Baptizing Together in the Malaysian River

Monday, September 2, 2013

Salvation through the Storm

After a 45-minute delay the lightening had ceased just long enough that the airline thought they could squeeze us out of DFW airport before the next wave of storms hit. They started calling classes onto the plane with almost no order at all, just trying to cram people on as fast as possible. After a killer delay (killer-when you have an international flight to catch at LAX ) we thought we were finally going to cart down the runway and off into the threatening skies...everyone was wrong. By the time our plane made it through the protracted line of airliners and onto the runway we hear over the speaker, “Hello there folks.” Only the sound of his breath as he pauses for dramatics, or out of fear that the cabin would be ransacked and his life taken for what he is to say next, “This is your captain.” More breathing, “Uuh-So the wind has shifted here and it has made it impossible for us to take off. We are going to wait here until the weather is suitable to depart. I’m sure it will only be a matter of minutes. Thank you for your patients.”

One hour later we had much more than the wind to deal with, the lightening was striking like camera bulb flashes as if Marilyn Monroe had just come back to life and was dancing on the tarmac, the thunder was crashing, and the skies were green. Everyone on the plane had their iPhones and iPads out and were keeping up with their personal weather apps hoping to see a break in the monstrous storm long enough to escape above the clouds. After another half hour of the wind yanking the plane back and forth and seeing what seemed to be funnel clouds sweeping over head the pilot finally squawked back on the intercom, “Okay, sorry about the delay but it looks like we are cleared for take off. Flight attendants, prepare the cabin for takeoff.” The atmosphere in the plane was accentuated with a mixed fragrance of overwhelming joy, that we were about to take off, and utter fear, that we were about to take off. Having our weather apps open we knew…they were about to sneak us off between storms!
Almost as soon as our wheels had left the runway, lightening filling the thick clouds we were darting towards, surrounded us. After a minute of severe turbulence we broke through the lower plain of clouds revealing a smooth, bump free, flying lane sandwiched between two ugly storms. It was beautiful; below us were clouds blasting the earth with wild lightening and above us were clouds also brilliantly lit up with lightening bolts. It was like we were stuck between the static electricity of a sock and the carpet, but the flight was much more smooth as we traveled further west and broke free of the incredible storm. It wasn’t until we made it to LAX that we found out we had escaped the same system that dropped 16 tornados in North Texas and one EF4 that landed in Granbury Texas leaving 6 deceased in its wake. I pray even now that God would be with their families and bring full restoration to their town. That tragic storm was certainly not the last obstacle that satan hurled our way on the trip, especially in the first 48 hours!
Once we made it to LAX we had no time to spare, we were fortunate that the leader of the trip had made a last minute change to our layover time in LAX from 45 minutes to 3½ hours, but even then we were full out sprinting from the domestic flights terminal to the international wing all gear in tow. We had just 20 minutes to get a team of 30 international students each with their 50-pound bags, let alone, instruments and suitcases full of props, games and charity items across the 6th busiest airport in the world, to the ticket counter and through security before the plane would leave us. On top of that we’d have to wait until the next morning to find out how we can get our tickets redeemed. Fortunately, my God is bigger, than satan and any delaying storm. They ended up holding the flight an unbelievable 45-minutes for us to board. If you have ever flown you would know that, that

