care more than some think is wise; risk more than some think is safe;
dream more than some think is practical; expect more than some think is possible



I have two thoughts.

First, I cannot imagine what being a missionary was like, oh saying during the early 1800's to early 1900's (William Carey, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, George Müller, CT Studd, and Hudson Taylor to name a few). What a vastly different experience I am having overseas than they could have ever imagined! Travel for them, a majority of them anyway, was by sailing the high seas. How long did it take Carey to get to India, Judson to Burma? For Carey it would take five months by seas, and for Judson, 4 months to India and 5 Burma. By Sea, that blows my mind! I recently traveled home for a week, in April, and I was so irritated and tired after traveling for 32 hours! They traveled - yea lived during their travels for months upon months, on the open ocean, never seeing land!

More than that as they prepared for their life aboard, they wrote with words such as,
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left is heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteous, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair? (Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 45). 
"To see her no more in this world?" ... That is the most insane language I have ever read in a letter! But it was the truth. If you have access to To the Golden Shore, I highly recommend you read it! When missionaries from this era left home, they were not coming back, there was no furlough to think of - as a matter of fact, they may have even laughed at the idea! Thats my pure speculation. But I cant get over it, because I can dial a number on Skype and speak perfectly clear with my family almost whenever I desire. More so, I have video chat! I actually do get to see my family again. Also, because travel is so easy, I even was able to meet up with my folks while they were in CR for a mission trip with their church! Never could these missionaries of old imagined it!

Also consider the disease and death that wreaked havoc upon the lives of the families of these missionaries. Judson lived through the life of 2 of his three wives. He was no polygamist, his first two wives died from disease and other miseries, and he remarried as God led him into relationships. Hudson Taylor out lived his two wives (again successive marriages). He lost a number of children to disease too, while abroad!

My mind fails to comprehend what the God-given faith of these men - and women - must have been like, what stalwarts of the faith they must have been! But, they were mere men, and their lives therefore must be viewed as such, noting that anything incredible and unbelievable that happened, is the work of God Almighty, and therefore the glory is His. If I ever even mature into a man of faith a half or a quarter what these heroes of mine were, well, that would be amazing! I guess I just have to wait to see what God does in and through me. There are no presumptions here made on my part, simply just the ponderings on my mind and heart.

The second thing, is how much we - modern day Protestants - owe to our brethren of old, especially those that fall under the title of "the Reformers!" Ryle wrote a book on the subject I am reading now, and it is, to say the least - EYE OPENING! I recommend it.

The reformers he chooses to write about are five leading reformers on the English Reformation who were all burned at the stake during the reign of Mary I .. her martyr making is now known among the halls of history as the Marian Martyrs, and she herself known as "Bloody Mary." A few names of the many martyred people during her reign are Hugh Latimer, John Rogers, John Hooper, Nichola Ridley, and Thomas Cramner. The courage of these men cannot be matched, except by other martyrs who tremble not at the moment of their death, yet instead have faces shining at the thought of going to be with Jesus! Here is a brief quote from Latimer to Ridley once they were both in prisoned and facing their fiery graves! Latimer to Ridley, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."


We've come full circle so soon...

We have come full circle so soon with life and death here on the farm.

I have witnessed several births. I have seen from contraction to walking the birth of two goats - two out of the ten we had. The whole thing. Not really a pleasant sight, if you can imagine, but amazing! Goats may not grow up to be smart, but they can walk within about 15-20 minutes of being born. That's amazing too! I have seen a baby chick first peek it's head from the shell. I have seen baby chicks go from chick to chickens! We have also had baby rabbits born, though I was not there to see it. (A new born baby goat ... still covered in what I am gonna call slime!)

Yet, death seems to loom ever present too. First there are intentional killings. I have slaughtered a goat that fed 30 people three times - a huge blessing and money saver. That was a real "in your face" experience. Its difficult to deliberately take the life of an animal like that. Its not like having a gold fish die ... its a goat for crying out loud, whose neck I slit. Second, sometimes death comes at unexpected and unwanted times. 

