Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saying "NO" to something good, so "YES" can be said to something better.

This last year I was involved in the Civil Air Patrol. I enjoyed the experience of rubbing shoulders with the 14 or so pilots in our Senior Squadron. However, the leadership was only allowing me 15 minutes of devotional time once every two months.

I appreciate the opportunity to minister to that group, but attending 8 weeks of meetings and keeping all my qualifications current was a pretty hefty price for those few promised minutes of ministry.

I have learned from Michael Hyatt (former president of Nelson Publishing) and others that I need to say "No" to the good, to be able to say "Yes" to what is better.

Why You Should Flush 90% of Your To-Do List Down the Toilet

There is nothing better than serving the Lord through the local church. Next comes our Bible College and Christian school that provide training for our church members and leaders for the churches we start. And then there is camp...

It is easy to spread one's self too thin, especially when there are so few others doing the work of missions.

I still have my CAP uniform hanging in the closet, but I think that I will leave it there until I can be convinced that a ministry there would yield more opportunities for growing our church that it appears to yield now.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Blessing We Can Drive

We have been a one car family for a while now. We also had no plans to get a second car until we had enough in our saving account to acquire one. Sadly, that appeared to be sometime in the far off future.

But a crisis arose. The carpool that I was using to get around became unavailable and we were left in a difficult position.

But because of financial gifts from some churches, family and friends, we got within reach of getting a car for Tina. And we did just that. She went out and found a bargain on a 2008 Yaris.

She is a happy camper now and so am I. 

We are now able to do our multiple ministries with much more freedom. 

Although we did not have to go into debt to get the car, we did drain our savings down just about nothing. While we live by faith, we also try and follow the good council we have received, which was that we should have at least one month of missionary and personal expenses in savings as a buffer. 

That isn't there anymore.

We praise the Lord and thank you all for making this blessing possible. Please remember that we need your ongoing support and prayers to keep the work going down here in Puerto Rico, USA.

Why I Am a Multi-Blogger

I originally began this blog because a church that supports our missionary work was not receiving the prayer letters and missionary updates that we sent out.

I began posting our prayer letter here, then I would send out the paper prayer letter and also send them the prayer letter as an email attachment.

It worked.

Since then, I have discovered other uses for blogs and have become a "Multi-blogger."

Why am I multi-blogging?

I used to just send out emails and Facebook posts of things I wanted to share, but it was always hard to regather all of those sent out pictures and thoughts that were intermixed into past email lists and Facebook posts. So, I decided to just start a blog for each category of things that I share and to send out those links in emails and to Facebook.

In this way, I could always go right to my specific blog on a topic and see all the information in one spot. Also, it allows me to share the lighter material I come across on my blogs that deal with less serious topics, than say this blog, which is dedicated to sharing our missionary work with churches that are serious about missions.

But if you would like to see what else I am doing, here is the list of my other blogs:

1. "Mini Meditations" This is usually a very short comment on a thought provoking photo or topic.
2. "Animal Relationships" I post here when I see animals in situations that bring to mind lessons that may benefit others.
3. "Health Humor Central" I have been to the doctor and in hospital enough to enjoy humor at their expense.
4. "Kennedy Adoption Journal" My daughter and her husband are trying to adopt a child and they post to this blog that I set up for them.
5. "Ideas 4 Camp" Ideas for camps, but also for special schools projects, church activities and VBS programs.
6. "Extra Credit Science" I teach in a Bible College and students often ask for ideas for extra credit. I post the one's that I think of here. The camp ideas that are also good for teaching science I put here.
7. "Feeding Your Blog" I just started this one. I plan to write about the problems I solve when blogging and put them here so that they will be in in a place that I can remember to look at when I forget how I solved that problem the last time.

"9 reasons NOT to move to the Caribbean."

I just read this article by Amanda Walkins, a freelance writer currently based in Roatan, Honduras. Although she lives in Honduras, what she says about her part of the Caribbean is pretty much true where we live in Puerto Rico.

Although she gives the negatives, if you scan to the end of the article, she gives the same 9 items a positive twist. That's what we do in our own minds to adjust to living down here.

"9 Definitive Reasons Why You Should NOT Move to the Caribbean"

Living on an island in the Caribbean, surrounded by jungle-covered hills and picture-perfect beaches sounds like a dream. Wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee and fresh fruit picked from the trees around your house, walk along the beach and maybe go for a swim to cool off from the sun's warmth. This is paradise. This is a dream come true.
But this might not really be the dream life for everyone. Here are 9 reasons why you shouldn't pick up and move to a Caribbean island.
1. The heat can be unbearable.
Of course, you realize that the temperatures in the Caribbean stay high year-round. But have you accounted for the humidity? The mold never ends. Your hair will be a constant disaster. Your sweat will sweat. There truly is no way to adequately prepare your body for the onslaught of late summer heat in the Caribbean.
2. The bugs. Oh, the bugs!
The bugs in the Caribbean are literally everywhere. You can kill millions of mosquitos, and you know what? There are still millions more. There are sand fleas and cockroaches, spiders and ants. Mind your step outside so you don't end up crossing paths with leaf-cutter ants. They'll cover your foot so quickly you won't even notice. And .... do those bites hurt!
Tarantulas. They are everywhere!
3. The infrastructure may be lacking.
Potholes as big as canyons, constant power outages, slow internet when the power is actually on...the list goes on. Let's not even discuss the red tape you'll encounter for legal, judicial and financial matters! There's a reason everything runs on "island time" in the Caribbean: You need an excuse for what seems like purely insane waiting and running around for such simple tasks as cashing a check.
4. Island life is like small-town living. Everyone knows everyone and everything.
If you haven't lived in a small town before, beware. Islands are small communities and in small communities there are no secrets. The only reliably efficient system on an island is the rumor mill, constantly feeding through fabricated lies and gossip.
5. Acquiring things can be difficult on an island.
Sometimes boats get delayed so the grocery store looks post-apocalyptic. Sometimes you pay an exorbitant fee to ship large items from the States, yet they still don't arrive for months on end.

