in between bites & sips ...

thanks for stopping by! here's where i put various thought, quotes or stories. most will be brief, some may be extended - but all will be somehow connected to my world. enjoy your stay!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Travel Day 1 ... the return

It is now about 7:30 on Friday afternoon in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. That's right - Santa Cruz. I'm supposed to be hanging out in Miami, FL awaiting a flight that will lead me home. Unfortunately, stuff happens sometimes on trips like this.

It feels as though we are in the Amazing Race and have hit a road block! Our flight from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz was delayed by about 1/2 hour. This was just enough time for us to not be able to be 1 hour early for our flight to Miami. If you aren't 1 hour early for an international flight, you don't fly! So, instead of a 10:05am flight to Miami, we are taking an 11:55pm flight. ugh.

We went to a local hotel (my current location) and have been hanging out here, with the odd sojourn into the surrounding city. This means I'll likely only be home at around 10:30PM on Saturday night ... hopefully I'll be awake for Sunday morning since I guess I'll be sleeping on the plane tonight!

I'll likely not be able to post again until Sunday afternoon (you never know though!) - so - if you want the latest on my adventure, I guess you'll just have to come to Liberty Assembly Sunday morning!

If I'm up to it, I may do a quick post Saturday night when I get home - if you'd like to hear the sermon, just go to sometime Sunday or Monday and you'll be able to hear the concluding blog entry, but in oral form!

Now, I'm going to wash up and get ready for the shuttle back to the airport - we take off in 4 hours!

Ministry Day 6

What a powerful end to a life impacting week. I am sure that the Farthings & all at the Bolivian Hope Center have felt a ripple effect of love that will last for a long long time.

Thursday was pretty much a finish up day as we finished up the 3rd floor walls. Because of the different type of day this was, I spent much of the afternoon playing the role of horse for about 12-20 children. THEY NEVER GOT TIRED! I certainly did, prancing around & whinneying like a horse - but it was so worth it. I kept telling myself, 'in a few hours I'll be gone - I can give a few more horse rides'.

Later that evening, Pastor Freddy's wife thanked me for taking time to play with them. Apparently, none of them have fathers - and to be able to play with a positive male role model is a very special thing to them. It's no wonder they never wanted me to stop. At one point when I was tired, they encouraged me to sit down ... IT WAS A TRAP! After getting me to sit down, they gathered around me as if to take a picture when suddenly ... THEY TICKLED ME! I was so weak and tired, it was almost impossible to get away. They were having fun though, and so was I.

After the work day was over, we all went to dinner and shared our personal perspectives on this missions experience. It was a time of great blessing to the Farthings and the Bolivian Hope Center. I had already given our offering of $1,400 to the Farthings, but the other churches did the same thing. Words cannot describe the mood in the dining room that night - suffice to say that every single person there is anxious for the opportunity to return and continue the work of establishing a place for children and families to learn about Jesus, grow as people and be safe from the difficult world they live in every day.

There was not a dry eye in the room (including my own) as we prayed for the missionaries and the Hope Center. I truly believe there are many many places in the world just as needy as in Cochabamba, Bolivia - the difference here is that in this place there are missionaries with vision, a divine timeliness that seems to be connecting churches to pool together resources, supernatural acts that are facilitating the purchase of land and materials, as well as a team of people (led by Pastor Freddy) who are not simply into this to set up a work and leave, but to continue until the fulfillment of the vision for the Bolivian Hope Center.

I am proud that we have supported this endeavor - and even moreso that we will continue to be involved in a work that is truly impacting their world.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ministry Day 5

It's hard to believe that my time here is almost to and end. Thursday is our last day of work and I travel home Friday & Saturday. We should be able to finish raising all the walls on the 3rd and final floor of the Hope Center - then they will be able to begin finishing the wall surfaces and do the flooring.

Perhaps it is the same everywhere (including the US) - but there seems to be a huge contrast between the rich and poor. From people living in mansions to people living in absolute filth. On one hand I wonder how some can even survive here - and on the other, I wonder where they are getting all their money from.

Yet, everyone here sits under the shadow of Cristo de la Concordia. In fact there are many, many Christian symbols and churches throughout the city. Cochabamba is actually a very religious city. Perhaps therein lays the problem - Jesus is a statue, religion is a ritual & faith is a tradition. If I were to have grown up here, I can see how I could have been hard to receiving Jesus as my savior, since it seems Jesus hasn't done much for this city. But when places like the Bolivian Hope Center reveal their Jesus, He isn't a statue - He is a compassionate, caring Lord who wants to set this people free from all that entangles them.

