Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm Dreaming Of A Wet Christmas...

We were having a blast on Christmas when it started raining...and in the rainy season, sometimes it really rains. This was a rain that flooded the city...several inches in less than an hour.


The water came in our back window wall. We had to grab buckets and start trying to bail it out. Everyone had a great attitude, even in the massive cleanup afterwards and the few presents that got wet.











Leia Mais…

Christmas Presents

Check out this home video...

Leia Mais…

You should always look both ways...

Jacob had his camera on when I made this little boo boo. Learn from me. :)




Leia Mais…

Holman Nativity

Mary gave birth to her son, and they laid Him in a manger.

There were shepherds watching their sheep, and an Angel of the Lord told them that Jesus had been born and they would find Him wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.



Wise men from the East searched for the young child, and when they found Him they worshipped Him.



The living nativity of the Holmans.
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!




Leia Mais…

Friday, December 5, 2008

GREAT Story




Many times, as I preach, I hear the Holy Spirit talking TO me instead of THROUGH me. I guess it is an occupational hazard/blessing of being a pastor.

It happened again. Only this time, to another preacher. The kids have started holding church service in our house. I mean, full fledge CCCCHHHUURRRCCCCHHH. They set ups the chairs, make bulletins, select songs, and have a sermon. Everyone in the family has to go, and they take turns running the service.

Yesterday, Joy was in charge.

The order of service was like this.

  1. Pass out bulletins and crayons for the kids
  2. Have two congregational songs...Rejoice in the Lord and Trading My Sorrows.
  3. Five minute break for refreshments and meet someone you don't know.
  4. Special song by Joy that she wrote about loving God.
  5. Sermon by Joy. The sermon was about how great God is and how wonderful it is that He died for us.

About an hour later, Joy walked up to me and said, "Dad, where is mom?" I said that she was nursing the baby. Joy said, "Oh, well...I guess I can tell you. I really want to be a Christian. I really love God...He is the best, and I really hate the devil."

I could tell this was God working, so I took her upstairs and got her mother. We chatted with Joy for about 10 minutes to make sure that she fully comprehended what was going on. Then asked her to pray. She prayed two prayers....I wish I could quote them, but they were something like this.

First Prayer. "God, will you forgive me for, like all my sinning. I mean, even when I hurt people, and even when I do things or don't do things, or even when I don't want to do some things that I do anyway. Jesus died for me."

Second Prayer: "Jesus, will you come into my heart...my head...even my wwwwhhhooolllleee body? Will you help me love you? And, there are lots of times when I want to do good stuff, but I have to have you helping me to do it. Will you live in me? I love you more than anyone or anything. Your the best."

Pretty good theology in both those prayers!

So, last night, on the birthday of Denise's mom, Joy was convicted by her own preaching and gave her life to Jesus Christ!

HALLELUJAH!!!!

Leia Mais…

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ten Things I Have Learned On The Mission Field

I was thinking today about being on the mission field, and what it has taught me. I was actually thinking about putting together some type of Sunday School class or message on it for when I go to the States. However, right now it is too long.

So, here in no order whatsoever, are 10 of the 21 things I thought of today.

1. I have to pursue a love relationship with Jesus...He has to be my first priority.

2. Wash everything. My son Ben asked me what I would say is the most important thing, non spiritual, that I have learned...that is what got this whole blog started. In about five seconds, I said, WASH. Wash your hands, again. Wash your food. Wash your body. Wash your face. We even wash our water (by filtering it). Wash. Wash. I love what Patience says every time before we eat.... "I need the hanitizer". She means the sanitizer.

3. Your marriage must come first. A healthy and happy marriage is the best source of energy and encouragement.

4. Stress is a prayer trigger....take it to God and leave it there.

5. Your kids rock. Take full advantage of the time you have with them to point them to Jesus.

6. God works through the church. There is very little in this world more important than being an active part of a local church.

7. Leadership makes a huge difference...in a nation, a church, a mission organization, or a family.

8. The invisible servants are the most important. This comes from thinking about the incredible difference that infrastructure and administration make...compare the US with most countries, and the infrastructure...the thing that most of you never think about...is one of the greatest assets that you have. Sewage, water, storm drainage, roads, bridges, electrical, utilities, traffic control....all servants that we never think about. Apply this to your church, the kingdom of God, and even the government. It is the invisible, behind the scenes things that make it all possible.

9. Convenience is not a necessity, but it sure is cool when you got it (which we don't).

10. Friends Friends Friends. We can't really live without them.



I will add some more to this later...but any missionary friends feel free to comment.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My First Spanish Fiasco...I Mean Sermon

I will laugh at this in the years to come, but here is my first try...





As I told my teacher when she asked how it went...

"Creo que hice lo mejor que pudeo, pero yo se un dia voy a hacer mejor."

Joe

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Changing Thinking


I just realized something the other day. I went to the bank to pay my phone bill. I pulled the Bolivianos out of my pocket, paid the bill, and came home. Then it hit me. I no longer do conversions in my head.

