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Day 10 – August 25, 2017

It is amazing and frustrating when times of crisis quickly expose how little my faith is. I move along in confidence, probably more in myself than in Christ, as we walk along together and then trouble happens. I believe Jesus leads me to these trouble spots just to stretch my faith and make me stronger in my dependence on Him. He know when I am resting in my own abilities and not in Him and He will show that to me quickly.

As we walk along I look away from Christ and then I trip and fall. Or I get distracted by something and I leave Jesus to go investigate. Then trouble happens and I suddenly find myself all alone. The enemy takes these moments and kicks me when I am down. He sends me messages of how worthless I am and what a fool I am to think I am a Jesus follower. The fact that I am laying on the ground is proof that I can’t follow Him. He kicks me repeatedly with his insults and accusations trying to convince me to believe him and to give up. The crisis times bring those type of feelings. They are painful.

But Jesus is there. And soon I feel His hands pulling me back up and brushing me off. He then puts His arm around my shoulder and whispers in my ear, “Let’s walk on together.” There is no condemnation, just love and forgiveness. There are no kicks or verbal shames because I wandered and got in trouble, just encouraging words. Jesus takes the crisis and uses it as a teaching opportunity to help me gain more faith and to stick to Him more closely.

As I have gone through these rescues repeatedly, I see I have learned more and more and am trusting Him more completely in the face of crisis situations. And then He started walking me to Ecuador where we face some incredible challenges in the surgical care of the patients we see. These could easily become times of fear and paralysis because the problem before us looks way over our heads. However, when we step up to the operating table, there are three pair of hands working not just my hands and Jane’s hands. Jesus is there and He is guiding and protecting. He gives us the thoughts that convey messages of instruction and encouragement to us. And then He fills in where we lack in skill and judgment. Jane and I see miraculous happenings with the patients, changes that can’t be explained by logic and science but only because Jesus was there and He filled in where we couldn’t. What a joy to experience these crises because these become some of the times when I feel so close to Him and so filled with His presence and power!

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your presence with us here in Ecuador. We are starting our last day of surgery. You have supplied us with so much help so we could serve the people here. You even allowed us to witness two people coming to You in faith declaring for the first time in their lives that You are their Lord and Savior. That is what this work is all about, Lord. We come here on Your invitation to help the needy and in the process facilitate healing of the heart that You wanted so much to see happen. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Today is a lighter day in the operating room. We have three surgeries scheduled with only one of them being a major surgery. I met Jane at 6 am to make rounds on the post-op patients. The six patients we operated on yesterday were all doing very well. They all went home today. A couple went with catheters in place and Jane will see them again Monday to remove the catheters.

Our Ecuador team

Pictured above is our team.  This year Lynn, who couldn’t come because of a back injury, and I were able to obtain donations from Thrivent Financial where each of us have some of our retirement funds.  Thrivent is a Christian financial organization and they tithe of their income to help support all sorts of mission projects.  I talked with Thrivent about our trip to Ecuador and they gave us some money to purchase supplies that would be needed for our work.  Lynn and I were able to purchase some much needed supplies for Jane.  Thrivent gave us a bunch of T-shirt which we proudly sported throughout the week.

After breakfast and devotions we started our surgeries. Our first patient was in for problematic bleeding and an ultrasound suggested a mass up inside the uterus. Jane did a D&C and removed a polyp the size of the little finger. This most likely was the cause of the bleeding and the removal of the polyp likely will cure the problem.

The second patient was an older man who had a left inguinal hernia. This was rather large and he has lived with it for some time. He lives in Colombia and traveled approximately 7 hours to get here. He said his neighbor where he lives told him about the clinic in San Lorenzo so the man journeyed all that distance to be seen here at the clinic. His hernia repair went very smoothly and about an hour after he was in recovery room he was ready to go home. Jane discharged him shortly after that.

The third patient was in here mid to late thirties and had had a previous tubal ligation. She came in wanting her tubes put back together again to be able to conceive. Jane had talked with her about the risk of a tubal pregnancy and the risk of pregnancy at her age. The patient had also delivered by cesarean section before. Even with these risks in front of her she wanted to proceed as she really desired to conceive again. We opened her abdomen and found the right tube was long enough that it could be joined together again. The left tube was encased in adhesions and was much shorter. It was not amenable to rejoining it. So, we did the right tube and got a good repair and left the other tube alone. The patient did well and after spending a few hours in her room she wanted to go home. She was up walking around, hungry, having normal bladder function and she wanted to head home. So about 4 hours after leaving the operating room we released her. That leaves no patients in house now and obviously no early morning rounds.

Father, thank You again for Your help in the care of these patients. They all recovered so well and are on their way home. Your healing power is amazing, Lord, and You demonstrate it to us repeatedly in miraculous ways. Lord, You have blessed us so much. I worship You right now. Thank You, Father! Amen.

Howard finished his tile project and it looks really good.  He then started cleaning the pavers out in front of the house where we sleep.  Jane has obtained a nice power washer to do this type of work so Howard fired it up and got himself really dirty.  In the process he drained the cistern and we had no water to use.  This meant no showers or even water to prepare for drinking water.  Jane occasionally needs to call on the fire department and buy water from them.  They bring a big tanker truck and fill the cistern for her so we can have water.  This is especially important if we are doing surgery.

Cleaning the grout

The finished wall

Running out of water even meant he could not clean up.

Getting more water

Tonight is a night of packing for travel. We leave tomorrow to head to Quito for a couple days and then will board the plane on Monday for our trip back to the States. Jane wants to take us out for dinner tonight and also before the sun sets take a walk downtown.  The downtown area sits on the edge of an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.  I remember in previous years this area was not well devleoped but a remarkable change has taken place here.  Now this area has been developed into a large park that is quite nice.  It speaks a lot of community pride and the development more of a middle class where people are supporting these projects for the benefit of all citizens.  The park area is well lit and extends out onto a long pier over the water.  There is a bunch of exercise machines which were in use at that time plus play areas for children.  Amazing transformation of this area!

Stepping down to the waterfront. This used to be dirt. Now covered with pavers.

We then had dinner at this restaurant and enjoyed a good meal of rice, beans, grilled chicken, pork or beef.

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