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Day 13 – August 28, 2017

Today was our day of travel back to the States.  The night was very short as we had to leave the guesthouse by 3 am so we could be at the airport in time to go through the check in process.  Our flight left on time at 6:45 am and we arrived in Miami about 11:20 am.  After this flight Katie was to connect with a flight to Charlotte, NC, and then on to Fort Wayne, IN.  Tricia was originally routed through Houston on her way to Colorado.  Because of the hurricane that devastated Houston with very serious flooding, the airport was closed and her flights were cancelled.  She was able to arrange a flight back to Colorado through Atlanta on a different airline.  Henry was flying to Chicago and then was going to visit family in St. Joseph, MI.  He connected on to Chicago.  Howard and I drove to Miami from Englewood, FL, and we had parked our car at the Sheraton Miami Airport hotel.  We took the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, picked up the car and drove back to Englewood.

I think about this past 12 days in Ecuador working in the heat and humidity, spending long hours over the projects we did as a team, and the results that came from that effort. We were able to see an outside wall of the clinic being transformed with the installation of tile from the ground up to the first floor windows. We were able to examine several patients and then help many with surgical correction of their problems. This allowed these people to put their problem behind them and resume a more normal life, something that was more of a dream than reality for them before this week. Most importantly, we witnessed at least two people place their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They came to know Him personally for the very first time in their lives.

This could not have been done by ourselves. Jesus came to us individually and invited us to walk with Him to San Lorenzo to serve His people there. He knew of the needs and through filling us He reached out through us to touch and heal, to work and serve. This whole project was to serve these people in need and to bring honor and glory to the Father and His Son. We became part of His kingdom in a special way this past week.

Oswald Chambers in his book, My Utmost for His Highest, states it so well about the work we do serving Christ. In his October 19 devotional, he talks about being so caught up in the work we do that we miss our opportunities to have private time with God. Sometimes the serving in a mission project can do that very thing. There is so much need, so much to do and we roll up our sleeves and work hard, even putting ourselves at physical risk, and when it is all over we wonder where God was. We can get so busy doing the work that we forget who we are doing it for. We exclude God from the project. Chambers states, “The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.” That is really important to understand. It is our relationship with Him that is central to all we do.

Jesus wants so much to have a personal, intimate, deep relationship with each one of us. He invites us into that relationship. He asks us to walk with Him, to follow Him. He even says, “Come unto Me…” and He will fill us with Himself. With Him working through us we become extensions of His hands, feet, mouth, eyes, and ears. We become Jesus to those we meet because when they look at us Jesus is who they see, not us. Our entire purpose of life as we walk with Christ is to display that relationship with Him and to continually cultivate it so that He becomes so much a part of us that we automatically honor Him in all we do.

It is my hope that we all found Jesus in a deeper way this past 12 days. I hope you as a reader of this blog likewise found Jesus in a new and deeper way and have drawn closer to Him. The most important possession you can ever have is a relationship with Him. Actually, it is the only possession that you can take with you when you pass from this life to the next. Everything else stays behind but we can take Jesus with us and live out that relationship all through eternity. What a privilege!!

I wish to personally thank those who went with me – Tricia Atkinson, Katie Wysong, Howard White, Henry Brown. You all played important roles in the overall work that we accomplished for Christ. I want to thank Lynn Harder who was all set to go too but because of an injury to his back and hip could not participate physically. However, he and many others upheld us in prayer the whole time. I want to thank the many prayer warriors, many of whom I do not know personally, who faithfully petitioned God for His protection and empowerment to accomplish His work and establish His kingdom in the lives and hearts of the people of San Lorenzo. I want to thank Jane Weaver for her vision and mission in establishing the clinic and all the health care outreach there. She has a wonderful team of dedicated people who work with her and have captured and also own the vision she had. They love Jesus and want to serve Him all the time, every day. And in so doing, they introduce so many people to Jesus and through that help these people place their faith in Him.

I can’t stress this enough. The most important takeaway from this project is for you to seriously understand the relationship you have with Christ, with God. Make an effort to dig into this relationship. Cultivate it through studying Christ so you can know Him better. And then walk with Him every day, every step sharing life with Him. I pray that for each person who reads this blog and especially for those who were part of the team and those people who received the touch of the Savior through us.

Father, this past 12 days has been in total service to You.  You invited us to come with You to San Lorenzo for You love those people as much as You love us.  You allowed us to become instruments in Your hands to touch those we met and cared for.  You allowed us to speak Your words that brought spiritual healing to the two people that placed their faith in Christ.  You filled Howard, Katie and Tricia with Your energy and strength to accomplish the maintenance work to help Jane and also for Katie and Tricia to employ their nursing skills in the care of the post-op patients.  You filled Jane and me with Your wisdom and skills in helping the patients with surgery.  You brought hope to the woman we met in Quito who had to escape for her life from Venezuela.  Oh, Lord, You are the most important part of this project.  I pray, Lord, that each of us and everyone who in some way reads about this work and/or prayed for us will see the importance of a personal relationship with You and will pursue that with all their energy and determination.  Thank You, Lord.  I worship You today.  Thank You!  Amen.

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