Saturday

A Joyful noise

Deacon loves to sing. Trying to get that on video is another thing altogether. At least he's excited! You'll notice that Jenny says, "I can't hear you" which leads to the ah, interpretation of the great old hymn.


video

Friday

Way too early, Alma

Tropical Storm Alma:

It's way too early in hurricane season for you. Tell your friends that was close enough and the rest of them can just play out at sea. Central America has enough issues without you guys messing with things.

Goodness.

On a not-so-light-note, our good friend was robbed as she walked to work from our house. Two jerk hooligans approached her in a car and jumped out. One had a knife (which he held to her throat) and the other had a knife sharpener. They took her purse and necklace and watch and cell phone and told her if she screamed that they would come back and kill her. So she hid in the bushes and grabbed a couple walking by who helped her call the cops.

She was unhurt but just terrified.

I have an idea. We live in a great little neighborhood called La Floresta. And apparently these guys have robbed several more people. I know that they work off the power of fear and fear is strongest in the darkness. I want to print up posters with a description of the car and of the guys and put "robbers" in big print on the top. Then our friend and us can go and knock on every door and tell the neighbors what happened (maybe it has happened to them) and give them the information and ask if we can post the poster on their door and ask if they will keep their light on at night and keep an eye out. So that the whole community has that poster on their door so that when those guys drive around they know that we know who they are and what they are up to. I want to take the power out of the hands of a few thugs and give it back to the community - a bunch of little lights makes a big light and maybe the darkness will think again if it knows that people are not alone anymore.

I don't know - maybe it's just anger - but it sounds like a good idea. Thought anyone?

Wednesday

They say it's the journey not the destination

I left yesterday for the City (Guatemala City) to get the car serviced for the warranty. It's about a 500 km round trip so, 315 miles or so. That's a one way road trip to Lubbock, TX from DFW. I left at 5:45, later than I had wanted but still good enough.

It was a beautiful drive. I head down the mountains to the Coast Road (so named because it parallels the coast) and it was a rare clear day where I got this amazing panorama of the sugar cane fields backdropped by green-black volcanoes and inland mountains. It's a volcano tour - three active volcanoes en-route to the City.

Well, I arrived and had to go to two different service departments before I got the right one. It was my first warranty service and they only do that at one particular place. I, of course, had no idea how to get there but I had a map! This would normally be a good thing except that the map does not tell me which streets are one way and what way they go. I only pulled onto one street the wrong way. Pretty good for me. And I got back in the right direction without too much trouble. I ran errands while the car was getting worked on thanks to Mike - maybe the nicest person I've ever met - another CAM missionary here.

The car got serviced, I ate at Burger King, bought a chair and headed our of town.

The traffic was worse than normal - it was 3:30 so it's not too bad then. Guatemala has some horrid traffic - this coming from a guy who drove to work and school in Dallas for years so I know bad traffic. But this was pretty gridlocked. It started to unravel and I came up to what looked like a wreck of some sort. A Motorcycle accident. The cops were taping things off and taking photos. And then, under an advertisement banner in the median, was a dead man, his arm and foot still limp beneath the hasty cover, his blood drying on the asphalt.

I felt sort of like you do now.

I'm not around death too often, at least not around dead people. Bodies. And as the shock of that subsided I couldn't' help but think of how very fragile we are. We think that we are invincible, many of us. But we're not. We're really quite breakable, quite frail when confronted by even the tiniest of things. Bullets and bacteria kill millions all the time and yet, because we live in a fallen (a really fallen) world, we have sort of accepted those things as normal. But death is not the norm. It's the penalty for sin. And God, because of His great love for us, has made it so that those who believe in Jesus Christ will live, even if we die.

Life is supposed to be the norm, not death. We talk about death as a part of life, and that is true, but it's part of life only on this fallen world. Death won't reign forever. Death is an enemy, to be thrown into the lake of fire and be gone forever. Jesus came that He might give LIFE and life eternal. He conquered death an became the first example of what a death-conquerer looks like. And what an example He is!

