Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Not-very-white Christmas!

The only white in Christmas I have seen in Puerto Rico comes from a gift I received from one of my students: Goat milk and coconut cookies!

I still enjoy the song, especially when it is 85 degrees outside on December 25th.

So far I am OK with most of the Christmas food and customs here, but I heard the ladies of the church planning a New Years Day Dinner that features "chicharrones," deep fried pork cut up into bite size cubes with the pig skin still on it.

Though it is tasty, I am sure, it sounds like a dangerous meal! Well, I am sure it will be better than the blood sausages my neighbor tried to give me.

I think I will stick to the goat milk and coconut cookies!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy for the gift, Sad for the Circumstance!

We just recieved this sad and glad news from our mission agency :

"Dissolution of Aurora Drive Baptist Church" [San Leandro, California]


As you probably know Aurora has been going through a lengthy process with the state of CA. I have received word that a check is finally in the mail to the mission. There is to be a check for $36,000 representing 15 yrs support at $200/mo. to be dispersed at $200/mo for the duration you remain with CBM up to a maximum of 15 years."
Wow! And, No, I didn't know! This is very good news for us. The $200 monthly raise in our support level is a big chunk of the $800 we are trying to raise to reach our full support level. We are pleased that Aurora did this for us, but sad to hear that they are no longer there.

In a way, the gift has given them a new life, as we will use it to begin churches here in Puerto Rico and for the training of church planters at Puerto Rico Baptist college. The gift of love from a dying church will be transformed, by God's grace, into a number of churches, some in our own country.

Thank you Aurora Drive Baptist Church, we will always remember you!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Birthday Blessings: Lots of Bible, Lots of Blessings!

My birthday party (I will be 53 Monday) put me in the mood to meditate on how I have been using my time, and I am happy to say that most of it has been positive.These last few months, we have filled up our weeks with a lot of times and places where we can share the word of God with others and it has proved to be a great blessing.

Monday through Friday, I give morning devotions to 50 high school students. Some afternoons and evenings I am responsible for the teaching of a variety of classes at Puerto Rico Baptist College, but even in classes like Physics or Chemistry, we relate each concept with biblical teachings. Fridays, I go in extra early and to give devotions to the teachers. Wednesday and Sunday, I preach and teach at the church we are starting up in the interior mountain region of the island.

The only day I am not scheduled to teach or preach is Saturday, and then I may have an opportunity to share my faith with someone as we visit and invite people to come to our church. Saturday is always a great day for Bible study in preparation for our Sunday services.

Do I get tired? Yes! But it is a good kind of tired! I don't mind getting tired if I am having fun! A week full of sharing the Bible with others is always a great week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I was afraid to believe it was true, but I’m so glad it was!

Tina opened a letter from our mission agency and said, “Hey, look at this!” She showed me that two significant special offerings had come in.

One was for $400 from Sierra Baptist in New Castle, California. (Thank you!). I had preached at a mission’s conference in their church just a few weeks ago. They paid for my airfare, around $500, and this $400 love offering was on top of that. It was a great meeting and we are grateful for the love and support.

The first special offering we could understand, but there was a second one. Tina read the second item to me, “$2,500 from Puyallup Community Baptist Church, Puyallup, Washington has been given as a special offering.” My heart beat faster and I was astonished, then a bit afraid. Maybe it was really $250 and it is a misprint. They are a supporting church, but I had not heard about any mission’s conference or anything.

I gave the church a call and thanked them for the offering. I spoke of my momentary doubt and said we just wanted to verify the amount before we wrote any checks. The secretary said the church did not have any special missions program that month, but that an individual who wished to remain anonymous gave just such an offering to our ministry.

The secretary said,”It must be a great feeling to receive an offering like that all at once, when you were not expecting it.”

She was right about that! Amen and may God richly bless both Sierra Baptist of New Castle, California and Mr. Anonymous of Puyallup Community Baptist Church, Washington!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The other shoe..? I hope so!

"If any body from the government calls, tell them you are not paying rent, that we are just letting you use the building for free."

Tina got this odd phone call from the owner of our church building last week.

Four months ago he rejected our regular rent check of $500, and has not allowed us to pay them since then. We were concerned and have been waiting for the "other shoe to drop."
Were they going to evict us? What did it all mean?

