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Christmas Meditations

I am sitting in our living room listening to Christmas music.  With the business of having a new baby in the house, I didn't know if I would have the energy to do anything for Christmas this year, but thankfully Alex took the initiative in setting up the tree.

As I listen to the music I am meditating on the truth the words communicate. To me they are speaking hope.  Into a world that was all broken and hurting, God sent hope in the person of his son.  God did not give up on his broken world. He sent hope.

In the midst of our struggles and pain, God is also there, still speaking hope.  The words of a Christmas carol have been running through my head: "Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings."  Light, life and healing; just what our sad world needs.  There are times when I lose sight of that light.

The name we chose for our newborn was Lucy Eileen, which means light and life.  As I sat holding her this week, I thought about how crazy it is that God…

Responding to the Challenges

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Last night we sat in the small living room listening to our three new DTS staff (Yery, Yessy and Laura for those who know them) tell about what it had been like for them to lead the DTS this last month.  After completing their own YWAM training this past February, they were ready and willing to take it a step further and lead others into the same experience they had.
As I heard them share their struggles and victories, I couldn’t help but feel proud of them for taking on this challenge, and for the hours of work they had poured in over the last month.  Most of our small group of students (we have 4 young men as students in this group!) don’t have the funding they need to complete the training, although we have made cost as low as we possibly can.
So at the beginning of the week, Yery shared with us that the small funds were running out and she didn’t know how we were going to have lunches for this week, let alone travel next week to receive classes in another town (we will be staying…

Raising our family amidst poverty

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Today was Sunday and we were at our local Indigenous church.  As we walked into church it was obvious today was going to be another hot one.  The gathered congregation sat on an assortment of plastic chairs.  Looking around, there was a stark difference to what you would find in most church buildings in the US. 
                The floor is rough cement. The walls are not quite finished.  There are no “comforts”: no bathrooms, no foyer to hang out in, no carpeted area to let your kids crawl.  There is no nursery, no coffee area or comfy seats.  Just a small group of believers in a big cement building trying to do church.
                The prayers and songs are heartfelt if not quite in key.  People listen carefully to the Bible reading and teaching, trying to tune out the noise of the toddlers running circles around the room, and ignore the dog that has wandered in.
                It is obvious that this congregation does not live in the land of “abundance”. Part …

Learning to Love Dry Season

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I moved to Panama from Portland, Oregon when I was 18 years old. The lush green of Panama’s rainy season reminded me of Oregon, although I never really knew what rain was until I experienced my first tropical downpour.  I loved the green, the rain, and the thunder storms.
But I didn’t love my first dry season as much. The rain totally stops for 3-4 months. Everything that was a lush green dies.  I was shocked by the change in the landscape, the dryness and dead grass, and disliked dry season from the very beginning.
We are nearing the end of dry season now.  The grass is almost totally dead. The trees have sparse leaves, some have lost their leaves entirely.  Others, like our neighbor’s mango tree, are getting new, fresh green leaves and blooming.  The air is dry and hot, and yet surprisingly fresh feeling after the mugginess of rainy season.
You can count on it being sunny every day. No reason to worry about a torrential downpour ruining your plans for the day.  This weekend we are …

A week in Panama City

After arriving back from two months of traveling, the last thing I wanted to do was to leave home again. Sometimes it seems like my life is a constant series of packing and unpacking suitcases.  Although I am a missionary, and traveling is a part of my life, there is no denying that it can be pretty stressful at times.
We were supposed to go to Panama City this week to teach in their Leadership and Pioneering school.  While I knew I would enjoy immensely the chance to teach them on the subject of discipling others, I did not look forward to mobilizing our family again.  Especially since we had just gotten back into a good rhythm with home school.
But we went. And as I expected, we had a great time.  Alex and I got to share with a great group of 6 students a bunch of lessons that God has taught us over the last few years about how to mentor others in their relationship with God.  We also got to reconnect with fellow YWAMers there and rekindle friendships.
It was an interesting experience …

Back in Oregon

Our long journey is over. Last night we pulled into my parent’s driveway here in Oregon. The only thing that’s left is a couple of days to rest, pack, and do last minute errands before we leave for Panama.
This has been an outreach of extremes.  We began with below zero temperatures and snowstorms in Idaho. We finished with 70 degree temperatures and sun in Arizona.  We went from sea level at our first outreach presentation on the coast of Oregon, and finished driving back through Arizona over 8,000 + altitude at the pass.  We walked through the desert where nothing taller than a sage brush or tumbleweed could grow, and then went to see the mighty redwoods, the tallest trees on earth.
But over all what will stay with me are the people. The Nez Perce and Hopi people, and the YWAMers and other missionaries who are giving their lives to serve these people. 
I will remember Stella, who taught us how to do beadwork. She told us that her grandmother taught her to always put in a red bead …

