June 2, 2006Dirty mustache
I think it is a good idea to grow a beard at some point in your life. It is also important to have fun when you shave it off. It is particularly fun when you shave in stages and spend at least one day at each stage. As if I didn't get enough stares as it was roaming the streets of La Paz! I hope the pics make you laugh out loud.
I've been in Venezuela recently, and in a couple hours I'm heading to Peru. It is great fun, although with all the work to do here in Bolivia, I would also enjoy staying here for a while. While I was in Venezuela I again had my vision expanded. Prayer was a big thing. I'm still trying to figure out what that means, but it was big.Another big thing I took away is the vision for Youth for Christ International to hand over leadership of this movement to youth. Our president told some stories that really inspired me... stories of young people who with their passion, energy and healthy naivety have changed the world. I like that vision. When I hear these stories, I get all inspired and the frustrations of being a missionary fade away. Well I am sleepy. Good night!
May 11, 2006Salt and crap
We’re moving through the Sermon on the Mount with the shoe shiners. Last night was the salt and light part… we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.Rob Bell told me about this great website that you should check out: http://www.followtherabbi.org/
. It gave me some great insight on the salt part of these verses.
Apparently, back in Jesus’ day they used to bake in these mud igloo-shaped ovens. For fuel, they would use manure and mix it with salt. The salt makes the fuel burn hotter and longer, but after awhile the salt loses its “saltiness” and is then no good for anyone… it is thrown out.I shared this with the guys last night, and much to my surprise the same methodology is still used in this country today!
So they were tracking with me (by the way, does anyone out there know how to say “manure” in Spanish? I settled on “caca de vaca” which is funny because it rhymes. The guys couldn’t believe I said that at a Bible study… and more than once).So we concluded that one of the things Jesus was saying is that His followers are to get outside our comfortable communities and mix in with all the crap out there, while at the same time not going too far and losing our “saltiness”. His mission as it continues on with the Church won’t work when we don’t surround ourselves with the lost.
I then gave a challenge. I explained that a year and a half ago I didn’t know any of them. But I felt God telling me to be salt (this might have implied that they are the “caca de vaca”, but I didn’t think of that until just now, and I don’t think they received it that way) and go meet some people. That was really why I met them. Now we are friends. We have this really fun community. We joke and shoot hoops and eat chicken and study the Bible together. I like it a lot. They seem to like it. So why not do it again… pay it forward so to speak?
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to meet my neighbors. I’ve really done a terrible job of that since being here, but a little while back I found out that our street guard, Jhonny, will be celebrating his 23 birthday on May 29. Jhonny happens to be a common starting point for everyone on my street, and so I asked if any of the guys would be interested in helping me throw a block birthday party BBQ at the end of May in honor of Jhonny but with the goal of being salt. They’re in, they’re excited, and here’s what we’re going to do:We’ll start by cooking a ton of meat (which we can do since the guys are all willing to help buy the goods). Wilbert is all over that… he loves to cook. They we thought it would be nice to have some live music. Lucky for us Ismael, Ramiro, Edson and some other shoe shiners have a traditional Bolivian folk music band. Then, instead of just having a flyer to invite the neighbors, we’ve decided a personal visit with cookies will be much more alluring. A bunch of them are coming over tomorrow night to bake some cookies and make some visits.
May 29th, Pasaje Los Claveles in Sopocachi La Paz, bring your own drinks. You are officially invited (sorry I can’t give cookies through my blog).
Apr 29, 2006Got milk?
So basically we invited a lot of people over to the house tonight and encouraged them to throw up all over. It worked.
Maybe you’re familiar with the gallon challenge. You challenge someone to drink a gallon of milk in an hour and hold it down for 15 minutes afterwards. I’ve never personally witnessed anyone do it (I’ve heard rumors of the likes of Forrest Buckner having what it takes, but I’d really need to see it to believe it). There is some chemical reaction that takes place in your stomach which curdles the milk. When it comes up (and it nearly always comes up), it is the consistency of cottage cheese with a little bit of string cheese mixed in. And it has a certain smell to it too which is hard to describe. Yucky? Rancid? Putrid? Yes, putrid.
David (the Bolivian, not to be confused with the perfect human specimen nor the king of Israel) was like a fountain spewing the bile smelling white goo all over our living area.This was shortly after one of our watermelon eating contestants lost his lunch. With the watermelons, it isn’t so much the chemical reaction that makes you blow chunks, just a lot of sweets very fast which throws off your brain’s central pleasure station which makes it requests an abort mission command.
I must say that I have a lot of fun with the shoe shiner guys. I like them even more after tonight because they all seemed to love the Hoosiers movie we watched following the vomiting activities.Tomorrow I’m heading out for a 10 day go in the Andes Mountains (two backpacking trips with a 4 day camp tucked in the middle).
Apr 24, 200621,000 people, 12,000 feet above sea level, 13 kilometers, 57 minutes, 3 seconds
I made the mistake of challenging a Bolivian to a long distance foot race. You see, the indigenous people of the Bolivian altiplano have record lung capacity. This means that they can hold their breath for the month of September. It really is a great advantage for diving for lobsters, space travel and racing at a little over 2.3 miles above the surface of the sea.
Speaking of space travel, do you think we ever actually made it to the moon? I mean isn't it convenient that we "made one giant leap for mankind" right in the middle of the space race, and yet never once do you hear about a return trip. OK, sorry about that, back to the real blog. I like to include such parenthetical free writes to keep you honest. So I ran for like an hour through the mountain city of La Paz chasing after Wilmer. His nickname is "Flaco" which means thin... another great advantage for space travel, I mean long distance running. At the end of the race I dry heaved for a good 5 minutes... enough to be taken into the first aid tent where they force fed me mineral water.
It was moments after emerging from the that I learned he beat me by 30 seconds. And as I reminisce on this loss, I have to think back on the thoughts of Ben Quintana (used to work for my Dad). Ben used to challenge my 10 year old mind with the following scenario: Do you suppose that the guy at the Olympics who is in last place is thinking to himself, "Man, I didn't even have to train to come in last!" I think he’s got a point.
Apr 22, 2006It's not whether you win or lose...
It's how you play the game, right? Well, today, after nearly a year of working with the shoe shiners trying to develop their basketball skills, we played the game in such a way as to win. It was our first win as a team, and I'm proud of the guys.