We heard that there were problems between the owner, the former owners, missing papers and the tax-man. It appears that they were not supposed to rent it, or have not payed taxes on the rent collected, or..many other variations of that theme.

What this means to us:

1. Our prayer: "Lord show us where we should locate our church" has been answered for the time being! It is hard to beat a "rent free" church building!

2. If we are asked to say we do not pay rent, we don't have to pay the rent. Hooray! That means a $500 saving every month. Even if they start the rent up again, we can't be asked to pay back rent. We have saved $2000 so far.

3. If we must start paying rent again, we may, by that time, have saved enough for a down-payment for a building in a better location.

4. We must live by faith: The rent free situation could last for years or just be a temporary boost for us. Either way, we rejoice!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I went to California for a great missons conference..!

Sierra Baptist Church, of Newcastle, California hosted the "Heartbeat of God" Missions Conference this weekend. I flew in from Puerto Rico and was treated to good fellowship, great hospitality and inspiring services. Thanks to Dave Klem, the event organizer, the conference went smoothly and all the missionaries got a chance to share their burdens, visions and past progress on their respective fields.

My special thanks to the Linder family, who took me sight-seeing and to the Yefimovs for the great hospitality and to their kids for teaching me some Russian.For a look-see at the conference, visit http://www.heartbeat-of-God.org/

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Personal Goal Announcement

Last Saturday I went to the University of Puerto Rico and took an exam from their Physics teacher. He was giving exams for a FCC Radio License that enables those who hold it to use a kind of shortwave radio for worldwide communications. I was teaching a Physics class myself at our Bible college, so I just did a little more study and I qualified to take the exam. I was afraid I would do badly and be a poor testimony, but the Lord answered my prayers and I passed the test with a 100! My new FCC designation is WP4NVR.

I didn't know babies would take up so much room!

The church attendance went down during my last absence, but last Sunday, we had a special service and many came. Three couples presented their babies during the morning service. I am happy they brought their extended families as well, as it filled up our church nicely!

Who would have thought that three babies could fill up a church? Well, I am glad they did!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Babies in Church! Handfulls of blessings!

We are having 2 sisters present their two new babies in church tomorrow. Another couple is doing the same. Three babies in arms makes for a handful! Time to get a crib! We have a sofa in the back of the church the mothers used but now we have to get with it and get a real nursery going. A crib costs about $200 and we need at least two for now.

I am trying to change our emphasis to younger couples. We have had good success with elderly people, but funerals, sickness and especially Alzheimer's among our church group has really reduced our attendance lately. These three infants and their parents represent the beginnings of what I hope will be many more young couples coming into our church.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The “Chair Force”

Some men in the military make fun of pilots who fly remote controlled aircraft in combat. They call these stay at home soldiers “The Chair Force” instead of the “Air Force.”

But think for a moment of this scenario:

A man is sitting in a chair in Nevada, watching his computer monitor and flying an airplane in Afghanistan …

“In front of him is a live video from the Predator's camera, thousands of feet above the desert floor. Buildings and trucks come into view. He zooms in and out. Grainy images appear of a few airmen loading a truck. On his left, he grabs a shifter that controls the drone's speed. On his right, a pistol-grip stick adjusts the flaps. The stick also has a trigger for the missiles …”

This man can see a need on the other side of the world, push a button, remove a problem and contribute to a victory! Even from far away, a man can make victory possible by doing something that seems small, but in reality, means the difference between life and death, victory or defeat.

Wow! But wait…You can do something even better!

Just like the “Chair Force” pilot, you can see the needs we missionaries face from far away by reading our prayer letters and our blogs. You too can do something right now to solve a problem. You have the power of prayer, and also the opportunity to push a button that will help make victory possible for us out here on the front lines! The power you have and the battles we fight are of great importance. Victories are won by working together, each doing what he can to make it happen. We hope you can help us out here on the frontlines. Please push whatever buttons you need to, so we can get the “Chair Support” we need!

If you can’t be in the Air Force, join the Chair Force! Victories are won when we all do our part.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Blessings for Obedience

Did you ever give up something for the Lord and then receive a blessing for it later? That happened to me today!

Before I became a missionary, I was interested in electronics. I even got a FCC Technicians license and was proud of my call sign: KA7URH. This allowed me to use a Ham ("Amateur," 2-way long distance) radio.

