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English class this week went well. We didn’t have quite as many students as last week, but I was encouraged by the time we spent together. I had three ladies in my beginners group where we reviewed our vocabulary and added some new terms. We’ve been going over body parts and I wanted to go over “stomach”, “chest” and “throat” so that they might be able to communicate better with a doctor in case of an emergency. Those terms are a little more abstract than “feet” and “ears” and I had some trouble communicating the difference between “throat” and “neck”. Also, I hadn’t anticipated how awkward it would be trying to teach the word “chest” to a bunch of ladies my mom’s age. I got some weird looks for a minute, but I think we were all on the same page by the end of class.

All things considered it was a good class and the Lord continues to bless us.

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Another exciting night at English Class tonight. I had four folks in my beginners group, including a new lady named Hu. I was unable to communicate with her enough to find out where she is from, but I peeked over while she was taking notes and they were not in Chinese or Japanese characters. We reviewed our body parts from last week and started distinguishing between singular and plural items. “This is my eye” versus “these are my eyes”, that sort of thing. We also added some simple clothing vocabulary and started into colors. At the end of the hour I was able to say, “What color is my shirt?”, and they could respond, “Your shirt is blue.” Pretty exciting.

Nancy and Judy took the intermediate group and continued working on the alphabet and pronunciation, and Mary Lee went with Jolet and worked on reading comprehension. All in all it was a great time and I am very pleased with our progression.

Big news everyone, Gretchen is pregnant! She is in the first week of her second trimester right now, and I’ve conducted a brief interview with her about her pregnancy so far:

C: Gretchen, so I hear you are pregnant…

G: Yes I am, I’m due Aug. 18th. Which works out well because school is out June 16th, so I can spend the last two months in the pool.

C: Thats excellent, are you excited?

G: Yes I am, we had a good sonogram yesterday. The baby was jumping up and down, moving all around. It made me a little nervous that we might have a high strung child, but the technician said it was a good sign because that means he or she is healthy and feels good.

C: Ah yes, he did look pretty excited in there. He was loving life and doing a little jig for us!

G: Haha!

C: So, how have you been feeling?

G: Well…terrible. For a while I couldn’t really eat anything and I was nauseous all the time. Then it got even worse for a while, then a little better, then bad again, until today when I got a prescription to help with the nausea and I started feeling great! I am thinking of sending a thank you note to the pharmaceutical company.

C: You do seem to be feeling good. Almost like a whole new Gretchen.

G: Thanks

C: Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?

G: I think its a boy, which scares me, but as long as we get at least one of each I’ll be ok. We’ll find out in six weeks!

C: What is it about a boy that scares you?

G: I didn’t really know many boys growing up, we had all girls in our family. They seem to be rougher and get hurt more.

C: I understand.

G: And, girls are sweet. I know girls, I am a girl!

C: True, true.

G: What about you? Would like a boy or girl?

C: Well, I suppose I would like a boy for all the same reasons you don’t. Familiarity, rougher, gets hurt more, etc.

G: Don’t you think a little girl would just melt your heart? Imagine that “I love you daddy” and those tiny chubby hands holding your cheeks, you would be melted butter.

C: I suppose you’re right about that. Well, thank you for the interview sweetheart.

G: Are you putting the pictures up?

C: Yes.

G: Good.

Click for a larger image

Sonogram 1: Hi Mommy!

Sonogram 2: A steady heartbeat

Sonogram 3: Spinal chord

I wanted to make a quick note here and draw your attention to the resources section of this site. For the past few years I have been collecting electronic versions of Christian literature, most of which is public domain. I thought it might be useful to some folks if I put a little of it online, so I’ve been slowly sifting through files and uploading my favorite stuff.

Here’s a list of what’s available at the moment:

Bible Study Tools
– Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the whole Bible

Historical Church Documents
– Luther’s 95 Theses
– The Apostles Creed
– The Athanasian Creed
– The Augsburg Confession
– The Canons of Dordt
– The Canons of the Council of Orange
– The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon
– The Heidelberg Catechism
– The Nicene Creed
– The Westminster Confession of Faith

Sermons
– Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
– A Defense of Calvinism by Charles Spurgeon
– The Need of Decision for the Truth by Charles Spurgeon
– Earnestness: It’s Marring and Maintenance by Charles Spurgeon

Other Literature
– The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
– Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by Charles Spurgeon
– Mortification of Sin in Believers by John Owen

Feel free to read, download and distribute these as you desire. You can access it by clicking on “Resources” on the “Links” section on the right of your screen. Enjoy!

Earlier in the week I began hearing rumors about an aggressive flu virus running rampant through several families in our church. Being 23 years old and therefore an invincible genius, I reasoned that this virus would have no effect on me and proceeded with my plans to spend Wednesday evening volunteering with our Awanas ministry. We spent an hour playing with Play-Doh together, which, in retrospect probably wasn’t a great idea. In fact, looking back I can remember watching one cute little girl sneeze, wipe her nose and immediately hand me a Play-Doh necklace she had made, which I then put on.

So, I got sick on Friday night and spent pretty much all weekend trying not to throw up or pass out. This weekend also marked the arrival of BLIZZARD 2006!!, which, in Roanoke amounted to some very beautiful snow fall for most of Saturday, but not enough to really cover the roads or sidewalks.

In my incapacitated state I was unable to enjoy the snow first hand, but we did get to send Ben and Weezy out to frolic in the winter wonderland for a few hours. Here they are loving life in our back yard:

They loved it, so much in fact that we had a hard time getting them to come back in. Unfortunately, I’m sure we will have the same problem today when all the snow is melted and our back yard is a mud-pit.

