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Day 13 – 8-1-2016 (Monday)

Our day of travel.  Father, this is the final day here in Ecuador.  We followed You here to be Jesus to the people we serve.  It seems odd that I, a surgeon with skills You have given me to bring Your healing power to others, came with You to Ecuador and used not my surgical skills but my painting skills to serve others.  You only asked me to be willing to walk with You here and be and extension of You.  I can serve You just as much painting a wall or sweeping a floor as I can doing surgery.  Lord, it is a privilege just to be with You, to go where You go, to be an extension of Your hands and mouth.  It is an absolute privilege to be Jesus to those who cross our path.  I hope, Lord, that I was able to accomplish what You asked me to do for You.  I hope that for all of us.  Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity.  Amen.

When we turned the lights out last night we set our alarms for 3 am so we could be up and ready to leave when Jane was to arrive by 3:30.  Three am came awfully early!!  I awoke about 3 minutes before the alarm was to go off.  It is strange, any more I awaken just a few minutes before the alarm regardless of when I set it.  My internal clock knows more about the time than I consciously do.  Ted, Howard and I shared one room and we were all up and by 3:30 were downstairs with our luggage ready to travel.  There we met Barb and Katie and soon thereafter Jane arrived.  Jane and Damarys both drove their cars so we could load the luggage and travel to the airport.  Shortly after 3:30 we were on the road.

The trip to the airport took about an hour.  The new airport is outside the city to the north of Quito.  Driving out of the city took us uphill quite a ways as the city of Quito is surrounded by mountains.  The view of the city was spectacular as you looked across the darkness punctuated by thousands of lights.  In about an hour we arrived at the American Airlines entrance and there at the curb side we unloaded the luggage and said our good-byes to Jane and Damarys.  I love these women for their friendship, their dedication to the ministry, and for their willingness to love our Lord and to do as Jesus asked Peter, to love Him above all else and follow Him.  They could live much more comfortably but these wonderful women choose to give instead of receive, to serve instead of being served.  They love Jesus through loving the people of San Lorenzo.  So our hugs were longer than usual and they were filled with love for each other.

Thank You, Lord for Jane and Damarys and their love for You.  Thank You for the group at the clinic who love You and serve You.  Thank You for making it all possible to “feed Your sheep” there in San Lorenzo.  Thank You for the privilege of knowing and serving alongside Jane and Damarys.  It is a great privilege, Lord, and You make it all possible.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

The new airport at Quito is large, clean and efficient.  Quite the place compared to the old facility!  We walked in and checked in at a kiosk and then checked our luggage and soon we were off to the passport control and customs.  That, too, was quick and easy.  In 30 minutes we were on the other side of security on our way to our gate.  Getting there 2 ½ hours ahead of time because of concern for lines and long waiting times seemed a misjudgment.  However, we all felt much more comfortable having time to spend on the other side of security instead of waiting anxiously in line trying to process everything knowing the clock is ticking.   The airport terminal has multiple outlets for some shopping and food.  This is certainly an improvement over the old terminal building where there were no choices for any food.  It was easy to find a bite to eat right next to our gate.  So we enjoyed some breakfast and good coffee as we waited to board our plane.

Our departure time was set at 7 am.  About 6 am the boarding process began.  By 6:30 we were in our seats on the plane ready to travel.  As we sat there in our seats Ted pulled up the shade on the window and out our window was a view of clear sky and the sun illuminating brightly the snow-capped mountain, Cotopaxi.  This mountain is a ways south of Quito but it looked like it was just next door.  I snapped a picture out the window of the plane as we were just backing away from the gate.

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Our take off was smooth and soon we were on our way due north from Quito.  On the screens in the plane the map of our route was displayed showing a straight line almost due north from Quito to Miami.  Our arrival time was projected to be 11:45 am Miami time.  Flying at 37,000 feet gave us a beautiful view of the Andes mountains as we could look down at the very road we traveled on going to San Lorenzo and back.

