Friday, August 29, 2008

Frivolous Friday!

All this political campaigning has made me hungry! Any one else fancy a meal at a good old chinese food place? Oops, I'm sorry, I'm not that hungry, I think I'll pass on chinese food and settle for something with good old beef in it. I suspect that the people who made the "DONT'T drink and drive" sign which I posted last week, are probably the same folks that were contracted to paint this "SOTP" sign. I would strongly suggest that local governments re-open the bidding for new sign making contractors (preferably one's that graduated from kindergarten), as it appears that you get what you pay for. SOTP laughing so hard will you!!!
Evidently, 'Dr. Phil' below, a fine, red-blooded, all-American, is exempt from following his own advice. Last I heard, he was applying for a job at a sign making company! Hey, at least he spelt USA correctly!! At least I think he did. What if his "U" is actually a partially obscured "W"? Have an excellent, extended-weekend of 'vegging' in front of the TV watching college football! Hey, I'm sorry if you don't like college football, but I understand that we can't all be perfect right!?! See you next week!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"No Way, No How, No McCain!"

I refuse to tip my hand as to my position on the presidential elections. However, since we are in the throes of the Democratic Party Convention, I thought I would point out some glaring inconsistencies I've noticed that are at best disingenuous of Hillary Clinton and her fellow Democrats. While the Democrats accuse McCain of 'dirty' politics, I marvel at the fact that what they are repudiating is an advert that turns the tables on a statement made by Hillary herself regarding Obama's competence to serve as Commander-in Chief. Her very public statement quoted her as claiming that both she and McCain would bring loads of political experience to the office of president, while Obama merely had a speech he gave in 2002. McCain recently used a clip from that speech in an ad drawing attention to the fact that even Obama's fellow Democrats think he lacks the necessary expertise to serve as president during these tenuous times. In response to the ad, Hillary, with as much political rhetoric as she can muster claims, "I'm Hillary Clinton, and I do not approve of that message."

What??? You made the statement in the first place. Where you smoking something when you said it, or are you suggesting that, since you lost the primaries to Obama he has suddenly gained the necessary political experience to serve as president? McCain is simply highlighting a statement you made in an attempt to wrest the nomination for Democratic Party candidate from Obama, and now you're mad about that!?! Furthermore, in her speech yesterday, Clinton highlighted three families that are going through dire straits because they don't have health insurance to take care of their very pressing medical needs, and she blames it on the Bush administrations failed health care policies and agenda. Now that is not only disingenuous, but downright dishonest. To hear her speak, you would think that every American had health insurance while her husband was president, and that you couldn't find any similar stories to the ones she told, during his tenure in the White House. That is political gerrymandering of the highest order. Don't use poor, innocent, suffering people to advance your political agenda. If she'd ended the stories by telling us how she paid for these three families to receive the necessary medical care (I'm sure it would only cost a miniscule percentage of what she spent on her political campaign from her own personal resources), I would have commended her and agreed that those were stories worth telling. As it stands, how are their stories any different from the ones told when Bill Clinton was in the White House, and she had the mandate to turn the health care system around?

Finally, there's the governor of Pennsylvania, an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter, knocking Obama in the press, and when he's confronted with his own statement in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, he suggests that the Republicans are putting a spin on it to further their own political agenda. He asserts that they should have listened to the entire speech. Excuse me, but if, hypothetically speaking you call someone 'incompetent,' I'm not sure that anything else you say after that will suddenly change the fact that you've called him incompetent. These are some of the things I hate the most about our presidential elections. It would appear that, for what's at stake, people will say and do anything to get elected to political office regardless of how it compromises their integrity and character. So, Mr Republican Party, we await your own convention to see if you have any more character than the Democrats or if you'll just add the typical political rhetoric that makes us aware that either way we choose, we lose!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Redeem or Re-Dream Team?

It's been a while since I 'mounted' my soap box, so indulge me while I rant about The USA mens Olympic basketball team. First off, I'm with Kobe Bryant when he says that the coined name "Redeem Team" is "cheesy." I mean, come on, who seriously cares whether you're trying to redeem yourselves from the fact that you've only won 12 out of the last 15 Olympic gold medals in mens basketball? The Olympics represent so much more than indulged, overpaid, self-entitled men parading themselves around as if being a professional basketball player somehow makes you better than all the other athletes at the games. Having said that, I am thoroughly 'chuffed' that David Stern (commissioner of the NBA) refused to be drawn into the hype of comparing this "Redeem Team" to the original "Dream Team" that first shone the spotlight on professional basketball players competing at the Olympics. When asked which team he thought was better, he responded, "That's not a comparison that I'm going to make. I think it's a nice set of bookends representing how we introduced the sport to a broader audience..."

