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

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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

 

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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!

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Brief Thoughts on September 11

I just read the Upper Room devotional for today.  I highly recommend that you read it.
September 11th was a day that changed my life and some of my habits. It initially just made me angry as it did so many others. Eventually it made me stop and think about all of the tragic and abusive actions that are done in God’s name under the guise of religion in its many forms, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. After 9/11, I stopped watching violence-based shows that seemed to portray this violence as normal. It is NOT and we must try to give the world that message. God is love and love can indeed conquer all. If we all share God’s love with others every day, we can and will overcome the violence that haunts our society.
The Upper Room and Inward/Outward are the two devotional sources that I read consistently.  Each emails a daily devotional message/meditation to you for free when you subscribe.  If you decide to subscribe, please consider a donation to these organizations to help them cover their operational costs.
May you feel and recognize God’s movements in your life today and always!
John
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Christ United Methodist Church Update – August 23, 2015

We want to tell you how happy we are to be here with you, how thankful we are for this opportunity to speak to you and how grateful we are to the staff and congregation of this church for the many amazing ways that you continue to support us in this mission that God has called us into.
The next thing I want to do is to tell you that I have never received such clear and well thought out goals for a message when I have been asked to speak in a church setting. Responding to Pastor Elizabeth’s thoughts for this message challenged and stretched us. We grew as we learned and interacted with others to help think through our answers. Her questions show me that God’s spirit moves within her. As your representatives in Guatemala we are ever grateful for her personal and public support. I pray that she continues to answer God’s call to serve here for many years to come.
We received Elizabeth’s thought provoking questions concerning what we have learned about discipleship, ourselves and the power of grace just over a month ago and we have been discussing them ever since. Our first thoughts were “How we will ever meet these expectations ?” In many ways, the answer to Elizabeth’s question about discipleship and the process that it took to arrive at the answer are one and the same. I feel that this process is based upon what I know of our United Methodist roots. It is also the very same process we used as we determined that we would answer God’s call to serve in Guatemala.

1. We put our faith in God and trust that God will guide and protect us. 

2. We remind ourselves that God is Love.

3. We remember Jesus’ great commandments from Matthew 22 37-39

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all       your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 

4. We pray…and listen carefully for God’s answers.

5. We talk with mentors and friends whom we love and respect. God often speaks through these people.

6. We use the Wesleyan quadrilateral of Scripture, reason, tradition and experience to evaluate our interpretation of God’s answers.

7. Then…We act.

In February of this year, we moved to Guatemala to help a small non-profit called International Hands in Service. Project Salud y Paz is a joint project of International Hands in Service along with the global United Methodist church and the Guatemalan National Primitive Evangelical Methodist Church. Project Salud y Paz runs clinics in 3 locations in Guatemala using a single Guatemalan staff of doctors, dentists, lab techs, pharmacy and registration staff. Without the presence of our United Methodist sponsored clinics in these areas, many people would go completely without modern healthcare. We run a small school in Camanchaj for pre-K K and first grade to help Mayan children prepare to succeed in Guatemalan government schools. Many of these kids speak only one of the 22 Mayan dialects still used in Guatemala today. The school provides them with 65% of their daily caloric needs, medical and dental services as well as an education that includes nutrition, dental hygiene, and traditional subjects including the Spanish they need. In addition, we host around 30 short term mission teams a year who serve in the areas of medicine, surgery, dental, optical, and construction. We are a UMC advance project and truthfully our organization is seeking funding and support for our on-going operations as well as for a major building project to expand our primary clinic facility in Camanchaj, in the central highlands of Guatemala. We will build a new two story clinic building and convert the current clinic into a Regional Surgery Center. The primary roles that Jan, John Edmund and I perform are to provide administrative support in a wide variety of tasks. Specific tasks at this time for Jan include banking and accounting work, handling donations of all sorts including supplies and pharmaceuticals, and helping to design better processes and procedures for our short term mission teams. John Edmund has recently started to provide a great deal of computer services support to the staff including designing and implementing a way to easily access a particularly difficult printer. My tasks include designing and building a computerized pharmacy inventory control system, being one of two primary drivers for the volunteer staff and performing project management tasks for the clinic construction project.

