To Chile and Back

One of the first things that we needed to do to get our resident status back was go to Chile and enter again as tourists to get enough time to start our resident paperwork.  The trip there went smoothly--we went a different, shorter way--changing buses in Nazca.  It didn`t save us any time, because we had to wait almost all day in Nazca, but it was a lot easier on the body. 

We had a scare when a policeman got on and took up passports.  On seeing that our tourist visa had expired he kept asking, "Why have you waited to leave?" as if he expected to surprise into admitting a crime.  When I told him we were missionaries and it was due to delays in paperwork, he took our passports to check.  Then he came back and told us that it wasn't a simple matter of crossing the border and paying the fine, and that we would have to report to Migraciones in Tacna as soon as we got there.  This was a little scary, because in Migraciones we have encountered all sorts, from helpful people to ones who take your passport and demand a bribe to give it back!  (When I posted this on Facebook, one of our friends read it as Office of Migraines--often too true!) 

This time we encountered only helpful people in the office who were excited that we were working in Apurimac, one of the poorest regions of the country.    The only problem we encountered was that the big boss could not understand why we currently don`t have resident status.  Rather than explain the problems we had run into with corruption in the Lima office (that kind of thing never goes well)  we just said we didn`t understand it either.  Upon hearing that we will have resident status soon he decided it was due to a mistake made by Migraciones in the Lima airport.  (which is indeed part of the complicated story)

We ran into a little of the same problem when we reentered Peru from Chile.  The computer system has improved since we entered in 2008 and now we show up as both residents and tourists.  However, it only took about five minutes for the resident computer wizard to allow us to enter as tourists.  (Our old residency is not valid, it just complicates things.  It will have to be wiped out to be residents again.)

So now we are legal and on our way home again!

Still learning about Peru

One of the ladies from the church helps us around the house.  For quite some time now she has been supposed to have her gall bladder removed, but has been putting the operation off.  She is finally going to do it, and the process has shown me that I still don't know everything about Peru.

When she went for her preoperative chest x-ray, they found her lungs to be "full of smoke."  She said that she saw the smoke and asked the doctor what it was, and he said it was from cooking with wood.  Like most Quechua, she cooks on an open wood fire at home.  And when I say open, I mean an unventilated fire inside the kitchen, which is enclosed.    In her case, she says that this is a problem in her other house, where the kitchen is a small shack.  In her normal house, the kitchen is large, (though enclosed) and she feels that this is no problem.
This is not her x-ray and I hope hers is not even close to this bad.  It just shows why she thinks the x-ray shows the smoke in her lungs. The x-ray is from "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2011. 13 May. 2011.

I told her that breathing wood smoke is as bad as smoking.  Although she knew smoking was bad, she was sure that wood smoke was harmless because it is natural.  She was very upset when I told her that there was no pill to clean up the lungs.

It turns out that there is a high incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among rural women in all Latin American countries, for this same reason.  Although there are projects, even in Peru, for education in how to construct a better stove, the only time I have ever heard of it here a woman was telling me that there was a better stove that did not make your pots black, even though it used wood.  Looks like more education needs done!

Today I found out another thing.  She has the national health insurance, and so to have an operation she must have someone donate blood before her surgery is scheduled.  They told here it could be anyone.  

I knew that the people here are very reluctant to donate (they think that they will die, that the hospital will sell their blood, etc.), so I said that I would if no one from her family could.  I told her I was a little unsure that my blood, which is AB+, would be very useful here.  

Turns out I was right about that.  When I went today they would not even take my blood, because they said they would never need it.  I said that I might need blood sometime, and they said not to worry, since I was AB (universal recipient) they could give me just any blood, but mine would only be useful in an emergency and took my phone number just in case.  Then they told her to find another donor!

Okay, I guess I just always took for granted that they would have my blood type at the hospital, and that everyone knew breathing wood smoke is dangerous!  I guess the trick is not taking anything for granted!

Please pray for the women who are endangering their health just by cooking, and for our upcoming trip to Chile. (More about that later.)  And just maybe...that I don´t need any blood from the hospital. :)

Video tour of the QBI campus at Huayrapata

How would you like a quick tour of the Quechua Bible Institute at Huayrapata?  You can hitch a ride with Mike, Cayo, and Bill Rowley, Believers Bridge President.  Pastor Santos Ñawi, the local coordinator will show you around.
Remember, this is the contribution of the host church or association.  This effort shows their commitment and interest in the project.