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Stories - Neneveh

Lima is my Nineveh. Lima is not a particularly nice city. It’s large, dirty, and in the Peruvian winter (June - August) it’s overcast and cold. I had been there as a tourist twice. Each time for several days. Two years ago, I visited Lima for a third time for a medical mission. We went to the shanty-town outskirts of the city, and helped as many of the people we could reach. I felt I had “done” Lima.

When the coordinator from the local mission team asked me if I wanted to go to Lima in April, I thought: ‘Lima, again?’ I didn’t want to go back to Lima. It was dirty, cold, and I’d already been there THREE times. I opted out of the April trip. I explained that I preferred not to go to Lima.

The response was that there was a trip to the jungles of Peru in August. La Merced. I received a flyer shortly afterward describing the beautiful ride to the jungle location, and, how could I say no? It wasn’t Lima. I signed up. I’d go to the jungle.

Remember Jonah? Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and preach to the people to quit their wickedness. But Jonah hopped a boat for Tarshish instead. Then the skies opened up and storms rocked Jonah’s ship. The sailors threw Jonah overboard trying to rid the ship of the malady of the storms. And Jonah was swallowed by a fish. When the fish vomited him onto land after three days, he decided it was time to head to Nineveh.

A week before the trip into the jungle, I received the team roster and some other information in the mail. But nothing mentioned La Merced. It all said Lima. Flight to Lima. Hotel in Lima. Emergency contacts in Lima.
I sent an email asking the coordinator if we were still going to La Merced. I realized it hadn’t been a stupid question when the reply came back that we were going to Lima. He apologized and said he’d neglected to mention the change in plans because he couldn’t find my email address. So, five days before the trip, I find myself in the belly of a fish. I had collected donations from friends, family and supporters, have paid the fee for the mission, and had all but packed my bags. When the fish spat me out, “Lima” was being whispered in my ear as loudly as Nineveh had been whispered in Jonah’s ear. I could still have bailed out of the trip, or I could have given up the fight, obeyed and gone.

On that mission, a father and son came to the clinic. The son was 18 and his face was covered in cuts and abrasions that were on their way to turning into bruises. The son had had an epileptic seizure. When he fell, he landed on his face. The boy had been diagnosed with epilepsy a few years earlier and had been taking his medicine regularly, and had been able to continue with school. But his father was between jobs and no longer had the money to pay for the medicine.

We didn’t have any epilepsy medicine on hand, but we went to a pharmacy and bought him a month’s supply. We advised the father to purchase additional medication at the end of that month, hoping that he would have a job to be able to purchase it. We saw another 18-year old epileptic that clinic as well, and we bought him a month’s worth of medication and gave the same advice.

At the end of that mission, the though of those two boys stayed with me.  I looked online for ways to sponsor them to ensure that they could have their epilepsy medication, regardless of whether their fathers had jobs. But there was no organization like that. So I started Med to One, to create that sponsorship channel.

I realize now that I needed to be in Lima that trip.  That I needed to go to Ninevah, despite my preferences to the contrary.  Lima is my Ninevah, and Med to One is the result.