Monday, May 30, 2005

Church Fellowship!

Our Church Fellowship! We had a wonderful time enjoying a BBQ with our church people. About thirty came. We had BBQ pork, hambugers, hotdogs, board games and sweet fellowship. It is great when the people you work with become some of your best friends! Posted by Hello

Memorial Day Party

We had a Memorial Day party at our house. The guy with the hat, Miguel, is my visitation partner for Wednesday mornings. The man in black (right) Wilfredo, is a man we are training to preach, and he is very good! The man in blue, Carlos, is already trained and now has his own church. The young man is black, Victor, (left) I just baptized him last month. Posted by Hello

I present the new couple: Zulimar and Carlos Ortiz, as "Man and Wife." The ceremony went fine, except Carlos kissed the bride before he was supposed to, so he had to do it twice! Posted by Hello

I performed a wedding ceremony Saturday. I had previously led the bride, Zulimar, and groom, Carlos, to the Lord. I baptized Zuli about two years ago and had a Bible study at her home every Friday for about 3 months, so I was happy to do their wedding. I was allowed to bring three guests to the reception, so I invited our new helper Leann, along so she could get a taste of Puerto Rican culture. Tina was glad Leann came along, so she had someone to talk to while I did the ceremony.  Posted by Hello

Better Caught than Taught

Leann has come to Puerto Rico to learn about missionary life, to help us in our work and then report back to her home church what she has done and what she has learned from a summer spent on the mission field. They say "It is better caught than taught." We hope Leann will "catch" the excitement of missions and spread a similar excitement for the Lords' work within the circle of her family, friends, church and college back home. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Leann Making Puerto Rico a Better Place, One Bug at a Time!

Leann is a college student from the States who came to help us this summer. The first night here, she found a large tropic sized cockroach in her room. It ran under the dresser and I ran for a broom. I asked Leann to keep a look out for it, but just as I was returning with the broom I heard a scream and a WHAM! The huge insect made a dash right at her, but she rose to the occasion and did the daring deed of stomping on the foul beast. Her flip flop shod feet where her only weapons. But in spite of a little scream and some trembling hands afterwards, she found the courage that was required to confront the cockroach.

The next day, Tina, Leann and I went to clean the church. Leann went to the little store next to the church and saw an entire pig, head and all lying on the counter. I said, "What luck, Leann! You just had a real cultural experience!" She smiled, but I do not believe she considered the encounter with the cockroach or the pig as positive cultural experiences! But we did take her to a wedding, she played piano in church for us, and we are having a church party tomorrow that she will participate in, so I think in spite of the animal encounters, she will enjoy her stay here in Puerto Rico! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Missionary Friends and a Field Trip

Tina and I tag along on an educational, home-school tour of a coffee plantation. We went with our missionary friends, Mark and Stephanie Sage (right ) , who minister to the English Speaking Military families on our island. Posted by Hello

Home-School Field Trip Fun!

My wife Tina and a lot of girls ready for some home-school field trip fun! We toured a castle-like home on the Caribbean side of our island and later a coffee plantation with working water wheels. We even got to grind some grain in a hand powered millstone. My favorite part was the chocolate trees and seeing how God makes all that good stuff here in Puerto Rico before we see it in the grocery store. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sarah, Kristin (On the right) and the daughters of our missionary friends, Mark and Stephanie Sage. Behind them is our second biggest town, Ponce, founded by Ponce de Leon, who discovered the state of Florida while looking for the Fountain of Youth. It is on the Caribbean coast, about 1200 miles from Florida and about 800 from Venezuela, South America. Posted by Hello

I thought they were kidding...!

Summer Camp! I thought they were kidding when they elected me "Camp Speaker for Life!" I have been elected again this year (July 4-8) and will be preaching eight sermons in four days. But each sermon has 3 points and I like to have a dramatic object lesson or science experiment for each point to help our campers remember the camp sermons during the rest of the year. That means 24 object lessons and experiments. Since it is about the fifth time I have done this, it is getting harder and harder to come up something new. Have a favorite object lesson? Please pass it along! I really could use some new "recipes" for the spiritual feast we are planning for this year's summer camp.
Posted by Hello

Open door, Closed Heart?

"She just broke down and cried, I didn't know what to do, so I just kept fixing her refrigerator!" said a young handyman in our church, "But I told her that you, my pastor, would visit her on Tuesday night."

Well, I did go, along with another man from our church. We found the house at the end of a long driveway behind a shut gate. We were a bit nervous about opening the gate, not knowing if there was a dog roaming around. But open it we did and to our relief encountered a warm welcome from the woman. We heard of her sorrows and read her words of comfort from the word of God. We touched on a verse from Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me"

She exclaimed: "I have been in the Evangelical Church for many years and am willing to do anything. I have served as a missionary chairman and president of the Ladies group. But I just don't want any of that "Jesus in my heart" stuff!"

Well, what do you say to a statement like that? I told her, "God knows where you are at. When you are ready to do your part and open the door of your heart to Him, He will do His part and come in."

We left on friendly terms with an invitation to return. We are not discouraged, because a number of the people we have led to the Lord came to receive Him after many more than just one visit. So all in all, it was pretty good for a first visit. We have faith that something good will come from our visits. But our faith and work needs your prayers and support to bear fruit. Her name is Sonya. Please pray for her salvation and also for the growth of the churches we are starting here in Puerto Rico.
Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 21, 2005

One year old!