Well, I got the license, but never got on the air! The radios were to expensive! Now, with a wife and two teenage daughters at home and two in college, this is even more true. Life on a missionary budget meant that hobbies must be left behind.

But something happened!

The fine folks at "Blessings for Obedience" heard about us and sent us a FREE radio (a Kenwood TS-430s)! They also included a solar panel, battery and other stuff so we can use it around the island, even after a hurricane has knocked out all the power.

Thank you, Blessings for Obedience! Just the cost of shipping the equipment was close to $90. We thank the people who donated the equipment and those dedicated missionary helpers who took it upon themselves to put this useful technology into our hand!

I hope to get on the radio soon, and thank you over the airwaves in person!

Dios Les Bendiga (May the Lord Bless You All)!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Odd Evangelism?

After prayer meeting last Wednesday, we walked to our car and on the way happened to meet the funeral director.

He said, “Hey. I invited somebody to your church!”

I was intrigued. He had never been to our church! I asked about the person. The funeral director told us that he met an older woman who was looking for a church and thought of us, so he invited the elderly lady to our church.

I asked him, “Well, can you show me where she lives?”

He replied,” What, right now? OK! Let’s go for it!”

So we climbed the sidewalk stairs that took us about two city blocks up the hill and knocked on her door.

A teenager peeked out the window, saw my visitation partner and shouted “Mom, it’s the funeral home!”

I met the woman, a 62 year old lady named Virginia. She invited us in and heard the Good News gladly. The next week, Virginia made a profession of faith in Christ and plans to worship with us next Sunday.

You just never know where your next church member may come from. The may even be brought to you by the funeral director!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Something is up, but what?

The landlord of the building we rent for our church refused to take our July rent check and returned the one from June as well. I was concerned and asked why, but he said he was having trouble with his taxes and could not take anymore rent from us for for a bit, but not to worry. He said he might be making a decision about the building soon, but that it could be very much in our favor.

What could it be? Please pray! Different scenarios, from giving us the building for free to our church having to move soon, have crossed my mind. Even if it was free, would we find some hidden tax debt attached? I don't want to say "NO" and miss a blessing, but we don't want to say "Yes" and get a Trojan horse either.

I know about this verse:

James 1:5-6 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

I confess, I feel a bit like that wave. We need that wisdom that James 1:5-6 and following speaks of. Please help us pray for it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Sarah and Kristin!

Sarah and Kristin turn 15 today! I am on the road visiting churches, but I hope the phone calls, emails and the presents I sent for your birthday today made it a happier one.

Free MP3 English or Spanish Bible downloads

I am reprograming my mind by listening to some pretty good stuff: the Word of God. I just got myself a little mp3 player and plan on listening to Proverbs in Spanish today on a walk. This site (http://www.audiotreasure.com/) has some free downloads for your mp3 player or you can burn them to disk for the car. They have English downloads also.

In Spanish, We use the Reina-Valera version, and this is available too, at least the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. http://www.audiobiblia.org/indexenglish.html

Know of any good stuff? Let us know!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One Month Mini-Furlough

Our Vacation Bible School was not even over when I jumped on an airplane and flew to Pensacola, Florida. I spent a few days with my daughters and future son-in-laws at their college and then drove to New York for a month of missionary meetings in various churches.

The little town of Perth, near Albany, New York, is the home of Perth Bible Church. I am staying in their missionary apartment for the month of July. It is a great blessing to have a place to stay between meetings and a place with the privacy needed to get some serious studying done.

I just spoke in all three services at Valley Baptist Church in Mt. Morris, New York. It is a town of about 4,500. It is a patriotic place and in fact is the birthplace of the Baptist pastor who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. My host, Pastor Phillips has a business, Allegiance Antiques, that reflects that patriotism in its decor. He and his wife Joan received me well and it was a pleasure to stay with them.

I met some Puerto Ricans in the congregation, that I hear visit the island often. One told me that he would stop by my town and take me to visit his relatives in Puerto Rico. That's what I like to hear! I hope that this meeting will lead to a closer link between our ministries.

