Sep 1, 2019

Serving the Lord in Peru


A late start to Pucallpa, Peru
-By Dr. Luke-

Nine friends from Calvary Chapel and I had planned a trip to Peru. We woke up early Sunday morning and headed up to the Albuquerque Airport for our flight, and when we got there, they notified us that our flight from Peru to Dallas had broken down. The soonest they could get us on another flight would be Thursday! “Alright Father,” I thought, “I prayed that Your will would be done, and that means I can't complain when it is done!” We gathered together in the Airport and Pastor Ray prayed with the team and for our travels. We all went to our own homes and waited to hear from the Lord. Late that night, as I was getting ready for bed, my phone rang...it was Ray. The Airlines had gotten us all on a plane the next morning (Monday) at 11:00 a.m. to LAX and then from LAX to Peru at 9:00 p.m. “God is good!,” I said and went to bed after enjoying a bonus night with my wife and kids.

Everything was so smooth at the ABQ airport and we arrived at LAX without any trouble. We were able to eat at In and Out Burger there in L.A. and made it back to the airport with hours of time to spare. We were told that the plane had just had the tires changed and we boarded around 9:00 pm. We sat on the plane for over an hour and the captain came on the speaker and informed us that we all weighed too much to allow the workers to remove the jack from the airplane landing gear. We all had to leave the plane and let them try and remove the jack. They could not! Hours passed, many employees came and left, many 'engineers' came and kicked the tire and left. Eventually, at 4:00 am, they canceled the flight. They arranged for a hotel stay and rescheduled everyone (almost 400 passengers) for 8:00 pm the following day (Tuesday now). We were starting to think that perhaps God wanted us to stay home! It was frustrating at this point, but we went to the hotel and checked in at 5:30 am. The hotel informed us that the airline had paid for the night, but no meals would be covered and our checkout time was 12:00...uggg. The team checked into our rooms and 'enjoyed' a few hours of sleep. Ray had negotiated a checkout time of 1:00 pm on Tuesday and we all met in the lobby then and headed back up to the airport.

We gathered together at one of the hotel restaurants, prayed, ate and had wonderful fellowship together. As frustrating as the trip had been so far, we were still in high spirits and ready to serve! We boarded the plane and left on time to Lima. At Lima, 8 hours later, we boarded another plane to Pucallpa. An hour and a half flight and 2 days late but we had arrived!
Praise the Lord...we finally made it!
Pucallpa is a beautiful city of almost half a million inhabitants in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. Up until a few years ago, the only way to reach the town was by plane or by river. The climate is extremely humid and pretty much hot year round. Even though June is their winter, it was 90 degrees and 90% humidity there. Being two days late, we had no idea how we would be able to do everything that we had planned to do. 

View of new sanctuary
Inside new sanctuary










God had put it on our hearts to have a marriage conference, a children's vacation bible school, a women's tea meeting, to pour a concrete floor and get electricity hooked up for a new meeting place that is much larger than the one that had, and to encourage the church there by showing them that we love them and have been praying for them.
marriage conference


The Lord moved in a mighty way there and we began work on pouring the concrete floor. That was some hard work! We had to load sand and rocks into the mixer and the professionals added bags of cement and water. The floor was poured and colored blue at the request of the church's pastor, Caesar. I still don't know how it happened so quickly, but I did have several scrapes, bruises, burns and felt the aches the next morning! We watched the children the next night while Pastors Ray, Caesar, and Mike spoke at a marriage conference. There were around 20 couples that made it and walked away feeling blessed. The next few days, we finished up wiring 12 lights on 2 switches, 8 outlets for fans and 3 other outlets for sound and video. The women's tea was a blessing for 80 ladies that were in the church's community.
Pouring the floor

