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6-21-2014 (Saturday)

6:30 am.  We are up and starting our day.  In the middle of the night Jane came over and woke me to tell me that our anesthesiologist would not be able to come until 2 pm.  She apparently has an important meeting on Saturday morning and the drive from Esmeraldes to here is about 2 hours.  She felt we would be able to start our surgeries around 2.  This means our schedule for the day gets moved back several hours but we will still have to complete the schedule as there is no wiggle room to reschedule the patients for today.  Plus, the patient having a gall bladder removed is sick and Jane doesn’t want him waiting any longer.  So we gear up for a long afternoon and evening as our 6 to 8 hours of surgery will still happen, only later in the day.

Father, thank You for this new day.  Already we are meeting a challenge that will give us some stress but with You here with us we can work through this without problems.  I pray for Dahlia, our anesthesiologist, for safe travel and to not come here already stressed out because of the meeting this morning and the delay she is creating for us.  I know she was very sorry about the schedule mix-up and I ask for Your reassurance in her heart that all is well.  I pray for the patients we will operate on today.  Please keep them in Your hands and protect them, Lord.  I pray also for us, Lord.  Calm our spirits, keep our minds clear, give us wisdom to manage the surgeries appropriately, and especially, wrap Your hands around our hands as we work together doing the surgeries.  Father, we depend so much on You.  Without You this ministry would not be possible.  We are here, Lord, to bring honor and glory to You and You only.  Thank You, Lord, for allowing us to be Your servants.  Amen.

Today we begin the work I came to help Jane in doing.  There are times as a physician I am called to care for people that are not the most lovable or loving.  They sometimes are rude and can be even repulsive, showing no gratitude for the effort I am doing to help them.  Fortunately, these times were not that frequent but the memories still linger.  However, coming to Ecuador has not included any of these types of patients.  The people here are so grateful for the care extended to them.  Their lives are changed and a problem they may have lived with for many years is now solved.  The burdens they bear are now lifted.  When asked why I go to Ecuador I can truly say these people are my neighbors and I am to love them as Jesus would.

I enjoy some of the same gratitude when I work as a volunteer at the Matthew 25 Medical and Dental Clinic in downtown Fort Wayne.  This clinic is a safety net for those people who otherwise would fall through the cracks in achieving medical care because they are poor and have no insurance.  Again, these people are very thankful that I take the time to extend a hand to them.  They give me more opportunities to love my neighbor.

This brings me to Luke 10:29-37 – the parable of the Good Samaritan.  This story begins with an expert in the law asking a question to test Jesus.  This man’s heart was deceitful wanting to trap Jesus in His own words in order to accuse Him.  However, Jesus traps the man in his own question and forces him to rethink the words he just asked.  Picking up in this encounter at verse 29, But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  35The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.  ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  (NIV)

Being Jesus to someone in our lives today means asking that very pertinent question that Jesus asked of this expert in the law: Who is my neighbor?  How many times do we think of that question when we see a person in need.  Sometimes we help that person but isn’t it almost easier to walk on the other side of the road to avoid the situation?  We say we don’t want to get involved for reaching out on our part may be costly, not only in resources but also time.  We may not want to be a neighbor because the person is repulsive to us.  Or we may have that judgmental attitude and say that the person deserved it.  We come up with all sorts of reasons to justify ourselves for not being a neighbor.

But Jesus keeps asking, “Who is your neighbor?”  I think it is interesting that Jesus even used a Samaritan in this story as the one who really was exemplifying God’s love.  He was talking to Jews who despised Samaritans.  Yet, the priest and Levite, both respected people in the Jewish culture, could not share God’s love like their despised neighbor, the Samaritan.  By this story Jesus was showing those in His audience how narrow their vision was and how arrogant and self-righteous they were.  They hardened their heart to the point of being unable to see the opportunity to share God’s love with someone.

I have to ask myself, what if the man, like in this story, who was lying by the road was my worst enemy?  Would I stop to tend to his wounds, his needs?  Would I take the opportunity to love him as Jesus would love him?

Yesterday, during our devotions at the start of the day, we read this portion of Scripture and talked about who would be our neighbor.  I mentioned that we have the opportunity to share God’s love to every “neighbor” who walks through the gate seeking care.  Regardless of who that person is, we have to ask ourselves how would Jesus treat him or her.  If we want to be Jesus to those around us, we have to look upon them as our neighbors and come to them as the Samaritan did to the poor man laying beside the road, beaten, naked and in need.  You don’t have to come to San Lorenzo to be like the Samaritan.  You can do that right in your own backyard, at work, at play, anywhere in your world.  The important thing is to remember that being Jesus to someone today involves your neighbors, that is, anyone whom you encounter.  I have to remember that too.  This story that Jesus told is convicting to me.  I have heard the story over and over yet even today it brings conviction to me as I have to confess my times that I pass by on the other side of the road in order to avoid my neighbor.

