Thursday, December 9, 2010

Genius, Language, Culture and Humor

One of the things I do in Odessa is study Russian with a tutor once a week. We talk, work on grammar, translate sermons and lesson and sometimes we read stories. One of the benefits of reading stories is that you can discover a little about the Slavic mindset. It is said that language is the heart of culture. I recently read a humorous that struck me as very Ukrainian. I am not sure why it sounded Ukrainian, it just did. I think the author was Russian but humor is definitely in line with the humor I observe in Odessa. Below is a rough translation….enjoy.

Five Minutes of Genius
A fantasy story by V. Bachnova (по В. Бахнову)

A few years ago, a friend of mine from school invented a new medicine called ozarin. The ozarin pill made the person who took a genius for five minutes.

It was not possible to purchase ozarin. Only researchers and scientists could obtain it and only if they were on the verge of an important discovery. Ozarin would help them complete their research.

At that time I had already completed a Masters degree and I was working on my dissertation. When I was finishing my Master’s, I became interested in a problem connected with automation. The work was not only important to me but was important to my professor also. He proposed that I pursue a doctorate so that I could continue research on this problem. Many at the institute were also interested in my work. They thought that I was on the verge of a major breakthrough. I also thought that I was close to a breakthrough, but I couldn’t find a final solution.

Then my friend came to help me. He proposed that I take one of the ozarin tablets and said that it would help me find my final solution to my research.

But does it really work for five minutes? I asked.

What do you mean? He answered. You become a genius for five minutes. That is plenty of time for any discovery. Of course, if Newton had not studied gravity for so long, he would not have made his great discovery when he saw the apple fall. The time he saw the apply fall was only a short amount of time. But it was enough time for him to complete his theory. You will have five minutes like that. You have worked on this theory for several years and five minutes of genius will help you find the final solution.

I agreed. Even while I was a student, everyone was interested in my research. Everyone said that I was talented and could figure out this discovery.
I was a little nervous but I took the pill. I went home, sat at my desk, took the tablet and waited for my minutes of genius.

It worked. The minutes appeared. Ozarin is truly a miraculous pill. On that very day, I completed my years of work.

In the first minute I right away realized that my work was not worth a cracked penny and would not change anything in modern automation.

During the second minute of genius, I realized that I have absolutely no talent or giftedness.

In the remaining three minutes, I wrote my resignation to the director of the institute. I wrote that I had to give up my position as a graduate student because I was not able to complete my dissertation. Later, everyone said that the resignation was written by a genius.

I recently heard that ozarin will soon be available for purchase at local pharmacies and I remembered my story. I heard that there were so many people who wanted to buy it, that there was a waiting list.

Well, let them buy the miraculous pill, ozarin – it really works. Who knows what they will discover during their five minutes of genius.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Missionary Lament

By Julie Mosse

Most missionary newsletters are packed with stories of blessing, miracles, changed lives. So sometimes it’s probably good, maybe healthy to see a glimpse of the struggle that life can be. We could fill pages with the things God is doing here in Odessa. We’ll indulge this urge on the flip side, But here we’re gonna vent. Consider this missionary newsletter a “lament.”
It’s been a painful year for us. If we go by feelings, we’ve felt tremendous pressure to give more than we have. At times, we’ve felt inadequate, misunderstood, lonely, broken. We’ve felt naive, unnoticed, yet at times, intruded upon, underprepared, blindsided, scrutinized. We have felt like our decisions, reactions, and our words were often found seriously lacking. We seriously wondered if we were cut out for this life, and for the responsibilities God seemed to have handed to us. We’ve questioned whether God had really led us to this place in His harvest or if in our foolishness and pride, we presumed too much. Our marriage has been stretched too thin at times. Sometimes, we’ve been afraid for this basic unit called Our own unity feels shaky. Our kids have also struggled. How and when to fit into the culture and existing groups of friends, and when and how to stand for what you believe in...? Hard for them to reenter the culture after a year.

Are we making wrong decisions? Are we bringing this havoc on ourselves? Do we quit or weather the hard times?? And we don’t even have any “real” crises to point to as the cause of our grief. No war, no sickness. Just relationships and responsibilities, and foreignness. ...We are really feeling the pain of continually living at the end of our character, and doing so in “living color.”

