2004 Ica, Peru
VOSH-FL/Winter Park Presbyterian Church Mission to Ica, Peru
-By Sue Rudolph, VOSH-FL
Ed. Note: VOSH-Southeast joined with one of its long time partners, Winter Park, Florida Presbyterian Church, to do an eye care mission in Ica, Peru which was hosted by Union Biblica del Peru (Scripture Union). One of the reasons the mission was so successful was that we were able to recruit and work with several Peruvian O.D.s and students and a large number of Peruvian helpers.
The Team’s report:
Dateline: Ica, Peru March 14th-18th, 2004
My husband, Chris, and I are back from another powerful mission trip. Most of the mission team left Orlando on the evening of the 11th, flew to Miami, changed planes, went through the long, long lines at security and immigration, baggage, etc. and arrived in Lima, Peru at 5:30 a.m. Meeting us at the airport were Paul and Marty Clark, the missionaries for Scripture Union (Union Biblica) who are our hosts in Peru. This was our third trip to Peru, but it had been five years since Chris and I were there, and we were excited to see the Clarks, and hear about their work and their family. We then boarded a bus and drove two hours to Kawaii, a beautiful complex right on the Pacific Ocean, owned by scripture Union. There is a “street boys” center there where twenty-five boys live, work and go to school. We had a nice brunch there, then boarded the bus again for the last two and a half hour leg of our trip to Ica.
Peru is a country that has so many different terrains. In past trips we have been over the Andes Mountains at 16,000 feet to La Merced and Camp Kimo. We went to Iquitos in the Amazon Jungle, and down the river to an orphanage where parrots lined the trees. We visited Lima, a city of eight million people, that is desert on the ocean, it hasn’t rained there in over thirty years, and now we were driving through a totally different environment, mostly desert with NOTHING but sand and rock. Mountains of rock, and barren land, nothing green in sight. When we arrived in Ica, it reminded me of a mini-Lima, lots of VW’s for transportation or little moto-caros. People everywhere working on broken down cars, even our bus broke down when we got to town and a mechanic working on the street just scurried over, diagnosed the problem, ran and got the tools to fix it, took about 30 minutes and we were back in action again. But then the driver had problems negotiating a turn with the bus, and got stuck with cars piled up behind us and at every entrance to the intersection. All the cars were honking, everyone honks in Peru for any reason. They honk at dogs, other cars, and pedestrians. Taxis honk to see if you might want a ride, and for just about anything they HONK! After much honking, a walking policeman showed up and made all the moto-caros move and the cars back up that had us penned in and we could finally back up and start over again.
Riding along viewing the poor, poor housing as far as one could see, just shacks, everything dusty, dirty and garbage everywhere. The river their only source of drinking water, brown and filled with garbage.
We checked in to the Hotel Sol de Ica, (by far the nicest place we have ever stayed, it had hot running water and flush toilets!). Right away some of the team left for the opportunity to “Sand Surf”. It is an area where you can ride boards like snowboards down the hills of sane, like skiing! Others rode dune buggies around the dunes. Sunday morning we got up and went to a Spanish evangelical church that was wonderful and welcomed us with open arms.
Chris and I bought a large floor fan for twenty dollars because it was so hot in the hotel and other team members did the same. This was a boon to our eye clinic, because we took them to the clinic each day and we used them in the clinic for the doctors and the dispensers. We did the eye clinic in four straight days, ten-hour days. For reasons not fully understood, about half our team got sick and took to bed for a day or two but we were able to accomplish our mission because we were joined by Dr. Severo Sanchez, who runs an optometry school in Peru and who brought some of his advanced students and recent graduates with him, and also some Ica optometrists showed up and volunteered their services for free for a day or two. We were able to examine and fit more than 1000 men, women and children with glasses. Each morning when we arrived, the people were lined up around the building, many holding their Bibles in hopes that they would be able to read them once again. Many of the people that could read, had at one time a pair of glasses, but as their vision changed, they could never afford to buy another pair. Many had NEVER had a pair of glasses, even though they were old. We were able to fit two busses full of children from a nearby orphanage, some as old as eleven or twelve that couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces without glasses. We didn’t expect the orphans and we had run out of “kid” glasses but Dr. Sanchez volunteered to make new glasses for all the children’s prescriptions we couldn’t fit. We found out later that all these glasses were delivered to the orphans and other children in Ica three weeks later. The glasses we dispensed will literally change the lives of all those who received them. The Peruvian doctors, translators and workers that worked side by side with us in this clinic were truly an inspiration! All volunteers, trying to improve others lives.
Some of the team members had the opportunity one morning to take a charted plane to Nasca where the “Nasca Lines” are. It was a two-hour flight and spectacular! Carbon dating has been done and dates the lines form 300 BC to 800 AD. On our last day we got up early and on the way back to Lima, we went to the Paracas National Reserve. We took a two-hour boat ride to see the Ballestas Islands, which look like rock mountains sticking out of the sea, and are home to literally hundreds of thousands of sea birds.
I will finish with a moment that I want to share with you – One of my experiences at the eye clinic I will never forget. I was working with an older woman who had almost no vision without glasses and had never owned a pair of glasses. I was able to find her prescription and fit her with the glasses. When I put them on her and even before I had time to give her the near reading card, she exclaimed “AHA”! That experience was certainly an epiphany for both of us.