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Our Family - click the pic below for more pictures
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Spirit

Now that I've had a few days to reflect on Christmas, the family I got to see and all the presents I gave and received, I have a few thoughts that came about because of the Christmas Holiday.  
1. I am very blessed!
          a. I have a week of paid vacation time between X-mas and New Years!
          b. I gave and received my fair share of gifts!
          c. I spent Christmas with a lot of family and had a huge meal!
          d. I have a beautiful, healthy family

2. I can often disguise those blessings as entitlements.  It seems like the more I have, the more I seem entitled to. We're about to have our 2nd little girl anytime now and we get to choose all these "options."  We get to pick the doctor, pick the hospital, pick if we want to keep it, we can even possibly pick the date by scheduling induction or C-Section.  I think back to the very first Christmas when Jesus was born (remember that's the real Christmas Story) how the Son of God himself didn't even have a hotel room to be born in.  He was born in a barn, with the animals! And Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, was probably the one to deliver the baby!  I'm pretty sure my wife wouldn't be cool with a barn baby and though it would be cool to say I delivered our daughter, I think I'll leave it to the doctor.  :)

3. The people that Sarah and I want to serve in Honduras, aren't guaranteed money if they want a week off, don't have an education to even get a job where that may be a possibility.  They may have their babies in a hospital if they can find someone with a car to drive them there.  And they certainly don't have huge feasts like we get every major holiday or birthday.  I can go on and on about what we have and what they don't, but I think you get the idea.

These more or less random thoughts have actually made me want to serve the people in Honduras even more.  I've realized in my life that I have more than I probably deserve and I want to give back to people that don't have the opportunities that I've had and will have in my future.  There are lots of people around the world, including the US that don't have much, but Sarah and I feel that we are being called to Honduras, so that's where we're headed.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gotta Have Faith

I found out last night how much money we will have to raise to help pay for the house that Art For Humanity is building for us...$10,000!  I was expecting something more along the lines of half of that.  I mean, we still have to pay for medical insurance, travel costs (we are required to leave the country every 3 months to renew our visas),  storage unit in the states, etc.  Wow, if 50 people gave me $100 each, I'd still only be half way to the goal.  Now granted, Glen said the goal is $10K and whatever we can't meet the organization would cover the rest.  So that's assuring that it's not an actual requirement, but it's still causing my head to spin!

I have to be honest with you, my life has been pretty "easy" (knock on wood).  I haven't really had to go through any extreme circumstances.  I've always had good health, family & friends close by, at least a little money in the bank, a job, a place to live and a car - even after I wrecked a few.  My faith has never really been "battled tested," so to speak.  Until now.

After church on Sunday I was thinking about my inexperienced faith after we read the Christmas Story (Luke 1:26-55) from Jesus' mother Mary's point of view.  ( - link to the teaching).  In the story Mary is confronted by an angel named Gabriel.  He tells her she will have child and not just any child, but Jesus and not only that, but she will still be a virgin when she has the baby!
Insert context; in Mary's time having sexual relations prior to marriage was a huge no-no.  The marriage would be called off, Mary would be mocked and shunned by the rest of the community and probably become an outcast.  In our pastor's words, "It would have been scandalous!"  
Logically, Mary asks how it will be since she's a virgin.  The angel says that, "the Holy Spirit will come upon [her]", and goes onto to say that "nothing is impossible with God."  Her response, "I am the Lord's servant."

One of our pastor's points was that Mary models faith for us, even in the midst of what could have been humiliating and left her disgraced.  She didn't want to have child out of wedlock or have to convince people that the Holy Spirit was the father, but when she realized it was God's plan, it became her plan.  Mary could have chosen to not go along with God's plan, or asked God if He could wait until they got married before she would get pregnant, but she would have missed out on the blessings that God had in store for her.  Many times God's will is sudden and requires us to surrender, just as in Mary's case.

