Sunday, April 18, 2010

Medellin Colombia April 2010- Final Post

I guess a few closing thoughts are in order here … and I am sure I will have many more as days go by.

God has knit Cheri’s and my hearts with the people of Colombia. We have been to Bogota twice and to Medellin twice … plus Pastor Pedro has spoken to us about coming and ministering in some more Pastor’s Conference throughout the country (with the proposed next one being in Cartagena … which excites us to no end.)

We did not plan on falling in love with the people of Colombia but God had other thoughts … in fact, according to most in the US, we should be scared to be in Colombia … but, my goodness, we live in Chicago, a city was recently known as the murder capital of the US … and we lived in Detroit for several years. It’s not time to be getting scared now.

I said on several occasions that we love the beauty of the land of Colombia … and we love the beautiful birds of Colombia … and we love the flowers and the scenery of Colombia … but more than anything, we love the people of Colombia. We have been with some of the most hungry pastors that we know of from anywhere in the world.

And the congregations of the churches are no different … they too are extremely hungry.

Each of our preaching/teaching encounters witnessed the people "drawing” God’s anointing through us … we loved it and we can’t wait to go back.

Neither can we wait to hear the great things that God will continue to do through the ministries we sewed into this past several days/

And Cheri and I got to minister in power together … that is always so awesome to me. In fact, I am so glad God has placed the two of us together for these few, past 33 years. Cheri is an amazing speaker who carries a heavy anointing. She is well advanced beyond what she may think. I am proud to be her husband.

Anyway, we don’t have dates … but we have our vision set for our next journey to Colombia … probably to Cartagena.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store.

Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Nine- the return home

Last days are always sad … but we did get to sleep in just a little. Our plan was to have breakfast, then meet with Pedro to debrief, then head to the airport. All went according plan … except Adam called real early to tell us that he had to run to the emergency room with his son … that would have left us with no interpreter … but he did make it back on time to work us through that.

Pedro settled the hotel account, and I paid for my laundry services, we loaded up, and then headed to the airport.

The trip there was pretty uneventful, although it was very nice to see even more of the beauty of Medellin.

We got to the airport. Adam helped us get our exit tax exemption (which you only pay if you have been in the country for more than 60 days) and then Pedro and Adam bid us farewell so that they could return to their daily duties. This was a sad departure because they have been our constant companions the whole time we have been here … especially Adam.

This is all great … except we find out we have a two hour delay leaving Medellin … which is going to make us miss our connection in Miami … which means American Airlines is going to put us up for the night and feed us in Miami. I have to admit that I am not too excited about this for fear of staying in a dumpy room AND I am ready to finish getting moved in to our new house in Chicago.

We all order lunch in Medellin (which was very interesting because the restaurant workers spoke NO English.) The question now becomes “do we speak enough Spanish to order food?” And the answer is “YES!!!” although it took a little trouble to do so. I had a salad, Cheri had a sandwich, and we split a Coke Zero.

The flight again is uneventful and we wind up in Miami. Again, as has been in all trips to Colombia, getting into the US is an absolute breeze.

We get our luggage and go to recheck, and find out that they have put us in a MAJORLY GORGEOUS hotel. This is a huge surprise. In fact, its kind of like God is really giving us favor … and the bed is soft and cuddly…yeah!!!

Cheri and I are so tired, we basically have a Coke and an appetizer plate and we call it a night. This ends part One of the two part exodus from Medellin.

We are very tired … but content.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 16

Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Eight (Last full day)

This has been an exhausting yet fulfilling final full day of ministry in Medellin Colombia. I started the day off by myself having breakfast (which simply consisted of watermelon, cantaloupe, rice and beans, and sausages accompanied by a simple glass of orange juice.

Doug was running late because he was trying to finish with the barrels he is staining for Mi Casa Azul (and he did finish and met us at the theater at 10:30.) Cheri is running late because … well, I don’t know why because, nonetheless, she is running a little late and asks me to bring her a bottle of water and a couple of bread rolls for the journey.

Adam and Pedro meet us on time and Cheri and I head to the theater to present our final messages to the local pastors.

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We have been thrilled with the response we have gotten from all of them; this is a fine group of pastors who really seem hungry for God and who seem to want true unity among themselves.