Here is what I mean. For the longest time, I have been a walking calculator. Every time I pay a bill or buy something, I convert the amount into dollars so that I know how much it really costs. Bolivianos were like monopoly money. I had to convert the figures to real money for comprehension. When we first came, 100 B's was equal to about 13 dollars. Now it is equal to about 14. So...I would do the math. 200 B's for gas...I just spent 26 dollars. Denise ran into this in the States in the reverse. She would see a dollar value and convert it to B's. :)

Now...200 B's for gas means that I spent 200 B's. I have changed my thinking. I am no longer an American spending Bolivian money. I am a person living in Bolivia spending money. I think (I can't wait until this happens in the language) in terms of B's not $'s. We were told in cross cultural training that this is part of the process. You begin to think like the new culture without forcing it to happen. Money and language are the first areas that this happens....so I feel good about it!

As I thought of this, a Spiritual application came to mind (surprising isn't it). As Christians, this is really what ought to happen to us as we go through life. We are cross cultural after giving our hearts to Jesus. Our home is in another land and our spirits are of another culture. However, we still live here. Our thinking should go from thinking like the world to thinking like Christ (we have the mind of Christ). As we encounter things, we think something from either the wrong perspective or even sinfully...then we stop, convert it into Biblical thinking including getting forgiveness, and think it again. Our thoughts are being taken captive by Christ.

I believe that there is a process.

First of all, we don't even know that we need to convert our thinking.

Secondly, we realize that our thinking does need to be changed, and it is a hard and constant process. (Stop here and ask yourself is you have ever spent long periods of time, day after day, bringing your thoughts into the light to see if they need to be convereted. If not...you are probably still on step one.)

The third step is when our thoughts automatically line up with Scripture. Honestly, I don't think that many Christians are at this level. Personally, I am still on step two...constantly taking ideas, thoughts, and emotions to the cross for correction, forgiveness and restoration. However, I do think that I am becoming more fluent at thinking God's thoughts than ever before.

So...how are you doing cross culturally....are you adapting to your heavenly culture or thinking like the old one?

Leia Mais…

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One Advantage Of Living On The Mission Field

Our church has an orphanage, called House Of Dreams. Recently they took a field trip, so my teens went along to help. How many teenagers get to serve orphans and have fun doing it?

Notice the verse from James. Have you ever seen that true religion is to VISIT orphans? Just VISITING them makes God happy!

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Glimpses Of God's Goodness





Looking at these photos makes you doubt my title. If you have been keeping up with the news lately, then you konw that here in Bolivia we are experiencing 'unrest'. Some of the events have made international headlines (like the Ambassador being kicked out), while most of what is going on is local. Yet in the midst of this turmoil, we have been surrounded by the goodness of God. Let me share what I mean, in asending order with the last being the greatest.

1. The Leadership Of Our Mission. One of the reasons that SIM appealed to us was the strength, commitment, maturity and wisdom of the leadership. Throughout this 'crisis', our leadership has proven to be focused on Jesus and the Mission. They have been a calming influence due to the trust we have in them. God works in and through leadership, and seeing Him working through SIM has been GOOD.

2. The Commitment Of Missionaries. I have truly seen the GOODNESS of God in watching the hearts of loyalty and commitment of my fellow missionaries, both SIM and other mission agencies. It is a joy to see people fully surrendered to the call of God and walking by faith in Him...even when sight seems dim. (This is not a self-brag...I am a wimp...I am talking about watching the courageous hearts of those I know here.).

3. Relationships. Having friends and family with us. Darlene (Denise's mom) and oru friend Shelly have been here for a couple of weeks. Just their being here reminds us of what really matters--people. They, along with our other friends here, have let us see the GOODNESS of God in His love manifested through others. We have celebrated Patience's birthday, and my birthday during the last week. Both events overshadowed any negative things that have happened. Love always defeats hate!


4. The Most Important Way That We Have Seen God's Goodness...



The gift of life. The gift of personhood. The gift of family. The gift of love. God's goodness in the birth of Mercy so overwhelmed anything else in the world...Life...what a gift of God. Children truly are the blessing of God.

Living In His Goodness...All The Time,
Joe

Leia Mais…

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Quck Show Of Mercy

Mercy finally arrived! Denise will write the story when she is better, but she was able to deliver naturally...and deliver big time. Mercy weighed in at 10 lbs 3 oz!

Here is a slideshow of the event.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We Are Safe In The Arms Of Jesus!


This video from CNN shows a little of what is going on here in Bolivia. Things are pretty tense.

But...we are just as safe and secure in the arms of Jesus as when we are on a beach vacation. God is in control, even when circumstances don't seem to point to it. Isn't it funny how we think we see God when life is good, but think He is confused when life isn't? (just a thought).

We are safe. We are staying in our home, behind our walls (by the way, watch the video at the end of this blog and pray a huge concrete wall of protection with razor wire on top of it). There is no immenient danger poised to us. We do appreciate your prayers, especially since IF EVACUATION WAS ORDERED, we could not go because we are still waiting for little Mercy to show up (five days late and holding).