Whether you live in the lower class or upper class, you live in a prison. Physically this is true since every home is walled and barb-wired like a prison to keep the thieves out. Spiritually this is also true since without Christ a person is trapped and unable to know the true fulfilment we are designed to experience and exemplify.

The baby camel asked the mommy camel:
"Why do I have hooves like these?" She replied, "so you can walk on the sand of the desert."
"Why do I have such long eye-lashes?" The reply ... "to keep the sand from getting in your eyes in the event of a sandstorm."
"Why do I have this big hump on my back?" She answered again, "so you can store water and travel great distances."
Finally, the little camel asked: "So, why are we in a zoo?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snapshots from Ministry Day 5

This morning I shot video footage that I'll be showing in church as soon as it is ready, and then I went back to bricklaying. I'll write more before today ends - but for now, here are some pics from today!

One of the girls who attend school at the Bolivian Hope Center.

I'm still smiling after a hard days work.

Some of the boys who live in the prison. They will be among the first to be eligible to live in the Bolivian Hope Center when the building is complete.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snapshots from Day 4

I never seem to do well with electronics! My brand new camera I bought for the church isn't working properly! I took a ton of pictures today and only a couple are clear. Here are two of the pics.This is the part of the town (a suburb of Cochabamba) where the Bolivian Hope Center is located. The city is much bigger than I imagined!

This is Pastor Freddy of the Temple of Faith (connected to the Bolivian Hope Center) overlooking the city from the mountain.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ministry Day 3

K - this post may be short because I have blisters and little cuts on my finger tips from working with bricks & mortar for most of the day.

Other than working on the wall today (which we finished), I had the priviledge of going to the prison to participate in the feeding program for children at suppertime. This really broke my heart. They provide 5 suppers & 1 breakfast every week to up to 105 children who live in the prison with their mothers. These children are the reason we are building the orphanage. Some were so happy - kids being kids. But others seemed so sad. It was noted that we had only about 60 kids today, so I asked where they might be. Apparently it's carnaval time somewhere in town, so many of them are likely out there alone without parental supervision. Likely they are trying to make some money for their moms. They will carry bags, aid vendors, or worse - even prostitute themselves. Ugh. Especially sad is that the child that reminded me of Abigail (her name is Anai) wasn't there today and I'm concerned she may be at the carnaval today. I'm about to cry again just thinking about it.

I am so thankful the Farthings are spearheading the building of the Hope Center. What a wonderful cause - lives are literally being saved because of this work.

Tuesday is a day off for us (my fingers are appreciative!) so I'll be a tourist and go shopping in the market and relaxing.

What a great trip I am having - thanks so much for everyone praying for me and for those who gave to this great cause.

Snapshots from Ministry Day 3

Children from the school connected to the Bolivian Hope Center delivering bricks.

They passed them up 3 flights of stairs!

Snapshots from Ministry Day 2

I FOUND COCOA PUFFS!!! (well, it's called Milo ... but it's the same thing!)

Sunday devotions - I hope everyone stays away for my turn to lead on Monday!

See! I AM working!!!

My wall stands, in spite of the formidable pressure applied to it by my bulging muscles.

Sunday morning worship service at Temple of Faith, right next door to the Bolivian Hope Center.

Ministry Day 2

It's Monday morning and we are about to have our first 'normal' day of the week. Sunday was certainly not typical compared to how it normally is for me.

After a devotion and worship we went to the work site and got right to work building our walls (btw ... MINE STANDS!!!!). Service starts at 11am in a different building but at the same location, so we went there - in our concrete-laden work clothes. What a great service - so many children from the neighborhood. It was fun trying to recognize the songs and sing along! Pastor Fred preached on ... tithing! Listening to a sermon in spanish was like listening to a radio station where you can only catch every 4th or 5th word. I could understand enough to track with him, but not enough to know how he got from point to point. Still - it was wonderful to see the congregation & many from the community we are ministering to.

It felt like the day was done - but it had only begun. We went back to our walls after lunch (btw ... MINE STANDS!!!!) and worked all afternoon until dinner time. I'm being reminded why I like preaching, it's much easier! Although, I've lost a couple of pounds and am getting rather muscular!

