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Day 2 – 7-21-2016 (Thursday)

People have asked me why I choose to go to Ecuador or serve at Matthew 25 Medical and Dental Clinic in downtown Ft. Wayne, a clinic whose mission is to deliver health and dental care to the underserved in our community.  I have answered that question at times with the response that I felt called but that seemed to lack substance other than the feeling of being called to do this.  I have also answered with I wanted to serve those who wouldn’t be able to easily obtain the care they need otherwise.  That also seemed to lack substance.  As I have thought about this for some time, I have landed on the real reason I go and serve and that is I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  When you love someone, really love that person, you do what you can to be with that person, to honor and to serve that person.  And this is done without any expectation of getting something back in return for your effort.  It is done because it is framed in pure love.  I have become convinced that my love for Jesus is the core reason for doing what I do.  In all I do I try to frame that within my love for Him.

Therefore, I wish to spend some time each day thinking about what it means to love Jesus, to love Him with all my heart.  Jesus even said in the Great Commandment that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength and we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  When I love Jesus in this way, I get the absolute privilege of walking with Him, side by side, doing life together.  Jesus leads, I follow.  And when Jesus leads He sometimes goes places I didn’t even think of and asks me to participate with Him in extending His love to people I have never met before.  This is what happens when I get the call, if you may, or the push in my back to go to Ecuador and serve Him there through serving the people of San Lorenzo.  Here I get to participate in the work Jesus is doing through Jane’s hands and the hands of her team at the clinic in San Lorenzo.  I get to see miracles happen.  I get the thrill of seeing lives changed, diseases healed, and lives made whole.  This is what happens, I believe, when I love Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  I get to love my neighbors in San Lorenzo in the far northwestern corner of the beautiful country of Ecuador!

7:00 am.  I awoke from a great night’s sleep, the best sleep I have had for several days.  However, once I looked at the time I suddenly learned that in 15 minutes the group would be meeting for breakfast and devotions.  So, the relaxation and drowsiness was suddenly replaced by an adrenalin rush that left me with a tremor when I tried to use my fork to eat some fruit.  I did get to breakfast just as everyone was passing the food.  

When I swung my feet over the edge of the bed I stood in a puddle of water on the floor.  I looked and under my bed and my things I stashed under the bed last night was a large puddle of water.  It traced it to the air conditioner that was leaking the water condensed from the air down the wall onto the floor.  My laptop was sitting in the water but fortunately the rubber feet on the bottom of the computer kept the electronics out of the water.  So, that added to the adrenalin rush.  

After breakfast our devotions focused on John 4:7-15, the story of the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well.  The focus of discussion were the two words Jesus used: living water.  We talked about the importance of water to our bodies but when someone has faith in Christ they are filled with living water.  And this water gives us eternal life.  Interestingly, when one gets this living water one cannot contain it.  It continues to flow out of us to those around us to point and lead people to the source of that water.  That is one element of our job description, so to speak, as we walk with Christ.  We become a fountain of living water to those we meet.  We are called to share that water, that living water.

Father, Thank You for the great sleep and the good reminder of our work here and at home.  We are to be vessels of living water and we are to share that water as a fountain to those who come across our paths every day as we walk with You.  Help us to remember this all the time.  I ask for Your blessing today on the work we will be doing here at San Lorenzo.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

After breakfast and everyone going to the work they were going to do, Jane, Barb, Katie and I went to the clinic to work with the ultrasound machine and see a couple patients.  Barb spent the morning going over all the uses of the ultrasound, familiarizing herself with the machine and what it can and can’t do, and even scanning Katie to look at various intraabdominal structures and also scanning my right leg to look at the Baker’s cyst and the fluid collection from the cyst that is under the skin in my upper calf.  

