A new beginning…

Finding my feet in living for Jesus.

Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Doctor Oliver.

Posted by lauraoli on May 25, 2012

This week I have had a manic time. I finished my finals last Friday, I returned to Preston from  Brighton on Monday, I went to Glasgow on Wednesday and then yesterday I was in Blackpool in the morning and waiting for my finals results in the afternoon. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about my results, but the crazily busy week beforehand helped me from focussing on them for too long!

God has been completely amazing over the past few months, I have had many people at church praying for me, and although I have been working hard and feeling stressed, there is no way I could have got through the exams without Him.  The verse of exam time for me is always Phillipians 4:6-7; ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’  I have most definitely felt God’s peace over the last few months.

In my quiet time on Wednesday evening, I read this; ‘Now, therefore, you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.’ (Ephesians 2:19). This was a brilliant reminder for me that although my results that were coming on Thursday were incredibly important, and whatever happened would shape my life for the next few years to come, that in the end, I have been adopted in to God’s family, and the end result, no matter what is eternity with Him. I have been saved from my life of sin and transgressions by God’s grace, and have been given life in Christ Jesus. That is way more important than those results! This knowledge doesn’t stop me caring about my results, and doesn’t (entirely) stop me worrying, but it does give me a great perspective on what they mean.

The results came through yesterday. I passed.

I am now, officially, a doctor.

Thank you Lord.


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Reverse Thinking

Posted by lauraoli on April 4, 2011

Ephesians chapter 2 really is one of my favourite bible chunks – and this clip, based on what it says is just BRILLIANT.

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How many languages?!

Posted by lauraoli on November 10, 2010

Going to Madagascar was terrifying for many reasons. The main one was the language barrier. I speak English, and not really anything else. As those of you who read my blog know, I went to Montpellier earlier this year to brush up on my French – the language of the more educated and of the missionaries out in Mandritsara. Once I arrived, I realised just how limited my French actually was, and how much Malagasy was spoken in and around the hospital.

As the weeks went on, my French improved quite dramatically – I managed to spend time with English speaking doctors in the hospital, but there was another girl there from Switzerland who didn’t speak English, so we had to talk to each other in French. This was great, she was very patient with me and I carried around a dictionary on my ipod, so we were able to communicate pretty well!

Also, once a week there were bible studies for the missionaries – again in French. We were working through 1 Samuel, and for the first couple of weeks I had absolutely no idea what was going on. By the end of my visit however, it was really noticeable how much more I could understand.

But the really big thing that struck me out there with all the different languages was that all these people had a relationship with the same God. He transcends all languages and all cultures, and this was something I’d never had an opportunity to realise firsthand before. During the bible studies, if we were asked to read a section of the passage, everyone did so in the language of their bible – English, Dutch, German, Malagasy and French were all used. Prayers were said in any of these languages too, so even though I didn’t understand some of what was going on, they were still talking to the same God that I talk to when I pray in English. That’s pretty cool!

On one Saturday, we were having a ‘jolly Samedi’ (food, worship, chat, games etc) and 2 ½ year old Keziah announced she wanted to sing ‘My God is so big, so strong and so mighty…’ So we did. In English, French and Malagasy!

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing that he cannot do! (x2) The rivers are his, the mountains are his, the stars are his handiwork too, My God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing that he cannot do!

Mon Dieu est si grand, si fort et si puissant, rien n’est impossible à mon Dieu! (x2) Les monts sont à lui, les lacs sont à lui, les cieux sont sa création. Mon Dieu est si grand, si fort et si puissant, rien n’est impossible à mon Dieu!

Andriamanitro, lehibe sy mahery, tsy misy tsy hainy atao! (x2) Ny ranomasina, ny tanety koa, ny lanitra azy avoko, Andriamanitro, lehibe sy mahery, tsy misy tsy hainy atao!

And just to finish – here’s a video I took at the children’s holiday bible club of the kids singing this song.

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A lesson in God’s sovereignty

Posted by lauraoli on October 1, 2010

I survived! I have now been back in the UK for just over a week, after spending 7 weeks in Madagascar at a mission hospital in the rural north-eastern part of the country.

My original criteria for an elective placement:

  1. An English speaking country
  2. A developed country
  3. Somewhere that didn’t require a long journey
  4. A highly specialised hospital, preferably paediatric

HVM, Mandritsara, Madagascar:

  1. A Malagasy/ French speaking country
  2. A developing country
  3. Outbound journey required a total of 18 hours flying time and a 22 hour taxi journey over the course of 4 days
  4. A generalised mission hospital, serving the needs of the community in the best way it can

Laura the surgeon!

Just a few short months ago, the idea of going to somewhere like HVM for 7 weeks was a ridiculous idea. I have never had any inclination to spend any length of time in Africa and I have always imagined my future to be here, in the UK.

However, God has certainly taught me over the last year that he is most definitely in charge and that he knows best.

