Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I don't think any of you will even have heard about our recent earthquake. We were online at the time so we wrote a note to a few people telling them we were okay incase they heard about it. But it only made a back page of CNN with list of earthquakes in the last week. It was a 5.9 which shook our house for about 30 seconds. Just long enough to get to the doorway and look onto our street before it stopped. All the neighbors were out in their doorways. A few car alarms went off and all the dogs in the city barked but we didn't have any damage and I don't know of anyone else who did either. The unique thing about this earthquake was that we were almost directly over the epicenter which was 10 miles North of us. We found the coordinates of the quake on google maps. 3.882°S, 79.171°W which is near a town called Jimbilla.
An Ecuadorian friend said that normally earthquakes feel like waves passing under you but this one felt like circular motion instead. I wonder if that is because we were so close to being on top of it. Another missionary said that this wasn't the longest earthquake he has felt here but that it was the strongest. May God protect us. Praise God that no one was hurt.
Check http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/ to find the latest greatest earthquakes!
Friday, September 14, 2007
When I went to arrange for our Internet connection yesterday, a Lady at the Internet company asked what the foundation "Operation Hope" does exactly. I was surprised that an organization that has been in Loja for 10 years would be so unknown because Loja is a farely small town of only about 100,000-150,000 people, but then all evangelical Christians make up about only 1% of the population. I tried to articulate that we were doing medical ministry both here and out in the province, that we were teaching English, and that we were Evangelical Christians.
The current situation of the evangelical church in Ecuador isn't that different from the state of the church in the US except that they are facing their challenges as a 1% minority that is often persecuted. Biblical illiteracy is just as high here in Ecuador as in the US. Few evangelical pulpits are teaching from the Bible at all, preferring to minister only to felt needs rather than starting there and moving on to real spiritual needs. Even those who do teach from the Bible tend to use it morally preaching against the evils of dancing, smoking, and drinking instead of focusing on Christ and giving him the supremacy that the scriptures naturally give him and asking people to live righteously as a response to his sacrifice for us. We have been told that if you ask the average Ecuadorian what an evangelical is, they will tell you that they are moralists. Not that they are known for following their rules, just having a lot of rules.
The solution for the Ecuadorian evangelical church seems to be the same as for any church anywhere: They need to focus on Christ, treat the Bible as authoritative, and trust God to save them rather than relying on adherence to their own set of rules.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We have been in Loja for almost a week now and we are beginning to settle in. There are many things that still seem strange to us, but having lived outside of the United States before, and even having lived in South America before, there are some things that I don't find different enough. May things I had expected to be the same as Bolivia are actually more similar to the US. I feel silly for telling Johanna to leave her hair dryer at home now that I know that Ecuador uses 110 volt electricity just like we do in the US. The distinct smell of floor polish and South American cleaning solutions hitting my nose in the airport made me feel at home. But even though the trucks that sell water and gas play a tune over their loud speakers that sounds like the first 6 notes of "Be it ever so hum-ble there's no place like home" it doesn't make them sound any less strange. (We will have to record this song and post it on our website.)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I was thinking about Romans 11 and what true Israel is in regard to this topic of what the church is. I want to diagram the olive trees and see what they options are for "all Israel". It seems to me that there are two olive trees in Paul's metaphor. A wild one (the world or gentiles) and a cultivated one (God's tree or Israel) and to be a part of God's tree is to be saved. In the end gentiles and Israelite olive branches that have been cut of are treated the same. They are lost and the only solution is for them to be grafted into the one Israelite olive tree and so in that tree, "all Israel" will be saved. I e-mailed Rob Pierce about this and he had some good things to say. Maybe I'll share it some time. Romans 11 also sheds light on Romans 12:1-2 as we see sap running into us to renew us and conform us to Christ as we grow on his tree.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
As I sit crammed into a United Airlines flight we almost didn't make it onto, 14 hours after waking up this morning and less than 2 hours into what promises to be at least a 24 hour journey from Seattle, Washington to Loja, Ecuador; I am contemplating a return to a coffee addiction that I haven't practiced while in the United States, but I have decided to take up writing run-on sentences as a new vice instead.
The night is falling over northern California outside the plane, and as it does, the United States fades into the distance for Johanna and I. We have faced some final challenges to following Christ in the United States through a stressful check in process during an emotional farewell. I hope that I held my temper well enough as the United Airlines employee moved us from the first class line they had erroneously sent us to. They made us wait in that line for 15 minutes before moving us to the end of the low class line at the far end of the 100 foot long counter. All this happened less than an hour before our flight took off. The one time I really had to hold my tongue was when the manager on duty not only told us we were in the wrong line but he also argued that no one had told us to stand in that line. My pride told me to stand my ground for truth, justice, and the American way, but the manager told me to move and with a cross as the symbol of Christ who I serve around my neck for all to see, I decided to follow Christ's example and give up some of my rights.
God provided for us so that even with a burst can of shaving cream in our carry on bag, we still made it through the security check point in time to walk directly onto our flight without all the tedious lounging around at the gate that one normally has to put up with. (If you ever want to repeat this shaving cream trick just pull the rubber stopper from the bottom of a can of shaving cream.)
Once on the plane, I got one last chance to avert my eyes or see women undress on American television courtesy of NBC on United. (Not that this won't be a challenge in Ecuador as well.) I was reminded again of the fact that we represent Christ where ever we are. Our actions should honor Christ at all times, but I especially hope that I don't shame him publicly. (God answer this plea with help from your spirit. Thank you Jesus for the example you set and the forgiveness you purchased.)
I don't think that being a missionary should really so different from being a Christian anywhere except perhaps that going into another culture we will stand out even more and so our lives must be that much more careful so as not to bring shame to Christ by our actions. (I guess people won't be staring so much this time in South America now that I don't have such a long beard.)
Well Johanna is sleeping and I think I would like to relax and listen to "The Man Who was Thursday" by GK Chesterton as performed by the Mercury Players with Orson Wells. I found it online as an MP3 last night while I was reading about this strange GK Chesterton play that deals with the problem of evil in the world in much the same way as the book of Job. Evil exists and we can fight it even though it hurts, but in overcoming evil we can have the peace of God. God's explanation to Job was to point to the creation and ask, "Do you even understand creation? If you don't understand that, how can you question my actions?" I am excited to hear it. I didn't even know that it existed as a radio drama much less that it was aired only 2 months before the infamous broadcast of the "War of the Worlds".
Well there is a stream of consciousness blog entry for you. Not sure if I will clean it up, or even post it, but it was fun to write.