At this point the first patient came in for evaluation.  This girl is 9 years old and has a labial fusion, something that I would occasionally see in my practice.  The management of this is to not do surgery and to allow the girl to mature and start producing her own estrogen.  Sometimes the only management that I would do is topical estrogen cream which will add estrogen to the skin in this area and the skin would then mature and separate on its own.  Forcing this open is traumatic for a young child and usually ends up with scarring and reclosure.  The mother had taken her daughter to another physician who told her she needed surgery right away and the cost would be about $5000.  Obviously, this mother did not have any money to pay for the surgery so she sought Jane for another opinion.  We spend some time trying to explain to the mother what was going on and why surgery would be harmful, not helpful.  She seemed to grasp the idea and will start applying estrogen cream daily and Jane will follow up for monthly evaluations.  I got a picture of the mother and child.  

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The second patient was a man who had a large mass on his right shoulder above the shoulder blade.  The ultrasound was very handy to look at this and it confirmed what we suspected, this was a large lipoma.  I don’t know if Jane will operate on this sometime.  The man was relieved to know this was benign and not a health risk.  

The ultrasound was very useful today and I told Jane that if its use was what kept this little girl from having a traumatic and expensive surgery, then it was worth if for Barb and I to come and use this technology.  This tool will be extremely helpful to Jane as she can instantly scan a patient and get a good idea of what she is feeling and arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.  Hopefully, this week we will have multiple opportunities to teach Jane how to use this machine.  My goal by the end of our time here is to see Jane fairly adept at using her machine.

Lunch was a time when everyone came in and enjoyed a variety of food.  I had some calamari (squid) that was prepared in some sauce over some rice.  It was absolutely delicious, some of the best I have ever tasted.  I took a few pictures of what our lunches will likely be like for the next few days.  

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After seeing our patients Jane and I took the digital Bibles and we got a picture of me giving them to Jane and Damarys.  These units also have a flashlight with them and Damarys immediately said they would be great to give to those poor people who were hardest hit by the recent earthquake as they still are without any power and housing.  Jane and Damarys were thrilled to have another 45 of these players to distribute to those in need of their own copy of Scripture and cannot read.  What a ministry this has given Jane and her team!

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After lunch we had no more patients scheduled for the day so I changed clothes into some work clothes and went out and worked with Ted and Howard trimming bushes and cleaning up the debris from this activity.  About 4 pm it was time to quit for me.  In spite of drinking a couple bottles of water I was getting dehydrated because of the heat and humidity.  So I came in and took a cold shower which ended quicker than I anticipated because the water suddenly quit running.  

The internet has been off and on today with sporadic service.  Jane is frustrated with it as the problem is at its source and not here.  

Karl and Jody’s group worked all day outside on various projects.  I saw them working in various places, pulling electrical wire, digging trenches for water lines, painting a mural, and various other jobs.  Ted and Howard were busy with a landscape bed that was recently filled with dirt.  Jane wanted to move some plants into this bed and they made it look really nice.  

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In the afternoon I went out and helped clean up some trimmings from some bushes that Gonzalo attacked with the hedge trimmer.  Ted and Howard finished their work and helped with trimming bushes and trees.  We bagged up all the stuff and set it out for the trash truck to pick up.  

After dinner some of the people played games.  I chose to read for awhile and then went to bed for the night.  A productive day!  Jane’s clinic is busy right now with a construction crew working on the addition to her building and all the other people here doing other projects.  Lots of people moving around and doing various types of work.  

Father, thank You for this day, a day of work to serve Jane.  We also served that young girl and her mother and convinced the mother that surgery was not needed.  Thank You that I could bring the digital Bibles to hand out to those who can’t read and don’t have their own personal copy of Scripture.  Lord,  through these players Your Word goes to ones who are hungry for that and wish to learn from You.  Thank You for that.  Lord, thank You for all the people who are here to work for Jane, to help her, to serve her, all in Your name.  You are being glorified through our work here and we are privileged to have the opportunity to serve you in this way.  Thank You, Lord!  Amen.

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