After many plane rides, long waits at the gates, hauling and sorting heavy luggage, I can officially say we are all home safe. Thank you for all your prayers before and during the trip. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Thursday was the last day of clinic for our team and we ended it strong. Overall, we were able to see over 1,500 patients in the four days. It is crazy to think that we are now packing up our bags and equipment for the flight home today. The devo for Thursday was on seeking God's direction for our lives coming from verses Luke 18:35-42. It was a great devo for the group to process as we went into the last day of clinic and as we now head home. Friday was a day of rest and culture for the team. We were all able to sleep in, relax, and visit the old city portion of Cartagena. In the evening, members of the churches we worked with along with some local doctors and translators came over to eat dinner with us at the hotel. It was a great time to talk, relax, and pray for the whole group and Cartagena. The pastors and doctors associated with our trip are very important and hard working people. Though our team may leave, they will remain here to carry on the work God is doing in this city. It is bittersweet to leave here, but we know that God worked in mighty ways this week, and that brings us much joy.
Attached is a picture from the dinner we had last night with the church members, doctors, and translators.
Meet María, one of the sweetest, happiest, kindest women I have ever met! She turns 89 on Friday of this week.... Last year she had brought me a gift, a handmade craft, but this year the greatest gift is her radiant smile. She suffered a fall this year, cracking her hip and causing rotator cuff problems in the shoulder she fell on, but that has not stopped her from getting around or coming for a new pair of glasses to keep her reading her Bible. Oh, that we might all live with such joy in our hearts in spite of the circumstances!
Milan's devotional, that he shared with us on the bus ride Monday morning on our way to our first day of clinic... a VERY timely word, definitely directed by the Holy Spirit! (in the light colored scrubs, second from the left)
On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side. Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.
Gospel of Mark as adjusted by Milan: On that day, when Friday night came, He said to them, "Let us take a bus to O'Hare and a plane to Colombia. Leaving Wisconsin, along with all the boxes and luggage, Jesus came with them just as He was: and despite their best efforts and plans, the pharmaceuticals had not yet arrived, we forgot some things back home, and we felt the dental clinic was never going to open. Jesus himself was lying on the cot in the back, asleep on a spongey piece of foam. And when they said to Him, "Teacher, don't you care that Michael is pacing the floor, and Twinky is crying and frustrated? " And Jesus got up and said to them all, "Hush, be still." And all became perfectly calm. The medicines came, and the doctors set up their clinic. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They became much afraid and said to one another, "Who is this that even the bus driver and dentists obey him?" The word of Milan!
Steve asked me to give this talk on Sunday night after the crazy day we had on Sunday. And he assigned this Gospel to me. Needless to say, this Gospel spoke to me... Loud and clear. I must confess, every time I start one of these trips, I have a knot in my stomach. Did I forget something? Did I bring enough stuff? Jesus answered His disciples and answers us today, "Why are you still afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Jesus tells me, ¨Listen, buster, you have required a lot more attention than average. Do you think that is somehow going to change? No way! Have you not been paying attention? You have not chosen me... I have chosen you. You are in my boat!" Jesus does not always promise us smooth sailing. In fact, quite the opposite. In fact He says to us in John 16 verse 33, "These things I have spoken to your so you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world." So Jesus tells us there will be turmoil. Your spouse or significant other will not always be perfect. You will not always get an A on the test. Your children will sometimes disappoint you. The bus will sometimes be late. Our Lord, our Christ, understands all of that. He understands that your friends will let you down. He understands the world will let you down. He understands disappointment. He understands turbulence. He gets us. He says to us, "You are in My boat. And we are the winning team. I have overcome the world. My Father wrote the rules. Have Peace. I have your back."
Dear Lord, Bless all of us gathered here in your service. God, Bless the turbulence. Because without turbulence we would not recognize calm seas. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you for keeping us in Your boat.
Below is a reflection on this year's trip from Deb who works in Dental at our clinic:
I came on this journey not knowing what to expect. I prayed that I would be able to offer something. Instead I found the most amazing, loving hearts. The people here come to us with no expectations. I think it is because they have so little to begin with, unlike us who are so engrossed in ourselves. So each day, I offer myself both spiritually and physically, but I leave with a longing in my heart to do better, to be better because of these people who, thru the hands of the Lord, I have been able to encounter.
Attached is a picture of Deb and Milan working hard at the clinic.