Thursday, April 21, 2011

From Mexico to Michigan (and Ohio!)

By this time next week I (Julie) need to be packed and ready to get on a plane the following morning for Detroit, Michigan! It has been over two and a half years since my last trip to the U.S. and we felt it was time to once again visit the churches and individuals who have so faithfully supported Fishers of Men, give testimony to the wonders the Lord has done and continues to do here in Mexico, and seek out prospective new supporters as the ministry continues to grow and requires more and more prayer and financial support.

Careful to not make distinctions between "adopted" and biological children, I have not traveled previously with any of our kids. Since we really only have legal guardianship of our "adopted" kids, we cannot get passports and visas for them. Our biological children have dual citizenship and can travel freely between the U.S. and Mexico. However, Angie, our eldest adopted daughter, turns 18 this year (Whoa - when did that happen?) and can apply for her own Mexican Passport and U.S. tourist visa. Lord willing, this would allow her to travel with me to visit Indiana area churches in October. With that hope in sight, we decided to have Josiah, our eldest biological son, join me on this trip to Michigan! While Josiah was born in Logansport, IN, this will be his first time in the U.S. since we moved to Mexico when he was 2 years old!

Josiah and I will fly to Detroit, MI on Friday, April 29th and spend the next 10 days visiting area churches and individuals. We would LOVE to see you! Following you will find our itinerary in the hopes that you can join us so that we can hug each other, pray together and praise the Lord together!

  1. I will meet with the Friends of Fishers of Men group at Mayfair-Plymouth Church, 5253 Bennett Road, Toledo, Ohio, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 30. This will be an informal gathering to learn about the latest developments relating to the ministry. This group is open to anybody interested in actively supporting the ministry through prayer, promotion and other stateside activities that help provide a solid foundation for Fishers of Men.

  1. I will present the sermon at all three services that first weekend at Mayfair-Plymouth: Saturday, April 30 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. If you usually attend a church other than Mayfair-Plymouth, we encourage you to attend one of the services that does not conflict with your home church. Wow! What a humble preach in my home church! This is an undeserved honor and a dream come true! Those of you who know me personally know that I admire my father greatly and know that he trusts the pulpit to a precious few! I am honored to be counted among those precious few and pray that I will glorify my Heavenly Father in all that I say and do!

  1. On Sunday, May 8, I will speak for a few minutes at the beginning of all three morning services (8:15, 9:30, and 11 a.m.) at McCord Road Christian Church, 4765 N. McCord Road, Sylvania, Ohio. I will also be available between services to visit a bit and personally share more about what God is doing here in Mexico and how He may want you to be a part of that! Hope to see you!

  1. On the evening of Sunday, May 8, I will speak for about a half hour at Summerfield Baptist Church, 16010 Railroad Street, Petersburg, Michigan at the 6:30 p.m. service. I am looking forward to sharing that evening, on Mother's Day, about the adventures of mothering 17 children (along with the many other adventures the Lord has sent us on!) We will see how homesick I am by then...and on Mother's Day nonetheless!

There is another exciting opportunity to take advantage of during my time in the Toledo area! On Tuesday, May 3, at 7 p.m., Mark and Corrine Sattler, (Mark serves as President of the Fishers of Men Board of Directors) will host a coffee & dessert meeting in their home, 6000 Deepwood Court, Sylvania, Ohio, for anyone who would like to learn more about Fishers of Men. This is especially targeted for people who know very little about the mission, may never have met me, and are not necessarily affiliated with any of the three churches where I will be speaking that week.

Can you think of co-workers, friends, neighbors, or family members who fit this description and are in the Toledo area? What about your pastor or a member of the mission board of your church? We encourage you to invite them to come with you to this meeting. If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you would RSVP to the Sattlers by calling 419-882-5785. You may also call them for directions to their house or if you have any other questions.

