On Friday January 17th, at 5:45 am, we had to be at the hangar, to go out on our first flight as a medical missionary team headed for San Joaquin.
But not everything was going well, the plan was to use two planes, arrive Friday afternoon and begin dental care in Coperativa. The previous Monday one of the pilots notified me that one of the aircraft was being repaired and would not be ready. What were we going to do? Suspend … No! The rainy season was coming for the area of the Rio Mamore and we all ready bought the medication. Would Emily, Igor and I go and leave Katherine? … At night I went to Katherine room, with tears in my eyes I told her that we could only use one plane. Katherine became very serious, she would be traveling to Cochabamba and then Venezuela, and had only stayed for this trip. She and I planned this trip since October. Then she tells me: “I can go by bus, I’ll call Emily if she wants to come with me.” In the end Emily approved, so they planned to leave on Thursday at 9:00 pm, and would travel all night to Trinidad.
Herman, Igor, Lara and Cris weighting and loading the luggage on the plane, we could only take 130 kg or 287 lb.
Finally we left the Mission at 8:30 am, it was foggy and the tower did not allow any flights until the sky was clear. We went out with a prayer, asking God for his protection; the pilot Herman, Cris, Igor and I landed in San Joaquin, 2 hours later.
The trip was peaceful and serene.
At San Joaquin Airport. It had just rained and only the type of plane we had, Cessna 182 turbo, was allowed to land.
Herman dropped us off at the airport and turned to pick up Emily and Katherine in Trinidad, it took about 3 hours to go back and refuel. At 2:00 pm, Friday afternoon we were all ready to take a truffy that would take us to Puerto Siles.
After an hour in truffy we reached Puerto Siles. We had booked the same boat that we had used in October. Brother Santino, who had helped us, went to fetch the boat and found the conductor in bed drunk. We were going to do? we started looking for another boat and to our surprise all we found was a tiny canoe, we were scared of sinking since we had a lot of stuff, but put all the luggage in, all medication, dental equipment, dental chair, missionary books, bibles, and our belongings and entrust our lives with a prayer to God , it was already 4:30 pm.
A quiet village of about 35 families.
Igor (Nurse) and Cris (school teacher) had arrived two months before from Portugal, their final destination was the Industrial School of Guayaramerin, they accompanied us on this trip and then flew directly from San Joaquin to Guayara. I am very grateful to them, they were a great blessing …
What a great change for Cris and Igor, an Adventure!
The small church where we slept, also was where we held the meetings and medical care.
Friday night we had the first meeting , Igor talked about the Creation, he talked about each day , and finished with the Sabbath, the people who assisted were very impressed. Late , they told us that at there village there was discussion about what Day is the Sabbath, Saturday or Sunday.
Emily, Kathe, and I slept at the church to care for our stuff. Running with all the preparations I had forgotten to bring bedding. I had to sleep directly on the bench with my backpack as a pillow. I used a towel to protect myself from mosquitoes.
It was really an adventure, do not dare to sleep on the floor, so we used some banks had to sleep, mosquitoes and toads also abounded.
We got up early and went out to visit the houses, looking for a patient whom probably were bedridden and we could help them.
We deliver in every home missionary pamphlets and books, we explained the reason for our visit and invite to the church service in the morning.
In the last house we visited , we found this grandmother over 80 years , with his weak legs. We promised to help with massage and exercise.
Cris was in charge of the children’s story and Igor preaching about the Second Coming of Christ!
We had just finished, and we were preparing to eat (our lunch consisted of bread sandwiches, onion, tomato and mayonnaise); Abdiel reached 1 year and eight months, had a high fever and right side a sore throat. The diagnosis was Mumps. His mother and friends had been riding half an hour on horseback, bringing Abdiel for us to see him. Igor decided to give antibiotic and antipyretic. But he weighed to determine how much? Igor seek a borrowed balance and thanks to sitz baths, Abdiel Thank God already recovered two hours and was running and laughing.
Kathe and Igor solved the weight problem! But we don’t know if Siomara , 8 months old, was pleased with this scale to weigh potatoes.
Dr. Emily had 2 extractions and 10 patients with dental work . One of the extractions was Abdiel’s mom, Elisa had the tooth broken in pieces, so Emily spent a long time working, cutting the root in smaller pieces and finally could do fully the extraction. It was already 8; 30 pm when we had to leave to because insects were coming to the light and were entering the mouth of patients. Three people who were waiting in the middle of a cloud of mosquitoes had to leave without having dental attention.
