We’re coming to the US for five weeks – We hope to see all of you!

And we are looking forward to celebrating with you soon as we will be arriving for a visit on July 12th after nearly a year of being away. We will begin in Rochester, but will also visit family in Indiana and Michigan. John is looking forward to attending his class reunion in Paw Paw, Illinois (we’ll let you guess how many years). It will be a visit filled with joy and connections.  And then, we will be returning to Guatemala on August 18th but we hope to see as many of you as we can while we are stateside.

This past year has seen many changes come to our country, to our world, and in our personal lives. It has been difficult to deal with many of these changes as they prove, at least to us, that our country is not where we thought it was. Issues regarding civil rights, climate change, immigration and healthcare makes us wonder where our current leadership is taking us. Seeing the current climate of fear and hate saddens us deeply. Yet, in the midst of it all, our family is keenly aware of God’s presence and guidance in our lives. Here in Guatemala, we live in the midst of extreme poverty, yet the people here firmly believe God will and does provide for them. We share that belief in good times and bad.

For us, some changes in the past year have been very good. Our son, John Edmund, has found a school that suits him. He has expressed a desire to finish high school here in Guatemala and, after much prayer, we have decided to do our best to accommodate this request. We have also learned that Project Salud y Paz will have a new executive director and we are praying that she will lead us in new directions that will help us to better serve our neighbors in this primarily Mayan area.

We invite you to join us in a Forum on Sunday July 23rd at 10:10am at Christ United Methodist Church where we will share how God’s call in our lives has changed us through the last 2½ years. We eagerly look forward to spending time with you. We will share more about Project Salud y Paz and how it continues to evolve to best serve the people of Guatemala. We will talk about people who work shoulder to shoulder with us, that live in conditions rarely found in the US since the 1800’s. You will hear us thank God for the opportunities he has given us to answer his call to serve. We will ask you for your constant prayers and for you to consider providing additional financial support as we have used nearly all of our non-retirement reserves during our time here. We truly look forward to your many bright smiles and warm hugs as we are grateful for the privilege to greet you once again. Please call, message or email us so that we can arrange to meet up with as many of you as possible. We look forward to seeing you very soon!!

Jan, John Edmund and John Lage, Jr.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Best Father’s Day Gift

Yesterday was Father’s Day in Guatemala, today is Father’s Day in the US.  Yesterday, my son gave me the best Father’s Day gift I’ve ever received.  It was a surprise to him on Saturday but I knew about it the day before.  How can that be, you might ask?

On Friday morning, the director at John Edmund’s school started to text Jan and I about attending the graduation ceremony for the two 2017 graduates, neither of whom we know. There was more to those texts but be patient, I’ll get there eventually.  He asked us to be there but not to tell John Edmund we were coming.  We readily agreed.

It turned out that this small graduation (about 100 people attended) was the best and most moving graduation ceremony any of the three of us had ever seen.  Because the graduating class was only two boys, almost anyone that might have wanted to speak, got their opportunity to do so. Because the school is an international school and teachers do come and go more than in a normal US school, these speeches included videotapes to the young men from former teachers in Spain, Canada and the US.  Three of their current teachers talked about them, as did the school director, as did each of their mothers and fathers. The graduates themselves each got to say what they wanted us to hear including a song from one of the students and a poem from the other in both Spanish and English.  Each boy presented flowers to his mother.

But none of that concerns the surprise gift (for him, because the teacher told us in the texts) my son gave to me yesterday.  He was honored as the first ever recipient of the Atitlan Multicultural Academy (AMA) Volunteer of the Year award for his work with Information Technology at the school.  It made Jan and I so very proud as you can see in this picture.

IMG_4976

Thanks, son, for the best Father’s Day gift you could have given me!

I Love You!!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Words

In the chaos of the world these days, I have been struggling to find words to convey my thoughts and emotions in appropriate ways that don’t alienate that who may disagree with my progressive spiritual and political views.  As I thought about this earlier this morning, I remembered a email folder named favorites where I put items from my devotional sources that really speak to me.  I receive emails from at least 4 sources every day.  Recently, I haven’t read them as faithfully as I should but maybe this idea that came to me this morning will help me to revive this habit.  I am going to start posting links to these quotes and devotional materials on a regular basis on a new section of this site called “Spiritual/Devotional Favorites”.  Since my words don’t seem to be coming to me as often now, I hope these quotes inspire all of you, as well as me, to more fully embrace the spiritual habits that help us to live in God more fully.