We played a team from a children's home. The first time we played them, we lost pretty bad. The second time we lost when they sank a miracle toss with time running out. Today, we just flat out beat them. We started the game when William Wallace sank a 3-pointer. Then Wilbert and Ismael connected for 6 quick points on some beautifully executed give-and-go's. Freddy was playing tough defense, Ramiro was ripping down the boards, and Loro used his left hand! Our two 10 year-olds were right in the middle of everything too... Bismark made a layup and Nano had some steals. Dario, in his quiet manner, took care of the ball and had a pull up jump shot that was so text-book, it didn't even matter to me that it rimmed out. Wilson has learned to pass the ball and gets boards, while Fritz is a hustler, and we all know that when you hustle good things happen.Just wanted to celebrate a victory today. I think that's important to do. Oh, and lunch today was trout... man what a good day!
Apr 17, 2006All alone
"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty."That's what Mother Teresa said once. I think she has incredible insight into the real needs of human beings. A couple hours ago, at around 4 this morning, I got a phone call. It was Freddy, all alone on the streets with nothing but haunting memories of being cheated on for the last five years. All he wants to do is forget, and so when he can't, the people he talks with tell him to get drunk. Thankfully, when he gets stuck and does not know where to go, he calls me.
I woke up Ross and he generously offered to come with me to be with Freddy. Driving down the quiet empty streets we prayed. "God, what do we do? Should we invite him into our home? If we do, will he just keep doing this to us? How do we help Freddy?"We met up with Freddy. We sat on a bench and Freddy talked for 3 hours non-stop. He talked about being abused by his step-father, the "good old days" of his youth in the jungle, being driven out of his house into the bitter cold El Alto rain on New Year's Eve, finding gold in a river once, fighting with demons, reading the Bible when he can't sleep (and getting stuck on the list of names in Genesis), killing a puma while hunting for wild pigs, and his children that he loves so much.
The thing that he said, however, that I remember best is, "Me siento solo." - I feel alone.I think that was an answer to prayer: "Lord, what can I do?" He replies, "Randy, you can sit with Freddy on a bench and in doing so, assure him that he is not alone. That is what I would do... please be my hands and feet." You see, that is one need I don't have to be a doctor or miracle worker to meet. And it is a doorway through which Jesus can enter Freddy's life. Pray for Freddy. He is desperate, and the pain that has shattered his heart has also opened it up for help to come in.
Apr 11, 2006Andy Dufrense and his buddy Red
The farthest I've ever raced is 7 kilometers. That's approximately 4.4 miles. In two weeks, I'm racing 13 km (8.1 miles) throughout the city of La Paz at an average 12,000 feet above sea level! I am pretty excited. Today I signed up and got my running number... good ol' lucky number 10032.
Isn't it obvious that when there is a race, all the participants run, and yet only one will be crowned the champion? You should race to win.I think it is funny that things like this show up in the Bible, and so we call them the words of God. Kind of sounds to me like a pre-game pep talk by my high school track coach. It is so obvious what is said, and at the same time I feel like I need to keep hearing things like this. Am I running to win, or am I just running? It is so easy to drop out of the race. One of my shoe shiner friends is brokenhearted, and so he has turned to alcohol. His pain is real. He has good reason to be hurting. But he's giving up hope, and that has really been tough for me. What do I do? Anyone have some ideas? I asked some of his friends today, and they were in agreement that it is very difficult. They said that what he needs is a lot of our time... maybe all of our time. Am I willing to give that to him? What if I do and he never turns around? I told them it would be good if no one took him out drinking, but they said if they don't that he wouldn't think they were his friends anymore. Really?
I must confess that I have a hard time relating to statements like that. I've yet to find any attraction to drinking, and when my friends turn to drinking at tough points in life, I am convinced all the more of the problems with alcohol. But I want to understand. I don't want to judge. I want so badly to help.Can we help him? His friends shook their heads and said it is difficult. I asked if it was impossible. They said no.
Things are going to get better. Blessed are those who mourn, for they WILL be comforted. That is a promise from someone who has been on the other side. Someone who knows what it will be like in the end. Someone who can offer a hope that will not disappoint us.I want to offer this world hope. I want Freddy to know that as dark and smelly as it seems right now, on the other end of this sewage pipe is a cristal clear river and true freedom.Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Apr 5, 2006Stuck with a McDonald's
Normally I don't like McDonald's, but since there isn't one in Bolivia, it is a treat to have one when I can... reminds me of Parker and Main Street in my old stomping grounds. I've had McDonald's 4 times in the last couple days... I'm in Arica, Chile (the driest place on the planet).
I wouldn't have had so much, but I got stuck here. I came with Ross on Sunday to reset my visa. We planned to be home Tuesday afternoon, but then Bolivia up and had a nation wide transportation strike, and as a result the border has been closed for the last 2 days. The last I heard we could be waiting here for a while as the negogiation are at a standstill.So I'm stuck with Ross in a beach town. There are definately worst fates. We have met so many interesting people thanks to Ross' uncanny ability to walk up to anyone at anytime and introduce himself. I've decided he would be a great person to travel with, especially to a place like Europe.
The Chileans are night and day different from Bolivians. I can't believe how friendly they are. In fact, their out-of-the-way helping style and politeness has made me feel like a really cold person in comparison. This evening we met a architecture student who decided to take us on a historical tour of the downtown. He got us into a railroad museum for free and walked us around all the points of interest. He reminded me a lot of Chris Karber... probably because he is a model.
OK, I just realized this really isn't that interesting, so I will stop. If the borders don't open soon, I might take off to Santiago, this time to visit our YFC program, and to enjoy another McDonald's!
Mar 29, 2006A shoe shiner church?
Unbelievable.Actually, that word might be too soft. I'm looking for something along the lines of miraculous. Maybe I want to say supernatural.
I wish you could have shared the view from my seat. We met in a circle, but no one sat to my right or left, so I definately had the best view of everyone in the group. First off, there were more than I hoped for. I was thinking it might just be another gringo meeting, but Freddy came and Wilbert was there. William and Jhonny were a little late. Fritz read the first Scripture and I did not expect to see Ismael there, let alone up front and engaged. Edson wasn't afraid to ask questions, and France and Gonzalo we picked up minutes before starting.
Their eyes are really what told the story. These guys were engaged like I've never seen people engaged in a Bible study. It was all familiar to them with their Catholic traditions growing up, but at the same time it was new and exciting. We were navigating the greatest story ever told learning about books and chapters and verses. There was no shame in not knowing things... but rather a very humble and teachable spirit.
So we talked about church. The first church. What type of things did they do at the founding meeting for both Catholic and Protestant traditions? Well, they worshipped, baptised and talked about the teachings of Jesus... some unfamiliar things for the guys. But they also ate together, lived like a family, prayed, and gave to one another as there was need. That sounds a lot like the community we already have.
