Thursday

down day

I am simply discouraged today. Yesterday some friends of ours (gringos) were in a car accident. They are ok but their rear axle is bent which makes driving rather awkward. They were following us to church where we are helping with VBS and we were stopped at a light. I heard the crash-bang that only car wrecks make and hopped out to help. A guy in a new BMW said he fell asleep and swerved from the right lane into the left and hit their stationary vehicle.

Insurance? No. Police? 8 of them. Lawyers? 3. Compensation from the guilty driver? $0.00. I put the decimal places in because more zeroes look sadder. The driver changed his story, got aggressive, said that gringos treat Guatemalans like trash and once his buddies got there he clammed up and said that my friend had actually hit him and damaged his car. Hmmm. That was especially nice of him.

I wrote a blog once about the hymn I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day and I feel a whole lot like hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will to men. Injustice is everywhere here in Guatemala. I am weary of a childish Church doing nothing and a government more influenced by nefarious drug lords than democracy. I am weary of dishonest, prideful people talking advantage of the weak and the poor and the foreigner. How contrary to the character of God to do those things. All it takes is 1 person doing the right thing. One person. But I don't control anyone but me. So I have to point my finger at my own face and ask myself, "What is required of you?"

Churches here are more concerned with getting bigger than growing up. More concerned with experiencing the rapturous gifts than exercising spiritual disciplines. They want people to live holy lives but they aren't equipping them to fall more in love with Jesus. What in the world are you doing, Church, if you are not growing more deeply in love with Christ? That's the impetus for all the good and all the hope and all the change we can imagine. It's not buildings or programs, it's a PERSON that we love and He leads us and helps us and empowers us to do the impossible: Be a Christian in a crappy world.

My lovely wife gave me a desk clock with this engraving:

"Every man complete in Christ...For this purpose I labor,
striving according to His power, which mightily works within me"
Colossians 1:28-29


In Honor of your Ordination
April 20, 2008

My weariness, disillusionment, disappointment and frustration are no excuse for me to forget my purpose. I was not called to comfort and ease but to labor, striving according to the power of the Prince of Peace. Today I am discouraged but not defeated.

While writing this the doorbell rang. It was little Maximo and Edgar the shoeshine boys, just 9 and 10. They live 90 minutes away and come on Thursdays to wash the car and get some some food and talk about Jesus. I had to stop letting them wash the car because an older boy beat them up and told them to stay away from our house because he wanted the business. So they come for some bean tostadas and juice. I got them a Bible and the gospels in comic book form. They are reading it and we talk about it and I ask them questions.

But honestly I have no idea what I am doing. I can't relate to these boys who wake up at 5am and take an hour and a half to two hour bus ride one way every day to Xela to shine shoes and formerly wash my car. They make Q25-35 a day or about $3-4. Maximo is the oldest of 5. His mother died last year and is grandmother died in Sunday. He doesn't get vaccines or vitamins or watch cartoons. He and his 9 year old buddy walk by themselves all over Xela with no one to protect them or give them socks or let them be little boys. I can't relate. But I can't just do nothing either. So I do what seems just short of nothing and hope God can take that little and transform the world of 2 little boys.

God is not dead nor doth He sleep. Even when I feel like He's not doing a whole lot, He is. Because that's who He is. And another day I will see another glimpse of His work to lift my sagging faith.

Tuesday

yet another Psalm

I love that God is so much bigger than me.

Psalm 24:7-10

Lift up your heads, O gates,

And be lifted up, O ancient doors,

That the King of glory may come in!

Who is the King of glory?

The LORD strong and mighty,

the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates,

And lift them up, O ancient doors,

That the King of glory may come in!

Who is this King of glory?

The LORD of hosts,

He is the King of glory.

I need a big God. Not some little god of carven image, formed by the hands of men. Not some god-of-my-imagination who fits into my little box and makes me feel good about myself. Not some god I can manipulate and trick into blessing me. I need the King of glory because life is too hard for me to make up my own solutions. I need to be able to turn to God and say, “Help me, Lord!” and Him to answer me. I don’t need a god-of-my-therapy who makes me the focus and talks about my problems. I need the King of Glory to burst in and redeem me. I need God who commands the angel armies. I need God who spoke and made creation. I need God who is my shepherd, my comforter, my redeemer. I need God who can rescue me from my sin and temptation and set me free to walk where the road is flat and narrow and true. I need God who can transform me from within. I need God who is bigger than the boogie man, who crashes through the wall to rescue me. I need that – we all do.

