Saturday, March 27, 2010

School supplies for Peru-frica

African Children's Ministry started with the mission of sending school supplies to children in Africa; but (thanks to divine providence) the founders are friends of ours! As such, the Latin America ChildCare kids of Peru have benefited from some great school supplies. That's significant, because I was recently told by a teacher that some of the kids don't come to school because their parents can't afford to buy them pencils and paper!

Big thanks go to my friends Sue, Michelle and all those who have donated to bless the kids of Perufrica!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Horoscopes and getting the "inside" scoop

This from Bill:

I was chatting with a friend, recently, about horoscopes and fortune tellers. I'd like to share some thoughts here. As most probably know, that sort of practice is offensive to God and strongly rebuked in the Bible (Lev. 20:6; Dt. 18:9-13). I know that a lot of Christians take it lightly or try to explain it away, saying that God made the stars so it’s like watching for what God has done. Nonetheless, since God said it was offensive, even if he made the stars, he knows best. I think the issue for the Lord is whether or not people are pursuing a personal relationship with Him or trying to have another source of “inside” information. Isaiah addresses this, since the Jews were seeking fortune tellers prior to the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. Isaiah 8:19-22 says,
When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?” Tell them, “No, we’re going to study the Scriptures.” People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end! Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, Looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing, A blank wall, an empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing. (The Message)

The topic actually extends through chapter 9. The NIV, which is not as pithy as The Message, does a good job of one thing—the contrast between light and dark in the passage. (I put it below, emphasizing the light and dark statements.) The Lord is saying that He will light our path, while those who choose other sources of spiritual information will be walking in darkness. The beauty of this passage is that it is one of the famous messianic passages; that is, God is not just promising to light our path, He is promising to give us One who is light and will walk with us. It is a clear reference to Jesus, but also brings to mind the Holy Spirit who is called the “Paraclete,” which means “counselor” or “one who walks alongside.” For those who want a special blessing or the inside scoop on what they’re going to encounter today, the Holy Spirit is a direct connection. (That’s no-doubt why the gift of prophecy was so highly valued in the early church and is so necessary today.) Isaiah 47 and 48 deal with the same theme; i.e., people seeking secret information from fortune tellers and God promising that he will meet that need by giving the Holy Spirit (listed below).

So, I want to encourage and challenge my friends out there to skip the daily horoscope or online fortune teller and trust in the Lord. If you do, the Holy Spirit will show himself to you in a very special way.

Here are the verses I mentioned above:
Isai 8:19 (NIV) When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. 9:1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-- 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

Isa. 47:13-14a – “All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. 14 Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame.

God picks up the theme a short while later in Isa. 48:16-17 –
Isai 48:16 (NIV) "Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there." And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit. 17 This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Essential Guide to Luck

This from Bill:
I put an update on facebook, recently, and wanted to comment on it.
Yesterday at the grocery store, I saw a book entitled “The Essential Guide to Luck.” I feel pretty lucky, I saved $10 by not buying it. I’m beginning to see the potential for a whole series:
·         How to plan for the unforeseeable.
·         Seeing the bright side of fatalism.
·         Denial—How to be unencumbered by Reality.
·         The Lottery—Investment strategies for the Hopeful.
·         How to Gain Weight without even Trying!
So, why did I find this funny? Because, for luck to truly be luck, it must be completely random. Therefore, one cannot write a guide about it. That’s why I suggested the sequel: “How to plan for the unforeseeable.” This made me think, because engineers try to predict the unforeseeable all the time. People who build toaster ovens must ask themselves, “What would happen if someone stuck their tongue in this thing?” Even though it seems obvious to most of us that that would be a bad idea, the engineers must ask the question. That led me to a famous quote by Louis Pasteur. I thought it was “Life favors the prepared mind.” But, that is an evolved (albeit astute) version of the quote. The real quote was “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.” It has been shortened to: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Or, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
So, maybe one can write a guide to luck. Unfortunately, the “Guide to Luck” in the grocery store had a bunch of pagan symbols all over the cover. So, I don’t think that book was about preparing the mind. Nonetheless, I can still benefit from the wise insight of Louis Pasteur.

Two other great quotes from Louis Pasteur (the guy who taught us to pasturize milk):
"The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory. "
"Blessed is he who carries within himself a God, an ideal, and who obeys it: ideal of art, ideal of science, ideal of the gospel virtues, therein lie the springs of great thoughts and great actions; they all reflect light from the Infinite."

