Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A visit to ECHO

We visited a place called ECHO on Tuesday, June 28.  ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization.  They teach others how to help poor international people, especially in the agricultural arena. 

I love some of the innovative stuff they have come up with.  It is a living farm, designed to train those interested some hands-on techniques.  On our tour the first thing we learned was that they try to use what the country/area they go into has.  They have learned that to introduce something uncultural usually does not work.  The people might be fascinated by it, but it won't get used.

Next, we were shown various plants that can be grown (or are growing) in various parts of the world that their team or other scientists have discovered are useful to that region.  The Moringa tree is one of those.  All parts of the tree are useful for something.  The leaves have more potassium than a banana/potato, more calcium than milk, antioxidants, and amino acids.  The wood can be used for fire wood or carpentry.

Moringa Tree (and large pods with seeds)

Next we visited the water purification area.  Again, Moringa tree comes to the rescue.  By crushing the seeds and placing them on top of dirty water, about 90% of the contaminants settled to the bottom (including ecol i).  Next, clear, plastic water bottles are used to solarize the water and kill any other bacteria present.  Since most of these people won't have thermometers, they use a small amount of soybean oil mixed in with the water.  At 151degrees the oil mixes in with the water, which is the same temp needed to kill the bacteria.

Another thing I thought was really neat, and we will try this when we get home, was the "cooking brick".  Most poor areas just use rocks, wood, and a stove to cook with.  But you can only cut down so many trees before you have to go farther to gather more wood. 

A cooking brick can be made by chopping up leaves, paper, "road apples", and just about anything else one can find, mixing with some water and compressing in a cylinder, to squeeze out the excess water.  And wa la, you have yourself a cooking brick.  Very cool.

The kids enjoyed a workout on a special contraption and pumped water at the same time.  You know, we have a pond and a stream at home....

There were many other things we learned about and I'm sure we only scratched the surface.  I would love to take a course to learn other techniques, but I guess that will have to wait til next visit.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Parting is such sweet sorrow

And so it is.

We will be leaving Fort Lauderdale in the next few days and heading back to Birmingham via the West coast.  We plan on stopping at a place called ECHO.  We've visited before when we lived in Florida, but it will be much more meaningful now that we work with an impoverished area in Peru.  Looking forward to it!

Meanwhile, we still have a few meetings before hitting the road. 

Bill has managed to meet with groups or individuals every day for the past 2 weeks or so.  And life has been a little bit of everything for the rest of us.  It's just going to be that way when we travel as a family.  We've added a little bit of new friends, memorable meals (think cooking gourmet in a 4x4ft area with other family members trying to get around or get things...), swimming at the "Helm Hotel" (our base house when we come down), being flexible in space (kitchen table is aka the office) and time, and countless other things I've already forgotten.

There is one thing I have NOT enjoyed. 

Our RV spot happens to be on more dirt/sand than grass.  Mix in 3 boys and one RV and wa la, you have yourself an instant magnet for dirt on the floor.  ALL THE TIME!!!  We've had the boys try to remember to take their shoes off or wipe it on the outside mat, but to no avail.

And I'm not sure why, but we have a straw broom instead of the other kind.  ???   Do you feel my pain?! 

I'm fine now.  Just had to get that off my chest. 

So, soon we will be back to our little casita for awhile.  We have already started filling up the calendar though and all but December seem to have something scheduled.  One bit of good news:  we will be doing an International Dinner July 16 here in Fort Lauderdale.  We are still getting all the details worked out, but we have a space for about 150 people.  Woo Hoo!  So, if you are in the area, plan on attending! 

If you haven't "liked" us on Facebook yet, head on over, type in "Believer's Bridge" and like us.  We try to put updates on it to keep folks informed.

I have not taken many photos this time around, but will try to put some up soon.  Until then, you'll just have to stay in suspense. ;-)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Philippians 4:6

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Still Alive

Things have gone well during our time here in Florida.  Sure we've encountered some challenges along the way (Bill's allergic reaction, our car dying, etc.), but overall we have enjoyed meeting some new friends and seeing old ones.  We will need to come back to spend more time with people who have expressed a real interest in what we are doing.

Robert, Andrew, and I spent this past week at a cub scout day camp from 8am until 5pm.  Needless to say it was HOT and humid.  BUT, we had a lot of fun with the other 8 kids in our group.  The boys enjoyed archery, BB's, games/sports, Leather/Crafts, and various campwide activities.  My favorite day was Wed, when the firetruck showed up and sprayed water on everyone.  (Very refreshing!)

Meanwhile, Bill and Joshua were able to meet with various other people.  And Bill helped cook the dinner meals since the rest of us were exhausted by the time we got back to the RV.

We are now back to a "regular" routine and hope to finish this coming week out well.  We have been borrowing a car from our good friends and probably will just wait until we get back to Alabama to see what to do about another fuel-effecient car. 

Just wanted to give everyone an update.  I'm sure I am missing more information, but my brain has not fully recovered from this past week of being out in 90+ degree weather and working with 8-9 yr old boys.  Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things soon!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

That wasn't on the itenarary!

Most things in life need some kind of planning. 

It's the things that go haywire that catch you off guard. 

Enter the ability to quickly make decisions.  Have you noticed that your mind is already inclined to react a certain way toward certain things.  Take my mind, for example.  I'm stuck on the word "haywire" above. 

Being a missionary kid (MK), I'm always curious how in the world America came up with all it's idioms and phrases.  So I looked it up.  Apparently haywire was a light wire used in machines to bail hay in the 1900's.  And it used to go all over the place.  It was hard to keep it nice and neat if not secured somehow.  So after a while it became a slang word.

Wasn't that an educational rabbit trail?

So, moving on. 

Things went a little haywire yesterday.  We've been having problems with our '93 Toyota for over a year, but fixed it up and thought everything was secured.  Turns out the little monkeys in the engine sensor had other plans.  Guess they threw in a monkey wrench....

I'm on a roll today.  (I don't think we realize how many idioms there are in the American language!)

So yesterday we decided to take the kids to the science museum.  The plan was to give them something to do while Bill and I worked on our laptops doing ministry stuff.

But I guess God had other plans and our car died on us.  We hobbled off onto an exit ramp and called up AAA (this is one service we know we need).  Since we knew we couldn't all fit in the tow truck, I called up our faithful friend to see if she could come get us.  Yes, she could and she was on her way.

Off Bill went with the tow truck and the kids and I went over to our friend's house where they went swimming and watched The Waltons instead.  Not bad a bad deal.

Meanwhile, Bill was having an honest conversation with the tow driver who asked what Bill did for a living.  I have to say, this is one good thing about what we do.  People always ask that question and for us it's an opportunity to share Christ.

When he found out, he says, "I don't think it's fair that I should be punished for Adam and Eve's sin."  Bill answered with an example of grandparents who come to the USA.  The consequences of them coming to the USA makes their children American.  Is it fair?  It is what it is.  But the adult children can choose to go back to the other country and become citizens of that country again.  But they have to choose.  So it is with us and God.

Interesting, huh?  Something for us to think about as well.

So, the day did not turn out how we wanted it to and we are out a car.  We could have gotten really angry and think life isn't fair, but living by the Spirit, and not our natural responses, can help bring us to a different conclusion. 

Do we always respond this way?  No, my emotions tend to jump first and survey the damage later.  Which then usually causes guilt later on. 

But getting back to our current situation, we are thankful for friends who also walk by the Spirit and are willing to help out.  We haven't completely solved our car issue and how we will get around the rest of the time here in Florida, but we are trying to live each day in the Spirit, even if the hay wire gets loose.  ;-)

Monday, June 6, 2011

A training ground for missionaries

South Florida.

It's located in the United States, and is the peninsula on the East coast.  What you may not know if you don't live here or visited for an extended amount of time is, most people speak another language as their first language. 

South Florida has become home to thousands of South American and Island folks.  Island folks meaning Haitian, Jamaican, and other nearby islanders. 

Because of the influx of other cultures, there are several areas that have become in a sense their own pockets of culture from those specific areas.  An example would be what is called Little Havana.  You may feel like you are in another country while never setting foot outside the USA.  Another example of a culture within a culture is Chinatown in San Francisco.

What is fascinating, at least to me, about these areas is all I can think of is, "Wow!  This makes a great training ground for missionaries!"  They can experience culture shock, different languages, different foods, different driving, different ways of understanding "personal space", and a whole batch of other things I couldn't even begin to explain.  Some things just have to be experienced.

And that's the beauty of it.  SO many potential missionaries get to the mission field and have a very hard time adjusting to another culture.  By immersing them into these areas, they find out for themselves if they will "make it or break it". 

All the classroom training or head knowledge one can have/take is nothing compared to real-life situations.  Probably many romanticize or heroize (and yes, that is a word) the idea of missions.  Their heart starts in the right spot, but living it is beyond their comfort or ability.

We decided to visit Sawgrass Mills Mall today.  It is one of the largest malls in South Florida and we used to visit it often when we lived here before.  As we approached it, Joshua says, "I remember this mall.  It's awesome!!"

We park, and make our way inside, unsuspecting what we are about to encounter.

I thought I was transported (Star Trek style) into a different country(s).  Not one word of English. 

Even the store folks were speaking in Spanish, or Portuguese, or other (couldn't quite make it out).  But mostly Spanish.  Even some video advertisements were in Spanish.

It was the weirdest thing.  I just kept staring and gawking.  I finally snapped out of it and started looking at the store names to see if they were in Spanish.  Nope, English.  Which made it even weirder, because it messed with my head. 

Needless to say, after some time getting used to it, and finally hearing a few people speak English, we let ourselves get immersed in this new change in an old, familiar place.  Bill and I sat down on a bench outside RainForest Cafe (awesome place btw and fun for kids) and did some ministry work using StarBucks free WiFi (across the way). 

Guess you could say we have learned to adjust to whatever we encounter, be it rednecks to Little Havana driving.  It's just what it is and bucking the system won't do you any good. 

So, if you are thinking about being a missionary for any length of time, I challenge you to find an area in your part of the country that has it's own culture inside a culture and see how you fare. (It could even be your teenagers room....)  If it grates you the wrong way, missions may not be your cup of cheese.  I mean, tea.  ;-)

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."  Colossians 3:23-24

Friday, June 3, 2011

Update on Bill

Well, things did not clear up or start improving through out the night last night and early this morning.  Which also translates into: we did not get much sleep.... 

SO, we braved the Florida traffic and found a MinuteClinic, which are inside some CVS'.  The lady Bill saw seemed very knowledgeable and they were able to figure out that he had an allergic reaction to some other medicine he had taken.  So now he is on meds which have already started to work their magic.  A praise from this is the pharmacy lady gave us the medicine at $5 instead of the $29 it rang up at. 

Meanwhile, Joshua has been learning all about how to run his own business.

It all started when we were at our friend's for Memorial Day.  He and the daughter got out some paper crafts and he made some cards to sell.  He also made some necklaces and oragami items.  Well, just take a look and you'll get the full picture (and yes, pun intended). ;-)

The savvy business guys showing off their wad of cash. ;-)

" For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
   you alone are God.

 11 Teach me your way, LORD,
   that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
   that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
   I will glorify your name forever. "

Psalm 86:10-12

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting Along

We have officially been in Fort Lauderdale a week now.  And we have met with several folks already and enjoyed fellowship with some long time friends.  I have especially enjoyed making new friends and being back at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, our home church when we lived here.

RV living seems much easier this time around.  It really has become a second home away from home, even in 200 sq feet of living space.  We have everything we need.  Not everything we want.  But I think that's what makes it OK.  The whole family has learned to get along w/o what most Americans think they need.

In other news, Andrew went coconut hunting.  He was dead set on finding a real coconut on a real coconut tree.  Bill finally found one in Calvary Chapel's landscape.  I probably shouldn't be confessing this, but yep, there it was, glistening in the Florida sun, hanging low enough to grab(ish).  Well, Bill had to hoist Andrew up a little, but the brave boy clasped his prized treasure in his hands and twisted it loose.  Victory at last!

And then we took it back to the RV and Andrew and Josh cut it up.

They drank the juice...

...and mom had to throw the discarded shell away.  Go figure.

And finally, the last bit of news is Bill got a fever starting Tuesday afternoon and the next thing we know he has a rash all over his upper body.  He's had chills and fever off and on since.  If it does not improve by the morning we will be heading to a doctor to see what the verdict is.

We have self diagnosed it as possible sun poisoning (he had gotten a deep sunburn from our Sebastian Inlet stay) or it may even be mono.  Either case, there's not much that can be done except get through it.  So meanwhile I have been trying to coordinate ministry events.  Kind of a different role for me, but I am learning a lot.

That's about it for now.  Please pray for Bill and that it is not infectious and the rest of us will stay healthy.  Thanks!