The problem is when I try to do it myself. When I ask the question, “who is the King of glory?” and look into the mirror I write my own tragedy, maybe a farce, surely a failure. When I gaze squint-eyed at the problems before me I think that I’m blinded by their intensity and miss the reality that it is the King of glory standing in front of me, leading me, and it is not the issues of life that bear down in blazing fire but the glory of God resting between me and whatever it is I think is bigger than Him. He is my pillar of fire between me and the chariots of Egypt. He is the all consuming fire that devours rock and soil and sacrifice. He is the quiet whisper on a gentle breeze reminding me to trust Him and to never be afraid. He is my King of glory – but not because I need Him to be. He is the King of glory simply because He is the King of glory. And I need Him to be who He is...which is good. Because my needs must conform to His identity. Which is also good...because He conforms my identity to His, and not the other way around.

Who is this King of glory? His name is Jesus. And I'm so happy to need Him.

Thursday

pear juice and zombie comics





I'm sitting here at 3:19 while my 4 year old peruses my Calvin and Hobbes collection in search of the elusive"zombie comic". He does this every few months. I love Calvin and Hobbes. I should say I like them a lot. I love my son. Words have meaning and I cannot share that verb with paper and ink.

I should be working. I was, but then my boy came in to ask if his rest time was over. I have no idea when it started (I was working then) so I had no valid answer and thus began the "zombie comic" exploration. Maybe more of an inquiry. Either way he's looking through comic books that make me happy and that makes me happy.

He's finished looking. Empty handed. A life lesson: we don't always find what we're looking for. Now he wants a snack of pear juice and apples. Again - no go. We're fresh out of pear juice. I don't think we ever had any but he knows that we have pears and that pears have juice so he wants me to get the juice out of the pear and give it to him.

Did I mention I ought to be working?

His mother just came in and now my little boy is upstairs with her in his Danny White jersey that used to be his uncle's and I'm here in my office with a pile of comic books and no desire to continue preparing to teach Sesion 4: "El Problema del Galataismo" on Sunday.

Did mention I love my son? If we had some pear juice I'd have a better excuse to quit early. Oh look I found one. Google found it for me. I think I need to go show it to someone.

Friday

A few gentle thoughts

Wow. I start a lot of blogs that way in large part because I blog so infrequently I have too much to ponder.

In the past month we've had three different sets of house guests, 3 kids with fevers, and it stopped raining. I've driven way, way too much on scary mountain roads plagued by homicidal bus drivers, had a wonderful time teaching at 6 different places and climbed into the grave of a 4 month old to lower down a casket for our friends. Contrast? That's life. I recommend you read Jenny's account of her experience after the death of our friend's little baby girl here on her blog. It is needed reading for a glimpse into this culture and to simply share life with us.

Psalm 18 is one of my favorites.

"I love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge."

Hard to go wrong after that intro. I've always spent a lot of time on the first 3 verses and as happens in my Bible, not much is underlined in the other parts. But the Psalms are like, well, I don't think there's a good simile. They are the Word of God. Living. Active. Through them God cuts into my soul and cleans things out. He changes me. Teaches me.

Check out verse 35:

"You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
And Your right hand upholds me;
And your gentleness makes me great."

Your gentleness makes me great.

How backwards is that? We get made great through education, money, power, fame. Right? Oh the world has things so backward. God's gentleness makes me great. The NIV renders it, "You stoop down to make me great", the NET, "Your willingness to help enables me to prevail."

How is it that God, who is awesome in the only true use of the word, who is holy, set apart, entirely other than me, how is it that He stoops? That he is gentle with me? That He is willing to help? It doesn't make any sense. I'm not all that special. I'm just not. I'm not uber-smart or super strong or dashingly handsome. I don't bring anything to God's table. I don't make God better by His helping me. But the reality is that it's not about me, but Him. He is so gentle, so condescending - not patronizing, but He voluntarily comes down to the level of an inferior. He descends down with me, condescends from His high and lofty wholly otherness to meet with me, with you, with anyone who wants.

Psalm 18 is about God's interaction with His children. It's about crying out to Him and His responding with earthquake voice and lightening hands that lay bare the very earth. And those same hands which produce fireballs and hailstones to smite the wicked come down to hold us in gentleness and lift us up in salvation.

I need a God like this. A father who can do anything. Who protects and fights for me when I am weak and afraid and surrounded and drowning. Who stoops down into the pit that sometimes, honestly, I dug for myself; and He lifts me up to see His face. To be with Him so that He can change me and renew me. Because He loves me. Because He loves me, I love Him. And I want to be like Him. I want my gentleness to make my children great. I want to go out to all the people who I, in my deceitful heart see as beneath me and I want to be gentle with them, to condescend to their place. I want to serve them. Wash their feet. Feed their bellies. Mend their wounds. I want to do that so that when I tell them about a God who emptied himself and took on the form of a bond-servant, that they will believe me. That when I tell them about a God who loves them so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for them, Jesus, who was slain before creation - who died for them and rose again so that they can have life forever and abundant by believing on His name - that they will believe me. I want to do that so that they will believe me when I say I know this God of grace because I showed grace to them.

