Friday, June 20, 2014


Health care is somewhat problematic in the area of our Mission, kind of like the Pope is somewhat Catholic. There are many good doctors here... OK, some good doctors here, trying hard to do the right things with limited resources.  However, we fight frequent uphill battles in making sure our missionaries get proper care.
Luckily, the most frequent maladies are bothersome, but not life-threatening.  There is the Inca Two Step, from eating and drinking contaminated food and water.
Yes, those are cows, and yes, those are carrots.
There is Oh No! My Big Infected Toe! from walking so much and getting wet feet,
and wearing weird shoes, (which are also common here).
With our unusual geography, there is the Basic Lack of Oxygen Thing, which almost always goes away in several days as the body adjusts, with some grumbling.  These Sister missionaries seem to be OK.
While frequent trips to powder one's nose can be a problem, the opposite is also true, as especially the Sisters try not to drink too much (adequate facilities during the day while away from the room are uncommon) but meanwhile are fed a lot of rice.
Fleas and mosquitoes also try to impede the work here.
Luckily, every person in our part of Peru believes himself or herself to be invested with great medical wisdom. While the root cause of maladies may not be clear to 21st-Century medicine, there is little room for doubt among these Doctors of Peruvian Medicine (MDPs).
For instance:  You cannot eat fish if you have a cut.  DON'T DO IT!
According to the nice ladies that feed them (the "pensionistas") the belly pain and gastroenteritis that our missionaries all suffer from occasionally is because they all have "gastritis," not because they, the pensionistas, used the same knife to cut the vegetables and the raw chicken...
Of course, it is clear that getting cold causes paralysis.  DON'T DO IT!  (Hold it!  How about all those Swedish people that seem to moving OK? I dunno...)
Drinking anything cold at night, or eating dairy products after dark can be catastrophic.  DON'T DO IT!! (Note:  though there was no record of it, I'm sure these folks were dead within minutes.)
It is a well-known fact that tomato seeds are deadly poisonous, and must be removed before ingesting said fruit.  DON'T EAT THEM!!
We have heard from many sources, so it must be true, about the guy in Lima who opened his refrigerator and fell DEAD, DEAD I TELL YOU! when the cold fumes hit his body.  DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING THIS!!
The MDP's are also clear that washing dishes in warm water causes arthritis, so STAY AWAY FROM THAT ONE, TOO!!  That better be cold water, kid, or you're toast!  Only, don't let the toast touch the other food, or you're a gonner from that also.
The remedies suggested by the amateur practitioners that surround us here can seem odd, but obviously work.  For instance, for belly pain, one simply has to urinate in one's hand, and rub it on the belly. Twice a day for three weeks. Duh!!
For ear aches, applying the same agent to the affected part is clearly indicated.
Various poultices made from various animal, er, outcastings are also popular.  Something about the power of the smell overpowering the illness.  I dunno.  I won't go any further on this one.  And you're welcome.
While the Andean version of Montezuma's revenge is frequent, cures for it are even more widespread.  A common one is to give a laxative (excuse me?!) as obviously this empties everything out and gets rid of the problem.  Obviously!
Though modern icky commercial Western medicine has selfishly hidden the truth about the common cold, Peruvians have no qualms about sharing the cure.  One simply has to take the biggest, freshest egg from a firstborn hen, and starting with the forehead, rub it in a circular motion around the face, head, nose, etc.  If it's really a bad cold, you may need to do this to the chest and neck also.
OK, fine, but the deal is made real by then throwing the egg as far away as possible.
Oh, yes, I should remind you of an important caveat.  If the egg breaks in mid-air, RUN, as the illness may return with a vengeance.  Sometimes, two or three eggs are necessary.
As in any other legitimate branch of medicine, MDP's will occasionally be stumped as to the diagnosis, and may need to take the drastic step of The Cuy Test.  Cuy is Peruvian for guinea pig.
Forget your MRI´s, CT scans and other hocus pocus.  Pass this little guy around the body of the infirm individual several times, then cut the cuy open.  The illness of the afflicted will be clearly seen in the insides of the animal.  Meanwhile, the side benefit is that fried cuy is delicious, so even if the patient doesn't get better, you'll have a great meal.
So there you have it.  We may not be richly blessed in conventional medical practice, but luckily the locals fill in.
May you stay healthy next time you're in the area.
Dave & Paula 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Mission Presidents' Seminar

Every six months, we are privileged to attend a seminar for the mission presidents of the North America Southwest Area of the Church.  There are now thirty such presidents, and two presidents of the Missionary Training Centers in Bogotá and Lima.
The seminars consist of several days of instruction by the presidency of the Area, which includes Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.  In addition, General Authorities of the Church often attend and give instruction.
Of course, you can't get there from here, so we have to catch one of the two daily flight in small planes to get over the mountains and down to Lima.
Lima is, well, Lima.  There is very little charm to the place, and clouds cover it for 8-9 months of the year.
Whenever we fly to Lima, and we have numerous times over the last three years, as the plane descends in to the soupy clouds covering it, I am always reminded of Luke landing on the planet Degobah to meet Yoda, and.... you get the picture.
The traffic is famous for its congestion, but is far more organized than in Huancayo.
In addition to the instruction, we saw many old friends among the presidents and their wives, several of whom are finishing their three-year assignment on the 1st of July.
 But, back to reality.  We caught the plane back to the hills and watched the sunrise from 25,000 feet.
 We knew we were back home when we saw the snow-covered mountains.
In all, a welcome recharging of the batteries, but now back to work.
We hope all your trips to foreign cities and planets go well also.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, June 8, 2014

OK, take a couple stars off THAT hotel.

While here in Peru, we have so far had only two sets of visitors.  The first was our two sons, who came for Christmas while we were living in the small apartment.  They slept, bought stuff,
swam in waterfalls,
and climbed mountains.
In May, good friends from Utah came to visit for four days before heading with their friends to Machu Picchu.
They arrived just in time for the water system of the house to break down.
Lemme 'splain.  The municipal water supply doesn't.  At least not reliably.  For that reason, every dwelling has a big tank on top,
which fills when the city water is working, and supplies water pressure when it is not.
For aesthetic reasons, the mission home instead had it's 5,000-liter tank buried underground.
It fills when the city decides to send water, but the water is then sent to the three-story house from the tank by pumps.  Great idea until the pumps malfunction.
Which they did just as our guests arrived.  OK, we admit that the house has six toilets, but without the water working, each is good for only one flush.
Luckily, the garden hoses are directly on the city supply, so when it's on, one can fill buckets,
 carry them in,
 refill the toilets and provide water for sponge baths (no pictures of the latter).
Also luckily, our guests were good-humored.  Spence remarked, "This is just like camping, except with a better bed."
We really weren't trying to run them off.  It's just one of those Peru things.
We hope your water works when the guests show up.
Dave & Paula