Friday, October 29, 2010

LOCALLY & GLOBALLY

LYDIA-ZION

We had the privilege of sharing at Lydia-Zion United Methodist Church (LZUMC) in Jordan, MN this past Sunday. I got the chance to see several of the youth from Red Rock Camp where I have served as a senior high boys counselor for the past eight summers. One of the boys I counseled, Mark Boettcher, serves as Sunday School Superintendent LZUMC. Mark might be the youngest Sunday School Superintendent I have known at only age 20 and he knows how to do his job well. 
Mark & Bryan circa 2008...?

I always enjoyed counseling Mark and his younger brother Alan at Red Rock, but little did I know that my connection would go further. This past year Molly and I both counseled at Red Rock Camp and also served as the Missionary speakers for the week. It had never come up before, but I found out that Mark and Alan are the nephews of Wayne and Cindy Boettcher who were formerly missionaries to Bolivia through World Gospel Mission.

The church’s connection with Wayne and Cindy made the discussion at Lydia Zion flow very well. Some of the congregation already had a decent knowledge of Bolivia and it was a really great time to share our story. Thank you so much to Lydia-Zion for your prayers for health and safety in Bolivia.

We were also privileged to share in the church’s birthday tradition. As they celebrate birthdays they have a basket filled with papers that have “mission projects”. Each person celebrating a birthday takes the basket around and gives an assignment to someone in the crowd. That paper might say, “Visit someone in a nursing home”, or “carry someone’s groceries”, or any number of other great local mission project. When the person completes the task they pin it up on the bulletin board at church. I thought this was a great way to remind everyone that mission work starts in our own backyard.

Praise be to God for always preparing the pathway ahead of us and preparing the hearts that will hear us.

Amen. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CHILI. RUGBY. & GIANT MARSHMALLOWS

DUBLIN GOSPEL MISSION

“Lets run the ball a bit, then stop, drink some water and have a commercial,” he said in his thick South African accent. I never would have thought about meeting a South African family living in rural southeastern Indiana. Yet there I sat across the table from Walter Claussen at the Saturday evening chili potluck supper as we talked about the key differences between American football & rugby. Walter and his family are from Capetown, South Africa and have been attending the Dublin Gospel Mission in Dublin Indiana for the past year. Walter’s job brought him to Indiana and we were meeting them only a week before they returned to Capetown. We felt blessed that the timing worked out for us to cross paths. Hearing Walter speak brought up fond memories of my youth pastor, Ken Paynter, and his family who were also from South Africa near Johannesburg I believe.

It is always very interesting to me the connections that we make along our travels. In Canby, Oregon we met Gordon Elliott’s youth leaders. Then in Dublin, Indiana we met the Pastor and his wife, Steve and Sherry Cox, who attended Kentucky Mountain Bible College at the same time as Jerome VanKuiken, my Systematic Theology professor at Vennard College. Steve was in a singing group with Jerome.

I wish I could write out a biography on each of the great personalities we met at the Dublin Gospel Mission. The church is filled with warm hearts, good cooks, talented musicians, and people actively seeking after God. It was a real joy to visit around the tables at the chili supper Saturday Night and to share our story on Sunday morning. Dr. Bruce Moyer was in Dublin with us and was the revival speaker from Sunday through Wednesday evening. We weren't able to stay that whole time, but we are praying that hearts and lives were consecrated to the Lord through the messages shared.


FAITH EVANGELICAL CHURCH (DUNKIRK, IN)

After a great morning in Dublin we got on the road for a short one-hour drive up to Dunkirk. I (Bryan) know the Pastor, Josh Huggett, and his family from their time at Vennard College. We became good friends as we worked alongside each other in ministry at the Oskaloosa Evangelical Church. Josh was the associate pastor and I worked with the youth. It was really great to reconnect after a couple years apart. 

A group of about 30 people met at a home for a nice, informal time of sharing. We had pizza, apple cider, and great desserts and then met in the living room to play some PowerPoint games about Bolivia. This intimate setting sparked some good question and answer time and Molly and I really enjoyed sharing our lives with the people of Faith EC in Dunkirk.  After supper and our sharing time we gathered around the campfire in the back yard and made some s’mores with about the largest marshmallows I have ever seen. I felt like I had placed a volleyball on the end of my skewer. I have found that there is a true art to eating a s’more when one has a beard.

