Monday, August 12, 2013

Great Quote by Paul Brand

One of my favorite Christian authors is Phillip Yancey.  I've read practically everything that he has ever written and have been greatly encouraged by that which he shares.  One of the formative influences in his life and writing is Dr. Paul Brand, a physician who for many years worked with the victims of leprosy.  Yancey writes that he first met Brand while Yancey was writing Where is God When it Hurts?  They would later collaborate together on the book The Gift of Pain.  Brand's observations from working with leprosy victims caused him to think deeply about pain as a gift from God that warns our bodies when something isn't functioning properly.  This gift is frequently lost or absent in leprosy victims when the disease has consumed their extremities and destroyed the nerve sensors that receive and transmit painful stimuli.

This morning as I was reading a daily email devotional entitled "A Slice of Infinity" that I receive from Ravi Zacharias' organization, the managing editor, Jill Carratini (a great writer herself) quotes a 1990 sermon by Brand.  I wanted to share that quote today.

Brand says, "I pray that when my time comes I may not grumble that my body has worn out too soon, but hold on to gratitude that I have been so long at the helm of the most wonderful creation the world has ever known, and look forward to meeting the designer face to face."  Great words from a physician describing the awesome creation that is the human body.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Recent Leadership Training Conference

I suggested when I started the 4-part series on the updates from the recent Guatemala medical missions trip that I would probably backtrack when I finished those updates to share a bit about the latest Guatemala leadership training conference for pastors and leaders.  So here's the scoop on that event.

I was joined on this occasion for the training event by my colleague Bob Perry (congregational health team leader for Churchnet) and his wife Marilyn Nelson.  Bob and Marilyn had previously traveled with me to Guatemala for a prior training event back in January of 2009.  On that occasion they focused on spiritual gifts, including an inventory assessment tool to help folks identify their spiritual giftedness.

On this most recent trip, Bob took 3 sessions on Tuesday to provide an overview of the Old Testament, utilizing materials written by Melton Short entitled The Old Testament Made Simple.  Short (and Bob in turn) looks at the Old Testament from a variety of perspectives, helping folks grasp the major movements of the people of God, key leaders, etc. 

On Wednesday, we did something unique for these training events.  For the first time we split the group by gender and in addition to the women who normally attend the sessions, we invited an additional 30 or 40 women from area churches to join us for the studies that Marilyn led on the OT figures of Deborah and Esther.  I translated her materials into Spanish ahead of time for both her translator and for the outlines that were included in the participants' notebooks and the contents were wonderful.  Bob, meanwhile, took the morning sessions to lead the men through a discussion of a relationship cycle, describing how relationships begin typically with a contract (written or unwritten) that includes certain expectations that each party has of the other participant(s) in that relationship.  He then explored what happens when those expectations aren't met and the possible outcomes of where that relationship will proceed.  The discussion was lively and the content was well-received by those present.

The ladies (including our additional guests from area churches) joined us for the lunch that wrapped up the training event.  We had a record number of participants at the training event this time--not including even the additional women who came for the Wednesday morning session only.  Counting our driver, Edwin, who doubled as Marilyn's translator and Carol Bercian, our partnership liaison, we had a total of 87 present for the training sessions.  As always, the participants were extremely grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to further their ministerial training in some practical ways.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Guatemala Medical Missions Trip Update #4

We finished up our medical clinics and other activities today at the Lily
of the Valley Church.  We saw a few less patients today than on the
previous days with 58 being seen.  That permitted us to all divide up in
about 5 teams with some of the local church members to deliver bags of
food to some needy families.  Some of these were church members--including
some quite elderly folks in their upper 80s.  That something you don't see
too often here as life expectancy isn't that high.  We did get to see a
few folks who were friends or neighbors of church members and as
opportunity presented itself, we shared a brief gospel presentation with
them as well.

We packed up the left over medications and took them to a local dress
boutique for storage.  I'll share more about that business and its
ministry at a later time.

One of the amazing things that took place this week was being able to
minister to a young woman in her early 30s who has no legs.  Jason thought
she might suffer from cerebral palsy.  One of the ladies from the Judah
Baptist Church had recently met her and has been praying for and with her.
 The young woman pulls herself along on the ground as her only means of
locomotion.  The friend from Judah mentioned that it would be awesome for
her to have a wheelchair, but they couldn't afford to provide one.  It
turns out that the cost for one is only about $150 or so.  Our pharmacist
friends from FBC Farmington had told us that their church had sent them
with some extra funds to use as necessary.  When I mentioned this need to
them, they didn't hesitate to say they wanted to help.  The church member
asked the pharmacists if they could be present on Sunday to present the
wheelchair to the young lady and they agreed to do so.

