Saturday, April 01, 2006

Two Questions.

I am taking an unscientific survey to provide some fodder for a future post that I am thinking about writing. I would love it if you would answer these two questions in the comment section (It would be preferable to have all comments left anonymously.)

1)Would you consider yourself a follower of the way (or path) of Jesus?

2)In your own words: How would you define what sin is? Be specific.

That's it. Leave your answers and I may post something about this in the future.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Stare At the Sun

My friend Jacob shared this song with me the other day. I was listening to it again today and blown away by the lyrics.

Stare At The Sun (Acoustic)

I sit here clutching useless lists
And keys for doors that don't exist
I crack my teeth on pearls
I tear into the history
Show me what it means to me in this world
Yeah in this world

'Cause I am due for a miracle
I'm waiting for a sign
I'll stare straight into the sun
And I won't close my eyes
Till I understand or go blind

I see the parts but not the whole
I study saints and scholars both
No perfect plan unfurls
Do I trust my heart or just my mind
Why is truth so hard to find in this world
Yeah in this world

'Cause I am due for a miracle
I'm waiting for a sign
I'll stare straight into the sun
And I won't close my eyes
Till I understand or go blind (till I understand or go blind)

I know that there's a point I've missed
A shrine or stone I haven't kissed
A scar that never graced my wrist
A mirror that hasn't met my fist
But I can't help feeling like I'm

Due for a miracle
I'm waiting for a sign (waiting for a sign)
I'll stare straight into the sun
And I won't close my eyes (and I won't close my eyes)

Due for a miracle
I'm waiting for a sign
I'll stare straight into the sun
And I won't close my eyes

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sleep eludes me!

This week has been pretty crazy and full. We returned from our trip to the states last Friday aternoon (our luggage came on Saturday night). On Monday our new intern Zach arrived, on Tuesday our friend Krista came for a visit. Today I had a long exhausting day and was looking forward to be all day. Tomorrow I fly out with the other guys on the team for a conference in France. We have to catch a taxi to the airport a 5am. It is 2 am and I am wide awake. How is that possible?¿?¿? Well, I think I will go give sleep another try.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Dinner Break

Tonight as Lori and I were packing and preparing for our trip to the States, we ran out of time to make dinner. So, after running some errands I walked through the cold Santiago night air down a little cobble stoned street near our house that is called the Rua de San Pedro. I went to the closest bar that makes good sandwiches and walked in to find that there was a soccer game about to start. There was a group of young guys waiting to watch the game with their pals. There were a couple of tables filled with couples who were hanging out with the sports sounds in the back ground. There was an older guy sitting buy himself merrily enjoying his Spanish wine and basking in the atmosphere.

After I ordered our sandwiches I waited and just looked around and took in my surroundings. The waitress brought me a plate of cut up pig ears and bread while I was waiting for my food. I looked at it, but it is hard to eat any meat that has the hair still on it so I passed. I had one of those moments that happens from time to time where I am really amazed at and thankful for the city that I live in. Most of the time in the midst of life I find it easy to get caught up in life forget how beautiful of a place this is.

The waitress came out with my chicken and ham sandwiches and it was time for me to leave this moment to my memory and go back out into the cold for the short walk home. Now back to packing!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Recording Session

Last night Lori and I sat down with our new Dell computer and started recording one of the songs that Matt Hanlon and I have been working on. I can't tell you how refreshing and rewarding it was to sit down and record without the normal glitches that we were having when we tried to record with our laptop. Our laptop just did not have the needed processing power to handle the pro tools programming.

Up until last night I was on the verge of burning my pro tools program. It was touted by Musician's Friend as "easy to install as a printer". I am not sure what kind of printers the author is installing, but I feel that this article was quit misleading. It is by far the most complicated program that we have ever tried to install on our home computers. It is very picky and requires that your computer be set up with very specific configurations. Also, Pro tools has been anything but an easy program to learn or use. After reading many reviews by other users, we purchased a User's Guide to help us step by step through the program. We have learned that it indeed has a steep learning curve, but most users say that if you have the patience to get through the learning process that it will pay off by the many possibilities that the program has.

Last night, was for me the first sign of hope that this program might be useful. I am pumped and look forward to spending free time laying down tracks this coming year.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Arise and shine. The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light!

I Just wanted to say a quick Merry Christmas to friends around the world.

Afrikaans: Gesëende Kersfees
Afrikander: Een Plesierige Kerfees
African/ Eritrean/ Tigrinja: Rehus-Beal-Ledeats
Albanian:Gezur Krislinjden
Arabic: Milad Majid
Argentine: Feliz Navidad
Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
Azeri: Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal
Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
Bengali: Shuvo Naba Barsha
Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian: Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Breton: Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
Chile: Feliz Navidad
Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
(Catonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
Corsian: Pace e salute
Crazanian: Rot Yikji Dol La Roo
Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian: Sretan Bozic
Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish: Glædelig Jul
Duri: Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
or Zalig Kerstfeast
English: Merry Christmas
Eskimo: (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!
Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian: Ruumsaid juulup|hi
Faeroese: Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!
Farsi: Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish: Hyvaa joulua
Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
French: Joyeux Noel
Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
Galician: Bo Nada
Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr! German: Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek: Kala Christouyenna!
Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew: Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi: Shub Naya Baras
Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
Hawaian: Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Icelandic: Gledileg Jol
Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
Iroquois: Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay.
Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie
Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Jiberish: Mithag Crithagsigathmithags
Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latin: Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!
Latvian: Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu!
Lausitzian:Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto
Lettish: Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu
Low Saxon: Heughliche Winachten un 'n moi Nijaar
Macedonian: Sreken Bozhik
Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb
Manx: Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
Maori: Meri Kirihimete
Marathi: Shub Naya Varsh
Navajo: Merry Keshmish
Norwegian: God Jul, or Gledelig Jul
Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado
Papiamento: Bon Pasco
Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu
Pennsylvania German: En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
Peru: Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo
Philipines: Maligayan Pasko!
Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
Portuguese:Feliz Natal
Pushto: Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha
Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
Rhetian: Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn
Romanche: (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn!
Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele
Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Sami: Buorrit Juovllat
Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
Serbian: Hristos se rodi
Slovakian: Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce
Sami: Buorrit Juovllat
Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Scots Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil huibh
Serb-Croatian: Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina
Serbian: Hristos se rodi. Singhalese: Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
Slovak: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Slovene: Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto
Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
Tami: Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Trukeese: (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech!
Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian: Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Vietnamese: Chung Mung Giang Sinh
Welsh: Nadolig Llawen
Yugoslavian: Cestitamo Bozic
Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye'dun!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Handel's Messiah

I was having a rather blah week last week. Nothing really spectacular happened and I spent a lot of time doing things that needed to be done, but that aren't particularly fun or fulfilling in and of themselves. On Saturday night Lori surprised me by taking me out for a special date. She took me to a Concert of Handel's Messiah. I have always enjoyed the famous Hallelujah Chorus, but it was really impressive to here the major excerps from it all together (The entire thing would be four hours do so most of the time only select movements are performed).