I say that this is an exciting opportunity because it is an opportunity to contact potential new supporters for Fishers of Men! The Lord has graciously allowed Fishers of Men to steadily grow since its inception in 2003. We held one Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade in 2003 and had only one biological child in our family. In the last eight years, our family has grown to 17 children and we now have nine weeklong Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades scheduled for this year alone. Obviously, feeding 19 mouths on a daily basis, plus staff, and paying for fuel, tolls, medication and other supplies for the crusades, requires the generous giving of many churches and individuals. So, it is always exciting to have a great opportunity to share God's work with new churches and individuals who can be blessed by being an active part of what He is doing here in Mexico!

Besides our scheduled activities, I am looking forward to sharing my childhood home with Josiah and some of my childhood memories (like Major Magic's pizza on my birthday!) As soon as Josiah knew he would be traveling with me, Grandpa and Grandma Claassen instructed him to make a list of what he wanted to do while at their place. His list included launching model rockets with Grandpa and fishing with Uncle Dan. (We hope it doesn't snow:-) I asked him if he would like to go to a library and he started jumping up and down! Josiah LOVES to read and we own more books than our local library here in Mexico, so our first stop on Saturday morning will be the Bedford Public Library to get stocked up and see how many books he can read in the next 10 days (while he is shooting off model rockets, fishing and going to Toys R Us for the first time. He is having a hard time imagining an entire store of toys! We only have department stores in Mexico and their toy sections are quite small and very expensive.)

I am looking forward to being a daughter, more than a mom, for a few days; being able to share all that God has done and is doing, which serves as a huge reminder for me of all that He truly IS doing, which sometimes is hard to keep in perspective when you are caught in the middle of day to day life; and eating things like blueberry bagels, Combos, lasagna (maybe? Although Lucy did figure out how to make that here for her she is trying to figure out how to make it for 35 people!). I will be honest, what I am probably most looking forward to is a 24 hour personal retreat/get away in a secret location during the 10 day trip! I cannot tell you the last time that I was alone (not counting morning devotions at 5:30 a.m. or sleeping alone when Victor is on a crusade)! I am looking forward to 24 hours of almost no talking and doing a whole lot of ....hmmm...of what? I'm not quite sure! For now, I am planning on spending 24 hours of just being.

All of that to say.....we hope to see those of you who live in the Toledo area or can make it to Toledo during our stay! Your presence would be a huge blessing to us!

For everybody: we ask that you would bathe this trip in your prayers!
  • wisdom in final preparations for the trip throughout this coming week
  • safe travels
  • that God would be glorified in all that is said and done and that His will would be accomplished
  • for Victor as he plays Mr. Mom for 10 days and for our 16 children staying in Mexico as they try and function without Mom!
  • for Mom (me!) as she lives without 16 of her children for 10 days!
  • for the staff at Refuge Ranch - extra strength, love and sensitivity while I am gone
  • that Josiah would have a wonderful time in the U.S., with his grandparents, with his Uncle Dan, Aunt Teri and cousins, and meeting lots of people who know him, but whom he does not know
  • that the visit would be fruitful in expressing gratitude to those who have supported Fishers of Men and in encouraging new churches and individuals to join what God is doing in Mexico through Fishers of Men
Hope to see you soon!

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."
Ephesians 1:16-17
(Check out verses 18-21, they are some of my favorite verses in the Bible! God has placed in us the same power the worked in the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Wow! Now that is power that not even Tim the Toolman Taylor from Home Improvement can top!)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Battle by Mark

Earlier last week I was thinking about sharing a story of an event that happened while I was with Victor and Adrian on Wednesday. Then Julie shared the stories of the troubles some of the EMMC team members have been having, which encouraged me to share this story. Occasionally something happens in life that makes me very aware of how spiritually distressed the world really is.

Victor, Adrian, and I went into Mexico City to take care of several things related to this EMMC. We had stopped to get some dental supplies, found everything we needed and were ready to talk to the manager about getting a discount, when we found out that the store manager had gone to lunch. We had almost an hour to kill before he was expected back so we went to look for something to eat too. We found a little torta counter (a torta is a sandwich a lot like a sub) with three stools so we stepped up and ordered. The lady must do mostly take out orders because she didn't have much selection for drinks, so Adrian went next door for some Cokes. We got our tortas one at a time so by the time Victor got his, mine was half gone and Adrian was looking for something else to eat. (Adrian eats a lot.)