Then we talked a little about love. But not just ordinary love... the biggest kind of love. The love that says, "You are more valuable than me," and therefore dies for another. And we talked about how Jesus spoke that standard and then a couple hours later demonstrated that kind of love. And as we talked it wasn't some distant story about a guy no one really knows. I don't know how to describe it, but it was real. I could see it in their eyes. I could hear it in their voices. I could see it in the broken heart of Freddy and the curious mind of Ismael.Unbelievable IS too soft. Supernatural comes closer. Grace... gift... might be the right word. I wish you could have been there.
Mar 23, 2006underground, subversive, and countercultural
This might be a long one, so just want to give you the heads up. I’ve neglected my blogging, not because I’ve not had anything to blog about, but because I’ve had too much. So here I am facing my fear of having too much and here goes.A couple things first: my Dad is doing really well. I know I wrote about him a couple times back and things might not have sounded too good. Well, in answer to prayer (really, that is what it was), he went in for surgery and the doctor’s couldn’t find any cancer so they sewed him back up and last I heard he’s out working again. I would have probably informed my audience of that earlier, but that brings me to my second preface point: when no one replies to your blogs, it appears as though you have no audience, and therefore no apparent need to keep them updated. A couple people reply here and there, but they are the people that I was getting the news from about my Dad, so I didn’t find a need to publish for them the things they were telling me. I guess I just say that to encourage whoever is reading this to click “Post a Reply” and let me know you are out there. It doesn’t have to be anything profound, but it is fun to see a comment. I hope that doesn’t come across as demanding, selfish or me trying to justify myself. All I can do is hope.
OK, now on to today’s topic. So there is this pastor that wrote this book that I really like. His name is Rob Bell. His church is called Mar’s Hill. His book is called Velvet Elvis. He writes this:“I am learning that church is at its best when it is underground, subversive, and countercultural. It is the quiet, humble, stealth acts that change things. These are the kinds of people who change the world. They improvise and adapt and innovate and explore new ways to get things done. They don’t make a lot of noise, and they don’t draw a lot of attention to themselves.”
I want the church to be at its best. So I have this idea… quite possibly a vision directly from God. There are thousands of shoe shiners on the streets of La Paz. They are everywhere, and for the most part they go unnoticed. But when you get to know these guys, you find that there are many that are great people… loving and compassionate, wanting to help and trying to make the world a better place to live. For many of the guys, their other shoe shiner friends are all they have for a family, and so as I dive into this sub-culture I’m finding a community of people loving each other.
In fact, as I’m toying with another idea of starting a shoe shiner church, I often arrive at the conclusion that in so many ways, we already are a church. We care for one another, we share meals together, we go on retreats together, we go to funerals together, we visit our friends in the hospital, we pray together, we talk about how tough life is… we do life together. What we are missing is an outward focus. I was going to say Jesus, but I can’t say that because I believe He is the one responsible for this community. Plus several of us have Jesus living in us, and therefore since we are part of this community, Jesus is present. I hope to see an increase in Him, but He’s already here. If He wasn’t, we wouldn’t have this community… this church.
But we need to look outside our “family”. That’s what Jesus wants from His church. And so with that in mind, and the whole “underground, subversive and countercultural” idea bouncing around in my head, I’ve been given this vision.
What if La Paz was known around the world for its shoe shiners? Not because they are poor and needy and everywhere. But because their presence makes La Paz a safe place to live. What if the Lonely Planet books said things like: “If you are ever in need while in La Paz, find a shoe shiner (they’re everywhere). They are trustworthy, helpful and loving guys that are committed to helping foreigners. You can trust them, and if you happen to be taken advantage of by the one or two that are not trustworthy, one of the trustworthy ones will be right on top of the situation.” It’s kind of like the Guardian Angels of New York City. A band of brothers that love people and look out for the city because they know that is what their leader would have done if He wasn’t currently seated at the right hand of the Father.
Today I was walking with David down a steep street kind of half on the street and half on the sidewalk. Suddenly, I nearly got hit by a car coming from behind. When I looked at the car speed by, I realized a couple odd things. One, it was going backwards. Two, there was no one driving it. It was an out of control car with a lot of potential to do some damage. We yelled at the street full of people to get out of the way, and several literally dove at the last second to avoid being smashed between the car and the store it crashed into.
For a second afterward everyone just stood there, but then we realized there were two children in the car. I ran down the hill and was the first one at the car to try to open the locked doors. At this point the story looses excitement. I got the door opened and pulled out a very shocked and crying, but very all right 3 year-old and held him until he stopped crying. Someone else grabbed his brother, who was also fine. His hysterical mother finally made it to the accident and I handed the boy over.
All this to say, I would love to see a city where the shoe shiners are the first on the scene at accidents, the ones that foil the pickpocket’s thieving ploys, the eyes watching over the person walking in dark alleys… pretty much like batman, but with a different mask and no cape.
Mar 5, 2006The most important thing someone did for me.
Don Miller writes, “It makes you feel that as a parent the most important thing you can do is love your kids, hold them and tell them you love them because, until we get to heaven, all we can do is hold our palms over the wounds.”
Here is my story, my testimony, the way God saved me: my parents loved me, and continue to love me. I agree with Don that it is the most important thing anyone has done for me. I am who I am and where I’m today because my parents love me, and as I walk farther down this road, I realize more and more the impact it has had on me.
A couple years ago on Mother’s day I took my mom out. The place we planned to go was closed, so we just went out for a bite to eat and spent the evening talking. It was my favorite Mother’s day yet. As we talked that night, my mom told me about a friend she had growing up. My mom helped her with babysitting, and my mom’s friend hardly ever held her children. The children spent most of their time in their cribs. It was through this experience that my mom decided that when she had children, she would hold them. My mom, before I was born, decided she would hold me close to her.
My mom held me close to her when I was a baby.
Just last night I was talking with my dad on the phone. He was telling me about Missy’s marathon and how she’d beat this one guy who seems to like to pick on her. He concluded the story with a very sincere and excited, “I was so proud of her!” I started working with my dad pouring concrete when I was 10 years old. That was when he started calling me his right-hand man and building in me confidence and value.
My dad told me several times that he was proud of me.The last two weeks my parents came and visited me here in La Paz. Maybe a month ago I might have said that I can’t imagine being loved deeper by my parents, but their love went deeper. My mom did it by jump roping with children from my church, using the Spanish she knows, and making enchiladas for me and my friends. My dad did it by coming to hours and hours of basketball practice with me and despite a language barrier, he laughed with, hugged and encouraged the shoe shiner guys. They didn’t want him to leave.