After a brief time of praise and worship, I spoke the first half of my message regarding the rebuilding of the temple by Ezra and Nehemiah … and I related it to stewardship and integrity. (I am not sure how I came up with that other than to say that it was purely the Holy Spirit.) After an hour, I was exhausted and gave everyone a 15 minute break. (The truth is that I had a sinus headache all day long and it just simply did not seem to want to go away. This greatly affected my ability to focus yet I think that the message came across very well [in spite of the pain.]) When we came back, I finished this almost 2 hour long message and was met with great acceptance to the challenges I presented. In fact, there were pastors in this meeting publicly asking other pastors if they could help them by supplying them with teachers and worship leaders. I was overwhelmed by these responses … as well as the ones to commit to one another to trust one another and to continue to recognize the need for one another.

Cheri then wrapped up the meetings with her encouraging words to submit to God’s process(es) so that proper and healthy growth could come according to God’s plan and purpose. It was wonderful that she and I prepared our messages independent of one another and yet our primary focus scriptures were identical. She gave her illustration of a mariposa that comes out of the cocoon too soon and lives out its existence malformed because it had not allowed the development process to come to completion. She then compared this with pastors that want too much too quickly.

When we prayed over the pastors, Pastor Pedro took a few comments from the pastors and they were all overwhelmingly positive and showed signs that the messages had been received and that the challenges would be received as well.

I made sure that Cheri and I got our pictures made with one of the secretaries. She is a beautiful native Amer-Indian woman named Elis who is a prayer warrior. She seemed delighted to have her picture made with us and I am delighted because she is the epitome (in my mind) of what a Colombian looks like.

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We then had lunch where I had a grilled cerdo, a pile of brown rice, and an ensalada accompanied by a glass of jugo de lulo. Cheri and I then changed shoes and sent our backpacks to the car with Adam. We then went to a pay toilet. I have to admit that this is somewhat of a novelty to me so I had to go just for the novelty. Of course, the package of individual toilet paper that we were each given was an added bonus. Boy, I must really live a sheltered life to be amused by such.

We then embarked upon the Metra system where we got to see most of Medellin. It was heart breaking to be standing on the staging area and see a homeless man below rifling through the garbage can and taking drinks out of cups that he found there. Then, while riding the Metra beside the Medellin River, we saw shacks that homeless individuals and families had set up from the nearby garbage. (Oh Lord, continue to break my heart.)

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I did get to see an iguana sitting on the concrete shoulders of the river bank. Although I was too far away to accurately tell his size, I can imagine that he was 3-4 feet long. That was kind of cool although we have seen iguanas out in the wild in parts of the Caribbean.

As part of our Metra tour, we also took the cable car Metra that goes on the south side of Medellin up through and over the mountains. There were some spectacular and awesome sights on this part of the tour. For instance, we saw the homes of the very rich as well as the shacks of the poor. The mountains are beautiful in and of themselves but the colors that people painted their houses made the tour even more stunning. ( I really can’t imagine how these people got to town and back prior to the Metra cable system.

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We then went to the local Exito store (which is like a Colombian Wal-mart) where we bought some candy to take home as well as some pain medicine for our hips and knees.

We then went to Pastor Pedro and Mabel’s home where a beautiful and lovingly prepared supper awaited us. Again, they made us feel “at home.” We have come to love the Hernandez family and even took the time to bless their son, Alejandro, who was in bed battling Dengue Fever. We also blessed them and their home for their Colombian hospitality. Of course, being the gracious hosts they are, they also blessed us.

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We then came back to the hotel where we both are sitting with our computers in our laps as we type up notes from the day and answer e-mails.

Then, a knock comes to our door and we open it to find Erika and her husband, Ellery, who are here to tell us “Chao” and to give us “Mi Casa Azul” ornaments to take back home and raise funds for Palabra Pan y Paz.

We love our Colombian families and we are already dreaming of our return trip here. We, in fact, have already been invited to speak in several local churches and in their youth groups. We actually hope to do another pastor’s seminar like the one we have just completed; but this time in Cartagena.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will have time to give some closing thoughts to this trip as we fly back into Chicago.

Until then, know that this has been one awesome time in Medellin, Colombia

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 15

Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Seven

There are now words to adequately express our feeling for this day. I guess to start, however, I might try “phenomenal,” “Extraordinary,” or “WOW!!!”

Of course we started the day off with breakfast which consisted of a cup of cafe con leche, a glass of orange juice, some sausage, and some beans and rice.