How will the world know I am a disciple of Jesus? By my doctrine? By my T-shirt? By my big worn out study Bible? They will know I am Jesus' when they see me loving them like He did. When they see me loving my brothers and sisters as He did. When they see me consider them as more important than myself. Then they will know because God has shown them and He did it through a normal, average white guy. Not because I did anything. But because God showed us mercy and demonstrated His grace by coming down to our level and loving us there.

And He's still here. My rock, my fortress, my deliverer. Down here with me. With you. With all of us. Doing His thing through His people for His glory. Awesome.

Wednesday

one of my least favorite chapters

"Then it happened, in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle..."

2 Samuel 11. I hate this chapter. It sits there as the watershed event in the life of David - after this, things go downhill. He was doing so very well - chosen by God to lead Israel because he was a "man after God's own heart." Oh, how I want to be such a man! But he was just a man: vulnerable. human. deficient.

After living his life in utter nobility, in righteousness, and walking humbly with his God, David became complacent and opened himself up to temptation. He was supposed to go out to war against the Ammonites. He shouldn't have been there, on that roof, up at night, watching Bathsheba bathe.

But he was. He was exactly where he didn't need to be. Where he should not have been. And he knew it.

I don't know much about Bathsheba. She's been thrown under the bus by some. It's not her fault she was beautiful. Maybe everyone bathed on their roof? I just don't know. But I don't blame her. The Lord doesn't seem to place any upon her so neither will I. But I blame David. He did what was evil in the eyes of God. Then he covered it up with more evil. Cause a woman to have an affair, then kill her husband to cover it up? A husband so pure, so noble he almost gleams off the page of Scripture. Kill your best to cover your worst. All this from a man after God's own heart.

I hate this chapter. But it's in there. God put it in there. And I have so very much to learn by studying it. I am young. And too often stupid, rash and foolish. David was a man unique in history for his love of God. He loved the Lord so truly. Trusted Him so fully. Yet the autumn of his life was misery because of his sin. God spared his life but not his consequences.

The reality of life is that I cannot ever be OK with sin. I cannot ever think, "Oh, one little taste won't hurt". Because it will. Because sin crouches at the door. Waiting to be invited. Waiting to pounce. Like Hobbes waylaying Calvin after school, sin takes people out, blasts them clean out of their socks. Sin wants death as payment. Death of trust. Death of relationships. Death of good.

But I worship a King who was tempted just as David, just as me, and did not falter. Did not waiver. Did not fail. Jesus is my king. He sits on David's throne. He is without sin. He died and took my bill from me - took away my debt that I so very much owe - and paid it with his own life. Then he mocked death by dying and becoming alive again. Where is your victory, o sin? Where is your sting? It's in the risen hands of my Lord, in his side, on his brow. He defeated that which defeats us all so that in him we can all have life: real life. Abundant life. Life that can fail and yet matter, because Jesus loves us enough to finish what we cannot.

I hate this chapter. But I need it. I need it to remember. To reinforce. Reinvigorate. I need it because so many suffered because of what David did that I do not want to disregard so massive a failure and doom myself to repeat it.

Thursday

We don't, but we should.

Hmmm.

Edit: after posting I realized that this could come across as political in nature. I didn't intend that. At all. I mean at all, at all. I meant to discuss my disagreement with the content of the Wilcox quote and not President Obama's faith or demonstration of his faith. This is not a critique of Obama or Obama bashing - I just think that Christians ought to be easy to spot in public because we ought to behave differently. How that applies to the President is another matter. The title has nothing to do with the President.

While reading an article this morning regarding polling on President Obama's religious views I came across this quote from Dr. Clyde Wilcox, professor of government at Georgetown University:

"It's a troubling thing," Wilcox said. "I think it would be good for all of us to stop invading the president's spiritual privacy. We don't know what anyone's true faith is. It doesn't tell us about what their true core values are."

We don't know what anyone's true faith is.

Goodness. We certainly should.

The Book of James (ch.1) tells us, " If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

John chapter 2 tells us this, "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard."

These are not easy words. I don't like reading them. It forces me to do something I hate: examine my own heart. I don't like doing that because I don't like what I find. James and John make it easy: examine your behavior. Your behavior demonstrates the nature of your heart.

Do you claim faith in Jesus? Good. Then you should be looking after the helpless. You should be unpolluted by the world in which we live. You ought to walk (live like) Jesus. Then the rest of us will know what you believe. Oh, and this is nothing new - it's been this way from the get go.

I know what lot's of people's true faith is. It's actually not that hard. You just look at what they do. Give people grace - don't just look at an instant - look at their whole life. Don't just examine their failures. And goodness, take a look at yourself before you level the critical gaze.

We don't know what anyone's true faith is. It doesn't tell us about what their true core values are.

But it should. I can't speak for any other faith - but for those who claim to follow Jesus - our lives ought to make it really easy. And it has nothing to do with how we vote in November. It ought to be the easiest question in the world: "Is Brandon a Christian?"