Answering God’s call to serve in Guatemala has been and continues to be an incredible experience in so many ways.

In true David Letterman style, here’s my top 10 list of things that tell you God is always beside you as you become a UM volunteer in mission in Guatemala.

1. Getting up the courage to tell your wife that you believe you are being called as a family to Guatemala while leaving behind the best job and salary you ever had to become a volunteer in mission, and then finding out that she will actually consider going.

2. Setting a deadline for booking airline tickets 3 weeks ahead of your flight, picking an airline, finding out on the day of the deadline they don’t transport pets, giving up in despair after hours of frustration, getting a message from another airline about frequent flyer miles at 9:30 pm, finding out that you’re only a few thousand miles short of getting free tickets, finding out that there are actually 3 award seats available; paying less than $200 so you can use miles for all 3 tickets, finishing the booking process with less than an hour to go before your deadline.

3. Finding out that your church, family, friends, and relatives will actually donate their time, resources, and money to help you answer God’s call, we are about two thirds of the way to our 2015 fundraising goal

4. Thinking you have your house in Rochester rented, finding out less than four weeks before you leave that the deal won’t happen, that same week, having a family from your church who is in need of good housing call a pastor who knows about the rental opportunity, finding out that this family has been mentoring your son while volunteering next to him at church, being able to meet their needs while providing us with storage space, having that family help you pack, then having them offer to let you stay in your own basement during your visits to Rochester

5. Taking your cat to the airport, having an airline gate agent spend 5 minutes looking grumpily at his computer screen, getting nervous and irritated about him taking so long, having him ask you if you would like to exchange your 3 leg, 45 minute between flights in Chicago and Miami schedule for a direct flight to miami with a 3.5 hour layover so you can relax a little and get something to eat while you’re there

6. Staying in Guatemala for an extra week in October 2014 to find housing, finding a place and saying that you’d like to rent it starting in February, contacting the land lord in January only to find his current renters have decided to stay until may or june, frantically contacting everyone you know in Guatemala that has real estate connections, having the same Guatemalan realtor tell you 3 or 4 times in the next two weeks that they think they have a place only to remind them that you have a cat and then be told that each rental won’t take a cat, having the same realtor call you 8 days before you leave and tell you they found something that does take a cat, booking it, having second thoughts on the day you arrive when you walk down the dark alley that leads to the apartment, opening the iron gate to discover a sanctuary that you almost immediately recognize as home

7. Installing a water filter in a remote location in the central highlands of Guatemala and while you are watching another team member do some of the work, having a 4 year old Mayan boy come up and hold your hand for several minutes, causing you to realize that you are just where God wanted you at that moment

8. Fitting eyeglasses on a withdrawn, shy and quiet 4 or 5 year old Guatemalan girl with very bad eyes, finding out in the following weeks that she has blossomed into an outgoing normal enthusiastic 5 year old because she can now see

9. Spending more time every day with your family without driving each other crazy, working side by side with your wife and son in Guatemala, teaching your son some of the things you would want him to know about faith, about life and about working in a professional team environment, having your executive director support you in this process even when things don’t go as well as you’d like

10. Recognizing that not only are we in mission as this church representatives to the underserved Mayan people in Guatemala but that when talking to you about what we do, we are in mission to this church as well.

I want to stress that we believe each and every person is called by the God who created us and walks with us every step of our lives. We fully understand that not everyone is called to Guatemala , but there is plenty of God’s work to be done here in Rochester and everywhere else in the world. The experiences listed above have reinforced our belief that God is with us each step of every day, with us in all things big and small. If you trust in God and answer God’s call, God can do amazing things in and with your life that you wouldn’t have believed were possible. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you some of the many ways that God has worked in our lives over the past few months.