Father, this story brings me to my knees in confession of when I chose to not love my neighbor.  Many memories come to the surface in my mind of times I behaved like the priest and Levite instead of the Samaritan man.  I confess the times I have not loved my neighbor as You would have wanted me to.  I know You love my neighbor as much as You love me.  In fact, Lord Jesus, You died a horrible death for me and my neighbor.  You even forgave those who were killing You as You hung on that cross.  Father, forgive me.  Help me to understand even more about what it means to love my neighbor.  Guide us here at San Lorenzo to share Your love with those we treat today.  Help us in surgery, Lord.  Guide our thoughts and our hands as we do these surgeries.  Stand near us, wrap Your hands around ours and guide us every step through these operations.  Please protect the patients.  Help them heal.  Transform their hearts and draw them unto You, Lord.  Thank You, Father, for the opportunity You give us each day to love our neighbors.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

2:00 pm.  We have had a slow morning waiting on word from the anesthesiologist as to when she might arrive.  Our patients were all told that we were delayed and would likely start our surgeries about 2 pm.  We had lunch together and then Dahlia called saying she was on her way and givng a projected time of arrival around 2.  Our first patient is in the pre-op area and is ready to come into the OR.

Father, I pray for L.E.  She has a significant prolapse of the bladder and uterus plus has a large right ovarian mass.  Please protect her, Lord.  Give her a peace that is beyond understanding, the only kind of peace that You give.  Please place Your hand upon her and keep her safe.  Lord, I also ask for Your hands upon ours.  Let us wear You like a glove and guide our hands during this surgery.  Help us Lord to do the right procedure for L.E.  Give us the wisdom and knowledge we need to recognize the problem, make a correct diagnosis, and to render the correct surgical treatment for her.  Lord, I place her in Your hands.  Thank You for being here with us.  Thank You for giving us the reassurance we need for this surgery.  Amen.

L.E. surgery:  Our anesthesiologist arrived about 4 pm putting us 8 hours behind schedule in starting our day of surgery.  It is now 7 pm and we just finished with the first surgery.  For L.E. we did an abdominal hysterectomy and then a Burch urethropexy.  Then we had to reposition her on the table to do a posterior vaginal repair.  The prolapse is now fixed and her anatomy is restored back to near normal.  That is the objective and with God’s help we were able to do that.  Thank You, Father!!

Our next surgery is on C.M. who has a lot of problems with gall stones.  He has been having pain for the past couple months and Jane has not been able to get anesthesia coverage to be able to do his surgery until now.  She will be doing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.  Father, I pray for this man.  Please cover him with Your grace and mercy and healing power.  Also, cover Jane with Your presence like You always do.  Thank You, Lord, for being here with us and assisting us in the care of Your children here in San Lorenzo.  Amen.

The surgery had some difficulty because of equipment problems.  The power went out on some of the equipment for the laparoscope camera and we had to get a back-up system to finish the surgery.  The gallbladder was full of sludge and stones.  No wonder this guy was sick!  He should feel a lot better soon.  Lord, thank You for watching over us.  We pray for patience and You give us things to teach us patience.  The light source problem certainly tested our ability to remain patient.  You are always teaching us helping us to become more like You in our thoughts and actions.  Thank You, Lord, for guiding us and covering us with Your mercy and grace.  Thank You for extending Your unfailing love to this patient.  All glory goes to You, Father.  Amen.

10:00 pm.  Our third surgery was E.P. for an umbilical hernia repair.  He is a 28 year old with a bulge above the navel.  This was a hernia the size of my thumb protruding through a small opening the size of a button-hole.  The hernia dissected out easily and was pushed back into the abdomen and the button-hole defect was repaired.

11:30 pm.  We just finished the fourth surgery.  This was R.B, a 76 year old man with a left inguinal hernia.  It took some time dissecting it out and putting in mesh to revent a recurrance.  Once this was done Jane told me to go and get some rest as I have the first case in the morning and that one is the most complex of the week.  She has one more surgery, a breast biopsy and then we will be done for the day.  I have to say I am quite tired and the legs and back are telling me to lay down and rest.

Father, this has been a long day.  Thank You, Lord, for giving us the strength and stamina to do the work.  I was so reassured during the last surgery just looking up at the picture of Jesus standing with the surgeon, His hand on his shoulder, as He is guiding the surgeon in doing the needed procedure.  Thank You for that comfort and reassurance.  Father, please lay Your healing hand on these last two men who have had some type of hernia repair.  Bring them comfort, Lord.  Thank You for allowing me, inviting me, to come and serve You here.  Amen.



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