Lord, let me live in such a way that people can answer without hesitation.

Tuesday

just to keep Mike off my back :)

Well, the Crossroads team arrived safely back home to 100+ August temps on Sunday. They were simply a wonderful team. Truly a blessing. Jenny and I had been trying to get a foot in the door to serve at a nearby orphanage for 3 months and after just 4 days of the team working there the directors trusted us and were hugging us and planing what we can do next. Amazing! Thank you all 11 members of the CBC team.

Basically, we asked what was needed. And they needed paint. Paint put on things. Things like doors and banisters. It started with 7 doors and every day the director added a few until we ended with 17. The men took heavy metal doors down the hill to a workshop (situated between a pig-sty and the chicken coup) and sanded and painted the doors. We did this pretty much all day, except the first day when we were asked to break up and move granite boulders. After we moved 4 (that's right, 4) in 3 hours, we decided that the rest needed to remain as a retaining wall. Ever try to split a boulder? It's hard. After a few hours, the Guatemalan handyman who works there asked us why we hadn't yet split the boulder. I told him us gringos had no idea what we were doing. So we sanded and scraped and painted until we ran out of time to do it. Here's some door pics and John being studly with the paint pistol.



The ladies painstakingly sanded the detailed banister for 2 days in the morning and taught the kids in the afternoons. They taught them some English and also taught them how to make crafts that they can sell at the fair in September. The ladies were true champs and because of them the kids now have new knowledge and skills...not to mention 150 feet of freshly painted banisters.

It was truly a joy to serve with this team. They were simply wonderful. And only 4 of the 11 came down with tummy issues. That's success in my book! Though maybe not for those 4.

Here is a look around the orphanage as we got ready to leave.

Monday

It's the ramble zone

I keep wanting to blog. I really do. I blame facebook. :) My generation is good at blaming. I think we learned it from the Boomers.

So we have a team of folks coming to Guatemala Friday. They are from CBC and we pretty much could not be more excited. They'll be working with an orphanage nearby.

So being a parent is really hard. They should teach that to highschoolers instead of how to roll a condom onto a banana. Of course actually parenting a child is quite different from making one so maybe that disconnect is too much for a 17 year old. But I don't think it is. Anyway, I say it's hard because you're just not allowed to be selfish and stupid without it affecting your children. If you snap at them, that's bad. If you are too lenient, that's bad. Jenny and I have come to the conclusion that we are amazed at how much training people get for all manner of things and yet any pair of idiots can make babies and fail to raise them in any beneficial manner. Then you get generational idiocy...but that's another blog.

Ah...I hear one of our children now. Off for another day.

Friday

a few weeks ago

So this team of 15 people came from two different churches in two different towns to tell people in my town about the love of God and the reality of the gospel. They came to encourage and spurn on 5 local churches which are pastored by guys I serve and teach - the largest having maybe 80 members - the smallest less than 20.

Each day for 5 days the team broke up into groups with 2 team members, a translator, and at least one member of the local church. We walked around the town, knocking on doors, talking to people in their stores, on the streets and one amazing sister even jumped on a chicken bus and worked through a tract with 50 fairly captive Quetzaltecans. Each day we were in the neighborhood of the church and we invited everyone we saw to a service that night at the church. It was a short service by Guatemalan standards: 60-90 minutes. We sang, gave testimonies, and preached the gospel.

Since I'm the missionary I was both translator and church member for my groups. For the first 2 days I was blessed to be with Jeff (a successful businessman and life-long church goer who only in the past year has given his life to Christ) and Allison (a college student and veteran of mission trips who is hitting the point in her walk with Christ where she's asking herself. "What does all this really mean?").

All I did was encourage them and say what they said to people. God did everything that mattered. He gave these two courage - real courage - to talk to people they didn't know, to pray for them, to ask them, "Hi. Can I tell you my story? It's about Jesus, and really, it's his story. Do you have a few minutes?" And then off they'd go. It was amazing. Amazing because God was doing it. I merely translated as I witnessed vessels filled with the Holy Spirit talk to people about the most important thing: The gospel. We walked and in between houses and tiendas (little stores) we munched Tortrix (Guatemalan Fritos) and built each other up.

Those first two days were a pretty heavy strain on my brain. Translating is hard. It's really better called interpreting because you just can't say it in English and it make sense in Spanish unless you tweak it a little...sometimes a lot. And those who know me know me to be slow paced. I'm the turtle. My first response in crisis is, "Give me a second to think." and that's not an option when you are translating a conversation. The second night I was translating for Matt, one of the pastors and my covenant brothers, and I could not say the word, "Bueyes" - Oxen - from the parable of the great banquet. It's pronounced "Bwea-yaes" and I kept saying "Boo-ae-yes" until I finally said, "Vacas, vacas" "Cows, cows, the guy was buying cows!" and Matt and I laughed and hugged it out.