We know. This sounds absolutely pitiful. It is. And you know? The funniest thing brings so much peace about now… ”I chose you to suffer with Me.” Strange, huh? Our being stretched and seeing our weakness is part of our suffering with Christ. Here it is:

“...for momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…”


“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Finally, from another who lamented,

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stories from Zagreb, Croatia

Anya the Joyful rolled down the cliffs of insanity in an old tire with Joseph the golden nostril during a bomb strike by unknown forces. They laughed so hard they fainted. They woke up at home and couldn’t laugh until the next day. The Dread Pirate Roberts saw it all along with his friend, Enigo Montoya.

Joseph the faithful became a Jedi Knight with Tiana during the 100th annual Croatian cheesecake cook-off. Hedge-hog tried to kill him , so he killed the hedge-hog. All this was witnessed and recorded by Ahmed Abassida, official scribe of the most excellent sultan of Abijarda, may he live forever, in the second year of his reign.

Anya the terrible laughed for no reason, nonstop with Jem and Andre the Giant during a snowstorm on the planes of Georgia. Jabba the Hut fed them to his monster (Luke was too late to save them). This was all witnessed by Mr. and Mrs. Mosse, who watched it wide-eyed.
Micah the unbreakable decided to start a career as a mercenary soldier with Queen Elizabeth the second of England. During a time of dire necessity and general inconceivable calamity the lizard was so hungry that he pulled off his own tail and ate it. Now one saw it and no one heard it.

Mama became a knight errant by playing dance-dance revolution, while watching the history channel on rainy nights with 14 sturdy hobbits. Because it was fun they became attractions in the circus freak show. You can see the toughing story of the twinkle toad history professor on history channel!

Scout the great banana-arm dirtily defeated the evil ruler of a neighboring kingdom’s champion in a one on one joust to the death. Because the champion was not thinking the moment he did this. This caused a wide spread constipation epidemic and a high demand for the proper apparatus. It was witnessed by Micah.Joseph, the happening historian about town, shattered 40 coconuts using only his left hand in a moving outhouse with a gang of ruffians so that he could train for Ukraine’s got talent and Wipeout. They went up on a plane and were made to parachute with nothing but an oversized sombrero and an umbrella. This was all witnessed and recorded by Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Camp on the Farm

We just returned from a camp up the village of Andreevka. It is a small village near the city of Kotovsk in the northern Odessa region. The pastor of a Baptist church in Kotovsk (about a three hour drive north of Odessa) has a farm in Andreevka and uses the territory every to run at least one children’s camp. The camp was seven days and there was about 20 kids. The kids slept either on the second floor of the main house, in a small shack on a hill or in tents on the field. A team of seven came from Pennsylvania to assist in running a kids camp on the pastor’s farm. The team taught a Bible lesson every morning, had crafts, directed games and had a daily English lesson. There was also a quiet time every day, free time, swimming, walks in the forest, ping-pong, swings, horse riding, camp fire every night and other games. Meals were served in a patio kitchen and outdoor showers were used.

Our girls were able to participate in the camp while Julie Joseph and Alfie were support help. Joseph stayed with the boys in the shack, Micah and Anya stayed on the second floor with the girls and Julie and Alfie lived in a tent.

Now we are home preparing to leave for vacation in Croatia. Joseph will attend a camp for missionary kids for a week then we will all spend a week together with some friends.

Bible time puppet shows.

Wild flower bouquet contest.

Julie and Anya rounding up the kids.

Sunday morning service in the dining room

Friday, July 9, 2010

Passing the Halfway Point

Our summer is rolling along nicely. Last week, Julie, Leah, Grace and an American team hosted an ESL camp at the Black Sea Camp. It was for beginning and intermediate level speaker and believer and unbelievers were welcome. It was a lot of work but all went well. I (Alfie) and the girls visited two of the days and enjoyed the festivities and mostly the beach. Joseph stayed four of the five days and did a lot of translating.
Julie with some of her new students and friends.
Joseph helps with translation.
The teaching was done outdoors in the fresh sea air!

Last Saturday, the team came back down to Odessa and had a downtown tour. One the same day our good friend Ron and Jeane Hawkins left after a month of service at the Black Sea Camp. Also, Saturday, the next construction team arrived. It was a busy day.

