Saturday, December 19, 2009

We've Moved!!!

Hi everybody.

Paola and I have launched a new blog.

I felt like this blog was more "my blog" and there is no doubt that God has used this space since October 10th of 2006 to allow me to share how I got here to Bolivia and how He has brought me to this moment in my life.

But I just felt like we needed a blog that felt more like "our blog" instead of "my blog" so we have launched a new and improved space at www.curtandpaola.com.

It is new and hopefully an improvement. I hope to continue to improve on it in the future but please update your bookmarks because I will no longer be posting updates here. I will be saving what I have written for the last three years thats for sure but all new updates will appear on our new site.

Not only will I be blogging on the new site but I have also convinced Paola to blog as well. So now you will get a chance to hear from both of us. Enjoy.

www.curtandpaola.com

Monday, December 07, 2009

Exciting Week

It is going to be an exciting week. This Friday and Saturday is El Dia. A 24 hour prayer and worship event here in La Paz and other cities in Bolivia. Paola is singing with one of the worship teams. She will be singing 4 times throughout the 24 hour event. It is a great event that always brings the Body of Christ here together. We just get too separated in our denominations sometimes.

The bummer is that I am going to miss the event because I am traveling this week. I will be traveling to Santa Cruz for three or four days this weekend to start filming a video for the Anglican churches here in Bolivia.

The Bishop has asked me to help them create a video to communicate all that God is doing here in Bolivia through the Anglican churches. Also, to try to raise some awareness and some funds. The Bishop will be traveling to the US and England next year and this video will be a huge help.

So over the course of the next month I will be visiting Santa Cruz, Tarija and Cochabamba with one other person to film the cities and the ministries of the churches and to interview the pastors. I have to finish all my traveling by Feb. 1 because I don't want to be traveling in the vicinity of when my son might be born. Amen?

It will be a great project and a great opportunity to serve the Anglican churches here in Bolivia. The bummer is that the trip this week will be the first time that Paola and I have been separated since we got married....awwwwwwww.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stream or River?

Are you satisfied with just a little of God?
Do you have God right where you want Him?
Do you have just the right mix of God in your life?

I don’t know about you but I am tired of just settling for a little bit of God. Tired of settling for just a little bit of His spirit. Tired of just talking to Him in the morning when I wake up, in the evening before I go to bed and thanking Him before I stuff my face. Let’s face it. Most of us just want a little stream. We don’t want RIVERS OF LIVING WATER.

We don’t want to be drowned.

I am tired of watching from the window while people are worshipping Him inside. We are scared to get up close and personal because we don’t know what might happen. What if I raise BOTH hands? Or God forbid…what if I dance, kneel or lay on the floor in front of others? We are too reverent. We are too quiet because church has become just the “House of the Lord.” Shhhhh…be quiet…this is God’s house. Let me ask you...when we are in Heaven in God’s presence…do you think it will be quiet and reserved? Please.

Like Peter after he denied Jesus three times we are following Jesus but we are following Him AT A DISTANCE. (Matthew 26:58)

We are followers of Jesus sure.
But let’s admit it. We are DISTANT followers.

Check out 2 Samuel 6:16 and see what Michal does while David is dancing before the Lord and adoring Him. Are you like Michal? I ain’t gonna lie. I was just like Michal up until about a week ago but God has set me free.

Do you judge how other people worship God? Do you criticize them in your heart because they are different from you? Do you have a spirit of criticism and division in your heart?

It’s time for you and it’s time for me to come inside. God has given us too much time already. 2,000 years. It is time to kick it into gear. We need more urgency.

There is not enough time to just sit back in church and listen.

It is time to put our beliefs into practice and into action. We believe in Jesus…great. But what are we doing about it?

Are we just watching from the window?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sorry...

...for the lack of blogging.

Paola and I have been very busy lately and I just haven't made the time to keep you updated. Sorry about that.

All this past week we have been visiting ministries in El Alto which is a huge city right next to La Paz. We are helping out a project here by doing external verifications of various ministries. It has been great to go on site visits and see some of the needs here up close and personal.

Also, this past Friday night was the annual meeting at the church and Paola and I reported on all that God has done through the youth ministry this year. We also took the opportunity to tell the church here about the call that we have received to go serve at the House of Hope childrens' home in Caranavi next year and we told them that we will only be youth leaders until the end of this year.

Paola is having final rehearsals for the El Dia event on December 11. She is singing on one of the worship teams. This is a 24 hour event of prayer, worship and fasting.

Paola and the baby are both healthy and we are excited because she is about to start her final trimester. Just about three more months until we hold baby Jordan in our arms.

God is good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How far...

...would you be willing to go for God if you had no fear?

That is a question that is haunting me right now.

Let's face it. God wants to take all of us places. Different places but places. And sometimes the bridge that we have to cross to get there is called fear.

God wants to use us to do His will. But sometimes we get scared.
I heard a personal story recently from a pastor who was scared to pray to raise someone from the dead even though God told him that he wanted to use him to raise this person from the dead. Can you believe that? He said that he chickened out and that he did not hear the voice of God for one year.

I am not sure what you think about that. I am not even sure if you believe that people CAN be raised from the dead.

But the point is that this young pastor was left with this question burned into his mind...how far would I be willing to go for God if I had no fear?

And I am wondering the same thing.

We need to leave our comfort zones more and experience a little fear. I am convinced that that is where God shows up. I am reading "The Irresistible Revolution" right now by Shane Claiborne and it is rocking my world. I mean...he called up Mother Theresa in Calcutta and said that he wanted to come and visit.

Some people look at my move to Bolivia and say "Wow." I look at Shane calling up Mother Theresa in Calcutta to go and hang out with dying people and lepers and I say "Wow."

Where does it end. How far are we willing to go?

I don't know but I am convinced that the goal is not to just study Christianity but to actually live it. Let's start to put this radical love of Christ for our neighbor into practice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Charlie

The Super Missionary Wonder Dog


We had been talking about it for a while and decided to make the leap.
A little parenting practice before Jordan joins us next year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back in La Paz

Well...Paola, baby Jordan and I made it back to La Paz safe and sound early this morning. Praise God.

In the next few days I will post a recap with photos of our trip back home to Atlanta. It was such an overwhelming trip in so many ways. I know that it will be hard finding the words to describe it.

Just give me a few days to continue to process my thoughts and I will post our reflections for you.

But I just wanted to let you know that we made it home safely.

Oh and just fyi again, our new number at the house is 678.701.4823.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

411

So below I have pasted a modified version of the email blast that Paola and I just sent out to our contact list. If you didn't receive this update by email you can read it here. We sent this email out after praying and evaluating our current financial situation.

Paola and I have reviewed the financial state of our account over the last few days in an effort to evaluate why our account has been steadily decreasing. In fact, our account at SAMS is currently the lowest that it has ever been.

And the bottom line is that our expenses have increased this year and we are in need of about $300 more a month in donations to cover those increased expenses.

Our expenses have increased this year for a variety of reasons, all the way from increased documentation/visa fees and increased medical expenses to just the simple facts of getting married and expecting a baby.

