Friday, July 22, 2011

On the Mend

Well, you have read the story of Kevin, the young man with Flesh Eating Disease. I am happy to report that although he is still in the hospital, he is doing much better. As you can see from his picture, he is very thin, and tires very fast, but he is healing, and praising God for his recovery. Tuesday, July 19, was his 25th birthday. So, we went to the hospital and had a Fiesta. As we entered the room, we sang Happy Birthday and he began to cry because he is so happy to be alive. We brought cake, pop, and a Happy Birthday poster, and three ladies from the Yarinacocha church, his mom, Hermano Jose, Luz, and myself were there.

Ruth had received special permisson to have Estrella at the hospital with Kevin. He hadn't seen her since he went into the hospital a month ago. They were both very happy to see each other.It looks like he will be in the hospital for another 2 - 3 weeks, and he will have to take some physical therapy afterwards, because right now he can't walk. He wanted to so bad the other day, and so Ruth helped him get to his feet, but when he tried to take a step, his leg wouldn't support him, and Ruth had to catch him. He said he feels lots better, and he is praising God for his healing. He wanted to talk about all the things he wants to do in the church when he gets out of the hospital. He wants to work with the youth, and help get people interested in the church and Christ. He has a great testimony, and through this ordeal, his family is coming to know the saving grace of the Lord. They are seeing that the church doesn't just help you if you come to every service, or if you give money, or if you follow all the rules. This family is seeing that the church is a family and they love a person, whether good or bad, and want to see everyone saved by the redeeming grace of Christ.
Continue to pray for this family, and that the witness of Kevin will carry not only to his family, but also to the community. He has had the opportunity to share his faith several times on the news, in the newspaper, and personally to doctors and nurses. At 25 years of age, his life has made a drastic turn around, and he has an experience to share with others that is so rare that it cannot be credited to anyone or anything, only God.
Also, pray for the Yarinacocha Church of the Nazarene. Because Kevin is in the hospital, several of the ladies have started visiting the hospital regularly for anyone they know that is there. This is fast becoming a great outreach ministry for this very new church. Pray that these ladies will continue with this ministry and encourage others to join them.
Although this illness has been an ordeal for Kevin, his family, and the church, it has been a blessing in disguise. Many are coming to Christ, the faith of others has grown tremendously, and this story will have a lasting effect on many more in the future. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Giving Blood

Okay, please don't laugh at the title. I know, I are all thinking, "Why is Katie talking about blood? She gets queasy when people mention blood." Well, I will give you a recap of what happened (the full story is at and then an update.

