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9-8-2010 (Wednesday)

My life has changed over the past year giving me a different perspective on my current activities and plans.  In February I transitioned from being employed to being retired.  This retirement was something I was looking toward and planning for; however, I did not expect it to suddenly land in my lap as it did.  I had been working at Dupont Hospital as a consultant working with the medical staff and also being the medical director of our lifestyle management program.   I helped develop this program to help lower cardiovascular risk in the people of our community.  I had talked with numerous physicians about how this program would help them deliver better care for their patients in that the lifestyle management properly conducted requires a lot of hours and resources which are out of the realm of the typical medical practice.  We had good physician support with referrals and had helped over 600 people change their lives and improve their health.  Then in February I received a phone call from the medical director of the hospital informing me that the administration had decided to terminate my contract and abandon the lifestyle management program because of budgetary reasons.  All the work I had done over the previous 5 years just went up in smoke.  Thus, I was suddenly retired.

As I have transitioned into this phase of my life I have spent a lot of time trying to get used to not having a schedule and not having to get up early in the morning.  I say “trying” in that it wasn’t very hard to become accustomed to these changes.  However, for me and for most men, our occupation and what we do both at work and at leisure revolves around significance.  A pastor friend once told me that men look at their world through eyes of significance and women look at the same world through eyes of security.  I found that so true in my practice as I many times would put on the hat of marriage counselor when my patient would unload to me issues that were creating a lot of tension and discord in the marriage.  Upon retirement, I began to wonder about my own significance.  On the one hand it was nice not to have a busy work day but on the other I began to miss the phone calls and the reminder that people needed me to help solve some issue.  One colleague, a busy surgeon, who has been going through the same phase of life, told me the beeper no longer beeps and the phone no longer rings.  He commented, “It’s like I have been shoved off a cliff.”  In a sense I feel the same way.  I have wondered on several occasions about what I am now going to do.  Phyllis, my loving wife, has reminded me repeatedly that upon retirement I was not invited to go to the grocery with her every time she goes.  She has told me to be sure I have something to do and not just sit around getting bored and then undergo health deterioration and eventually die.  So, heavy on my mind has been the question of what I planned to do with the rest of my life.  Leading up to this moment I thought I would have plenty but now that I have become retired I wonder just what will I do to keep me busy and keep my mind and health functioning optimally?

One blessing of this stage of life is the opportunity to read things not related to my occupation.   This means I have now more time to dig into God’s Word and study it more deeply.  Even though I have read the Bible from cover to cover three times and have studied portions of Scripture more deeply, I now have made reading the Bible again this year one goal I intend to accomplish.  Also, I have had a burning desire to serve God more fully and become more involved in being His hands, feet and mouth to carry His love and His message to others.  Thus, becoming more involved in mission work has become very appealing to me.  I can utilize the skills I have acquired as a physician to serve people and serve God at the same time.  I have become more involved locally in our Matthew 25 Medical and Dental Clinic, which serves about 30,000 uninsured and medically indigent people each year here in Fort Wayne.  Also, I have been exploring other mission opportunities and have some irons in the fire at this point.  I have been praying for wisdom and clarity as I look forward to opportunities of service which possibly may mean more time away from home in some mission endeavor. 

My journey through God’s Word has me reading the books of the Prophets at this time.  I just finished Isaiah’s book and found it to be interesting and much more meaningful than previous reads.  What struck me was Isaiah’s personal decision point as he describes it in chapter 6.  He has a vision where he sees God seated on His throne, high and exalted.  Isaiah’s response was, “Woe to me!  I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  He then writes, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?’  And I said, ‘Here am I.  Send me!’”

For Isaiah standing before the Lord it didn’t require much convicting or persuasion to make the decision to be God’s servant.  God commissioned Isaiah at that moment and Isaiah became one of the greatest prophets of God.  As I read this chapter a couple times and thought about what Isaiah saw and his response, I started asking God what He had in mind for me.  How would He use me to help change lives and hearts and point people to His Son, Jesus Christ?  I experienced a conviction that what I would like to do with the rest of my life is to serve God more fully and do this wherever He places me.  I can continue to utilize my surgeon’s skills serving Him through serving others.  I can continue to make an impact in people’s lives by assisting them in achieving better health.  I can also be God’s voice to share His wisdom and love. 

“Here am I.  Send me!”  That seems to be the theme of this mission trip.  That is becoming the central theme of my life.  As I incorporate these 5 words into my heart I have a new energy and focus.  Thus, I am on my way to San Lorenzo to serve God there.  My role at this point is to walk with Him continually.  We walk along life’s path, shoulder to shoulder, sharing each step, each event together.  I follow Him and go where He decides.  I become His tool to reach into the hearts of others and draw them into a relationship with God as well.  This walk gives me energy, excitement and direction.  It also gives me indescribable peace, a peace that passes all understanding as mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  (Phil.4:7)  Along with this peace comes contentment regardless of the situation.  I can think of no better activity than to walk with the Lord every step every minute of every day.

Thus, I find myself “walking” to Ecuador to serve people there.  I am on my way to work again with my close friend, Jane Weaver, MD.  Together we will bring physical healing to several women who are suffering with various gynecologic problems.  Also, we will share with them and others about spiritual healing that is achieved through faith in Christ resulting in their own walk and relationship with Him.

