Tuesday, April 29

Wordless Wednesday

I find myself wondering...which is the most beautiful: a sleeping baby, an incredibly purple flower or a sister in Christ listening intently to the Word as it is read. I tend to think it's a toss-up.

Sunday, April 20

Mission Team Management

Rich and Jen make notes for the week's events.
A large part of hosting mission teams, and helping them to adjust, seems to be "meetings". It's not a very glamorous thing, but the time we spend with the team leaders is invaluable as we plan ministry events, settle housing and meal issues and even just to make sure we're not totally overwhelming our guests!

Planning classes and activities for the week.It's been wonderful having Pastor Tom with us this past week. He and his wife, Naomi, have been pastoring a church in the Sacramento, California, area for the past 6 months. When we began working with CC Boca two years ago, we spent many hours fellowshipping and praying in Tom and Naomi's apartment...and drinking extremely strong coffee! It's a blessing to have him here -- even if it's only for a few days!

Pastor Tom shares his internationally-renowned coffee.

We had a "whole group" meeting on Monday night. Sergio's band, OACA, opened with some great worship music and we could sense God's presence in the group. As Tom later said, there's nothing super-spiritual about the stuff we needed to talk about, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't focus the meeting on spiritual things! When we micro-manage to the extreme and try to hyper-plan, we often get in the way of God's perfect plan. This is as true in our daily life as it is in mission trip planning. Yes, details need to be covered: people need to know where they're sleeping and what time meals are planned. It's also important that everyone on the team is aware of "culturally acceptable and unacceptable behaviors" and knows who to talk to when they have a problem.

We (maybe because we are Americans) tend to want things pretty well "lined out". Sometimes Usually that way of thinking doesn't translate well into the Mexican culture. This is an "event oriented" culture, not a time-oriented one. As such, it's more important that the events follow a logical progression rather than a rigid time schedule. For example, Saturday night we planned a short testimony, drama and a couple of worship songs to preceed the volley-ball tournament which would be followed by a small dinner and a movie. No time schedule was set, so when the last volley-ball game ended at 9:30 and the dinner was served, we scrapped the movie! Everyone flowed with that.

This "flowy" schedule can drive some folks nuts! I, for one, am a list-maker. I sometimes write things on my list after I've done them, just so I can cross them off. I like lists with everything crossed off. I think they call it obsessive/compulsive. Anyway, I believe that God is more "event-oriented" than "clock-oriented", too. If the song service is a little long on Sunday morning, and then several people get up to share testimonies, and then the pastor's message goes a little later than usual, and then he gives a call to prayer afterward, should we be stressed out and anxious because it's past noon and our tummies are rumbling? I don't think that's God's heart. God is a God of order, but He is not too concerned with our time schedule. I'm not sure if the stereo-typical Mexican mañana attitude is more healthy than the stereo-typical American fixation with clocks, but I know there's gotta be a balance.

So our first group meeting went well. We covered a bunch of trivial details, talked about ministry opportunities and had a fantastic time of prayer and worship. Who could ask for anything more?

Mr. Maintenance

Well, the students' bathrooms at the school of ministry are nearly finished!!! Yeah!!! Last week Doug installed the shower heads and, as promised, here's the story of the Sinaloa hot shower...

Water in our village comes to our homes via pipes from a nearby city which has a well. The water doesn't run all the time, so most everyone has a cistern on their property to hold water. The water runs from the city's pipes into the cistern and then is pumped to big, black water tanks, called tinacos, on the roof. From these tanks, water flows through the house's pipes by gravity. Very simple system, and very handy in a place where the electricity is sometimes hit-and-miss. During the summer months, the water sitting in those black plastic tanks gets very warm. So warm, in fact, that sometimes we long for that refreshing well water we used to get in Oregon! In mid December and January, however, taking a shower in the morning is sometimes a little...brisk!

It is possible to install pressurized hot-water systems here, but they aren't too terribly dependable. It's sort of a new concept, so finding someone who knows what they're doing and will do it correctly is a challenge. Not to mention that the pressurized system has a couple of drawbacks: one being the cost and another being the whole "unreliable electricity" issue. Lightning and wind may come and go, but gravity is forever.

So how can a person get a hot shower without a water heater? Well, have you ever seen the little doo-hickey that is made to heat your coffee by sticking a heating element into the cup? Apparently someone took that idea and ran with it. Obviously, it could never be marketed in the US; this thing is a lawsuit waiting to happen! But it is quite the technological breakthrough!
OK. Red is hot and green is ground...what if they're all white?

