Quite a lot

The Peruvian grandes vacances last 11 weeks.  The pupils either delight about all the free time they have or suffer from boredom at home.  However, at the colegio some people are extremely active.  Volunteers are sitting in the library and are binding books.  Piles of them.

In the office one sees staff working intensively at the entrance process for new pupils.  For three years Ester Castillo (right in the picture) has worked as psychological companion for our pupils and is showing her successor Géraldine the ropes.  Currently the two of them are evaluating entrance exams.  Every day our senior pupils complete questionnaires.  We are delighted that our school continues growing.

In the meantime two of our voluntary social workers for one year are advertising the school’s holiday programme that will begin on 3rd February, focus of which will be promoting talent: dance, art, karaoke, chess, cooking and much more awaits the pupils that yearn for an excellent holiday programme. /CB

Estelita Cruz and her daughter in the queue

Day after day they stand in a long queue outside the hospital’s entrance.  At the end it is a lottery which patient may enter the hospital and which patient has to come back tomorrow.  The system is better than one may initially think.  If one recorded all the waiting patients in a list a queue of many months would spring into existence in no time.  During our many years of operating we have tried many different systems.  It is a fact that always more patients come than we as doctors and nurses can treat.

At 5p.m. two women, hailing from Arequipa, a 16-hour bus-journey away, approach me.  They have come to the hospital on two consecutive mornings, but always without success.  Within moments we are in the middle of a personal conversation, names are exchanged and I feel the pressing need to somehow organise a ticket for them.  But, that would be unfair to all the others patients seeking help.

I cordially wish them that they will get a fortunate ticket on Wednesday morning.  If we had more doctors we could…

Missionary hospitals worldwide are very popular with their (local) communities and almost all of them do not have enough voluntary workers.  Since patients (can) pay only a fraction of real treatment costs the work carried out by volunteers from overseas, i.e. missionaries, is crucial.  Without them Diospi Suyana simply would not function.

And now to the good news: in 2019 we treated ten thousand more patients than in 2018.  For the statisticians among us that means 58,000 patients compared to 48,000 the year before./KDJ

John and Viola Lentink discover a nest

Dutch couple John and Viola Lentink have spent almost nine years at the missionary hospital Diospi Suyana.  The ultra-sound specialist and the biologist have discovered a wonder of nature just outside their living room window: a female hummingbird has made its nest on a cactus and one chick has hatched already.

Many hummingbirds live in Curahuasi.  Peru is the world’s country with the most number of different bird species.

The female hummingbird sitting on the cactus…

… and breeding – not to be disturbed.

Peter Hitchens on the fatal consequences of the Soviet persecution of Christians

Stalin was the new czar, all-powerful and the foundation of the state.  But he could not be the new god, since the revolution had killed God and thus made any other deity impossible.  This happened thoroughly and purposefully.  So when Stalin died in 1953 the state only had power and intimidation, sausages and vodka, medals and war-patriotism to survive on.

When the violence failed and the intimidation subsided, the sausages and vodka were in increasingly short supply and no one was interested in more medals the state went under.  Since this moment any attempts at building up a civil society have failed.  There are many reasons for this descent into a coarse autocracy and the continued dependence on a Lenin Cult, just as there are for the role of organised crime, the general drunkenness, the widespread dishonesty, the cultural disintegration, the destroyed family life and corruption.

One of the most important is the absence of conscience and self-control even amongst the educated classes.  The league of militant godlessness has done its work only too well.  It was proved sufficiently that in the name of reason, science and freedom good societies need God to survive.  But as they have murdered, famished and silenced God, stopped their children from building a relationship with him and eradicated all festivals that remind people of him, they have created a vacuum that can never completely be filled with any (wo)man or anything that mankind can ever come up with.  (Peter Hitchens in his book “The rage against God“).

I close with a quote that is attributed to Alexander Solschenizyn: “Atheism is the basic evil of our time.  People have forgotten God and that is the reason for all the problems of the 20th century!”

Has no blankets

For four hours, from midnight to 4a.m., no domestic flights leave Lima Airport and the few planes that leave for international destinations hardly disturb the peace and quiet.  Everywhere along the corridors and in the waiting areas one sees passengers making themselves (more or less) comfortable on make-shifts beds.  The tiled floors can never compare to a mattress, but they do provide some horizontal sleeping comfort.  Even the bubbly, talkative types calm down and close their eyes.  One should sleep during the night and finally the smartphones are also turned off.  Curling up in a soft blanket definitely helps one to sleep well and dark surroundings are conducive to a good night’s sleep.  But (s)he who is really tired has to adapt to conditions at hand.  Thus we wish the many people who are holding out at the Lima hub a restful night.

