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Day 1 – August 16, 2017

Our day of travel…The time is here and we are on our way to Ecuador. A couple days ago I flew to Florida to meet up with Howard and then pack the supplies that had been shipped to him to take on to Ecuador. The packing took some creative thinking and working in all the supplies. I have two suitcases filled with essential supplies Jane needs and Katie is also carrying two suitcases filled with supplies. Jane has supplied each of us with letters for the customs agents if we have any questions regarding what we are bringing into the country. These letters simply attest that all we are carrying are donated items to be used in rendering health care to the people we see. The items are not intended to be sold but are being donated to help the Ecuadorian people. I have had to use these letters on a couple occasions but never ran into a snag with the customs people. Usually they thank me for coming to Ecuador to help their people.

One of my daily joys is meeting with three other brothers as a small group to study together Scripture and the principles of living contained in God’s Word. We do this by texting each other as we all live in separate states spread apart by many miles. The technology of the texting allows us to virtually sit around a table and carry on an active discussion about what we are reading together. The focus of our daily meetings is Oswald Chambers’ book, My Utmost for His Highest. This book is a compilation of daily discussions about some principle from God’s Word. Chambers introduces the topic of discussion for the day and we then expand on that from our own life experiences and encourage and pray for one another as we take what we have learned from that discussion and apply it to our lives.

On August 2nd, Chambers talked about God meeting us in the midst of adversity. He started his thought with, “The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity. But it actually means being delivered in adversity…” A lot of people expect delivery of all adversity and when it doesn’t happen according to their plan, they get angry and may even give up on God. But God doesn’t work that way. He meets us in the midst of adversity and says, “Walk with Me. I want to go through this with you. Let’s do this together.”

As I talked about going to Ecuador with friends and family, my brother-in-law, Howard, immediately joined me again. This will be his third trip with me to help Jane with maintenance work that always needs to be done. Then Katie, who went with me last year, joined to help again. This year we will be doing a lot of surgery and Katie’s experience and training will be very helpful in caring for our patients. Then Lynn joined in to work with Howard and Tricia joined to work with Katie as the two of them will provide such good support with their nursing expertise. Things were coming together nicely and I was very happy. Then adversity set in…

About three weeks ago Jane informed me that the anesthesiologist she had lined up to come and provide that essential component of our care had decided to back out. Obtaining anesthesia support is a huge hurdle for Jane. The anesthesiologists in Ecuador have been helpful but they all have schedules and frequently they are not available. She will tap into her network of anesthesiologists from the States and usually hears the same response of unavailability. It becomes a major problem securing that level of support so she can do the surgery that is needed for her patients. Then when the vacancy occurs leaving so little time to find a replacement, the only thing we can do is pray. And pray we did!

A couple weeks ago I was working at Matthew 25 Medical and Dental Clinic in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. This clinic is for the indigent and I volunteer there to provide gynecological care. I mentioned to the nurses working with me about the upcoming Ecuador trip and asked them to pray for us. I also mentioned about just finding out about the anesthesia dilemma. The one nurse immediately picked up her phone and called another nurse who works with a urologist in town. This nurse goes to Haiti with her sister periodically to do medical mission work. Part of their projects is surgery and an anesthetist goes with them regularly. The information was passed, the connections occurred and within a couple days the anesthetist was onboard with us. He just so happened to have the week of our project as a week off his schedule. He immediately joined us to help us provide the surgical care needed.

I have learned in past experiences that God always steps in when all my props are knocked out from under me. Only then when I can do nothing on my own but lean on Him does He step in and demonstrate His power and wisdom and support. He did that very thing this time by meeting us in the midst of our adversity and tapped Henry on the shoulder who then responded to that tap by joining us to be the God’s hands at the anesthesia machine. God answered our prayer and He did it in an amazing way. All we could do was exclaim, “This was a God thing!” I don’t believe this just happened by chance. We were directed through specific phone calls and connections to the person God had chosen to fill in the gap we suddenly had. God answered our prayers!

About that time I received a call from Lynn. He was helping with construction on a house and fell off a step ladder from about four steps up. In the area where the ladder was standing there had been some tree saplings that had been cut down leaving small stumps sticking out of the ground about four inches. Lynn landed on his back right on top of one of those stumps. He ended up with a large hematoma developing in his lower back and over in his hip. X-rays in the ER showed fracture of the iliac bone above the hip. The reality of this was he could not travel or bear much weight for at least four weeks or more. Suddenly, Lynn was removed from the project, much to our dismay. But God was there and He met us in the midst of this. He was there for Lynn and gave Him hope and filled him with peace in spite of the intense disappointment. We know Lynn can’t physically be there with us but we also know he will be there each day praying for us.

