Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Special Christmas Gift!

My granddaughter, Ashlee Krick, had a special project in school just before Christmas. She and the other students decorated special Christmas sacks, colored a pasteboard Nativity scene (which is also a stand or holder), and then put a candy cane on the Nativity scene.

When the teacher asked each student who he or she wanted to give his special Christmas gift to, Ashlee told her she wanted it for her grandpa!

Here I am with Ashlee and her specially decorated Christmas bag.

(Click on the photo for a larger view.)

Thank you, Ash, for giving me something extra special for Christmas. I love you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Snowmen appear at FMC youth Christmas gathering

We had a great time with the young people of Faith Mission Church and Stone City Christian Academy at the youth Christmas get-together on Friday night, December 12. There's nothing like being with young people to help one keep young at heart (and tired in body).

Some long-suffering wives put up with us guys at the party last night, such as my wife, Kathy (pictured here), Marci Webb, and Alice Golden. Well, actually it was Alice who put together the snowman feature that follows. Tamara Crosley wisely stayed home and out of danger's way.
Alice divided the young people into teams. She gave each team three rolls of toilet paper, a scarf, a hat, a sheet of construction paper, and some tape. From these materials, and with four of us fellows serving as mannequins to be "dressed," each team was to fashion a snowman. The results, as you can see here, were hilarious.

In alphabetical order, so as not to favor one snowman over another, we have:

David CrosleyTim GoldenSteve Hight
Anthony Webb
Left to right:
Anthony Webb, Tim Golden, Steve Hight, David Crosley

Here's the team that fixed me up so well, even putting my glasses on outside my face so that I could see -- well, at least halfway, since I could only peer out of one eye.As you might imagine, there was a lot of melted snowman material in the middle of the floor when we were finished. It didn't stain the carpet, though.

You must go on to the following post to see David Crosley lose at musical chairs!

Friday, December 12, 2008

David Crosley loses musical chairs game in last round
Loss is second in two years for self-avowed musical chairs champ

Bedford, IN -- December 12, 2008

In dramatic fashion, David Crosley, who claims to be a musical chairs champion, lost in the final round on Friday evening at the Faith Mission Church young people's Christmas get-together. Crosley, who earlier forced his son Dwight out of the game, raising his fist in the air and crying out, "I got him! I got him!" was himself eliminated when he vied with one other contestant for the final chair.

In a timely move as the music stopped, Skylar Batley beat Crosley to the chair by a split second, then had to wrestle the chair away from Crosley, who attempted to unseat Batley by force. Batley hung on bravely, and when it was evident that he had won against the self-proclaimed champion, he raised his arms in the air in celebration of his well-earned victory.

In a desperate move, Crosley attempted to claim a share of the win by alleging that, by having his hands on the chair and because of competing against a younger opponent, he had earned half of the first-place honor. Judges of the contest disallowed Crosley's allegation.

Watch the video clip below to see the dramatic action, beginning with third-place Elizabeth Smith being eliminated in the next-to-last round.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Recent Events

I find three notable things worthy of mention.

(1) November 23 -- Commissioning service for Rex II and Missy McDowell. Kathy and I went to the Millmont, PA, God's Missionary Church for this special event. Steve Mowery, director of the missions department at Penn View Bible Institute, preached the message. I did the commissioning on behalf of EFM, and offered the commissioning prayer. After that, each father offered a prayer of blessing.

In this photo, Rex II and Missy are kneeling. Rex and Hannah McDowell are standing at the right; Rex had already prayed for the couple. Drema and Tom Susan, Missy's parents are at the left; Tom is praying for them in the picture. Missy's brother Jason stands in the center, and Anita Brechbill, founder of RopeHolders is seated at Tom Susan's left hand.

(2) Christmas is coming! Kathy is wrapping a gift here; and is actually wrapping more presents as I write. We were planning to do outside lights today, but the third notable event is . . . .

(3) It has snowed today! The temperature was down to about 21 overnight and we woke up to a skiff of snow. Then the white stuff really started coming down. I don't think the weatherman was expecting this much -- at least we didn't hear anything in the forecasts about accumulation. I measured 1 1/2 inches of dry, powdery snow in one spot on the deck rail.

As you can see, the carport didn't do much to keep the snow off my car this morning.

I haven't been able to use my snow thrower for at least two years now, either because of the lack of snow, or because what snow we've gotten has come when I've been out of town. I think I'll declare 1 1/2 inches to be sufficient for getting the snow thrower out this afternoon. After all, we have a pretty long driveway.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Link at Right:

Here's an easy way to help EFM. Click on the GoodSearch link at the right, which will take you to their site. It's supposed to automatically choose EFM as the target charity, but you may have to start entering Evangelistic Faith Missions in the little window under "Who do you GoodSearch for?"

