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9/26/06 (Tuesday)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006  

5:15 AM.  I couldn’t sleep any more.  Actually, I awoke at 4:30 with the feeling that it was 6:30 and time to get up.  I had a headache and I wonder if the altitude is the cause.  I had the same type of headache when I arrived in Quito on the front end of this trip.  The headache occurred within 12 hours of being at this altitude.  So I took a couple Excedrin, the only stuff I have, and laid back down to try to sleep some more.  After tossing and turning and obviously not sleeping, I decided to just get up and get ready.  I am at the Guest House so I can’t sign on with my computer to check email or connect with family and friends.  Being up a little early, I can use the computer at the Guest House and at least connect with family via my Yahoo email.   

Reviewing yesterday, I am so thankful that God was in control and watching over us.  Satan tried to afflict us by messing with the engine.  We were very vulnerable.  Here were a couple gringos, an automatic signal that we were likely carrying more money than the people would see in a long time and have more possessions with us, sitting in a car full of luggage and stuff, out in the middle of a wilderness with no one around and no ability to communicate with anyone.  Jane said the area we were in was the most dangerous area along the road from Quito to San Lorenzo.  This was the worst area to have a break down.  We thought about one of us staying with the car and the other flagging down a passing bus and taking it to Lita where Jane’s cell would work.  However, Jane said she did not feel secure traveling alone on a bus and she felt even more insecure having me, a non Spanish speaking gringo, staying with the car alone.  People would rob you of everything and possibly injure or even kill you in the process and no one would witness the event and no one would even know.  Yet, what did God do at that moment?  He allowed us to use the car to move us to a safe spot, the only safe spot along this stretch of highway.  The rest stop was about 50 km from San Lorenzo and 20 km from Lita.  We didn’t know how far the rest stop was from us.  Jane felt it wasn’t too far.  We thought we could run the car for a while watching the temperature gauge and then stop and allow the engine to cool.  I told her we could only do that so long because the car was running only on the battery and we would eventually run the battery down.  I did not know how long we could run on the battery alone.  With the battery gone, we would be totally stranded and unable to move.  When we started out it wasn’t even a kilometer until we came upon the first sign for the rest stop.  The sign said the rest stop was 500 meters ahead.  Around the next curve we saw it and we drove up to it and parked the car in the parking area.  Jane said she had stopped here before and the lady who lives there knows her.  She said Damarys always stops there when she travels to and from San Lorenzo and has made friends with the lady there.  Jane wasn’t certain how helpful these people would be for us.  Yet, they were angels provided by God.  The wrapped their arms around us and assured us we would be safe.  The husband quickly found the problem, took the pulley wheel off and told us just what we needed to do.  Thank You, Lord for those wonderful people, the angels in disguise! 

After Damarys and Loita brought us back to the car, Damarys had a good time talking with her friend and with the daughters of this family.  The one daughter took Damarys’ cell phone and went up a hill behind the house.  Here she found she could pick up a strong signal, probably from the tower in Lita.  She was so excited that they could get a signal.  Jane and I looked at each other and we both commented that had we known that we could have called from there initially.  We had asked the lady if they had any phone connection and she said they didn’t because they had no electricity.  She said once they get electricity then they might be able to have a phone.  They were excited to know they might be able to get a cell phone to work from that spot in the “wilderness.”   

When Jane and I arrived in Lita after the bus ride there, Jane said to me she was pleased I just seemed casual and comfortable with the whole thing.  She said she was glad I left my fanny pack behind because that is a big flag that you are a tourist and are vulnerable.  A gringo with a fanny pack and/or a camera is an open invitation for someone to give you trouble.  She said even in Lita, a little village of possibly a couple hundred people, we would still be vulnerable.  I think she felt more secure having me along than if she were by herself.  She also said I didn’t act nervous or do a lot of looking around while on the bus.  She said that would be another indicator that you are nervous and insecure and are vulnerable.  She said I just seemed comfortable and casual and like everything was under control.  Maybe I was just ignorant, but I never felt like we were threatened or in a situation where we could be assaulted.  God was there with us.  He had already provided some angels to help us along the road and He was with us as we were going into phase 2 of this little diversion.  When plans get disrupted by the unexpected I usually get frustrated and anxious about the problem.  However, this time anxiety and frustration was not even present.  I knew our travel plans for the day were totally taken away and we were stranded.  Yet, I felt comfortable and at peace.  I believe God took care of that issue and allowed His indescribable peace to overwhelm us.  We had to wait in Lita for 3 plus hours.  Yet, that time went by without feeling bored or anxious.  Jane and I sat and talked and enjoyed a very tasty lunch taking an hour and a half just to eat.  Usually, lunch is over in 15 minutes!  Lunch in Ecuador is usually the biggest meal of the day so possibly here it would be 30 minutes at the most.  Then as we strolled through the village we got no curious looks or even felt threatened.  Then of all places we found a phone cabin which allowed us to make some calls home just to pass some time and to let the families know what was going on.  Then we strolled to the other end of the village and sat at another restaurant to have lunch again, another big meal.  We nibbled at the food and took another hour or so before Damarys and Loita arrived.   

