Eight Stitches For My Eighth Visit

By Dan Kunkleman, Charlotte, NC

Eight days after returning home from my eighth Chimbote, Peru Mission Trip, as I reflect on my latest experience I once again find myself designating it my favorite, most awesome and without doubt most eventful one. One aspect aiding this result is that several group members had one or more family members join, several for the first time. One man had his youngest son; another had his sister-in-law; a third had his two oldest children, who chose to come although their dad broke his knee two weeks before the trip and could not attend; and I had my young adult niece who challenged me to be my best.

We presented a tight-knit team of dedicated workers, and willing Christians of many denominations. We also had the home support of our friends and congregations in prayer, which gave a decided advantage. From departure, through all our travels, connections, corporate activities, personal encounters, and events generally beyond our control, to our arrival back home, we were cognizant of this presence.

One such event for me occurred on our second work day at our house projects. On this, my eighth Chimbote Mission Trip, I had the distinction of being the first of my peers ever to receive surgery at the Santa Ana Medical Post for stitches, of course eight of them. The cause, a freak accident involving the explosive nature of the native black rock when separation from mortared brick was attempted, likely could not have been avoided.

From there it became more interesting as all the pieces fell quickly into place allowing me to receive speedy, sanitary, professional care. Susan Chavez, an old friend since 2012, was serving as Social Worker for our team that day, and immediately stepped in to clean my wound while I lay on the ground with my leg elevated. Moments later, Katie Richards pulled up in the church van. I had thought to bring an old hand towel in my day bag, which was just long enough to use as a constricting bandage for transport.

Leonardo (de Chimbote), of great humor and charm, our van driver for the week, kidded along the way about the constant seat belt warning beep fitting this time for the “ambulance” ride. Upon arrival I was ushered directly into ‘Topico’ where Rosaria instantly concurred with the others I would need stitches, or “puntos”, that my wound was indeed “profundo”. Even without seven years of Spanish classes and multiple trips to Peru, one could guess what that last word meant. Deep, and wide.

So with angels surrounding me with thoughtful and supportive smiles, I acquiesced to my present fate. Under Rosaria’s excellent care I amazingly never felt a thing. The wound location on my shin likely helped. I was given a 20-pill course of infection fighting large smelly blister packed pills to consume four a day, and a few pills for pain. I eventually finished the packs of pills, but not quite in the five day period.

I chose to take my own Ibuprofen pills to head off any pain, and truly never experienced any, merely a little discomfort in standing during the Mass. By the time I left Chimbote, I had received no less than three changes of my leg bandage, or “esparadrapo”, a new word which took some time to properly enunciate. On the recommended eighth (of course) day, back at home my wife and older daughter enjoyed removing my stitches, and leaving me only with good memories.

Thank you God for healing. For prayers. For excellent emergency care and wonderful Peruvian friends. Thank you that it was me, the group leader, who was given this opportunity to practice the theme of our 2017 Mission Trip, taken from Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in trouble, and persistent in prayer.”

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