Wednesday, May 26, 2010

China Trip Post #3

All is well here as we prepare to come home.

As I'm writing this we have just finished our last day of VBS and have passed out the tie-dyed t-shirts that the children made a couple of days ago. I can not even begin to explain in word the incredible joy in these kids as their names were called and they came forward to get the shirts that they colored. I know this will shock most of you but I just stood and cried that something as simple as a t-shirt could impart so much joy and happiness. I am personally overwhelmed!

This afternoon will be our final "big" activity as we have planned for a water activity. We are filling a number of pools with water, John and the girls are filling 500 water balloons and soon Tim and I will begin filling our supply of water guns and super soakers! After the impromptu water fight earlier in the week where we were ambushed by the children ... Tim and & I will have our revenge today!! (insert evil laugh here)

Following the big afternoon, supper in a local eatery, pack and in the morning off to Beijing where we will do the HuTong Tour. The HuTong is the oldest neighborhoods in the capital city, more on the in another post. Following the tour ... to the airport to catch the 4:10 PM to Chicago. We leave Beijing at 4:10 PM Thursday afternoon and arrive in Chicago at 4:13 PM Thursday afternoon! 13.5 hours over to Beijing and 3 minuted to get back! Talk about your time travel!

Looking forward to being home in just over 24 hours, Talk to you all then as I post from home again!

Pastor Steve!

Friday, May 21, 2010

China Trip Post #2

Greetings again from China!

Wednesday was an acclamation day, us getting to know the facility that we are working in and getting to know some of the kids. We really spent most of the day playing with the younger children as the olders were busy in the school house. This was an incredible blessing to see these little blessings that are so simply tossed aside in this culture; happy, cared for, loved and laughing! What a privilege to get to be here and see the work that goes on here!

Wednesday's food highlight was a trip to a "hot pot" restaurant. A table would sit up to 8 people and every person had a hot plate built in to the table in front of them.  You get to choose between a spicy pot, non-spicy pot or a tomato based pot, each pot is filled with chicken broth and placed in front of you until it boils. Once boiling you may begin to add your own meats, veggies and greens to the boiling pot. 

Cooking takes very little time and you take your meats, veggies and greens out of the pot and eat them. There is also a couple of dipping sauces, one thick and one thin, I preferred the thinner sauce.

Thursday began with our VBS! (Vacation Bible School) The children enjoyed it VERY much! We sang, did a Bible story, a craft and a game outside. it was such a blessing to hear the children sing and laugh ... What an incredible experience!

We also had time again on Thursday to be able to play with the babies! Thursday was haircut day for the littles and this was quite an operation! The kids are take to the shower/tube room and undressed, placed in plastic high chairs and given hair cuts - with MUCH consternation on their parts! When the haircuts are finished the kids are placed in the tubs for a quick bath/shower, diapers and clothes back on and they are off to play again!

Thursday evening we tried a Dumpling Restaurant. We tried a great variety if dumplings: pork, beef & mushrooms, veggie, tomato & egg as well as a seafood. These were very interesting and I really enjoyed some of them!

More to Come!

Pastor Steve

Thursday, May 20, 2010

China Trip Post #1

Greetings from China!!! We arrive in Beijing at about 3:15 local time on Tuesday afternoon. Safe and sound!

Couple of really cool things happened along the way ... when we boarded the plane in Des Moines; I mentioned that it was Susan's very first flight. Before take off the flight attendant came and took Susan to the cockpit and the pilots greeted her with great enthusiasm! After we were in flight the Flight Attendant came and told Susan she got to see where the pilot s worked if she wanted she could come see where and what the attendant’s job was all about! Susan had a first flight that she will never forget!

Arriving in Chicago we had about a 2 hour layover so we got some breakfast and relaxed in O’Hare. After a Visa approval we loaded our plane. A Boing 777 the seat configuration was 2-5-2, just a bit larger than the one out of Des Moines which was a 1-2 configuration.

After takeoff we just sat back and readied ourselves for a 13 1/2 hour flight. All of the flight was very smooth until we began our approach into Beijing. The turbulence was the worst I'd ever experienced. We had one drop so severe that Susan's Coke flew out of her glass, hit the roof and was dropping on both of us! Needless to say there were a number of folks grabbing the air sick bag but not Susan or I. I'm not going to lie ... I thought about it and made sure I could get to it in a hurry but held out and made it off the plane without being sick.

Once in Beijing everything went well until baggage claim....... No bag for me! After checking with United they confirmed that the bag was never loaded in Chicago! I filled out the paperwork and we left for the Shepherds Village. After arriving there we settled in and got a meal at a restaurant within walking distance; feed 7 people all they could possible eat and the bill was about $17.50 in American dollars!

More to come...

Pastor Steve

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bits & Balderdash

Time is winding down and as of today we are 2 days from lift-off for China. A very exciting time in our home as we prepare on a number of levels. Some have been asking about the finances for the trip - we do not have all the monies that we need but we are still going! (We'll just be tending for the finances when we return!)

