The month is over. The page is still under construction. The words are there. Pictures are being added. Expect Delays.
Week of January 1 - 7
The New Year starts on a Sunday and finds us back in our other home church at Way of the Cross in Harlingen, Texas. It’s just a walk across the property from our borrowed motor home. No need to warm up the car and turn on the seat and steering wheel warmers. There would be no need for that in any case, but I’ve been rebuked by captives of the frozen north for dwelling on how warm it is here compared to back home. So maybe I’ll talk about it less.
What better way to start the year than by hearing good Nicaraguan style preaching from Oscar Brooks.
After church we trekked across the property and had the honour to share the baptism of Corbin by his father Michael. Then lunch.
At lunch we discussed a two-week trip to Nicaragua starting in late January. The trip would be on Spirit Airlines who have resumed flying back into Managua from Houston. Spirit Airlines’ business model is to quote ridiculously cheap air fares and then nibble the total up to something comparable to the competition by sneaky fees. You can carry a “personal item” for free but a carry-on has a steep price as does stowed luggage. I am willing to play that game to win. Their personal item is bigger than what is allowed on other airlines. There is a cottage industry supplying bags conforming to Spirit Airlines for relatively low prices. I ordered one on Amazon after lunch. We travel with just carry-on luggage and a smallish personal item already. This is doable! Particularly with the emotional risk of losing money to a fee. People are more focussed on avoiding a loss than getting a win. I’m a people.
Then we headed to the beach on South Padre Island. I checked the antifreeze level in the reservoir before we left. It seems unchanged. Maybe the leak is in a heater core. Maybe later in the week we can run the heater one night briefly to see if that makes a difference. Stop gloating about the warmth, Paul. I’m told that one of my many worst features is gloating.
Out to the freeway to turn at the Los Fresnos exit. We stopped briefly at the Walmart in Los Fresnos. How can it be that the same chain a few miles apart can be so different. Harlingen Walmart is always chaotic, messy and disorganized. Los Fresnos couldn’t be more different. The road work is still ongoing on the way through Los Fresnos. What a difference nine months doesn’t always make. Port Isabel traffic was slow, as well which gave us a chance to enjoy the Christmas decorations and the palm trees. Things sped up once we were on the bridge to South Padre Island. Hardly had time to enjoy the pelicans the signs warn you to watch for.
As we neared the beach the phone rang. We pulled into beach parking and discussed that others had figured out that once you pay for two pieces of luggage and a carry on, flying out of Houston on Spirit Airlines would cost the same as flying out of Harlingen on Southwest. You may remember them from Christmas 2022 if you follow the news, but I digress. I gave my passport details and we went to walk on the beach handing out curved illusion tracts as we went. When we had enough of the kick from the negative ions from the surf and did I mention the warm air, we drove home for supper and a quiet evening.
We were blessed by hearing Oscar preach at Monday’s chapel at the WOTC warehouse.
He launched from 2 Samuel chapter 1:20-23
Here are my notes which only give a taste of the teaching:
We are going to find David as he cries over his friend Jonathon and David’s king/nemesis Saul
David had a friend from this family. A wife from this family and yet is an enemy of the family.
Vs. 23. Inseparable in life and death…
The father tried to kill the son several times yet leaned on him. They were close although Jonathan was anointed of God and Saul was demon possessed.
That which you attach to in life will bring you down in death.
Be careful what you make yourself inseparable to because when it dies you die. When people you are attached to go down you go down.
Be careful what you attach to. Not talking about husbands & wives - you made that choice long ago.
David would play music for Saul and demons would flee Saul but come back when David was not there playing music. Demons fleeing the music not Saul.
David would come into Saul’s life but never became inseparable.
Jehoshaphat was an example of inseparable in life inseparable in death.
Abraham avoided becoming inseparable from Lot.
Your source of everything good in your life is God. Choose him to be attached to.
After chapel I took apart a directional valve from a Bob Cat loader that Byron and Russell are overhauling. Byron and I ran a few errands together and then I ran a few on my own for Byron. I tried to locate a new seal for the directional valve. The likeliest sources were closed as a carryover from New Year’s. One store that was open could bring a kit of assorted deals for $113 to get the one seal needed. Maybe we’ll resort to that tomorrow after checking with the other possibilities. Juanita helped prepare under the tent for giveaways tomorrow and the drive through food bank on Wednesday.
Oscar is tied up with a funeral today so Ben gave a brief message based in Ezekiel 36: 24-29 with emphasis on verse 26 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
It is the time of New Year’s resolutions. Most are carnal like lose weight and that’s okay in its way. But versus regular resolutions pray for a new heart. Jesus said I will send you a comforter, the Holy Spirit. A lot of times we don’t listen to the Holy Spirit. We should. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God within us.
After chapel I called the closest source of a new seal. Then picked it up and installed it in the directional valve. I got caught up on some phoning I had to do back to Canada and to Houston. That took awhile but it out of the way. The first call costs me $C3 but then free calls for the next 24 hours. It makes sense to batch calls. I ran some errands and kibbitzed the work on the Bob Cat loader but didn’t do much else because my leg had been bothering me for the last two days.
Saturday the checkout lines at Sam’s were backed up into the aisles. We only shopped we didn’t buy. In the shopping we learned that they only have eggs come in Tuesdays and Thursday. Today when we went for eggs and some other items there were no lines to speak of.
Last night my leg had kept me awake a lot so we went to bed early.
Going to bed early last night and sleeping better because my leg was hurting less meant I woke up early.
There was no internet connection working but I got up and did a couple of hours of offline keyboarding. I had not managed to get the furnace working yet. It was cold so I went back to bed until the alarm went off. I tried a few more things with the furnace and got it blowing cold air then the gas line had purged enough. The furnace ignited and blew hot air. We are all ready for the next cold night.
My leg is almost pain free today and more flexible. Despite not being slowed down by my leg we just barely arrived to chapel on time.
Oscar Brooks spoke, launching from 2 Samuel 24:20. These are my poor notes of his rich talk.
Going to find the great time of the census when David committed that grievous sin that cost the lives of 70,000 people.
Want to discuss something that is relevant to this present generation.
One more passage, in parallel, 1 Chronicles 21:20 This character is a Jebusite not a Jew yet he is quick to do things to please God
This Jebusite knows there is a pandemic happening. The place is paralyzed due to death of 70,000 people yet the work has to go on. You find him out at his threshing floor not hiding because the work has to be done. They have to thresh the wheat, or it will spoil.
As the Lord will have it. The day they were there the angel of the Lord hovered over them. The boys hid themselves, but Araunah didn’t. Somebody had to face it.
One reason maybe was that he was heroic. Another reason maybe it was a certain age group affected by this plague. Maybe the boys hid because the boys were of an age at risk.
What a blessing to be put in a position to be able to take care of things that need doing.
The gospel cannot be stopped. No matter what, the gospel must be preached. That’s what you are on earth to do.
Paul was in prison could have said that’s it for mission work. But he turned to writing and based on that we are blessed by his letters.
Araunah says go ahead take the cattle maybe we are all going to die.
If we are attacked by an existential threat it is time to put aside our differences and stand together. Araunah doesn’t bargain for the sale of his cattle under the circumstances.
Let God be key in how you deal. Let Araunah be an example of when Godly people come together.
I believe we are in a time to put aside our differences with believers coming together.
After Oscar spoke and chapel ended we headed to our various tasks. Cars were already lined up waiting for the gate to open to give them access to the drive through food bank. I worked at the tent getting food packages ready and loading them into cars. Juanita helped direct traffic and helped load the cars with the produce that was being handed out by the exit of the property.
After work we did some shopping and went home to set up the hoses for dumping the motor home’s black and gray water waste tanks. What was there wouldn’t work. We went to Walmart and bought hoses and other stuff that had accumulated on the Walmart list. Back at home we finished hooking up hoses and then dumped the tanks. They weren’t full but we were there so might as well.
Then supper and a quiet evening. Today was more exercise than we have had for a while. Some LED lamps came in today. There are no more flickering lamps in the coach. Poco a poco.
In chapel Oscar spoke on James 4:1-9. I kept reasonably good notes of his talk on my email app. After the talk I clarified with him, something he had said and corrected my noes and failed to hit send. Hours later when I looked at my phone the app had eaten my text. So what follows is what I remember of Oscar’s chapel talk. I don’t do Facebook. It is for old people (;😉) but was told his daily talks are on the WOTC Facebook page.
Back to James. Especially verse 7. “Resist the devil and he will flee” (an aside nothing to do with what Oscar said. In the spirit of inclusivity perhaps “and she will flee” would be in the most modern translations. But I digress.)
Consider the porcupine. It is not strong but it can resist. It covers up its vulnerable parts (face and belly). It is tasty and desirable for other animals to eat but they learn to not try. Even a lion learns.
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. He answered “It is written”, “It is written”, “It is written”. Satan probably still regrets the attempt.
