Thursday, November 5, 2009

Time for Peru!

Quechua Benefit Trip 2004, Mirian in blue

The countdown which started at 45 days out is over and the time for our adventure to South America is finally here! Mirian and I leave today for what I know is going to be an amazing trip. Little did I know on our first trip to Peru in 2000 that I would end up going back there at least five more times in this decade, with a beautiful daughter added to the mix (two of the trips included our entire family visiting her and subsequently staying there a month to complete her adoption in 2005).

Mirian and I will be travelling as part of a team of around 18 people on Quechua Benefit's first general medical outreach trip. On my first trip to the altiplano (high plains) with QB, I was part of a dental team- no, I don't have any medical background (other than as an animal person and mom!) but assistants are always needed on these types of trips to help organize supplies and people, as well as to help with triage, cleanup, etc. It was a profound experience with many challenges and rewards, the greatest of which was meeting and subsequently adopting Mirian. On our best day on my first Quechua Benefit trip, we treated a record 308 patients in a single day.

People lining up for dental care on previous trip

I'm told that on this mission we're likely to be helping people young and old with the effects of living in a very harsh environment- malnutrition, parasites, arthritis, respiratory illnesses, etc- the health problems that plague much of our world's population that live below the poverty level. Mirian and I and all of the other team members (mostly alpaca breeders from several states, some doctors and nurses) are carrying along suitcases filled to the brim with antibiotics, prenatal and children's vitamins, skin creams, and other medications which will be dispensed by the doctors that are going. It's going to be exciting to see my great friend Mary Beth and her husband in action as doctors, as I've only experienced MB as my riding buddy and very close amiga!

As you can imagine, this will be an emotional trip for Mirian since it's her first return to her home country. She has longed for Peru in every way since leaving.... missing her friends, her language (Spanish and Quechua), the food, the mountains, the Andean music, her culture and her original home. Now as an American girl, she's going to miss her family,pets, and the many comforts of home. She is now firmly attached here and experiencing a little bit of uneasiness alongside the excitement of returning. Fortunately, our family, her teachers and friends have been extremely supportive of our trip and have encouraged her in every way- we know we'll be in the prayers of many. This is a unique opportunity for Mirian, perhaps the first of many, for her to come full circle and learn more about herself, God's plan for her life, and the gifts that she has to offer others.

Mirian will be seeing her older birth-brother who lives in Peru, Jodi, and he'll be working with our team as well. We're hoping that they'll be better able to stay in touch after this. Everyone's natural curiousity about Mirian's background has been piqued by the trip, and I've gotten in the habit of answering questions that are a bit too prying with, "That's Mirian's story to tell if she chooses to tell it..." Most get the message and I know that people only mean well, BUT....

We also look forward at the end of our trip to seeing the adoption attorney who worked with our adoption agency, Children's Home Society and Family Services in MN. Elisa is an incredible woman- warm, efficient, super-smart, just a super-woman is all I can say. Without the help of Elisa, the nun at Mirian's orphanage (Sister Jessie from India, who unfortunately isn't in Peru anymore), Dr. Willy in Peru, and the encouragement of Mike Safley and Mario Pedroza with Quechua Benefit, the daunting process of adopting an older child from Peru would have never happened! We are about to submit our final update to the agency- they require four years of bi-annual follow up reports and the red tape will FINALLY be over.

We have already started taking meds for the altitude, as we'll be going straight from Lima (on the Pacific Ocean) to Juliaca which is at 12,000 feet with no time to acclimate- over the next few days we'll be going as high as 15,000 feet! Our accomodations should be safe and fairly comfortable though extremely remote, so I won't have internet access much except in the middle and toward the end of the trip. I hope to write as I can and will probably blog a novel when we return, just before Thanksgiving.

Macchu Picchu, 2003

The last few days of the trip, most of us are travelling apart from Quechua Benefit to Cusco and Macchu Picchu. I absolutely love Cusco and can't wait to experience Macchu Picchu with Mirian and our friends. I only wish Paul and Robert would be with us, especially since it'll be Paul's and my 20th anniversary- what a great ride it has been!

If you'd like to learn more about Quechua Benefit and the people we'll be helping (as well as to hear the plans for the new orphanage they're building), be sure to check out their website and please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

Special thanks to Charlotte and Michael Goldston of High Meadow Alpacas for sending a huge box of over-the-counter medicines for the doctors to disberse as needed. Thanks, too, to Bari and Andy Horisberger of Birch Knoll Alpacas for sending along toothbrushes and toothpastes that were collected by a Girl Scout troop that visited her farm. Thanks, too, to my parents and others who continually supported us as well as Quechua Benefit. (And special thanks to my sweeties Paul and Robert who will be holding down the fort here while we're gone). Reporting next from Peru! Pin It Now!

1 comment:

Dianne MacDonald said...

Such a beautiful post, Lindy. As someone who was witness to the whole process of bringing Mirian into your lives, I am so happy to see the two of you making this trip together. Please know there are lots of prayers and good wishes being sent your way.