But that night the FAA kept the security gates open an extra hour just for us and asked to delay our flight until our group made it on. Just as our morale could not get any higher our excitement was squashed as we learned of one major snag in LA. Although we all made it to the ticket counter, we did not all make it onto the jumbo jet. We had to leave two of our international students behind that night because their visas were not in complete order. It was like a punch to the gut and the wind was knocked out of us. So we had to make the 13-hour flight to Taipei, Taiwan without our Brazilian and Kenyan companions. I will repeat, though, My God is bigger. During our 2-hour layover in Taipei we got news that Mauricio (Brazilian chap) and Patrick (Kenyan chap) made it on the first flight out the next morning and would soon catch up. satan (not a mis-punctuation, though Word tried to autocorrect it three times) does all he can, when he is threatened, to dismantle the plans of God’s people, so you can imagine he wasn’t finished trying.            
After our 3-hour and 45-minute flight from Taipei to Bangkok we were more than ready to get out of the airplane and onto the mission field. Unfortunately, again, we were not all able to continue the plotted journey and we had another visa snag. We found out Jackie our Hispanic friend was not allowed beyond Thailand customs. We were all so thrilled (sarcasm) that they waited until we got to Thailand, 24-hours later, to tell a bunch of sleep deprived, Jesus lovin’ charismatics that their compadre couldn’t come into the country. So we did what any sleep deprived, Jesus lovin’ charismatics would do, we prayed. I will rejoice once again, MY GOD IS BIGGER, though sometimes He works in mysterious ways-HA TRUTH. We were told of a loophole, that if she flew into L*** (I cannot write this countries name on the internet due to the ministry we did and the lives it would risk there but if you look at a map…you can figure it out) and came in through the northern boarder she would have no trouble getting into Thailand. This worked out perfectly because the whole team was to travel northeast into L*** two days later. There was one more kink, our leader Mrs. Hobbs, the one who had done this trip back and forth for 15+ years had to go with her, being the only one who understood how to negotiate this situation. So we lost Jackie and our veteran leader, but God had us so much in His grip that He provided us a fantastic leader in another one of our Brazilian brothers Matheus who was the only other person on the trip who had taken the trip before. It was under his commanding leadership that we all successfully navigated Thailand and later made it into L***.

We all arrived at our first hotel of the trip wrecked and ready for a 16-hour comma, but when are you in Bangkok? Forget sleep…what should we do first… but EAT!? I know you are all so excited to hear about the food, and many pictures to come, but I will have to tell you about that in the next post. 

The following day Mauricio and Patrick arrived in Bangkok and with great celebration we went and picked them up from the airport. Two days later (much happened in those two days, but once more…that will have to wait for another post) we all drove 6 hours up to L***, took a bus across the boarder and for the first time over seas our whole team was finally united and complete. Ministry happened, souls were saved, satan continued to plot but for the remainder of the trip we all remembered those first 48 hours and knew what ever he tried to throw at us, that:


   More to come soon…

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our FAVORITE weather!

This Rainbow was soooooo bright and HUGE it went across the whole sky, it was a double rainbow too but i don't know if you can see it.

After the Big storm, it stayed overcast the rest of the day which is very rare for Arizona. Ben and I loved it!

This was the day before. The clouds were so huge and there was lightning flashing in those clouds. It was nice and cool with a breeze, it stormed later that night. This weather comes few and far between so Ben and I loved every minute of it.

The Dave Ramsey Show

Friday, September 3, 2010

Little Green Men

Lake Hava-Who?

On monday Stacy and I went with my parents (Stacy's parents in-law (yeah, that would make sense right?)) and Katie to Lake Havasu, Arizona. Located on the border of middle-of-nowhere and i'm-lost. Actually it's located in western Arizona, in fact, half of the lake sits in the state of California. We left early monday morning because Stacy and I actually had the same day off for a change...yeah, it was quite nice! We began our adventure with our family at around 8:45am. We were pulling out of the driveway as my mom said, "alright off we go" and my dad replied with "ok, I'll call OnStar" in which my mom responded, "WHY?" "I Don't Know, I thought it was a good idea..." "Not if we already know how to get there..." "..Ok...Can I still call OnStar??" HA. At about 8:48am the kidos in the back (by kidos in the back, I mean of course, Stacy and Katie.....ok and Ben) were getting antsy, so while we were fueling up at a gas station we made a purchase that changed the whole atmosphere of the trip, the movie Mars Attacks! For those of you who have seen this movie you know exactly what I am speaking of, for those of you who do not, I shall explain. Mars Attacks! is a movie about...yes...little green aliens with GIGANTIC brains who come to destroy the world as we know it!! Sadly but Amazingly this movie actually has a cast that is outta this world (no pun intended...ok maybe a little pun intended) Names such as:

Jack Nicholson (as two different characters!!), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, and TOM JONES(as himself)!!!!!!!!!