Julie has been recovering this week. We have enjoyed a lot of time together as a family while putting out fires. We currently have two teams here. We spent a lot of time catching up, reading together and playing together. Yesterday we visited a new (to us anyway) catacomb tour under the fine arts museum downtown.

Tomorrow (Saturday, July 10th), our largest team from Grace Fellowship leaves. They have helped with two camps. One at the Black Sea Camp and one in a village in the northern part of the Odessa Region. Our current construction team will get their downtown tour. Another team arrives. Joseph and Alfie will meet them and travel to the city of Kotovsk for a two week camp experience. Julie and the girls will join us next Wednesday.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week Four

This week, Julie taught six hours of vocabulary development to the teachers and translators. The last session of the English Café met on Friday. They enjoyed Julie’s lesson and our last lesson in the book of John.

Julie has also written sixteen hours of lectures for the youth English camp next week. She and the team will leave for the Black Sea Camp on Monday.

The second construction team has come and gone. They accomplished much on the upper level of the camp. There are four buildings on the upper level that are almost ready for occupancy. This was a significant team because Joseph worked as their translator. He spent two weeks with them up at the camp. We missed him but are very proud of him. He received excellent reports from all.

The next team arrives on Monday. They are our largest team for the summer – 17 people. They will assist in running an English camp at the Black Sea camp next week and the week after that they will help in a tent VBS in a small northern village.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Linguistic Richness

The last two weeks have been crazy. It has been one of those times in our lives where so many things converged that it seemed impossible to respond to everything. To start off, Alfie agreed to teach a two week intensive class to students from the Middle East. He agreed to give 30 lectures in two weeks. Halfway through the class, our first construction team left for the US and the second one arrived. The second week of the class, Julie and Alfie started the ESL Café (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Well, sounds like a crazy schedule, but all should be well as long as nothing goes wrong. Unfortunately, our team-mate, who was taking care of the construction team was in western Ukraine and her car was stolen. So Alfie needed take over logistics for that team, but just for a few days. Next, we had a catastrophic computer crash. Our new notebook is currently a large paperweight. Of course it happened about an hour before Julie’s ESL lesson and, of course, before she printed her lesson. She did a great job of teacher her two hour lesson without her notes and prepared material.

Alfie’s class is over now and our teammate, Susanna, is back in Odessa to take care of the construction team so things should be a little smoother.

So, is it worth it? Yep. It has been hard but two of many highlights make it more than worth it.
First, it has been a pleasure teaching these students at the seminary. There are only three of them but they are unique. One speaks English, Russian and Arabic. The next speaks some English and Arabic and the third speaks Russian and Arabic. So my class is an ordered confusion of English, Arabic, Russian and Greek. We often have all four languages on the whiteboard. Also, listening to what these young men have already been through and their desire to serve the Lord among Islamic communities has reminded me of the ease of my life. When I see what they have sacrificed for Christ, I am humbled.

Second, it has been a joy to see the fruit of relationship building. Over the last year Julie has been hosting “teacher exchange” meetings. She and friends have gathered English teachers and shared experiences. The purpose has been to develop relationship and provide a meaningful time of professional development. Many of the teachers from the teacher’s exchange are coming to the ESL Café. The first part of the café, Julie leads a lesson in vocabulary development. It is for high level speakers, so there is much interaction. Then we have a short break and drink coffee and tea. We have some cookies and candy and enjoy fellowship. After the break, Alfie leads a Bible study from the Gospel of John. We have believers and unbelievers and the interaction and the interest has been a joy to see. Our goal is the same as John’s…that they me understand the Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and by believing in Him, they may have life in His name.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Secondish Week

The first team is on their way to Kiev. The accomplished much up at the camp. Ron and Jeane and Dave and Barb mostly took care of them. The installed wainscoting, wallpaper and trim in 23 of the 24 rooms in the wooden buildings on the upper level. The next team arrives tomorrow and they will continue the finish work.

I finished his first week of teaching students from Jordan and Syria. I teach them Monday through Friday for three hours a day for two weeks. It is an interesting group. There are only three students in my group. One speaks English, Russian and Arabic. The second speaks just Russian and Arabic and the third English and Arabic. It is interesting having English, Greek, Russian and Arabic on the board at the same time.

