Thursday, July 05, 2007

After arriving in Carpina, Brazil about 24 hours after leaving Indianapolis, We had a wonderful lunch at a local steakhouse, and then set about the tasking of packing the medicines. They have to be counted out in 30's or whatever is appropriate for the particular medicine. Labels have to be written in Portuguese explaining the contents of the snack-size baggy, and the instructions for taking it.By 10:30PM all the adrenaline was spent and we hit the sack HARD. What a thrill to see God's protecting and guiding hand at work in our lives!
On Saturday, we left for our first clinic at 9AM. This was at the "Big Dump." (The literal translation of the Portuguese name for this community). This is a village of people who live on the huge garbage mountains outside of Carpina. They search through the garbage looking for food and anything usable for their shacks or clothing. As you can imagine, these people have unimaginably poor hygiene. The mayor of Carpina again this year made the mobile health units available to us, so that we would have some shelter to work from. He is a believer, and a good friend of Tele. This year a husband and wife team of dentists who attend the community church of Acacias here at the Alcance also came, so the mayor also made the mobile dental unit available to us. They pulled 16 teeth in about 110 degree heat! These units don't have air conditioning--nor ventilation unless you want flies buzzing in your sour surgical field.
The pictures above show Josie Forrest, and Paul greeting the patients and taking their vital signs. They put up with the stink heat and flies with hardly a comment. Second is Dr. Flink examining a family in one of the mobile units. The chief problems were worms, lice, respiratory infections, untreated severe hypertension, and fungal infections. The two year old boy in the picture above (mother in a red top) has a protruding abdomen. His mother brought him to the clinic because of a cough. He had a belly full of worms, and was coughing up worms. (The worms travel through the blood to the lungs, are coughed up and swallowed, re-infecting the gut again). He also had a thick crop of lice, as did his mother and siblings.
The final picture shows the last few patients waiting to pick up their medicines at the pharmacy. As you can see, There are lots mangy dogs running around. What you can't see is how thick the flies are. This is the most immediate sensation you feel while at the dump. They just don't leave you alone. It's almost exhausting trying to swat the flies away, and it's almost useless. It's understandable why the people who live here seem to let the flies have their way, sometimes with dozens of flies crawling on them and making no effort to brush them away. We were torn between keeping the doors of the trailers closed to keep the flies out, and opening them to let some air in.
Despite the heat, humidity, stench, flies, and disease, we all cam away knowing that we had somehow been changed. We certainly will have a hard time complaining about our petty problems for a good long time. We're still discussing what exactly it all means. The long-term influence on this community's health has been tiny. They will return to the same lifestyle that produced their diseases. So what did we accomplish? We told them about the love of God in Jesus, and we showed them. We healed their discomfort if only for a time. And we followed Jesus' example. Only He knows what the eternal significance may be.

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