Monday, November 6, 2017

Ipiales convention

  • The power of God begins when we believe.
  • Gideon's strength was that God promised to be with him.
  • Don't be afraid to ask God for confirmation.
  • What others say to us can move us, but only what God says to us can keep us.
  • Secret sacrifice is not a waste.
  • We don't want to be carried by the currents of this world, but rather moved by the Spirit of God.
  • It's not just about fighting to get rid of the weeds.  We have to plant something that will produce the desired fruit.
  • God has and can still use political decisions to fulfill His will.
  • In times of darkness, the safest thing to do is stay close to the Shepherd.
  • So much depends on the next step we take after we've been forgiven.
  • Satan, the prince of this world, is the champion of living fro this present time.  Jesus taught us how to live for eternity.
  • God has always wanted a people for Himself.  Leaving the world behind isn't the whole story.  It's so we can enter into a relationship with Him, into His joy.
  • Being in the world but not of the world will allow us to be lights in the world.
  • Deliverance is a miracle.
  • When we're yielded at the altar, we find contentment.
  • Doing what brings God joy gives us strength.  He will give us strength as we seek His righteousness.
  • What we eat becomes part of us and causes us to grow.  
  • A revelation is for those who make themselves small.
  • Someone who invests is willing to let go of what he has in his hand at the present moment in order to receive more after a little time.  A farmer invests his seed to gain a harvest.
  • It's not just what we do that counts; it's the manner in which we do it.
  • We want to learn to die quietly, like lambs, not like pigs, squealing all the way.
  • Paul was sincere in his conscience before God, and he wanted others to develop their own conscience before God as well.
  • It's more difficult to walk when we're focused on the storm.
  • Pharaoh wasn't willing to let go of something that wasn't even his.
  • No outside influence can affect our faith if it is alive.
  • It's easy to find reasons around us for our failure, but if we fail, it is because of what is within.
  • Adversity can help us.
  • How much time do we give to things that are really treasures?
  • We show that we love God by our obedience to Him.
  • Our selfishness hurts others.
  • Living on the border presents great opportunity for evil.
  • How does my testimony affect: my brethren?  the name of God?  those who might be seeking God?
  • Keep aiming higher.  - in our thoughts and desires  - in our reactions  - in what we say to and about each other  - in forgiveness  - in the homelife  - in the workplace
  • Denying ourself is saying no when our flesh wants to say yes.  Bearing our cross is saying yes when our flesh wants to say no.

And the very special news from Sunday is that three people made their choice to serve God known in the last meeting.  Two were from our field and one was from Pasto.  

Más sánduches

Once we got started, there was no more picture taking, at least not on my camera.  However, here's what it looked like before we began.  We made 200 sandwiches on Saturday morning, and the Sunday morning crew put together 430.  


Valentina de la Fuente and I spent Friday and Saturday nights with E, E & E.  There were SO many excellent photo opportunities, but this is all I have to show for it because we were too busy playing!

Life's evening sun

This past Wednesday evening, my attention was captured by the sun setting over the mountains "behind" Ipiales.  I stood at the window for a while upstairs at Sra. Jaidy's and admired God's handiwork displayed in the heavens.  Maybe it wasn't just happenstance?  I later discovered that three men in three different decades of life from "back home" had passed away that very day.  And I think again of the supreme beauty of the final fruits produced in a yielded life.  

I'm not quite sure I follow it all entirely.

The power of life

We've heard it mentioned before, and several times recently, that with life, comes power.  Last week, we were waiting for a lady to arrive home from work so that we could study with her.  She's had a hard life and still lives in difficult circumstance.  However, it's been beautiful this year to see her wanting to learn more about God and His way.  She could blame her situation - other people, lack of natural wherewithal, past experiences, lack of formal education, etc. - for many things, but the desire that she has expressed to us is, "I want to change."  

So, while we were waiting there outside the house, I saw these little flower-things growing out of the rock wall by where I was standing.  And it made me think of Nelly.  And so many others.  We can't change the rocks.  We can just send our roots down farther and grow.  And if we're really alive, we'll be able to prosper right where we are.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Picture from Pasto

