Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The Propitiation of our Sins
The righteous, loving Father humbled himself to become in and through his only Son's flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character. The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying himself by substituting himself for us...The concept of substitution may be said, then, to live at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin in man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.

John Stott, The Cross of Christ (IVP, 1986)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

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  posted at 22:34  

Monday, February 26, 2007
When the Bow is in the Clouds
My internet connection has been playing up all day and crashing at regular intervals, so the lengthy post that I had written about the talks from the church weekend away on Jesus as Priest, Prophet and King will have to be rewritten for tomorrow.

I just wanted to let you know that after all the stress of filling in those job applications, the results of shortlisting came out today. I have interviews for all four areas where I applied: Scotland, Newcastle (because it's close to the border!), Oxford and Cambridge!

The interviews are spread over a month and start in a few weeks, giving me time to find a suit to wear! After talking about my carbon footprint, I'll be flying across the country so much over the next few weeks, getting to interviews then getting back here to start work.

While driving to work this morning, getting more and more nervous to know the results which were published at 9am, I saw a rainbow in the sky and it brought me to prayer. It reminded me that God really is in control of everything, including those consultants and that computer. He is sovereign over everything and has promised that nothing can overcome us. His plans stand for ever to all generations. He will not forget his covenant with us so, whatever happens with jobs, I know I have rest and security in this. Thank you all for your continued prayers and encouragement!

When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
Genesis 9:16

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  posted at 22:32  

Friday, February 23, 2007
Doctor, Doctor - My son has swallowed a roll of film!
I'm going to my congregation's trip away this weekend, so am still ironing and packing my clothes! I wondered then if I could share some of the websites I've found useful over the last wee while. There is a definite medical bias (which Jeanine might appreciate even if no-one else does!), but I have picked sites that I think everyone might find interesting to visit.

I am heavily involved in teaching our medical students and like to intersperse my teaching with the history of medicine. I think you learn and remember more if there are interesting stories rather than just dry facts. Find out who Dr Asperger, Dr Parkinson and Dr Raynaud were at or learn more about the medical discoveries that have won the Nobel Prize.

Play at being a doctor at ER-SIM,, the Interactive Patient or Listen to normal and abnormal hearts, then visit some cardiology patients. Learn to make diagnoses from X-rays. If you don't manage to save them, you could always do a Virtual Autopsy and work out how you killed them!

Hmm, let's hope nothing develops!


  posted at 17:56  

Thursday, February 22, 2007
Be Prepared
If you were once (or even still are) a Rainbow, Brownie, Girl Guide, Ranger, Young Leader or Guider, or a Beaver, Cub Scout, Venture Scout, then you'll know that today is Thinking Day, a day for Scouts and Guides all over the world to remember their Scouting and Guiding brothers and sisters all over the world. The date was chosen because both Lord Baden-Powell, who founded the Scout Movement in 1907, and his wife, Lady Olave Baden-Powell, who became World Chief Guide, were both born on the 22nd February thirty-two years apart.

I was wondering if anyone else had been a Scout or a Guide. As for me, I was a Brownie and rose to the heady heights of Sixer of the Gnomes. Having just got my Hostess badge, we moved from the country into the city so I lost touch with Guiding until late in secondary school when a friend invited me on her Young Leader camp. I had never been camping before but loved it! Soon I was Assistant Guider of a small unit in a very deprived area of the city with my Guider being my former geography teacher. It was a challenging time, often just trying to bring some stability and some boundaries into very fractured lives. Despite the constant difficulties, I was sorry when I had to leave when I moved to start work.

One of my Guiding highlights was taking part in a Millennium celebration of Thinking Day. Over 2000 people took over the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre for an afternoon of singing and displays reminding us of Scouts and Guides all over the world. It was possibly the most cheesy thing you could ever have seen. (If you ever visit, I promise to show you the video!) At the end, I realised that I had come off stage and had lost my woggle. I felt sorry for the poor security guard who had clearly never heard of a woggle as I begged to get back on the stage briefly to look for it.