May you feel and recognize God moving in your life today and always!

John

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God IS with Us (A Christmas Card from the Lages)

xmas20162We will not be spending the holidays this year with all of you whom we love in the states, but we will not be alone. Instead we will be here in Guatemala where God calls us to be. Our hearts and our thoughts are with you but also with those here who have so little but teach us so much about how much more important relationships are than things. This Christmas season, I am reminded that God IS with us…always…through the good times and the bad. God loves us…always! God is LOVE always. God called Jesus to be our example of how to live in obedience to God, to show us how one person can change this world through love for all those around him! It’s amazing when you think about it.

Our lives and our prayers are similar to yours in many ways. Here are some of the things that have been in our prayers this year.

Changes in work/school

  • A new school for John and awesome PSAT scores.
  • Many improvements in the accounting/financials at Salud y Paz through Jan’s gifts and             graces.
  • Creation and implementation of a new pharmacy system for me

Governmental changes

  • How do we as citizens find meaningful and positive ways to support our president                      when so many of his values and ideas violate our Christian principles?
    • – Racism
    • – Sexism
    • – Greed
    • – Lack of a moral compass
    • We pray for our country and our world.

Faith

  • How do we live out God’s vision for our lives?
  • Are we where we are supposed to be…today?

Health

  • John was bitten by a dog in November. With more than a little effort from a number of           people, he received the needed treatment.

Life

  • Patients and employees of Salud y Paz
  • Life changing events experienced by those we love including death and sickness
  • The people of Guatemala and their government
  • The people of the U.S. and their government
  • The blessing of sharing the mission experience with my family in Guatemala

We love you and we miss you all!

We pray that you may feel and recognize God moving in your life today and always!

You…are loved!
You…are blessed!
You…are a child of God!
God…IS…with us!
Merry Christmas!
Jan, John Edmund and John Lage, Jr.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Gift

This is an article I wrote for our church newsletter with some minor additions near the end.

Christmas is nearly here.  That period of the Christian calendar when we celebrate and remember those moments when God’s sent the world the gift of Jesus, his son.  I spend a lot of time thinking about Jesus, about what his “becoming human” meant and what it means for us today. I think about what he knew about God’s plan for his life…and when he knew it…and how he came to know it.  Was it crystal clear to him because he was God’s son or did his “becoming human” mean that he had to go through the same processes of discernment and experience the same struggle to understand what God was asking of him as we do?  I think about what God’s purpose in sending Jesus really was?  Was it, as so many believe, so he could become the ultimate human sacrifice and pay our debt to God for our sins against God?  Was it, through his words and deeds to give us an example of how we should live, of how we should treat others, to show us how difficult it can be to live our lives as God would want us to? I don’t have all the answers to these questions and I find that my answers don’t always match up with what the authors of the Bible wrote.  To some, that qualifies me as a heretic and non-believer. To others, I am a searcher for truth in my journey through life.  To me, I am a follower of Christ trying to understand and live out all that this means.

As a part of its budget process, the leaders at Christ UMC recently asked us a number of questions about our mission, its purpose and what value we provide.  These are good and appropriate questions, but can also be very difficult questions to answer especially as we serve in primarily administrative roles.  Some of them are as hard to answer as my never ending questions about Jesus. In the past two months, I have had the privilege of “being present” for at least three events which helped me to understand more about an incredible gift of “being present” that we give and that we receive serving as missionaries. The first event was turning over the keys to a new house (that Salud y Paz built with the help of hundreds of donors and volunteers including us) to a lady who is a battered wife, who has 6 children at home, who was living in a single shack of about 9×9 feet with a dirt floor and an open fire, while her husband slept in his mother’s more sturdy and sheltered house a few yards away.  Their pride and excitement in their new home was obvious.  They dressed in their best clothes and served those of us who were blessed to be there a meal.  The second event was the opportunity to take the wife of our operations director to the hospital for her radiation treatment while he attended the Guatemalan equivalent of high school graduation for their oldest son.  Spending time with God thinking about what she must be feeling during this long day away from those .The third was the celebration of the 15th anniversary of Salud y Paz. This was celebrated with and in the community of Camanchaj where our main clinic is located.  My thoughts turned to all those thousands of people who had been helped by the organization in that 15 years.  Thinking about these three events continues to touch me deeply, reminding me that for those involved, receiving a home, a ride or medical care can be a life-changing experience.  An experience that that is only possible because others chose to “be present” in their lives and in their country.  I think Jesus tried to teach us the importance of the gift of “being present” as a key ingredient to living a God-centered life. He attended weddings, shared meals, lived life and served those around him in so many ways.  Jan, John Edmund and I would like to thank each of you for your continued “presence” in our lives through your financial support , your hugs (both physical and long distance) and your prayers.  Without your “presence” in our lives, we couldn’t “be present” here.  Merry Christmas!