Ruth called us (Luz and I) on a Sunday morning very distraught, and we told her we would be there in a few minutes. The previous Sunday, Kevin, her husband, had gone to play soccer in the afternoon. At one point in the game, he collided with another player in the game and broke his collarbone. They went to the hospital and had x-rays. They found out from the x-rays that not only was it broken, but it was out of position, so if he didn't do anything, it would heal badly. So they thought they would begin treating that.
Well, the next day, there was a red spot on his leg, and it hurt, but they just thought it was a bruise from the collision, and so he ignored it. The next day, however, the red spot had spread, and the pain was excruciating. So, they went to the local witch doctor on Wednesday, who mixed up a mud paste and put on it. The mud didn't help, and so he cleaned that off and cut open a toad and put on it. Well, you guessed it...that didn't help either. So, he cleaned that off and mixed up an herbal water and heated it up and made a compress to put on the leg. All that made it lots worse, so they went home and waited. Kevin continued to get worse. When we entered the room that Sunday, Kevin lay on the bed with his eyes rolled into his head. His mouth was partially open, and his breathing was in short gasps. He was not the Kevin we know!
Ruth showed us his leg. What had been a red spot on his lower, inner thigh, had spread to his ankle and waist. His leg was nearly doubled in size. We immediately told her he needed to go to the hospital. But, they didn't want to take him to the hospital because they didn't have any money to pay. That is one thing about living here. I don't know if it is the Third World or just Peru, but if you don't pay first, they don't treat; even in an emergency like this!
We called Hermano Jose, the leader from the central church who is helping us in Yarinacocha. He said he would come and help them get Kevin to the hospital. Luz and I prayed with Ruth over Kevin, and a few minutes later, Estrella came in and before I could stop her, she touched Kevin's leg. He began to scream, (again in Spanish) "No, my little girl! My leg is hurt! My leg is hurt! Please, my little girl!"
Up until that point, he had been semi-conscious. Now, he was wide awake and in tons of pain. But, it gave Luz a chance to really talk to him and tell him that Jose was on the way to take him to the hospital, as well as pray with him. He wanted to say the sinner's prayer, so Luz began to pray, and as Kevin was praying and repeating her words, his voice began to get stronger and stronger. When they finished praying, Luz prayed for him again. Then he asked for some water, which he hadn't had anything to eat or drink for a long time because of his unconscious state. As we left, Kevin was smiling and thanking us for coming and helping him. He was a totally different person than when we came in. So we left with the promise that Brother Jose was on his way.
Luz went on to Jhon Hocking Weeks to lead the second and third Sunday Schools, and I went to the church in Yarina for the fourth class.
Later in the day, Jose called and said that Kevin was being treated at the hospital, but that the infection was so bad the doctors were debating taking his leg. They were just waiting to see how he responded to the medicine.
The next time we saw Kevin was on Tuesday afternoon at visiting hours. He continued to be in pain, but his spirit and life were changed. His leg actually looked worse, with a black area and blisters where the infection originally started, but he was thankful to be alive.
Because his leg was looking worse, they ran more tests to see if it was something else. Well, they had misdiagnosed the problem. It wasn’t just cellulitis, it was necrotizing fasciitis (NF), commonly known as flesh-eating disease, which is often mistaken for cellulitis at first, but it is much more aggressive and causes gangrene much more rapidly. But it was still better to be misdiagnosed with cellulitis than to not be diagnosed at all, because he was receiving antibiotics that were helping some. So on Thursday, I think, Kevin had his first surgery to cut out the gangrene from his skin. He slept well that night and dreamed of an angel coming to tell him he was going to get well, but it was going to take time.
On Friday, we went to the hospital in the morning because the doctor had told Ruth that we could visit in the morning, but they wouldn’t let us in, so we ended up supporting Ruth for a little while, praying with her, etc. and on Saturday we had the grilled chicken fundraiser to raise money to help. We were there from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm.
Then on Tuesday morning the following week, Ruth came to the central church at 7:30 in the morning because they were going to do a second surgery on Kevin, but he needed blood first and she needed encouragement and prayer. On Tuesdays, we have our regular weekly devotion together because it is the only day that all 8 of the 40/40s are here. The rest of the week we have a time of prayer.