We had a Sunday with two wonderful times of sharing with two wonderful groups of people. There was one downfall in the day though… The Chicago Bears lost to the Seattle Seahawks. 

MANUAL LABOR? SIGN US UP

Brashear, MO

Brashear Community Bible Church

When Pastor Shannon Perry mentioned an opportunity for us to help with a service project for a woman in his church we were excited to roll up our sleeves and work. Each week we speak to congregations about the story of how God brought us together and the ministry He has for us in Bolivia, but I never want to lose sight of the ministry that God has for us in each step along the way.

We arrived in Kirksville, MO on Friday evening October 2nd. We were really excited to stay with our good friends Chad and Kendra Stearman. Molly and I had chance to connect with the Stearmans and their little boy Chase at Camp Zion. Chad and Kendra will be taking over as the young adult directors at Camp Zion 2011.  Chad and Kendra have great hearts devoted to God, devoted to youth, and devoted to missions. They are also avid board gamers and enjoy Settlers of Catan. We had a lot of fun with them.

Saturday morning (October 3) we arrived at the house in Brashear where the work had already begun. A large bonfire was sending smoke high into the clear blue sky. We looked for Pastor Shannon for direction. Molly, Chad and I each got a pair of gloves and went to our assignments. Molly was sent to help weed the flowerbed and garden. I took my place on the demo crew for an old storage building near the house. We stripped off old shingles and tore apart the falling walls to take the pieces to the fire. It seemed like no time had passed when all that was left of the old building was the concrete slab that it set upon. Then Pastor Shannon called for lunch break. As we sat down with our sack lunches we looked around the yard to see just how much progress had been made in such a short time. It was amazing to see how as we all worked together we transformed the entire look of this property. Beyond just changing the look of the property I knew we had touched the heart of the owner and her family.

Following lunch we got back to work. Molly was put on weed eating duty and it didn’t take long before the whole work crew knew that the patch of weeds Molly was cutting down was filled with some wild garlic. The aroma filled the air and filled our nostrils. We all had a pretty good laugh.


Sunday was a real blessing to make some new connections as well as see some familiar faces from Camp Zion. Pastor Shannon introduced us with a video from the Camp Zion 2010 talent show. (Click for: Camp Zion Video)

We had a wonderful time fellowshipping at the carry-in dinner after the morning service and had a lot of fun Sunday evening play ultimate Frisbee and pass the parcel with the youth group. The highlight of my day was when Shannon let me ring the church bell.

HEADING BACK EAST

It took us a couple days to travel between Canby, OR and Glendive, MT, but we were able to stop too see some friends along the way. We stayed with Dylan and Aubrey Does and got to meet baby Xavier Christian Does who was only about 2 weeks old and incredibly adorable. 


















We also stopped again in Spokane, WA to stay with the Schmidts. When we traveled west, only a couple weeks before, baby Caleb was just crawling but now he is walking all over the place. We spent one night with each of our friends. The last night before making it to Glendive, we spent with Chad and Emily Jackson and were able to hold baby Ellie Grace one more time. It is amazing to see how God orchestrates life. Each new life is a precious gift.

Glendive, MN

THE BRIDGE

Have you ever been in a building or house and just felt the history in the atmosphere? We had this experience when we visited THE BRIDGE in Glendive, Montana. John and Kristen Marble lead a home church group in a more than 100-year-old church to home conversion. John, Kristen, and their 10 children (7 adopted and 3 biological) live in the basement and hold church service Wednesday nights on the main floor. This place has some of the coolest architecture with high peaked ceilings and brick walls. 
Here are some photos. 












CLICK FOR: THE BRIDGE WEBSITE

The Bridge has been working through Spiritual Disciplines for several weeks and the Wednesday evening we were there they talked about “Needs”. Kristen shared a message about how we are called to provide for one another just as the apostles did in the book of Acts. In her message, Kristen shared some incredible stories of sacrifice and how God blessed every single time. As missionaries on deputation we know exactly the importance of the spiritual discipline of providing for needs. Our need is clear in the amount of shares we need to raise to return to the mission field. Each week at The Bridge they hand out a laminated card with the Spiritual Discipline, some scriptures, and some life applications. Each person receives a key ring to add his or her cards to. I thought this was a great way to continue the lesson in everyday life and a wonderful reminder that the discipline was more than just a good message.