Maybe one day I’ll learn to love like my folks. I can’t think of any higher compliment that I could receive because Mom and Dad love as a result of their relationship with Jesus, and so if I learn to love like them, I’ll be learning to love like God.
Freddy, a shoe shiner friend of mine, is walking through some difficult times. His wife has left him and wants to take his two precious children with her. I sat and listened to Freddy on Friday as he poured out his heart: his frustrations, his fears, his hurts, his hopes, his past and his love for his children. Freddy grew up abused by his step-father. He escaped to the streets when his step-dad drove him from the house, throwing rocks and shouting, “You’re not my son. You’re no good.”
Who am I that God gave me the parent’s I have? I really don’t know the answer to this question. It probably has something to do with grace, but to say I understand it would be a lie. So I’m left to do the only thing I can figure: give thanks. Lord, you are the best Father… fully faithful, unconditionally loving, immeasurably generous and perfectly patient. I don’t deserve any of that, nor do I have anything in my billfold to pay for that kind of treatment. You’ve also given me earthly parents who through example, discipline, laughs, and the whole gamut of life pointed me to you. I know I don’t fully understand what a priceless gift this is and to what extent it has formed me and changed me, but I do want to say thank you.
With all that I have, everything that I am, I say from the depths of my changed heart: thank you God!
Feb 11, 2006Harold's John Deere
I think that when you do something to entertain, and your audience doesn't understand what you are doing, but nevertheless you do it with all you have, paying attention to the details of your act and being sure never to break character, even when you have to speak in another language, is a very good thing.
Last night we had a little gathering here at the 4th of July Flats. It was a Mexican meal with Country and Swing dance lessons. We had a lot of fun. The part I enjoyed most was greeting our guests by playing the parts of hicks. I particularly liked it when we talked about Harold's John Deere and the 454 in my Chevy and how Mayonaise not a lotta folks here yet. The Bolivians really couldn't be expected to understand, but the show had to go on!
Some additional keys to the fun to remember for next time:
1. Piñatas will very rarely let you down, especially well made ones. Thanks Grant Habs for the work you did making ours withstand several blows.
2. Tatoos drawn with black markers are a hit that stick with you even after everyone has gone home.
Just some stuff I'm learning. Please pass on any keys to fun you've learned for our future gatherings.
Feb 6, 2006Why I believe God is good.
Remember when we used to say things like "hurl" and "throw chunks"?
Whatever you call it, I was doing plenty of it last night. Not such a fun experience. Sure makes me glad for the good health I experience most of the time.
I called Dad the other night to tell him I bought a new VW bug (we call them "Peta's" here... and my particular Peta is named Olivia). He told me he might have cancer.
Sort of took my breath away. But talking with Dad gave me peace. It always has. I can remember hundred's of times growing up when it seemed like life was coming apart, but if I was with Dad, I KNEW things would be alright. Everything from being picked on by the class bully in 7th grade to trying to sink the family boat on Jan Lake several years later. No matter how rough it gets, life with Dad is always going to be OK. It has always been that way. I've known that for years.
And so when he talked about possibly having cancer, I felt peace because no matter what happens, everything is going to be good. I asked him if he was ready to die (who asks questions like that?), and he told me, "Yeah, everyone talks so highly of heaven, and you finally get a chance to go and everyone tries to keep you from going."
Everyone should have a hero. Dad is my hero. Personally I think everyone should have my Dad as their hero. It's not the first time I've said that. Since I can remember it has been that way. Dad has made God so easy to believe in. God calls Himself our perfect Father, and having grown up with Dad, I can think of nothing better to give my life to.
I believe God is good. This little phrase has really changed things lately for me. It has changed things because I think I finally believe it. So much evil, pain and heartbreak in my world, and yet I believe that surrounding all that (or at the center of it... maybe both) there is God who is looking out for His children's best interest. Just like Dad. No matter how rough it gets, life with God is always going to be OK.
And I'll tell you what, now that I believe that, everything is so different. Dad, I love you so much. Thanks for being my hero. Thanks for helping me believe that God is good. I can't wait to see you in two weeks!
Jan 20, 2006Ninos de la luz
I called him Jim at first, but his name is Jon (known in Venezuela, Costa Rica and the DR as Juan). I met him this week... he's staying with me while he has some meetings in Bolivia. I really like Jon. We've had several charlas over pizza and in my sala. I feel like we have similar heart beats... I'm curious if he would say the same.
Jon started this ministry called Ninos de la Luz several years ago in Caracas and now he's handed it off to national leadership and he is working to build a school on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic to help institutionalized young men transition into life outside of the shelter they've lived in.
Last night we were talking, and I really apprecaited what Jon had to say. He told me his life is full of doubts, and the point he's at right now with the school has him scared to death.
I feel the same way with the Bolivia camp. One the one hand I've very excited, but when I think of all the people that have invested in this so far and the chance there is for it to fail, fear overcomes me. Fear, but also something else that I like. Either that or I like the fear.
Die to the vision is a term Jon used last night. Am I willing to walk away from a vision that I have... even one I feel God has given me? Can I stop mid-try and still have peace because I know that God is the drive behind the vision? That's a good question.
I've been made to take risks, so there is something in me that loves a good challenge without a certain solution or victorious end. But it is scary at the same time... a double edged sword I guess.Whoever is reading this right now... I hope you have been given a chance to fail in your life. That sounds strange, but I think it is important. I hope our live aren't so predictable and secure that we simply can't live by faith. Sounds like hell to me.
Jan 11, 2006Once a King or Queen of Narnia…
I’m not exactly sure I can pinpoint the exact reason(s) why The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is now my favorite movie (took The Princes Bride’s spot after 12 years!). It could be any number of things: Lucy’s eyes and expressions throughout, the Beavers, the battle scene with cheetahs leading the way to free Narnia, the believing Professor, the brilliant lines, the Great Lion, the broken Stone Table… could be any of these or maybe a combination of all these and more. But what I think it is that makes me love it so much is this thing that wells up inside me every time I watch it. I realize that the story being told is my story. I’m Edmund the traitor that is redeemed. I can see myself in Peter when he questions his abilities but is believed in nevertheless. I share Susan’s struggle with faith, and Lucy’s courage is what I strive for. The battle scene is fought unseen all around me every day. And Aslan… oh Aslan… He is my hero. Narnia is my world. In fact, if someone were to ask me, the film is non-fiction.