While Victor was eating, an apparently homeless, and obviously very poor, woman came up behind us asking for something because she only had a few pesos. Victor ordered a sandwich for her, and Adrian went for another Coke. I gave her the stool I was on next to Victor. While he finished his sandwich and waited for the homeless woman's food, he shared who he is and what we do. He told her about Jesus Christ and that God loves her. She kind of grumbled at the suggestion of God loving her, but she was still listening. By this time, her sandwich was ready. As she took the first bite Victor offered to pray with her. She took off her ball cap and held it in her hand. As Victor began to pray, he asked her to repeat the prayer. I was praying, thanking God for this time to share the gospel and for changing this woman's life. She repeated the lines of Victor's prayer until he said, "Jesus." Suddenly it was as if the woman could not speak. Then she was struggling, Victor was repeating the line, and she groaned and hollered something that I did not recognize. I don't think it was Spanish. I thought, "Wow, this lady has a demon, and I prayed harder for her and for Victor." I wish I could explain the next few minutes, but I don't have words for it. It was like a battle with one side having an advantage, then the other side. When Victor began to pray, he had his hand on the woman's shoulder. As the battle became more fierce, he had a hand on her head and her shoulder. She was leaning forward on the stool and beginning to slobber. She would alternate between being quiet as if feeling peace, and then more hollering. Victor continued to pray and finally, very faintly, she was able to ask Jesus to come into her life. Victor took a breath, and the woman sat up and turned toward me. She looked different. Her eyes were clearer. I could see peace, but it was very brief. Victor continued to pray and motioned for Adrian and I to put our hands on her too.
Suddenly her whole body stiffened and convulsed. She was not on the stool any more, and we could not hold her up. We eased her to the sidewalk and continued to pray. By now the neighbors were watching, and someone had called for a doctor. The woman was now alternating from wanting to sleep to convulsing and hitting her head on the sidewalk. The doctor arrived, and the police came. The doctor tried to check her while Victor held her head from hitting the sidewalk. An ambulance got there, and the crowd got bigger. As they were preparing to put her in the ambulance, Victor paid the bill and handed his card to the police officers. There wasn't anything else we could do there. It felt really strange to walk away knowing that I will not learn the end of the story. I know she asked Jesus into her heart, and I could see a change in her face and eyes. I have continued to pray for her, that the Holy Spirit will heal her. I have also continued to pray that we will have the strength and faith needed when this kind of opportunity arises again.

"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Divine Weapons

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

We are so thankful for each and every one of you that faithfully lifts up Fishers of Men regularly in prayer! While the Bible repeatedly reminds us that we are involved in a cosmic battle and instructs us to put an the whole armor of God. There are days and times in the ministry in which the battle is much more obvious. This week is one of those times!

Victor is preparing for an Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade this coming week to the state of Oaxaca. The Lord has provided a pretty stable Mexican volunteer team for the crusades, but several of the key team members are facing incredible challenges this week and will be unable to attend the crusade:
  • Dr. Escamilla lost his wife several months ago to a long battle with cancer. Just this past week, doctors discovered a tumor in the back of one of his sons who is only in his 30's. They will be operating on him this coming Monday and fear that the tumor is also cancerous.
  • Dr. Ely sprained her ankle last weekend. Then, on Monday, she was home resting when two individuals came to the door acting like patients. Both Dr. Ely and her husband are physicians and have a small clinic in their home. The men went into the clinic and proceeded to pull out hand-guns, tie up and gag Dr. Ely's husband and rob money, jewelry and electronics from their home. (Dr. Ely and her husband have had a very rough marriage, but the Lord is using this experience to show them how much they truly love each other as they came to each other's defense and feared for one another's lives during the robbery.)
  • Dr. Leslie, a dentist, has had a very rocky relationship with her father ever since she became a Christian many years ago and he did not approve of her new found faith. He is now in the last days of terminal cancer, so Dr. Leslie has traveled to his home in Puerto Vallarta to be with him, but is in the middle of family spats over inheritance, despite the fact that her father has not yet passed away
These are three very faithful crusade volunteers that will not be able to attend this crusade.