Monday, March 22, 2010

A message about the Video Bar

This from Bill:

To all our friends who may have viewed some videos on our video bar (at right) that were unrelated to our blog, please accept my apologies. The widget (which I prefer to call "glitch-it") is not pulling my uploaded videos from youtube; rather, it's pulling videos in randomly from other sources. This may spell the end of the video bar or it may increase the excitement factor for the blog well beyond the usual missionary fare. Either way, thanks for checking in!

(A later update: It's gone.)

One way to see our uploaded videos is via Bill's facebook page or by visiting the youtube site directly:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Talkin' Double

This from Lena:

Do you ever dream of traveling to the French Riviera and rolling out an impressive French accent when you order your grape juice and cheese with a baguette (we are Assemblies, you know!)? How about just being able to converse with the Latino worker who is fixing your driveway?
Being fully bilingual is an awesome thing—and truly, after 3 years of study and practice, I can honestly say that there are STILL moments when I don’t have a clue what is going on around me. The truth is, there is a ton of work that comes after 2 or 3 years of high school Spanish to get you off the ground and conversing. Every day I find challenges to my Spanish mastery. The punchline to the joke gets choked out in the middle of bursts of laughter, and I am lost. The announcements at church are garbled and important location and time info is given, and I have to ask afterwards. The cashier is 17 years old and speaks Spanish like a ventriloquist (did he even move his lips at all when he said that?). I am the gringa, once again.
So for all you who think you would like to some day go for language number 2, I have some reflections that will be helpful down the line. Becoming fully bilingual means….
1. Developing a sense of humor about the fact that sometimes even you don’t know what you just said.
2. Accepting that you are not going to get all the cultural cues is because you didn’t grow up there! (I don’t get all the jokes Americans make, either.)
3. Working hard to convince yourself that the reason you sound like a dolt trying to speak is that you just now are realizing how bad you were speaking before.
4. Getting sneaky about slipping in your new phrase that you picked up from the newspaper so you sound like you’ve been around a while.
5. Avoid using extremely cool words that will make you look ridiculous and makes teenagers laugh so hard that they snort their soft drink.
6. Loving people God loves to the point that you are willing to do what it takes so you can effectively share the gospel with them, or to just even be able to pray for them, so that it touches their heart and they understand-- even if that means you have to spend a lot of time looking foolish and botching it.
And THAT is what it is like to be bilingual… OK, like 85% bilingual.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


While visiting our school in Catacaos (a suburb of Piura, Peru), I went out with the pastor for roasted chicken and french fries (the most popular food in Peru). I asked for ketchup (also known as "Salsa de Tomate") to put on my fries. The pastor's wife had never heard of ketchup and asked him what it was. He spoke very authoritatively, explaining that it was a sauce that Americans use to garnish their potatoes. Interests were peaked. The pastor's wife tried it and immediately declared it unbelievably strange. The pastor's mother tried it and exerted great effort to appear polite. The pastor's daughter did not have the courage.

Peruvians garnish everything imaginable with "aji" sauce. It's a yellow chili sauce. (In the picture, above, it is the sauce on the upper right. But that's not just aji--that's Pardos' aji. It's the best!)

I like to mix my American ketchup with Peruvian aji sauce. It makes a spicy-sweet treat that's perfect for dipping your fries in. It's a great image of our lives--American and Peruvian--spicy and sweet--and sometimes, unbelievably strange.

Below is a picture of the Pastor, Walter, and his wife, Sonya, with their kids. I had the honor of dedicating their son.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

The "D" word

I (Bill) just returned from the jungle. For the third time in a row, I've returned with a case of Montazuma's revenge. And this is no small case. It's the kind that leaves you totally drained, feeling like a wrung-out rag. I could have justified not going to church, but had missed the week prior and didn't want to miss two in a row. So, I took some medicine I like to call "Cork-it!" and went to church. I set in the chair without moving during the entire service. I had tried clapping during worship and realized quickly that that was a dangerous activity. After the service the pastor asked if I was unusually tired. I replied that I had a bad case of diarrhea. The pastor's wife explained to me that the word "diarrhea" is not used in polite Spanish, since it is a crude and discourteous word. The correct phrase is "I have a delicate stomach." So I said, "In that case, I have a delicate stomach and I'm going to explode!"

As it turns out, I did not get this illness from the jungle; rather, from the kids' school. Yesterday, we learned that school was cancelled for two days since 30% of the teachers called in sick. At least that many of the students are also sick, including our daughter Hannah.

It's time to send Lena back to the pharmacy. This is a job for "Cork-it Pro!"

(P.S. I usually put pictures in my blog entries. I opted out this time.)