A few thoughts from Pasto

  • God wants to give us His Spirit so that we can communicate with Him.
  • It's our secret service that the Father sees.
  • When you go to pray, if you have to spend time getting the door shut, do it!
  • The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is the result of spending time in the quiet, secret place.
  • When we consider God's character, we're moved to worship.
  • True, pure, divine love comes from God.  Jesus was a channel for God's love.
  • The character of God was manifested perfectly in the Son.  God wants His nature to be manifested in His family.
  • The delight of God is to make us new.
  • All the goodness that Jesus expressed was because the Father was in Him.
  • The devil learned the weakness of man in the Garden of Eden.  He learned the power of submitted man in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • "I pray that God would save me from evil when it's still in the seed form."  Jesus was tempted, but it never took root.
  • Words have power - to hurt or to heal, to offend or to pardon.  We don't want to let any words - offensive words or words of praise - corrupt our heart.
  • We may get weary in our body, but we want to be indefatigable in our spirit.
  • Abraham chose peace with his brother.
  • We want to choose what will bring us closer to God.
  • Faith produces peace.  Faith brings us into fellowship with God.  Faith makes us inheritors of righteousness.
The testimony that stayed with me:
I obeyed the world for 19 years, and all I ever knew was bondage.  I've been obeying the voice of God for just a couple of years now, and all I've known is liberty.

The littlest sandwich maker

We made some 200 sandwiches on Saturday afternoon for our Pasto meetings yesterday.  This sweet little squirt and her big sister were very keen to help.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

And now it's convention time

This doesn't usually happen, but we have received the speaking list for our entire convention rounds already.  I'll go ahead and share it here so that you can be thinking of us in these coming weeks.  (Names in parentheses are translators.)

Montalvo, Ecuador
October 29

2:00 - Kevin Cowan (Jill), Richard Harbur, Jill Yule, Ingrid Mendoza

Pasto, Colombia
October 29

9:30 - Barry Barkley (Munro), Marta Silva, Valentina de la Fuente, Rita Shultz
12:30 - Brett Hammett, April Pierce, Kamela LiaBraaten, Karen Cleveland
2:30 - Munro MacAngus, Ricardo Agapito, Ookyoung Jung, Ysa Rodríguez

Ipiales, Colombia
November 4-5

2:00-3:30 - Kevin Cowan (Valentina), Karen Cleveland, Damaris Baez
4:00-6:00 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), April Pierce, Ookyoung Jung
7:00-8:00 - Munro MacAngus, Ricardo Agapito, Rita Shultz

10:00-12:00 - Barry Barkley (Kamela), Richard Harbur, Ysa Rodríguez
1:00-3:00 - Kevin Cowan (Karen), LeRoy, Marta Silva, Valentina de la Fuente

Las Mercedes, Ecuador
November 10-12

5:00-6:00 - Robbin Petersen, Alberto Basurto, Dani Robert
7:15-8:30 - LeRoy Lerwick, Kamela LiaBraaten

10:00-12:00 - Barry Barkley (Kamela), Marta Silva, Ookyoung Jung
2:00-3:30 - Kevin Cowan (Brett), April Pierce, Luz González
4:50-5:30 - Richard Harbur, Henry Arias, Damaris Báez

9:30-11:30 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), Marta Silva, Ingrid Mendoza
1:00-3:00 - Kevin Cowan (Richard), Marsha Kiser, Karen Morton, Linda Ogden

El Cristal, Ecuador
November 17-19
*Workers' meeting - November 18

7:30-8:30 - Richard Harbur, Henry Arias, Dani Robert

10:00-12:00 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), April Pierce, Marsha Kiser, Luz González
2:00-3:30 - Kevin Cowan (LeRoy), Marta Silva, Karen Morton
4:30-5:30 - Brett Hammett, Jill Yule, Alberto Basurto

9:30-11:30 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), April Pierce, Kamela LiaBraaten
1:00-3:00 - Kevin Cowan (Richard), LeRoy Lerwick, Robbin Petersen, Marta Silva

Quito, Ecuador
November 24-26

7:00-8:15 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), April Pierce

10:00-12:00 - Barry Barkley (Kamela), Richard Harbur, Damaris Báez
2:00-3:30 - LeRoy Lerwick, Karen Morton
4:30-5:30 - Henry Arias, Linda Ogden, Ingrid Mendoza

9:30-11:30 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), April Pierce, Ookyoung Jung
1:00-3:00 - Richard Harbur, Kamela LiaBraaten, Luz González

Quevedo, Ecuador
November 26

10:00-12:00 - Kevin Cowan (Brett), Marta Silva, Robbin Petersen, Dani Robert
1:00-3:00 - Brett Hammett, Marsha Kiser, Jill Yule, Alberto Basurto

Tarapoa, Ecuador
November 29

1:00-2:30 - Kevin Cowan (Jill), Jill Yule, Alberto Basurto
3:00-4:00 - Henry Arias, Marsha Kiser