As I was growing up, I knew that Satan was just as real as God. While God is all-powerful and has already conquered Satan through Jesus' death and resurrection, the Bible teaches us that Satan is the prince of this world and prowls around like a lion looking for somebody to devour. Spiritual warfare, spiritual battles are real. I have never been one to want to blame Satan for everything or see a demon on every street corner. Much of the evil around us comes from simply living in a fallen world; other tragedies come from our own bad decisions; but there are situations and circumstances in which Satan and his demons are at work. These kinds of situations seem to be much more frequent and obvious in third world nations, including Mexico. I personally attribute this to the fact that, in the United States, there are many more Christians, more prayer and praise, and still a lot of Christianity running through the fabric of the nation. (I recognize that this is less and less, but there is still more Christian influence in the U.S. than any other nation on this planet.) In many nations, including Mexico, witchcraft, sorcery and idolatry are so commonplace and proliferous that the Satanic spiritual forces accompanying those practices are so, too!

The local believers in Oaxaca who will be hosting next week's crusade, have been announcing the crusade in the community through radio and signs since last December! While Satan does not have the power to tell the future nor to read our minds, he is smart enough to be able to figure out, based on the past he has witnessed, what will most likely occur. He has seen the thousands of people that have come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ through past crusades, and crusades that have been much less announced than next week's crusade! So, he is trying other tactics - let's get rid of the team that goes on the crusades! But we already know that "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (I John 4:4) and "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) These situations have given Victor the opportunity to contact other volunteers, some who have gone on one or two crusades and others who have never actually participated on a crusade, and request their help. It appears that several new volunteers will be participating!

As for life here at Refuge Ranch, Satan does not leave us alone for long! Some of you know about Martha's episodes that appear to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to the traumatic events she lived through has a little girl. They are episodes in which she goes blank and is no longer interacting with the world around her and relives those past traumatic events. She hadn't had an episode for months and then had two this past Wednesday. I praise the Lord because she hugged me through the first episode and was willing to talk about both of them in a very healthy way.

Praise the Lord that we have the victory in Him and I encourage you all to continue to hold up Fishers of Men, the crusades, our children, the volunteers and staff in regular and fervent prayer! Thank you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Lucy

Waiting for school to start, the ramp for the wheelbarrow of concrete mix
becomes a road for a race car

Waiting for better electricity, Mark gets the laundry room ready

Carolina waits for Joanna to give the next step in art class

Joanna waits for me to finish her new quilt
for her room

Josiah waits for his birthday gift which they plan to get while they visit the U.S.

We are still pouring concrete while we wait for the rest of the main building to be built!

Finally! The boys are in their new rooms!

We spend a lot of time here just waiting. We wait in long lines at the store. We wait in traffic. We wait for supper to start. We wait for school to start. We wait for the electricity to come. We wait for a doctor to take Danny's case. We wait for the next EMMC to get here. We wait for the next work team to come. We wait for Mark to fix a vehicle. We wait for funds to finish the main house. We wait a lot! If you have a desire to learn patience, this is the place to come and grow.

A lot of people have been wondering about the "new" family members, and how they are doing. They have settled in very quickly, and it is difficult remembering what it was like before they were here. I love to receive a hug from Carolina, or a smile from David. Miguel, Leo, and Fatima come to me for help in school. They rattle off in Spanish about their problem, and I just smile and tell them to bring me their books so I can figure out what the problem is. Through a lot of charades and broken Spanish, we usually can work it out and get them back on track.

Yesterday was a big day. We didn't have school because they were moving people into new rooms over at the Zaragoza house. When the work team from Indiana was here in February, they worked to create a new room because 5 new kids were joining the Zaragoza family. Slowly, but surely, the room has been completed. They would still like to put some kind of flooring in it, but haven't been able to find what they want for it. Victor and Julie decided they shouldn't make the boys wait any longer.

