Life Quilt – row 1, square 4 – Northwest Medical Teams, Part 2, Ben in Peru

My memories with NWMT are linked to three men that went with me: Wild Bill (Mexico), Ben (Peru 1), and Jeff (Peru 2).

Coya, Peru

This Northwest Medical Team (NWMT) construction team went to Coya, Peru to make a prison into a medical center in Coya, a small town in the sacred valley of the incas about an hour and a half from Cusco in 2003. It turns out that the prison in question was a prison for run away horses, but you get the idea.Most of the men on the team were experienced in construction, in one form or another, except for me, a teacher, and Ben, an attorney.


At this point in the process we were working on infrastructure: sewer, water, electricity and building renovation. Our in country people were Sandy (from Portland and retired from USAid) and her husband Guido (from nearby Calca and just retired from US State. the had a home in Calca and in Miami. Guido acted as translator for President Reagan when he visited the president of Mexico. They met in the MexicoCity earthquake.

Our team coming over the pass from Cusco.

The Peruvians were surprised and confused as to why a maestro and an abogada were doing the manual labor. We explained that we didn’t have the work skills the others had. There was one attribute that Ben had over others (beside the fact that he spoke Spanish because his mother wwas from Spain.). He was tall.


We worked and we ate and we went to markets and we saw the Sacred Valley and Manchu Piccu. But something special happened (before Ben got sick in the Lima airport while passing through customs) and it happened here:


We had each taken our turn trying to rewire this plug (The Peru team had wired it in series, like a Christmas tree lights, so. If one went out they all went out).  While I was sitting on the bucket that you see Ben sitting on, I overheard Sandy talking about next year and wondering how were they going to find funding which would include a $2,000 Ophthamological microscope.  So, I’m sitting there and I think, “I could fund that project!”  Microsoft had been good to me and I decided to share the earnings with the Kausai Wasi clinic in Coya, Peru.

Suddenly I felt overridden with a serene calm that accepted me, despite my sins and warts, and made my soul feel validated to a degree that was both wonderful and frightening. Frightening because I felt the real power of love, I believe it was the Holy Spirit.  We hear that love can trump evil, but until then I had no idea about the real power of love. Holy cow!

When I returned to Portland I talked to my wife and then NWMT about funding the next trip.  They asked why and I told them of my experience. They said “and the microscope?” I said yes.  I wanted them to negotiate with Sandy andGuido and set the price, then money was transferred. Boy howdy!

– small town boy

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