Enter your search words and look for stuff like you would normally do. Every person earns us about a penny for each separate search. If enough people do it, EFM can benefit well.

And EFM can receive even more if people shop through their website. Click on the GoodSearch logo, and at their website click on the GoodShop banner near the bottom of the screen. This will take you to a site where you can choose from among hundreds of stores, each of which will donate a small percentage of your purchase price to EFM.

Check the "Categories" of stores in the navigation bar at the left. Each category will give you a list of stores selling that sort of item.

I've done some of my Christmas shopping through GoodShop. EFM is ordering office supplies through one store that participates with GoodShop.

If we're searching and shopping anyway, why not benefit a good cause -- Evangelistic Faith Missions!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Indianapolis Writers' Conference

Did I think I might be a writer? After all, I write monthly for the Missionary Herald, every other month for my associational paper, The Eleventh Hour Messenger, and two or three times a year for Opening the Word, a quarterly devotional published by the Herald and Banner Press.

I went to the 8th annual Indianapolis Writers' Conference this past weekend to find out where I stood. I gulped really big and submitted a published manuscript (an article from a recent issue of the Herald) to the "Thick-Skinned Critiques" workshop session. What would a professional editor have to say about my work?

Andy Scheer, editor and writing professor with the Christian Writers Guild put a copy of the first page of my manuscript on the overhead projector so that everyone could scan it. And then he (pictured here) started in.

He put a marked copy of that same page on the overhead projector, and suddenly my eyes were filled with circles, arrows, deletions, and carats, all blotching up my page with green. Whew! Of course, as Andy told us, this is how he would edit the article, based on a set of guidelines that he had handed out earlier. But at least he had reasons for all he said.

I was able to claim the edited version after the workshop session, so I plan to re-do the article according to his standards. I'm sure it will end up being shorter and punchier. I wonder how well I'll like it.

The conference was en eye-opener in a number of ways. Perhaps the biggest: I have a long way to go to be a writer. And its corollary: All of our conservative holiness publications need to send their writers and editors (at least their editors) to workshops like this, or else have them study with something like the Writers Guild.

If we want people to read us and take us seriously, we all need to to a better job.

P.S. -- At least I didn't fare as badly as another would-be writer who submitted a manuscript. On that one, Andy deleted one or two paragraphs on the first page and more than half of the second page. Whew! Maybe there's hope for me after all!

P.P.S. -- When I did the rewrite, it reduced the word count from 898 to 614. And I'd have to admit that, even though I'd be tempted to add back one or two things for clarity, the shorter version does say what I wanted to say. I wonder what Andy would do with a second pass at the article.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Back to that Gutemala trip . . . .

Before we left Jalapa I got this picture of Kristin Duncan telling a story in the bilingual academy. She's telling the students that they don't want to be bad apples!

A couple of famous Guatemalan volcanoes as the clouds uncovered them one morning. Seen from Antigua, the old capital city of Guatemala. I can never remember which of these is which, but I think Agua (water) is the large one near the center with a sort of dip at the top, and Fuego (Fire) is the one to the left. That's a cloud behind it, by the way. These are not now active volcanoes, as far as I know.

The arch in Antigua. Note the cobblestone streets.

These little taxis are called "Tuc Tucs" (took tooks) and are at once the bane of the transportation system (there are lots of them and they crowd each other and the cars to claim space) and the blessing of many people (providing transportation where buses don't go and jobs for people who can't afford to buy and operate taxis or buses). I saw one that had a sign on the back: "When I grow up I want to be a bus."

Juan Lemus, an old friend and former student. Now with the Nazarenes, he's been told by fellow pastors and professors, "You still have an Emanuel heart." Our church in Guatemala goes by the Emanuel name.

Ronald and Anna Smith in a chapel service where I spoke during the revival services in Guatemala city.

Their granddaughter, Heidi, an MK from Mexico, played the keyboard for that service.

One afternoon I was downtown (with some others) and heard the national marimba band playing. They were in a bandshell to one side of the central park in Guatemala City. Nice music! Just PLEASE, don't tell anyone I was at a dance!!

Sadly, crime has gotten to the point where many neighborhoods have placed barriers like these at some intersections. A car BARELY fits between any two of them, so thieves, if they are present, either have to leave on foot or drive out very slowly. Of course, it also impedes the rest of the people (bad) and heavy traffic that might otherwise pass through (good).

And in other neighborhoods they've even put up gates.

