Monday, November 28, 2011

Masaramu trip, Part 3

As I'd mentioned before, we'd all gone to bed pretty early and slept through a night that was pretty warm. We slept in small tents in the education building. It is open to the air so there's usually a small breeze or at least cooler that if we'd slept in a completely enclosed building. We were up early and had left over vagre with some rice and plantain bananas. I'd brought some small packets of Starbuck's instant coffee (a lifesaver and much better than the old Nescafe) and shared that with Jonathon. I left a few packets with the tribal leader Galo. It'd be interesting to see if he liked it.

After breakfast we got started and were blessed to see to teachers from Jandiayacu bring their students. They, for the most part, were well behaved and seemed to enjoy the interaction. After we'd finished the lessons. They brought the children over to me for an exam. They all got antiparasite medicine and a few had colds. Because I was not traveling with a medical team, I was limited in what I could bring. I quickly ran out of prenatal vitamins and iron but did have enough antibiotics and antiparasite medicine for everyone. An elderly couple came to see me and I gave them a bottle of tylenol (it works wonders here in Ecuador). All were appreciative and hopefully we can send a larger team in the future.

The lesson that I gave this morning was from the book of John - the feeding of the 5 thousand and Jesus walking on water. The keys to the lesson were that the Lord is lord of all - heaven and earth and also that the Lord will meet all of our needs. It was a great example of the faith that Jesus wants us to display. Several times throughout the lesson we got to remind them what Jesus had done in the past to continually show how He is God as well as Son. Wilson again did a great job of translating and I saw several heads go up and down. All of the adults and many of the teenagers that were listening seemed to be paying attention. Culturally, they don't ask a lot of questions so we all prayed that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in their hearts as the lessons progressed. Wilson gave the last lesson and we soon headed off for lunch. We then packed up and said our goodbyes.

We made it back to Shell shortly thereafter with a feeling of satisfaction and a little bit curious as to how it was all going to play out. There are only a few lessons left and Chad is going to be taking another team to their communities in a few weeks. I hope to share some news of the conclusion of the study in a few months. Yntil then, please pray that the Holy Spirit continue to work in their hearts and that many of them may accept the call to be disciples within their community and that the harvest may be plentiful. Please also pray for the safety of the teams as they fly in and out of the communities.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Missions conference in Louisville

Well, before I finished telling you about my trip to Masaramu, I wanted to share how a recent trip to Louisville Kentucky went. I promise that I'll finish sharing about Masaramu soon. I've been in Louisville Kentucky for the last week attending a medical missions conference. One of our mission's leaders had asked me in August if I'd be willing to travel to Louisville to represent HCJB Global at the Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC). I'd never been before and I knew that it would be a great way for those interested in medical missions to know more about HCJB Global and our ministries worldwide. I could also talk about Shell and our specific needs. As a plus, it would give me an opportunity to visit Target one more time and do some Christmas shopping :-D. Needless to say, it was not a difficult decision. Unfortunately, Tracy was not going to be able to go with me. She's teaching at the Nate Saint Memorial School and couldn't get away. Fortunately, I was only gone for 1 week and my brother, Pat, flew out to spend some time with me.

The GMHC is a conference where those interested in medical missions (whether nurses, dentists, physicians or other discipline) can come together and visit with representatives from around 150 different organizations that have a heart for the gospel and health care. It all takes place at the Southeastern Christian Church in Louisville. Many of the registrants are students but I met many who are well into their careers but wanted to take part in short term projects around the world. I spent most of my time at the HCJB Global booth but did have an opportunity to listen to some of the lectures as well. There were breakout sessions held throughout the day on many different topics. I attended one on tuberculosis, one on malnutrition, and also one on our calling as missionaries. I had a great time.

One of the main reasons that I was there was to "recruit" staff for the hospital. We are in dire need of more missionaries, physicians especially, and I got to meet several that were very interested in learning more about Shell and coming down. One, a pediatrician named Judy, will be finishing her training in June and would be a great addition to the staff here. There was another couple that came by my table while I was away and has already been in contact with some of the other staff here about coming down. As promising as the interactions were, I know that it ultimately is the Lord's work. Please pray that their decisions may involve Shell.

While in Louisville, I got to see a few of the missionaries who have worked in Shell in the past. This picture shows Kim Kirk and Jerry Koleski. Kim is a nurse that was with us for the last year and actually 'house sat' for us while we were in the States. She's returned to Michigan but hopefully will be back down in the future. Jerry is a family physician that currently is in Malawi with HCJB and served with his family in Shell for 5 years before we arrived. I met him in 2007 when we werer in Shell to work with and visit the Hardin's. He and his family will remain in Malawi until next summer, when they'll return to the States.