Kids at a party not resisting devil when they say I went but didn’t drink or do drugs. They are just being stupid. If you keep putting yourself in temptation you will fail.
Build up the word in your heart so you can respond to evil. Resist evil, by getting close to God.
After chapel I added some Bondo to the Bobcat cab roof until the painting of the main assembly was about to happen. I ran errands which became a total time suck. Multiple stops, each with its own line. When I got back people were headed for lunch so I found Juanita sweeping out the chapel and we joined them.
Back at the Bobcat I realized the paint fumes were not terrible where I was working compared to the painting. I could have stayed. Live and learn.
Near the end of the day a truck took out the overhead wires to the tent. Fixing that consumed the rest of the working day.
We came home. I vegged briefly and rehydrated. I fought with the A/C controls. Just couldn’t sneak up on it and get it running. We had the door open. I tried to get the screen door closed but it had been caulked open. I dug out the caulk on the door edge and track and got the door almost all the way across and realized other mods had been made so the screen door will never function again. Add replacing the caulk to my mental list.
Meanwhile back at the hot coach the penny drops. I’d say “the light came on”, but it couldn’t. Neither could the A/C. there was no power to the coach. I go to the power post. Tester shows buzz on cable. Go to check plug into coach. It falls out. Wasn’t plugged in all the way. Plug it in. Hear A/C start. Water heater fires up nearby. I look closer. The locking ring that is supposed to hold the plug is still tight to receptacle. I unplug plug. All the happy noises inside the coach cease again. Unscrew locking ring and wrestle it onto the plug. Probably not wisest practice with live plug but I survived. There’s a recipe for safety disaster.
On to whack to next mole. The furnace. I lose wi-fi on my phone while watching RV furnace videos and switch to watching them on the laptop.
Then to bed. Visions of ignitors dance through my head.
Right after breakfast I go outside with a Styrofoam coffee cup. The furnace lights fine if the cup is held to mostly restrict the combustion air intake for the furnace. That proves the relays, the sail switch and the gas valve are all okay. Must be a maladjusted ignitor or something creating a lean mixture. See you later, furnace.
Oscar launched his chapel talk from Jeremiah 39:3
Nergal-sharezer, Rab-mag at the gate. I want you to remember that name.
Verse 13 There he is again. I want you to remember that one. The Rab-mag.
Christmas is over. Its celebration is over but us Latinos like to celebrate. But there’s another day. Today, the day of the Magi, not really the day they showed up but the day they are celebrated.
They came from the east. Led by the Lord. I want to bring out the background. The pre cursor of the magi, the Rab-mag, head of the magi at the time. Mixture of a prophet and sorcerer
Didn’t come to give. Came to take, to kill and destroy. Not like the later magi. By the rivers of Babylon we will hang up our harps. When Nebuchadnezzar built statue, resulting in Daniel and the lion’s den.
The Rab-mag was counsellor to king. His son in law. When Nebuchadnezzar died the Rab-mag killed his brother in law and became king.
Daniel was a remnant of Israel they thought they had destroyed.
Nebuchadnezzar went made and ate grass.
The evil Rab-mag will have to face the king of kings
There are people who come to the Lord as takers. e.g. feeding of the five thousand then later “you follow me because I feed you”. Disciples said it was harsh. Peter said bread of life.
Those magi came to give. I sense the drawing to God in this year. If you want something from God come to give. Come with an attitude of giving.
This Rab-mag is an obscure character now in hell, but we celebrate the Magi who came to give. Some how they grasped some thing that Israel didn’t and came to worship the Baby and give.
Juanita worked the food line and I helped Byron and Russell with the Bobcat.
In the evening I pulled the furnace and found a small chunk of crud partially restricting the orifice. A wire pulled out of a connector in the process of removing the furnace from its cave under the stove. Also, the ancient ducting needs some repair where it connects to the furnace. I’ll buy the parts tomorrow.
Saturday we were up early for breakfast. I dropped Juanita at the laundromat and ran errands to collect the items on my diminishing list of necessities and the day’s supplies for the battle against deferred maintenance on our borrowed motor home. Back from that we called some friends up the valley on Facetime. They hadn’t responded to texts. They are older than us. The older generation tends to use phones. The younger texts. We use both. Don’t know if that means we are between young and old, misfits, confused, weird…
Our friends did respond to Facetime. We set a time to meet allowing me time to reassemble and test today’s repairs and have a shower. I started the day with a shower, but it doesn’t last long in the heat and humidity if you’re working. Did I mention it is warm here although I hear they are having a warm spell back home. Almost above freezing. Way to go.
After we found their home and visited, we went for a long lunch until the restaurant was shutting down for the weekend and we left before they kicked us out. I suffered from a reach impediment so next time it’s our turn to pay. Means we will have to make sure there is a next time.
Costco was its Saturday best. Busy but not too crowded. Lots of try-me’s. We bought a couple of Costco only items and went next door to Lowes to buy a tool that would have been nice to have last night. The nice to have once a year tool that I have at home but not here this morning when I could have used it, I didn’t buy. I did a work around that the next fellow will curse me for but that’s life.
A not as brief as it could have been stop at Walmart later and we were on our way on a secondary highway toward home. Once we were beyond the construction zone chaos of the 281 interchange we found the freeway back to Harlingen. Juanita went into HEB while I filled the water bottle. I assured her I had change for the machine. Nope. I went in and found her. Got a quarter for the machine. Came back out. Price has changed to thirty cents. I tried a credit card. Nope. I waited for her to come out with a nickel.
Home. Snacked a bit. Both of us still stuffed from lunch.
End of a busy week. Probably won’t write up each week like this other than summaries of Oscar’s chapel devotionals. Speaking of summaries. Here is a video report from Way of the Cross for the week. If you watch closely, you might catch a few cameo’s of us working the drive through food bank line.
Week of January 8 -14
In church Ben gave a summary of the results of the ministry as mined from the last year’s weekly updates. This ministry is small in numbers of people but has been used in a mighty way for the kingdom in the past year.
After lunch we drove to Boca Chica and a drive by of Elon Musk’s Starbase. It is much more developed than our first drive by photo shoot several years back.
We were home by dark for a quiet evening.
Habakkuk 3 was Oscar’s starting point. This is one of those famous chapters when the Bible is talking about things not going well. Verse 1 – “upon Shigionoth” interesting word nobody knows exactly what it means. Also found in Psalm 7 in the title. Also implies things not going well. Means wondering. In Psalms usage is singular. On Habakkuk use is plural. Used when concentrating on prayer and worship.
People pray differently. On knees. Walking. Alone. With music in background. Here in Habakkuk the prayer is in song. Not vain repetition.
When you are looking at God and relating to him. God is saying different things in different parts of scripture to draw you in. Most husbands are not romantic but wives appreciate the effort. If not romantically inclined and bring flowers, it’s like Fourth of July. If you are and bring them every Thursday after fifteen years of every Thursday, then not so much excitement. Habakkuk is saying here is a way to communicate with God.
With the new year we are saying give us a new way to praise you.
Take a new donkey …
Find something. If you are a person who normally prays at night, try praying in the morning…
Teach me a new way to praise you
After chapel I worked on cutting some metal strips for the Bob Cat roof grill to be mounted to while Byron & Russell went to change water heaters at the motel. I did the last of the Bondo on cab roof. Juanita helped with sorting stuff for distribution.
Oscar began speaking at the daily devotional with Exodus 4:14 Going to talk about speakers which doesn’t always go well. It’s a gift that God doesn’t give to everyone
Here is a guy who is saying I’m not a good speaker. Not a mute but a shepherd who’d been around sheep for forty years. No need to speak.
God’s angry at the one who doesn’t want to speak. Is not Aaron your brother? God tells Moses that He knows Moses ability.
Acts 4:21 Another character with great speaking ability. The same people who went against Jesus are now going against Paul.
Isaiah 3:3 … and the eloquent speaker… Considered one of greatest speakers in Bible
2 Samuel 14:2 Joab hires this woman so she will speak to the king
Aaron can speak. Apollos was used mightily by God. Aaron was led by the Lord
Politicians are supposed to be the mouthpiece of the people.
Aaron & Moses teamed together with Aaron able to express what Moses meant
Some good speakers can be used wrongly. The skill comes from God. But used based on motivation of speaker. e.g. motivated by money to speak against Paul.
Hitler apparently was a great speaker who could sway whole country with evil motivations. Long dead but some his junk is still here. Fidel Castro was great orator. Could speak for hours. To promote evil. We can find examples of great speakers all the way to the right or left but…
In Christianity today we have some great speakers in different groups. Some of them can convince people of error. You need to listen with understanding. Why am I listening to this? What is true here? Some are motivated wrong. Some are confused.
The moment you listen to something that sounds good the first question to ask yourself “is it Biblical?” Listen to the motivation. The doctrine. Look at the heart and the life and brokenness. It is not about the ability it’s about the motivation. Does it come from God?
Become a discerning person.
