Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Children and Butterflies

Oftentimes I have seen children outside playing, running, and chasing butterflies. Today I saw this simple activity in a new way.
I am spending a few days getting to know Pastor Pablo Benitez and his wife Paula, serving at Su Refugio (, a Christian children’s home for abused children. When the local government gets reports of potential child abuse in the home, they will investigate and when the problem is real and serious, they pull the children from the home and place them in foster care. There are virtually no foster families in the area and few places for these children to go in safety: Su Refugio is one such place. Pablo and Stella told me the backgrounds for some of these children – horrifying what they have been through. Knowing the abuse some of these children had experienced and now seeing them playing as if they had no cares in the world was moving, to say the least. This is how children are supposed to grow up!
I also realized this home is different than an orphanage. In an orphanage, you do not necessarily know the background of the children: they could have come from a battered childhood, but they also could have come from good home lives where the parents died in a car crash and had no other family to take care of them. Su Refugio is different: every child here has a battered past.

Pray for them and pray for Pablo and Stella as they serve God by serving the children.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Galilea - The Classes

We were here to teach the 3rd of 12 TPI classes - A Survey of the Old Testament. As the course progressed, I was impressed by the men's ability to understand the material, ask solid questions, and compare and contrast the biblical teachings with some of their tribal customs that sometimes differed from biblical practices. They had questions about infant salvation, the use of some medicines and drugs that induced alcohol-like euphoria, marriage vs living together, and how to minister to someone with two wives.

This was the area where few, if any, of the students were married to the woman they were living with, and had children with. One of the men had contacted Jaime, our country coordinator for Peru, and told him that 7 of the men wanted to get their lives right before God and had decided to get married in May, but wanted Jaime to send them a program because they didn't know how to do it (perform a wedding ceremony) and didn't want to do it wrong. When I got there and told them that what they had done had been an inspiration to me, and others, that 7 had taken this step, based solely on the power of God's Word, they told me the new number was 14. When they discovered I was particularly interested in this, they recounted and told me that 16 couples had recently married, wanting to be more in line with God's Word on marriage and the relationships between God, men and women. I asked these men and women to stand when I took this picture, so you can put faces to some of these remarkable people.
The people standing had married just a few months ago to "get their lives right before God."

Peru - Life in the Jungle of Galilea

Walking the street of Galilea reminds me of the rural areas of Honduras and Nicaragua... Dusty (or muddy, depending on when the last rain fell), home-based restaurants and shops, and people walking everywhere... It was easy to forget you were in the middle of the jungle... Until you realize the generator provided electricity for the town only from about 7:15 pm until 11 pm (the people use flashlights and candles in their houses and stores if it is dark before the electricity comes on), there was nothing but more vegetation behind the vegetation you could see, and the street and trails we were walking on had to be cut by hand with machetes.

Without consistent electricity, there is no consistent refrigeration, so food is prepared fresh and eaten right away or thrown out. Speaking of food, most of the meals include fish and/or chicken... Frying and boiling are the two common methods of preparing the food, both done over an open fire. They also eat a lot of rice, noodles, plantains (like bananas but harder and not as sweet) and yucca (a root). Needless to say, there are few computers and no Internet, although cell phone coverage is plentiful!!

Peru - Getting to the Jungle

Other than a few minor delays, the trip from Memphis to Houston to Panama to Lima, Peru was uneventful... Even going through immigration at 1:00 am was a lot more crowded than I expected... It seems a lot of flights arrive in Lima between midnight and 1 AM. I got to the hotel around 2, got checked-in, emailed Sandy that all was OK, and tried to sleep, knowing I had a 6 am meeting with some of the teachers from Peru.

Daniel, Rolando and I got the 8 am bus to Bagua Chica, arriving at 4 am (that's right, 20 hours on the bus!)... At least the seats reclined a little further than your standard airline seat, but not much. We then hired a car to take us one hour to where we could find a truck (4X4) to take us to Santa Maria Nieva. After the first two hours, the next 7-1/2 hours were on dirt and rocky roads. We finally arrived in Santa Maria Nieva, but the town was on the other side of the river from where we were, so we had to take a water taxi. We found rooms in the third hotel/ hostel we checked and stayed the night.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Isn’t Marriage Universal?