With our batch of baby rabbits, a virus or bacteria came quickly upon them and wiped them all out just several days after being born. I think there we 8 to 10 of them. And, the trigger of these thoughts, was the death of one of our 10 baby goats. They are all sick, but are now being treated, but one got infected too early - or we got the medicine started too late - but now he is dead. I walked into the goat house this morning and there he was in his pin, lying unnaturally on his side, as if death were silently proclaiming its victory over this little life. Of course I buried the goat, so when I picked him up, rigor mortis had already set in and he was lifelessly cold. Kind of eerie. I mentioned we are administering medicine now so hopefully the other baby that is seriously sick will not die too.

But, as indicated, full circle is shortly to come around, as one of our adult female goats, Emma, is pregnant. She should give birth within several weeks.

Further, on a less death-toned note, plant life is a constant reminder of this circle. Even consider what the One who designed seeds said about them, "Truly truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit," John 12:24. When a plant dies, seeds dry out and produce more plants! These seeds not only produce entirely new plants, but food, fruit, vegetables, leaves (spinach), etc ... that are all so delicious, and they feed us! Now that is an amazing design, with an even more amazing Designer! (A tasty squash we grew in Ometepe!)

Just made me vividly aware that life and death happen every where, all the time.


Ok ... its a go.

In my last post I proposed that I was going to have another blog dedicated to the topic I have been training in lately. It is created. The link is above, the In The Garden link will take you there.


Trying Something New...

It has occurred to me several times since being in CR and learning all that we have covered that I ought to, and I am compelled to, share this wealth of information. So you ask, "How, how shall you share this unending wealth of knowledge ... oh please do tell?" (note, hint of sarcasm)

Take courage my friend, I shall indeed tell you how I shall share this knowledge.

I think what I want to do is dedicate another blog to this subject ... that is of sharing what I have learned. It will serve - hopefully serve - two purposes. First, for me to process everything, and second for whatever unlikely soul who reads it to learn something new, even if its just a little something.

So, all you faithful readers (note, another hint of sarcasm),  be on the look out for an announcement of a new sub-blog, if you will.

Thats all for now.


Just Like the Spring Rains ...

In my last post, reading it now, its a little despairing ... ok, a lot despairing. But that was the reality of my spiritual condition, and subsequently the rest of my life's condition.

There was little joy to be had when I was alone with my thoughts, I was literally miserable. That may sound weird or crazy, but I think we can all put away the "bad," while with friends and laugh and cut up, I can and do. I do it pretty well. The only real indication of any deeper problem would probably be a much more cynical take on everything. But other than that, if you had been with me, no other symptoms existed. Yet let me alone, and the problems flooded me like a levy breaking, and a wall of bad washing over me. Everything became tedious, no joy, like I said, to be found any where. 

BUT ... isn't that one of the greatest words in the whole english vocabulary! 

BUT, God is God and He is unmatchably good, gracious, merciful, sovereign, and all-knowing about how much we, vessels of dust, can handle. I felt like I was at my breaking point. I was at my breaking point. 

Talk about irony! I am a missionary, I am "serving" ... in the last month it is hard to say if there was actually any true service, or if it was all just motions. But what can one do when there is no solution to be found. 

Anyway, I think it started last night. I sat with two of my teammates who left for Haiti today for the next month and we prayed. I prayed for them and their trip, and Nelta prayed for me. They both knew of my coldness of heart toward God. Nelta's prayer was sweet and so coveted by me. And I know there are many others back home who are praying too, but Nelta's I heard. 

Let me attest to the goodness of God, He has answered those prayers today! Whether I was waking, working, or worshiping ... well it was all worship, with a warmth of heart I have not felt for a long time. I even feel some of the intense passion that I typically think of characterizing me coming back. Now, not to get ahead of myself, nor to discount God ... but the enemy is lurking. I am not stupid, not all the time ... and by the grace of God I am now back on alert. I know the battle begins tomorrow afresh! But right now, I can revel in the work the Lord has wrought in my heart this day! Who ever would think so much can change in one day? I even was alive during the worship via song times today! It has been so wonderful. Surely there is no one nor nothing as deeply and truly satisfying as being know, loved, and enjoyed by the Great I AM or knowing, loving and enjoying the Great I AM.

This is my praise to you my God. You are worthy, and I your praises I seek to proclaim my entire life into eternity!