Let me explain what the sleeping arrangements have been until last night for the boys. In the room on the first floor were Caleb and Miguel in a bunk bed, and Danny and David in cribs. The room was completely filled with no place to move or get clothes out of drawers or closets. Upstairs, Fidel and Leo were sleeping in a bunk bed, while Josiah was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Once again, there was no room to move in that tight space. Yesterday, everybody moved but David and Danny. They stayed in their room, but now there is no bunk bed in there so they have room to play. Upstairs, they moved Caleb and Miguel into their own room. Downstairs in the new room, they moved Josiah, Fidel, and Leo. They had a roll away bed built to fit under the bunk bed. They also have lots more room for their important stuff, and space to play with it.

Last night as we were relaxing after a fun evening with youth group, we could hear the boys laughing in their new room. They were so excited and having so much fun. It was such a good sound to hear, brothers laughing together. The wait was worth it. The treasure at the end, their own room and their own beds, was made more sweet by the waiting.

Danny and David stand by their beds in their own room

Caleb and Miguel sit on their new beds

Josiah, Fidel, and Leo show off their new room and beds

What are you waiting for? Are you impatiently waiting, or serving while you're waiting? God requires us to wait a lot. While you're waiting, find a way to serve Him wherever you are. You will be richly rewarded.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.--Titus 2:11-13

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Update on Daniel

Many of you may be wondering how things are going with our search for medical care for Daniel’s numerous heart and lung defects. Well, I asked the Lord the same question the other day during my devotional time: “So, Lord, how are things going with Daniel’s medical care?”

Daniel and Diana

Actually, my prayer caught me off guard. I have been praying regularly for three other precious children in the U.S. whose blogs I follow. Two of them, infant girls, have never been out of the hospital since they were born, in their 6 and 8 months of life. Their defects are less serious than Daniel’s and they are now awaiting heart transplants. The third child, Riley, is slightly older than Daniel and has almost the same set of defects as Daniel. He has been waiting for a heart/lung transplant for over a year! As I prayed for them, I suddenly realized that Daniel should be in heaven already with Jesus, on those same transplant lists or using a constant flow of oxygen, like Riley, but Daniel is here at home with us running around, starting preschool, talking a mile a minute and constantly wanting to have a book read to him. I can honestly say I just don’t get it…other than that God’s grace and mercy in Daniel’s life is huge! Why in Daniel’s life and not in others? I don’t know, but I just pray we do not take for granted that grace and mercy, but fully use it for God’s honor and glory!

The problem with eating an ice cream cone in Acapulco on a hot day when you are three years old!

So, I asked God if I am supposed to be doing something else than what we are doing in terms of seeking out medical care for Daniel. What are we doing, you might ask? WAITING, WAITING AND MORE WAITING! Recently a pediatric cardiologist in Toledo had offered to perform a heart cath on Daniel. This appears to be the next step in seeking out Daniel’s medical care because the heart cath will give us a more accurate picture of Daniel’s defects and will help determine if the Glenn procedure (a set of three surgeries designed to redirect the blood flow to compensate for the half of the heart that Daniel is missing) is actually an option for Daniel or if his conditions are inoperable. However, the doctor in Toledo then decided that he could not perform the heart cath and offered to do a physical exam of Daniel and non-invasive tests. However, we have had those things done twice here in Mexico and did not feel it was necessary to spend the money to travel to Toledo and have the same testing done there that has been done here in Mexico. (Hospitals we have approached in the U.S., upon seeing Daniel’s non-invasive test results, do not even want to commit to doing a heart cath, because even that procedure is quite risky for him, due to the seriousness of his defects. If something would go wrong during the heart cath, they would have the obligation to try and save Daniel’s life, but, as a charity case, cannot risk committing that amount of funds to Daniel’s situation.)

