Sunday, December 21, 2008

Four Peruvian Angels


Hannah and I were in one of the Peruvian markets, and were looking at some sweet little ornaments, when Hannah said to me, "Mom, we need to get something Peruvian for our tree! I agreed, and we bought four adorable little Peruvian angels (two girls, two boys), complete with chullos (the Peruvian hats that are popular even in the States now). I started thinking about how the children have taken Peru into their hearts and have started to grow a place in their hearts that will always belong to Peru. The rest of their lives will not be the same for having lived here, having seen both the beauty and extreme poverty of this place. They will always love Lomo Saltado (awesome Peruvian-style beef stir fry) and remember the many churches we visit that meet in tents with gravel floors, and they will never see their own culture through the same eyes again. I don't have to explain to them that there are people who don't have enough to eat or kids who live in just one little room with the rest of their family. They have met them, and some of them go to our church!

I recently had a conversation with a wonderful German missionary who grew up in Africa. She shared with me about how the African people sang in every event, happy or sad, and how they danced and expressed whatever they were feeling. She also spoke with pride and affection of the old hymns from Germany, and how wonderful they were, but remembered being surprised on return to Germany how differently the Germans responded to music and emotion. I saw in her eyes that she was not completely one or the other-- how she loved both cultures from her heart, longing for a place where both were loved, understood, and appreciated.

Hebrews 11 tells us of the fathers of faith and how they knew they were strangers and aliens on this earth. Their hope in eternity made their lives different. They made different choices, took huge steps of faith, and obeyed God against all logic because they had their eyes fixed on another country that they have yet to inherit. Living between two cultures makes one feel like something of a stranger in both. You love both, see the strengths and weaknesses of both, and know that you don't fully fit in either! Our prayer is that this helps us to live like our ancestors of the Hall of Faith-- that we keep our eyes on the heavenly citizenship that awaits us in heaven. For those of you who support us in prayer and offerings, we can't tell you how grateful we are to have your confidence and your heart as we sojourn here in Peru!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Surfing Adventure


Surfing is a big sport here in Lima. Therefore, in honor of Sarah's 24th birthday, we went on a surfing adventure. Here we are, doing what everyone does when you put on a wet suit, pretending to be super heroes.



The water was about 50 degrees and the waves were not so big that we were scared. Nonetheless, as beginners, it was still a challenge. Getting out beyond the waves is the hard part. If there was something like a ski lift, I'd vote it one of my favorite sports. As it is, it's still a great sport. The only problem is the amount of effort involved. That's what makes skiing such a great sport ... there's so little actual work involved.

Abi playing on the beach. Note the rocks. They're tough on your toes when you get out of the 50 degree water.


Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cockroaches and Coffee

This bad boy is living in my coffee pot. We've been hit with a roach infestation. When we open the overhead kitchen cabinets, they fall out onto the counter, us and the food. The other day, I turned on the microwave that's above the stove. The microwaves began to cook two roaches that were hiding inside. They ran out and fell right onto a nice hot casserole of Spanish Rice. They're favorite spot to live is in our coffee pot. Apparently, they like coffee. They also love dark, damp places. Frequently I've poured water into the pot and chased out roaches from the water reservoir. All I can say is that I'm really glad for coffee filters.


Friday, December 05, 2008

What's in a name?

People here have difficulties with my name. Ironically, they prefer William over Bill. There are even Peruvian guys named Willy. But when it comes to Bill, they stumble. I mentioned this to a Peruvian friend and he said, "They don't want to say your name because it means despicable."

"What?"

"In Spanish, when you say Bill, it sounds like Vil, which means despicable or really bad. That's why people stumble. They can't figure out why a missionary would say, 'Hi, my name is despicable,' or 'Hi, I'm really bad.'"

I went home and looked it up. Here's what the dictionary says: From the dictionary:
Vil (adj) vile, despicable; el vil metal filthy lucre. It's obvious now that we can add to the list:
villan
evil
Devil -- which means from or of the vile, despicable.

