Friday, October 28, 2005

Old Guy Hug

I get impatient when I have a present to give someone! I ordered some large print bibles and had one set-aside for William Baez. He is an 80 year old who has walked to our church for the last 6 Sundays in a row. He shook my hand and smiled as he entered the church

"I have something for you!" I said. "Today I am keeping a promise I made to you. Here is a large print bible"

"For me?" He gasped. "Wow! How much is it?"

"Nothing." I replied. "Here we do not charge anybody for the Word of God."

"But I must give you something. " insisted William. "You must tell me how much it cost."

I answered;" Well, that is between you and God. It cost us about $20. But I won't take any of your money for it. If you insist, put what you want in the offering plate, but don't tell me about it. That is something private between you and the Lord."

I smiled and extended my hand, attempting to end the conversation on this note and get back to greeting the other people arriving for our morning service.

"What! You can't give me a handshake after all that!" He beamed. "Come over here and let me give you a big hug!"

And he did! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mixed Emotions: Car Breaks, Umbrella busted, Friends Faithful

It is great to have friends who can get you out of a jam! But who wants to be in a jam!

The OIL LIGHT went bright red as my car climbed the mountain road towards home. I only needed a minute to maneuver out of the traffic, but the engine died. I felt scared for the safety of the six college students I was bringing home. I told the college girls to get out and wait for us in a safe place. The three guys and I pushed the car across the center lane of traffic and onto a safer side street.

My assistant pastor Tulio has a cell phone, so I called around for help. I stood out by the main street so our rescuers could find us. But we had a lot of wind and a rainstorm as Tropical Storm Alpha passed close by our island. My umbrella turned inside-out a few times as I fought to keep it stable in the gusty winds. I was going to deliver three of the students to help a Puerto Rican Pastor who lives higher up in the mountains. Fortunately he was able to find me and get his kids home safely. My deacon Wilfredo came and took our three and me to our house. Miguel, a church member and car repair guy, came with a friend and managed to nurse the car home, where it sits waiting for a new oil pump.

So, the important thing is that all seven of us, plus the car, got home safely. AMEN! Also, it was a blessing that it was sunny Sunday morning, as we all walked to church. It is about half a mile down hill. We made quite a parade, Tina, the twins, our three college helpers and I all walking to church! I guess if it had to happen, it was a blessing that all I had to suffer was an inside-out umbrella, getting wet and the expense of a car repair. It could have been worse!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Car (I Hope) Fixed Just in Time

Miguel and his friend picked up a water pump and installed it in our 92 Toyota Previa this evening. A day or two of extra labor and an additional $90 appears to have solved the cars remaining problems. Tomorrow I have an three hour round trip to our Bible College and plan on returning with a van full of college kids to help us in our church planting efforts up here in the interior mountain region. Well, if the car breaks down, at least I will have company!  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What Bugs me is....Bugs!

Does your Baptismal Preparation List have these items?

1. Check for iguanas in the water. Remove iguana droppings.
2. Check for giant centipedes!

Well, ours does!

We found this large and dangerous insect yesterday. They are not deadly, but the pinchers are VERY powerful and they have painful venom. Fortunately, we have Poison Cane Toads in our yard to keep the numbers down!

The most noticeable wildlife is our whistling frogs, the Coquis. They are cute and musical, and (almost) make up for our more gruesome guests.

Non-Bug Bugs.
Two brothers come to church Sunday without their parents. One is in first grade and his big brother, Caesar, is in eighth. The little brother was disruptive in the service, to the point that he threw a hymnal. I used all the psychology I possessed to get him out of the service. I asked Irving, our helper from Barcelona, Spain, to preach that Sunday, so I was free to deal with the problem myself. I told Caesar that I thought we should take his brother home and explain to his mother what happened. So I took one hand, Caesar took the other, and we walked up the hill to their house.

I said to the mother, "We want to have your sons in church, and you too! But the little one is having trouble behaving today. I think the best solution would be for you to come and sit with him in church. You know best how to motivate him to behave. Please let Caesar keep coming. We will welcome you, and the little guy too, when you think he is ready"

I was a bit nervous on how the mom was going to take this.