Damarys and Loita were a couple more angels sent by God.  They obviously had worried about us, especially since Jane did not send them a text message at the time they expected.  Yet, to be able to make the arrangements as quickly as they could and get the appropriate vehicle for us to transport all the stuff we had in the car was to me a direct provision from God.  They were able to connect with us in a shorter time that expected coming all the way from Quito.  Plus, they had to leave work and take a bus to another part of Quito just to link with Loita’s husband and get his pickup truck.  All that would take some time.  Yet, they got to us in a shorter time than it should have taken.  God again provided His angels for protection and rescue.  Thank You, Lord!! 

I am reminded of the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:15-17 where the Scripture tells about the protection from God’s angels.  Elisha tells his servant to look again for God’s protection.  The Scripture states:

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.  “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered.  “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.”  The the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

I like to think that the hills around us were lined by angels standing ready to protect us and that they did.  The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that was the reality.  Later, I glanced at Psalm 34 and leaping off the page were these words in verse 7: The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Elisha knew the angels were there and he was not afraid of the threats made against him.  He knew God would provide the protection he needed and God certainly did.  We certainly were provided protection by a host of angels as well.  What a great God we have and serve! 

Today, Damarys and Loita are taking Jane and I to Otavalo for a day of shopping and just having fun.  Instead of giving us a car to drive or renting one, they are taking us.  Jane asked me if I wanted to spend the day with three beautiful women.  How could I not accept that offer?  I don’t have much I want to get at Otavalo but would like to get a couple necklaces for Phyl and to look around.  I was thinking of getting a backpack there to serve as my carry-on on the way home.  I could put the computer and camera in the backpack and pack the carry-on in the luggage since I will have a lot of room in the luggage.   

Jane did ask if I could take home some Christmas catalogs for LAMB.  This is a project she is working on where one could purchase from the catalog some items that would supply needs at San Lorenzo.  The purchase would actually be a donation to LAMB but the gift would go directly to patient care.  One item in the catalog was the purchase of a new mattress for a bed in the albergue.  This cost was $25.  There were multiple other purchases listed.  The catalog was very nicely done, looks very professional.  Jane has 2000 of them to send back if I have room.  I will definitely have room for them; the concern is the weight.  It will be like taking about 8 reams of paper.  I think I will look at backpacks but will likely just pack the computer, camera and other things in my carry-on and take that on the plane.  At any rate, it is now time to get cleaned up and ready for my day with three beautiful women…more angels!  My thermometer shows the temperature in the room at 64 degrees and 47% humidity, a major change from the heat and humidity of San Lorenzo!  It actually feels good! 

Jane came to the Guest House and ate breakfast with us and then Damarys arrived and we left for Loita’s house to pick her up.  We then traveled to Otavalo for our shopping adventure.  I enjoyed seeing the scenery along the way once again.  In the mountains in this area the ground is more desert appearing compared to the road to San Lorenzo where it is lush and green.  Upon arrival in Otavalo we browsed the market and I made my purchases of what I was wanting.  Jane, Damarys and Loita also made some purchases.  Loita and Damarys did the bargaining for me.  Jane was impressed on how well they were able to lower the price I ultimately paid.  Jane said she would have stopped bargaining long before Damarys and Loita did.  I learned to not flash my money until Loita said it was settled.  If I flashed the money too fast, the price stopped there and would not budge.  We would then walk away and then the negotiations would start again and usually the price would go down more.  It was a pretty day in the outdoor market, a little cool but the sun was bright.  We ate lunch at The Pie Shop at the market.  I had a big piece of Mora pie with ice cream and hot tea.  It was delicious.  We shopped a little more and then made our way back to Quito. 

Once in Quito we dropped Loita off at her house and then went to the print shop to look at the catalogs.  The printer is a cousin of Damarys and they are making 2000 four-page catalogs for me to take back to Fort Wayne.  These catalogs are for Christmas gifts where a donation would purchase a gift for the clinic or for patients.  I think this is a very good idea.  There are so many needs at the clinic and little gifts like those listed in the catalog will help greatly.  For instance, one could purchase a new mattress for one of the beds in the albergue for $50.  That would be a huge improvement for the patients who use that bed for post-op recovery.  Many of our patients were lying on very thin foam mattresses that were really worn and tattered and gave very little padding from the wooden slats underneath.  A new mattress would make the bed much more comfortable.  That would be just one possible Christmas gift a donor could give to the clinic to help the patients who receive care there.  I have empty space in the suitcases and hopefully I can bring all of the catalogs back with me.  The printer is working hard at getting them all done and packaged so we can pick them up later tonight and I can pack them.   

