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Day 4 – August 19, 2017

In thinking about prayer I was taken to Luke 18.  In the first 8 verses we have the account of Jesus telling a parable to teach those listening about prayer.  The account starts out with a statement that Jesus was telling them a parable to teach about persisting in prayer.  Jesus then goes on and tells the story of the unjust judge who did not believe in God but whose heart was eventually swayed by the widow’s persistence in seeking justice.  He eventually wears down, so to speak, and concludes that even though he doesn’t respect God or man he will grant this widow’s request because she kept bothering him.  And Jesus concludes by turning the attention of the listeners to God who loves those who turn to Him will listen to those who pray to Him persistently.

I don’t think Jesus is teaching that we keep pestering God for something we want without really thinking about whether we are in God’s will.  It seems from the other teaching Jesus gives on prayer, He wants us to be one with Him as He was one with God.  To be one with Him means we are thinking His thoughts.  We are onboard with His agenda, not ours.  If I pray from my own agenda that is not conforming to God’s will, I shouldn’t expect God to answer that prayer.  Now, He might just to teach me that what I requested for isn’t as valuable as I thought it was.  Or He might allow me to move forward with my idea so I will learn to follow God instead of my own ideas and intentions.  But for the most part, if I am not one with Him, I shouldn’t expect God to answer my prayers that reflect my wisdom and not His.  I have to remember that God knows way more about what I am praying about than I do and I trust that He knows what is the best answer to that prayer.  If that answer is not what I envisioned, I still have to trust Him fully and walk in that path.  Anything less than that is rebellion and unbelief.

Again, I remember a few times here in Ecuador when we prayed persistently, all night long, for a patient.  I remember one episode when a patient, Marjorie, experienced a post-operative internal bleeding a few hours after the surgery.  She happened to be on our last day of surgery and once we finished, the anesthesiologist left for Quito.  A few hours later this problem developed and we watched her get into more trouble steadily.  Her blood count decreased progressively and we were very worried.  The usual course of action to handle this would be to return to the operating room and open the abdomen and find the bleeding.  However, with no anesthesia, that option was out.  We could give her IV fluids to keep up her blood volume but we don’t have a blood bank readily available.  Our resources were very limited and we were very worried.  Jane and I were left with no other option but to pray.  

That night we both prayed throughout the night.  It was a fitful night, I remember.  I couldn’t go to sleep because I kept thinking about this patient and prayed and prayed for her.  Jane sat at her bedside a good part of the night also praying.  Early in the morning I fell to sleep for a couple hours.  Then Jane awakened me to take a look out the window toward the albergue (the post-op building).  There was Marjorie, up and about, walking around outside, smiling broadly and looking great.  She underwent a miraculous change.  The bleeding had stopped, her blood count stablized and she felt good enough to get up and walk around.  In fact, she was asking if she could go home.

This sudden change was so dramatic and unusual.  Logic would tell us she should not be in this condition so quickly after experiencing a lot of internal bleeding.  But there she was before our very eyes walking, talking, taking food, and feeling good.  I remember taking some pictures of her to document the miracle.  We watched her through the day and then allowed her to go home.  I believe to this day that God answered our persistent prayers.  He could have handled it in an instant but I feel He also was teaching us to be persistent in our walk with Him.  

I believe when we are within God’s will and partnering with Him I don’t believe He is frustrated or offended by our pestering Him with prayer.  In fact, I believe He enjoys the conversation.  He honors humble prayer from His loved ones.  Prayers centered on His will and not our own agenda.  

Father, thank You for this teaching to me today.  The parables Jesus told were lessons for us to read and understand and learn about Your amazing love.  You teach us so much about Yourself in Your word and every parable has truth in it for us to learn, internalize, and make it a component of our trust in You.  Thank You, Father, for giving us unlimited love which manifests in forgiveness, growth, peace, joy and hope.  Lord, we serve You today.  We thank You for the opportunity to be here in Ecuador doing the work You want us to do here.  Thank You for filling us with Your grace and enabling us to accomplish Your work here.  We worship You today, Father.  We worship You.  Amen.

