Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I am heading back to Crossroads tomorrow to teach in a couple Sunday school classes and be introduced at church. I am looking forward to seeing old and new friends and to be a part of the church body again. It has been awhile since I was last youth pastor there and yet the fellowship and friendships get sweeter over the years.
One example of this is the wedding that I am officiating between Whitney Berkan and Colin Swope on July 25 (my girls are the flower girls:). Whitney was in my youth group at Crossroads from sixth grade until her senior year, and then joined me at Western for a couple of years in our college group there. And, it is not only such a joy to be doing this wedding because there is so much great history and Colin is a stud, but it also amazingly wonderful because they did it right. They made good and hard choices along the way, guarding their heart and their purity and made good and honoring decisions seeking to glorify God with their lives, so that when it comes time to officiate their wedding, it is such a joy to be a part of... (I mean they met at Bible School of all places!)
Over the years, you wonder if your ministry helped anyone at all just like I am sure parents wonder if they are getting through and if any good will come out of all their sin and failures.But when you get to see that through grace when kids listen to Bible teaching and they follow God and they do it right that it really is such a blessing to everyone involved. May our students these days really believe in God and follow Him and trust Him and so they can reap the benefits of holiness and the brilliance of God's book. Praise God that he loves us enough to give a book that really is the way to life and praise God that he gives grace so we can obey it and praise God when people do. Thanks Whitney and Colin for encouraging me and may the next chapter of your lives bring joy and thanks to many, many more people because of the grace that will sustain your marriage.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Here is the blog!
Who said I wouldn't use my experience & education in business on the mission field?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
So, I read this blog today...
This has caused problems. There have been several small landslides that have buried a few houses with several deaths. Last Wednesday, June 18, a section of the large wall surrounding the General Cemetery in Zone 3 fell on several houses killing 3 people. This happened about 2 blocks away from a child center, Casita Benjamin, where we help. There are other problems also in these neighborhoods that I have been asked to help with. Many single mom households, very, very poor area, with roofs that leak, drains that don't drain, etc. I will be meeting later this week with some to see what we can do to help.
Then, last Friday, June 20, another tragedy caused by the rain. A large section of the main land fill dump, right alongside this same neighborhood in Zone 3, slid down in an avalanche of garbage and mud. Hundreds of people eke out a living by digging through the garbage daily for anything of value that can be recycled, etc. The avalanche buried many. So far they have recovered 6 bodies with at least 18 people still missing. They have called off more searches as the area is still considered a very high risk for more slides.
Just to personalize this story, here is a picture of Juana Cecilia Ventura. She is 15 years old.
Juana was injured in the land/garbage slide, but will recover.
Her mother, Catarina Ventura Ventura, and 10 yr. old brother, Francisco, were killed. Now, she will take responsibility for her 7 younger brothers and sisters.
Please pray for these people, and remember all of the people in this wet season when there are always problems with landslides, etc. It is always the poor, where the only available land for them is usually in hazardous areas, that are effected the most.
You read a blog like that and you probably feel horrible like I just did. And then their is a crucial moment where you decide to, A. say, "Bummer for them" and then click off the link, B. say a short prayer for them, or C. love them. What does love them mean? How do I practically love them, especially this girl, who is a million miles and a lifetime away? What can I do?
Well, the Bible says, Matthew 7:12 (NIV) So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
The Bible also says, Galatians 5:14 (NIV) The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
So, if you do a little math:
Then, A=C, right...?
A=B – Love fulfills the law
B=C – Doing unto others fulfills the law
A=C – Love is doing unto others as you would do to yourself…
So, in this situation, how do we love Juana Cecilia Ventura so that we can do the will of God?
Well, what would you want done if you were her?
Well, to know that, you have to walk in her shoes, to feel what it must feel like to one, just have lost your mother and your brother, two, to know what it feels like to be living in a dump, and three, to feel the helplessness and discouragement and pain that she must be feeling.
And once we have felt that, we then ask, what would I want someone to do if I were her and she were me. And then, what?
Galatians 6:2 (NIV) Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Love fulfills the law...
Do unto others fulfills the law...
Bearing burden fulfills the law…
So, what are WE going to do about this?
Love is bearing the burdens that you would want bore if you were them and they were you.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Well, we are home. It feels great to say that, which is nothing against a wonderful week at Whidbey Island, a great week with our friends the Collin's and fun and great eats with the grandparents and great-grandparents, but there is something about finally being home, together as a family, which is really nice.
