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10/19/08 (Sunday)

7:45 AM.  After a very restful sleep I awoke about 6 and decided to get up and get ready for the day.  Church starts at 8:30 so I will have some time to read and reflect.  Jane was going to see the only patient remaining in the albergue as he had a hernia repair and will go home today.  She said she would see him early and then come back to the house to get ready for church.  I did not have to make rounds on this fellow this morning so that gave me a little more time to spend quietly reading and listening to God’s Word.


The reading I have done this trip has been entirely from Scripture.  I set out on a quest to learn to know God more and to incorporate what I have learned into my life today.  Every time I read Scripture I am amazed as to how contemporary it is.  These words were inspired thousands of years ago and written down by faithful followers of God.  Yet, they apply directly to today.  I read the same stories in various places in the Old and New Testament and when contemplated in the context of what I am experiencing that day, those ancient words of Scripture just jump off the page applying entirely to the question or situation I am in at that moment.  Over and over I have had this experience.  Even though the words are ancient, they apply infinitely without any limit of time. 


My reading this trip started at the book of Matthew and so far I have read into Luke.  I wanted to reread these books again and reflect on what more I learned about God through what I read.  I figured the place to start is the accounts of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  As I have read through these books so far and study Jesus’ ministry, His outreach to the people, a couple consistent themes seem to weave throughout these books.  One is the theme of compassion, something I discussed earlier.  One trademark of Jesus was His compassion for the people, especially those who were hurting and harassed.  Even when He was physically tired, his compassion for the sick, the possessed, and the lost drove Him to keep on touching and healing.  The only time He didn’t show compassion was when He dealt with those who would not believe in Him, have faith in Him.  Those people were the religious leaders of the day who through their own agenda and lust for power, position and prestige, had become blind guides who were leading the people to destruction.  Jesus spoke very strong and forceful words against these people and their teaching.  Otherwise, He reached out to the people who came to Him for healing, who came to Him displaying their faith in Him.


The second theme I encountered was faith.  Over and over Jesus talked about a person’s faith as the key ingredient to the healing or miracle that took place.  Many times when He healed a person he would say, “Your faith has healed you.”  When I went back and studied the accounts of these healing the word “faith” was always there.  Even when the disciples tried to cast out demons and heal the sick and failed, Jesus told them that was because they did not have faith.  Jesus performed many miracles and frequently tested the faith of the disciples in the context of the miracle.  A repeated story in the Gospels is the story of Jesus going to His home town, Nazareth, and confronting the lack of faith there.  The people could not bridge the gap between Jesus, the boy who grew up as a carpenter’s son in their midst to Jesus, the miracle worker, the Messiah, the Christ.  They did not believe in Him and because of that Jesus did not perform many miracles or heal the sick there…because of their lack of faith.  One story that appears in Matthew 9:1-7, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:17-26 is the account of Jesus healing the paralytic man who was brought to Him by four of his friends.  This man needed healing and his friends greatly wanted him healed.  Jesus was teaching inside a house and the place was packed with people, those coming to watch, those coming to learn, those coming to place their faith in Him, and those coming to criticize and find fault to have reason to condemn Him.  The four men carrying their friend could not bring him to the feet of Jesus.  Thus, instead of turning around and giving up on this mission of healing, they became innovative.  They took the man on his mat up on the roof of the house and dug through the roof.  Making a hole big enough to lower this man on the mat down through the roof must have been quite a chore.  Imagine what that would have been like.  The house was probably made of mud and possibly had a hardened mud roof or maybe a thatch roof.  The details of the roof are not given in the story.  All that is said is the men dug through the roof and created a hole big enough to lower their friend on the mat.  If I picture this scene in my mind I see Jesus talking to the people with noise and commotion going on above Him and probably debris falling all around Him as the hole was made.  Yet, nothing is mentioned about Jesus getting out of the way of the falling debris or even seemingly bothered by what was going on.  I believe He knew all along what was going on above Him.  Then the hole is finally prepared and the four men lowered their friend down through the roof and place Him at the feet of Jesus.  Just how they did that is hard to imagine.  I suspect each friend had a corner of the mat in his hand and laying on the roof was able to lower the man down.  They had to all act in unison so the mat stayed level and the man did not tumble out.  I suspect the height of the roof to the floor was enough for an adult to stand, thus making this descent about 6 feet or so.  I think this lowering of the man on the mat could have been a tough task to do it successfully with limited equipment and not spilling their friend out of the man onto the floor.  The friend was paralyzed.  He could not move.  He was totally dependent on his friends.  Then the story states that Jesus looked up to the four men and saw their faith and then He healed the paralytic man.  It was the faith of the four friends that brought healing to this man. 