Tina is alone with Sarah and Kristin in Puerto Rico for the month of July. Don't be shy, drop her a line or make a phone call. We all need some encouragement once in a while, even me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

VBS, Puerto Rican Style

Yep, we have Vacation Bible School on the mission field. It is like in the States, except in another language, in another culture, with different food and with a lot less help. Plus it is a lot hotter in the tropics. But besides that, kids here like games, puppets and stories just like kids everywhere.

Please pray for our busy week that it would go well and yield fruit.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Scary Stuff

One of our faithful elderly men missed a few Sundays, so we went to visit him. He seemed normal, but I had an uneasy feeling that something was up. That something happened just last week and gave us a scare.

One night around 11pm, I heard a car honk and saw him out in front of the house. He had a “vision” of my wife Tina dead from a nail in the head and said that the Twins called him to come rescue them. I said, “But you don’t even have a phone.” He said, “Yes, but Sarah called out to me and I heard her voice in my mind.”

One of his adult daughters, Gloria, was with him and motioned to me that he was crazy. She had brought him by because he insisted on seeing that we were alright and refused to go to bed until he knew.

I thanked him for his concern, prayed with him and later visited the daughter to find out what was going on. She said that he had begun hearing voices, and often talks to people who are not there. Recently the voices in his head say there is evil in our home and that he should burn it to rescue us from it!

What to do? This guy was a friend and a great help up to about 3 months ago, and now we have to worry about him showing up one day and burning down our house because he loves us so much. Yikes!

We bought some new locks for the front gate, and our front porch and upgraded all the security around our house. But what we need is your prayers. We don’t want to become paranoid, but is it paranoia when someone really is out to get you? I think not.

I went to see him again, but they had admitted him to a psychiatric hospital for a few days and would only let family in to see him. He has recently been discharged and is supposed to be guarded by at least two family members 24 hours a day. Our concern is that he might get away and hitch-hike into town and drop by our house.

It is sad and stressful losing a friend to something like this, let alone having to worry about a stalker. Another ripple in all this is that I will be away from home all July , speaking in Mission Conferences in New York state. Please pray for us, our safety and our peace of mind. It would be a blessing to us if you would drop us a line and let us know you are praying for us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What does an artist feel like when they sell their first painting?

I don’t know, but you can ask our daughter Bethany!

Last week she got engaged and this week she finished her first commercial art project.

Bethany is doing a required internship where she creates commissioned art under the supervision of professional artists. This means she does not have much of a vacation, but on the other hand, she gets paid for doing her art.

Congratulations Bethany!

Online Dictionary for French, English, Spanish, Italian, German.

Online Dictionary for French, English, Spanish, Italian, German.

This site hosts the best free online Spanish dictionary I have found.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Training Faithful Men for the Ministry.

These two men are assistant pastors right now and both are preparing to become pastors. I am training them Thursday nights, from 7-10 PM. This last semester we studied Biblical Geography and Introduction to New Testament Greek.

Marcos (left) is going to become an interim pastor this week for a missionary friend of mine. He will fill in when missionaries are on furlough and get some good experience in preparation for getting his own church. Roberto (Center) is serving as an assistant pastor but may continue with his construction company for a while, but feels led to pastor someday. The guy on the right is me.

Please pray for us all, as their studies and my commuting and lesson preparation time is a sacrifice. I am happy to spend and be spent discipling men like this, but it can be draining, physically and financially. Your support and words of encouragement make a difference and help us to keep up this good work.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some of our work is paying off!

One of our graduates is staying and helping us for a bit.

The pictures are from when our students held a birthday party our for our newest and youngest teacher, Rafael. He is a Engineering graduate from Colombia, South America. I taught him here over the last few years and am pleased to see him teaching with us. He plans to be a missionary to Colombia and is raising funds right now to go. He plans on starting a Seminary in country, possibly in the city of Cartegena. In the meantime he will continue in his new position as a teacher here at Puerto Rico Baptist College.

We plan on starting a Seminary here too. I am hopeful that he will help us with this and continue to give us input later, as he develops a similar ministry in his country, Colombia.

Graduations at Puerto Baptist College

The graduation went fine, we had nine graduates this year and an enrollment of about 50. In the photo are just a few of our graduates.