People have asked me what my name means. Now I'm starting to understand why they're so interested. Ironically, one of the meanings of William is noble. As such, I'm thinking of changing my name to No-Vil.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dr. McGee and a salvation story


Gary McGee is one of my favorite professors at the Assembly of God Theological Seminary. He's an expert on Pentecostal History and theology and is a truly inspiring person. Currently, Dr. McGee is fighting for his life, combating cancer. AGTS has set up a web site with information about Dr. McGee’s progress (http://www.agts.edu/mcgee.html). Here is an update that touched my heart:

Last Thursday evening Dr. McGee's condition was quite fragile. Family, AGTS leaders and pastors from the McGee's church, Evangel Temple, gathered in the ICU waiting room to pray. Pastor Charles Arsenault led in a prayer which was overheard by a man visiting his wife in the ICU. The next day this man approached Alice (Dr. McGee's wife) and her sister in that waiting room and said that when he heard Pastor Arsenault's prayer he was overcome with emotion. He relayed that he was one of 15 children and was the only one not serving the Lord. He had just retired from a job with the railroad and his wife was in the hospital fighting cancer. Alice's sister, noticing his brokenness, pressed him about his spiritual condition and after conversing for awhile led him to faith in Christ. He told her that his 93 year old mother had been praying that he would give his life over to Jesus for many years. She said he should call his mother immediately, which he did. The last few days have seen a marked change in this man. Although his wife is facing very serious health issues, the man is visibly changed; there is a glow on his face and a confidence in his countenance.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Lester's Giblets


Abi and I (Lena) were on our way back from our friend's apartment, having retrieved our turkey (which was too big for our freezer) which I had been calling, "Lester." I thought I was quite funny.
Abi started to ask me about Lester, asking if he belonged to someone. Having been down this pet vs. yummy food to eat road before, I easily handled this one. I told her that some animals are pets, and some don't belong to anyone, and we don't eat the pet kind. She seemed satisfied with that answer, and I congratulated myself on having been matter of fact about the whole thing.
When we got home, I went about getting Lester ready for the oven. I got him out of his nice plastic jacket, just like they have at home in the States. I always get a little bit of pre-turkey jitters, as cooking it involves things called "giblets," and the stakes are so high. I reached in to get the packet of "giblets." Success. There seemed to be quite a few things inside there. Maybe some "niblets," too? Now for the neck-- I saw a little bit of neck sticking out, pulled, and--OH MY. THE HEAD WAS ATTACHED!! Lester was a real turkey! With a head! And there it was! I let out a tortured yelp and dropped the Lester head. And his feet were in there, too! I had to leave for a while to gather my bearings. I left them all in the utility sink, and the little ones kept slinking in to take a look at the CSI: Turkey Edition. Sarah got disgusted with all the morbidity of them skulking around, and told them to stop, but too late. Will could barely down Lest-- I mean the turkey. Lesson of the day: never underestimate the power of a styrofoam tray (or plastic jacket in a turkey's case) in making you think that it never had a head. I know. It's a gem.
A side note: Bill was my hero and cut Lester's head off the neck so I could use the neck meat and the "giblets" to make my first real gravy. It rocked.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Speak to the mountain...

One of the things we do here is evaluate new projects. Pastors who have Christian schools ask for our assistance. In this case, the school has to build new classrooms on the first floor, because the government no longer allows primary grades to be on a second story. The problem with this school is that there's a huge rock in the way. In this picture, Phyllis Rose and Sarah Olejarz are pondering the rock. We're talking with the school about how to blast that thing and get the rubble out. After that, the real building project would begin. We prayed over it and claimed the passage that says that we will speak to the mountain and it will be moved!
Even though this school is in the middle of the desert, God has not left them without reminders of beauty.
The picture above is of the students. The picture below is of the building. It's a classic example of what school buildings look like here.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Arica & the Sea

The desert of southern Peru and northern Chile runs up against the Pacific ocean. In our trip to Arica, Chile, we got to see both the desert and the sea. Arica is a port town that has sea food, big boats and seals (the kind that bark and grunt). We visited a sea food market and had a great time. Above, you can see crabs, fish and hairy balls. Inside the hairy balls is a live crab. People cut the balls open and suck the juices out of the crab while it tries to escape one's mouth. I failed the courage test and was unwilling to try it.