Sometimes seasons are the greatest parts of life Sometimes seasons bring with them deep soul satisfaction, joys unbeknownst, & the fulfillment man is always chasing after

Other times, seasons drain the soul, turn over burdens yet dealt with, & can leave a man chasing after follies for reasons he knows not

The latter leaves him dry


O Jimmy...

So, one of the orphans here at CICRIN (Centro Infantil Cristiano Nicaragüense) is Jimmy. He is 14, and pretty much has spent his entire life at CICRIN, since he was two. I will do my best to describe him for you. And please know that as I do, some of what I say will sound mean, but it is simply a matter of fact. Plus, this post redeems itself later …

Oh Jimmy … He is 14, the age at which boys are by nature typically punks! Jimmy is a punk for sure. It is the best description of him. PUNK, it encompasses so much. He is simply mean and obnoxious by nature. He is always looking for attention, and this desire for attention works itself out as annoying and pestering behaviors. For example, he will come to you – 1st thing in the morning at 6 am – and slap you on the back, no too hard, but enough to be annoying. And he knows it. Every time he sees Stephanie, a girl from Maine working here before her church sends a group down in 2 weeks, he comes and messes her hair around. He comes and attempts to tickle everyone by jamming a finger into your armpit, typically while you are eating. It you are resting at “el rancho” (see picture) he will come and disturb your peace by squealing high pitched, swinging your hammock, or whatever else he can imagine to get your attention.

Robert, me, and a few others always tell him we love him & God does too. He needs and must hear it. His response? Well, it is to look at your, make a face, and then imitate your comment by replying with nonsense noises in a truly obnoxious high-pitched jabber. It is indeed hard to love Jimmy, but am I not hard to love too?

He does not know how to stop either. Now, we all know someone who doesn’t know when to stop, don’t we? Jimmy is that person here at CICRIN. Even with 2-year-old Dunia, he knows not when to cease his persistent pestering! Poor Dunia!

Apparently, he has received every form of discipline possible and it has no effect. In fact, he has been held back in school because of bad behavior, not an uncommon practice here. I think it is a good policy. But he should be in late middle school or his freshman year of high school and is still in elementary school. And it has nothing to do with how smart or not he is, for in fact he is quite gifted. He is just such a punk all the time!

I hope this paints a picture of Jimmy. If your thoughts are, “He has said nothing positive about Jimmy,” then you are correct. There is nearly nothing positive to be said.

Yet, redemption to a small degree does exist. Jimmy and I have a good relationship. As I said early, he is hard to love, but he can be loved. And God has graced me with the means to love him, with the patience to get beyond his annoying tendencies and to see a little boy in need of more love than most can understand.

The story of our friendship goes like this…

From day one I knew I was going to have difficulties with Jimmy. Sure enough, I did. Our first Sunday here, Laura, Nelta, & I had a home church time, during which we prayed for the means to love Jimmy like we need to, like we are called to. I pretty much viewed him as an enemy, and we know what God calls us to in terms of loving our neighbors. So we prayed for it. And that is as much thought as I gave it.

The next day Marjorie (Jimmy’s older sister), Jimmy, Darrell, & I were in the lake swimming, cooling down, talking, and apparently having a mud fight too! The last not to my preference. As my level of tolerance began to reach its max, something happened, not tangible and noticeable at the time, but looking back I know now it was God answering my prayer from the previous day … to love Jimmy well. It happened slyly. The obnoxious mud fight became a fun game! We waylaid each other with the lake bottom mud … its actually a really fine black volcanic sand, and not gross. We each took shot to the face, hair, back, chest, and everywhere! It was so much fun. We laughed, gasped for air as we ducked under water to avoid a new hit to the face. This went on for some time. Eventually it calmed down. We all settled down. Like Nacho says in Nacho Libre, we just had to get our wiggles (wēē-ggles) out. Afterward, Marjorie and I had a nice conversation.

The result – to the glory of God – is that Jimmy and I have been at peace since. And more. We have grown to be friends in some respect. He answers my, “Como estas?” with a legitimate answer. When I tell him God and I love him, he simply takes it quietly. For some of his manners, you just learn to ignore it … and it eventually disappears. And for other behaviors, its how he shows affection. It is misplaced and misguided means of affection, but for now it works for him, and you just have love him back in the same means and with true means like a hug. An offer for a high five is responded to with a high five, a smile with a smile, and a correction with a silent reaction, which may or may not include a face made at you.