It's funny how much of Guiding is that funny, almost secret, language. Who else knows what a woggle is? It's a bond to girls and women of all ages as we giggle over the outfits Brownies used to wear (brown tunic dress, brown cardigan, brown bobble hat and yellow cross-over tie) and the importance of getting more badges when you are 8 years old. I still remember the excitement of reading my Brownie Guide Handbook and of the day I made my promise to "do my best, to love God, to serve the Queen and my country, to help other people, and to keep the Brownie Guide Law", remembering that a "Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a Good Turn every day."

Today, as it is Thinking Day in the 100th year of Scouting, do you have memories to share of being a Scout or a Guide? It would be great to hear all about them.

Be Prepared...A Scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the Scouting movement (1857-1941)

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  posted at 06:07  

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Fast and Feast in Lent
A friend gave me a card with this a few years ago. I think she found it on the internet, but I am not sure from where it originally came. Whatever your thoughts on Lent, I think it gives a lot to think about at any time of year.

• Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
• Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.
• Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
• Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
• Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
• Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
• Fast from anger; feast on patience.
• Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
• Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
• Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
• Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
• Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
• Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
• Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
• Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
• Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
• Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
• Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
• Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
• Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
• Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
• Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
• Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

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  posted at 21:08  

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Beauty of Isaiah: A Day Acceptable to the Lord
I've been able to share my love of the book of Isaiah before in a previous Carnival of Beauty, so it is wonderful to join with my sisters all over the world, hosted by Ashley and Beth of Onward and Upward, in sharing this. Please take time today to go there to read all the other submissions celebrating the Beauty of Isaiah.

My young ladies bible study group has been studying Zechariah over the last few months. Last week, we looked at Zechariah 7, reading of the Israelites taking part in rituals and fasting but doing so without truly seeking God or godliness. The study guide 'sent' us to Isaiah 58.

It begins with God rebuking the Israelites for their hypocrisy. They had been overcome by pride and had forgotten the Lord. Even on their days of fasting and outward piety, they were fighting with one another and oppressing their workers. We discussed how we can fall into the same trap, trying to use the rituals of worship as bargaining tools with God, serving others out of self-interest, confining God's influence on our lives to very carefully carved out "spiritual" time without it affecting the rest of our lives, or becoming proud and self-righteous that we are fulfilling these obligations.

However Proverbs 21:3-4 says:
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
We are then reminded of what true religion is. It comes from a heart focused on God and his righteousness. Isaiah calls us to focus our hearts on God, demonstrate this love for God by our compassion for others, listen to his word and worship him in spirit and truth.

This brings God's blessing and restoration to his people. As he guided and protected the Israelites in the wilderness, he promised to be our 'rear-guard' today. The Lord will hear and answer the prayers of his people, blessing them with every good thing. His church will be built up and restored, both physically, as promised to the Israelites just returning from exile, but also spiritually as we see his church as the body of believers today and for eternity.

Isaiah also reminds us to the blessing of the Sabbath day and how, rather than it being a burden, it should be a day for delighting in God. It was given for man as a day of rest and restoration, a day to be focussed on the worship of God and the fellowship of his people. It is not however just the physically keeping of this day that God wants, but humility and compassion in our hearts. (I heard a wonderful lecture on this last week and will have to share it with you all soon.)

We must keep in mind that nothing we do, whether fasting, praying or Sabbath keeping, can contribute to our salvation. The only thing we contribute is our sin from which we have to be saved. Remembering this and remembering the grace that has been shown to us should keep us from developing too high an opinion of ourselves and keep our focus and heart upon God.

Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58:5

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  posted at 21:36  

Monday, February 19, 2007
The Earth is the Lord's
My post on my Global Footprint provoked a wee bit of debate, so I spent a lot of my (very quiet) weekend on call reading around the issues of global warming and how we as Christians should be responding to it.

Most scientists seem to agree that global warming is taking place at a faster rate than ever before. The polar ice-caps are melting and are unlikely to exist at the end of 21st century. Apparently the earth has warmed up by 0.6 degrees over the last century, the most rapid warming of the planet for 10,000 years, and CO2 in the atmosphere has risen to its highest level in 400,000 years. I am not sure how this squares with beliefs in Creation and a Young Earth, but it certainly appears that something going on.

Whatever that something is, since God gave his commands to Adam in the Garden of Eden, we have been called to have stewardship over the earth. We have been given dominion over this planet to subdue it, to tend to it and to nurture it (Genesis 1:26-31, Genesis 2:15, Psalm 8).