The evening service started at 8PM. Our team sang a couple of songs (in English) and Pastor David Crawford from Bellevue Grace in Nashville, Tennessee preached with a translator. There was a great (unusually great for this culture) altar call and I was able to pray for numerous people, inserting any Spanish word I could think of to fit (a whole lot of 'Jesucristo's).

Oh, did I mention I got to watch the 2nd half of the Pats/Chargers game & the 2nd half of the Packers/Giants game? Yep - that's me - just roughing it for Jesus!

I should sign off for now, as Monday begins - I'm giving the devotional in about 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ministry Day 1

Wow - what a great day!

We started the morning with breakfast and a team devotional and then proceeded to the women's prison. Words can't describe the scene in there - and photographs are prohibited. Basically it's a whole community of women that are not permitted to leave. Their children can come and go. Visitors can come and go. But the women cannot. Apparently, the women are expected to pay for their own food & pay for their own 'rent'. The only way for them to make any money is either the children working outside the prison or friends & family bringing them money or prostitution within the prison. Very very sad. Your heart breaks to see their living conditions - yet the children seem to accept all this as normal. We will be going back there a few more times this week.

Then we went to the Bolivian Hope Center (BHC). We brought with us 12 children from the prison. They are accustomed to being taken to a playground with the Farthings (you have to pay to play in the park here!) - but this time was going to be special. For the very first time, they opened the playground inside BHC. They were ecstatic! I found a soccer ball and started up a game with a few of the boys - I stayed goalie so that may skills (or lack of skills) would not be exposed.

There was a girl I met named Anai who is 9 years old and reminded me so much of Abigail. Of course, that only broke my heart more when I imagined my own children living where Anai lives.

I did my best to communicate. I find myself talking in French a lot. It's like I'm thinking 'they are speaking a foreign language ... I know a foreign language ... maybe it will work! ... nope, it doesn't.'

After lunch (yes, this is all before lunch), we began work on the 3rd floor of the housing facility for the orphans. The walls are made of brick, so, we were laying brick. We raised the better part of 3 walls on the 3rd floor - and I'm just hoping my wall is still standing when we go back tomorrow!

It was a wonderful first day. We are about to go out for dinner and then it's likely bedtime (we need it ---- ohhhhhh we need it!)

Snapshots from Ministry Day 1

Rich & Sandee Farthing & me - before 7AM this morning.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snapshots from Travel Day 2

Mountains just before La Paz, Bolivia

More mountains. There were lots.

My first Bolivian meal ... BURGER KING! (btw - they have snoopy toys)

Flying in to Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Friday night entertainment ... a Christian Mariachi Band!

Travel Day 2 - Bolivia Mission Trip

Well, I´m in Bolivia! We arrived in La Paz this morning at about 8AM EST and are waiting for our flight to Cochabomba which departs at 2PM EST.

4 flights down - 1 TO GO!!!!

Our flight from Miami was delayed about 1 1/2 - and then sat on the tar mat for what seemed like an eternity! My mind began playing tricks on me as it looked and sounded like we were moving ... but we weren´t! I thought we were just going round and round the tower! Clearly, I´m overtired.

I got an aisle seat - next to a lady who started to fall asleep on my shoulder. At first I wanted to wake her, but figured she would be my neighbor for the next 6 hours and didn´t want to get our relationship off on the wrong foot. Instead, I decided that since I couldn´t beat her, I´d join her. I determined to allow myself to let my head flop where it may, and if it ends up attached to her head ... so be it.

Fortunately, I didn´t need to carry out my plan since apparently she had a son sitting 5 rows back who asked to trade seats with me. I GOT A WINDOW!!!! Instead of cuddling with an older woman, I cuddled with the window of beautiful scenery. At night it was the Miami skyline, and in the morning it was the XXXXXXXX Mountain range (I´ll look that up later .... I got pics!)

By coincidence, I ended up sitting to some young adults who are on a teaching/missions trip to Bolivia from Calgary, Alberta. Cool, eh! I asked if they knew Christina (my sister) who lives in Calgary. They did not.

Last story for now: I got to jump the line on all of my fellow travelers on the Missions trip. Because I´m traveling on a Canadian passport - I don´t need a tourist visa! I got to line up with the locals. Best part about it is that I didn´t have to pay the $100 visa fee everyone else had to pay for ... LET´S GO SHOPPING! Knick-knacks ... HERE I COME!!!

