Saturday, April 25, 2009

bearing our burdens....

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burden." Psalms 68:19

There are days when I, like everyone, don't feel the strength to do what is in front of me for the day. This morning as I looked out to the clinic waiting area full of people lined up for numbers, that is exactly how I felt. And yet, as we gathered together to pray before we started, I felt as if my burden lifted, and as we began to see patients, I began to feel like maybe I could do this today. We saw over 75 people with the help of Dr. Sherwood, Areli, Brad, Christy and Chris who all came to work alongside of us. Here in Canilla, we continue to serve lots of pregnant women and today was no exception as we did over 40 ultrasounds.

This week we were pleased to have Pastors Phil, Micheal, Vinny and Wade visiting from our home church in St. Louis. They ministered in 5 different churches, encouraging the local pastors and leaders. We know so many of the people in the various churches from the clinics - we know their stories. In the first church was a woman who had told me just the week before that she was so sad, she just wanted to die. In another, was a woman whose husband beats her regularly. And in another, an unmarried woman of 2 small children cried great sobs as the pastors prayed for her. We know the pain that so many suffer here and yet we know that in Christ they will find the strength and the love that they so desperately want and need. The pastors were a great blessing to us as well as we fellowshiped together. Pastor Phil has such wisdom not just as our pastor but as the father of 10 children, he also encourages us as parents. We were blessed to have them here.

On Thursday we, along with the pastors, were able to visit our good Guatemalan friend Victor's new drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. It was not only a blessing to be able to bring the men there a meal and minster to them through some worship music and preaching, but it was also such a joy to see Victor working in the area God has called him to. We have watched him pray through this for many years, waiting for God's timing, and many of you have joined us and him as well in this prayer and support. Despite the challenges, it is always a blessing to see a friend fulfilled in His calling - not only for him but for the men who are being set free from their addictions as a result of his obedience to that call of God.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Her Father's Delight

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name!" That was all that went through my head as we walked out of the courthouse with our Abi in our arms. For those of you who do not know Abi, she is a 3 year old bundle of energy that we took into our home the day she was born. Her mom died shortly after giving birth to her, her grandma died 6 months before that and her grandfather had a house full of young children to care for. We named her Abigail, which means "her Father's delight" - and that she is! We have been struggling through the adoption process now for the last 3 years and when they closed foreign adoptions last year, things got a little more difficult as they threatened to take her out of our home and place in a government institution. At one point our lawyers advised us that if they came to take her, to run out the back door and hide. There was one judge in particular who was giving us the biggest problems. Yesterday, we finally had our hearing which we entered with more than a little apprehension - we were to meet with this judge. Our lawyer met us with concern that Abi would be taken before the end of the day. As we entered the we were advised to keep Abi quiet (that is next to impossible), and to have her sit on our laps and tell the judge how much she loved us (she doesn't speak much spanish.) The lawyer for the PGN began first and spoke against us - they were the ones that we thought would support us. Then our lawyer spoke briefly and finally the judge - who I didn't even realize was the judge because it wasn't the woman who had given us so much trouble - she was on vacation! He read off all of the violations that Abi's grandfather had committed and then said that under the circumstances, he felt that it was better for her to remain with us! The court reporter told us afterward that this was the first time since the new regulations have gone into effect, that they have given custody to North Americans. We know that it was only by God's grace that she is here with us now and there are not words to express our gratitude. This was our biggest hurdle and we are hopeful that within a few weeks she too, will have our last name.

It was with great sadness that we said goodbye to the Allison's this week. After completing their 7 month commitment to serve with us, they returned to the US. They helped us in so many ways but more than that they became good friends and we already miss them. Please pray for them as they seek God's will for their future.

Nanci, a 23 year old young woman with cerebral palsy received a new wheelchair yesterday from El Shaddai church in the City. We were the lucky ones who got to deliver it to her. She has spent much of her life either lying in bed or in the cowhide chair that we gave her many years ago. There are so many of these young people tucked away in houses here. There is no help for them, no physical therapy, no relief for their caretakers. Because most babies are born at home, many times there are complications which lead to conditions like Nanci's. It is our desire, some day, if the Lord opens the doors and provides the help, to have a place where children could at receive physical therapy and assistance with daily living activities.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

happy easter

Easter here is not like Easter in the mid west. It is so hot and dry and brown. When it seems that the newness of life should be coming forth - whether physical or spiritual, all seems dried up and dead here. The Evangelical churches do not emphasize the resurrection of our Lord - not at this time of year anyway. In an effort, I think, to move away from the ritual of the re-enactment of the crucifixion which takes place in the streets, filled with drunkenness and pagan worship, very little is said in the church. It is hard not to be homesick...

Our trip to San Pedro was really good. Dr. Pedro (the dentist from the City) went with us and pulled a minimum of 120 teeth out of about 65 people. No one there owns a toothbrush and oral hygiene is a low priority. We also saw lots of people for general consults and Katie did almost 35 ultrasounds. Compared to a year ago when the women were all afraid, we were thrilled. Our friend Silvia, who advocates for the women in the village has offered to go out with us to Unilla the next time to help us get to know some of the women there.

And since we have cancelled all of our regular clinics this week we have gotten to do some of the things that I always want to do but never have time for. One was to visit our friend Victor in the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that he opened 6 months ago. Victor was a pastor here in Canilla and we became good friends during that time. He is young and many times sat at our table talking with us much like a son would. The desire of his heart has always been to minister to men like these - a desire that was birthed out of his own history of drug use and abandonment as a child. This is a work that no one else wants to do...and the need is great. Thursday when we went (the day that all of the Holy Week festivities really began) he had only 16 men there but normally has up to 26. Most are men that he picks up off the street, abandoned by their families as unworthy of helping. We fixed a lunch for them, made tortillas on the open fire and attempted to encourage them. He is doing great things there, making a difference in many lives, and living completely dependent on God's faithfulness. He has awesome stories already!

I pray that as you celebrate Easter with your family and friends that you will remember the reason that we celebrate. For "Christ has made all things right. I had nothing to do but accept it as a free gift from Him." Hannah Whitall Smith

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Loaves and Fish

One of the most amazing things about what we do here is how faithfully God supplies all that we need. When we said 'yes' to starting up another clinic out in the Zona Reina, my faith was stretched a little as adding another clinic would add another drain on our supply of medications coming in. We give everyone who comes something...if they are not sick then they get vitamins -but almost no one goes away empty handed. We get medications from a variety of sources, many are donated and hand carried down with friends. Some we buy here in country from the government. This week as we prepared to go out again to San Pedro, I knew we were in need of several things that we did not have. Thursday morning I received an email from a friend in the City who said they had just received a shipment of medications and to come and get what we needed. So Duane and I flew in, went by El Shaddai (the church who came and helped us with a medical team not long ago) and picked up a wheelchair for a young woman with cerebral palsy and cannot walk, and then we went on to this warehouse filled with medical supplies and medications. Dennis said "Take whatever you need!" And there were all the medications that we needed to take with us out to the Zona Reina! Our friend Heidi used to say in moments like that, "Loaves and fishes...." And that is exactly what it is. He amazingly supplies and multiplies all that we offer to Him and makes it enough - always enough.

We will leave Monday morning for San Pedro with our normal team plus Dr. Pedro (a dentist from El Shaddai), Dr. Sherwood (from Agape in Action) and two 4th year medical students who are visiting him. It will be a full day. The dental needs are overwhelming in this area of sugar cane. No one has a concept. Please pray for safety as we travel, for wisdom as we work medically, and most importantly that these people might come to understand and know this God who loves them enough to come and die for them.