I am planning my first visit to Peru in August and was recently chatting with Jaime, our country coordinator there. One place we will visit is the Amazon region, where we will be teaching a class on the Old Testament.

Jaime and I were talking about what I would do there, and I told him I could teach some of the OT lessons, but would also like to share some lessons on apologetics and marriage. He told me the lessons on marriage would be especially useful because none of the pastors in this region are married: they are living with their “wives” and have families, but have never married. Jaime has already taught two classes in this region, and spoke to them about God’s plan for marriage, and told me my lessons would help give credibility to what he has already told them.
The TPI class in the Amazon region of Peru
Jaime got an email from William, one of the men in the Amazon region, a few days later and passed it on to me. The pastor said that seven of the men wanted to get their lives right before God and decided to get married this month (May). [I wanted to send this post a few weeks ago but was waiting for a photo of the group] Since this would be the first marriage ceremony in this area, they asked Jaime to send them information how to perform a wedding.

We are able to reach into this area because of your continued prayers and financial support. Thank you!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Is It Level?

I was recently on a mission trip with the youth from our church, Trinity Baptist, helping to complete a bathroom/ shower building in the mountains of western Honduras. We were using blocks, mortar, levels, trowels, gloves, and other tools we thought we needed.

We set a level on top of each block to make sure each block was good, and then placed another block next to it and made sure it was level, also. By the time we got around to the other side, however, we discovered the last block we laid was about 1-1/2 inches higher than the first block! How could this be? We had made sure each block was level, yet the result was such that the final block did not match the original block.

The guys that knew what they were doing did not use a level the way we did; instead, they got the corners right, then used a string between the corners and measured each block against the string. Instead of making sure each block was level individually, they used an external standard. When all blocks were correct to that standard, they were also correct within themselves.

Sound like any scripture you might be aware of?
    seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well 
- Matthew 6:33

When we use short-term standards, like a level on individual blocks, small errors can creep in and we may not end up where we so desperately tried to reach. Using an external, long-term standard, we do the same work and KNOW where we will end up, and we get level blocks thrown in as extras! When we seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, we know where we will end up and each day takes care of itself!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

God's provision

We are in Honduras with a mission team from Trinity Baptist Church in Southaven Mississippi. We want to share a little about how we have already seen God working:

The issue:
Our team was struggling with having too many bags because we had a lot of supplies and a lot of clothing that had been donated. We were each allowed one checked bag and we were struggling with getting all that we needed into those 13 bags. Even after many of us shared a suitcase so that we could use the other one for supplies, we still had two bags that we were going to have to pay for in order to get everything there.

God’s answer:
Because Bill and I fly a lot we occasionally get upgraded. Usually this happens at the last minute when the airline has filled all the coach seats and will move us up so they can sell more coach seats. This trip we got notified of our upgrade the day before we left (this has not happened before). The upgrade allowed us to take four more bags without paying for them! Even better: they could be over the 50 lb limit without penalty! So we were able to take all the supplies and clothes without paying for them.

The issue:
Due to some weather problems and the presidential visit to Houston, our flight was delayed by four hours and we were going to miss our connection to Honduras. If we missed our flight, the next flight with available seats was Monday.

God’s answer:
The airline had told us that they were aware of our situation and they were working on possibly holding the flight to Honduras for us (that almost never happens because the airlines get fined thousands of dollars if they do not meet their arrival and departure times). They told us they could hold the flight up to twenty minutes. We were too late. When we arrived in Houston it was thirty minutes past the scheduled departure time for our flight. When we landed we were informed that the flight was still there and we rushed through the airport in hopes of making the flight. When we got to the gate we heard that the crew that was scheduled to fly that plane went “illegal” (possibly too many flight hours, etc.). In all the flying that we do, we have never heard this before; they were trying to get another crew to fly the plane. They found a crew and we were off to Honduras. God delayed that flight long enough for us to make it and get to Honduras. How awesome is that?

We are watching God pave the way for our trip, and as usual, we are in awe of His great power, and humbled that He would deem us worthy of carrying out His plans.