Although only four girls are in this picture they represent many different combinations. Lissette (on the left) is Mexican, but from the Bay Area of California, she is perfectly Bilingual. Next to her is Stephanie from Burlington, Vermont. She represents students who come to our school because they want to study missions ON the mission field! What a good idea! Then Muriel is from Mexico but does not speak any English yet. at the extreme right is Deborah, from Peru. She was going to study engineering in Peru but came to study Bible here with us for a bit and stayed to complete all four years. She met Patricio, a student we had from Texas. She graduated and went to Texas to marry him just last week.

So they come and go, some to the States, some to other countries. What a joy to be in this special place, this crossroads of ministry and missionary activity. We are especially happy to see our ministry affecting areas where we have supporting churches, like in the Bay Area of California. It is nice to be able to return something to help the churches that are supporting us!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We are pleased to announce…!

BOTH our daughters just got engaged!

Bethany is engaged to Abe Kennedy, who is studying to be a youth pastor, and Rachel is engaged to Max Kennedy, Abe’s brother. Max is studying to be a pastor or missionary. Both couples plan on going to graduate school.

We are pleased with their engagements and exited about their prospects for the future!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Church Growth and Family Happiness

I read this in a "Our Daily Bread " devotional for today.

"A builder in California has come up with an innovative idea to sell his houses. He thinks that a good way to make a house more appealing is to have a family there when showing the house. So he hires actors to play happy families in his company’s model homes. Would-be buyers can ask them questions about the house. Each fake family cooks, watches television, and plays games while house-hunters wander through."

The builder is right! The presence of a happy family in a house does make it more attractive. The buyers feel that if the house can make one family happy, their family can be happy there as well.

The church is called "The house of God." We can make that house more attractive to others if we have happy families inside! We want others to come and make it their home. If "play acting" a happy family can do it, imagine how effective genuine happiness can be!

We are working here in Puerto Rico to heal families and establish a home for them in God's house, the church. We hope to share with others the happiness we receive from serving the Lord and building His church.

The saying "the more, the merrier" really does apply when you have an inexhaustible supply of something worth sharing! What God has for us is just that. He has made for us a real family and supplied it with everything that a real family needs to be happy. Let's get some families to enjoy a real relationship with God in God's house, and we just might see others wanting to join.

Psalm 68 :5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Staying Posted but Helping Hands Needed

" ... The gatekeepers at each gate did not need to leave their posts,
because their fellow Levites made the preparations for them. " 2Ch 35:15

We are well aware that it is through the labors of our fellow servants that we are able to continue serving at our post on the mission field.

With the recent car accident and two daughters in college, this help has become even more important. It is a temptation to put aside our regular work of ministry and get other jobs to raise the needed funds (about $9000), but then who would do the evangelism and church planting, or train our students at the Bible college? We are on the field to do these things and struggle to remain until the job is done.

Please help us remain at our post, serving the Lord. Your help makes a difference.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Revival Idea: Family Happiness Seminar

We are trying a new idea for a revival.

Usually we have a guest preacher, which is great for attracting church members from other churches but not such a good way for reaching non-church people.

To appeal to our community and to give them a reason to attend, we are hosting a “How to Have a Happy Home” seminar. Everybody needs that!
Even couples with happy homes can chuckle at quotes like this:

“Winning an argument with your wife is like winning the war with Iraq,” Democratic political consultant James Carville said. “Once you win, you’re in even more trouble.”

So I hope that by providing a theme like this, we may attract people and then show them the great resources for family happiness that are available to a Christian family and how they can become one.

Please pray for our revival. We will hold it this Friday and Saturday at 7PM and from 9:30-12:00 Sunday morning.

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Accident

Our daughter Rachel took a group of students out on visitation last Sunday and was involved in an accident. She is alright and no one was hurt.

She made a u-turn on a rainy day and the car fish-tailed into a parked card. The airbags popped out and the front end of the car has a good sized dent in the bumper.

The accident will cost $3,763 for the other car and about 1,000 for our car.

We praise the Lord for bringing Rachel through this trial unharmed. Any help received to aid us in recovering from the accident will be greatly appreciated!

Please remember all of us in your prayers.

She did what she promised!

I visited Lydia, a 70 year old woman who is dying of colon cancer. We prayed. She told me she would come the next day to church to give her testimony. I did not ask or even suggest this, but was very glad to hear of her desire to make a public declaration of her faith.

At some level I had my doubts about ever seeing her again. But then again, I felt I must honor her faith and find a way to make this happen that would be not too stressful on her in her weakened condition.

