Wednesday, August 26, 2009


From Bill:

It all started a month ago, when we returned from the jungle. It was just a little upset stomach and diarrhea -- I was sure that it would be over in a few days. Most of the symptoms disappeared, but then a new symptom came to light. It was a symptom that you don't talk about in public. That's why it was a difficult scene, when I found myself in a packed pharmacy, with a line of clients on my right, a line on my left and people behind me. The 3 girls behind the counter, along with the female pharmacist looked up when I said the word: "Parasites."

Girl behind the counter: "So, what are your symptoms?"

Bill (with everyone in the store staring at me and listening in): "I have ... secretions."


"Yes ... secretions." (Oh, please don't ask where! Oh, please don't ask where!)

The Pharmacists looks up from her desk in the back and shouts out: "How long have you had them?"

"About a month. We were in the jungle. It started then.

"Other symptoms?"

"Yea, an upset stomach. But it's mostly ... you know."

"Sure, so is it a lot or just a little? When do you get these..."



I said, "They're constant, but they're most voluminous in the mornings."

The pharmacist then convenes with the girls behind the counter and they all communicate telepathically. With out speaking, they begin nodding their heads in approval. The people in the lines begin to discuss my symptoms. The people in the line behind me, take a small step back. The girl in charge of my line says, "How many people in your family?"

"Six--two adults, two teens and two little ones."

"You know that all of you have to be treated?"

"Yes." (Parasites are highly contagious.)

So, I went home and said, "Here Hannah, you have to take this medicine tonight."

"Medicine? Why?"

"Uh ... well ... secretions."

Forgiveness Pressed Down and Flowing Over

A note from Lena:

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-6)

Give, [of your forgiveness!] and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

What does it mean to love your enemies? First of all, I think that anyone with whom you have had difficulties, and have been tempted to carry bitterness in your heart against, qualifies as your enemy. If you have ever grumbled in your heart against that person, they qualify. Your husband, your child, your boss, your pastor, your kids' friend's mom, the grumpy waiter at your favorite coffee shop. It doesn't matter. Anyone against whom we are tempted to raise up our hand of wrath is someone who qualifies for the deluxe treatment of love!
And what are we supposed to do with them? I am going to say this just like Jesus does. Lend them money, and don't expect them to give it back. (When was the last time you did that?) Let him take a swat at you. You're bigger than that. They talk about you behind your back? Hmm. Rough. Talk about how good they are at what they do. Give honest and sincere affirmation (OUCH!!), especially when they might never know you did it. (Check my sources--Luke 6:27-42).

Why do we have to do this? Whoa! You already forgot! Don't you remember? What did you do to make yourself worthy of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross? OK, your dimples are really cute, but you didn't DO anything. Nothing. And there was plenty to accuse you of, even if you were three when you received Christ. I was ungrateful! I was wicked!

This is the reason: WE GOT THE SAME TREATMENT FROM JESUS. He poured out his grace on us when we were still in the dark. We were the wicked and ungrateful one.
And He poured out rich blessings. We hit the grace jackpot, and he asks us to live out this same grace so that we can be like Him. Living in this sort of love is our testimony! Let me show you what my God did for me. I didn't deserve it, but He poured out his forgiveness on me. That is why I can do the same for you. Only a person who understands exactly how much in need they were of God's grace when He intervened is able to live that sort of grace. (He who has been forgiven much loves much.)Some people can live alcohol-free, no problem. Others have an incredibly disciplined prayer life that makes others stand in awe. But it is just plain impossible to love like this without having experienced that sort of love first. May God be with us as we stand in those moments in which we choose our reactions. May we, in those moments, remember what He did for us, and may that testimony transform our most difficult relationships.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do You Like to Walk?

Last night,we packed up the whole family to go and minister in a church plant somewhere in San Juan de Lurigancho--a huge community within Lima of some of the poorest people of the city. We arranged to meet the young pastor at a grocery store,and would go on with him from there.
He approached the car, all smiles, a truly engaging young man. I was already thinking that the evening would be a blessing. As he piled in the car with the rest of our clan, he asked us, "Do you like to walk?" I thought that was supposed to be a joke, as he is quite jovial, and likes to surprise people. I laughed!
Then we started the steep drive up the hill, and he began to talk of the little church plant that he started a few months ago. The church was meeting in a house (I immediately smiled inwardly. I love the warmth and intimacy of church in a house). We would park the car where a friend of his would watch it, and then hike up the hill the rest of the way with instruments and little kids.
I started laughing as we trekked the rest of the way up the hill, super-thankful that I had not worn heels. I would have gone rolling down the hill, or given up and gone barefoot.
We had a ball. The people were young, lively, and fun. They were packed into a little sitting area about the size of an American bedroom, in unfinished brick. Some came from other little mountain tops, which means they had to really hike it, arriving breathless--a group of maybe 30 people. The kids were wearing their best clothes, and looked great. Hannah gave it all she had musically, even though her voice was suffering from Lima smog. Their new sound system was hooked up and ready to go, and we blasted the neighbors a little Good News! Bill preached up a storm with an evangelical message on the Prodigal Son. And then 9 folks prayed to recieve Christ.
The call was so moving, I think a few were getting saved all over again, but that is just fine with me. It was a lovely night, and the presence of God was there. They gave us a bowl of soup with some interesting looking animal organs in it, and sent us on our way.
We got home with some very tired kids. This morning, everyone was a little slow out the gate, I had to spend about 40 minutes looking for various uniform parts, and the price of the night before was evident. But what fun it was last night, and what a privelege to bring the Good News to such precious people. I loved it.