we had to shovel dirt and rocks into the mixer
the pros did the mixing and poured it into wheelbarrows
Towards the end of the trip, I had the opportunity to speak to Pastor Caesar's wife, Brigitte. I wanted to know from her perspective how our presence impacted her personally. As I approached her, I said, “Brigitte, I hope you know that we are not doing this on behalf of America, New Mexico, Belen, Calvary Chapel, or our families. We are doing this because God has called us to be here. He has chosen us from the hundreds that were invited, and we have answered that call. We answered that call because we love Jesus, we love His church, and we want to show that love and to obey His command of the Great Commission.” As she began to cry, she told me that we were an answer to almost 18 years of prayers. They have prayed for someone to help them, someone to see and know that they were there, and someone to reach out and help to do God's work. They have been praying specifically over the past several years for God to help them with a bigger place to meet. They had outgrown their small concrete patio and had begun to work on a much larger space that had cement columns and a sheet metal roof. We were an answer to their cries. She explained that, from her perspective, we were workers that the Lord had personally sent as a demonstration of His love for the church there. We ended the conversation in tears and with a hug she went on her way to serve the women at there new sanctuary.
Sunday service in the new sanctuary 
Phil and I with our switches, outlets, and light fixtures

The brightest building on the block!















Danielle and I had to leave early after church on Sunday to work and, thanks be to God, the trip back was smooth and easy! I learned so much about the wonderful people of Peru and enjoyed the atmosphere, the culture, the food and the fellowship. My prayer is that the Lord will open doors and allow me to return to serve Him there soon. I am so thankful for the experiences that He has allowed me to live through and it still brings me such joy to serve Jesus Christ, my Master and my Savior.


May 26, 2019

2019 Ukraine Mission Trip

2019 Visit to Ukraine

I've had a complaint/request or two about too many pictures and not enough stories so I'll change it up and be more descriptive this time!

Dr. Luke and Dr. Dave
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Ukraine with a group of short-term missionaries from Indiana. We went to setup an Eye Care Clinic there and serve the local population in a city called Korosten. The city itself has a population of around 60,000 people. It had a delightful small-town feel with well kept local parks and the city was rich in history. We arrived Saturday afternoon, offloaded our equipment and tried to adjust to the +9 hour time difference. Sunday morning, we attended church then went to the House of Culture (Civic Center) to set up clinic. We saw around 65 patients that day and worked out some of the kinks of the clinic. Monday through Friday were very busy days and the clinic ran from around 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. We averaged around 160 patients per day! On Wednesday, a few from the group went to a remote village and saw around 50 patients as well. All in all, we ended up seeing around 1,000 patients in 5.5 days!. The best part, to me, was that each patient was sent to get glasses, then the Gospel of salvation was presented to each and every one of these dear people! We worked closely with two different local churches that will be in contact will all who were seen. I love doing the work of 'seed planting' and knowing that there is a great team staying to 'water' the seeds and the Lord will make them grow (Matthew 28:19).

The church I went with is Village Evangelical Free Church and they support mission work in various locations. They support Mission Eurasia which was the group that so wonderfully hosted us. I've rarely seen such hospitality in my life! Nadia, Sergii, Valentina and the staff at the Seminary of Practical Theology made our stay so comfortable. I enjoyed the food, loved the culture, and the fact that you could find espresso machines everywhere! We also worked with a local ophthalmologist, Dr. Elena, who was so very nice, so helpful, and grateful that we were there. She helped Dr. Dave with translation and will be helping us with getting the glasses filled locally that we did not have from the Lion's club donations. I enjoyed getting to meet every patient they sent me, but I will share a few of the 'highlights' from the patients that stuck out.

The clinic was wonderfully organized by Lance Davids and Valentina. They had a structure in place and would only let in about 20 patients per hour. There was a woman that apparently didn't know the rules...or at least she knew that they didn't apply to her! She stormed into the clinic waving her cane around and demanding to be seen, but she wasn't on the list. The poor folks at the check-in station managed to calm her down enough to explain to her that she wasn't on the list, we might could possibly see her, but she may have to wait for a long time to get in. She seemed fine with that....for about 5 minutes then she was up and hassling the crew once more. Finally, Lance gave in to her request. He said she could get in, but would have no more than 5 minutes with the doctors...that still makes me smile. She reluctantly agreed and in she came. Lance came back to the doctors station and gave us the 'heads up' about this patient. By the time she came back to see me, she had her vision checked at distance and near, her medical history taken, her blood pressure and blood sugar taken, and had sat at a machine that gives me a 'guess' of what her glasses rx will be. She was elated! I could see her smile from ear to ear as she sat in front of me. I said a prayer and took a look into her eyes...Praise the Lord! Her blood sugar was 385, but her eyes looked wonderful. I had to let her know how bad her diabetes was, and how she should visit her primary care doc and get it under control, but I thanked the Lord that all she needed from my station was some reading glasses. Nadia and I sent her out of the clinic and on to get her reading glasses and then into the auditorium to hear the Good News. She was tearful and thankful that we could get her in and received the Gospel with all readiness of mind and heart (Acts 17:11)!

