Notes from a Medical Missionary

Guatamala

Narrative by Jodi Boyd, RN. (A single Christian lady and a great friend)

I have traveled to Guatemala 4 times with Health Talents International. You can go online to their site, see trip calendar for up coming trips/opportunities, they have trip reports you can read from previous trips, blogs from three Americans who work there permanently. Reading those is a good way to learn about HIT. I went in April for a month. The first week was gyn, urology, general surgery week. If I remember correctly, we did about 80 surgeries/ procedures for the week. I believe we had about 40 people who came from all over the USA, as far west as California, far east as Vermont, as far north as North Dakota (on Canadian border) and as far south as Texas; to work together caring for the patients and their families. We arrive on Saturday, unpack/count supplies after settling in our rooms. End each day and begin each day with devo. Sunday worship across the street. Return to compound for lunch, followed by meeting with Guatemalan medical director, then begin surgeries. Usually last surgeries are around 6 pm. From Mon-Thursday surgeries begin after breakfast till evening. Friday is down day spent in Antigua where you can enjoy the history of the town, market, go zip lining, get massage, enjoy food etc. Saturday fly back home. But this time I on Saturday I headed up to the highlands. Sunday worship in the morning, lunch and then I met my ABC child, her mom and aunt for a very nice visit. I also wad able to meet the ABC child of an elderly lady who lives in Austin. She , her husband, son and his family were missionaries in, Guatemala 40 years ago. Monday I went to Guatemalan wedding. Tuesday and Wednesday did mobile clinics. The mobile clinics are done weekly. This is how patients are seen, followed for chronic, acute issues and those needing surgery. I spent couple days back in Antigua then couple days touring Tikal, Mayan ruins. Headed back to Clinic Ezell to work with Guatemalan staff to prepare clinic for another week of surgeries the end of April. That week we mostly had General surgeries. Only about 55-60 for the week as it was first time for couple of the surgeons and other staff. Returned home first week of May.

 —Opportunities await those who seek to plug in and make a difference. LAUNCH Christian Singles recognizes that a Christian can serve locally in their community by conducting Bible study, leading a support group, serving the homeless, widows, orphans or the needy and a plethora of choices. The believer can also choose to serve abroad by working in a healing capacity through medical missions, serving and teaching at Christian camp or excavating a religious site. Short term mission work can be very encouraging and satisfying for the traveler but also for the local church that is being served. The world starts when you step our your front door.

 

Response to the Heartbreak of more Terrorism

     My heart froze in my chest when I saw Pray for France pop up on my Facebook. Not again! Thoughts went through my head. As a Christian just returning from the bliss of a mission trip, it is painful to cope with community and national issues here in the states. And more terrorism.
     I questioned security. Paris was diligently patrolled last month when we were there. The European Cup (Soccer) was in swing and France did not want terroristic activity. Bags were searched going in every store and restaurant and streets were patrolled by armed police offers and the military. Yet, weeks later in Nice, lives were taken by a murderous driver of a truck. You can’t prepare for everything. Of course, the Bible reminds us that a righteous and innocent Able was dispatched with a stone. A compassionate and trusting Tamar was abused by her brother while serving him when he was infirmed. And a young Stephen, known for serving hungry widows, was stoned to death. Life is not fair and never has been.
     We have new friends in France, the minister and his wife, Roland and Anna. We met many sweet brothers and sisters and would be sickened to know that any were harmed. I read the victim list on the news feed and am saddened for a father and his son from Texas, a security officer from Switzerland and a student from Russia. Relationships are the most valuable treasure we have and violence threatens.
     When will it end? I study my bible. I know the answer. It doesn’t end until …the end. Revelation 22:14 tells of “when” the believers will wash their robes and enter the gates.
     Until then I dwell in the words of Jesus. Matthew 6: 34 tells me “do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow
has trouble of it’s own” and Jesus assured us that “I am with you always” in Matthew 28:20. For now, there are sick people to minister to, homeless and broken hearted to serve and other believers to encourage. God is good!2