So, don't worry about us, but pray for us. Pray for Darlene and Shelly as they visit and experience missions first hand (I told them, "Welcome to the mission field"). Pray for us to wait in faith and trust Jesus. Pray for Bolivia. Pray that people would come to know Christ through this. Pray for open doors because of the circumstances that Bolivians are facing...and our wisdom to see those doors and run right through them.

Pray for the leadership of the country, and our mission.

Just pray. :)

For those of you who are praying a 'hedge of protection', please upgrade....see below.

Leia Mais…

Friday, September 12, 2008

Copy Of An Email Just Sent

If you did not receive this, that means that we do not have your email address. If you would like for us to put you on our email and/or friends database for our ministry, please let us know.

Here is a copy of an email prayer request just sent out.

Hello!

If you have been watching the news then you know that things are pretty serious here in Bolivia. We just wanted to drop you a note and ask you to pray for the country, and for our safety, and to let you know that we are okay. Denise’s mom and our friend Shelly are here as well. They made it the night that American Airlines canceled all flights to Bolivia.

Our mission leadership is informed and has put in place policies and procedures that offer us the most protection possible in events like this. They know what they are doing and we are grateful for that.

I do not want to put information in this email that could be misconstrued, so please do a news search (google, yahoo, etc.) to interpret events for yourself. The main thing we ask for is prayer.

Please pray for us as we hunker down and hope the fighting stops soon.

Pray for the country of Bolivia.

Pray for God to use this to point people to His love in Christ.

En Jesucristo,

Joe

Que la gracia del Señor Jesucristo, el amor de Dios y la comunión del Espíritu Santo sean con todos ustedes. (2 Cor13;14)

Leia Mais…

Monday, September 1, 2008

Almost Bolivian....


I am becoming more and more adapted to the culture here. One of the things that took getting used to was the traffic. It is not bad as compared to major cities in the States, but it is not efficient and the lights are NEVER sequenced. One thing that is cool here is that motorcycles are pretty much exempt from any laws pertaining to lanes, turns, or speed. You can drive on the right of traffic, on the left of traffic, or in between the cars.

Now I am not super gutsy, but I have to be honest and say that I can get places faster on a bike than in a car. So, I have now do all the little errands on my moto. If it involves only one passenger, or none, then I take the bike.

If you look at the photo, you will see that Josh and David are on the moto with me as we run this errand. I titled this almost Bolivian, because if I were truly adapted to the culture, I would have three more people!

Leia Mais…

Playgrounds of Yesterday--Today

This is great. Look at the photos of my kids playing below, and then watch the video. It was making us laugh out loud.









Leia Mais…

Friday, August 29, 2008

Faith's Face

Remember that Faith wanted me to show you a photo of her stitches, well here is one now that she healed. She wanted you to see it too. I wanted to just show off my cute daughter.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Worker Shows Up

In my previous blog, I talked about waiting on a repairman. I thought I would expand for a moment on what it is like here compared to what I am used to…another cultural experience calling for abiding in Christ.

I used to call a plumber, and in a few hours a truck would pull up and the plumber would come in. He would carry his toolbox or wear his toolbelt. He would look at the problem, tell me how much it was going to cost, and then repair it with the parts on his truck.

Here, I call a plumber and he rides up on his bike or takes a taxi. He looks at the problem, and then asks me if I have a pair of channel locks. He borrows my wrench, my pliers, and my screwdriver. After an hour or so…he tells me what the problem is, hands me back my tools and says he has to go buy the parts…but will not be able to come back until after 3:00 because all of the stores are closed for siesta, but he will be here at 3. Around 6:00, he gets out of the taxi, borrows my tools, and installs the parts…about 8 hours after I called him.

But the upside is this…it only cost me $3 plus

Leia Mais…

I Got Slapped In The Face!

I really did. Only, the dumb part of it is that I slapped myself. Here in Bolivia, bugs are a normal part of life. At any given time, our kids will have about 20 scabs on their bodies from insect bites. Mosquitos, fleas, and native blood sucking body biting insects are so numerous that I want to claim them as dependents and write them off of my income tax.

Well, I was driving down the road, and a huge fly…the Goliath of Flies…was taunting me and challenging me to a battle. It kept buzzing my face and then landing in striking distance, only to prove that it was much faster than I as it took off milliseconds before I hit it. I could hear it making fun of me in buzzanol (the official language of bugs). It buzzed around my face, and then landed on my nose at a redlight. Without thinking I slapped that bug. I mean SLAPPED that bug. I hit it full force with the palm of my hand, or tried to hit it. It flew away and I literally punched my self in the nose! My eyes were watering and my entire forehead and nose were red. My nose wasn’t bleeding, but it was sure hurting.

