Thursday, September 29, 2016

Escripts--September 29, 2016--Looking back, looking forward

Here I (Rick) am, sitting in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, making the transition again-- from the USA to Liberia; from advocating, fundraising and praying from afar to working, interacting, and collaborating side by side; from the beginning of autumn to the end of rainy season. I’m really happy Debbie and I get to travel together this time! From this vantage point, right in the bend of the road, it is a pretty good view looking back to where we’ve come from, and a pretty good view forward as well, so let me share the view from here with you.

Looking back….
Dr. Rick’s Ride turned out to be a lot of fun! I think my biggest surprise was how many people spent so many hours assisting with this project—I am so grateful! Seven different riders joined me on different legs of the 3-day ride, 165 miles from Springfield to Wayland, to Lowell, to Worcester (Massachusetts). Someone drove the “back-up car” for first aid and mechanical help along the way. A gracious host at each of these stops (assisted by others they recruited) put together an opportunity for me to share the burden God has placed on my heart for the current challenge of HIV in Liberia. Many prayed, listened, and donated. Thank God for answering so many prayers! We had a very safe ride. 164 donors have given over $20,000 so far for the ELWA Hospital HIV/AIDS Education Project, and more is coming in. The total need is $200,000 over 5 years.

Looking forward….

October is going to be a busy month in Liberia. I’ll be working with Rachelle, who heads up our HIV/AIDS Care Team at ELWA, to get the initial activities of our project going: expanding and promoting our monthly support groups; selecting, training and deploying our community outreach team; and working out the details of supervision and reporting on the project’s outcomes.  Debbie will be working on publicity for the dedication of the new ELWA Hospital building, coming up on October 22nd. And both of us will be finding ways to pitch in and help with all the administrative details needed to make the move to the new building a success.

If you missed Rick's talk on HIV-AIDS in Liberia you can watch it on YouTube.  

Please continue to pray with us!
Pray for God to guide and direct the new efforts to reduce deaths from HIV.
Pray for the dedication of the new hospital facility to be an event at which God is glorified as Samaritan’s Purse and SIM join hands in meeting the health needs of our patients in the name of Christ.
Ask God to provide the needed staff and volunteers to provide top-notch, compassionate care at our new facility

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dr. Rick's Ride!

For all those of you who weren't able to make it to one of the Dr. Rick's Ride's presentations on the HIV/AIDS challenge in Liberia, Here it is on Youtube! : ) (This was the talk at Trinitarian Congregational Church in Wayland.... thanks to Ken Keyes for the awesome video work/powerpoint integration!) Enjoy....

Monday, September 05, 2016

Flat tires

So, I was inspired back in May to do a 160 mile bike ride across Massachusetts, to raise funds for HIV care and prevention in Liberia—It’s coming up soon, September 8th to 11th!  I’ve been doing a lot of cycling to train and get ready. One day in early August, I was doing a 30 mile ride, and just a few miles into it I had that unmistakable experience… I hear a noise, a little “thunk” as I run over something. And then I notice that there’s a little more resistance to forward progress. I start to feel the road a little more. At first I look down, and everything looks OK, and I think it’s just my imagination. But then the bike starts to slow down, and I’m really feeling the road, and I look again…. yep, my back tire is flat. Suddenly my progress has halted, and I have to stop and fix my tire. No problem, I have a spare tube and a little toolkit. I stop, find a safe place by the road to get the tire off the rim and pull out the tube. I get the tube changed and pump it up, pop it back on the bike and get on my way again. My hands are a little greasy now, but I’m thinking it’s not so bad… just puts me about 15 minutes behind what I was hoping for, but I have the time. So I’m continuing on, having a good ride, getting a little past the half-way point, and “pop” I hear the sound again, this time from the front tire. Now this is worse luck than usual! I look through the stuff in my bag, and realize I don’t have everything I need to fix another flat. I call Deb to come and pick me up.

If this was a one-time occurrence, that would be one thing. But over the last month, I’ve had 7 flat tires! Some in front, some in back, different places around the rim, so it’s not that there’s something stuck in my tire. I’ve ridden well into the thousands of miles over the last 6 years, and I’ve probably had a flat tire about once a year. Could God be sending me a message? 

I must admit, at first I thought it was because I’d had a couple early mornings where I had gotten up and gotten straight on the bike without having my usual time of Bible reading and prayer. I took it as God telling me: “Put me first”. So I made sure from then on to first have my time with Jesus before taking off on a morning ride. But that was about 4 flats ago….

As I’ve been reflecting on this (I’ve had lots of time to reflect… each time I find myself by the side of the road, changing another tube!), I think God has put this little inconvenience in my life to help me understand a few things. He’s saying, “Rick, if you have something worthwhile you are working on, that you feel called to do, burdened to do, convinced from the core of your being that it’s the right thing to do, are you going to let a few flat tires discourage you? Nope, you’re going to press on. Does another obstacle, another disappointment, another delay mean that I have turned my back, that I don’t want you to persevere?  Nope. I’m telling you that I want you to dig deeper.”

But most of all, I feel like God is letting me know that the highest priority in life is not reaching a destination or accomplishing a great achievement. It’s walking with Him. It’s allowing each disappointment, each delay, each difficulty to draw me closer to Him.