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

 

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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.

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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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CYBER LIFE CAMP

DSC_0112Our brother Hugo Acosta shared the Word of God with the youth at our “Cyber Life Camp” during the two-week winter break. Hugo studied High School at the Christian School. He is now a Computer Engineer with specialization in Entrepreneurship and in IT Security. He works as a computer consultant in a private company, teaches at the Bethesda University and is also Director/Representative of Mozilla in Bolivia. Hugo is a young adult who has a lot of technology information and experience, but above all, a solid Christian faith. We were blessed to have him with us and connect with the 60 teenage campers who needed to learn the proper use of the social networks, its dangers and the Good News of Salvation.

Camp Bible verses:  “Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

See the whole album of this event in facebook: Here.

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Published in: on July 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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His side

boom

CTBCorrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust and was imprisoned for it. During her presentations to audiences around the world, she would often hold the back side of a piece of embroidery,  with hundreds of tangled threads hanging from it. Many wondered if she was holding up the wrong side by mistake. As she held up the messy side of the embroidery she would ask…
“Does God always grant us what we ask for in prayer? Not always. Sometimes He says, ‘No.’ That is because God knows what we do not know. God knows all. Look at this piece of embroidery. The wrong side is chaos. But look at the beautiful picture on the other side – the right side.”

Triumphantly she flipped the cloth over and revealed an elaborately embroidered crown – symbolizing our crown of eternal life. The crown was intricately stitched, and had threads of many colors, including gold, silver and pearls.

“We see now the wrong side, God sees His side all the time. One day we shall see the embroidery from His side, and thank Him for every answered and unanswered prayer.”

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (New Living Translation).

Published in: on May 29, 2014 at 7:25 am  Comments (1)  
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ANYWAY

teresaPeople are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.

If you are Kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; BE KIND ANYWAY.

If you are succesful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; SUCCEED ANYWAY.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; BUILD ANYWAY.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous, BE HAPPY ANYWAY.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; DO GOOD ANYWAY.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.

You see in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; it was never between you and them ANYWAY.

                                                                                                                                                             – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Published in: on May 1, 2014 at 8:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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One Airport Experience

aeropuerto

Sitting from one place to another in wait for my next flight; I saw a nice expensive cell phone left on one of the chairs among a Starbucks napkin waste.  Nobody was around so I nervously picked up. It had been left forgotten by a traveler in haste going God-knows-where-in-the-world. I sat a little further away to see if someone would come back looking for it. No more than five minutes have passed when I saw a man going directly to the chair with the garbage, his garbage, which by now he threw to the garbage bin. I went up to him and asked him if he was looking for something, but my question was beside to the point, almost inappropriate since it was obvious by his gestures and body language. I proceeded to give it back and quite noticeable was the relief in his face and the rest of his body! He could not thank me enough, we shook hands and disappeared.

Did it cross my mind to keep it? Yes it did. But how could I when I have been in the same situation and wish someone would have done the same for me! How could I when I am a traveler and wish my belongings, all of them, make it with me to destination. I need the same mercy.

This person came back as I was writing this experience in my journal and gave me a reward, but I was already enjoying my reward; the fact that I had made a total stranger happy in his journey. We had not seen each other before and won’t see each other again; all our contact was made of few minutes in between flights, yet our encounter gave us a reason to travel with a smile.

Published in: on December 20, 2012 at 9:59 am  Comments (2)  
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