This is one of my most cherished stories from my short time at CICRIN. Jimmy needs much prayer. God is able to save him.

Get to know your local missionary

Ok, so this post has been inspired by Borthwick’s book1 that I wrote about in the last post.

It is from Building Block 8: Meeting Missionaries. He makes points in this bit of chapter 8 that rang deep and true within me, now that I have spent some time overseas involved in mission work. I found some of his comments about “meeting missionaries” to be such deep desires that I felt like it needed to be shared (not as if many read this…).

Borthwick writes several ways in which we can get to know missionaries:
  • Receive newsletters
  • Write personal letters
  • Plan a phone call
  • Prayer for them
  • Host them while of furlough
  • Visit them

The first one that rang deep & true was the point about personal letters (or emails)! He goes on to say…
I have very seldom heard complaints from missionaries that they get “too much personal mail.” As a matter of fact, most would long for more personal mail because for many, personal letters are the best way to find out about the churches and communities they have left behind. “But what do I write?” … It might not sound too exotic, but my recommendation is to write about personal matters. Telling missionaries how God is at work in our lives, explaining the challenges our church is facing, or relating what we are studying can be very encouraging and uplifting. We should also be willing to talk about the “average” parts of our lives – weather, marriages in the church, & people coming and going. These ordinary events can all be part of good correspondence with missionaries. When we write we must also demonstrate our concern for the missionary. A specific reference to a newsletter prayer request is a great encouragement to a missionary. It lets the missionary know that someone has read the letter and prayed over it. Asking about victories and defeats that he or she is facing is another way to show our concern.
The second one that rang deep & true was the point about prayer (or emails)! He goes on to say…
The most important thing a missionary can hear from us is, “I have been praying for you every day.” Our prayers are evidence that we are truly in ministry with them. Prayer is also one of the best ways to get to know missionaries because God can teach us though our prayers how we should prey for our friends in other cultures.
He later goes on to suggest 1) asking missionaries questions related to their daily lives, 2) not to generalize missions or missionaries, 3) ask (straightforwardly) about financial needs, 4) ask for specific prayer requests about their personal lives (& families), 5) ask about a missionary’s spiritual life. His point here is, whether communications are via letters, emails, phone calls, or personal visits, that missionaries are mere humans just like everyone else. Jim Elliot states, “Missionaries are very human folks, just doing what they are asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.”2 This is a very good summation of how I feel. Missionaries are human, and I can attest there are needs, and many of them! Life in another country, although I love it, is indeed hard, sometimes extremely hard. Also, just because someone is a missionary by no means is indicative of a great, strong, stumbling free relationship with God. In fact, I have faced many difficulties simply because I am overseas. 

Henry Nouwen states, “It is far from easy to be a missioner. One has to live in a different culture, speak a different language, & get used to a different climate, all at great distances from those patterns of life, which fit most comfortably. It is not surprising that, for many missionaries, life is full of tension, frustration, confusion, anxiety, alienation, and loneliness.”3 This statement rang true into the depths of my being, and I have only been overseas for 4 months! I cannot imagine what it must be like for a life long missionary, though I do hope and pray to know someday. Loneliness has been a big hurdle for me. I am a supremely family oriented guy, I love my family dearly and to be away from them is very hard. It is different than being away at college, because in Auburn I had a group that became my family there. Yet, still the culture and customs were my own. Often I find that it is my thoughts and I alone together. It can be hard to be a part of the group if you don’t speak their language, thus loneliness. But I have found joy in the presence of God, and peace when stayed upon the hope of His promises. You better believe it though, Satan challenges any attempts made to spend time with God. He hates that! One author states, “there is nothing that the devils dreads so much as prayer. His great concern is to keep us from praying,” and goes on to say, “Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray!”4 This is precisely why our lives as followers of Christ and why this world-wide endeavor we call missions must be founded upon prayer, because prayer overcomes the very gates of hell!

Ok, so I realize I have strayed a bit here at the end from my original points, but its all true, and all of it is fresh from my own ponderings as I am still “chewing the cud” on all the experiences and thoughts I have been processing since January.

Thanks for reading!

