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, December 17, 2012

Wedding Bells, Acts of Congress and Anniversaries

Weddings are always a fun affair. Smiles and best wishes, fancy clothes and fancier food. A late start usually happens in Bolivia. At this particular wedding the groom was there in good time but the driver of the car bringing the bride couldn't find the church. And someone really should have informed the master of ceremonies that she wasn't there yet before they began the procession. O well. It all works out in the end.

This little flower girl was intrigued with her dress.

No one hardly noticed that the bride was missing her train. It came off in the hands of the little lids who were supposed to be helping her down the aisle.

It was a very pretty night for a wedding reception held at the brother of the groom's home. Not an overly large affair, there was still a good representation of family members from both sides of the couple.

Cake anyone? We didn't have any. We left at mid-night. The party didn't break up until around 3 am.

The one thing that really impressed me was that the couple seemed happy. Bolivians often seem to wear solemn expressions at even very joyful occasions. And the groom seems to be a more serious type yet that evening they were all smiles. My prayer is for all the best for them as together they seek and serve the Lord in the years to come.

Many congratulations to the happy couple.

Then came the congress. You have heard the expression that it will take an act of congress to . . . . Well the congress of the Bolivian Evangelical Holiness Church met in La Paz for its annual meeting to take care of business and to pass a new three year plan for the church. After some debate and give and take the new plan was indeed passed. It comes as the result of an intensive study that the church did the year before to get a realistic look at where it is, its strengths and weaknesses. The new plan tries to build on the strengths and correct the weaknesses. It is an intensive and deliberate effort to improve the church's ways of bringing believers to maturity. If successful and taken to heart it has the potential to revitalize the church. Time will tell. But we do pray that God will bless this initiative and bring real fruit as a result.
The banner of the church was brought in with pomp and circumstances at the beginning and retired at the end of the congress.

Vice president, Cesar,  speaks to the congress. He was later re-elected for another term, as were all the members of the national board up for re-election.

Fried trout was lunch one day.

Pastor Fimo Ramos of Santa Cruz was ordained at the congress.

Praying for new graduate pastors.

I was privileged to preach at the closing meeting on Sunday morning.

These pretty hand made shawls caught my attention.

Cristian was among the new officers elected this year. His father, now deceased,  was a very active minister in the denomination. It is good to see one of his sons sharing his vision.

Anniversaries come in different sizes and shapes. The first anniversary was of the Dios Es Amor (God Is Love) Church. It was a nice celebration of another year of ministry. The festive spirit was enhanced by the new windows finally installed after many years of only having holes in the wall. And a fresh coat of paint made everything look new.

Decorated for the occasion.

I preached.

Dedicating children is always one of my favorite things to do.

The second anniversary came about 10 days later when the pastor of the church, along with his wife, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Their children planned a surprise party for them which, against all odds, they managed to pull off without the parents suspecting anything. Every successful marriage deserves a celebration and 25 years is a special landmark. I pray that their example is not lost on their children and friends.

Topping off this string of events was the district junta which also happened to be scheduled for the Dios Es Amor church. Lots of music, preaching, celebration of the Lord's Supper and installation of the new officers for the coming year filled the allotted time for the event. It has been a good year in the district (not without some challenges) and I anticipate that the coming year will show continuing growth and maturity among the churches.

New officers being installed.

Bryan and Molly gave out certificates of appreciation to the volunteers that helped at the tutoring center.

One of the volunteers receivers her certificate.

Niki and my little girl friend. Masiel Saraí, the daughter of a single mother, always has a  hug and or kiss for me. Pray for a loving father for this little girl.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Baptism. An important sacrament of the church, the initiatory rite to becoming a part of the church. It all sounds good on paper. In fact this past week we covered baptism in two of my institute classes. but the book learning is not nearly as much fun or meaningful as the real deal. Yesterday I was able to accompany the group of believers from Los Pozos (The Wells) as they celebrated the baptism of two of their members. Because Bolivian Evangelicals like to have baptism by immersion, the service was held at a sports facility with a pool a little ways out of town.