I stared laughing with the bug (I could understand it’s buzzanol and knew it was laughing). How silly. Yet here is what happened. The irritant was greater than my thinking processes. I allowed something as trivial as a bug flying in my truck to refocus my priorities and make me do something that I ended up regretting. As I looked objectively at the situation…I only had to wait seven days at the max and the little bugger would be dead (lifespan of a fly). However, I let this little buzzing noise totally grab my attention and cause me to do something that wasn’t wise and that I regretted…and it did not solve the problem.

How often do we do that in life? God allows irritants in our lives to show us areas where we need to submit to Christ. He uses these so that by our reactions, by our thoughts, by our desires towards them we can see the fruit of our own hearts. The irritant (many times it has the name of one of our children—just being honest here) is a teaching tool that God can use to make me more like Christ. Then in wisdom and with the heart of God, I can respond to the irritant in a way that solves the problem and brings honor to Jesus Christ.

But what do we do? We look at the irritant and it irritates us (go figure). One of the things that I have discovered is that sinners respond sinfully to sin. We also many times respond sinfully—or at best unwisely, to problems that frustrate our desires. So we slap at them. We strike them. We focus on them. We want nothing more than to be rid of them. And we end up….slapping ourselves. We slap ourselves by the way we speak to our loved ones. We slap ourselves by the way we treat those around us. We slap ourselves by the thoughts we think. And we punch ourselves by the way that we ignore the working of God in our lives.

My kids have a game that they play with the little ones. They take their hand and make them slap themselves (very gently) and say, “Stop slapping yourself, stop slapping yourself”.

My lesson from the fly? “Stop slapping yourself”.

With A Hurting Nose,
Joe

Leia Mais…

Adjusting My Clock---AGAIN!

I am writing this article at 8:27 p.m. I just got off the phone and the man I am waiting for told me (I called him), that he will ‘hopefully’ be here within the next 30 minutes. The problem? We had a 7:00 appointment. He is a worker doing some repair. I would just tell him to forget about it, but then I would have to do the same thing with someone else tomorrow…if I could find someone else. I just have to adjust my clock…again.

One of the biggest adjustments of living here is the ambiguous nature of time. In the States I kept a daytimer in 15 minute increments. On Monday, I would schedule the entire week…nine hours a day, four segments per hour. Then, although I would always have to flex probably 20%...I stuck as close to the daytimer as I could. And I would NEVER wait two hours for a worker.  Yet here…people just don’t care about time. You can call it anything you want…but the fact is that time is very relative. Take for example a wedding a couple of weeks ago. The invitation said “4:00 Saturday Afternoon”. You want to know something painfully funny? This is the truth. At 4:00 on Saturday afternoon….the exact time of the invitation….the people who were decorating the church came. The rest of the people did not get there till after 5, the wedding party till after 5:30, and the bride came in sometime right before 6:20….and NOBODY CARED. The extended wait just gave people a chance to talk and laugh. Caleb helped out with a HUGE Christian concert the other night held in the soccer stadium. The concert tickets and advertising said that the concert started at 7:30. About 9:00, Caleb called and said he was going to be very late getting home because they had not even finished sound check yet. The stadium was full of people just….waiting. Can you even imagine this in the States?

I have to adjust my clock. I keep telling myself that I am traveling through life, and I have to adjust my watch to the different time zones I am in….like driving across America. Only…the time zones are not established…they are flexbile. Sometimes 7:00 means 7:00….or 8:00…or 9:30…or tomorrow. I just have to adjust my heart. The person that I am meeting with is more important than when I meet with them…so…please pray for us to keep our attitudes connected to Jesus!

Gotta go…it is 9:08 and he is here!

Leia Mais…

Fill My Cup

We do something here in Bolivia that we almost never did in the States. We drink soft drinks at dinner. Not every night, but at least twice a week we treat the family to good old, teeth rotting, stomach eating, weight gaining Cokes. We figured that the guys gave up so much that a little treat like this (bottled in Bolivia and cheaper than in the States) is doable.

Guess what they do? They sip on their drinks as they eat until someone asks for a refill. When they see us pouring a little more Coke in a siblings cup…they don’t hand us theirs for a little more…nope…they gulp down all they can as fast as they can so they can give us an empty cup. They have discovered that you can’t refill a full cup. The emptier it is, the more coke you get.

At church this past week I thought of this (I don’t know why). But many times people will go to church week after week and, to say it like I have heard it, not “Get much out of the service”. Yet right beside them, there is someone who is ecstatic about what occurred that morning. Then I thought…”Maybe the latter one had an empty cup”. You see, church is where we are to get refilled…but if we went all week without pouring our lives into someone…there simply isn’t any room for more. Maybe we leave, not getting much out of the service, because we came with a full life to begin with. A full cup doesn’t get fuller. So…a little spiritual lesson from greedy coke guzzlers. If you aren’t getting a lot out of Sunday…maybe you can try giving more Monday through Saturday.

Just another thought from Bolivia.

