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Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

IMG_1291There’s a party going on at any given moment in Riohacha, Colombia.

Blasts of music throughout the day (and often all night!) are part of everyday life in this city.

And we’re not talking about background music, either.

No ethereal Muzak tinkling overhead in these parts.

The volume level of the throbbing bass is enough to make your heart shake, not to mention the hotel walls!

Personally, I loved it when music blared in the late afternoon, just as my energy was flagging.  Naturally, my walking then began to have a bit of a lilt.

And I would smile to think of the people having fun, wherever they were.

We went to Riohacha with an eye team of 62 people from the US and Canada to do a project with Medical Ministry International Canada .

As we begin our work each year, I ask God what He intends to show me during the course of our time of service.

And He never fails to answer.

Miracles were prevalent, as always. Cataract patients who hadn’t seen for many years had their sight restored.

IMG_1128When Maria’s eye patch was removed, she exclaimed in Spanish, “Brilliante!”, and thanked God in the midst of her tears.

Children and adults with strabismus (crossed eyes) had the gift of having their eyes straightened – and no longer had to feel self-conscious about their appearance.

IMG_1134Ilona was thrilled that she would no longer would have to endure teasing from her classmates.

Thirty-two patients were fitted with prostheses for otherwise empty eye sockets. The results were dramatic, and their lives were changed as well.

The stories are endless.

One young man was brought in by a woman who had taken him in at age 7. He was deaf, and he had very poor vision.

This young man was 17 years old, and had never had a pair of glasses.

Imagine how different the world looked to him when he first put them on.

Sometimes God appeared in the smallest ways.

One day as I was trying to carry three cups of coffee, I heard a voice asking if I needed help.

IMG_1293After I said yes, I looked up at a man smiling at me who had only one arm.

Alexander graciously took one cup from me and delivered it to my co-worker.

My eyes welled up with gratitude for his generous help.

During our two weeks, the music played on.

What I came to realize is that the everpresent booming bass was merely a representation of God’s heart…beating nonstop, bringing light and life.

It was as if He wrapped His arms around the people of Riohacha and our team, and He was so very close that we could hear and feel His heartbeat.

God’s loves ripples through every project and every patient.

And we never know how far and wide the effects of His Presence will be.

What we do know is this…that the reverberations of God’s heart will never cease.

His steady beat will go on.

And I pray that we are always able to feel it.

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart. I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done. ~Psalm 9:1

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The MMI team will return to Riohacha, Colombia,  January 14-28, 2017, as the need for vision care is great. Volunteers are always needed, both medical and non-medical. For more information, visit the MMI Canada website: http://www.mmicanada.ca/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faces to Remember

IMG_1717A cell phone was thrust at me, bearing this message:  He needs you….he is outside.

It was nearing the end of our MMI project in Cienaga, Colombia, and registration was closed.

Moved by this earnest request, I attempted to get more details. With my fractured Spanish, I was able to understand that “he” was “especial” and couldn’t walk. He was near the gate, with his parents.

I asked if I could see him, and they hurried out to retrieve him.

Very soon,  a mother and father approached, pushing a wheelchair that held a boy who appeared to be around 6 years old.  He was severely handicapped – so much that at first sight, my heart sank.

What, if anything could we do to help him?

The faces of his parents, smiling and hopeful, prompted me to bring them inside. We just couldn’t turn them away, I thought.

As we entered the area where patients are screened by the doctors, the sad look on my husband’s face answered my question.

I broke down, the weight of this realization overwhelming.

Surely there must be something we can do or say to this family, I said tearfully.

Gently, my caring husband leaned over to take a look. This beautiful young man suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that causes weak bones that break easily. At present, there is no cure.

He was 22 years old.

His parents brought him to our clinic because he complained of burning, itchy eyes. They were thrilled when he received artificial tears and a pair of sunglasses.

And his smile was precious.

Sometimes the smallest gestures can make the biggest impact.

Thanking us profusely, they left the clinic, as the patients who requested that he be seen watched and smiled – and thanked us as well.

This moment during our project has inhabited my heart continually, along with the memories of many other people that we were unable to help –

– except for our smiles, tender touches, and, in extreme cases, our prayers.

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Our success stories were many.  Approximately 4, 400 patients were seen; of these, only about 500 were discharged. All others received glasses, and 183 patients had cataract surgeries.

Though I continue to reflect on the valiant grace and quiet acceptance exhibited by the many patients with irreparable eye disease, the thoughts of the many people whose vision improved because of our project bring comfort…and gratefulness for the opportunity to serve them.

As one of our post-cataract patients said, Your group has changed many lives.

That is true indeed – but the fact is, in our efforts to bring the light of Jesus to our patients, our hearts are changed as well.

I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you. ~ John 13:15 (GNT)

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When God Does the Impossible

canstockphoto14219450The conversation went like this….

L: (5 days ago) I am praying for a miracle – that you will get another ophthalmologist to join your mission team in Colombia.

Me: Many people have been praying for this, and we are so grateful – but at this late date, it could never happen.

L:  I am not giving up!

Me: Well, you go right ahead. (secretly thinking, Fat Chance!)

J: (at dinner, 2 days later) I got the strangest email today. An ophthalmologist who found out about our mission project said she wishes she had known, because she would love to come, and is available.

Me: Well, L has been praying for a miracle.  Maybe this is it!

J:  Maybe I should call this doctor and ask if she is serious about this.

Me: (Beginning to think a ray of hope might be breaking through the clouds)  Why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

J: (the next day)  She would love to come, but doesn’t have all of the money to fund the trip. 

L:  Aren’t there any donors you could ask?

T:  Everyone in our circles has done so much already; we can’t ask any more.

Later that day, a conversation with our project director…

J: Well, one third of the trip cost has been provided, thanks to a mission foundation.  And now that I think of it, I recall that there are some surplus funds available from another organization I am part of. (another one third, covered!)

J: (The next morning, 3 days before the project begins)  Can you believe it? She is coming, and excited to join our team! All the arrangements have been made!

I  had goosebumps (and teary eyes) for a few hours after this, in awe of God’s power and providence.  I know He is capable of working out details beyond our wildest imaginations – but me, of lesser faith than my friend, never  believed for one minute that this was possible.

For the addition of this doctor, and for this important lesson, I am deeply thankful. God is equipping our team with the professionals that we need – and preparing our hearts to pour out His love in the weeks ahead as we serve the people of Cienaga, Colombia.

We are wholeheartedly ready.

Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. ~I Thessalonians 5:17-19

We thank everyone who has been praying for our Medical Ministry International team as we prepare for  our eye project in Cienaga, Colombia, and would be grateful for continued prayers during our project.

Special thanks to Lois – prayer warrior supreme… and believer in miracles.

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