I look at what I witness here in San Lorenzo, the healing that takes place here.  I think of Beatriz and the healing of her cancer.  I think of the patients who go through major surgery and yet are ready to go home the next day.  I see miraculous healing that happens frequently.  I think this takes place because Jane and her team have such a strong faith in Jesus Christ.  They bring His healing power to these people and through their faith Jesus touches and heals.  I talked with Jane about this and she said when they have some emergency or sometimes when the anesthesiologist is having difficulty or some other urgent event is happening, she will notice that Angelita and Maria Luisa will stop what they are doing and pray.  They surround the whole process with prayer and I believe this brings protection and success and healing when logic would say it would never happen.  At home I notice times when adverse outcomes occur and one wonders why this happened.  Almost always when I dissect the situation down to its roots, I see a lack of faith as the base of all decisions.  When the health care provider does not start the process with faith in God and His healing power, then the outcome may not always be what is desired.  This also applies to the one receiving the care, the patient.  My patients whose faith was strong went through difficult times much more easily and successfully than those who didn’t believe.  Faith is such an essential ingredient in healing.  Jesus emphasizes this truth over and over.


Father, thank You for the restful night and this new day.  Today the sun is shining and the day is glorious because it is Your day.  Thank You for that, Father.  Thank You for the insight You have given me through Your Holy Word, Lord.  Thank You for what You teach me as I read and reread Scripture.  Each and every time I learn something important that applies to my walk with You, Lord.  Thank You for that.  Father, I pray for today.  I pray we can complete the packing and laundry and other things we need to do to prepare to leave in the morning.  I pray also for my family.  Please be with them today in a special way.  Thank You for them, Lord.  Father, I pray for the church service that is about to start.  Even though it is in Spanish and I will not grasp much of what is said, speak to me Lord and help me understand an important truth about You.  Thank You, Father.  Amen.


10:30 AM.  Church is over and Jane is taking Maria Luisa and her children home.  When we were just getting ready to leave the house to walk over to the ministry building for church, a small car pulled up.  Out of the car came Angelita and her husband and 12 little children.  Angelita recruits the children of her neighborhood to come to church with her.  This car was a 4-seater, quite small.  It reminded me of the fad years ago of college students trying to see how many people could get in a Volkswagen Bug.  Once we sat down in church I counted 34 children sitting in the front two rows.  The worship leader started out saying to the children to ask their parents to bring them to church.  He said to go wake them up on Sunday morning and ask them to bring them to church.  If they don’t want to, then ask them if they can go to church with Sister Angelita.  We started our worship by reading together Psalm 86.  The words struck me as David prays: “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.  Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.  You are my God, save your servant who trusts in you.  Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.  In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.  Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.  All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.  For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.  Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave.  The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my life – men without regard for you.  But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant your strength to your servant and save the son of your maidservant.  Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.”  Amazing!  These are words of faith from a man whose legacy is he sought God’s heart.  Again, I am reminded of how important faith is in everything we say and do.


The pastor’s sermon was from Job 1 & 2.  Jane brings to church a Bible in Spanish and a Bible in English.  She gave me her English version and I was able to follow along by reading these first two chapters of Job.  What struck me again was the testimony of faith from Job.  The scenario is an encounter taking place before the very throne of God with Satan reporting in to God.  I have read this account many times and still it has deep meaning when I read it again.  Satan reports in full of jealousy, greed and rebellion trying to undo God and take His place.  When God asks Satan what he has been doing, Satan replies that he has been roaming to and fro on the earth.  God then asks Satan if he has come across Job, a man whom God describes as faithful, upright, righteous.  A man God praises for his integrity and consistency in his worship and walk with Him.  It is as if God is challenging Satan to find just one thing wrong with Job.  Satan argues with God about Job and is certain if he could afflict him Job would deny God.  God essentially says, “Go ahead, make my day.  I know Job and he can’t be broken.”  God gives Satan the permission to destroy all of Job’s possessions and Satan was rebuffed by Job’s response of deep faith in God.  God then gives Satan permission to destroy Job’s health and again he was countered by Job’s deep faith in God.  In spite of all the pain, adversity, suffering, loss, Job remained steadfast.  And when you study this challenge and counterchallenge between God and Satan, you realize that Job knew nothing about what was going on and was innocent in all of this.  He became a pawn in the game Satan was playing and Satan was confident he could undo the whole power of faith.  Yet he lost…big.  Job remained steadfast.  His faith came through and God rewarded that faith very generously as recorded in the very last verses of the book of Job.


I can’t help but smile as I think about this morning.  I awoke with the plan to read more about Jesus before going to church.  What struck me as I was reading was seeing the element of faith employed in every encounter with Christ.  Then I go to church only to hear this message emphasized and validated from other sections of Scripture.  This whole morning is a God thing for me.  I firmly believe God is answering my prayer and quest I had before coming on this trip – to know Him better.  I wanted to learn more about God, to draw closer to Him and experience Him deeper in my life.  And what He is teaching me is the basis for all of this is faith. 


