Nelli Klassen

Weighty words at the kitchen table

Many born-again Christians toy with the idea of spending a certain amount of time in a foreign country working for a Christian-social organisation. The select few that really take this risky step experience exciting things.

Since 2017 Nelli Klassen works as a full-time speech-therapist at Diospi Suyana’s institutions.

Her inner journey from Herford to Curahuasi took four years.

Back in 2013 Nelli was temporarily working closely with one colleague. Heading towards their practise her acquaintance buys the book “I have seen God”. That afternoon Nelli had some spare time and read Diospi Suyana’s history. “Quite exciting,” she muses. But after work her colleague puts the book in her bag.

December 2014 – Nelli wants to give her parents a nice Christmas present. “Oh yes, good idea, I will give them the book about the “Hospital of Faith” – that will make a nice present!” And indeed the book is read avidly by three people: by her parents and by herself.

One should never underestimate the power of books. They can cause war and peace or, as in the case of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, can play a large role in the abolition of slavery. Nelli starts to ponder: could Diospi Suyana be something for her? Nowhere on the missionary organisation’s website can she find that they are looking for a speech therapist. Nevertheless she finds no inner peace. On 29th December 2015 she sends a general email to Diospi Suyana’s office, but does not believe that she will get any response before the New Year. But 24 hours later an email from Dr John addressed to her reads: “We need you, we have loads of work for you! When will you send us your application letter?”

But that was one step too fast too quickly for Nelli. She makes a drawback. And, as an aside, she first wants to get her MA. But, what she also needs is a specific placement possibility for which she has been searching for a while – in vain. She prays: “God, I will not go into the field as a missionary unless I have truly completed all of my studies!”

Surprisingly she hears of a clinic in Southern Germany that apparently offers her this placement opportunity. She fears that she will be put on an endless waiting list, but Nelli has nothing to lose. She grabs her phone and dials the number. “What a coincidence that you are calling us at just this moment,” says a friendly male voice at the other end. “A candidate has just withdrawn her application. Why don’t you send us your application documents!”

Within moments Nelli’s official application has been electronically mailed and before the sun sets the clinic has given her the desired position. Nelli understands that nothing exists that can limit or hinder God.

Congratulations: beginning of October 2016 Nelli is awarded her MA degree and a week later she travels to Peru with two of her friends. Before she makes any decision she first wants to have a look at this missionary hospital in the middle of the Andes. After that she will be able to say whether Diospi Suyana could be the next step of her life or not.

She spends a week in Curahuasi. For a couple of hours a week two speech therapists work at the hospital. One of them has just given birth while the other has her three sick children at home to look after. Nelli has no one to whom she can go to with questions. She realises that Diospi Suyana expects a high level of self-initiative of its staff. Many questions remain unanswered. With more questions than answers she unpacks her suitcases back home in Herford.

The Klassen family is close knit, all decisions are talked about together. Nelli knows that her parents will caution their youngest child to be careful. Now they are sitting at their kitchen table and her parents look deeply into the eyes of their youngest daughter: “What do you think, Nelli, will you go to Peru?”

“I have absolutely no idea what I should do,” stammers Nelli her hand stroking over her hair perplexedly.

All of us can imagine what most fathers would counsel their beautiful daughters to do at this moment: “Stay here!” “Take time to make other plans!” “South America is way too dangerous for you!” „First get some work experience!“…

But then suddenly she hears her father’s voice crystal clear: ”Nelli, I do not want to throw you out of our house, but if God calls you, then you truly should go to Peru!“

Wow, full strike. Nelli had never expected anything like that.

Since Summer 2017 Nelli has carried out hundreds of therapies. She treats children at the Colegio Diospi Suyana and patients at the missionary hospital.

“There is always more work to do than one person can manage,” says Nelli and adds: “I am sure that God wants to have me here in Curahuasi!”

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