After chapel I started installing wheel studs on the Bob Cat. Russell joined me in that. We were mostly done when the paint fumes drove me away. Russell found other useful stuff to do in the area. I went and worked at putting balancing beads in the two rear tires on our car. Jack up one wheel. Remove tire. Install spare. Empty air from tire. Install beads. Replace valve with filtered valve. Put tire in trunk. Drive to tire shop on spare. Get tire filled with nitrogen. Remove spare. Mount tire. Repeat process with second tire.
Juanita helped with food bank line prep for tomorrow’s drive through. We stopped at Sam’s on the way home for a quiet evening. I fell asleep early, reading and woke at 2:30.
Oscar Brooks started speaking this morning with 1 Samuel 20:1
He said he had a heavy heart. His mother is in the hospital in bad shape.
What you’re going to find here is a scripture on the ability of people of breaking their own patterns. I want to explore something that is happening here with Saul.
We are looking at a pattern
David has a conversation with Jonathan. They are best friends. It is strange to be best friends with son and enemies with the father. Verse 2 - listen to what Johnathan says about his dad. Dad doesn’t do things without talking to me. How can he be trying to kill you.
Johnathan is wrong. David says you may not know it but it’s happening. He doesn’t tell you because we are best friends.
2 Sam11:16 Another scripture about David. Not a good time. Trying to cover up his sin.
They can predict the conversation because they know David’s patterns.
But he didn’t react. Uriah died but David takes it calmly. David is a man of war he knows how things work. He knows it is a bad decision. Joab says when he starts to get angry say “Uriah died”.
David broke his pattern when he took up with another man’s wife. He sent the orders that Uriah must die with Uriah.
David had some good patterns like caring for his troops. A way to break a good pattern is to have a hidden agenda. Saul had a good relationship with his son. They did things together and talked things out. David says something profound what is going to happen to Jonathan.
Saul knows he can’t tell Jonathan that he is going to kill his friend. Saul had broken his pattern because he had something to hide.
Jesus had a habit of getting up early. His disciples knew where he would be at that time.
Daniel had a habit of praying three times a day with his windows open Guys want to get to him. They look for hidden things and find nothing. They discover his pattern and went to the king to issue a decree so Daniel would run afoul of the decree.
I would rather have a good pattern from God than to have hidden sin.
How does this apply to you?
1. When you have a good pattern. Stick to it. I pray you have a Godly pattern. There will be all sorts of things that come up against it.
2. Be careful that in the process of serving God you have pure motives.
Patterns inform but they don’t tell everything.
After chapel Juanita helped with the food line. I ran errands for Bob Cat parts, had some hydraulic hoses made, etc.
Back home I talked to our daughter on the phone, repaired a light and a window. After showers and dinner, we did some shopping and filled the water jugs. The tap water here is safe but not the best tasting. There are water bottle filling stations in supermarket and gasoline station parking lots throughout the area.
I started the day replying to an e-mail about a possible job in Regina in April. Hat’s in the ring. We’ll see how that works out. There are a few hoops to jump through. A police check is required. I used to leave a filled-out form to be dropped off in the spring for processing. One year it could be done online. We’ll see what the current process and logistics have to be.
Oscar spoke beginning with Exodus 4:18
Moses has been told to go back to Egypt. He’s been gone for 40 years. 40 years is a long time to be away
19 - want to remember that, “all the men who wanted you dead are gone”
Matthew 2:19- The Lords earthly parents fled with the child to Egypt. Now, “For they are dead who sought the child’s life”
David & Goliath one of famous Bible stories Goliath from Gath. Not a Philistine ethnically but he represents them. The giants had always fought Israel. Goliath name means exile. He is trying to exile them. An intimidating force. Had challenged Israel for forty days. They trembled in fear and one person rose up again
Satan’s job is to exile you away from what God has given you. Your family. Your calling.
Moses is called by God to deliver Israel. Is trying to do it and kills an Egyptian and becomes an exile. A shepherd. For forty years he is exiled from his tribe, his land, his calling. He doesn’t have much to do with God. Doesn’t circumcise his children. God says go back.
He has a good life with no stress but God says go back. If you don’t want a struggle you will accomplish nothing. Sometimes things take you away from where God wants you and then God tells you to stop being an exile and go back.
When baby Jesus was born Herod went after him. Parents had to flee. Then angel appears and says go back
God has a way of making things able to be accomplished.
Joseph was great at being obedient to God. Changed history.
Herod had been like Goliath trying to exile.
What have you been moved away from and God is saying for you to go back and fulfill your calling?
After chapel, Byron and I went to Home Depot in Brownsville to buy supplies for a team of volunteers that are coming to help. One item on the list was 24 sheets of ¾” pressure treated plywood. While Byron paid for that and some corrugated plastic and got the runaround over a forklift to load the plywood, I puttered at assembling the rest. The runaround gave me enough time to find everything and load it on three trolleys.
We stopped at the Home Depot in Harlingen and picked up the four additional sheets of corrugated plastic that the Brownsville location was short. While Byron bought the plastic I went across the parking lot and bought a couple of hamburgers. We dropped the trailer of supplies close to where it they can be lifted to the roof tomorrow. The ceiling tiles stayed on the truck to be unloaded at the training center.
I helped Byron for a while sorting out the reassembly of some linkages on the Bob Cat.
On the way home we stopped at Sam’s for frozen yogurt.
Juanita helped me unload the ceiling tile from the truck. Nine boxes of eight 2x4 tiles and one box of three. What a minute! For some weird brain bubble reason I had told the checkout clerk there were 21 boxes and I seem to remember her entering that and not scanning each box. At $45 a box that is a significant senior moment. I had given Byron the receipt and the card back. I phoned. Yup. 21.
The Home Depot manager said to come in tomorrow when the loss prevention officer is on duty and we’ll sort it out. I know the first action item on my tomorrow.
Oscar spoke in chapel starting with 2 Kings 25:27
I want you to remember there. The life and death of the last king of Judah before the captivity in Babylon
Verse 30 - a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life - zero in on that phrase all…
Jeremiah 52:31, 32 … until his death, all the days of his life.
Jehoiachin was a captive in jail. Jail today in America doesn’t compare to jail then. New king came in and removed from jail and fed him from his table
Jeremiah described death 2 Kings described life up to death One talks about last day. Other talks about the life up to death
God is saying there is a big difference between living and waiting to die. There are entire generations of people waiting to die. Israelites came out of Egypt and wandered the desert until they died.
Ephesians 5:15 “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Four lepers surrounded by armies. We have a choice. We are dying anyway. If we go in, we will starve. If we go to the army, they may kill us but we are going to die anyway. Why sit we here until we die? Powerful existential question.
Ask ourselves why do we stay in a situation and wait to die? The Lord describes the life of Jehoiachin in the jail.
It matters what I do. It only matters if I’m not waiting to die.
Even a man who was living in jail was expected to live his life.
After chapel the young men started to unload the trailer and move materials to the roof until they were needed to help with the drive through food bank. I went to Brownsville and sorted out the bill at the Home Depot and bought two more boxes of tile. Enough to finish the first two rooms of the office at the training center. Good thing. It was all that I could squeeze into the Hyundai.
Juanita helped in the food bank line. I helped a bit with the Bob Cat, attaching the roof grill and fabbing an extension to the throttle handle for Byron to weld on.
We went to an early showing of a Man Called Otto the new Tom Hanks film. Sad. Either a two or three hankie movie.
No Alarm morning. Usually wake up well before the alarm, read for a while and get up and wake Juanita when the alarm goes off. Today I went back to sleep and woke up again at the unprecedented time of 7:20. Juanita was already up.
After breakfast, Juanita took the laundry to the laundromat and I had a shower and puttered at e-mail and website narrative.
Perhaps after lunch we’ll go to Nuevo Progreso. It’s been a few years. We want to scope it out before our granddaughter shows up in February.
We did go to Nuevo Progreso. Stopped along the way and checked the wheel lug nut torques from the wheels re and re’ed last week. They were all tight so my concerns before pulling off the freeway to check were unfounded. As a maintenance and engineering manager I maintained a large anxiety closet filled with possible equipment failures. In semi retirement the closet doesn’t have to be so big but it’s not empty.
Seems the last time we went to Nuevo Progreso was with a group of SOWERS on a Friday. We were group leaders and took our group across the bridge into Mexico to show them around and point out a few restaurants that were safe and to eat lunch at one of them. On the bridge somebody behind us started yelling my name. I stopped. It was a fellow church member from Meadow Lake. They had a winter home in the valley. Since then they stopped coming down for health reasons and then he passed. Her daughter says she seems to have given up and become a bit of a recluse. It is hard to adjust to the changes life throws at you.
One of the SOWER couples from that excursion went back across the next day to stock up on cheap vanilla for gifts. During lunch a gunfight broke out between the army and some drug gang. The couple hugged the floor for an hour or so. I think that was their last time to Mexico. He and I keep in touch. We emailed just this morning.