Grabbing electricity from the bathroom light.Don't forget to tape off the bare wires in the shower.Finished product!

Of course, it's a good idea to test the shower when you're finished connecting the electricity to make sure you've got it well-grounded. If you don't have a good ground, the wet person standing in the puddle of water and grabbing the metal handle to turn off the faucet becomes the ground.

So, Doug tested the ground the most accurate way possible... Grounded!

I can't count the number of times we've joked and shaken our heads at this set-up! It's crazy, but here is that "cultural adaptation" idea in action again!!!

Wednesday, April 16

Wordless Wednesday

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1

Tuesday, April 15

SEND Ministries Mission Team

Culiacan International Airport
Sunday we drove to the Culiacan International Airport to pick up a visiting mission team from California. The airport isn't very big -- they have one gate for arrivals and one gate for departures -- and it was easy to spot our visiting team as they came off the airplane. Can you believe I forgot to take a photo of them as they arrived? Shame on me. Anyway, we have a lot of things planned for their time here and I know that God has plans that we will find out about as we go along!

They will be here with us for two weeks, and I promise to take plenty of photos to show what mission teams do down here. For now, here's a photo of the team taken in Tijuana. Pray for these young people who are in preparation for short-term missions in Morocco, India and Israel.

Monday, April 14

A Faithful Wife

Maria and Pedro have been married for more than 30 years. They love to take walks together on the beach and sing praise songs together. But it's not always been that way.

Years ago, Maria dedicated her life to follow Jesus Christ. At that time, Pedro was a drunk who had no interest in spiritual things. Maria was faithful, though, and began to pray that God would draw her husband and family to Himself.

It didn't happen overnight. In fact, it didn't even happen quickly. Maria was faithful to pray for her husband for years and years. She says that it was a test of her faithfulness and dedication to God and to her husband. Many times, she wanted to give up, but she didn't. God honored her faithfulness and a few years ago Pedro accepted Christ as his personal savior and Lord.

Maria and Pedro sometimes sing a special song on Sunday mornings. Pedro's favorite song is "Una Noche Tuve un Sueño". The words, translated, are something like this:

One night I had a dream. I went to heaven and there were many people waiting to talk to God. It came my turn and God told me that He never knew me. "Father," I pleaded, "give me one more chance! I want to preach!" Then I awoke, and I knew that I needed to tell all the people about Jesus Christ and His love. Father, thank you for another chance! I will preach!

When they sing this song, the whole congregation joins in. There is seldom a dry eye in the house. The song is powerful by itself, but Pedro is suffering from dementia and the beginnings of alzheimers. Sometimes, he can't remember all the words. To see his and Maria's faces while they are singing, though...it's a beautiful thing!

When Pedro stands before God, he will not be ashamed! The Apostle Paul said, in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for eveyone who believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Tuesday, April 8

Hacer Plomeria

In English: Plumbing.

If we thought we were leaving our construction projects behind when we entered the mission field, we were mistaken! So many times Doug and I have said that God has been preparing us to be missionaries all our married life. Our various "project homes" and rental nightmares were all in preparation for this.

The school of ministry received a gift to re-do the students' bathrooms. They were in bad shape! Doug and Jessee spent most of last week tearing out the old, leaky tubing from the concrete walls and this week reinstalling new, PVC tubing and valves. Here are Doug and I installing the "workings" for the toilets. Of course, as with almost any plumbing job, it took twice as long as we thought it should, and we had to make a trip to town to pick up a very important part which should have been included in the packet, but wasn't. [It was a silly little rubber gasket that goes between the tank and the bowl. You'd think that the guy at the plumbing store would say, "Oh, BTW the gasket isn't included." But no, we had to figure it out in the middle of installing the thing.] Oh, well. What's done is done and now, we have nice toilets and showers in the students bathrooms! HURRAH!!!!
This week Doug is working on the "hot water" part of the shower. I'll save that for another post, because the Mexican hot shower is truly worthy of its own post.

Thursday, April 3

Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes, one photo is just not enough...Tito laughs when I ask if a machete is an electrician's tool. (hover your mouse over the photos for more explanation.)

It's totally safe.  Just don't touch the wires together.
And if you don't have electrical tape, a plastic grocery bag works just fine.

Cultural adaptation.