Who am I?

My photo
Monrovia, Liberia
I live in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa with my wife and youngest son. We are recently arrived in Liberia where we are serving as missionaries with Evangelical Church Missions working under the Liberia Evangelical Mission. For most of the last thirty years we have served under ECM in Bolivia, South America. We are the happy parents of four children and the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mr. Mom (or is it Mrs. Dad)

Mark and I have been bachelors since the middle of June when we returned to Bolivia from the US without Niki. Until she returns in September I will continue to be the Mr. Mom of the family. What a tough job. I have had the kids before in the past for short periods of time but this is the first time I have been with one of them without Mom around for more than a few days and it is tiring me out! I've come to realize again the importance of the many things "the little woman" does (cooking, laundry, entertaining children etc). It seems like you spend more time planning food than almost anything else. Which also brings me to another observation. I have learned that in ministry there are times when the ministry needs extra attention and time. But there are also times when the family needs the extra time and attention. This has been one of those times. Real life ministry is not about a 9 to 5 job. It's a lifestyle. So I guess I'll have to keep on being Mr. Mom (or maybe it's Mrs. Dad) until the real Mom gets home.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Party Time (Again . . .and Again . . . and Again . . . and)

Who would have thought that partying would be a major element of a missionary's ministry? If this secret gets out, the mission is apt to be over run with applications!

Living as we do in a country where relationships are very important (more so than schedules and meetings) it is extrememly important to keep them solid. Sometimes that means partying with people. While we don't party all the time this last week was an amazing number of such occasions. Monday was a 60th birthday dinner for the José, the guard on the street by the mission house. Tuesday was a 50th birthday party for a fellow missionary from another mission. Wedne
sday Mark and I were invited to the home of a Bolivian couple for "snacks" (read that enough for supper). Thursday morning I had company for breakfast, a couple from the God Is Love church. Friday I hosted a farewell open house for the Wolheters as they are moving to Cochabamba. Finally on Saturday was the one year birthday party for Osvaldo, one of the Sunday School kids from our church. As part of the party I had the privilege, along with his parents, of dedicating him to the Lord.

As I said, it was a bit extreme last week but partying can be a very real part of ministry. So, let the party begin!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

To Go Or Not to Go . . . That Is The Question

How do you make decisions? I hate making them because they are so hard to do and I fear making the wrong choice. Now big decisions are ok, like are we going to move to Iraq? Do I rob a bank this afternoon? But its those little decisions that bug me. I always am the last to place my order at a restaurant because I can't decide, chicken or beef, breakfast or dinner. That's why at my favorite restaurants in Bolivia I only order one thing, pork at Don Miguel and Fetuccini Gratine at MichaelAngelo. So today I had to make a decision do I go to church or not?

Bolivia is battling the Swine Flu. Santa Cruz is the center of the epidemic. There have been at least two deaths in the city. So, the government decreed that all sporting events, bars, karaokes, concerts, theators and church services are to be canceled or closed for the next 15 days. But I knew that our church would still be holding services. So, do I go or stay home? Is this a case of obey God rather than men or a case of submitting to the authorities since it really is a health issue and not a religious issue.

So I debated. I wanted to go. Mark would be happy if we didn't. They were counting on me to teach but this is a health emergency. My salvation doesn't depend on whether I miss a church service but what about my testimony to the church and to Mark, for that matter. So I debated back and forth. Finall, with fear and trembling, I decided that I should stay home and submit to the government decree. So I went by the church on Saturday to warn them that I would not be there. Decision made.

Sunday morning I am cooking muffins for breakfast. It is almost time to leave for church if we were going. I take a quick peek at the news and see that the Catholic church is not cancelling Sunday services, just additional activities. So now what? A new element is introduced. At the last possible moment I announce to Mark that I am going. No time now for a shower nor to shave. Barely time to get there before my time to teach.

And that is how I make decisions. I am comforted in my flawed process to know that, from what I am learning in Proverbs, even if I fail to make the best decision God can still control the outcome.

So maybe next time I'll try something new off of the menu (but I doubt it).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Retreat and Go

My son and I spent this past week at a retreat for missionaries held at a local resort setting (sort of a 5 star affair but, as someone said, two of the stars must be black holes). Anyway, it was a good week to be away and have the chance to tank up a bit. When you are involved in constant giving in ministry you need those times to be refueled. I thank God for the opportunity it was for us. NOw back to work.

As a mission we are reading Coach Your Champions: The Transformational Giving Approach to Major Donor Fundraising by Eric Foley. It is challenging us to make sure that we are not just looking for money from our supporters but that we are helping them to grow in their faith. I like the concept but am not sure how to apply his ideas when we live and work a continent away from the people who support us and pray for us. If you have read the book and have any thoughts, or if you haven't read it and have thoughts on the subject, feel free to share them. We want to be used by God both in the lives of our brothers here and of our brothers up north.