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Scattered Thoughts

I am sitting at a table in the home of my parents. in Indiana.  I’ve been back in the United States for less than 60 hours and my thoughts are scattered throughout the various parts of this world that I now have roots in. This first trip back home, returning from our mission and new life in Guatemala, has already been an interesting experience.  Up until the point where I was actually on one of the planes, I was struggling with even the thought of leaving Guatemala.  There is so much to do there:  projects, patients, printers, teams and friends.

Once in the air, I was able to start to focus more on the value and the reasons we were coming back to the US.  First and foremost are the people we know and love here, family, friends and supporters.  If you’ve been following our adventures, you already know that our transition to life in Guatemala has been easier than we anticipated and that it quickly became home for us.  However, without the love and support of all of you, around the US and the world, we could not continue to be there.  We continue to expand the tools we use, and the ways we use them,  to keep in touch with all of you.  Some of the tools, like texting, have been in wide use around the world and are used especially heavily within the Salud y Paz team when we are in Guatemala.  While in the US, my son, John Edmund, was the only one of the three of us who texted with any frequency.  Skype has proved its value over and over again, delivering a quality video experience even over the limited bandwidth available to us.  My parents have especially valued the opportunity to see, rather than just hear us while we were gone.  Facebook, email and this web page/blog are other valuable aids in maintaining our long distance relationships.   While all these things help, nothing compares to the welcoming hugs and the opportunity to talk face to face with each of you.  The opportunity to be with our dear friends, the Gunters, on Saturday night and the opportunity to enjoy a couple of absolutely fantastic and meaningful worship services with our home church, Christ United Methodist Church, yesterday were a perfect start to this trip.  We eager look forward to seeing and engaging with as many of you as possible.

A second reason to return to the US is for rest, recovery and relaxation.  As we looked into the possibility of serving in mission in Guatemala, we talked to the Volunteers in Mission team of the worldwide United Methodist Church as well as to a fair number of former missionaries.  They all told us that burnout can have a huge impact on people, relationships and a missionary’s ability to serve effectively.  Working in places where you are surrounded by those who are oppressed as well as financially poor can take its toll.  While I don’t think we have personally experienced much of the impact of this yet, we certainly recognize that we live and work in such a space.  Being in familiar surrounding with those we love is an opportunity to come up for air.

While there are many other reasons to return home, the last one I want to focus on here is: to tell the stories of our mission and the mission of our organization.  Here is one of them.

One of the hard things about being here this week in particular is that it is surgery week at the clinic.  Yesterday was triage day at our main clinic in Camanchaj.  Patients will be evaluated and if the surgical team finds that surgery is necessary for a patient, it will be scheduled for sometime this week.  This will be a very busy week for all of our volunteers, but especially so for Katie Slagle, our Surgery Coordinator.  Surgery will start this morning and patients will come from many places around Guatemala in the hope of receiving a life-changing surgical miracle.  I can guarantee that there will be more patients who want to be seen and healed than can be handled by the team. If you read this, please take some time to say a prayer for the Salud y Paz team of Guatemalans and North Americans, both short-term and long-term as well as for the patients who will be seen. Please consider a donation to Project Salud y Paz as well.

On a personal involvement note, John Edmund and I have been struggling for months with a particularly frustrating printer that will be used in some ‘time critical’ situations this week.  The final touches for getting it into a consistently usable state were only put into place last Tuesday.  John Edmund has done a great job of researching and implementing a solution.  We are on-call and will be available to help if needed.

I titled this post ‘Scattered Thoughts’ partly because of the geographic scattering as well as the variety of topics I intended to cover.  I have one more thing I would like to say.

In yesterday’s sermon, along with an interesting and fruitful discussion at our Guatemala church last week, Jan and I were reminded that even when we think that we have embraced a life of Christian service, there is plenty of room for growth in the areas of giving, generosity and especially in the area of loving each and every one of God’s children during our brief encounters with them.  On a daily basis in Guatemala, we pass people who are obviously in need, some have physical disabilities, some have mental ones and some are just plain poor.  Sometimes I give and probably more times, I don’t.  As a Christian, am I doing all I can to relieve the suffering I see around me?  The truth is that I am not but that I am working to do a little more each day. If we find a way to truly love all those around us because, then sharing what we have with those who have less should be pretty easy.  And that…is a significant part of what Christ asks us to do.