May you feel and recognize God moving in your life today and always!

John

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Returning to the US for a visit. Are you ready, Michigan – Indiana – Rochester?

We will be returning to the US for a visit on Tuesday, July 26.  We will spend a day in Rochester and then will go to spend some long awaited time with our families in Michigan and Indiana for about a week.  We plan to return to Rochester on August 4 and will be there until August 18th.  We are eager to see as many of you as possible during our visit.  We will be in church on the 7th and the 14th.  If you’d like to make some plans to see us, let us know.

We owe all of you an apology for our lack of written communication during this most recent stretch in Guatemala.  The last seven months have easily been the busiest that we have had since arriving in Guatemala.   We have clearly been doing God’s work, working closely with those around us to meet some important milestones while also facing some situations that have weighed very heavily on our hearts. Much of what we could have said would have escalated tensions within relationships that are critical to the Salud y Paz ministry that we support here.  So we chose not to share.

The high points include the CUMC team trip in January where 500 hundred patients were seen during a week of work dedicated to serving God and the Guatemalan people. Semana Santa (Holy Week) was a favorite for us again this year. Jan and I worked on the pharmacy system (more about this later) during most of the days during Holy Week and still got to see many of the native traditions at night and on Good Friday.
IMG_3917The week following Semana Santa, we took a visa renewal trip to Chiapas, Mexico.  We stayed in the the towns of San Cristobal del Casas and Palenque.  Palenque is home to an extensive Mayan site that is 5% uncovered.  Although it was in the high 90’s in the jungle,
we really enjoyed our trip there with our young friends Hannah and Max.  You haven’t
lived until you’ve spent better than 13 hours each way in a public Guatemalan microbus with these two.  We laughed lots, occasionally slept and Pakal-ed incessantly.  Pakal was the most famous of the rulers in Palenque and we used his name to loudly call to each other and as the basis for a huge number of puns.  We took a modern boat trip one morning down a famous canyon where where we saw crocodiles, spider monkeys and coatimundi.  That afternoon we visited a well-known series of waterfalls and pools naturally tinted bright blue.  The scenery was breathtaking.

 
13615020_10206958007973690_3194047286161281280_nJohn Edmund is doing well, one of his highlights was his first chicken bus ride, shown here.  Another is the new computer he built when we were home last December.  He is eager to experience all those ‘F’ things he loves most in the US…friends, family, food and let’s be honest, most importantly…

           Fast internet.

 

Our work life has been busy and exciting too.  Jan has worked hard with other members of the administrative staff to improve the financial accounts and banking processes.  She was able to celebrate the closing of the books at the end of one month when for the first time since we have been here, the person who reconciles the bank accounts had no additional questions for her.  As for me, the pharmacy system I had been working on for almost a year went live in May.  It has been a real success, providing some important benefits to the organization almost from its very first moments.  If you ask me about it when you see me, I’ll try not to get too carried away with the stories.

When it comes to the hard moments that I can talk about, a fairly large number of our closest friends here have left Guatemala or moved to other parts of Guatemala.  These include Hannah, Laura, and Max from the United States and our Guatemalan doctor friend Susy De Paz, her husband David Cruz, and their kids, Isabela, Susan, and Jose.  We played cards and video games together, made music together, worked and worshiped together as well as loved, laughed and learned together. We miss them all so much.

Luckily we will see most of them soon.  Laura and Hannah are coming to my parents house in Greencastle, Indiana to see us a week from Tuesday and we are planning to visit Dr. Susy and David in Xela, Guatemala’s second largest city when we return here.

Through the good and the bad, we have been buoyed up by your prayers, your support and best wishes.  God has been with us through it all, continuing, , as always, to be our Rock and our Foundation.

