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, May 30, 2011

You Have Company or Eat To The Glory Of God

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, flexibility is the key to living in Bolivia. Saturday morning I woke up expecting to have a fairly relaxing day off. We had our neighbors coming over for dinner that evening to bid them farewell before their return to Canada and I was to grill that evening. The rest of the day was kind of free and I was looking forward to finishing a book that I had been reading. Then the phone rang.

"Pastor Gordon, this is Vicente. We are at the bus depot. We've come to visit the churches in Santa Cruz. Can you tell us the number of bus we need to get to the church?"

I called our district president. "Did you know that the national board was coming today?"


It was meant to be a surprise.

"Would it help if I took them to lunch for you?"

"Oh, thank you, pastor."

After a quick phone call to Bryan to make arrangements and a short trip to the store for Niki, it was soon time to meet the board and take them to lunch. However, as I said to Bryan, I didn't really know who "the board" meant. It turned out to be five board members, five wives and one child. More people than we could possibly squeeze into the Toyota (there were an additional seven from Santa Cruz plus two missionaries making twenty people) to go for lunch. So I suggested that Bryan and I would go and pick something up and bring back lunch for everyone.

I had not planned to eat much lunch that day due to our evening supper guests. But, one cannot refuse to eat with company so I had a nice chicken lunch with the board, wives, child and brothers from Santa Cruz. By now it was mid afternoon and the thought of eating again in three hours didn't appeal to me.

We had excused ourselves and were on the way home when my phone rang. It was Niki. "Where are you? The neighbors need to come earlier because they have to be somewhere else later this evening." Now dinner was only two hours away.

The phone rang again later that afternoon. "Pastor, we want to invite you to eat with us tomorrow after church. We are going to have the national and district boards and everyone share together at my house." Thank you. I already had one dinner engagement for Sunday, now I had two. So I would eat at the first one and then go for my second lunch with the board. I could have begged off but that would not have been so good. I frequently have the district leaders over for a meal and to refuse to go when invited would be saying I don't want your food but I expect you to eat mine.

When Paul said to do whatever we do, to eat, drink and act for the glory of God, did he have too many dinner invitations in mind? Eating can be both a missionary hazard and ministry. Too much food is not so good but eating with fellow believers can be as much ministry as an hour long sermon as far as relationships go. So I ate and will continue to eat, doing it, I trust, for the glory of God.

Follow Up On House Of Prayer

If you read last week's post about the House of Prayer church you know that it is a church that is being replanted. Just a quick update. Yesterday (Sunday) there were nine kids from the neighborhood. Up from two the week before. Thank you for praying. Please continue.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Casa de Oración (House of Prayer) is the smallest of our congregations in Santa Cruz. It has a long history of ups and downs which probably helps to explain why it is small after several years of being. The final blow came to the church several months ago when the pastor resigned from the church, saying that he did not sense that he was cut out (called? equipped?) to be a pastor. (He is continuing to be active in both the district and with the Lord.) The end result was that the church shut down. The irony in all of this was that shortly before that decision the district churches had gone together to help construct a new little building for the church. Previously the church had always met under a small tin roof with no walls or floor.

This is the old "building".
The new building - even has a cement floor.

 The president of the district had a heavy burden for this church before the young pastor resigned and was the one behind the move to build the building. Now that the church had ceased to operate he was a bit confused as to which direction to turn. But he did not give up. If nothing else, the other churches could take turns in supplying a teacher and something could be started for kids.

Last Sunday I was invited to attend the church. It is back in operation with a very small group meeting there.

Not everyone was from the neighborhood. Several of these folks are connected with the district leadership.
 The church building is almost complete, just lacking windows and a door, but it is back up and running. There are still many questions about its future. No one knows for certain who can/will be willing to take pastoral responsibility for the church. But these issues will be sorted out in time. The important thing is that this replanted church is trying to again be a light in its neighborhood. Please pray for House of Prayer that God will provide a pastor or leader who will take up the burden for both the church and the neighborhood for Jesus´sake.

You can read an earlier post about this church that is dated September 20, 2010. Simply go to the blog archive and click on 2010, September and select the post entitled "Crafty Ladies".

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vacation Ramblings in Texas

I have been spending this past week “on vacation” with our oldest daughter Heather in Houston. I have never been in Texas before other than in the Dallas airport so it has been fun to see Texas.

The first day I had the privilege of seeing Rice University where Heather studies. She is in the Ph. D. program in English with a concentration in Victorian and children’s literature. She has finished her third year in the program and has two (at least) more to go.

Heather being my tour guide on campus.

That same afternoon we visited the Holocaust Museum. Although not a very large museum it is a very sobering place to visit. Standing in a boxcar that carried hundreds of men, women and children to their deaths was an overwhelming feeling.

Our next stop was the museum of fine art. That too was an impressive experience. I particularly enjoy the art that simply tries to communicate a straight forward message. The pictures of  John the Baptist, for example, I can understand but the painting that was simply a black panel with a little bit of some other color at a spot or two on the edge did nothing for me (barbarian that I am).

