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Monday, February 18, 2013

Pastoral Training

One of my roles on our team is to assist in training others for pastoral ministry. Currently, in our little congregation, there are two men who are working towards being ordained to lead the church. Their names are Elisban and Scott. Elisban grew up in Cuzco and has been a part of El Buen Pastor for most of his life. He has been assisting the pastor at the church, preaching on occasion, and is very involved in the different ministries of the church.  He is also studying to be an electrician and works at odd jobs to cover the bills!  Recently, our former main pastor moved back to his hometown due to health problems from living at high altitude (we're at 11,500 ft.). Elisban is now preparing to lead this congregation, growing in his knowledge of God's word, counseling, and leading others as a pastor.

Scott grew up in Pennsylvania and has been involved in church ministry for over a decade. He and his wife Meghan have chosen to live in Peru to assist the church here in evangelism and discipleship. Currently they both help lead the youth ministry at El Buen Pastor, lead in worship, and teach the children's Sunday school class. Scott also teaches lay seminary classes one night per week. His students will form the future leadership for the churches here. Scott is also working on his Master's degree from Reformed Seminary in Jackson, MS.

(Below Elispan and Scott in front and Keith Powlison and Lee in back at a morning breakfast.)

Most every Tuesday morning, you will find Scott, Elisban, myself, and Keith (our team leader) having breakfast together. These meetings allow us to study the Bible together, pray together, and roundtable about ministry issues. The emphasis may shift from meeting to meeting, but we encourage each other in our pursuit of God, and leading others in our faith. We have such a rich deposit of wisdom in Keith, who grew up as an MK (mission kid) in Peru, and his been serving here most of his life. This year, the church is walking through the Gospel of John on Sunday mornings, so we have centered our studies there.

One other area that I'm involved in is translation work for training materials. Using an online translation program (yes, my Spanish is no where near the task) I prepare rough drafts of materials for use in our training programs. For example, some of the exams I have taken in preparing for ordination will be of great use to future candidates here. I am also translating a large outline on God's Sovereignty, with many bible passages attached. You may find as useful a resource as I do when preparing a study, or when you just can't seem to find that verse you thought you knew well!  Keith reviews the rough drafts and makes changes as necessary, removing any errors that may have slipped through.  Surprisingly, this has helped me grow in my own language acquisition, as I compare English and Spanish versions of the same passages.  

I hope that you enjoy this little slice of our daily life and ministry.
Grace and Peace, Lee

State Department warning

Many of you may have read over the weekend that the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Peru. This warning cited a credible threat for kidnappings of U.S. and other foreign tourists and residents. We found out about this threat last week, and are taking precautions accordingly. Thankfully, Cusco is about the safest place in Peru for foreigners. The Peruvian government created a police force solely to protect tourists, as this is one of the primary sources of foreign currency into their economy. Millions of travelers pass through here on their way to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Though we are not overly concerned for our safety, we are staying away from tourist areas and generally being more careful. We always appreciate your prayers, knowing that we are always guarded by our Heavenly Father and trusting in His protection.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Student Mentoring

One thing we have really enjoyed about being here is spending time with students. We began student ministry helping with an English class offered to a group of medical students. Another American doctor and his wife that we LOVE (Nathan and Audrey) invited us last fall to help out with their Medical English Night Class at their house.  There we met some of our "favorites"... Willy and Maria. Both are in their first year of medical school, but because their medical school is linked to their undergraduate (pre-med), they are like our college freshmen. They live at home, and attend the medical school nearby. Nathan attended class with these students to learn medical Spanish and has "adopted" the students for his time in school.

Both Willy and Maria are smart, fun and quite good at speaking English. "Spanglish" describes our weekly lunch conversations as we jump back and forth between languages, correcting each other from time to time.

Willy is like "mini-Lee." He loves World War II and strategy games. It's actually a bit scary. So they have a good time together with that in common.

