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10/12/08 (Sunday)

8:10 AM.  I have been awake since 6.  I slept well and feel rested.  The night must have been quiet or else I was really asleep.  I did wake up in the same position as I was when I went to sleep so I must have slept really well.  The tree frogs even were quiet for me.  This morning I have been working on my study of the Book of James as I will be teaching it to my Adult Bible Fellowship group at church once I return to Indiana.  This book also has been the focus of my Dupont Bible Study group at work.  I have a group of physicians and the hospital chaplain who come together twice a month to study God’s Word.  We have some good discussion as we take what we read and apply it to our work situations.  James is a hard-hitting book.  He confronts each of us poking his finger in our chests and asking us about our authenticity – how our walk matches our talk.  He puts us on the spot and forces us to analyze our faith and stay true to that faith throughout the day.  Nothing tears down a reputation, a testimony faster than being inconsistent – saying one thing and doing another.  James is a great study, painful for sure, but great.


10:30 AM.  Church is over and Jane is taking Angelita home.  Angelita recruits children from her neighborhood and brings them to church with her every Sunday.  Jane said she will bring 10 to 12 children every week and now since the church as moved from close to Angelita’s home to the clinic, the distance is not easy to walk with the kids.  Jane usually will load them all in her car and will take them back home.  What an outreach to young hearts and minds!  I applaud Angelita for her faithfulness in reaching others for Christ.  She and Maria Luisa conduct the kids club here at the clinic and have the same outreach to the children of the neighborhood around the clinic.  I have watched them on previous trips and many times there will be 20 to 30 children here singing songs and memorizing Bible verses and learning about God and Jesus Christ. 


The church service was praise-filled with singing and preaching.  The ministry building is open with walls and a roof with open ends and about 3 feet of open space above the walls.  We were singing a song about the Holy Spirit and a bird came flew in and settled on a brace bar in the roof.  It was a beautiful bird with black feathers and a white breast.  Jane also noticed it and said it was a swallow.  It sat there during the singing and almost the entire sermon before it flew away.  One symbol of the Holy Spirit is that of a dove.  I thought this little touch by God was just what was needed to add to the service, at least for me.  The church is small with about 30 adults attending and probably close to the same number of children.  The children were there for the singing and then went to their own church in the waiting area of the clinic building.  The pastor spoke without notes and talked about living a life of serving others (Acts 6:1-7) and also as children of the Light (Ephesians 5:8-14).  I could not understand everything he said but I did pick up the theme of the sermon and could find my way through the Scripture without needing translation.  It was a neat experience to worship God in another culture.  The people are so friendly and gracious.  They came and welcomed me with open arms, hugs and handshakes.  Jane told me the pastor and his wife are both seminary trained and they provide excellent leadership for this church.


This morning as I continue to read through Matthew I came to chapter 25 and again was reminded of the importance of Jane’s ministry here.  When we reach out and serve others, especially the least of them, the lowest, the poorest, the harassed and helpless, we are doing the same to Christ.  We serve Him and glorify Him when we serve others.  This is the basis of the Matthew 25 Clinic in Fort Wayne where thousands of people, many of whom would be considered the “least of these”, are given medical care.  I have the privilege of conducting a gynecology clinic there once a month.  Not too long ago I saw a lady who spoke Spanish and I tried to communicate with her using the very limited Spanish I know.  I did learn she came from Ecuador so I told her I go to San Lorenzo to work there.  She just lit up with smiles and said she knows the area very well and lived in the area.  She told me her brother and his daughter live in San Lorenzo currently.  I brought her name and her brother’s name with me and told Jane about them.  We will attempt to connect with the brother while I am here and maybe I can take a message back to his sister who lives in Fort Wayne. 


12:50 PM.  Lunch is over and everyone is down for a nap.  It seems that naps are always in order on Sunday afternoon.  I guess church just wears you out!  A nap sounded like a good idea to me as well, so now I am giving it a try.  It is cloudy and looks like it could rain.  There is a breeze and it is not too hot and humid.  This afternoon I hope to spend some time trying to learn more Spanish.  When people speak it at normal speed I just cannot catch much of it at all.  Fortunately, Jane translates for me.  I really would like to master this language as a personal goal as well as helping me converse and communicate when I come here or go to any other place where Spanish is the main language.  This old dog just doesn’t learn new tricks well.