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

John

 

 

 

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A New Life

Yesterday morning as I spoke on the phone with our dear friends, Jenny and Jeff Gunter, I looked through the window at our garden area.  I noticed a butterfly hanging upside down on a papaya leaf, motionless, to the point of seeming to be dead.   After my wife got on the phone, I went to check it out.  What I saw was this beautiful butterfly hanging on to the clear chrysalis that had held it while it transformed from a caterpillar to the lovely insect in front of me.  It was motionless while it recovered from coming out of that little place and while its wings dried.

IMG_3043I was witnessing some of it’s first moments as a flying creature.  I wonder what it thought of me and my camera, constantly moving and drawing ever closer.  I must confess that my thoughts around this event drew my attention during the video sermon that morning at church.  There are many ways that I could view this but my thoughts focused around the opportunity offered by transformation and the option we have each new day to be different than we were before.  God moves in and around our lives to give us that opportunity EVERY day.  As many of you know, I spent 10-12 years as a drunk.  God called me out of that place and I am a much better child of God because I answered that call.  I had left church and God behind when I married and went to college.  Re-“turning to God” enabled God to transform my old and miserable life into something much better.  My journey and my growth as a human is far from over but truly trying to live as a Christian in my new life helps to guide and ground me, buoying me up during the darker times and putting those mountaintop “God” moments into perspective when I am fortunate enough to have them.

As a child, I was taught and accepted a very literal translation of the Bible.  This second time around of living as a Christian is a different experience for me, my world views and opinions are significantly different.  My views of “sinners” are different,  I am one, along with virtually everyone else, but I am, along with everyone else, clearly also a beloved child of a benevolent God.  I now know that I am capable of doing terrible hurtful things, often with words.  I did it quite often in the bad old days, especially when I was angry.  Those words and the hurt they caused can never be changed.

I am now able to forgive myself for my inhuman words and actions due to God’s extraordinary gifts of never-ending love and grace. The only thing that we have to do to get these gifts is to recognize and accept them.  This was Christ’s message to us over and over again. A person’s experience, faith and spiritual maturity change over time and I, personally, find my views on many things are quite different than they were before I developed and overcame my drinking problem with God’s help.  These days I understand that the Bible is an God inspired document, translated into many different languages.   We all bring our accumulated wisdom, understanding and biases with us each time we read the Bible.  That’s one of the reasons that we can read a passage multiple times and get a much different understanding of a chapter or  verse with each reading, even though the translation/version of the Bible we use may be exactly the same one it always was.  If you want to learn more about the basis for much of my theology, look up the Wesleyan Quadrilateral which teaches that we use and need to use four sources as the basis of theological and doctrinal development:  scripture, tradition, reason, and experience while acknowledging that Scripture is always primary.

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote the first part of this piece up to the words ” My journey and my growth as a human is far from over ”  while listening to the sermon Sunday.  The sermon was based on James 3 and addresses “Taming the Tongue”.

IMG_3054At the end of that service, one of the regular attendees, confessed in no uncertain terms that she struggles with this problem.  After she said this, she asked God to provide her with a transformation.  Her words fit in so well with what I had been writing that I shared with her what I had written up to that point.  In addition, I would like to say to her “We all struggle with something.  In my drunken days, I said terrible things to so many people.  God will provide the transformation you seek.  You are a beloved child of a loving, grace-full God.  Forgive yourself and work to be better tomorrow than you were yesterday.  That’s what new life in Christ is all about!  God loves you and always will!

Please include the following people in your prayers:

  • This woman, who was courageous enough to tell others of the challenge she faces.
  • A two and a half year old Guatemalan girl named Genesis. She has cancer and started chemotherapy last week.
  • All those serving in mission in Guatemala and around the world.

