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10/08/08 (Wednesday)

Knowing God more deeply, laying up treasures

I begin my seventh trip to Ecuador to serve God through serving others.  This trip I am carrying a lot of supplies for Jane.  I have several light bulbs for her operating room light all packed in my carry-on to avoid breakage.  These bulbs are large, sealed-beam, and glass and each are packed in a box.  Needless to say, they take up a fair amount of room in my carry-on.  I have also a couple days worth of clothes and personal items along with a couple books in this bag.  My other allowable carry-on is a backpack that holds my computer, papers, Bible, and a couple books.  My two bags I am checking contain mostly supplies and some more clothes.  One bag is a heavy duty duffel.  This will come back empty so it will fit nicely in the other suitcase for the return trip.  I may be able to put one of the carry-ons in the suitcase as well. 


After a good night’s sleep, Phyl and I arose and had a good breakfast together before heading to the airport.  The usual travel time from Fort Wayne to Quito is about 12 hours.  This trip I leave FW at 10:35 AM and travel to Chicago, then to Miami, then to Quito arriving in Quito at 9:05 PM.  Quito is in the same time zone as Fort Wayne so jet lag is a non-issue.  I have an hour and a half layover in Chicago and two and a half hours in Miami.  Jane sent me an email yesterday stating I will be staying at the HCJB guesthouse tonight.  I am happy with this as the rooms are very clean and comfortable.


Lord, I pray for this trip.  You called me to go help Jane again and I couldn’t get that thought, that urging, out of my mind.  Even though earlier this year I had decided to not go again this Fall, Your call put that decision aside.  Lord, most of all I want to be in Your will each and every day.  Thus, when You placed the urge in my heart to return to San Lorenzo, I could not turn my back on that.  I pray for safety in travel today – for me and for everyone else.  Hold me in Your hands, Father.  I pray also for Phyl.  Please keep her safe as she stays at home.  Thank You, Lord, for Your unfailing love.  Amen.


9:45 AM.  I went through check in at FW airport without any problems.  My two bags I checked in weighed one pound less than my scale showed.  At least they weren’t overweight.  When I went through security, the TSA person wanted to check my one carry-on, the one with the light bulbs and other supplies.  She went through everything and then cleared me for travel.  At least she was friendly and nice and commented how wonderful it was that I was going to another country to do mission work.


10:30 AM.  I am on the plane and soon will be flying to Chicago.  The plane is about half full.  When it arrived only about 6 people got off.  Airline travel is down because of the economy.  I believe my flight to Quito is full, however.  Reading in Matthew, chapter 6, Jesus makes this statement: “…store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”  What have I done to store treasures in heaven?  I think about my journey with God – walking with Him, following His call to go, to speak with someone.  I have had instances when some thought came that just wouldn’t go away.  Usually, it was a question about someone and then the feeling I must pray for that person or even go see him or her.  Recently, this occurred one day where I remembered my friend, Jim, who had been out of circulation for a long time recovering from a bad head injury.  I felt compelled to go visit him.  After the visit his wife, Sue, thanked me for coming over and said she had been praying for someone to come and visit Jim as he was very lonely.  She told me this visit meant so much to Jim and her.  It became clear to me that I was called to answer her prayer.  Being God’s instrument is laying up treasure in heaven.  This trip is another treasure builder.  I don’t want to be selfish and just do things that will improve my account in heaven.  I don’t think that attitude would even be honored.  Yet, it brings great joy to serve God from the heart and know that God honors this.  This becomes a treasure that cannot go away.  It is a treasure I experience now through the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes when God is honored by what I have said or done.  It also becomes a treasure I get to take with my hands and lay them at the feet of my Lord and Savior to bring Him honor and glory.  Thank You, Lord, for the wisdom of Your Word and what it teaches me.  Thank You for the multiple opportunities to lay up treasures in Your house, treasures I will be able to give to You.  I praise You, Father!  Amen.