Paola and I are currently looking at how we can cut back our expenses and we ask that you please continue to pray for us during this process. But we continue to give God praise because throughout this year He has been so faithful. He has always provided for us and we have no doubt that He will continue to do so in the future in He wants to. We are just using this time to depend on Him more.

While praying, if God lays it on your heart to financially help us build our account balance back up by making a one-time donation or to help us meet our $300 monthly shortfall through a recurring monthly donation, please click the “Ways to Donate” link on the right hand side of our blog to make a secure online donation.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

May God continue to bless you in your walk with Him.

Curt, Paola and Jordan

Thursday, October 01, 2009

We made it

Well...praise God that Paola and I made it safe and sound to Atlanta!

We have a temporary cell phone during our stay and here is the number:

678.983.2415

Give us a shout.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Adios La Paz

Paola and I are packing the suitcases and getting ready to travel tomorrow. God-willing we will arrive in Atlanta tomorrow night around 9 p.m. We can't wait to be there.

And we have some very cool news to share...Paola had her ultrasound today and we found out that next February/March she will be giving birth to a baby BOY!

We are so excited and we can't wait to celebrate with you.
See you soon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Prayer

Tomorrow morning I will be preaching in Spanish at the church here in La Paz. I preached for the first time back in June so tomorrow is my second chance. I am excited and I just pray that God speaks through me and that He gives every person a spirit of revelation to hear a fresh word from Him.

Please lift me up tomorrow around 11:30 a.m.

I appreciate it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's a...

????

Not sure yet. But Paola has an ultrasound scheduled for this coming Monday morning to try and find out the sex of our baby.

Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

T-minus one week...

...until Paola and I touch down in Atlanta.

Are you and I still friends? I hope so.
It is just that distance does funny things to friendships doesn't it.
Some grow stronger and some grow weaker.

We can't wait to be there and hang with you to hear about what is going on in your life. God has blessed us so much this year and we can't wait to talk about that too.

Chick-fil-A, Zaxby's, Papa Johns, Krisy Kreme, Chili's, Starbucks, Sonny's and Babys-R-US are all in our sights...

So get ready.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New phone #

So for various reasons I have decided to switch my internet phone provider. I am now going to use Skype instead of Vonage.

Which means from now on there is a new phone # for you to call to reach Paola and I in Bolivia.

Here is our new number.
Please update your contacts and use this number from now on.

678.701.4823

Thanks!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Closeness

I am reading a book right now about Hudson Taylor. I have read one book about him before but this one talks about the growth of the China Inland Mission that he started.

He and his team were some of the first missionaries to venture into the inland parts of China to preach the gospel. They got started around the 1860s.

The book is beautiful. Oh to be a missionary 150 years ago. I know that I was born at the exact time that God wanted me to be born but there is something inside of me that longs to be a missionary from the 1800s.

Pioneers without MacBooks.

There are many truths and thoughts that are lodging themselves into my heart as I read this book but I just read a part that I feel compelled to share.

Referring to the missionary Hudson Taylor it reads...

"Nearness to Christ had been to him so real and blessed that any distance was unbearable. So deeply did he love that any clouding of the Master's face was felt, and felt at once with anguish of heart. It is the bride who mourns the absence of the bridegroom, not one who has been a stranger to His love."

Amen. I want that. Don't you?
I want to be so close in my relationship to Christ that any distance between us is unbearable. I want to mourn His absence. Paola and I were talking about this just this morning. We can't wait to be face to face with the creator of the universe. We can't imagine what that encounter will be like.

We don't want any distance between us and God.
And if there is, we want it be unbearable.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Open up and say...

Paola and I are at the dentist's office right now.
Check ups, a few cavities and flouride treatment for her because she is pregnant.

It just makes me think about the big cultural difference between us when it comes to doctors and medicine. I am used to going when I have a problem and I am quick to medicate.

Paola, on the other hand, is not used to going to the doctor, even when she is sick. And she usually does not take medicine.

So, as you can imagine, this pregnancy process is a big eye-opener for her. Doctor's exams, lab tests, ultrasounds, dentist appointments, etc. It is hard for me to imagine what it is like to be in her shoes right now.

But it is a change for her in a good way I think. She is starting to appreciate the security of knowing that everything is alright. And that security is hard to replace.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Big News

Ok. So here is our big news.

Below is a copy of the email that I just sent out to our monthly email list. It pretty much sums it all up.

Happy Labor Day. Paola and I are so happy to send you this update for the month of September. We are getting really excited because in just about three more weeks we will touch down in Atlanta, Georgia. We are so looking forward to spending four weeks with family and friends and sharing with you all the amazing things that God has done in our lives this year. Paola and the baby are doing great. Paola just finished her first trimester and we are so thankful that her health is good and that the baby is healthy as well. Through the grace and direction of God we were led to a new doctor here in La Paz and the attention that Paola has been receiving recently has been outstanding. We still don’t know if it is a boy or a girl yet but we are hoping to find out either right before our trip to the states or while we are back home visiting.

There are lots of changes for us right now and I wanted to share with you another change that we will be experiencing next year. God has called Paola and I to move to the “House of Hope” orphanage just outside of a town called Caranavi. Caranavi is six hours outside of La Paz in bus in one of the jungle areas of Bolivia. It is a small town of 15,000 and the orphanage is about twenty minutes outside of the town up on the side of a mountain. The ministry is currently home to sixty kids and counting. (They recently took in twin boys who were fifteen days old at the time.)

Paola lived and worked at this orphanage for a year in 2006 and I have visited the ministry about four times now. This past May while we were visiting the orphanage with the youth group from the church I felt a tremendous peace that God was calling us to live and serve at the orphanage as full-time volunteers. Paola and I both share the same calling to serve at-risk children. Orphans, abused and abandoned children. Being positive Christian role models in the lives of these kids is our passion and God has opened a door for us to go and serve these sixty kids. We want to help give them a chance in life. A true chance to grab hold of the plan that God has for them. They have not been given a real first chance in life and we want to help give them a second life, a new chance to be all that God wants them to be. That is our calling.

So there you have it. The future of my family for at least the next several years. There is so much more to share with you about this orphanage and we can’t wait to talk to you more about it in person during our visit in October. But no doubt it is a severe shift outside of my comfort zone. I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about how sometime next year I will be taking my wife and my newborn baby to the side of a mountain in the jungle. But these are kids who need so much to feel daily the love of Christ. But the bottom line is that God called us so we go. Trusting that He will provide for us, care for us and protect us.

And I want to ask you to prayerfully consider helping us. Because we will have our baby and because this orphanage is outside of a very small town on the side of a mountain we have realized that we will be in need of a car. And we are hoping to start raising special funds to purchase this car. The good news is that our sending agency, SAMS, has agreed to accept these donations for us and 100% of the donations will be used for our car fund. If God places it on your heart to support our car fund, all you have to do is mail a check payable to SAMS with “Curt & Paola Little – CAR FUND” in the memo line to SAMS, P.O. Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003, Attn: Denise Cox. We thank God every day for your prayers and support.

