Scotland (3/3)

The word hospitality in Greek is composed by the words “Philao” (brotherly love) and “Xenos” (stranger, immigrant and even enemy). In Latin, hospitality shares the same root with hospital meaning “guest chamber”; a shelter for the needy. In both instances, acts of service and assistance are involved; anticipating and taking care of someone’s needs. It is hard work that requires thinking, planning, preparing and paying the cost. Once in a while it might be inconvenient and invariably it’s time consuming.

My hosts, Christoph and Christine Ewers, are originally from Germany, but have made Scotland their home. They own and run The Ardshealach smokehouse. Their family business brought memories when my parents had a small bakery shop in Mexico. I learned many things about baking and management, but above all, to pray for customers. We work diligently according to God-given skills and then we depend on Him to bring people to buy our products. Their small enterprise is in my prayers. Anyone traveling in the area should stop by this private, small factory to get excellent customer service by the very same owners.

The Ewers ministered to my heart in a great impacting way. They opened their home to me, sharing what they have: time, food, friendship, acceptance, comfort. They arranged with other people (Lighthouse Church), as nice, loving and kind as they are, to attend me and give me each day a different sightseeing tour of the extraordinary Highlands.

To say “Scottish people are friendly” is an understatement for much more could be said. There must be exceptions; I understand that, but my experience was all positive. Chilly weather in the summer, rain almost every day, however warmth brotherhood every single moment.

Sometimes you hear a good sermon preached from the pulpit in church; some other unique and exceptional times you see a sermon lived. These people preached powerfully to me with their hospitality. Thank you.



Scotland (2/3)

Food is more than just what maintains us alive and strong. It is an important part of culture and identity; that which makes a country unique.  Haggis

First thing is my list to try was the national dish of Scotland: Haggis. I was hesitant about tasting it because I had read of the ingredients(sheep’s heart, liver, lungs), but I reason that if I go for liver pate with no problem; I possibly like this as well. I must confess that I cheated the first time. I was in The Grog and Gruel Pub (courtesy of Alan and Tricia Smillie) and saw in their menu “Nacho Haggis, Tex-Mex meets Scotland”. It was the ideal introduction, combining flavors I knew, with something new. The second time was at my friends’ house and they have made it. The picture says it all, it was as good as it looks.

SandwichThey also accustom “Toasties” for lunch. I have always loved sandwiches, especially if the bread is grilled, warm and crispy and the cheese melted. Simple and heavenly meal. Another lunch time I had lentil soup which is very filling, comforting and perfect for a cold rainy day, typical of Scotland… soup and weather, that is.

Scottish fish soupEven though I grew up in a port city; I was/am, to some degree, a picky seafood eater and it is not in my first-choice of edible material; adding to the fact that most of the time it is an expensive delicacy. My hosts were extremely kind offering me a farewell dinner consisting of Cullen Skink soup with smoked haddock. The main course were fresh Langoustines with a garlic-mayo dip. Given the opportunity, I would have this great delicacy again.

Scottish friend

A fully Scottish experience has to include the tasting of Whisky, so I was taken to the Ardnamurchan Distillery to have a tour of the facility where the process, from beginning to end, takes place. The visit ends in a nice, cozy room where you are given one (or more if you so decide) Glencairn tasting glass of their fine “water of life”.

And last, but not least: Shortbread! I used to bake it when I worked in the kitchen in College, decades ago. I had forgotten about it; now “I have relapsed” and have no plans to recover ūüėÄ

Published in: on August 1, 2019 at 5:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Scotland (1/3)

Where and how do I start to describe, try to portray and put into words what I experienced and my eyes have seen in my two weeks in a “wee” part in the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland?

English is not my first language, so I thought it was going to be a frustration, but I was wrong. Even though I did have my moments of confusion; it was the ever present indication of being in a foreign country. I think their way of speaking is lovely!

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience¬†can never go back

to its old dimensions”¬† O.W. Holmes

Photography is just my hobby. I am not any close to any expert knowledge about¬† cameras, lenses, modes, etc. I take pictures because I like to take pictures, of everything for that matter. But if I were a professional photographer; I would say that Scotland is any photographer’s paradise. Almost every corner has the perfect spot for photographing. I now have a personal collection of snapshots from every path my feet trod, from each step in the beach, from every hill walking.

“Which of my photographs is my favorite?

Hopefully, the one I’m going to take tomorrowImogen Cunningham

Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig, Fort William, Glenfinnan, I fell in love with you; picturesque villages. Your greatness is not in your size, but in your friendly people, in your extensive fascinating landscape, in your countless blue lochs, in your castle-style houses and churches, in the homey atmosphere of your diners and in your historical train rails and stations. Your countless drops of rain not just got me wet, they saturated me with memories…unforgettable moments.

“It’s good people who make good places” A. Sewell

I can still feel the jet lag effects of this trip in my body. It will be vanishing and finally gone away; but for the time being, it doesn’t bother me, I am “savoring”, taking pleasure in it. I can say it is a good discomfort that reminds me I traveled. Any cost paid for traveling is nothing compared to the huge difference between looking at picture of a place and saying “I was there”.

“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times”






Published in: on July 25, 2019 at 5:05 am  Comments (2)  
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IBCM7aRecently I was in Rome for an international conference that bring together leaders from churches in the Brethren movement. The purpose of the conference is:

  • To provide different church leaders with a time of refreshment listening the exposition of the Word of God; this year brought by Professor John Lennox, an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Christian apologist.
  • To meet new people and be encouraged by eating, sharing, singing and praying together. Food was served buffet style in the Hotel’s garden in tables with 10 chairs. Occasionally, every chair was occupied by a person from a different country and no meal was ever same. Each day of the conference was a new cross-cultural experience.
  • To be better informed of what it’s going on with the church in different countries; some which are or seem to be remote, some which are not-so-well-known and yet others which have the fame and prestige in the world for their turist attractions, but in all of them, the light of Christ is shinning.

