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, May 18, 2010

The Impertinence of Learning

Today it is cold in Santa Cruz. I know you will laugh when I tell you how warm it has been today. But it is cold - a little warmer outside than in but cold. It has been in the lower 50's at night and only in the mid to lower 60's today. Laugh if you will but I stand by my statement. It is cold.

I am wondering if the cold will continue tomorrow and on into the evening. You see, tomorrow evening I have class with my students at the Villa Alegre (Happy Town) Church. The problem is, there is no front door on the church. For that matter, there are no windows either. And when it is cold the students suffer. It's hard to think, read and study the Bible and take a test when your fingers are cold, your feet are cold, your ears are cold and, well, I suspect you get the point. And yet my students will be expected to do just that tomorrow evening. It will be the last session of this class on the General Epistles and, yes, a final test is called for. The learning process can be impertinent.

It amazes me that most of the students come under such conditions. They know it will be cold. They know that they will sit in the cold, feel the wind blowing through the church, yet they come. Their desire for learning the Word is amazing. And yet I know that they also are longing for the day when their church will have the luxury of a door and windows to help keep the cold out. As the teacher, I'll appreciate it too. Wouldn't you?

The night these pictures were taken was a worm evening and not the recent cold. Notice the empty window frames in the wall of the church.

How Far Do You Go? Part 2

Now the answer you have been waiting for since my earlier post. I caved in and paid.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How Far Do You Go . . .?

Living in a country like Bolivia where corruption and unofficial ways of doing things are an ingrained part of the system, the question always comes up - how far do you go in participating in it all? What can you do or not do with regards to maintaining a positive Christian testimony, especially considering that our name is the Bolivian HOLINESS Mission in Spanish.

Now the purist will probably say ( and I might have said this before coming to Bolivia) that you should not participate in any of it and should strive to keep the letter of the law to the full in all situations. In practice that means never giving money to a policeman on the street even though he demands it. It means making sure that your domestic help is paying its taxes on what they earn from you. It means always asking for an official receipt for everything you buy, every repair job that is done, every doctor, dentist visit that is performed.

The other extreme will probably say, Hey, just do as the Bolivians do. When in Rome . . . .

For me the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, but where? I try not to give money to policemen who pull me over but to expect them to give me a written ticket that I will then go and pay. But that doesn't always work out - like the time they stopped me, not because I was doing anything wrong but because they were swelling tickets to a benefit concert for the police department and would not let me go until I bought a full ticket (I offered to give a donation but that was not good enough). I don't demand official receipts from repairmen and servicemen but I do expect them for major purchases in stores and generally take them when offered in restaurants. What about driver's licenses? That is really the point of these musings. I am in the process of renewing my license. When I went to the police department to do it, I was caught off guard when the officer told me I had to take a test. Tests have never, to my knowledge, been required for renewing licenses before. His question was Do you want to take it directly or do you want me to take it for you for a few. . .? So, how should I answer? (By the way, I found out later that the test thing may not be true but a ploy to get money - but even that is not certain.)

I will leave this post at that. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think I should do. I will try to remember to fill you in on next week's post.

To end on a lighter note - I saw a kid uptown wearing a tee shirt that said in English (he probably did not know what it said) The Perfect Partents: No homework until your video games are finished!