Victor and I have agreed that if all possible doors for Daniel’s care in the U.S. close, then we will move ahead with getting him care here in Mexico. We would have the heart cath done at the military hospital here in Mexico City and, if surgery is deemed possible, the open heart surgery would also take place at the military hospital. However we are not as comfortable with having such risky medical procedures done in Mexico, so we continue to wait upon the doors that remain ever so slightly open in the U.S. No matter how many doors close in the U.S., there is always one door far enough open that we do not feel peace about moving forward with treatment here in Mexico.

An organization from England contacted us several months ago. They are working on a possible contact at a hospital in Houston, Texas to see if they would be willing to operate on Daniel. We are also in conversations with a hospital in Dallas, which has not yet closed its doors to Daniel.

That morning, just a few days ago, as I prayed once again about this situation, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace to continue waiting. I asked the Lord: “What am I waiting for? Am I waiting for a hospital in the U.S. to offer treatment to Daniel? Am I waiting for us to have the heart cath and open heart surgery in Mexico? Am I waiting for Daniel to go home to be with Jesus? Am I waiting for God to do a miracle and heal him?” There was no clarification from the Lord…just “WAIT.”

David and Daniel, new brothers, sharing a drink on the beach.

So, we are waiting, and, in the meantime, thoroughly enjoying Daniel. He started preschool this week here at our homeschool and loves it! He loves to laugh, to run, to hug, to read books. If his slight blue coloration wouldn’t give him away so easily, you would never know that he has several major heart and lung defects.

As I have followed blogs of other CHD (congenital heart defect) children, I have witnessed the long, tough heartbreaking road that awaits them through surgeries, cardiac arrests, separation from their families, etc. and I ask the Lord if that is the road that He is choosing for us. At this point, Daniel is doing great….miraculously great. As his mother, I cannot imagine choosing to send him into open heart surgery that will mean weeks in intensive care, much pain for him, separation from us, months of recovery, my being divided between him and my other 16 children and husband with no guarantee that he will survive the first surgery, much less the second and third that would await him, nor with any guarantee of how long his life would be prolonged here on earth. Or, the second option is, we can enjoy every moment of life that the Lord is giving us together – with Daniel running, playing, laughing, learning and loving and having that life end in his glorious entrance into the loving arms of His Heavenly Father where he will no longer suffer from shortened breath and blue fingernails.

"This is a good mango!"

So, do we fully live the next few years – full of life, love, unity and hope, until the Lord, in His sovereignty, calls Daniel home? Or do we choose medical intervention and maybe enjoy Daniel until his early adulthood (the surgical procedure that he would undergo is relatively recent and nobody really knows how the patients react later into adulthood)? However, that is assuming that he even survives the surgeries and much of that time would be spent in the hospital, connected to machines and going through painful procedures and recuperation.

At this point, to be honest, I don’t have the answer. Just last week, the parents of the missionary husband from the state of Veracruz that helped rescue Daniel spent a day visiting Refuge Ranch. They asked, “So, has Daniel had his surgery yet?” I explained a bit of the situation, but actually felt guilty that we haven’t operated on Daniel yet because, supposedly, one of the main reasons that we brought Daniel home was to make sure that he got the medical care he needed and to heal him. But, maybe God has called us to be His healing hands in Daniel’s life in other ways…to heal his emotional and spiritual heart, rather than his physical heart. I firmly believe that if Daniel had not come to be our son he would not be alive today due to the physical, emotional and spiritual stress that he would have had to sustain in his birth situation. His little half heart would not have been able to survive such a lack of love. Love truly is the most powerful medicine of all! (Check out the following link for a great story that, just like Daniel’s story, proves this to be fact! )

Daniel and I on vacation this past February.

(He wasn't too keen about the beach. Can you tell?)

Each night, as I rock Daniel and pray with him before laying him down, I pray that the Lord would heal him in His time and His way. Then, each night, before I go to bed, I go into Daniel’s room, reach my hand down into his crib and lay it on his chest as his heart beats hard and I ask the Lord to keep that little heart beating until the next day. For now, we will continue to wait until the Lord tells us when to move and in what direction! In the meantime, we will live life to the fullest, not only with Daniel, but with each of the precious people the Lord has placed around us!