One of the guys working this stand suggested that we get behind it and act like a family selling sea food. He offered to take our picture. Once he had my camera, he took off running. The guys working the other stands all said they had never seen him before and that I just gave my camera to a stranger. It was all a joke. They were all in cahoots and were a very funny bunch of fishermen.

Hannah's first kiss!

My good looking buddy! All the girls at Colton's grade school swoon when he walks down the hall.
Posted by Picasa

Arica & the desert


The west coast of Peru is desert--a vast barren desert that lasts for thousands of miles. A few months back, we had to travel to Arica, Chile, in order to complete the kids' visa processing (i.e., the paperwork required to live in Peru). On the way to Chile, we traveled through the desert. In the movies, you see guys walking through the desert and surviving. I don't know how it could be possible. It is that barren. Nonetheless, when you're driving through it in a car or bus, you have the chance to take some fabulous photos. When we took this trip, the papers were showing photos of Mars. I kept thinking, "I've been there!"


Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 07, 2008

Praise and Thanks

I want to say "THANK YOU!" to God and to all our friends how have been praying for us.

THANK YOU!

We have been through a serious and difficult test here. I feel like Nehemiah, repairing the walls of Jerusalem with a brick in one hand and a sword in the other. I'm grateful to everyone who has been praying for us. We feel your prayers and are so grateful for them! We are seeing breakthroughs. Our recent victories have been significant, but the issues are not complete. We have the tools to put out the fire and have begun to do so, but there are still flames. Therefore, please continue to pray with us for complete victory.

More peaceful pics



In order to continue thinking on things that are lovely (in accordance with Philipians chapter 4), here are more pictures we took in Arequipa. I took these shots at night, putting the camera on the ground in order not to shake too much. I love the effect, because the buildings look good, but the rest of the shot comes out blurry. The picture above is of the cathedral (pictured in my last blog entry during the day). The picture below is a smaller Catholic church near the Plaza de Armas. These pictures answer the question of what to do with a 400 year old church building. The answer: decorative flood lights.


Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Church in Arequipa

I took this shot back in May. It's of the church in Arequipa. The town of Arequipa is lovely and also very Catholic. The church, pictured here, is known as the Vatican of the Americas. I love this shot because of the deep blue sky. In Lima, we rarely see the sky. As such, trips to the mountains are a treat.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pleasant photos after a rough week

We've had a rough week. One of our schools is experiencing a spiritual attack and we're taking some of the shrapnel. We continue to ask for prayer. The weight of it all has left us drained. In an attempt to regain normality, I'm sharing a few photos from a recent trip over the Andes Mountains. We passed the peak of the highest railroad in the world. It was beautiful when the snow fell. We all cheered. Once over the peak, we descended down the other side of the mountain into the jungle. Soon we will regain the peace we felt on this short journey.

More pictures of this trip can be found on our photo site: http://picasaweb.google.com/BillandLenaPics/LaMerced?authkey=CfzH46C6vfw#



Friday, October 31, 2008

Pray for us

I'm not at liberty to explain fully what's happening in Peru, but it is enough to say the some serious prayer for the Shrader family would be a good thing right now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poor Little Rich Girl

One of the most confusing things about our life here is that we don’t have much company in our “class” group, financially speaking. To most of our church friends, we are rich beyond belief. That we can afford to pay rent for the home we have, where we have it, and eat out once in a while, and buy our food in a supermarket, is quite the wonder for them, and sometimes it creates a barrier. They don’t always look very relaxed in our home, and few think of returning the invitation to their more humble homes (for many of them, this consists of a small rented room). I think about wealthy friends we have back in the States, who never seem to be able to leave behind everyone else’s consciousness that they have money, and I understand them in a new way.