Maria is very bright and motivated. She recently opted to compete in an English speech competition, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, to win a trip to the US! Lee and I helped her practice. I have not heard the result, but hopefully she will win and be able to visit the US. Amelia and I were able to go to her competition in downtown Cusco.

Maria and her little brother with us after her speech.

Willy and Maria were able to participate in a week long internship at La Fuente Clinic (where Lee works).  They very much enjoyed this opportunity!

Maria and Willy view a suture procedure.

Willy and Maria are on the left side of the picture.

Since we returned in January, we have been leading another group of medical students from a different university. Other friends (David and Brooke) who normally host a weekly lunch meeting, went home for a short stint and asked us to lead during their weekly student lunch. We began attending this lunch in the fall and got to know these students. We have enjoyed this time, but are sad that since they are on summer break, they have been scattered about during the lunch hour. Lee has shared a short message in Spanish during the lunch. Many of the guys in this group also lift weights with David on a regular basis. Their "reward" (other than abs of steel) is a trip to the beach at the end of February. Lee will also be going on this bodybuilder beach trip...I wonder if they will be able to tell he hasn't been lifting with them weekly? I mean, other than carrying 30 lb Amelia up four flights of stairs daily! :)

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses...

Well, it's been a while since we posted.

I feel pretty bad about it and need to make up good reasons why I did not have time to write...other than that I don't have blogging in my blood. I enjoy reading updates on others, but for some reason do not think others have time or desire to read mine. I think most of us feel like life is pretty much the same, day to day, so we feel our lives are boring. Especially compared to what Darcy went through a few months back. And this is excuse number one.


1. Darcy.
We went to the states for almost a month in December. We were in Colorado helping Lee's parents care for Jeb and Darcy's four children, as Darcy began to recover her strength. Because we were not here, we felt there was not much to report from the field. And we were a bit crazy getting life up and going again when we returned, so blogging took the back seat! But to give you a brief Darcy update, she is doing amazingly well. You would never even know all she went through if you saw her on the street. Sure her energy is not yet up to what it was, but baby Elliott is sleeping through the night and that helps. We are really SO thankful to you ALL for all the prayers, love, and support you showed her! Thank you so much!

2. Illness.
Since returning in January, we have all had rounds of the tummy bug lasting well over a week! And it hit hard! Amelia was the last to get it and seems to be improving although the last two mornings she had a "urgent morning bath" if you know what I mean. To be sick also puts the urgent things at the top of the list and the other things don't get done...sadly blogging is not at the top of my list, ever.

3. Another little miracle.
Although we thought we might never have natural children again (because we moved away from the medical options Dallas offers), we are now expecting! And it truly is an amazing surprise! I have just come out of the first trimester where naps were essential to survival. And blogging had to happen during Amelia's afternoon nap! So no blogging...

So we WILL be much better at blogging in the days to come, hopefully...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Naaman visits La Fuente

A few weeks ago, my friend and clinical director, Nathan, received a phone call from the U. S. Consulate in Cusco. An American citizen had been travelling through our area and broken a tooth. As you can imagine, seeking medical care in different country can provoke some level of anxiety. This man was looking for an American dentist in Cusco, and fortunately we had one (me).

Through the Consulate office we were able to talk to this man's assistant in New York, who arranged the appointment. We noticed that his business address at the bottom of the emails was Madison, Ave. Later, via Google, we discovered that our patient was a very successful investment manager of some notoriety. I started getting a little nervous about having such a powerful and successful person as a patient but knew that God had brought him here to see us.

Keep in mind, our clinic is not in the beautiful and historic downtown Cusco. To get to La Fuente (The Source) clinic, you have to drive out about 45 minutes through several dusty suburbs. The further out you drive the more trash and wild dogs you will see in the streets. As I rode with Nathan to the clinic, the morning of the appointment, I wondered if our patient would just keep on driving past our front gate (made of mud/straw adobe). We're not much to look at from the outside, to be sure. 