I know, I know..try to contain yourself....yeah, it was hard for me to do also! And that is what makes this movie SO amazing, BECAUSE IT IS SO HORRIBLE! You know these actor knew it was a piece of poop when they read the screen play and yet they still jumped in to make it, and Thus, A Masterpiece.

So there we were, driving through some VERY ominous mountain views and as we stared out the window at those sinister peaks creeping into the sky all we heard was this strange music, that in writing I can best describe as sounding like the letter W. Kinda like...wwwWWWwwwWWWWwwwwooooo. (AT THIS TIME, PLEASE FOLLOW THE YOUTUBE LINK ATTACHED.) Okay now you have a slightly better idea of what I was just trying to describe ha! As sci-fi (strange, this seems to be a reoccurring theme here in AZ.) as the scenes may have been the pictures that they were painting were non-the-less BEAUTIFUL! Especially when we came upon the Colorado River rushing at the feet of the gargantuan mountains. It's moments like that where you feel like if you reach out your hand and your finger tips would cause a ripple in the plain between you and the vision of Heaven.

We were getting close to the lake but the heat ended up being too much for our GPS to handle so she (she because it's a woman's voice) just gave up on us and told us to go on solo. Without a single lament my dad continued by saying, "OnStar?" and that was enough to resurrect our GPS. I think she was a little insulted to be replaced so easily, because once we had finally made it to the city of Havasu and were driving towards the lake she made us take every left and right turn possible so to make the last leg of the trip as long as possible. After about the sixth weave and wind away from our objective conclusion, we turned her off and just figured if we drive towards the lake, we'll be okay. Two minutes later we arrived at the lake.

As we got close to the water we were welcomed by a very famous bridge but not for domestic reasons, it was more well know as the bridge leading into the great city of London, England. Before the bridge was brought to America by a rich entrepreneur (Robert Paxton McCulloch) in 1911-77, its stones were best known for the blood that stained them. Back in 1577, to deter treason, the English patrons would display several impaled heads, sticking up off the sides of the bridge and at the city's gate. They would dip the heads in tar so to preserve the heads for long term exhibition. Specific heads belonged to well know people such as: William Wallace, Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell! So you can imagine our intrigue when we were crossing that very same bridge hundreds of years later. You know sometimes I wish Stacy and I could have that much money, (rich snotty accent) "Stacy my dear, I'm Bored, Perhaps I'll Buy the London Bridge and Reconstruct it in the Middle of the Desert somewhere." -Ok, maybe not.

Finally we made it to the lake and we were in search for the best tool in which to take the most advantage of this wondrous puddle. So we walked down the dirt sidewalk that followed the exterior of the lake until we came across a spate of booths renting out skidoos and boats. So of course, we checked one of them out, and then another, and then another. My dad has this strange delusion the he is Monty Hall from "Let's Make a Deal" and that when given the opportunity he can get a better deal, or just make the situation so convoluted that when he is finished, the sales person is yelling, "I JUST WANT TO STAY WITH DOOR ONE!" (FUN FACT: if you are ever given three doors to choose from, one having a great prize like a Jet Airplane and the other two have donkeys (which I think would also be a COOL prize!)one is opened to reveal one ass excuse-me donkey and you are presented with the opportunity to switch or stay, you should ALWAYS instantly trade in a 1/3 chance of being right to a 2/3 chance of being correct...and them odds, I like!) Anyways, so my dad went to one booth sent me to the next booth to do a little reconnaissance and Katie to the next, so to make sure we got THE BEST DEAL POSSIBLE. Come to find out they all charge the same...and they don't like 1960's game shows! So to the pain of my father's bargaining philosophies we rented a boat for the price on the board, but to be fair he did get us an extra hour and a wake I guess he DID do prutty good.

So we headed out onto the high seas....OH YEAH.....WAIT...back it up!


