Elise is wide eyed at everything, from the start of each day. Her wide eyes search me out in the morning hours, and she is keen to touch my face as she greets me. In fact, she touches every face she can reach, no matter how unfamiliar the face. To her, every person is attractive, a potential friendship.
She zealously crawls about the house, hungry to see and touch everything within reach; when she finds an item of interest, she stops to taste it and forgets all else.… Continue Reading
Outside a monastery my friend Sean spoke with our neighbor.
‘We as Buddhists must not kill any living thing. To do that automatically sentences us to hell in our next life.’ ‘Don’t you love to eat meat?’ Asked Sean, ‘Oh, of course, pork is the best!’ ‘How is it that you must not kill, but love to eat meat?’ ‘Well, that’s easy! We don’t kill the animal, we just buy it from the market. Someone else kills it.’ Then Sean responded, ‘So you don’t kill the animal, but you pay the killer.’ ‘Exactly right, we just pay the killer.’
In Myanmar, we literally live among pagodas. They are everywhere. Pagodas or the ruins of pagodas are on top of practically every hill. Buddhists in Myanmar believe that one of the most obvious and permanent ways to secure merit is building a pagoda. The most revered pagodas are said to contain relics of the Buddha from one of his many past lives. Much of Myanmar culture revolves around the pagoda. Every high festival brings crowds to the pagoda. Not a few romantic relationships burgeon under the shadow of a pagoda’s spire.… Continue Reading
We rode our bikes till the mud was impassable. Then, we walked. We followed jungle trails that seemed to wind into nowhere. I recall crossing a stream by climbing a tree situated next to the river. We were trekking through the heart of the jungle, it was fearsome, and beautiful.
During my time in Myanmar, sporadic illnesses, difficult transitions, and ethnic conflict have caused some to doubt the wisdom of returning to such a ‘dangerous place.’ I met someone a few weeks back who works in a really difficult setting.… Continue Reading
I have some sizeable frustrations with Christian subculture. I find purity rings offensive to the gospel, I’m discouraged by Extreme Sabbatarians, dismayed by big spotlights shining on worship bands and I wish Christians used the word “love” with more care. Maybe someday I’ll take time to write publicly about my concerns with these things… not yet though; I haven’t developed the grace to be entirely kind in my criticisms.
However, there is an aspect of Christian subculture that I feel free to combat with more abandoned savagery.… Continue Reading
I was six that day just a few years ago, when the sun shone. You came that day, and I don’t think it stopped being sunny ever since.
I don’t think I quite realized it was you, when you were coming. The first mention of you that I can recall is Dad trying to get us to guess what was coming. We were having oatmeal at the time, the only thing we had for breakfast those days, and I said, “an egg.” The days before you came were muffin days.… Continue Reading
“How do you define success in what you’re doing over there?” This has been a frequently asked question in the last year. Every time I hear it, I’m a bit lost for an eloquent reply. I see the value in encouraging or challenging missionaries to be evaluative of how they use their time and resources. I’ve worked with Christian non-profits and I see a very real need for increased transparency when it comes to funds and outcomes. (Hence why we want you to know our budget, as in our last newsletter.)
But this question of “success” is the fenceline between two dangerous ways of living and working in ministry.… Continue Reading
We rode our huffy bikes to the highest point in town, then dismounted for the walk through the woods. Between the radio towers that bore the marks of our bbs and past the old crumbling reservoir, we headed for our newest fort. My brother and I built tree forts, but this was a dee-lux tree apartment. It had rather stunning views. To the west, the flood plain of the Chehalis river, and the north held the stunning visage which is the ‘Yard Bird.’ We had scavenged old wood from a broken down cabin to make the platform and Nathan dipped into his savings to finish it off.… Continue Reading
Learn to love people slowly. Pick up their rhythm, fall in with their beat–let yours be interrupted. Loving people is not like walking into a room and fumbling for the nearest switch. Surely love is like entering and discovering the candles, one by one. It is finding a way to each one (without rearranging the furniture or trying to clean on the way). Love is no conquistador; it wields no torch to hasten a task; it is not on the lookout for other, better rooms. … Continue Reading
Ministry. It is like the pinnacle sport of a Spiritual Olympiad, right? You get there because you’re really good, and people believe in you.
Several times in the last year, I’ve been told that it’s remarkable I’m headed for such a life (missions), since I have “x” or “y” as an obvious weakness. At first, those words were painful to me. What to think when you’ve been told you’re too flawed to follow?
Those voices were right, but only in terms of the present world’s economy.… Continue Reading