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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.


Monday, October 15, 2012

No Superheros in Peru

I have often wondered (and perhaps you have too) about those people who leave behind all that is familiar to serve the Lord in a foreign country. I have always suspected that when crossing the border to the new country, that somehow they mysteriously get an extra boost of spiritual adrenaline and passion for the Lord which results in a new intimacy and direct line to God making them somehow superior to those who stayed at home.

Well that does not happen, and believe me, we are not "above" anyone in any way.

I secretly hoped that upon arrival in Peru there would no longer be a battle of self to sit and be still before the Lord. That the dishes, the emails, the internet surfing...the time that could be spent soaking up the peace, love and joy of being in the Lord's presence would no longer pull me away from Him. This is one of those things that seems the most insane to me. How is it that I do truly believe that joy and peace and love...true found somewhere else than with my Savior? Will a clean kitchen (or whatever that keeps me from the quiet) really bring true joy? Can the toys that are thrown across the room, in a pattern that would make any hurricane envious, really steal my peace?

We all struggle to know what is the source of a full life. And it is only found one place. Gazing at the glory of God, his holiness, his majesty and confessing my weakness and how far I am from that level of perfection. Then realizing that I do need the perfect life of Jesus to stand in my place, accepting that He gave His life for ME, and knowing that His forgiveness and love for me is greater than I could EVER imagine. Why would I want to clean the dishes when I can find true peace, joy, and perfect love at the feet of Jesus?

For more recent pics see

Monday, October 1, 2012

Four weeks in...

La Fuente Clinic

     I've been working two days a week at Clinica La Fuente, a medical ministry to the poor in and around Cusco.  The clinic offers pediatric medicine, women's health, psychology, and dentistry. I work with a wonderful Peruvian Dentist named Saulo.  He had a very successful career as a private practice dentist until God called him to leave his practice to serve Him full-time. We are training Paula to serve as our dental assistant.  She has a great attitude and is a quick learner. The dental clinic has only been open since the first of August, but our books are full.

    My favorite patient so far was an orphan boy name Markos. Markos had severe physical difficulty coming into the clinic and I helped carry him to the chair. Initially we thought he was partially blind and deaf, but we were surprised that he could hear us. He even asked the name of everyone in the clinic. I was able to clean his teeth, and thankfully, he only had one small cavity. Markos kept reaching up and touching my hands in what I felt was an appreciative way.  Every time I asked how he was doing, he would say he was doing okay. Our medical director, Nathan Wilson, dropped by and took the picture below while I was working. He thinks Markos may have some slight form of Cerebral Palsy. I couldn't help but wonder what Markos can understand, and I can't wait for him to return.

New Friends

     We have been invited to join a Thursday night English class. Students from the local medical school come for a snack, to learn English medical terminology, and have opportunities to converse with English speakers. We had a fun time and look forward to getting to know the students better.  I have already seen some of them at La Fuente, and we hope that many will come to work alongside us there.
     Lastly I should mention Tom and Adela.  One Sunday after church we were eating outside at a restaurant when a brief shower drove us to take cover under an awning.  Tom and Adela took cover with us and with the help of Amelia we introduced ourselves. They had recently opened their own restaurant in the downtown area of Cusco.  When I told him I was a dentist, he told me he was looking for a dentist, so I invited him to visit us at La Fuente.  I told him, "We'll come find your restaurant" and he responded, "I'll find you first." Well, a week went by and no Tom.
     The following Friday, Michelle and I went into the center city to eat a nice meal.  Though we tried and tried, we could not find the restaurant we were looking for.  However, I noticed we were very near Tom and Adela's, so we decided to eat there instead. The food was wonderful, and they were glad to see us again. I reminded Tom that I found him first and invited him to the clinic again. Hopefully he will be able to come. 
    Our other days are filled with Spanish lessons, meeting with our teammates, and the mundane activities of daily life.  Life is much slower here, and we set our expectations on getting one task done per day.  Thank you for your prayers and emails.  We miss all our friends and family terribly, but we are glad to be working with such a great team.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's not right or's just different.

Pleasant surprises

We have officially been here a week and a half now! And really we have gotten pretty settled. Of course I (Michelle) have a list going of all we need to do to finish the "settling" process. Even so, the apartment is feeling more like a home now. And we are in a fabulous location! We can walk to two grocery stores in about five minutes! And we can find many things familiar to us from the states (though the US items are not as cheap as in the states!). However, the produce is essentially ALL organic and very flavorful and inexpensive. The produce likely had a one day trip from farm to market! (See pic below of Lee walking to the grocery store "La Canasta")

We also love our view from our apartment, too. (See pics above taken from our living room.) We have enjoyed the weather, too. It is usually about 72 for a high but feels warm in the sun. But then it cools off quickly to the low 40's at night. There is no central heat anywhere, but it does tend to warm up during the day and at night we are not nearly as cold as we expected to be. Of course, when the rainy season comes and it's wet cold, it might be different? But knowing it still close to 100 degrees in Dallas, we are NOT complaining!

And in our nice little neighborhood, there are nice little restaurants that are very good and inexpensive. So its nice to walk to dinner and not pay a fortune. I will try to take more pics of the places we go. Here is us at lunch today with another missionary couple. It was so yummy!

It's not right or wrong, its just different.

