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6-16-2014 (Monday)

Today is our day of travel.  After getting up from a good night’s rest we started our day with breakfast provided by the guest house hostess.  Howard and Jordan got their first taste of mora juice, made from blending the mora fruit.  It was delicious.  After breakfast Jane came and picked us up.  As she pulled up to the gate she got out leaving the car running.  She inadvertently locked the door getting out that the doors locked with the car running and no way to get in.  She called Damarys who happened to have a key to the car.  She drove over to us and gave us the key so we could open the doors and pack our bags into the car.  Then we went to the MegaKywi, a large hardware store, where we found the tile tools and buckets we needed.  After purchasing them we then moved on down the road eventually stopping at Ibarra to have some lunch and shop for groceries.  Once we got the already loaded car filled with groceries, we then spent the next two hours driving to San Lorenzo arriving at the clinic about 6 pm.

The first thing Jane did was open the bodega to show Howard and Jordan the first floor.  Much to her dismay the floor was littered with tile packs, scaffolding, boxes of supplies, and other things as well as clumps of dirt and mud.  The outside of the bodega was just as littered.  Howard said the first order of business was to clean up the outside so they didn’t twist and ankle or hurt themselves just walking around the building.  The inside needs cleaned out and scrubbed before any cement is applied.  Jane also found that her order of tile had not been fully delivered.  She spent some frustrating minutes on the phone talking with Damarys trying to track down where the rest of the tile order was and when it would be delivered.  This type of stress is common here as people who may seem dependable turn out not to be or they don’t seem to feel the same urgency in getting the task finished.  Finishing the bodega so Howard and Jordan can do the tile has been a struggle that has taken weeks trying to get the people here to get this phase of the work done.  I guess this exemplifies what is common advice on the mission field, “Be flexible.”

On our trip here we were privileged to have clear skies and very visible snow-capped mountains.  The mountains Cotopaxi and Cayambe are covered with snow and stood out against the blue sky with incredible clarity.  Usually they are covered by clouds but today we had a clear view of them.  Leaving Ibarra we could see another snow-capped mountain, Antizana, that is a distance east of where we were.  I have not seen this mountain before.  Again it stood out against the blue sky above the mountains that are close to Ibarra.  We were treated to a rare sight seeing these beautiful works of God’s hands.

We are soon going to head to bed.  Tomorrow will come quickly and Howard and Jordan will be working on the tile while Jane and I see patients.  We will see patients all week and start surgeries this Saturday.  Our surgery schedule will be a full 7 days instead of 5 and we will do several more surgeries than usual.  Lots of work ahead for all of us.

Father, I thank You for the safe travel and the beautiful scenery You gave us today.  Your creation is absolutely incredible, even though I have seen some of these sights before.  Thank you for bringing us here, allowing us to see Your handiwork, and inviting us to serve You through our work here.  Amen.

Just what does it mean to be Jesus in someone’s life today?  That question bounces around in my mind and to me the way to answer this is to study the life and ministry of Christ.  Just how did He respond to the people around Him?  How did He view those who came to Him continually with requests?  What was His personality like?  How does what we learn about Him play out in my life today, and even yours?  Am I doing what Jesus would do as I interact with others?

It seems to me to follow Jesus, to walk with Him every step, to actually be His voice, His eyes, His mouth, His hands and His feet, to be His representative to my world, takes faith.  He asks me to say this or that or go here or there and to comply requires my faith in Him, especially when my “common sense” says I shouldn’t.  To follow Christ, to be Him to my world takes faith.

I look at the faith it took for the Israelites to step into the Jordan River as they looked upon Jericho in their journey into the Promised Land.  In Joshua chapter 3 we read about what happened at that time in history.