I really was touched by the music. It was the kind of thing that reached down into my soul and made me feel like I wanted to cry. I am not sure how or why music does that, but it did. It was a really refreshing time and reminded me of some of the best worship services I have been to. Well, the music definitely was a cathedral of sound which amazingly was written in 24 days. Not only was it praising God when it was written, but somehow it has withstood the test of time and is still causing people to sing praise to God today.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Eat this Bread, Drink this Cup

Matthew 26
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Last week at church we were talking about living a life of faith all week long and not just on Sundays. It is so easy to compartmentalize our faith from our daily life and takes a conscious decision each day to pick up our cross and follow. One of the things that we talked about was communion. In Spain, two staples of any real meal are bread and wine! If you don't have them at the table it is more like a snack than a meal. It would also be really weird to invite someone to a meal and not have bread and wine. Those were also two of the most basic parts of the meal in Jesus's day.

Imagine the significance of what he said, if what he meant was "Think of me as often as you eat! Remember what I have done for you." How much more profoundly would that affect our lives than just thinking about our Lord once a week, month, or quarter at a church communion service.

Also, as I have been thinking about communion this week it is amazing to me how beautiful it is to eat together. Something happens over a meal that draws people together. The sharing of food and conversation draws people together. I think that it is awesome that Jesus took something so common and universal as eating to remind us to think of him.

Is every meal communion? I don't think so. Could it be? Maybe. I believe it has much less to do about the meal and much more to do about the posture of our souls.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pushiness vs Boldness

Our team has been in conversation about this especially in regards of how we should live and demonstrate our faith. To me this is a good example of what not to do.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Hey I found a cool sight for podcasting the other day. I don't really think I will get into it very much, but if you have always had the desire to have your own radio show, or you just like to talk you might like it. I have found it useful for making real quick rough recordings of songs that I am working on. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I love artistic type projects and I have several that I have been working on recently. On the music front I have been writing music and meeting with a friend of mine to play. We hope to play a the cafe in the near future. We just need to work up a decent playlist.

Recording is another thing altogether. Lori and I have made several attempts to record. At first, our computer was lacking memory and potency that the program needed. We got enough memory to finally be able to record, but we can't transfer it into any kind of usable medium (ie. mp3, wave file, cd, etc). I think our computer is just too old and slow. What can you do? I am thinking about getting a tape recorder. :)

I have been working on a painting of the city of Santiago. It is a large panoramic (1 meter by 50 cm). I am pleased with how it is coming, and prefer to work on it at night when the house is quiet and I have less time constraints. It is a very peaceful way to spend time.

I have started learning a flash program to design a new websight for the cafe. If I can figure out the difference between "Sprites" (I always thought it was a clear pop) and "Buttons" I should be OK. We'll see how this goes. So, far I am doing it because it sounds like fun. I may come to change my mind.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Some thoughts on having children

One thing I can say is that it will change your life forever. It is one of those things helps you to understand God on a more profound level than words ever could. Here you have this baby who can't do anything. It depends totally on you for life and guidance and instruction and knows you and begins to mimic and copy you from day one. Then, this little baby grows up before your eyes and turns into a little kid and has conversations with you. Sometimes it is sweet and caring and sometimes it is belligerent and doesn't want to do what you wish. It is definitely a great adventure and one that I would never change for the world. I will say, there is something about babies that melt my heart. They are really fun to hold and cuddle. However, around a year and a half is a neat change as they become independent and their character really begins to bloom and show itself. It seems like as they get older and more independent things do get little easier. I don't know if I have enough experience yet to say, though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Caught a cold

So, I caught a cold yesterday. I have not felt like doing much of anything today. I want to blog, but every time I go to write something my head feels clogged and I think it will probably come out sounding stupid.

I have been watching the girls, while Lori covers our shift at the cafe. I feel kind of bad for the girls, because it is raining outside and I definitely don't have energy to do a lot with them inside. They seem to be content watching the Veggie Tales Jonah, for now. I think I am going to just surf some blogs. Hope to be feeling better tomorrow.

Peace, Matt

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pony Tails?

So I watched the girls this weekend while Lori was visiting a Spanish friend of ours in Ireland. Overall it was uneventful as we made multiple trips to various playgrounds around the city. I rented the movie "Robots" and the girls and I has pizza and popcorn. The girls were so enthralled by the movie that they would forget to eat. Pretty funny.

The one thing that I don't understand is how to do a pony-tail. This morning while I was getting Abigail ready for school she asked for braids. I vetoed that and suggested a pony tail. "How hard could it be?" I thought to myself. You basically tie all of the hair into one big bundle, right? Wrong. First you have to brush it so it all aligns itself properly. Then you have to grab as much of it in a fist as possible. But there are always a few hairs just sticking out or not totally conforming to the main mass. So I would attempt to brush the stragglers into the wad of hair that I held in my hand. Every time that I tried to grab the new hairs I would lose some of the old ones. After several attempts I got her pony-tail looking how it would normally look after a romp on the playground. Good enough, I thought. The most important as that she arrived at school with it. If it falls out there, I know that there are plenty of women who would know what to do.

So, we heading out the door and she asks to wear her strawberry sock hat. No way.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Childlike Joy

Today Lori and I took the girls to the swimming pool for a surprise. They were ecstatic. Isa had the most contagious look of joy at being able to swim in the water. She had floats on her arms and a blue swim cap (because it is required) and just giggled and laughed and tipped her head back. She splashed and kicked and drank the pool water. It was one of those moments in life you just want to freeze in your mind and remember forever. I think children teach us a lot, if we are willing to learn.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Letter from a Friend

I just wanted to share a letter that I received recently. Our team has received similar letters from time to time and I often hesitate sharing them because I do not want to seek or even appear to seek self-praise and self-exaltation. However, I think this friend of mine has given me some deep insight into how Christians normally are perceived by those who do not follow Christ or possibly how Christians really are to those who do not follow Christ. As someone who has grown up in the church and Christian culture my whole life, it is really good for me to step into the shoes of my friends who are not sure of Christ and understand the ways that they understand God, Christians, the Church, etc...

