Saturday, September 29, 2012

Play Day

Last weekend we hosted our 2nd Logos Play Day (read here for the 1st) for the students in 2Five2 Prek Pneu and also for students at our new site in Toul Kork.  We had around 140 students come and get the reward of playing on the brand new soccer field, the playground and the ever coveted swimming pool.  If students had good attendance and good behavior in school then they were rewarded with this play day.  All went well other than the 2 pukers in the van (these kids never ride in cars or vans, so it can make them sick), and the one we had to sit down because he was not taking the time to breathe or drink water because he was so excited.  Poor little guy had no self restraint he was just so excited.  We are thankful for Asian Hope's wonderful facilities that we can use in our ministries.

 (morning prayer and rules before the fun began)

Monday, September 24, 2012

This Life is not About What but For Whom...

In the past two months we have mourned the sudden deaths of two people in our small community.

The first was a student at Logos that I knew well and who was killed in a moto accident on the last day of school. The second was a teammate with Asian Hope who passed away this week because of a heart attack and is leaving behind a family and a community that he served for nearly 30 years.

Both of these individuals were great. They were the best at what they did. They served well and they served hard. They loved people around them and, because of their service, were loved back. But, should we praise them?

We were challenged by our pastor this week to remember that in the Christian faith, we should reconsider praising an individual for their accomplishments in life but instead praise the God who they serve. This might sound a bit controversial but I think it is truth. Here is why.

Neither of these two individuals who we have mourned would want us to cheer their accomplishments at their funeral. Instead, because they knew Jesus intimately, they would want us to praise the father for His work in them. There is a difference there.

At the end of the second book of Timothy, Paul is explaining that he will soon parish for the cause of Christ. He explains that he had finished the race, kept the faith and will receive what he knows is coming to him - a heavenly reward. Paul, the MVP of the Bible, is not explaining that we should now  praise him. Instead, at the end of his life and locked in prison, Paul is a testimony of what a complete transformation looks like. Christians now examine what God did in Paul not what Paul did for God and we should follow the same blueprint.

In Philippians, Paul outlines what a believer should look like and how they should act so that they have a great testimony of what God did in them despite their shortcomings. We can do a lot in our lives and if we as followers do it right, others can see that we did not work to tally our accomplishments but we worked to tell others about what we already knew. 

In our Christian life I believe we need to look at our end and begin to see who we are living for and not what we did while we were living.

I think that the general population is disconnected from church because those who attend mark their success on church numbers, tithing amounts, short-term teams sent to poor countries. However, if all Christians worked to imitate Jesus, desired to hang out with the sick and poor in spirit, if we all became meek and modest then I think there may be a great groundswell of new followers. Following Christ needs little convincing but asking others to be like other Christians, myself included, is a tall order.

I guess these deaths, and those that I have mourned before have really helped me understand that what I do is often insignificant but the God who I do it for is not. These lives well-lived have helped me begin to learn that my life is not to be defined by what I do but who I do it for. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bucket List

Bucket Lists. “We all have a bucket list – whether it is written down or tucked somewhere in the back of our mind just waiting for the right moment to transition over to ink on paper.” I read this quote recently and also read about this topic not along ago. My interest was spiked, because yes I think it is true, we all desire to check those magical things off our list.

When I read about it was defined as “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.”

As I have been learning about Thankfulness for the past several years, I came to find that it contradicts everything about being filled with gratitude. It is counting a list of hopes and wants instead of list of experiences I can be thankful for.

It is hard to manage a never-ending list of want-tos and have-tos, when a growing list of thanks-for-this-experience should just flow out of us naturally. Or so you would think?

Why is it that I want more and more to fill my bucket, when I haven’t even thanked God for all the ways He’s already filled my cup?

If the height of our joy is dependent on the depth of our thanks then the exhilaration isn’t in fulfilling our bucket list experiences, but in exalting Christ in all He has given us.

Here is what I read, that struck me as I always thought about my bucket list, “The best lives don’t have Bucket Lists as much as they have Empty Bucket lists. Because the thing is when I kick the bucket, I don’t want there to be anything left in my bucket. When I kick the bucket, I want the bucket to be rightfully empty.”

I am still learning, but I do know that I don’t want my life to be how I took experiences — but that I gave exceedingly. I hope I can be defined by what I poured out, that I was part of giving. Because I am hoping that my life is not about trying to fill my life up — but trying to spill my life out.

