Sunday, January 11, 2015

Staying connected verses staying online

I love the fact we can stay with the latest activities going on in the lives of the people we love. 

I do, however, wonder how much connection there is when most of that info is gathered from social media. 

So here I am on social media updating my activites. :-}

I am inbetween Global Gathering and Home - I am enjoying the down time and the connections with the great staff of Amor though. I always am blessed by thier desire to do God's work anywhere they happen to be and at the same time be such good friends with each other. I am going to join them as we watch some playoff games.

This reminds me the church is much more than the local body and much less without a local body. I can feel at home with other believers but I feel really disconnected when I am not with my local body.

I am praying for LHCC today as they worship, learn and touch each other. I will join you soon.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The houses are finished

The last couple days have been pretty hectic.
Scott Congdon and his son Jordon (who will be the Amor presence in Cancun) had to return to San Diego as Scott's Dad was in intensive care due to complications from pneumonia and he was not expected to make it. So far he is hanging on though he is on a ventilator right now and has had a transfusion due to loss of blood internally. Prayers continue for him and the family.
Gayla and April (Jordon's wife) are holding down the fort with the rest of the Amor staff. 
As  some of you know we have been talking to Jose' the contractor who poured the foundations for the five houses. He is an associate of Gilberto who has been praying for him to receive Jesus for over 8 years. Durring the month before we arrived Jose was also in constant contact with Jordon who developed a fondness for. After the second day of the work this week he announced he wanted to be baptized. Well last night I sat down with him and asked him why he was making this decision.
With tears in his eyes and in the presence of his daughter, Gilgerto, and Victor (who had been talking and working with Jose' the last three days) he responded that he had seen the light shining out of Jordan's heart and light in joy and compassion in Jon Wilson's eyes and the openness of Victor to everyone around and he wanted that light and joy and openness for himself. 
Talk about a lump in your throat moment.
We left the dinner table in the restaurant and went to our room to change cloths while John Fudge, a speaker from Urban Saints with us from England, rounded up anyone who wanted to share in this new birth at the pool, to change. While in the room we prayed and talked then in a rather cool wind (well cool for Cancun) Jose's and I went into the pool while the body of believers sang Amazing Grace and there I was privilieged to baptism him. 
Amor calls its workers to not just build houses but to build Hope. One more person has hope in Jesus today because of a friends prayers, a ministers open compassion, and a volunteer's willingness to include and engage another as a child of God and not just a contractor.
Yes we finished all five houses today - but more than that - we watched God work beyond what we could ask or imagine.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Roofs are on

All five houses have roofs - that is a big deal for two reasons. 
It means we can start stuccoing tomorrow and that means we will likely be done for the key ceremony on Friday.
The other reason is that it rained tonight and with the rain came a strong wind. The structures are now sound and ready to sustain this weather.
A local contractor has been used to pour the foundations for the houses to expedite the construction but also because two of the five homes need extra care in the construction of the foundations. That contractor is a business associate of Gilberto Figeuroa who works closely with Amor and has donated property for the Cienega project. Today the contractor whose first name is Jose' announced he wanted to be baptized tomorrow.
We  don't know the reason for this choice at this time. Certainly his relationship with Gilberto and his work with a couple key people on our team have contributed to this decision. It takes many touches for someone far from the Lord to make the decision to draw near. All the people who touched Jose' were unaware of where in the line of contacts they were - they just knew God was working through them. Today their witness was rewarded and another person was brought to the throne of grace.
Never give up - if the person you are praying for still has not answered God's call - the next prayer - the next encouraging word - the next act of kindness could make all the difference in eternity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cake is good but water is better

Some of the worksites have their walls together because their slab was already in place. However, the site Victor was asked to assist with not only did not have a slab they did not have a foundation and not only that but the foundation walls were three and a half feet deep. That meant there needed to be a ton + of fill to get the foundation poured without draining the bank with cement cost. Today they formed a bucket line filling each bucket with rocks and passing them along a line of 7 or 8 people. The work was hot, heavy and draining (the person filling the buckets was relieved every 15 minutes) but by the end of the day it was done and the foundation was being poured. See the LHCC Facebook for pics from Victor.
This morning Matt Somerfield reminded us that God's love is more like a river than a cake. If more than one person receives a cake they have to divide it up with each receiving a piece. But with a river no matter how many people dip their buckets into the river it's flow replenishes and there is a full bucket for everyone.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Being before doing

Getting back past curfew - yes we have a curfew. Since we are working and/or studying from 6:00-9:30 we have to be lights out @ 10:30. Don't tell. BTW Vic is the 'good son' tucked in on time. 
So here is the thought gleaned from a day of building houses, relationships and awareness of God's presence in the world courtesy of one of our speakers, Mark Yaconelli;
Be still for a time so you can
Behold what God is doing all around you in order to
Behave as God needs to accomplish his righteousness and justice in the world. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Drinking water from a fire hose