 

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

John

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A Visit to Rochester

Jan, John Edmund and I want to thank you for your continuing support.  Your thoughts and prayers for our mission and well-being are an important part of our mission.  We think of you often and are aware that you keep us in your public and personal prayers.

Our family will be in the US from August 7-28.  We plan to spend about two weeks of this time in Rochester with a week spent traveling to visit friends and family in Indiana and Michigan.  It is hard to believe that we will have already spent six months in Guatemala at that time.  Our time here has been blessed.  I tell you this is a visit because this is home for us now.  I have been having a difficult time trying to decide what to tell you about because, in general, things have been going so well.  In many ways, life is similar to what it was in the US.  Oh, we have problems, quite likely the same ones we would have had in Minnesota.  Politics are a shambles, life with a teenager can be difficult, there’s never enough time to do all the things you want and of course, my favorite, the world can be a cruel place to live in.

Having said that, it is clear that God is working here in Guatemala and through your generosity we have the privilege of being a part of that work.  While our jobs here are not on the front line of the medical or education work that Project Salud y Paz (saludypaz.org) does, the work we do clearly helps to enable the organization continue to serve the indigenous Mayan population here.  The whole family has been doing work in different ways to help improve the pharmacy system, Jan is involved with a team that will improve the processes and experience for short term mission teams and John Edmund is designing a way for Salud Y Paz to let people who are coming on short term missions, know what equipment and supplies they can bring that would help us the most.

Please consider donating to Salud y Paz as a part of your giving through the United Methodist Church Advance.  They are Advance #14060A.

Thanks again for all the ways you support us!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Jan, John Edmund and John Lage, Jr.

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¿Un problema importante? (An important problem?)

Hoy, voy a escribir mi primera entrada de sitio web en español(English below).  Porque yo estoy escribiendo en español, esa primera frase esta escrita diferentemente de la manera en que la hubiera escrito en inglés. ¿Por qué? Porque en inglés,  yo la hubiera escrito, ”yo estoy escribiendo mi primera entrada de sitio web en español” pero antes de esto, yo no sabía cómo escribir o decir esa frase. El unico tiempo que yo sé en espanol es el tiempo presente y ahora sólo estoy aprendiendo el tiempo pretérito, una forma del tiempo pasado. Sinceramente, he tenido que usar mi diccionario electrónico por lo menos una docena de veces desde que empecé esta entrada. Aun cuando yo lo uso, me da tres versiones y muy a menudo, ninguno de ellos traduce lo mismo.  Cuando vives en otro país, el idioma es a menudo un problema importante.  Por ejemplo, en la ultima frase, el traductor venía con “un problema importante” cuando yo escribí “a major problem” en inglés.  Yo creo que “Eso no es correcto” porque yo no dije “important problem”.  Cuando yo lo busqué, “major problem” fue traducido como “problema importante”, como “important problem”.

Como yo dije, cuando vives en otro país, el idioma es a menudo un problema importante.  En muchos sentidos, ser un cristiano es como vivir en otro país.  Todo es diferente que antes.  Usted piensa diferentemente.  Usted actúa diferentemente.  Usted es diferente.  Ahora yo encuentro que yo no entiendo como otra gente puede mirar el mundo y no lo mira como yo lo miro.  Pero no hace mucho tiempo, yo no lo podía mirar así tampoco.

Como yo dije, cuando vives en otro país, el idioma es a menudo un problema importante pero realmente es un problema menor en comparición con algunos problemas.

La pobreza esta en todas partes.  Mucha gente muere cada día de hambre y de enfermedades prevenibles.  Hay suficiente comida en este mundo para que todos comen.  Podría haber suficiente medicina para prevenir muchas de estas muertes.

Muchos de nosotros somos ricos en comparación con el resto del mundo.

¿Que podemos hacer sobre estos problemas?

¿Que va a hacer usted sobre esto?