For those of you who don't know, we are living in Bellingham during our furlough at a camp. The only house they had available just happened to be right on the water and so we are really roughing it... The picture is from our house. (We love watching the camping happenin' every day... Really fun!) Before you start to judge me, you need to know, the interesting part is that when we were feeling led to Africa, I prayed to go someplace near water. I mean, don't diss my prayer, there are at least 20 countries on water. I grew up on the water. I love water. It is just in my blood. So, God sends us to Zambia which is landlocked by 8 countries. Because life is not about this earth, and we live for eternity, we made the most of God's sense of humor. But, we surely don't mind these few months of water living, which makes hosting and getting together with friends and supporters, especially sweet!
Stephanie is doing well, pregnancy and all. We are about 8 weeks away which is really cool. I can't wait to hold our little girl. Sleeping is a challenge for her, and I think it may
We have felt an overwhelming waterfall of God's blessing lately, which has included people lending two cars, 2 cell phones, a cool house, and then some really thoughtful welcome home gifts. But, the cherry on top of the ice cream of blessings came two days ago, when we found someone to lease our house for two more years. I happened to look at Craig'slist for a renter (our renter wanted out of the lease early) and found someone who wanted a house on the day we wanted a renter. We met this family and wow, they loved it and we loved them. So, that was HUGE and settles us big time.
Regarding this last week, we had a wonderful vacation on Whidbey Island. Relaxing, processing full, and peaceful. We missed the kids a ton, though, and we enjoyed an early 9th birthday celebration with grandparents and cousins. I can’t believe my first born is 9 years old... (Her actual birthday is today!!!)
While we were at Whidbey, we met up with a friend Josh who came to Zambia on a mission trip this past January. We brought back a bunch of handmade bags. These bags are made from the recycled plastic bags from the grocery stores. Josh and his family sells them at their Forget Me Not Farm! It just another cool way how we here can support African widows there who make these amazing bags. When Stephanie paid them for these bags their, they did a sweet dance for Stephanie out of the joy of selling their bags. It was really cool!
Well, that is pretty much the update. As far as Action details go, I have an important meeting on Friday regarding working on Pastor Leader Development stuff and then on Sunday, I am sharing at two classes on Sunday at Crossroads. The following week I will speaking at a middle school youth group.
I am realizing how much I am learning and thinking these about being here in the states, and I've got to be honest that the blogging is probably not going to lessen... I've got too much in mind and it has to find a place to be processed or I'll go crazy... So check back often if you dare:)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
When I was a youth pastor, I went on a lot of mission trips. At the end of each trip, I would always schedule a "wasted day" of debriefing. I am not sure there was ever a year when someone didn't contest this idea of debriefing when we could be doing ministry. But in all my years of doing ministry trips, there was one year that I didn't really schedule debriefing time and it really shortchanged the trip, the processing of lessons learned and it wasn't a good finish. I learned my lesson and debriefing became a priority.
Now that we are home, we are doing a lot of debriefing. We are spending a week at a beach house and something about water makes processing so easy:) Our processing is taking a variety of forms, through preparing messages, preaching, journaling, talking with friends and family and walks with my wife. I thought I would use the blog over the next few weeks to process the lessons and hopefully, these memories and lessons will be a blessing to encourage you in living like Africa and other third world countries exist...
To kick it off, I thought I would include a link to my message at Crossroads Bible Church. It is a first person look at the lessons of what God taught me. I think the microphone was having issues that night, so you'll have to bear with a less than perfect audio... Click here for the link!
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I haven't gotten a chance to post a blog about our last days in Zambia... We had a lots of people show up the last couple of days and below are the pictures and a few tidbits about them.
This is Given and her daughter, Dorcas. She is a single mother who is supported by a former missionary. There is so much I could write about this sweet 21 year old with an eight year old daughter, but I don't think the blog is the place to write. Needless to say, God loves these two and so do we.
This was the group that came and saw us off the morning we left...
My guards hamming it up. They love to be in pictures. Daka said, "You look... so smart." Smart I guess being a compliment that I looked good? Who knows? I'll take smart anyday
This is our beloved Auntie Miriam... It was especially difficult saying goodbye, even if it was just for six months. She became like family and you always felt like she had your back. She lived to take care of us, and it gave me a great picture of what being a servant means.
This is Daka, one of our workers, and his wife and their baby boy John. I have a lot of blogs about Daka, but if you want to read about the birth of this child and the craziness that Africa can be, click on blogs about daka... It was great going to his house, having a coke and rejoicing in the blessing of his child.
We have now been back a week and it just is (I keep using this word, I know) surreal to know that all the pain and heartache and hardness and laughter and joy and contentment just continues for them... We dare not forget, lest we miss out on all the good that Africa has been for and in us.
But saying that, it does feel good to be back, hanging with family and friends, going to church and sharing about Africa and eating good homemade gluten free food... We haven't been to one restaurant and I am as happy (and full) as can be...
I thought I would share some pictures of our kids and their cousins! Oh, and a super cute picture of Julia with her new clothes from Grandma and Grandpa! Have a great week!