Then, Cheri, Doug, and I headed to the Foursquare Church's sanctuary in the former cinema downtown for round two of our three days of Pastors’ Conferences. After having gotten off to a good start yesterday, the crowd more than tripled today with about 150 in attendance. While more were expected, I must say that this was one hungry and responsive group of pastors and wives. What is truly wonderful is that Cheri and I are ministering to them regarding integrity and ethics … and they are eating this stuff up. What else is really cool is that these men and women are just from Medellin and the surrounding area … and they are seeking unity and anointing for their city and for the Kingdom of God.

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I spoke in the first session regarding the importance of trusting the Holy Spirit in our defense of the Gospel … that we should prepare and that we should know of that which we speak … but that we must allow for the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us and to speak through us.

The second session, I also spoke regarding “What Kind of King are You” as I unveiled three biblical Kings, Saul, David, and Absalom, then presented characteristics of each, then challenged the pastors to see which traits of these kings most closely resembled those personal traits of their own. It was a very moving time together as these men and women were deeply challenged and were noticeably moved with introspection and repentance.

After a brief break, Cheri spoke regarding “10 things Pastors’ wives most need from their husbands.” She started off with a brief game similar to the Newlywed Game and immediately gained the attention of her audience by doing so. Again, many were deeply challenged and even asked for copies of her notes and for tapes so that they could share with their congregations in a modified form.

The last session witnessed me teaching this congregation regarding the power and necessity of personal forgiveness. One of my main thrusts was that while forgiveness DOES liberate the one whom we are forgiving, it even more so liberates us who are the forgivers. The challenge went forth to the pastors that they needed to have a place for forgiveness in the own hearts, perhaps even toward another pastor in the room. A great move took place as that very thing took place before our very eyes.

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I think that I am most amazed at the receptivity of our audiences. They are simply soaking in everything we are saying. While I take great joy in that fact, I also am deeply challenged with the importance of delivering the pure Word of God to them.

After these sessions, we all gathered in the lobby and had great fellowship. It was wonderful to be there with our friends from Palabra, Pan, y Paz as they had opportunity to share their new project at Mi Casa Azul with all of these pastors.

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We then went to a restaurant which specializes in Columbian Coastal Cuisine. I am not sure what kind of fish I had but it was absolutely delicious. (And yes, it still had the head and the eyes on it. Hopefully as I update these blogs a little when we get home, I will post a picture of my fish.) We also had this delicious coconut rice and a smashed banana-bread mixture called a patacone. And of course, the ensalada was fantastic as well as it featured finely cut greens and cantaloupe, papaya, and other fruits. This was all accompanied by a wonderful glass of guanabana con leche and cafe con leche.

Here we ate with the Medellin board of Christ for the City International. We loved seeing their spirits and witnessing their welcome. WE were made to feel at home. In fact, Pastor Pedro shared his dessert with me. He will never know the significance of that to me BUT, at home, only family shares food together (and yes, I mean eating after one another.) And when Pedro shared his dessert with me, I felt like family. I was awed.

We rested on this hot afternoon in our hotel room for a couple of hours as we also prepared for service tonight.

And this is where it really got good.

The church was a Centre de Fey in Ballo and was awesome. There must have been close to 1,000 people in attendance. (In fact, it was really hard to tell because the congregation poured out into the streets and people were standing all over the place … so I am suggesting 1,000 in the building and I have no idea how many were standing outside and listening.) I do know that there were people taking pictures of Cheri and me and that some were standing and recording us on their cell phones and cameras. Wow, there was such an awesome hunger for God’s Word. I spoke in Offering our Talents back to God and using them for His service and you again could physically see that hunger, the challenge, and the acceptance among the people. In fact, I was amazed at how many came to me afterwards and, in their broken English and in Spanish were telling me how this message was just for them. Another WOW moment was when more than 80 people gave their lives to Christ tonight. I gave the altar call and led them in a sinner’s prayer, and then turned them over the the pastor who prayed with them and sent them to a follow-up room with counselors. WOW.

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But perhaps even more WOWing to me was the overflow into the streets of this congregation. You literally could not drive a car through the streets after church because the people were partying and singing the praises of God IN THE STREETS of Ballo. It was awesome. And they all had to have their picture made with these white people. Even little girls would come up to Cheri and me just to touch us, have us pray for them, and to kiss them on the cheek (and them kiss us.) I don’t know when I last felt so loved.

