It’s hard to believe that our second medical mission to Peru is now behind us. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church has once again shared its abundant blessings with people in need thousands of miles away from home. We know that as Catholics, we are called to the service of others. Scripture tells us “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10-11). The doctors, nurses and staff of this mission continue to use their “gifts” to serve others; it’s another example of how our parish answers the call to service time and time again.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a small role in this extraordinary journey. It is only through the grace of God that our team of medical professionals, translators and support staff are able to touch the more than 1,300 people we come in contact with. You can actually feel His presence throughout the mission each day. You see Him in the boundless energy of the nuns and others who assist us, in the faces of the people who come for treatment and in their stunningly beautiful children. The very elderly patients who come have tremendous difficulty just walking; we had to actually carry a few in and out of the sites. However, their weathered faces always manage a smile as they thank us for helping them, many saying “God bless you” as they leave.
His grace is clearly evident in the residents of the rehabilitation center we visit. Though patients themselves, these men work with us setting up and preparing the sites. They spontaneously sing songs of praise to God and the Blessed Mother despite the terrible addictions that brought them there in the first place. Some share their stories with us, giving insight into the depth of their personal struggles.
Notwithstanding the desperately poor conditions they live in, the Peruvians are a strong, happy, family-oriented people who don’t complain about their situations. They are genuinely excited to see American physicians, waiting on long lines for the opportunity. It’s been my honor to watch our talented doctors and nurses extend themselves beyond their limits, striving to treat as many people as possible despite long days under less than optimal conditions. Our skilled translators allow us to communicate with everyone we encounter; they are a critical component of this mission. It bears mention that a few of our group even became quite sick themselves, some requiring medical treatment from the other doctors. All of our “missionaries” came together as a team with the singular goal of helping people in need; this is truly our faith in action.
This was Fr. Dan’s vision; to have our church extend itself beyond its walls to help others and what a success it’s been! It is not just the small group of us who travel to Peru who bring that vision to life, it is the entire parish community. We proudly represent ALL of the people who make this happen—those who made donations, others who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on the fundraisers, planning and more.
Although we’re back home now, the mission isn’t really over and the work hasn’t ended yet. We continue to finalize records, compile reports and the planning will soon be starting for the next mission. One thing is certain: Everyone comes away with a renewed sense of how richly blessed we are in our own lives and a strong commitment to return to continue this important mission. When you’re thanking God for all of your blessings this holiday season, take a moment to remember the people of Peru and ALL people in need. Keep them in your hearts and in your prayers.
—Mike Bruno, Parish Advisory Board