Written by Larry Shughart and Linda Crofton
From May 18th to the 25th, eleven parishioners from St. John’s Cathedral (Wendy Anderson, Linda Crofton, Dr. Jim and Ann Dyer, Dr. Harry Griffiths, Dr. Jim and Pat Jamison, Marvin Kloeppel, Emily Pipas, Larry Shughart and Clare Stern) represented the Diocese of Florida on a Medical Mission to Peru. Flying to Lima is a long journey with most flights arriving late at night. On Saturday we rested from our long trip, organized our supplies, and had dinner at a local shopping mall, with a nice view of the beach. While in Lima, we stayed at a large, beautiful convent which was a walled compound with several chapels, dormitories, and gardens. The convent was up on a hill, overlooking the beach. The nuns took good care of us and served local food. The food in Lima is quite good with all fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. On Sunday, we attended the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd or “Buena Pastor” where we met the Lima based mission team that spent the week with us. We were hosted by Dr. Townsend Cooper and his wife Dawn from Brunswick, GA who have been in Lima for ten months. In addition, our local team was comprised of other missionaries from England, college students on internship serving as translators, local nurses, and local priests.
On Sunday afternoon, Monday and Tuesday we set up our medical clinics in a church in the suburbs of Lima. These suburbs are shanty towns, built on the side of dusty mountains. The church is under construction and is a mission project of Trinity Church, Plano, TX. The foundation and walls are up, and the church meets there regularly even without a roof or windows, as it seldom rains in Lima. The houses in this area do not have city water or sewers. Trucks deliver water into barrels located at each house, and we had to use outdoor privies as bathrooms.
Our medical clinic was very organized. As people arrived, they were registered, weighed, measured, and their vitals were recorded. Larry Shughart organized activities for the children to keep them occupied while their parents filled out the paper work and waited their turn to see the doctor. While waiting to see a doctor, a local nurse gave lectures on preventative care and the importance of hygiene, diet, and exercise. She had colorful posters in Spanish to drive home her message. We had three doctor stations, each with a translator, and Dr. Cooper floated among the stations offering his advice and noting which patients would require follow-up care. After visiting the doctor, the patients took their prescriptions to our mobile pharmacy and received instructions. Before departing, each patient was prayed for by two or three people including the local priest, local missionaries, and folks from our team. Special thanks to Linda Crofton for organizing this spiritual healing.
On Wednesday morning, the team visited the Diocesan offices where we toured the seminary, the commercial kitchen, the accounting and legal departments, and the youth ministry. We were very impressed with the organization and structure of the mission in Peru. There is a long term vision for the Church in Peru, which includes a well-thought out plan for achieving that vision, with clear accountability and very good records of all donations and expenditures. Several of the team members are interested in pursuing further dialogue with the Youth Ministry and the Seminary in Peru. These are both places where we believe the Holy Spirit may be calling St. John’s Cathedral and the Dioceses of Florida to offer support.
Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday were spent in a second location in another suburb of Lima. This suburb was about ten years advanced from the first site we visited, and most of the houses had running water, electricity, indoor plumbing, windows, etc. Some of the streets were paved. Again, we set up our clinic in the local church, which was a much larger structure that included offices, school rooms, and bathrooms. The priest at this church was Peruvian, but bi-lingual, having spent a number of years working in California in the hotel industry.
The doctors on our team inspired some of the local teenagers that were translating for them to consider careers in medicine through their example of Christ-like love using the skills given to them by God. Over the course of the week, the three doctors saw 259 patients. In every interaction, from the volunteers helping with the registration, to the ones measuring height and weight, to the doctors, to the people helping dispense medicines in the pharmacy, to the prayer team, the light of the Holy Spirit was shining through.
Friday afternoon, the team said “good bye” to Lima with a visit to the Inca Market to purchase local crafts and art items, and to visit to a very nice chocolate shop featuring cocoa grown from beans used by the Inca royal families. Friday night we celebrated our successful mission with a tour of the Huaca Pucllana pyramid and temple ruins in downtown Lima. Everyone enjoyed a very nice meal at a restaurant with a view of the ruins lit up at night. Local cuisine includes causa, cerviche, fresh sea food, duck, pork, many vegetarian dishes, and good coffee. Of course, it was all washed down with the national Peruvian beverage Pisco Sour.
Don’t think that you can’t volunteer for a mission trip. Pray about it and answer God’s call! You will benefit from this incredible experience. Even though we did not speak the same language, we all understood each other as we witnessed daily miracles while working together as the hand of God. The Diocese of Florida has officially named the Anglican Diocese of Peru as an international mission and partner. There is a lot of exciting growth taking place in Peru. Bishop Godfrey’s vision for outreach includes spiritual growth, evangelism, medical care, education, food, and housing.
Thanks to everyone who prayed for us and supported us financially on this past trip. The mission committee for Peru is already in the planning stage for the next trip. Won’t you join us? Please consider supporting future Peru Mission trips by sending a check to Cathedral and marking it for Peru.