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I reminded the congregation … and I reminded myself: we love Colombia. We love the land; we love the flora, and we love the fauna … but most of all, we love the people. This was an awesome night and we are overjoyed at what we have seen God do.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 14
Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Six
Today included a full morning of teaching ministry for Cheri and me. We started of with a quick bite of breakfast because the laundry services did not iron my clothes in time; that meant that I had to ironed a very wrinkled shirt and pair of pants to wear today. So after grabbing our quick bite of beans and rice and sausage as well as a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice, we headed out at 8:10 for the firs day of our Pastors’ Conference. It was held downtown in a former theatre that the Foursquare church uses weekly for their sanctuary. Here were men and women for all different denominations coming together to learn how they can be in unity and to learn how they can be better pastors.

I spoke first regarding a foundation of Covenant with God and with one another. My goal was to provide some foundational teaching to set the pace of good ministerial ethics and good familial ethics.

Cheri then came up after a brief break to minister of returning to one’s first love. She expressed the dangers of ministry as a pastor can become so involved in the work of the ministry that s/he neglects private, personal devotion and familial devotion.

I then came back up and completed the session regarding the God of Covenant. Some of the applicable subjects included the benefits of walking in covenant/ the curses of walking outside of covenant, the Holy Spirit who helps us in our infirmities and weaknesses, as well as the mutual need for one another among the Body of Christ.

Tomorrow should be a much larger group as many could not attend today because of prior ministerial commitments.

The rest of the day was very quiet for us: we went and had lunch and then took a much needed nap. (This heat and humidity is zapping our strength on a daily basis.)

One interesting side note for today: Our house in Sylvania, OH is no longer ours; we closed on it today via POA with my daughter Crystal acting as our attorney. This caused a little emotion because this was the first home we ever owned. However, we fully realize that we have fully closed one important chapter in the book of our lives … only to open a new chapter. For this, we are so thankful for our CLC family in the Chicago area.

Also, I spoke with my Mom today as she is recovering from a near death experience of surgery and mis-administration of medicines. She is now in a physical rehab center in Anderson SC where she is building up her strength and getting better every day … in fact, I can hear a renewed strength in her voice.

Tonight we went out with Pedro, Adam, Libia, and David (seen below) and had what is purported to be Medellin’s best hamburger … it was great as was the hotdog (which instead of chili or peppers had crumpled potato sticks across the top.)
We are now in the room preparing for three teaching sessions with the pastors as well as a Wednesday evening service tomorrow night. God always has a right now word for His people.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 13
Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Five
Today has been a wonderful relaxing day for Cheri and me; unfortunately, it has been a day of hard work for Doug. He has begun the process of building wooden banks for the moms up at La Cruz to “finish” so that they can begin earning some additional monies. I think he has hit a few frustration points with such things as “soft” wood and unfamiliar tools … yet, he continues to trust God for all of his needs.

Today was a tour day for Cheri and me as we met with Pastor Pedro and Mabel Hernandez, Pastor Pedro and Marlena and Elizabeth Soto, and Adam and headed outside of Medellin through Guarne, Penol, and Guatape where we saw the Piedra del Penol and where we ate in a beautiful little village the in some ways is similar to every other little pueblo in Colombia with its central park, central church, and surrounding shops. What was different about it was the fact that all of the homes and shops in the village painted square designs all throughout their village on the outside of their buildings. It is a beautiful place.

We ate lunch at a great little restaurant where I had smothered trucha and chicharonnes with jugo de guanabana con leche. Cheri had their beef flank. The food was delicious but the company and atmosphere was even better.

One unusual feature: Both the restaurant and the restaurant at Piedra del Penol had men’s restrooms that everyone and their brother could see what you were doing. It was a urinal inside a short wall and covered by a swinging door. You could see the man’s legs from the knees down and you could see his upper body from the mid chest up … for all the world to see … and the restaurant in town did not even have the swinging door … just the short wall. Well, the old adage is: “When is Rome, do as the Romans.” I guess the same thing applies in this situation. FLUSHHHHHHH!

There was not a whole lot of ministry for us today other than the simple encouragement of a YWAM missionary (Elizabeth) who is preparing to go back to Switzerland to further pursue her dream of media for Christ.

Well. it’s time to log off for now. I must prepare for tomorrow’s conference.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 12
Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Four
What an absolutely outstanding day.

I began early by getting up for breakfast at 6 AM, (which btw was huevos, sausages, frutas, jugo de naranja, and cafe con leche.)

