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Well, I have to admit that our Sunday nights here at the church have been pretty low as far as attendance. Seems we like to ebb and flow with numbers, and we’ve definitely been on an ebb lately. The summer is a time for people to be in and out of town a lot, and it has shown. But with Sunday night being the first weekend since schools started, we had a hamburger supper before hand. People showed up. And kept showing up.

We ended up having over 100 kids here (not including adults and the band). And the band was rocking quite well too. Josh Brister and his merry band led us in 4 or 5 songs and did a great job. I could tell Josh fed off the crowd’s energy too. Then I spoke on “Whatever” for a bit. Basically taking Phil 4:8-9 and Col 3:17 and saying that God doesn’t always care what you do, but how you do what you do and why you do it and who you do it for.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised w/ the crowd. And very pleased. VERY pleased. But we had a nice crowed when school started last year too, and I learned w/o proper “investment” into them, that it can dwindle easily.

So my prayer is to pour into them. POUR into them and see them grow in Him.

Crap! I typed all this stuff out and then Firefox blanked out on me! So I’ll hope to be able to retype it all as good as before.

So now everyone is back from Costa Rica and the kids are back in school. It feels weird to think that just earlier this week we were down in Central America working, sweating, painting, mixing concrete, and dancing to a rap group from Honduras.

I think about a third of our group got sick down there. Most of those even got shots. I’d have to be pretty bad off to get a shot down there I think. But I thought some were maybe over reacting. But after not feeling bad while down there, I come home and start feeling puny. I ran a fever one night (had chills and everything) and a cough that didn’t want me to talk. Now I’m good except for a runny nose.

It was awesome to have The Wife down there w/ me. She’d heard a lot about C.Rica from me, but wanted to be able to experience it herself. She misses it now. Wants to go back…and I mean before next summer. Sure, it’s a cool place. And it’s beautiful and breathtaking some of the things you get to see. But it’s the people themselves you really fall in love with. To be able to go to church w/ them, eat w/ them, work and sweat along side of them, and see the genuine care and love in their eyes when they talk with you (whether you understand them or not). You really want to take some of them home with you…or go live with them!

Bomitada Fest happened again. When I get all the pictures from it I’ll give a more detailed description. But it was Utah, Becca, and me again this year and we more than doubled our fund raising from last year! And there was some more drama and excitement w/ the contest as well. More to come later (I promise!)

T-Minus 90 Minutes

07/31/2006

I’m supposed to be at teh church in 90 minutes. We meet at 3:30am. Load up in the bus. I’ll drive everyone to the airport and we’ll get situated there. We’ll wait for a while. The Wife will ask why we had to get there so early when we’re just standing in a line that isn’t even open.

But then we’ll go to ATL, wait there for a while, eat a brunch of sorts and see people flying to all parts of the country/world. Then the last flight of the day takes us straight into Liberia!

I’m looking forward to many things.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing old friends that I made last year on the same trip.
  • I’m looking forward to eating some of the fantastic food the senoritas make there at the church.
  • I’m looking forward to brushing up on my spanish on the plane to make me bi-lingual.
  • I’m looking forward to going on the trip with my wife and sharing the experience with her. Should be quite awesome.
  • But I’m looking forward to seeing God move through our team and through me.

So as sit at the computer with no sleep and none in sight, I ask for your prayers as we embark on the journey!

T Minus 12 Days

07/19/2006

Twelve days til we make the trek to Costa Rica.  We’re going back to the little Methodist church, Fountain of Grace in Liberia. If you look at the link, you’ll see an older picture. Here are some newer pictures of the church and our trip last summer. We’ll be doing more construction on the new sanctuary and putting on a Bible School as well. (For some interesting thoughts on VBS, check out Tally Wiligis’ post)
Exciting thing is that The Wife is coming this year! How cool is that? But we’ll be leaving the kiddies behind, so that might be a slight stress point for The Wife. But she’s never been out of the country before, and she’s an incredible worker. I am afraid she might work everyone else into the ground.