I believe that we need to be like Peter in Acts Chapter 10. We he first went to the house of Cornelius the first thing that he said was, "Tell me what you already know." He came first as a listener and then later filled in the gaps after he understood what Cornelius did and did not know. Do we listen before we speak? I don't know, I hope to. Well, here is part of the letter:

I hope you're all well at the Terra Nova. One thing I wanted to say which I don't think I got a proper chance to say to everyone was Thankyou For Everything, really. You all helped me through an immensely difficult time and it was so, so reassuring to know there were friendly faces I could always go to whenever I was feeling down or alone. I think I've learned from meeting you guys, you know. I have to admit here in the UK there is a certain amount of prejudice against Americans (I think sometimes British pride is dented by the fact that America is more powerful than UK is yet Americas a younger country!) - the stereotypical image is of
a very loudmouthed nation, over the top, "corny" (our word for that is "cheesy"), and leading either extremely strict lives or extremely reckless ones - the latter image most definitely is (wrongly) associated with Texas!

The typical Texan "lives on a ranch", wears dungarees, a cowboy hat, has pr0monent stubble and has a shotgun ready to fire, shouting "dang" in a famous-over-here-Texan drawl! Needles to say these images aren't true, and I had suspected as much because they did seem a bit far-fetched. But one thing that I DID assume was true was the image of the Religious American, england has the deregatory term "bible basher". I originally thought that Americans - more so from the "bible belt" (iTexas, North Carolina etc) were like as described above,
deeply fervently and zealously religious, preaching constantly and telling everyone they were going to be damned unless they got down on their knees that very moment and prayed! I was a bit apprehensive when I heard you were from Texas (and I didnt know what Ohio was like!) - I actually expected you all to start shouting to me how damned I was and pushing a bible into my
hand. The above was one of the main problems I had with religion - if it makes people like that, I figured, then it can't exactly all be about love - where are the NORMAL people?

I was quite astounded to see that, as I met you, not one of you did any of the things I expected you to. None of you told me how bad I was for not believing, or pushed a bible in my hand repeating I was going to be damned, or begin to preach in a loud voice. What I saw as I got to know you all, were very normal, loving and caring people. It was hard to believe you WERE
all religious because it was such a contrast to the stereotype. It was such a relief to discover a bit about your beliefs rather than have things forced upon me as has so often been the case in the past. One thing that I did appreciate, which doesnt happen with a lot of religious people, is that none of you claimed to know everything, you admitted it rather than beginning to get scared that someone else's point of view was threatening your beliefs.

I talked in depth with Matt and Troy and I enjoyed talking with you very much because they were willing to listen to me, even though I had a LOT of anger in me about religion. Many people these days believe things about God and then refuse to accept any other interpretation, but this wasn't the case here. I remember talking with you, Matt, in the gardens of the Costa Vella and I got rather heated about certain things concerning religion, but it was so good to get it out of my system to someone who I counted as a genuine friend and it was very reassuring to believe that you would not shun me if I
said I didnt agree with this or that.

Before and for sometime during Santiago stay I was agnostic. Since coming to Santiago my have have been opened a little and I am no longer "against" religion in the way I was before. It was such a beautiful thing to see you all together, and especially with such beautiful families. I would count myself very lucky in life if I could have families such as yours, all your children seemed very, very good-natured. I will always remember Abigail (i hope I got the name right!) at only 3 years of age coming into the cafe and, very dignified, settling herself down on the stool just like a miniature adult! And also Elijah (again, if I ve got the names wrong sorry!) being held by one of the girls, a really happy, smiley baby playing with his own foot! And, of course, all the other children too. I hope that Samuel's well, Scott, Congratulations! And of course, Estrella, a baby once herself!

After seeing religious - but normal -people such as yourselves it's changed my view and also led me to think about religion seriously as I havent done before. Obviously I havent overnight been converted into a born-again Christian because if I did that I know it would just be to please other people, and I believe that you have to want God in your heart, which I think I already at least partially do, but I do have reservations about it because of the number of debates in the bible that don't add up. Having said that, looking at what life would be like if I didnt believe in God, I dont like the look of. No justice, apart from that which humans make (which, lets face it, isn't justice at all 70 per cent of the time), figuring happiness just "happens", the world here in our own human hands - its a pretty scary thought when contrasted with the lot of happiness that a belief in God can bring, and also the good morals that Christianity sets in the world. The world is DEFINITELY a better place with believers, and I think I do believe,
deep down, but I have to discover a lot more first. I woudn;t so much say Im agnostic anymore, because I do believe a lot about Christianity, and I certainly don't dismiss it as made-up.

So, I just wanted to say Thankyou, to all of you for being so friendly and welcoming, it was and is a pleasure to know you. I hope we keep in contact, and I hope to see you soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Need some exercise

Lori and I signed up for the gym the other day. While we were there I couldn't help but notice the grumpy man behind the counter who "helped" us sign up. I thought that it was interesting to find the gentleman who spends most of his day sitting behind a counter in the gym. All around are machines and classes to help one get into better shape.

I don't know about that man's exercise routine, but I did think to myself...."Hmm,It would be possible to work her and never do any aerobic or anaerobic workouts your whole life. You could spend a lot of time here helping the facility run better or merely help keep the doors open for others to get fit, while at the same time allowing yourself to do nothing to challenge or keep your body in shape."

Then I thought, "Wow, the exact same thing could happen at church. I could spend all of my time there helping to facilitate the spiritual needs and exercises of others and do nothing to get myself in shape." Just because we spend a lot of time in a gym does not mean that we will be fit. Likewise just because we spend a lot of time in a church does not mean that we are spiritually fit.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Dolby 5.1

Last night I had an experience that is probably the modern equivalent of switching from a black and white TV to a color one. My friends Troy and Jen called me the other day and said that they were getting rid of their speaker system and wondered if I wanted it. So, last night I hooked it up and in full surround sound watched all of the battle scenes from "Return of the King". It was especially scary when the Ring Wraiths are flying up from behind. What a trip! Thanks Troy and Jen!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ministry Travels at the Speed of Life!