Victor and I got started with a Leader Huddle at 7:15 today - I think I mentioned he is on the caretaker team - they make sure everyone is in the right place, are not doing anything that might be out of line with our purpose, and stand around telling war stories between sessions. Since the battle cry during worship is "Welcome to the Jungle" they refer to themselves as the Zoo Keepers. 
I catch glimpses of Remy as she moves from session to small group to team meeting to session - I am so proud to have her represent La Habra Christian Church. 
We had five sessions today along with small group meetings. The sessions were interesting as in Campolo's remind that we are winners because we started out as one sperm of 5 million and we won the race. We beat the 5 million to one odds. Our communion service focused on the trafficing of humans - a third for the sex trade and the rest for indentured/slave labor. We were reminded that Jesus came to set the captives free and as we turn a blind eye to industries that use indentured servants (kept in a labor because they cannot repay the person who hired them), exploited as with the people of Bengaladesh who rely on clothing and shoe manufacturerers who will only hire them for two months at a time paying pennies a day for sewing buttons and dying cloth, sold for sex. The issue is overwhelming and we were left feeling quite hopeless until other speakers gave us ideas for where the church has been successful and where we can begin to make a difference.
I led a session for the small groups to learn how they can overcome the differences in values and communication styles - had some fun with them. We had one group of non English speakers so Victor translated for me as I led that group - he led the discussion - they seemed to really have a good time with him.
We closed the night with Christmas Carols - a manger with the baby on stage - quite dramatic to think that God came to us as one who relied on us to keep him alive and nuture him to maturity. Kind  of how it is today. He relies on us to keep him alive for this world and present him completely so they see the whole Jesus for thier lives.
Building starts tomorrow - 6 AM meeting - but they have coffee!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Justice is love in a social context

Dr. Tony Campolo spoke to us in the opening Keynote address. He is a professor of sociology at the Eastern University and a Baptist Pastor. He is best known for his work to serve the lost and the lonely in this world. At the age of 80 he has not lost any of his passion for seeing the church bring God's Kingdom to this world.
As we went through the process of getting to know each other (I counted 7 countries including the Maldives) represented and broke up into our work groups (we are building 5 homes) and then into small groups within each worksite group (we are about 170 strong) I was reminded how large and powerful the Church of Jesus Christ is when we bring a focus to our purpose to bring reconciliation of Christ to the lost and the lonely.
Campolo reminded us that in every Gospel Jesus introduced his purpose for coming to us which was and is "to bring the Kingdom of God." I recommend you read Isaiah 65 where God through the prophet describes what the Kingdom will be like when it comes. That chapter becomes a blueprint for all local congregations joined together as God's church universal to join in introducing God's Kingdom to our world in our time and with our generation.
Tomorow we begin training to build for the rest of the week.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Registration Begins

The 50+ Volunteers are arriving today and I am allowed to assit with registration. They are from the United Kingdom & USA with one lone Aussie who is speaking. It is interesting meeting them - most have worked with Amor at one point or another and all are committed to the purpose of creating an environment for families to enjoy the life God has for them.
Thought I should share this pic taken at the lagoon near the children's play ground this morning. No unsuperfised children allowed!!

First meeting of the volunteers tonight to hear from Tony Campolo. Looking forward to getting this thing started.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Transition

There is a process for transition in life and in Anthropology we call "right of passage." While this phrase is usually reserved for such things as young boys going through a process - a hazing if you will - at the end of which they move from the Mother's residence to the Father's - I have found it applies to almost every transition. Even one so short as traveling from one contry to another.
In this process you start as a person from the States, for instance, with all that you are as a person there, to an in-between that is sort of a 'nothing.' You are one of many 'travelers' who are not permanent to life but an in-between. During that brief time, if you allow it to form in your mind, you have the chance to transition to who you will become when you land. I find this process useful.
I have time to consider what I have left behind and why I am making this trip. I am free from the responsibilities behind and am called to focus on the responsibilities to come.
Soon I will be an 'expert' in culture and leadership - even though in my past life neither are as important as my responsibilities as husband and father - Pastor and mentor. Leaving those last behind will help me best direct those I will be asked to assist at the Global Gathering. 
That we - as humans created by God - can be so flexible is a mystery to me. I tend to be rather intense in my roles and the creativity God provides all of us is focused on the time and place in which I am. So for now that intensity will find a new focus - though for a short time - and may God continue to grant clarity in this alternate life as I become Sherman instead of Pastor Sherman.