The service began with prayer, some songs and a short message from Pastor Fimo Ramos.

Next those involved in the baptism went and changed to get ready to go into the pool.

Two ladies were baptized.

Following the baptism were congratulations and salteñas (like a meat pie).

Then it was simply party - swimming and gabbing.

Following a nice potluck lunch of chicken, noodles, rice, potatoes and chuño it was time to return back to the city.

I thank God for these two hermanas and their desire to make a public confession of faith in Jesus. May God bless them and keep them as they continue to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Mario Moment and More

You remember my friend Mario who comes around on occasion looking for help. I have written in the past on our relationship. The last couple of times that he was here he was, again looking for help. He had lost his job at the cookie factory and was about to lose his room as well. He needed money for rent. Would I help him? At first I was reluctant to do so just because of his past history. Somewhere along the line he needs to take responsibility for himself. But then he came another day and told me that he had his job back but still was in danger of losing his room because he would not get a pay check for another month. Again I was reluctant but this thought came to me. How many times has God given me yet another chance to make good? And so I gave him a bit of money to help fill in the gap between the amount of money he had and how much he needed. Apparently it was enough because a month has gone by now and Mario has not appeared at my door again. I trust that means he is indeed working and was able to pay November's rent. He has not yet gotten to church which concerns me. There are lots of jail house/hospital conversions that never seem to get worked out once the crisis has passed. Please continue to pray for Mario and his need to make good on his promise to God.

I am not given to long book reviews and am not planning to start now but there is a book I want to mention that I think every American Christian should read. We tend to think that everything revolves around the USA. I love my country and am glad to be an American but there is a whole big world out there beyond us. KINGDOM WITHOUT BORDERS: The Untold Story of Global Christianity, by Miriam Adeney (IVP) is a must read. It will help us Americans get over the idea that the church in all the world can be judged by the American church. IF the church in the US is in dire trouble (is it? I don't know.) the church around the world is alive and growing. Just a sort taste of the book:

The gospel is not only good news. It threatens established systems and powers. Those systems and powers fight back. This has happened throughout history right up to the present. More Christians have been killed in the twentieth century than in any previous era. In the past few years Pakistani churches have been bombed with the worshipers inside. Indonesian Christian women have been raped by the dozens. Multiple Vietnamese pastors have languished in cruel jails. Korean and Filipino workers have been martyred in Saudi Arabia. Tens of thousands of Christians have been slaughtered for their faith in Sudan. Christian women in India and Turkey have seen their husbands burned to death and their throats slit. In both nations these women have gone on TV to forgive the killers. Though they cried, these women were confident of joy ahead. This sent ripples of shock throughout the societies, impacting many.

I had the privilege of hearing the author speak at the conference in Chicago that I attended. I highly reccomend the book. It can be gotten through Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Without-Borders-Untold-Christianity/dp/083083849X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352743350&sr=8-1&keywords=kingdom+without+borders+the+untold+story+of+global+christianity

Finally I end this post on a sad note yet mixed with hope. Brenda Canny, the mother of my co-worker Bryan, peacefully went to be home with the Lord last week. Today is her funeral. I only had the opportunity to meet her once at Bryan's wedding. But my understanding is that she was a sweet christian lady who loved the Lord and her family while facing a number of personal challenges. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bryan and his family today as they say goodbye. And yet really it is only hasta luego ('till later) because we know that Brenda is safely with the Lord she loves and someday there will be a glad reunion of us all who name the name of Jesus as lord and savior.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Adventures of Eddie Eagle

I first met Eddie Eagle through a mutual friend. Could Eddie please come and visit us for a while here in Bolivia? Grace, the friend of my mutual friend, needed to send him abroad for a time. So I agreed. After making his acquaintance I knew at once that we would get along fine. Now that it is time to send him back home I will miss him as I have become quite fond of him. Following is his account of his adventures here, in the form of a letter written to Grace. I am sure you will see, after reading it, that we have indeed had quite the adventure.

Eddie Eagle

Dear Grace,

I have had a really good time here in Bolivia. Yes, I have missed you and am eager to be back home with you. I will be there before long, but I wanted to write about my adventures while they are still fresh in my mind.