I felt a little like Elisha from the Old Testament story of Naaman the Syrian. Naaman was a powerful general of the Syrian army. But, Naaman was also afflicted with leprosy. One of Naaman's slaves was a little Hebrew girl, presumably captured and taken off by Naaman in a raid against Israel. This little girl had compassion for her captor and told him that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him from his leprous condition. Can you imagine? A slave girl from an enemy nation advising you to return to that land in humility, to seek healing from the prophet of a foreign God!  I can't believe Naaman believed her, but he did. I guess he was desperate to be saved from the ravages of an incurable disease. So he left Syria, and traveled to Israel where he met Elisha. Elisha's prescription was for Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan river.  The Jordan can be a muddy creek at different times in the year, and Naaman was shocked by this directive.  He actually named off two rivers of Syria that are bigger and better than the lowly Jordan. But he obeyed anyway and his leprosy was healed. Perhaps our patient, like Naaman, was somewhat dubious  when he arrived at our clinic door. 

Our appointment was not more than an hour.  The fracture was worse than expected, but we had something to work with.  I bonded the fragment in place as a short term fix, hoping it would last until he returned. I enjoyed our conversation very much.  He is Jewish man, but not religious; born and bred in New York City. I did ask him a few questions about the U.S. economy and market projections (how could I not?).  He asked me about the clinic and its history. At one point, he wanted to know if my religion affected how I voted.  I responded, "I would rather say that my faith affects everything I do, including voting; not that that makes choosing a candidate any easier." He responded that he admired people who had consistent convictions from their faith, although he himself did not have any faith to speak of. Perhaps that may change from his visit, I certainly have prayed for that.

In the end, I thanked him for coming and for our visit.  He wanted to pay us, but I told him that if he were my father, I would hope another dentist would patch him together as a courtesy. He insisted on donating to the clinic, and we were encouraged by the gift he left with us. Later, I told Nathan that I was taking November off, seeing as I had made my quota for the month.... :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Praises to God During this Trial

From Dace (Darcy's brother) on Friday morning

When you spend over six hours alone in an ICU unit at night with your sister you have a lot of time to think, reflect, and evaluate...

Hello Everyone,

Nobody likes a long email-- my apologies-- but when you have a moment-- here's a few things worth reflecting upon.

No doubt that we are all focused on the road to Darcy's recovery and the obstacles t
hat lay ahead-- but I want to take a moment to point out a couple remarkable blessings and pivotal moments that God has provided thus far--And praise Him for them:

1. Praise God that Darcy was IN the hospital when her aneurysm broke. She had only been admitted two minutes earlier. The docs say she would not have survived this event even from the parking lot.

2. Praise God that they arrived to deliver baby Elliot right at the shift change of nurses and doctors. This may sound counter-intuitive at first, but they actually had all the manpower they could find working on her. There were between 20-30 sets of hands that peformed the emergency delivery and tackled the bleeding issues that Darcy was up against. The doctor said she would not have survived with less. It required all.

3. Praise God that there were two key doctors on hand-- one of which was not supposed to be there that morning-- and the other who was just about to leave the hospital-- BUT both were on deck when Darcy's trauma occurred. I was told by a second hand source that they prayed over Darcy the entire time they were working on her. And that without their efforts she would not have made it out of the OBGYN.

4. Praise God that though she flat-lined after the emergency surgery, they were able to bring her back through CPR.

5. Praise God that she survived the helicopter flight from St. Frances to Penrose Main-- which doctors said was really tough on her.

6. Praise God that Darcy had a godly RN during the emergency trauma who apparently stepped into the bathroom, called her husband on the phone and said "I need you to get on your knees right now for this young woman. Nothing they are doing is working and she needs to live."

7. Praise God that this same nurse had the presence of mind to pull Dana Sue and I aside amidst the mayhem and tell us that the doctors were concerned about her lungs and we needed to be praying about her lungs right now!

8. Praise God that Darcy's God-fearing loved ones showed up and got down on their knees and cried out for her life from inside the ICU room-- and then proceeded to gather around her, hold hands and sing her favorite hymns. It was this night that the first steps of Darcy's healing began-- and one teary-eyed doctor called it a "miracle."