Pics should be prevalent in my next post - probably later tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Travel Day 1 - Missions Trip to Bolivia

Yep - that's right - TRAVEL day 1! I left Liberty at 3:30am this morning (Thursday), flew from Cleveland to Chicago (they confiscated my water from my carry-on), flew from Chicago to Nashville (they confiscated my hair gel from my carry-on ... LOOK OUT FRIZZIES, HERE I COME!!!), flew from Nashville to Miami (finally I figured out how to get my carry-on to make it through security - legally).

And in Miami is where I sit. At 11PM we fly from Miami to La Paz, Bolivia. We'll arrive at 7AM and then sit for 8 hours in the airport before flying from La Paz to Cochabomba.

I should be arriving at our final destination at about 6PM on Friday.


But, it's not without the COOLEST thing happening!

I met Bob the Tomato of Veggie Tales fame! Well, he wasn't in costume, and I didn't have the courage to ask him for 'the voice' - but I sat next to Phil Vischer on the flight from Chicago to Nashville. Phil is the creator of Veggie Tales. INCREDIBLE!

I tried not to bother him, but, everything that was in me wanted to bombard him with questions and become his friend for life! I managed to restrain myself and only act like a 25 year old, avoiding the teenage years - although I'm sure I didn't act the 38 I'm supposed to represent.

No matter - what a highlight!

Now, I want to give him a plug - if you want a book that will both bring a tear to your eye and leave you with a challenge, I recommend - Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer. Check out his website at . I always thought he was a great person, and he did nothing to dissuade me of my feelings about him.

At the end of the flight, I asked him if he could do something for me and if I could do something for him. I asked if I could get a picture of him for me (see below, because he consented!), and I asked if I could pray for him (again, he consented).

In the next couple of days, you'll be praying a lot for me and those I'll be ministering to in Bolivia - perhaps you'd be willing to toss up a prayer for Phil. He's a man of God with creativity like few have known. He's trying to minister effectively to children in a way that not only rivals the world's standard, but surpasses it - because he's doing it all for God.

Thanks God, for giving me a little blessing before I even did a thing for you in Bolivia!

btw - 20 minutes after saying good-bye to Phil, i saw Russ Taff ... kinda anticlimatic though, but still cool

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ooo, I love comics!

Not what's it's cracked up to be

It was a great feeling today to get all my bills paid for the month!

I don't know about you, but January can be a tough month financially. Basically, it all boils down to paying for Christmas past. Plus, when you add the trip to Bolivia I'll be leaving for on Thursday (stay tuned for daily blogs from Bolivia!!!) and other beginning of the year expenses our family has since my car insurance, life insurance, etc etc etc are all due in January or February ... it's not the time for unexpected expenses! (Thank goodness we don't have to buy diapers anymore!)

So, you can imagine how I felt when a rock (not a pebble or a stone ... a ROCK) flew up from the truck in front of me while driving and struck the windshield of our Sunfire.

I did what any of us would do - look for the chip that indicates repairs are necessary. I didn't see a chip - what I saw, was a full fledged crack.

WHY GOD! I was feeling so good about getting everything in order, I didn't have the money to replace our windshield. At least if it were a chip, we could get that repaired, but a crack!

Then, my mind starts wondering ... "What did I do?" I know I've been tithing. I'm not perfect, but I couldn't see why God would be punishing me this way. But, instead of getting all upset, I figure it will all work out, and I just hope that the crack doesn't get any bigger right away so I can at least wait 2 weeks before it needs replacing.

I start rubbing the crack. Sure enough - I feel the ridge. I hadn't seen the crack before - now, it's there. I rub some more - and again. It's coming off! It wasn't a crack afterall!

Honestly, I never saw it before - and then it's there - and then it feels like a crack - and then I can wipe it off.


None-the-less, I noted a couple of things this afternoon because of this 'non-incident'. Firstly, I'm disappointed that one of my earliest reactions was to think that God was out to get me in some way. God isn't like that - I know it - yet I still thought it. God forgive me! And secondly, I recalled how I didn't dwell on it and didn't get upset like I would have a few years ago. I guess I am walking by faith and trusting God more than I used to. Thank you God!