Life does not really slow down or pause to give us a chance to "do" ministry. Ministry takes place in the midst of everyday life and everyday conversation. Ministry happens in the midst of work, school, washing dishes etc... It is not some "other" thing or something that we do on the side kind of like some kind of hobby. Ministry is something that does or does not happen in the midst of every relationship we have. I often sit back and ask myself, "Am I keeping up or am I letting life pass me by?"

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Prophet

I have been reading a book called "Bono" that is about the lead singer of U2. It is a great insight into both Bono and the band U2 and how they live their life with a sense of mission. While they don´t fit the stereotypical Christian life, I find what I am reading to be incredibly challenging and encouraging as Bono´s words ignite a passion in me that is ignited by the voice of prophets. I find myself wondering how many of us would still be on message after attaining such wealth and "success". If you want to read the book you can find it here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Dinner with a Friend!

Dinner with a Friend!

Thursday night we had dinner with a good friend of ours, Father Sal, who is a retired priest here in SdC. He has lived such an amazing and inspiring life. He is from the Philippines and has told us stories about fleeing from the Japanese in WWII. As a young man he was a seminarian in Rome. He speaks five languages. When he began his priesthood he went to New York, and his first day in the city he stopped a guy from jumping off of a bridge. He lived in a monastery with Thomas Merton and the other night he was telling us about his most recent trip to Rome for the istalation of Pope Benedict 16.

He is a very warm and humble man and a real joy to be around. When he was sitting at the table he asked to hold our Daughter Isa. When he reached out to her, she reached back to go sit in his lap and then she gave him a huge long hug.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Transcending Culture

Transcending Culture

So I have been somewhat annoyed with the direction that the postmodern or emergent culture has been taking lately. I have been noticing an arrogance, whining, complaining and negativity towards anything modern, and that has started to drive me crazy. I feel like everything is being deconstructed and then left in a big pile of trash. Anyone can be the critic, but it takes true talent to create art. I would love to see less modern critics and more postmodern artists. So, anyway I was surfing with this in mind and I came across the following article by Brian McLaren (the poster boy of emergent church culture), and I thought it was insightful and it soothed much of my angst.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

So it´s a rainy Tuesday morning here in Galicia and I am working the morning shift at the cafe. I taking small sips of my cafe con leche grande (you might have heard me describe it as liquid gold). Spanish coffee is so smooth and so rich, that it makes Starbucks taste like burnt coffee grinds watered down with hot dirty water ("Them´s fighten words" say all the Starbucks fans).

I remember very clearly my very first cafe con leche experience. It was on February 2, 2000. I was in Madrid for the first time and we went to grab dinner at a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant a couple of blocks off of the Gran Via. We had some kind a Spanish food, which I really can´t remember. At the end of the meal, as is the tradition here, they asked if we would like a coffee to end our meal. I had a cafe con leche.

I can say I was definitely disappointed when they brought out this little tiny shot glass of a coffee cup. "¿That´s it?" I thought. What is this??? I can´t believe how everything in Europe is so t-niney. I was so used to carrying a large refillable mug of coffee with me all day that I could not imagine being able to drink something so small.

I lifted the dainty glass to my lips and took my first sip of the dark creamy liquid. It tasted some how familiar, but was so much richer and smoother than any coffee that I had ever had before. I was blown away. It changed how I view coffee forever.

Sunday, April 24, 2005



Words and meanings are very important. Often in conversations with others we use the same words but are talking about entirely different things. One word that I think gets thrown around a lot is the word "sin". Christians and non-Christians drop the word in casual conversation, but if you push them is often hard for them to explain what it is.

For a Christian it is one of the most basic concepts that we have in order to understand who we are in relation to God. I notice that Chirstians feel strongly about sin (it is bad) and know that God feels strongly about sin (it is bad). Non-Christians often think of sin as something that breaks a rule or puts a damper on the pleasure in this life and realize that Christians might think it is bad, but are not so sure that they agree. In fact they probably think that they live a fairly good life and that sin is an archaic and maybe even dangerous concept.

I think part of the reason that non-Christians could care less about sin is that they don't really understand what it is. And while some Christians understand what it is they are not able to articulate it in a way that even another Christian can understand.

We need to be great communicators! We need to seek ways to make our words understood in the common tongue whether that means using synonyms or taking more time to difine the words that we are using.

So what is "sin" anyway?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Third Place

The Third Place

One of my friends from college, Keith, has a blog that I frequent. He just posted a link to an article about "third places". Places outside work and home where people feel a cense of community. Some common third places are churches, cafes, and bars top name a few. The question is, what happen if my "third places" never cross with the "third places" of the world? Something to ponder...

Friday, February 11, 2005



I feel like I may have a form of mental whiplash as I have been trying to keep up to speed with the major headlines this year. Let me recap some of the events that I thought might happen in the near future and some that I never even considered. I definitely never dreamed all this would happen in the same year. Some of the things that stood out to me this year were as follows.

-First private citizen spacecraft leaves earth
-Human cloning pursued in England
-An Apple computer for $500
-Democratic elections in Iraq
-Tsunami that leaves over 200,000 dead in just a few hours
-Palestinian elected president
-Development of Nuclear Arms in North Korea
-No Smoking campaign begins in Europe
-Social Security reform pursued in the USA
-An independent movie about Jesus is one of the top grossing films
-Mainstream media takes a nose-dive to be replaced by bloggers

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Quotes Worth Remembering!

Quotes Worth Remembering!

Tracks in the Snow
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field. "Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that."
Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. "I determined right then," he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had."- Focus on the Family letter, September, 1992, p. 14.