We lost water for a about a day and half this week and it has been getting hotter. But Julie continues to develop her lessons for the two ESL camps. The first starts next week. We will host a ESL Café for two weeks – Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next two weeks. After that Julie along with our coworker Leah will teach at an ESL camp at the Black Sea Camp.
Today is Sunday and Joseph has left with the team for his first solo translating job. He is very excited. We are excited too but we will miss him.

Monday starts probably the busiest week of the summer. I am teaching 15 lectures at the seminary and three days this week, Julie and I are starting the ESL café this week. That means that Monday, Wednesday and Friday I have class in the morning and ESL café in the evening.

It is Monday and we hosted our first ESL Café. Julie taught on vocabulary development strategies and Alfie gave a Bible lesson on John 1:1-18. We are tired but had a great time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Week One Summer 2010

Ron and Jeane Hawkins arrived on Saturday fine and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends. It is great to be with them again.

The Community Bible church team missed their flights in New York and Amsterdam. The arrived about a half day late and spent the night in Kiev. They were able to take a bus to Odessa and are now working at the camp. However, their luggage is still in transit. I spent the better part of Wednesday on the phone with two airports and a deliver service. We managed to pick up two suitcases today and two are in transition. On

On Thursday Steve Wooden, the area director arrived and we participated in the board meeting at Odessa Theological seminary. After the board meeting we enjoyed a picnic with the seminary students and staff. During the staff meeting I received a text message that the team at the Black Sea Camp finally received their luggage – Praise God.

Friday was OTS graduation. We enjoyed seeing the graduates receive their diplomas, give speeches and receives words of exhortation. After the graduation was a reception then a time for the students to thank their professors. It was an all day event but very enjoyable.
While we were at the graduation reception, I received a text message that our team-mate’s car was stolen. She, Susanna, is in Lutsk to take part in a friends wedding then go to Poland to receive a new visa. The police are working on it but we have very little hope.

Saturday was the 10 year celebration of the Grace Church Foster Home ministry. Steve and our family went up to the Black Sea Camp to celebrate. A delegation from Germany also came for the specific purpose of celebrating with the kids. The weather was perfect. We enjoyed a time of remembrance, good food and the beach!

Sunday, I (Alfie) translated for the American team at the church service. Julie and the girls stayed home because Micah fell on Saturday and had to nurse a leg another day. She is fine now. After church, we took the team to the catacombs and then downtown. I left then with Dave and Barb at about 4:30 and went home. It was good to be back home, but we had no electricity so we played, “Would you Rather” and all went to bed. Sunday night I was also asked to change my schedule for teaching Monday. I am now teaching Monday afternoon.

What a week!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

We have planned a busy summer. Currently nine teams, on set of long term guests (one month) and an intern are planning on joining us. Besides the visiting teams we have also planned other ministries and travel. So this is what our team looked like in May. Notice the smiles and optimism. Let us see who is standing at the end of August!

Below is a sketch of the summer schedule.

May 30 to July 3 Ron and Jeane Hawkins help at the Black Sea Camp
May 28 – June 11 Construction Team at Black Sea Camp
May 31 – June 10 Susanna travels to Lutsk and renews visa in Poland
May 30 – June 8 Leah traveling around Eastern Ukraine
June 3 Odessa Theological Seminary Board Meeting
June 4 Odessa Theological Seminary Graduation
June 7 – 18 Alfie Teaches intensive Greek Exegesis Class
June 14 – 25 Alfie and Julie lead ESL Café at Grace Church
June 12 – 25 Construction Team at Black Sea Camp – Joseph will translate
June 28 – July 3 Julie leads ESL camp at Black sea camp with American team
July 5 – 9 VBS/ESL team in the city of Yuzhney
July 3 – 17 Construction Team at Black Sea Camp
July 3 – 10 Sports outreach team
July 10 – 27 VBS/ESL team in the City of Kotovsk
July 29 – August 12 Vacation in Croatia/Joseph to participate in MK camp July 31 – August 6
August 1-7 VBS/Outreach in the city of Sheryava
August 8-14 VBS/Outreach in the city of Lubashovka
August 2-16 Outreach in the city of Fruzevka
August 18 – 22 SEND Ukraine Conference

We have news already. Ron and Jeane have arrived fine. We enjoyed watching Joseph singing in the choir on Sunday night. Ron and Jeane were greeted at Grace Church by many old friends.