See you in three weeks,
Curt and Paola

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mission Trip

This past weekend Paola and I took about 10 youth on a mission trip to Caranavi. Caranavi is six hours outside of La Paz in one of the jungle areas of Bolivia. The orphanage that we took the youth to is called “House of Hope.” Home to about 60 kids and counting.

It is a place that is near and dear to our hearts and we are building a very strong connection with this ministry. We have taken the youth from the church there on mission trips twice. Paola lived and worked there for a year in 2006. And I have visited with her about four times now.

This past weekend was the anniversary of the orphanage as well. For 17 years God has been working through them to provide love, shelter, protection and spiritual growth for orphaned and abandoned children. The youth prepared a special program for the kids with games, dramas and even a puppet show and we gave each child a basket with candy and gifts inside.

Also, through a generous donation from the mens’ group of our church back home, Holy Cross, we were able to purchase gifts for the kids, a huge amount of food for the orphanage and two large rolls of material that they can use to make new bed sheets for the kids.

Several new youth made the trip and we are excited that they had the chance to experience this service opportunity and experience the love of God in a new and different way. Paola and I continue to thank God everyday that He keeps using us in the lives of the youth at the church.

Although we see a new calling for us on the horizon (more on that in a few days) we are taking advantage of the time that God is giving us with the youth right now. Sometimes you and I might see a different ministry calling in the future but we have to remember that there is still ministry happening right in front of all of us all the time.

Here is a shot of all the food and supplies that we bought with the donation...

Here we are with some of the kids...


Some of the youth and kids after our "Body of Christ" skit. I am the nose on the far right...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Heartbeat

Ok. So I need to update you on the mission trip that we had with the youth this past weekend. I am working on that.

But first I had to let you hear our baby's heartbeat. This past Monday we heard the heartbeat for the very first time. At 13 weeks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to the Jungle

We are heading back to the jungle this weekend.

Paola and I are taking 18 youth on a mission trip back to the "House of Hope" orphanage in the jungles outside of Caranavi. We took the youth there in May and they have been itching to go back.

So this weekend we will be taking a six hour bus ride outside of La Paz to share the love of Christ with about 80 kids. We are preparing a special program for them and also through a generous donation from the mens' group of our church back home we will be able to buy food and supplies for the orphanage and also material so that they can make new bed sheets for all the kids.

Paola and I continue to give God the glory for using us in the lives of the youth this year. It truly has been amazing and He is responsible for everything. Please keep us in your prayers this weekend as we travel and pray that these youth will have an experience with Christ that they have never had before. We don't want them to come back the same.

I will give you a recap next week when we get back.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

northpoint online

Buckhead Church, a church that I attended back in Atlanta, just recently started broadcasting their Sunday night 6 p.m. service live online.

Now. Wherever you are in the world you can tune in to great worship and an incredibly relevant message from the Bible every Sunday night.

I'm watching live right now. Will you join me?

http://northpointonline.tv/

He just might change your life.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Can't earn it

We cannot earn God’s approval. We try. But we can’t.
And that’s the point.

I have been thinking these last few days about something that I thought about back when I was getting ready to move here to Bolivia as a missionary.

And the thought is that GOD IS NOT GOING TO LOVE ME MORE AND HE IS NOT GOING TO LOVE ME LESS.

Just let that sink in a little bit. There is nothing that you or I can do to make God love us more or love us less. His love for us is massive and it is constant and unchangeable.

I came face to face with this truth when I got on the plane to come to Bolivia as a missionary. I came here to serve God because I love Him and because of what He has done in my life. Not because He is going to love me more and give me a gold missionary star.

A lot of Christians are trying to “just be good enough” to win God’s favor. We try to pray enough, read the Bible enough, go to church enough and serve Him enough so that God will say, “Wow. Look at how good and disciplined they are.”

I am not saying that these things are bad. In fact that are essential for every Christian. I am just asking, “What is our motivation for reading, praying, going to church and serving?” Is it so God sees us and rewards us? Or is it because we love Him and we can’t help but do those things?

Sometimes we want to serve and accomplish things because we are selfish and egotistical. We want to say, “Look what I did.” We might not say it out loud but our spirit inside thinks it.

I am guilty of this. I wonder sometimes about my motivation for sharing with you all that we are doing here in Bolivia. Is it really to share the amazing things that God is doing in our lives or is it just a tool to raise more funds?

Again. Raising funds is not bad either. In fact, it is vital. What I am talking about here is our motivation.

Are we trying to DO things like read, pray, go to church and serve because we think that that is the formula to get into a relationship with God or do we DO all of those things BECAUSE WE ARE ALREADY in relationship with Him.

Let’s just think about it…why do we do what we do? As a great movie quote from “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” put it…is what you do for His glory or for Yours?

Service to God wherever we live and whatever we do should flow as a natural result of our love relationship with Him. We should love God so much and be so thankful and grateful for what He has done for us that we can’t help but serve Him.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Awwww

I consider my wife Paola to be one of the most well-rounded women that I have ever met. For me, she is the total package.

And when she puts her mind to something she usually gets it done.

Her latest challenge...drum roll please...knitting.

That's right...knitting.

Our baby already has his or her first little sweater thanks to Paola.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wisdom

Every night this week Paola and I are attending classes at the church. We are studying and learning more about Paul's letters to the Romans and to the Galatians. Dr. Ford and his wife, Bible professors from the states, are here in La Paz teaching.

They are sharing alot of wisdom with us. In fact, God is really giving both Paola and I a desire to study the Bible more. How could studying the Bible more hurt? We are missionaries and more and more we are being placed in position to teach others.

So we are thinking about how we can study the Word more in order to be able to better teach those that God places in our path.

Speaking about Paul's battle between the flesh and the spirit last night Dr. Ford said, "Whatever you feed grows and whatever you starve dies."

Let's all think about what we need to feed and what we need to starve.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Books

Paola and I are kinda on a book reading frenzy right now.
We have a thirst to read. Yeah, we are reading about the baby but we are also just reading more. I have finished two books recently and I am working on # 3.

First, I read one called "The Ten Commandments of Marriage" by Ed Young. Great book. My sister gave this book to Paola in Spanish and then I found an English version and we both read it together. Great Godly insight for us newlyweds.

I just finished reading "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge.
A pretty famous book among guys. I read it once back in the states but reading it again as a married missionary expecting a child here in La Paz, Bolivia was a completely different story.

Now I have in my hand "Through Gates of Splendor" by Elisabeth Elliot.
This is a true story of five missionaries who lost their lives in 1956 trying to take the Gospel to the Auca indians in Ecuador. The quote on the title page by Jim Elliot, one of the missionaries who lost his life, said it all for me as I opened this book...

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Amen.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Where's the fruit?

Recently I was sent a daily devotional from Rick Warren that shared this info:

Noah waited 120 years from the time he started building the ark until it began to rain.
Abraham was told he would be the father of a great nation and didn’t have a child until he was 99.
God told Moses he would be the leader to lead his people out of 400 years of slavery, but then made him wait in the desert 40 years.
Joseph spent years in prison before God raised him up and he became the ruler God wanted him to be.
God had David anointed as king, but then David waited for years until he actually got to be king.