Nadia, Dr. Luke and Sergii
(My wonderful translators)
The second story I'd like to share is about a sweet young mother that I'm still praying for. Nataliya is a 33 year old mother with a 9 year old girl. She was born deaf, and came in with a deaf family member and an appointed nurse from the county. The nurse would translate spoken Ukrainian to sign language, then her family member would sign into Nataliya's palm of her hand so she could communicate. She had won my heart instantly and I began praying. I put on my ophthalmoscope to exam the inside of her eyes and, to my suprise I could not see past her lens. She had two of the thickest cataracts I've ever seen. I sat back and explained to her that I could not see her retina or behind the lens in her eye to tell if her eyes were healthy. I mentioned that we have a test we could do that would 'see' past the cataract and let us know something about the health of her retinas. She was beaming at the slightest glimmer of hope. I asked her if I could pray for her, she said yes. I asked her if she believed in Jesus, she said yes. I asked her if she believed her faith could heal her, she said yes. I held her small head in my hands, placed my thumbs over her eyelids and I prayed my heart out! I prayed to the Great Physician and the Healer of all healers. I believed, she believed and as the prayer ended, I sat back and looked at her. God did not choose at that moment to give her back her sight. He did not restore her vision to completeness as I had prayed, but He did move. He moved my heart, the hearts of all involved were affected. I looked at my translator and she was crying, the nurse, the family member and Nataliya were all as teary eyed as this weary doctor was, and we were moved. We could not speak the same language, we could not hear or see one another, but our hearts were full of compassion, mercy, and the gratefulness that God's grace could bring. I was a bit sad that God did not perform a physical miracle that day, but I did tell her that we could have the test on her eyes done soon. That evening, I spoke with Dr. Dave about the case, and he said, “What are we waiting for?! Let's get this done while we are here!”. 
Nataliya's B-Scan and the
diagnosis
"Total Retinal Detachment"
He spoke with Dr. Elena and Nataliya was scheduled for the B-scan at 10:00 am the following morning. I'm still impressed! Nadia, my interpreter on this case, brought me the scan the next morning and stated that the doctor that did the scan was impressed that we would even take on her case. He stated that it would be amazing if anything could be done. I took a look at the scans...*gulp* I had the writing translated from Ukranian and read the line “total retinal detachments in both eyes”. With a retinal detachment, the surgeons will typically say that you have anywhere from 24-48 hours to get the retina reattached or the tissue begins to die. Nataliya's retinas had probably begun detaching 9 years ago. I prayed again then went in to speak with Dr. Elena. I told her that I had physically done all I am allowed to do, that I was turning the case over to her, and I would continue lifting Nataliya up in prayer. After sharing her story with Dr. Elena, she felt convicted to perform cataract surgery on Nataliya. I spoke with her friend today, and she stated that Dr. Elena is working on scheduling with a retinal surgeon to have them work together. I will continue to pray for Dr. Elena and Nataliya and I know that God can work all things and does work all things for good in those who love Him! (Romans 8:28)

