Many thanks to Nancy Merchant and all of her work on developing a Facebook page for the clinic. You can follow that page by clicking here.
March 1, 2010
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July 4, 2008
If you have been to the Good Samaritan Clinic and would like to share your experiences down there, please email them to me and I will post your entry. Of course, don’t be offended if I edit your entry a little for the sake of space.
You can email them to me here. I look forward to receiving your posts.
Additionally, I received some pictures and a summary of Dr. Ladd’s trip to Laos. I hope to post some of them soon.
Grace and peace,
April 16, 2008
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April 15, 2008
I recently received an email from Dr. Ladd regarding the Dia de Especialists, or Day of Specialists, held last Saturday. This is a group of doctors and other specialists headed by Dr. Oscar Alvarez. Dr. Alvarez is a leading gynecologist in Cd. Victoria. He is an outstanding Christian and uses his talents to honor the Lord. Dr. Alvarez recruits different specialists to come and give of their time and talents as well, many of whom are not Christians. However, even though some may not be Christians, an additional opportunity to share the gospel with these doctors as they serve the local people through the ministry of the Clinic.
Dr. Alvarez has lead this group for more than 15 years, and the number of patients cared for varies from year to year. Saturday’s attendance was 179, which was lower than usual because of the rain. There was a record high of 256 patients treated a few years ago. Regardless of the numbers, the hands and feet of Christ are displayed in the acts of service by the doctors to the people.
The Clinic staff are responsible for the noon and evening meals on Saturday and housing those who want to spend the night in the Huasteca. Sometimes the Clinic has had as many as 12 people stay, but often times when it is hot many of those who at first planned to spend the night may have a change of plans. Sunday morning breakfast is prepared for the group and they leave around 9:30 in time for the staff to get ready for Sunday School.
Clearly, this day has a variey of opportunities: physical attention for those in need; a Christian witness to the patients; and a Christian witness to those doctors who do not know the Saviour. Additionally, it gives people from the city the opportunity go know a little about their own country and indigenous people. It would surprise many at the number of people from Mexico who are shocked to see and learn what it is like in that little corner of Mexico.
April 5, 2008
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We began our journey from Xolmon in the dark. As we travelled down, it was amazing how you could see lighted clusters of Huastecan encampments nestled in the side of the mountain. In the daylight, I would never have guessed the extent of the communities that vertical terrain housed. Set in such difficult mountainous surroundings, yet, like fireflies, the communities were all the more beautiful as the darkness increased. We also are set apart for His glory regardless of the circumstances in which we live.
I recall the first sermon I heard in Aquismon. As Javier preached, I had no idea what he was saying. In fact, the last sermon I heard in Aquismon, I had very little idea of what he was saying.
In the first one, I caught two words: “Christos” and “differente”. If you are in Christ, you are set apart by the Father as a gift to Christ as a result of Christ’s work on the cross. The Holy Spirit draws you and sanctifies you, or sets you apart. You are not like the world. You don’t think like they do. You don’t value what they value. You are a foreigner. Your citizenship is in Heaven.
Tammy and I wrestle with whether or not we are called to foreign missions. When talking about it one time with a dear friend, Tammy was asked the question, “If you were sent from a Baptist Church in London to Tyler, how would you act differently?”
Now, obviously, there is a world of difference between those who leave the Disney Land that is America for the jungles of Congo, the mountains of Mexico, or the deserts of Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, even in Disney Land, we are to keep our roots loose, always looking for those opportunities orchestrated by the Holy Spirit to share Christ in hopes that He will grant us the fruit of another brother or sister.
The point is, if you are in Christ, you are on foreign missions with only a one-time eternal furlough, wherever He leads you. Let me tell you about a sister in Christ who recently went on furlough. Yola passed away a few weeks after we returned from our trip.
On our way to Tampico to fly home, we stopped at the hospital in Valles so the Ladds could visit with her. Her brothers and sisters were there. She hadn’t seen some of them in many months, possibly years. After almost 11 months of pain, dehydration, being out of it mentally, a distended abdomen, great difficulty breathing, and all the other things that attend dying of her cancer – she didn’t say, “Comfort me…I’m dying” or
“Why is God letting this happen to me? Is this the way God treats His children?” She looked at her brothers and sisters and said, “Let me tell you about Jesus.”
“Let me tell you about the grace that’s been shown to me through Christ.” Christ makes us different. In her death, she went out preaching Christ to her own family.
At her wake, which is usually an all night party in that culture, a graduate of the clinic’s Institute preached a sermon and all who attended her funeral (and there were many in Aquismon) heard the Gospel. On the way to the graveside, the local school where Yola was a teacher asked that the casket be brought so that the teachers and children could show their respects. Ricardo agreed, on one condition – that a graduate from the clinic’s Institute be allowed to speak, and the Gospel was preached…
“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.”
By His grace, may it be so.
April 4, 2008
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Central Mexico has some incredible scenery. One of the delights of the trip was having the Ladds and the Mills as resident tour guides. Although much of the trip involved service at the clinic, there were some elements of exploration. There is a park in Xilitla(hil-LEET-la) that pictures do not do justice. Built in the 1960’s by Edward James, “Las Pozas” is truly a marvel.
We spent most of the day in Xilitla, and if our children had been a little older and Tammy had been a little less pregnant, we would have spent even more time just exploring Las Pozas. It is nothing short of walking through a painting by Salvidor Dali with a lush jungle background.