6:30 PM.  I got a good nap in and spent the afternoon working on my study in James for my ABF group.  I have the lessons all completed now and this will make it a lot easier for me when I return home and not have to spend a lot of time preparing to teach.  I enjoy teaching because the preparation forces me to study deeper and understand the material so I can explain it to others.  Even though teaching demands extra time, it gives me the discipline I need to really study and learn what Scripture says and how to apply this to everyday living.  James is a great study because it is all about everyday living and remaining consistent in our walk and talk.  In our world at all levels consistency is demanded.  I look at the political races and consistency, or the lack thereof, is always stressed.  A candidate has to face the criticism from the media about some decision made 20 years ago that now runs counter to the position held today.  The charge is lack of consistency, or in more modern terms, flip-flopping on the issues.  In our walk with Christ, we are held to the standard of having our walk match our talk.  If we fail that, the criticism flows.  Even though James was written close to 2000 years ago, it relates to today as if it were written today.  There is so much application from this book.


Our evening meal is soon to be ready and then it will turn dark.  Here near the equator the days and nights are about equal in time all year long.  It gets dark about 7 or so and gets light about 7.  When it gets dark, it seems to get dark fast.  I don’t see much of the gradual change we call dusk.  It probably is the same everywhere, but it just seems like there is light then there is dark.  The darkness doesn’t seem to have any effect on the noise.  The trucks, cars, motorcycles, stereos, dogs, roosters, tree frogs, and other sources of noise just continue on as if nothing ever happened. 


Tomorrow our surgery schedule starts.  We had a couple patients arrive today to spend the night so they can be ready in the morning.  These people travel a long way to come.  It is amazing to me that we see so many people from a considerable distance from San Lorenzo.  We see people coming from the major cities that are two to three hours away and where medical care is more plentiful.  Yet, they prefer to come here to see Jane.  We see people coming via canoe on the rivers from remote river villages.  These people learn that the gynecologist is here and they come for their surgery.  This will be a busy week with a lot of hysterectomies and other gynecologic surgeries all week.


Today, we have a family medicine doctor coming for the week to run the medical clinic.  Jane had a physician here full time; however, she recently moved on.  The physician is coming from Shell, a mission hospital several hours away.  The area of Shell is where Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, and the other missionaries were killed back in the 1950s, I believe.  The movie, The Tip of the Spear, was about these missionaries and filmed in the area.  Jane has worked in Shell in the past.  The physician coming is Mark Nelson and I am eager to meet him and learn to know him.  He is due to arrive tonight and will be with us this next week.


7:30 PM.  Dinner is over and it was wonderful.  We had chicken over thick spaghetti that looked and tasted like egg noodles.  The broth was thick with mushrooms and the entire combination was delicious.  We also had a salad and plantain that was fried and tasted sweet like banana.  Also, our drink was fresh passion fruit juice.  The fruits were put in a blender and the result was a very tasty drink.  Mora juice and passion fruit juice rank very high on my list of favorites.  The fresh fruit juice has been wonderful and I still have a week and a half of this treatment.  I will go home so spoiled that Phyl will have a hard time getting me back to reality. 


7:50 PM.  Dr. Nelson just arrived and we had a chance to talk some.  He will be a big help this next week seeing the medical patients and providing this level of care for Jane. 


Father, thank You for the good day.  We started the day worshipping You and most of the day I spent reading Your Word and worshipping You.  Thank You for the church that meets here and the dedication of the pastor and his wife to this family.  It was such a thrill to be in the midst of their praise and worship of You, Lord.  Even though I could not understand the language well, I still could worship with them.  Thank You, Lord, for the time I have been able to spend in Your Word learning from You.  You inspired various faithful servants to write Your words for readers like me.  And to think these were inspired so many, many years ago yet they apply so clearly to my life today.  Lord, Your Word is alive and totally pertinent to us today.  Thank You for Your unfailing love in providing all we need.  Lord, I praise You tonight.  I pray for our patients tomorrow and the rest of the week.  I pray for the people who will be seeing Dr. Mark Nelson this week as well.  Thank You for him and his devotion to serving You.  Lord, I pray for my family at home.  Please be near them tonight and hold them in Your arms.  Thank You, Lord.  I praise You tonight.  Amen


1. Tom Beckner - October 15, 2008

I am looking forward to the James study, my brother!

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