Posted by: calloftheandes | August 30, 2011

Bolivian Doctor Serves in Home Country After Completing Residency in Quito

In Teresa Nina's hands, trash becomes treasures like these.

A sheep died, and some villagers suspected witchcraft.

In Yawisla, Bolivia, however, a young doctor offered an alternative—a scientific approach. Dr. Francisco Nina, a member of the Aymara people group, performed an autopsy, revealing the actual cause of the animal’s death.

A large wad the size of a softball was blocking the sheep’s digestive tract. The wad was comprised of castoff plastic bags that had littered the countryside around Yawisla.

Today Nina and his wife, Teresa, offer advice on environmental concerns as part of their health messages. As Christians they believe God has called them to reach out in love to both the Aymara and Quechua peoples of Bolivia. Teresa also holds popular classes, teaching women to make pencil holders, jewelry boxes and other home decorations that she crochets out of recycled plastic bags.

Francisco and Teresa Nina in Quito, just before returning to Bolivia.

The Ninas recently completed training in Ecuador that they took to better prepare themselves for this ministry. Their journey to Ecuador began nearly a decade ago when Nina was assigned by Bolivia’s rural health service to work in Yawisla with a medical missionary, Dr. Stephen Hawthorne of SIM (Serving In Mission). Yawisla is a Quechua community 10,000 feet high in the Andes, 70 miles southeast of Potosí.

“We hit it off from the start, as did our wives, Mary and Teresa,” related Hawthorne who said Nina rose above many physicians for “his desire to know more, to keep learning, to be the best he can be professionally and as a co-worker in the mission of God to bless others.”

“That’s what took him and his family on the four-day bus ride from Potosí to Quito in 2008 and has kept him there over the past three years in the residency program,” Hawthorne continued. Teresa has been mentored in cross-cultural Christian work through Corrientes, a coalition of local churches and mission agencies that cooperates to mobilize Latin Americans for bi-vocational Christian work.

Moving from remote Yawisla to the bustling Ecuadorian capital represented a cultural shift for the Ninas. “Stay in the apartment; do not leave,” Francisco instructed his wife.

Eventually Teresa left anyway out of necessity—the family needed groceries! Today they credit their safekeeping in Quito to God’s protection, most pointedly recalling an incident as Francisco left work one evening. Held up at gunpoint, he watched as his backpack headed down the street with thieves. But when he shouted for its return, the demand was met. The backpack was returned to him … complete with his laptop computer inside.

The Lord has stretched the Ninas in other ways, including disaster response work in Haiti following the country’s devastating January 2010 earthquake.

“While we were working in Haiti, Francisco expressed to me how glad he is to be able to be the ‘feet of those who bring good news,’” said Dr. Mark Nelson who serves at HCJB Global Hands’ Hospital Vozandes-Quito and with Corrientes.

Having finished a residency at the hospital, Nina packed up his family for the long bus trip back to Bolivia in early August. In Potosí a relative has been managing Teresa’s clinical laboratory which the Ninas plan to combine with a family practice clinic, ministering to those whom God sends their way.

Friends pray for the Ninas in Quito. Standing (l to r): Dr. Roy Ringenberg, Earl Hartwig, Clara Chuma, and Marabeth Ringenberg. Seated (forground): Rebecca and Dr. Carlos Pinto. Ringenbergs and Chuma work at Hospital Vozandes. Chuma is a candidate in Corrientes, which is directed by Hartwig and Dr. Pinto.

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