The church where I preached the revival services has a nice youth choir, directed by one of the pastor's married sons.
Returning to that Guatemala trip . . . .

This is Dr. Simi, who is the star attraction for advertising a chain of pharmacies in Guatemala. I caught his act in Antigua. You'll have to wait a few seconds for the action to start. He thought I was just taking his picture and posed. Too bad you can't hear the music!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Someone dared me to post this picture!
Of course, I'm not at liberty to tell you this person's name, but it's a female who is a musically-inclined RN, who drives a green Ford Escape named Nellie, and who hasn't posted for over a month, and whose initials are CM.

Of course, one doesn't have to accept dares, but I thought this one might be worth it.

I do have some more Guatemala pictures, by the way; I'll try to get at least a couple more trip posts up before too long.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guatamala 7 -- Lee Rickenbach and I went to the El Porvenir church here in Jalapa for tonight's service. This is the second of our Emanuel churches in the city of Jalapa. Pictured is the pastor, Medardo Andrade, opening the service with wonderful worship chorus that helped set the stage for a blessed service. The pulpit is made of class with a wooden edge around the top and is filled with flowers. No photos of the outside, since it's very rundown. They're neglecting it as they save money to construct a larger church building.

This is René Ortega, who has known our family for years, though he was just a young boy when we served here in the 1970s. His prelude, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," both sung and played, really set the stage for tonight's service.

This singing group presented two nice special songs.

This is the beginning of the preaching time. I'm giving greetings or making some other preliminary comments at this moment. I like the picture on the wall behind the platform, a man trying to "walk in the steps of the Savior."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Guatemala 6 -- Just a couple of extras: First, here's the mega-bottle of Tiky that Maria found the other day. No, I'm not drinking it all! Kristin Duncan likes it, too, and Ronald, Anna, and Heidi Smith had a glass each to give it a try. It's a sort of pineapple flavor. There are two or three imitations around, but they don't even come close. The Tiky ads used to say, "Para la gente bonita" -- for the beautiful people. So I tell folks that I want some so that I can get better looking.

Okay, here's my new Einstein look, created just today. Formula: Wash hair the night before; use minimal amount of gel to comb it the next morning; drive down the highway with windows open. Ta da! Simple as that!

James Rickenbach saw me and said, "Einstein!" Then he told us that Einstein had once said, "When I think of the universe, I think of myself; and when I think of myself, I remember that I need a comb."

My wife says that she likes the "dry look." Really, Love?
Guatemala 5 -- This is the church Rudy Solís and I attended this morning, in a mountain town called Mataquescuintla; also called Colís, the name most people use. The parsonage is at the left.

The original church was pretty short, only reaching to the brick arch that you see here. When Rudy pastored here a few years ago they extended to where the platform is now and added space on the left side of the new addition as well. He tells me that on Sunday evenings the sanctuary is full.

These fellows played for the congregational singing and gave us a special song at the close of the service. I don't think they're the regular musicians at the church. They left after the morning service to be elsewhere tonight, and then are going for a two-week tour in Petén in northern Guatemala.

Rudy called for a special time of prayer at the close of the service, and almost all the adult attendees came forward. After the service ended, three young men came expressing interest in studying in the Bible institute starting in January.

We had a tasty meal of "pollo con crema" (creamed chicken with rice) afterward. Here's Rudy with his plate of food. We also had Tiky to drink, but I didn't take another picture to show the regular bottle.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guatemala 3 -- Time to do a quick update on my Guatemala visit. I spent most of my waking hours in this classroom from Monday afternoon through Friday noon. Trying to get 35 class hours into four days will do that to you! Lee Rickenbach shot these pictures for me, both with available light. We were having a pretty good class discussion when he came in.

The fellow at front left in the gray shirt and the lady on the right sitting in the corner will graduate at the end of this month. With my class they both have more than enough to get their profesorado diplomas.

On Friday afternoon we dedicated the new ACE teacher training center. The heavy gray clouds threatened rain, but we only got a few drops at the very end of the two-hour service. The top of the two-story structure at the rear is a classroom and was part of what we were dedicating. The other portion is a large classroom in a building to the right. This year they're having school in the large classroom, but the church that is sponsoring the school is to have a place of their own in another year, and this will become a place to train teachers and supervisors for starting school in other churches.

The Smith Family: Granddaughter Heidi at the left, with Anna and Ronald. Money came from Anna and her sisters in memory of their mother to help finish the building and remodeling of the center. Heidi's parents, Douglas and Naomi Smith, have been missionaries in Mexico and are now working at Northwest Indiana Bible School.

James and Rachel Rickenbach cutting the ribbon near the start of the service.

