Friday, July 25, 2008

Memories in Los Angeles

Yesterday we went into Los Angeles where Janiece and I met when Biola was in downtown. We visited some of the places that are still there and some that have changed radically. We ate breakfast at the Pantry which is still there and still open. They have never closed since sometime in the 20’s.

6th and Hope has changed a lot. The Bank of California occupies the spot where Biola used to be, so I could not find the fire escape where I gave her an engagement ring.

We took in Olvera St. where Los Angeles started and where Janiece and I first met back in September of 1956. The plaza is a little different now but it still brought back memories.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Home From Africa part 2

Now that I have been home a while it is time to reflect on some of the changes since Awassa. First, let me comment on the health issues. Usually, illness accompanies the return trip home. Not so much this time. I have read that some of the team did experience some intestinal difficulties but not so for me. I did pick up a cold somewhere between DC and home but I can’t blame Ethiopia for that.

A tip from Al Wilson may have helped. He suggested peptobismol before each meal. I think that helped because I took some chances that could have caused problems, but nothing happened.

Here is a look at a typical Ethiopian dinner, eaten communally with your right hand only.

You use the rolled up bread to scoop up the meat/sauses etc.

It has been a trip getting back into the ‘american way’ of eating and getting my glucose back into its boundaries.

Coffee has been another adventure. I have not had the opportunity to try out my Ethiopian Coffee Grinder that Janiece is demonstrating below, but the coffee we bought in Addis has turned out to be the best I have tasted in a long time. Look out Starbucks!

I have had some contact with friends in Awassa since I returned. I received a couple of e-mails from Asmenaw. He is the interpreter that looks like Arsenio Hall. I teased him about becoming president of Ethiopia (he is in law school). I really think he might just do something in politics.

I am looking forward to getting back to my church (Bonita Valley Baptist Church). I have been speaking at other churches (see my speaking schedule), and I won’t get home until the 27th. That will be the first time I can report on my trip.

I also have volunteered to take on the missions chair at Bonita. This will be a challenge to work on developing a missions focus for the church that will grab the younger generation and still keep the older saints active. I look forward to the challenge.

Another change since returning is the opportunity to drive my Bugeye more often. I had to miss the Conclave that was held in San Diego while I was in Ethiopia. So, I decided to break it out and drive it whenever I could justify it. It has been fun.

I have been working on an idea for ministry among bivocational pastors of new churches on the mission field. I will wait until the next post to tell you about it.

Until then, let the word of Christ richly dwell in you. . . .


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Home from Africa


I’m home and just about caught up with my sleep. It was a great trip and amazing in every way.

First, the logistics of the trip were interesting. I was the only staff member as we left San Diego and flew into Washington DC to meet the rest of our team. Nadine, the Church Planting Coordinator, was to meet us there. Her plane was delayed and it looked like she would miss the connection, meaning I would be the leader all the way to Addis Ababa. Fortunately, she showed up just as our plane was boarding. So started a loooooong flight to Addis. We met our leader, Al Wilson, there; spent the night and were treated to a typical Ethiopian dinner. Strange food and strange eating style (no utensils and eat with only right hands). Saturday we drove 6 hours south to Hawassa where our work would take place.

On Sunday I preached in a Guannet church. This was the denomination we were working with. On Monday we went out to four different areas and shared the gospel from house to house. It was a Muslim area and some interesting conversations ensued. One of our team was even invited into a Mosque. On Tuesday I moved to another area of ministry. Joseph Menna, our contact in Ethiopia, invited me to go with him to another town to teach about 100 leaders from other denominations in preparation for future church planting. For the next three days I taught Walk Thru the Bible, the Great commission and the fundamentals of Church. God prepared a way for me to have an impact in a totally unexpected ministry.

When the week’s work was totaled up we found that we had shared the gospel with over 4000 individuals and seen over 400 positive responses to the gospel. These new babes in Christ were turned over to the leaders of the Guannet churches for follow up. Another factor in all this is that many of these responses are Muslim and many more Muslims heard the gospel and are now considering the claims of Issa. Our prayer is that they will continue to explore the ideas presented by our team members.

At the end of our work we celebrated and went into Kenya for a couple of days of unwinding. For me that was a two fold blessing. First, I got to spend an afternoon and evening with Brian Arensen and his family. It was a great time talking about missions, ministry in Africa and the challenges of missionary life. Second, I was able to photograph some of Africa’s wonderful animals.

Now what? To be honest, I don’t know. Joseph invited me back to Ethiopia and that would be truly enjoyable but that is all up to God. There is a great ministry going on there and I was greatly impressed with Joseph’s ministry plan. He is working to multiply every dollar, every effort, every ministry that comes his way. Ministry in Ethiopia is really exciting. Who knows, I may be back inviting you to go with me to Ethiopia in ’09.

For now it is a Walk Thru in Carlsbad and pulpit supply in Santee. Looking ahead there is a huge celebration on the horizon at the end of August when Janiece and I celebrate our 50th.

Thanks for loving us and for your support. I haven’t sorted all my photos yet, so I’ll put together some that will show the story in the next couple of weeks.

Still serving,