1 Borthwick, P. 1987. A Mind for Missions: 10 Ways to Build Your World Vision. p. 119-131. NavPress. Colorado Springs, CO.
2 Elliot, E. 1958. Shadow of the Almighty. p. 46. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI.
3 Nouwen, H. 1983. ¡Gracias! A Latin American Journal. p. 161. Harper & Row. New York, NY.
4 Unknown. The Kneeling Christian. p. 17, 20. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI.

A Mind For Missions

A Mind for Missions: 10 Ways to Build Your World Vision

I have just read the book A Mind for Missions (1987), authored by Paul Borthwick (is/was the pastor for missions at Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA).

The stated purpose of the book is to help Christians enlarge their understanding, & subsequently their vision for missions to be more consistent with that of God’s vision and plan for redeeming people from all tribes, tongues, languages and nations.

He opens asking if you are a worldly Christian or a World Christian. A worldly Christian is indeed a Christian – saved by grace, but one who has misplaced priorities, one whose focus is preoccupied with self. In contrast, Borthwick states,

A world Christian breaks the mold of a self-centered way of thinking. A world Christian understands that Jesus calls us to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23) so that we might respond to a world of greater needs beyond ourselves.

He goes on to provide ten chapters – ten “Building Blocks” for developing a world view that lends itself to developing a world Christian, rather than a worldly Christian mindset and perspective of the world within which we live. The following is the ten blocks with a very brief summary of the blocks …

Scripture: Our God is a missionary God

Current Events: Because our world vision needs to be relevant to our world, we need to be aware of how God is working currently in our world, keeping up with current events helps us to do just that.

Prayer: Knowing God’s heart for missions (#1) and understanding the great needs in our world (#2) should drive us to our knees in prayer. “God is calling us to stand in the gap (Ezk 22:30) primarily as people of prayer.”

Reading: Reading about missions inspires and increases our zeal for missions. He recommends reading about the history of missions, missionary biographies, current issues in missions, topics related to cross-cultural understanding, etc… - Personal Note: I have been doing a lot of reading related to missions and this point can in no way be overstated. Reading about missions; be they biographies, histories, theology related, etc … inspires in ways I never dreamed it would. It has transformed my vision and interest drastically! READ!!!

Firsthand Experience: Kind of self-explanatory, but it is to experience life beyond our normal boundaries of experiences – meaning we need to experience other cultures, other beliefs, to become aware of needs unknown to us. He provides simple ideas like eating at a international restaurant (perhaps Indian???), visit an area of town known to have a concentration of a certain ethnicity of people (Visit “China Town”… ), get involved with internationals who live in your town, go worship with international believers in your city, have a foreign student live with your family, learn a foreign language, or actually spend time overseas (perhaps the best means)!

Fellowship: This is just a good recommendation for any Christian who struggles with selfishness … have a fellowship group who encourages you to think beyond yourself (Hebrews 3:13), in a manner specifically oriented towards missions!

Giving: This is the responsible stewarding of our time and money, an sacrificial outworking of our gratitude to God for his goodness to us. We can put these resources to use for the purposes of missions.

Meeting Missionaries: Be in contact with missionaries currently serving or those on furlough, which helps to build a correct image of missionaries rather than a distorted one (like I had for a long time). You can receive newsletters, write them letters, call them (it may be expensive, so plan it), pray for them, visit them, etc. Be with missionaries. Again, through my own encounters with missionaries through my church in Auburn, Lakeview Baptist, and through my parent’s church, SMIC, I have been in contact with many missionaries and it is always amazing to hear what God is doing and how He uses His servants.

Lifestyle Choices: If our hearts are geared to be world Christians, then the use of our resources will reflect this, as the use of our resources reflects our heart’s priorities (Matt 6:21) – which involves sacrifice, responsible stewarding of said resources. Having a simple out look can help us in this pursuit, & Borthwick states, “The simplest person is one who as one goal – to please Jesus Christ in everything.” There is a convicting, profound truth to this statement.

Other Input: We can make learning about the world a hobby of sorts; we can set resources like Operation World before us, leading us to prayer for the nations of the world. We can set globes and maps before us & train ourselves to see the globe & maps and pray. Etc…

These are the 10 “Building Blocks” Borthwick asserts that can help us grow and work toward becoming a world Christian. But he rightfully acknowledges that this is a lifelong pursuit, & that it takes diligence, perseverance, and most of all grace from God.