Ruta Christian Camp, Lithuania

The Vinius (Lithuania) Church of Christ now owns their first building. After years of renting, the congregation now has a central location to call home. Renovation of a two story grocery store is under way and they will have an auditorium, office, fellowship room with a kitchen and much needed storage. The church building is surrounded by high rise multifamily housing and near shopping and major transportation so it is easy to find and convenient for members and visitors alike. Attendance is increasing with as many as 40 Christians attending. Juozas Puodziukaitis is the full time minister and Rimas Rusakevicius is the part time youth minister and the director of Ruta Christian Camp. A Friday evening youth devotional is a regular activity. In addition, the local church meets often in one another’s homes and socially.

Ruta Christian Camp started in 1998 with a one week residential camp. It has grown to three week long camps divided into small children, teenagers and a family camp. Campers enjoy Bible class, singing songs, hiking, swimming, arts and crafts and other group activities. The goal of the children’s camp is to plant seeds and teach children that Jesus loves them.

Two groups of American Christians traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania for orientation and team building. The Ruta Christian Camp is sponsored by the Gateway Church of Christ from Pensacola, FL and this group of seven was joined by the nine person team from the Midway Church of Christ from Hitchcock, Texas. After a few days of bonding with team members and the Lithuanian church staff and members it was time to meet campers.

The Monday that camp began started with the camp team meeting the campers (children 6-12) in a parking lot of a shopping center and taking a bus to the Lithuanian countryside. Camp Ruta is located in a beautiful lake area about one hour north of Vilnius and the nearest town is historic Molotai. After registration was completed all settled in for an exciting week of Bible study, singing, games, arts and crafts and building relationships.

Russell McLaughlin is the senior minister of the Midway congregation. He returned to Camp Ruta for the first time since 2002. He attended Ruta Christian Camp three times from 2000-2002 and has also traveled to Lithuania for gospel meetings and seminars, including September 2015 when he preached three nights, led a youth retreat and a marriage seminar. When asked about the opportunity to serve in Lithuania, he said, “ you keep coming back, enhancing relationships and supporting the church”.

Fellow Texan Juston Cooper condensed the camp experience to one word, “Wonderful!”

Camper Kernas Laurynas said camp is “awesome” . He enjoyed learning songs and stories about Jesus and meeting new friends.

Julija Bezverchova loves Ruta Christian Camp. “This is the fourth year. I like singing and learning the Bible.”

If I had to describe my first experience volunteering at Camp Ruta I would include all the following: potato pancakes, cold, pink beet soup (better than expected), smores, many hugs but NO elbows allowed on the table, chapel with singing in two languages, learning new songs like the one with the watermelon, the sun never goes down…………., vocational missionaries including a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter, Texicans and Floridians, High School and college students to 84 year old zip liners, big and strong men with soft hearts, a doctor and CEO, BBQ chef and plumber, the karate master……kids! Kids whose parents grew up forbidden by the government of the USSR to have religion yet who are hungry for the word. Kids who tolerate Americans who speak English. Kids who love one another in a way that only the adults could imagine. Kids who see Jesus in others….

The kids loved the week at camp as did the counselors and leaders. When the week was over, hugs were shared and tears shed but all know that through Jesus we have “forever family”.DSCF2112

84 year old missionary Bud Meyer sets record as oldest man to zip line in Lithuania!

Two years ago missionary (elder, teacher and minister) Bud (Charles) Myers made history when he was the oldest person ever to zip line in Lithuania! I asked him what were his thoughts before he zip lined for the first time. “I had a lot of faith”, he said. “Faith in the harness and the cable! Most of all that God had not ever put me in a position that he couldn’t handle”. So away he went! Was there! Done that! Got the T- shirt!

This summer Bud was back for Camp Ruta Christian Camp and the zip line at Labas Park in Vilnius awaited! So, at age 84, he again set the record for the oldest person to zip line ever. This year he received a coffee cup. Asked if this was it, he replied, “Not a chance!” In a group of missionaries from age 8 – 84, we have to admit that “Dr. Bud” takes the cake.