At the same time, we meet and interact daily with the upper class. Many of them have children in our school, and we are aware of the difference. Those who own a house or apartment, really own it—only recently has Peru started to develop a practice of giving home loans. At Peruvian birthday parties (for the little ones), the conversation is of trouble with the hired help, in which private school you were able to win a space for your 3-year-old, and international business travel. The moms are not combing the internet for low-cost recipes (low-fat, maybe), and dress to impress (this last one is more Latina than upper class—they just wear their best when going out, even when it is just for a little kid party).

In terms of shared life experience, it can be a little difficult to arrive at the easy sort of relationship that I have with friends back home—educated, but not above financial struggle, able to enjoy many little indulgences (a trip to Burger King once in a while, buying the good lunch meat, a nice little party for your child), but still aware of the need to be careful with resources, and completely relying on God to make a way for our kids to go to college. (Only four years away!!)

The other night, Bill and I were returning from a Bible study late at night, and our two guards (of the apartment building) were chatting. I frequently greet one of these friends in the evening with the traditional Peruvian cheek-to-cheek peck in the air, as he is a brother in the faith and a dear friend. The reason I don’t greet him this way during the day is that there is a work and cultural barrier between us during the day, in which that could be seen as breaking the class rules, and thus making everyone in the vicinity extremely uncomfortable, including my guard friend. This particular evening, Bill greeted both warmly, and I did likewise, with the peck in the air. The brother in the Lord was fine with that, but the other guard about fell over, and laughed very nervously. It was clear that that was NOT the norm.

Maybe part of our role here is to demonstrate to our friends in both classes that they are not as different from each other as they imagine—to be a sort of bridge. To place greater honor on our friends who know exactly what it means to live by faith, and at the same time, to be humble enough to share what we have openly with our prosperous friends (as well as the riches we have in Christ), even though it is less than what they are accustomed to.
To live this way confuses this poor little rich girl, but it seems to me a good fit. I understand what it is like to grow up watching the Lord provide daily bread (not everyone in the States is rich!), but was privileged to obtain a college education and buy (start paying for!?) a home in a good school district. And as long as the Lord is in it, I am content to live in this confusing world of rich, poor, and something in between.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Talking on the bus with Creta

Last night, I rode on an overnight bus trip from Lima to Ayacucho. I was seated next to Creta. (Her mother named her after Greta Garbo, but didn’t know how to spell it.) Creta told me that she was a devout Catholic and that her son wanted to be a Catholic missionary. It’s easy in this situation to think that either the person doesn’t need to hear the Gospel or that he or she would be unwilling. In terms of sharing my faith with her, it felt like a dead end. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me, saying, “Ask her, How is your faith?” You would expect the question to be, “What is your faith?” Listening to the Holy Spirit, even when the question makes no sense, is a good idea. So I asked her, “How is your faith?”

She answered, “Well, I’m Catholic, of course.”

That didn't answer the question. I continued, “How is your relationship with Jesus Christ?”

She said, “Profound!”

Profound is a great answer, but it didn’t leave me feeling like we had actually connected. She went on to say, “I attend Mass and, as I told you before, my son wants to be a missionary.”

In terms of evangelism, this type of response is a smoke screen. People who are in love with the Lord, speak of their love and their gratitude for his free gift of salvation. Those with a strained relationship, speak of punching the clock and of the devotion of some other family member (like her son). Her answer did not convey a “profound” relationship with the Savior. As we continued talking, I found myself telling her the story of when Jesus appeared to me and spoke with me (which is too long to recount here). She said, “Thank you for saying that, because I have doubts about Christianity. I don’t feel the presence of God or anything when I go to church.” She continued, saying, “I don’t believe that God talks to people or that you can really know what the truth is.” This confirmed what I suspected. Her relationship with Jesus was something less than profound. I pressed through her smoke screen, asking if she had read the Bible.

She said, “Very little.”

