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Day 7 – March 12, 2019

Another good night’s sleep!  That is a blessing when one is in a new environment with different noises and heat and humidity.  I am drinking a lot of water just to keep up with the sweating.  What amazes me are the locals who dress in tight jeans and long sleeved tops or shirts and even heavy material that would be more like sweatshirt material.  They come in fanning themselves and carrying a small towel to wipe off the sweat from their face all the while wearing what I would call clothes for much cooler weather.  I sweat a lot just wearing shorts and a t-shirt!  

We met for devotions and breakfast.  Today’s Scripture was 1 Peter 4:7-11.  Verse 10 jumped off the page to me: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful steward of God’s grace in its various forms.”  That confirmed to me why I am here in San Lorenzo.  God has gifted me with steady hands and the ability to learn and understand medicine and surgery.  Even though I “retired” a few years ago, that doesn’t mean I quit using the gifts He has given me.  I remember a patient who came to see me in my last week of my practice.  She had with her a book she was reading about Elijah and Elisha.  She looked at me and said, “Dr. Eastlund, you aren’t being retired, you are being remantled.”  She was referring to Elijah taking his mantle and laying it on Elisha’s shoulders as a commissioning for him to carry on the work as a prophet of God.  I have often thought about those words from my patient.  Indeed, God has remantled me for the work I am doing in Ecuador and also helping at Matthew 25 Clinic in Ft. Wayne.  Interestingly, I left my practice in 2004 and that year was the first year I came to Ecuador to work with Jane.  The remantling process continues as I try to use the gifts God has given me to continue to serve Him though this venue in Ecuador.  We help so many people who would not receive help otherwise and God gets all the glory.

Father, thank You for the restful night and this new day to serve You here in San Lorenzo.  Thank You for the remantling process you are taking me through to use the gifts You have given me to serve You here.  It is such a joy to be able to serve You and be blessed by You as we extend that blessing to those we touch and care for.  Thank You, Father for your unending love!  I pray for us today, Lord.  I pray for our health, especially for Jane as she has a bad cough and most likely bronchitis.  I pray for wisdom and steadiness of hands and good eyesight as we do the surgeries today.  Thank You, Lord, for Your constant provision as we walk and work with You in complete faith.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

Today we have three more gynecological surgeries.  Our first surgery involved a uterine prolapse involving bladder as well as the upper posterior area being in the prolapse.  Although this condition is not life-threatening, it does make problems with lifestyle, especially with bladder control and the discomfort of “things falling out” all the time.  I became teacher today and had Jane do the entire surgery with me talking her through it.  The vaginal approach to pelvic surgery was not part of her training so she wants to learn the techniques so she can do these surgeries by herself.  She did a wonderful job and gave this patient good support with reduction of the prolapse.  This surgery involved a hysterectomy and repairs of the bladder support and upper posterior vaginal support.  We have a couple more patients later this week with similar anatomical changes.  Jane will do those surgeries as well and I hope will gain more confidence in doing this type of surgery.

Our second surgery was quite difficult.  There were a lot of adhesions that took time to figure out what the anatomy was and to free up the uterus.  The uterus was large making exposure a challenge.  On top of that the patient was obese requiring extra hands just to help keep the area where we were working exposed so we could see.  It took us close to three hours to do this surgery when in more normal circumstances would have been a couple hours.  

At the end of our second surgery we gathered for lunch.  Carmen served us yapingachos, fried chicken and salad.  The yapingacho is a potato cake that usually contains some cheese.  Here they are made of yuca that is made into a round mass like a potato.  Inside she puts cheese and then fries it.  They are really good.  The salad also was shredded cabbage, cucumber slices, and onion.  Carmen uses lemon juice and a little salt for the dressing.  The salad was delicious.  She also served passion fruit juice.  Each meal we have some local fruit that she processes it with a blender.  The passion fruit juice was also delicious.  

Our third patient was all set to come in for surgery as she has a large fibroid and wants to conceive again.  We were planning to remove the fibroid to make it more possible she could conceive.  However, she didn’t show up so we are finished for the day.  This will give some time to take a nap and get off my feet.  

Jane had talked with me about another patient who has a large fibroid that developed inside the uterus and has since prolapsed out into the lower vagina.  She has been bleeding very heavy.  Jane has been trying to get ahold of her to have her come in to be evaluated.  Today, Maria Luisa went out to find her and after some searching she did find her.  She took her to the lab and a blood count showed 7 gm hemoglobin.  Now they are working on getting her some blood and once she gets her count up to 9 or so, we will then operate on her.  She needs the uterus removed to stop the very heavy bleeding.  This surgery literally could be life saving for her.

I was able to use the extra time this afternoon to lay down and take a restful nap.  I awoke refreshed and also a little hungry.  I spent some time reading and then went over to the clinic building and found Damarys and Loida.  Damarys said we would be eating dinner in a little while, so I went upstairs to where I can get an Internet signal and wanted to try to FaceTime Phyllis.  

Our second patient was a tough surgery.  Jane said repeatedly that she was so thankful I was here to help her.  It would have been a very difficult surgery to do by oneself.  To me I feel God directed this woman to come to Jane at this time when He had us both here.  It is not my talent or even her’s but all God’s that allowed us to do this surgery.  He empowers us and gives us the wisdom to deal with each situation.  We become instruments in His hands as He helps us through a particularly difficult surgery.  We even are His instruments on the easier cases as well.  It is a joy to serve God in this way.  The hours are long, the sweat rolls off and there are a lot of unknowns with each step.  However, what overrides all of that is a sense of peace that God is there with us and is in total control.  In fact we talked about having His hands at the table with us at the end of the surgery.  

Thank You, Lord God, for Your presence with us today.  Both surgeries, Lord, were not that easy, especially the second one.  Yet, You were there using us, allowing us to be instruments in Your hands, wrapping Your hands around ours and guiding us throughout the surgeries.  Lord, Your love is overwhelming and Your grace so encouraging and empowering.  Thank You, for accomplishing what You did today through us.  You invited us to participate with You in conducting miracles.  We are so privileged and honored to serve You, Lord.  Thank You, Father!

Father, I pray for the patients who are recovering.  Please bring rapid healing to them and cover them with the incredible peace that only You give.  I pray for the man tomorrow who will also face a big surgery and for us as Jane and I work together to carry out Your guidance in doing his surgery.  Lord, thank You for the team of servants You have gathered here who carry out a wonderful ministry to the people of San Lorenzo and even beyond the limits of this town.  I pray Your blessing upon all of them, Damarys, Loida, Angelita, Maria Luisa, Carmen, Piedad, Gonzalo.  Thank You for these wonderful people who love You so.  

Father, I pray for Phyllis and Connie.  Thank You that they are doing okay and having a good time.  I pray for Phyllis as she serves You each and every day and wishes above all to bring You glory and honor and praise.  I love her so much and I feel honored to be her husband.  You have blessed us with 52 years of marriage and we look forward to more years together.  But most of all, we look forward to honoring and serving You with whatever time You allow us to live on this earth.  Someday, Lord, we will be filled with unending joy when we enter into Your presence for eternity.  

Father, I pray all of these prayers in the precious name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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