I had the absolute time of my life in Mandritsara. I did things I never thought I could (including spending a night in a remote village with the Community Health Team, with no running water, no electricity, no phone signal, no toilets and no English speaking person) and my whole world has sort of been turned upside down.

In third year of medicine, I did 8 weeks of surgery and I hated every minute. I was certain I never wanted to be a surgeon. In Madagascar, Dr. Mann, the surgeon, is the only qualified surgeon for an area equivalent to Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey and Greater London combined. Without him, people with acute surgical emergencies would simply die. The difference he makes on a daily basis is incredible, and opened up my eyes to the possibility of specialising in something that would be the most useful, rather than the most enjoyable. I spent a lot of my time in theatre, and I began to realise I actually could enjoy it – something that I wasn’t expecting at all! God has also opened my eyes to the possibility of doing some sort of mission work in the future. Seeing the difference the hospital makes in the lives of the local community was wonderful, and incredibly rewarding.

There were many things I learned whilst away, and I had some amazing experiences. This is just the first post of many to come!

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God truly is omnipresent!

Posted by lauraoli on July 3, 2010


One (major) issue of going to Madagascar for my elective is that I need to be able to communicate in French. The last time I did any French was for my GCSE, 8 years ago (that makes me feel SO old!) and so I have been trying to brush up on my skills. For the past few weeks I have been listening to some ‘teach-yourself-French’ CDs that a friend from church lent me, but I knew I needed to do a lot more to be at a decent standard by August. So this last week I have spent the week in Montpellier, on the south coast of France at Accent Francais language school.

I was really nervous about going to Montpellier, not only because my French really isn’t so good, but because I was being hosted by a French family and I was worried about whether I would get on with them. I found the first couple of days incredibly lonely and baffling, was quite emotional and began to count down the days until I could leave.

It was on the second night when I was feeling very low, I got out my bible to read and had the realisation that however lonely I was, and even though I didn’t understand the language, God was with me. It was a truth that I had known, but the reality of it hit me in those solitary hours.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.                                                                                                                                                                   Deuteronomy 31:8

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.                                                                                                                                 Joshua 1:9

These verses and the truth that they hold will be very comforting in Madagascar I expect!

The rest of the week went really well, I made friends with some of the other students,  began to understand a lot more of what my host said to me, and was actually quite sad to leave today! God definitely gave me the strength to get through the week.

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”Are you late?”

Posted by lauraoli on May 25, 2010

For the first time ever, an abortion clinic advertised on national TV on Monday. The advert for Marie Stopes, in my opinion, is misleading and inappropriate.

Not once in that advert does the word ‘abortion’ actually appear, even though the Marie Stopes clinic carries out one third of all abortions that take place each year in the UK.

To advertise abortions like they are just another consumer product is appalling and completely disregards the sanctity of life. A life is a life, no matter what circumstances surrounds the child’s conception or family. As soon as those two cells fuse, a life is created. Abortion is murder.

The bible has many things to say on this subject, but I have chosen just one verse to illustrate my point:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.               Jeremiah 1:5

God designed us, created us and has plans for each and every one of us. We don’t have the right to ‘play God’ – we’re no good at it. That’s his job, and he is good at it.

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Suffering: hopeless or hopeful?

Posted by lauraoli on May 21, 2010

On Sunday we had a talk entitled ‘Why does a God of love allow suffering?’ in our church. It was given, very eloquently, by a man who had been through his fair share of suffering, and although I didn’t agree with absolutely everything he said, some of his talk really impacted upon me.

He spoke of how he can now see the way God has used all those awful experiences that had happened in his life for good purposes, and that this is a truth that we can hold on to – no matter what suffering we are going through, we can be sure that God will use it in a beneficial way, although, obviously, we may not be able to see that at the time. But this is fantastic news! It means that suffering is NEVER pointless. That’s a great thing for Christians to hold onto when they are going through a rough patch in their lives. All those people who dispute the existence of God have no hope during times of suffering, because if we are all just here because of random chance, then there is absolutely no benefit ever to be found in suffering.

Paul has some encouraging things to say about this in Romans:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.      Romans 8:18

Nothing is too awful in this life that it is not worth going through for the hope of the glorious life to come. That’s going to be a whole lot better than anything we can imagine.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.      Romans 8:28

Whatever is happening, however terrible, we can be sure that God will use it in some way for our benefit and for our good. What an amazing thing to know! Suffering is NEVER pointless.

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Posted by lauraoli on April 6, 2010

At the beginning of 4th year medicine (next year), students at my medical school undertake an elective. This is a 6 week placement in any hospital anywhere in the world. The general advice from the med school is to start organising it about 18 months in advance. I, however, have only just got mine finalised (4 months before I go).  I’m not the most organised of people.