This morning I awoke from a good night of sleep.  The power stayed on and the white noise effectively drowned out the other noises of the night.  Our agenda today is more of relaxation and rest.  We are soon heading to the market in downtown San Lorenzo to stroll through it and get some pictures.  This afternoon Jane will take us on a tour of the new post-op area.  Henry, our anesthetist, arrives this evening.  Damarys is in Quito and will pick up Henry and bring him here to work with us.  Damarys will have her daughters with her and they will stay with us for a couple days before she heads back to Quito.  Her daughters are in college in the States and they will be returning to school in a few days.  

After breakfast we left for the market.  This is always an interesting place to visit and to experience real culture shock.  The health and sanitary standards here are so different compared to what we are used to in the States.  There are places where one can purchase meat, such as chicken, fish and pork with the choices all out in the open air with no coolers or protection to keep the meat from being contaminated.  The produce stands are amazing with all the color and variety of produce available.  

Fish and shrimp

This little child has the right idea.

While there we stopped at this little stand to buy a cup of morocho, a milky drink that is warm with chunks of corn in it.  It tastes a little like corn chowder but thinner and is sweetened.  It is quite tasty.  Along with this we had a fresh made tortilla, hot out of the frying pan.  This man came up to Howard and sat down beside him and started speaking to him.  Howard tried to tell him he didn’t speak Spanish.  The man then switched to English but had a very limited vocabulary.  They had a visit while the guy had a cup of morocho and a tortilla with us.  

Morocho and tortilla being served

After walking around the market Jane then took us to a new addition in San Lorenzo — a stop light.  There has never been a stoplight here in the past and the stop signs generally mean nothing to the motorists.  San Lorenzo is now a one-stoplight town.  

After touring the market we came back to the clinic to just hang out for the day.  After lunch we will walk through the clinic and see the new building.  

Lunch is over and then Jane took us through the new post-op area.  I could hardly walk through it without a big lump in my throat.  Having remembered what we worked in back in 2004 and what we will work in next week just thrilled my heart as I was so proud of Jane and what she has built here to provide care for the people of San Lorenzo.  Go back to my 2004 blog or ones following that first trip and look at the pictures of the clinic and our working space and then look again at these pictures to see the difference.  I am amazed and excited.  This place is as nice as our new hospitals in the States!

Door into the post-op area

Central oxygen for the OR and other places

Hallway with patient rooms

Nurses Station

Patient room

Each two bed room has its own bath and shower

Washer and dryer for all the linen

Utility room. Instruments washed in sink and then passed through window into sterilization room.

Recovery Room

This place is very roomy with lots of built in storage and a well designed flow pattern and work space.  I am so proud of Jane on this design and what she has built all supported by donors who are committed to her ministry.  Monday we begin working in that space!  Can’t wait!!

After dinner we got a call from Damarys stating she picked up Henry our anesthetist at the airport and were on their way to San Lorenzo. Most likely they will arrive around midnight. We then decided to spend the evening playing a board game called Ticket to Ride. It is a game of strategy and some risk taking. I have played it here before but never was able to compete against the seasoned veterans who take this game seriously. Tonight, however, I was able to score the most points and make my first win in this game.

Time to head to bed. The men working on installing the new generator have been cutting our power at times for the past couple days to be able to install electrical panels. They are going to work late on this tonight and asked us if they could cut the power again in a little while to install another panel. They said the power would be off about an hour. So now it is time to be in bed and ready to have the power go out. The fans will quit running and the white noise will be replaced by the sounds of the night. Fortunately, the temperature this evening is a little cooler so it shouldn’t be so hot and sweaty tonight.

Father, this has been an interesting day. I pray for our team right now and am filled with thankfulness that we are here and able to walk with You in this place. I pray for Damarys, her daughters, and Henry Brown as they travel here tonight. Please keep them safe. Father, You are the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, yet You want to have a personal relationship with each of us. Thank You for Your love for us. Thank You for forgiving us and holding us close in Your embrace. Lord, You give so much peace and joy and the grace to be able to walk with You and serve You. Thank You for the privilege, Lord. I worship You tonight, Father. Thank You. Amen.

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