During Covid Neuvo Progreso withered. Today it was as busy as I remember from pre Covid. Lots of street stalls, pharmacies, and dentists. I had a crown done there a decade back for $170. It’s still fine. My dentist back home said he couldn’t do a filling for that.
We walked in about three blocks and came back on the other side of the street. I handed out over one hundred curved illusion tracts mostly Spanish ones.
After walking back across the bridge and going through passport control we drove to McAllen and checked the HEB for something the local HEB doesn’t carry either despite their web site saying they do. Then we checked out the access to the McAllen airport before driving home in the dark. We stopped for fried chicken on the way. They no longer have cups if all you want to drink is water. If I’m drinking water as a cheapskate, do I get to judge them for being cheap for not supplying cups?
January 15 - 21
We quickly settle into routines that are pleasant enough to experience, but not much worth writing much about.
Sunday after church we went to Tractor Supply on the off chance they would have lug nuts for the Bob Cat. The parking lot was jammed solid. Big Sale? Nope. A line of cars going to a temporary drive through selling vacuum packed frozen high end meat cuts. I walked over and saw prices in the hundreds of dollars. Also noticed a sign mentioning EBT cards, a government subsidized food payment program. The meat buying process seems scammy. At some point well meaning programs to help feed people in need morph into something else. I didn’t dig deeper for details of what was happening. Not my monkey, not my circus…
The TS didn’t have lug nuts in that size but the clerk had worked at O’Reilly’s and had some suggestions. Later, at home I looked online and found what I was looking for at a nearby O’Reilly’s. It would appear that things go better if you can walk in with a part number and picture from their web site than if you go in and ask if they have a 9/16”-18, 1” hex lug nut. For supper we went to CiCi’s to try “just the salad bar”. Not an option but the salad bar and all you can eat pizza for $7.99 was. Didn’t pig out on pizza but one slice is probably too much. Juanita had one slice. The chubby guy had a few more.
The rest of the week was the usual stuff. I helped working on the Bob Cat, ran errands and finished putting balancing beads in the last two tires on the car when the Bob Cat workers didn’t need help. Juanita helped with the food bank drive through preparations and the drive through itself.
Saturday, Juanita did the laundromat run and came up with a solution for low carb lunches during the week. I took a while getting mobile but finally got around to doing all the packing possible for next week’s trip to Nicaragua. We went to the RGV outlet mall and I bought a replacement money belt and a neck wallet and packable daypack. My original money belt and neck wallet are showing their twenty years. If it weren’t for Febreze they would stinking as well. Well at the mall we got a call from a friend replacing a clothes drier heating element. The new one is not quite plug and play. I would have agreed anyway, but the offer of cheesecake was additional enticement to come by and assist. Be there at seven.
On the way out of the mall I realized the new neck wallet wouldn’t work for me. I had checked the pockets in the store. Lots of room for passports. Walking to the car I check the straps. Too short for how I wear it. No time to deal with it now if we want to eat and get there at seven. Manana. Salad at Chik-Fil-A was enjoyable. I had heard the classic cars hung out at the Chik-Fil-A Saturday evening and had been meaning to check them out there. No sign of them. Maybe they moved back to the DQ. Maybe Covid killed the routine. I’ll ask around.
Dinner over, we went and helped with the drier and visited and ate cheesecake. Cheesecake, pizza, lasagna at weekday lunches. I just can’t understand why I’m gaining weight. Maybe I should have left the scale in Canada like my Eddie Bauer day pack.
Let’s try a different format with sermon notes separate from narrative so interested parties can skip over the narrative.
Ben Butler spoke
Abraham was taking Isaac to be sacrificed. The son that Abraham had prayed for.
“Where is the lamb?”
“The lord will provide”. The altar took time to build. Isaac probably helped. Then Isaac was tied on the altar.
Genesis 22:13 - saw lamb caught in thicket and offered it in Isaac’s stead
Matthew 19:26 What is impossible for man is possible for God
Many times we say “God can’t do that”. We sell God short.
Story - God and Satan who can build a man. Satan took handful of dust. God says wait a minute. I made the dust. You have to start with nothing. Satan hung his head and walked away.
Have been studying in Book of Joel for last couple of weeks. Bad things are happening in the second chapter. Grasshoppers ate everything. Left people in awful state. God wanted them to repent. They did.
The people brought the locusts on themselves but God said to turn to him and he restored them.
Many times in our lives we have consequences we brought on ourselves but we turn to God and He restores us.
Farmer says going to lose everything to the grasshoppers. Wife says we won’t. We need to pray. Let the chickens out of the houses. Why not? They’re going to die anyway. The chickens ate the grasshoppers. Returned to coop. Got fat. Laid eggs. When things start looking bad we need to seek the lord and trust in Him.
At the time of Big Feed last month I was watching the weather. This was the first year I wrote a plan B for if it rained. I remember the day we were out there dedicating the event. People started coming and kept coming.
Hudson Taylor was going by ship to China. I won’t pray until you let the sails out. He had the faith. When we have faith God delights in answering our prayers.
Little town in West Texas. Extreme drought. One little church. Next Sunday going to pray. Come expecting rain. Pulled out umbrella. You didn’t come expecting. Go home get your raincoats and umbrellas. That afternoon it rained.
When we pray, we need to really seek God and know he is powerful. Don’t pray for someone not meaning what you pray. You need to pray believing.
If we had the faith of a mustard seed…
Gideon with 300 people and many other examples in Bible. But if we think of all the powerful miracles he has done in our lives.
Oscar Brooks spoke.
Second Kings 24:8 Deal with Jehoiakim I’ll deal with issue In one passage says 8 other says 18 when became king He was the last king before captivity in Babylon. Surrounded by enemies Reigned 8 months. Did evil.
No matter how old you are unless you are a baby, what you do matters. Suddenly he became king. We might say cut him some slack. He’s only 18. Do you remember when you were 18? Had an easy life up until then. These 3 months will make him walk into the hall of fame. Not only describe the evil but also describe how it happened. Exactly like his father. Why is God mentioning this to us? Do you think that only matters what you do in five years. Days matter, hours matter, months matter Take care of your time. January, February, March can mark your life as evil. Most of his life is going to be in jail. He did not realize God would care about three months. Make sure you look at your next three months. Three months is all it takes. Three days for Jesus in the tomb. Three hours between the death of Ananias and Saphira.
Unfair? God is never unfair. God has given you a number of days. It is up to you how you use them. 52 days for Nehemiah to build a wall. Understand the next 3 months is important.
Oscar Brooks spoke
Isaiah 27:1 I’m reading out of King James it may say something different in the version you have.
Job 26:13 Crooked serpent
Habakkuk 1:4 Wrong judgement, word for torturous. Leviathan, the piercing serpent, the torturous
It’s a description of how Satan works. Some ways that are not really congruent with others. Swift, super fast. My sword will attack and go after the serpent Leviathan. You can go from 0 to 60 in Satan’s world. Things can go from joy and praise to sudden satanic attack.
How many times have I seen two people who don’t know each other and there is a conflict. And somebody shoots into a car and kills an eight-year-old. Previously a person of good report. That is the swiftness of Satan.
Man is responsible for his own actions. It’s not in our nature to say “I did it”.
I was bathing in a river in Nicaragua. There was a snake minding its own business on the other bank. I threw a rock. It swiftly swam across at me and I am scrambling to get away. I didn’t know how fast it could be.
You need to understand how swiftly Satan can strike at you.
All of a sudden the enemy is winning. We fight not against flesh and blood…
Right here the Bible describes the fast and also the slow twisting serpent.
How does a serpent capture a bird? Patience. Sometimes the basis is something that took a long time to develop.
I pray that you observe the attack and two ways that it can develop. Sometimes it can happen suddenly and other times develop bit by bit. You are not that bird. You can choose to flee. The snake can get closer and closer. Don’t ignore it.
The word of God can be so strong in you that you can withstand the swift and be warned of the slow.
Oscar Brooks spoke beginning at 2 Kings 24:8
When Jehoiachin is losing his kingdom and his freedom because he was away from God.
His mother’s name was Nahushta. I want you to remember her. She is mentioned.
Jehoiachin will not have kids and will spend most of his life in prison. She is effectively reigning through influence. Remember her name.
2 Kings 18:4 King Hezekiah was king before. Called the serpent Nahushtan. Means bronze thing. Why are we worshiping this bronze thing?
Jerimiah 29:2 – You are going to find a word.
Verse 1 - describes the letter. Verse 2 - now the queen was taken
2 Kings 24:15
And he carried away to Babylon and the king’s mother.
God says in several places I will make you pay and your mother. Jehoiachin is king but he is only 18 and she is influencing him. God calls her by name and by description the queen, the mistress. She is the bridge between son and father. Name derived from the serpent’s name.
When God’s hand is removed from you his protection is removed. There are many times you are delivered or protected or blessed and that is from God. When his protection is removed that goes away.