Adam picked up Doug and me for the 7 AM service at Centro de Fe y Esperanza de Pedregal. I was to preach in all three services and they are each about 2 hours.

First service had around 1,000 people and they were very interested in the Word that I preached. Their worship was somewhat laid back but I found out later that this was intentional in order to NOT disturb the neighborhood too much that early in the AM. Nonetheless, the worship was very good and very intimate … very enjoyable and engaging. Again, the Word from 1 Peter 2:9-12 was received very well and about 1/2 of the audience responded to the altar call.

The pastors ushered us to a Green Room for frutas and jugos afterward (and these were very much welcomed.) Cheri, Pedro, and Mabel came in at this time. And then we were ready for service number two at 9 AM.

Again, there were about 1,000 people (different) and they all warmly received Cheri’s greeting and exhortation. They also laughed when I sat down while she greeted everyone (as if I was going to let her have the whole service … which I would have if she had felt that she had the Word.)

Again, the Word was well received and a great response was given to the altar call again … this time about 250-300.

Afterwards, we had women who wanted to receive a special word, young girls who wanted us to sign their Bibles and others who simply wanted to greet the US pastors. Of course, Cheri and I were overwhelmed by all the attention.

Again we retreated to the Green Room (which they moved down two flights of stairs so we did not have to climb the spiral staircases. Here we met the ailing Senior Pastor and prayed for him.

Now we have moved to the third service which started at 11 AM. Worship was very lively as was that of the 2nd service. We knew most of the songs and it was wonderful to see them on the overhead and to sing them in Spanish. (Our Spanish is definitely getting better … maybe we are on a second grade level by now. I have learned that I can get around and order food with the sparse amount of Spanish I know.) Service once again ran about 1,000 people and the Word was well received. The congregation, Adam (My interpreter) and I all started getting hot about 12:20 and I knew it was time to wind service down before I lost too many people. Heat can be tolerated only so long. The altar call was very different as I think I was distracted by the heat and the weariness … yet we had a great prayer time at the end of service.

Again, I was really proud of my wife as she faithfully ministered words of encouragement.

We left the church after being again overwhelmed by those wanting to acknowledge us.

We love the food in Colombia; we love the animals and the plants in Colombia … but most of all, we love the people of Colombia. We were not disappointed today.

We then went as a large group to Crepes and Waffles where I had a simple Banana and Chocolate Crepe with a cafe latte con vainilla. It was marvelous. We also ate with both Pastor’s Pedro as well as two other pastors and their wives. We were especially delighted to sit with Elizabeth Soto, one of the Pastor’s daughters who is a missionary and speaks very good English.

We then came home … took a nap … ate supper here at the hotel (where I had some type of smothered steak and a glass of lulu [which was deliciosa.])

It now is near bedtime, I have turned on TV for the first time since being here, Cheri is ironing, and I am about to turn off TV in order to prepare for the pastors’ convention which begins Tuesday.

Adios. Hasta Manana.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


April 11
Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Three
Today was a fabulous day as we started out together with a brief breakfast and as Doug and I got to talk about some personal issues. We knew today would be special so we ate our usual huevos, sausages, orozo y frijoles, and on accompanied by a glass of jugo de naranja and cafe con leche.

Then we loaded up and headed to the offices of Christ for the City International- Medellin where we would meet more of our team and load up the bus to head to La Cruz to minister to the mothers and children … as well as the workers of palabra pan y pez.

La Cruz is located WAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY up in the Andes Mountains overlooking Medellin and is among the poorest of the poor of all of Colombia. Cheri and I have adopted some new heroes among these volunteers who take their own time and their own monies to minister to the wonderful individuals. They are truly our super heroes and I want to cheer them on and accompany them every step of the way.

Of course, the journey there was up a steep one-way road (on which we had to back our bus up when we met on on-coming downward descending bus. As we reached the top of the trail, we then had to walk further up a steeper trail. But it was worth it as we encountered many of the 500+ children as they were being taught by local volunteers. Without desiring to interrupt their normal teaching, we greet the volunteers and further ascended the trail to visit Mi Casa Azul and to visit the future Mi Casa Azul. Because our team was decimated by the pull out of some of the carpenters, the Blue House project was put on hold … but God knew what He was doing because an opportunity has arisen to purchase the house beside the current Mi Casa Azul for a trade of the current building and approximately $4,700 US. So we took the tour and took many pictures.