Ok ... Here we go:

Skype - "(pronounced /ˈskaɪp/) is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system. Skype has also become popular for its additional features which include instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing."

That is the Wikipedia definition ... I put skype on our computer so that I can talk to Lynn while in China if I can get a connection. While playing with it before we leave I found my brother or "Big Bro" as you may know him on skype and the other day we talked via the internet with voice and video! It was the coolest thing EVER!!!!

Blogging in China - Some have asked if I will be blogging from China and the answer is I'm hoping to be able. With the dust up between Google and China and China's policies ... what you can do once you access the web is limited. But we're working on it and believe that I will be posting while in China. Stay tuned...

Safely Home - Just finished an incredible read! The book "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn. A book about China - SHOCKER!!! Great read and I would recommend you get a copy at your local library and give it a read, I would love to know your thoughts. This is a fiction work but the details of the underground church are supposed to be very accurate. If you actually take the time to read this book let me know what you think!

More to come.... 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Late Afternoon Visitor

Got home this afternoon and had a very colorful visitor:

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baccalaureate Service 2010

I was given the great privilege to speak at the baccalaureate service held by the graduating class of 2010 at the Ventura High School on Sunday evening May 9th.

This was very special to me as this is the class that Susan has participated with in her high school years. Although home-schooled, Susan participated in athletics, band, vocal and drama. I felt very honored when I was asked by a couple of students to speak, to bring a challenge from the Word of God.

I was truly impressed with the students as a few of them shares their favorite Bible verses and what those verses meant to them. These young people were nailing it the application of these verses to their lives. Bottom line ... that ability doesn't happen be accident! Kudos to the parents and Pastors, well done!

I spoke on 2 Timothy 1:3-7 - "I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

My goal was to key in on the godly heritage that we receive from our parents and families but there comes a point in life when young people MUST step up and take ownership of their relationship with Jesus Christ. God does not have any grandchildren and every person must make a personal decision about who Jesus Christ claimed to be in the Word of God. Based on the claims of Jesus in the Gospels, he is either a liar, lunatic or exactly who He claimed to be ... LORD! The very creator God, Savior of those who will receive His free gift of salvation. The challenge was well received and I trust God to bless the sharing of His Word.

As always it is a privilege to be used of God to encourage other in their faith. As Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:12 - "I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service."

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Adventureland State Youth Rally

Just in from a day at the Adventureland State Youth Rally held in Altoona, Iowa. A very long day but as always - worth every minute invested!
My day began a 5 AM and we pulled out of Clear Lake at 7 AM; arriving at the amusement park just before 9 AM.

The rally itself began at 9:30 AM with a brief presentation by Aaron Hart from the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp, he was followed by Pastor Jason Blunk, who was our main speaker for the rally. Pastor Jason brought a very good message from Ephesians 2:1-10.

Following the rally, the young people are turned lose on the amusement park for the rest of the day. This past winter the Adventureland Park suffered an pretty major fire in its front entry area. You can read the full story here.

As for our day ... it was very cold and wind to start. After about 1 PM it really began to feel a bit more comfortable. Overall, it was a great day, spent with good friends from all over the state of Iowa and best of all quality time spent with the young people of our church.

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bits & Balderdash

I know ... I know... it has been a while since I've posted. I even got a note from my favorite brother letting me know I'm falling behind in my blogging responsibility.

Ok ... Here is the latest:

China Trip: All of the details for the China Trip are falling in place. Passports are in hand and the visa's have been applied for; we are in the waiting cycle and trusting that everything will be received in the very near future. I think that Susan and I are as ready as we can be at this point, we have begun thinking through what we need to pack and the excitement level is off the charts.

We do not have all of our finances as of yet, there is still quite a bit of need, but we trust that all will be cared for shortly. If you are interested in the financial aspect and our remaining need, email me and I chat with you privately.

Susan's Graduation Reception: Saturday May 1st was the date of Susan's graduation reception. It was a fantastic day at our home. Tons of good friends stopping in and lots of good food.

Susan wanted a keg of Root-Beer, so her wonderful Dad was able to make that happen. Along with the root-beer the menu included walking tacos and Susan's favorite cookies: oatmeal! plain oatmeal, oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin.

Here is the Walking Taco breakdown: 20 pounds of seasoned ground beef, 208 little bags of Doritos brand chips, 10 pounds shredded cheese, 10 pound shredded lettuce, 5 pounds of sour cream, salsa and taco sauce.

Coming Up: This Sunday evening I will be speaking at the Baccalaureate Service held at the Ventura High School. Really looking forward to that opportunity. On Sunday the 16th, preaching in the AM service, Susan's graduation in the afternoon, graduation/communion in the evening service followed by a reception @ the church for our graduates and those having birthdays in May. On Monday the 17th we will leave Clear Lake between 3 & 4 AM to go to Des Moines to catch our flight to Chicago and the on to China!

Stay tunes, there is more to come ... I promise!

Pastor Steve