She said, "Pastor, I know how he is. Do not worry. I will keep him home and punish him!"

I said, "It would be best, I think, if you came to church with him. I am not asking you to punish him. BUT, you are his mother, and know what is best for him!"

I think it went VERY WELL. This could have been an explosive situation. But, praise the Lord, she spoke respectfully to me AND trusted me to return to the church with her older son, Caesar. I know that God can transform an ugly bug into a butterfly. From what I saw Sunday, a transformation could be taking place in a home very near our church!
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Saturday, October 15, 2005

"You Want Me to Keep Coming to Church Don't You?"

Today I stopped and talked with an elderly man who has come to our church for five weeks in a row now. He was friendly but then he got serious.

He said; "You want me to keep coming to church, don't you?"

I replied, a bit confused, "Well, Yes! Why do you ask?"

He answered, "When we take turns reading the bible in your adult Sunday school class, and it is my turn, I can't read the verses well and I get embarrassed. Look, I need some help. Please get me a large print bible. I'll even pay for it if I have too!"

I said, "Don't worry about that! I promise you will get one!"

I just ordered 3, one for him and 2 to make available for other who may be struggling with the same problem. I would like to get 5 more. They are $20 apiece. If you would, please help us provide these for our "Senior Sheep."

What about the car? We got it back together and it runs, but it still has some problems. There is still a leak somewhere and the engine runs a bit rough. I am waiting for Miguel to come by today and take a look. Please keep us in prayer! Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 14, 2005

Back Together!

$500 can go for a lot of things, but today it went for a car repair. It was $500 well spent. I feel that way because it was a done at my house by a church member I trust, and was really only just enough to cover the cost of the parts, with some extra to enable Miguel to pay his assistant. I also got to witness to him a little today. If the car HAD to breakdown and be repaired, it really could not have happened in a better way or with better people involved.

BUT furlough is coming, airline tickets must be purchased, a car must be acquired somehow in the LA area for the beginning of our travels, etc. The $500 we spent came out of money being saved for these needs. Now there is less and we will face a greater challenge. If you can help us in the months ahead in some way, we would appreciate it very much.

During the repairs, we found 3 more bad seals and had to run for parts again. A big rain storm came over but we had a good couple of hours without rain. The engine and transmission were reinstalled, and we didn�t have any parts left over, which is always a good sign. I drove it to town and we got groceries and it seems fine. It was a short trip, so the new thermostat did not open up yet. Tomorrow will be more of an extreme test, as I will be teaching in Bayamon and returning with three college students up the mountain road that leads to our home. It is an hour and a half trip through a heavy traffic jam both ways. Pray for us!
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hoping for a Better Day, Preparing for a Worse One!

SWORD. - ALBA GU BRA (Pseudonym meaning "Scotland

We don't always know the best times to plow, fight,
fix a car or take a day off ahead of time. But we do
the best we can.

Miguel came by and we were set to get the engine
reconstructed and into the car, when some torrential
rains came, the city shut the water off AND the
electricity went out. No fun fixing a car in the rain,
especially when you can't wash up afterward. So we
spent the day trying to make sure we have all the
parts. Tomorrow is "Dia de la Raza" so we will have
all day to work on it providing....all of the above
does not continue to delay. Even if it does, we will
try to make it happen.

It is still raining hard. The river is high and some
areas of town are getting flooded. We are high enough
not to worry about the flood, but plenty high enough
to get my heart pumping pretty hard when hiking home
up the hill with a bag of groceries.

Please keep us in prayer. I have missed a few days
training some nationals already, and don't want them
to get discouraged.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Miguel brought a friend along to help fix our car today and a lot of work got done today. Miguel is not charging me for his labor, but the extra guy isn't helping us just for fun, so we will need to pay him something. Posted by Picasa

Hard Work Gets Done By Working Hard

We got a lot done today. Everyone worked so hard! Posted by Picasa

Well, maybe not everybody! Posted by Picasa

We found the leak

Getting this engine in and out will run over a hundred dollars just for the seals, etc.
 Posted by Picasa

And the cause of it all is...!

