Last January, I spent a week Tegucigalpa, Honduras, translating for a group of American doctors that were running medical clinics in the outlying towns and villages. I have absolutely no medical knowledge and before that, considered myself to be squeamish around dental matters. After five days translating and assisting with extractions I conquered my fear of teeth and discovered a passion for missions.
In Lima, we are close friends with a family who came to Lima to provide medical care to the areas outside of the city. They work not only to provide well check ups to children through Compassion International, but also to host short term teams who come to Peru for week long medical campaigns. On several occasions, I have had the privilege to tag along, help with registration and translate as needed.
This past week, a team from California was here to run a campaign in a small town in the mountains. The further east you go, the more mountainous the area becomes. This treacherous geography comes with an array of difficulties, homes are often unstable, their only access to water is what is brought in by trucks, transportation is sparse, jobs are hard to find and the winters are cold. The sandy mountains are unable to sustain plant life, so the whole town blends into one dusty, brown background.
On the first day, we arranged for the medical and dental clinics to be held in separate buildings. This change of plans meant that we had to carry all of the dental equipment to the second building. I grabbed a dental tray, complete with tubes for suction, spray for water and space for instruments then I began my walk up the hill. As I walked, I took in the scenery around me and then I thought, "This is where I am right now." Never before could I have imagined walking up that rocky mountain. I could have never dreamed that I would be able to translate between a Peruvian dentist and American dental hygienist. I never thought about medical missions. I was hit with the overwhelming feeling that "This is my life, I have a dental tray slung over my shoulder and I am making my way up a mountain, getting lost in the fog."
I was startlingly aware of how small I am in comparison to the whole world. I was taking up just a small bit of land on the side of the mountain. I felt minuscule when compared to the size of the mountain, the size of Lima, the size of Peru, the size of the rest of the world that looks nothing like that dusty mountain.
That moment made me thankful for Peru. Thankful that this country has given me an opportunity to explore a part of the world and a part of me that I never would have found had I not settled here. I could have never imagined it, but it also couldn't be more perfect.