Then they asked some of the players what they thought a matchup between the two teams would have looked like. Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, who, a few years ago won the NBA championship, demonstrated as much class as David Stern when he responded, "I would never even try to match us with the Dream Team. First of all, they gave us the vision to be the team that we are, with all those stars coming together.... You can't be compared to the first. Only thing you can do is write your own history, and that's what we're doing." What a smart response from a young man who has already won the crowning jewel of the NBA. Similarly, Lebron James, declined to conjecture about the outcome of such a matchup and simply said, "It would be a good one. It would be a real good one." Sadly, not all players displayed such class and intelligence. Carmelo Anthony, confronted with the same question responded, "I think we would've beat them... we think we can hang with anybody."

Forgive me, but the last time I checked, Carmelo Anthony hasn't even won the Western Conference Finals. Carmelo who??? He wasn't even a starter on the so called "Redeem Team" yet he dares to compare himself and his team to the greatest players that ever played the game of basketball. I mean, he has a nick name like "Melo" while that team had names like "Larry Legend." It featured the most prolific passing tandem of Stockton and Malone. One of the biggest and best point guards to ever play the game, in Earving Magic Johnson. The Dream Team boasted all stars like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars, Scottie Pippen, and of course the greatest basketball player of all time in Michael Jordan, to name just some of the players. These were men who were mostly past their prime yet not one team could even come close to threatening their reign as the 'supreme team.' Maybe Carmelo was talking about beating that team if they played them today, since most of them would be in their mid to late forties. Even then, I still wouldn't put my money on Carmelo and his boys. Kobe Bryant may arguably be the best player on this current team and even he doesn't hold a candle to Michael and Magic and co.

I think it is tactless and arrogant for the likes of Carmelo Anthony to make such thoughtless assertions when he is better known for his off the court DUI's and other such activities than he is for his skill on the court. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, didn't presume to compare themselves to the original "Dream Team" yet Carmelo thinks they would've beaten them. Carmelo, if you're listening, you haven't even begun to approach leaving a legacy of any substance so you'd best shut up and play basketball and let history judge the rest. Your assertions sound as ridiculous as Tiger Woods would sound if he bragged that he's better than Jack Nicklaus. He doesn't need to say it, he just needs to prove it so that the end of his career leaves no doubt of that fact. Just some friendly advice! There, I feel much better now!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Frivolous Friday!

I know it's Saturday, and I generally never post on the weekend, but I missed Friday's post because I was flying back from Lagos, Nigeria and didn't arrive in Orlando until past 10.00pm. If you'd been awake for 24 straight hours like I had, you wouldn't be in a position to post a blog either. So I'm catching up on 'Frivolous Friday' and posting today's funny signs which essentially leave me scratching my head in wonder.
Evidently you shouldn't drink and make signs either. May be this sign making company should crack open spell check once in a while so that they don't spell DONT'T with a double T.So which is it? Are you always open or are you closed? This kind of uncertainty is certainly bad for business!No, I mean your other right, idiot!!! Well, that's enough idiocy to last me the weekend, so enjoy, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here's Your Sign!!!

You know how I typically post a sign that I've found to be extremely funny, every Friday? Well, I couldn't wait until Friday for this one as I just had to post it immediately. Many of the signs that I post are funny primarily because they didn't set out to be so. Somewhere along the line a 'brain fart' caused them to skip a word or letter, or mistranslate the context of the info they were trying to communicate, which completely altered the meaning of the sign. In today's sign, there was definetely no humor intended, and no mistranslations (though I'm sure the people listed wish there were).

So, we drive to a meeting at a church in a neigborhood called Surulere, and park right in front of this gated community. Evidently the neighborhood association got tired of sending reminders of past-due bills to some delinquent residents, and decided to take more drastic measures. They listed the names, addresses and past-due amounts of all the "chronic debtors" in the homeowners association. What??? What is even more laughable is the fact that a church is one of the listed "chronic debtors." Can you imagine people driving by the gate every Sunday on their way to church and seeing their church name boldly displayed on a sign on the gate. I imagine it's advertising of the worst kind. One thing's for sure, it can't inspire faithful giving at that church.