Magic Cataract Drops
(either one "works" great)
The last story I'll share now is about a small older man in his early 70's. His name was Ivan, and he came to the clinic on Friday afternoon...we were almost done. Ivan had worked for the government of Ukraine in helping with clean up after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. He had such a positive attitude despite all his poor eyes had seen. He told me that he had been diagnosed with floaters in his eyes and a doctor gave him a prescription for iodine eye drops...yes...iodine eye drops. They burnt his eyes terribly and turned them yellow but he thought that maybe they were helping a little bit. I asked him if he still had the floaters and he said yes. I asked him if he had fewer floaters, and he said no. Goodness gracious. He was also using drops in both eyes to get rid of cataracts. Uggg. I do honestly wish there was a magical drop like this. It was almost humorous at this point as he was about the 500thpatient that was on the magic drops (someone is making money on these!). Call me unprofessional, but I guess Ivan could see the look on my face and he just started laughing. I started laughing with him and we both simply enjoyed a small stress relieving moment during an otherwise heavy day. After I had checked his floaters and his cataracts and explained to him what was going on he got very quiet. He leaned into the interpreter and I and whispered, “May I ask you a question? I mean, it may seem very strange, but I am serious.” At this point, I was pretty much ready for whatever Ivan could throw at me so I said, “sure...go ahead”. He spoke for about a minute to my interpreter then she turned to me and asked, “are you sure you're ready for this?!” “I am,” I said and kind of chuckled a bit. She told me that this sweet man had been told that you can grab a fresh worm from the ground...pinch it by the head and slide your fingers down its body squeezing out the juices. Then you take the juices and....(wait for it)...put them in your eye. He wanted to know if that would really help get rid of his cataracts. We sat in silence for about 30 seconds, and I am sorry to say, but I lost it again. I lay my head back and laughed. He joined me laughing and we both joked about all the silly superstitions that our countries believed in. I thanked him for his service to the country during the clean up and for the compassion that he showed to his people and smiled as I watched him waddle off to get some glasses and a bible.

There is still much work to do, and we left a stack of papers with the local doctors there in Ukraine to follow up with surgeries. The Village church raises the money to pay for the glasses and surgeries in this town as well as the town we will go to in Mexico at the end of this year. I look forward to serving the Lord and seeing Dr. Dave down there too.

“Thank you Lord for such a great trip. 
Thank you for opening my eyes to your people and the work you are doing there. 
Thank you for letting me be a small part of your plan. 
May your kingdom come soon, Lord. 
I love you.”
The Village Eye Mission Team

Mar 18, 2019

2018 Amish in Mazatlan -by Dr. Luke

I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I would be helping managing a home-building project in Mexico with a team of Amish from Lancaster County!  It truly is amazing what God has taken us through as we try to get ourselves out of His way and line our will up with His.

Phil Sauer (philsauer.com) contacted me at the end of last year and asked if I'd like to follow him around and help out in learning his trade.  He is (at least) an electrical engineer and has such an amazing heart for teaching and a humility that shows Christ is in charge of his life.  Phil and I have become good friends and I love to sit at his feet and attempt to 'soak in' all he has to share with me.  When he asked if I'd like to join...I was so happy to say YES!  I was able to fly down to Mazatlan a day before the Amish arrived and go over a few things with Phil.  Here was our plan:
1: help the YWAM base in Mazatlan with the Worship Center that was yet unfinished.
2: help the base to increase the dorm space that they have to allow the training of 500 missionaries this coming year
3: to build a home of hope for a new Christian family that was in need.

We had 37 Amish folks, Phil and I, and 10 days!  No problem!

These guys are amazing!  They work so hard, they work as a team, they don't complain, they love each other and they love the Lord.

The staff at YWAM Mazatlan found a family through a Christian Feeding Center in one of the Colonias outside the 'tourist' area of Mazatlan.  These people live on very inexpensive land and are mostly crammed together in dramatically different living conditions.  They have running water most nights for a few hours at sundown and have to take advantage of this time to fill their various 55 gallon drums.  The water is undrinkable, but they use it to wash laundry, bathe, and to pour into the toilets when they need to 'flush'.  They have drinkable water delivery once per day when a small pickup truck drives up to change out their 5-gallon plastic jugs.  There is no sewer system set up and each house has a cistern to maintain.  The homes do have a small amount of electricity to their homes (half of what a USA home would have) and one breaker controls the entire home.

The family that was chosen is a sweet one!  The mother and father have two children, a 15 year old daughter and 10 year old boy.  The father is a Mechanic's Assistant and makes 900 pesos per week (roughly $45).  He was working most of the time we were on the build, and the children were in school.  The mother was so kind to the team.  She made us all ceviche the first day from fish and carrots, and iced muffins the second day!  She told me that she spends 800 of the pesos on food each week and has to pay for water, electric, and clothes/shoes with the leftovers.  They lived in a home built from various wood scraps which she told me were full of scorpions and spiders normally!  Their roof is a hodgepodge of scrap metal, wood, and the plastic canvas that we use for bill boards in the States.  They live in poverty, but you can tell they are good stewards of the little they have.  It humbles me to see how they live, and shows me once again that 'poverty' is a mindset.  You can live happily with little or with much.  It all depends on how big your problems are compared to how big your God is.  A sermon I heard recently mentioned that we should stop telling God how big our mountains of problems are, and tell our 'mountains' how big our God is!

