Friday, August 13, 2010

Preparing for Nicaragua

Leading up to our trip to Nicaragua, God has been moving mightily in my heart.  I have spent so much time and energy trying to prepare for the trip that I have not been focused on Him that is sending me.  Too often the busyness of life keeps us from spending time with the Lord, and opens us up to attack from the devil.  One way to slow down for me has been increasing my prayer time - asking God to be forefront in my mind and to handle all of the details surrounding the trip, praying for the other team members from all around the country, and for the people of Nicaragua that we will be ministering to while we serve the Lord as short-term medical missionaries.

I have been in contact with Frank, our team leader, and also two other pharmacists who have been on these missions before.  It is funny that at work I seem to be well organized, but at home I can't find the socks from last weeks wash!  This trip is helping me to really trust on God, since I can not truly know what to expect as far as the operation of the pharmacy until we actually get there.  Darrell and Ron have sent some excellent preparation tips so that our "arm" of the trip can run efficiently (compiling a formulary from GHO stock and the meds that our team will be bringing) with predetermined dosing and quantities, preprinting labels to match the formulary and reduce the amount of writing that will need to happen there, and what items to prepack before the clinic opens to help reduce the waiting times for our patients.

Another lesson that I am coming to terms with is the fact that we can not treat every person for every condition that they have, but just the main complaints that they bring to us.  We expect to see large numbers of people on the trip, and our advice is to treat the problems that patients bring to us, because many may not receive continuous care for their conditions.  Our goal can not be to provide permanent relief from every condition, only a temporary bandage --> the focus is to present the Gospel and allow God to give every person the assurance of salvation and eternal life in His son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to bear the sins of all humankind.

We have reassigned household responsibilities to the kids and set up rules during our trip so that Grandma and the kids know what is expected.  We'll see how well they are followed!  haha  Emma will be our communication representative, setting up a facebook page to pass on updates from the team that they anticipate sending each day while we are in country.  She also has a list of folks, our experienced prayer warriors, to call while on the trip to let them know what is happening and to pass of prayers and praises.  Preston made up some great magnets that we mailed out and posted for printing on the fb page.

Thanks for the great work, Preston!

I sent out requests for donations to help cover some of the supplies for the trip.  I did not get responses from two pharmaceutical wholesalers or the big box office supply company in our town, so the OTC items and paper supplies for the pharmacy came out of pocket.  I will plan to start requesting these donations earlier should the Lord allow us to take part in a trip again.  Although the pharmacy office at work turned down a donation, our store management did authorize $40 to help buy eye drops, first aid creams, and some items for the children's ministry during the clinic - a wonderful blessing. 

God is using some of our anxieties and the cares that the kids have about our return for a greater good.  We have to remember that these trials and times of unknown in our lives are binding us closer to Him so that we don't depend on ourselves - I am seeing that I can not work out all of the details on my own and I am truly giving them over to God as an act of submission and obedience.  At CLR on the 1st, I spoke on the book of Jonah and his missionary tale.  Verse 3:1 keeps coming back to me: "And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time ..." (KJV) God never stops reaching out to us!  I has blessed to fast for 24 hours starting the evening of August 1st - I dedicated the time to actively pray for the trip, and that God would open my eyes to focus and cling, to abide to Him more and more every day.  It was so cool how God took care of my physical needs for hunger as I focused entirely on Him with thanksgiving.

God also put a blessing before me in the pharmacy student at work, who had received a book, Essential Spanish for Pharmacists.  She does not speak the language, and said that I could take the book with me to help with translation.  WOW!  I also sent a package of goodies to my dear brother in the Lord Kurt in Afghanistan, serving with the military there. He is helping with the music ministry at a church there, and has been lifting our trip up with the saints there - it is so awesome how we can access our God any time, any where, and He hears our voices!

Some of the pre-trip medicines are making me feel feverish and queasy, but I am getting a good night's sleep.  On  the 6th we received our boxes from Global Health Outreach, which contained our team shirts, evagnicubes, devotional books, and a guide for medicine in developing countries.  I would have rather received the book before now, but I know that God is working to make me dependent on Him and His ways, not my own.  John 20:29: "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (KJV) - I can not try to plan for everything that will happen while we are away, but have the faith of a child and believe on God to take care of the details.  

The 7th was an exciting day, as we had a sweet 16 party for Emma at the Ryebrook Tavern (we celebrated a quiet day at home on the 10th for her actual birthday).  We had some great food and wonderful music by our friend Jon's band.  We even brought the Wii for some fun!  Although many of Emma's friends did not come, those really close to her and lots of family came to share this special day.

Emma getting ready to rock her Sweet 16 cake!

On the 11th, three days before we get ready to leave, I had time to play with the little guy Lena watches during the day.  We had a fun time swimming in the pool with Preston - he loves getting pushed through the sprinkler! So often I don't get a lot of time to spend playing with little ones as mine are now grown up, so this was a refreshing moment for me.  In the evening, a dear old friend, John F., called and shared his desire that my eyes be opened to the greatness of God.  He shared "when you are an old man like me, it will give you comfort knowing that you worked for His purposes while you could - anyone can be a pharmacist at your job, but not just anyone can do God's work."  What a great living example of Psalm 37!

Friday, August 13th, Lena completed the packing (she is so good!) and I finished printing the labels as Emma and a child she was babysitting put the formulary sheets onto contact paper.  We struggled with how many bags to bring, and ended up with our two carry-ons (most of our clothes here), and two checked bags (one for the medicines we are bringing down, and the other with the rest of our clothes and food/snacks to eat in country.  I was able to mow the lawn and get Emma to a doctor's appointment, and I bought an extra pair of sneakers at Goodwill due to a lot of rain in the area where we will be going.  We had a nice supper at a local restaurant with the kids, Tony, and Madison, then went to the chocolate shop for ice cream sundaes.  We decided that since our flight was to leave from NYC at 1pm on Saturday, that we would drive down tonight so we would not rush to get there in the morning.  We took the Taconic Parkway to the Saw Mill River Parkway, then stayed in Yonkers off I-87.  We are close to our launching pad at LaGuardia Airport, and Lena and I are both excited to see what the Lord has planned for us during this time! I am still trying not to let the busyness of life take away the blessings that God has for us, and coming to grips with the idea that I can not do anything - only God can use me and the talents that He has provided me with to do His good works!

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Don't Be Like Mike

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Thankful that God has granted me a second chance (quite a few, actually) through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Lord, my family, and enjoy endless laps of swimming and circles on a motorcycle. Follow Jesus.