When Israel was going through the desert the serpents bit people and they died. Then God protected them. Then they wandered away from God and they began to be bitten and wonder why God has stopped blessing them.
God protected Israel from the snake then they start worshiping the snake. God gives you a good church and you start worshiping it. God gives you a family and now you are worshiping it instead of God.
You are supposed to have distain for those things. A religion that is based on what God can do for you is not real. Jesus said you look for me because I feed you. We are not the Center of the Universe. We are supposed to look to God because he is God not because of what He can do for us.
Nahushta will go into captivity and die there.
Religion is not a pursuit of the wellness of my life but of God. Not of getting attached to the blessing but to the one who blessed. Like Abraham with Isaac. You need to put everything on the altar.
Oscar Brooks began with 1 Kings 18:41
Going to look at the last 2 verses. I want you to pay attention and remember.
There has been a great battle between evil by Ahab and his house and the forces of good of God
Verse 41 - heard rain. Those who have the touch from God can hear, can discern.
Verse 42 - was praying. Go again. Small cloud. Get up and warn Ahab.
Genesis 8:8 Sent dove.
Verse 9 - Dove returned
Verse 10 - Another 7 days
Noah has been left alone. Knows only ones left are the ones on the ark, 8 souls. That same loving God has judged the earth. Now Noah is anxious to leave the ark. Sends out dove. Pulls it back in. Waits another 7 days.
There are things that come at you fast. There are other things you have to wait for. You have to have patience and wait for the timing.
Oscar talked about planting watermelon seeds one morning in Nicaragua. The neighbourhood kids watched and asked what he was doing. Then they were back in the afternoon wanting to see the watermelons.
There is a season for things. Not going to happen sooner just because I want it.
The opposite of that. Elijah has caused a drought. Now can hear the rain. Like dog can hear a dog whistle, he can hear the rain even then.
He sends his servant up and down the mountain 6 times not there. Seventh time - there’s a small cloud the size of the palm of my hand. Elijah, I know it’s coming and need to be ready.
How to understand the difference between the right now and the seven days or seven years. You need to be in prayer and aware of the heart of God.
Cast your bread upon the water. You can give and expect instant results. But it seldom works that way. There are ways God blesses. Sometimes instant sometimes longer term.
You need to understand. You don’t need to waste your time running in circles when you’re supposed to wait. Sometimes you need to be ready so you don’t miss it.
Naman- dunk yourself in the river seven times. Angry. But did it and results happened right away.
Find those things that are fast and slow.
Ben Butler spoke about the cities of refuge in the Old Testament. God told Moses to set up six cities of refuge. Three on each side of the river.
If you were in a village and accidentally killed somebody you had a place to seek sanctuary. The Law was an eye for eye, life for life. If you accidentally killed someone their family could kill you. You could run to that city and meet with the committee and if found that it was accidental death you could live there safely until you died or high priest died.
A sanctuary city was set high on white limestone could see even at night. The gates were never locked. Your wife and kids could visit but not stay.
There’s over a hundred references in Bible. There were signs pointing to city of refuge. If you changed the sign it was punishment by death. Roads to city of refuge were always kept clear. If bridge out, repaired quickly. The letters on the sign needed to be kept up.
There’s a lot of things that apply to us today with the Lord Jesus Christ. You are always granted refuge. Our job is to be the signs to point people to Christ. We need to not have a bad attitude when working the food line. We need to be good signs pointing to Christ.
Don’t let your sign be pointing the wrong direction. Your sign needs to be bright. You do that through prayer and studying the Word.
January 22 - 25
I ordered a neck wallet online. It looks like a longer strap than the one bought last night.
Sunday church got out a little later than usual. I had planned on lunch at Denny’s on South Padre Island. Free birthday desert had nothing to do with the decision. It was already one pm when we headed out so we stopped at the corner Valero/Laredo Taco company for chicken fajita tacos. Tasty.
I pulled over and torqued the front wheel lug nuts for the two wheels that had been re and re’ed last week. We resumed our trip to the outlet mall to return the short strap neck wallet.
We walked on the beach at South Padre Island. There was a sparse crowd. It was windy and not too warm. I handed out tracts to those few brave people there including some French Canadians. On the way home we went to Sam’s Club for frozen yogurt and gasoline. Gasoline prices are creeping back up.
We signed onto a waiting list for Texas Roadhouse and headed there. Thanks for the birthday gift card, Deborah. We arrived back home stuffed, in a carbohydrate coma. Early to bed.
Monday morning after I picked up a new starter from the rewind shop, Russel and I started to install it. Then I went to the starter shop for cable off the old starter. While I was out Russel went to install the alternator that had arrived this morning. Wrong one.
Byron arrived, freed from jury duty. We installed the old alternator as idler pulley. Byron made an adjustment bracket to replace the one lost in the shuffle.
Started the Bob Cat. Metallic noise and drumming noise. Greased pump coupling. Didn’t help. Shimmed starter. Metallic noise gone. Still has drumming noise. Two out of three auctioneering decision tree says it is plastic shroud being rubbed, Can live with and it might even wear away. Time will cast the fourth and final vote. It always does.
Discover a few under tightened hydraulic line connections. Tightening works. No more major leaks.
Lift arms go in opposite directions. We swap the easier pair of hose connections to get to. Arms work right now. Byron takes for a test run out back with the dirt pile. We all go home.
Juanita helped in the kitchen preparing supper for the Iowa group. I did an ice run and spent a quiet time with Wheel and Jeopardy! She’s home in time for NCIS. Not the same without Gibbs.
Tuesday morning when I put the phone onto the charger there were no lights. I reset the GFCI outlet by the bathroom sink but no happy clicks. After digging through the tool rubble in the car trunk I found my non-contact tester and checked the power cord to the coach. No power at the post. Not a problem I can solve. Off to chapel. On our way we passed an electric crew working on the powerline. Probably not a coincidence.
The Iowa group is in fuller force with overnight arrivals and is eating breakfast in the chapel. Ben gave a brief devotional, and we headed off in all directions. I helped with draining the oil from the Bob Cat engine. Then when Byron went to get new oil, I puttered at adding the non-slip material to step areas. After the oil change, we carried on with electrical wiring housekeeping on the machine. We planned how we will install the other accessories when I get back from Nicaragua. The machine will be in use by the Iowa starting tomorrow. I ordered the necessary hardware to do the installations.
Part of the Iowa group went to Mexico. Part helped with the drive through for the pastors’ giveaway. Two and a ministry helper worked on the warehouse skylights, installing covers using the material we picked up from Brownsville.
In the evening, after dropping some supplies and Juanita at the kitchen, I removed all my tools from the trunk of the car and sorted them into proper order and the right toolboxes. I did a water run for drinking water and went to Home Depot for a couple of ten-foot lengths of plastic gutter. Ten-foot lengths can be carried in a Hyundai Sonata with the back seats folded forward, the front passenger seat folded backward and the glove box door down. I dumped the holding tanks and then set the gutters up to hold the sewer hoses. Dumping tanks is normally a Daddy-Do but if they need dumping while I’m in Nicaragua it will be easier for Juanita to do with the hoses supported.
Wednesday morning chapel was with the team from Iowa. Oscar Brooks shared about the significance of a barley loaf. Food of the poor being used richly by God.
After chapel I helped Byron and others load the Bob Cat and followed it to the motel. There wasn’t anything I could help with, so I took the car to get washed. While that was happening, I got a text from Juanita that there was a surplus of helpers in the drive through food bank and she was free. We did some necessary shopping and unnecessarily checked out the local grand opening of a chain bargain store. Meh prices, but a line of people the full perimeter of the store waiting to check out. Juanita will drop by when the madness subsides to buy a container of coffee. After a drive through lunch, we came home. She went to do laundry while I did some last minute packing. Back at the warehouse I picked up a skylight I had ordered for the motor home and ran somebody back to the training center.
The “new” starter exploded into pieces while the Bob Cat was running. It seems the gear never fully disengaged. It also took out the flywheel. The motor will have to pulled to get at the flywheel. The two out of three who said that noise was nothing were wrong. So much for voting and majority opinion. Time cast its fourth and veto vote. The worried guy was right. He’s also the guy who gets to fix the thing. Bitter pill. I feel bad for being wrong. He gets no satisfaction from being right.
I took the pieces of last week’s “new” starter to the rewind shop as a show and tell of today’s unplanned disintegration and checked on the rebuilding of the old starter. If the part comes in it will be ready tomorrow. Back home I climbed on the coach roof and made sure the skylight would fit. I plan to install it when I get back from Nicaragua. One doesn’t want to wait a couple of weeks and then find it was the wrong part when the right one could be on its way. It fit. Then off to a last supper with Juanita for a while. Thanks for the Logan’s Roadhouse birthday gift card, Rebekah.
Got home in time for Jeopardy! And Wheel of Fortune. Paid some bills online and did the last of the last, last minute shuffling.
I know I’m going to speak to a ragtag army. What am I thinking? I am one of those. I’m in that ragtag army.
