We woke up which was distinctly like sleeping because of all of the various noises, smells, and heat to the climate. Dalton, Thomas, myself, and two of our AIM (Adventures In Missions) hosts went for a run. I’m out of shape but I was so proud of being in the minimal shape necessary to being able to go for a run in a 3rd world country. We visited the childhood church of Pastor Raul. They had live feed video for the overflow! Looked like a MediaShout type program for lyrics. The crowd participation was AWESOME! No offense to my Coldwater friends but they were soooo into the music! I was into the music with my limited understanding of the language!!!

We returned from church and packed up for the trip to the sea-side town of Azua. Azua? What about San Juan de la Maguana like the AIM group told us we’d be based out of? LOL. I guess things don’t always go as planned. However, the “dorm” in Azua did have some semblance of a U.S. structure. The water occasionally ran, electricity was 18/24 hours a day, and we had security and control of our own private space…. Whew.

We also met our translators and the group from Illinois that would be our teammates for the week. What was lacking in infrastructure was made up for in terrific relationships and a strengthening of a relationship with my loving and caring God! Then we went to church at Pastor Raul’s church in Azua and started building relationships even more.

Journal entry quote: “I joked about seeing pictures of a pick up truck overloaded with people when researching the D.R. before I left. But on the way to Pastor Raul’s church we loaded about 15 of us into a Datsun style truck to head to church. What an amazing ride. The streets got narrower and narrower and narrower while the houses got closer together, too. And then the homes were barely houses and more like shacks or piles of concrete. The road T’d and became the worst rut/rock road I’ve ever seen. If I had to get back to that place I’d say we turned right (derecho) where the three pigs were in the road and people actually understood! It was raining and kids were playing naked in the rain/runoff and sudzing up. We had a little excitement in the dark after church when our truck had a flat tire just before the three pigs but we all made it out safe.”

What a cool mission trip. Our trip started with a family dinner on a Friday night at the church. We left Coldwater about 2am and arrived in Santo Domingo about 2pm the next day-Saturday. We were surprised that our Dominican connections weren’t as prepared for us as we would have hoped. There was discussion at the airport along the lines of deciding whether we would stay at a hotel (which I’m picturing as being pretty “cheap”) or whether we would stay at a relative of the host pastor’s…. Tick-tock. U.S. time just wasn’t the same as Dominican time….

As I look back at that first night, though unscripted from our planning standards we have in the U.S., it was a really unique opportunity to see a working homestead in a destitute neighborhood within Santo Domingo. We actually had to go about 12 hours without access to reliable drinking water. It wasn’t that we couldn’t get bottled water, it was that it wasn’t easy to safely get bottled drinking water with such a large group in a 3rd world country. Along with challenges with the heat, food, and lack of hygiene/housing facilities that were anywhere close to U.S. standards that first night was a real challenge to our group.

Journal entry quote: “Spent the night in Santo Domingo at the property of Pastor Raul’s brother. We were in a concrete “attic” or rooftop room. It is customary to add to property as finances allowed, meaning a lot of property is in the state of constant renovation. The tin roof was in the process of repair as our van was pulling up out front. It was leaky, no screens on the property, pigeons were heard walking on the roof. Hot. Smelly. Family was up so late and were loud. Neighborhood dogs were very loud. Heard a motorcycle that sounded like it was racing between our room and the main house – amazing… Read aloud the story of Jonah to Dalton – very cool ministering experience.”

But our adventure was under way. There is so much to type about but I can’t. In fact, I’ve delayed too long to start this blog knowing that there is no way I can “blog” it and do it justice. But I can’t wait any longer. So the blog begins.

As I was putting Sara to bed tonight I had a flashback moment. A flashback to 1996 and a time when Marena was 2 or 3 years old. I was so impatient back then, at a young age. It would be my turn to put Marena to bed and I’d think how easy it would be. “Ok, Marena. Off to bed.” As if that was all it would take. I’d get her to bed and she’d say, “Dad, I want a drink of water… Dad, I have to go to the bathroom… Dad, I forgot to brush my teeth… Dad, I didn’t hug my momma.”

Then Sara showed up and I’m older and wiser. I never once put her to bed without those essentials being taken care of and putting Sara to bed was never a ‘task’ to be completed.

Dear daughters, I love you soooo much. It has been such a pleasure to know you, to raise you, to influence you, and to just simply hold and care for you.

We had a great mini-vacation over spring break to Chicago. Marena had a follow-up Dr. visit at Shriner’s Hospital that we were able to fit in. Her healing from hand surgery is going as expected. We took the opportunity to get Sara a little exposure to the Art Institute since she hasn’t had that opportunity and Marena did when she was a little younger then Sara is now. The icing on the cake was a visit to Shedd Aquarium which is always fun. They have a 4D movie which is always cool, especially when you aren’t expecting mist, air bursts, pokes in the back of the seat, etc.

Tuesday night we saw the movie, “How To Train Your Dragon” at the 3D IMAX at Navy Pier. It is amazing how good the 3D technology is improving it. You can even afford to go if as a family you hold 3-4 jobs… We ate at Harry Carey’s and had a nice evening hanging out in the garden at Navy Pier watching the fountains jumping over our heads.

One of the highlights was the time we spent together at Leonardo’s Italian Restaurant in some burb north of the city. My girls are growing up and the conversation is getting more intellectually stimulating but still just as funny. Everyone was forced in to long periods of laughter many times at the table. A lot different then when we used to have to hush Marena at Chicago Water Grill when she was 5 years old, then I’d rush to the bathroom to change Sara’s diaper… This was a great night!

The Art Institute was great. They’ve changed some things up and it seemed more touristy then museum-y (I know its not a word). The Fantasea show at Shedd was more show then animal which was kind of a let down – but the kids probably didn’t know what they were missing.