When I think of my situation, I can pull - maybe force - some similarities with Mary's situation.  Like,
1. Fairly Sudden change of plans
2. New plans could have people mocking me for leaving a well paying job to volunteer
3. The seemingly impossible (raising lots of money) is possible with God

Ok, like I said, not perfect parallelism between the 2 situations, but close enough for me to want to respond like Mary.  I truly believe that God gave my wife and I hearts to serve others less fortunate, and called our family to Honduras.  The hard part (at least for me) is leaving the comfort of my cubicle (aka the money that I make) and trusting that God will provide for my family.  I truly have no idea how we are going to raise $10K in the next 6 months for the house, another few thousand for insurance and other costs while in Honduras, and also what we're going to do when we are ready to come back to the states, but I do know that God is asking me to have faith.

My response: I am the Lord's Servant.  I want to model, in some capacity, the same faith that Mary did.  And also serve God where and when I think He is calling me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Trip to Honduras

Ever since Sarah and I starting talking about marriage, we also talked about moving overseas to serve the less fortunate of the world. In November I travelled to Honduras to check out an opportunity to work at the first English speaking University in Honduras with my best college buddy, Joseph. When we arrived in Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras) I was more than a little overwhelmed. Everyone was speaking in Spanish, very quickly I might add, and there were lots of people and cars. Even though our final destination was some 20 miles outside the city, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.

When we finally arrived at the farm, where the University is located, we grabbed dinner with our host and the cooks. There is no electricity on the farm, so we ate in the kitchen lit by battery powered LED lanterns. Since the sun goes down pretty early, people in the community near the farm are used to hanging out in the dark. After dinner, Joe and I went to our bedroom to get some shuteye. We had been told to bring a light blanket for sleeping, however, it was pretty chilly our first night - I was able to shiver myself a couple hours of sleep.

The next day was Sunday and our host and translator needed to run some errands back in the city and pick up 2 more guests on Monday. Not even in Honduras for 24 hours, I had to consider that I was not in my right mind when I chose to come to a country that I knew next to nothing about, couldn’t speak the language, and now my host (and only other person that could translate) was leaving Joe and I alone with a handful of Hondurans.  Joe and I talked that morning about how crazy we were to leave our electrified homes and beautiful families, but we decided that we shouldn't draw any conclusions about the trip (or our mental state) until we at least crossed the 24 hour mark.

I did get invited to play in the weekly futbol match that day with 4 teams from the surrounding area which was pretty cool, however, I think our host, Glen probably had them ask me so I would feel welcome.  Either way it was a nice gesture and it was good to play.  The field we played on was just that, a field...with no sidelines, trees set up for goals, rocks and dirt for the playing surface.  Not the typical US soccer fields I'm used to, but I'll play soccer just about anywhere.  Joseph watched us play for a little while and said that the whenever I had the ball, the spectators got louder and yelled more.  I'm not sure if it was because I was good, bad or white, but I guess it provided some entertainment for them, so I'm happy to oblige.  I love sports, so its cool to me to see how sports can bring different people together and bridge gaps that wouldn't be otherwise.

Since the culture is so laid back there, the 10:00 soccer match started around noon and didn't get over for a couple hours.  Joe and I decided we were ready to walk back to the farm a little early, recover from the jet lag and "shower" in the near by river.  We figured the locals bathed in the river, so we would also - really try to experience the culture.  Though that first day the water temperature of our bath was a little shocking, we got used to actually enjoyed our bath time.

On Monday we helped build the foundation of a house, which meant we got to move about 1,000lbs of rock. After our moved the rocks around, we went for a walk with the cooks to a viewpoint of a waterfall.  The natural beauty of the waterfall and the surrounding was breathtaking.  On the way to and from the waterfall we were pretty much forced to use our limited Spanish skills we learned in high school to hold conversation with the cooks. Fortunately, Joe paid attention during his high school days, so we were able to have some basic conversation. I'm sure we probably said a lot of things incorrectly, but we were able to learn quite a bit about the cooks Hondurans in general.  We even learned that some of their favorite artists are Michael Jackson, Eminem and Lady Gaga.  Thankfully they can’t understand the lyrics.