I then began to explain that we know that Jesus is the Messiah because he fulfilled the prophecies that God told us beforehand; i.e., that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, that he would be a descendent of King David, that he would suffer and die, and that he would rise from the dead. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know that Jesus is the Messiah, because they have never read or heard of God’s promises and how He fulfilled them. I shared with her that the Bible is an authority that doesn’t change and is the record of the Apostles’ teachings. She was very interested. I shared with her the story of Lazarus and the rich man. In the story, the rich man is suffering in “hell, where he was in torment.” (Luke 16:23). Luke continues to quote Jesus, in 16:27-31, saying that the rich man begs Abraham to “send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

This passage tells us that miracles are not the key to faith—the scriptures are. The scriptures have the power to change our hearts and open our ears to hear God’s voice. I shared Hebrews 4:12, which says that the word of God “discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” I told her that there are many ways to hear God’s voice or feel His presence, but that none of them surpasses the power of God’s word. The conversation went very well. She was engaged, interested and challenged. Originally, I was put off by her smoke screen, but this experience confirms that it is a bad idea to believe that a person’s smoke screen is the final word in personal evangelism. Because of the Spirit's encouragement, I pressed through the smoke screen and she thanked me for it.

It was already midnight and most of the people on the bus were asleep. When the morning came, I was sick from weaving through the mountains. I couldn’t pursue our conversation, for fear of throwing up. When we got off the bus, I didn’t see her again.

I believe that Creta wants to believe in God and feel his presence, but she is full of doubts and has nothing to combat them with. She did not believe that she could understand the Bible, because she had been taught against it. Our goal as witnesses of Jesus is to speak the word of God to those who haven’t heard it and to encourage those who can to read it for themselves. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 10:17, that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” This is saying that when we speak the word of God, sharing the message of Jesus with people, the gift of faith is ignited in them. Creta needs the gift of faith.

Please pray for Creta, that the word of God will get inside of her and transform her heart and mind. Pray also for me, that I’ll have many more opportunities to share God’s word.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pastor Fernando says, "Thanks!"

I was in Iquitos, Peru, (in the Amazon jungle) back in August. Latin America ChildCare was helping to put in two wells for our schools there. Here is a 3 minute video of my friend, Pastor Fernando Garcia, explaining the situation at his school and saying thanks for the well. For those who speak fluent Spanish, please forgive the guy who is trying to film and translate at the same time!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Landmark experiences

When you move to a new culture and speak a new language, you think in terms of landmarks--those events which display that you've moved to a new level. I remember in Costa Rica when I had my first conversation with a taxi driver. That was a landmark moment.

Tonight, we hosted Willy's birthday party--inviting about 10 kids from his kindergarten class. We forgot how parties work in Latin America, where kids come with their parents, siblings, cousins and maids. We ended up with about 40 people at the party. It was a lot of fun! At the party, I experienced two significant landmarks:

1. The party was a mix of English speakers and Spanish speakers--and they were all friends. It meant that we have jumped the cultural gap and have our feet firmly planted in both of our worlds (where we came from and where God has called us to). It's healthy to be able to enjoy both--without rejecting either. As such, seeing friends who represent both cultures, laughing and talking in our living room, was a very rewarding experience.

2. At one point, a group of us were conversing in Spanish around the coffee table. Then, the conversation split and there were two conversations around the table with a Nintendo game playing in the background. To be able to hear and understand a Spanish conversation, when their is background noise, is a huge landmark.

When you live in a new culture and speak a new language, you don't feel as strong as you used to in your home culture. As such, landmarks like these are foretastes of a new strength that is coming. Isa 40:31 says "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." I'm looking forward to soaring like an eagle, but until it happens, I'll savor every landmark that reminds me of the strenght that is on its way.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lop off the head, please!

I had eaten cuy (Guinea pig) twice prior. It has an OK flavor and a greasy texture. The times prior, the cuy was cut into pieces; so it didn't look like much of an animal--except for the claw. This time, I was the honored guest. So, everyone else got a leg or an arm, but I got the whole thing--including the head! I laughed out loud and began to dig in. I took my fork and knife and began to cut. I picked. I pushed. I tried, but I couldn't do it. Finally, I decided that I needed to cut the head off. But, having never cut the head off of anything in the past, I was a little anxious. I felt the sick feeling of a panic attack coming on. I turned my head away and laughed nervously. I took a deep breath, looked at the lady sitting across from me and said, "Could you do me a favor?"

