Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dress in silk a monkey, if you will, But after all, it is a monkey still

“Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.”

A lady in our church asked me to visit her brother Emilio who was in the hospital. I went with my deacon, Luis Lopez. We found Emilo, and learned that he had spent two weeks in the hospital because of the damage he had done to his liver through excessive drinking. He was very friendly and acted as if it was no big deal.

He told me, "I've seen three doctors, and they say I can't drink anymore, without killing my liver permanently, but that is no big deal. I have been in here without drinking for two weeks and I don't miss it. I don't see why it should be all that difficult to quit."

I looked at him and realized he was trying to minimize his problem, but there he lay, emaciated, near the point of death, unable to work and support his family, but babbling along as if all was well. I decided it was time to help him get a grip on the reality of the situation.

I said, "Emilio, do you know the Puerto Rican proverb, "Dress in silk a monkey, if you will, But after all, it is a monkey still?

Emilio smiled and said, "Yes! That is like when you wash a dog, but when you put them back in the yard, they roll in the mud. They are still just a dog, in spite of all the work you do."

I said, "Emilio, you have been kept from drinking by the hospital, so what makes you think you won't go back to drinking when they put you back in your house? Don't you have friends that come over and drink with you? I bet you even have friends that open your fridge to see if you have any beer."

Emilio laughed, "That is right! Some of them don't even ask!"

I said, "When your old friends come over, you will likely fall into your old habits, unless you can be changed into a different kind of person. Jesus spoke of a change like this, how we could become a new person, it is called the new birth. The Bible speaks of people as either sheep or goats. Jesus said they would live with one another, but he will come one day and separate the sheep from the goats. He takes the sheep with him. Do you know what people do with goats, right?

Emilio smiled, "Yes! They have a goat barbecue!"

I said, "Yes, that's right! So you can see it is serious business! Goats do what they want and represent those without Christ. Christ wants sheep, those who will follow him. He does not come looking for ways to make the goats better. The thing is to change from a goat to a sheep. If you come to Christ, he can change you from a goat to a sheep. If you change from the inside, and become a follower of Jesus, then you have a chance, But if you continue trusting in outward changes to make a difference, you can guess for yourself how successful you will be,

I asked, “When you are in your old environment and all your drinking buddies come to visit, don't you think a few will bring a bottle to celebrate your coming home?"

Emilio nodded and smiled ruefully “Yes, I bet they will!”

We continued the conversation for a while, read some passages, prayed with him and generally had a pleasant visit. In the elevator on the way back to the parking lot, I asked my deacon Luis what he thought of our visit.

Luis said, "It went real well, but you were a little rough on somebody you just met for the first time. But even though you spoke to him like that, he responded well, so it was a good visit."

I thought about that on the way home. Was I out of line talking that way? But when I see in my minds eye a man facing death, impoverishing his family and making light of both the problem and his part in it all, the feeling again rises inside me that cries: If I don't tell this guy the truth, who will? Emilio's self-delusion and efforts at self reformation seem pretty likely to bring him quickly to his death. I think it is more important that he gets a wake up call from somebody before it is to late.

I think Emilio knew I cared about him. Even though I spoke without pulling many punches, he was positive upbeat throughout the entire visit. I hope he makes the right decision. Anyway, at least his sister in our church will see we care about her family.

Please continue to pray for our church and for wisdom, etc. for your missionaries!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Two Graduations, Two Weddings and Finding a Place to Stay for a Month...Wow! Amen! and Help!

May 7th is the graduation of Bethany and Rachel from Pensacola Christian College. Bethany is graduating with two majors: Commercial Art and Graphic Design. Rachel has a major in Missions and a minor in Business. On June 7th both will be getting married to two brothers, Abe and Max Kennedy in a double wedding.

This is a great blessing for us and we are so proud. We will definitely be there. But it does mean we will have to figure out how and where to to stay in Florida for a month. The plane fare, double wedding and graduation will be a significant expense for us as well. If anyone knows of a place we can stay for a month or could help out with the many upcoming expenses, we would greatly appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Family Fun for the New Year

Bethany and Rachel flew in from the States to spend some of their Christmas vacation with us. We opened our presents this morning and watched some fun videos.

Here is one we made in a class I teach at Puerto Rico Baptist College:

Some of my students wanted extra credit for my Physics class. We were studying electric shocks so I suggested they could get an extra credit grade if they licked a 9 volt battery! No, it's not torture, just an "electricity experience." Even if you don't understand the Spanish comments, it still is a lot of fun watching their reactions.