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11-4-2011 (Friday)

4:00 AM.  Up and getting ready to head to the airport.  Steve Weaver, Jane’s brother, is travelling with me and will soon arrive to go to the airport with me.  We have our suitcases packed with lots of supplies for Jane.  I have been able to pack all my clothes and other personal items in my carry-on with the help of vacuum bags.  It is amazing how much air we carry around inside our clothes!  We will travel to Quito via Chicago and Miami.  Dr. Chang, our anesthesiologist, is meeting us in Miami to travel the last leg of the trip with us.  He is coming from Tampa area.  I am looking forward to seeing Jane once again and to work with her in serving the people in San Lorenzo.

Father, I am privileged to once again travel to Ecuador to help do Your work there.  This is an awesome privilege and also an awesome responsibility.  I never want to forget that I am dealing with real people, people who have lives that will be significantly impacted by what we do to them.  It is such a privilege, Father, to see healing take place before my eyes, healing that You orchestrate and accomplish.  It is such a privilege to have You guide our hands and thoughts as we care for these people whom You love so deeply.  Lord, I thank you for this opportunity and especially for the invitation to walk with You to Ecuador, specifically San Lorenzo.

Lord, I pray for our travel today.  Please keep Your hand upon us and give us safety in their, smooth connections with our flights, and easy passage through customs.  Lord, I especially pray for the week ahead that we can honor You with the work we will be doing.  I pray for the patients on whom we will operate.  Please protect them and surround them with Your peace and healing power.  I pray for Jane’s team who will be working with us.  Please give them an extra measure of Your love, Lord.  I pray also for Phyllis, my loving wife, for comfort and safety while I am gone.  Thank You for bringing her into my life.  I love her so much.

Lord, thank You so much for blessing us with this opportunity to travel and work for You.  We do this to bring honor and glory to You, Lord.  Amen.

When I go on these mission trips, I try to study and contemplate my own spiritual walk and invariably I experience something during the week or so working in a mission environment that causes me to grow and at the same time deepens my faith in Christ.  In recent weeks I have been studying the concept of discipleship.  I have been privileged to be a part of a group of men who meet weekly to dig into God’s Word and study together.  Our mission is to practice the presence of Christ every day.  As we try to walk with Christ we have been working on learning as much as we can about the man, Jesus, and then apply that to our lives today.  Thus, we have been reading the Gospels and studying a book that has taken the four Gospels and harmonized them all into one story that reads like a novel.  This gives us insight into the politics and culture of the time Christ walked on the earth and brings more perspective on what Jesus taught to the people.

One statement of Jesus was a simple, two-word request or invitation, “Follow Me.”  He used this frequently and interestingly when He approached the men who would become His disciples, they dropped what they were doing and followed Him.  What does it mean to follow Jesus?  What was magical about this invitation that caused them to immediately walk away from their livelihood and follow Him?  They became His disciples and followed Him for three years before they were given the final instructions to go out into the world and develop the church.  What we enjoy today in churches all around the globe is a result of these men responding to Christ’s invitation to follow Him.

In the very interesting book, The Shack  by William Paul Young, there is a moment where Jesus and Mac were going to the other side of the lake.  Instead of walking the path around the lake or taking a canoe to paddle across, Jesus led Mac to the end of the pier and then in so many words said, “Follow Me.”  He asked Mac to walk on the water.  He asked Mac to do something that was considered impossible.  When Mac resisted and brought up excuses as to why he couldn’t do this, Jesus then gently said to him, “I want to walk with you.”  When Mac understood this endeavor was going to be accompanied by Christ, he stepped off the pier and walked on the water.  I have to look at this scenario and apply it to real life by asking what “walk on water” challenge have I faced today?  How about you?  What has Jesus asked you to do that you feel is impossible?  Did you hear Him telling you He wanted to walk with you?

I think back to previous trips to San Lorenzo and what we were able to accomplish by being Christ’s hands, feet and mouth to serve the people who come in for care.  We would see impossible, walk on water, challenges that miraculously were resolved not by our hands or expertise but by the assistance of Christ walking with us, wrapping His hands around our hands, and performing the miracle of healing.

So, what does it mean to follow Christ?  To me it means I walk with Him in obedience and face with Him the challenges that lay before us.  We face impossibilities together.  We share His love with those we meet.  I have the opportunity to make God visible to those I touch and care for.  I have the privilege of being Christ’s hands, feet and mouth and watch Him perform miracles before my eyes.  I even get to participate in these miracles.