I’ve been taking the shoe shiner guys as a Christmas gift. Here are some snippets from a couple conversations I’ve had following the film:“How do people come up with stories like that?” asked Flaco.
“Well, C.S. Lewis is a Christian. He got the story from the Bible.” I explained.
“Oh, wow” replies Flaco’s face.
The first thing Oliver said to me leaving the theatre: “Fue una película buena. Aslan es muy bueno.”
Bismar: “Bonito. Muchas gracias, Randy”
All the guys I took today “¿Donde esta tu corona? (Where’s your crown?)” They all thought I looked like long-haired, grown-up King Peter at the end of the film.
In “The Last Battle” Aslan uses the term “Shadowlands” to describe the old, less substantial Narnia which points to the real, genuine Narnia. It is just as a shadow which tells us a lot about the thing casting it (size, shape), and yet fails significantly in fully representing that object (color, dimensions, etc.). Even with that concept only partially understood, I can hardly contain myself at the thought of one day coming face to face with Jesus… an experience so much more overwhelming than the thrilling moment when I see His shadow, Aslan, step out of the tent in the movie.
I’m asking the fellas, “How would you like to meet Aslan?” I mean really, who wouldn’t? And to think that everyone can.
Jan 6, 2006Año Nuevo
It’s nearing 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep, so I’m going to blog. I can’t sleep because I’m excited for this New Year. I’m excited for the people I’m planning to spend it with and for the things I have planned to do and I’m excited because life with Jesus has proven to be better than I ever dreamed. That’s really why I can’t sleep tonight.
So before getting too far into the future, I think it is good to reflect a bit on the past. Today I celebrated my one year anniversary of arriving here in Bolivia, and as I think back, here are some interesting facts about 2005:
1. I only had one haircut (it happened in July)
2. I never saw a movie in a theater (that streak is coming to an end because I’m going to see Narnia tomorrow)
3. I tried fried cow stomach for the first time (was not overwhelmed by the taste)
4. I was interviewed on live radio for my first time (and in Spanish… it wasn’t pretty)
5. I celebrated my birthday along with a Bolivian national holiday (San Juan, which meant fireworks!)
6. I read more than I probably read in my 4.5 years at School of Mines (The Hiding Place and Velvet Elvis were probably my favorite reads)
7. I learned how to make lasagna and enchiladas
8. I went backpacking in four different nations (U.S., Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela)
9. I blew the window out of the kitchen trying to light the oven
10. I climbed my first 6,000+ meter mountain
11. I lived in a country whose roads were closed down for 24 days straight (protests)
Wow, it’s been quite a year. It’s interesting to think about what 2006 will bring. Every now and then I come up with some New Year’s resolutions. I think it is a good time to evaluate where you life is going and reorder things so you hit more goals. For example, one year in college I resolved to eat more Jell-O and play more basketball, and sure enough I enriched my life with these two gifts from heaven. Last year I didn’t really come up with any because I was so preoccupied with moving to a new country. This year I am settled and have time to think, and so I will go ahead and make the following resolutions for 2006:
1. I resolve to meet my neighbors
2. I resolve to find a fishing hole in Bolivia
3. I resolve to learn some popular Latin songs (both words and guitar… Un Dia es Un Siglo will be the first)
4. I resolve to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube
Dec 30, 2005Patagonia?
Does anyone know what Patagonia means? I know it is a word used to describe the mountainous area of southern Chile and Argentina, but where does the word come from? Is it a Spanish word? Some other language? Someone's name maybe? Expensive outdoor outerwear? What does it mean?
It is fun when you are learning a new language and you finally get to the point where you associate a word with an idea and not the English equivalent. For example, when I lived in the Dominican Republic we used to use generators all the time because the power was always out. So I learned the word "planta" quickly. When I came back to the U.S. and was telling a story, I came to the word for the gas powered machine that makes electricity and all I could think of was "planta".
Anyways, no matter what the word's origin is, I now associate "Patagonia" with the idea of one of my favorite
places in the world. It is precious, if I'm allowed to say that. In fact, without even knowing it, I stumbled upon an unknown life goal. Having never been here, I was unaware that it was one of my life's dream to visit here, until I came here. So I'm glad I'm here, and it was particularly nice to be able to add a goal to my list
and check it off at the same time.
I hope to return some day to see the Torres de Paine and the penguins... oh, I nearly forgot to tell about the penguins. I saw some... hundreds actually. They are even better than I imagined, and for all you out there that were upset (or disgusted or outraged) by my "pretend" goal to kick one you will be happy to know I did not (although one nearly bit me which might have landed him a slight kick simply out of self-defense and reaction).
They remind me a lot of prairie dogs... just hanging out by their burrows. Just sitting there. Mostly scratching themselves, occasionally making some very entertaining noise and then making a trip to the beach for some swimming. Their land moving abilities are quite funny and entertaining, but what they lack on the land they more than make up for in the water. Did you know they can dive up to 90 meters and stay under water for 160 seconds? Pretty amazing little creatures. I would never kick one (that was not attacking me).
I also saw a couple Ñandus (relative of the Ostrich), a fox and either a skunk or a badger. I've seen a skunk before and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a skunk. Plus, since I've never seen a badger, it would be nice to be able to say I've seen a badger. That settles it, it was a badger. Quite the safari in the Patagonia sense.There's that word again.
Dec 22, 2005Does anyone know where Osorno is?
It smells like Grandma´s basement. Not a bad smell, necesarily, but very distinct. I´m in a place that until yesterday I never even knew existed: Orsono, Chile. It is a nice little town on the way to the southern most city in the world: Punta Arenas. We plan to arrive on Christmas Eve and with any lucK I´ll be spending Christmas with a penguin.
I met this guy today on the bus. Christian Diaz is his name, and he is a Christian. We got to talking (which was difficult because the Spanish here is so different) and by the time we got to Orsono he had adopted us. Very hospitable. In fact, it makes me curious how hospitable I am to foreigners. I used to say that it is a healthy activity to visit a new church every now and then so that you can remember what it is like to be new and therefore assist you to be more welcoming at your own home. I´d forgotton about that, and now Christian has helped me to remember the importance of hospitality.I´m heading south!
Dec 21, 2005Looking for a penguin
I´m in Temuco, Chile this morning after 46 hours of buses from La Paz, through a real sand dessert to Arica, Chile (for a McDonald´s combo on the beach), south to Santiago where we stayed for 10 minutes before finding another bus to head even farther south. Now I´m in volcano country, and there are trees! It was so nice to get off of the bus this morning and smell the green (this will make sense to anyone who has lived in La Paz). It reminds me of good old Colorado and I am happy.