Lastly, I wanted to share what a blessing it was to have my brother, Patrick, come and spend a few days with me. He and his wife are expecting their second child and I know that it was difficult, he not being with his family. I'd like to say that we did a lot of cool stuff like visit the Lousville Slugger museum or Churchill Downs or Kentucky Derby Museum, but we just saw a movie, did some shopping and ate some good food (Chuy's Mexican was my favorite). Soon, our time was up and it was time to head back to Shell. I'd been homesick for Tracy and the kids and was ready to be home. The trip back was fairly uneventful except for the image of part of the fuselage taken off so mechanics could fix a faulty light. I prayed that he didn't have any remaining screws after putting everything back together! We left the gate a few hours late and I got into Quito well after midnight. I was tired but had a great time. Please pray that it was fruitful. For those interested in finding out more about the GMHC or medical missions, visit their website -
In Christ

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Masaramu, Part 2

After lunch, Galo (the tribal leader) gathered the community together so that we could start. The plan was for the 4 of us to give the 5 lessons that afternoon and the next morning and have a short "clinic" afterwards, time permitting. The lessons were from the early chapters of Mark and John, and Wilson translated everything into Quichua the entire time. My lessons were about Jesus healing the paralytic, his encounter with the leper and about feeding the 5000. It was neat to see how attentive they all were to the stories and lessons. A gift that Wilson had was in translating what the Word was teaching in a way that they could relate to. I think that he did a great job. It was interesting to think that we were talking to them about a group of simple fishermen and carpenters that couldn't have been much different from themselves.

As the afternoon wore on, another group from the neighboring Sapara community, Jandiayacu, came and joined us. Jandiayacu is a 45 minute walk and several adults and children made the trek. At this point we probably had about 30 women and children listening to the lessons. They had known Wilson and seemed to be excited about sitting in on the lessons. In between the lessons, I was approached several times to see if I could listen to a child's chest or see someone's knee. One boy was brought in with a non-healing ulcer on his lower leg. It wasn't painful but he'd had it for over 2 months. It looked like a classic case of cutaneous leishmaniasis to me, which is a parasitic infection that also has other forms but requires a series of injections given daily for 20 days in order to cure it. We vowed to let the airport doctor know to arrange a flight out for him so he could come out and get treatment.

After the lessons, we were invited to Galo's house for dinner and got to have more tasty vagre (catfish) and tuna with rice (we'd brought them the rice and tuna). No grubs this time. During the mealtime, I was able to find out more about Wilson and his journey. He's Ecuadorian and went to seminary in Argentina and served in Bolivia for a number of years. He also worked for HCJB in the past and helped build many of the homes that we live in. Listening to how God took him to Bolivia and the difficulties that he faced was very humbling.

After dinner, it was time to bathe and hit the sack. It gets dark here around 6 pm and there is obviously no electricity so we were all in our tents buy 8 o'clock and sound asleep in no time. The times that I've been in the jungle it usually gets chilly at night but it actually stayed pretty warm. The night was uneventful and the sky full of stars.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Masaramu trip, part 1

As I had mentioned in my previous post, I had the opportunity to accompany Chad and Wilson on their journey to a Sapara (I'd misspelled it before) community. I'd indicated on a map where I thought the village was located but was way off base. It was about half ways from Shell to the Peruvian border - about a 30 minute flight from Shell. Along with us came a seminary student from Guayaquil named Jonathon. It was his first time into the jungle and he was very excited.

The main purpose of the trip was to continue teaching from a Bible study series published by New Tribes Mission called Fundaciones Firmes (Firm Foundations). It's a series of about 50 lessons that's designed to take an unbeliever through the Bible and then at the end challenge them to act on the information they'd received. Chad and Wilson had been in the community before but it was my first time. Wilson, one of the pastors, at our church came along as a translator as well as one of the teachers. The community was Masaramu and the majority of the community spoke mostly Quichua as their native language is almost extinct.

After our arrival, we unloaded our gear into the schoolhouse. This is where we'd sleep and also give the lessons. Normally when I go to a jungle community, I'm part of a team and accompanied by a medical resident and boxes of medicines. Even though the purpose of this trip was non medical, I'd wanted to bring along a box with some medical supplies as I'd figured that there would be a need for a doctor. I was not disappointed.

Shortly after we'd unloaded, Chad had noticed that there was a small group surrounding a boy, all looking at his foot. It turned out that he had been fishing with his father in the river and had accidentally goen speared between his toes. Fortunately the wound was pretty superficial but at risk for infection as it had occurred the day before. I was able to clean it up, bandage it properly and give his mother some antibiotics and some good ol' advil for pain. We later found out that he was the son of the community's leader - Galo.

Right before lunch, we were 'treated' to some large grubs that they'd found in a large fallen tree nearby. I'd had grubs before and didn't have fond memories from the experience. They steamed them in a large leaf with some 'hearts of palm' and they were very liquidy. This time, they were roasted on skewers and were actually quite tasty - they were very greasy inside and salty. It turns out that they often use the greasy inside as a paste to put on people's chest when they had bronchitis or pneumonia. I'll stick with Robitussin, thank you.

Lunch was smoked vagre or catfish and this was quite tasty. We also had the standard boiled yucca and plantains, washed down with a little water.

Below are some pictures of the community. All of these beautiful pictures are courtesy of Chad Irwin.