Much of Tammy and Melanie’s time was spent at the clinic helping with patients. John and I had kid duty most of the day. There was always something to do. The kids took crayons and coloring books to the clinic one day. As the families waited in the inevitably long line, Natalie, Caroline, Emma and Audrey passed out colors and coloring books to the kids. Colors and coloring books transcend the cultural and language barriers of children. Soon, all over the clinic grounds, there were children sitting down and coloring the precious little pages.
Each patient that goes through the clinic hears the gospel. There are counselors on site ready to talk with family members about Christ. At various locations, the Jesus film is playing. It is an effort to relieve the suffering of people as a means of offering them the only hope we have, Christ Jesus as Savior.
In addition to the clinic, there are the various missions in the Huastecan mountain communities. The Huastecan language is not written, but oral. As I mentioned before, the Larsons had to create a dictionary of the Huastecan language before they could even translate the New Testament. Having studied a little of Greek and Hebrew on my own, I have a tremendous respect for those who have spent their lives translating Scripture for the various people groups in the world that are without Bibles in their own tongue.
One afternoon, after the Ladds and ladies had gotten home from working at the clinic, John and I were invited to travel into the mountains to visit one of the community missions in a village called “Xolmon” (hor-MONE). It proved to be one of the defining moments of the trip for me.
We loaded up in the back of the big red truck known as “La Coca” and headed up the mountain, picking up passengers as we went. Our passengers included Javier, one of the counselors who also worked in the pharmacy. Tammy and Miss Shirley thought to give some of the colors and coloring books with us, of course, we had already left when they thought about it. Risking their lives to drive at a break neck pace over Mexican back roads, they eventually caught up with us and delivered the precious cargo.
We rode for about an hour or two, standing in the back of the pickup truck. The change in altitude also brought a welcomed change in temperature. It was much cooler than the 100 plus degrees down below. I speak very little Spanish, but tried to speak to Javier in one or two word statements. He was very patient and seemed amused by my feeble attempts at the language. Inside I was frustrated that I had never put in the time to learn Spanish.
My frustration was heightened when we encountered a Catholic procession walking against us. At first I thought it was a funeral and removed my hat. I was motioned by Javier that it was unnecessary. I do not recall exactly what the procession was, but gathered that it was some sort of ritual. There was a drum involved somewhere.
We eventually passed by the procession. Eventually, we reached Xolmon. All of the passengers filed out to the meeting place up the hill from where we had parked. John and I stayed at the truck, gathering colors and books to give to any kids we saw.
As curious children began to approach the truck, we began handing out our little treats. They had to be shown how to color. Soon we were swarmed and ultimately ran out of books and colors.
The children’s class was very full. They began singing songs led by a Huastecan woman who lived in Aquismon and was married to one of the ministers working at the clinic. Many of the songs I knew just from the melody. It was incredible to hear them sung in the Huastecan language.
In the little building where the class was held, I leaned back against a cabinet. My elbow hit a box and I looked down to make sure I was not going to knock anything onto the floor. The box was open and inside were six of the Larson New Testaments. I hesitated and then picked one of them up out of the box.
I opened that Bible to John 1:1 and read what thirty or so years ago did not exist in the Huastecan language, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Even now as I remember that moment, it brings tears to my eyes.
I think of Tyndale, Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, and many other unnamed Reformers who gave their lives or died daily for the sake of getting the Bible, and therefore the Gospel, into the tongues of common men. After darkness, light. It is still shining…
April 3, 2008
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The analogy that Paul uses of the Body of Christ is a great one. If you had a gunshot wound to your shoulder, your opposite hand would naturally cover and comfort that wound. As far as I can tell, the only purpose for the little toe is to catch the leg of my bed frame on the way to the kitchen in the middle of the night. The amazing thing is the complete unity of my body in feeling the pain of that little member.
While staying with them, I watched Dr. and Mrs. Ladd work tirelessly for the clinic and the little community of believers around them. Every night at dinner there was discussion of patient illnesses, other physical needs like food and clothing, planning ahead for visiting doctors who were scheduled to give of their particular specialty at the clinic, further missions opportunities among the Huastecan people or local people of the town, and many other areas of ministry with which they were involved in some way or another. However, one particular ministry has stuck with me.
There is a couple that the Ladds have known for years, Ricardo and Yola. They are Christians. The Lord has brought Ricardo out of a lot of things and set him on fire. Several month before we arrived, Yola was diagnosed with cancer. I’m not really sure they even know how it started because her body was so eaten up with cancer when she was diagnosed.
It was a long painful experience for Yola and also for Ricardo. Further, it has also been a long painful experience for the Ladds. Every day and every night, I watched them goover to Ricardo and Yola’s to take food, visit, check on other needs, and give counsel and comfort. Every night at the dinner table there was some sort of discussion about Ricardo and Yola in addition to prayer for God’s grace on their lives. The Ladds hurt for them and hurt with them for all those months.
When you are united in the Body, you bear one another’s burdens…consistently. How many times have I heard of someone going through a tough time in my church or in my circle of friends and acquaintances and have just said, “The pastor will take care of that…I’m sure they’re on so-and-so’s list…or the guys on the visitation team will get them.”
The Ladds had a thousand concerns with the clinic, the outlying missions, and with the local church that met beneath their house. However, they made it a priority to minister to a hurting brother and sister in Christ. They voluntarily shared the concern, anxiety, grief and sorrow that Yola and Ricardo were experiencing throughout Yola’s illness.
That’s an example of the Body acting unified. It’s not the only example I saw, but it was one that made an impression upon me on this trip, and it’s one that I need to immulate in my own life more intentionally.