Prayer request--spine with a twist

Well, I did find a therapist in Andahuaylas.   After the first day´s therapy he called to my friend who had brought me (he evidently hadn't figured out that I was not a tourist yet) and told her that my spine was curving to the left and I needed to get a spinal x-ray.  That proved to be an ordeal that involved a day of fasting and 3 bottles of castor oil. (Ugh!)  Even though the resulting x-ray was still faint, the doc found that I had scoliosis (which wasn't the result of a fall) and some vertebrae that had slipped out of place.

Here is my diagnosis (given to me on a small scrap of paper):
 The upshot is that for now I have to lose weight and wear a back support.
Please pray that these conditions don't degenerate and that the therapy would calm the pain in my hip.  And praise God that none of this has caused the excruciating pain that it could have!

Gorgeous photo celebration of Machu Picchu 100 year festival (PHOTOS) - International Business Times

Here's a link to the celebration that we mostly missed in Cuzco. Gorgeous photo celebration of Machu Picchu 100 year festival (PHOTOS) - International Business Times: "Photo:Reuters Gorgeous photo celebration of Machu Picchu 100 year festival (PHOTOS)
We were mostly concerned with the weather when we left Andahuaylas and didn't happen to check whether they were having a once-every-hundred-years-celebration while we were there. However, we did get to check out a great rainforest exhibit in one of the little plazas and take in a few parades. The whole city was decked out with flags and new landscaping and statues. Unfortunately, we took our camera, but with no chip, so we couldn't take any photos of our own.
They were just setting up the stage in the plaza and testing the sound when we had to catch our bus.

Gorgeous photo celebration of Machu Picchu 100 year festival (PHOTOS)"


For some reason, we have a lot of flies here where we live.  They crawl in around the edges of the windows, which are the kind that open like little doors and buzz slowly around the room, sounding like a fleet of small airplanes whose mission is to drive humans crazy.  Some are very loud and large, and specialize in buzzing like chainsaws.  Others are small and pesky and light on your nose or buzz round and round your face until you have to kill them.  A great many appear to be despondent and take their lives by diving into cups of coffee, glasses of milk, etc., often just when you are lifting it to your lips.  We keep a swatter handy and swat them (with extreme prejudice) all day long.

I have tried opening the windows on the theory that more of them would be free to leave that way, but Mike and Chris are skeptical of this theory and insist that all that happens is that more come in.  When evening comes most of them crawl back out the windows, I guess, because they disappear.

Because it gets cold at night the ones that are still in the house stop moving.  There are always dead ones on the window sill (whether from natural causes or the cockroach poison that we spray on the windows I don't know).  This morning I dusted all the dead ones off the window sill, and was interrupted before I swept the floor.  When I came back, about four of them were crawling around.  We all know what to do with crawling bugs--so we stomped them.

We thought the flies were just a problem here in the property where we live, because the owners have a big garden and sometimes keep chickens. But we have obtained proof to the contrary.  There is a one-legged lady who has  a little store about a block away.  One day I passed it and there she was, leaping around on her one leg, swatting flies.  Living proof both that the flies are all over this part of town, and that they will drive you crazy.

At the clinica

You probably know that we went to Cuzco for some routine medical checks.  Mike came out great.  His heart is in good shape, cholesterol and blood sugar perfect, triglycerides and blood pressure a little high, so he's still working on that.  His doctor was very pleased.  My cholesterol was borderline again.

AND while it is good news that I do not have arthritis or any damage in the hip that has been bothering me since a fall walking the dog last year, I do need physical therapy for the apparent muscular problem that is causing the pain and stiffness.  Although it is a lumbar problem I haven't had back pain, but to my complete (and painful) surprise, the small of my back is very tender  (Doctors always know how to find these things out.)

When we left the clinic we went to the pharmacy by our hotel to get the shot prescribed for me.  The pharmacist gave me what was absolutely the worst, most painful shot I have ever had.  Two days later, I still have a bruise.  She told me I could come back the next day and she would give me another shot free.  Although I gritted my teeth and  thanked her very much, I decided to limp home without the second shot and get the other two at home in Talavera.

I got the next shot today and the syringe that I got in Cuzco, evidently a fellow to the first one, would not put out any liquid.  Our pharmacist pulled it out, replaced the needle with another, and it worked.  Experimenting with the Cuzco needle and some water (the pharmacist was curious), we found that it would only shoot out water if Mike hammered on the plunger.  No wonder I have a bruise!

So now the hunt is on for physical therapy in Andahuaylas.   Viki told me that she had to go to Curahuasi for therapy when she was dragged by a cow.  The pharmacist thinks she has seen a sign that says Therapy and Rehabilitation here in Talavera.  We'll have to see what's true.

