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.

Health Care Professionals are needed as volunteers but also family members and other support ministry members are needed. Opportunities abound! Expand your horizons as you expand your service to God and to others.

 —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.

 

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A Stopover in France, on the way to eternity………….

     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