If

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

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)  
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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  

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

When I make cookies, it’s usually to share with my students/friends. Most kiddos in Bolivia dislike raisins, so most of the time I restrained from baking anything with raisins. This cool rainy afternoon I found myself reviewing my old recipes and found one marked as “favorite”and decided to reminiscer the flavor. I have all for myself a batch of 30 plump chewy cookies, willing to share, but I know nobody here would want any. Being that oatmeal is healthy and nutritious will be my excuse to eat them all

Published in: on October 28, 2018 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (5/5)

“Finishing is better than starting”

(Ecc.7:8 New Living Translation).

It is the end of the meal, the stomach is full and the heart is happy. If I have eaten the right amount of food, with nutritional value and excellent taste; there is a sense of SATISFACTION. It is a great feeling, it just that it doesn’t last too long; in a few hours, we will feel hungry again.

satisfaction-meter-different-emotionsEmotions also have a short lifespan. In life you and I get our portions of good and bad, happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, celebration and grieving, achievements and failures, gaining and losing, etc. The menu is large. We avoid the negative ones as we abstain from certain foods not of our preference and try to get jumbo portions of the others. Once we experience some of the good stuff; we better enjoy it thoroughly while it last, for sooner rather than later, it will be gone and we will want more of it again.

Jesus declared in John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (emphasis mine). It is quite an offer for full satisfaction for one’s spirit and soul.
God’s invitation surpasses any expectations, outdo any other goods and arises above any delicacy this world can present.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
  Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.” (Is.55:1-2)

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 5, 2018 at 5:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (4/5)

fat-vs-skinny

Not Eating is as damaging to self well-being as overeating. I used to hear my father say “All extremes are bad” Anorexia and bulimia as well as compulsive eating are sadly common disorders in people of all ages and both create health problems.

Emotionally speaking, eating too little or nothing is when I see myself as auto-sufficient for everything when in reality I must accept my need of others. Emotional anorexia is expressed by never getting too close to anyone, having a lack of forgiving spirit, accumulating bitterness and being detached of what it could be considered weak feelings such as crying, smiling, kindness and never asking for help or advice.

Emotionally overeating is the opposite. It’s when people become the center and the motivating force for living. I learn the art of manipulation so that people never leave me alone and are always there for me. I constanly seek their compliments, company and favors. Parents, spouces, children or friends are God’s given gift of support, but if their only role in my life is for my ego-fattening, then I have a problem.

Don’t you hate the secret to staying fit? There’s no secret. I know what to do, but we have the natural tendency to be unbalanced in our eating, in our emotions, in our relationships, etc.
The NIV Bible translates Ecclesiastes 7:18b this way: “Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”

I would like to repeat something I wrote some time ago as conclusion: Proverbs 25:16

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dobby (R.I.P.)

DSC_0022It was June 8th of last year (2017) when I had received a call from a lady from the church to ask me if I wanted a puppy. I had just lost two old dogs and I accepted. I just found out in the veterinarian office this week that he was a mix breed of an English Foxhound.

It’s hard to believe that today I lost him.  He was one year old; in my mind people or animals don’t die at that age. I had mistakenly thought he would be my pet for the next 15 years or so. About a month ago he was coughing, took medicine, then he got a skin fungal infection, took more medicine, then he had a paw luxation, anti-inflammatory medication and today as I took him to the vet because he was looking really bad, he had an anaphylactic shock to which he didn’t survive.

My lessons:

  • There is no age to die; of course I already knew that, it’s just that death continues to leaves us with consternation.
  • Medicine has its doses and limitations; I also knew that, death is an excellent reminder.
  • The power of repeating to oneself’s mind something like “it’s just a dog” is futile when it is your pet.
  • As much as animals are not “worth” the same as people; it’s okay to feel sad and I admit it, I cried.
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Mr. Ears paying his last respect.

 

IMG_20180622_154521 - copia

Dobby’s collar and leg cast; now unnecessary

Published in: on June 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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