The bucket list article went on to say, “Where do you want to go?” What do you want to see — and, most important, with whom? Then just do it! Figure out a way to make it happen, and 20 years from now, you will not be disappointed. As we have the opportunity to check items off the list, not only are we given fantastic stories to share, but we also gain memories that will last a lifetime.”

Though not totally off base, the question I then thought about is really not what do you want to see — but who do you want to serve — and yes, most importantly, for Whom do you do that for?

As I read more about this woman’s thoughts on bucket lists I began to agree with all she said, “Figure out a way to make sacrifice happen — and an eternity from now, you won’t be disappointed. Because not only have we been given the most fantastic story of Grace to share, but the only thing worth gaining is the memory of the giving of yourself — and that will outlast time.”

A bucket list of merely exploring? Why not live a bigger, greater life — an empty bucket list of expending. When my cup’s already full of the blessings of God, I guess I don’t need a bucket list anymore...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Water Filter Distribution

Last week was the culmination of many months and weeks of work and preparation.  We helped distribute over 700 ceramic pot water filters to every household in Prek Pneu.  It was a joyous week to say the least.
Two weeks ago we hosted the Adult Community Workshop on why drinking clean water is important and how that keeps families healthy, and how it ultimately protects children. Children can be protected because families are less likely to spend precious income on the medical issues within the family, thus lessening the probability that the family will go through a financial crisis that would then put them in the scenario of choosing if they need to sell a child into labor for additional income.  (In case you ever wondered why we even were involved in this project). 
Water filters do more than I ever once knew.
As the process -- we invited 30 or so households at a time to come to our building and receive a personal training on why to use a filter, how the filter works, and then how to clean and maintain the filter.  Sometimes I felt as if we were putting on a magic show because we would pour the Mekong River water into the filter and then drink it ourselves, as staff and trainers, and then give samples to the attendees and watch their facial expression turn to amazement as the see the once brownish-yellow water turned to clear, safe water that is good to drink.
Each day was filled with unloading filters off a truck (pictured above), four "formal" trainings and then the never ending trainings for the late comers who inevitably came about 45 minutes and were right in between trainings.  Our staff worked hard, and I was proud to call them co-workers. 
Each household interested had to purchase a filter for $2.50 to insure they found value in it and weren't going to use it to store fish or some sort of fish by-product, but actually as a water filter.  For some this was weeks of savings.  We even had one student in our catch-up school work extra jobs for 2 weeks to give her mom the $1.80 she was still needing so her family could get a filter. 
God is faithful and last Friday ended in a day of praise and thankfulness for all that was done.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Like Riding Thunder...

Driving the Tico is like riding thunder. If you have never imagined what riding thunder is like, then imagine driving a Tico.

Ticos are Daewoos built in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. They are known for their performance on snowy Romanian roads and their dependability on isolated Polish highways. When the autobahn was being built, the precursor to the Tico was the German's test car. It was this Tico's lineage that helped to engineer the world's greatest road.

The Tico is build out of a carbon-aluminum alloy. It has the capacity to go fast, so fast that I will not even publish its amazing abilities. Sometimes, the Tico takes control of its own path which is why it was the Tico that inspired the great show NightRider.

When we were given the opportunity to get the Tico, Leanne and I had to really determine if we were ready and able to make such a commitment. We said yes, and we do not regret it. Now we have a car that manages to push out about 80 horsepower on its incredibly advanced 3-cylinder engine.

Now Leanne can drive back and fourth from Prek Pneu in a car that is safe, reliable and dust-free (for the most part). The Tico is actually no more than a golf-cart with doors. If I raced a golf cart, I am not sure which vehicle would win, I guess it would be a matter of how old the golf cart is. But the car provides much a safer way for Leanne to get to work, and for that we are so excited. 

The Tico sits about 8-inces off the ground and is about 4.5 feet tall - seriously. It does not idle unless it is warmed up like a go-cart and we constantly have to choose between the fan or radio because the car cannot manage both well. We literally have to be careful about driving in rain because too much water means a the Tico floats away - I wish I was joking. But we love the new addition to the family and we cannot wait and see where the Tico takes us next.

If you want to know more about Ticos, you can join their Facebook page.

Its maiden voyage home

Tape deck.  We gladly will accept your best cassette tapes.

Proud owners of the Red Baron.

Thank you to those who pray for our safety.  This awesome car is such an answer to the prayers that we have had for the last month.