Diagnosed by medical student Jonathan Steinke

There are few people who are more engaged than the medical student from Cologne.  Recently when the Dengue-Fever broke out in Peru’s rainforests he came here in order to learn as much as possible about the disease.  Tropical medicine is his hobby horse.

A couple of days ago he started his clinical traineeship at the Hospital Diospi Suyana. A young woman came to the hospital with muscle aches and nose bleeds.  Immediately Jonathan Steinke was fully attentive.  As we soon discovered the young woman had spent two weeks in the rainforest and contracted the fever there.  The treatment is symptomatic.  Patient death are usually the result of inner bleeding.

We now hope that one day Jonathan Steinke will return to the Hospital Diospi Suyana as a qualified doctor in tropical medicine.  /KDJ

A “Dankeschön” to the cub-scouts in Trossingen

One would not think that the last encounter was 15 years ago.  On Sunday Dr John spoke about the Diospi Suyana’s developments at the Immanuel Gemeinde zu Trossingen.  And again just as it was 15 years ago the Baptist cub-scouts handed him a cheque.  And in the proven way chief Philipp Steuer spoke about how his protégées had raised the funds.

The faces have changed: the cub-scouts from back then now belong to the workers of the world and a new group has formed.

A picture of the cub-scouts back in 2004 is part of the missionary doctor’s normal presentation.  Back then nothing could be seen of the hospital in Curahuasi, since the building work was due to begin seven months later.  But that did not diminish the Trossinger’s enthusiasm – they definitely deserve loyalty points.

The correct and emotional newspaper article appeared on Tuesday in Trossingen.  It is said that the press lady also needed her handkerchief a few times during the evening.  Diospi Suyana, we trust in God.  In 2004 and also in 2020.

The same protagonists on 17th November 2004.

May I introduce: Family Lächele from Konstanz

They could be described as yuppies. Two young city-professionals with a promising future ahead of them.  A small daughter in the nursery and pregnant with number 2.  Tobias Lächele has completed his medical technologist engineer studies, his wife Marielene works in business education and teaches business administration and English.  Their salaries are okay and their colleagues hold them in high esteem.

But the 13th November 2019 was the day on which this wonderful idyll was turned on its head.  As the phone rang that afternoon their world was in good order.

The director of a South American missionary hospital was on the other end: “We desperately need you for our team in Peru!”  The last direct contact between them was more than four years ago.  “Interesting that you call right at this moment,” answers the engineer, “Since we currently are in the middle of a phase of transition!”

On Monday Tobias and Marielene Lächele were officially accepted as candidates for Diospi Suyana.  They will probably leave for Peru in the latter part of 2020.

The above photo was taken of the young couple while visiting Machu Picchu back in 2015.  Diospi Suyana’s school and hospital are 45km away as the crow flies on the other side of the mountain range.

Fascinating that such a phone call out of the blue happened at exactly the right moment.  But such “coincidences” happen frequently to Christians.  And we are convinced that God pulls the strings especially when people trust in him./KDJ

An atheist puts his faith in Christ

Like his late brother Christopher (died 2011) Peter Hitchens was a convinced atheist for years.  As a teenager he even burnt his Bible in front of an invited audience.  Today the journalist and author is a devout Christian.  In his book “The rage against God” he describes his journey back to the Christian faith.

(Page 101-105) What I can recall, very sharply indeed, is a visit to the Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, a town my girlfriend and I had gone to mainly in search of the fine food and wines of Burgundy. But we were educated travelers and strayed, guidebook in hand, into the ancient hospital. And there, worth the journey according to the Green Michelin guide, was Rogier van der Weyden’s fifteenth-century polyptych The Last Judgment.

I scoffed. Another religious painting! Couldn’t these people think of anything else to depict? Still scoffing, I peered at the naked figures fleeing toward the pit of hell, out of my usual faintly morbid interest in the alleged terrors of damnation.

But this time I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open. These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their age by time-bound fashions. On the contrary, their hair and, in an odd way, the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me and the people I knew. One of them – and I have always wondered how the painter thought of it – is actually vomiting with shock and fear at the sound of the Last Trumpet.

