Parishioner Rosemary Russell was part of a four-person team that traveled to Peru a few weeks ago to research possible sites for an upcoming Medical Mission Trip. Below are her reflections from the last morning of their trip. For those interested in joining or assisting the future medical mission from OLMC to Peru either through attending, prayer or financial assistance please contact Fr. Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were welcomed warmly in Lima by the Carmelites. Father Floristan was an angel as our designated driver – and you had to be an angel to navigate the craziness of traffic in Lima and en route to Jose Galvez. The Carmelite house in Miraflores is quite impressive and Miraflores itself is clearly the high rent district. Jose Galvez was quite a contrast with pitted roads and dust everywhere. Watching the residents sweep the sidewalk brought Sisyphus to mind. The area is dominated by a concrete factory and houses, most without running water or sewage, are built all the way up the side of the sand hill. But the people, of course, are so friendly and welcoming.
There is health care available here, just as there is in the USA. And, like the USA, many people do not avail themselves of it due to travel difficulty or the lack of even the lowest fee. Generic drugs can be had by going to a clinic and waiting on line, but there is no guarantee that the clinic will not run out. And the patient will have to come back again. The same is true for seeing a physician. With limited hours available to them, patients may have to make multiple trips to be seen. As in many countries, if a hospital procedure is necessary, the patient may be expected to supply their own syringes, tubing, saline, etc. (In this case, the labor is free but you pay for the materials.)
The Carmelite school was celebrating its 50th anniversary and we attended the Mass, along with about a thousand other people and the bishop – who was over an hour late. It was heartwarming to see the students; all dressed exactly alike in their uniforms (which are sewn and sold at a store that is part of St. Teresita by 4 women). The band played; the choir sang; student journalists took photos and did interviews; the honor guard of student leaders wore impressive sashes; and a group of young students escorted visitors to their seats one by one. They are, and should be, clearly proud of their school and their community.
Afterwards we had lunch at the novitiate and retreat house in Lurin, a possible base for the mission, it has an enormous retreat facility attached to it.
Tuesday morning we left the rectory at 4:15a.m. for a 7:35a.m. flight to Piura, which experienced an electrical problem and we sat on the tarmac for 2+ hours. After being greeted and settled by the staff and Fr. Joe Uhen at Santissimo Sacramento, Joe took us on a tour of the church complex here. A large church with a separate area for 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration is the focus of the complex but the additional services this community offers is outstanding, amazing and overwhelming. Fr. Joe says he just responds to needs that are presented. This has been his response so far – the main complex includes a program called family to family that has paired over 1800 donors with local families. For $25/month, the donors feed a family in Piura. There is a medical clinic here, as well as a legal clinic, counseling services, AA meetings and a pro-life office (although there s no abortion legally in Peru). But so much happens in the outlying areas of the parish – an enormous pre-k to 12 school, a vocational school, complete with a market area for students to sell their goods/services (cosmetology, auto mechanic, computer support); a hospice; a physical rehab facility; an addiction rehab facility; 5 chapels scattered among the parishioners. Talk about corporeal works of mercy. As for spiritual works of mercy – he and his staff and volunteers visit the sick and dying. There are several masses here daily and enormous outreach.
Fr. Dan says it may be the best parish in the world. There is room here for 80 volunteers and lots of groups come. The need, however, is always there. Time for breakfast.