Joe

Leia Mais…

Surprising A Burglar

Jacob ran by the house to grab something the other night and almost grabbed something he didn’t want….a thief. When he walked in the downstairs door, he heard a slam of a door upstairs. He went up to check on it (mistake number one), and as he went there was another slam…the balcony door. (we have a small balcony off of the bedroom…about 3’ * 5’). He went to the door, and there was the thief climbing over the wall outside to get away. The balcony is right beside a lower part of the roof which connects to the wall….a second story sidewalk in a manner of speaking. The thief dropped down and ran away. Jake started to chase him (mistake number two) but couldn't get outside in time and the guy got away.

Jacob was a little rattled. But, as I told him, he was just as safe in the arms of God when the burglar was in the streets as when he was in the house. It just didn’t feel that safe. However, the reality is our God is in control…even when we don’t feel like it.

You know something else? That thief was just like satan (spelled with a small letter out of disrespect). He tries to steal, kill and destroy…but when our lives are open to the truth of God (here represented by Jacob)….the old coward has to run away. Hallelujah!

But…as a side note….tonight why not pray for our safety to be so obvious to us that we even feel safe? 

Leia Mais…

Monday, August 4, 2008

Great Opportunity


Pastors Praying At The Conference

Following the pastor's conference this weekend, I was approached by the leadership. They asked if I would be interested in starting a one or two year training program for Bolivian Pastors! They are just checking into the idea, but if it happens they want me to help design the curriculum and teach the course. I would teach in Cochabamba once a month, then fly to Santa Cruz and teach it there once a month also.

Please pray for God to reveal His hand in this...it sure looks good to me!

Leia Mais…

Pastors Conference


This is really cool. The Cochabamba International Church has put together a pastor training course for pastors throughout the area. The course is two years long. Five times a year, for a three day weekend, the pastors gather together to be taught theology and how to be a better pastor. The final seminar of the two year program was this weekend.

Here is the cool thing. The pastors that lead the conference asked me if I would teach the last weekend. Only me. I had these 60 pastors for 17 hours of teaching! I was also given a blank check on what to teach them. Anything about leadership, pastoring, or church life is what I was told to do.

I focused on the character of the pastor, and also taught on the importance of spiritual fruit, love, and humility in the life of the pastor. I also taught on strategic planning and leadership. After I am finished the pastors will receive their certificate of training.

I know that for many of my readers—who have High School, College, Masters, and Ph.d’s…this ‘certificate’ doesn’t sound like much. But trust me, it is a REALLY BIG DEAL. These guys have put in a lot of work, time and money to make this happen. And it is such an honor to be able to finish the course with them.

Please pray that God will use me in their lives, and that the things they learned will radically improve their relationship with Jesus, their walking and living in the Holy Spirit, and their ability to lead their churches!

Leia Mais…

That Is Why We Are Here!

I was trying to explain to another missionary how good our parenting conference went, and in a pause of my sentence they said, “In other words, that is why you are here”. I could not have put it better!

We have had a busy six weeks, but I think that God is radically blessing what is going on. For those of you that prayed for our parenting conference…THANK YOU. It was tremendous. Denise and I taught a one day, 7 hour conference to fifty parents. I could not have been happier with the event. We have been invited to start a parenting small group with the attendees, but due to the baby coming next month—we may have to postpone it. I did go to a Wednesday night follow up small group, and God received so much praise in the one week after the conference…it was just way too cool! We had a missionary that went to one of our parenting conferences ask us if maybe God was leading us to include a parenting ministry along with our ministry to pastors and church leaders. I think the answer is yes! So…please continue to pray.

I also spoke at a Church conference. I was going to speak three times, but then the leader of the conference asked if I could speak another time. The week of the conference, the speaker that was flying in from the States missed their flight and could not make it. I ended up speaking seven times! I think it was the best conference that I have done, so once more, thank you for praying!

Following the conference, the next week, I held my regular mentoring meeting with a group of 8 people that I am taking through John Maxwell’s million leader meeting.

This is why we are here! Mentoring and training pastors, leaders, and now parents.

Leia Mais…

Another Trip To The Hospital (actually two)




We are getting to be regulars at the hospital. I had to go again last month due to a severe amoeba attack resulting in dehydration. I was in the hospital on Monday, then had to preach for three nights in a row Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at a camp. Needless to say, I wasn’t at my peak in ability. 

Then, Faith had a massive wreck on her bike. Our new house is up the mountain, and Faith decided to ride down it…went too fast and wiped out. She has hamburger meat for arms, legs and her belly, plus six stitches in her chin. When I took her to the hospital, the Doctor in the emergency room knew my name….isn’t that a sign of going there too often? Here is a photo of Faith’s new pride and joy…her chin. She wanted me to put it on here.

Leia Mais…

Home Sweet Home

Well, we are now in our new house. We moved three kilometers across the city and up the mountain. I guess our landlord thought that North American renters had a lot of money, because when our lease expired he decided to increase our rent by about 40%, and after negotiating still went up almost 25%. It was way too much to pay for the concrete bomb shelter we were calling home.