Some have suggested that environmentalism has itself turned into a new religion. Ray Evans of the Lavoisier Group said:
To put it in its bluntest terms, when you don't believe in God you don't believe in nothing. You believe in whatever is the fashion of the day, and environmentalism has scooped the pool.
This, of course, is different to many of the values held by some in the environmentalist movement where human life is seen to have no more intrinsic value that the life of an ant or a tree. Patrick Moore was a founding member of Greenpeace before he felt compelled to leave as the initial "broad-based vision [was] challenged by a new philosophy of radical environmentalism."

In the name of "deep ecology" many environmentalists have taken a sharp turn to the ultra-left, ushering in a mood of extremism and intolerance...It is anti-human. The human species is characterized as a 'cancer' on the face of the earth. The extremists perpetuate the belief that all human activity is negative whereas the rest of nature is good...This aspect of environmental extremism leads to disdain and disrespect for fellow humans and the belief that it would be 'good' if a disease such as AIDS were to wipe out most of the population
Environmental stewardship to me is more taking responsbility for God's creation which itself acts as a testimony to his goodness and as a means of common grace. Earth and heaven will be cast away and replaced by a new heaven and a new earth just as our own bodies are, but we equally look after our bodies until that time. In the same way as it would be wrong for me to refuse to treat your diabetes on the grounds that illness came with the Fall and is part of God's curse, it is irresponsible to ignore the damage that we might be causing to the earth. Our stewardship involves responsibly developing and nurturing the earth for our benefit and for God's glory, preserving it well for future generations.

As a native of the "Oil Capital of Europe" and from a family dependent on the oil industry for work, I've grown up knowing that oil reserves are eventually going to run out. It reminds to be responsible for the energy that I do use, as much as I have to consider what happens to the rubbish I throw away and how I use the earth's resources. I therefore want to limit what I consume and use and to be careful about what I am using. For me, this will mean buying more local-grown food, reducing and recycling packaging, and trying to remember to turn the heating off when I go out to work. It will perhaps be only a tiny contribution to a much greater problem but a small step in the right direction.

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Psalm 24:1-2

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  posted at 10:08  

Friday, February 16, 2007
Fill the Earth and Subdue it
I've been sent more details today about my holiday in Morocco. The company is very into responsible tourism - employing local guides and porters, staying in local homes and encouraging us to offset our carbon emissions from the flights through Climate Care.

I've read a lot about carbon offsetting and not really known what to do. Some companies, including my electricity company, plant trees but there's not too much evidence that this really helps in the long term other than salving our consciences. Climate Care plants some trees but focuses on addressing climate change by "reducing emissions through developing renewable fuel sources or boosting efficiency, rather than by focusing on sequestration." Their projects for 2005 included the installation of wind turbines in Karnataka and replacing normal bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps in South Africa, which was itself expected to save 14,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions, more than offsetting one person's emissions from the annual UK emissions.

The Earth Day Footprint Quiz also makes for interesting and uncomfortable reading. I try to be as conscious of the environment as I can be, but I really lost points by living on my own (not much I can do about that!) and by travelling 140 miles on an almost daily basis by car or train. I was shocked in myself when I discovered that "if everyone lived like you, we would need 7.3 planets." It's not ideal.

What can I do about all this? I've been impressed after reading through Climate Care's website and will offset my flights to Morocco and consider if to extend that to offsetting everything else. As soon as I find out where my job for next year is, I need to move there if at all possible, preferably within cycling distance. In the meantime, just quickly looking at my flat for things I can change today, I need to take the train as much as I possibly can, I need to finally get round to replacing my bulbs with the environmentally friendly bulbs, and I need to stop collecting plastic bags at the shop. Any other suggestions?

And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food."
Genesis 1:28-29

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  posted at 21:14  

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Work Heartily!
We praise people who can multi-task, those folk who will be reading this while checking their emails, speaking on the phone, helping the children with the homework, sorting the laundry and making the dinner. It's one of the main tenets of time management to use your time more efficiently. However there is growing evidence that suggests that, rather than being more efficient, multi-tasking makes you less productive and can even reduce your short-term memory!

