Summer is in full swing and, ironically, we are enjoying some cooler days here in Ecuador! May, June, and July have been busy and we have experienced many joys and a few obstacles, but our faith in God and his plan has carried us through it all.
We had the privilege and pleasure of hosting Josh's college roommate and friend, James Franklin, here in Milagro for 4 weeks starting back in June. James is currently 1 year away from his Masters in Divinity from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX and he has some fantastic experience both training and working as a hospital chaplain. This year, he applied for and received a grant to come to Ecuador and work with us at the MMI hospital in Milagro. During his time here, he worked one-on-one with our hospital pastor, had meetings with our staff, and spoke at 4 different local churches to try to encourage pastoral care for the sick and hurting. I worked side-by-side with him as his translator while he was in Ecuador and it was a wonderful learning experience for me as well. He spoke a lot about the importance of spending time with people who are suffering as opposed to only trying to do things for them and how your physical presence can do so much more than just a phone call or Facebook message can. We had a lot of fun while James was with us too! We celebrated Josh's 27th birthday with an Avengers-themed party thrown by our friends here in Milagro (they even made Josh an awesome Thor costume), and for the 4th of July, we had a hot dogs, baked beans, and James made a very patriotic Rice-Crispy Treat American flag! See pictures below :).
During the last week of his stay with us, we went to Quito for a couple of days so he could see some more of the country, and then we traveled down to Latacunga to participate on the first week of a two-week mission trip there. It always makes such a difference having a spiritual leader on the trips and I think that the participants and the patients really benefited from James' presence.
Unfortunately, Josh and I were only able to enjoy two days of the mission trip because on the Tuesday evening of the trip, a kidney stone that had previously been tucked quietly in my right kidney decided to make an appearance. After a couple of hours of pain, we decided that I should go to a local private clinic where they realized that I had started having minor contractions. They quickly got the contractions under control, started monitoring Noah, and gave me something for the pain that wouldn't affect the baby. I ended up staying at the clinic in Latacunga until Friday morning when we were able to arrange a flight to Guayaquil where I could be monitored by my OB at a private hospital there. I spent the next 6 days waiting for the stone to pass on its own, but after several ultrasounds, it became apparent that it was stuck just above my bladder and wasn't moving anytime soon. Because I was still having significant pain, we decided that I would have a procedure to have the stone removed. Praise the Lord, everything went well and I was able to go home after 48 hours recuperating. That was my first experience in the hospital, and I do NOT want to be back there before Noah is born! But, Josh and I were well taken care of and I am definitely taking it easy for the next three months. I still have a small stone in each of my kidneys, so we are doing everything we can to make sure that they stay where they are. We appreciate the prayers and love that we received from friends and family while I was in the hospital and we know that we were strengthened by them.
Things are starting to get back to normal and the next big event on the calendar is a mission project that is coming to the hospital in mid-August. They will be performing knee-replacement surgeries and providing physical therapy for the patients after their surgeries. We are looking forward to recharging our batteries and preparing for the team's arrival over the next few weeks. We know that God has a lot of wonderful things in store for the second half of 2012 and we can't wait to share them with you!
Here are a few pictures from our time with James:
James speaking at a church with me translating
4th of July rice-crispy treat flag
Josh's Avengers Birthday Party
A sweet little patient we saw in Latacunga
Some visitors who came to see me in the hospital
Love and God bless,
Stephanie and Joshua