May 2016

Health

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We´ve spent these two weeks taking care of Faby´s health. For this past year we´ve been dealing with her variable blood pressure. A few weeks ago I took her to the clinic at 10:30pm with a BP of 170/90. They didn't give her any medication (at my insistence), and in one and a half hours her BP came down to 120/80. Six weeks ago she had a small vasocelular carcinoma removed from her upper right lip. In preparation for that operation a doctor discovered a nodule on her right thyroid. These past two weeks we're doing the initial testing on the nodule: blood work, eco, biopsy, and scan. Next Tuesday we see the specialist with all the results.

 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3John2

Always an Adventure

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The adventure begins by heading into the mountains, first on a paved road…
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And then on a dirt road….
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Up into the Andes mountains where you find a Quichua community on every hilltop.
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But the real adventure begins with the workshop in a small church.
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World Vision wanted us (at the Semila Seminary) to teach from a book about Servant Leadership, but these folks aren´t used to reading and digesting books. So I continue to experiment with concrete teaching methods.
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From a sheet of paper, we folded it to make a picture frame. The assignment was to draw a picture of the person who had inspired you most. Then each person told who they had drawn and why. The point made was that we look for examples of Christians to follow, and this is more effective than many sermons and workshops.
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The second point was to illustrate the different between a leader that gives orders and another who leads by being an example. I asked for six volunteers to build a tower with cards. With the first group, I merely told them what they had to do. The result: a flat stack of cards.
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With the next group I first showed them how to stack the cards. Then I stepped back and watched them build. Setting an example is definitely more effective than a sermon!
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Triple weekend

Saturday morning in Capulispungo. The women are responding well to Faby. She has a faithful group. They talked about John 10 and Jesus as the Shepherd. Since they have sheep, Faby asked them about caring for sheep, and she learned a lot about sheep! I spent my time with the men´s bible program. We have two new members, one being a pastor from another community.
Saturday afternoon, we visited a new community. Our contact, Luis, a seminary student, had invited us to talk with the youth, but he had forgotten that the church was going to celebrate Mother´s Day. So we ended up preaching and singing in the service. I´m used to it. You have to be ready for anything.
Sunday, we drove west to Cachisagua, to another contact from the seminary who´s an excellent musician. We hope to start a music program there. Time will tell. I keep praying for a community where we can train musicians.


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Starting in New Communities

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Everything we do is because the community has asked us for help. This weekend we made our first visits to two different communities. In both cases, we´ve been talking to the leaders for some time until finally arranging a date. The first visit is just to get to know each other. We give a short bible study, plus lead some singing. (The accordion is always a big hit!) Then we discuss plans for future visits. Saturday we visited "Santa Julia" at the invitation of one of the students of the Semila Seminary. The purpose was to begin the same program (FLET) that we are following in Capulispungo. We presented the material and the program, and will wait for them to discuss, organize, and let us know when they're ready. Sunday we visited "San Antonio de Encalado" at the invitation of Pastor Antonio from Capulispungo. They want a six month discipleship course with the objective of preparing a future pastor. (Two other churches had representatives present.) We plan to start once a month in June. We make plans and let God work out the details. Prov 19:21


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Two Weeks after the Quake

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Ecuador is really three countries in one: the Coastal Region, the Mountains, and the Jungle. The 7.8 Earthquake devastated entire towns on the Coast. We felt it shake the Mountains, but it didn't do any damage. In the Jungle, most people didn't even feel the effects. For me, the Earthquake could have been in another country. We had to watch the news to see what had happened.

Two weeks later, I have heard the testimony of several people who have gone to visit and help. Entire towns have been leveled. Many lost family and friends. The stench is overwhelming. Thousands are living in makeshift shelters. Max lives in our front house and went last week to Pedernales with a group in coordination with the Social State Department. They went only to offer counseling and spiritual help. They had hoped to do group therapy, but the only practical way was to visit tent by tent. The earthquake is not the only problem. Previous problems came to surface: family feuds, resentments, pregnant girls. All these add to the after effects of the earthquake.

The government has not allowed people to return to what's left of their properties. Daily aftershocks between 3 and 5 on the Richter Scale continue, and leaning buildings and walls could still fall. Police and soldiers patrol the towns. Many not only lost lives and structures, but afterwards thievery and ransacking abounded. People would return to salvage their belongings only to find that others had gotten there first. During the first week, trucks carrying aid to the earthquake victims were attacked on the highway.

The only practical way for us to help is to work with the local churches on the Coast. They live there. They know the people. They can tell us who really needs help, and who is just taking advantage of the situation. Yes, there are folks who are appearing to be poor and needy, just to receive all the aid they can, when there are others who really don't have anything. Sad, but true.

National and international aid abounds. The difficultly is the distribution. Does all the aid really reach the victims? Good question. I'm realizing more and more the effects of the new communication law here in Ecuador. The news is partial, because if any channel gives information that's in any way negative of the government, they could be processed and jailed unless they can "prove" the information is "correct." So you'll never see the full picture on the news. Sad, but true.

What can we do? One, pray that the government will be able to honestly and effective distribute aid and coordinate all the efforts. Two, when God places you in contact with a needy person, give them the help you can. Many will relocate to the cities. Others will stay and slowly rebuild their lives. The process will take a year or two. Everyone, sooner or later, will meet someone who needs help.

Yesterday after church, God sent us a family. They are NOT earthquake victims, but they need help. She's a divorced mom with no steady job and three daughters. She struggles to earn enough to pay a monthly rent. They spent the whole afternoon at our home. They have suffered physical and mental abuse from the father/husband. They also are going to need a year or two to rebuild their lives. They live near us. We can help them.