Another great night at our English classes! A couple of new students came and a few new volunteers as well. We were able to break up into three groups, which made teaching mush easier. One group went over recent newspaper articles, another went over the alphabet, and my group continued to discuss body parts. We got into some more specific stuff like teeth and toes and we started to distinguish between “my toes”, “your toes”, “her toes” and “his toes”.

It went well, and there was even more laughing and joking than usual as far as I could tell. I think that relationships are developing well enough that I might start doing some home visitation, and if it seems appropriate I might even invite some folks to church or Bible study soon!

Thank you for your prayers!

A couple weeks ago I went on a retreat with the leaders of Grace Church. Our group of 25 included Pastor Tim, the Elders, the Deacons, all the folks heading up various committees and ministry teams, and myself.

We got there and enjoyed a relaxed and delicious meal together, then gathered in a comfortable room with a fireplace. We sang some songs, then heard from our guest speaker, a Pastor Smith from a church in Charleston, West Virginia. For the next 24 hours Pastor Smith helped us to examine the idea of servant leadership. He taught about the type of leadership Christians are called to, and my mind was blown by what he said.

Particularly, that the church is not meant to be run like a company. Ministry is not business. A Pastor is not a CEO and Elders are not a board of trustees. A congregation is not a group of clients, and the gospel is not a product we are trying to sell. Ministry is service, ministers are servants. If a parallel had to be drawn between the church and a business the minister would be better compared with the custodian than the CEO. The purpose of the Christian minister is to serve people. It’s not to preach great sermons, but to preach great sermons to people so that they might learn. It’s not to grow the congregation and build a bigger church, it’s to serve people in such a way that their lives are improved, then to serve the friends and neighbors they bring along with them. People people people, all the time. Not the future of the church as an organization or the future of my position or the budget or whatever, but people. Human beings trump everything else, and thank God for that.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that my focus in ministry was refreshed. I am reminded of that moment right before Jesus had his final meal with his friends before he was killed. He took off his coat and got down on his knees and washed their feet. He did the job of a slave. The Lord of all creation humbled himself and became the servant of foolish men.

Like most humans, I’m selfish and I want to be in charge. I want people to respect me and think I’m the greatest. I want them to be scared of offending me and eager to do what I say. Please pray that God will make me more humble. Pray that I would exhibit deference rather than arrogance, and that I would serve rather than be served.

And if there is anyway I can pray for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

After the English class this week it occurred to me that I know next to nothing about some of the countries our students come from. For example, I know a little about Bosnia from all the news coverage of the war a few years ago, but I probably would have trouble finding it on a map. So I spent a little time looking at the atlas and learning a thing or two about the homes our students left behind.

As I read, I made this map with a yellow dot on every country that is represented in our class. (click for a larger image)

It might not look like much at first, but as I was thinking about it it struck me just how amazing this is. Not only that folks from all over the world are living just a few blocks away, but also that God has seen fit to bring us together. Under what other circumstances would I have the privilege to talk about family with a single mother from Honduras every Thursday night? When would I get to laugh and spend time with a grandmother from Jordon?

And more importantly, when would I ever have the opportunity to tell these folks about the love of God expressed in Christ? I could be in missions for a lifetime and not get to serve in all the countries represented in our little class. Praise God for His grace in bringing the world to us, pray that we will be good stewards! (1 Cor 4:1)

I noticed it’s been a little while since I posted some pictures here. I haven’t taken any photos at our English classes yet because I’m afraid to hurt the dynamic we have right now. Everyone seems to be comfortable and I don’t know enough about all the different cultures to be comfortable breaking out the camera. It would be a disaster to start snapping photos and have someone think I’m an undercover immigration services agent or something and freak out.

So in order to add a little color here, I thought I’d post some pictures from our stay with Gretchen’s parents over Thanksgiving. Click for larger images.

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Here we are moments after Gretchen crossed the finish line in “The Turkey Trot”, a 5K race her family participates in every year on Thanksgiving day. Amazing how beautiful she looks for having just run five kilometers isn’t it? Notice the half dozen layers I’m wearing to combat the bitter cold, and the reflective vest I borrowed from my father-in-law so I could stand in restricted areas and get a better view.

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Here I am with my father-in-law as we prepare to go out and cut down a Christmas tree in the back yard, another family tradition. Having never cut down a tree before I was very excited and grew a lumberjack beard for the occasion.

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And here we are an hour later with the tree. You might notice that I seem a little less sure of myself than before. Thats because the twelve foot tree they selected fell on me while we were cutting it down. It turns out being a good lumberjack takes more than just the beard.

I hope you enjoyed those! I’ll hopefully have some more recent photos to put up soon.

I just got back from our English class tonight and I am pleased to report that it went really well. We had three new students tonight, two from Mexico and one from Honduras. I spent the majority of the evening pointing to various parts of my body and saying “NOSE”, or “ELBOW”. They picked up on the new vocabulary very quickly, but pronunciation was a little more difficult. Certain sounds we make when pronouncing English words are not easy for Spanish speakers to imitate. The “th” sound is one of those, making words like “mouth” and “teeth” very hard to say. Evidently “thumb” is the mother of all hard words to say, as I spent probably ten minutes saying it while they repeated back something like “some-ba”.

I can’t comprehend how frustrating it must be to have to learn a language like English late in life. These folks are clearly eager to understand and they are very diligent in their practice. Unfortunately they only have me for a teacher. Please pray for us, especially these students:

Edward from Cuba
Monpilar from Laos
Jolet from Sudan
Roberta from Honduras
Blanca from El Salvador
Elvira from Bosnia
Zijah from Bosnia
Fatijah from Bosnia
Subhia from Jordan
Tobias from Mexico
Mari from Mexico

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RSS Verse of the day

  • Psalm 37:4
    Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

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