Bud Myers was one of the original missionaries and founders of Ruta Christian Camp in Lithuania! Week one of Camp Ruta began June 27 with the smaller children (ages 6- 12) and will be followed by a teen camp and family camp.

Visit with the Paris Assembly- Église du Christ

Visit with the Paris Assembly- Église du Christ

What a beautiful church assembly! Meeting and greeting one another enthusiastically in the simple and small auditorium of what originally was a farm house built in 1750. Africans and Haitians, Chinese and Californians, Of course, the French and an Englishman (22 nations represented in all)….and two tourist families from the USA: one from a non- institutional church and the other from a progressive group…..beautiful fellowship in French and wonderful hospitality from the minister Roland and his wife Anna Rose…..what an experience!!!

If asked to describe the services, I would say, thorough. After all, they were speaking and singing French! But the preaching was enthusiastic. The singing was melodic and the prayers were enthusiastic. And friendly locals helped us find the right song numbers, encouraged us after with hugs and enthusiastic conversation and when it was all over we were wanting to spend more time with them all. We also learned that many the youth were at another congregation for a singing to encourage.

When Jessica and I committed to a stopover on our way to our mission trip to Lithuania I become Facebook friends with Anna Rose, the Paris congregation’s wife. Her husband Roland called me from Paris at my home in Lillian, AL to get to know me and he assisted with our reservations at a Hotel near the church building, He also agreed to meet us at the airport and did indeed deliver us to the hotel, a wonderful blessing as we arrived very late. Christian hospitality amplified!

So, a little about Paris! We spend four days as tourists in Paris. We bought a Paris Pass, a card that allowed us to hop on and off the tour bus as we made brief visits to the Louvre (saw Mona Lisa, she sends her best!), the Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle Cathedrals, a morning boat excursion up the Seine, and multiple photo ops along the way. Food is good and the brasseries are inexpensive and delicious (or you can spend a lot for a formal meal in a restaurant) .  The people are friendly (contrary to what you have you have heard) and service is adequate. Take the women in your life to Paris. It is a wonderful experience!

 

Preparing for a Mission Trip!

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The first part of a mission trip is the preparation. Questions are asked. Can I get time off work? How will I pay for this? Who is going with me? Why are we going? Is this a justifiable effort? What do I need to know?

I have always wanted to go “overseas” on a mission trip. As many of you know, “our” mission has been the LAUNCH Christian Singles. We have attended and been involved at the Spiritual Growth Workshop in Orlando since 2000. Anthony Fischetto and I taught 4 years at the Pepperdine Bible Lectureships in Malibu, CA . Singles retreats and conferences from Florida to Pennsylvania to Tennessee to California took most of our spare time and money and while we supported the mission work abroad with prayer and a little money, I had stayed in the good ole U. S. A.

I was asked to go to Lithuania several years ago and couldn’t but this past August when asked I said “yes”. Part of the decision making was related to a good job with liberal paid time off. In other words, I will be paid while out of the country so the bills don’t add up. Another part is having a supportive wife who said “ok”. And a teenage daughter to share the adventure with. T0 top it all off with an obvious need in Lithuania and an opportunity to make a difference.

Research has been important. I have enjoyed learning of Vilnius and the surrounding countryside. I see a beautiful lake and cabins in the woods. I learned of the hope of being free to worship but also learned of the frustration of many. Lithuania has a very high suicide rate. Many have not prospered with liberty. But with the struggles also comes new beginnings. Knowing that we are to teach children of the first generation in a post USSR country is intriguing. We literally are working with blank pages. No debates over old songs or new songs, hand clapping or music, preacher school vs. university….We get to teach Jesus!