I saw a man who has life no more and I do not know if his name was written in the only book where names really matter - the Book of Life. And yet, written or not, his time on this fallen place has ended. But if he hast trusted Jesus Christ and his name is in that book - his time here has ended but his true life has just begun. Only Christians can rejoice at a funeral! Only those who know the risen Christ can know the impossible cocktail of grief and joy. And yet we can know it and embrace suffering and pain and sorrow because we have a redeemer who lives and with whom we will life forever.



And so I saw a dead man in Guatemala City.

Monday

Neighbors

We met a few of our neighbors today. That may not seem like a big deal but it's huge for us. Those of you who know us know that we are pretty outgoing by nature, being social creatures and all. But until we moved here we never realized how much we NEED other people.

When we were serving with the college ministry at CBC we loved having a houseful of college kids. We get energized by people and by conversation as anyone who has ever been stuck yammering with us after a meal - especially at our house - knows full well. We love to talk and we love to talk to people. Not about people, but to people.

And so Jenny heard some little kids in the street in front of our house (we live on sort of a cul-de-sac - don't worry) and she bundled the kids up and went out. It's not that cold, 50's or so, but it's a wet sort of cold. Anyway. I was walking the dog and when I rounded the corner there were 2 of our neighbors and their 3 kids chatting away.

It's so cool! The husband is a civil engineer and the wife does something with chemicals at a hospital. Look, our Spanish just isn't that great yet. But we got 15 minutes or so of just neighborly chatting and letting our kids play together. Little girls here always take care of D. Teach him Spanish, help him do thinks, keep his hat on for him. And when he runs away they chase him and hug him. And baby M...they have never seen a baby like her. Not many milky-white baby girls here. They say, "Que muneca" - "What a doll" and when were in the store or at the hospital or wherever, women just walk up and ask if they can hold her. Ask sort fo as they reach to hold her. And they talk to her and love on her and give her back. It's different but we like it.

And so we met a few neighbors. Nothing big, I guess. But maybe we'll soon get the opportunity to love them. And loving people is, well, why we're here.

Friday

Let's hear it for X-Ray

Hats off to William D. Coolidge.

Our son had a tumble yesterday and his finger was sore and a little swollen. I'm going to be out today and so we thought it best to head in and make sure things were ok. Jenny broke 6 bones as a kid.

We piled in the car and headed to the Hospital Privado Quetzaltenango. The Private Hospital here in Xela. The same one we went to when Jenny severed her big toe tendon. The same orthopedic surgeon who fixed Jenny's foot checked out the finger and all is fine. Well, nothing is broken anyway. He sprained his knuckle. So he was given and anti-inflammatory and he got a sucker for being such a trooper. All that for about $82.

And the power woke up yesterday after a 12 hour nap - just in time to run the X-ray.

All in all a success. Thank you again to all of you who pray for us. They are effective and the Lord is constantly reminding us of His presence.

Wednesday

Routine

I never fancied myself a routine kind of guy.

Until I was deprived of it for 6 months. Now I find it necessary. I don't mean that I can't be flexible, but since October 2007 until ah, the day before yesterday, we were sort of nomads - moving and doing and living out of suitcases. The plus was that we were around our families for most of that time. And, goodness, that's a huge plus. I'm not sure the value of a wonderful family can be quantified.

Anyway, so we are back home in Guatemala and trying to order our lives. I'm reading "Ordering your Private World" and really enjoying it so I'm sure that's a part of it. But the thing is that I like routine. Not robotic, Harold Crick sort of routine, but just some semblance of "this is what a day is like".

This morning our son did not wake up at 5:15. We were not all sleeping in the same room. No one was sick in the night. We have slept in the same beds for 3 nights in a row. I woke up to an alarm clock.

And I had time to sit and read a Psalm and some Proverbs and write in a journal and have coffee from my Texas Tech mug before the things of life woke up and needed my attention. And I hadn't done that in awhile. And I need that. Every day. Or at least most days. And today was a better day because of it.

There's a reason the Psalmist proclaims:

"Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever." (Psalm 145:2)

I hope tomorrow brings a little more of the same.

Tuesday

Where you're at, that's where you are

We have sort of ended our entry phase here. By that I mean we have a car, have our services turned on, got our dog caught up on vet care and have almost all the bags unpacked. We're trying to get our house in order before we start language school on Monday. The garage is another deal but it, like most garages, may have to wait.