Going to do what Ben did in the old days. To talk in prison he prepared with liquid courage. My liquid today is coffee.
I am ready. Born ready. I remember when first came to WOTC. The number one thing was to go into Mexico. My number one thing was not going into Mexico. All I wore as a pastor was a suit and tie. But I started getting used dressing like everybody else.
Was used to preaching to believers in church. Had to adjust to preaching to the lost.
Ben learned from Jesus to tell stories.
It’s hard to run a volunteer army. I don’t talk to someone if I think they are not behaving properly because I take it to Ben. He tells me that guy or that girl is a good worker. People I would have kicked out become all turned around. We see the change in their lives.
1 Samuel 2:8
God has picked us up from the dust to set us among princes … …to inherit a throne of glory.
Daniel - King found the Hebrew children ten times wiser.
Pastor from Iowa
George Mueller ran orphanages in England in the 1800’s. He was renowned for starting the day with no idea of where the orphan’s next meal was coming from and God would miraculously provide and the last minute.
He found that he would start to pray and his mind would wander. This changed when he started to pray using the words of scripture.
An important chapter for this is John 15:6&7 – “Ask whatsoever…” It doesn’t mean I get what I want it means my wants change as I pour scripture into my heart.
Would pray from psalms. Acts 4:29
The book of Psalms is divided into five sections. If you look at the last words of each section – “Amen & Amen”. The very last section the book of Psalms ends with 5 chapters of praise to God
A fireworks show ends with a grand finale. That’s what Ps 150 is. Let’s read Ps 150
I Encourage you to pray from books of the Bible like this. It changes my heart. I hope it does same to you.
Matthew 5:38 –“You have heard… … turn the other cheek…”
Jesus is talking to the people. This is a sore subject.
The Romans had a wonderful road system but it was built on the back of the people. You could be working in the field near the road and be summoned by Roman soldier to carry his load. You had to carry one mile. If you said, “No”, the soldier could kill you.
Every road had a number degree of difficulty for the next mile from one to four. Many times, they would pick on young men for a four. Jesus is saying when Roman soldier compels you to go one mile you go the extra mile.
Go above and beyond what’s required. The group from Iowa is going above and beyond. The staff has been going above and beyond.
You can always go the extra mile. It’s important for our testimony. When the world looks at us they need to say that person is real.
God has blessed because we usually go the extra mile.
There is a team here. One of the things they are working on is a roof. I knew of team member in a similar team who nailed his foot to roof. His brother-in-law thought this was funny. He laughed so he hard fell off roof. Please let’s not have any accidents.
2 Kings 4:42
Put your mind in gear. Going to find prototype of the feeding of the five thousand. The NT foreshadowed in the OT.
Baal-shalisha means (note: I missed completing this note, but some say it means Lord of Three. I don’t remember what Oscar said and wouldn’t want to put words in his mouth)
Barley - important. Some wheat
20 loaves, but many people.
Vs 43- “shall I set this before hundred people.” Always somebody like this.
They did eat. There were leftovers. “Just as the Lord promised”. Foreshadowing the feeding of the five thousand.
John 6:8 Remember. There’s a lot here, 5 barley loaves, 2 small fishes. What is that among so many?
Judges 7:13 Remember this dream. A cake of barley bread. When Gideon heard, he arose.
Gideon not one of my heroes. I hope I’m not like him. He needs a lot of reassuring. Says to angel I want a sign. How much more sign do you want when talking to an angel? Sets up circumstances he wants. One little cloud to drip into it. Keeps asking for more proof.
Guy talks about his dream. Gideon hears and that changes Gideon. The barley loaf tumbling down is Gideon and the tent is his enemies.
If you want to be warrior you want a fierce name not “barley bread “
You can understand why he is freaking out facing army of 100 thousand with just 300 but the barley bread convinced him.
Throughout the scripture barley was the bread of the poor. But when it gets into God’s hand it becomes powerful. We still hear of what was done with so little. People literally starving but fed with a little bit of bread. With leftovers after they ate.
What was little God used powerfully.
Gideon understands the principle that he is only barley bread and accepted what he was called to do.
You have in you that gifting. Whatever that gifting is it has to change hands from you to God.
Every time I do things in Africa I understand I am not great but God can use me greatly if I am barley bread in his hands.
Thursday, January 26 - Travel to Nicaragua
Up before the alarm. Shower, eat breakfast, get dressed and pack toothbrush. We notice the truck is backed up to the office and go and help a bit with loading the bags. Two huge bags ae mine. Then we visit until Salomon shows up. Juanita and I say our goodbyes. I join Salomon and Ben in the truck with Jeanne driving us. The truck had some issues at 350,000 miles. I remember the day the truck showed up new. I remember driving it to Las Vegas to pick up a burnt out motor home. We’ve all seen better days. But we’re still kicking.
We pull up to the airport and unload the bags. Jeanne has strict instructions to not turn off the truck or take it out of drive before getting back to the training center or it will need to be towed. No stress there.
With six max sized bags plus our carry-ons and personal items and no luggage carts or porters it is a silent movie comedy to get it all to the check in. Charley Chaplin eat your heart out.
Security goes reasonably well. Other than the tracts in my pockets (its not just metal you have to remove) and then the money belt I forgot and the USB drive in the money belt. Southwest loads us in its unique manner. I think I like it especially on a lightly loaded plane like this flight. We are B6, 7 & 8. 66th etc. to board. Lots of choices. I pick a window seat and watch the coast. A bag of Southwest snacks and a guzzled can of club soda later we were on final approach to Hobby. Ben didn’t have time for his coffee to cool enough to drink it all.
We have a shortish connection at Houston’s Hobby airport but no TSA to go through. We have only an 8-minute walk to our next gate. Ben and Salomon dash off to get a sandwich. I fill my water bottle before sitting and starting to eat a keto bar. Ben and Salomon show up and eat their sandwiches.
We are in C group. I’m C-17. This means 136 people have boarded the plane before me. It works out well. I get an aisle seat in the second row, next to a couple of large ladies headed to Costa Rica to celebrate a friend’s birthday at an all inclusive. I think other people must have passed on the opportunity because they were afraid of being squeezed. No problem. If a Nicaraguan rush-hour bus is a 10 and the T-Rex seat on a Ft. Mac 737 between two 300 pound pipefitters from Pittsburgh is a 5 this is a three on the squeezed scale.
The three-hour flight went well with another bag of snacks and a can of club soda. I juggled the leftover trash from the event while setting up the laptop to edit rough notes. The track pad has stopped working despite settings saying it should be. The mouse works well enough for casual editing. Not peak productivity but moved the ball down the field.
There was another plane in the gate our plane wanted. Announcement: “Please stay seated, with your seat belts fastened while we wait.” Other plane gets out of the way. Announcement: “The other plane has cleared the gate. We will be moving into place as soon as the passengers who got up return to their seats.”
I was one of the first people off the plane. I followed directions up the jet way and down some stairs until I came to a cluster of airport workers. Seemed like a good place to wait for Ben and Salomon. I handed out curved illusion tracts until they showed up. The only interruption was from a panicked pair of other passengers who wanted to know why they had “stopped me”. I explained I was just waiting for friends and they should keep going. We clear immigration, convincing them that we were in transit to Nicaragua (no fee) and had tickets home. The first thing Costa Rica wants when you arrive is proof you are leaving. Might be a good practice with certain house guests. We can always learn from others.
I wait by the carousel for the bags while the other two wait in line for a bathroom. I am useless at many things but spectacularly useless at recognizing bags I have only a passing acquaintance with a few hours ago. Ben shows up and finds two. Salomon goes to the last hop section where they pile bags nobody grabbed off the moving carousel. He finds four but leaves his carry on there and starts frantically looking for it where we are standing and then gets in line for the bathroom to check if it was left there. Ben finds it while I guard the big bags. We load them onto two carts, send them through the X-ray machine and go out to meet the taxi driver holding a sign “Benjamin”. On the way we reach the point of no takee for the luggage carts and hire a porter and his cart. We all go with the taxi driver to dump the bags in a spot he will return to, pay off the porter, dump the bags on the ground and wait). The experience affirms my practice of travelling with carry on luggage only. I could be in a taxi twenty minutes from the terminal by the time we were checking around to meet up with the driver.
I hand out more curved illusion tracts to people lounging around. The van shows up and off we go to the border crossing to Nicaragua. (I’ll insert the distance here when I have an internet connection to look it up
We stop at a pre check station near the and have our passports checked and get back in the van to drive as close as the driver can get to the border with the van. He then helps with the bags as far as the officials let him. We struggle another couple of hundred feet and meet up with a bicycle cargo carrier who ferries our bags across no man’s land and to the Nicarguan X-ray machine. Then he picks them up as they come out of the machine and carries them the last hundred and fifty feet to where our Nicaraguan driver is waiting. If I was travelling alone or with Juanita I would pay a couple of hundred dollars extra to fly into Managua. The trip today was the right decision for the people involved and the luggage needed, but wouldn’t be worth it to me travelling lighter.