Today is Monday, May 31, 2010. The Community Bible team missed their plane in New York and will be arriving later than planned. They will fly into Kiev and take either a bus or train down to Odessa. We are still smiling, but this is just the beginning.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things into which Angels Long to Look

Imagine you are an angle, a righteous and holy being. You stand in the presence of God. As an angel, you watched as the Father created the heavens and the earth. You were there as He lovingly created man in His own image. Man had a body, yet he was made in the image of God. You saw God rejoice over man. You saw that God and man related differently than you and God. There was a closer connection. He loved man and so did you. Then you saw man sin. You saw the Father weep as He expelled man from the garden. You witnessed the Father’s sorrow as His precious image bearer fell deeper into sin. The sin was so bad there had to be judgment. When the flood destroyed the world, you watched God protect Noah and His family. You were there when God spoke to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. You were there on the night the LORD passed through Egypt. You saw the army of Egypt destroyed in the Red Sea. You saw the people sin, repent and cry out to God. God sends a deliverer and then there is peace, for a time. Then sin again, repentance again, a cry for help again, another deliverer and so on. You saw this over and over. And the people said, “We need a king!” so God sent them a King. You watched Israel blossom in the days of David and Solomon. Then there was disobedience, civil war, idolatry, repentance, idolatry, repentance, idolatry and repentance. God sent prophet after prophet to warn the people. He sent prophet after prophet to call the people back to Himself. You were on the mountain with the chariots of fire as the army of Aram tried to capture Elisha. You heard the Lord say, “As I live!...I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back form your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel? Yet the people of God continued to sin. You helped Michael fight the prince of Persia so Gabriel could answer Daniel’s prayer. You were also there when the Glory of Lord left the temple and the Lord sent the executioners through Jerusalem. You saw God preserve His remnant in captivity and bring them back to Jerusalem. You saw the Father communicate through prophet after prophet that there would be a Redeemer – a Messiah. He will deliver the people once and for all. He will sit on the throne of David.

Then, in the fullness of time, you witnessed the most amazing events of history. You saw the Son born of a virgin. There he was, the Son of God, as a little baby. Your duty was to protect Him. When Gabriel announced His birth to the shepherds, you and the other angels shouted praises to God. Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth to Men. You protected Jesus as He grew. You ministered to Jesus after he was tempted in the wilderness by Satan. You watched Him teach people, heal people, cast out demons and perform miracles.
When Jesus prayed in the garden and sweat dripped from His head like blood, you comforted Him. When Jesus was arrested, He said the He could call 12 legions of angels to help Him. You put your hand on your sword and thought, “That’s right! Just say the word and we will destroy the world!” You waited for the command. Jesus said nothing. You wanted to do something but you remained obedient. As they whipped Him, it became more difficult to remain obedient.
As Jesus was being nailed to the cross, He began to speak. This is it, you thought, get ready to save Him and make these humans pay with their lives! But all He said was, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” Forgive them, we should destroy them! But you remained obedient. You waited for the command from the Father as He watched the Son in hang on the cross.

You saw the Father hang all the sin of mankind on Jesus. Then the Father turned His wrath on His blameless Son. The words were almost more than you could bear when Jesus cried out. What you wished, with all your being, would be a command to save Him from the cross was instead a cry to the Father, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani”. A few moments later, Jesus opened His mouth again. “It is Finished…Father into thy hands I commit my spirit”. Then Jesus died.
Words cannot express the grief you felt at that moment. When they buried Jesus, the order came from the Father, “Guard the tomb”. You stood guard three days. Then, as the sun rose on the third day, a new order came from the Father. “Show yourself. Move the rock and open the tomb.” You revealed yourself to the guards. There was an earthquake and you moved the rock. When the soldiers saw you they fainted from fright. Then, wonder of wonders, Jesus walked out of the tomb. His body was different yet the same. It was glorified. The sky was filled with angels singing praises to God and to the Lamb. Joy filled your heart as you humbly bowed before Him. He looked at you and smiled, “It is done.” He said. “The power of sin and death is broken forever. My disciples will come looking for me, tell them to meet me in Galilee.” Then He left.

I understand now. He had to die to pay for sin, but death could not keep Him…He is alive! Then the women come to the tomb. When they see you they are frightened. “Stop being afraid! For I know you're looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here. He has been raised, just as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that He is risen from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee, and you will see him there. Remember, I have told you!"