 I could always go to Cuzco, but it seems to me that it would be more beneficial to have therapy without the bus trip.

Stuck on the road

Okay, Monday night we were off on the (slightly) postponed trip to Cuzco.  All was well until about 10 pm, when we came to a stop, causing everyone to wake up.  The driver announced the dreaded words--"No hay pase."  (We can`t pass through here--or "we`re stuck")

 Instantly everyone wanted to know why, and wanted the door to open.  People got out and walked around, including Mike and Chris.  I had gotten off the bus the last time we had trouble on the way to Cuzco and wound up leaping across a river on rocks, so I stayed on.  They and everyone else walked until the mud became to slippery to walk through, and came back.  All they could report was very slippery mud, and a sound of rushing water.  And a huge line of buses and trucks stopped at this place
Speculation ran rampant.  One woman was sure that a bus had gone through from another line.  Another was sure that passenger vans were going through.  One man announced confidently that no one could go through.  The driver announced that he was going to have a car sent from Abancay, and we would have to do a "trasbordo" (the passengers carry their luggage past the obstacle and board a bus that carries them on to their destination.)  but he was firm that this could not happen during the night.
Everyone slept in snatches, waking up at intervals to complain.  One time a man took his luggage and got off declaring that he would walk until he found a way there.
About 3 am a man went by shouting "Abancay!  Abancay!"  He pried the bus door open and announced for people who could walk a good ways he had a taxi that could take 5 or 6 people to Abancay.  A woman who was taking a baby to a clinic for medical attention said she would go.  The man said it would be very difficult with a baby.  Another woman said she would go, but was told she had too much luggage and it would be "difficult."  Then said that only one handbag or back pack would be possible.  Finally the woman with a baby, her young daughter, and a few others left.

When the sun came up, the driver announced the trasbordo.  Everyone got out with their luggage and started slogging through the mud.  Soon the first ones to get to the other bus were back.  The other driver didn't want to do the switch.  As this situation reoccurred all up and down the line of buses, everyone began to concentrate on removing the obstacle--a tractor-trailer that had slid into a steep ditch and gotten its wheels mired trying to back out.  There was space enough for a man on foot to pass between the end of the trailer and a steep dropoff.

Finally an empty flatbed truck was persuaded to try to pull the truck out.  Some men had already dug the wheels that were on the road free and put rocks in front of them.  All the men that were available were recruited to stand on the flatbed to give it weight.   Since the line of stopped vehicles was now very long, it was no problem to recruit bus passengers and truck drivers, including Mike and Chris, until the flatbed was full, and with heave pulled the truck free!

All the now-muddy passengers climbed aboard their buses!  We were off to Cuzco!

We passed several other trucks off the road, but they were not blocking it.  We arrived only 9 hours late.  Travel is always an adventure.

REALLY off to Cusco

This is what our life is like up here. Yesterday the rains just kept coming, we heard that the passes were snowy and icy and we realized that for some unfathomable reason we had bought tickets on the "economic" bus. That means that we would have to take our own blankets, there is no bathroom and you just have to wait until the driver has to go and then step out in the dark, icy night and seek a safe and private place to do your business. The seats don't really recline and there's not even 3 inches of leg room (I exaggerate, of course, there is 3 inches of leg room!)

Yesterday afternoon, we came to our senses and realized - we could wait a day and go on a bus with heat, blankets, a bathroom, a snack, reclining seats with maybe 8 inches of leg room that leaves an hour later and gets to Cusco when the sun is up - and the snow/sleet/ice/rain may be over!

I just moved my work from Friday to today and voila! So tonight as you lay down to sleep, think of us sitting in our odd-smelling little bus, bumping over the Andes about 13,000' in the snow for 10 hours and say a little prayer!

Off to Cuzco

Tonight at 7 we will be leaving for Cuzco for some medical checkups.  The night bus is really the best way to go, because you go to sleep and wake up in Cuzco.  Of course you miss all of the breathtaking scenery, but we nearly have it memorized.

The road is in the process of being paved from here to Abancay.  Right now it takes about 5 hours to get there, but it will only take two when they are done.  From Abancay to Cuzco it takes about 5 hours more, so we will get there at about 5 am, then hang around the bus terminal until some things get open.  We used to go direct to the hotel, but now they charge you for checking in before noon.
It's still a great little hotel.  It is called Hospedaje Bambu, and its located in Pasaje Pantipata, in walking distance of the plaza.  We only found out about it because the girl who owns it was working at the clinic Mike was in when he had his heart attack.
Anyway, please pray for a safe trip.  I had been thinking that it was great that we were going when the weather was dry, but it has been raining all day.  Hopefully it is local just to our valley here.


