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Archive for October 2008

Short Term Missions…is it worth it?

Last week I shared with you the details of what our El Salvador mission team “did.” More importantly, this week I want to share with you what impact this trip had on individuals from our team. I’m reminded that we are no human “doings” but “beings.” It is not what we accomplish in a project but how does that project change us or those on the receiving end of the activity.

Chris Bair wrote this paragraph on how the trip and living with a El Salvadorian family impacted him.
“One observation and take -a-way for me is the love and acceptance I felt and experienced from Carlos and Lana and what I would consider to be the “Salvadorian” people. I had no interest in “Latino community” prior to this trip. Hey I nearly failed Spanish in college. I believe God indirectly confronted my prejudice for this people group. I think I noticed it right from the start of the trip with the Huber’s. They could communicate and genuinely loved the people. I saw that and it was not until Monday night that I really started to feel comfortable with Carlos. I had so much fun finding out about him and his family and life experiences. By the end of the week I was calling their home my home and I could not wait to go home at night and talk with them. They really made this trip a blessing for me.”

This is what Billy and Kris Huber wrote:
It was an awesome trip – truly blessed and directed by God. We felt His presence and leading throughout the trip. It was exhausting and challenging and wonderful. We hated to see the week come to an end and now feel a little like we’re returning to a different world – a world that was so very familiar only a week ago now seems somehow strange and we feel a little out of place.

As I wrote in my journal this morning, “I feel like I want to gather everyone I know and care about together and go down to El Salvador and minister to people.” It was a powerful, exciting and inspiring week and we return with much to think about and much to share. We’re looking forward to processing and sharing with you.

Thanks for your support and encouragement for this trip. I anticipate that this will not only change the lives of those who went but will also have impact on Christ Community and specifically at the Sarpy Campus.

Lance Grush who was our missionary host while in El Salvador will be at the Sarpy Campus on November 16th for both services.

On the Journey,
Steve Walters
Campus Pastor

p.s. don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour Saturday night!

Audio Bibles – Check!

Word just came from Mali through Ian that the Audio Bibles are through! Thanks for praying. It cost us a very small amount, but compared to the masses they were originally asking for, this is good news! Thanks so much for praying for this and thanks to God for getting them into the hands of the people who can use them.

The staff in Mali said they are working hard at putting together content and can’t wait to test them in the field!

It's Friday Pull Out The Stops

Halloween falls on a Friday this year. Hmmm… What’s that mean? Parents can let their kids eat their candy when they get back from Trick or Treating! That’s what I think that means. Can’t do that on a school night, now, can you? Here’s how to get in front of this one, friends.

Throw a neighborhood party with other families who have trick or treating kids. Make a huge pot of killer chili and have others bring sides and drinks. Host it in your garage, your basement or even your back-yard if it’s warm enough. Get kids together to play games, carve pumpkins and take pictures before it gets too dark.

Once it’s dark, team up with these families and have the dads walk the kids from house to house while the mom’s stay back at home to greet trick or treaters. Dads can enjoy talking while you walk with your kids. See ideas in previous posts – If you’re real ambitious you can work your curb-side, fire-ring, hot chocolate strategy at the same time as long as you have enough help at your house.

After everyone is back from the big candy grab, let the trade show begin! Kids love to show off and trade their candy. Parents can play cards or a fun board game while the kids eat themselves into a sugar fix. I’m certain this is the part where I’ll catch flak from thousands of engaged readers…but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Kid’s I’m pullin for ya!

Parents, enjoy your neighbors as you build a reputation for being one of those cool houses on the block people love to hang around.

