Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mission Emanuel - Part 3 - Parenting

So Lia and I have been dreaming about one day taking our children on a mission trip. Well, at Mission Emanuel, that dream became reality. And as often happens with dreams, reality wasn't exactly what we imagined it to be. 

We weren't the only gluttons for punishment. Our sweet friends the Robinsons brought their two children, and our stellar friends the Geers brought their four! It certainly made things easier having other families to share the load…and commiserate. 

All in all, it was a great decision. There were moments like this one below.

To hear my daughter say that her favorite part of the trip was meeting Dariel makes it all worthwhile. Because that's the dream - to make connections and build relationships. And truth be told these kids were WAY better at it than us adults. 

Alejandro, our sponsor child, was grumpy, having been awoken from a nap. He was hiding behind his father's legs until Anna Rose pulled out the bubbles...

which brought on an Alejandro sized smile…

Next thing, Alejandro is joining in the fun. 

And we're having this total family moment with Alejandro's family. Because being a father and wanting so much for your son is universal as is being a mother and wanting your son to have a shirt on for the picture...

Like Noah Geer taught me…Noah is Andy and Lora's youngest. He's the same age as David. He was fighting with another boy his age over a ball. Andy for a moment wanted to step in. Noah didn't understand. This boy had nothing. Noah could have a hundred balls if he wanted. But Andy stopped himself. He let them tangle. Because all of a sudden and in a moment Andy saw what all the books and classes and lectures that he has read, attended and heard about cross-cultural ministry failed to teach him. Noah didn't see someone different than himself. He saw a boy just like him. In the tangle, Noah and this Dominican were acknowledging their common humanity. It was dignifying, affirming. It was the incarnation. 

Thanks Noah.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mission Emanuel Part 2 - Loud Mouth

So my big moment happened pretty early in the trip. Within 15 hours of arriving, I was preaching in front of a church who only understood Spanish. Fortunately, I had Pedro, an excellent translator, who is known for "helping out" pastors by putting his own spin on their remarks. 

This was a comfort to me on many levels. I had never preached before like this, and it was nice to know Pedro would give them a good sermon whether I gave one or not. 

As it turned out, Pedro gave me quite the compliment. Pulling me aside afterwards, he said, "I used your words." He meant it as a compliment I think. Like, normally he didn't

Later that week, Pedro told me that he had been taking credit for my sermon. A compliment, I think. He asked for a copy of my notes. 

Monday, I again had the chance to get in front of a whole lot of Dominicans. This time, in costume and in character. I was El Guapo, which according to the movie The Three Amigos means "the handsome." Unfortunately, in the Dominican Republic "el guapo" means "the bully." No wonder all the kids tried to fight me…

Somehow I managed to survive the culture clash and facilitate some good times. 

It helped that I look (and I am) harmless.

Our stage was the base of a hill occupied by pigs. 
Only once did they disrupt (to the delight of the crowd).

We had a blast, and the whole team delivered. 

A special shout out to the Orlandons…Also to Ginny Evans for her amazing crafts…

and for master teacher Jim Weiss. 

Also for all of our translators: Dorca, Carolina, Emmanuel, and of course Pedro.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mission Emanuel Top 11 photos

11. The Family Photo

Notice my neck sweat necklace, my cement cheeks. Notice how clean Lia is. That's the difference between my week and Lia's week in the clinic.

10. The World's Longest Wheelchair Ramp

We were wheeling 26 chairs for 26 kids. There was only one way to do it. 

9. Francisco

There will be more about this day at the Lepersorium in later entries. But Francisco and I we laughed and cried I don't even know why, we just did.

8. Lia being asked to be a godmother

I love watching Lia in action She was truly in her element all week with these little babes. 

7. Dave Dave

Making friends

Living large

Taking after his old man

Fearless with Lepers

6. A-Ro

Making babies smile

Speaking the universal language of bubbles. More on that.

Making friends.

More friends.

Especially Dariel

5. Quita Sueno

Bringing hope to the village they call broken dreams.

So cute!

4. Gabriel

Here is the little guy with the cleft lip we helped fix last fall. Looking good Gabriel!

3. Riding Three

The babe was smiling just before I snapped this timeless photo.

2. The Matriarch

The matriarch of Quita Sueno (82 years young) wasn't ready for me to smack one on her, but she handled it with grace and style. 

1. Alejandro

The first smile from our sponsor child. A magical moment. 

Stay tuned. More to come!!!!

Friday, April 17, 2015


This is going to be AMAZING!!!! Sunday April 19 Rain or Shine!!!!!!

Music, Food, Games! And the Socratic Method!

Yes, our band has dusted off our six strings. We are going to play some of the most face peeling music you have ever heard!

Young Life Palooza Information and Tickets


We pushed our annual Winter Trip into March so we called it a Sprinter Retreat instead.

Thank you leaders, chefs, and kids for helping make this a memory-making weekend like none other.

Men, thanks for playing the longest game of Freeze Out Ice Box EVER. Shirtless! Then, Kevin, thanks for the brilliant idea of putting on the mattresses on the floor, so we could make a bed that could sleep all twenty of us!

And thanks all for going on that crazy rainbow hike that was so slippery I thought we were all going to die, though since I was in charge I had to pretend it was like the safest thing ever…

And thanks for the laughter! The late night rapping. The spontaneous games. The random soccer match! The worship.

What a weekend to be present.

Remember, Jesus refuses to meet us where we think we should be, or where we wish we were; instead, he insists to meet us where we are.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Harvey Cedars

Wow! What a weekend we had up at Harvey Cedars with new and old friends from Media Presbyterian Church. It was the first weekend retreat I have led where my parents were able to attend. Whenever I needed a pick me up I just needed to take a look at my mother who was beaming.

I want to introduce you to a great blogger, http://andria-livingstones.blogspot.com

She did an amazing job recording some of the themes from the weekend. Here's one that really speaks to me as I write here on my laptop on the eve of Easter:

In addition to shedding a new light on this particular gospel account, Ned also provided a new way of considering the Sabbath rest.
Many people trace the practice of resting on the Sabbath to God’s act of creation, as recorded in the Book of Genesis.  God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them in six days, and on the seventh day he rested because there was nothing left for Him to do.  His work was finished. 
Where do we hear the echo of these words?  From the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished,” at the time of his death, because he had done everything that needed to be done in order for us to enter into the Promised Land.  With his death, the payment of the penalty for our sins, Jesus made a way for us. Jesus IS the way for us!

Since, then, a Sabbath is a rest, a time when our work is done, Christ has created a Sabbath-rest for us that lasts seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.  We are called to rest from the work of trying to save ourselves, because Christ has finished the work for us. 
Thanks Andria! Here's a few of my favorite pics...

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Biggest Snowman EVER!!!!

Dave Dave and I pulled off one of the larger snowmen in my experience this winter. It was perfect snow. The second level was actually larger than the base, so large and heavy I had to break it into four parts and reconnect them. The face was edible. Grapes and baby carrots. Dave Dave named him Flufferball. 

Days later Flufferball was a little tilty, but still gargantuan. By the end of the week, it was the last snowman standing in the neighborhood. 

It even survived a near record breaking 70+ day. Way to go, Flufferball!