These guys had to wait. And sometimes you and I have to wait too.

Sometimes we get to see the blessings and fruit of serving God in our lives and sometimes we don't.

After sharing a great list of heroes of the faith, Hebrews 11:39 says...
"These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised."

And it got me thinking...God does not owe us fruit. We are not guaranteed to see the fruits of our labors. Seeing the fruit is a blessing and we should give thanks to God. God has already allowed Paola and I to see some fruits of our labors for Him and I thank Him for that.

Many people in the Bible died without ever seeing the blessing that God promised them. Yet there faith in what God had promised them never wavered. They remained strong and firm in their beliefs.

I want to be the same way. I want to be a person of strong faith even though I never see the fruits of my labors, never see the blessings or if God never answers another one of my prayers.

What He has already done in history is sufficient for me. How about you?

Monday, August 03, 2009

More to lose

I was thinking today and I realized that I think it gets harder for us to surrender to God the more that we have to lose. At least that is true in my case.

(Also, check out the case of the rich ruler in Luke 18:18-25)

For me, being single was one thing and then I got married. And I had to surrender the relationship with my wife to God. And then my wife got pregnant. And now I have to surrender the health of my child to God. Some people have more and more stuff and it gets harder and harder to let go and surrender our stuff to God because we have more to lose.

When we have more to lose it is harder to say "Ok God. You can have it ALL."

I didn't have as much too lose before but now that I have wife and a baby on the way I feel this "more to lose/surrender" tension like never before.

But when we do have more to lose and still decide to surrender to God then God just gets that much more glory. I forget sometimes that it all comes from Him anyway. He brought me to my wife. He blessed us with a baby. If He wants to take them away from me He can.

Surrendering gets easier when we realize that we are not responsible for our blessings and that everything we have comes from God.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't think twice

Never miss a chance to give testimony.
Never miss a chance to talk about what God has done in your life.
If someone gives you an opportunity to preach...take it.
If someone gives you the opportunity to lead a bible study...do it.

Don't ever fall into the "I'm not prepared/I can't do it" trap.

And don't worry about numbers. If one person shows up that is sufficient. There is nothing like being used in the lives of others for Christ.

My friend Erlan is a pastor at a local church here in La Paz and he called me to invite me to come to their youth meeting tomorrow night and share my testimony.

"Of course," I replied without even thinking twice about it.

And I praise God that I didn't "think twice."
I used to think twice before saying "yes" to speaking opportunities.
Not anymore. If God gives me an opportunity to share what He has done in my life there is no need to think more than once.

So when God gives YOU an opportunity to share, speak or lead this week...Don't think twice.

Monday, July 20, 2009

IT'S OFFICIAL...I'm going to be a daddy!!!

Paola and I are expecting a baby!!!
Praise God!!!

And here is our first baby picture...

Please pray for us (especially Paola and the baby) during this time.

I am trying to make the rounds to talk to everyone over the phone.
But all I can say is "Wow." We are in awe of how great God is.
We are so excited to welcome a new "little" missionary to the family next March! All life is a gift and blessing from God.

I can't wait to talk to everyone on the phone about this wonderful news!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Visitor

For the past few days Paola and I have been hosting a guy from my church back home. Doug Cunnington is a retired firefighter and paramedic and is here in La Paz teaching CPR and first aid to people who work with children.

Tomorrow he heads to Cochabamba to work with a hospital there called Hospital of Hope. He will be training the staff there for two weeks and will also be instructing 200 police officers in the Cochabamba area.

This is the sixth time that Doug has made the trip to Bolivia. I told him yesterday, "Wow. I have only made three major trips to Bolivia...the third one has just lasted a little longer than the first two."

Hahaha.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mrs. Whitekeys

So here is Pao with her new YAMAHA digital keyboard.


This was her birthday present. We were traveling last month during her actual birthday so we were just able to get it a few days ago. Thank God for a little extra tax refund. She has wanted one of these all her life but never had one.

And I thought this girl played a mean guitar...that is until I heard her play the piano. God has really annointed her with a talent for music and for worship. She is a natural worship leader.

It is one of the best purchases that we have made because the praises and songs that are being lifted up in our home now for God are truly inspirational. We don't have to leave home to have church anymore.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lukewarm

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16

The time for being lukewarm is over.

I have been guilty of being lukewarm. Maybe you too. And I don’t know what it would feel like to be spit out of the mouth of God…but I think I’ll pass.

We all know lukewarm Christians. Christians that are neither hot nor cold. They have a tendency to keep God reserved to just Sundays. Or they carry around what we call “backpack God.” They carry God where they want, when they think they need His help and leave Him in the backpack when they think that they can handle the situation or when they “don’t want Him to see.” They try to get God to “Sit. Stay. Heal.” God is not our pet and He is a little too big for a backpack. I am constantly amazed at how we try to get the God of the universe to do our bidding. Myself included.

I have been so guilty of being lukewarm in my past and I think that I have been guilty today too. But God has been sending both Pao and I this message lately…the time for being lukewarm is over. No more being a good Christian one day and acting like the world the next. Too many people live like the world and use the excuse that they are “being salt and light” when all they are really doing is living like the world. True Christians are not of this world and we shouldn’t feel like we belong. The world shouldn’t like us if we are on the right path. Yes, we have to reach out to this dying world with the life-saving message of Christ but we shouldn’t feel comfortable talking like they do and doing some of the things they do.

If you have one foot in each world I want to encourage you to move one of your feet…choose hot or cold because the time for being lukewarm is over.

The time for adjusting both the hot and cold knob to get the water just right in your world is over. Let’s get burned, scalded and on fire for this Savior that we say we love.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Never Say Never Again

I think that is the title of a James Bond film actually. Not sure.
But that’s not what I am referring to here.

I am referring to what you can do for God.

All I am saying is that you should never say that you will never do ___________ (fill in the blank) for God. You and I have no idea. We have the problem of saying things like “I could never do that.” I am doing things right now that I never thought possible for me. Several years ago if you told me that I would be a missionary in Bolivia, married and doing the things that God is allowing me to do I would have said that you were crazy. I know we hear it all the time but it’s true…nothing is impossible for God.

I guess not only do we put God in a box sometimes but I think we put ourselves in a box sometimes too. The truth is we don’t really know our potential until we are stretched and challenged. If we don’t ever take risks and try new things how will we ever know.

I am not bragging and saying “wow, look at what I am doing.” I am just saying “take a risk” and give God the chance to do something new and different in your life. I am also not saying that “becoming a missionary like me” is the answer either. I am just saying don’t limit yourself, wherever you are and whatever you do.

NEVER say never again.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Project Helping Hands trip recap

The two-week mission trip that Paola and I experienced was truly amazing. We praise God that we were able to leave our comfort zone and serve for two weeks. And out of our comfort zone it was. I was thinking that for some people coming to La Paz, Bolivia would probably be considered outside their comfort zone. Coming to La Paz used to be outside of my comfort zone. Not anymore. After living here in the city for a year and a half I have become….guess what…comfortable. Paola and I have to leave the city these days to feel uncomfortable.