I was relying on myself that night. I was trying to translate as best I could and my best wasn't cutting it. So the next day I just let the Lord do it. He used all the time I have spent learning Spanish and all the vocabulary that was buried in my brain, but all I can explain is that He did it from then on out. Matt and Treb (the other pastor and covenant brother) preached 3 sermons each, one long one on Sunday, and the Lord communicated the gospel so that some 40 people make professions of faith that week. God did that. God does that. It's what he does. He saves people and he uses imperfect disciples to do it.

I have been in 'ministry' for a long time. I use 'ministry' because every believer has a minsitry - I've just been getting paid for it. I have told a lot of people about Jesus, about the state we are all in before we put our faith in him, and about our need for his redeeming love to save us. I have implored people to accept his offer of grace, often to groups of people. But I have never in 13 years of minsitry had a person pray to accept Christ as their savior in front of me. I was always happy to tell the story, but just wanted to experience that.

Our 4th day I was walking with Treb and Cindy. As Cindy was telling the story to a lady on a corner, Treb noticed the guy next to her leaning in to listen. So Treb and I started talking to the guy. I know Treb. Really well. And translating for him is a cinch because I just say what I would say and that's what he's saying. It's really fun when we're preaching together and I can finish sentences he begins while he's still saying it. God is is just so much fun to serve. Anyway, we talk to this guy. And he just kept saying, "Yes" when we'd ask him questions.

Do you want to hear about God's love for you?
Yes.
Do you know that there is bad news - that you are separated from God by your sin?
Yes.
Do you want to have a relationship with God that begins today?
Yes.
Do you understand what by praying this prayer and believing only in Christ that you will be saved?
Yes.
Do you want to pray with me right now?
Yes.

This did not occur in some quiet coffee shop. We were standing on the corner of a highway with chicken buses and dump trucks rumbling by. We were 10 feet from the road because that's where were were when God moved in this man's life. This guy's family was standing behind us, waving their arms to try to distract him and get him to drive them away. And he just kept saying yes.

And Treb led the man to the Lord and I said what he said so the man could understand.

It was amazing. Awesome. Life-giving. And I got to experience that with one of my dearest friends on the corner of a highway in Guatemala. God is good, isn't he?

Over the course of the week I was so very, deeply blessed to translate for Treb and Matt as they preached (literally) the gospel and implored sinners to receive the grace of God. "Today is the day of your salvation" we boomed from 5 different pulpits. And because God was working, people came to him.

We simply walked and talked with people. Most just walked away. I'll be honest. Most were just too busy. Many were our brothers and sisters in Christ who invited us into their homes and prayed for us. We prayed for sick children and broken families. We encouraged scared people and gave candy to kids and told them Jesus loves them. We bought cokes and watched the World Cup and walked around the city where God has us and it was simply wonderful. We filled out information cards so that the churches could follow up. And we enjoyed life in the Lord.

So that's what I did a few weeks ago. Ten 14 hour days wore me out, but it's worth it. It's always worth it for the gospel. And next week I am going on vacation. So that I can keep doing this until I'm too old to walk. Then I want to tell the other old people who are too invalid to get away about Jesus until he takes me home and I can see that man on the corner who was the first person I ever saw redeemed in front of me and then we can worship the Lord face to face forever.

Wednesday

a little preface

It's hard to believe I get paid to do this. It really is. My job is to tell people about Jesus and help them follow Him. I do other things, but that's my job. It's amazing and I'm sitting here this morning wondering how in the world God lets me do it. And make no mistake, He's the one who really does all the work. He is the maker and filler and pourer of goofy human vessels, of which I am proudly included.

13 years ago I began to meet with a group of equally goofy vessels. We were in college or just out and were all connected to this college ministry called Late Nite which in itself was an amazing work of God made up of kids who had no idea what they were doing - but that's another tale. We met on Monday. 7 pm. Mostly we met and chatted about life and struggles and God. There was one rule: No b.s. It was real, gritty, ugly, silly and God was there doing things. Over the next 3 years some of the guys graduated and moved and we added others so that during that time we totaled 9 guys who I call my Covenant Brothers. Of those 9, 7 of us are in full time Christian minsitry, 1 is a doctor paying off loans so he can be a missionary, and the other one has walked away from Jesus, to the deep ache of my heart. 6 pastors and a missionary came out of that group of band nerds, jocks, former pot dealers and a preacher's kid. Only God does that.

Two of those guys are now pastors. They came on a team of 15 to visit us in Xela and help the local churches by doing street evangelism and inviting people in the neighborhood to one of 5 special services at different churches. They came about 2 weeks ago. And God, who alone can use utter doofases for His glory, did it again.

I'll tell you what all He did in the next post...which will not be another month from now. Promise :)

Thursday

Stole this from someone else

This is from a website done by some US Expatriates here in Xela. It is all true:

By Barbara Veres

After living in Guatemala over a year in the Peace Corps, I have come to enjoy many things about Guatemala. Here is my Top 10 List:

#10. Being called bien gordita (nice and fat) is a compliment.