As the women leave, you think, “I don’t know why He died for these humans and I don’t care. This act of love is truly amazing.

He died for them, so that they could live. He restored what was lost so long ago. He died. My Jesus died. My Christ died, but death could not hold him. He is alive! Christ is alive!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Χριστος ανεστη! Αλεθως ανεστη!

Христос воскрес! Воистину воскрес!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Civil War

A Poem By
Micah Mosse’
February, 2010

The Missouri Compromise was in 1820
Harriet Tubman ran away in 1849
Then came the 1850 Compromise

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” published in 1852
I think this was a busy time, don’t you?

Kansas Nebraska Act -1854
Now here is all about the Civil War

Battle of Bull Run – 1861
Every man armed with a gun

Battle of Petersburg – 1864
Lee surrenders – April 5, 1865
Oh, what a war, what a war.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cultural Faux Pas

When we were preparing to move overseas, we went through a lot of training. We had classes on raising support, language acquisition, international travel options, safety, basic medical, cultural adjustment and cultural sensitivity among other things. Adjusting to the host culture as much as possible without sin or marginalizing the Gospel was a common topic of discussion. We spent a lot of time reading case studies and leaning ways to observe and learn the “cultural rules” of our future community. Our goal is always to be a student of our new culture. Who do people have these customs, what is the history, what is the meaning, what does it mean to participate, what does it mean not to participate? These are the question constantly confronting us. The same way Jesus took on flesh and became incarnate so that He could seek and save that which was lost, we try to become incarnate in our culture…but without sin. We do our best to avoid cultural faux pas and blunders. However, in January, I had the pleasure of observing a significant cultural faux pas and it was surprisingly heartwarming.

Grace church, a larger church in our area, invited children from nearby schools to come to the church midweek and enjoy a special presentation of the Christmas story. There was a great response. About 500 children and their teachers came to the church on a Wednesday after second Christmas. They enjoyed a puppet theater, Christmas musical and heard the Gospel. The church prepared a small gift of candy and some Children’s literature for each student. The schools then ask if we could do something for the youth also (about ages 10-16). There was really no budget left but how can you turn a request like that down? The next Saturday, about 400 youth with their teachers came to the church to see the program (minus the puppet theater) and hear the Gospel!

My favorite part was during the musical presentation of the Christmas story. The Baptist culture here is very conservative in many ways. In the church building women wear skirts (past the knees), married women wear head coverings when they pray, men ware ties when they preach, children don’t run and you never, never clap. If you like a special song or poem you respectfully show appreciation by saying either “Praise God” or “We are grateful.” However, on this Saturday, every time a song was sung, there was loud applause. This is a significant faux pas in a Baptist church but it warmed my heart. The meaning was clear. The audience didn’t know the cultural rules. Why, because they don’t go to church. This exposure to the Gospel and the birth of the Messiah was new to most of them. Further, they were touched by it. They didn’t know not to clap. They just wanted to express their appreciation. They each heard the Gospel, the Christmas story and received a pocket size New Testament. When the audience was asked if they thought it was worth spending a few minutes a day reading their new New Testament, more than half enthusiastically raised their hands. Our earnest hope is that many of these students and teachers will enter into the ultimate culture of the Kingdom!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

18 Years

It is written...
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor form the Lord... An excellent wife is the crown of her husband... An excellent wife who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.
I have found these statements to be wise and true. The Lord has shown me favor and allowed me to find you.

I said these words to Julie 18 years ago. I believed them with all my heart but didn’t realize then just how true they were. Over last 18 years there have been difficulties and joys and I love Julie more today than I thought possible 18 years ago. Every year we try to get away for our anniversary but this year it just wasn’t possible. However, our friend Brittany came over to watch the kids and on a cold wintery night in Odessa, we went out to one of our favorite new restaurants.

It was a simple but sublime evening.

It was cold and snowy so there were not many people out. We strolled through the snow-covered city park. It was quite peaceful and beautiful.
We had dinner at “Fat Moses” Café.

Went for another stroll and headed home.

Our girls had some juice, fruit and a Happy Anniversary sign ready for us. We read aloud with the kids and relaxed the rest of the night. The story of us continues.