Lee IacoccaLee Iacocca was a busy man running the Chrysler Corporation. Even so, he knew the value of taking time off:
"I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who can’t seem to control their own schedules. Over the years, I’ve had many executives come to me and say with pride: ‘Boy, last year I worked so hard that I didn’t take any vacation. ‘ It’s nothing to be proud of. I always feel like responding: ‘You dummy. You mean to tell me that you can take responsibility for an $80 million project and you can’t plan two weeks our of the year to go off with your family and have some fun?"
- Lee Iacocca, An Autobiography by Lee Iacocca & William Novak, Bantam, 1988, quoted in Lifeline, Summer, 1997

Busy-ness Rapes Relationships
"Busyness rapes relationships. It substitutes shallow frenzy for deep friendship. It feeds the ego but starves the inner man. It fills a calendar but fractures a family. It cultivates a program that plows under priorities. Many a church boasts about its active program: ‘Something for every night of the week for everybody.’ What a shame! With good intentions the local assembly can create the very atmosphere it was designed to curb."- Charles Swindoll

Busy-ness"I am so busy. We say this to one another with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, our ability to withstand stress a mark of real character. The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset, to whiz through our obligations without time for a single, mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life.- Wayne Mueller (quoted in Credneda Agenda, 2000, vol. 12, no. 2, page 3)

What’s Burning?
Imagine a wick that is placed in oil, and then lit. If the oil runs out, the wick burns. As long as there is oil, the wick doesn’t burn. As long as we are living in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit, we don’t burn out. The question to ask: "What’s burning?"- Source unknown
The Lit Torch

"The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him."- Fan The Flame, J. Stowell, Moody, 1986, p. 32
No One is IndispensableOf Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the U. S. Senate, "In Peter’s case, I am certain that it was not God’s ideal will that he die of coronary occlusion at forty-six" (Catherine Marshall, in "Something More"). After his first heart attack a friend asked, "I’m curious to know something. What did you learn during your illness?" "Do you really want to know?" Peter answered promptly. "I learned that the Kingdom of God goes on without Peter Marshall."- Quoted in E. Skoglund, Burning out for God

Vince Lombardi"Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

The Need for "Margin""We must have some room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God proexhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside the still waters anymore?" (page 30)

"When we are emotionally resilient, we can confront our problems with a sense of hope and power. When our psychic reserves are depleted, however, we are seriously weakened. Emotional overload saps our strength, paralyzes our resolve, and maximizes our vulnerability." (page 103)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Cold day! Bright week!

Cold day! Bright week!

Drinking: Cafe con Leche Grande
Listening to: Rosana "Luna Nueva"

I ran into a priest friend of mine on the street this week and we ended up grabbing a coffee together. He works with students in Santiago and is trying to bridge some of the gaps (or canyons, if you will) between Catholics and Evangelicals. We often spend much of our time together apologizing for the way that our churches have not worked together or loved each other in the way that Christ has called us to.

The cafe has been extremely busy lately, or maybe it just seems more busy because we are under-staffed. We have about a three month gap until we are expecting any help. Hopefully someone will show up unexpectedly in the meantime to lend a hand. I have been blown away at the number of people hanging out here every night. It is almost always hard to find a seat in the evening as every table and every chair are filled.

It is so fun being able to walk in and recognize so many clients. Many of whom seem less and less like clients and more and more like friends. I pray daily for the conversations in this place that are about deep and meaningful things. Some are, some aren´t, but that is my prayer anyway.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Questions on Church?

Questions on Church?

Drinking: Cafe con Leche Grande
Listening To: Five For Fighting

I have been thinking a lot about the church (universal) lately(ok, for about the past 2 1/2 years it is the foremost thought in my free time). What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What draws people to Christ? What pushes them away? I have been thinking about things like unity and how Jesus said, "They will know you are Christians by your love for one another." I have been wondering if people outside looking in see Christians loving one another.

I have also been wondering why so many Christians my age just quit going to church. They often still believe in God and Jesus and even call themselves Christians, but something about current church experience leaves them wanting. I am not just letting them off the hook. I still think they have a certain responsibility to come together with others who claim to follow Jesus the Christ (Hebrews 10:25-Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.), but that is a discussion for another day.

What is it that so many are missing? Is it a sense of true community? With megachurches popping up all over the place like Starbucks or MacDonalds are people sick of just being counted for Sunday morning attendance and then forgotten the rest of the week? Is Sunday morning attendance the drive behind churches? If so, how does that effect what happens on Sunday? Is the church more than a place people go on Sunday? What is church? What is necessary to have a church? How much unnecessary baggage do we bring to the church? How often is the unnecessary baggage confused with the core values?

What drives us and motivates us? Do we meet out of guilt, out of a sense of duty, to be known in the community, out of joyful celebration, like a family coming together for a weekly meal? What do we bring with us throughout the week to the community that we live in? Are we the light and the salt? Do we shine light on the injustices suffered by the poor and the weak and the oppressed? Do we bring a unique and wonderful flavor to every place that we walk into? Do we bring a vision of hope for the future and healing and life? Do we inspire one another to Holy works? Do our works of generosity cause people to break down into tears and say "I don´t deserve this"? Do we more closely represent walking and living fulfillments of Isaiah or the Pharisees in the ancient tradition?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another Cool Article

Another Cool Article

Pioneer of Self-Euthanizing Missions
To Henry Venn, a mission's only purpose was to render itself unnecessary.
Ted Olsen

Saturday, January 15, 2005

My feelings said better than I could say them

My feelings said better than I could say them

Just read this article and liked it. Wanted to pass it on to anyone who has been following post-modernity and the emerging church culture. If you have no idea what I am talking about, don't read it.

Nomo Pomo—a Postmodern Rant
Why we can and should talk about something else.
by Kevin A. Miller

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Morning cup of Joe!

Morning cup of Joe!

Listening to: Heather Clark- Dark yet lovely
Drinking: Cafe con leche doble cargado

It is ten to nine and I am at the cafe. I am working the mornings this week. It is rainy and cold outside today and eventhough it is almost 9:00 am it is still pitch black out. No wonder people here start the day a little later.

God put a friend on my heart this morning and I have been praying for him the whole time. It is kind of nice having the quiet that comes with being awake before the sunrise (although I would prefer staying up late any day).

Yesterday I had a wicked bad (shout out to everyone from the n.e) sore throat. I cancelled art club and Lori and Rebecca went to GBU while I laid on the couch and watched CSI Miami and CSI Las Vegas in Spanish. Something about television gets lost in translation. The words go along with the body movements and everything, but something with the sound seem not quite right. Not to mention I see the lips say something that I understand in English only to hear something else that I understand come out in Spanish.

"Fashion unconscious" or "fashion I don´t care". Sure I don´t want to dress dorky, but I would really prefer not having to ever put another thought into what I am going to wear or buy. If I were a gazillionare I am pretty sure I would sport jeans and a t-shirt everyday. I even think it must be nice for priests and nuns. They know that everything in their wardrobe matches because they wear all black (at least here in SdC). If normal people dress like that people start to think that they are suicidal or something.