My back has been troubling me just a bit. I’ve realized my “core” or trunk of my body is lacking in strength and flexibility, so I took Pilates for the first time today. Wasn’t too bad. But I will be a bit sore tomorrow. But I need to do something now or be in a bad way years from now.

So pray for our trip to Costa Rica, pray for my core, and pray for my wife as we leave the girls in the States while we travel to Costa Rica.

Yes, it really is. After a five night stretch of sleeping on wood chips out in the Georgia wilderness and taking cold showers with a waterhose looped over a 2×4, it is. But it really wasn’t that bad. Working with the AIM training camp was truly a blessing. And a humbling thing about it was that the people that we were serving, who were going out to Kenya or Peru or Russian in a matter of days, they kept thanking us over and over and over.

One even went so far as to say that any success they had during their mission trip would be partly because of our service to them.  Wow. How amazing was that? And the last morning, when we were leaving, the Kenya team actual asked us to sit in a circle while they washed our feet as an act of service to us. Very humbling.

I think a lot of the Clinton students were semi envious. Not jealous, but when they’re seeing these guys and girls, young men and women not any different from them getting the opportunity to travel abroad to serve God’s people in a special way…there is a “Man, I wish I was going” feeling that wells up. But the truth is that there is just as much need and hurt and emptiness in our own neighborhoods and communities. And that fact hit hard today.

After being gone to BigStuf for 5 days and then being home for about 3 before heading to the Training Camp for 6, I was ready to kick back and not worry about too much today. So I cleaned the UHaul trailer out, sprayed it off and returned it. But I also found out that a 15 year old girl took her own life last night here in town. That makes the 2nd student from that grade to take their own life in the last 6 or 7 months. It’s obvious that there are hurts and pain and confusion even in our own little suburbia.

So although it wasn’t a plane ride to the other side of the world. It was a drive back to Mississippi w/ a stop off at Six Flags. But there is much, much ministry to be done right here in our own back yard.

So if you think of it, please pray for the Mosley family. And also pray for Clinton, MS as a whole. It, and we, need lots and lots of prayer.

And it’s hot here too!

We arrived here in Gainseville Thursday afternoon. After seeing where we sleep, I was amazed. It’s like a huge green Army tent that was about 189 degrees inside. Wood chips on the ground w/ a bit of a tarp to rest our heads on. Good stuff. So we get situated and then throw the frisbee for a while. The actual mission teams aren’t supposed to come til the next day, so we were able to kick back a bit.

Then we took a trip to CiCi’s Pizza. Arguably one of the best pizza buffets around, IMHO. Then a Target run for another frisbee and other necessities (the other one had already broken). Worship that night w/ the team leaders was different but good. But there were some experiential worship stations and some accoustic worship.

Following that was bed time. And we guys were in the big tent that was now cooled off a bit. There actually was a big fan in there, but it seemed to move hot air around. But it was night and cooler so it was bearable. But we had some fun. We call it…Shadow Puppett Theater. We made shadow puppets on the ceiling of the tent for at least 45 minutes. Classic. Then we went to sleep. And we woke up FREEZING. Don’t know why it was so cold. But it was. I mean unbearablly freezing.

Most of the Mississippi team goes to the airport while 3 guys stay behind w/ me and we mow/weedeat/patch tents/shuck corn/fill Tiki torches, fill water, wash dishes, etc. Then missionaries start to arrive. Again,  this is a training camp for them before they go out to Kenya, Russia, or Peru. So they’re being trained, we’re serving them a bit and being trained a bit. But it’s a good mix of folks. Basically aged 15-22.

I’ll try to get some pics of where we’re staying and how everything is laid out soon. Camera was out of batteries, but got some new ones.  It’s hot. There’s no AC, and I’m going minimal on the showers. Life is good!

Off again…

06/07/2006

I’m done packing. Now I need to get to sleeping.

