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December 30, 2006

Taylor Update Dec 30

I haven't heard anything else from Taylor since her departure from Miami, but she'll be in a very remote area of Panama and I don't expect to hear anything until they return to Panama City next week. The following was posted to the Gloabal Expeditions website yesterday:

Hey Friends & Family,

We arrived in Panama City late last night! The kids are doing great. We went to our hotel and checked in after we arrived. 

Today they are practicing for VBS and settling into their teams. Early tomorrow morning we will be heading out to our village trips, and should be there for several days. Everyone is excited and can't wait to get out there. Since we will be in remote villages these young adults will not be able to call home for several days. As soon as we are back in the city we will be sure to have them call their parents.

Thank you so much for your prayers. We miss you all!

Toby Anderson and Sarah Wilson
Trip Project Directors

December 28, 2006

Taylor Update Dec 28

I received a phone call from Taylor yesteday afternoon about 4:00. She was getting on the plane for Panama City. It was a hurried conversation as there was a lot of hustle and bustle in the background and she didn't have time to talk, but she sounded excited and it was wonderful to know she was safe.

Please pray for her arrival in Panama and her team's trek into the jungle. Pray that she and her team stay healthy and safe - and pray that she will be a capable, loving servant to her fellow teammates and the Kuna tribe.

I'll keep you updated!

Chapter-a-Day Luke 17

Jesus said, "Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?" Then he said to him, "Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you." Luke 17:17-19 (TM)

As New Year's approaches and I look back at 2006, I'm reminded to be like the one leper who made a conscious choice to seek out the Master and say "thank you". He has blessed me and my family in so many ways.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

December 27, 2006

Taylor's Off!

I'm up early - very early. Taylor is heading to Panama this morning on her missions trip. It's hard to believe that it's here already. She'll be flying to Miami this morning to hook up with her Global Expeditions team. Then, she'll be flying to Panama City late this afternoon and arriving tonight.

Taylor will be hiking into a jungle village, doing VBS with the children, visiting hut-to-hut, helping with daily tasks and worshipping with believers from the Kuna Indians in the evenings. At dinner last night Taylor mentioned that she's most anxious about how she'll deal with the living conditions. She's most excited about the opportunity to share Jesus' love with people.

A special thanks to all of you who generously provided financial support for Taylor to make this journey. If you would continue to pray for her, here are a few of her requests:

  • Safety on the journey
  • No travel delays or problems with flights
  • That she'll quickly develop strong relationships with the other members of her team and that they will relate well with each other
  • Strength for the jungle treks
  • That she will have the opportunity to introduce people to Jesus

December 26, 2006

A Great Christmas

Xmas_lightIt was a great Christmas weekend!

Saturday noon we celebrated with Wendy's mom's (Vander Hart) family. We had a potluck in the basement of Grandma Vander Hart's apartment building with the extended family. Of course, we ate waaaaaay too much. Wendy brought her key lime cheesecake! Wendy's grandfather handcrafted a lot of toys for a local toy ministry that sends them to needy kids. Grandma had a bunch of the toys left and let the grandkids pick what they wanted. It was really cool. Wendy and the girls picked out a wooden tractor and a doll bed.

After lunch, it was back to our house for the Hall crew. We opened gifts and the had a chili supper. Wendy has been slaving away in the kitchen for over a week and it paid off. We had a spectacular meal and stuffed ourselves with her spritz cookies and chocolate truffles :) After supper there was a heated guys vs. girls match of Trivial Pursuit (guys won!). Lots of laughs. Lots of joy. Just the way it should be.

Yesterday morning the four of us opened gifts and had a family breakfast. Then it was getting cleaned up and off to Des Moines to celebrate with the Vander Wells. Wendy brought chocolate mint cheesecake along with the truffles and cookes. Tim had baked Figure 8 cookies and mom had cinnamon rolls and russian tea cookies. Oh my lord, it was a wonder they didn't have to roll us home! We had a wonderful lunch and then opened gifts. Tim and his girlfriend bought the four of us the game "cranium" so the whole family got together to play through the late afternoon. Before we left for home, the family gathered to lay hands on Taylor and pray for her trip to Panama.

What capped the day off for me was getting unexpected e-mails and phone calls from friends and family wishing us a Merry Christmas.

Family. Friends. Food. Fun. Laughter. Joy.

It was a great Christmas.

Chapter-a-Day Luke 15

When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (TM)

What has always impressed me about the story of the Prodigal was the fact that the father didn't go chasing after his son. There was no seeking him out in the distant land - no confrontation in the pig pen in which the father says, "son you're coming home with me." The father gave his son the opportunity to fail. The story says he saw his son from a "long way off" so he must have been watching the road, praying for his return. Nevertheless, he let him go.

December 24, 2006

Let the Xmas Celebrations Begin!

Joshwendy122306  Yesterday, Wendy and I headed to Iowa City to join the Hall siblings at Jesse & Heidi's place.

Over the past two years I've watched as the Hall family has plowed through the agonizing process of trying to figure out what to do about Christmas gifts. Now that all but two of the siblings are adults (Josh is an adult, isn't he?) what do we do about Christmas gifts? There are seven sibs and three spouses. That's a lot of gifts for anyone. The phone calls and e-mails start in late summer and the intense exchanges continue for months unabated. It's as if we're trying to find an answer to nuclear proliferation.

Do we get small gifts for everyone?
Do we get larger gifts for the younger sibs and nothing for the older sibs?
Look, why don't we just let everyone do what they want to do and be happy about it.
Hey I know, how about pulling a name out of a hat and let everyone get one gift!
Yes, but no one needs anything. Let's have fun and do a white elephant exchange!
Hey, how about this...

Finally, in the Spirit of the season and with an eye toward diplomatic detente we decided to pool our gift money this year and get gifts for some kids who really need it. Yesterday the sibs all gathered in Hawkeye country and went shopping together for a local youth and homeless shelter. The ladies went shopping for "practical" things while the guys went looking for cool toys and sporting goods ("No, Josh - No, Jesse - we can't get them a b.b. handgun!").

We retired back at Jesse & Heidi's for some spaghetti and typical brother-sister laughter, wrestling, and mayhem. What a blast. It was a great way to kick off the season! I think we may have found an answer.

Now about this nuclear proliferation situation...

Photo: Josh and Wendy

December 22, 2006

Chapter-a-Day Luke 14

Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be my disciple. Luke 14:33 (TM)

I heard a speaker a few years ago say, "faith requires leaving something".

December 21, 2006

Chapter-a-Day Luke 13

A bystander said, "Master, will only a few be saved?"

He said, "Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you'll sit down to God's salvation banquet just because you've been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you're going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you'll find the door locked and the Master saying, 'Sorry, you're not on my guest list.' Luke 13:23-25 (TM)

The best Christmas gift is waiting for any who have been 'hanging around' Jesus' neighborhood but have never stepped past the threshold into a real relationship with Him. In the neighborhood of Bethlehem there were shepherds hanging around, but when they found out that Jesus had been born they left their flocks and said "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us."

December 20, 2006

Chapter-a-Day Luke 12

What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Luke 12:29-32 (TM)

As I enter Christmas weekend, this is a great passage for me to keep close. In a season when our consumerist culture becomes so obsessed with "stuff" that I easily get sucked into forgetting the Message of Christmas. God sent His Son that He might give me His Kingdom, so why do I get enamored with "stuff" that only clutters my life and offers no satisfaction to my soul?