Don't drink

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Several weeks ago we had to take an emergency trip to the local hospital with Marcus.  He had to be admitted for a couple of days but is completely recovered now.  While we were there the funniest thing happened...


He was stretched out on a cot in the emergency room when a very obviously drunk man was admitted. This man looked as if he had decided that a brick wall was an enemy and must therefore fight it to the death.  I am assuming the brick wall won, even if the obviously drunk man was obviously still alive.

Anyhow, they wheeled him on a stretcher to the room next to Marcus and we could listen to his unintelligible moaning.  About ten minutes later another very obviously drunk man walked into our room where Marcus was lying down.  He took one look at Marcus and his face turned a shade of green I hope to never see again.  It was pure panic!  

This man, in a state of panic, almost passing out, thought that his friend, the obviously drunk man who may have been in a fight with a brick wall, had turned into Marcus, a very tall white boy.

I wish I had a picture, but it happened very quickly.  I took a picture of myself pretending to the the very drunk friend in an effort to make this story seem more real:

I knew my acting skills would come in handy one day

The doctor chuckled and told the poor man that his friend was next door.  His knees buckled in relief.

This my friends is why it is unlikely that Marcus will ever get drunk.  First he saw the result of a a drunken fight with a brick wall and secondly he saw the sheer panic of a man who drunkenly thought his very short, very dark, drunken Ecuadorian friend had been turned into a tall, white gringo boy.


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Burdens shared are not as heavy as the ones we bear alone.

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Although our church in Ecuador is quite different than the ones we have attended in the states (for example, our Lojano church has a dog wandering in and out of service), there are several things that are the same.

One of those similar things is that we enter, greet, listen, and leave, sometimes never connecting with a single person.

Today, our pastor asked us to break into small groups.  It was still service time, and we stayed in our sanctuary but we were divided into groups of about 10 each.  We each shared our names, most of us realizing that we did not even know the names of some of the people we greeted each Sunday morning.

My group began to try to make connections.
"My name is Maria.  I am Giovani's niece"
"Oh, Giovani's niece?  Gloria's sister?"
"Yes"
And so it went until we reached a woman named Estrella.  She told us her name and then...

"This is my first time in church.  I am just curious.  I am Catholic, but I need answers.  My relative attends here sometimes, but I am here alone."

Sara then asked Estrella if there was anything we could pray with her about.  This woman, her first time in an evangelical church, alone, and I am sure so very confused by the foreign format and service began to cry.  "I am without work.  I have been without work for months now.  My daughter is sick and we are waiting the results of some lab work.  I am scared."

We began to pray for this stranger, who probably never expected to even be seen, much less heard and it struck me.  What if it had been a normal Sunday?  What if we had entered, greeted, listened, and left, all without even noticing the new comer who had arrived bearing a burden?  What if we had never asked her name?  What if we hadn't tried to connect?  What if she had never been seen much less heard?

In the past couple of months God has taught me to ask to very powerful questions:
1.  How are you suffering?  (because everyone is suffering in some form)
2.  How can I pray for you? (because this question is much more revealing than "How are you?")

So, I challenge you this week to ask someone a harder question.  It will seem awkward at first, but you will be amazed at what people are willing to reveal to you when simply asked.  Because, a burden shared is not as heavy as the ones we have to bear by ourselves.

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TIST

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I hate pulling out my phone and taking a picture of people.  I am actually a shy person who fakes being an extrovert.  As I took this picture for you, the crowd burst out laughing.  I am sure it was at my expense and it might be the last photo you ever get.

The shame, is that you can't even see what I was taking a photo of.

This is a small court used to play Ecua-Volley.  Teams/players must bring their own nets but sometimes an impromptu game breaks out between school kids, and a net is really a required part of the game.

What to do when no net is available?  Every one should simply take off any extra clothing, which then gets tied together, and Abracadrabra!  Net!  Their net was made of school jackets, shirts, and even one pair of pants.

Today when I passed by this same court, I noticed that they had all linked their belts together to make a net.

Ingenious.

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Release.

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Release.
That word has been coming up a lot lately.  Which is not so good for my brain, as you will soon see.

We have been talking a lot about disciple making.  That's my job.   Make disciples.  Sometimes it's really slow going and so we have been looking at methods.  Is our current method working?  Do we need to change it?  Tweak it?  Give it an overhaul?  What other tools are there that might help us?

It's been on our minds a lot lately, and one word that keeps coming up is the word "RELEASE".  Because a disciple must be released to make other disciples.  A true disciple loves Christ so much that he wants to see others follow Him.  In order for that to happen, the original discipler must release a new disciple to make new disciples.

Release.  When is it time?  How do we do it?

And that brings me to a recent Spotlight lesson.  (Spotlight is an El Sendero English club that meets twice a week to study a topic in English).  The topic was stress and a word was mentioned as being unfamiliar.

"What does release mean?" asked a student.

And that's when it happened.  Because, well, what choice did I have?  What does real mean after all?

"Let it gooooooo, let it goooooooo."

It won't stop now.  Two worlds have collided.  The missionary world with the Disney world and that STUPID song is firmly planted in my head so that now, whenever I hear the word "release" (which is often) I start belting out the only line of the song I happen to know. (I only saw the movie once, and that was in Spanish)

But, in order to sing more than just one line, I have written a couple more...

Let it go, let it go
All that Spanish you don't knowowow
Let it go.  Let it go.
Don't you know it will never flowowow.



I haven't figured out the whole discipling thing yet.

I have however figured out how to annoy the living daylights out of all my co-workers.

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Not in my job description.

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I do a lot of things.  A lot of different things, and frankly, some of those thing are stuff I never imagined needing to do.