So, we have moved to a beautiful new house (although right now none of the lights on the second floor work --just part of the whole living in the mission field thing). It is amazing how much better we feel when surrounded by warm colors and pretty plants. I am including a slide show below so you can see some of the shots.

The house is a three bedroom…so we have a boy’s room, girl’s room, and parent’s room..still cozy, but it has a great feel to it. We are at the right hand of the Christo—the statue of Christ that is bigger than the one in Rio, and on the upper incline of the mountain. We are probably at about 9,000 feet.

The house is only missing one thing…YOU! Visitors are welcome!

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Look At Our House-Courtesy Of Google Maps


View Larger Map

In the previous post I mentioned the valley of Cochabamba. Click on larger map, satellite imagery, and then zoom in and out. You can see not only the terrain of the Andes Mountains, but also the size of the city all the way down to our little three bedroom concrete bunker....I mean house.

Pretty cool huh?

Leia Mais…

Go Take A Hike!



Ben took me serious when he disturbed me for the 1,000th time the other day. I turned to him and said, "Dude, go take a hike!"

Well, he did. As you can see by the photo, he started walking North...straight out of the city and straight up the mountain....and up...and up...and up. Cochabamba sits in a valley, with a mountain range on every side. The mountains are 14,000 to 16,500 feet high. Our house is at about 9,000ft. Ben and some other people decided that they did not like breathing, so they went to climb the highest peak, called Mount Tunari.

It was an all day affair. Ben said that the climb wasn't that difficult...it was just walking uphill, except for, in his words, "The part that could kill you if you slipped." That makes a parent feel good!

Anyway, Ben said that all you had to do was keep walking, one foot after the other. But after about 14,000 ft they had to keep stopping. No one was tired, but no one could breathe. They were all gasping and gasping. Ben said that he will never take breathing for granted again.

Another thing happened. They had hired a guide to take them to the peak. Well, Mount Tunari has two peaks...the one Ben is on and the other one behind him. They were supposed to go to the other one, but the guide got lost. They found out as they approached the wrong peak that this was the first time he had been a guide (although he did not lie...this fact was not disclosed before the climb). There was a turning point, a pivotal decision had to be made and he went the wrong way. Due to weather and time, they were not able to backtrack and go to the right peak. I told Ben that he, Jacob, Caleb and I will do it in the summer (it is winter now). Only this time we will make sure we have a good guide.

I see a couple of lessons to learn from this little excursion. First of all, how often do we take for granted the little things in life...things we never think about until they are gone? Ben couldn't breathe....but this was the first time he had even thought about breathing since moving to Bolivia. God blesses us constantly, in thousands of ways....and many times we just suck the air in and go about our business. One in particular that I have been thinking about lately is the importance of friends and family. What a blessing! Relationships, sharing struggles, victories, laughter and tears! It is incredible to have the ability to walk through life with your family, spouse, children, siblings and the family of God.

But do you take it so much for granted that you don't think about it or do it? I know that I did not miss it until moving to the mission field where suddenly the language barrier stopped the development of relationships. Praise God for my family!

Another thing that we actually used in a family devotion. It makes a big difference who you decide to follow! The guide passed himself off as knowledgeable. He seemed like the right choice. He even charged them for the privilege of following him. Yet, he did not know what he was doing. How often do we follow the crowd, a political leader, image, ideology or religion without really checking into the credentials of the leader? Are we following a person or a group of people because they are right? Or is it because we think that they will lead us to our emotional end that we desire? Or is it just because? God has given us the Holy Spirit, and the Book Of Truth-The Bible, to guide us in our ethical, moral and...well in all of our decisions. Do we use it?

Just thinking in Bolivia!

Joe

Leia Mais…

Friday, June 6, 2008

Going To School Living In Bolivia

Jacob begin college. He is now attending Moody Bible, with an intent to major in Musis and minor in Missions, or vice/versa...he isn't sure which he wants to be the King Of The Hill. I told him that maybe he is going to be a Musicionary...someone that uses music to reach and teach other people groups (this may be a made up name :)).

But the cool thing is that his classroom is almost 4500 miles away from his school. To our joy, Jacob has decided to stay on the mission field for another year. He will participate in our family, help out with the homeschooling of the other kids (he did a huge part of the teaching of the little guys this year, and is, along with Denise, teaching Hope how to read now), and be engaged in ministry. He currently plays on two worship teams and helps do the setup/takedown of our church worship service. Moody Bible offers fully acredited classes on line. Jake is taking Philosophy and Computer Science on line this first semester...hopeing to ease into the heavier academic demands of college.

We praise God and are thankful to Jake for his decision to stay with us! Pray for him as he seeks to discern God's plans and purposes and adjust his life to them.

When we homeschooled Jake, we actually coined a nickname for him. He always did his school in his Pajamas. As a matter of fact, if he isn't going anywhere and no one is coming over...he will sometimes stay in his pajamas all day long. From the time he was little, we called him Pajama Boy Jake---or---you can see it already PBJ.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here is a picture of Jacob on his first day of college..actually in his first minute of college. He logged onto the class and I snapped his photo. You will notice that he is in his pjs! He is also in a sweatshirt because it is winter here and the houses have no heating except what you can put on your head. :)

Jacob...we love you!