Sue Shellenbargar has written about this for the Wall Street Journal in Juggling Too Many Tasks Could Make You Stupid and Who's the Better Multitasker? Female Rats Provide Clues, backing up her article with papers from the Journal of Experimental Psychology and NeuroImage, both of which I had heard of through the medical press. I was pleased then when Alex and Brett Harris' Boundless article Christians Can't Multitask arrived in my inbox.

Reading these articles together has reminded me to work at everything with my whole heart, remembering that my work is for the Lord. This means giving some things a proper priority and dedicated time and giving up some less important things that don't deserve such attention. I need to be unafraid to go against our society's rushing 24-hour culture and sometimes pause to admire the view. I need to stop to take time to worship God and to rest in him. Equally as much as I work with my whole heart, I need to rest with my whole heart and not feel guilty for it! I suppose I am needing a decluttering of my time as much as my belongings, so I can more fully enjoy and share those good gifts I have been given.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:32-24

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  posted at 06:07  

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Love on through Love's Eternity
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile...her look...her way
Of speaking gently,...for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of ease on such a day' -
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee, - and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheek dry,
Since one might well forget to weep who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby.
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet (1806-1891)

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  posted at 20:10  

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Declare his Glory among the Nations (6)
On Sundays, I worshipped at the local presbyterian evangelical church. It is very different to my home church, but I really enjoyed going there and learned a lot. At 8am, there were discussion groups on such diverse topics as the Person of Christ and Cloning. Then at 9am, there would be all-age Sunday school, which signalled the start of that day's broadcasts on local radio and television from the church. The actual service would start at 10am with an hour or singing followed by an hour-long sermon. Even after all this, church might still not be finished. On one of my last Sundays, there were twenty-two baptisms, mainly new adult believers, then the Lord's Supper!

Another Sunday night, we had the Matrimonio Masivo - 12 weddings altogether to allow people who otherwise could not afford it to get married. One couple had lived together as man and wife for fifty years, but it was only once they had become Christians that they realised their need to be properly married in the eyes of God.

Even throughout the week, the congregation continued to be very faithful, meeting twice a week for house groups, with one meeting set aside for prayer and the other for Bible study. (They were going through the Shorter Catechism while I was there.) As over here, we also went to help at the Teens Group and attended the Young Adults group.

After my first week, I helped with a Sunday school for street children in one of the poorest areas of Moyobamba. (The perils of smiling and nodding when you don't really understand led me to agree to teach Sunday school during my time there!) It was great fun - lots of games, stories and songs - but most of all, it was amazing to see how eager these children were to learn about the Lord and to see that many of them have become Christians themselves.

Overall, this was an amazing experience and hopefully a life-changing one. I cannot describe the poverty that some of these families were living in. I have returned realising that, whatever the faults of the National Health Service, we are immensely fortunate to have such healthcare and social security systems.

It has taught me so much more than that though. I was so stressed and so worried before going over to Peru. After all, as I sobbed on my flatmate's shoulder the morning before I left, I was going on my own, I didn't really speak the language, and, worst of all, they have huge spiders in the jungle! It taught me to be completely reliant on the Lord. He knows already what will happen to all of us and, as we follow his will, he will give us that grace and strength to deal with anything as we confess our weakness to him.

  1. Inside the church at a communion service
  2. The Matrimonio Masivo!
  3. This monkey was a pet of a neighbour and enjoyed drinking coffee
  4. Sunday school on my last day
  5. Fighting a parrot for my camera case!
  6. The fountain in the main square of Moyobamba
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

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  posted at 06:23  

Monday, February 12, 2007
Declare his Glory among the Nations (5)
As there is no real version of the National Health Service in Peru, patients can visit a vast array of clinics for medical attention, paying for each consultation and for every investigation. Examples for this include 35 nuevo soles (about £6) to see the doctor, then 10 nuevo soles (about £1.70) for every single blood test. My favourite part of the price list was in Obstetrics section - "Delivery - 1000 nuevo soles" (about £171), followed by "Delivery without pain - 1500 nuevo soles"!

Given the average monthly wage in Peru is 345 nuevo soles, equivalent to £59 a month or £708 annually, and the expense involved in visiting the doctor, even at the comparatively low prices of the clinic, many people visit their doctor only when things have got very serious. It also means that a lot of our normal health promotion strategies are abandoned - most people could never afford to buy the tablets to control their high blood pressure. Another difficulty here is that most of the older people are illiterate.

