I’d like to rephrase the title of this blog to: When there’s a Williams, there’s a way.
A year ago I was packing my bags ready to depart from my Father Smith Fellowship in Chimbote, Peru with a heart that was broken and mended from the lives and the stories of all whom I encountered during my stay. I said my final farewells to those who I had come to know, cherish, and love, and left Sister Margaret Mary at the bus terminal as she said “this is not goodbye, but rather see you soon because I know you will be back.” I hugged her close and laughed thinking that it would be a long time before I would return to Chimbote.
There was not a day that went by where I did not think of or pray for mis amigos in Chimbote. In my daily intentions I would pray for the wellbeing of the community, for the growth of the clinic, and for homes for the orphaned children who caputured my heart. I also (somewhat selifshly) prayed that it would be God’s will that I would one day return to serve at the clinc.
My determination unceasing, I applied for and was granted a Santander Global Service Learning Grant which afforded me the opportunity to venture back to Chimbote. There were no words to contain the joy in my heart nor the excitement I had to be making this journey for a second time in under two years.
Flash-forward to the well anticipated DEPARTURE DAY. Two bags and a carry on stuffed to the brim with donations from generous family and friends in hand I headed to the airport to embark on my adventure. Little did I know that my adventure would be had in my attempt to get myself and my bags to Peru! Long story short, my intitial flight from Boston was delayed which would cause me to miss my connecting flight to Peru. I was placed on an earlier flight, but learned, after landing, that my bags were not on the flight (cue huge panic and frantic call to Mom and Dad). I decided to continue on my way without my bags hoping they would find their way to Lima the following day only to learn at the last second prior to boarding that my flight had been canceled because they had no pilot to fly the plane. However, things have a funny way of working out and I willed myself to not let this setback dampen my spirits. Nothing, not even missing baggage and a flight with no one to fly it would stop me from going to Chimbote. Like I said, when there’s a Williams there’s a way! After much re-arranging I found myself lucky to be hosted by a close college friend and her family who lives in Dallas for a few days and a ticket on the Monday night flight to Lima.
After even more anticipation for my arrival, I (at last) made it to Chimbote late Tuesday afternoon. In the days preceding my trip I began to wonder if things would be the same upon my return. Would I be as excited to brave the barrios on home visits each day as I was when I first received my red lunch box turned medical bag? Would my Spanish come back easily after not speaking the language in almost a year? Would the children remember me? All of my questions were answered as soon as the bus pulled into the station in Chimbote. Things had not changed, and it was as though I had never left.
I arrived to the Maternidad in the late afternoon to be greeted by numerous staff welcoming me back, but the happiest welcoming came from the children. I wished that I was able to capture the moment on video, but I know that it will forever be engrained in my heart. I entered the playroom to a chorus of children gleefully saying HOLA! From the corner of the room I noticed my little Sandra, she looked at me closely then smiled and came running into my arms laughing and smiling from ear to ear *cue huge waterworks from me.* The connection we had was still there, despite her being several inches taller, developing a very fierce personality as she settles into her “terrible twos” phase, and a new found love for the word “no”.
I hopped right back into the rotation at the clinic the following morning accompanying on home visits. The poverty that exists in the country is still a shock to me, and I so very much take for granted all that I have back home. Today on home visits we encountered a 25 year old patient with an unexplainable paralysis of his legs and hands. He had never seen a doctor. I was perplexed at not only his condition, but also why he had never sought treatment or a diagnosis. The answer was simple, he had no money. The mission of the Maternidad is to provide adequate healthcare to all regardless of economic status, so tomorrow the young man will be coming to see a doctor and receive therapy to hopefully assist with allowing him the chance to walk and use his hands.
When I am not out on home visits or in the clinic I can be found with the babies. I am so impressed with how much they have all grown and stand in awe as I watch my babies who are now toddlers roam around each with a very distinctive personality. Although I haven’t taken many photos yet, I couldn’t resist including two then-and-now pics! Above is a picture of Pedrito last year on the day he entered the Maternidad, found in a public restroom with his umbilical cord still attached and born several weeks premature, as well as a picture of the handsome one year old today! Below is a picture of Kenlly and I as I carried him on my shoulders around the yard. The last time I saw him he was recovering from surgery for his cleft lip and palate, and now he is a boy full of personality with the most infectious smile!!
There was a lot of will in this Williams gal, and I finally made my way to the place and the people who hold such a large portion of my heart. I am so very blessed to be back serving the people that I love, but for also having the opportunity to share their stories with all back home. Although my trip to Peru was a long one my journey has only just begun!
With love from Peru,