Well, it is turning from black to grey outside. I should probably go make myself another coffee.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Extravagant Gift

Extravagant Gift

So I don´t normally cry. In the past decade I can think of, at most, three times when I cried. Two were extreme life circumstances and the third was at the ending to the movie "My Life as a House". Totally unprepared and overwhelmed by the feeling of justice being done (or at least attempted) at the end of this movie. Sure, occasionally my eyes well up with tears when something particularly touches me, but normally I sniffle a little bit and that is the end of it.

Well, this week Lori and I watched "Extreme Makeover: Home Addition" (2 episodes, back to back). If you have not seen it, the basic premise is as follows. An applicant family sends in a video of why the would like this show to come to their house and help them out. The EM crew reviews the videos and then finds someone with and extreme problem and then uses design to make their house better for the families particular situation.

So, I started watching the first one and the story of the family touched me. Then when I began to see the design crew fixing up the house to help a girl who was allergic to the sun, I began sniffling and having the watery eye thing. They could have just put a coating on all of the windows of the house to protect her from the sun, but they went above and beyond what any normal person would expect.

They made a series of changes on the house that allowed the girl to be anywhere in her house without worry about the sun. Then they made a canopy around the house so that the girl could go outdoors. It was beautiful and looked like something that you would build for a king. It was extravagant and over the top, beyond meeting the needs of the family. To top it off they installed solar panels so that the sun would now work for the family instead of against them.

On the second episode, I thought that I would be better prepared for what was to come and would be able to handle it like a man. Nope. They showed the story of the family and I broke down and did not stop crying until the end (It was horrible, my nose was running and I couldn´t just pretend that I had something in my eye. Lori knew that I was crying). By the time I had finished watching two episodes I was exhausted from crying but I began to ask, "What was it about these shows that hit me so hard?"

Normally it seems like these type of shows are reserved to helping a rich person who is bored with their house design get a new house, car, clothes, motorcycle, etc, makeover. But this show was about normal people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. It was about every day people receiving an extraordinarily good news (we are going to gut your old house and make it entirely new). It was inspiring. It made want to be a blessing to others in the same way that the designers of the show were. It made me want to be a messenger of "Good News", hope and excitement to those who are beaten down by life. It made me want to jump in and grab a hammer and a paint brush and go to work. It was one of the closest things that I have seen to the way the Father lavishly loves the prodigal son. It was for me, being able to see a real life parable of an unmerited, undeserved extravagant gift. I can't imagine a better reason to cry!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Live from the Cafe!

Live from the Cafe!

I was the chosen one to work this Christmas Eve morning at the cafe. Walking through town I was one of the few people out. It was kind of cool being the only person in the plaza behind the Cathedral. Lori was actually up at 5:30 because she "couldn´t sleep" and so started preparing the house for the days activities. I can´t understand that. Weird.

Well, I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Especially those of you in the States we pray that you have a wonderful Christmas and we send our love. Blessings, Matt

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Dull, Dense Disciples

Dull, Dense Disciples

Sometimes when I read the Gospels and I am amazed at Jesus’ interaction with his disciples. He asks them if they are so dull or why they can’t grasp who he is, his message, or what it is he is trying to do. They are sometimes pretty dense.

I was thinking about this the other day. I was also thinking about the shear volume of Christian books that have been written since the time of Christ until now. I began to get overwhelmed just pondering it. How many times have Christian writers dissected the Bible and then redistributed it in a way for their contemporaries to understand. The even more amazing thing is that the theme that I here over and over again is very simple.

Love God (for real, don’t just appear to love God). Love people (for real, again appearance of love is not the same thing). And don’t do the opposite of these two things. I have been trying to narrow the opposite down to one word. I think “Selfishness” is the closest word that I have encountered that is the opposite of love (maybe you have one that is more accurate).

That’s it. For all of the vast volumes of Christian works that are out there. We wouldn’t need them if we could grasp “Love God, love people, don’t be selfish”. The problem is that for me (and I imagine for most of us as well) that I am so dull that I can’t grasp that concept. I think "what an easy concept", and then I look at how I have conducted my life over the last 24 hours and think, “Man, that is so difficult”.

Just yesterday I was reading about serving others and a random guy named Bill (the book didn’t give his last name). Bill said, “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.”(ouch) The same day I read something by a nun from way back in time (the Middle Ages or something) and she was talking about serving others. I thought to myself, “I need to hear this.” I know the whole “Love God, love people, don’t be selfish” thing, but when I read about serving others I realize how far I am off the mark in that one area of life. I think about life in my house, working on a team, or working in the café and all of the areas that I could be a better servant. Then that makes me think how far off I am in other areas things like giving to the poor, taking care of the sick, visiting the imprisoned and so on and so forth.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me pretty overwhelmed at this simple beautiful concept of love. It leaves me feeling like I fall pretty short of the idea. It makes me feel dense and dull at the very least. I guess it leaves me at the feet of Jesus saying,

“Most merciful God,
I confess that I have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
By what I have done,
And by what I have left undone.
I have not loved you with my whole heart;
I have not loved my neighbors as myself.
I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
Have mercy on me and forgive me;
That I may delight in your will,
And walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen"

Not Your Normal Bedtime Story

Not Your Normal Bedtime Story

At bedtime I have been reading Abigail the “Big Picture Story Bible”. I love it because it ties the old and new testament together into one cohesive story, and while it is simple it is also very well done. Anyway we came to the part where the soldiers (or mean men) come to the garden of Gethsemane and take Jesus away. Then it said that they began to hit Jesus. I looked at her and said, “That was not very nice of them to hit Jesus was it?”

She looked at me as said, “No… girl at school pushed me.”

“Really”, I exclaimed, “That was not nice was it.” I thought it was great that she had an experience (albeit not a very nice one) that allowed her to relate to the story.

Then we got to the part where he died. I thought to myself, wow how do I explain death to a two year old with such limited experience? The only experience with death that she had was with a fish we watched last summer for some friends. I also couldn’t remember if she even knew what happened to the fish, because we tried not to make to big of a deal of it’s death. We did not want to upset her. So, I asked do you remember how the fish that we had died this summer?

She said, “Yes… and mommy flushed him down the toilet.” It was all that I could do not to laugh. Then I had to explain that when people die that we don’t flush them down the toilet, but we put them in a tomb.

So, that was the end of the chapter. Jesus was beat up, made fun of, put on a cross, died, and put in a tomb. It amazed me how even a two year old grasped the injustice and was trying to relate to the pain in the story. Normally, I only read one chapter, but I did not want to leave her there. I could see in her wide eyes that she was really worried about Jesus and seemed pretty sad. So, I read the next chapter which dealt with the next day in the story where all of the disciples were sad because Jesus had died. She started to seem more sad as she related with them. On to the third chapter for the evening.