Thank God for this mission trip. God gave us the opportunity to leave our comfort zone and feel dependence on Him. What happens is that I think most of us are too comfortable in our lives. In fact, I think most people try to get to the end of life in the safest and most comfortable way possible. Sometimes we are just too comfortable and too prepared for the things that are placed in our path. And some of the best experiences of my life have been when I have been uncomfortable and unprepared. In my experience when I am uncomfortable and unprepared I NEED God more. I need His help more. And in those moments we experience God’s faithfulness in ways like never before.

That was my experience on this mission trip. I was never much of what you might call a “camper.” I am not really someone who hears the letters "REI" and thinks...cool. I was just never really an “outdoors person.” And this trip challenged me in new and different ways. We camped. We hiked carrying backpacks and medical supplies in the jungle. We traveled down rivers in rafts and boats. We got out of the boat in the river to push sometimes because we were stuck. One of the rafts flipped over in the river. One of the doctors almost died from an ant bite because she was allergic. I ate whatever was on my plate without thinking twice. I received insect bites all over my legs and arms. The list goes on and on…it was basically the closest that my life has gotten to the show SURVIVOR I think.

We first traveled six hours in Land Cruisers to a small town called Charazani. There we sorted all of the meds that the doctors/nurses brought for the trip. Then we traveled a day and a half down the river in rafts to reach a village called Mapiri. (And when I say raft it is not what you think. It was wood with rubber tires underneath.) In Mapiri the team held a seminar for the healthcare workers in the area and I translated for the team for some of the breakout sessions.

After Mapiri the team of 30 split into two medical teams and we began traveling down the river again…this time in longboats with motors. Each team began visiting different villages to hold medical clinics. Paola worked with the kids in each village. Sometimes she had 10 kids and sometimes 80 kids. A huge job. She educated them on a wide variety of healthcare issues. I translated for the doctors/nurses at the clinics in each village. I saw a wide variety of health problems up close and personal like never before. All the way from cutting open and pulling a worm out of the scalp of a little boy to a 40 year old man with almost complete Cataracts in his eyes. I saw some other cases that are actually to graphic to describe here. I have much greater respect for doctors and nurses now that’s for sure. I think all in all we gave medical care to about 1,200 people.

After visiting all of the villages down the river we traveled to Caranavi to visit the “House of Hope” orphanage before finally heading back to La Paz. Bottom line…God changed our perspective again. We got to experience God’s love in new ways. We got to serve Him in new ways. We got to see poverty to a new level and we thank God for the blessings that He has given us.

We are on this earth to bless others. It’s not about accumulating stuff. It’s not about building a safe, comfortable castle to hole ourselves up in. It’s not about safety. It’s about leaving our comfort zones. It’s about serving others and telling them that the reason that you are serving them is because 2,000 years ago a man named Jesus came to this earth to serve ALL OF US like never before.

The last year and a half has been the most exciting experience of my life. Now I am married and I have a wife who shares the same calling and passion that I do. Paola and I have no idea where God is going to take us on this road. All we know is that we want more than anything to be on this road.

Thank you for supporting us.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Photos from mission trip

I uploaded the photo album from our two-week medical mission trip.

Check it out.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

We're Back

Just wanted to break our blog radio silence to let you know that Paola and I arrived safely back into La Paz after our two-week medical mission trip. What a blessing it was to visit some remote villages in Bolivia and see the needs there.

I am working on uploading the photo album and very soon I hope to share that album with you and give you a recap of our trip.

Also, I just wanted to thank you for your prayers. Not only prayers for our trip but prayers for me this past Sunday. I feel like my sermon went well at the church and I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to share His word. I thank Him for speaking through me.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Radio Silence

Ok. So Paola and I are officially going on blog "radio silence" for two weeks. Early tomorrow morning we leave to go on a two-week medical mission trip. We will be traveling with a team of doctors from the states and we will be visiting about seven remote villages in Bolivia. We start high in the mountains outside of La Paz and then travel by boat down into the jungle. Then we make our way back up the mountains to La Paz again. We are heading to places where I don't think cell phones and internet exist.

It promises to be a truly amazing experience. I am going as a translator and Paola will be helping me and working with kids. We thank God for this new and different opportunity to serve Him. We will have a chance to see parts of Bolivia that we have never seen and I will have the chance to see poverty like I have never seen.

I don't know what God has in store for us on this trip but I know that He is up to something. I doubt Paola and I will come back to La Paz the same.

As with all our trips and experiences I promise photos and videos after the trip. We should be back in La Paz around June 25th so I will let you know when we make it back.

Please pray for us during this trip. Pray for protection and pray for God to work through us in mighty ways. It will be very interesting to see how the people in the remote villages react to the modern medicine that the docs are bringing with them.

Should be a wild ride. Take care and God Bless you.
We will be out of pocket for two weeks but we will be in contact when we get back.

Peace.

Curt and Paola

P.S. Paola and I will celebrate some milestones while we are traveling...her birthday on Monday 6/15, the day we met last year on 6/23 and our first date last year on 6/25!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bye Twitter

Ok. So Twitter was just way too much for me.
Just one more reason for me to be sitting at my computer.

So I had to kick it to the curb.
Blog posts, phone calls and monthly email blasts are more my speed.

Bye Twitter.

In ALL Things

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this is mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
Ephesians 6:18


Last week during small group one of the guys led us in a bible study. And the above verse was one that we read. And it really got me thinking.

Paul says "all” three times in the verse above.

And I just started the list in my head…what are all of the things in my life that I DON’T pray about?

I pray about things but I can’t honestly say that I am lifting up all of my worries, concerns, problems and praises to God. I selectively pray. Maybe I pray only when I want God to help me/heal me/guide me/protect me. And the worst is when I tell someone that I will pray for them and then never do. Have you ever been there?

The fact is that there are situations in my life that just fly by without any prayer. And they are probably the situations where I feel like I am in control and that I don’t need God. Because after all…if I am in control why pray? But I need to learn that I am hardly ever in control and that there is no situation too big or too small for God.

We shouldn’t just pray when the situation is totally out of control. That is normal. That is when most people turn to God, when they finally realize that they aren’t in control.

Let’s lift up “all things” to our Heavenly Father.

What are you NOT praying about?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Update

On Monday we hosted a missionary from Maine for the day. She was on her way to Tarija in southern Bolivia to serve for three months and we took care of her for the brief time that she was in La Paz. On Tuesday we evaluated the Foundation Qhanawara. We spent most of the day with them reviewing and evaluating the work that they do. They have a center in El Alto where they provide after-school support to local kids.

Yesterday I went to immigration to complain again that they haven’t given me my visa yet and they put my name on the “urgent” list. I hope I get it soon. Paola and I need my passport so that we can get our marriage documents notarized with the Bolivian government and at the US Embassy. I have been waiting to get my visa for two months now.

We are also preparing for our upcoming mission trip. On June 13th we will be heading out on a two-week medical mission trip with a group of doctors from the states. We will be visiting about seven remote villages in Bolivia providing medical care to the people. I will be translating. We have some supplies that we need to purchase and I need to review medical Spanish terms. It should be a pretty rugged trip. We will be sleeping on floors most of the time and traveling by boat for several days.