Lago Agrio, Ecuador
December 2-3

2:00-3:30 - Kevin Cowan (Jill), Marta Silva, Alberto Basurto
4:00-5:00 - Henry Arias, Marsha Kiser

10:00-12:00 - Kevin Cowan (Marsha), Marta Silva, Ingrid Mendoza
1:00-3:00 - Henry Arias, Marsha Kiser, Jill Yule, Alberto Basurto

Ambato, Ecuador
December 2-3

2:00-3:30 - LeRoy Lerwick, April Pierce, Linda Ogden
4:00-5:00 - Barry Barkley (LeRoy), Kamela LiaBraaten

10:00-12:00 - Barry Barkley (Kamela), April Pierce, Luz González
1:00-3:00 - Robbin Petersen, Kamela LiaBraaten, Linda Ogden

Cuenca, Ecuador
December 3

10:00-12:00 - Richard Harbur, Ookyoung Jung, Damaris Báez
1:00-3:00 - Brett Hammett, Karen Morton, Dani Robert

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Monday's hail storm

Meat cutting

My original hope had been to spend the rest of the day Friday after Kim left doing NOTHING.  However, I was reminded that meat discount day at the supermarket close to the McLeans' is Friday.  Since I'm on the menu and shopping and kitchen detail at Quito convention, I figured maybe I'd better be on the job and get the meat taken care of.  It's good to buy it ahead of time and get it cut up and frozen before the week of the meetings if there's any opportunity for such at all.  The week of meetings can get hectic with the visiting schedule and traveling all around the city and such.  So, I recruited a little help and decided that Friday would be meat shopping and cutting day.  Fortunately, we're only dealing with 14 kilos of meat, and I had two willing helpers, so the whole process only took a little over two hours I guess it was.  And now it's done.  And I'll be very glad of that fact when the week of Quito meetings comes around.

The day Kim left

It's probably a good thing that Kim's flight on Friday was an early morning affair.  It gave us very little time to think about what was actually happening.  We left Warren and Karen's a little before 4:00 in the morning and arrived at the airport in very good time.  I wasn't allowed to accompany Kim to the check-in counters, but she would be able to come rejoin me after she had finished there.  The line wasn't long, but when it was her turn, she stood at the counter for a LONG time.  Then, she stepped away from the counter and continued to wait.  What was going on?!  Finally, she came back out to where I was and told me the story.

On her way to Ecuador, she had been routed through Miami.  However, due to the impending wrath of hurricane Irma, she decided to change her flight to layover in Dallas instead.  Apparently, when that change was made, her return flight was "cancelled."  When she had gone online to check in to her flight the night before, everything showed up normally, but she wasn't allowed to actually check in.  We thought that was strange but didn't give it too much consideration.  This was the reason!  However, they were able to rebook her with no penalty, and she ended up in the same seats that she had originally been given and everything.  No real problem, just a little more time and nerves invested in the process!

We had just enough time for a cup of coffee/tea before she needed to go through security, so we found a little café and placed our order.  This, by the way, is what you get for $3.15 at said café.

Seems they could compete with airport prices in the US very well!  

Then the time had come, and with a big fat hug and a few final parting words, she entered the space that was prohibited to me and was off.  

As soon as she was out of sight, I turned and headed to where the taxis were waiting to take passengers back into Quito, wondering if Kim's time here had been real or just an amazing dream.  But I have the pictures to prove that it really happened.  

Green tea ice cream

The other day when we had lunched at Sushi Nori, Kim had noticed that they had green tea ice cream on their menu.  By the time we had finished our meal on that day, however, we had neither the time nor the inclination to try it.  We decided to go back on Thursday for an afternoon dessert treat.  We found the flavor to be good enough, but the texture was quite strange.  Our conclusion was that, while the experience was definitely not a total loss, we wouldn't be recognizing Sushi Nori's green tea ice cream to any of our friends.

Mystery solved...We think...We hope

Warning: Exceedingly unflattering pictures to follow.

Here's the story, or at least the summary.  Back on Sunday, October 1, I had noticed a red, itchy area on my leg.  I thought something must have bitten me and tried to pay as little attention to it as possible.  We continued with our schedule as normal, and that evening the man of the home asked if something had bitten me.  I knew he couldn't see the spot on my leg, so I asked what he meant.  I had spots on my neck and one between the bridge of my nose and my right eye.  Hmmm.  They offered me a cream to rub on the spots, but I decided to wait until the following morning since I didn't know what it was.  

On Monday when I got up, a couple of my "head spots" were gone, but I had others, and the large place on my leg was still there.  Over the course of the day, I developed more red splotches.  Some of them itched; some of them hurt.  Some of them stayed flat; some of them were raised.  Maybe I was allergic to something?  After leaving our lunch visit, we swung by Jorge and Ligia's to pick up some Benadryl that I had stored there for "just in case."  

Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I steadily became more splotchy, and some of my less-ideally placed spots became grossly enlarged and painful.  The Benadryl had seemingly had no effect at all.  Or maybe it had, and I would have been even worse if I hadn't taken it?  

Before we went to bed, Kim and I talked about going to the hospital.  The splotches I had were definitely hives. I was growing more uncomfortable, and my tongue felt like it was starting to swell a bit.  I decided to wait and see how I was feeling tomorrow.  I'm not big on doctors and hospitals and such things.  :-)  

Things changed around 11:30 pm.  I could tell that my tongue was continuing to swell, and my throat was horribly sore.  I laid there contemplating the options.  I mean, I could still breathe, so it wasn't really an emergency yet, right?  However, I also knew that I wouldn't sleep a wink under the current circumstances, so at last I made the decision to wake up my poor co-worker and head to the emergency room.  Said place was a destination at which I had hoped to never arrive, but it looked like the time had come!  

When Kim and I were ready to leave the house, we woke up the lady of the home to tell her what was up and headed out to find a taxi.  The place where we were staying had no car, and no taxi service that our hostess had called answered their telephone, so going out to locate one seemed to be our only option.  I wasn't exceedingly happy about it since it isn't the best part of town, but I figured that under the circumstances, the Lord was likely to look out for us.  And indeed, we hadn't walked too awfully far when a taxi came down the road, deposited its occupants a couple of buildings from where Kim and I were standing and came back to take us to the hospital.

I ended up being surprisingly impressed with the emergency room.  I'd like to think I wouldn't have had to wait in the paperwork lines had I actually not been able to breathe, but as it was, I had sufficient air to answer all of their questions and present all the necessary documents.  After those two lines, I waited a rather minimal amount of time in the waiting room before being called back to get my vitals taken, etc.  After that, it was another wait before being called back "for real."  It seemed quite evident that I was having an allergic reaction, so they hooked me up to appropriate IVs, gave me some sort of a shot and sent me home with a prescription.  

One of our friends had showed up in the middle of this whole process, so he waited with us until we were finished and took us back to our place of stay for what was left of the night.  By the time I left the hospital, my tongue was back to normal, and my face seemed a bit less swollen in general.  I decided that as long as I could breathe, a rather favorite activity of mine, I could handle the rest of it okay.

We did decide to take a few pictures once we got back home, in case I needed to present my face case to a medical professional at home at some point in the game.  

I'm definitely not cute, but I sure do look a lot better than I had a couple of hours previously!

Elbow spots

Interesting side note:  This is the number of steps on Kim's pedometer when we arrived back home from the hospital.  

We found a sign of Patients' Rights in the lobby of the ER.  The last item on the list didn't exactly comfort my heart.
12. Right to a dignified death
Okay, then!  

On Tuesday morning, I was much better, but other parts of me were beginning to swell, the most noticeable of which was my bottom lip.  New red spots were appearing as well.  Not exactly what I was hoping for!

We decided to go ahead with our lunch plans.  My appearance wouldn't scare anybody overmuch, would it?  We took the afternoon easy and then went to our evening study in Tulcán.  We spent the night with Eduardo and Adriana again.

We had a Wednesday morning Bible study scheduled as well as a visit with Sra. Clara Luz, but I ended up cancelling everything.  I just didn't feel good!  We went to Jorge and Ligia's, repacked our bags and headed to Sra. Alicia's early.  I had told her earlier that we wouldn't be coming until afternoon, but I didn't figure she would mind.  Indeed, she wasn't even home when we arrived.  We let ourselves in, and I went to bed.  When I came out of my bedroom a little before noon, Sra. Alicia, who had arrived sometime in the interim, took one look and asked what was wrong with me.  Apparently, I was worse again; I hadn't looked in a mirror.  She wanted to take me to a homeopathic doctor just down the street that she had heard good things about, so I conceded.  

After he did all his testing, he declared that I was allergic to the B Complex vitamins that I had begun taking a month or two previously.  He gave me another shot and two unlabeled brown bottles to take a capful at a time until they were gone.  Though I still felt crummy, I was delighted to think that those B vitamins were the cause of my problem.  I'd just throw those things away and be in the clear from here on out!  