8”Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.”  13”As soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord — the Lord of all the earth — set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”  14So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.  15Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during the harvest.  Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,   16 the water from upstream stopped flowing.  It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the  vicinity of Arethan, while the water flowing to the Sea of Arabah (The Salt Sea) was completely cut off.  So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  17The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. (NIV)

I have a couple observations about this story.  In March of this year my wife, Phyllis, and I were privileged to be able to go to Israel for 10 days.  On our tour we went to Jericho and stood on the excavation site of this old, old city.  Looking off in the distance not very far from where we stood was the Jordan River as it coursed the final part of its journey to the Dead Sea.  I was able to look over the floodplain across the Jordan to the Moab Mountains.   This story in Joshua came to mind and I envisioned the nation of Israel standing on the other side of the river.  What a sight that must have been.  The population of this nation was estimated to be about one million people.  Imagine, a million people with all their belongings and animals camped on the opposite side of the river getting ready to cross.  The river itself was a significant barrier for anyone as there were no easy ways to cross it.  The river is not that wide, maybe 60 feet or so, but the current is swift and the river is deep.  A swimmer could get across but how do you take a million people across including all the material goods and animals?  This river was a major obstacle for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.

Notice the scripture says the river was at flood stage.  That increases the obstruction as the river now is not a body of water possibly under 100 feet across, it is now a large body of water, possibly a half mile or more in width.  Talk about a barrier!!  I think it is interesting that this little detail is included in the narrative of this event.  One can easily skim over that sentence but it is a very important detail.  The nation of Israel looked across a lake, so to speak, to Jericho and the Promised Land and I am sure they wondered how they would ever get there.

God tells the people through Joshua to make themselves ready to cross the river and the priests are to lead the way with the Ark of the Covenant.  The priests were to walk into the water before God was going to act.  They did and God did what He said He would do, He stopped the river causing it to pile up in a great heap a long ways away and the river drained on to the Dead Sea leaving the river bottom and the floodplain bare.  The priests were then to walk to the middle of the river and stand there with the Ark of the Covenant while the nation of Israel passed across the river.  Now notice another little detail.  The priests stood in the middle of the river on dry ground and the people passed across the river and floodplain on dry ground.  Again, this could easily be skimmed over.  But think about it.  How long would it take to dry out the river bed sufficiently to be able to walk on it without being bogged down in mud?  What about all the animals?  The entire nation, possibly a million people, passed by on dry ground!

To me these little details just add to the miracle that God performed right there in front of the nation of Israel and the people of Jericho.  He not only split the water but He dried out the ground instantly so the people could walk on it.  And all this followed a step of faith on the part of Joshua and the Israelites.  In his study Bible Dr. David Jeremiah states in a footnote about this portion of Scripture, “Like He did at the Red Sea, Yahweh brought His people through a crossing that they could not undertake in their own strength.  Every big act for God begins with a small step of faith.”

I find this principle playing out in my experience in my medical career, especially in San Lorenzo.  God asks us to take a step of faith.  These are small steps and then He comes in and does mighty acts.  He expects us to step out in faith and do what He called us to do and then He will finish the job.  Sometimes He does it so spectacularly that we just are allowed to watch.  Other times He asks us to work with Him and get our hands wet and dirty as we are empowered by Him to do the work and finish the job.  Either way it is obvious that God alone did the work and He deserves all the credit.  When you take that small step of faith, be prepared to witness a miracle, for that will likely happen.

We all face river crossings in our lives.  Sometimes they are formidable and there appears no way to make it across.  However, nothing is impossible with God.  If He can stop a river against all the gravity and continual accumulation of the water and then dry out the ground immediately so you can walk across the river bed, then He can accomplish whatever needs to be done to make the impossible river crossing happen.  All it takes is a small step of faith.  Remember that.

Father, what an incredible event!  I think about standing at the river’s edge and then stepping in and watching the water just pull away and the ground dry out before me.  Lord, You are absolutely awesome!  Thank You for performing this miracle for Your people and detailing it in Your Word so I can read it and contemplate the message it carries.  Thank You for honoring my small steps of faith.  Lord, we are taking that small step once again as we journey to San Lorenzo and begin our work there.  I ask You to cover us with Your protective arms, even hold us in Your hands and guide us as we engage in the work You have called us to do in the coming days.  I pray for Howard and Jordan as they work together to finish the tile project for the clinic.  I pray for Jane and her team as they work together to help and serve the people who come for care.  I pray for our health and safety.  And I thank You for the absolute thrill of being Jesus to those we meet and serve.  Thank You, Lord, for Your incredible grace and unfailing love!  Amen.



1. Darcy Clawson - June 17, 2014

Praying all the tile gets there! Glad you made it safely. Did J sleep the whole way? I hope not. Loving your updates! Tell J we love and miss him!

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