This letter was sent in February 2013, arrived at my local post office on the island on March 6, 2013, and was "lost" until October 22...of the next YEAR.

6. There are stray dogs and cats everywhere.
The islands have a serious problem with stray animals -- there is no denying that. They will be in the road, they will beg for food at the restaurants and they will relieve themselves wherever the mood strikes. Sometimes they're aggressive, other times they're skittish, but you can't really tell until you're up close and personal.
7. Tourists. Tourists everywhere!
They come in droves, they take over your beautiful beaches and your favorite bars. They ask inane questions and you will become convinced that they actually check their intelligence at the door when they leave home. You cannot escape them.
8. Storms happen, and they can be gravely serious.
Hurricane season is no joke in the Caribbean, with many home-owners and business-owners holding their breath for months each summer. If you move to an island prone to being hit by hurricanes and tropical storms, don't try to pretend you're smarter than the local construction workers who are building your home to withstand those storms.
9. Island life can be isolating.
You Americans and Canadians are used to space. Sprawling space. You can drive for hours and days and still never run out of road. Islands are small and your options become much more limited. You might feel trapped and separated from the rest of the world. You certainly won't know what's happening in the news because nobody watches it. You won't have the latest gadgets everyone back home is talking about. You won't see the newest films in theaters, nor catch the new TV series as it actually airs. You will be behind in everything. And you will look out into the never-ending sea and realize how small you truly are.
If you've read all these reasons and think that island life sounds horrible, you most certainly should not move to the Caribbean. Take a vacation and then go back.
Come for a week, take your sunset photos, and head on home.
If, however, you've read these reasons and found a positive aspect to each and every one of them, then you do truly belong here. After all...
  1. Humidity is great for your skin and it sure beats sweating while shoveling snow!
  2. Geckos eat bugs, and they also make for adorable little companions running around your front porch and windows.
  3. "Island time" forces you to reflect and relax, an idea that could benefit many North Americans these days.
  4. Small town life means you stop and chat with everyone on the street, everyone is looking out for each other, and sometimes, you do just want to go where everybody knows your name.
  5. Making things difficult to acquire means you question how much you really need them. And usually the answer is that you simply don't.
  6. You can take in a stray animal and honor Bob Barker's request to spay and neuter your pets. This helps to end the cycle of more strays on the streets while also making your life richer. I can attest to that with my own former street dog, Lina.
  7. 2015-01-20-StreetdogadoptedinRoatan.jpg
    Every island girl loves a hammock!
  8. Tourists bring income into the local economy. And besides, they provide constant entertainment!
  9. Stormy island weather is incredible to watch, as long as you're safe.
  10. Isolation can be liberating. You have time and space to reconnect with yourself and loved ones.
If you -- like me -- can see the positives hidden in challenges and difficulties, then you will absolutely love life in the Caribbean. If you can laugh at yourself and embrace change, you will find paradise. Just be honest with yourself before taking the leap!

Amanda Walkins is a freelance writer currently based in Roatan, Honduras. She blogs about her accidental expat life at

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Puerto Rico may not be the colony some expect, but that's OK.

When visiting pastors and missionary teams come and visit us, they are often surprised at the modern urbanization that they see.

On the drive from the airport to our house, we pass numerous fast food restaurants such as Burger Kings, McDonalds, and Wendys. Our visitors smile and remark about how ubiquitous these places have become.

But when we pass a Sams club, the Costco, Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond, then they look confused.

"I thought that they grew bananas and pineapples and stuff down here."

That they do.

But when you have 3.5 million people that are US citizens crammed into an island that measures 35 x 113 miles, agriculture gets crowded out and the typical US urban landscape takes its place.

When we came here 22 years ago, things were more like what people expect to find on a Caribbean island. But we have seen people who were raised in homes without refrigerators now carry around huge cell phones and share their favorite Youtube videos with each other after church.

As missionaries, we certainly have the opportunity to contact a lot of people easily. And we do.

We do miss some of the old ways, but since the local Costco started carrying Dark Chocolate Almond Bark with Sea Salt, we, and especially my wife Tina, don't miss those old days quite so

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Driving Needs

A car for my wife Tina and some repair work on our college van are on our list of requests this month.

We do have a 2010 Honda Fit, which is great little car, but being a one car family with five or so ministries going on between the two of us makes for some pretty complicated and stressful scheduling. We were able to raise some money toward a new car but are a couple thousand dollars short of what we need for that second vehicle.

One of the key resources of our Puerto Rico Baptist college is the college van. During the week it transports students here, there, and everywhere. Weekends it takes students to extension on Saturdays and to church on Sundays. It delivers groceries, takes kids to soccer and even visiting missionary teams to and from the airport. 

Last week it broke down. 

Several items have been fixed, but there are still some major repairs to be done. 

Please pray for God's provision so that we can use it again soon.