12:20 PM.  Our flight to Chicago was a little bumpy because of rain clouds extending all across the region.  Once we were above the clouds the sun was bright and the air smooth.  When we landed and taxied to the gate, we had to wait about 15 minutes for someone to show up to guide the plane in to the gate.  I wondered where the ground crew was and why no one was there like the usual arrival when there are several people to bring the plane in and move the ramp into position.  I thought about work and my customer service research and teaching and how this situation spoke negative impressions about the airline and its ability to take care of its customers.  I called Phyl and interrupted her lunch with a couple friends and she cut the call short.  She told me she would call me later.  I told her she must really miss me already!  Of course, I plan to milk this for all it’s worth! J


1:15 PM.  The boarding process is complete.  The plane is about ready to depart for Miami.  The flight is full and everyone was dealing with lots of carry-on luggage.  I was given an exit row seat which means more leg room.  Sometimes the space is so compromised I have a hard time getting comfortable, especially crossing my legs.  The exit row has an additional 8 to 12 inches of space.  It almost feels like first class.


3:00 PM.  So far the flight has been fairly smooth with only a few bumps at times.  I have been reading some Spanish trying to learn this language.  A personal goal is to learn this language well enough to easily communicate with the people we will see.  I have a small book of medical questions that are translated into Spanish.  If I can just learn these I’ll be able to obtain a history from a patient.  The learning process is very slow.  It is true; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  At least this old dog struggles.  What I need is to be immersed in Spanish conversation for a month or so where I have no other language.  I took 2 years of German in college but haven’t used this language since.  Interestingly, when I try to learn Spanish, German words come out.  I think, “Where did that word come from?”  This makes it all the more confusing.  I guess the nerve cells in my brain that are involved in language, especially those that stored the German I learned years ago, are being stimulated and now are sending out German words that correlate to what I am trying to learn and say in Spanish.  The brain is so complex!  We really know very little about the function of the brain.  And to think…God created all this!  His thoughts are so above and beyond our thoughts.  What a marvelous God we serve!


5:00 PM.  Landing in Miami was a little scary.  We came down in bright sunshine and no turbulence.  The descent was what you expect, smooth with a soft touchdown.  Except, suddenly the smooth descent ended with a loud slam and jolt as we landed very hard on the runway.  I have never experienced this hard of a landing before.  Our flight into Chicago was so smooth at touchdown you hardly felt it.  At first I thought something really bad happened with the jolt and the very loud bang.  However, we continued rolling on down the runway as if nothing ever happened.  Lord, thank You for protecting us!


Once inside the terminal I called Phyl to tell her I was in Miami.  She read me an email from Steve Weaver, Jane’s brother, asking for prayer for Maria Luisa and the clinic.  Her ex-husband had come into the clinic on two occasions and threatened to kill her.  This was in front of several people.  I don’t know any of the details but do know this guy meant business.  In San Lorenzo murders take place with little or no protection from the police.  One can hire a hit man to do a killing for as little as $50.  At any rate, Maria Luisa’s life is in danger and all I can do is pray. 


Father, please, please protect Maria Luisa and the clinic staff.  Please intervene in this situation and stop this man from committing this evil.  Change his heart, Lord.  Expose the darkness within, Lord.  Lord, this man is very troubled and is a captive of sin.  Rescue him, please.  Lord, I pray for Your wall of protection around the clinic and around Maria Luisa and her children.  Oh Lord, please protect her.  Amen.


As we were approaching Miami I was reading Scripture and pondered on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:22-23.  The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  I have heard it said, the eyes are a window into the soul.  If I allow my eyes to view darkness, sin, evil and all that goes with it, then my soul becomes dark.  It is my choice as to what I allow my eyes, literally and the eyes of my mind, to view.  If I allow darkness to prevail, then my thoughts and deeds become dark and sinful.  And as Jesus puts it, if the darkness within me is the only light I have, my darkness is great indeed!  Amazing!  I just read that section of Scripture and the warning Jesus gives and then I learn about Maria Luisa and the darkness in her ex-husbands heart.  When even a pinpoint of light pierces the darkness, the darkness cannot stop it.  I am fervently praying for Maria Luisa and for even a pinpoint of true light to pierce the darkness of that man’s heart.