The doctors here also do operations. I assisted with one at 6am because it was the only time the anaesthetist could come to the clinic. The tiny operating theatre was baking, even at that time in the morning. Understanding the muffled orders of surgeons is difficult enough in English - never mind in Spanish!

With regard to the language, I had learnt to speak Spanish solely for this trip. I was staying with a Peruvian family and all my friends and colleagues were Peruvian, so I was constantly speaking in Spanish. It was all incredibly tiring combined with the unrelenting heat. Sometimes I would just retreat up to my room to read a book or letters to escape back into an English-speaking world just for a rest! It was lovely to get things to be translated too, even if I needed to correct some misconceptions. One of the letters included the phrase, "In the city of Wales, England!" I also had to try to explain that Scotland was a country in its own right and not just part of England or, worse, part of the United States!

  1. The Ward and Accident and Emergency
  2. The Delivery Suite
  3. The Operating Theatre
  4. The staff at the clinic
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

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  posted at 06:06  

Friday, February 09, 2007
Declare his Glory among the Nations (4)
Another day, I went to visit a couple of the villages to see the work of Buena Comida, the Good Food programme, where they are teaching school children how to grow vegetables to encourage better nutrition. The main diet consists of rice, potatoes and yuca, a starchy root vegatable, with the occasional beans, chicken or cuy - guinea pig! It is surprisingly tasty, if a little hard to get all the meat off their wee bones!

The Clínica San Lucas at that time employed two doctors (a gynaecologist and a physician specialising in general (internal) medicine), two nurses, one pharmacist and two laboratory technicians. The work of the clinic is rather like that of a General Practitioner here. There is not such thing as a prescription though. You can just wander into your local corner shop and pick any of the vast array of medicines you would like!

Another main work is the annual week of free surgery for patients, mainly children, with cleft lip and palate, involving maxillofacial surgeons from Lima and the United States, psychologists, and speech and language therapists. The rest of the year is spent identifying these children and visiting them in their homes, which could be five hours walk from the nearest road.

I went with the co-ordinator of this programme to visit some of these children and to offer some basic medical help to the villages. These children are often ostracised by their school friends and family (especially by their fathers who see it as a slight on their masculinity to have a 'deformed' child). Some of the older ones no longer go to school because their teachers have sent them home, saying they can't speak properly, no one can understand them, and they are too difficult to teach.

All the families I met were living in incredible poverty - I can really see how much I take for granted. They had no running water, no electricity, no toilets, no beds, with the nearest medical help several hours walk away. There was no doctor free to go and visit these children so I was sent to do the medical part of the job! It was scary having to make diagnoses on the spot, having not graduated and not havcing the usual equipment and investigations of medicine back home. Everyone (including me!) had parasites, so I just went ahead and treated them, but I diagnosed many an ear infection on the basis of pulling the kid's ear and asking if it hurt!

  1. Children tending their school garden, learning how to grow vegetables
  2. Guinea pigs on the kitchen floor, all ready for the next meal!
  3. Keziah with a baby with cleft and palate. He was six months old but couldn't suckle properly and only weighed 6 pounds
  4. Visiting the villages to see children with cleft lip and palate
  5. Look at the drainage system for the village - there is no running water or sanitation there
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

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  posted at 22:27  

Thursday, February 08, 2007
Declare his Glory among the Nations (3)
Asociación San Lucas is a Christian organisation working to improve both the physical and spiritual health of the people of Moyobamba and its surrounding area. Most of the staff working at the clinic are Christians, trying to show their love of Jesus Christ through practical service. Each day at the clinic, all the staff meet for a time of worship, with singing, prayer and a short Bible study led by a member of staff or a local pastor. I even had to take one of the devotions, speaking on idolatry and had to do it all obviously in Spanish! It was a scary experience, given that I had not even been able to speak Spanish a few months before.

Asociación San Lucas is involved in improving water sanitation, community health (including sexual health, preventing and treating HIV/AIDS, paediatrics and obstetric care, through the training of community health advisers from the villages), and agriculture and farming for some of the poorest villages of the Department of Moyobamba. Even though I was there as a medical student, I was able to get involved in everything.