Funny thing is, apparently as people get caught up on the 'backlog' of their debt, their names are whited out on the sign, but if you look closely enough, you can still read the names under the white paint. How's that for punishing you for your 'crime' of indebtedness. All I can say is: Many of us should be grateful we live in countries where this isn't legal to do (not entirely sure it's legal in Nigeria either, but hey...) Can you imagine your local Publix or Walmart store putting up a large sign of all the 'rubber'checks for the month; names, addresses and amounts included? Or your homeowners association putting up a similar signboard right in front of the club house entrance? I wonder if that would discourage delinquency? Hmmmm, I wonder if...!?!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Hey guys, I'm finally in Lagos, Nigeria. It feels like we flew forever, but I'm glad to report that it was an uneventful flight (which really is the only kind of flight you want). I realize that in the last week I've been on three continents and it really is remarkable when you think about how small our world has become as a result of jet travel and of course the internet. Matthew, a young man from The Well, is the reason I'm in Nigeria. He just graduated from high school and will make Nigeria his home for the next couple of months as he explores and experiences life beyond his comfort zone. You see, Matthew is a young, white male who has never left the shores of the USA.

I'm in no doubt that his reward will be commensurate with the risk he's taken to ensure that he learns about life from a totally unfamiliar perspective. If only we could all be as brave as Matthew and take the plunge towards the unfamiliar and potentially risky venture that God has laid out for us, we would no doubt be much better off for it. So, while you enjoy the relative comfort of your 'familiar' place, Matt and I are off to discover all that Nigeria has to offer a young eighteen-year old man that's trying to find himself. A wise man once said: "He who will find his life, must first lose it." Are you still holding tightly onto yours?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Planes, Trains and automobiles (okay just planes)!!!

It's D-Day yet again! I leave this morning for Lagos, Nigeria on the final leg of my 'three-continent-tour' in three weeks. My body doesn't even try to mess with time zones anymore and just goes to sleep whenever and wherever it wants to (watch out all you drivers). Any way, while I'm looking forward to the trip, more than anythying else I'm looking forward to finally getting back. I guess the strong grace that accompanied my season for extensive and frequent travel, is long over. I love pastoring The Well, and I love being home with my family and my church family, serving our community. So, if you remember, send up a quick prayer for me as I travel over the next week, who knows, I might even see it going by while I'm flying to Lagos. I'll see you on the other side of the Atlantic!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Free Children!?!

Didn't anyone tell these folks that baby/children racketeering is illegal? Besides, even if it weren't illegal, with the high cost of living these days, what makes them think that if I purchased two of them I'd want three more for free??? Have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Giddy about Guatemala!!!

Sadly, today marks the end of my Guatemala ’08 presentation (I could show you hundreds of photos, but I think the ones I’ve shown over the last week are fairly representative of much of what we experienced). Today I’d like to share a more personal story of Almolonga. Because it has always been my heart’s cry to see the nations of the world bow their knees before our Lord Jesus (my life verse is actually Psalm 2: 8), I have always hungered to make a personal pilgrimage to this place that boasts an amazing story of transformation. On my “Bucket List” this would rank quite highly. All the while we were in Quetzaltenango, I had no idea that we were roughly 20 minutes away from this city. It wasn’t until we were driving to Las Cumbres on the penultimate evening of our visit, that Claudia (our native Guatemalan, and Children’s Ministry pastor) began to tell us the story of this city we would be driving through. The story sounded remarkably familiar to me and so I mentioned that I was familiar with a similar story of a city called Almolonga. She smiled and calmly informed me that that was the very city we would be passing through.

I could have popped an artery! I was apoplectic with joy and, according to the rest of my team, became like a kid in a candy store with more choices than he knows what to do with. I had to take a photo. I had to walk around and ask questions. I had to touch the people. Frustratingly though, because we had to freshen up and return to Quetzaltenango for an appointment with a pastor, we couldn’t stop to sight-see. The next morning we were ready bright and early and headed back into Almolonga. Let me digress for a moment and mention that Guatemala has got to be the stray-dog-capital of the world! We lost count after around 700, and they all look hungry, lean, and mangy, running around in packs scavenging for food in every possible crevice they can find. Not so in Almolonga! The stray dogs were fat and happy, lounging around lazily as if they had also benefited from the prosperity that had hit the region. I was duly informed that they had. Everyone seems to smile in Almolonga, and 9 out of every 10 people are Christians (I’d hate to be the odd one).