And I am trying to get our study ready to distribute to the small group Monday night. When Paola and I get back from this mission trip I will be starting a seven-week study with the small group. Paola is also going to start having a small group with the girls on Monday nights as well.

God just keeps using us in new and different ways.

Whenever you say “Here I am Lord.” He always says “Cool.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

Accident

So I had a close call yesterday. I already called my mom so she is not hearing about this for the first time on my Blog. The bottom line is that my angels were protecting me yesterday because if a few things had happened differently I just might not be here right now.

After church yesterday there was a group of us heading to play a soccer game. We were in my friend’s van and I was sitting next to the doors. The van has two doors that open outwardly…kind of like suicide doors.

Well...we did not secure the doors well and as we were heading down to the game downhill on a very curvy highway we took a curve and the two doors flew open and I flew out of the van too. I am not sure how fast we were going but it was downhill and it felt very fast.

I reacted and grabbed onto one of the doors so that I would not fall onto the highway. And praise God that Paola and my friend Ben sitting next to me reacted and grabbed me as well. I thank God that I did not fall out of the van onto the road because there was a lot of traffic and we were in the left lane so if I had fallen I would have been laying in the middle of the highway.

However, I didn’t come out of the accident without any injuries. I have a pretty bad asphalt burn right below my knee because although I didn’t fall out of the van completely my right leg dragged along the highway for a while before we could slow down and stop. I thank God that I was wearing jeans because the pavement burned holes in my jeans before it burned my leg. My right shoe was burned some and it even burned off my shoe laces.

The bottom line is that I had a close call yesterday. If we had all made a few different movements I might be in Heaven already. But Paola and I are both thankful that it was not my time. God is good and I know that He protected me yesterday. And I know that He has a plan for Paola and I...together.

I was not lucky. I was protected by my Heavenly Father.

Here is a pic of my leg…that black part is the asphalt still burned into my leg…ouch!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Youth trip recap

Great mission trip this past weekend. We had about 15 youth on the trip and a few more folks to make us a group of about 20 people. Friday we left La Paz and arrived to Caranavi after a six hour bus ride. Caranavi is a town of 15,000 people in the jungles of Bolivia.

The orphanage that we visited "Casa de Esperanza" is above the town on the side of a mountain in the jungle. It is hotter and there are way more bugs. No hot water.

About 60 orphans live at the orphanage. On Saturday morning the youth worked with the kids while Paola and I headed down into town to buy food for the orphanage. When I was back home in December I received a donation from some kids at church to support the kids here in Bolivia. That donation along with a few others allowed us to buy the orphanage about $250 worth of badly needed food. As you can imagine, feeding 60 orphans every day is not cheap.

Saturday afternoon we had a program for the kids with singing, dancing, puppets, games and drama. It was great. And Saturday night the youth played more games with kids while Paola and I had a meeting with the directors to talk more about the pressing needs that they have.

On Sunday we went to church with the kids at their church in town. Then we enjoyed a little time in the pool before heading back to La Paz.

I was amazed once again by this orphanage. These kids have so much potential and all they need is an opportunity. Someone to give them a chance. All have been completely abandoned by their earthly families but NOT abandoned by their Heavenly Father. All of us left impacted and changed in some way. Paola and I thank God that He is using us in the lives of the youth right now and we thank Him that we got the chance this past weekend to share His love with kids who really need it.

I was just really reminded that our service to God is worship. Sometimes we think that worshiping on Sundays in church is our only worship. But not true. When we leave our comfort zone and serve God we ARE worshiping Him.

Enjoy this highlight video that I put together of the trip.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Heading out

Well, the hour has arrived for us to leave on our mission trip with the youth.

Please pray for Paola and I, pray for the youth and pray for everyone going with us on our mission trip. We are about 20 people. We are heading to share the love of Christ with some kids who need to feel that love.

Please pray for protection as we travel and for protection against spiritual attack. Please pray that the hearts of the youth would be open to receive what God has planned for each and every one of them. Pray that our time with the orphans will be fruitful and that everything we say and do will be for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is His spirit living inside of us that gives us the strength to go and serve.

And just pray for lives to be changed. There are some new youth going on the trip who need an experience with Christ so please pray for them specifically.

I promise stories and photos when we get back Sunday night.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to Caranavi

Well, this Friday Paola and I are heading back to Caranavi. Leaving the mountains and heading back to the jungles of Bolivia. Heading back to Casa de Esperanza orphanage, home to about 60 orphans. I went last year with Pao and her family.

But this time we are heading back with about 15 youth.

How cool it is to see God use us. We are trying to help the youth here get out of their comfort zone. And this weekend we have the perfect opportunity to put into practice what we learn every time we open the Word. We have the chance to carry a substantial donation of food to the orphanage AND through words and actions share the love of Christ with a group of kids who thirst for that love so bad.

They eat it up. And Paola and I just thank and praise God not only for the chance to be used in the lives of the youth but in the lives of the children as well. When I was back home over the holidays I received a donation from some kids at Holy Cross Anglican Church and they asked me to use the donation to support the kids in Bolivia. Well this is the time. We are going to use that donation along with some more donations that I have to purchase food for the orphanage, things like rice, noodles, milk, sugar, etc…

Also, we will be working with the kids, singing with them, dancing with them, sharing puppet shows with them and just hanging out and playing with them. How can you look at the smile of a child and not see the face of God? Especially when the kids have no father and mother. God is their father.

Please pray for us on Friday as we travel to Caranavi and on Sunday as we head back to La Paz. And pray on Saturday and Sunday that all of us will be used by God in a mighty way in the lives of the kids there.

I will have digital camera and video camera in hand so I promise a nice recap when we get back in town next week.

Have a blessed weekend and thank you for following our Blog.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Beloved

So in my latest email blast to friends and family back home I mentioned that Paola and sang a duet at the all night vigil that we held with the youth at the church recently. Paola has sung and played guitar and piano for most of her life. I play the trumpet and sing only in the shower and while playing Guitar Hero World Tour. Well, Paola has given me the confidence to not just sing in the shower anymore.

Here is a video clip of us at home singing the duet that we sang at the vigil. This is the first time that I have ever sung and put the video on my blog. So I am a little nervous.

But enjoy Paola and I singing. The song is entitled "My Beloved" and although we are singing in Spanish you will find the words in English below the video. Enjoy.



"My Beloved"

How sweet is your love, how fresh are your kisses.
My Beloved
My soul cries out for you, my spirit is ensuring your return.
Come my Beloved let's spend the night in the villages.
Let's see if the vines have budded.

Chorus:
My Beloved, My Beloved
I need you, My Beloved
My Beloved, My Beloved
You are my master, My Beloved

My Beloved Jesus, My Beloved, My Beloved
I need you, My Beloved
My Beloved Jesus, My Beloved, My Beloved
You are my master, My Beloved

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Vigil

a. A watch kept during normal sleeping hours.
b. The act or a period of observing; surveillance.


Last Thursday night we held an all night vigil with the youth at the church. The goal was simple: To set aside time and listen to the Lord. And from 10 p.m. to about 7 a.m. the next morning we did just that.