So, on that Tuesday, we spent our devotion time in prayer with Ruth, and then Luz, Kevin Snodgrass, Sammy, and I went to give blood (this is the part where you may start laughing). As most of you know, I pass out, or almost pass out, at the sight of blood, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. We left for the hospital at 9:30 or 10:00, and we were there until 5:00 in the afternoon. Who knew you can’t give blood in an hour?
When we first got to the hospital, we talked to Kevin through the window for a minute to tell him that we had come to give blood. Now, when I say we talked through the window, it isn’t like talking through an open window. The window is 7 feet up the wall, so we couldn’t see him, and he couldn’t see us. We were yelling through the window back and forth, but he sounded strong, and I wasn't talking much; Ruth and Luz were doing most of the talking. So Kevin said, "I want to hear Sister Katie." I said, "Kevin, I am here to give my blood, but only if it is a match. If it isn't a match, I don't think I can give it." He just kinda laughed.
So first, Ruth sent us to pay for the analysis (it was s/.50 for the 4 of us, which is a little less than $20). Then when we got back, they took us in to give a small amount of blood in a tube for analysis, and told us that would take 10 minutes.
So an hour and a half later (that is what we call Peruvian time), they called Sammy to give blood. By this time it was well after noon, and Sammy, Luz, and I hadn't eaten breakfast because we thought we would be in and out and go eat lunch. That was really a kinda dumb thing. Sammy was a little nervous before he went in because he had been asking Ruth how this all started with Kevin. So he went in and the doctor asked him, "How are you doing today?" and he said his vision started to cloud, but he didn’t say anything about it. Then when the nurse took the needle out of his arm, he thought he was okay. However, when Kevin went in and they put the first needle in Kevin's arm, Sammy said, “I don’t feel so good.” and passed out. So he was being revived, and Kevin said that Sammy was whiter than him at that moment…hahahahaha. So they took Kevin to another room to give his blood. Sammy finally came out, but laid down on the bench and fell asleep.
They had told us that three of us were matches, and one was a rarer blood type that didn't match, so we were waiting for them to call names, because we didn't know who it was that wasn't going to have to give blood. Luz insisted that it was her, and I had to agree because she is full blooded Peruvian, but she is whiter than me and has hazel eyes and her hair isn't black, so I thought yeah, it probably is her because she is a rare Peruvian. So Luz left to get some food for Sammy.
So we thought 3 of us would be giving blood and the fourth was free. Ah, no… Big resounding NO!
So, Luz had left to get food, and when Kevin came out, the doctor came and said, “We have two more. Luz Elita Rojas Gaona and Kathryn Anderson.” I told him that Luz had left to get some food for Sammy, and that I was Kathryn. He said, "Then we will do you." Call me really dumb now...I didn't ask if I was the rare blood type or if it was Luz. So I went into the room and they started the process. Of course, I didn’t look, but that needle sure hurt going in, but coming out was worse. After the needle was in, I asked, "So what type of blood do I have?" The nurse said, "Oh, you have A+. We can't use it for Kevin. Your three friends all have O+ which is what we want." I thought, "Are you kidding me. I am laying on a table, having the life drained out of me and I don't even match! I must be crazy!" Finally, after about 20 minutes, I asked the nurse how much more because I was suppose to be flexing my hand to make it go faster, but I could only move it a little. I still felt okay at that point though.
I called Sammy to see if he was okay, because they wouldn't let any of us go in with the others. And I also told them that they wanted Luz’s blood too, because mine wasn’t a match. So Luz was shocked because she was not the one with the rare blood. When I was finally done, Luz came in where I was to take her turn, and when I stood up, I almost fell over, but I didn't feel bad, just a little side step. But one of the nurses saw me and said, "you need to sit down." I said I would go sit with my friends, and I made it out to where Kevin and Sammy where fine. Sammy was eating and Kevin was talking to the other Kevin’s mom. So when Luz got done, she said she felt fine, and Kevin felt fine, and Sammy was feeling much better, only weak, and I thought I felt fine…
So by this time it was 4:15 PM and visiting hours are 3:00 until 5:00 (and they are very strict on that!), so we went to visit Kevin before we left, and pray with him. Okay, so Kevin needed the blood before he could have the second surgery. So, we walked in to him having the blood of Sammy put in by IV. His leg had bandages in two parts, on his thigh where the skin had been black before, and on his calf. It was seeping lots of liquid, but the swelling was down and his face was normal in color. Still, I wasn’t prepared for it.
I thought I could handle it, and I did okay until we were almost ready to leave and Sammy was praying. It was when I closed my eyes that I started to pass out. Probably the giving blood part didn’t help, nor the fact that I hadn't eaten anything all day. The bigger problem for me though was there was no place to sit down except the floor. My lips and legs began to tingle and my hands locked up and the sweat came on my face. So, I did what I had to do; I sat on the floor. Sammy finished praying, we said bye to Kevin, and Luz and Sammy tried to get my hands to relax, and by the time we got to the front of the hospital, I was pretty normal again. I mean, you know, I am a little off to begin with, so pretty normal is pretty normal…hahahaha.
So we went to get food first because we all needed some. And then Kevin and Sammy went home, and I called Sarah and told her to make Sammy lay down when he got home. Luz and I went to sit in the plaza in Yarinacocha for a few minutes before we went on to Jhon Hocking for the service there…At Jhon Hocking, we had the service of prayer that day. And I was fine until the final prayer. I closed my eyes and again began to pass out. Fortunately, my hands didn’t lock up that time, but I was sweating like crazy and there isn’t even a floor to sit on there. After the prayer, I sat on one of the stools that the kids had been using until we were ready to leave.
Then we went to the service in Yarina. Ruth and her mother-in-law were there and got some much needed encouragement. We finally got home around 10:00 that night. Quite the day!!!
Kevin didn’t have the surgery until Wednesday morning, and following the surgery, his fever returned, but the doctor assured them it was normal because his body was going through shock. He has a place on his side where the infection had spread before, but it is like the part on his calf and was caught before any gangrene started. They are going to do skin grafts on his leg, but they have to wait because he has lost so much weight that he doesn't have any extra skin right now. And the muscle and skin of his leg is now all living…he doesn’t have any gangrene now. He also has another problem: His father. He still wants Kevin to leave the hospital and go to the witch doctor again. We are pretty sure that is where he received the bacteria that caused this to infection to explode into the much more serious infection than cellulitis because the information we have on it says that many times the bacteria comes from mud, and that is the first thing the witch doctor put on Kevin’s leg. And than with the hot compress, that probably just made the bacteria grow even faster. But Ruth has the final say, and she can see the improvement in Kevin. She is not sending him to any witch doctor. But the pressure is taking a toll on her…She is only 21 and Kevin is 24. Continue to pray for them and Kevin’s mom too. She is ready to start discipleship classes now. Kevin is continuing to improve. He can move his leg without screaming in pain now, but he is discouraged as well. Still, I am thinking with a leg is better than without, which losing limbs happens with this type of infection. Pray for continued growth in his faith. I started this blog before we went to the hospital to see him, so it has Monday's date. But when we went to the hospital to see him yesterday, his leg was normal size, there is no redness on his leg or across his stomach, and he was sleeping (and not because he was sedated). This is the first time I have seen him sleeping since all this has started. His body is definitely healing. But the doctor says it will probably be another month in the hospital. Ruth also said that the account that the doctor set up so that they could get treatment in this emergency situation is around S/.900, which is about $300. They are having another grilled chicken fund raiser this Saturday. Each day, the cost of the bed is S/.15, so, just for another month of hospital, it is S/.450 more soles. But, there is good news. The doctor said that if they can't pay, he can't leave the hospital. At least we know they are not going to kick him out. And another bit of encouraging news. Kevin also got to go outside in a wheelchair yesterday afternoon. He had Ruth take pictures because he was so happy to get out of the bed and wanted to remember how he felt the first time he got to leave to go outside the hospital. And being able to get outside really did a lot to lift his spirits. Things are definitely changing in the lives of this family. Continue to pray for them as they struggle through this trial. This obstacle has made them grow stronger in their love for God. Ruth was in the service last night with her mother-in-law, and they left feeling the love of the church family. And, on another note, as you also know, Yarinacocha was our first church plant, and when we went to visit Kevin at the hospital yesterday, three of the ladies from the church went too. We were so encouraged that they are starting to get involved in ministries of the church. Thanks for your continued prayers for Yarinacocha as well.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Things Are Happening!