We then went to the current Mi Casa Azul for the purpose of greeting and encouraging the volunteers there for about an hour. Cheri, Doug, and I all three brought words of “well done” and “Keep steady the course” to these heroes. All of us were in tears as God moved among us.

We had to break quickly because there was a service that had to take place among the mothers there. It was marvelous as Cheri was able to bring the Word of God to about 100 mothers. She ministered wonderfully concerning their beauty and destiny. She spoke well of the mariposa and how God used often difficult situations to bring that butterfly to maturity and destiny. She then encouraged the ladies to daily look in the mirror and to tell that image looking back at them how they were fearfully and wonderfully made. A humorous moment occurred when Cheri was having her audience repeat words after her … and her translator got confused and was having the ladies repeat in English. All chuckled for the moment. Afterwards, Pastor Mabel told the ladies and Cheri that they had just heard a word form God that was a right on word for a right now moment. Of course I was very proud of my wife as she was faithful to minister His Word.

We left all of these heroes with many giant hugs and kisses and look forward to being with them again in the not too distant future.

For lunch, I had a grilled pollo breast, Coke Zero, ensalada, and papas de francesa.

WE rested for a bit and then went to a local church youth service where there were around 1,000 in attendance. It was loud. It was rowdy … and we all loved it. I am not sure how many youth gave their hearts to Christ but there were easily 75-100.

WE then met back up with Doug and headed to Adam’s home where we had some delicious pasta and Ginger Ale gaseosa with his family including little 19 month old David who was the entertainment for the evening.

Now we are back at the hotel where I am preparing to preach three morning service (7, 9, and 11) and again, waiting to see what God is going to do.

Friday, April 09, 2010

April 10
Medellin Colombia April 2010 Day Two
Today has been a marvelous day.

On the one hand, it has not seemed as if we have done a lot on ministry today … but on the other hand, I am well aware of much that HAS taken place (and probably unaware of other things that have happened.)

Cheri, Doug, and I met with Pastor Pedro, Mabel, and Adam this morning for a brief (2 hours long) Orientation Meeting.

{Now I do need to stop here for a moment. Doug says that I always feature in my missions blogs the foods I have eaten for the day. Not wanting to break that habit, I do want to include that for breakfast, I had huevos, sausage, ham y queso accompanied by cafe con leche y jugo de sandia. Now, back to the other important stuff … }

At this meeting, we were briefed on the plans for the next several days. There was a visible disappointment in Doug’s face as we discovered that we would be unable to do physical labor at Mi Casa Azul … but that was quickly taken care of when Pastor Pedro announced to us that Mi Casa Azul was being used for leverage in order to purchase a newer and larger (almost twice the size) blue house for the ministry purposes. With the leverage, this newer, larger house is only going to cost the ministry foundation about $4,700 USD. So a little bit of excitement ensued as I told Pastor Pedro that we had brought $1,000 USD with us for the Blue House project.

We left that meeting to have lunch with the foundation board members of Palabra, Pan, y Pez who are those who work directly with the Mi Casa Azul project there in La Cruz. Erika and Margarita were visibly moved when I presented the $1,000 US to them. They realized that I had basically 1/5 of the project purchase monies that they needed. They were in tears … which brought us to tears as we witnessed these two beautiful women’s love and devotion for these children and mothers in La Cruz.

Cheri will be teaching these mothers of La Cruz tomorrow morning and I cannot wait to see what God does in and through her. I do know that Pastor Mabel is giving up her time with the moms because she so much feels what Cheri is to give.

{OK, time for a food break here … for lunch I had jugo de guanabana con leche and the famous local lunch plate, bandeja paisa, which has quickly become one of my favorite plates. (I know that I can never fully become “paisa” here , but it doesn’t hurt to try to as much as possible … I love these people.) I finished up this meal with a cup of cafe negro … Mmmmmmm good!}

Doug was also visibly moved in this meeting because he saw the ladies’ hearts for La Cruz and the children and moms there. He was also deeply moved … to the point of being choked up and almost in tears … in fact he couldn’t eat all of his lunch … because God revealed a new purpose for Doug to be here … it, in part, is to do some manual labor with woodwork in order to help funds for Mi Casa Azul and Palabra Pan y Pez. (Doug was also moved as he felt led to give his lunch to a local homeless person and found one immediately outside the door to the restaurant.)