It was a very blessed time. We had some fun but most importantly we worshiped and prayed and tried to listen to the voice of God in our lives. As I have said before God is really using us in the lives of the youth right now. They are very hungry to receive more from God.

At one point early in the morning after a time of worship we gave them the chance to share any words they received from God. And the overwhelming message from God was the same.

He was just happy. He was smiling.
And He said that it had been too long since we stopped.

God was happy that we set aside time on a Thursday night and Friday morning just to seek Him. He said that it is great to show up on Sundays but that is so routine. What is not as routine is to sacrifice a whole evening during the week to seek Him. And He was just happy that we did.

Setting aside time should be a way of life not an occasional thing. And we are all busy. I am struggling with this myself. For example, I thought it would be way easier for two people in love with Christ like Paola and I to set aside time for God. But it turns out that it is a lot harder than I thought. You think you are immune but life and busyness really do get in the way. Even for missionaries.

I guess I am just realizing that I am not yet the spiritual leader that I want to be in my home. Every day is a learning process. Every day God pours His grace and mercy on me hoping that I lean more and more on Him and less and less on my own strength.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Day Trip

Our friends Erlan and Evelyn called us this past Saturday morning and invited us on a day trip. So we left the honking horns of La Paz and headed about two hours outside of the city to get an up close and personal look at one of Bolivia's highest peaks, Mt. Illimani. Paola and I rode in the back of the Land Cruiser the whole way and although the ride was a little uncomfortable at times the view when we finally arrived made it all worth while.

Here are a few pics for you...

Paola looking very Arabian...

Me very happy to be getting out of the city...

The view once we arrived...

The view with us in the photo...

My marketing photo...our ride with the mountain in the background...

The beautiful sunset as we headed home...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Excitement in General

I am just excited this week about how God is using Paola and I. And I continue to be amazed at how God brings service opportunities your way when your heart is open and willing to serve. I think more and more that it is not knowledge and "being completely prepared" that God uses most of the time. I think what God uses most are willing hearts.

Anyway, I am just excited. On Monday night we had our first small group meeting with the guys at the house. It was great. As I mentioned in an earlier post some of the guys from the youth group expressed an interest in having a weekly "guys only" meeting to read a book or do a study together. How can I say no to that? We are looking for a book to study right now but in the meantime I took an idea from my old school group in Atlanta and each person is telling their "story" to the group. It helps so much to get to know the guys better before we dive into material. I shared my story with them on Monday and two of them shared their story too.

I don't know what God has in store for us but I can already see a difference this year. God is just using me in different ways. I am doing LESS yet I feel like I am doing MORE. More focus. More intentional time with people. More opportunities from God to speak. To share with others what He has taught me.

This new small group is one of those opportunities.

Also, tomorrow night we will be holding an all-night vigil with the youth at the church. It will be a time dedicated to hearing from God. A time dedicated to looking for God. A mix of worship and prayer. We will also watch a movie, play a few games and discuss a few messages from the Word. I have never been apart of anything like this so I have no idea what to expect. But I have no doubt that God will show up. Look for an update on Friday.

Bottom line: God just keeps using us. There is lots more to share with you but I will save it for another post.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I know a place

My friend Chris back home has an amazing place in his house to get alone with God. He calls it the "prayer closet." It is a small closet built underneath the stairs in his basement.

Here is a little glimpse...

It is a great space for him to get alone to read the Bible and talk to God. And as you can see in the photo God is now leading him to write verses and thoughts on the wall with a sharpie. That is so rad. I told him that he was straight up like that old dude who was locked up in jail in the Count of Monte Cristo movie.

Anyway...what I love about this space is that nothing else happens in this space except intentional and focused time with God. And it reminds me that all of us need a place like that in our house. We need a closet, a guest bedroom or even a chair that becomes "our space for God." Yes, we need time with God and yes, we can talk to Him anywhere and at anytime. But I reminded that sometimes WHERE we spend that time is key.

We have to find places that help us shut out our loud and busy worlds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twitter

"Because life happens between emails and blog posts."

That was the line that sold me on Twitter.
An online application that lets me post short updates to let my friends know what I am doing. So if you want to know what I am doing BETWEEN blog posts...keep your eyes on the Twitter Updates in the top right corner of my blog.

Just another way to share my life with you. Pretty cool.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Split

This past Saturday for our meeting with the youth we split the boys and girls up. I, of course, went with the boys and Paola went with the girls.
Sometimes this separation can be good, especially for guys, because we share more in groups when there are no girls around. I learned this lesson real well back home in my Buckhead Church small group of just single guys. There is definitely a benefit.

I had a great discussion with the guys on Saturday talking about guy issues. And I am sure that you can guess what those issues are without me telling you.

But one of the coolest things that came out of the meeting was that the guys shared that they want to begin to have a guys only Bible study every Monday night. It was just one of those God moments. It was all God and zero Curt. I had nothing to do with it. God put this idea in their hearts. And I praise Him for it.

So I don't know what God has in store but it looks like I might have the opportunity to be more involved in the lives of these guys on a weekly basis outside of the youth group.

Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Listen and Learn

Bottom Line…
WHO and WHAT you listen to WILL influence what you do.

A few questions to think about today:
WHO are you listening to?
Who do you need to QUIT listening to? Who do the people you love the most think that you need to quit listening to?
Who SHOULD you be listening to?
What do you not want to hear but NEED to?
Who’s advice are you AVOIDING because you just don’t like the person giving it?

Marinate on that.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Youth Group

Well…here is our current youth group…

Minus one or two who were not at the last meeting. We are small but mighty. And as I have shared before…Paola and I are really excited and blessed. We have some great ideas for this group but our main goal is very simple: we want each and every one of them to be growing in their relationship with Christ. Growing. Getting Better. Getting Stronger. Not stagnant. We want them to grow in the Word and we want them to grow by serving others.

Paola and I want to be used in their lives by God… plain and simple.

The more and more I serve Christ the more and more I realize that I don’t think that there is a better feeling in this world than to be used by Christ in the life of another person.

And as I have said before with regards to the youth group, numbers are not our main goal but I will share that we already have two youth coming to the meetings who do not currently go to the church. Praise God.

This past week our good friend Pablo Molina shared with the youth about integrity. It was a great message and a great time. We try to have some fun during the meetings by doing activities but our main goal is not to just have fun with the youth. Our main hope is to share teachings from the Bible and to make those teachings relevant to someone between the ages of 15 and 21.

In all my 15 months as a missionary in Bolivia…I feel the MOST useful for God right at this very moment.

Thank you Jesus. You gave your life for me. The very least that I can do is give my life back to you in service. If I was worth dying for…then You are without a doubt worth living for.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

We are the Champions

As Christians we should never walk around defeated.
Because we know how this story ends.
We know that God wins.
God never promised us that bad things would not happen to us.
But He did promise us the mercy and grace to endure.

Whatever you are going through right now remember...
If you have placed your faith in Christ you can rest easy because...
God wins in the end and one day death, sorrow and sin will be done forever.

