Greetings from Bolivia

Our team just landed in La Paz, Bolivia and were so warmly greeted by a contingent from Bethesda Church in El Alto. Nearly 20 people came out, including some beautiful children, and they sang us a song of greeting. It’s a great feeling to be so genuinely welcomed as you exit customs.

It was a pleasure to see Mark Lennox of Bright Hope International who is serving as our host/guide/translator. We were also joined by two young ladies, Taylor and Corrina, who are currently serving as Bright Hope interns. I’m always so blessed by people who love the Lord deeply and have put feet to that love by going where God sends them.

I’ve been to high altitudes before but this is the highest, and it’s already affected me far more than I’d anticipated. I’ve climbed to 10,000 in Africa with no ill effects so I assumed I’d be fine, but we’re at over 12,000 feet and those extra 2,000 feet seem to make a huge difference. I feel a bit spacy, chronically out of breath, etc. I found out that we can have an oxygen tank with mask delivered to our room 🙂 That’s definitely a first for me.

It’s been really need to see all the women walking around with shawls and bowler hats perched on their heads. It’s such an iconic image and I’ve seen it often on television but it’s neat to see it in person. I definitely want to buy one of those hats before I leave. Maybe one for my wife Jeannie as well.

Gonna try to get a bit of rest before the day kicks off in earnest. If you’re reading this in real time we’d definitely love your prayer support. All for now…

Update from Europe

I’m sorry that I don’t have any photos to share on this post. It’s very late, we just checked into our Paris hotel, and I have to get up early tomorrow so I just wanted to write a few things to update anyone who might the interested on how the trip to Europe has been going. 

The ministry in London went really well. The conference was a great success and succeeded everyone’s expectations. I am so impressed with my host, Nick Mukuna. He is a young leader who God is raising up to help bring the message of love and unity to the Congolese diaspora in Europe and beyond. It’s just awesome to see such a clear evidence of God’s favor resting on an emerging leader. 

I had the interesting experience of getting to do 3 spots of live TV broadcast on a network called Olive TV that is received all over the world. The format was a live teaching followed by call-in questions and prayer requests. We got requests from all over the globe and had the privilege of praying for many people. We sat in a simple studio with a green screen background but they put up a very impressive virtual studio background behind us and the final product looked pretty professional. 

It’s been so much fun having my daughter Jordan with me for this trip. She’s been having a blast. Before the conference started we had a free day to explore the city and we saw so much of London – Buckingham Palace, Green Park, St. James Park, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Picadilly Circus. We squeezed every penny of value out of our all-day Underground (Tube) pass. 

This morning we left the UK around 2:00 PM via the Channel ferry out of Dover. Got to finally see the white cliffs of Dover in person – one of my life wish list checkboxes.When we landed, we were surprised that there was no clear signage pointing the way to Paris. The destination port was in the middle of the countryside (there was a tractor dealership down the road!). My host had an in-dash GPS unit and a dash-mounted unit as well. The problem was that both of them were telling us to go in opposite directions. Very frustrating.

Finally we settled on one of the two units and started driving. But because of a snafu with the GPS we ended up going in completely he wrong direction. My host had gotten tired so I drove one shift. As I was driving I started to grow concerned that the signs looked different and the language didn’t seem to be French. I pulled over to discover that we were in Belgium! I’ve been lost before but never “in a whole different country” lost. Sheesh. We finally rerouted, put a different final destination into the GPS, and seemed to be headed in the right direction.With the +1 hour time change between the UK and France, we ended up rolling into Paris just after midnight. What an adventure. So proud of my daughter for having an amazing attitude throughout the whole driving fiasco. One benefit of getting lost was that we entered the city when there was very little traffic, and go to see the Eiffel Tower lit up like a jewel – so beautiful. The best part is that the Eiffel Tower is just a couple blocks down the road from our hotel. 

Well, it’s late and we need to get up early to start our day of exploring Paris. Can’t complain about anything – God has been exceedingly good to us thus far. I made some wonderful new friends in London, got to minister to some great folks, and spent time connecting with my daughter in one of the most exciting places in the world. 

Miss home and all the people I love back there. Really looking forward to getting back home, but for now we are fully engaged and enthralled by Europe. 

If you hate bugs, don’t read this

The other day I received an email from my brother in Kenya. It was a relief to read about something other than the political unrest in that country, but what he wrote filled my mind with horrific images.

You see, I am not very fond of bugs, and the situation he described had my skin crawling. As you read this, perhaps you will appreciate how different life can be in another part of the world. I’ve presented the essential text of his email with only slight modifications.

Last night Noelle started noticing all these spiders crawling around in the school room after dinner. We had problems before with spider broods hatching in our house and then having to kill hundreds of spiders, so we thought it was the same thing. We had the kids running around with tissues killing dozens of them. Judah especially got a kick out of this exercise. 🙂 Then, they started noticing dozens of ants in the other end of the room. I also noticed that the spiders seemed to all be pouring in from the crack under the back door. I realized something strange was going on outside, so I got a flashlight and a couple of cans of Doom (like Raid) and went to the backyard to investigate.

There were dozens of these huge black circles on our backyard that, in the dark, looked like dirt patches in our lawn. On closer inspection I realized that they were huge ant piles with thousands of ants crawling on top of each other. They were all connected by these thick highways of ants in this amazing network. I then looked up at the walls of our house and realized that there were hundreds of crickets, roaches, and spiders all climbing along the back walls of our house, trying to get away from these ants. Some of them had found cracks in our windows and doors and were pouring in through them. I’m not sure if this was some kind of a coordinated “hunt” that the ants were doing, but it sure seemed like the other insects interpreted it that way.

I had to be really careful because if I accidentally stepped into one of those ant piles or highways, I could have hundreds of biting ants up my leg in seconds. (I know this from painful experience.)

Carefully avoiding the ants, I began to spray a heavy perimeter of Doom around all our windows and doors, killing many ants and other insects along the way. By the time I got to our back porch where all the spiders were entering I found spiders and other bugs everywhere–it was a like a big sanctuary for them. I began to just spray a fog of Doom everywhere indiscriminately, and then seconds later I heard what basically sounded like rain–but it was hundreds of bugs falling off the walls and ceiling of our porch onto the floor. It was a really sickening sound.

I started choking and gagging on the Doom and then went back into the house and then sealed the entire backdoor with duct tape so that more spiders couldn’t enter. After that, things calmed down for the rest of the night. There are these huge ant colonies all over our station and when they decide to mobilize it really is like something out of National Geographic. We’ve had some other interesting wonders related to insects like witnessing the migration of tens of thousands of butterflies and seeing hundreds of thousands of termites hatch and take to the skies to form new colonies. One of the fringe benefits of living in Africa.

Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures of last nights events. 😦 Maybe next time, but it’s usually such a hectic scene that it’s hard to think about taking pictures during the actual attack. Hope that gave you something entertaining to read with your morning coffee. 🙂

Steve