Okay, let me begin by telling you that we serve an awesome God!!! It is so great to see how little things add up to His great and awesome plan...for our lives AND for His people. I am so blessed to be a part of this plan. I love doing what I am doing! I can't say I love my job, because it doesn't feel like a job!

So on to what's happening...I think I have said in earlier blogs that we are working in Jhon Hocking Weeks and La Victoria simultaneously. Jhon Hocking is close to Yarinacocha, where we worked last year, and La Victoria is at KM 19, about 15 to 20 minutes outside Pucallpa.

In Jhon Hocking, we have a place to have our services, and we had electricity that Ryan had come and extended from the house we are borrowing the room from, but just this week the owner of the electricity decided that we were another lot, and wanted us or the owners of the property to pay 200 soles more to have electricity there, or he would shut off their elecity. We didn't want any trouble for them, so we have "uninstalled" the electricity, and actually used candles and flashlights in our last service. But that is unimportant; we still had 20 kids in the service. We have a great group of adolescents there, and are discipling several adults in their homes. And we have tons of kids there...20 - 30 every week in Sunday School and about half of them each week in the services, which can be good and bad (good because we love them, bad because they can be distracting). However, we are hoping that with the Easter Week activities, we will be able to have more adults begin to come.

Terry is one of my favorites. He has an older brother Andy, a younger brother Cristian, and a baby sister Rubi. Their family life is not very good, and Terry started out as a trouble maker in our classes and services. One night, when we were having a service, Empe had already "kicked out" all the kids who wanted to play and not listen, so they were running around outside making a bunch of noise. Sometimes they would run into the service, so I finally went over and stood in front of the door and wasn't letting them in. So, Terry almost got past me, but I caught him and told him he needed to stay outside. So he took off, and that is when I saw his mom coming. About five minutes later, she came back around the building, calling for Terry to come too. He said he didn't want to, and she started after him again. A couple minutes later, I heard Terry crying and screaming. It was dark outside, so I didn't see what happened, but I have witnessed her "discipline" before, so I have a good idea of what was happening. However, since that night, Terry has come to every service and been an angel. I think he has found that the little building where we have services is a safe place and that Empe and I love him and want the best for him. He sits on his stool and is a perfect little boy.

In La Victoria, we are using the "community building" to have our Sunday School classes. Let me clarify...the community building is a picnic shelter with a concrete floor in half of it, and bleacher like benches built down each side. We have the kids sit on the bottom bench and use the top bench for a table, so it actually works out really well. But, the really great news is WE HAVE PROPERTY!!! Yes! We have property in La Victoria! We were able to get two lots, on the corner of a "street", actually two corners, because the blocks are two lots by three lots, and we got two lots on the end of a block, so "street front" property! However, the pictures show there is still a lot of work to do. We need to rake all the stuff up and burn it that was chopped down. The picture with my shadow shows the "street front" on the right. Yep, that is the street, just a bunch of brush. But the property is large...about 16.5 yards by 63.5 yards, and we only paid a S/.200 inscription fee to put our name on it! That is about $75. What a blessing! Now we just need some type of structure on the property so that we can begin having services there. We are so excited about what is happening in La Victoria! We are also discipling several adults there. God is doing great things there!