I did not have a “religious experience.” Nothing mystical or inexplicable took place – no trance, no swoon, no vision, no voices, no blaze of light. But I had a sudden, strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisioned under thick layers of time. A large catalogue of misdeeds, ranging from the embarrassing to the appalling, replayed themselves rapidly in my head. I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned.

And what if there were? How did I know there were not? I did not know. I could not know. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death. I had simply no idea that an adult could be frightened, in broad daylight and after a good lunch, by such things. I have always enjoyed scaring myself mildly with the ghost stories of M. R. James, mainly because of the cozy, safe feeling that follows a good fictional fright. You turn the page and close the book, and the horror is safely contained. Thie epiphany was not like that at all.

No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that feat played a part in my return to religion. I could easily make up some other, more creditable story. But I should be even more ashamed to pretend that fear did not. I have felt proper fear, not very often but enough to know that it is an important gift that helps us to think clearly at moments of danger. I have felt it in peril on the road, when it slowed down my perception, of the bucking, tearing, screaming collison into which I had hurled myself, thus enabling me to retain enough presence of mind to shut down the engine of my wrecked motorcycle and turn off the fuel tap in case it caught fire, and then to stumble, badly injured, to the relative safety of the roadside. I have felt it outside a copper mine in Africa, when the car I was in was surrounded by a crowd of enraged, impoverished people who had decided, with some justification, that I was their enemy. There, fear enabled me to stay silent and still until the danger was over, when I very much wanted to cry out in panic or do something desperate (both of which, I am sure, would have led to my death). I have felt it when Soviet soldiers fired on a crowd rather near me, and so I lay flat on my back in the filthy snow, quite untroubled by my ridiculous position because I had concluded, wisely, that being ounded would be much worse than being embarrassed.

But the most important time was when I stood in front of Rogier van der Weyden’s great altarpiece and trembled for the things of which my conscience was afraid (and is afraid). Fear is good for us and helps us to escape from great dangers. Those who do not feel it are in permanent peril because they cannot see the risks that lie at their feet. I went away chastened, and the effect has not worn off in nearly three decades…

I do not think I acted immediately on this discovery. But a year or so later I faced a private moral dilemma in shich fear of doing an evil thing held me back from doing it, for which I remail immeasurably glad. Without Rogier van der Weyden, I might have done that thing.

Click here to watch the debate between Christopher and Peter Hitchens.  On the right you can find all 14 parts of the panel debate:

. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmnVQLOd9Lg&list=PLDBE78E59B14CEFA3

A paediatrician and a management expert about to leave for Peru

It was a big event.  Yesterday 120 of Family Then’s friends, neighbours and relatives met in the Evangelischen Gemeindehaus in Kronach. Why? Because on the 3rd May Dr Simon Then, his wife, management expert Fruzsina, and their three daughters will board a plane South-America-bound.  During his presentation Dr John encouraged his future colleague.

What causes a paediatrician who completed his doctoral thesis “magna cum laude” and his family to make a new start in Peru?

In July 2019 Simon und Fruzsina Then with Luise, Agnes and Susanne sent us the following email: “We know the hospital Diospi Suyana since the building work started, have read your first book and read the publications on your website.  For a long while now we have had the wish to spend some time working in Curahuasi.  8 years ago, having just completed my medical degree I asked you after a talk in the City Church in Würzburg what the requirements were to join the Diospi Staff.  Back then you told me I first needed to obtain a medical specialist qualification…!”

On 8th November 2017 the Franconian completed his training as a specialist in paediatrics and adolescent medicine.  His former Peru-plans had been pushed to the back of his mind, totally understandable, since having now three wonderful girls everyone would focus on building a comfortable home and living an enjoyable family life.  Furthermore, with his qualification under his belt he can start bettering his bank balance.

But then an acquaintance of the Thens died in Papua New Guinea.  The Bible school teacher has spent 30 blessed and inspiring years there.  But suddenly he was dead.  In Dr Then’s head thoughts started spinning and soon he had infected his Hungarian wife.

Life must be more than career, own home and a happy family.  As born-again Christians the Thens discovered their life’s calling in helping their neighbour.  When they leave for Peru in four months they will fill the gap created by their deceased acquaintance in the worldwide web of Christians.

And what about Spanish?  Simon and Fruzsina had learnt the language of the Iberians during a volunteering stint in Spain.  It was also there where they met and fell in love.

We wish Family Then God’s rich Blessings and travelling mercies on their way to Peru. /KDJ

Family Then are brilliantly prepared for the Andean Mountain World.