I had the privilege of leading worship at THE BRIDGE. I haven’t played my guitar regularly while we’ve been on the road so it was nice to play, but also just a great experience to lead others into the throne room of God. My prayer is that as worship leaders we never take for granted the great responsibility we have to show others the face of God. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

THE CANNYS IN CANBY

We were truly blessed in the month of September to have a house provided by the Oregon City Evangelical Church. We used this as our home base as we traveled around the area. Canby Evangelical Church is only about a 10-minute drive from Oregon City so we were afforded a few opportunities to shake hands with the people of this congregation. 

CANBY, OR September 26, 2010

Fun Fact: Canby is nicknamed “The Garden Spot”. 

Some of you may be familiar with the names Kevin and Lisa Hoffman. Lisa’s dad, Gary Schuknecht, is the pastor at Canby Evangelical Church. Lisa and Kevin served as short-term missionaries in Santa Cruz & Mizque, Bolivia and just recently returned to the states taking on the position of Associate Pastor in Harmony, Oregon. With the Canby E.C. having this connection, they already had some basic knowledge of Bolivia, but it was fun for us to share some of our personal experiences from Bolivia. 


We attended prayer meeting on Tuesday night, Bible Study on Wednesday afternoon, and service on Sunday morning. In each of these times we met welcoming hearts and smiling faces. We made some good connections and even met a fellow Iowan. 

I mentioned in our post from Yakima about meeting Shelly Fuehrer’s parents and brother. It is nice to meet the family of your friends and see where parts of their personalities come from. We were able to have that family connection experience again in Canby as we met Lisa Hoffman’s parents and grandparents. You can certainly see how Lisa is much like her mother, Linda. We found out, around the lunch table, that Lisa’s grandparents were Gordon Elliott’s (ECM Missionaries) youth leaders. I joked with them how they were the ones to blame for Gordon’s goofiness. They chuckled, but then you saw the pride in their faces as they spoke about how Gordon is so intelligent and a real stand-up gentleman. The conversation sparked my excitement to return and partner in ministry with Gordon and Niki. I will admit that the kid in me was thinking about getting back to play legos with Mark Elliott. 


I always enjoy hearing the stories of other missionaries and the ministry God is expanding globally. I had the chance to speak with Dave Green, a member at Canby E.C. He and his wife Julie, a native of Guatemala, have been involved in a ministry of building small homes for the lower class people of Guatemala. These basic four walls, cement foundation, and electricity help the people get on their feet and start a new life. Dave and I talked about ministry and cross-cultural experiences. Dave spoke about Julie’s son, Danny, who is an accomplished musician who works with Central America Mission (CAM) through their Mobile Bible Institute ministry. 


My favorite part of talking to Dave was when he shared a story about when he was just grasping onto the Spanish language. He was sitting around the breakfast table with Julie and her mother. Julie’s mother asked Dave to pray over the meal. He gathered up all of his knowledge of Spanish words and started to pray. He knew they were having oatmeal so he thanked God for the oatmeal and right then Julie’s mother started to laugh. Dave knew he must have said something wrong, but he uttered a few more words and finished his prayer. He then leaned over to Julie and asked what he had said wrong. Julie informed Dave that when he meant to say, “Thank you God for my oatmeal”, he had actually said, “Thank you God for my belly-button.” 


As a new missionary and someone who took French in high school it was good for me to hear that everyone makes mistakes. Dave told me that the most important phrase to learn is not, “¿Dónde está el baño?” which means, “Where is the bathroom”? He told me to learn to say, “Estoy aprendiendo español. ¿Podría usted ayudarme por favor?” which means, “I am learning Spanish. Could you help me please?” Dave told me that the people in Guatemala were so loving, caring, and helpful and really appreciated that he was making an effort to learn their language. This made me think about how we respond to new Christians. Are we loving and forgiving as they are learning a “new language”? Do we come along side them and tutor them in the ways of this “new culture”? Just some questions that crossed my mind that I hope you can meditate on as well.