We got to Shiloh Base Camp around seven. Apparently that is record time. There is a new highway around the mountain near Masaya and we didn’t stop to eat. Supper was ready soon after we arrived. After eating and visiting I keyboarded a bit, uploading the edits from earlier and putting in a placeholder for today.
We plan to go to the Promised Land tomorrow morning at 5:30. I arrange all my stuff to be ready and set the alarm for 4:30.
Friday, January 27 - Travel to Tierra Prometida
Awake at 3:30. Do some e-mails and blog keyboarding until the 4:30 alarm goes. Microsoft is alarmed that I have logged in from Nicaragua and locked everything. I appease the angry mogs with security answers and carry on. Network Solutions is “experiencing temporary communication difficulties” so the corrections and new stuff might not get loaded this morning.
The connection came back after my shower, so I managed to upload a bit of stuff. At 5:20 I was preparing to head for the van with my day pack. Salomon showed up to make sure I was bringing a change of clothes and my bedding and pillow since we were overnighting it at the Promised Land. Sure didn’t get that memo. I threw everything I owned into the carry-on bag, the personal bag, and my day pack, leaving only my drying laundry from yesterday, seven hundred tracts, the bar of soap and the sheet on the bed. I got into the van in time and off we went into the predawn darkness.
Somebody shared some coffee with me. The sun came up as we travelled the familiar roads through Tipitapa and Sebaco to stop for breakfast at a roadside café in the hills on the road to Matagalpa. In Matagalpa we went to the local Sinsa to find something they didn’t stock locally while they tried to sell us stuff that wouldn’t work. How Sinsa is that?
We checked out a few sales lots for a tenish year-old Toyota 4x4 four-door pickup and got some idea of prices. We stocked up on water and groceries at the Maxi Pali. We arrived at the Promised Land camp property at about ten and were assigned rooms. Several of us followed Ben around the property and admired all the work that had been done here in the last three years. We also trekked across the gorge to a walk though a house that Theresa is building. Tremendous view and innovative use of materials. There is a lot you can do if you are somewhere that is never that cold.
After lunch I wrote for an hour and then did a walk around the perimeter path before re-joining the group to be more social.
All in all, a pleasant day. After supper we visited. I spent a bit of time writing a buddy story before going to bed.
Saturday, January 28 - La Tierra Prometida to Campimento Shiloh
Set alarm for six. Woke just before five. Arnold in the next room got up about then and went out and came back and went back to bed and back to sleep. I said, “Good Morning” to him when he came back. The houses are pleasant with plastered block walls and suspended ceiling with Styrofoam ceiling tile. Each of the two bedroom has its own bathroom. The type of ceiling means you can carry on a conversation with somebody in the next room at a normal conversational tone. If the person snores you know when they are sleeping.
I showered and packed up before heading over to the kitchen to visit over coffee. We walked up the hill to see the renovations on the house since I was here last and visit the coffee processing equipment, the pigs, chickens and well. The well will need a roof. If I had to guess it will be Paul and Byron doing the roof. Sitting and visiting after breakfast I asked how soon we were leaving, trying to decide if I would keyboard for a while or not.
I went back to the room and gathered my stuff and got on the truck. There was generator to go back to Shiloh. We failed at opening both back doors on the van, so it went in the side door. That worked other than meaning Salomon and I needed to enter the van through the front passenger door before the front passenger got in. Salomon and I sat there until every one else showed up and we left.
We stopped at the Maxi Pali in Matagalpa briefly, for bananas at a roadside stand. In Sebaco we loaded the van with five hundred pounds of beans and three hundred pounds of rice. Back on the road we stopped briefly to buy corn on the cob for all aboard. Not the sort of thing I would eat in my car but seems okay in a middle-aged working van. We got back to base camp about 1:30 and scattered to our units.
Wi-Fi again! The messages flooded in. I uploaded the latest work on the narrative, checked a few e-mails and started to research concrete sealers. Then off to the “Chinese” store to buy 15 LED street lights and a 4 kW inverter to make sure Byron and I would stay busy. The education and negotiation around this purchase was protracted. I redeemed the time by handing out curved illusion tracts to store customers and passersby on the sidewalk. The store sold many Chinese products in addition to the LED lights. I found it surreal to stand next to a display case of dildoes handing out gospel tracts.
On the way back to camp we picked up some roast chicken and ate our portions trying not to drip grease on anything strategic. Back at the camp I shared my leftovers with dogs designated as acceptable to feed chicken bones. Best friends. Forever. Or until it is obvious, I have nothing left to give.
Supper took a couple of hours with visiting during and after then everyone headed to their quarters to relax.
I uploaded the above and laid down for “just a minute” with headphones on. A few hours later I woke up, got undressed, did two day’s laundry and went to bed.
Sunday, January 29
We are going to breakfast in Granada this morning before church. I don’t yet know where but if you click over to Buddy Tales and scroll down to Nicki’s Pancake House you can read the sordid history of one Nicaraguan breakfast restaurant.
I was ready early and we lefty early. There is a pattern once you realize it. Best to go with the grain. The restaurant was indeed, Kathy’s. The food was as good as I remember but the prices seemed much lower. Normally we ate here after being in Nicaragua for a while dining at less upscale restaurants. Today was after being in the States and having gotten used to States’ restaurant prices. While the food was being prepared, I handed out curved illusion tracts to the captive audience. Most of the tracts handed out today were in Spanish but a few people wanted English. The text on the back is here in English.
On the way to the restaurant tourist activity seemed to be picking up with a number of occupied horse drawn carriages busily employed in their tours. The corner Eskimo ice cream parlor near where we stayed was shuttered with no signage. I heard our favorite hotel Jerico is permanently shutdown. We drove past the Hotel Granada which is shut down. Sad. First place I slept in Nicargua. Many memories connected with stays and meeting up with outreach groups there.
We got back to camp in time for church. As we entered the weekly update video was playing. Thre are a few cameo’s of Juanita and I with Juanita directing traffic in some drone footage and me in the background at the rice and bean store. Here it is:
After church we looked at a few things around the camp then headed to Managua. No sales lots were open selling pick up trucks. A big Sinsa was open and we bought a gallon of concrete sealer to experiment with on the brick walkways at the Promised Land Camp. On our way back to Camp Shiloh we went to Price Smart and bought ten big bags of frozen chicken breasts. Some students have already shown up for the missionary training school that starts this week. More will arrive tomorrow.
Rest of the day was quiet. Like a day of rest or the calm before…
After supper Ben and I walked the property to look at locations for Byron and me to install solar LED lighting.
Monday, January 30
The camp is abuzz. Missionary training school starts tomorrow. Some students arrived yesterday, most will arrive today and a few stragglers tomorrow. I am not part of that event but an interested onlooker. At the staff meeting Ben covered the history of the triumphal entry into Rome of a successful general. Tonight staff will stage a re-enactment of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem travelling from Bethany.
Somebody was checking on a dentist to look at my broken tooth. While waiting I unpacked a solar street light to ponder how we will mount them. Quickly I got an answer about the dentist. The appointment will be Wednesday at 9:30. Una Dia Libre! (A free day).
While I am changing into a city shirt the local bus goes by blowing its horn, heading east. It will be coming back in twenty minutes or so. While I was waiting outside the camp gate for the bus or a taxi or a torrito to come by a ministry van came out. Elias dropped me at the Carretera by the Puma. There was a bus waiting at the stop about a hundred feet away. Granada? Nope. Masetepe.
Next bus was Granada. I entertained, and hopefully more, the other passengers with curved illusion cards. Passengers came and went but the bus stayed mostly full. We, the remainder got off the bus at the Granada/Oriental terminal. I walked to the main market street handing out curved illusion tracts on my way to the barber. I have been to several barbers in Granada but mostly this one. It had grown and moved into fancier digs across the street before Covid. That shop is now a dress shop and they are back across the street in their old shop and down to three chairs with two barbers working when I got there. Just kids the old man mutters. A girl (I think) and a guy. We negotiate the price for a haircut and a beard trim. A price higher in Cordobas but still under five bucks US at the current exchange rate of 36 to 1. An old barber from before comes in and visits. The old timer might be as much as thirty years old. He remembered me and the tracts. He said he has some in his apartment. He asked how Juanita was doing.
I tract walked back the length of the market street to the street that goes down past the park and the cathedral. The restaurant row had several restaurants still operated with new restrictions on how loud their music can be and how many tables they can have on the sidewalk and street. It doesn’t seem to matter there were hardly any clients eating on a Monday at noon. More tourists but still not in large numbers. I am told the restaurants are busier with locals on the weekends. I visited with a couple of touts on the sidewalk outside a tour agency. We remembered each other. One even remembered he still owes me twelve bucks, but there was no discussion about repayment.