Last Day in Arizona

Images, sounds and impressions from Hopi Land are filling my mind.  Tomorrow we begin our journey back to Oregon, and next week we will be flying back home to Panama.  I know that the Hopi will stay in my heart; the people I met and what I learned while on Hopi Land.
The Hopi are an ancient people, and being on their land, hearing their language, experiencing the landscape, learning their stories, left me with the impression of what a newcomer my people are to this land.  As I sat and listened to prayers and songs being offered to God in the Hopi language, I thought how appropriate it was to hear this language being spoken in the same villages where it had been spoken for hundreds of years. 
The Bible talks about the Shepherd who goes out looking for the one lost sheep.  And when He brings back that sheep, Jesus told us that all the angels in heaven rejoice. I can only imagine that all the angels in heaven are waiting for word that one more of these ancient people have been found.  …

Fifth Day on Hopi Land

The sun just set. Every evening we have to go out and see the sunset, because each one is so beautiful.  The colors reflect on both sides of the sky, yellow clouds on one side, and pink and purple on the other. Then the yellow turns to orange, and the purple deepens and mixes with blue. There is nothing to get in the way of our view here, the sky is all around.
Today we helped our new Hopi friend, Ruby, pick up garbage from her yard.  They are not allowed to fence in their yards on Hopi Land, and so garbage from other neighbors collects in her yard.  It’s too much for her to handle on her own.  So our team’s hands went to work.  She blessed us more than we could bless her as she cooked a feast for us; tacos, ribs, blue corn meal cooked in balls, and wrapped in corn husk (much like a Panamanian bollo).  There was also tripe soup and tamales.  We ate until we couldn’t eat any longer. 
Then Nita, Ruby’s daughter, lead us in a time of prayer. She explained how the cedar smoke signifies c…

Fifth Day on Hopi Land

Today is our fifth day on Hopi Land.  We woke up tired from a late night, but encouraged with all that happened.  We went to the small YWAM center for a potluck.  We were warned to not expect too many people, though many had been invited to come and see our Wounaan dances.  We had over 20 people arrive. We shared a good meal with lots of conversation, then moved into another room where there was room to dance.
We sang a song in Woun Meu, then danced a couple of Wounaan dances, one that we invited others to join in.  There were many smiles and much laughter as we danced together.  Then our group began to share from their various experiences; Malana shared something she had learned from her Wounaan classmates, Steve shared how he came to know Christ, Yessy brought greetings from the rest of the group in Panama. Then Alex shared, a mixture of fun stories from the Wounaan culture, and experiences of his own life as God has guided him. He encouraged those present to have hope for their co…

"Be still and know that I am God."

Today is our fourth day on Hopi Land.  Things which began so slowly have taken off.  We have been busy all day.
We started in the morning going up to the top of the Mesa with a local YWAMer and 3 Hopi friends.  We were initiated into the Hopi roads as our small car struggled through huge mud puddles and ended up spattered with mud, much as other vehicles we had seen around town.
We got out of the car and contemplated the amazing view from the top of the mesa as we looked down on the canyon below and the flat land stretching out almost as far as we could see, only broken by some distant buttes on the edge of the horizon.  The place gave a new meaning to the word silence, till a young hawk flew overhead and cried out.
We prayed and shared for over an hour, our group and our new Hopi friends. We later learned that one of the women with us that day was not a believer, but she spent all morning with us as we shared how God was working in our lives, and then came to the house and ate lunch…

Our second day on Hopi Land

This is our second day in Hopi Land.  The weather has been beautiful, clear skies with stunning sunsets.  The Hopi have a story that in the beginning their people chose this land because no one would envy them here, and no one would steal the land from them. Indeed, the Hopi were one of the few people groups in North America that were never displaced from their land.  Visible from the house we are staying in is the oldest continuously populated town in North America.  The Hopi are an ancient people group. As we drove out from Flagstaff yesterday, the dry Pondarosa Pine and Juniper of the mountains gave way to flat land dotted with sage brush and yellow grass. We seemed to drive on and on through nothingness, just the mesas jutting up from the ground to provide landmarks.
I found myself imagining the long ago ancestors of the Hopi walking through this land, and settling at the feet of the mesas to grow their corn and raise their families.  Coming from the tall mountains and fresh pine…

An Invitation

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After a long day of travel we had arrived in Kamiah, Idaho, our first outreach location.  We were tired from the drive and not sure what to expect.

We were shown into a large fellowship hall, nicely heated and ready for our arrival.  Our team was willing to serve but we were wondering, what did God have in store for us?
Our vision in planning this trip had been to connect Wounaan believers with Indigenous communities here in North America.  We knew that the gifts that had were well suited to reach out in Indigenous communities anywhere.
What we didn't know is how this would all work out in real life, especially now that our team was very small.
We spent the first two days just getting to know the community. We prayed, visited cultural and historical sites, and met some people. It was a good beginning. Soon doors began to open.  We were given the chance to share on a local radio station, visit the Head Start, share at the Senior Center and even learn bead working with some young w…