Usted puede sentir y reconocer que Dios se esta moviendo en su vida, hoy y siempre!

Yo quiero decirle gracias a un amigo de mi infancia, Ramiro Cruz, quien me alentó a escribir una entrada de sitio web en español.  ¡Gracias, mi amigo!

Today, I am going to write my first entry in Spanish.  Because I am writing it in Spanish, that first sentence is written differently than the way I would have written it in English.  Why?  Because in English, I would have written “I am writing my first blog entry in Spanish but before this, I didn’t know how to write or say that sentence.  The only tense I know in Spanish is the present tense and only now I am learning the preterit tense, one form of the past tense.  Truthfully, I have had to use my electronic dictionary at least a dozen times since I started this entry.  Even when I use it, it gives me three versions and very often, none of them translate it the same. When you live in another country, language often is a major problem.  For example, in the last sentence, the translator came up with “problema importante” when I wrote “major problem” in English.  I thought “That´s not right” because I didn´t say “important problem”.  When I looked it up, “major problem” was indeed translated as “problema importante”, as was “important problem”.

As I said, when you live in another country, language often is a major problem.  In many ways, being a Christian is like living in a different country. Everything is different.  You think differently.  You act differently.  You are different.  Now I find that I don´t understand how other people can look at the world and not see it like I see it.  But not very long ago, I couldn´t see it much either.

Like I said, when you live in another country, language often is a major problem.  But in reality, it is a minor problem in comparison to other problems.

Poverty is everywhere.  Many people die every day from hunger and from preventable diseases.  We have enough food in this world to feed everyone.  We could have enough medicine to prevent many of these deaths.

Many of us are rich compared to the rest of the world.

What can we do about these problems?

What will you do about them?

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

I want to thank a childhood friend, Ramiro Cruz, who encouraged me to write a blog entry in Spanish.  Thank you, my friend!

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Christmas during Lent?

In one corner of our Guatemalan kitchen, is a handcrafted Japanese nativity set.  It has our name on the manger in Japanese characters.  It is a treasured gift from our son and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Leanna Wares, but that is only part of the reason it will be on display in our home year-round. IMG_0697

Much of the amazing wonder of this Godly adventure that landed us in Guatemala has been the people who have played a role in our journey.  I want to tell you about one of them.  Her name is Carla Behnke.  Jan and I first became acquainted with Carla through our church choir.  Carla was one of those people whose smile lit up a room.  She had a zest for life and an amazing connection with children of all ages.  Carla had a friend, a little old lady named Faith Friendly, who would tell children of the wonders of Christian life and of God’s precious gift to mankind, Jesus.  The funny thing was that although both Carla and Faith Friendly each acknowledged their close friendship, you would never, ever see them together.  Carla loved Christmas and had an amazing collection of Nativity scenes from all over the world.  Carla liked to tell people that she loved Christmas because it was the beginning of Christianity and that she loved each day because it could be a new beginning.  She’d say that since we had a chance to share God’s love with others each day, that every day could be Christmas.

It’s now been a little over 5 years since Carla passed away.  I still miss her.  Her memorial service was a key triggering event in the creation of this website.  At the service, it became apparent to me how little I knew about Carla’s (and Faith Friendly’s) journey and ministry in this world of ours.  I was determined that people should have a place to tell the stories of their everyday journeys and encounters with God.  I don’t remember too many dates in my life very well but I know that the weekend of Carla’s memorial service also provided the trigger for Jan and I to experience our first mission trip to Guatemala.  That story is documented elsewhere on this site.  Please go to the dedication page for this site to learn more about Carla and even hear some of her story in her own words.

IMG_0698If you haven’t guessed by now, Carla’s love of Christmas, her Nativity scene collection and her desire to tell the story of Jesus’ birth in an effort to touch others by offering them an opportunity for a new beginning through Christian living are the other reason why we have a Nativity scene in our house year-round (and a collection of our own in storage in Rochester).

So, it’s March…Merry Christmas!

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

John

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