Friday morning we left fairly early and headed out to San Antonio and a tour of the Alamo. Along the way we had to stop at Buckee’s (kind of like Wall Drug, but not as big) for a bag of Beaver Nuggets. The Alamo is an experience worth having and helps one to give pause about the price of American Independence and freedom.

Remember the Alamo!

Visiting the oldest mill in Texas, near the Alamo.
Saturday we were off to Galveston and the beach. The sun was warm, our beach umbrella was broken, we discovered too late, and my feet and legs are sunburned.

The welcoming sign at the beach. Could my greatest nightmare be about to come true - drown while being attached by snakes?

Sunday was perhaps the most fulfilling experience. After attending Heather’s church for the morning service we went with other members of the congregation to share a meal and activities with a group of refugees from Nepal. Heather and I practiced up our balloon animal skills and made animals, hats and swords for the kids. It was quite reminiscent of Bolivia. The kids seemed to have about the same rules for social interaction, namely chaotic. But it was enjoyable and whet my appetite for getting back home.

How many balloons do I get?
 Our last adventure took us on Monday to the Johnson Space Center. Heather had purchased a Level 9 tour for the two of us in honor of Father’s Day, Birthday and whatever. It was about a five hour tour. The highlights were seeing a couple of astronauts training in the neutral buoyancy pool (the pool is twenty feet about ground and twenty feet below ground with a full scale model of the International Space Station in it for practice in working on it), visiting historic mission control where the Apollo 11 and 13 flights were monitored, among many others, and eating “for free” in the NASA employee cafeteria. There is much I don’t know and understand about the space program but it was a special day spent with Heather exploring and learning together.

Historic Mission Control.

So now I sit in the Houston airport awaiting my flight back home. I have enjoyed the visit. I am so thankful to God for my children and mother-in- law (I didn’t write about my visit with her but it was fun as well) but am ready and anxious to be back at home with Niki and Mark.

So this ends the vacation entries. Next week I will be back with updates from Bolivia. Have a great week.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Congratulations Daniel

There are certain milestones in the life of young people as they make the change from being an irresponsible youth to a mature adult. Weddings are one of those milestones, first jobs are another. Our son Daniel just completed on of those, graduation from college. In a very nice ceremony Daniel received his degree in elementary education and intercultural studies from Indiana Wesleyan University. 

Daniel and his wife Naomi

Sibling rivalry to the bitter end!

Reception cake made by Dori

The speaker at the ceremony was Harold Smith, president and CEO of Christianity Today International. His very timely and pointed remarks challenged the graduates to help bring back civility into the realm of public dialogue and to never allow their sense of curiosity to dry up. My sense of pride welled up into a few tears as my son walked across the stage and received his empty folder (the diplomas will be mailed out). God has been gracious to him and I know that he will continue to lead Daniel as he goes down the path of life following God’s will for him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Of Easter Gatherings and Bunnies

Every year over Easter our church in Bolivia holds its annual junta (sort of like camp meeting) in El Alto, La Paz. It is a mixture of half carnival, half fun and half inspirational and devotional activities. The junta begins on Thursday evening with what is always a service with very small attendance. Friday morning the classes begin and there are a few more people.

My co-worker JJ was one of the class teachers

By the Friday afternoon service the crowd has increased and the special musical numbers begin. Saturday the group has increased considerably in size and by the Saturday afternoon service the tabernacle is respectfully filled.

I spoke at the Saturday afternoon service.

Sunday morning begins with a 5:30 am march to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. The march consists of bands, floats and lots of hermanos marching and singing. That is followed by a short out of doors service. Then the Sunday morning service begins. It will be about three hours long with singing preaching and other special presentations. The tabernacle will be full and it will be standing room only. Through it all the joy of Christ’s resurrection is the main theme.

One church presented scenes from the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I don’t now what bunnies have to do with the resurrection of Jesus but they have somehow come to be a part of the celebration, especially chocolate bunnies. Our kids, while growing up, always received bunnies made by a certain chocolate company in Bolivia. So, since I was going to be traveling to the States right after the junta, it was decided that I would take chocolate bunnies up for them. I carefully hauled the bunnies to the airport with me and was careful to see that nothing was broken. After clearing immigration and being checked out of Bolivia they wanted to search my carry on bag. When the inspector saw my bunnies he took one out and put his thumb through it. So much for getting all the bunnies to the States in one piece. But I still had three whole bunnies. I managed to get them in tact all the way to Chicago. I had just boarded my last flight to Indianapolis when I looked over and saw a man stuffing a heavy briefcase right on top of my bunnies. I knew they were doomed. So now I had bunny powder instead of bunnies. At least the chocolate would still be good even if you had to eat it with a spoon.

I suppose there is a moral in all this but I don’t know what it is. At any rate, I trust you had a blessed Resurrection season and you know the reality of the risen Lord in your life.