When I first arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia my new friend took me to meet a group of Kinder and Pre-kinder children. They made me think of you. We passed our time together doing crafts, coloring, playing games in the yard and having a Bible story. It was great fun. My friend says he usually meets with this group twice each week.

That's me with the kids. They are showing off their necklaces that they made.

Our biggest adventure, though, was a trip to the jungle city of Riberalta. We flew there by airplane. When we arrived it was very hot. There were three others along with me in our group and we all were sweating like crazy.

On the airplane and ready to go!

The first thing we had to do was to go to our hotel, or alojamiento as they called it there. All the taxi's in Riberalta are motorcycles or motos. So we rode on the back behind the driver to our alojamiento. You would not believe all the motos everywhere. Do you like motorcycles? I can't remember. Anyway, all weekend every time we went somewhere we had to ride on the back of a moto. It wasn't too bad except fort the first night where our driver did not see a pile of dirt blocking the road and so we crashed into it and we all fell over into the road. Thankfully it was a nice soft dirt road and not on the paved highway!

One of my taxi drivers posing with me for a photo.

The first night we all went to someone's house for a little meeting. My friends were in Riberalta in order to help start a new church. The meeting that night was outside and we almost all stood up because there were no chairs. But that was ok. A young man opened his heart to Jesus that night.

The brother of the pastor and me.

The next day we had two meetings, one in the morning at a house with the pastor of the new church and the second meeting was where the new church is being built. While the church people, the hermanos, were carrying big boards from another place to make benches for the meeting, my friend played roll the hoop with a little boy. They were playing in the middle of the street which didn't seem like a good idea to me but I guess there really wasn't any other place to play.

Playing roll the hoop in the middle of the road. What would my mother say?

Any way, my friend spoke from the Bible during the meeting. After the meeting it was time to hop up on a moto again and head back to our alojamiento.

Bringing boards to make benches.

Saturday afternoon church.

The next day was Sunday and we took taxi's again out to the new church. It was early. The meeting began around seven in the morning. There were about 40 people that came to the meeting. My friend had a special class for the kids who were there. They learned a couple of new songs, had a Bible story and then colored some pictures about the story. I wish you could have been there. You would have liked it.  When church was over we went back to our room and got ready to fly home to Santa Cruz.

Everyone likes to color!

The plane that took us back home to Santa Cruz.

So that is my tale. I have enjoyed it very much but am looking forward to being back with you before too long.

Your's as always,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mid-October Musings

This has been a pretty calm week compared to the last several. It has been good to be back home and to get back to "normal" living. But normal does not mean dull or uninteresting.

Over the weekend our son Mark attended a retreat for the high school students at the Learning Center. The speakers for the retreat were the Learning Center chaplain and a four person team of young adults from AXIS. (You can find out more about them by going to their website http://www.axis.org. Their mantra seems to be: the issue is not unanswered questions but unquestioned answers.) The Lord has been doing some good things in the hearts of students at the school and this retreat was no exception.

Meanwhile, while Mark was at the retreat Niki and I took the weekend off to simply be together. It was fun to eat out together (twice!), play games, watch movies and just be us without anyone else around.

Sunday was the anniversary of the Linage de Dios church so we went to join in on the celebration. Lots of loud music (is my age showing?),

some special numbers

This young man, Wilson, studies at the Bolivian Evangelical University. Along with two fellow students he sang a really nice rendition of Amazing Grace/My Chains Fell Off.
and a good message about how God uses desert experiences in our lives.

The pastor from another church in the district did the preaching.

Pastor Pedro, who has been around a long time, shared some thoughts as well. Pedro and his wife have been faithful workers for the Lord throughout most of the denomination's history.

They heard every word, I'm sure.
Finally, we crossed the date of October 16 and are officially in transition. The transition people say that when you are aware of a change coming you begin to transition out of your current place about six months ahead. So, we are now transitioning for deputation. We leave Bolivia to return for our time in the States on April 16. We will soon be beginning to work on a basic schedule. We have a general outline of where we will be and when:

April - May 2013 - Indiana, Texas - bugging our children, spoiling the new grandchild and generally getting even with our children!