El Salvador: An Overview

“Smooth, challenging, stretching, fun, exhausting and exhilarating.”
Those are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind after spending a week with this team in El Salvador. We saw God work in creative and miraculous ways meeting either the needs of our team or the needs within the church body there in El Salvador.
We had the privilege of spending October 12-19 in El Salvador with Lance Grush. Lance grew up at Christ Community Church and was called to missions during a CCC short term mission trip to Puerto Rico over 20 years ago.
We hit the proverbial floor running. Our flight came in Sunday afternoon and within an hour we were in hour host homes and then off to church. Then starting Monday and going all day Tuesday, Wednesday and then Thursday morning, we had the opportunity to teach ESL to students in 7th, 8th and 9th grade. In each of the 15+ classes we were able to give our testimony and then to have a college student from Lance’s church present the Gospel and lead the class in prayer. We literally saw hundreds of students raise their hand indicating a decision to follow Christ and/or wanting to have a follow up conversation with somebody from the church.
Thursday afternoon found us going to the Remar orphanage outside of San Salvador.
Friday was a well deserved break with opportunity to debrief and evaluate the week.
Saturday had us preparing for an afternoon of us helping with “OWANSA” [AWANA for you gringos] by doing a puppet show for their opening program. Later that day we helped with the youth group meeting into the evening.
After a late dinner we packed and slept for a few hours until 3:00am Sunday. We then piled into the van and Fransisco [our driver for the week] drove us to the airport for our 6:45 flight to Houston.
I can say without hesitation that this was one of the smoothest trips with all of us having a great time together doing ministry. Thank you for your prayer and financial support. The only glitch I can think of was the inability to post a blog or two during the week either because of our full schedule and late nights or not having access to the internet at my host home.
I will post some thoughts and observations in the weeks to come.
Until then,
Dios Debendiga
[God Bless]

Its Time to Clean That Garage Anyway

Ever thought of how to use the space in your garage for some fun Halloween action? Here’s a way you can create some space for kids and adults to connect with you.

* If your garage is next to the front of your home it’s very easy deck out the space for some fun interaction. Get a hold of some bails of hay for people to sit on. Put some decorations up and have a little fun with lighting!
* Get a couple of simple carnival type games going and make the candy a reward for playing. You can do a bean bag toss or any number of other games that don’t take lots of time to play.
* The key is to make it friendly and inviting for kids and adults. Coax adults to come in for a warm drink so you can have chance to meet them.

Yes, this does mean that hubby has to park the cars in the street and clean up the garage a bit. You don’t want kids playing with tools or tripping over rakes and shovels. With the weather being so hit and miss this time of the year, it’s worth the time to set up things in your garage where people can step in out of the wind and warm up a bit.

Want more ideas? Stay tuned to the blog… next time we’ll talk about Trunk-or-Treat and how to throw a great Halloween Party in your neighborhood.

Front Yard Assault

So you don’t know a Brazilian Guitarist? Can you still make your front yard a really fun place for kids and adults? Just ask yourself a few questions like these and your plan will emerge:

1- What do kids want when they come to your home? In a word. Candy. But they’re also looking for a good time and welcome some creativity in the process. Consider how you can use your front porch or your garage to make the candy grab more fun. Play a simple game like a ring toss or bean bags. Keep it short and simple.

2- What do parents do while kids are retrieving candy? Usually they wait out at the end of the sidewalk. If you want to get to know parents, think about hanging out at the end of your driveway near the side-walk so you can meet people you don’t know and greet those you do.

3- What is Halloween weather typically like? Cold. Those same parents you’re talking with would love a hot drink while their kids are on your front porch. Get a couple of thermoses each of hot chocolate and coffee out there with you at the end of your sidewalk.

4- What do I do if I can’t be on my front porch and at the end of my sidewalk at the same time? Get help! Team up with people in your neighborhood or someone from your small group who doesn’t live in a kid-popular neighborhood.
Stay tuned for more ideas…

Redeeming Halloween in Your Neighborhood

Last year in our neighborhood we decided we’d try something different for Halloween. Usually we turn off all the lights in our house, hide in the basement and watch TV pretending we’re not home! This time we thought we’d get out of the rut and make Halloween a part of our outreach to our neighbors. We made hot chocolate and coffee and stood out at the side walk talking to adults who came by with their kids. Our kids served up the candy while we got to chat and meet new people. And just to push the envelope a little more, we brought our fire-ring around to the front and had a fire going.

The pinnacle of our strategy (which we didn’t actually plan) was Leo. Leo was a friend we’d met through the International Ministry. Leo wanted to see what Halloween looks like, so we’d invited him to join us. After finding out that Leo knew how to play the guitar… you can see where this is headed… I gave him my guitar and he joined our front yard Halloween venue providing live music! It was awesome. People stopped, talked for a few minutes and even make comments like “You must not be from around here… this is the coolest house we’ve stopped at all night.”

Watch this blog in the next couple of days as we post practical suggestions for redeeming Halloween in your part of the city.

Through the roof!