I avoided organising it for as long as possible, simply because I just didn’t know where I wanted to go. I finally decided on the US – it is a developed country, they speak English, I know someone in Seattle…. all in all it was a safe option. But that was exactly what it was. Safe. After several months of rejections and dead ends, I began to question my motives. I also spoke to many people at the CMF conference (see previous post ‘CRASH CALL’) and they all had really amazing stories of their time in developing nations. This made me change my mind, and try to challenge myself.

I am now going to a small mission hospital in a town called Mandritsara in the rural north of Madagascar. I am terrified. It’s possibly the complete opposite of what I had originally hoped for…. it’s a very poor nation, they speak French (I don’t) and I won’t know anyone. However, God has made it pretty clear to me that this is where I am supposed to be going. The number of ‘coincidences’ since sorting it has slightly freaked me out – from reading the first chapter of a book I’ve had for ages which turned out to be about a couple of medical missionaries who went to the same hospital, to speaking to someone I have babysat for for over 2 years and discovering that they went to Madagascar on their medical elective 20 years ago, before finally the person I have a one-to-one bible study with announcing that she knows the doctors that run the hospital. I think that I’ve had enough signs now, God. You’ve made your point!

On a small side note…. I actually haven’t seen the film ‘Madagascar’. I think I need to rectify this situation as soon as possible. People keep quoting it at me, and I have no idea what they are talking about.

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Posted by lauraoli on January 21, 2010

”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

I always think this is a brilliant example of God’s amazing design for our bodies.

Laminin is a cell adhesion molecule, found in the extracellular matrix.  Laminin is vital to making sure overall body structures hold together.

”He is before all things, and in him all things hold together Collossians 1:17

Let Louie Giglio explain (fast forward to 2:40) :

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Posted by lauraoli on January 20, 2010

At prayer group (‘pentagon’ – there are 5 of us) last night, I was very full of spaghetti, in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word. I had a belly full of spaghetti, courtesy of one of the other girls, and a head full of spaghetti after we attempted to read the ‘What is God like?’ chapter in our book (Christian beliefs – 20 basics every Christian should know, by Wayne Grudem).  We only got half way through the chapter, since we are very good at going off on huge tangents. Our discussion and what we read really blew my mind. As a fairly new Christian, I am learning something new every day. But last night was information OVERLOAD. God is truly awesome.

I thought I’d recap on some of the stuff we talked about.

God’s existence

The bible simply assumes God’s existence. Every created thing gives evidence of God and his character – human beings, created in the image of God, give the most evidence of God’s existence and character.

So belief in God is not some ‘blind faith’, it is based on evidence found both in the bible and in the natural world. Whenever I’d though of ‘creation’ as being evidence for God, I always though of the physical world, mountains, rivers etc. But then we read that we, as created human beings, are clear indicators for a creator God. It seems so obvious now, but that’s pretty cool.

This reminds me of laminin, my favourite cell adhesion protein. I’ll tell you about it at some other time.

God’s knowability

Not only does God exist, he exists in such a way that we can know things about him and actually come to know him personally.  We can never know God fully – he is infinite and we are finite. His greatness is too great to ever fully to be known.

We have an infinitely great God, who we can’t possibly understand, but we can know him personally. Wow.

God is independent

God doesn’t need us or anything else in creation for anything. God has always been perfectly and completely happy and fulfilled in his personal existence. God always was. He was not created; he never came into being. Therefore God is not dependent on anyone for anything. His entire creation is entirely dependent on him. God chooses to give us value and sinificance. We are important to him!

Though God does not need us, he allows us to bring joy to his heart. I bring joy to the creator God?!

God is eternal

He has no beginning or end or succession of events in his own being. He has always existed. His view of time is radically different to ours. God views all of past history as vividly as he would if it were a brief event that had just happened. But he also views a brief event as if it were going on forever. As the one who created and rules over time, God uses time for his own purposes.

It’s very had to get my head round the fact that God created time. Having no time makes no sense to me. But it wouldn’t, that’s why God’s God and I’m me. Because I can’t understand it. It makes my head hurt trying to understand it.

God is omnipresent

He is unlimited with regard to space. He does not have size or spatial dimensions; he is present in every point of space with his whole being. He cannot be limited by material space because he created it.

Again, not only did God create time, he also created space. So he is not limited by space. Baffling.

God is omniscient

He fully knows all things that he could have done, but did not do, and all things that he might have created, but did not create. He also knows all possible events that will not actually happen, and events that would have resulted if some other events had turned differently in history. God is always, at all times, fully aware of everything. His knowledge never changes or grows. Nothing surprises him, nothing is hidden from him. From all eternity God has known all things that would happen and all things that he would do.

This little bit turned into a huge discussion about predestination. There is a whole chapter on that later in the book, so hopefully I will come to learn more about it then. At the moment it’s all very confusing. But as I learned last week, everything that I need to be a Christian is very clear. If there are things that aren’t very clear, then they aren’t that important.

Writing this has made me remember how I felt last night. Confused and bewildered, but absolutely in awe. God is truly awesome.

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