In the third chapter it talked about the empty tomb and how the disciples were all in a house together and scared because they did not know what was happening. Suddenly she saw Jesus on the page smiling and she said, “Jesus is happy.”
“Yeah, Jesus is happy.” I said.

“Jesus didn’t die. Jesus is happy.” She said. (Intriguing to me how death was permanent to her. If Jesus was still alive then he did not die because death is irreversible. I am not sure that she thought this all the way through, but she grasped that if you are dead, that’s it.)

I told her, “No, Jesus died. Them he was put in a tomb. Then he came back to life. Then he was happy.”

I could see by her facial expressions she was trying to grasp all that I was saying. She had a huge smile. I think that she was really relieved that Jesus did not stay dead. I was too. I also don’t know how much she understood, but I told her that because of Jesus, when we die we don’t have to stay dead either. We, too, can be happy like him. To which her response was much a smiley adamant, “Yeah!”

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I'll Be Home for Christmas...

I'll Be Home for Christmas...

...if only in my dreams. Well, we won't actually be home in Lancaster this year for Christmas but I want to take some time and day-dream about the things that I enjoy the most about being in Lancaster for Christmas.

-I enjoy hardly being able to wait until Christmas day to give Lori her gift.
-I enjoy having so many family things that Christmas is normally the only time of year that I need a day planner.
-I enjoy eating so many Christmas meals together with family.
-I enjoy traveling through central and southern Ohio to visit my and Lori's grand-parents in Lancaster, Amanda, and Macarthur.
-I enjoy how festive First Pres looks with all of the greenery and decorations.
-I enjoy Pop pop's eggnog (even though the nog is often so strong that you can't taste the egg).
-I enjoy the variety of Christmas potpourris and scented candles that make Christmas smell good.
-I enjoy Christmas carroling with the youth group at local nursing homes.
-I enjoy the Christmas concert that the church puts on.
-I enjoy watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Christmas Story" again.
-I enjoy the light of the advent candles and the late night Christmas Eve/Christmas celebration.
-I enjoy going around the circle watching each family member eager to give their gift, and then watching everyone open their gift.
-I enjoy oranges (I always eat one on Christmas)
-I enjoy it when it snows (I don't enjoy sliding off the road in the car, like we did last year)
-I enjoy the children's' plays that call us again to remember why we celebrate Christmas.
-I enjoy hearing Christmas music in every store and restaurant for a month solid.
-I enjoy sitting in the dark and watching the lights of the Christmas tree.
-I enjoy decorating the tree.
-I enjoy the smell of pine in the house.
-I enjoy watching the little kids squeal with glee and wide eyed gasps with each present that they open.
-I enjoy searching the stores and the mall for the perfect gift (even though my general policy is go in, buy it, get out).
-I enjoy McDonald's eggnog milkshake.
-I enjoy the smell of all of the new cotton and synthetic fabrics that fill the house as everyone dons their new Christmas outfits.
-I enjoy sucking on a candy-cane until it makes a sharp point.
-I enjoy eating chocolate covered cherries even though I don't really like them that much.
-I enjoy making (OK I really only enjoy icing them after they are made) Christmas cookies.
-I enjoy seeing all of the new gadgets and video games.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Happy days

Happy days

Today has been a fun day. Unfortunately, it started at 4:00 am, 5:30 am, 7:30 am, 8:30am, 9:00am, 9:30am, and finally 9:40am with both girls waking us up. Once I finally took some groggy steps downstairs with Isa slobbering on my shirt and making her happy morning cooing sounds, I started the cafeterra and made some rich Spanish coffee. I fed Isa some kind of squash and potato mixture. It did not sound very appealing to me for breakfast but she gulped it down.

I took two drivers ed tests and passed both (which has not happened all that much). I finally feel like I might be able to do it some day in the future when it really counts.

After lunch I went to pick up the new intern Heather. I always love taking people around the city for the first time. She was so amazed by every thing. She made more explanations about the things that she thought were cool than I could keep up. It always reminds me about the reasons that I fell in love with the city.

Tonight I have been working at the cafe. It has been pretty slow overall (which is why I can write this). John cut his fingers three different times. I forbade him to touch knives the rest of the evening.

ps- john said, "We are the keeper of the key?"
matt said, "Yes, we are the keeper of the key." With the afterthought, "That should be a song title."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Too Busy!

Too Busy!

Well, since the last time I "mused" so many interesting things have happened that unfortunately I can´t write about them all. I witnessed my first fight at the cafe between a customer with a dog and a neighbor of the cafe screaming at each other. Things ended with coffee being throw and a wet neighbor.

I have met with a local priest who I met at Bible Study meetings last year. We talked about what we can do to bridge some of the gaps between Catholics and evangelical here. We are planning to meet with some students and pray together for the city.

Last week the Stribs surprised those of us who were here working through tourist season with a trip to a spa, a nice lunch, and an afternoon at the beach. It was a very soothing way to end a very busy month. Lori is getting ready to teach English and I am gearing up for Art Club with the return of the college students next month.

Abigail´s classes are good for the whole family. They have given us all a little more regularity in life, and a set time to do office work each morning. It is quite a blessing.

I have been enjoying SdC lately. My feelings for this place go up and down, but right now I am enjoying the city (although I would rather be done with Driving School).

Father, thank you for all of the ways that you have blessed our family over the last weeks. I want to pray specifically for Abigail´s school. Please help us to find the money that we need for her to continue there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Dreams Realized!

Dreams Realized!

This morning I had a cool conversation with one of our regulars. He talked about how little real information that you actually get in a newspaper. We talked about how newspapers typically have at the very least a political commentary running through the news. Then what´s more, they love to show calamity and destruction because these are the things that cause readers to buy more papers. He said that we unfortunately have not change much since the times when the Romans would feed Christians to the lions. We still have an insatiable thirst for blood shed. He also said that he thought a lot of it came down to greed and selfishness. We are more concerned with getting more stuff than helping others. On top of this he said he thought we tend to value people based on what they have instead of based on who they are.

So he said that in spite of thousands of years of technological, scientific, and political evolution the human condition has hardly advanced if at all. He said we are still just as selfish as we have ever been. I agreed with him and said it sounded a lot like what Jesus said. Jesus said we had to do one thing. Love. Love God and love man. Selfishness would be the exact opposite of love. And so it seems that the same message that was relevant in Jesus´ day is relevant today.

