We have an amazing group this time on the Peru Immersion Trip — 21 people from San Antonio! And the thread connecting us all is the Verbo Encarnado – the Incarnate Word – God becoming fully human, compelling us all to promote human dignity, especially among the most vulnerable. This is our shared mission for the next 10 days.
Participants on the trip hail from a variety of groups: Women’s Global Connection, the CCVI sisters, the Ettling Center for Community Engagement, as well as University of the Incarnate Word faculty and students from Optometry, Business, and Pharmacy and Nutrition.
Sister Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI, has been a guiding force for keeping our big group focused in on the rich history of people and places where we are visiting and serving. The Sisters have been in Peru now for over 50 years making God’s love real! If you’ve ever traveled with Sr. Martha Ann, you know there is lots of “circling up” (in the airport, in parking lots, etc.) for shared perspective, theology lessons, and mandatory fellowship that she gently encourages.
After a bit of delay at the Lima airport over how to admit auto-refractors and retina scopes through customs for the optometry clinics to be held, our group boarded buses for the 8-hour ride north along the coast to Chimbote, a fishing town of about 300,000.
We were so excited to be greeted by Incarnate Word Missionaries in Chimbote: Kristen Amaro, Nicholena Vranicar and Yvonne Moynihan! And Srs. Mirella, Leonela, and Martha Ann led us in a welcoming ceremony in the garden adjacent to the Clinica Santa Clara, a medical clinic partnered with Christus and under the Incarnate Word Health System here that serves disadvantaged patients regardless of their ability to pay.
We then toured the System’s hospice, which is the only such end-of-life facility in all of Latin America, explained Sr. Mirella, who oversees it. The center is helping to educate many in the region about the quality care that can accompany hospice patients facing near death. Dying can be a taboo topic in Peru, Sr. Mirella explained, and as a result, many patients outside hospice care are not able to experience death with dignity.
At the hospice, we also noticed the touching artwork and poetry of Sr. Juanita Albracht, who began the hospice and served there until her recent return to San Antonio. Sr. Juanita, true to form, left beauty and an amazing legacy behind.
Another shot of the whole, wonderful group!