Blessings








Friday, October 1, 2010

THE GROVERS ARE A NICE FAMILY

THE GROVE (in North Albany,OR) September 19, 2010
I have to tell a little story and slightly embarrass Molly to explain the title of this post. So we are looking over the schedule with our wonderful hostess Betty Larson as we are gathered around her home computer. Tina DeSimone did an amazing job of making sure we got time with many different groups of people throughout the weekend. She coordinated a great schedule for us for the entire weekend. On the schedule was listed the name of each event and then the host/hostess. One night we were at the Dodd residence. Another night we were with the Rileys. So Molly comments to Betty, "Wow that is really nice. This family is hosting a couple events. Who are the Grovers?" You could see as she verbalized it that it clicked in her brain that "The Grovers" referred to anyone from the church. Betty, Molly, and I got quite a laugh. 


Hawkeyes disguised as Beavers


As we set down our suitcase in our room at Boyd and Betty Larson’s house, we turned to see a gift bag sitting there on our bed. With much excitement we opened the bag to find 2 bright orange Oregon State University Beavers Football T-shirts. As any good missionary couple on deputation we try to color coordinate and match our outfits as often as possible. We were now equipped with the proper attire for the OSU vs. Louisville game on Saturday afternoon.

Friday Night Sept. 17th

We first met Aaron Swank, the youth pastor at The Grove, at Mid-winter conference in Newport, OR in January 2010. Molly and I have both been involved with middle school & high school age ministry (me in the states and Molly in Bolivia) and so we were excited when the opportunity arose for us to spend some time with the youth from The Grove. I don’t think I will ever get too old for pizza and video games. After a few delicious slices and a session playing drums on Rock Band (video game) with some of the Junior High boys, we all gathered in the main living room and played a game called “Pass the Parcel”. This is a game that Molly developed. It is a bit like musical chairs with a gift. As the parcel stops at a person they unwrap a layer and we ask a question for them to answer and then tell a fun fact about Bolivia. It was fun to get to see some of the personalities in the room and hear some of their stories.

Saturday Morning Sept. 18th

Adorned in our game day colors we set off to the first event of our eventful Saturday. We met some of “The Grovers” for breakfast at Pop’s Branding Iron. We were glad to feel welcomed as part of the group as most of the people that were at breakfast were dressed in OSU clothing. God continues to surprise and bless us with new friendships with the most unique and gifted people. Molly made a new friend in Kori, a sixteen-year-old girl who had just returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua. She was so energetic and filled with all kinds of questions about mission life. Some of you may know that I’ve always loved to draw and paint and I was at one time considering studying art in college and pursuing it as a career. God had other plans for me in ministry, but He still blesses me in unexpected ways through that interest. Sitting across the table at breakfast was Peter Mathios www.mathiosstudios.net who is a professional painter. He paints photo-realistic wildlife paintings and he gives all glory to God for his amazing talents. It was great to meet him.  His daughter, Olivia, is only 9 ½ years old and has a strong desire to be a missionary in China or India. . Molly’s call to be a missionary came at age 11. Olivia and Molly talked about what it is like for God to speak such a clear calling at such a young age. Keep Olivia and her friend Maddie in your prayers over the next few years as they continue to pray about God’s calling in their lives toward missions.


Saturday Afternoon

It was time for “The Big Game”. On a rainy afternoon we were completely content to view the game from the comfort of the living room at the Layton residence while others from The Grove toughed it out in the soaking wet bleachers live in Corvallis. It was a well-fought game by the Beavers and they pulled out the victory at the end. I’ve been trying to take in as much American Football as I can while we are still in the states. I’ll be watching a whole different kind of “tackling” as I become a soccer fan in Bolivia.

Saturday Evening

The Rileys hosted us. We played another round of “Pass the Parcel” and heard a whole new crop of stories from people. The rain canceled out the plans for a bonfire so no s’mores were consumed, but the snack spread was in no way lacking. The understatement of the weekend would be that we were fed well. Each event was somehow focused around food, football, and fellowship. I can’t complain about that combination.

Sunday Morning Sept. 19th

It’s official. Canada has blessed us with yet another phenomenal female vocalist. Heather Carmichael has a set of golden vocal chords.  It was a joy to be lead in worship by her and the rest of The Grove praise band. Molly visited The Grove in January and we were excited to make a second contact with this congregation. This church plant is nearing their one-year anniversary in October and has already taken their vision far from their own walls. They have surpassed their purpose statement. “The Grove lives for Jesus, loving our city-to see people transformed by Him”. The Grove loves far more than just North Albany, OR. They love Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We pray that their love and our partnership will see Bolivians transformed by Christ





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