The goal is to find a penguin. Actually, because of a game we invented in La Paz with pigeons (thanks Colby and Josh!) the official goal is to kick a penguin into the Pacific Ocean. We´ll see how close I can get. So the penguin is the primary objective. I´m also looking forward to sitting in my hammock while fishing in a mountain stream or lake for o-so-delicious trout. I´m also looking forward to hiking through a pine forrest.
I hope your Christmas is merry!
Dec 13, 2005I can't wait to go home
Today I had my backpack stolen. It had my Bible, my journal, a letter from Missy, and my favorite Mines hooded sweatshirt in it. Nothing of value for anyone except me.
I'll have to be honest that I'm pretty angry... you might even say pissed. Actually, there is no doubt... I'm pissed. Why does it have to be this way? Where are the honest people? I with I could have caught the theif... but then again I might be spending some time behind bars, because I'm sure my anger would have made me do something stupid. I just can't wait to go home. And when I say home, I'm not talking about the good old U.S of A (although I do miss that home terribly... for the people I know there). I'm talking about the place where God's goodness rules everywhere. You know, His Kingdom. The place where I don't have to worry about leaving my backpack unguarded. Where people are not only looking out for themselves. Where no one is hungry or lonely and above all, everyone is thankful all the time for the grace God has extended. Today I weep. I mourn the ruined state of this world and I long for things to be like they were meant to. Come Lord Jesus, come!
Dec 6, 2005It's like you're always stuck in second gear...
So I’ve been watching a lot of Friends lately and here are my thoughts:
First off, I do not like the way they sleep around and treat sex. Obviously as a Christ follower, I have a different view of love (in the tri-fold Hebrew definition of the word). But at the same time, it really does not surprise me considering where they are coming from. In fact, I would expect nothing less from people who do not know God. They base life on… well… I’m not sure what they base it on, but without a good solid rock to find your bearings, this is the type of behavior that logically would result. Obviously they have a high value of being a faithful friend within the group, but I really don’t know where they look for authority on what defines a good friend and what does not.
What do I like about Friends? I like the way they create several different type of relationship situations and dive into them. The characters mess up, ask forgiveness, talk with each other, try to do what they think is right (according to their values), live life together, and overall I am impressed with the show’s relational aspect. It is relationally rich, and quite honestly very entertaining. What if there was a Friends type of show made by Christians? I’m not saying it is a Christian Friends, because the use of the word Christian as an adjective really confuses things, especially in this case. But let’s say that the values of the show are based on the values found in the Kingdom of Heaven. I’m not saying that everyone on the show is a Christian… in fact, maybe no one is. In fact, it might be good to have a couple people that are perverts, one or two with a different view of who God is, a vegetarian, a compulsive liar…just like on the real Friends, and just like in real life. Seems to me such a show would be a great environment for writers to insert Kingdom values into these very real situations.
Maybe one of the friends is a Christian, and his being a Christ follower is respected and supported just like Pheobe’s strange outlook on life is respected and supported, or Ross’s love for dinosaurs is respected and supported. Equally within the community of friends, these characteristics are joked about (just like in the real Friends), but they are never treated as less of a person within the community. Sometimes the Christian would have some input into a relational situation. Sometimes his input might be rejected, and sometimes his input would not even represent God correctly, but it would also be considered occasionally and might even turn out to be the best option offered every now and then. That sounds like real life to me.
I think Christians have every reason to be the masters of relationships. We have insight into how relationships should be run that the world simply does not have. What I don’t mean by that is that relationships between or with Christians are perfect and they never think about sex or never offend or never screw things up or never get pissed. Instead, a Christian should be the person that when (not if) they find themselves in such situations, they look to Jesus’ way of living to navigate such rough waters. When they do, things work out. When they don’t, watch out. (By the way, I believe a non-Christian could find themselves doing things God’s way or not and have the same results, whether knowingly or not).
Christians should be leading the way with relationally rich movies, books, T.V. shows… everything. We shouldn’t be the ones that are shying away from all the awkward and difficult situations that life presents. I like Friends, but I think the Church could offer something even better. What do you think?
Nov 28, 2005Two are better than one
So I'm in this race. It turns out it is more of a marathon than a sprint. Actually, a mega-marathon - at least 1,000 miles long. For whatever reason, I find myself running at night a lot. It is really dark, and some days there is a slight drizzle and so I loose my footing on the slick red clay and fall. Many times I stick out a hand and catch myself. But there are the times when I fall all the way to the ground. My butt is bruised and my twisted knee is sore. It is usually only as I sit on the ground that I notice how difficult this race is, and I don’t want to get up.
Luckily I’m not running alone. I have a friend who won’t let me stay down. He loves me so much that he threatens to kick my butt if I don’t start running again. But he isn’t just a drill sergeant demanding me to do what I don’t want to, he sees potential in me to finish this race, and so he encourages me. My friend believes in me, and maybe even more significant is the fact that he does not judge me.
How do I get friends like that? I can’t really say. It isn’t like I deserve it. But this I do know: I pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Nov 19, 2005I'm not even trying
Seems like the theme for my life lately is "whatever you do, someone will be offended." It is not a particularly fun theme to be in. It really has amazed me how many people I've managed to offend in the last couple weeks. People I work with, neighbors, Bolivians, Americans, a police officer, taxi driver, the grandmother of the guy I was guarding at a basketball game, shoe shiners, volunteers, teammates, my pastor and his family... seems like just about everyone. And the two things that I find annoying (and also entertaining... I've got to remember not to take life too seriously living in another culture) is that first off it seems like many people I offend cross-culturally think I am actually trying to offend them. I'm not even trying... I can imagine what a great job I'd do with a little effort! But no, I actually am trying my hardest to respect people, and it is funny that when I mess up I get this sense that people think I am intentionally out to harm.
And the second thing... well I forgot, but if I think of it I'll be sure to tell you.
Looking at the glass half full, I am building some great relationship skills as I find myself having to apologize with substancial regularity. I would say that for me, without a doubt, the hardest words for me to say are, "I am sorry, please forgive me"... especially without following up that statement with some form of justification or excuse.
Nov 17, 2005500 million young people
Last week I went to Caracas, Venezuela and Bogota, Colombia. In Caracas I got up at 4 am one morning to scale a 10,000 foot mountain that gives an incredible view of the city of 7 million people and the Caribbean Sea. In Bogota I had a chance to go to prison and visit with several 20 to 25 year old inmates.