Arrival in Miami was right on schedule.  It felt good to be back on U.S. soil.  The passport processing has been changed to a much more efficient system.  We didn’t have to walk nearly as far and came upon a long row of kiosks for USA citizens.  There we inserted our passport and the machine took our picture and after selecting the options on the screen, a receipt popped out of the machine and our next stop was the luggage carousel.  There we found our luggage already taken off the moving belt and grouped all together.  Soon we were walking through customs which again was a quick visit and then we were ready to leave the terminal building.  At this point we said our good-byes to Katie and Barb who had a connecting flight to Indianapolis.  Then we stepped out to the curb side pickup area and within 20 minutes our shuttle appeared to take us back to the hotel where we parked our car.  It wasn’t long and we were travelling on I-75 on our way back to the west side of the state to Englewood.

Father, thank You for the quick and easy departure, the smooth and safe flight to Miami, and the quick and easy arrival for us.  From the time we awoke to the plane in the air to the touch down in Miami to our arrival back home You were guiding us the whole way.  Thank You for Your protection and making our travel smooth and easy.  Lord, we trust You and love You and serve You.  Thank You for the unbelievable grace and mercy You give us all the time.  Thank You, Father.  Amen.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this trip my theme of perspective was loving Jesus.  The love He talked about to Peter in John 21 was and is a deeper love that goes beyond just enjoying His company or even serving Him in our comfort zone.  Jesus talked about a love far more involved, a love that was sacrificial and costly, a love that superseded anything else I would consider important in my life.  That love includes a command from Him, “Follow Me.”  This has become a mission statement of sorts for me.  My life is continually being shaped and framed around this two-word command from Jesus.  This seems to be what my life is all about, what I want to see when I look back at my past and consider a legacy.  I would want on my tombstone the words, “He followed Jesus.”  I can’t think of a more important statement of accomplishment in one’s life than that.

When I retired from my practice of obstetrics and gynecology, during my last week in the office, a patient came in to see me one last time.  She had been reading a book about Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament.  These two men were prophets and Elisha had become Elijah’s mentee.  When the time came for Elijah to depart from this earth, he took his mantle and placed it on Elisha’s shoulders, symbolizing the passing of responsibility to him.  Elisha had graduated so to speak.  He was now holding or wearing his diploma having successfully completed his training.  He was now a certified prophet for God.  He had been mantled.  This patient sat there in my office and said words to me that I have not forgotten.  She said, “Dr. Eastlund, you are not retiring, you are being remantled.”  Those words encapsulated what my retirement has become.  I have not just hung up my scrubs and lab coat and settled into an easy chair to while away the rest of my life.  My new mantle has added a new chapter in my life, a new avenue to serve Jesus.  I am finding that being fulfilled in serving others still using the skills God gave me to do surgery and bring health care to people.  I find that Ecuador has been one of the areas where I get to carry my mantle and participate in the work Jesus is doing there through the ministry He has developed with Jane, Damarys, Angelita, Maria Luisa, Carmen, Leila and Gonzalo.

A couple days ago Katie finished a book she had been reading and loaned it to me to read.  It was written by Bob Goff and the title of the book is Love Does.  The author talks about acting out the love of Jesus in various places in his life.  In one chapter he made a statement about a man named John who came alongside Bob in reaching out to the people of Uganda and establishing a school there to provide education for the children who otherwise would never receive it.  He said this about John, “He wasn’t limited by the contours of convention any longer.  Instead, he leaked what he loved.  He was leaking Jesus.  And pretty soon the puddle he made swallowed us all by the lake it formed.” (pg. 212)

What a great word picture!  Think about that.  As we love Jesus and really love Him like He discussed with Peter, His next words were “feed My sheep.”  Loving Him is more than just loving Him.  As we allow the love of Jesus to penetrate our hearts and fill us up, we find we can’t contain that love.  We become a sponge and soak up His love because we are hungry for that.  But as a sponge gets saturated, what happens?  It leaks!  It can’t contain the water that it keeps taking in.  That’s what happens when Jesus shows up in your life.  He fills you like a sponge and then you find you can’t contain it all.  That love starts leaking on those around you.  As Bob Goff so aptly stated, the drips form a puddle that soon swallows you in a lake.  That is what happened to me as I reflect on the remantling process that my patient talked about.  The love of Jesus has filled me so much that I can’t contain it any longer.  I must share it and pass it on to others.  I must drip and create puddles and even lakes.  That is simply the reason I so enjoy going to Ecuador.  Jesus’ love drives me there and accompanies me all along the way.  It drips all over the place there and when I return I find I am still dripping.  The same can happen to you.  Just become a sponge and soak up Jesus and you, too, will find yourself standing in puddles.

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