My job is as a missionary and if I had written an imaginary job description before leaving for the field it may have looked like:

Tell people about Jesus.
Visit people in the hospital to tell them about Jesus
Help university students to practice their English to open a door to tell them about Jesus
Teach Vacation Bible School
Write Curriculum for said VBS
Cross a river in a truck to tell people about Jesus
Teach about Jesus by lantern light

What I would not have thought would be on my list:

Explain English street language (curse words) to unsuspecting students.


J came into Sendero not too long ago.  "What does this mean?" he asked.  Then he blurted it out.  The biggest humdinger of an English word known to mankind.  JoLynn and I gasped at the boldness and the strength with which he used the phrase.  It was a surreal moment, as if we had been plopped down inside of a movie.
"I keep hearing it in the movies" J responded.
He repeated it.  Focusing on pronunciation just in he had not communicated correctly the first time.

"You know J, we could rate our cuss words.  On a scale to 1-10, we could rate them.  If we did that, this one would be a 100.  You really don't want to use it."

"But... what does it mean????", J really wanted to know and JoLynn and I really did not want to explain it.  But we did.  Because, even though it isn't in any official job description.  It's there unofficially.  "Explain the horror of a single four letter word to English students".  It's there, even if no one tells you about it.


This also happens to be an unwritten part of the job of mothering.  We hitched a ride home from school from a local pastor.  I sat in the cab and all the kids sat in the back (it's a common form of transport here).  I took a look back and saw two of the children flipping the bird to every car passing by.  The kids were laughing uproariously.  An MK and a PK/MK using their middle finger to salute passersby.

My little princess seemed to have thought it was a silly way to wave hello.

She knows better now and so does J.  What unwritten task in your job description has taken you by surprise lately?

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A Testimony of Service

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I have mentioned several times that God has been sending us resources as we have needed them.  Two of those resources have been Dave and Irma Powers.  Dave is a retired Math teacher and Irma is a retired nutritionist. They wanted an adventure and to serve God.

They have blessed Sendero in countless ways.

Read Irma's testimony about her time here.



When we applied to become short term SIM missionaries for El Sendero we had no idea of what God had in store for us here.  What we did know is that we were retired and wanted to serve The Lord in some interesting way.  

One of our prayer requests was that God would knit our hearts together with the local people so that we could actually be of use as many times personality conflicts & interpersonal relationship difficulties can kill the best of intentions.  God has done the knitting in incredible ways.  

The whole team at El Sendero has welcomed us with open arms & hearts.  In addition, the local people have invited us to dinner in their homes, taken us to church, helped us learn the language and even helped with our homework & requested Bible studies.  

 Most of all there is an incredible bond of love and acceptance that only God can give.  

This love makes us want to work harder, encourage each other & share our lives and faith with all who come through the doors.

Would you like to join us on a incredible journey of faith and service?  El Sendero is looking for short and long term missionaries to serve along beside us.  Maybe the person we are looking for is you!!!  Don't know Spanish?  Neither did they!  Don't know the culture?  Neither did they?  Not Spring Chickens anymore?  Neither are they (though I swear I think they might be younger than I am).

If you have an interested bone in your body, please send me a message to let me know.  One tiny interested bone is all that it takes.  I will twist that tiny bone until we see you here!

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Have we been open two full weeks already?

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We have!  Week two was super awesome and here are some reasons why!


  • Daniel came back.  Everyday.  I have taken to reserving the uno game for him.  He really likes Uno and I hope he invites me to play soon.  He and his friends must have changed the rules.  The Uno I remember is a little boring but they are everything BUT bored!
  • We gave out cupcakes at random.  They didn't have rotten frosting but they were a bit on the heavy side...  I made them.  I didn't add enough liquid AND I overcooked them.
  • My mom made peppermint patties and they sold out.  YUMMY, those things are delicious!
  • We have an ice-cream freezer now!  I get to play popsicle man as I hand out various frozen treats. Ice cream sandwiches are uber popular.
  • Cristina left, but before she did she met with pastors, youth leaders, and youth from around the city.  During a Sunday School teacher's training meeting, she sat down with a young girl who had come with her mother and the two of them opened and read the Bible together.  No fluffy lesson for this little girl, she, like so many Lojanos, longed for God's Word.
  • The youth group from my church met at Sendero and we began a study through the book of Proverbs.  Jonathan also decided to prove he was a boss at Ping Pong and proceeded to win a match against every person in the building.  He even won when he played himself against teams.
  • We hosted two VERY large birthday party.  There was a cake fiasco which I will spare you the details of but it involved a lot of panic.  Our new Spotlight Club room makes a perfect place for a birthday party.
  • Karaoke continues to be popular and someone even offered to pay us to allow him to skip ahead of the line.
  • Our Ping Pong table is so popular that we had a two hour wait at one point.  We need a second table. 
  • We saw God answer our prayers over and over again.  It was amazing and exciting!  For example, we have noticed that the new location is hugely popular with groups of boys so on the night that Sandra and I worked together we sat down and prayed that God would send in some groups of girls/women.  Five different groups of girls came in that night!  
  • Spotlight started up again and we talked about a museum of broken relationships and then had a lovely discussion about Christ redeems broken relationships.  My small group had a three men in various stages of their walk with Christ and our discussion was lively and fun.  
  • I MADE THE BEST CAPUCHINOS I HAVE EVER MADE IN MY LIFE!!!!  I have to tell you, I could not wait to deliver those gorgeous drinks to the woman and her friends who had ordered them.  They pointed to their three children and I reluctantly placed those three perfect drinks in front of three very young children who then proceeded to slurp them down with complete abandon.   One of those kids actually licked the cup clean.  
  • We had another discipleship training class in which I often had to step in and translate because our Spanish teacher, Maria, kept forgetting she had to translate.  I think she kept doing that on purpose.









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