6:50 PM.  Our departure time.  We are backing away from the gate.  The flight is only about half full and I have an entire row by myself.  This will allow some room to stretch out.  As we were backing out suddenly everything went dark and the plane stopped and became quiet.  The captain then came on the PA system and said we had a circuit breaker trip that shut everything off, including the engines.  He assured us everything was okay.  In a couple minutes the lights came on and the engines started.  The captain said everything was okay and they were running system checks again to make sure before we head out.  We are now moving out to the runway and should be in the air soon.  Lord, protect us all on this flight.  I pray for a safe flight and everything to work as it should.  I pray also for Maria Luisa fervently.  Please protect her, Lord.  Thank You.  ¡Gracias, Señor!  Amen.


It promises to be a beautiful sunset as we move above the clouds.  It is evening and already there is a beautiful orange glow in the western sky.  And to think…God puts on this incredible display every day, without fail!  Thank You, Lord, for Your consistent provision!


Reading further in the book of Matthew I came to a couple verses that have this mission trip written all over them.  Chapter 9, vs. 35-38: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Jesus gives us the example.  Our mission as followers, as disciples, is to teach, preach and bring healing.  We have the absolute privilege to be His mouth to bring His Good News to others and to be His hands to bring His healing power to those who are harassed and helpless.  What an incredible privilege!  Think on this. 


Am I really capturing this opportunity?  How many times have I turned away from that moment because I was too distracted with life’s events, too afraid to let Christ empower me, too weak in my faith to take notice or even too proud to even acknowledge Jesus tapping on my shoulder inviting me to walk with Him at that moment?  I am ashamed to admit that I have mishandled these opportunities repeatedly.  Oh Lord, forgive me for failing You time and time again.  Forgive me, Lord.  Cleanse me of this stubborn heart attitude.  Help me to always walk with You.  Thank You, Lord, for calling me to Your field that is ready for harvest in San Lorenzo.  Remind me that the harvest awaits me in Fort Wayne as well. Amen.


The sunset is absolutely beautiful.  There are multiple tall billowing clouds that outline the array of shades of brilliant orange to purple at the horizon.  We are viewing this from 39,000 feet.  It is stunning to say the least.  Thank You, Lord.  You have made Yourself visible in this display of color and in the process filled my heart with joy.  Thank You, Lord!  Amen.


10:30 PM.  Quito.  I am in the HCJB Guesthouse having had an easy flight from Miami.  We arrived a little early and I walked right through customs with no questions asked.  My first stop with customs was to have my passport checked and to turn in some paperwork.  The man asked me if this was my first time in Ecuador.  I told him this was my seventh time.  He asked me why I come and I told him I come to do medical mission work to help the people in San Lorenzo.  He thanked me for coming to his country and contributing in that way.  After this I found my luggage and then walked right through the rest of the customs without being stopped or asked any questions.  The next thing I knew I was standing outside with Jane and DaMarys.  This was the quickest I have ever processed through customs.  After some hugs from Jane and DaMarys we loaded the luggage in the car and drove to the guesthouse.  Now I plan to do some email and then head to bed.  Jane will pick me up about 7:30 in the morning and we will then head to San Lorenzo.


Lord, thank You for the safe trip.  Thank You for protecting me and allowing me to spend good time in Your Word while traveling here.  Thank You for allowing me the opportunity to learn to know You better.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.


1. Phil - October 11, 2008

God bless you and Jane in your mission and I pray that He will protect you and all as you attend the problems of His children .

2. Tom Beckner - October 11, 2008

Thanks for ministering to me through your thoughts and reflections from God’s Word. My He go before you in the days ahead

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