She said, "Sure. What?"


I said, "Cut the head off and throw it away."


Everyone at the table laughed. I had heard that the head is the tastiest part, but I wasn't brave enough to try it. Apparently I wasn't alone, because when my friend cut it off, she asked everyone in the room if they wanted it and everyone declined.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hannah's Birthday

Hannah turned 14 on Saturday. We celebrated by hosting her friends from school for a cookout. On Sunday morning, she helped lead worship at church. I preached. It's a great feeling to tag team with your teen-age daughter in the ministry! I'm very proud of Hannah. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. The pictures here are a little collection of Hannah through the years.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Park of Love

One of the most famous spots in Lima is the "Parque del Amor," which is "The park of love!" It has a statue of a man and woman embracing.

Every Saturday afternoon, couples who are getting married line up in front of the statue for a wedding photo. It's fun watching the couples, all decked out in the wedding garb. You can feel the happiness in the air.

We went with our friends, Mike and Barbara Olejarz--the parents of our assistant Sarah. It was a great day and the perfect opportunity to celebrate love with a passionate smooch!


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike & the "goddess of the Sea"

I was looking at photos of Hurricane Ike on the Washington Post web site. Photo #33 caught my eye. It was of Cubans carrying statues that appear to be of Mary. The text alongside the picture says, "Residents of Batabano Surjidero in Havana, Cuba, participate in a procession to request the Goddess of the Sea, the Virgin of Iemanja, to move Hurricane Ike far from Cuba." That's it. People carrying a statue of a woman, praying to an ancient pagan diety. People ask us, "Why go as a missionary to a Catholic country?" The answer is as simple here as it is in the U.S.; i.e., no country is Christian or non-Christian. Rather, people are Christian or not. In Latin America, there is huge confusion because of ancient pagan dieties with Christian names. We're here to clear up the confusion.

There is only one person who has the power to calm the storm, his name is Jesus.


I couldn't include a photo of "the virgin of Iemanja," if you want to see the photo on the Washington Post site, click here and go to photo #33: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2008/09/08/GA2008090801274.html

Monday, September 08, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A cup (or toilet) of cold water -- Victoria de Jesus Well

In August, I had the privilege of spending 4 1/2 days in the jungle city of Iquitos, where I got to participate in the installation of two water wells at our Latin America ChildCare schools. I took video at each school, this is the first of the two.

Thanks to everyone who is on our team. The whole experience was powerful and I'm so honored to be part of this life changing ministry.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bathroom Receipt 2


When we traveled to Panama last year, I received a nice bathroom receipt at the border. (You can see it here: http://billandlena.blogspot.com/2007/05/my-favorite-receipt.html) At the time, getting a receipt for using the bathroom was a new experience for me. It is a special experience to get a receipt for something so personal. Now, I have a new receipt to add to my collection, a receipt from one of the 7 wonders of the World: Machu Picchu! As you can see, it is a quality receipt with a little picture of the wonder right on it. As the 749036th person to use the bathroom at Machu Picchu, I'm happy to report that the bathroom, while not a world wonder, was very nice.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A funny story of my friend Joe Zickafoose

Having written about the loss of my friend, Joe Zickafoose, I want to share one of my favorite stories. Joe and I were leading worship during a XA meeting at the University of Louisville. There was a new student there that night—whom I will refer to as Tad. There was a pause between songs and Tad began to call down the judgment fires of heaven on every sinner on campus. He listed all the possible sins of college students and screamed out, “O God, let them burn in hell! LET THEM BURN!!!”

I interrupted and said, “Let’s break into groups of three and pray for one another.”

Joe and I ran to Tad. He looked at us and said, “Hey, I know where I’ve seen you guys before! It was in my vision. You guys were on the right and left side of Jesus.”

Joe and I looked at each other, then blurted out at the same time, “Which side was I on?”

Tad’s head bobbed like a person who had just gotten off of a corkscrew rollercoaster. He was struggling to focus and said, “Uh….uh…you were on the right and you were on the left.” We looked at each other and, again, blurted out together, “Your right or Jesus’ right?!”

