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.

 

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Sophia

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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Happiness is…

Mum

Happiness is

mother-and-son time.

 

 

Published in: on May 10, 2018 at 5:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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A link in the Chain

A few weeks ago I heard the sad news of the passing of the son of a missionary couple very dear to me. When I finished reading their letter my mind went back over 20 years ago when I had briefly met David. I was in Chicago with this family and I was heading down to Bolivia. I don’t remember why, but my flight out of The Windy City was at a very early hour of the morning and David drove me to O’Hare Airport. We had to wake up around 5 a.m. and the ride must had been no more than an hour. He dropped me off and that was it; I never saw him or knew of his whereabouts ever again. It never occurred to me to ask about him; I was his family’s friend, but not his.

It was upon knowing about his death that I realized that among the numerous people God had used to direct and bring me to Bolivia, David was on the list. In a simple, casual, quiet and apparently insignificant deed; he was a link in the chain.

This incident taught me a lesson: to help people that come my way; folks I had never met before and will never see again, much less receive a “thank you” note.  The unknown, the uninvited, the outsider, the unfamiliar and the perfect stranger might need a hand…my hand. Surely in a small, but big way I can be a blessing to someone today.

 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’          Matthew 25:35-40

 

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 5:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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CANADAteam part (2/2)

Before, during and after the Team’s one-week visit, many people asked me how this all happened! 19 members from far away countries that come to give generously, work hard and share their lives trying to speak their language, eating their food and helping in the needs of a school in a NFT (Not For Tourists) town in Bolivia is/was unheard of.

To answer their question my memory went back to the decade of the 90s at Emmaus Bible College where I had met Bob Agnew, the team leader, but had not seen him since then. In 2008 I went to a conference where many alumni were there. One night, as part of the program there was a “Dessert and Fellowship time” in the Dinning Hall. Events with many people are emotionally exhausting at least for me, I don’t want to speak for all introverts. I decided that I had had enough “social time” and went upstairs to my room and took a good book to read. For many years I have made the effort NOT to act on what comes first and innate to my personality which is to avoid a crowd. I reasoned that it was not the time to keep to my own self since it was a special occasion and decided to go downstairs to socialize for a while. My re-encounter with Bob happened at that moment and as it is natural, the conversation turned to what we had been doing all these years. I mentioned my missionary work and he told me about his mission trips. I casually said “You’ve got to come to Bolivia one day with a team!”

What would it have had happened if I had decided not to mingle for a while that night? I don’t know. That single one conversation took eight years to become a reality. I am sure it was perfectly orchestrated to come true this year leaving me with a warm heart. What I now know is that what it seems simple, insignificant or trivial at first, it can lead us to a very rewarding experience and that when you first meet someone, you can never know just how much that person will bless and enrich your life.

agnew-y-segovia

 

Published in: on March 2, 2017 at 5:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Efren Duran

Efren Duran was 59 years old when he unexpectedly passed away last week. I had known him for almost 40 years. He was a man with a quiet and gentle spirit. He had a real shepherd’s heart. I don’t remember exactly when, but every year during my  visit to Mexico, he invited me to go out for a cup of coffee. It was more than just a cup of coffee, it was a complete Mexican style breakfast in a long-established restaurant in Veracruz. It was a great time of fellowship. He then also incorporated to this tradition two other friends also working as missionaries. The conversation was always about me…about us, about our lives, work, dilemmas, needs, future plans and desires. He had an extraordinary listening ear for his sheep.

The last words he casually said to me were “give me a call if you have time for another cup of coffee before your trip back to Bolivia; there is this place I would like to take you with a beautiful view to the ocean”.

I accept God’s perfect will and timing for his departure. Our cup of coffee will have to wait just a little longer. I will miss my brother and friend till we meet again in that place promised by our Lord and Savior of our souls with a more beautiful view.