Praise the Lord for all he is doing with His work here in the "Greater Pucallpa Area"!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moving Roof

So, this past Sunday, we went in the afternoon to La Victoria to start Sunday School classes. We were suppose to start at 3:30 pm, and although we left at 10 til three, we were still in a car at 3:30 because there were no cars going as far as we needed them to go. So, we got out of the car at KM 19 (that is where the entrance for La Victoria is) and began our trek to the "Community Building" that is pretty much in the center of everything. As we were walking across the soccer field, I noticed a palm leaf roof moving along the road...I wondered what was going on...There were about 15 or 20 guys under the roof moving it to another location...then I saw the house with no roof (It is to the far right of the screen at the end of the video)...It was quite the comical sight, and definitely one I had never seen before. Although my video isn't the best, because I was walking too, I think you can get the point from it.


This is a is one of the most glorious fruits that God invented!!! That is my very humble opinion on the matter... I waited for a year for them to be in season again, and am so happy to be enjoying them now. They are kind of stringy on the inside, with five large seeds. So, the fruit is cut into five sections and you eat if from the inside out. It has a unique flavor that tastes like it has milk in it. If you come to the jungle in February or March, and possible into the first part of April, we can enjoy some together! YUM!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recent Happenings (or recent in light of the fact that my last blog was in July of last year!)

Okay, so keeping up to date on blogs is not my best skill...give me a newsletter to do or a form to make, but up-date a! Anyway, I am only going to go back as far as December...In December, I had my birthday!!!! Yay for me! But we also finished up in Yarinacocha with our little church there, and a new pastora came to continue the work there. Her name is Luz which is light in Spanish. Anyway, at the middle/end of December, I went home to WV for a couple of weeks. I saw my family and lots of friends. My mom's idea was so great to have an open house at our house for family and neighbors because that freed up lots more of my time that I needed to go to the appointments I had. I had to get a new prescription in one of my contacts, and for only the first time in my life, it was actually better than don't get all excited, it is still -5.25, but it was -5.75 (and the other is still -6). The river was frozen too, at least for the first week while I was home. Then it got "warm", but I was still freezing! On New Year's Eve we went to the traditional New Year's sing...Yes, I am almost as tall as Dan AND Cindy in that picture, but I think my shoes were somewhere around 5 inches. And Peruvians think I am tall!!! Hahahahaha!!! I also had the opportunity to share twice about my work here in Peru. I dressed in Shipibo clothing for that.

I came back Peru a week before I had to come back for work. I went to Chiclayo to visit some friends that have moved back there after 20 years in the jungle. I had some ceviche at the beach, we went to a movie, and we just spent some time talking and catching up. I have to say, it was more relaxing than my time in WV, although I loved my time in WV, because I only knew a few people there! That was the best thing I could have done! I was ready to get back to Pucallpa and start working.

When I got back to Pucallpa, I was the first of the 40/40s to get back. So I had time to get all my stuff was nice to have some time before everyone came back. I was glad for that time.

When we left in December, we were planning on coming back and working in Aguaytia for 5-6 days a week and starting two churches there. However, it was going to be rather expensive, and when we are finished here, it wasn't going to be a possibility to have a pastor there to continue the work because it is so far away from Pucallpa. So, Pastor Dario found us two other places.

The first is Jhon Hocking Weeks, and it isn't too far from Yarinacocha. There was one sister in the church who lived in Jhon Hocking Weeks when we first went, and she introduced us to lots of people who lived there and were already Christians but had no church. Some of them introduced us to others who were not Christians but wanted to know more about it. We have had a Vacation Bible School, where we had over 70 different children over the course of the week, and are holding regular services on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and have three levels of Sunday School each Sunday morning. We are averaging about 28 - 30 children in every service. Tonight was our second Thursday service, and we had 2 mothers, 2 teen girls, 11 adolescents, and 11 kids. How exciting to see the church begin to grow for the Lord.

The second location didn't have a name, but was near the PetroGas gas station, so we called it Petrogas. However, we didn't have much success knocking on doors there, I think because it is more of a business area than a residental section of town. So Pastor gave us yet another spot this week.

It is called La Victoria, and we are claiming "the victory" there! There is only one evangelical church there, and a 7th Day Adventist church, and neither have a temple structure yet. All the people we have talked to have been very friendly and helpful. We are looking forward to working there. Tomorrow, we are going to look at the plan of vacant lots to see if there is one that we can buy.

Please pray for us as we are working in these two new locations, as well as visiting in Yarinacocha sometimes. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement. Also, there are lots more pictures on my facebook, so check them out!!!

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