Tad now looked like a guy who got off the rollercoaster and was about to barf. He said, in highly nervous tones, “Uh, uh, I don’t know!”

So, if there’s any doubt about where Joe is, I have good reason to believe that he’s at Jesus’ side.

(A couple of months after this encounter, I saw Tad again. He said that he felt God calling him to XA because the people in the group were misfits and social outcasts who needed his help. Thankfully, he was apparently called to help another group and never came back.)

Thanks to Marc Cauthon (http://deliriousjayhawk.blogspot.com/2008/08/joe-zickafoose.html) for the photo.

Thoughts about the loss of my friend--Joe Zickafoose

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my dear friend, Joe Zickafoose. Joe and I became friends when I joined him on staff at the University of Louisville Chi Alpha group in February, 1989. He was a friend, a ministry mentor and a great guitar player!

After he died, I struggled to make sense of it. He was young, with a family and an influential ministry. Theologically, I understand the promise of heaven and I’m glad for it. Emotionally, when you have to say goodbye to someone you love, it is hard to feel the good feelings of heaven. As one who believes in healing, it is doubly hard to say goodbye to a friend and minister who seemed to be in his prime. Since Joe’s departure, I have been mulling these thoughts over and reading the Gospel of John. I was convicted, encouraged and challenged. In John 14:1-3, Jesus says,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

In this passage, the Lord knows he is about to leave and that his friends will be very upset, so he says:
1. Don’t be upset by this—trust in God.
2. I am going.
3. I’ll take you to be with me.

The parts that really hit me were points 2 and 3. Jesus said he was going. It is clear from the context that he is not referring to the crucifixion. He’s referring to AFTER the resurrection. In 16:28, Jesus says, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” So, it is clear that, even after Jesus defeated death, he had no plans of sticking around here. And, if he had not plans of sticking around, why do I think it’s such a great idea? That brings me to the point. Not only is he going away, but he’s going to take us to be with him. The key word in that sentence is “take.” The Father’s house is the destination that we’re all supposed to be looking forward to and I was. I always read this passage from the standpoint of my own encouragement. “Hey,” I said, “He’s coming to get me and one day I’ll be living the sweet life with my savior in the Father’s house!” I never ever thought, that he was talking to the person standing next to me—which in this case was Joe.

When Smith Wigglesworth’s wife died, he rebuked death and brought her back to life. She was not happy! As I recall, she rebuked her husband and said, “The Lord wants me and I want to go.” Wigglesworth said that he couldn’t bear to let her go. Even though she loved him, she had already tasted a bit of heaven. She said it again, “The Lord wants me and I want to go.” So, Wigglesworth let her go. That’s where the “Trust in God” part comes in. It is so much easier to do when you are not the one left behind. I want to live with Heaven as a reality—both for myself and those I say goodbye to. I don’t want to view it as a failure, when one of us moves into the Father’s house. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the place where saying goodbye will be easy, but I definitely don’t want to feel that we had failed as faith healers.

Revelation 22:3b-5 says, “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” That’s the goal.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Birthday Bourgeiosie

Abi's fourth birthday came, and we celebrated it in a lovely, low-key American birthday party, with just a couple little girlfriends and some good dress-up. I just happened to mention it to Abi's teacher, her "Miss," which is pronounced with a thick Spanish accent, "Mees." (At first I thought that this was some sort of word I didn't know yet, but then I realized that they were saying an English word-instead of seƱorita; they have anglicized it, and the teachers are the "Mees"es.) She seemed a little surprised that we hadn't done anything with Abi's classmates in school, but I didn't think any more about it; that is, until she asked me if maybe we could have a party for her at the school. My first thought was, "Bill will not like this at all," because Bill is a sort of traditional birthday minimalist, preferring to send the kids out to the backyard with a new stick to mark the passing of another year.