Towards the end of the trip I was reflecting on my swing in attitude about the farm in Honduras and pondering when that swing really occurred.  The thing I realized was that Glen leaving us there to "sink or swim," was probably the best thing that could have happened to us.  The walk to and from the waterfall was really a turning point in the trip.  It's amazing what a 2 hour walk and Lady Gaga can accomplish!  After we returned, we began holding conversation with the other workers on the farm and got to know them about as well as you can in a few days with limited Spanish skills.  I know I can speak for Joe here as well, but we really started to feel as if we belonged there.  We began to develop relationships with the few men and women that worked on the farm and really felt welcome.

After a couple more days of working on projects around the farm and taking cold river baths, it was time to head home.  Both Joe and I saw ourselves bringing our families back to live there for an extended period of time.

Now that I've been home and been able to talk and pray with Sarah about returning to Honduras for a while, we feel like God is calling us there and plan to move sometime in June-ish time frame assuming our new baby and Sarah are healthy.

Also, I mentioned in the first paragraph that I would be teaching at the University there, but never mentioned that in my post, only mentioning "the farm".  The University is supposed to be open in February and is located on the farm, where they have approximately 30,000 coffee plants and plan to plant another 25-30,000 more.  The students will help out on the farm to help pay for their tuition-free education.  The coffee farming is intended to help make the university sustainable.  I will teach at the University and also help out around the farm.

Let me know any questions you have!

Joseph made a slideshow of pictures from the area we stayed.  Here is the link:


I wanted to start a blog for friends and family to be able to hear more about what's going on in my family's lives, specifically because we are expecting to have huge changes in the next several months - you'll hear about those later.  I also wanted to use this as somewhat of a journal for myself.  I've never been great at keeping a journal, but lately I've felt more and more like I should be writing about my life in some form or another.  I'm hoping this blog will help (force) me to do that to some extent and also provide some insight into my life to others.

Before you read my blog, you also need to know that I'm an Engineering Major, not an English Major.  In other words, while my explanation of events, feelings, experiences etc may not make sense to you as you read, they make complete and perfect sense to me.  Going along with that, my punctuation, vocabulary, and other writing skills are less than par, so bear with me.

A little about me:
As you've already read, I received my college degree in Engineering from OSU about 3.5 years ago.  But before that I grew up the oldest of 4 siblings, 2 brothers and 1 princess.  We had a lot of fun times when we all lived at home, including the time I pushed my brother into the sliding glass door to the back patio. The door popped off the track and began to fall to the concrete.  And as I watched like a deer in the highlight stance, I remember thinking my dad is not going to be happy when I have to tell him what happened.  By the grace of God, the window somehow did not get damaged.  This experience actually taught me a very important lesson; a couch is a much better place to beat up your little brother.  Less risk in breaking things.

In high school, I met one of my good friends, Greg Oltmann.  He invited me to church and youth group where I built a lot of good relationships with other high schoolers as well as other older..err wiser men and women that I am still friends with today.  After a few months I made the most important decision in my life.  I gave my life Christ.  This decision has been central to the rest of my life and the way I have lived it.  Saying that, I know many people are able to point one or many more of my flaws and/or times I've made poor judgement calls.  I'm sure my wife has a running list somewhere in the house, unless she's run out of paper already.  Speaking of my wife she is an amazing woman, who loves me no matter what!

When my wife and I were dating we always talked about our desires to travel overseas and serve other people.  In fact, we met because my college roomate's girlfriend (now wife) went on a missions trip to Malawi, Africa with a group of girls from around the US.  Sarah was one of those girls.  Sarah was going to school in Boston at the time, but after Malawi made it out to the northwest for one of the other girl's wedding. We met then and started talking online and on the phone.  She made it out Oregon a couple more times before I finally convinced her to move across the country to finish school and be closer to me...and the rest is history.  Anyways, I was talking about our desire to help others overseas...We have both visited and volunteered in others countries before we met and have also traveled together to Rwanda, Africa a couple summers ago to serve homeless kids.

These desires have led us to wanting to do something more long term, which is why I traveled to Comayagua, Honduras in November.