We found this plug and two others eaten through with corrosion. Someone saved a few dollars a few years ago by putting in some cheap ones. Errr!

The question now is: When can we get all this put back together and running again? We are stretched a bit thin as it is between starting a church and training workers in two Bible Institutes. But prayer, hard work and help sent in a timely manner has saved us in the past. We could use your help with all the above! Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 07, 2005

Creative Car and Computer Solutions

I asked a man once, why he had left home and moved to our area. He said; "Well, my girlfriend left me and my dog died!"

Fortunately, we are not that bad off! BUT, My computer hard drive died and my car engine has sprung a leak in a very bad place!

Friday A.M. at 8, a church member (Miguel Fontanez) is coming over and will be removing the engine from our 1992 Toyota Previa. Miguel is a great blessing. He will only take payment for the parts he buys for the car. He is giving his labor for free. I have been teaching him guitar lessons for free for about six months now, and I did not plan for him to ever pay me for them. It looks like I might get paid back four or five fold for the time I have invested with him!

It still is likely to be expensive. And it is keeping me from teaching in our Bible institute in Ponce. I just might have to finish teaching some classes by correspondence if I am without a car for very long.

Why the Puppy? Well, after the hard drive died, I did not have the original operating system disks to reformat the hard drive. New ones are expensive, so I did some research and found a FREE operating system (ie: Bill Gates gets no money from it.) It is called Puppy Linux. I got a version of it called "Chubby Puppy." Thanks to Chubby Puppy, the computer that I thought had died works just fine now. Chubby Puppy can't do everything (You get what you pay for) but at least I can do email and all the basics for now, and the price is right. Now I can wait for a good deal on a Windows operating system instead of having to buy one right away out of necessity.

So Computers and Cars Have Problems, But God Has Solutions! AMEN! Posted by Picasa

Up, Up and...?

Our furlough begins this December, and that means we will get to be in the States this Christmas! Even though it is a few months away, we need to buy our tickets now before the prices start going up. Airfare will be $1080 for Tina, the twins and I from Puerto Rico to Los Angeles, California. Bethany and Rachel will join us there, flying in from Pensacola, Florida, where they are attending Pensacola Christian College. Their airfare will be about $320. That makes the tickets total about $1,400.

I hope to buy the tickets within the next few days so we can peg the price at a more economic level. If you can help, please help!

The Biggest expense is not the airfare, but getting a good car when we arrive. We will need it from Dec. 2005 till the end of May 2006. We will drive (Lord willing) from LA to Tacoma and then out to Florida. We hope to fly back to Puerto Rico from Orlando, Florida, as it has the best rates to our island. We then need to sell the car (or return it somehow if borrowed) or leave it with Bethany and Rachel to use at college. We had thought to buy a used Sienna Mini-Van, but they seem expensive. But we need a car for six that is safe enough to cross the US in winter without getting us stranded somewhere in North Dakota. We are open to borrowing, or ...? Going to Orlando in May/June of 2006? You might find a real good deal on a car, and not have to rent one when you go to Disney World! If you have any ideas about how we could do this, let us know!

I do trust the Lord. But I believe that by sharing our concerns here, God may meet our needs through some of you. God may channel a blessing through your hearts and hands to a time and place where it can make a big difference for our family and His work on the mission field. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 02, 2005

An OddFellow Comes to Church

We seem to be doing well this month. Church attendance is up. We are seeing results from our visitation. A man I have been after for about 6 months has come three Sundays in a row. He told me today, "I have been a Mason, and spent 30 years in the Odd Fellow lodge and was treasurer. This is the first real church I have ever been in, and I like it!"

His name is Wilson Baez. He is 80 ears old and in surprisingly good health. He walks about 3 miles every day, so I have seen him a lot around town and have struck up many conversations with him. I asked him "Why are you always walking around town?" Wilson responded, " I love visiting sick people in their homes and cheering them up."

He cheered me up today! I hope that Wilson will continue liking all he sees and hears in our church and come to know Christ as his Savior. I would like to make the rounds with Wilson and gain a new brother in the Lord and a new visitation partner for our community outreach here in Comerio, Puerto Rico. Posted by Picasa