Ronald and Anna Smith unveiling the plaque that will be placed in the center, which has been named for Anna's mother, Rachel Wiles. Ronald and Anna are finishing 30 years with Evangelistic Faith Missions and have served in Eritrea and in Bible schools in the U.S. They wrote EFM's centennial book and Faith Hemmeter's autobiography, and are now working on Irene Maurer's book.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Guatemala 2 -- This is Sunday night, and since tomorrow starts the heavy teaching schedule, I figured I'd get another update on here before my time gets squeezed too much. Click on the pix to make them larger.

The church shown here is our "central church" in Jalapa. The two-story affair on the corner is the pastor's residence, which is also serving as church offices and a meeting place for the district and regional pastors' groups. The church is the pinkish part on down the road from the house with the sort of swept-wing thing that rises on the far end. The sky here is cloudy, but the light is good, since this was scheduled to be a 5:00 service. Notice that I said, "scheduled to be." It was well after 5:30 before we got started.

We got a pretty good surprise tonight. When the pastor got up to preach, he instructed a certain group of people to assemble in one section of the church. I was totally puzzled. Turns out that the Jalapa church is releasing a group of 49 people to go start a church in another part of town, a neighborhood called "Las Panorámicas de Jumay" and it will become our 4th church in this small city. Here are the 36 that were present tonight, lined up in front of the altar.

The pastor gave a short message before having them come up, and there was also time for the national church president, the regional leader, and the district leader to make their comments. Interestingly, we missionaries were left out, except that we were invited to the platform as witnesses. This is THEIR church!

This photo captures the moment when the national church president actually pronounced the changeover for these people from the central church to their own congregation.

Members of the local church board and the leaders who had spoken had a time of prayer and went up and down the line laying hands on the various people.

Lee Rickenbach praying for José Alberto Rivas, a retired pastor who is living in that neighborhood and will be part of the church. He says he won't be pastoring, but will probably be helping out some.

Afterwards they had bread, coffee, and tamales. Sorry, those of you who would like food pix, but I was busy eating and didn't get a photo! The tamales were good, though. And like I told someone tonight, in less than two days here I've already about had it all: Tamale, chuchito, and tortillas. About all I lack now is a Tiky, my favorite soft drink here.
Guatemala 1 -- Arrived in Guatemala City yesterday afternoon and met up with Lee and Sharen Rickenbach. Went to a Mennonite place where they were staying so we could load up their purchases and then head for Jalapa. The Mennonite guest place is well laid out and nicely landscaped, as you can see. (I think the photos will enlarge if you click on them.)

For those who got my first e-mail, here's the way the two buildings are constructed, so that a person only has to worry about half-flights of stairs in going from one floor to another. Saves a lot of tiring climbing.

Here's a neat combination tree planter and garden bench.

Look at the gorgeous flowers that hang down along this outdoor corridor. Very nice!

Close-up of the flowers. I wonder if they're related to the orchid family, the way they grow.

We had a late lunch at a buffet, where they had the first chocolate fountain I've seen. Too bad the chocolate wasn't very high quality, like a Hershey or Dove brand.

Here's the San Juancito church that we visited this morning. It was a promo service for the Bible school and I preached. This is the congregation (the building is different) where I held my first revival meeting in Spanish in Feb. 1974, and there are people who still remember it.

In front of the building and again below, Aroldo Bocanegra, who was one of my students in the school years ago. He and some others make II John 4 come alive: "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth . . ."

Lee Rickenbach, urging the people to "pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers." He also made announcements about the school's upcoming activities and academic year.

Lee, Aroldo, and a student singing.

The congregation. The fellow in the orange shirt in the aisle and a guy in a black shirt behind him are taking up the tithes and offerings in bags fastened to the end of sticks. One bag is for tithe, the other for offering.

An "amiga," unsaved neighbor, wanted to have her three children dedicated. I don't know what others think about it, but I remember when our church here debated the issue back in the late 70s and we decided (I voted in favor) to allow such things, with the proviso that we make sure they understand that we don't believe this saves the child. Our hope is that it helps people take a step toward the Lord and that it gives God and the church an opening into their lives. Would it help any if we turned them away?

Delicious meal after the service: Chicken, vegetable soup (here called "caldo"), rice with chopped veggies cooked into it, Guatemalan style, tortillas (I ate 5), and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Yum!
I hope you've enjoyed this little journey through a couple of my days in Guatemala. I'll try to do this some more while I'm here, though I'll be very busy. Starting Monday I'm teaching a theology class that pretty much fills up the three middle days from morning to night, and fills big chunks of Monday and Friday, too.