We are home, after the trip of a lifetime: where was the love?

Life and Faith

Over the last month, we were on “the trip of a lifetime.” It was an opportunity for rest and renewal and, most importantly, multiple experiences of love.

The most visible experiences of love were found in the journey, which was itself a gift from God.  It is quite special that we were given the privilege of being gone for an entire month to wander around Europe.  It was love that gave us access to enough resources for us to visit Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, England, Holland, and Norway.  The surprising part was that we were on the receiving end of so many acts of generosity, that expressed love from friends toward us.

PANAMA”PUENTE DEL MUNDO, CORAZON DEL UNIVERSO”

God and humanity, Immigrants, Latin America and humanity

It’s not about the ships.

The important thing is how cargo gets from one part of the world to another.

Sometimes the best way is on a ship that passes through the Canal.  But not all cargo stays in ships as it goes through the Canal.   The canal administration understands that is a node in a flow of global commerce from everywhere to everywhere.  The canal is an important part of Panama’s brand:  “Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe.”

Panama is about connectivity between humans.   But the Canal doesn’t produce the

Polycentric Missiology, by Allen Yeh

God and humanity

I wish we could sit down and read Polycentric Missiology together.  We might find ourselves talking together about what difference mission makes. Hopefully, our conversation would take us beyond celebrating or condemning missionaries who went out from a “Christian” North to a pagan South. Instead, we would talk about how the world changed in the 20th Century and reflect on the surprisingly decisive role that Christian mission played.

I would really be excited if reading it together, you might also find a way to help me resolve a long-standing frustration of mine.  When we first went to Brazil as missionaries, I discovered the world was not really organized in the way the “missions” narrative I learned from had portrayed it to me. I can’t say that was the frustration.  After

Never Forget — Sept 16, 2001

God and humanity

“Never forget” is our September 11, 2001, motto, especially if we were old enough to experience that awful day.   I do wonder, though, why is it that holding onto a horrible memory so important?

One vivid memory I have is that, for a few moments, everyone could see that the economic, political and military powers that rule the world might not be invincible after all.

Martureo

Brasil, Martureo: Brazilian Center for Missiological Reflection, My work

In late April, I started a new job in Brazil.  I am now the Executive Coordinator for Martureo:  the Brazilian Center for Missiological Reflection.

Marcos Amado founded Martureo to produce resources Brazilians need to assess their experience in global mission and chart a course for the future.

When Lois and I went as missionaries to Brazil in the 70’s we believed Brazilians should not so much receive missionaries as send them.  Over the next few decades that is exactly what happened.  A movement of Brazilians in global mission emerged and grew.

Immigrants, take America back!

Immigrants, Leadership, Life and Faith

The cover of Atlantic Magazine this month asks if America can put itself back together again. Convoluted thinker that I am, I wondered where this “again” came from and where (or who) some people want to take America “back” from (of course some of us know that it is on the brink).

When was America “together” in the first place?  If there was a time when this country was not on the brink, your ancestors may have missed it.  Some of mine were in “the home country” until the Gold Rush, and others didn’t come until the 20th Century.  On the other hand, maybe some of yours were already here.  That’s possible if you are from an old California or Texas family with a Spanish last name family, but then maybe “America” was about to invade them.

On living a charmed life—gift #1—thanks to you!

Brasil, Life and Faith, My work
Lois and I have been entrusted with gifts and privileges over the years.  Such things may come ultimately from God, but they are delivered through people like you.  Two special gifts  came this month and reminded me why we say “entrusted.”  We get gifts so we can use them responsibly.
The first gift was when we found an old recipe book of Brazilian recipes from a women’s meeting on our first visit back from from Brasil.
Let’s go back a few steps:  Before we got married, we decided to be missionaries.  A year after tying the knot, we moved to Brazil — 25 and 23 years old!
Leaving for Brazil

We started our family in Brazil, and then raised our daughters in Guatemala.  Some people thought we were really dedicated—giving away our lives—but we always thought we were on the receiving end, getting many more good things than we ever gave up.

The recipe book, and the prayers of friends
The first gift I got this month was an old recipe book with only five recipes.  It’s old, and typed on a typewriter.  We aren’t exactly sure when this little booklet was made. The introduction includes language that often made us feel uncomfortable because it implied that we were doing something particularly special.  It also made Brazilians out to be poor and needy, and our friends in Brazil were very much like us.  Sometimes our friends nurtured ideas of Brazil that was might have been more consistent with the Amazon jungle than with the very urban context of the two cities we lived in.  Not only was the jungle 5 hours away by plane, the cities we lived in were amazingly modern, in some ways beyond what we had experienced in the USA.  São Paulo (15 million people then) was enormous and an industrial powerhouse .  Curitiba (3 million) was a great city to live in, and a global standard setter for good urban planning.
What made this booklet a gift was also in the introduction.
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Something more important than the mis-conceptions about who we were and where we lived, was the willingness of our friends to make special efforts to pray for us.  We were the privileged ones because we were on the receiving end of the prayers of many more people than anyone we knew.  Many still pray for us.  We get all the benefits.
Its mysterious to some, but God seems to pay attention when people turn to him and cry out for help on behalf of others.  We were those “others” for whom our friends cried out to God.  It’s not like bad things never happened to us.  But it is true that the bad things never STAYED bad.  People we hardly knew kept talking to Him about us.
I have attached a link to the entire cookbook.  It has five great, and simple, recipes for Brazilian food that we still love to this day.
How to use this gift responsibly?  I think the answer is hidden behind the second gift I received recently, and I will post about that in the next couple of days.
But using this gift responsibly begins by saying THANK YOU!
You have made a huge difference in our lives.  All the joyful pictures and family joys that we post on Facebook, are because of you.  The skills we have now and use to serve others — Lois helping students at the High School to find their way to College, and me, standing as an ally for Latin Americans as they enter a world of conflict, oppression and need in the name of Jesus , so that they can offer blessing and well-being and encourage others to follow Jesus—these are special skills and we have them because you gave us a context in which to grow and develop them.  Thank you.