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11-5-2011 (Saturday)

7:30 AM.  I slept like a rock last night and feel much more refreshed and ready to start the day.  The altitude is making its presence known to me now.  I awoke to a headache that I have typically had previously when I have been here.  Plus the air is thinner making me breath faster and heavier just at rest.  My old body just doesn’t manage the altitude like it used to.  Our agenda for today is travel.  We will be heading to San Lorenzo in an hour or so and will be stopping in Otavalo to shop on the way.  Jane wants to pick up some things for us to take back to the the States for her.  Our suitcases will go back full of market purchases.

Father, thank You for the good night’s rest and refreshing sleep.  I pray for our journey today.  I pray for safety on the road as we travel through the glorious mountainous terrain that You created.  Thank You for Your creativity and the beauty of the world around us that You give us to enjoy.  I pray also for the week ahead of us.  I pray for the patients we will care for and for their safety and healing.  I pray for wisdom for Jane and me in determining the right treatment or surgery for these people.  I pray for Dr. Chang as he will be giving anesthesia and literally has their lives in his hands.  I pray also for the team at Clinica San Lorenzo.  Without these dedicated people Jane’s ministry would falter.  Thank You, Lord, for providing all of this outreach here in Ecuador.  Amen.

What does being a disciple really mean?  As I look at the opportunity Christ gives each of us to become a disciple of Him, I have to ask myself if I fully understand what this opportunity involves.  What makes a disciple stand out from the crowd?  I am thinking in the context of being Christ’s disciple but it also applies to being a disciple of any person in your life.  In order to prepare myself for this task, it appears to me there are some distinct criteria involve that I must meet. 

First, I must know what I believe.  How can I be a disciple of someone if I don’t know what I believe about what that person represents?  For example, I would like to follow some prominent leader in my community or possibly someone I admire in the workplace.  Before I sign on to this person I feel I should have a good idea of my beliefs and whether this person believes along the same lines.  It would be foolish and tragic to commit to being a disciple of someone only to then find out that this person’s beliefs and work contradicts everything you hold dear.  It would be very difficult to be a disciple of someone who is taking you in a completely different direction than you would want to go.

So, looking at following Christ, what do I really believe?  Do I believe in God and that Jesus is His only Son?  Do I believe in the mission Christ had to provide a way for sinners like me to have eternal life in the presence of Almighty God…forever?  Do I believe that Jesus paid the penalty I deserve so I may be saved from eternal damnation because of my sin?  These are essential beliefs that one must consider if discipleship of Christ is on the table.  How could one be a disciple of Christ and not believe in His being and His mission and purpose? 

Secondly, I must know as much about Christ as I can.  If I am signing on to be a disciple of some leader I admire, I must do the homework and know about that person.  I need to know what he stands for, what is important to him, what his mission and life’s work involves.  I also need to know if this coincides with my goals and beliefs.  To be a disciple of Christ I need to know Him.  I need to learn all I can about Him.  To do this I must go to Scripture and read and study the Gospels that describe His life and ministry and also the rest of the New Testament that describes the truth of Jesus. 

I look at the Gospels and see where Jesus called His disciples and wonder about the preparation they had beforehand to be able to respond so quickly to His call.  The Scriptures state simply that Jesus said, “Follow Me,” and they immediately left what they were doing and went with Him.  This involved walking away from their careers, their families, their daily activities that were part of their lives at that point.  They dropped everything and followed Christ.  They must have known about Him and had their hearts prepared for such a request.  If they knew nothing about Christ and His ministry and purpose, would they have so readily dropped everything and walked with Him?  Even though they were considered uneducated these men must have known the Scriptures they had available to them enough to recognize the Messiah when He happened to walk in their midst.

I have to ask myself again and again what I posed at the beginning of this journal: what does it mean to follow Christ?  Am I ready to do this full time?  What is He teaching me at this point about discipleship?  Am I studying the Scriptures to learn all I can about Jesus Christ and God’s plan for my life?  It appears to me this is a vital function for preparation to be a disciple of Christ.  How can I follow someone I don’t really know?  To know Christ is to dig into Scripture and study Him, think about Him, and even converse with Him in prayer.  I must have my beliefs secure, my faith steadfast and my mind focused on Christ to prepare me for the next steps in becoming His disciple.

Our trip to San Lorenzo went slow as traffic moved slow because of several tanker trucks and timber hauling trucks that had to go slow to manage the curves and ups and downs as we went across the Andes Mountains.  The scenery was beautiful, as usual.  I was able to get a few pictures out the window as we travelled along.  We did come on three checkpoints where we had to stop and show credentials.  One was a military post and we had to show our passports so they could record our names and passport numbers.  I’m not sure what they do with that information but this took some time and the soldier wrote slowly as he recorded all the information down on a piece of paper.  At the police blockades the policeman looked at Jane’s Ecuadorian social security card and then waved us on. 

We stopped at Otavalo to visit the market.  Since this weekend is part of a holiday weekend, the market was packed with people and more vendors than I have ever seen there before.  We shopped for awhile and then moved on planning to do most of our shopping next Saturday on our return to Quito.  Our plan is to take back to the States several items from Otavalo for Jane’s chili supper event she hosts for the donors to her ministry. 

We arrived in San Lorenzo about 5 pm and then moved in over the next hour or so.  Jane showed us some improvements that Damarys has made to the house.  There is new furniture, the kitchen table has been refinished and there is even a large television cabinet awaiting a television.  There has been some repainting and pictures hung which makes the place look more homey and comfortable.  After getting moved in we went to a local restaurant for dinner and then back for the night.  Tomorrow is church in the morning and then Jane and I will see about 20 patients to screen them for surgery. 

Father, it has been a long day of travel and we arrived safely thanks to Your guiding hand.  Thank You that all the supplies came through the airline travel with no damage or loss.  Thank You for bringing us here to serve You through the care given to the people who will be undergoing surgery this week.  Again, Lord, I ask for Your hand upon these people to give them peace and prepare them for the coming surgery.  I ask for Your hand upon us as we work together with You to perform the surgeries and render the care needed for these people.  Thank You for the opportunity You give us to work with You and also watch You work in the lives of so many people.  May You receive all the blessing and honor of our work, Lord.  It is such a joy to receive and extend Your unfailing love to those in need.  Lord, I also pray for Damarys and Loida as they travel tomorrow from Quito to San Lorenzo.  Give them safety on the road, Lord.  Through Your empowerment Jane and her team have developed a significant ministry to many people.  Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to play a small part in this ministry.  Lord, I pray for us all to have a good night’s rest.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

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