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7/21/2012 (Saturday)

Saturday morning already!  Awoke around 6 and got my things around to go shave and shower.  I stepped into the shower and turned on the water.  How long can one inhale?  I just found out!  For some reason there are nerve receptors in the skin on your back that trigger a prolonged inhale.  There is no way to control this reflex.  Once the cold water, and today it seemed much colder than usual, hit my back that reflex took over and I was out of control.  I inhaled more than I ever thought possible and then I was able to even do more than that!  I had to pull the water away from my back to be able to exhale.  Then when I ran water over my back, the inhale started all over again.  This interesting reflex always happens even when you have had the water running for awhile.  I’ll have to search my medical books to see what name is on this reflex.   So now that I am shower fresh and awake, I plan to read some and enjoy the relative quiet of the neighborhood.

Thank You, Father, for the good night’s rest.  Thank You even for the cold water.  I could have no water at all and yet You created water and made this resource available everywhere.  All of life depends on water, Lord.  This is part of Your design, Your master plan.  Water is such a simple molecule but yet so essential.  Thank You, Lord, for this precious liquid.  Every time I drink some water today, I want to pause and thank You for it.  Thank You, Lord, for the sun light streaming through my window and the fresh air of the morning.  Lord, I take so many of Your provisions for granted and I confess that.  You, and only You, deserve all the praise and glory.  You make Yourself visible in the created world around us.  Your signature is present everywhere.  Help me, Lord, to recognize that.  I praise You, Father.  Amen.

This morning when I awoke and was laying in bed thinking about today and being here in San Lorenzo, my thoughts turned to walking with God with integrity, honoring Him in everything I say and do.  I am here representing Him to the people here.  They see me as a specialist from the States and in their eyes that means I am better than the doctors here.  They look upon Jane as someone very special who has come to give them care.  They respect her greatly and I do as well.  The honor these people bestow on me just because I am a physician from the States is humbling.  It comes with responsibility in that their expectations are great and they feel I can heal them.  It places me leaning directly on my Lord for I cannot heal them without His help.  My role is to do the work of preparation and then the Lord does the healing.  We work together to achieve this.  I know He can do it all but I see much more frequently He chooses to work through someone to bring on this gift. 

My thoughts went to Psalm 1 for this gives me the perspective I need to walk with God daily.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

As I read this Psalm slowly and think about what God is saying to me, He is telling me to stay connected to Him.  I need to remember how easy it is to get distracted from Him.  I notice three steps to waywardness that results in sin.  First I can entertain thoughts by walking with the wicked, by just listening to check it out.  However, it is not long until one goes from walking to standing.  Now I have stopped and am more connected to that which is pulling me away from God.  Then the next position is sitting where now I am entrenched.  It reminds me of when I go fishing.  The lure on the hook looks inviting to the fish.  It swims by checking it out (walking) and then will come up and mouth the bait (standing) and then when the bait looks especially inviting it takes it in and gets hooked (sitting).  How much we act like fish!

But, our protection comes from delighting in God’s Word, making it part of our day, keeping it in our mind and using it as the filter through which our thoughts pass.  When we “delight in the Law of the Lord,” we receive the His wisdom to help us discern evil and keep us from walking, standing and sitting with the wicked.  Like a tree that is in fertile soil with plenty of water, our roots go deep into God’s Word and we likewise will not wither but prosper.  And the promise we continually receive played out in our lives is stated in the last verse – the Lord watches over the way of the righteous. 

I watch Jane and her team and the effort they make each day to think and act righteous.  By this I mean they make every effort to walk with God, not depend on self-righteousness.  They work and act as people who delight in learning from God and honoring God in their work.  And I see lots of evidence that God watches over them, protects them, keeps them healthy, and through them serves the people here.  And the part that excites me is I have the incredible privilege to being able to participate with them in this outreach.

Father, I want to say what the psalmist says in Psalm 100: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Thank You, Lord, for Your incredible, overwhelming, joy-inducing, unfailing love! 

This morning I was able to take a walk around the clinic grounds and take some pictures.  A group of people from Michigan came recently and began building a bodega, a storage building for supplies and equipment.  The second floor will house an apartment.  This construction is in progress.  I look back to when I first came here in 2004 and marvel at the changes that have occurred.  The clinic has expanded greatly and has become a tremendous facility for this area of Ecuador.  The reputation has extended well beyond the limits of San Lorenzo.  Frequently, we see people from the rivers who travel many hours just to come for care.  I remember on a previous trip a man journeyed from the southern part of Ecuador for a hernia repair because he had heard about Jane and this clinic.  Yesterday, we saw an older lady who travelled 2 days to come here.  As I look at the differences from pictures of 2004 and now I see God’s fingerprints all over this place.  He has blessed this place and continues to do so.  Jane serves as a great example to me as one who places her trust in God and says, “Lord, I’ll go with You wherever You want to go.”  And God has honored that request by placing her here in San Lorenzo and creating through her a tremendous ministry.  The world looks at this as foolishness because Jane could be so “successful” as a trauma surgeon in the States.  However, she has discerned between God’s call and the world’s call and has chosen to delight herself in the Law of the Lord and to not walk, stand or sit in the ways of the world.  Thank You, Jane, for setting the example for me and many others.

