Who am I?

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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.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This week's post is entitled Ch'airo because it will be a little of this and that.

First, Niki had another opportunity to speak to the district women. She spoke from the text where Jesus was castigating the pharisees and teachers of the law for their hypocrisy and related those items to the daily life of women. While not a big crowd this time, the meeting went well. It was held at the same place as the craft class last week. (On a happy side note - today construction is beginning on a simple building for the church there. Up until now they have had a tin roof and nothing else.)

Last week when we were here the car refused to start going home. However, this week it started right up -  a small psychological victory of man over machine!

These ladies were listening to Niki.

These kids were not.

That evening Gordon and Mark went to ExpoCruz - the event of the year in Santa Cruz. It is the annual fair where millions of dollars exchange hands in business deals, sales of cattle and other stuff. It is always interesting to see the displays of what is new in town as well as enjoy some food. Our big purchase of the evening was a special three day, two night package at a new resort here in town for about the price of one night at a Super 8 or Motel 6. Six free passes to PlayLand (a local amusement park) were also thrown in. We shall see.

The expo is always scheduled to run over the 24th of September, Santa Cruz Day, which also happens to be my birthday. This year is the 200 anniversary of the first cry for liberty, as they call it, which ended up in the war for independence from Spain. So it's a big deal this year. I, however, only turned 54.

Finally, on Saturday evening Niki and I went to a Noche de Gala (fancy dinner) at the church I am helping with. It was an evening of good food (pork in the oven), traditional music, an entertaining video on marriage, and friends.

This little guy comes to Sunday School with a brother or sister. He was making the rounds looking for balloons, Coke and food.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crafty Ladies

Last Friday I accompanied Niki to one of our local churches here in Santa Cruz, "House of Prayer" where she was scheduled to teach a craft class to a group of ladies. The organizers of the event, the district society of women, were hoping for a large turnout. So we came loaded with lots of supplies and some tables to work on. There ended up being only around ten women, four from the neighborhood and not attenders of the church, but the class went well anyway.

The first problem was to figure out how to break into the church since the person who was supposed to unlock the door forgot about it and did not show up to open it. After much thought and anxiety the door

was opened (I simply unhooked some of the barbed wire) and we were able to enter the church and set things up.

Soon Niki was ready and the group was able to begin to make paper crafts.

The paper baskets were a big hit with the ladies.

Niki did a good job of working with the ladies that were there. It was a good first contact with the four who came from the neighborhood.

Niki told the ladies that they could take home any of the left over materials that they might want to do more crafts at home so each lady left with a handful of paper and craft instructions.

After locking up the door again we headed for home. Please pray that these crafty women may one day come to know God and to be a part of his church.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy 15th Birthday, Dayana

Among those events that are very important in the life of a young girl in Bolivia, her fifteenth birthday is one of the most important. Saturday evening we were invited, with very short notice, to the 15th birthday party of one of the young ladies in the church. The party was being hosted by her older sister who is a recent convert and, with Dayana, is a regular attender of the church.

The party began, as do all parties in Bolivia, with lots of loud music blaring away. Finally, Pastor Ruben who was acting as the emcee, began the program of the evening. First there were a couple of games to keep the crowd entertained.

A rousing game of balloon toss kept everyone laughing and awake.

Next was time to greet the birthday girl and give her lots of hugs, kisses and best wishes. Even I got into the act as I was asked to share a short meditation with the people at the party.

Fianlly the meal was served, a yummy plate of baked pork, rice, and baked banana and potatoes. (I didn't know that the pork was going to kick back in a couple of days and land me in bed. Oh well, it was good going down.)

Before the cake was served, a special moment occurred when Dayana's mother arrived at the party and announced that she had a special surprise for Dayana and her sister and son-in-law. She said that she was gong to begin to attend church with them.

Next was time to sing birthday wishes to Dayana while the candle on the cake flamed.

At last the cake was cut and served. A four layer cake, it had strawberry filling between layers one and two, a jello filling between two and three and a chocolate pudding filling between three and four.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening and we pray that Dayana will continue her spiritual walk and that her mother will indeed join her.