What a blessing to have been able to buy a folding chair! Thanks Emily for your recommendation.
Each of us had an assigned task. I was at the entrance, writing down the people’s information want a appointment with both the doctor and the dentist. I also took their blood pressure and gave a number to wait their turn. Igor then saw them and gave them medication if necessary, if they were cases of herpes, allergies, urinary tract infections, muscle aches, arthritis, cysts, parasites, digestive problems, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. .… Katherine, who is Health Educator oriented them in diet, food and home hygiene. If there was a muscle problem Igor passed them to me, I attended them at their homes. It was a great blessing to enter the homes and learn more about their needs and to befriend them.
Mr. Marcelo is responsible for Lemons ranch, we had the opportunity to meet him in the previous trip. We were blessed to be able to help his family
Cris work with the children, giving them drawings and coloring material.
Around 6:00 pm, I had gone to a house to meet a patient, and returned to a big fuss! A snake entered the little church, called Yope or Yarará (very poisonous), it came from our belongings slithered down the podium, crossed the hall and out into the courtyard. Finally the some kids managed to kill it. everyone saw it, the medical team was shocked.
We gave God thanks for his protection that night!
They have well-built houses, with high ceilings, fresh but with dort floor, holes in walls, almost without protection for the entry of animals and insects.
Early on Sunday we had to go through the Lemons ranch back to Puerto Siles to see Eliane, the wife of Mr. Marcelo; she had a very sore back, neck and head. This is their home.
It is a beautiful place on the banks of the river Mamore. At 6:00 am on Sunday we were promised that the boatman would be waiting to take us to Puerto Siles where we were expecting two emergency tooth extractions; it was already 8:00 am and the boat hadn’t came yet to take us back. With Katherine, I walked 20 minutes through the woods to reach the ranch, we had promised in October that we were going to bring medicine for children; they have to travel four hours to reach the nearest pharmacy. Mrs. Eliane thanked me profoundly for books and Bible that we left them in October.
At that moment I realized how important it is to bring missionary books with us!
These people living out there in the country, have to know Jesus and His great love for us also through reading.
While attending to Mrs. Eliane, the boatman came with the rest of the team. Here they are enjoying the gentle bull.
Mrs. Eliane and her family stablished a warm friendship with us.
Her question as each family in the village of Coperativa when we said goodbye was:
When will you return?
There was still surprises for us … we arrived late at Puerto Siles, after 3 hours of going against the current, we immediately left for the San Joaquin airport where we were waiting our pilot Herman. He was going to take Igor and his wife Cris to Guayaramerin and come back and take us to Santa Cruz. But the plane had a problem that did not turn on when the engine is hot. Supposedly at 2:00 pm Guayara, and at 5:00 pm come back and get us, it was already 3:30 pm and the plane would not start. Herman says, “We will not be able to travel to Santa Cruz tonight, I’m going to stay in Guayara and tomorrow I’ll pick you up!” Would we have to stay there in the middle of the field, 3 ladies alone. Someone suggested to stay at a hotel, but we did not have the budget for a hotel, so we decided to travel by bus all night. Emily had to go to work on the next day. Herman also had a medical emergency call from Riveralta to Trinidad (2 hour flight). We decided that he can take a medical emergency on Monday morning. Kathe, Emily and I arrived at 3:30 am in the morning to Trinidad, we remembered that Herman would bring the patient to Trinidad and we called him to travel back to Santa Cruz with him.
Our pilot, with the patient, she began with bronchopneumonia, lung abscess then leads to having fluid in the pleura, as they didn’t have trained doctors to make a puncture, the family needed urgent to move the patient to a hospital with specialized medical care.
That evening we arrived tired, but very grateful to God. We had achieved the goal, assist our brothers Rio Mamore.
But the big question remains in our minds:
When will you return…?
What a challenge! What a great responsibility! There are people in the interior, living at Mamore River, that today, do not know about Jesus and the plan of salvation, that now need a doctor, who badly need a dentist, who have problem with their vision, who don’t know how important it is hygiene and the use of water to prevent disease and no one to help their need…
Special thanks to our dear heavenly Father, for his protection, guidance and direction throughout the trip. To Katherine, Emily, Cris and Igor, because they dared to leave their comfort zone; Captain Herman Gonzales for taking us and bring us on the plane and all our friends who made this trip possible and those not knowing us helped this mission project. Thank you from the bottom of our heart.
May God bless you richly!
Mirta & Miguel Farias