A few years ago we were on a routine bus trip from Lima to Andahuaylas.  It was night, the lights were out, and I was asleep.  Suddenly a woman at the back of the bus screamed and started running up the aisle.  With a thud she fainted, close to my seat.  We called for the bus stewardess who put her in the vacant seat next to me.  A passenger gave her coca leaves to chew.  Another passenger suffered from paralysis and couldn't move his arms.  When these two were revived, a British tourist, who had heard us speaking English, turned to us mournfully and said, "I think I'm going to die."

Those breathtaking views may come at a price.
What had happened to them?  They had gotten on the bus in Nazca, 588 meters above sea level, at suppertime.  Now we were crossing the Andes through the pass Condorsencca which is 4330 meters (14, 206 feet) above sea level.  (The route includes another pass a bit later, Occe Occe, which is 4400 meters (14,435 feet) above sea level. These are classified as very high altitudes, and the rapid ascent (over 2-1/2 miles in 5 hours) can make some people very ill.

The Princeton University webpage Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude describes a classic scenario for developing altitude sickness: 
You fly from New York City to a Denver at 5,000 feet (1,525 meters). That afternoon you rent a car and drive up to the trailhead at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). You hike up to your first camp at 9,000 feet (2,745 meters). The next day you hike up to 10,500 feet (3,048 meters). You begin to have a severe headache and feel nauseous and weak. If your condition worsens, you may begin to have difficulty hiking. Scenarios like this are not uncommon, so it's essential that you understand the physiological effects of high altitude.
Here in the city of Andahuaylas we are at 2926 meters (1.8 miles or 9,599 feet).  Since most people can go up to 8,000 feet with no effect, we are just a little too high for some people.  Unfortunately the only way to predict if you will be sick at high altitude is if you have been sick at high altitude before, which makes it interesting for visitors.  However, most people with symptoms only need to wait a few days to get accustomed to the altitude.

When you leave Andahuaylas to visit the surrounding pueblos you almost always go up.  Sometimes people who are fine in Andahuaylas are sick with headache and nausea from even a slight climb, such as to visit the archeologial site of Sondor.   This is not usually the case, but in a group of 20, maybe one will be sick.

Another problem at the altitudes above Andahuaylas is that the climate is extreme.  Brutally cold at night (below freezing, and they don't have heat in houses or hotels even in these locations) and with roasting hot sun during the day.  Several times recently we have made overnight trips to Uripa, which is at 10,416 feet (3175 m.)  The 1000 foot ascent plus the extremes of temperature have caused us to have headaches and stomach problems.

For those of you who are considering coming here, don't be discouraged by all this.  But do plan ahead.  Some measures that can help are:

  1. Drink plenty of water--about 2 liters a day.
  2. Plan a day of rest when you first arrive.
  3. If your trip is programmed for areas outside of Andahuaylas, plan to come back to sleep in Andahuaylas.
  4. Drink the coca tea.  On the bus trip I described at the beginning, the coca leaves relieved the fainting, paralysis, and "going to die" symptoms within 10 minutes.  The raw leaves are not a drug, and are perfectly legal in Peru and Bolivia.  Only skip it if you are going to have a drug test on your arrival in the US.
  5. Wear a hat.  This traditional Peruvian solution really helps.
  6. If you are really sick, get a prescription drug such as Diamox.
  7. Read up on information like the Princeton webpage.  
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.  Proverbs 27:12 NLT

Praying Hands for missions (for personal prayer or for teaching prayer for missions

"Pray for us." -- Hebrews 13:18

Want to know how to pray for those working to fulfill Jesus' Great Commission?  This strategy from an unknown author is great for teaching kids or grownups how to pray for missions.

Use your fingers as memory aids when you pray for missions. You can't forget them and you have them with you everywhere.   Here's how they can be prayer reminders:

Since your thumb is nearest to you, begin by praying for those missionaries closest to you. They are the easiest ones to remember. C.S. Lewis said that praying for those we love is a "sweet duty."
Index or pointing finder
Let your "pointing finger" remind you to pray for missionaries who teach, instruct, and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and evangelists. They need support and wisdom for pointing others in the right direction.
Middle finger
Our tallest finger reminds us of our church leaders. We can never pray too much for them. Pray for those who supervise and direct missionary outreach.
Ring finger
As any piano teacher will testify (I always teach this to piano students), the ring finger is our weakest finger. This weaker finger reminds us to pray for those missionaries who are discouraged, in trouble, or in pain.
Little finger
Our little finger is the smallest of the digits on our hands, which is where we should place our individual wants and desires in relation to world evangelism needs. The Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." Let your pinkie remind you to pray for the people of the world who have the greatest need to find Jesus. Pray that they will open their eyes and see Him.