And much more it could be said, but overall these were the highlights for me. I highly recommend anyone to participate in next one. IBCM is held every four years.

I took one day for sightseeing The Eternal City in its fabulous 1,285 km². Since I had already been to the two most-visited sites, the Colosseum and the Vatican, I took the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus and went to other places such as the Catacombs, Musei Capitolini, Plazza Venezia and the Ascensori Panoramici (Glass elevator) from where you can enjoy some of the best views in Rome. I had pizza for lunch, obviously, in the Ghetto Ebraico near the Synagogue (to my dismay I was late for visiting hours) and the legendary Trevi Fountain.

2019-06-30-21-19-35-575 Besides the stops I made; I rode on the bus a whole complete cycle and took many pictures from the upper deck. I totally agree, Rome is magical. It is unavoidable to fall in love with such a place where you walk through history and art. It was an exhausting hot day in Rome, but worth doing and repeating anytime!

Published in: on July 18, 2019 at 5:16 am  Comments (2)  


If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, faorgetting “Who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I I know nothing of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael, If 
(London: S.P.C.K.; Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1938).
Published in: on June 20, 2019 at 5:26 am  Comments (1)  
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Sophia is my niece. She just turned 18 this June the11th. I have not been able to be in any of her birthdays. One of the things missionaries, like myself, have to undergo is missing many family events. When I go for Christmas; we have lots to catch up and literally every minute spent together is precious.

She is a very friendly, talkative, social young girl. She likes baking. She is very good at crafts and decorating. She makes people feel important. She is into details like wrapping gifts and writing little notes. She likes to share from what she has.

With her generous, giving, loving spirit, she applied to be a volunteer worker at the Operation Mobilization “Logos Hope” Ship for two years and has been accepted to start this year in September. Actually her training starts in August in Amsterdam and then flies with the rest of the new crew to Brazil to join this vessel which is home of 400 volunteers from 60 different countries and features the biggest floating bookstore.

Almost at the same age, I went to study abroad. Even though I had the support of my parents (as she does of hers); nonetheless, it’s a step of faith and courage. I know this experience won’t always be smooth sailing, but I am excited and very happy for I know she will grow, learn, mature and become a better person who will be able to serve God and others with her gifts and abilities.

Published in: on June 13, 2019 at 5:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Teacher’s Day

Today is a day off school. It is Bolivian Teacher’s Day. I should have had my piano 2019lesson,¬†but my teacher also needs to enjoy his day of rest. Yes, I am a teacher and a student. Efrain is a talented guy who plays different instruments and knows music by the book. My attempts to learn how to play piano began in my early teen days and I have had different classes and teachers at various times. I realize that I am not young anymore, but here I am giving it one more shot. Hopefully this time I hit the nail on the head.

Learning from those I taught is a tremendous wonderful experience. Teaching is never a one way street. It is a reciprocal impacting, shaping and lasting life experience.

2004It also gives me the chance to sit in the learner inexperience chair and fully sense the process students pass through to acquire new knowledge and skills.

These lessons are more than just entertaining myself; they are about trying, persevering and working every day. I am passionate about this whole thing of education. Ultimately, it is about staying a student for the rest of my life.

Published in: on June 6, 2019 at 6:32 am  Comments (1)  
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Finding Beauty

DSC_0286 - copiaFrom time to time I take my camera and walk around trying to find something to snapshot; as a hobby. This rose is from my garden.¬† I must admit it is the first time an old whithered flower gets my attention. I actually saw beauty in it.¬† It is well known that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so I am not writing to convince anyone, but as I get older, I want to find beauty in aging and in fact, in everything everyhwhere.

This rose is beautiful because it did what it was intended to do, to be a rose. It gave beauty to my garden from bud to bloom, from a full grown rose to what are called hips where the seeds are that eventually become another rose.

Many new fresh roses are cut to give joy and happiness to someone somewhere outside the ground where they were planted. Some others are allowed to stay and finish their cycle.

In analogy, I assume most of us don’t want our lives to be cut too soon. If given the choice, I select and would prefer to go till the end, even if that means losing color, freshness, attraction, sturdiness and other characteristics the new and young enjoy.

I decide to take joy in roses in all their stages. I am going to savor each day of my fifth decade of life and going to appreciate more and more those who are completing and finishing the race of life.

A philosopher-type Bible writer once said: “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…” It’s up to me to make it true each passing day.

Published in: on May 30, 2019 at 4:51 am  Comments (1)  

Do as Romans do

Last week I took the bus that leaves Camiri at 11 p.m.  I had heard the trip took longer than usual to get to Santa Cruz because of the many sections on the road in construction and maintenance. To my dismay, my calculation to get there at daybreak was incorrect and arrived at 4 a.m. I had two hours before going to the place I was lodging. Standing there feeling the cold wind hitting my face; I notice people sitting on the floor of the bus terminal with warm blankets.

people bus terminal

I had seen the same scenario at international airports and for some reason, it looked all-right, natural, but here it seemed, to me, ¬®poor and pitiful”. But I couldn’t stay the whole time on my feet.

There are times that “When in Rome do as Romans do” actually prove to be the proper thing to do, making any cross-cultural experience easier.


sgv floor terminalI felt much better on the floor. Being one more, nobody noticed me. In that “low” position, I was mostly ignored, almost invisible. People walked by minding their own business.

The only aspect of this experience that did not change is that just like in any waiting, time seems to go slower.

Published in: on May 23, 2019 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mr. Glock.

Going back to Dubuque will never be the same for me without Dave and Melsie there.

Published in: on March 19, 2019 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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