#9. It’s perfectly acceptable to own your own machete and walk around town with it hanging around your belt.


#8. Procrastinate much? No tenga pena! Showing up 30 minutes late to a meeting will just give you some points for culturally integrating – and save you from waiting around for 30 minutes.


#7. The first and most widely debated topic of any meeting is what the refacción (snack) will be. Can take up to 15 minutes (after waiting 30 minutes for the meeting to start). An additional 15 minutes to write everyone’s six names for them, then having them thumbprint you to prove the Q40 wasn’t embezzled.


#6. After getting asked where in the US you are from, 1 out of 2 Guatemalans will say they have either been there or currently have a relative in the same place.


#5. Two words: street food. Cheap, yet delicious. Stool test not included.


#4. After being here for a while, you sit impatiently waiting for tortillas while your food gets cold because you can’t eat without them.


#3. You thought the first time you stepped up on that shiny yellow school bus in kindergarten was going to be cool – little did you know you would be on that very same bus 18 years later, in a different country and totally pimped out blasting anything from Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” to Nigga’s “Te Amo Tanto” – AND have to pay your fare to a guy who is best described as the Indiana Jones of Guatemalan transport while the bus barrels down the Inter-American highway at top speeds, securing your luggage on top of the bus. (Whew!)


#2. Catching a ride in the back of a truck when the bus hasn’t come by for hours is just doing what you need to do – even if it’s with livestock.


And the No. 1 reason why Guatemala is awesome is…

#1. “Fíjese que…” can be used as an excuse for pretty much ANYTHING.

Monday

snap. crakle. pop.

It's Mother's Day today in Guatemala. They do it on the 10th instead of a Sunday. Why? No one seems to know. Anyway, it's the same deal: flowers, cards, advertising avalanche. Guatemalans enjoy celebrating pyrotechnically. The birth of Christ? Boom. Birthdays? Boom. Mom's day? Ditto:

Typical fashion is to set a string of firecrackers off at dawn. Or around dawn. Or before. Today I think they started around 4:30; faint pops in the distance like kids stomping on bubble wrap in a classroom down the hall. And it has continued. I sort of like that part of Guatemala now. I didn't used to, but after awhile traditions become just part of life. Our kids sleep right through every crack and pop. I don't, but then again, we have a 3 month old so uninterrupted sleep is sort of this distant fantasy that Jenny and I giggle about and try to remember.

So, here's to mom's in Guatemala. Let's blow something up.

Friday

Seriously

I was captured by aliens and forced to slave away in the iridium mines of the Nebucore system! By sheer craftiness, I sneaked by my Gorgon overlord, broke into the ventilation shaft, climbed 7 miles on my face and elbows to the surface, singlehandedly defeated a battalion of battle dwarfs, released the captives, saved the princess, hot wired a star cruiser and warped back to planet earth. En route I balanced the Federal deficit, ended world hunger and solved a Rubik's Cube. I got back home late last night in time to put the kids down and give my wife a foot rub before sleeping 6 hours and running a marathon.

And that's why I haven't blogged.

Or I've just been really busy working at a job I love.

So, anyway, for those folks who graze this blog occasionally, I'm still here.

Monday

Easter Monday

So for some reason I love Easter Monday. It may have something to do with the Sousa march "Easter Morning on the White House Lawn". I love me a Sousa march. But I think it has more to do with what was celebrated the previous day.

I just love Easter. I love Spring. Life pops up again after a winter nap. I don't really get that here in Guatemala, the "Land of Eternal Spring" as they call it. It feels like Spring all the time which is nice, but the thing I like about Spring is the change, the transformation, the difference. Brown to green. Cold to warm. Dormant to life.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most significant event in the history of humanity, ought to remind us that there is more than just this life. It's a little taste of eternity and it all began that glorious day when the angel sat atop the stone that sealed in my Lord and said to the women, "He is not here. He is risen, just as he said he would." That's my favorite sentence maybe in the whole Bible. The reality of that statement is a sonic boom that shatters all my doubts and fears. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow says the great old hymn. Because He lives, I can face today. I can face my yesterday. And I can do whatever He has for me to do because that tomb was empty. Tombs are not the place for Christians. Where death and sadness and darkness rule. Our place is in the brilliant light of day, knocking on the stones which keep others in darkness and asking the risen Jesus to bring them out from death and in to His marvelous life.

So that's why I like Easter Monday. It's my "What do I do Now" day after remembering what has been done for me. Now I just need to find a recording of that Sousa march...

Wednesday

order up

My, my, my.

I must admit I find it hard to blog on a regular basis. This is, of course, quite evident. It's not so much a lack of desire as it is having 10 or 20 minutes to sit and type something worth reading. But anyway.

