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Love is the currency that keeps it's value, despite distance, time zones or experiences. I am so rich and blessed in love.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about family. Some of the members of my "real" blood family came to visit me for this last MMI project in Cuzco, I have been saying goodbye to all the people who have become my family here in Peru, and I have been hearing about how one of our patients is  struggling through prognosis of terminal cancer without a family, so "family" has been on the brain.

My "real" family arrived on the Saturday before the Cuzco project; my Mom, Dad, brother Michael and cousin Laura. I met them at the airport. We cried a little and hugged a lot. They got to meet all my MMIers and spend a week with us in the clinic.

Having my blood family and my MMI family together for one week was both really wonderful and really strange. I kept wishing for more time, for more meals, for a larger table so that we all could sit together, and for a magical Spanish/English translator so that they could all understand what the other was saying. I wanted more nights to play cards, more time in the clinic, and space to process all of my emotions.

I told all the MMI people how much I love them, because I do, I really do. They have become a part of my family. Together we have walked through tough cases, sickness, change, difficult relationships, long travel times, and together we have learned how to see Jesus in the faces of people who come to the clinic. My MMI family didn't have to call me "friend, sister, or niece" but they chose to anyway. They chose to love me when I was all alone. Yeah, I cried a lot when I said goodbye to all of them.

During the time while we were in Cuzco, Helen was back in Arequipa holding down the fort at the MMI office. She was helping one of our patients from the Puno project handle his medical appointments and paperwork. Remember the patient who came into the clinic with a growth the size of a cauliflower on his foot? The one who needed all of his paperwork pushed through insurance to get he treatment he needs? Well, his name is Juan, and now he is in Arequipa seeking treatment. We helped him to get there from Puno, and our social worker has been helping him contact his family and get to his doctor's appointments. Preliminary tests showed that his tumor was cancerous. Then the question remained if it was operable or not. If the cancer was isolated to his leg, it could be surgically removed, if it had spread to the rest of his body, there was no other option. Helen called me on the second to last night of the project to say that the test results were back, and his cancer was generalized. His cancer was terminal. He needed family members to help him with his pain management to the end. But, through a combination of the way that he has treated his family, and the smell coming from his leg, he is all alone. The only family Juan has is an estranged brother, and now he is dying.

Do me a favor, pray with me for Juan that he would be able to patch things up with his brother, and that he would know that he is a part of the MMI family.

We all need family, and sometimes that need is not met through our blood family, but also through the people we share life with, or even strangers we have just met. And because God is God, and He does what He does, He can give us a sense of family anywhere. Just look at what He's done for me.

I got to translate for my Dad while we were in the clinic. He made sure we offered to pray with each of our patients. Watching your Dad get down on his knees on a cement floor with  an old Quechua speaking lady is pretty awesome.
My mom got to reconnect with some of the families they treated
in PT last year. She is an example of compassion, so deeply moved
by the lives of her patients.
My brother spent time in the clinic hanging out with the kids, and washing old ladies feet. They were tickled to death to receive this kind of treatment. I think it was the first time many of them had ever experienced anything like this, much less from a young Caucasian male. In this culture you just don't see men kneeling down in the dirt in front of women.
Modesta's face while Michael washed her feet.

This is my cousin Laura, who came even though she got food
poisoning right before the trip, and kept coming back to the
clinic even after she got sick, AGAIN in Peru. Rock star.

My Peruvian family; the Cuzco team and Helen, Me, Tajel and Theresa in Arequipa




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