Thank You, Lord, for what You have taught me today about You.  Thank You for all of Your incredible grace and mercy You so faithfully bestow upon me.  Thank You for how You work here at San Lorenzo in response to the faith of Jane and her team members.  Lord, I see these people so rich in their relationship with You.  I see them teaching me to continue to grow in my faith.  Thank You for blessing them, Lord.  Thank You for orchestrating incredible acts of healing within the walls of this clinic facility, Lord.  Thank You for protecting the patients and the providers here, Lord.  Thank You for allowing me the privilege and opportunity to come here and be part of this team.  Thank You for the fulfillment I experience here, Lord.  You and only You receive all the praise and glory, Lord.  Thank You, Lord!  Amen.


2:45 PM.  Jane and I had lunch and then we have been running trips to the clinic building to continue drying all the sheets and towels so we can pack them all to take back to Quito.  We have one more load to dry and fold and then we can pack the car.  I have packed my luggage.  I am able to carry everything in one suitcase and one carry on.  My duffel bag and backpack are packed in the suitcase.  Once we have the things I want to purchase in Otavalo, I can then pack more for travel home.  I would like to take just one suitcase and if possible use the backpack as a carry on.  It is now time to lay down for a nap. 


6:00 PM.  I had a good hour of naptime and it felt wonderful.  Jane and I have continued to work the laundry and we have just one load to go in the dryer.  Once that load is dry, we will fold the sheets and drapes and pack them in the final pack to take to Quito.  Her car is loaded with several large packs of drapes, sheets, gowns and towels that will then be refolded and assorted into the packs she uses for each case.  Each pack includes a laparotomy drape, two sheets, 4 towels, and usually 2 sometimes 3 gowns and towels.  These are then wrapped in two outer covers and tied with cord and then sterilized.  Jane takes all the packs to a hospital in Quito where they are sterilized for her.  This hospital has a large autoclave that can handle almost all the packs in one load. 


We will leave here about 7 AM.  The one patient who was discharged today decided to stay the day and travel tomorrow.  He lives a long distance away and by bus will likely take 14 hours to get home.  He didn’t feel like traveling today so he and his wife have stayed in the albergue all day.  I have not seen either one out walking around so I wonder what they did to pass the time with nothing to do.  I guess I am too restless to sit and do nothing all day.  I have to either be reading or be involved in something.  Just sitting and staring would drive me crazy.  Yet, I see people here doing that for long periods of time.  I remember a few trips ago a Chachi Indian couple were here for a couple days.  The wife had surgery and the husband sat on the end of her bed all day doing absolutely nothing but just sitting there.  Whenever we would go into the albergue to check on the patients he would be sitting there in the same spot almost in the same position.  I remember thinking then how boring that must be just sitting there.  Yet, he seemed to take it right in stride. 


In the morning Jane will see the remaining patient and make sure he is heading home and then we will leave.  We plan to catch breakfast in Ibarra on the way.  That is about 2 hours from San Lorenzo.  Just beyond Ibarra is San Antonio where we can shop.  This place has multiple stores filled with wood carvings.  Some of the carvings are really beautiful and unique.  We will then move on down the road a short distance to Otavalo to shop at the market there.  Once shopping is over we will then head on to Quito.  We should arrive in Quito in late afternoon. 


Jane and I went over to the clinic building and took the cover off the breaker box to check the wiring and take some pictures of the wiring to show Alex when we get to Quito.  We want to meet with him on Tuesday to discuss various maintenance projects that need attention at the clinic.  The one big need is to correct the electrical setup for the washer and dryer so the circuit breaker doesn’t trip off all the time. 


It will soon be time to head to bed and get our last night’s sleep here in this noisy place.  The frogs are already making their noises of the night.  These will continue all night long.  Traffic keeps going by steadily with lots of trucks, cars, and motorcycles.  There are no glass windows so we can’t shut out the noise.  All we have is screen and a metal grid over the screen for protection.  The dogs are starting to bark as well.  So the night routine is settling in.  I am thankful for the fan that keeps the white noise steady and drowns out some of the other sounds of the night.  Also, the constant breeze helps with staying a little more comfortable with the high humidity and warm temperatures. 


Father, this has been a good mission project.  We have been able to care for several people and help them restore their health.  We also saw some of these people receive spiritual restoration.  That was even more special.  It is such a privilege to work with Jane and help her minister to these people.  Without her willingness and expertise, many people here would live life without any relief of their health problems.  Lord, Thank You for equipping this clinic and empowering the people here to deliver the much needed care.  Thank You for protecting Jane and her team from danger and disease.  Thank You for Your all sufficient grace and love.  Father, I pray for the patients as they recover in their homes.  I pray for Beatriz and her pain.  We have not heard from her yesterday or today.  I pray that her pain has subsided and she is okay.  Please be with her, Lord.  I pray also for the church that meets here in the ministry building.  The pastor and his wife are such gracious people and have a love for You and for the people they lead.  Thank You for Jane allowing them use of the ministry building while their church building is being rebuilt.  Thank You for the message of love this church gives to the community.  I pray for Your grace to shower over them continually.  Thank You, Lord for all You have done here in San Lorenzo.  You love these people and died for them.  Thank You, Lord, for Your unfailing love.  Amen.



1. Tom Beckner - October 23, 2008

Thanks for your terrific commentary on the role of faith! Amen.

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