June - August 2013 - Summer camps and some local churches (¿Montana area?), Annual Conference in Portland, OR

September -December 2013 - local churches in the North Central, East Central Conferences

January - April 2014 - Oregon and Washington

May - June 2014 - Montana, Eastern and South Eastern conferences

I put these here now so if you want us to visit your church or to hold a home meeting please contact us now or any time in these next months. The above outline is not set in stone and I am sure there will be some adjustments depending on open doors for us to share the ministry in Bolivia. God always seems to help things to work out even if not always by our laid out plan.

So this is it for this week. Next week I will be traveling again to Riberalta to attend the laying (it is really more of a throwing or dropping) of the cornerstone for our first church in the department of the Beni. I hope to have a lot of pictures and things to report when I get back.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I have been gone on a trip to the US and am finally getting caught up on Ch'airo. I am basically done traveling (I have been gone four out of the last eight weeks) and so should be able to get Ch'airo back on a steady rhythm.

I had the opportunity to fly to Chicago to attend a conference by the organization Missio-Nexus on the topic of recalibrating missionary methods for the new century. It was a good conference and I felt encouraged by the opportunity to be there. There was a lot of ideas presented and i need to still try to sort it all out. I was particularly interested in a presentation by The Publish for All Initiative. (You can see a good basic presentation at www.Publish4All.com). Briefly, the idea is to make available an abundance of printed materials to any place in the world that needs them by allowing them to be printed in country at an affordable cost. Evangelical Church Missions and our church have been involved in publishing materials for many years in different ways. My hope is that we can become involved in this new initiative. I think we could be the Bolivian representatives quite easily.

After the conference I had the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis and see my kids, Daniel and Naomi (who is looking properly plump for 5 months of pregnancy) and Dori. Since it was my birthday I was treated to a good dinner on Sunday and a second celebration at a burger shop. (My side dish was french fried sweet potatoes and marshmellow cream to dip them in.)

From Indiana I flew to Houston to visit daughter Heather for a few days. We had a good time together and I enjoyed exploring a bit more of Houston than I had done before.

From Texas it was up to Minneapolis to attend the annual meeting of the board of missions of the Evangelical Church. From there it was back home. Both going up and coming back to Bolivia took me through Panama City. It is an amazing airport with all the right comforts (Dunkin Doughnuts, Cinnabon, Subway, Chester Chicken and other good things!) I also had the chance to register to win a Masarati but at $20 a ticket I declined. Besides, it would never fit into my carry on luggage.

It is good to be home again. As I reflect on my trip I am reminded that we still have a major task to finish, getting the whole gospel to the whole world. I hope to be found faithful to my part in that task.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ice Cream, Clowns and Kids

Who wouldn't want a nine scoop ice cream cone? That is exactly what my kids made on Friday at the tutoring center. It was a fun learning and counting exercise.

The cones were almost as tall as the kids!

One cone and nine scoops makes ten things.

but of course the best part was the real ice cream at the end. A well deserved treat!
On Saturday was a district wide children's rally that was held at the district headquarters or, as otherwise known, at the tutoring center. The rally was planned by the district board and included singing, clowns, presentations by each church group present (as well as the tutoring center kids), puppets and a story. There were around 200 kids present, I think. Despite the hot weather and the wind blowing sand everywhere, the rally was a success if success is measured by the enthusiasm of the kids. Below are photos from the event.

Clowns and kids always go together.

One of our favorite enthusiastic kids.

Bryan leads the tutoring center kids in their special music.

I was in charge of the rhythm band section.

I told the story

with a little help

from my friends.

Ch'airo is traveling again, this time to the US. I will be attending the Recalibrate Conference in Chicago and then get to do some fun stuff with my kids and finally ending up in Minneapolis for the annual mission board meeting. So I am not sure if there will be a post before I return or not. At any rate I want to share about the conference in a later post. Don'¡t hold your breath waiting, (two weeks is a long time not to breathe) but do be sure and check back and see what's going on.