9. Praise God that a baby was born! Elliot was rescued, is doing well and getting stronger in the NICU. We continue to trust for his road to healthiness and release from the hospital.

10. And Praise God for you... for your prayers and cries have been heard by our Heavenly Father across the world. Your words and encouragement often lead us to tears and it is so comforting to know that we are not in this alone. As i said in an earlier email-- this week I have been proud of the Body of Christ and we are all so touched by your support. This is what it's supposed to look like. :)

Darcy is still "deep in the woods" on this journey towards optimal health, but I am so grateful for all that the Lord has accomplished thus far.

I know there's quite a buzz about Darcy's story. I've heard from a second hand source that Darcy is "all the talk" with doctors and nurses in both hospitals. There have actually been staff members from the other hospital coming over to see Darcy for themselves. We've been making friends with all sorts of new people who are praying for her across the country that we don't even know. I lost count of how many states have been represented. And there's even been a 10 year old boy in Khazikstan who had a dream that Darcy is getting better. It's an unpredictable course. And an emotionally difficult one. We love her dearly. Thanks for taking time to read this, rejoice in the blessings and keep forging ahead with the hurdles that remain.

Much love,

Miracles Never Cease

Pray for Darcy!

You may already know by now the crazy week we have experienced. Lee's sister-in-law, Darcy, who is married to his older brother Jeb, had an emergency C-section on Sunday morning. The baby was born with an apgar score of 1 (out of 10 which means VERY poor), and Darcy suffered an anerysm in her spleen and nearly died. In fact, none of us thought she would make it after receiving over 50 units of blood--over four times her body's blood volume. The doctors said there was nothing more they could do. We all prayed, wept, and cried out to God knowing he could save her, but not knowing if he would save her.  She miraculously made it through the night and so did little Elliot.

( To stay current on updates, visit Bridgemans In Peru. If you are not on facebook, simply close the popup login window to view the site. )

Jeb and Darcy, Emma (6), Everett (4), Esther (2), and baby Elliot (not-pictured)

An Amazing Story from the First Night

Here's a first-hand account of the first night from Dace, Darcy's brother. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation! Dace gives a great overview of the first day.

For those of you who have a moment, here's a quick story from the first day-- They allowed all of us (10-12) people in the intensive care unit room with Darcy on Sunday night. I've been in enough of these situations to know that they only allow for this when they think the end is near so that people can say their "goodbyes." We began praying on our knees, sobbing and Jeb prayed with such an agony of heart for his wife, that it still pierces me. I remember looking up and thinking this is such a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. The entire time doctors and nurses were stepping over us and continuing to attend to my sister. We gathered around Darcy, held hands and sang her favorite hymns, including Be Thou My Vision-- which was their wedding song.

That night I began walking outside around the hospital crying out for my sister-- and felt compelled to pray for the doctors and that they would have a soft heart. They had given us a pretty grim report that there wasn't much room for hope.

During the night, the nurse kept calling the doctor as Darcy's stats improved. He did not believe the results could be accurate, so he had her run the tests multiple times and bring in new machines in case the others were not registering correctly. Even though he was supposed to be off after a week straight in the ICU, he came in first thing in the morning to see for himself what was happening. He told Jeb that after many years in the nation's largest trauma center in Houston, that he had never seen anything like this. He reviewed with us the procedures he performed, but said that none of that could have accounted for the improvement. He went on to say that he knows we were praying and singing-- and that he didn't know how else to account for the improvement and indicated it must be a "miracle." (Although I don't know his heart, Dana Sue and I's impression is that he is not a believer.)

He seemed choked up as he relayed this to Jeb and I, but i don't know his demeanor enough to be sure. As I watched him through the glass in the nurses station, I heard him say the word "miracle", shaking his head in disbelief and saw him tear up as the nurse gave him a hug. It was really a moving scene.

I know He is moving and calling people's hearts through this. Mine too. :)

Blessings to you all. We love the support. Thinking of you all on the east coast this morning.