I absolutely loved this conversation. Just yesterday I was reading the first grant proposal that we wrote up for the cafe two years ago. At that time the cafe was a far off dream that was only real on paper. This morning I had a philosophical conversation with a client over coffee about important things in life. How cool to see dreams realized!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Is it all meaningless?

Is it all meaningless?

No, but sometimes it feels like it. I feel like I am toiling through the dry desert all the while seeking the beautiful city by the sea. I know that I must travail through this place to arrive at my destination, but I am getting worn out by the journey. I feel like everything that I am doing is working towards that goal, but none or very little of my time is seeing it realized. The desert looks the same now as it did yesterday and the day before even though I am one step closer to the end.

I am praying for strength and fortitude to continue on my way. I am praying for help to come and make the journey easier and lighten the burden. I am praying that I will begin to feel the ocean breezes on my face and that I will begin to encounter the oasis more frequently. I pray that I will see the beauty in the desert and enjoy the stillness of loneliness. I pray that I will remember the words of my Father who loves me and not listen to the howls of jackals and wild beasts that seek my destruction.

Father, please fill me with life and hope. Give me daily dreams and visions of that beautiful city that I might not perish in the desert.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Fads Schmads!

Fads Schmads!

Do you ever get tired of fads? I do. I was sitting here doing a mental list of fads that I have experienced throughout my life. As I was thinking about them I began to realize that most fads have us spending extra time, money and energy on something that really doesn't matter. Where do fads come from? I am not really sure, but once one catches on it is difficult not to be sucked in to prove that we are down with the times.

I was especially thinking about fads, because I was thinking about how current Christian culture absolutely loves fads. The fads come in all shapes and sizes from the less sophisticated things like Christian diets, Christian boy bands, Christian diets, Christian gyms, Christian candies (I wonder if they are approved by the Christian diets) to the more sophisticated like fads of ministry philosophy. People in full time ministry are constantly being bombarded with the best and latest ways to lead their churches towards success, growth, prestige, etc... Many of these things are started with the best of intentions, but then somewhere along the way get off track.

In the current modernity vs. Post-modernity debate I see this trend continuing. I am so grateful to be made aware of post-modernity and how it affects church, but honestly I am getting tired of some of the things that I see emerging in this new culture. We definitely have to explore these issues, but often times when end up worshipping the new form instead of using it as a tool to help us. You see this throughout church history and I think we are on track to repeat this same error if we are not careful.

I remember reading something a year or so ago about worship. It said that when we experience God's presence in a particular way in our life (example- I was playing my guitar and singing and felt God's presence), then we try to bottle up that experience and repackage it and repeat it again. The problem can be, that the next time that we pull out the guitar and sing our attitude might not be in the same place that it was the first time, but we insist that this is how to experience God's presence. After a while people sing and play guitar because that is what you have to do to experience God, meanwhile it has been years since anyone has actually had something similar to that first time.

Instead of desperately seeking God in "spirit and in truth" we try to make up rules and formulas about the appropriate way to experience God. So, when I hear people deeply and passionately giving dissertations on Post-Modernity little warning flags pop up, not because PM is bad, but because we tend to elevate the fads over the heart of God.

I think that we have something in Christianity that is better than any fad and it is is the one thing that we (normal human entities) are always trying to avoid. It the call to love God and love man. It is so difficult for us to do that we are constantly trying to make up inferior fads to replace it. So, I want to continue the conversations on how we can improve the church, but I don't want to get caught up in the latest fads just for the sake of the fad.

Normality pursues to overtake me!

Normality pursues to overtake me!

That is what I was thinking about on my way to work at the cafe today. It is amazing that no matter what kind of amazing life situation you are in (living in a foreign country, foreign culture, being part of a new ministry, helping to open a cafe) things tend to go towards patterns and same old same old. Anyways, that was how I was feeling this morning when I went to work.

After taking our Bulletin (permit to have electricity) to the electric company and hoping that they will finally come and begin charging us for electricity (a minor detail that they have neglected the past five months) I arrived at the cafe. I was working the rover shift this morning with Hannah when they showed up. Hannah was trying to decipher what kind of drink they wanted and when they said something about the dishwasher I knew that these were the guys that we have been trying to get to come and fix our dishwasher for several months. The frequency and intensity of our phone calls to them have increased with time.

So a large appliance fixer man squeezed his way behind the already to narrow and crowded bar to begin his artistry on the dishwasher. He informed me that it need to be raised and have the filter cleared out and several other things that I understood before he arrived, but my experience in fixing industrial dishwashers has thus far in my life been limited. He turned his back to us and got to work by assuming the appliance fixer man squatting position. Hannah and I both adverted our eyes to avoid having anything indelibly imprinted on our minds. Hannah summed up my feelings with the utterance of just one word. "Typical", she said.

Also with large appliance fixer man was appliance fixer man mini me. His job consisted of running back and forth to the truck that was parked nearby and bringing back various tools and parts. When he was not doing that he was supposed to stand behind the bar with appliance fixer man and look busy. I noticed that he too was care to advert his eyes.

Things became more interesting as our clients came and ordered coffees. Hannah said something along the lines of please don't send me behind the bar where the view of appliance fixer man is uninhibited by the bar. So, leaning over him to reach the cafeteria I continued to dish out the morning cups of java carefully stepping over tool boxes, wet mops and be very careful to avoid appliance fixer man.

When after an hour of mayhem as we shuffled behind the bar and dodged suppliers and appliance fixer man, Hannah looked at me and said, "Please don't complain about normality, (At least not when I have to work with you.)"

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Random Thoughts!

Random Thoughts!

Well, lately I have been feeling like I want to keep track of some of my thoughts. So, I decided that this will be my personal blog page that I set up just for me and for whatever I feel like talking about at the moment.

Today is the first day of September, and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to some kind of respite. August was terribly busy at the cafe and we definitely felt under-manned with the Hellman´s gone and the Hanlon´s gone and no summer team. In what little free time that I have had I have been seeking escape through novels or movies.

Lori and I have been having a blast with her Mom here, but in many ways it makes me miss the states more. She has been such a blessing to have with us as she has been great with the girls and it has been nice to have someone hanging out with Lori while I am working a lot and in driver´s school (again- don´t get me started on Spanish bureaucracy). Well, that,s all for now.

Life is Ministry

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