A while back I had heard the stat that there are 500 million young people in Latin America. I think on my recent voyage that stat became something more than just numbers... it became people, so many of which are lost. My heart broke.
So now I´m back in La Paz with a new, bigger vision for youth ministry in Latin America. More than ever I am convinced of the need for Youth for Christ ministries around the world, but especially on this continent.
So my question for you, reader, is would you consider coming south to help with the harvest? I´m serious because... millions of young people need to have their hearts transformed. Think about it, and if you´re interested click here.
Oct 28, 2005Chichiguas
"X" (I don’t know how it is spelled, but just like you would pronounce the letter) is how you say "Cheese" in Portuguese. One thing I really enjoy about living here in La Paz is all the people I get to meet. Last night I had a very... hmm... magical? moment when a group of five Brazilians from a rock band stayed the night. They of course are masters of Portuguese, Jon and I seem to best communicate in English, and my Bolivian friends are the Spanish experts. So the night was full of charades and me saying, “I don’t understand” or “No te entiendo”, but still it was such a rich experience.We ended the evening (actually, I ended the evening… they stayed up much later) by getting out an acoustic guitar and playing songs designed to honor the King. Many of the songs we sang we knew in Spanish, Portuguese and English and so we sang out in our language of preference. The band was obviously very musical, and the apartment I live in has particularly good acoustics (one of my interns commented on how we ought to record a CD here because the acoustics are so approving), but the quality of singing originated from somewhere deep. I might say our hearts. In fact, that would be my conclusion. I wish you could have been here to experience it.
God’s Church is really something. I think of the top ten best experiences of my life, probably more than half of them included some sort of cross-cultural experience with brothers and sisters. Things like flying chichiguas (kites) with children in Haiti or listening to a Korean missionary preach at a church in Santo Domingo or singing Mexican style around a campfire in Acuña or putting up a gate in the middle of the night in Guatemala or marching in a tropical downpour in Port of Spain or worshipping with Brazilians and Bolivians in La Paz are what money cannot buy but are treasured memories for me.
I really don’t know what heaven will be like, but I like to dream about it. It has been said that as a Christian, one of our jobs is to do just this. I think this is part of the concept of hope. Anyways, I have a couple examples that I know are just the tip of the iceberg, but nevertheless they give me something to start dreaming from. One is hitting a last second three-pointer in an NCAA final game. Another is a banquet of strangers where I feel lonely, but then Jesus waves from across the room and calls me to eat with Him… He has been saving a seat for me. I just finished “The Last Battle” of the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time, and that has given me a lot to think about as far as heaven’s beauty, goodness and size (plus flying). But another image I have of heaven comes from my favorite Christmas carol: “Oh Holy Night.” With my mind’s eye, I see rolling hills that stretch all the way to the horizon on a beautiful clear day. The hills are grassy, but you cannot see the grass because covering the hills, shoulder to shoulder are billions of white clothed people from every nation. Despite the multitude of people, it is surprisingly silent. Standing upon the highest hill we find the King, mounted on His white horse. I can’t even begin to describe the love, power, gentleness, majesty and humility He exhibits, but it captivates His audience.
Then, from somewhere beyond where I can see, a noise breaks the silence. It is difficult to distinguish initially. At first I hear the shuffle and sound of people moving accompanied by a unified voice, the words of which cannot be determined. Then, before I can make out the words, I see a wave moving through the people working from the horizon toward me as the masses of people bow down. The noise of this movement grows and partially drowns out the singing, but soon I am able to make out the song. It is not in English, but everyone understands it in their own language. The millions of people already singing sounds like a whisper as I first make out the words:“Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Fall on your knees! Oh hear the angels’ voices…”
By this point, I have joined the wave as I am compelled (in a wonderful way), by the King’s love to fall to my knees. It seems the only thing to do, and at the same time not enough. But somehow that does not matter.
And then, as if it were always this way, the words to the carol change, and with my voice I join in a chorus singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty… who is.”
I look around and see my family with me. I also see the Brazilian band and some Eskimos and a Haitian child with a white kite and there are some Africans who make the song something of their own. I really can’t describe it, but it is better than the best experiences of my life, although looking back I can see that all those experiences point to it.
Who started the singing and the bowing? It is not for certain, but I’m pretty sure it was a little Asian girl with Down’s syndrome. She seemed to be connected in such a real way to Jesus that while the rest of history’s men and women stood awestruck (which was a very appropriate response), she did what was natural and what she was made to do: worship the King. And the rest followed her lead.
If you have not got a chance to worship the King with brothers and sisters from another culture, you need to do it. It absolutely changed my life.
Oct 24, 2005Kari Kari Piedras bombs
The first time someone told me, I really didn't believe them, and then I sort of forgot about it. It wasn't until the explosion seared my finger, left burn holes in my favorite pants and charred a quarter sized wound on the face of Oliver that I remembered what I had once thought to be merely a tale.
You see, there are rocks here in Bolivia that explode when you heat them up to much. I kid you not. Our source of heat was the campfire we built and were enjoying on the shore of Lake Titikaka two nights ago. We were in the middle of an intense game of animal crackers when the whole fire blew, sending the rock shards and red hot coals spraying everywhere. We were lucky to have escaped with just a couple little burns. It was crazy, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. In fact, even after it happened it was hard to believe.
There is also a tale of a man (an old Catholic priest, if I’m not mistaken) that roams the Bolivian Altiplano and will come suck your fat and organs out of your body in the night. I can’t say that I believe in him (Kari Kari is his name) but the guys I was camping with were sure afraid of him. When I said I was going to sleep outside, they highly encouraged… begged might be the better word… me to sleep in the tent with them. Apparently, Kari Kari cannot enter into a closed room (or tent) without your permission. They told me it was dangerous, but I slept the night outside and did not meet him.
I guess the conclusion here is that you can’t believe everything you hear, but maybe you ought to believe some of the things you hear. Maybe not. I don’t know. But this I can say: my campfire blew up, and I have a scar on my finger to remember it.
Oct 17, 2005Futbol
One of my life goals
is to learn to play soccer. Once again I have managed to give myself a goal without defining a way to measure it. I think this is in violation of goal setting standards. I should be ashamed of myself. I am. Que vergüenza.
So, although I have no idea what I mean when I say I want to learn to play soccer (and therefore I really have no way to know if I have attain my goal) I am moving forward with this.