Over the years of reading Chamber’s devotionals several times, one consistent theme that surfaces in each day’s entry is the practice of walking with Christ. This means having such a close relationship with Him that we walk together along life’s path. I walk with Him and go the directions He goes. He gives me the privilege of being His hands and feet to carry His love to those we meet. And the times when the going gets tough, Jesus gently wraps His arm around me and supports me and guides me. He keeps reassuring me with His words, “Let’s do this together. I want to walk with you.”

Jesus has a tendency to take me places where the walk is difficult. I think He does that on purpose so I will depend on Him for all my strength and guidance. The rough terrain would be a very difficult walk alone. How would I get out of the pit of despair or climb the rocky cliff of the impossible without Someone there to guide, to lift, to grab my hand and pull? Walking alone is terrifying and defeating. It shows my weakness.

However, walking with Christ is a totally different experience. Only then do I become wise and discerning to pick a better path or at least to know how to deal with trouble. Only then do I have the strength to keep on walking. With Christ the difficult road becomes an opportunity to praise Him because it is He who makes the difference. He delivers me in the midst of the adversity. We walk through it together. Rarely do we skirt around a problem. It seems we always walk through it and then Jesus’ strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Chambers ends his devotional for August 2 with “The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.” Oh, that is so true! Praise God for inviting us to walk with Him! We are so blessed to have this privilege!

So, today we are “walking” to Ecuador. Howard and I are meeting Katie and Tricia at Miami Airport and then we will “walk” to our plane and continue our walk in Quito, Ecuador. Jane will meet us at the airport and we will then travel through the Andes Mountains to San Lorenzo where we will work at her clinic. We will arrive in Quito about 6:45 pm and then will face about a four to five hour trip in the car to San Lorenzo.

Father, I pray for our trip today. I pray for Your protective hand to rest upon us all the way. Please guide us as we travel and equip us to do the work You have asked us to do. Keep us healthy, Lord, and especially keep the enemy away from us. Satan would want nothing more than to put a stop to Your work and bring dishonor to You. Protect us, Lord, from his influence and efforts to trip us and stop us. Help us to share Your love and healing power with the people we see and provide care for in San Lorenzo. Thank You, Lord, for inviting us to walk with You here and to have the absolute privilege of being Your hands, Your eyes, Your ears, Your mouth, Your feet in Ecuador. We praise You, Lord, for meeting us in the midst of adversity and assuring us that You are always there with us. We praise You for allowing us to walk with You. We praise You for filling us with Yourself so we can reflect You everywhere we go in everything we do. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Our connections all went smoothly and we met each other about noon at the American Airlines check in area. At that point we checked in and went through security screening and then grabbed a quick bite to eat and then working our way on to our gate. Our flight was scheduled to leave about 3:25 pm and boarding would start about 45 minutes earlier. We were able to have someone take our picture as we waited for boarding.


The flight went along well. The ride was a little bumpy at times. Not too long into the flight the attendants came around with a meal for each of us. I had some tasty pasta in a tomato sauce and about an hour or so later the gut cramps began. I wasn’t sure what was happening as the cramping became more intense and I had a slight bit of nausea. I went to the bathroom a couple times and had some diarrhea. The cramping continued on to the time we landed and I had to visit the bathroom while waiting on my luggage. Then when we went to the car I had to take a short jaunt to the bathroom once more. I wasn’t sure what might happen in the car as we were traveling in the dark on a mountain road with a fair amount of traffic and no good places to pull off to attend to the call of nature.

As we approached a toll plaza shortly after passing through Otavalo I suddenly felt really nauseated and Jane pulled over while I grabbed a small ziplock bag that Jane had on her dash. I promptly vomited into the bag. The vomiting continued for some time to the point of dry heaves. All the while I was doing my best to contain the other end with all the abdominal pressure that generates with the vomiting. Finally, Jane and Damarys suggested we go into Ibarra and stay the night instead of trying to reach San Lorenzo, about 3 hours further down the road.

We went to a nice hotel and I just climbed into bed not even removing any clothes and went to sleep. I had to get up a couple times during the night but by morning the cramps and vomiting had stopped. What a welcome to Ecuador!!

In the plane, however, as we were approaching Quito but still flying about 20,000 feet off to the west was an absolutely stunning sunset shining over the clouds. I was able to get a picture that shared the beauty that God just designs into each day.

Thank You, Lord, for protecting me and helping me with the nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. Thank You for bringing me to a resting place so I could lay down and allow You to heal me. Thank You, Lord, for Your incredible creating that You always keep on display. Thank You! Amen.

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