Now, something you need to know is that Lima, Peru is the Happy Birthday capital of the world, especially for those who have a little bit of dough to spend. It is very common for us to look out onto our little park and see rented tents and tableclothed, color-coordinated tables, a huge inflatable, and rented musicians, or just the music from High School Musical blared through a sound sytem. This is just for little kid parties, too. Abi attends a preschool with the priveleged, and therefore gets invited to some major parties, but we don't usually go, as they are normally at suppertime and it can get a little disruptive, not to mention expensive, to keep up her busy social calendar.

So, to make a long story short, we had a party at the school. But I had no clue as to what I had to bring. I had to ask the "Miss"--and very sheepishly--what all "having a party" entailed. When I showed up, it was clear that I didn't really get it, as she had to cue me on all the way to do things. I felt like the representative for the Birthday Party Burgeiosie. Totally clueless. I had no tablecloths, no clown. If it wasn't for the "Mees," I would have been up a creek. But at least my jello went over really big. Abi hid her face in her hands the whole while they sang to her, but clearly enjoyed all the attention, getting up to do a little jig to entertain her public now and then. As for the ballet class she normally takes on Fridays, that went by the wayside, because she couldn't wait to get home to check out the hall of new toys to play with. As we made our way out of the center, balancing all the party makings and Abi's gifts, her "Miss" said to me, "See, how happy she is?" I think at least one of us will adjust just fine to the Latin birthday haul. Oh..., I mean culture.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Enjoying the call

People ask if we like living in Lima. The answer is yes, but it is not without costs. Obviously, being away from family and friends is tough. But, on the bright side, we have the joy of touching lives in a deep way. Recently, I spent four and a half days in the jungle town of Iquitos, Peru. Latin America ChildCare (LACC) works with two schools there. The schools did not have running water, so the kids had to carry buckets of water in each day. The water always ran out, leaving the bathrooms smelling horribly and there was no way for the kids to wash their hands. I was blessed to help put in two wells--one at each school. The picture here is of the Luz del Saber school. A few minutes after I took this picture, the water started running out beautifully clear. It was a total joy to see the kids soaked and happy. Many don't have the capacity to shower in their homes. As such, this school will have a shower outside on the playground, for kids who want to freshen up after playing. That means a lot when it's 97 degrees out! While I was there, I also preached at two churches and prayed for many hungry and hurting people at the altars. It was very fulfilling. So, today I am enjoying the call of God and grateful that I get to be on Jesus' team.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Taxi Driver, the Checkout Girl, and the Rooftop Rescue

I have been in awe lately at how hard it is for the human nature to get a grasp on the core message of the gospel. I was talking to a taxi driver about the fact that Jesus died for his sins, and that he just had to receive the gift of salvation, and begin walking with Jesus, and He would do the rest--make him clean. He had such a hard time getting his head around that idea. There are no "few things" we need to clean up in advance, no preparations to be made. Just Jesus and a naked soul, waiting for the rescue on top of a house that has been flooded and will never have people living in it again. That simple, and that hard, because we so want to save our image of ourselves as capable, independent, righteous. But we are not.

A few days later, in another conversation about the Lord in the checkout at the supermarket(this is a lot easier here than in the States. I LOVE THAT ABOUT THIS COUNTRY.) , the girl asked me if I was religious. I told her that I was a sinner who was saved by the sacrifice of Jesus for my sins. I like that answer a lot better than, "Yeah, I'm an evangelical."

I really want to say to all the world that Jesus came for the sick, and not the healthy, and only those who can see their own need for help can receive it. Praise God who saved me from the consequences of my sin!

And if there is some precious soul out there who reads these blogs but who has not yet given their life to the Lord, please understand that there is nothing you can do to help or heal yourself so that you are ready to recieve Him. You are on the top of the flooded house, and if you don't let Him rescue you, the results are obvious. Please let Him rescue you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cincinnati Chili Fiesta


We've been through some tough challenges lately, but we are not without the things that bring comfort to the human soul. For example, we have the hope of salvation, the power of the Spirit, friends who love us and ... cheddar cheese! Thanks to the team from Cincinnati, we have Cincinnati Chili mix and the cheese to put on top of it. As the Lord said when He created Cincinnati Chili--it is good.