Torro Tay! Is the most common expression we hear in Bambara. It’s rough translation is “no worries” or “haduna matata” for you Lion King fans.

As you know, some of our team is working on the hot tin roof of the warehouse. We are placing iron trusses across the top of the warehouse and, instead of wood or shingles, the top of the roof is layered with 20×4 ft sheets of metal. This metal is about the thickness of aluminum foil, which is fine except when you have to walk on it. There are strict rules about walking on the roof on boards etc, to be sure nobody falls through to the 15 foot drop to solid concrete below. If there is a serious injury, the closest good emergency room is Paris!

At one moment, David Holt was on the roof in a “Torro-Tay” kind of a moment. He stepped in the wrong place and the metal started to bend, then cracked right through. He quickly turned and grabbed on to the trusses as he was falling suspended above the concrete floor. From the top of the roof, my world went into slow-mo and I surveyed to possibilities to help him. Bottom line, there is no way to get to him fast enough. So I yelled out the only thing I could think of “Hold him Jesus!”

All of this was while he was in mid-fall! Well, after he caught the truss, and fumbled his way down about a foot, he was stuck. With his feet about five feet about the floor, he looked down and asked for clearance. And with the agility of a cat…OK, the agility of a rhino…his 200 plus pound frame came crashing down to the concrete below. He banged up his ankle a bit…not enough to need a doctor, but bad enough that it hurts.

Upon hitting the floor, David was quick to spring up. Malians emerged from every corner of the facility and David was quick to tell them “Torro Tay!”

“No,” they responded as they saw the metal sheet dangling from the ceiling. “Not Torro Tay….NOT Torro Tay”.

As a matter of fact, rumor has it that the next day his picture appeared in a Far-Side cartoon of the Koutiala World-Herald entitled “Unclear on the concept.”

Inspiring Commitment

It’s my first time on a CMA mission field. My first time getting to know CMA missionaries. My first time seeing the international work with my own eyes. My impression? I am WOWed by the team here. No joke, these people are all-stars.

If the term ‘missionary’ conjures up pictures of tired has-been Americans with sweet smiles and bad haircuts you’ve got the wrong idea about this team. What I have found is highly skilled pepole with outstanding interpersonal skills. I have found people with great language abilities, people who are quite intelligent. Mostly, I have found people who are called by God with dramatic marks of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Doctors, Nurses, Business People, Teachers…seriously professional people who could have six-figure careers, but have decided to move a half a world away to do what God has called them to do. I have never felt better about giving to the Great Commission Fund. Not only is it a great mission, but there are great missionaries carrying the torch.

The count down to our return mission

— by Nick Crellin —

It may seem odd, but several of us are thinking, pondering and praying “Where next, Lord … where next?” Every single one of us is preparing to reenter Omaha … changed. Our hearts, our thoughts, and our vision for the future have changed.

Not because we got tasked to paint a morgue. Not because we got tasked to put a tin roof on the warehouse. Not because we created J-bolts from straight bolts. Not because we sanded cement walls. By no means!

Let it never be said of us that we were simply a construction team. Construction was merely the “means” in which we entered the work site. There are plenty of Malians that are willing, capable and skilled to work on the site. No, we are not simply a construction team.

Many of us were not prepared for the life, thought or heart changes that have taken place. For four of us, this is our first missions trip. For four of us, this is our second or third trip. For one of us, this is the tenth (or so) trip. Yet, we have all been impacted!

It is never too early and it is never too late to go on a short term mission trip. The situations in our lives could have “demanded” we not go. We could have, every single one of us, decided that the timing was not right, we have too little to offer, or that our lives are too busy.

We know now, as it has been offered by others wiser than us, that “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” Each of us has been a vital part of the team. Each of us has provided blood, sweat and tears to a hospital, a city and a country on the other side of the ocean.

So … What are we? What did we do? What was this trip’s purpose? What was it all for? John Piper proclaims it best: “To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever!”

The heart beat that resonates from the long-term and short-term missionaries, the Malian hospital staff, the Koutiala Christian church and our team is a deep love for God and a deep love for people. The needs of people around the world are the same, but the challenges are different.

We cannot wait to share the many stories, the great love of the hospital staff and patients and what our future holds. We return home bearing a torch from Mali for our friends and family. May you find great joy and encouragement, as you welcome us home.