Fundraising has been difficult. I have not asked for support in Singles Ministry and have been content to write off any losses with my income tax. Our home congregation has new ministers and took on a mission trip to Africa, sponsored by the youth group. We were asked to raise most of our money from outside sources. So I had to ask friends and family. Some have been very generous. We are thankful. Several are involved in their own missions and again we are thankful and pray for their success. Some cannot financially support us but have been encouragers and have prayed for our effort. We thank them. Unfortunately, some friends and family have either ignored us or stepped an extra step away from our effort. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. And a few have been deliberately hurtful. The summary of the fundraising effort is that we have raised “just enough” to pay for plane tickets and whatever is necessary. We are blessed! God is good!

Whatever your stance is on foreign missions, rest assured that Jessica (my fifteen year old) and I will be good, hard workers and are honored to share the love of Jesus with the kids at Ruta Christian Camp. We will enjoy the adventure of travel, of making new friends and sharing this adventure with church family. We will use what we learn and be better servants when we return to our home. And we will be thankful!

The Pain of Loving Someone Who Is Toxic for You

The Pain of Loving Someone Who Is Toxic for You Image

BY: Anna Bashedly

Anna is a professional napper living in NYC MORE

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We’ve all been there – in that intoxicatingly toxic relationship. You probably remember exactly the day you first saw them, what they were wearing, what you were wearing: every detail down to a T.

The attraction is palpable; it’s magnetic. The world stands still when you’re around them, and your whole being becomes alive. You light up and fall so credulously into that person, crashing into them – your whole world suddenly ringing light.

But not too long into the magic, things start to turn. The fireworks combust, leaving you burned and confused.

How can a person that you love so much encompass both good and evil, beautiful and ugly? They’re the one person who makes you feel flawlessly whole, they give you a level of happiness that you didn’t even think existed. Because of this, your mood becomes entirely dependent on them; you feel trapped, completely naked. You hate yourself for feeling like you can’t live without this person, but you just can’t help it.

When things are good, they are beautiful: the closest thing to perfection that exists in the world. But when they are bad, it’s the most horrid thing you’ve ever come face-to-face with, leaving you confused and angry; it sucks the life out of you.

Everyone tells you to leave them – you agree. You know that this kind of roller coaster is not good for you. Rationality is always there; you know perfectly well why this person is bad for you, and for a while you do stay away. You try to fight the magnetic pull that is present at the very core of you. You put up a good fight. But your heart aches, and your body is in physical pain. You’re in horrid withdrawal. You try to fight it, but you just can’t. It’s a pull that can only be understood by those who have experienced it.

You come to a point where you don’t care about the consequences; you just know that you need to be next to this person.

So, you go back. The first time you go back is exhilarating; the pain and anger you felt when you were apart acts like an aphrodisiac, fueling your passion even more. You know too well that this happiness won’t last long – but you don’t care.

Every time you go back to your toxic love, you hope for the best. You think to yourself – this time it will be different. I won’t get hurt again. It’s impossible. And for a little while, it is bliss – the best thing in the world.

Until things turn again, and you’re in a twisted cycle of up and down; bliss and agony. Why do you stay? Because deep down, you still believe things can change. You’re smart, so you think that you can work it out; you will apply the same kind of logic that you do in all areas of your life. You want it so badly that you think there is a logical solution to working out your differences.

But somewhere at the very core of your soul, you know that with a toxic person, logic dissipates into thin air. Eventually, your hopefulness subsides and you realize that there will be an end, but it takes time to get there.

One day, you reach your breaking point. No matter how much you love them, you can’t forgive the other person anymore. You know that this toxic love doesn’t have a happy ending, and you’re slowly accepting that this was another kind of love: a much darker and sadder kind of love.

As much as you want to believe that this person will change for you, realistically, they never will.

It’s important that you recognize and accept that no matter how happy a person can make you, if they also bring out the worst in you, they are the wrong person for you.

When someone is toxic, and brings you down to your lowest low, they will hurt you again.

You’re not weak for slipping into familiar patterns, you’re human. But ultimately, your happiness is in your hands. You deserve a love that exists on one entity of happiness, not on both misery and ecstasy. 

And you should never settle for less than you deserve.

**Thanks to Bri for sharing……Jim**