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mami Está Aqui!!!!

Mom finally came home! Her two week was extended due to circumstances and flight availability. She had a great time in the States, but boy did we miss her here! Thank you to everyone that hosted her, gave us gifts for the baby, the baby shower, dinners, lunches, money, etc. You guys made her time in the United States wonderful. Our house has turned from a structure into a home. There is just something about having mom here. She gives an emotional support and stability to everything, much like Isaiah says, “"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem." (Isa 66:13)

Here are a few photos of her return. We were waiting at the airport. We got there about 45 minutes early, and then her plane was almost an hour and a half late.  So many people had seen the family by then that they actually stayed to watch the reunion. I kid you not, when the children hugged Denise and gave her flowers, the entire airport begin to applaud, laugh and cheer! It was funny. We did not know how to respond, so we just smiled and waved.

Leia Mais…

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saving My Battery

There is a funny thing that people in Bolivia do. It happens at night. You will be driving down the road, and there will be buses, taxis, trufis (like taxi/bus combos), motorcycles, mopeds, and cars driving with their lights off. Sometimes they will turn them on when they approach an intersection, only to shut them off immediately afterwards. The other night I almost hit a guy driving a black motorcycle wearing a dark coat and bluejeans at 10:00 without any lights.

I asked a friend who has lived here for a long time why people do this, and he said it is to "save their car battery". I pointed out that after the engine is running, the lights are operated by the alternator, not the battery. "Doesn't matter", he said, "they do it to save their battery."

Jacob asked me when I told him why the cars didn't have their lights on...."What are they saving the battery for? Isn't it supposed to run the lights? So, if I understand it they are going to wreck a $3,000 car by driving it at night because they don't want to use a $30 battery?"

I was thinking about this. You know, the purpose of the lights on a car is to help you see, and be seen, at night. This desire to save the energy is actually keeping the car from accomplishing it's purpose...safe driving at night. Wanting to save a little life on a cheap battery is endangering the lives of the driver and others. Doesn't it seem a little like shooting yourself in the foot?

Then I thought of us. How often do we miss our purpose in life because of a misconception or a mindset that is erroneous. Take fellowship...true, Christian fellowship where you pour your life into other people and they pour their lives into you. The kind of relationship that eclipses friendship because it is based on the Blood of Jesus and eternity, not just an affinity. Christian fellowship and community...it is one of the purposes that we were created for.

But, we want to save our battery. And even though real fellowship will charge us, we think that it will drain us. We have to work late, go to soccer practice, dance recitals, and children's events. We have to do errands, clean the house, and watch TV. We really don't have the time to invest in fellowship...that takes a lot of effort and we need to save our energy for. . . . . driving without a light.

Guys...living on the mission field has opened my eyes to the real need for fellowship. And this is just one of the many things that I think I sometimes get confused on. I drive in the dark and miss my purpose because I am conserving energy that I will never use.

The next time you turn on your lights and see the road in front of you, ask yourself...when was the last time you turned on your life to see the road and the people ahead of you?

Till Next Time,

Joe

Leia Mais…

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Of My Favorite Songs



This is one of my favorite songs. I LOVE the second verse. Enjoy it.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Missing My Beautiful Wife


Nuff Said!

Leia Mais…

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!

This is to Denise, but I guess other people can watch it. Babe,I hope that you like this. You will appreciate the fact that it took five hours to make. Here is the process: We want to make video, but our camera is broken. We borrow a camera from the Lowes (thank you) Everyone put on good clothes. We filmed the sment and changed clothes. Our computer is to old to use their cables. We borrowed another camera from the Washingtons (Thanks). The camera did not have a tape. We cannot find our camera bag with our tapes. 45 minutes later, we have a tape. It is to dark to film...and we don't have a lamp. Our flashlights have dead batteries. We finally decide to film in the pantry. Everyone changed again, and surprise! The girls put on different dresses! We filmed again. Jacob and Caleb's segment hadto be redone...the computer lost half of it. Finally...we made it! Now, just a note...half of the above would not have happened if you were here! We love you! Happy Mother's Day!

Leia Mais…

Monday, May 5, 2008

Donde Esta Mama?

We are doing something in my house that hasn't been attempted in 13 years! Seriously, the last successful experiment was over 13 years ago. It was such a near catastrophe, that the authorites have refused to grant us a license to try it again until now.

Mama has left the building.

The family has been without Mama before for ladies retreats (one/two nights max). They have also done without Mom--but only with Gramdma as a proxy.

Now...for the next few weeks..."Estamos viviendo sin Mama" (We are living without Mom). Denise has gone to the States to visit her parents, Seth, and some of our friends. She is also visiting our Home Church.

I cannot promise that the children will be in clean clothes...or any clothing at all, when she returns. I cannot promise health or safety. This is a very dangerous experiment.