Then Claudia suggested that we go take photos in front of the church that was started by the Evangelist whom God used to spark this amazing revival and transformation. Upon our arrival, we discovered that the church was open and so we ventured inside, only to run into two of their elders praying. They were in the middle of a 120 day fast!!! As we talked with them, Claudia said that they asked if we could pray for them. What??? Me, pray for them!?! I couldn’t do it, and asked if they would instead pray for us. Graciously they obliged, and proceeded to anoint each one of us with oil and passionately and fervently call out to Heaven on our behalf. Their wives joined them and you could hear their plaintiff cries as they prayed earnestly for God to touch our lives. I hunger to experience what God has done in Almolonga, in my adopted homeland of the USA. I have seen revivals come and go, but I have never witnessed a complete transformation of a city because of the touch of God. Imagine Orlando, FL, the entertainment capital of the world, without bars, brothels, or jails. Unimaginable you say. Well, that’s only because you don’t know the God I serve. Thank you Guatemala for reminding us of what is truly important.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To Him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly...

The story of the spiritual transformation of the city of Almolonga, Guatemala is unparalleled in the annals of recent church history. Perched at approximately 14,000 feet above sea level, this was a 'barren' city steeped in poverty, where alcoholism was the conventional pastime. Men were unruly, drunken, wife-beaters, living only for the next drink. Even though farming was the primary means of sustenance, the ground hardly yielded enough crop for the local families to feed.

Then someone had an idea that God could change a city through His love and power. This local preacher began to preach the Gospel, highlighting above everything else, the love of a God who could heal, forgive and restore. This small 'shanty town' built of corrugated metal shacks and wood, populated by 36 bars, and a large jail to house the unruly wife-beaters, suddenly began to pay attention. The story of their transformation was so captivating and inspiring, that George Otis Jnr. did a magnificent video production titled "Transformations" which featured, Kiambu, Kenya; Cali, Columbia; Hemet, California and Almolonga, Guatemala.

As hearts were healed, marriages restored, and alcoholism cured supernaturally, the number of bars went from 36 to 3. When we visited a few days ago, we were informed that there are no bars in Almolonga. There is no jail or prison (it has been converted to a community center) and they are now affectionately known as "America's Vegetable Garden." By their own admission, the crop they produce is supernatural since they are farming the same soil as previously, and are not doing anything differently. They produce carrots the size of your forearm, and their farms look like gardens laid almost vertically into the sides of the mountains. Everyone is prosperous in Almolonga. We observed, wide-eyed, as everyone seems to smile as they go about their business. There are churches on every corner, banks every few doors down, and even a Western Union.

Their corrugated shacks have been replaced by block buildings (still being built, as you can tell by the photos), and they purchase their Mercedes Benz delivery trucks with cash from their bumper harvests. How dare anyone suggest that God cannot transform a city through prayer, love, and faithful service. Behold: Almolonga, Guatemala!!! I'll tell you more tomorrow. Enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chicken anyone?

Our first meal in Guatemala was at Pollo Campero (arguably the McDonalds of Guatemala), a really popular chicken place. The chicken was absolutely delicious and it prepared us for the long and grueling four and a half hour drive up to the mountains of Quetzaltenango. We settled into our hotel at about 10.00pm (which was really midnight on the East Coast) knowing that we had a long day ahead of us at the Battered Women's Shelter.

Joey, our Community Relations Pastor, was really taken by the kids at the Battered Women's Shelter, we nicknamed him the Pied Piper, as the kids flocked to him continuously. It was such an experience as many of the kids generally spend much of the day entertaining themselves while their mothers do all the chores that keep the shelter running from day to day. With some of us doing their chores, and others playing with, entertaining, and ministering to the kids, the mothers had a chance to put their feet up for the first time in a long time. The little boy in the 'hoodie' was very aloof initially as his mother was in the hospital and so he was all alone at the shelter, where they'd only been living for about a week. He wandered around aimlessly, completely devoid of emotions and we couldn't even get him to smile. After a few hours, he was laughing and playing and telling us stories. It truly warmed my heart to be able to bring a measure of joy to his life amongst so many others. Tomorrow I will begin to talk about the story that impacted me the most and I'll have photos to go along with the story.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Glorious Guatemala!!!

This was truly an inspiring and rewarding trip. Clyde is carrying one of the young students from the elementary school we ministered at. We handed out school supplies, candy and scriptures to every single class and student.
I was incredibly proud of my fifteen year old daughter, as she prayed for the students in the middle school. It was such a delight to see her loving on the students and embracing them across the language barrier, especially since it was her very first mission trip.

I challenged the students to give me the location of a specific verse in the Bible so that they could earn a $20.00 bill. A young lady won the challenge and wide-eyed, came forward to receive her prize. Considering that the Guatamelan Quetzal exchanges for 7.5 Quetzales to $1.00, she made more than enough money to go shopping for some new shoes and clothes.
Giddy middle school girls are the same from one continent to another. These young ladies were so pleasant, and eager to find out all about American culture. Claudia, our childrens pastor (who is from Guatemala) was happy to answer all their questions.
The penultimate night of our trip was spent at a beautiful resort over 14,000 feet in the mountains, called Las Cumbres. It's a resort built on a natural warm springs, so their steam sauna's were incredibly therapeutic and refreshing. The view from my room made nonsense of the theory of evolution, as only a loving and creative God could have made such beauty and splendor.