However, as the afternoon and evening progressed, I started really swelling up - all parts of my face and again, my tongue.  I didn't even have what it took to attend the midweek Bible study that was taking place just out in the living room.  And when Sra. Alicia came in to see me after the meeting was over, she firmly suggested that she and John could take us to Quito in the morning to see a doctor there.  While I had found the emergency room in facilities in Ipiales adequate for my needs, the town doesn't have the best reputation where medicine is concerned.  She contacted LeRoy.  I agreed to go.  And it was settled.  We would leave at 4:00 on Thursday morning.  They needed to go to the border to get the paperwork required for taking their vehicle (and their persons) all the way to Quito, and poor Kim had to go along and get her passport stamped as well.  They left the house around 10:30 pm and returned an hour or so later.  It would be a short night!  

It's hard to smile when your lips are four times their normal size!

We got away a little after 4:00 the next morning and headed south.  Before we had even gotten beyond Tulcán, John had to stop and change a tire.  Fortunately, we sailed through all the police checks with no problem.  (It doesn't take as long in a privately-owned vehicle as it does on the bus.)  We stopped for breakfast partway to our destination, and they brought my food to the car.  I was actually getting better as we traveled.  Something about laying down seemed to exacerbate the swelling of my face.  

It was funny how the swelling seemed to move around - first my nose, then one eye and then the other, my bottom lip and then the upper.  

We met up with Alberto and Vaughn at the bus terminal on the edge of Quito so that Alberto could direct us in to the hospital.  By the time we got to the hospital, I was really quite a lot better.  I probably looked more or less like the picture above shows.  

I didn't have to wait AT ALL in the general waiting area of the ER at the VozAndes hospital.  I was taken back immediately to give history, explain my current problem and have my vitals taken.  After that, there was a little wait to see the doctor but nothing extreme.  I was diagnosed with an unspecified allergy, given more IVs and received a prescription for more steroids to take orally over the next five days.  

This time by the time I left the hospital, I basically looked normal.  That was, of course, a good thing.  However, LeRoy had made arrangements to fly from his field to Quito.  I don't know if Sra. Alicia had painted such a dire picture that he thought he might need to come and have my funeral?  By the time he saw me, he probably wondered what in the world all the fuss had been about!  From the hospital, we went to David Lansdale's house, where several workers ended up congregating before the evening was over.  Kim and I left after supper and spent the night in the suite at Warren and Karen's before making the trip back to Ipiales the following day.  

Warren had told me about an allergy doctor close to where they live that apparently has a very good reputation.  I decided that it would probably be a good idea to pay her a visit when I was back in Quito in a little over a week.  So, with that as the plan, I put up with the continued symptoms - lesser but still annoying - over the next several days.  Fortunately, my tongue stayed its normal size.  

Once we got back to Ecuador on Monday, Oct. 16, I scheduled an appointment for Wednesday.  After putting me through the testing process (see below), it was determined that I am allergic to ibuprofen and naproxen and all medications included within those two families.  Not quite as convenient as being allergic to B vitamins but better than having a serious allergy to some food ingredient that could get slipped into my soup without my knowledge.  

Forty-nine scratches topped with liquid

DON'T take these!  EVER!!!

And so, we think, we hope, that the mystery is solved.  

October 18

Kim and I basically took it easy on Wednesday.  We visited the artisan market in the morning, enjoyed coffee at a Danish bakery, had Fortunato's pizza for lunch, went to an appointment in the afternoon and turned in early that night.

The rest of Tuesday

Kim finally got a picture of someone wearing a surgical mask.  It's quite a common sight but not an easy thing to capture on camera.

We passed the Abraham Lincoln plaza on our way to lunch.

At the "top" of Roco Pichincha, we had settled on a lunch place, agreeing to meet there at 1:00.  Kim and I made it just on time, and Jill and Ingrid arrived some 15 minutes later.  They had been running errands.  Vaughn and Alberto had ruled out making it on time, but when they found out we were getting a late start, they decided to come on.  Turns out, Sushi Nori's food is quite tasty, but their service could use a little help.  We were there for at least two hours!  It was nice to be together, anyway.

It being Vaughn's last day in Ecuador, he had several culinary things he wanted to experience one last time.  Jill and Ingrid had an afternoon visit, but Kim and I were able to tag along with the brothers to "the best coffee shop in Quito."  I'm not a coffee connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but any beverage that comes out looking like this must be good, right?!

After our coffee, we bid Vaughn and Alberto farewell and headed off to Kim's chiro appointment.  All the best back in the States, Vaughn!  We'll miss you here.

Rebekah M met us for supper at Crepes and Waffles.  Our intention had been to go for ice cream, but the ladies ended up ordering crepes, and then Rebekah and I did have ice cream afterwards.  A perfect ending to a lovely day!