I'm sitting here on a lovely cool morning listening to a little bird and coffee maker symphony. I like routine. I do. I'm not freaky about it, but I function better when there is some consistency to life. I used to think that meant I lacked flexibility or spontaneity and therefore creativity, but at this phase in life a little order is in order.

I simply have a lot of things to do that require disciple to do them. Everything from exercise to things with work and supporters to family require that I actually plan them and do them. I can't just float through like a dandelion puff. When I do that I get blown around too much. And I'm not really talking about seizing control and pumping it up in the air in victory. I'm just talking about asking the Lord what He wants me to do, then planning it, laying those plans before Him, and then doing them. I can't control all the peripheral stuff like the washer leaking and kids getting sick, but I can arrange life so that I have opportunity to do things that matter. Actually, I think that boundaries are a great conduit for creativity, but maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Anyhoo...probably a funny post for a blog named Ramble Zone, but that's where I'm at today. The coffee is ready, and now so am I.

I just noticed that the time stamp on Blogger is on daylight savings time, where as I am not. Blogger is an hour ahead of me. That's strange for some reason. Ok then. Time for coffee.

Sunday

Sunday stuff

It's Sunday morning and we are not going to church. We have been working since Wednesday to unpack and wash and fold. We have been looking for lids and replacing bulbs and restocking the pantry. We were gone for 3 months and brought 10 checked bags full of...stuff...back to our home. We had moved our other stuff so that another family could move in and watch our home during our home assignment so they they would have a place to put their stuff and do the things they needed to do while they did a fantastic job of taking care of our stuff that we had put away.

So when you unload 10 bags you get this swarm of stuff all over the house. This swarm had nowhere to nest because we had to take our pre-existing stuff and figure out how to blend it with our new stuff swarm so that all the stuff has a place. This has taken longer than expected.

I blame the children.

We have a boy(4) and a girl (2) and a 5 week old son. They require 27 hours of attention, per child, per day. They do not meet their required daily allowance. Why? Because Jenny and I need to do other things like run errands and balance the checkbook and organize the stuff. Now, we don't ignore the children. Yesterday, in fact, while a pile of stuff lay unattended, I spent far too long playing Hi-Ho-Cherry-O. Though, admittedly, one round is too long and we played a lot more than that. Do you know that those cherries fit perfectly inside the nostril of a 2 year old? And they have 2 nostrils. We are currently short 2 cherries from that game but they haven't yet shown up in a diaper so we're holding out some hope. I began this post at 7:13. It is now 8:06. It doesn't take me that long to type, but in that time I have had to get a snack for the kids, then a drink, change a diaper, reheat coffee, get a different drink, find tiny princess house shoes, pull a finger out of a pop-up-book and mend a wounded soul. I have taken 9 round trips upstairs and am now drinking cold coffee because I simply don't care. My beautiful and talented bride is thankfully sleeping (a rarity) with our 5 week old because she has not slept more than 3 hours in a row since Halloween and that leaves me with only 2 munchkins, a Labrador and a cat who keeps sleeping on my pajama pants.

The 9 loads of laundry that were washed and dried yesterday need to be folded today and put up because in 3 days we have to pack again to leave for a week. Of vacation. Where we will most assuredly collect more stuff and have no place to put it. I hear the tiniest munchkin grunting on the monitor (baby, not lizard) and the eldest munchkin and his tiny blue eyed minion need to break fast so I can change the tiniest munchkin and give his mother a little more rest.

It's Sunday, see. And we're not going to church. We will be gone the next 2 Sundays and it's better to let everyone know you're back when you can actually say, "Yes, I 'd love to" instead of, "No, I can't". So, that's where we're at this Sunday morning.

On second thought, maybe I'll just blame the stuff. It will have fewer issues as a teenager.

Friday

ok then

A Month and a day. We're back in Guatemala. Anyone still out there?

My plan to blog while on furlough proved a pipe dream. We're getting some semblance of normalcy back and with some normal come some blogs.

Life is good, God is better, and I have a lot of things in storage that I'd like to unpack - both literally and mentally.

Thursday

baby tired

Whew. It's an odd time after a baby is born. Your whole life is focused on an event - a very important event - and then in a moment, it's over. Jenny's not pregnant anymore and our baby is out where we can hold him and kiss him and change his diaper.

It's amazing how different life is now. When we go somewhere, he needs a carseat. Our family now has 5 people in it. His needs and desires get thrown into the decision matrix. Our baby girl is now a big sister. Our son has a brother. We completely fill up a sedan. And that is how it will be from here on out. Our family has changed. And it's wonderful.

He's eating great and sleeping great and Jenny and I have that strange sense of being proud of our baby for just doing what he does even though we don't have much control over it. Being a parent is so weird.

Weird and wonderful. That sounds about right for now.

Thursday

Woohoo!!!

Keegan Robert Scott arrived at 9:30pm last night. Baby and mommy are great. He weighed in at 7lb10oz, 19.5 in. and looks just like his big brother.