3:15 pm. Today is another crock pot day.  Last night’s meal was very good.  Tonight we are having beef stew.  Jane bought a roast at the grocery when we were in Ibarra and some carrots and small potatoes for stew.  She cut the meat up into 1 inch cubes and tossed them into the crock pot.  I had written Phyllis on email for advice on fixing beef stew.  We don’t have all the spices and seasonings but we do have beef, carrots and potatoes.  She assured me that we would probably have to try hard to ruin a crock pot of beef stew with those ingredients.  So we put the beef in the pot after I browned the meat.  Following Phyl’s instructions I put the meat cubes into a plastic sack and added some flour we had purchased at a store across the street from the clinic and shook the bag so the meat cubes were all sufficiently coated with flour.  Then I browned the meat in a skillet before tossing the cubes into the crock pot.  Jane fixed a couple liters of water with some beef bouillon cubes and boiled this to get the bouillon cubes to dissolve and then poured that into the crock pot.  She then chopped up one onion and tossed that in to the pot.   She set the cooker on low and it will go for the day.  Every now and then we get a whiff of something that smells really good coming from the kitchen.  We just cut up carrots to put in the solution and then in about an hour we will put in the carrots and potatoes and then when they are soft and ready to eat we will add flour to thicken the broth into gravy.  It really smells good right now.  This makes the gastric juices start to flow just talking about it.

While we were cutting the meat and getting it ready to go into the pot Jane spotted something out the corner of her eye.  She thought she saw something move.  On closer inspection she found the concern…a little mouse.  It was on the counter and ran behind a large plastic dish drainer.  We tried to corner it and catch it but it was too fast for us and jumped off the counter and ran under the stove.  Then it ran around under the counter over to the wall and followed the wall over to a door.  There it stopped hiding near the corner.  As we carefully approached this little guy it ran under a dust pan sitting there.  This gave us the opportunity to end this little came of human and mouse and I stepped on the dust pan and put the little mouse out of his misery.  Jane disposed of the mouse and we went on about our business of preparing dinner in the crock pot.  Jane said she has seen a mouse in the building before but generally they don’t get in.  I just hope his brothers and sisters don’t come looking for him.  We could have lots of excitement around here.

I remember one mission trip I went to the Dominican Republic and the place where we stayed had a lot of large rats running around.  The first night I was in a top bunk and had placed my mosquito netting over the bed and let it hang down over the bed frame instead of tucking it in under my mattress.  In the middle of the night a rat came up the bed frame and got in bed with me.  Needless to say, this was not a collegial relationship.  Both of us wanted out of that bed as fast as possible.  I did have the presence of mind to remember I was in the top bunk and jumping out could have been dangerous.  Plus, as I thrashed about the netting got more entangled about my legs and arms and I couldn’t go anywhere.  The rat ran around me, over me and somehow found a way out of the netting and disappeared into the dark.  Following that little adventure I remember staring at the ceiling that night watching the rats run back and forth on the rafters.  In fact, I stared at the ceiling for the remaining nights while there getting very little sleep.  I did learn how to properly install the mosquito netting so there were no open invitations for any of those critters to come in for a visit.  At least here at Clinica San Lorenzo, there is not a rat problem and there appears to not be a big mouse problem as well.  It is important to keep critters out of the areas that are more sterile such as the operating room, instrument room, recovery room and these are all on the first floor.

8:20 pm.  Jane and I just finished our dinner of very delicious beef stew.  We congratulated each other on a job well done.  Now, I don’t know how easy it is to destroy a good recipe of beef stew.  All we did was dump 4 ingredients into some broth and let it cook in the crock pot all day.  It was very tasty.  We have enough left over to provide another good meal. 

The weather here was quite nice today.  The sun shone most of the day but there was a nice breeze continually and it wasn’t ghastly hot and humid.  Jane said she had an ice cream maker in Quito and she could make homemade ice cream there very easily.  She brought it here and tried to make ice cream and couldn’t.  She said she could not get the ice cold enough with the ice and salt.  The ice cream never did get cold enough to set up properly even after running the maker for 3 hours.  So, the machine went back to Quito.  I don’t know if the problem is the heat and humidity or not.  I remember cranking the old ice cream maker when I was a teenager in the dead heat of summer and we always had good ice cream. 

The day is about over and soon I’ll be climbing into bed to listen to the noises of the night.  There are a variety of songs being played loudly here and there in the neighborhood.  This makes for an interesting cacophony of sound that will probably go on into the night.  I am thankful for the fan and the white noise. 

Father, this has been a slow day but a good day.  I have been able to get various things done off my check list and was able to read and study for a good time as well.  Plus, You gave us the beef stew and that was delicious.  Thank You for the good day and the rest and recuperation You have given us.  I pray for a good night’s sleep not only for us but for my family back home.  Thank You, Lord, for them.  Thank You for Your unfailing love.  Amen.

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