This is the first picture we posted over one year ago to welcome visitors to our Missionary Photo Journal or "Blog." It has been wonderful sharing our day to day mission field experiences with all of you back home and our new friends who have visited our site from places all around the world. Come again and often! The best, Lord willing, is yet to come! Posted by Hello

Work Day Does Wonders for More than the Church Building

We scheduled a work day at the church for this morning. As we drove to church, I had little faith that any one would come, with the exception of our most faithful deacon. We arrived and only one person was there, an older man who is often sick. He came early and had taken down all the screens for washing. As Tina and I set out to work a few more people came. Little by little the church filled up and I realized that almost the ENTIRE church had come to work day! We even had people working that I had not seen for a month in the church services. We had about as many in church today as during last Sundays service, and they were all working!

For lunch we ate a real Puerto Rican dish: Escabeche: Chilled marinated chicken gizzards, boiled green bananas and onions in a vinegar, oil and garlic sauce! Mmmmm! Well, it really is good, it just sounds awful! The fellowship was sweet, the jokes funny and the food good. We were almost tempted to hold our church service then and stay home Sunday, since we had everyone there present Saturday morning. I hope we didn't work them to hard and that they all come back to church tomorrow!
Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Importance of Getting it Right

Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.
Alas, how hardly things go right!
'Tis hard to watch on a summer night,
For the sigh will come and the kiss will stay,
And the summer night is a winter day
. - George MacDonald

I have often thought the best mission strategy of all is simply living the Christian life successfully. After all, a function of fruit is to attract creatures that will consume it and scatter its seeds in the process. Spiritual maturity ought to accomplish the same thing in every believer, producing the sweet fruit of a transformed character. Fruit from living the Christian life, as it ought to be lived, is attractive and will attract those who hunger for some sweetness in their own lives. When the fruit does attract, those whom it brings come into contact with the life producing seeds within. I know it is not easy, but what better missionary support could we have, than be the representatives of Christians that are enjoying the life that Christ died to give them? The best missionary support you can give us is to enjoy your faith and succeed in you efforts to be like Jesus!
Posted by Hello

I Hates Um!

A frantic call for help comes from wife or daughter. I run to the scene ready for daring deeds. I keep an eye on the offending insect while someone runs to get me a broom. A can of bug spray is brought in as a back up, in case the intruder runs and hides (I would just step on them, but I object to stepping on creatures so big that you can identify their internal organs afterwards).
I assume the stance of a matador, with broom held high. I face the foe and move forward, daring him to make his move. Finally, he makes a mad dash, often directly towards my bare feet. The broom I hold suspended in mid-air until he runs just underneath, and then, with a matador like plunge, I thrust my weapon directly down upon the charging creature. I call out my victory and am rewarded with shouts of jubilation. No one comes to admire my handiwork, but peace and tranquility once more return to our happy home. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Just for Fun. But MORE than just fun!

I enjoy playing chess and have found a new way to share my faith in the process. I play people around the world. Today I played a man in Turkey and the next game a man in India. I played a member of the St Louis Cardinals baseball team a few weeks ago. Each time I play under the name "One_life_Then_Eternity." Of course, we chat during the games and I sometimes have an opportunity to share our faith. It is neat that missionary opportunities exist even in our hobbies! Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

The REAL Pirates of the Caribbean!

Congratulations to Sarah and Kristin! We have a missionary friend, Mark Sage, who is a missionary to the English speaking military families of Puerto Rico. They have three daughters who have become friends with our girls. We take our daughters to their youth group ("Patch the Pirate Club") Sunday nights after our service here at Comerio church. They have really thrived and participated well in their new group! Both Sarah and Kristin won the "Super Sailor Award" as the best club members of the year! I knew they were sweet girls, but I never suspected they were good pirates! Way to go, girls! Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Our town: A Major Center of Spiritism in the Caribbean!

I had a revival at our church and the visiting speaker, Dr Casillas, was familiar with our town. He said: " Wow! You are doing well for a place like this, your town being the center of Spiritism in Puerto Rico and all!" I had not realized this, but it turns out that he was right. And it does explain a lot of things and activities I have seen during our church planting years our this town of Comerio.

Well what is it anyway? A long story, but many who are in the drug business and have left the church feel the need for spiritual protection when they are afraid, so they turn to the tribal gods their ancestors worshiped to deal with their fears. It also is an attempt to try to fill in the void left they feel after abandoning a faith that would inhibit their involvement in the drug trade. It involves a lot of all white clothes, cigar smoke and chicken blood sacrifices. They pray to the god Babalu, the same one Ricky Ricardo of "I love Lucy " fame would sing to while playing his Congo drum. Well, Ricky Ricardo is from the same Region as we are, and he even has a restaurant in San Juan, our capital city. Cubans, such as he, Puerto Ricans and many other Caribbean people follow this religion.

It is true that Comerio is an important center for Spiritism. We are bringing the light of the gospel into the heart of darkness! In spite of Babalu, his priests, witches and followers here, the Lord has giving us victory and we are seeing growth in the church and lives changed in our town. Amen! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Maybe it's not as much fun as it looks! Missionary work sounds fun or even romantic to some people. But most of the time it is just plain hard work, and at times, even a bit scary. We drive by avalanches of large boulders almost every week on the road we take to our Bible college. We have drug addicts injecting heroin in plain sight on our streets and then they lay in the gutters right by our church. But in all the danger God has given us grace and a peace within.

On a lighter note: I wrote the final exams for my college students today. I guess it is MY turn to be scary! Posted by Hello