I should pull out of town tomorrow morning to go to Gainesville, GA to participate in an Adventures in Mission training camp. When AIM sends missionaries to diff parts of the country and world, they come for training first. Well, we’re going to be serving the missionaries. Serving food and cleaning after them and various stuff like that. But out group will get to participate in the Mission Trainging as well. So it’s a good deal for us. We get to give AND get!

One thing about Gainesville is that it is 37 miles from Northpoint Community Church. I’ve always wanted to check it out. Never been to a mega church before. And I really dig Andy Stanley. Not saying a megachurch is my thing. But dunno. Never been there.

But we’ll be sleeping in tents, using “home made” showers, and roughing it. Probably a contrast from BigStuf last week. But I should have net access of some sort, so I hope to have some updates and photos!

Back and forth

06/06/2006

So last week we were at BigStuf. Fantastic week. This is my 10th summer to go there. I went one summer while in college as a “leader”, and then this was my 9th summer to take a group. So obviously I’m a believer in the quality of this place! BigStuf is always good stuff.

The trip started off w/ a bang…literally. It was only about 30 miles down the road before we had a blowout. But after a fairly quick tire change at a local tire store along the way, we were back on track.

Louie Giglio, Stuart Hall, and Jared Herd were the speakers for the week. Stuart was good, but had a few things in his talk that some of my kids thought were distracting. Some little jokes that probably keep middle school students on track were bumping some of my high school students off track it seemed. And a comment or two was taken wrong. In no way do I think that Stuart’s heart or intent was anything but pure, but it was something worth mentioning.

Jared Herd I’d heard before. In that time I thought he was almost a “Louie-lite” meaning he gave a message very similar to one I’d heard Louie give before and seemed to have a lot of the same mannerism and all. Not that that was a bad thing, but it seemed to be not his own stuff. This time I came away really enjoying Jared’s messages.

And of course Louie was speaking w/ impact again. Talked about being Wired for Worship and being Wired for This World. Pretty convicting stuff when he talked about how we all have responisibilities as Christians to minister to and support and help those in our world who seem hopeless.

Worship was as great as always. Started a little slower for some reason, but as the week went on, it seemed to grab me more. It deff was a production. More on that later, but they can really create an environment that is packed w/ the “Wow factor”.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. There were no squabbles or fights that I know of between our students. And some funny stories as well. Maybe I’ll get the volleyball tourney story in or the motorcycle gang story up soon. Some are funny at the time, some are funny to look back on.

I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m jealous of those going to the Buzz Conference this weekend in D.C. I’d heard about it last year when I came across National Community Church and it’s pastor, Mark Batterson’s blog.  It’s going to be a 2 day event where churches are instructed on how to market/package what they do and how the message of the GOSPEL can make such a difference in our lives. Ed Young, Mark Batterson, and Brad Abare will be the main presenters.
Some people disagree w/ this approach. An interview w/ Mark over on Church Marketing Sucks got quite a buzz as well. Check out the comments. But I think what NCC is doing is quite impressive and they’re meeting the needs of their community. A community that includes plenty of Capitol Hill suits and also those from the city’s largest homeless shelter.

So as the Buzz gets going this weekend, I hope to be able to keep up w/ it through blogs and maybe, just maybe get some cd’s or mp3’s after the conference.

Get up and do it!

04/24/2006

I’ve been lagging on a lot of things. General and specific things. But life things. I began to listen to Erwin McManus‘s last series from his church on his podcast. It is called Chasing Daylight, but is a re-release of a previous book of his I read entitled Seizing Your Divine Moment. Lots of truth in that book I need to digest.

But a couple of days ago Tony Morgan had this post where he was talking about DRIVE THE CAR. He likened our lives to a car and someone who loves his car and tinkers with it and puts time into trying to get it just right, but never taking it out of the garage. Never getting it on the open road. Sometimes I think that’s me.

So now that I’ve been slapped around in the face with it a little lately…what am I going to do with it?