I was given the opportunity to visit a couple of villages where San Lucas is working to provide a clean water supply, rather than the dirty river which families are currently using as washing, cooking and drinking water. For one of these villages, Neuvo Milagro (New Miracle), a new water supply had been found on the land of the local shaman. Locals told us that he goes down into this cave to consult the Devil, but, praise to God, he was willing to allow San Lucas to use this supply if it turned out to be uncontaminated.

The Amazon Rainforest is not called the rainforest for nothing - it had been raining, pouring all day so we had to tramp through a foot of mud and muddy water to get to the cave! When we did get there, the five men (I wasn't allowed to go down because I was a girl!) disappeared into a cave about 20 feet below the ground. Being abandoned in a rainforest wasn't much fun, but it got worse when a little stream above the cave burst its banks! I have never been so scared in my life! I was praying desperately for them, debating whether to attempt to make it back to the shaman's house on my own. I knew that he had a mobile phone there (having one of the few mobiles in the area), although I don't really know who I could have called! Eventually, after 45 minutes of fervent prayer, the men suddenly struggled through what was now a raging waterfall and scrambled up the side of the cave!

  1. Clínica San Lucas
  2. The evangelical church in Guillermo, another village where San Lucas worked
  3. Children playing in the water of the Río Mayo, a tributary of the Amazon
  4. The men climb down into the cave. That's the shaman in the fake Brazil top and blue plastic sheeting - not quite how I imagined a witch doctor to look!
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

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  posted at 19:25  

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Declare his Glory among the Nations (2)
I was met in Lima by friends and stayed with them a few days to recover from the jet lag and to see some of Lima (very hot, very noisy, very dusty). After swimming in the Atlantic Ocean the week before while working in the Western Isles, I just had to paddling in the Pacific (not surprisingly a wee bit warmer!) I was then sent on my way with reminders not to drink the water and to wary of amorous Peruvians!

After the three hours of refusing marriage proposals (that he didn't speak English and lived in Peru and that my Spanish, at that stage at least, was fairly basic sadly did not deter him!), we arrived in Moyobamba. First impressions were hot, noisy and dusty. The temperature all year round is about 30°C, 'dropping' to 15-18°C at night. The noise also never seemed to stop. Even at night, the crickets were chirruping incessantly, the dogs barking, and the roosters singing their hearts out!

I stayed with a Peruvian family, one of the church elders, his wife and adopted daughter. They had two grown-up children studying away from home, but had adopted this wee girl after her mother, belonging to a local indigenous tribe, said that she could afford to keep her. It was wonderful to just become part of that family during my time there.

As for the language, I came to conclusion that I couldn't speak it very well (and my grammar is still pretty shoddy), but I could speak it. I was amazed on my first day at the clinic being shown round and realising that we were speaking in Spanish and I understood! Actually, it sometimes helped not being able to speak it fluently: for example, when I knew what someone was saying but didn't want to understand...

  1. La Plaza de Armas, Lima
  2. Shanty town on the outskirts of Lima
  3. La Plaza de Armas, Moyobamba
  4. My new Peruvian family! (should point out that this was taken after two months in Peru - I am just going to have to accept I really am pale!)
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

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  posted at 21:26  

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Declare his Glory among the Nations (1)
After Ashley shared some of her stories as a missionary kid in Peru, it's made me reminisce about working in a medical mission there. If you ever get on to the subject of my all too short time there, you are in for a long chat, probably peppered by LOTS of photos. So I figured that this way if you don't want to know, you can go and potter somewhere else, but I thought that some of you might like to hear about the work there. (These articles was originally published in my denomination's mission magazine.)

"How on earth did I end up here?" was a recurring thought as I was driven from the airport to Moyobamba, hidden away at the Peruvian border of the Amazon jungle. My taxi-driver was turning on all the charm - he was looking for a Scottish wife apparently - but it was really the scenery that blew me away. There were so many trees and plants - all more green that I could ever have imagined - sprinkled generously with bright dashes of orange, yellow and red flowers, with no hint of tarantulas that I was dreading.

I had arrived in the selva, or rainforest region, of Peru, after an eighteen hour flight to Lima, broken by a lovely hour-long stop in the Caribbean, then another one-hour flight over the Andes. However, why was I here of all places?