All of these events involve stepping into or onto the water in obedience to Jesus’ invitation to “Follow Me.”  We do what we can using the skills and talents given to us and then partnering with Christ we watch Him complete the task.  He then extends His mercy and grace and healing power to those in need.  Following Christ is a great opportunity and at the same time a great challenge that involves commitment to obey Him and to sacrifice anything in my life that would keep me from walking in His steps.  For the disciples that sacrifice meant leaving their careers to follow Him; and they willingly did that without question.  Following Christ also means management of the elements of unbelief that I harbor when Jesus presents a challenge to me.  I struggle with doubt and wonder just how this challenge will be accomplished when all I really should do is believe Jesus completely and move forward.

As we travel to Ecuador for this 10th trip for me, I am once again following Christ.  He invited me to go on this trip to serve the people of San Lorenzo, to make the sacrifice of the cost to me financially and personally to be a partner with Christ in Ecuador.  This takes trust and faith and the rewards are so great for me.  There is nothing more uplifting and satisfying to me than to make a positive impact in someone’s life.  When I can do a surgery or help bring a cure to a person, that person’s life has changed and the burden he or she was carrying has been lifted.  When that person can now move on with life without suffering because of what I was able to do as an instrument of Christ, my heart is blessed beyond measure.

As you look at your life right now ask yourself if you are following Christ.  Has He given you the invitation?  I am sure He has.  It may take some commitment to go to a quiet spot and contemplate your relationship with Jesus and just listen.  I would bet you will hear Him say, “Follow Me.”  I hope as you read this journal you will be inspired to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ and make a commitment to follow Him wherever He might lead you.  Trust me, you will never be the same and you will experience a joy and peace that is beyond words.  Listen.  Do you hear Him?  “Follow Me.”

Our check in at Fort Wayne went very smooth.  We were concerned the suitcases would be over the weight limit but they all were right at the limit of 50 pounds, thus no extra fees.  Flying out of Fort Wayne in the dark and under a clear sky gave us a vista of city lights.  It was interesting as we flew to Chicago of seeing all the towns between Fort Wayne and Chicago.  They all were sections of tiny lights punctuating the darkness.  Chicago was also clear and the city was shining bright.  You could see the expressways loaded with traffic that looked like long snakes of headlights or tail lights moving along the roads. 

We had a three hour layover in Chicago.  I was fascinated by all the people walking by wondering where they had been and where they were going.  Also, it was interesting to see all the variation of people, how they walked, the shoes and clothes they were wearing.  I marvelled at the variation that God built into each person on the outside but the inside is all the same.  They all have the same capacity to know Him personally.  I wondered how many actually did.

Our flight from Chicago to Miami went fairly well with some areas of turbulence but no major rocking and rolling.  We spent two hours in Miami and then boarded our flight to Quito.  We met Dr. Chang at Miami.  He flew in from Tampa and is living in Sarasota for the winter.  He comes from Lansing, MI, and is a member of the church my former pastor led while in Lansing for a couple years.  On our flight to Miami I did notice one interesting old gentleman sitting a row in front of me and across the aisle.  He had the longest eyebrows.  I would guess they were 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and curled down over his eyes.  I wanted to trim them there on the spot.

Our flight to Quito was very smooth at 37,000 feet.  Again, God made Himself visible in a spectacular sunset that persisted for about 40 minutes.  The colors were so sharp and intense going from a yellow to a deep orange to a deep red-orange and then to an orange to purple.  Seeing this above the clouds is a different perspective.  It was just beautiful.  I then thought that this sunset goes all the way around the world as the earth rotates and everyone gets the opportunity to view God’s beauty. 

Upon landing in Quito Steve stated that he was praying for God to help us get through customs with all the equipment we had stashed in our suitcases.  I had been praying that as well.  We collected our bags and as we ran the suitcases through customs the person watching the screen was talking with another worker and didn’t even glance at the x-ray screen the entire time our luggage went through the machine.  We just picked up our bags on the other side and walked on out to meet Jane and Damarys.  That was the easiest customs inspection I have ever had!

It is the end of our travel day following Christ to Ecuador.  Tomorrow we head to San Lorenzo after a good night’s sleep.  I feel the altitude here.  Walking up a few steps creates distinct shortness of breath.  So far no headaches like I experienced previously. 

Father, thank You for the safe travel and the effortless pass through customs.  Thank You for bringing us together to do Your work in San Lorenzo.  I pray for all of us to have a good rest tonight and safe travel tomorrow as we drive through the Andes to San Lorenzo.  You deserve all the praise, Lord.  Amen.


1. Audrey Hindle - November 4, 2011

Praying for you these next days.

We learned today from 1st Samuel that God wanted his people to follow him and him alone. His people wanted a king. What happened to their hearts? They were foolish. When we want something or someone who is substandard we become foolish. Why not have the best. God was their King and they didn’t want to follow him, they wanted to be like all the other nations who have a king.

Study from Child Evangism Fellowship at Barbie & Kens house.
How great to have a God that aligns our thoughts for the same

Audrey Hindle

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