Our special VIPs had called to tell us they would be arriving at 7pm. The new Peruvian Health Minister, the President of the state of Apurimac, and a group of high-ranking officials from Lima were on their way to the mission hospital. Later, another phone call pushed back their arrival to 8pm.
The preparations in the hospital took all day. Our Peruvian employees worked a 12 hour shift to ensure that the hospital would make a good impression. Many of the missionary women lovingly hand-decorated the church and prepared a first class buffet of delicacies.
By the time about 40 of the hospital’s staff met in the hospital’s chapel for prayer, everything was in readiness. Everyone was acutely aware that a positive impression on the Minister regarding the work of Diospi Suyana could make a big difference for us. What was uncertain was whether or not the Minister would really give us 60 minutes of his time – especially so late in the evening.
Yet another phone call from the Assistant to the Health Minister shifted their ETA to 10pm. So both the hospital staff and several guests from Curahuasi passed the time by wandering throughout the hospital’s corridors. Meanwhile, the contractors from Cusco took this opportunity to hang some of the signs in the hallways for each department.
A constant phone communication with the official motorcade kept us apprised of their location as the 6 vehicle convoy crawled through a pea-soup fog over the 4,000 meter Andean Pass – the highway route between Abancay and Curahuasi.
“The Minister is here!”, finally the call resounded through the hallways. In the end, the group of dignitaries had reached the hospital at 11pm!! The hospital staff and local Curahuasinos lined the entry-way as the Health Minister and the President of Apurimac personally greeted each one with a handshake.
The coffee bar and the buffet touched not only the empty stomach of the Health Minister, but also his heart. Hernan Garrido-Lecca, along with his Health Ministry team, listened closely to Dr John’s presentation about the hospital. In his introduction, the mission doctors pointed out 2 things he and the Minister had in common – both were born in 1960 and both spent time at Harvard University.
It was past midnight when the Minister and his team took a tour of the hospital. “Spectacular!” commented the Minister as he handed Dr John a card with his personal contact information. In appreciation for his visit, the Health Minister received a loaf of tasty German bread – the first batch to come from the hospital’s bakery. Baker, Michael Mörl had already made yet another milestone in the history of Diospi Suyana when he fired up the oven for the first time. “I will take this bread back to Lima with me when I go on the plane tomorrow”, was the word of thanks from the Minister.
Finally, a 1am the final goodbyes were said and the hospital once more returned to its peaceful state. Only a small group of faithfuls met once again in the chapel to give thanks. The one thing in common that Burkhard Jochum, Michael Mörl, Ortrun Heinz, Dr. Jens Hassfeld, Dr. Martina John and Dr. Klaus John, can be summarized with 1 sentence: “Thanks be to God!”
Meanwhile, when the hospital staff tried to rub the sleep out of their eyes several hours later to start work, many were asking themselves if it was all just a dream! (10 fotos)