Since becoming a Christian at the age of 18, I have had a strong interest in the field of medical mission work. So many people in the world live without the basic necessities that we, here in Scotland, take for granted. However, I appreciate that it is an incredibly demanding job to work in such places and wanted to use my medical elective, when all final year medical students get the opportunity to study and work anywhere in the world anywhere in the world in a healthcare setting, to get a small taste of what life as a medical missionary could be like.

Originally I was going to go to India but had to think again after India and Pakistan threatened nuclear warfare and my university told me I couldn't go. Just a few days later, a missionary working in Brazil came to speak to our church prayer meeting. As soon as she discovered I was a medical student, she demanded to know if I had sorted my medical elective. I explained the problems of going to India, but she answered by telling me to write to Latin Link, a mission organisation working with churches in Latin America. My protests that I did not speak Spanish went unheeded by her and again later at my interview. I was sent to see the work of and hopefully be of some help at a medical mission clinic in Moyobamba...

  1. Plants in the garden of my new home
  2. A boat on the Rio Mayo
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous works among all the peoples!

Psalm 96:3

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  posted at 18:42  

Monday, February 05, 2007
He Commanded our Fathers to Teach
My post on Mark Driscoll's Death by Ministry provoked a bit of debate on the other side of the world with Sherrin and Phil getting into some conversation. It certainly was not meant to discourage men from going into the ministry or women from marrying them! It was just to remind us of the pressures our pastors are under and what we can do to help that, as well as offering advice to any of us who are busy.

As I said to Sherrin, several of my friends have said, "I'm never going to marry a minister" and married nice men who then, a few years down the line, felt they were called to the ministry. They are all minister's daughters - is there a connection?

I think there must be many wonderful things about growing up as a child of the manse, as we would say in Scotland. I see the Christian maturity of my friends whose fathers are ministers, because of the Bible teaching they have received, the other ministers and missionaries they have met and learned from, and the practical examples of Christian service, hospitality and fellowship.

A couple of books that friends recommended to me as a minister friend of mine and I were considering courtship were Who'd be a Minister's Wife by Heather Tinker and We're in this Together: Living with Leadership by Celia Bowring. If you are heading down that line, I can commend them both to you.

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children.

Psalm 78:5

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  posted at 16:24  

Friday, February 02, 2007
The Plans I have for You
I can only quickly wander past today because I am busy sorting out job applications (or I would be if I could - read on!). There is a new online application form that is supposed to make things much easier for the 20,000 junior doctors applying for jobs in the UK and for the consultants who have to shortlist, interview and appoint them.

Instead it has turned into a bit of a disaster. There were supposed to be 9 jobs in Scotland for diabetes, my own specialty - instead there are just 4. Over 10,000 doctors can expect to be unemployed from August as this is replicated throughout every department across the UK. The application forms are plain funny - testing us more on our creative writing than our aptitude as doctors. The consultants shortlisting from these forms have not been told yet how they are allowed to mark them and choose who to interview. I've been trying to fill in my form online but the website keeps crashing, deleting everything I have filled in so far with it. The deadline is on Sunday, but I am on night shift all weekend so I was hoping to get in before I go to work tonight.

It's given me an interesting opportunity to seriously consider what to do if I don't end up with a job. I've thought about changing specialties. I really enjoy Geriatrics and Acute Medicine, but their trainees are in exactly the same position as me. I've thought about leaving the country. I'm not experienced enough yet to work longer-term abroad in a mission setting, but many of my friends have left to work in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I've even thought about leaving medicine itself. I studied History of Art briefly as part of my medical degree and loved it. I love learning languages and speak five of them (with varying degrees of competency). But what could I do after that and can I really go back to university again?

In amongst all this, I am trying to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, knowing that God has the plans for my life in his hands and has established all my steps. It is his purpose that will stand, not the random decision of a computer. God understands every plan and thought of men but it will his own will that has the victory. I'm trying to see this as exciting and as an adventure, knowing that I can have this trust in God. I feel desperately sorry for my friends and colleagues who are entering this uncertain time without this knowledge and peace.

Just as you read this, I would ask for your prayers that God's will be done here and also for my Christian witness and testimony as I share my own security with others.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

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  posted at 14:15  

Thursday, February 01, 2007
Wisdom of the Wise: C S Lewis
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"

C S Lewis, English theologian and writer (1898-1963)

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  posted at 14:01  

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