Thursday morning at the hotel we treated ourselves to a morning swim, breakfast in bed, and a nap after breakfast before we started our day.

Here’s a shocker, the ladies went shopping…. More then once….

Dear God, thank you so much for the resources to be able to take my family on this vacation. I know that without You none of this would be possible for us. You’ve guided our family back on Your course and You’ve been our Guide for a long time now. It is getting easier to let You be in control. Please be with the struggling people that we saw in Chicago. We pray that they feel Your presence and give You a chance to work in their lives, too. Amen.

Bessie The Cow

My Blog Comments Off
Apr 082010

It’s been reported that First Baptist Bessie had a recent makeover on a trip to Chicago. Check out all of Bessie’s photos at FBC Bessie.

Mar 162010

strong tower
Proverbs 18:10

Have you spent time in Proverbs? I went about two years in my church attendance listening to the recommendations of pastoral leadership saying things like, “There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, one a day and you’ll be through the book in a month!” Many years ago I felt the nudge (from God?) to spend my lunch hours reading Proverbs. I was so intrigued I finished in a week.

Frequently my Bible reading time can follow some sort of trend based on what is happening in my life. I can find verses that apply to a topic and then whatever chapter or book that leads me to, I spend time digging deeper into the meaning of the verse I’ve been led to. That’s my style, I enjoy it – right or wrong to others.

But when I’m in doubt, I always say a quick prayer and start moving through Proverbs. Today, for a reason only God knows, Proverbs 18:10 stuck out. Here it is in the ESV:

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

A strong tower. Yup, I can see that in God. ‘The name’ implies a calling out. I don’t mind doing that, “Lord, help me!” The righteous man, I’m human but I try for righteous. I certainly don’t ignore righteous – I have values based on my belief in Biblical teaching. Ahhh, to be safe. Safety is elusive for me. I’m not sure ‘safe’ is even where the Bible calls us to go most of the time. But for brief periods, safe and peace are so wonderful. We can get safe all from a single verse in the Bible. It doesn’t matter the homes we own, the cars we drive, or the clothes we wear. Thank you, God.

Feb 192010

WarGames (1983)

Watching WarGames (1983) for about the dozenth time. Cool movie. Love the old-style dial up modem which most won’t believe I actually used. I know now that nothing on dial up actually happened fast and that the President never could have made a “dial-up” decision in 6 minutes. It’s fun to think back and see how life has changed. I’m typing this in one window, watching Broderick changing his high school grades (and those of his girlfriend) in the Netflix window next to me. Secretly I’m wondering if I can “tap” the MSU computers to change my statistics grades. JK.

Interesting Dialogue Over A Can Of TAB:

BRODERICK: Falken is dead.
COLEMAN: He’s dead?
BRODERICK: Yeah, he was pretty old.
COLEMAN: How old was he?
BRODERICK: He was 41.

Another Dabney Coleman quote, “What is a tragic-tory heading?”

Feb 042010

Edited copy
This is the third trip I’m making back to Founder’s Week at Moody Bible Institute. I was inspired the first time I heard D.L. Moody’s story and I have to confess I like the conference. Each week I go to church and I hear a message. But I don’t always “hear” the message because I’m paid to be there and my responsibilities distract me from actually “hearing” the message.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss talked about the importance of the daily devotional, how Jesus did this, and how it actually starts the night before. Andrew Schmutzer took us through Psalm 73 and showed us how to use it for others, not just oneself. Bill Rieser shared his surprising and powerful testimony of growing up on the streets of Manhattan. Joseph Stowell talked about casting away your nets – those earthly things that keep you from following God. Albert Mohler shared opinions on each side of a nationally televised debate he participated in on homosexuality referenced in the Bible in Romans 1. Josh Moody (no relation) was a highly intelligent Cambridge University graduate talking about the wisdom of God compared to even the most intelligent human – incomparable. Walt McCord took us through an in depth study of David and Goliath. And Kevin DeYoung from East Lansing did an excellent job comparing the offerings of Leviticus 1 to the offering of Jesus Christ.

It was a pleasure to go on the trip with the Senior Pastor Dave Pierce and Youth Pastor Kevin Olrich. We had a good time, got to know each other better, and had some good discussions about the ministries of the church. Dear God, I pray that as we return from our trip You’ll use our time together to further unify the church staff and to give us renewed energy and encouragement for the future of the First Baptist Church of Coldwater. We seek You out. We trust You will provide the mission and vision we need. Amen.


My Blog Comments Off
Jan 302010

I’m finally starting to live long enough to believe when people say prayer is a lifelong process. I don’t just mean the act of praying more frequently. That’s a part of it, though. More specifically the growth I’m talking about is the belief in the answers to prayer.

I had lunch this week with a former manager that I respect a lot. I confessed to him that I can remember the exact place I was standing when I spoke one last prayer before going into interview with him and his team. It was the first time I had ever prayed for a job interview. I didn’t pray so much that I would get the job. But I remember praying for the courage to have integrity and I would portray myself at the top of my ability. I prayed no matter what, I’d give my best effort. My best was for the glory of God. God was my audience in that interview so many years ago.

That’s just one example of the multiple situations I pray for. Usually my prayers are for me to behave or act in a way that glorifies God. To act in a way that just before I go to sleep at night, when it’s me and God, that we both know the best I could do just has to be good enough. It certainly is for Him.

Dear God, help me to pray for myself to behave in ways that glorify You. I pray for those people I come into contact with to also be seeking You out in wisdom and guidance. I pray for human frailty in me and others to be kept at bay. Please minimize that frailty all for the glory of God. Amen.

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