It's been very different this time around. We're with a mission agency that has close to 40 missionaries here and we already had a house and a life to come back to. We're not starting from scratch and that makes the transition a lot smoother - still hard, but it takes a lot less time to refresh connections than to forge new ones. My Spanish is atrocious, but it will get better. Poco a poco - little by little.

We were given a book called "Burgess of Guatemala" written by the granddaughter of Paul Burgess, a missionary here in Xela in the early 1900's until his death. It's amazing to read because he and his little family endured incredible hardship to come and serve and proclaim the gospel here in the town where I now live. We attend the church he helped establish. He was a Presbyterian missionary and he along with scores of others laid the foundations upon which the whole reason for us being here is laid. CAM missionaries endured the same diseases and political upheaval, the same stones of persecution in order to establish the work of the gospel in this high mountain place. And now we come here with all the modern conveniences, medicine, communication and resources - to build upon the foundation of others.

And were it not the Lord doing the work I would feel far too inept, ill-equipped and immature to even consider this. And if it were about me, that would be a problem. But it's not about me. It's not about how much we have or have not suffered. It makes no difference if we came here by mule-drawn carriage or air-conditioned minivan. The Lord puts us (all of us) where we are and that's where we are supposed to serve and do the good work He has for us. We're in Guatemala to train and encourage and disciple leaders. We're also here to love our neighbors, to raise a family and love the Lord above all else. And that's the same no matter where we will be. You too are where you are. You attend a church probably established by someone else (although some of you have the really cool story of establishing a church that you still attend). And yet our responsibility in this life is to serve where the Lord has us until He brings us home. For now, we serve in a foreign land - all of us who claim Christ as Lord and Savior - and while we long for home we can serve together in the presence of The Lord who has us where we are.

Wednesday

Home again

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us. The Lord is with us (and has been - and will be). We're safe at home with all our stuff and a new minivan (a diesel one - how cool is that??). Thank you to all of you who helped us get it. It has been a work of the Lord.

Only two of us have gotten sick and it didn't last long. It takes awhile to get realigned after being away for 6 months but we're getting there.

We love each one of you so much and we miss those of you we cannot see. But missing is part of loving here on planet earth.

I'm reading "The Practice of the Presence of God" again - a great book when you're busy with what seems like unimportant details (from an eternal perspective anyway). And a little phrase has stuck with me, "Make way for grace." Like getting out of the way of a river - just let God's grace move and don't impede it by silly things. What a thought - let God work.

I'm sitting in a McCafe (a coffee house hooked onto a McDonalds) drinking a latte and using their wireless internet until we can get it installed in our home. "Africa" by ToTo is on the radio. Strange, really. But that's Guatemala - surging into the west while trying to stay, "chapin" - authentic Guatemalan.

Hopefully I'll get a little more time to blog regularly. Thank you for all of you who read. We really love you.

Oh - and WE'RE PROUD OF YOU IAN!!!!!!!!!

Monday

Finally

Today, at 6:00 pm, we leave for Guatemala city.

So far this morning (it's 7:25 now) our son woke up early and my dad went to the hospital because he had a really bad asthma attack. They're both ok. At least we got up and at 'em early.

We will fly into Guatemala and arrive there at around 8 pm with Jenny's mom and an army of bags. Tonight, for the first time since October 15th, 2007, we will sleep again in our home country. Lord willing, we will buy a vehicle, run some errands and go home to Xela sometime later this week.

Home.

Where our dog and stuff live. But where we have not. And the reality is that this place, this planet, is not our home - at least not yet. God has a lot of transforming to do, a lot of redemption to accomplish before He makes this earth a New Earth where the Lord we serve, to whom we joyfully bow, will reign forever and ever. But for now, we pack up our stuff and head to where He wants us for now. And, as best as possible, we will again make it our home. We'll live and make memories and re-lay our roots and do whatever good works the Lord lays before us.

And someday, finally, we will all go home and hang these fallen bodies up for redeemed, resurrected ones. But that day, Lord willing, is not today. And we must trust and obey and love and get through the airport with 2 kids and their carseats and a stroller and a backpack and a diaper bag and I think another little bag too. But we'll make it.

But finally.

Finally.

At least for now. And we'll be 'home'.