However, I can promise this. We are so pumped that she is sacrificing (it is a big deal to her) and leaving us so that she can see our oldest son and her parents. We hope and pray (will you also) that her time in the States is refreshing and enjoyable.

Until then....does anyone know where my youngest daughter is?

Leia Mais…

Evac Pac

Living in Bolivia has had its share of excitement, the latest of which is going on right now. Yesterday, the Department of Santa Cruz voted to be autonomous. Three other Departments (the equivilent of States in the U.S.) have votes lined up in June. The pro-facto result of this vote is like becoming independent from the rest of Bolivia...not exactly but in a way. It is a lot like the U.S. in the mid 1800's, when some of the States wanted to have States rights pre-empt Federal rights. (I am being pretty vague here on purpose--please research on line to see what is going on). The end result of what is happening here could be like what happened in the States back in the time of Lincoln.

As a result of the potential unrest and conflict, we have been instructed to keep what is called an 'Evac-Pac" on hand. This is because in the case of an emergency evacuation, you don't have time to pack. You have to leave everything behind except what can fit in a backpack. You grab it and boogie. In our pack, we have to have some money--not for luxury but to meet the temporary necessities of travel, we have to have our identification (passports and Bolivian I.D.), and then we can put other items that we feel pertinent. For example, I keep a screwdriver handy, and I will take the harddrive out of my laptop because it has all of our medical records, photos, and other personal information. Other than that...it is pretty slim. We have some peanuts, water bottles, vitamins, and a few first aid items just in case we cannot drive and we have to walk to the evacuation point.

As I was putting together our evac pac, I thought of another evacuation that is definitely, not maybe, but for certain going to happen. One day, we are going to do an emergency evacuation of planet Earth. Whatever your end-time theology...there will be a day when God says, "Get outta there now!"

Are you ready for that evacuation? Will you be called to leave the Earth, or will you miss the call? If you were packing an evac pac for that day, what would you put in it? Definitely you would have to have your identity--which is the fact that you are in Christ and you are a citizen of Heaven. Also, you may want to have some money...but in this case you can't put it in your pack, you have to send it on ahead of you. What else? Good to think about.

I have another thought about the evac pac. It is amazing to me how, I can take all of the thousands of dollars of possessions that we have...in the States it would be much more...and I can put the essentials for life in a backpack. The essentials? The things that would keep my family intact, safe, and secure. Also the memories of our relationships. As I was thinking this, I thought...if the only thing that really matters in the case of an emergency is the people that I love...do I treat them like they are all that matter in times of non-emergency?

Just a thought.

Exercise For My Faithful Readers: What would you put in your spiritual, and physical, evac pacs...and what does that teach you?

See You Next Time...and please, Pray for Bolivia.

Leia Mais…

Monday, April 28, 2008

Miquel's Story

I have had several people ask me about this video, which I had posted on our old website, so I thought I would put it up again. This isn't made by us, but it is relevant to us. The setting is in our neighborhood. The streets that you see are next to ours. The beggars that you see, we give money to. The wheelbarrow boy that this movie is about is just like the young boys and girls that we minister each week. This is where we live, where we shop, and who we see every Saturday. It also gives you great insight into the lives of the people in Cochabamba. This boy's story is the same as about 40% of the kids that live here...only many of them have just been totally abandoned by their parents. The parents go to Spain, Italy, or the United States to find employment...and after a while stop sending money back. The children end up living on the street. It is a horrible situation that we hope to help as we train pastors to reach and minister their communities.

Leia Mais…

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dad--The Family Leader--In All Cultures

I spoke last Sunday in a church in La Paz. My subject was the title of this blog. In a machismo society, where the leadership of the husband is exercised through power and domination..where women are beaten and treated poorly...my subject was not at first well received.

Until God brought to mind an illustratino that I had never thought of. I said that we have a view of leadership from a position of peace and the world of commerce. In this view, we think the leader tells others what to do, and demands to be served. Our gut response, and that of many wives, when their husband tells them what to do is this: "You don't tell me what to do!".

But what about times of war? Imagine if you would, that you are in a patrol, and you are in enemy territory. You know that there are enemy soldiers hidden in the jungles ahead. You konw that there are snipers somewhere. You know that the trail has covered anti-personel mines on it. All that lays ahead of you is danger.

One of your fellow soldiers looks at you and says, "I will walk point. I will go in front of the rest of you, watch out for danger, check for mines, and be willing to sacrifice myself for you.'

Would you respond, "No one tells me what to do!"?

As God spoke through this illustration, I saw heart attitudes change through body language. This is the role of Dad, the family leader. He is to go in front of the family, in this time of spiritual war, and watch out for the family. He is to sacrifice himself serving his wife and children. The purpose of leadership is not to tell others what to do, but to help them do what God has told them.

I was amazed once more at the timeless, cross cultural, and life changing truth of God.

Dad...are you the point man in your family?

Leia Mais…