college Spanish class here), but the week was successful both in terms of relationship building among sister churches and work projects. Jim and Robert had the bonus of a trip to the hospital with a 17 year old boy who was in excruciating pain. Initially they thought he had appendicitis, but it turned out to be a kidney stone, not that the diagnosis was any better for the poor guy.
My trials began on Monday last week. It seems there was a significant ant population living in the house, so Ina, my housekeeper, bought insecticide . She was careful and wore gloves, but failed to wash her hands once she took the gloves off. She later rubbed her eye, creating an abrasion with insecticide particles still on her hand, which penetrated her eyeball. It would be Tuesday evening before I found out this happened. I tried to talk Ina into going to the hospital, but she did not want to, explaining that she neither likes doctors, nor taking medicine. For impoverished families, such as Ina's, statements like that can often be translated into "I can't afford to go, so why bother?" By Thursday her pain was unbearable, she had lost her vision in that eye, and she finally acquiesced to getting medical attention. She has now been in the hospital for 4 days and the doctors are still uncertain about whether or nor she will be blind in her right eye, particularly since she waited so long to seek help. Her situation is also complicated by the fact that she is diabetic. Ina is not just my housekeeper; she is my friend, and I love her. She is upset and discouraged and needs to be lifted up. Please pray for her.
Meanwhile, the Sumter group was leaving, and the first of two Huntington, WV groups was arriving. Needless to say I've had to call a time-out and prepare to drop back and punt. Ina is invaluable here; she is the "jefa," or chief of the house; she makes it run. It is difficult to understand just how much she does around here until she is not here to do it. It has been challenging these past few days to figure out how to function without her, but we are managing. I am so grateful to have Sarah Beth Mulet here this week. She spent two summers here as an intern while she was in college, is the secretary of AMF, speaks fluent Spanish, and is one of my very dear friends. She arrived just in time to step in and say, "Don't worry. I'll help you, and we'll be ok."
As a knee-jerk reaction, I have found myself questioning God. Why is this happening at all? But especially why is it happening when I just got here? And why now, when I need her most? Did I completely misunderstand God about coming here? Have I done the wrong thing, quitting my job and moving to South America? Fortunately my sweet Mamacita and my beloved Collins know me better than anyone and always say the right things to talk me down off the ceiling when I am going through one of my intensely reactionary phases. They've gotten a workout recently!
At my moment of greatest discouragement, I opened Streams in the Desert and read the day's devotional, which had obviously been written for me: "'Never dread any consequence resulting from absolute obedience to His command…Dare to trust Him! Dare to follow Him! Then discover that the forces that blocked your progress and threatened your life become at His command the very materials He uses to build your street of freedom'" (F.B. Meyer, 248). What else is there to say?