Roger, my long-term tutor is just wrapping up with an online student when I stick my head in the door. He pulls some chairs out onto the sidewalk while I score a coke and a sparkling water and glass with ice across the street. The owner lets me go with promise to return the glass and bottles later. It was like old times every morning with our coffee on the sidewalk. It was shift change at the school so there were white shirted little kids going past just like early in the morning.
After an hour of catching up I bid Roger goodbye. Up the street I stopped at the shuttered, signless Hotel Jerico and tapped on the gate to the living quarters. The mama came out to near the gate but we didn’t talk for long. The old man was sleeping and the daughters are in Miami.
I was warmly greeted at Cafetin Claudia. No hugs. What’s with that? When Juanita is with me, we get hugs. While waiting for my omelet I text Juanita where I am without mentioning the lack of hugs. Juanita responds to tell the owner she wishes she could be here to hug her. I show the owner and the owner agrees.
I walked to the edge of the park stopping at some restaurants off the square to hand out tracts. Most of the people at one table had tracts from the bus ride, but one person with then didn’t and wanted a pair. I walked the other end of market street back to the middle to my favorite money changer. We talk for a long time. He was about the last person I had seen when we bailed out of Nicaragua on March 15 three years ago. We had planned on being in Nicaragua two weeks more so I had some Cordobas to change back to dollars at the time. He, too, asked about Juanita. Then we exchanged fifty dollars for Cordobas and I headed for the bus terminal.
It a slow time of day for travel in the Managua direction. We cooked in the bus until there were enough passengers to satisfy the driver it was worthwhile to leave for the UCA terminal in Managua.
At the Maxi Pali in Masaya I bought a jug of water, a bar of soap, some peanuts and a small bag of laundry soap. The outside lockers were broken down so I skipped trying to use those. The security guard inspected my back pack on the way into the store, but waved me through on the way out. Across the street passengers waited at the first torrito ( three-wheel moto taxi) until there were five of us and off we went.
I arrived back at the camp at the same time as Henry, the metal worker, and was included in the planning for light posts.
Eating a cookie before supper I broke another tooth. This is more explainable then the last tooth as these cookies are hard, but the first one is a mystery. How do you break a tooth when eating soft food?
The students gathered in the chapel. There was a triumphal entry of somebody dressed as Jesus accompanied with the blowing shofar and laying down of palm branches. Palm branches can be obtained less than thirty feet from the chapel a little closer than we find them in Canada.
There was singing, the classic flexi cookie handout reminding us all to be flexible in the circumstances that can occur with so many people together for a month. The students were reminded of a few rules and regulations of behaviour appropriate to young unmarried people.
A couple arrived from Harlingen. They were supposed to travel with Byron from Liberia with Byron but his flight was delayed. He will come while I am sleeping.
Tuesday, January 31
I get up, shower and get dressed, Byron arrived around midnight he says. We visit before going out to find coffee. Then we put up a Solar LED street light to replace the old, dim powered lamp. My part was encouragement and ladder holding. We had both missed breakfast and he had had missed supper last night so after the first light was installed about ten we walked to the bodega down the street and bought some pastries.
He started the next light on the water tower which had no room for me up there as well. I sent the tools and light up by rope then started work on the battery cables on the Toyota within shouting distance if he needed me. He joined the work and then a lot of helpful advisors arrived.
Byron, Elias and I left in search of wires and connectors. Any shopping trip here is an Odyssey (“An extended adventurous voyage or trip”). One should not begin a long trip on an empty stomach. Just as we were leaving they announced a lunch of gallo pinto (rice and beans). We forsook the opportunity of joing the end of a hundred strong line and went to the Puma. The puma has changed for the worse in the last three years. No more economical chicken. Some anemic chicken in the display case and a menu with high prices. We stopped and had a wonderful lunch of grilled beef and chicken in town. The local dogs stood with us tails wagging. They turned their noses up at my banana chips but wolfed down Elias’s chicken bones. Two hours of stops at various auto shops and several booths at the Masaya market we still didn’t have the pieces we wanted. We had enough pieces for a reasonable alternative. If it doesn’t work, there are people going to Managua tomorrow. They can shop.
Back home without helpful observers we proceeded to put things together proficiently. Elias came by and looked at the cable we had and said you know you can buy new ones of those in Masaya. I ask him if they are so easy to buy why he didn’t buy them when he was out with us. Oh. It’s Irving, Elias’s twin brother. Easy mistake for me to make. Also easier to understand Elias’s apparent amnesia of our sweaty trek.
The truck started fine with the new cables and connections. It cranks way faster than ever. The “wiring could be better” is probably on the back burner. Pick up tools. Take a break. Take the truck for a test drive. It’s 4:30. I lobby for the oriental store to check out some light brackets but that’s too far. We go around the big block here. Truck runs and handles fine. Somebody who went to the oriental store for an amplifier about the same time came back disappointed. The store closes at 4:30. Unwittingly dodged that bullet.
The Americans eat supper together in a staff house. A quiet evening ensures. After dark Byron and I walk and check the lights. The two new ones are fine and we have a good idea of where the next ones would do the most good.
Good night and good month.
The month is done, but the page needs work. There’re some pictures to add. If you see any typos, let me know. Thx
Sunday Sermon Notes
The church on the Camp Shiloh site has a tin roof and a tile floor. It’s like the sustain pedal has a weight on it. After a 105-decibel worship service my ears were not functioning particularly well. My notes are spotty from poor hearing and, of all things, stopping to listen and think instead of taking notes.
The speaker, Kevin, is from the area.
Always when I preach at home it is a blessing because I am more comfortable. I had plans for this sermon but the Lord changed my mind. Today I will preach about losses, the feeling when you lose something.
How many of us have lost a tiny object? When we were kids, a toy. My dad was a carpenter. He made me a sword. I loved it. One day I lost it. I cried and cried. My dad said don’t worry. He made me a better sword and a shield, too. Now I had a sword and a shield.
How many times behave we lost something only to get something better?
All kids have a preferred milk spot. < I couldn’t follow this. Sorry. >
I bent down and said Lord I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to remember my losses.
Isaiah 6:1 What relation did Isaiah have with king Uzziah who died? He was friends. A big loss for Isaiah.
We need to go where God wants us. Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed and God spared his son. Job lost everything but God blessed with more than he had before. David lost his son then Solomon, another son, built the temple. The three lost but received victory.
It doesn’t matter which area or type of loss you have. Or if you are prepared for the loss. If God is going to take away it doesn’t matter how much it means to you. God is a jealous God.
Dwell on how I ended up with a better sword. When we lose something, it is not painless. You are going to see who is first in your life. Understand that God is number one in the world.
This the angel said. This is what we need to cry out, Holy, Holy, Holy. The whole earth is filled with his glory.
Jesus Christ came to the world. Jesus died. I want you to think when you have a loss or want to lose what matters - Sing Holy, Holy, Holy.
After the sermon we gathered for group prayer and then the little kids came in and recited verses they had memorized in kids’ service.
Monday Staff Meeting / Chapel
Ben Butler talked to staff to update on what is happening with the ministry in Mexico, Nicaragua and the States. They will be developing plans for the Promised Land. It is ready to go and needs to start being used. Staffing will primarily be with staff from the Shiloh Camp in rotation.
One of the best things we are doing is the missionary training school. If the training takes hold in only twenty percent of the graduates from the missionary training classes it will change the nation. Every one of those students needs to see us presenting God. Our testimony must be good even on those days we don’t feel well or happy.
Tonight going to have a triumphal entry. Romans had standard for a general to be awarded a triumphal entry to Rome. First the soldiers in their battle gear. Then general being honoured. Four or five horses and him in chariot. Then kings queens and children that had been captured. Final stop was Coliseum. All the strange things and animals they had captured. One general had his chariot pulled by four elephants. Then captured soldiers then captured treasure.
Roman emperor would be at the coliseum. They would kill the captured kings and queens. Then the captured soldiers fed to animals. One parade was so great that the emperor felt threatened and had the general killed.
One thing tonight we are going to have a triumphal entry of Jesus and we need to prepare.
Give Jesus the first part of your day.
Jesus’ triumphal entry was mentioned in all four gospels. We read one from Matthew 21:1-11
Just before this if you go back in the Word Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Evidence of His great power. Everyone had heard of this. This powerful man has arrived. Estimated that three or four thousand people showed up. Different than Roman entry where people were mandated to come. The Jews came voluntarily. The turn out was huge. The Jewish people saw Jesus as the Messiah, someone who was going to take over the Roman government.
But that wasn’t his plan.
He came on a colt which means peace. If he had come on four white horses that would mean war.
He cleaned out the temple of the money changers. He wasn’t coming to save the Jews politically he was coming to save the world. When the people saw he wasn’t going to take over the government they started saying “crucify!”.
Tonight, I want the students to understand how we honour Jesus. Somebody dressed as Jesus, throwing palm branches before him. Blowing shofar. We will bring honour and glory. We want students to see how we love Jesus and that the school is all about Jesus.
If we give him all the honour and glory he will bless the school and us.