This was one thing I remember from a missions training I went through in college. As there are many odd cultural things that can make you crazy (Lee calls it 1000 pinpricks a day), and this little sentence helps you to not become angry at the new culture and to remember that people do things in all different ways, and it's okay and not "wrong." As they taught me, "It's not right or wrong, it's just different."

A new retail experience. There is a store here called Plasticos 2000 which for the most part is a great store! Most of items are plastic (as you might imagine) but tons of other kitchen items, too. I went there last week and again today to outfit the kitchen mostly. But at the end of my shopping, my finger tips were absolutely black with dirt! Lee posited that perhaps they put all the items onto a coal train and imported them directly! So we spent two hours after I returned home washing all our new purchases! Also, while at the store, it was funny because I wanted to buy a whole set of dishes, but they could not find a price on the plates so they would not sell them to me. Really? But I went back today, and they had found a price, so I bought them. Then I came home and washed all the black off of them.

No hot water. The first night we were in our apartment I tried to take a shower. No hot water! And the water was about 40 degrees. I thought for a minute that it might be better to not unpack anymore suitcases because this overseas thing was not going work for me. But then Lee called the missionaries that lived in this apartment before us, and they told us that you first turn on the cold water to a trickle, then turn on the hot water full blast, then the hot water should come on. Otherwise the hot doesn't work. But it still didn't work. But then they told us maybe the waterheater's propane tank was empty. What? So Lee took the propane tank off the stove (yes...the kitchen's gas stove is also powered by a tank that looks like the one on your grill) and took it onto the roof where the hot water heater is and Lee connected it! Hot water...yippee! (However the city does turn off the water from 11 pm to 4 am, so we can't even get a cold shower then, but that's fine. I want to be sleeping then! )

Buying a microwave. At first we had no way to cook working stove (gas can empty and not connected, and we were using it for hot showers) and no microwave. So a family picked us up for dinner and surprised us with a trip the electronics store...which also sells couches, mattresses, and motorcycles, incidentally. We took less than five minutes to choose a model we wanted to buy. That was the easy part. The we had to find a sales person. We did and they took the model number down to check to see if it was in stock. We waited, and waited, and waited. For about 30 minutes. Finally we became a bit more aggressive to find this employee. We laughed cause in the states if you come in to buy something and you say, "I am ready to buy this" the sales staff does not leave your side! Well apparently, they were NOT working on commission. Once we found the sales guy, we still waited longer. Amelia is getting really hungry and not so pleasant at this time.  Finally the dude emerged with a piece of paper. We took the piece of paper to the back of the store and stood in line at the "bank" to buy it. Another 15 minute wait. Then we thought...great we can go now! But no, they had to get the microwave and bring it to the front. And where did our dude go??? Ugh! Thankfully I found some smashed crackers at the bottom of my purse for Amelia. So we meet our microwave at the front of the store, but we can't take it home yet, because yet another dude has to sign it out. Seriously??? We already paid for it! But after another 5 minutes, the guy came and opened the box and pulled out every piece to show us it was indeed all in the box, signed the paper, and we were off!

If it's not right or wrong, but just different, why does it feel SO wrong! ;)

Prayer Requests

1. Pray for our language acquisition! And for new friends to practice our Spanish with.

2. Pray for us to meet those the Lord has for us to meet and minister to.

3. Pray for Lee as he has begun working in the dental clinic.

4. Pray for Amelia as she continues to adjust. She is doing well but sometimes has hard days and is quite obstinate.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And even if He doesn't...

It was midnight, and I was sitting on the edge of the tub under garish light in the bathroom of our room at the Lima airport hotel. We had traveled for over 12 hours, all the while knowing that our bags were not checked through to our final destination, Cuzco.  In Dallas, American Airlines had told us that they could not check them through because of a rule we had no way of knowing; our layover was too long by 1 hour. All attempts to find a solution in Dallas and Miami had failed and every indication pointed to paying out the nose to get our bags to Cuzco.

The previous 72 hours had included waves of nausea and worse afflictions, postponing our flights (with fees incurred), and more stress than we were able to cope with. On top of that, we were travelling with an 18 month old who cannot understand nor communicate her frustration except by screaming. To say the least, our hopes were deflated. I felt like life hung in the balance, and as Michelle and Amelia tried to sleep, I prayed for God to deliver us from yet another trial from which we could not possibly deliver ourselves.

In that moment I remembered three friends from long ago. They had been deported from their homeland by an invading army and separated from their families to be "educated" to serve their new masters. They had to learn a new culture, language, and customs in an environment hostile to all that they knew. I'm sure they wondered, as I did, "Where is our God that will deliver us from this?"
When forced to worship a foreign idol or be thrown into a fiery furnace, they responded, "We serve a God who will deliver us from death, but even if He doesn't, we will not worship these false gods."

I was reminded again that I do not serve God for what He will do for me. My prayers are not tokens dropped into a cosmic vending machine. He has already given me everything I need in sending His son, Jesus. At 1:00 am the TACA desk opened, and I walked over to discover our fate, preparing to rejoice in spite of the outcome, whispering to myself, "and even if He doesn't, He is still good and is worthy of worship."

Fifteen minutes later I left with tears in my eyes. The TACA desk had reassured me that we would not have to pay any further fees, despite the rules. There was no reason for them to allow it, beyond grace. And the three friends? Well, God met them in the fire and preserved them, not a hair was singed. I finally went to sleep resting in His grace and thanking Him for His gifts beyond grace.