In the past 72 hours, I have learned a vital life lesson. If you are going to suffer a major injury, there is not better place to do it than a conference full of Methodist and Baptist pastors. Last night in a spectacular feat of youthful exuberance, I fractured my right foot during a cultural demonstration in which I was dancing to Punk Rock (at a Methodist conference of all places). In high school, I could dance like this with no consequences. However, the last time I tried this dance at Nyumbani Village, I nearly tore my ACL. Friday night, I did the same dance again, landed wrong putting all of my wait on the front corner of my right foot, and low and behold, it fractured.
Being me, I did not seek medical attention immediately. It felt pretty bad right away, but I thought that the pain might go away with time. I got back to work on the soundboard and just made sure to lean against things. However, about an hour an a half later, the pain and swelling hand only gotten worse to the point that I had to take off my shoe. It also just felt like there was something wrong with the bone – not muscle or tendon. At point, I went to Winston, the director of the conference, and said, “I do not mean to be a bother, but I think my foot really is kind of broken.” From there, I was in the hands of Christian community. Dr. Ellison, Luciano, Lilliana, Regiano, and I piled into Luciano’s car and headed to a clinic near the conference center. After having to drive around the town for a while, we finally found the clinic, but since it was almost midnight, I did not have X-Rays available and could not do much for me. Our options were to go to one of the larger cities, two of which were an hour away. Luciano simple said, “We got to Lima,” and again, off we went.
Despite the fact that I had a clearly injured and swelling foot, the hour car ride to Lima was fun. Luciano speaks Spanish and Portugesse. Lilliana speaks some English and, of course, Spanish. Regiano speaks Spanish, Portugesse, and learned English while staying in America for two months. Dr. Ellison speaks only English, and I speak some Spanish. Between all that mixture of languages, we were able to have many great and wandering conversations sharing about our lives, our vocations, and our experiences in ministry. Regiano and Luciano are both missionaries out of Brazil. Lilliana is a seminar student like myself. We built a definite bond as we drove into the night.
Once we arrived in Lima, there were two private clinics that could treat me. We went to one went through the routine of transferring me from the car into a wheelchair and rolling me in. We got their price for services but found that an even better clinic would offer the same services for basically the same price and would have an orthopedic specialist on hand to treat me. Thus, we loaded back into the car and drove to a third clinic where I was finally treated.
Despite the craziness in getting there, once at the clinic, things moved like clockwork. Almost immediately upon being wheeled in, I was taken to an examination room. I was in that room less than 5 minutes before being wheeled into get X-Rays done. Those were done right away. I was wheeled back into the exam room and waited no more than 10 minutes before the orthopedic specialist arrived to examine by X-Rays that already been loaded onto the server. He, then, told me that I had a small fracture, explained that since I’m 26, it will heal fully, and informed me that I would have to wear a cast up to my knee for a month. Before I could fully process the implication of this, he had asked what color cast that I wanted and was wrapping my leg in blue acrylic. In total, I was in the clinic for less than 40 minutes and all for the price of just $384.
Since then, the past few days have been a struggle. It was not until last Saturday evening that I got crutches, so before that I had to be literally carried everywhere by up to four people. As I put it to Cary, the communication director that I have been working with, I am now the largest piece of gear that needs to be loaded places. I am having to relearn how to do pretty basic things like get around in the bathroom, put on pants, and pack a suitcase without putting any pressure of my left leg. Despite the frustration and physical exhaustion, there have been definite bright spots. While I was stuck in my room on Saturday, 12 Methodists from Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Columbia piled in to pray and sing with me. Whenever I needed to be carried somewhere, there were more than enough people to help. One of the Bolivians can to help me pack my suitcase. Two Peruvians brought me a snack, and Dr. Ellison helped me get dressed until I figure out how to do it on my own. One of my American team members and friends, Xavier, is still managing my luggage for me making sure that it all gets where it needs to go. Dozens of people signed my cast, not with just their names, but with words of encouragement and scripture.
As I said in the opener, there is no better place to be injured than in a group trained in Pastoral Care. I have definitely received my fair share. It is humbling for certain, but it also reminds me how God works through Christian community. We always said that God will provide and that everything will be okay because God is here. What we often leave out is the mechanism that God uses to bring this about, that is fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what it means to be the Body of Christ. It is Christ’s work, and we are called on to do the physical moving. It may have been Cary and Mikiel that carried me out to the van, but it was Christ moving in them that was taking care of me. There is that old cheesy story about the footprints. During good times, there were two sets of prints. During tough times, there was only one set of prints because God is carrying you. I have been literally carried by God for the past couple days. The real lesson is that I was always been carried. I just see it now that I cannot feign independence. I am extremely thankful for all my brother and sisters in Christ who have shown me God’s love over the past few days.
Today is my last day in Peru. I fly out at 12:40am and should arrive in Atlanta by 8:35. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel. This should be uniquely challenging as not only am I on crutches, but the crutches seem to be actively trying to kill every time we walk on tile. There are new pictures up on the photo page from the seminar, and I should be putting some up (taking by others) documenting my process of getting a cast. You can expect one more post upon my return to the US, and then that will close out this summer. Thanks as ever for your comments, thoughts, and prayers.
Check out the photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosewindowministries/
Vaya con Dios,