Thursday, February 28, 2008


(This is Part Two, Part one is "Bleak" found below)
That first Monday we spent much of the morning getting ready to pour the cement floor. During this time Deborah was standoffish and seemingly shy. We worked and she watched as two distinct groups of people try to feel each other out as to whom would take which role. You see, for this build, and for the first time since the early days of coming to Juarez, we had another group join with us. Four people from Jonesborough, Georgia had already taken the time off of work when there churches plans to build a house in Mexico fell through. So one day, out of the blue I get a call from an obviously southern gentleman on my phone wondering about joining up with our group. Paul, was his name, and he offered to bring air tools and metal lath instead of the normal chicken wire that we use to get the stucco to adhere to the exterior of the home and some good old-fashioned southern hospitality. I was somewhat skeptical at first but we talked as a team and in our training time a quote from a book that said the “Quality of our love as a team and our ability to incorporate new members is our greatest witness.” Bingo Paul, Kevin, Jeff and Diane joined the build.

So this first morning while we are figuring out our roles, Deborah watched. She had no clue at this point that we hadn’t known each other for 24 hours yet. But she watched and her daughter Crystal watched. The grandkids came home from school and they watched.

Soon the cement truck arrived (yes we pay extra for them because they make life so much more bearable) and we had to wheel barrel the whole floor and men and women, southerners and Yankees all pitched in and it was the fasted and most efficient pour that we have ever had. Everyone worked real hard and Deborah watched us work most of the time with her hands over her mouth in disbelief. Then I was able to get to finish the concrete because that is what I want to do and have some skill at doing it from a previous job. And they all were watching.

The children played and everyone else built wall sections and roof sections and Deborah’s eyes sparkled and her smile appeared to be uncontrollable now in the afternoon sun. Then she started to laugh and smile and laugh some more. At just about the time the sunset was reflecting red off of the Franklin mountains to our north in Texas, we packet up the tools and said our goodbyes until tomorrow. As we left Deborah watched, not us mind you, but her new floor and the piles of sections that would assembled tomorrow. She watched and her eyes danced with excitement that comes from knowing a blessing is right around the corner.

To be continued…. (The picture really is Deborah in her “kitchen!”)

Monday, February 25, 2008


As I walked up to the shack I wondered. It was a warm sunny February morning and I had to climb up a couple levels of tires stacked to provide a type of retaining wall for the sand that had been leveled out to provide a place for her new home. Taking those steps I wondered what the week held in store for us, I wondered about who this family was and I wondered how we would connect. As we introduced ourselves to Deborah and her family I tried to contemplate life from her perspective at this very moment. She lives in a small (maybe 12x15’) two room shack that has a single twin bed with a small ajoining room where you access the toilet through the door in one corner and her kitchen outside consists of two cement blocks for a stove. Ten years ago she moved from the interior of Mexico to Anapra to get one of the coveted jobs at a local factory and then three years into the job she was struck by a car and injured to the point where she couldn’t work at the factory anymore and was replaced. Now she makes money by selling simple meals to other working families in her arid neighborhood. She cooks those meals on a piece of metal placed on top of the cement blocks over a fire made from cornhusks and old two by fours. Through the week she made us two fantastic meals in her kitchen and it is apparent why her neighbors would purchase prepared food from her. The kitchen uses two walls from the house and the other two walls are made from what appears to be old wooden garage doors and these same door-like pieces are laid across the top of the primitive structure for a roof. Inside she starts a fire and is inundated by the smoke that escapes through a four-inch space in the roof. It is here that she makes her living and also cooks for her family. For five years in this place she has tried to eek out a living to provide for her family since she is the sole breadwinner. Deborah was a bit reluctant to speak about her husband that abandoned then many years ago with much other than upturned hands, a shrug and some tears.
To Be Continued ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Another Day Moved By God.

I meet with a guy every week that technically is my boss. He is a foreigner, he likes soccer more than baseball, hockey and American football, he is a lawyer by training, he once wanted to be a communist, he lives in Marysville, he loves to eat at the Great Wall, (a local Chinese restaurant) he is insecure most days, he knows how to play rugby, he has advanced degrees and is way smarter than I am. So all of those things should add up to zero potentiality for a real friendship between him and I, except one thing. One rather large thing that is, and that is we have both been absolutely (hear the Scottish accent) transformed by the love of God found in Jesus Christ. We laugh and plan and complain and share and celebrate and eat together. I thank God for my friend Peter. He always makes me think and dream and wonder about just who this Jesus is and what has he called me to be. He has made me a better man, a better husband, a better human being, a better Pastor. Thanks Peter for being my friend and encourager!
We usually meet on Tuesdays at Taco Bell for our staff meeting over lunch. Today was another one of those days that I walked away from just so thankful to have Peter as my friend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Living Frenzy.

Someone has asked me to compile a list of everyone that I have been on trips to Mexico with over the last 13 years. I have a decent idea who went but there are some from way back that I am struggling to remember. This is trip number 15 for me and I still get excited for the journey every time. Waiting and anticipating how the team will coalesce, wondering if there will be and van break downs (there has only been three that I can remember) Wondering about the new family that we get to meet and build a home for and start a long-term relationship with. Wondering how Chila is, and Pati and her kids and Pastor Miguel, and Pastor Elias and Maria his wife. Then there is Kate Cummings who went to Mexico a couple of times and now is an intern for YouthWorks at site number one in Juarez, the exact place where we served for a number of years. There are many relationships that get to be rekindled in just a few days. But until then there is much to do. You may not hear from me from this tornado again for a while, but thanks for caring!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Flunky god.

Running has been difficult these last few days and so has walking. A few days ago I bruised my heal playing a new game with some energetic middle schoolers and I have only been on one walk since. I am trying to rest it a bit to let it heal (pun intended). However it is very easy, at least it has been very easy throughout my history, to run away from God when things aren’t in there regular routine. Excuse after excuse has piled up over theses last 22 years of following Jesus, NOT to follow Jesus. Many things garner my attention very easily. Hockey, baseball, hiking, online newspapers and blogs, television and more, the list goes on and on of convenient excuses. Things more thrilling, more relevant, more exciting almost always were chosen. I had attached my will to something so fleeting, so random, such flunky gods I would run after time and time again.

Peter Scazzero nailed me on this in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality when he said: “The problem is that we attach our wills to something that we believe will satisfy us more than God.”

What is that for you? What/who is your flunky god today? It will never measure up. It will always let you down in the end.

6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith that you have been taught and overflowing with thankfulness.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”Colossians 2:6-8

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I have been knocked out of spiritual rhythm lately with being sick for a few days, going off to winter camp with middle schoolers a week ago and coming back to be sick again, then being in the midst of an incredible busy season and wola.... I feel a bit out of whack.

Starring me in the face is another opportunity to lead a team to Mexico and build a house for some people that live in a cardboard shack. We had a final pre-trip gathering today and now I am pretty excited about the team we have going and seeing old friends. Yes, of course, we need a little financial miracle this time, only about $1,200.00 by a week from Thursday which is saying that God has provided about $7,300.00 already!

pray for us February 15th - 24th ... pray for me too!