HA, YEEEAH I KNOW, LAME. So we were standing at one of the boat booths and talking to the man about how cheep we could get a boat for the most hours possible when I heard, and felt, this buzzing inside my shirt. Anxious, I realized it was a BEE! Calmly, I lifted the sleeve of my shirt to let it fly out.

Anxious Calmly Raced to Pang. The little bugger STUNG ME! So I was super excited about this omen presented over my day! Stacy was a really good nurse though, with a little kiss to my arm instant healing fell over my body; I swear, She is not Human...I honestly believe she is an Angel..My Angel.

There I was, sitting behind the boat my board perpendicular to the watercraft waiting for the throttle to be kicked into gear. First attempt, I move my board into position, keeping my tips up, then I slowly sank strait into the water. Second attempt, again up on the board, standing in accordance to the physical laws of the sport, and again sank faster than a chicago mobster with bricks tied to his ankles. I yelled up to my dad, "Hey, go faster!" he yelled back, "Um that's almost full throttle!" I then replied, "So go full throttle!" HA! Third attempt, my arms were yanked out of their sockets as I shot up to my feet and skimmed across the top of the water almost as if I were not even touching the surface. The boat was so old and SO awful that literally a millimeter was all that separated the boat from being a sloth, like an actually sloth (the animal), or from being Sloth, the character for the movie The Goonies. It was either this creature that had no aspirations or consideration to use more energy than it had to, or it was this beast that had no self control at all using raw power to propel me through the water with such force as to taunt my ability to stay on my feet for more than 30 seconds. As long as you were tethered behind Sloth you wanted to do your best not to fall because if you had the unfortunate opportunity to experience your foredooming death it would have come on your back...while skipping across the waves of the 70 miles an hour. The oman of the Bee visited when I fell for the first time and realized the water we were skimming over was only 3 feet deep, SERIOUSLY, and I slammed into the solid bottom straight on my head. I came up saying, "Uuuuuh ooooohh uuuuuuh rrrrrrmmmmrmr" (those are pain groans.) I then climbed into the boat and gave someone else the chance to see a glimpse of the afterlife.

The trip really wasn't bad at all actually, I'm just over dramatizing it for the sake of the blog. We had a GREAT time! Stacy, Katie and I tubed a lot. My dad like a REEEETARD jumped behind the Sloth waring water skis and wouldn't get out of the water until I took him for a ride or two. I hear what your thinking, AND I AGREE, OF COURSE THAT WAS A BAD IDEA! But he seemed to enjoy it even though he might have regretted it afterwards. On our approach to the boat ramp to drop off the boat we all fell forward as the boat came to a sudden stop and we heard what sounded like a can of green beans going through the garbage disposal. The trim got into a fight with some rocks and the rocks won. We were freaking out as we were getting pulled out of the water and the man looked at the propeller and saw that it looked like an alligator came and bit a chunk out of the metal, sadly there were no alligators in this lake that we could blame. The man looked at the trim then looked at us then back at the trim, my dad was in a cold sweat knowing that the sucker cost $800 dollars to replace as they made us so aware at the beginning of the trip. The man then proceeded to say, "Hey Jason (his partner) come over hear at take a look at what we didn't see here today." Jason looked and said, "D*** that blade really got chewed up! No worries sir we'll go ahead a change that out before we get back to the boat house." We were relived to find out the two men who took us out that day were the chief mechanics of the boats and were two men we had really befriended earlier, so they went ahead and fixed the problem for us so not to keep us sweating.