The team took 2 days to build the home (normally it takes teams 3-4 days, but the Amish are amazing!) and dedicate it to the Lord.  We had a ceremony and gave the keys and a bible to the husband and wife, then everyone went inside this tiny home and prayed for and encouraged this young family.  What an amazing thing to be a part of!

I love being involved in God's work.  Big or small, local or far away, long-term or short-term, it is so good to give and do in His name.  I'm thankful that I have the opportunity and ability to help.  He has given us all gifts and we should use those gifts to bring Him glory, for He alone is worthy.  We have a good good Father and that is who He is!



I'll post some pictures of the progress with the Worship Center, and the building of the home of hope (http://www.ywamhomesofhope.org).





Day 1 in the Worship Center


Day 2 in the Worship Center

Day 3 in the Worship Center 
Day 3 in the Worship Center

Day 3 in the Worship Center
Final view of Worship Center...what a difference!



Day 1 praying at the Home of Hope site

Laying down the walls at the Home of Hope

Painting the roof trusses and the siding at the Home of Hope

Can you see the tarantula in the breaker box? 


Inside the old home built of spare wood and canvas roof

The walls are put up

On with the siding, painted to the children's specification

On with the roof!

finishing the inside details

Home of Hope dedication

Home of Hope dedication

Home of Hope dedication


Group photo from the lighthouse in Mazatlan




2019 Trip to Mazatlan by Dr. Luke

Trip to Mazatlan

by Dr. Luke

For Matthew's birthday this year, I surprised him with a plane ticket to Mazatlan. I brought him with me on a construction mission. We went down to help my dear friend, Phil, manage several projects on the YWAM campus there. We met with 23 Amish guys and girls that traveled down on a bus for 3 days to join us. These guys are such good and hard workers, and it always amazes me how much they get done in such little time. When we got to the campus, you could just feel the presence of the Lord there. The Spirit moves through these staff and students as they move through the city sharing life, truth, hope, and the joy that they have been given from above. They have a huge worship session upstairs in the worship center that we helped to construct with the Amish last year. What a blessing that was to be a part of! I felt bad at times for Matthew...perhaps he thought we were taking a vacation to the beach! 
Matthew 'catching some waves'
Getting his hands dirty
Hard at work busting up bricks

We were there to work, and work we did! The group helped to finish out two bunk rooms, making space for almost 100 more missionary students per year. We built an extension outdoors for the dining area, painted almost every hallway there was, upgraded the firewall/network system, built a Home of Hope for an amazing mom of 11 children, opened up and finished a garage for parking 3 more vans, we also completed numerous other projects within several other dorm rooms (cabinets, plumbing, electric, etc). Much of my work was behind the scenes electrical and plumbing work to let the other guys put up drywall and paint. Matthew learned so much and was able to work hard and play hard with the guys and girls there. Every time I looked at him, he had a smile on his face. The Lord blessed the experience that he had and I am so thankful for it.


Building the outdoor dining extension Day 1
Building the outdoor dining extension Day 2


Building the outdoor dining extension Day 3

At the end of the trip, we all got the opportunity to hike up to the lighthouse. The view up there was amazing! It was so refreshing to once again be out of my 'comfort zone' and serving the Lord with all I have. Matthew and I were sitting with one of the Amish men that was learning the guitar. We were talking about how to learn and he wanted me to play a little for him. He had a book of worship and praise songs that he was learning from and we just started playing and singing. After the first few songs, I looked back and we had over 30 kids that had gathered around for the 'spontaneous' worship time. I love it so much when the Spirit shows up. God can do so very much with so very little, and it is always an honor to be His 'boots on the ground.'
After electrical work, sheetrock, and paint
Our big plumbing 'puzzle'
After tiling the bathroom

“Thank You Lord for the opportunity to serve You with my family. Thank You for the safe travel, and for the wonderful fellowship. I love getting to take part in all You are doing there. We had such a blessed time there and we are honored to be Your people and that You are our God.”

-As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.-

Our view from the Lighthouse