This is a photo of Karen, my daughter Bimi, and I. Karen is the only woman whose underwear I have ever washed (including my wife). Karen is an abuse victim that lives at the battered women's shelter where we ministered on our first day in Quetzaltenango. A mere seventeen years old, Karen has a baby that she has refused to bond with (we speculate that she was the victim of incest or rape). Suspicious of men, we finally persuaded Karen to allow Bimi and I to do her entire load of laundry for both herself and her baby son. We cleaned, washed, cooked, swept, mopped and served the women and children at the shelter, while providing a supply of milk for the children, along with clothes and shoes, and of course, 'tons' of candy. Karen turned out to be the sweetest little girl. It was truly difficult for me to accept that she was literally two years older than my daughter, yet had been exposed to such a vile and sordid life. It was a privilege to serve and love on these women and their children.
These two photos (above and beneath) were taken at the elementary school where we did a special drama presentation which really inspired the kids to think about their choices, and understand how freeing God's love is. Over the next few days I'll be posting a few more photos with some really inspiring stories.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I`m so fulfilled!!!

I´m back in Guatemala City after an amazingly fulfilling time of ministry. The most impacting thing to happen to me on this trip was being able to visit Almolonga, Guatemala, and be anointed with oil and prayed for by leaders from the church that began the move of God that transformed the city into a completely Christian city. There are no jails, no brothels, no bars... and the best thing is that the land has been `redeemed`alongside the people. They are known as America´s vegetable garden, and they produce carrots as big as my forearm. I can´t wait to show you pictures and give you more details about this amazing trip. Right now I`m off to jump in the jacuzzi and enjoy a little `me`time. I´ll see you on Monday with pictures and stories. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wonderful technology!!!

Woo hoo, I´m in an Internet Cafe in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (about 4.5 hours drive from Guatemala City). It´s the first one we´ve seen and I never thought I´d be so glad for technology. I´m literally posting this blog just to tell you that I found an Internet Cafe as we have very little time to indulge in such ´frivolous´pasttimes as the Internet. Any way, I will more than likely be able to post a more comprehensive blog on Friday when we´re back in Guate City. Meanwhile, you need to know that we are having the time of our lives and loving the people and their country. Pictures and details to come, so watch this space.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Here I go again!

It's D-Day again! I leave today for Guatemala, with a team from The Well. It promises to be a really fulfilling and exciting trip, especially since my 15-year old daughter gets to experience the joys of serving others through a mission trip for the first time in her life. I am also thrilled at the opportunity to be able to experience God's love through the eyes of another culture. I pray that our team will be extensions of His hands and heart. I pray that we will remember that we are not the 'experts' but simply tools in the 'Master Builders' hands. I pray that we will remember that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. But most of all, I pray that we will always be reminded of the privilege we have to live in a nation that makes it possible for us to serve others. I truly am looking forward to the 'adventure' that God has in store for us, and I look forward to giving you daily (depending on several factors) updates from the road. Watch this space, and if you get bored watching, then spare a moment to say a prayer for our team.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Okay, last weeks Frivolous Friday post had to do with my brothers 'exciting train escapade' where he got caught on my train heading out to Wales from London. As you can well imagine, his entire day was shot by the time he made it back to Euston station, and his colleagues didn't let him live that one down. Today I wanted to continue the Welsh theme (don't panic Usman, it has nothing to do with the train ride) at least not directly! Anyway, I got talking to this really pleasant lady on the return journey to London, and during our conversation I discovered that the town with the longest name in the world is actually located on the Island of Anglesey in North Wales. The town is called, wait for it... drum roll please...


Yes, you read it right (or at least attempted to), all 58 letters! So, a couple of thoughts. How do you fill out the immigration card asking for the name of your hometown when you travel? How does spell check ensure that you spelt it correctly? How does your teacher know that you spelt it correctly on a test? Anyway, it would appear that they thought of all that before naming the town so they came up with a more acceptable and easier abbreviation: The town is called "Llanfair PG" pronounced something like "Chlaver PG." The actual English translation of the name of the town is: "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave" (You can't make this sort of stuff up). Oh, in case you were wondering, the train station has the full name spelled out on the signpost (see photo above), no short cuts for these Llanfair PGans. Have a great weekend :)