So here is a quick history on my soccer development. From 1978 until around 2002 I can't say I played any soccer. This is sad. The whole world is united by this sport (or so it seems), and I completely ignored it. Again, I am ashamed of myself.
Wait a second, I'm having a memory. I believe I was in second grade, around 1987. In fact, I'm certain of it, because I was with Adam Valdes, who was my best friend that year. We were roaming the playground when a stray soccer ball was kicked towards us. Adam promptly kicked the ball to return it to the game, but miscalculated its trajectory and rocketed the ball into my face. I can't remember if I woke up on the playground or in the office.
Then it wasn't until 2002 when I found myself in a Mexican border town. The favorite pass time of the local youth was soccer, so I had my debut on a dusty, hot parking lot/soccer court in Acuna, Mexico. Basically I had no idea what I was doing, but I was in fairly good shape so I ran around a lot. I think the crowd cheered for me once when the ball was kicked over a fence into a yard and I leaped over the fence to fetch the ball. Go ahead, feel free to cheer right now if you want. It was a tall fence.
I allowed my skills (yes both of them), to lie dormant for several years, which has made my reentry into the sport difficult. Nevertheless, Friday October 7, 2005 I played on team "2 cents" representing the shoe shiners of the A.L.COR post office gang. This time I played on a full sized field for my first time. Under the direction of my current coach, Jon Osterbrock
, I was able to score two goals in our 7-4 victory. It was a classic Gatorade moment with just enough rain to make things muddy and a great cast of teammates really excited to have won.
Now I'm playing on the "2 cents" team every Sunday. My skills are minimal, but that does not matter because around here I am known as one of the two giant white guys that everyone thinks is fast, so they keep letting me play. I'm learning a lot - mostly through my mistakes.The best part of it all, though, is I am getting to know the fellas of "2 cents". It really is quite funny how we can connect by running around in a rain storm chasing after a ball. But we do, and like I said and really mean, that is the best part of it all.
Oct 7, 2005Big questions
How do you get to the point where you ask big questions? Or maybe I'm curious to know how one gets to the point where you ask big questions and then lean forward, tune in and listen up for the answer, because you realize the answer is substantial? How do we arrive at the place where the answer is not just what will get us a passing mark on the exam, but rather the answer is going to change things. It will change how you live life, how you make decisions, how you spend your resources (especially your time) and how you prioritize your life?
I feel like that place is the top of the ladder. I have not summitted, but I recently climbed up a rung. Why did I climb? Why are questions like "Who am I?" so important to me? I honestly don't know why, but I want to know because that is where I want the shoe shiners to be. That is where I want my church and my neighbors to be. I want to have conversations with people that are climbing this ladder.
I think tragedy brings some people to that place. That's why I wish I could go to Mississippi with my Dad and Gary and Ladd and Shaun and Aunt Dawn and Roy and Skip and Ashley and Jessica and Royal and Jesus. I know adding Jesus to the end of the list is sort of corny. Corny or not, I believe it to be true because that is how God tells us things work.
I imagine several people in Mississippi are going to be asking questions and then leaning forward and tuning in to the answers. I don't think there will be many good answers (the kind that the person, after listening to you turns and says, "Well I'll be, now everything is better"). There certainly will not be any easy answers. But I'm also not so sure the answers is what it is all about. I didn't initially follow Jesus because He was an answer. Come to find out, He is the answer, but that is not why I followed Him. I followed Him because He offered me relationship- the thing my heart longs for. Later, He became so much more, but relationship is what drew me in and I believe it is what still keeps me walking.
Maybe that is what makes us climb. Relationship. Perhaps once we find ourself in a love relationship the things that prevent us from climbing the ladder fade away. Maybe grace overwhelms us and it is then that we are ready to ask and lean in. I don't know. I'm just thinking tonight.
Sep 29, 2005Ugly
I've been reading Don Miller (Searching for God Knows What) and C. S. Lewis (Four Loves), and I've found a common theme. Ugly. What? Yes, ugly.Let me explain. Don Miller finds it fascinating, and I do to, that in Isaiah it tells us that Jesus was not attractive in appearance. A slight change of mental picture from what movies and pictures have painted for us. Check it out for yourself: Isaiah 53:2,3
Then C.S. Lewis gets talking about what he calls charity... love from God. This of course is great... maybe even the greatest thing there is. But there is something about charity from God that is hard for us. It is the fact that there is nothing we have done to earn it. Nothing.
The problem with this is we like to think that when someone loves us, it is because we are attrative. In fact we like this. A lot. And we should. But we can't say this concerning the love God gives us. I'm ugly, and God loves me nevertheless.
So tonight I find rest and peace to know that the God I am following did not place any emphasis on physical attraction. And that is a good thing, because when I look deep down at myself like I only can, I realize I'm ugly. But that does not matter to God. He still loves me like a groom loves his bride.
Derek Webb sings it well: "I am a whore, I do confess. I put you on just like a wedding dress, and I run down the aisle..."
Sep 27, 2005Tuto
The other day I visited the local International Church here in La Paz. I was being introduced to Ginger, who is one of the church's volunteers working with their youth. She was telling me about some of the activites they have planned and the things they hope to do. Then she made this comment: "It's been difficult lately. I'm really busy because my husband is running for president."Totally confused and on a different page, I replied to clarify: "Really, president of what?" (I'm thinking along the lines of school board or something like that).
"Bolivia" was her answer.
As it turns out her husband is Tuto, one of the leading candidates for president of the Rupublic of Bolivia... go figure! I've never met the wife of a presidential candidate, and I'll probably get to meet the actual Tuto here soon.
Sep 25, 2005My church in La Paz
I have finally found a church here in La Paz, and I feel like I can worship, serve, grow, reach others and have community here. It is small, never more than 20 people have been there on any particular Sunday morning yet. The pastor is a great teacher, has a vision for working with the community and delegates service to the church. I like all that. We also share breakfast after every Sunday service - something that I think every church ought to do... it's biblical. Following the service this morning I ate bread and milk with 3 young boys and an older man, Victor. Victor was very slow to make eye contact with anyone. I don't know why, but it seemed like he felt ashamed or was expecting to be judged. When I talked with him, however, he was very quick to abandon his shyness. It was Victor's first time at our church, and he came because the boy's invited him. Brilliant. The boys invited him. That seems too easy, but that is what happened.
These boys are different. They are eager to learn - English, guitar, how to navigate the Bible, French, and more. They sit and talk with me after church. I can't say I know too many 10 year olds that do that. But now I do. They go to my church in La Paz, and juntos we are going to be Church, along with the rest of His followers.