My walk begins this morning as I board the plane for a day’s journey to Ecuador.  I fly from Fort Wayne to Dallas/Fort Worth and then on to Miami.  Then I travel from Miami to Quito arriving there at 6:05 PM.  Fortunately, Ecuador is in the same time zone we would call central daylight savings time.  At this point in the year I am used to being one hour ahead of Quito.  At other times we are on the same clock.  Jet lag is not a concern with this travel.  The one change I notice from previous trips is the altitude at Quito.  Quito is about 9000 feet up and the air is much thinner than Indiana.  I quickly notice the difference with shortness of breath that comes all too easily and a dull, persistent headache.  I know to push fluids as this will help with the headache.  Fortunately, our stay at this altitude is less than 24 hours.  Tomorrow we will begin our descent to sea level as we travel to San Lorenzo.

My day began at 3:25 AM as I woke just before the alarm was to go off.  I didn’t sleep well and had a lot of dreams and wakeful periods.  Then I fell to sleep rather soundly only to awaken at the right time.  We left for the airport at 4:15 and the check in process went smoothly.  I am sitting at the gate ready to board for the flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Father, grant me safe travel today please.  Remove hurdles and other problems and allow the process to go smoothly.  Thank You for this opportunity to serve You once again in Ecuador.  Lord, I ask for wisdom and stamina throughout these next 12 days as I travel and as we evaluate and treat several patients who are coming to the clinic for help.  Lord, I pray for your healing mercy to cover these people.  I pray for Viviana as she delivers anesthesia.  I pray for Angelita and Maria Luisa as well.  Thank You for these wonderful people who know You and serve You faithfully. 

Lord, I pray for Phyllis.  Please wrap Your arms of love around her and protect her.  I love her so much and am so thankful You brought us together 44 years ago.  She is a special gift to me from You.  Thank You, Lord. 

I pray for the opportunity to point others to You.  Give me the right words to speak and the boldness to do so.  Thank You, Lord Jesus.  Amen

Our flight into Dallas went well until we approached Dallas.  We flew into tropical storm Hermaine.  The clouds were heavy and dark and the ride was quite bumpy.  A lot of rain water was streaming by the window.  Occasionally the clouds would separate and you could see land below with standing water everywhere.  When we touched down there was very heavy rain at the airport.  Because of the smaller plane, my carry-on was stored in the baggage area.  When I got it back it was very wet on the outside but the inside was dry.  It got wet during the unloading process.  Once inside it was a short walk to the skytrain and then a short ride to the next gate.  I waited about 40 minutes and then boarding began for the flight to Miami. 

Father, landing at DFW in very heavy rain and poor to no visibility with bumps and dips made me uneasy.  I could sense how it must fee to be completely lost and have no control of one’s destiny.  However, even with the moments of fearful uncertainty I felt peace and confidence knowing You and knowing Your Son was with me all the time.  He invited me to walk with Him to Ecuador and that includes Him walking with me the entire distance.  Even when there were conditions that gave no visibility and the flight was rough, He still reassured me with His presence.  Thank You, Lord, for the blessed gift of salvation that you offer to anyone who places faith in You.  That gift not only gives a glorious destiny but also the companionship of a Friend who never fails to love me and includes me in His walk every day.  Thank you Lord Jesus!  Amen.

The flight to Miami and on to Quito was smooth and easy.  We landed on time in Quito at 6:05 PM.  I worked through customs easily until the last stop when the one agent wanted to examine one piece of luggage that I was carrying for Jane.  It was full of supplies, eye medications and surgical instruments.  He looked it over and read the customs letter I had with me and then allowed me to head on my way to meet Jane and Damarys.  Everything arrived okay with no lost luggage or damages.  On the flight to Quito I talked with this lady sitting next to me.  She lives in Jacksonville, FL, and she and her husband are on a vacation to Quito just to see the place and spend some time looking around.  She talked with me about altitude sickness and said she would tell her husband, who was sitting across the aisle from us, that her “doctor” told her to keep up the medicine she was on and to push fluids to help combat the altitude sickness. 

We met up with Tim and Amy Dawson who are her in Quito as missionaries with HCJB and had dinner with them at a nice restaurant.  After about 3 hours of conversation I am now back at the HCJB Guesthouse for the night.  I am feeling the altitude and the headache is starting in.  I’ll have to take my own advice and push the fluids a lot tonight.  At 9000 feet altitude, it doesn’t take much exertion to be short of breath.  

Father, thank You for the safe travel today and the reassurance You gave me when the ride was bumpy.  Thank You for bringing me here to Ecuador.  I pray for a good night’s rest and for tolerance of the altitude changes.  Thank You, Father! Amen.

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Comments»

1. Kent Brower - September 9, 2010

Marv, I do appreciate you so much. Thank you for sharing your abilities and helping others see Jesus through your loving willing hands. I pray that God will give you that extra strength, wisdom, and ability to do the needed task He has called you to do!!!
As a brother I send my Love.
God Bless!

2. Tom Beckner - September 9, 2010

Marv:

I can relate to your desires to serve at this stage of your life. Though I am still working, I have been praying for more ministry opportunities, so I appreciate your elegant articulation of these issues.

May He go before you in gthese coming days as you pour out your giftings on the patients there.

Blessings and prayers.

Tom Beckner

3. Audrey E. Hindle - September 13, 2010

Marv,

I am here in Germany enjoying the people, my college roommate and looking out the window
at the Alp Mountains. I noticed it snowed
last night on the top of the mountain. I paused
to thank God for his loving kindness and the
creator of this beautiful country. I have been
praying for you as you as I looked up your E-mail address that I saved on the laptop. Blessings to
you as you performed needed surgeries to the people
Equador.


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