I sent one of our college girls, Cynthia Flores, to Lydia’s house Sunday morning to tell her she could come later if she wished. If she came toward the end of the service, she might not tire herself out or be in pain so much. I was surprised to see Cynthia enter the church with Lydia holding on to her arm!

“Did she understand you?” I asked.

Cynthia replied, “Yes, Pastor. She just didn’t want to wait!”

Sure enough, just as she had joked about, she had come in pajamas with a hospital robe pulled on over them. As soon as I started the Sunday School hour Lydia raised her hand and said “Excuse me, I have something to say.” Lydia came forward and said, “Last night I accepted Christ as my Savior, and I am trusting in him to save me. I love home and now I belong to him!”

We were all very touched. Here was a woman with every excuse in the world to not come to church. She had not clothes, health, family or freedom from persistent pain, but there she was glorifying God in the Church. How many have so much, enjoy so much, yet remain at home, self absorbed, ungrateful and unconscious of their greatest needs?

We pray for Lydia, but with joy, as she has responded so well to the claims of Christ upon her life. It is a great thing when an older person receives Christ. Our hope is that we may reach more young people with the same powerful gospel. We need help to grow this church. Please pray that we might receive the help we need to continue our growth.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bathrobe or Bust

I heard Lydia moaning from the street. She is 70 and suffering from colon cancer. I called at her window and she said “Come in Pastor, the door is unlocked.” She was very skinny. I could see the outlines of her bones clearly. I brought her a large print bible to read and she was thrilled. I read her some verses and prayed with her for about a half an hour.

She told me “I want to go to church tomorrow and walk up front and make a public declaration of my faith. Even if I only have a bathrobe and have to be carried, I am going!”

I smiled at her enthusiasm and hope she can do it! But just wanting to do do something like that shows a heart full of faith, which in the Lord’s book, counts for a whole lot.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Soup and Salvation

During one of our weekly visitation times, I came across the home of a seventy year old woman named Lydia.. She is suffering from intestinal cancer and is often in pain. I was surprised one Sunday to see her in church. She grabbed her side in pain a few times during the service, but she was all smiles and friendly between these episodes. She has visited for about a month. I go to her home about once a week and pray with her.

The other day I found out she hadn’t eaten for two days. I went and got some chicken soup while my visitation partner stayed and spoke to her. I made her the soup and we sat and talked while she ate it. I had asked her before if she was a Christian and she said yes.

This day I asked her, “How do you know you are a Christian? What happened to you that makes you say that?”

She replied, “I went forward in church and the pastor touched me in the forehead with his finger.”

I replied, “He could touch you with all ten fingers, take off his shoes and use his toes too, but that would not save you. Only Jesus can save. Here is what the Bible says about it…”

I shared what we call “The Roman Road” (Romans 3:10, 23; 5:6-8, 6:23, and 10:8-13.) and asked her to pray, and ask our Lord to save her.

Lydia prayed and was all smiles a bit later. We witnessed to her son Juan Carlos and are keeping in touch with her neighbors. Please pray for Lydia. She is in the hospital a lot and still in much pain. We wish to be a blessing to Lydia and her neighbors.

There was a Lydia in the Bible whose hospitality became a great blessing for the early church and aided in the spread of the gospel in the regions beyond. We hope these visits to our Lydia may have an impact in her life, but also an impact that may be felt beyond the four walls of her house, and may spill over into the neighborhoods all around our town.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Some Things You Don't Learn in School

Videojug and PBwiki: Two great tools for our students

Our college students arrive and many of them are quite competent. Others seem to have missed some basic life lessons. We take them into our home and teach them more than how to do church work. Cooking, basic life skills, how to study, how to change a flat tire, etc., may be the subject of the day.

It is a lot of fun for us to use our home on the mission field helping college students become competent young adults.

Here is a site that is a lot of fun, http://www.videojug.com/

You can learn how to wash a car, make buttered toast or fix a doorknob. So now we too have a way to fill in those gaps in our education.


There is another site we use that is excellent. It is PBwiki.com. This site allows our students to post their homework online. Enough students doing enough homework can add up to quite a bit of information, that in turn can be used to teach others. Come visit our site:

Check out the PBwiki tour!

Create your own wiki at http://www.pbwiki.com/?r=pob

Link to

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Turtles and Daffodils teach a lesson.