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me.

Night is coming, when no one can work."

John 9:4

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Day on an EMMC, Mark's perspective

It has been a while since I have written here so I thought I would share some pictures and comments about our Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade last month. We were in the state of Guerrero just north of Acapulco. We worked at two locations. The first was at the host church, providing services for their community. The second was at the edge of Acapulco where we worked from somebody's home. I have a few photos I am going to use to walk you through a day on an EMMC.

The waiting area

When host churches do a really good job of letting the local people know we are going to be there, we always start the day with a large group of people waiting to be seen. Fortunately at this location they were able to be in the shade to wait for check in time. When we are ready to start check in they line up and let Vero know what service they want. In most cases each person is allowed to see one of either the doctor, the dentist, or the eye doctor per day. During the check in time basic information is collected for the doctors and weight and blood pressure is recorded. When space allows, there are separate waiting areas for each service where the people can then go wait for their turn.

Isabel doing an eye exam

Isabel brings glasses and her exam equipment on almost all the EMMCs. She checks eyes and provides glasses that will improve peoples vision. Many of the glasses are reading glasses and more common prescriptions. This way she can improve the most peoples vision. I have also seen some amazing repairs made for people who bring in broken glasses.

Dr. Escamilla praying with one of his patients

The medical doctors do exams and basic medical procedures, including everything from ear washing to minor surgery. We also have a doctor who provides gynecological exams in a private room. Sometimes there is a room available, but sometimes it has to be built with tarps or tents. They begin each day with prayers and continue to pray through the day.

Leslie doing a dental exam

It seems like there are always more dental patients then there is time to see in a day. We had three dentists working in both locations for this EMMC and they were busy they whole time. The dental machines (or robotines as we call them) are a little touchy and seem to require some kind of attention every time they are set up. We had to take one out of service for a whole day on this trip. Fortunately we were in an area where we could get it repaired. It needed a new compressor unit. The dental tools and suction require compressed air to operate. The compressors look like the ones in a refrigerator, but are special for dental tools. (Victor is hoping to have a local technician teach us some basic service techniques so we can minimize the problems and repair them more quickly.)

A young boy playing on the dirt floor while mom sees the dentist

The home we were working from at the second location provided a large space but most of it was outdoors. Gynecology and eye exams were inside as well as the food preparation for the entire team. The doctors and dentists worked outside under the cover of an outer wall with a roof but just a dirt floor. The dirt provided some entertainment for the boy in the picture above while his mom was having her teeth looked at.

Free haircut

Free haircuts are a part of almost every crusade. You might not think of a hair cut as a vital need in a person's life, but being able to look in the mirror and like your own appearance does wonders for self esteem. When people look in the mirror and smile at a new haircut or a repaired tooth, it brings new good feelings about themselves.

Helen working the pharmacy

Medications are provided by donation of some that are past their "sell by" date. The medicine is still effective and is put to good use. People are very understanding and happy to receive the free medicine. Victor sometimes has to make a trip to a local pharmacy to purchase some medicines that we want to be able to provide.

Becky praying with a family

Usually while people are waiting for their prescription, they visit the evangelists. Becky has shared some amazing stories that people have shared with her about their lives. The evangelists are very encouraging to people and help them see the truth of the Gospel and that God is with them. These short counseling sessions are just the beginning of the work the local church must continue. The local pastor or missionary is given the names and addresses of the people who accepted Christ during the week. Then they can follow up with them and disciple them in their spiritual growth.

Clowning with the kids

Clowning is a great way to gather kids and get their interest. They love to play games and sing songs with the clowns. As the clowns play with the kids they introduce the Gospel and give the kids a chance to pray.

Team photo displaying our new orange t-shirts

A day off at the beach

Most EMMCs include a day off for the team to play together. This week we went to the beach at Acapulco and enjoyed the sun and surf. The photo of the seagulls above is one of my favorites from the day.
I hope this entry shows you a little of what we do on an EMMC. Each one is a little different because of the location and the people involved.

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
Matt 9:36-38