DSC_0217

January 2016 in LA PARROQUIA famous coffeehouse in Veracruz

Published in: on March 3, 2016 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gentle Rock

sea_tide_rockThe Award Program in Deerfoot offers 11 instructional areas where campers and staff can earn Basic, Advance and Master’s awards. After earning the Honor D, that is six Masters awards and demonstrating outstanding Christian character and leadership ability; a camper or staff is qualified to be part of the Lone Eagle Fellowship. The approved candidate climbs the Dug mountain where he must spend the night alone with God and choose an Indian-type of name with spiritual meaning to be announced at a ceremony before the entire camp and visitors.

Chief Chuck’s chosen name was Gentle Rock. This strange combination of words is a figure of speech known as “oxymoron” where two incongruous and contradictory terms appear together. Is there such thing as an open secret, a harmonious discord or cruel kindness?  It sure makes anyone to stop and think. How can a rock, that immobile solid mass of stone, be soft and tender?

Chuck is a bold, straightforward man with strong convictions; properly complying with the “rock” part of his Lone Eagle name. The challenging part, for most of us, is to be honest without being harsh and to deal justly and be merciful. The Christian life is about showing the nature of God and the perfect example and equilibrium is in the Lord Jesus himself who came in the flesh, dwelt among us, showed us his glory and was full of GRACE and TRUTH. (John 1:14). Grace is unmerited kindness towards undeserving sinners. Truth is the God-pleasing standard of what is good and right. Grace without truth is shallow and sentimental. Truth without grace is harsh and legalistic.

Let us all be solid and strong as a rock and gentle and softhearted as needed. Let us pray and strive to live in the constant exercise of grace and truth.

Chuck visiting me in Bolivia in 2000.  Camiri Campground.

Chuck visiting me in Bolivia in 2000.
Camiri Campground.

Chuck is the author of “In Partnership With God” blog.

Published in: on November 20, 2014 at 6:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hobo Dinner and Smores

Back in 1990, on my way to my first summer camp experience at Deerfoot Lodge, a college friend and I spent one night in the camp Directors’ home, Charles and Sally Jo Gieser. I don’t remember how and why, but I found myself taking a walk with Chuck (and dog) in what I suppose it is Highland road in the town of Greenville, NY. He had interviewed me months earlier, but during this walk, I was having my first real conversation with him.  We must have talked about different things, mostly camp subjects, I guess. But, what is it that I remember the most and vividly? His explanation of what it is a Hobo dinner and the procedure of making smores.

campfire-meals

smores

Those one-on-one conversations and walks are a long-established DL tradition. Over the years I had my customary walk with him at the end of the summer and some others as opportunities came.  Chief Chuck, as everybody calls him at camp, is an excellent storyteller, but above all, he is a man of God with so much to teach, share, give and inspire. I never had too much of those one-on-ones.

Today, those conversations have taken another form: “email-to-email” communication, chat, discussions, etc. But I continue to benefit from his knowledge, advice, rebuke, insight, experience, and constant words of encouragement.

In talking about hobo dinner and smores, Chuck Gieser taught me one of the most valuable lessons in my life; that apparently meaningless subjects of conversation build bridges and can lead to significant, enduring and rewarding relationships. When you give time to somebody, it is never a waste of time.

Chief Chuck and I back in 1992

Chief Chuck and I back in 1992

Published in: on November 13, 2014 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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He said, She said

This morning two kindergarten kids came to me to accuse each other for their bad behavior. After listening to their complaint and seeing that they presented two versions of the same event; I said to them “one of you is lying” and this is what I immediately got as a response:

she he did itI asked three times and three times I got the same non-verbal answer. I smile at the reaction of these cuties and find it very difficult to apply Proverbs 12:22 “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.”  So, in reality; it is no laughing matter. Lying is unamusing to God. And while it is true that “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” Sin is sin wherever God finds it.

he-said-she-said God’s standar for sinful people of all ages is the same: “STOP LYING” (Eph. 4:25 TLB) and it can only be done by confessing it to God, ask his forgiveness and  walk daily closer to Him, The Way, The Life and The Truth.

 

Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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