Someone asked me, "How can you plant a church, teach in two Bible colleges and still have time to blog, learn the guitar and spend time with your family?"

My answer is "Cancel your cable TV subscription and start plugging away at something worthwhile. A little bit every day adds up." I call this "The turtle method." Turtles aren't very good looking or very speedy, but over time they can make a lot of progress.

My Uncle Tom sent me an article with a more appealing name. It is called

"The Daffodil Principle"

Here is the story:

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead "I will come next Tuesday", I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

"Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.

"But first we're going to see the daffodils. It's just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."

"Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around." "It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, "Daffodil Garden." We got out of the car, each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn. "Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking", was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the
greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time--often just one baby-step at time--and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world ...

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said.

She was right. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting.....

Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die...

There is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So work like you don't need money. Love like you've never been hurt, and, Dance like no one's watching.

If you want to brighten someone's day, pass this on to someone special.

I just did!

Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day!

Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kayaks and Dungeons

We had a lot of fun showing Abe and Max Kennedy (Bethany and Rachel's' Boyfriends) around our island. It wasn't all just vacation, we did manage to get some work out of them! Both preached in our church and did lots of painting.

After all that hard work we took them to the phosphorescent bay and joined a kayak night time tour of this unusual part of God's creation. We paddled up some dark mangrove lined channels and could see our paddle blades glow where they entered the water. There is a kind of small sea creature that lights up when the water is disturbed. Some folks on the tour jumped in and swam around and we could see a green glow all around them.

We later went to a beach near the town of "Cabo Rojo" and took along our old dried up Christmas tree. We burned it and had "S'mores" (roasted marsh mellows and chocolate between Graham crackers). We rented some kayaks and went picnicking on a small off-shore park called "Gilligans Island."

It was fun to relax. Besides the beach, we took them all to see some old Spanish forts, and even shut them up in the dungeon. They broke out though and are now all back in Florida and their college studies.

Being a missionary often means being separated from family for long periods of time. It was sure good to have a few weeks with everyone here.

For more vacation pictures visit our Flickr albums:



Monday, January 08, 2007

Surprised but Prepared

I was enjoying some time with my kids Saturday morning when somebody called, “Dad, someone outside wants you.” It was a nurse. The nurse pulled in front of our driveway and I saw that she was crying. She said, “Don Steven, Your church member William Baez is in the hospital. I am his daughter. Please come.”

I ran and changed my clothes and drove the 40 min. up to the Mennonite hospital to see him. He was full of tubes, wires, but most ominously, made a loud gurgling sound whenever he breathed. He was alert and conscious and I saw him mouth the word “Thank-you” through his oxygen mask.

I stayed in the room for about five hours and read to him from the bible, prayed with him and spoke to the family as they came and went. I asked the nurses about his status and a few said he could last for a couple of days like that, but one thought he might die the next day. He became unconscious and I could no longer communicate with him. After a while, I left for home and spent what remained of the evening preparing for our Sunday services.

Sunday morning, on the way to church, a neighbor stopped me and said, “Pastor, William Baez died last night at 2 in the morning. Can you do his funeral today at Noon?” Of course I said yes.

Before we left the church for the funeral, I had the privilege of translating a sermon given by a young ministerial student named Max Kennedy. He is the boyfriend of my daughter Rachel. He did a fine job and our people were blessed. His brother Abe carried some hymn books over to the funeral home right after the service and I got ready to preach. There were only a few people so we came back at seven that night and had a preaching service then. Today, I preached again at noon and gave another sermon at the grave-side at 1:30.

I met William Baez during my visits to town and invited him to church every time I saw him. He started coming after about a year of invitations and attended for over a year. He was friendly, positive and had a great sense of humor. I will miss him. One of the last things he said to me was, “I prayed that I would not return to my house. I want to leave the world from the hospital. I want to go and see my precious Saviors’ face.

I went to church yesterday expecting to translate a message so I did not write one. Since then I have preached three funeral sermons. Fortunately I have kept some of my old funeral sermons and was able to reuse some of them. Preparation and planning for the future helped me in this situation. Brother William Baez also made his preparations beforehand, preparations of a more important kind.

I hope you, dear reader, will make what preparations you need before that expected, but somehow surprising time comes, that day when it is your turn to leave this world.