Pictures later

Tuesday

and we're still waiting...

Well, Jenny is 5 days late. I have heard these can only come out by praying and fasting so, maybe that's the ticket. Normally, we would not be worried in the least, but I need to go out of town on Friday for a mission's conference. I most certainly need to leave by Saturday at the latest, latest, latest!

And I am not supposed to be anxious about any of this.

But I am. I normally am not a worrier, but I can't seem to trust the Lord on the timing of this. A lot of factors play into my excuse. We are low on support and so I really, really need to be there for the CBC mission's conference. Also, I am preaching on Sunday and I must be there for that. If Keegan has not come we are considering inducing Jenny on Friday - something that we really want to avoid - so that I can leave on Saturday.

So...if you read this, please join us in asking the Lord to bring that baby. Because there's absolutely nothing I can do to get that critter out on my own.

pick up

No baby still. but the due date is tomorrow so...hopefully he comes soon. It's amazing how many people (by far the majority) assume that Jenny will be induced on her due date as opposed to just going into labor. Not sure why that's amazing.

Ok. So, we have needed a loaner car. Not so much needed one up until this week, but we have been letting people know of our need. And yesterday we got a call from a guy who works for a dealer here in town and we went to pick it up. He just gave us the keys. No signing. No nothing. Then he called the guy at their detail shop and said, "I'm sending a young couple over to you. If they need anything, do it."

We were just amazed at how the Lord provides and how He uses people to be the conduit or the vessels for His provision and blessing. The reality that God has designed us to be part of His work here on planet earth is so wonderful. It is a reality that too few experience. There are a whole bunch of people in Haiti who are at this very moment experiencing the joy of being a vessel and of receiving from a vessel, the love of God in the form of food and water and a searcher digging through rubble. Only God takes something so horrible and brings something good up from all the horror.

Anyway. So now we have a car. It's a Lincoln Zephyr. We asked the Lord for a car and he gives us a Lincoln. Amazing.

Saturday

no baby yet

So...my semi-plan to blog more regularly has fallen completely apart. I'm just busy doing other things and don't think about it when I'm near a computer so...it remains undone. Saturday morning is, in Guatemala, when I usually blog so I thought I would do that again.

I have an aching back. For those who live with back pain, I'm really sorry. I found out I have a degenerated disk in my lumbar so, hopefully it will get better. I wish I could visit our friend Dr. Jeremy. I trust him.

Jenny is due in...4 days. I'm SO excited to meet Keegan. Jenny's just fine letting him bake. She says it will never be easier to take care of him than it is right now. And she's right. But she gets to spend every moment with him and I don't so I'm ready to meet him and kiss his sweet face.

A word on God's provision. We, as missionaries, are more acutely aware that God is our provider because we have a salary which comes to us directly from other people. I realize that everyone has what they have because it comes from the Lord, but we can't look at our paycheck and say, "We earned this" because, really, we didn't. People gave it to us. Anyway, we ask the Lord to help us a lot and He does. It's fun.

Recently we have been asking Him (and other people) to provide a vehicle for us to borrow for when Keegan comes. Including Jenny's mom, that will make 6 of us - more than can fit in her Honda - and if I need to travel somewhere it's rather complicated. So, we asked the Lord for help and then we let our need be known, and we get a call from Mr. Alderson of Alderson Motors here in Lubbock. He pretty well known around here as the man that sells everyone their Cadillacs and Lexi and Beamers. And he's going to get us a car next week.

It's just funny what you sometimes get when you ask the Lord for help.

Also, we're teaching at a Sunday School class through the book of James. We were supposed to go through a chapter a week but we're starting week 3 on Sunday and we hope to finish chapter 1. There's a lot to apply in James. It's rather convicting preparation. But good.

OK. I am off to go get doughnuts - something I can't do in Guatemala.

Sunday

sorry...

I forgot to update here, but we flipped Keegan over! It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Jenny had an ultrasound Friday and he's still head down. Now she's...VERY uncomfortable...and we're waiting for Keegan to come on his own. Hopefully so that I can preach on Jan. 24th and the 31st!

Tuesday

off to have an external cephalic version

Well, so far my plans to blog even semi-daily have been derailed by life and college football. I confess I have not fought the temptation to watch.

This morning we will go into the hospital so that Jenny can have a procedure done which will help flip Keegan so that he's head down, allowing Jenny to have a normal birth as opposed to a C-section. Jenny's been doing just about everything imaginable from playing music to seeing an acupuncturist. But mostly we have asked people to pray, and it is in the Lord that we trust, not those other things. Trust God and work your butt off is sort of a Scott family phrase so we're trying to keep up with that.

We go to the hospital at 9 and the procedure is scheduled for 11. We'll let you know as we are able. Lord willing, all will go well and we'll come home today with a head-down Keegan and wait for Jenny's body to do the rest. Thank you for praying, folks.