May you feel and recognize God moving in your life, today and always!

Jan, John Edmund and John Lage, Jr.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A new year

Atitlan Riverbed

By the time you read this, we will be back in Guatemala after a precious visit with friends and family for most of the holiday season.  The CUMC team will be here for their 12th year of mission with the people of Guatemala and Project Salud y Paz.  It will be an exciting and busy time.  The joy and honor of hosting the CUMC team has been something we’ve looked forward to and it is very important to share God’s call for us with this team.  Please, keep the CUMC team in your prayers as they once again serve the Guatemalan people. Pray that they can clearly see God’s vision for each of them in their individual lives through this trip. I know that it can happen!

We are nearing the end of our first year here in Guatemala and it feels like we have only just begun.  We are deeply grateful for all of you who have been supporting us with your thoughts, prayers and gifts. We are blessed.  Please keep us in your prayers as we follow God’s call on our journey here.  Pray that we continue to see, hear, feel and know God’s guidance in our service throughout this second year.  There is so much that we can accomplish with God’s and your help.  If you are called to donate to the Lage Family Mission, there are two easy ways to do so.  You can donate online through the General Board of Global Ministries. Here is the link: https://secure3.convio.net/gbgm/site/SPageNavigator/gbgm_donate.html?type=1001&project=982465  Click on the drop down menu to highlight John and Janice Lage and enter your donation.  There is also an option for a recurring donation should you be called to use it.

Another way to donate is by mail. Please put “Lage Family Mission” in the memo line of your check and send it to: Christ United Methodist Church, 400 5th Avenue SW, Rochester, MN 55902.  They will pass it on to us. Thank you for your support in all you do!  We truly feel your thoughts and prayers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seeds

I am a plant person these days.  I love to help nurture plants from seed to sprout to mature flowering plant.  The truth is a seed doesn’t look like much but it is a miracle waiting to happen.  The products of seeds feed us, shelter us, provide us with building materials, clean our air, surround us with beauty and do so much more.

I often talk of telling the stories of our faith as planting seeds.  In the case of your faith story, you plant the seed and walk away, rarely, if ever, knowing the impact you might have on those who hear or read it.  Our web site spiritualjourneystoday.org is one of the seeds that my family and I have planted.  I am in the process of making some changes to it because it hasn’t exactly grown into a place where hordes of other people are storming the doors to tell their stories.

That had been my vision for the site.

As I went in to start on some of the changes, the statistics graph on the right side of the page caught my eye.  The number of people looking at the site was up as it usually is on the day or two after a new blog entry.  I glanced through the stats and noticed that yesterday, people from three countries (USA, Guatemala, Brasil) had viewed the new post.

That prompted me to remember that the stats can also be done for an entire year.  I opened the page to view the stats and to my amazement discovered that people from 64 different countries had viewed the site this year.  God is great!  Imagine that, people from every continent but Antarctica had visited the site!  As always, God finds miraculous ways to spread the word of his love and goodness that go far beyond our visions and dreams!

May you feel and recognize God moving in your life today and always!

And plant some seeds today…

Tell someone about the times when you saw God working in your life!

John

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Prayer Request – Santa Catarina Pinula

Much of the El Cambray neighborhood of Santa Catarina Pinula was buried under a landslide late Thursday night.  This town is on the outskirts of Guatemala City and is about 45 miles away as the crow flies from Panajachel, where we live.  More than 30 people are confirmed dead and as many as 600 are believed missing.  After a dry rainy season, September has been very wet as is the norm here.  Please keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Living here brings us constant reminders that we do not know how long we will journey on this earth.  Our faith in the existence of a loving and gracious God who loves and cares for all of his children at all times, no matter the circumstance helps us through  episodes such as this when no answer to the question “Why?” is sufficient.

May each person touched by this disaster feel and recognize the healing touch of God, today and always.

John

 

Story and pictures

Map

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prayer Request for Steve and Jeani Driscoll

I would like to ask each person who reads this, to keep Steve and Jeani Driscoll, in your prayers in the coming days.  Steve is receiving a kidney tomorrow after a two year wait.  Steve and Jeani are the folks who now make their home in our house in Rochester.  I am convinced that God put them into our path at a time where we could provide mutual benefit to each other.

Steve and Jeani, thanks for all you have done for us.  God bless and keep you through the coming days!  You remain in our thoughts and prayers each day!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment