Friday, November 30, 2007

Pilar, Argentina

Extreme Nazarene 2008 is like a missions trip on steroids. Approximately three hundred people will travel from various places in the USA, plus even more people from at least eight other nations -- Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine, and Venezuela. One of the main projects there will be completion of the Bruno Radi Convention Center. It's not the typical mission trip project, but it should be an excellent investment. Here's why:
  • The BRCC will seat 2600 people in a multipurpose auditorium, and house 600 people in 50 dorm suites.
  • It will be used by the Nazarene Church in South America to develop leaders.
  • It will be a place for large-group meetings and conferences, including worship, discipleship, and community outreach.
  • It will generate revenue by opening the building for concerts, indoor sports leagues, etc., and that revenue will be re-invested in ministry through development of leaders (target of 5000 trained leaders by 2013) and planting of churches (target of 5000 new churches by 2018).

In addition to construction, Extreme '08 participants will engage in community service projects, evangelism events, and worship.

It sounds to me like a great investment in God's kingdom, and I'm excited that I'll be there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Friend Norm

I love Norm. I admire him, too. He has a sweet spirit, a gentle nature, a friendly laugh. He was part of our care group several years ago. It certainly wasn't a choice of convenience; he traveled quite a bit to get there. But he loved us and adopted us and apparently decided we were worth the time and effort and fuel and all that. Norm is one of those people in my life who helps me to really understand that "we love because [God] first loved us" because I've seen this dynamic in Norm's life.

I talked with Norm again today. He moved across the country awhile back to be close to family, but we still chat occasionally by phone. He mentioned friends from here, and told me about his family there. I was reminded how much he loves his grown-up "kids." I know who he'll be with for Thanksgiving, and how he'll bless others for Christmas. You know my favorite part of the conversation? When Norm smiled -- you can generally hear a good smile over the phone -- and said, "The Lord's blessed me real good." He listed blessings upon blessings that I too often take for granted.

I think Norm's demeanor is contagious. I certainly hope it is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Memorable Travel

I traveled to Nampa on Monday for a meeting. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room in the schedule for any snafus. You know how some days, especially when there are several arrangements coordinated, absolutely anything that could go wrong does go wrong? I'm thankful this wasn't one of those days. In fact, that morning was filled with good things, like a big gift wrapped up in several otherwise-ordinary hours.

My mind was elsewhere as I boarded the shuttle bus at the airport, and I was a little surprised to look around and see all the people. I would have been fine standing, but a gentleman stood with a smile and offered me his seat, and it was nice to rest a few moments, too. The security line was incredibly short, and the good folks there were being thorough, but efficient. I chatted with a TSA fellow as I prepared luggage, shoes, and all that for the electronic inspection. I had... um... opportunity to interact with another TSA person because I had accidentally packed some undeclared liquids. He was professional, respectful, and brief as he searched my luggage and explained the most recent rules which I had broken. Our flight boarded easily, there were extra seats which allowed more elbow room, and it arrived at the destination with time to spare. As if all that weren't enough goodness for the day, I had the privilege of being served by Dorothy on the flight. She offered drinks, served them, and even brought a second cup of soda, all with eye contact and a friendly smile. The interaction at the car rental place was similar -- prompt service by a personable individual who knew her job and did it well. The weather was good, the roads were not too busy, and I even had time to stop for a quick lunch before the meeting.

I'm glad I arrived at the meeting safely and on time. But more than that, I am thankful for the many people -- mostly people whose names I don't know, and whom I may never see again -- who made the trip pleasant simply by being professional and by being friendly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Finding Jesus

Have you seen the Waldo books? Waldo is a very specific character hidden in busy scenes which contain many, many other figures. I'm not very good at finding him, it seems. Anyway, I saw a children's book similar to a "Where's Waldo?" in a catalog this week. This being a catalog filled with religious things, though, the difference was that children search through the pictures for Jesus and other biblical figures. I don't quite know what I think of the "Where's Jesus?" book but, of course, my thought train shifted to a parallel track....

Something was different the past couple of days as I moved about from place to place. It look longer than it should have to realize what it was: Christmas decorations! We've been making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas and various other travels coming up in the next couple of months, too. Sometimes life starts to feel like a page out of Waldo -- stuff going on everywhere we look, and it's hard to really focus on what we're looking for.

Back to the children's book -- "Where's Jesus?" I've spent some time with kids who are surprisingly good at finding Waldo wherever he may be. As far as I can tell, they don't have Waldo-finding superpowers. They've just spent enough time in Waldo books that they can pick him out of a hectic crowd. That's what I'm looking for. I want to become so accustomed to looking for Jesus everywhere -- that's where he is, after all -- that I can spot him in any kind of craziness.