This pretty lady was among the invited guests.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is My Car To Work Again (And Again)

If you read the last post you learned that I was having more car trouble - this time with the radiator. Having filled it back up on Monday afternoon I thought that I should check it on Tuesday morning before leaving. It was way down again but no sign of a puddle underneath. So it's back to the shop today with the car. But the good news is, I get to swap it for the other car that has been in the shop since December. (If you don't know that story you can find it in older posts below.) I am cautiously excited. Now if we can just get it sold before it breaks down again we may have an early Christmas after all.

Maybe a fairy coach like this would be a good alternative. No gas to buy, no radiator to blow. But where do you find a reliable fairy godmother these days?

Just What Do Missionaries Do Anyway?

When I was in college, I was privileged to spend seven weeks in Bolivia along with some other visitors, some of whom did not stay as long. As we are seeing them off at the La Paz airport after a month of being together, one of them turned to the missionaries and asked, "What do missionaries do anyway?" After a month of observing and tagging along I would hope that they were joking. I'm not real sure that they were. But in order to set the record straight I want to share with you a little bit of just what missionaries do, in the spirit of this blog which is advertised as giving a look at missionary life in Bolivia. I want to share yesterday  with you. Now it is hard to call any one day typical, at least for us here in Bolivia. But let me give you a glance of my last day.

Monday morning: The day begins with my early morning walk with the dog. Then home to help get breakfast on the table so Niki and Mark can get out the door to school. Following breakfast and cleanup, it's out to the office to copy some documents that I will need later that morning to pay taxes on the mission cars. Next a quick shower, then call a taxi and head up town. There are two objectives - retrieve the mission ATM card which the ATM gobbled up on Saturday and pay the car taxes. The first stop is the bank where I am directed to a certain window where I am redirected to a certain office. After waiting a bit, the lady arrived and asked what I needed. I explained to her how their ATM had eaten my card. Just one moment, she would need to call and find out about that machine. I was in luck, she said, as that machine is only opened up once every fifteen days and that day was the day. Would I please come back tomorrow? Thank you very much.

My next stop was the office to pay taxes, but first I needed to check the post office for mail and exchange money to be able to pay the taxes. When I arrived at the tax office everyone else in town was there as well. The information line was huge. Fortunately I had asked a few days before where I needed to go so I headed for that particular part of the office. "In order to be served, please take a ticket." There were no tickets to take. They had distributed all there were for the morning. Would I please come back in the afternoon? Thank you very much.

Having struck out on both items I decided to go to the Bible Society and buy Bibles. It wasn't on my list but I had money in my pocket, time to use and, isn't flexibility the key to successful life in Bolivia? The Bible Society had not received the promised shipment and so the choices for Bibles were few and far between. In fact, there were only two of the actual Bibles I had come to buy. But I did find some other deals. So I spent my money and looked for a taxi to take me and my Bibles home.

Monday afternoon. Following lunch I began to work on materials for my new Saturday Bible Institute class. About 3:30ish I went to the cemetery to buy flowers for my wife (they were her birthday flowers, and yes you do buy them at the cemetery. I didn't rob them from a grave as some of you are thinking.) and swung over by the school to pick up Mark and Niki. As we were leaving the school we saw a friend and offered her a ride. As we were almost at her house I smelled something hot and noticed that the car was dangerously close to the red area on the temperature gauge. So I stopped. After waiting a bit the temperature dropped enough that I could drive it to her home where I got water. Now I know you are not supposed to open a hot radiator but what are you to do. So I opened it and stood back for the geyser to blow. After adding a lot of water to fill the radiator we arrived at home safe and sound. Now the plan had been to run by the gas station and fill up and run the car through the automatic car wash (a rarity in Bolivia). Since the temperature seemed to be staying down I went to the gas station, filled up and got in line for the automatic car wash. But the automatic part wasn't working. Instead there was a young man with a pressure hose. After waiting a good while (why didn't I have a book?) it was my turn. So I was "automatically" washed. By then it was supper time. So much for what I had planned to do . . . .

I guess you get the point. What do missionaries do anyway? A little of this and that and along the way hoping to be able to share God's love with someone. So the next time you think about your missionary friend pray for his day. He might just need to wash his car.