Jane will be coming by in a little while to pick me up so we can go over to the mall and eat at the Sports Planet.  We have eaten there before and it has good food.  We plan to pick up a few blank CDs so I can copy all my pictures for her.  We will then go by the print shop to pick up the catalogs.  I took some pictures at the print shop where we saw the catalog order being finished.  These people had been working many long hours over the past couple days getting these ready for me to take back to Fort Wayne. 

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The wife of the print shop owner is a cousin of Damarys.  The owner and wife are showing Damarys some of their work.

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This machine trimmed the borders off the eduges of the pages after the catalogs were stapled.

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The assembly process…all by hand, 2000 catalogs.

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Jane, Damarys’ cousin and me.

9:30 PM.  We are back from the Sports Planet and picked up 3 CDs to copy my pictures for Jane.  I will make three copies for her.  I have the photos all organized so they will be more usable for her and for me.  I would like to insert some of the pictures into this journal to give more detail on the various experiences I talked about.  While we were eating the printer called Jane and made arrangements to drop off the catalogs at the guest house.  That way we would not need to go somewhere to pick them up.  When we got back the catalogs were all stacked on the table in packages of 100 all wrapped securely and ready to be packed.  I was able to pack them all in the two suitcases and my carry-on.  I don’t think the suitcases will be overweight.  Jane kept one pack of 100 to use from and the rest will go to Fort Wayne. 

My flight out in the morning is at 8:15.  Jane will pick me up about 6 to take me to the airport.  I have had a great experience here for the past 17 days but I will be glad to get back home.  I miss my wife and want to just hold her for a long hug, in fact several long hugs. 

Lord, this has been an incredible trip!  I was able to view parts of Your creation that were new and exciting to me.  The river trip was really interesting and fun.  We worked hard there and were able to minister to many women and a few men.  I am glad to be part of the ministry that makes a difference in so many lives.  The people living in those remote villages really don’t hear the gospel unless someone brings it to them.  They live so out of touch with the rest of the world.  How will they know about You unless someone brings them the message?  It is hard to imagine that people could live in today’s world of technology and information availability and still not know what is going on elsewhere and especially know about you, Lord.  Thank You for the ministry Raquel, Jane and others have to bring help and Your love to these people.  Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to be a small part of that effort.   

Also, Lord, I want to thank You for the opportunity to help Jane at San Lorenzo.  We had an incredible week of surgery and accomplished far more than I ever anticipated.  We were able to do some really tough and complex surgeries only because You were there with us and You guided and assisted us and worked through us to bring physical healing to these women.  Lord, please touch the ladies with cancer and heal them fully.  I don’t feel we did enough for those ladies and we need You even more.  Especially help the lady who is here in Quito being seen this week.  She has a terrible cancer that could cause her to bleed to death.  Lord, please protect her and heal her.  Lord, thank You for the many miracles You performed in the patients’ lives.  I think of the tough cases and how You helped us do the right things and not create more risk.  I think of Maryuri and how You protected her.  Thank You, Lord, for these measures of Your incredible, all-sufficient grace.   

Lord, please be with the family of Corina right now.  They saw their mother die in our hands.  I am not certain as to the cause of that death but still it happened and it was not expected.  I feel so badly for them and wish we could live the decision for surgery over again.  Her surgery was easy and straightforward.  However, the stress of all that was more than she could bear.  I am very comforted to know that she believed in You and is now enjoying eternity with You.   

Lord, I pray for my trip tomorrow.  Please give me safety in my travels and allow me to go through customs and all the security without a hassle.   Lord, I also pray for Jane and Damarys as they travel once again to get Jane’s car fixed.  Thank You, again, for the angels You provided for us as we had car trouble in a very dangerous area.  I ask for Your protection continually as Jane drives through that area by herself repeatedly.  Please ride with her and keep her safe.  Lord, she is so precious to me and I know she is to You.  She has touched so many lives in San Lorenzo with medical care and also spiritual care and growth.  She is Your servant there.  Please protect her and let her feel Your loving arms wrapped around her always.   

Thank You, Lord, once again for this incredible trip.  Thank You for allowing me to walk with You in Ecuador.  Thank You for Your unfailing love.  To You and You only goes all the praise and glory.  Thank You, Lord!  Amen.

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