All things work together for good… even infections

They are common, I am told, and easily treated. Never having had one until now, I’ve found them UN-common, and as treatable as a Kool-aid stain on carpet. Regardless, God promises to work all things together for good, including a urinary tract infection.

It struck about 2 months ago with a vengeance. “Take this medication, and you’ll be all better.” I believed the doctor and did my duty, but relief did not come the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Oh yeah. I’ve tried 6 medications and liters of cranberry juice. This little infection is a doozy.

In the meantime, I’ve been learning about our town’s health center. If you need an appointment you can get one, as long as you book it 3 months in advance. If you are one of those normal people who cannot predict her illnesses 90 days before they occur, you get worked in. Here is how.

I show up at the health center at 8:50 AM. At 9:00, the doors open, and the 40-50 people in line all take a number. The receptionist listens to our pathetic tales. If we are not pathetic enough, she tells us to come back another day. If we are sufficiently miserable to warrant medical attention that day, she takes our information, then tells us to sit and “wait just a minute”. Bless her heart. The big hand is for minutes, and the little hand is for hours. Those two things that go by while I’m sitting in the waiting room aren’t minutes. Then again, she’s not the one with the infection.

Around 10:00, the doctors show up. We sit.  Some fidget, one wiggles his foot, another rubs her thumb and forefinger. Nobody makes eye contact for long. At regular intervals, the intercom crackles out a name. We are waiting . . . waiting . . . there it is! Like a contestant on “The Price is Right”, the lucky patient gets up and makes his way on down to the exam room. Around 11:15, I win my chance to see my doctor, and my prize is 2 new prescriptions, which, at that point, is better than anything Bob Barker ever gave away.

On my way to the car, someone calls my name. It’s a young woman who comes sporadically to our Bible study. She has a headache so bad that she skipped work, then walked halfway across town to the health center, only to be told they couldn’t work her in. I offer her a ride to the hospital or wherever she needs to go. She accepts, and, on the way, we talk. I’ve tried to help her grow spiritually. God hasn’t been on the top of her priority list. For now, I’m thankful for a chance to show her God’s love and strengthen my relationship with her. Despite her pain, she says she wants to come to our Bible study again, and tonight I will visit her in the hospital. If God hadn’t kept me at the health center for 2 ½ hours that day, I would have missed a chance to reach out to her.

A month earlier, I had been waiting at the health clinic (again), marinating behind a thick book as the hours dragged along. Another patient simmered nearby. Suddenly, he boiled over. Puffing and pacing, he complained to anyone who would listen. The security guard and I looked up, caught each other’s glances, then stifled our chuckles. This guy was losing it. He lumbered up to a wall, gave a wind-up, and slapped it. As the guard calmed him, I giggled behind my book. I could hardly blame the patient. After 60 years of waiting rooms, I might start slapping the walls too.

Last week, as I left the clinic, the same security guard followed me out. He had noticed my accent, and wondered if I speak or teach English. He wants some extra help with a class he is taking, and we exchanged contact information. An opportunity to tutor is also a chance to speak about the Lord. David and I meet with him today.

Again, if I hadn’t been at the health center I wouldn’t have met the guard. I don’t claim to understand God’s ways, but I believe He orchestrates circumstances to put us where He wants us to do His work. If it took a nasty infection and 2 months of visiting the health center, then so be it. Lord, please use me to do Your will. But, Lord, if there is someone I need to meet who works at a trauma unit, burn center, mental institution, or jail, can You please spare me the ordeal and let me meet them at the grocery store instead?

Will you pray?

I often spend more time planning and preparing for an event than I do in prayer. Somehow it is easier for me to write a message, reply to e-mail, strategize about the future, or go out and meet people than is it for me to get down on my knees and pray. Yet, this is what I need most.

With this in mind, would you take moment and pray with us about these upcoming opportunities?

Camp. During the first week in July, Sarah and I will be helping several other missionaries with a youth camp. Last year, camp was a tremendous blessing as five kids made professions of faith, and the entire week went very smoothly. This year, it seems there will be more kids than ever before. Pray for me as I preach each night. For several of these kids, it may be the first time they hear the gospel.

During the second week of July, I will be speaking each night at another camp. Pray that God would use both of these weeks to draw young people to Himself.

Missions team. During the last week of July, we will be hosting a missions team of seven people from a church in Tennessee. We are excited to get to minister together with this team, and at the same time we are praying that God would show us exactly what we should do.

More contacts. While we have been in Portugal for almost two years now, meeting new people remains one of our top goals. Up to this point, it seems as if we meet new people in spurts. Lately, we have not met as many people as we would like to. Pray that God would show us where we need to be and what we should do in order to gain new relationships and build friendships.

On an unrelated note, Portugal today is celebrating making it to the Euro 2012 semi-finals. Most of the nation is fixated on the successes of Team Portugal as they fight for European soccer championship. For a country as small it is, Portugal certainly should be proud to have as much success in soccer as they do against far bigger countries in Europe.


Preaching a message on Jonah

While the vast majority of you probably won’t understand a word of this message, I thought I would put up this message I preached at a church this past Sunday. It is a message from the book of Jonah entitled, “How does God show his love for lost people?” In essence, it is comparison between God’s response to the lost people of Nineveh and Jonah’s response.