I will have to say that it was with some difficulty that I had to tell the ladies why our team was so diminished from what we had originally planned (That’s two school groups and a group of carpenters who backed out because of perceived danger levels.) But by the same token, we all realized … sitting right there around the table … that God’s plans are much greater than ours and that He had a different idea all along. Wow.

Erika shared with us the committees ideas to raise monies for Mi Casa Azul project and we all began to realize that this was something we all could wrap our hearts and hands around … even involving children … because they could participate for as little as fifty cents each.)

After this profound meeting, we all came to our rooms for a bit. Doug went to login to the hotel computer, I laid across the bed to pray about Sunday's services, and Cheri went and had a Colombian pedicure/manicure … and yes, I did make fun of her because I really didn’t know how that would go … she speaks no Spanish and the ladies caring for her spoke no English … but all went very well and she came back with beautiful hands and beautiful feet. Shame on me … but God has blessed me with a beautiful wife.

Now for the wrap up. We were picked up for supper by Raphael who took us to meet Pastor Pedro. We ate at one of my favorite Colombian restaurants, Crepes and Waffles where I had jugo de fresa and some camarĂ³nes con rojo curry. Then Cheri and I split an ice cream sundae with Caramel, Pedro shared his passion fruit sundae with me, and Raphael shared his tiramisu ice cream with me. ( I am REALLY going to have to work on this weight thing when we get back home.) And of course, I had some more wonderful Colombian cafe, this time as cafe latte con vainilla, What an excellent night.

Tomorrow’s clothes are ironed, I am getting prayed up, and words are coming to our hearts as we prepare for ministry tomorrow morning in La Cruz and for the possibility of speaking at a youth service tomorrow afternoon … then three services Sunday AM.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Medellin Colombia 2010 Day One
Wow, the events leading up to this date have been phenomenal (and some of them difficult.) And because of that, Cheri and I are fully confident that God is up to something wonderful.

Just to bring you up to speed, we have been planning this excursion pretty much since we were here last August (2009) because we fell in love with the people and with the ministries here. In that planning process, there have been many evolutions, glitches, praises, obstacles, and victories.

We have seen our team change drastically as initially we were hosting a group of High School students with us, which quickly dropped out when parents began to realize that this trip might me dangerous. Then, another group of high school teens fell through the same “danger” cracks (which totally amazes me … I mean, hey … we DO live in the Chicagoland area … you know the one that a few years ago was known as the murder capital of the world. I want preach that message but I have lived in Detroit (where I also currently teach) and I do live in Chicago and I dearly love both of those places … and yes, they can be dangerous … yet so can Ashland OH if you go into the wrong place at the wrong time. Besides, I feel perfectly secure in God’s arms here in Medellin … as I do when I am in Chicago and Detroit, and Ashland, and Toledo and … well, you get the picture.

We also had a group of carpenters and contractors drop out when their wives caught wind of the possible dangers of being here. But you know what, God DOES KNOW what He is doing and whom He is assembling for these tasks.

And the time leading up to this. Wow, it would have been easy to stop and consider not coming becasue of the intense hours that have taken place in the past two weeks (including moving, preparing, having a mom (whom I love dearly) in the hospital … at death’s door.

Yet here we are … and I know God is up to something good.

There are three of us: Cheri, Doug Bell, and me. We arrived here in Medellin early this afternoon and we were warmly greeted by Adam Cabeen, Pastor Pedro, and Pastor Pedro. (I love it: One Pastor Pedro told us this: Remember, you can always tell us apart: I’m black and he’s not.) These men are truly brothers.

Adam will be our interpreter for the journey and I will be preaching/teaching at least 13 sessions/sermons here … as well as all the other tasks we will perform but God is so good.

When Adam isn’t with us, we are having to use or (very) limited Spanish, including using our electronic translators and hand gestures … but so far today, we have been able to refresh with snacks (empanadas, guanabana juice (con leche), gatorade, agua, cafe con leche, coca cola, robalo (which was delicious) with salada, papas de francesa, baby beef, and the absolutely most delicious creme of mushroom (championones) soup I have ever put in my mouth. And we did most of this on our own with our Spanish (limited) and our waiter’s English (non-existent.) We also got him to put all of this on our room bill. (I am beeming with pleasure right now … I wonder if we will wake up in the morning and realize we just put everyone’s food tab on our room bill …hmmmn.

Anyway, It is time for a wonderful night’s sleep so that we can be rested for orientation tomorrow.