This morning, one of the young ladies from Judah informed me that the
local TV station here in Quetzaltenango found out about this lady and the
provision of a wheelchair for her and they wanted to show up and film the
delivering of the chair to her tomorrow morning at church.  It seems that
this lady for years has been begging at the main plaza downtown and almost
everyone in town knows of or has seen her.  The lady from church asked if
it would be alright with the pharmacists for the TV station to film the
event and they concurred again, saying that it would be great publicity
for the church.

That's one of many neat things that God has done this week through the
efforts of the team here in Guatemala.  Tomorrow we wrap up with worship
services in both churches we've been assisting and then we head back to
Guatemala City after lunch.  My voice isn't much better so I'd certainly
still appreciate your prayers that I'll be able to preach.  The Lily of
the Valley Church is celebrating its 43 anniversary and is expecting a big
crowd we're told.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Guatemala Medical Missions Trip Update #3

Here's the 3rd installment of the updates from our recent Guatemala medical missions trip.  I posted this to Facebook on Friday evening.

Just a quick update for the evening.  Today was another very good day here in Quetzaltenango.  Weather has been nice here since we arrived with no rain other than the first evening when we arrived.  We saw a total of 88 patients today in clinics at the Lily of the Valley Baptist Church located at the base of the Santa Maria Volcano.  

The kids' crew had fun making woven bracelets with thread on a paper circle with slots cut in it.  They actually had not just children but older adults making them as well.  Caleb also had his own soccer clinic going with lots of the boys.  Kelsey and Andrew helped with the children's activities as well as helping the pharmacists count vitamins.

I didn't ask Thorvald and Trish how many glasses they dispensed, but they stayed fairly busy throughout the day as well.

We finished about 4:30 or so and made another Walmart stop to purchase food for an additional 20 bags that we'll work on distributing tomorrow in addition to everything else.  We had the production line system running efficiently as we double-bagged rice, black beans, powdered milk, oil, and sugar in each bag.

Tomorrow is our final day of clinics and then we'll split the team in 2 groups to worship on Sunday at the two local churches that we're working with this week since they both have services at 10:00 a.m.  Jason will preach at the Judah Baptist Church and I'm slated to preach at the Lily of the Valley Church.  I've been battling some kind of upper respiratory stuff and have struggled the last 2 days at times with not much of a voice.  I'd appreciate your prayers that it will be okay by Sunday morning.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Guatemala Medical Missions Trip Update #2

Installment #2 of our recent Guatemala medical missions trip follows below:
Whew!  What a day we had today!  Got a bit earlier start as we had hoped
to do and then went pretty much non-stop other than a brief break for
lunch from about 9:20 or so and wrapped up about 5:00 or a little later. 
We saw an incredible 131 patients today.  Jason and Connie were really
going non-stop as were David and Susan in the pharmacy, and Jen with the

The kids activity team visited with a couple of the classes of children at
the school that they didn't get to see yesterday before school finished. 
Lots of balloons, Bible stories, craft activities, etc. that Janis, Caleb,
Lily, Kelsey, and Andrew all had lots of fun.  Janis said that they saw
about 170 kids or so in the 2 days at Tierra Colorada.

Thorvald and Trish distributed about 35 pairs of glasses or so today also.
 We had to go by Walmart and pick up a few more pairs of the lower
strength reading glasses as we went through several yesterday.

The other thing we did today was distribute 20 bags of food to needy
families.  We were all pretty tied up with our responsibilities so Pastor
Nehemias of the Judah Baptist Church suggested that he could speak with
the school principal and perhaps those families that she designated could
come to the school to receive them.  That's what we did.  We had 15 in one
session in the afternoon and I was able to share a gospel presentation and
visit with them a bit before delivering the food bags to them.  We then
did another 5 later in the afternoon.  Caleb, Lily, and Janis helped with
the early session and then presented a couple of soccer balls we had
purchased to the principal as well for the kids to play with.

Tomorrow we'll be working in a church at the base of the Santa Maria
Volcano.  It's fairly close to the same location as Tierra Colorado, but
we don't have to drive up several hundred feet on switchback roads (paved
and dirt) to reach it like we've done the last 2 days.