Needless to say it was an eventful trip. As we pulled off into the sunset my dad said, "Onstar?" My mom quickly replied, "Please!" and we were off for a quiet ride home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"God Help us all"

Every once in a while every body in this world has a moment of, "God Help Us All!" But if you have ever worked in the food service industry (or coffee service industry for that matter) you have experienced this moment more often than not. A moment where you look at someone and listen to their demands and all you are thinking in your head is "really?"..."REALLY?" The fact that you thought, No one could possible get more selfish than the last person I helped. And then you realize you were wrong, dead wrong. Point in case, Stacy had a "God help us all" moment today when a customer complained to the manager about having to wait for a table for four minutes...yes FOUR WHOLE MINUTES! OOOOH THE ATROCITY!! Stacy (and this is extremely humorous if you know my Stacy) in her anger and desire to blow up took her rage to a piece paper rather than blowing up at the customer and really putting them into their place (where i think they belong anyways, In Their Place.) And so the picture attached to this blog is evidence of Stacy's thoughts on how sad this country has gotten. Something as simple enough as food and people can't help but whine about having to wait a few measly minutes to receive their opportunity to eat! And as she states in her letter to God, there are people in the majority this world who wont even get the opportunity to eat today and in most cases this whole week! How sick are we? If you make a Latte with 2% rather than Non-Fat milk, the person will ask you to pour out their drink and make another one, and they expect you to give them a free coffee for their trouble! Who are these people!? Are They Serious?? When did we get SO inconsiderate?? One last instance, as if we need it, At Starbucks we have a Collection Box for non-perishable food to help support the Phoenix Rescue Mission, we've been collecting for 3 weeks and we only have 2 weeks left to collect food and do you know what all we have sitting inside the box? Wadded up receipt paper and several straw wrappers!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!?!?! Come On People, REALLY??

"God Help Us ALL!!"

So if you are reading this blog, Stacy and I challenge You, Show someone, today, some compassion. Whether it's at a T.G.I.Fridays, Starbucks or even at a local grocery know what, maybe, just on a sidewalk somewhere when you see someone drop some change, take every moment you have to brighten up someone's day. Really it's as simple as eye contact, a smile, and gentle words in response. I promise that's all it takes and it makes the WORLD a difference to us "minimum wage" folks. And if you see someone in need don't hesitate to jump in and touch a life. Pay-It-Forward it such a wonderful model on how to make a difference. Someone is just short in their wallet to pay for their groceries, step up and act, help them out. If every one practiced that way of life one day it will come back to you, but don't do it for that reason.

Not to pat ourselves on the back, but more so as an example of how awesome this girl was and how people respond to a good and genuine attitude: Stacy and I drove up to a Taco Bell (our first treat to ourselves in the month and a half of our marriage lol) at midnight to find a drive-thru line wrapping around the building. Knowing that this particular Taco Bell closes at 1:00 am we pulled up to the talk box expecting to hear a dry, unpleased voice on the other side more eager to leave than to take our order, but it was quite on the contrary. This bubbly and excited voice came from the other side with no purpose at that time other than to serve us a delicious and over priced Quesadilla. We pulled up to the window to find this girl rocking out to Lady GaGa and enjoying her job regardless of the fact that she was closing in 45 minutes and had a line around the building (and I didn't ignore the math, I know 12-1 isn't 45 minutes but by the time we got to the window she only had 45 minutes left on her shift.) Because she was as happy as millionaire but only making minimum wage Stacy and I decided we ought to make her night by tipping her. You tip at Starbucks for someone to push a button to get a single espresso so why not tip someone when they actually deserve it and are expressing a Genuinely Kind and Loving Attitude? Because that girl didn't get frustrated or treat her customers like robots rather than fellow human beings she left with a few more dollars in her pocket that hour.

So why can't we take "God Help Us All" to "Thank You Lord, For All Our Blessings!"?

We CAN! But it starts with YOU! I think Stacy and I have 6 people following this blog total, but you know what, that's plenty! If the six reading this blog right now pass on Love to six who in turn pass on Love to six, can you imagine the power that concept TRUELY has!?!? It's Unbelievable! So please, Stacy and I make you This Promise, We will take every opportunity we receive to show Love to the People we usually overlook, But we want you to make that same Promise. Love the Un-Lovable. Touch a Life. Live with Purpose. Make a Difference. And if you see a box asking for non-perishables, go one step further, take the initiative and go cook a meal for those in need.
We Love You All.
Remember, God Is Love.