So keep your head up today.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Missed Opportunity

I have talked recently about how great it is to be used by Christ in the lives of others.

But I have a new question for you.

When was the last time you MISSED an opportunity to be used by Christ?

Just this past Saturday I missed one. Paola and I were prepared for our youth group meeting on Saturday night. We were going to bring the youth to the house to watch the movie Fireproof. And I was going to teach on love and forgiveness.

We were all prepared and everything. We even cut out hearts to give to the youth which had the “one phrase” from the lesson on there that we did not want them to forget.

Our meetings are supposed to start at 5:30 p.m.
At 6:00 p.m. one person showed up.

I was a little frustrated. I won't lie. It is not like we are dealing with a large number of youth here but one person…come on. Well it turns out that most of the youth were involved in another activity for most of the day that Pao and I did not know about. Bad communication and a little frustrating.

But here is the missed opportunity.

Instead of taking the one youth who showed up to the house to watch the movie I decided to postpone the meeting. And as we were walking home it hit me…I really missed an opportunity.

I had prepared for MORE PEOPLE. Not just one person. Can you see the lesson I learned here? Numbers should never be our focus. It is not the amount of people that matter... it is the quality of time that you get to spend with people that matters. Maybe God wanted to use us on Saturday in just the life of ONE youth. And we missed it because I decided to postpone. When I realized what I had done I felt sick inside. And I repented.

I told God that never again will I let the number of people present influence whether I allow Him to use me or not. So I hope you learn this lesson that I learned on Saturday.

If there is just ONE PERSON standing in front of you with a heart open to growing more in Christ…never postpone. Never miss the opportunity.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Viva Bolivia!!!

So yesterday Paola and I went to see the Bolivian national soccer team play Argentina here in La Paz. The game was part of the South American World Cup Qualifying league. If you don't know, 32 teams from all over the world qualify for the World Cup every four years and each area of the world has it's on league to determine what teams make it to the World Cup from that area of the world.

All the countries here in South America play each other twice to see which teams make it. Although I have much love in my heart for Bolivia for many reasons, they are not the greatest soccer team in South America. They are next to last in the World Cup qualifying league and Argentina WAS # 2 in the league. Bolivia usually does not perform very well so I did not have high expectations for the team. I wanted to support my adopted national team but secretly I wanted to see Argentina play. They are a powerhouse and they have some superstar players. Oh, and their new coach is Diego Maradona, one of the most famous soccer players ever.

Well, much to the surprise of everyone, Bolivia killed them by a score of 6 to 1. I have always been a huge soccer fan and to get to see a game of this caliber was a tremendous blessing and I give God the thanks.

Here are a few pics to mark the occasion...

The stage is set...

The happy couple sporting our green Bolivian headbands...

The teams...

A huge flag displayed during halftime...

Maradona looking worried...

Lionel Messi...one of the best in the world...

Final score...Bolivia 6 Argentina 1...ouch

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Comfort Zone Changed

There is something I wish for you. I wish that you would periodically make sure that you get out of your comfort zone. We all have a comfort zone. And if all we do is live safely inside that zone…life becomes pretty boring.

Are you bored?

If so…my suggestion for you is: Get out of your comfort zone as much as possible. Feel scared and inadequate. Feel like you can’t do something UNLESS God shows up. If you feel prepared and comfortable with everything that you are doing right now, something needs to change. You need to accept a new service opportunity. You need to say “yes” to that thing that God keeps bringing you back to.

God wants us out of our comfort zone. But one of the cool things that God showed me yesterday is that our comfort zone changes and grows. It is not static. Case in point: coming to Bolivia for me USED to be out of my comfort zone. Now…it is not. I have to look for and find new opportunities to be uncomfortable. I am working as a youth leader here which scares me some so that is helping me. And I am about to start working more with people who live on the streets and I know that this opportunity is going to push me even further.

So my question to you is…are you TOO comfortable?

We have to get more uncomfortable in our lives. And I will tell you why. Because when we are completely scared and unprepared God shows up. We don’t need to be completely prepared to do something. We just need to bring God what we have. Just like the disciples brought Jesus the five pieces of bread and two fish so that HE could feed 5,000. They couldn’t feed 5,000 people but they brought Jesus what they had in their hands and He took over.

That’s what we have to do. Just bring God what you have in your hands and let Him take over. You do what you can do so that God can do what only HE can do.

Once you leave your comfort zone at first you are not comfortable…and then you become comfortable. So what God showed me yesterday is that we can’t just leave our comfort zone once. We have to keep leaving our zone and keep pushing ourselves further and allowing God to reveal His provision to us in new and amazing ways.

So don’t just leave your comfort zone once and say “whew…I did it.”

Leave it again.

Shout Out

A big thanks to my friend Camaal Moten and his wife Shalanda.
Thanks to them I have a cool new banner design at the top of this blog.
I praise God for them.
And I continue to praise God that I have my wife Paola.
Someone to share this missionary journey with.
The banner now reads "Our Life" not "My Life".
And I love that.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

“I really needed to hear that”

I am more and more convinced that there is nothing better than being used by God in the life of another person. To share the Word with someone or with a group and to have someone tell you that they “really needed to hear that”, is a feeling that is hard to describe.

The feeling is a feeling of being used by God. Being an instrument. Being useful for God’s purposes. When was the last time you felt that feeling? I think that it has really sunk in that "being useful for God" is the job description that I will have for the rest of my life. And it is not just because I am a missionary. All of us, if you are a Christian, have the same job description - being used by God in the lives of others.

I felt it yesterday at our youth meeting. Paola and I have been absent from the youth meetings the last two Saturdays because of wedding activities for our friends Erlan and Eveyln. We left a great exercise for the youth to do one week and last week we invited a guest speaker to talk to the youth about distractions that youth experience when they are trying to walk with Christ.

So, we actually really began our time as youth leaders yesterday. We had been involved over the last few weeks but it is hard to be a leader if you are not present. Yesterday we were present. And for every Saturday in the near future we will be present. So our time with them has officially begun.

And this time it was my time to share. At first I was a little nervous and then I became very very excited. I got excited because God is using me. He is giving Paola and I the amazing privilege and opportunity to be used in the lives of the youth here. And as I thought about the time that I would have to share God’s word with them I seriously started getting excited inside.

And it was a sweet sweet time. It is more like a small group right now of between 8 – 10 youth. But if God wants…the group will grow. Paola and I invited some more youth to the meetings today. But Paola and I know that it is not just about numbers. The most important thing is being used by God in the lives of the youth who show.

But yesterday was sweet. During the week God placed in my heart to share with the youth the “Five Things God uses to Grow our Faith”. This sermon series from Andy Stanley has been on my mind lately and so I thought it would be a great topic to share with the youth. I would recommend the series to everyone. And if you are interested you can check it out HERE.

I shared the five things with the youth (I will let you go to the website to explore the list for yourself) and God showed up. I had my notes but when I stopped looking at my notes I really felt the Holy Spirit speaking through me to these youth. It was such a blessed, useful, rewarding feeling. And then Paola asked the youth to share the one thing that jumped out at them the most during the talk. The youth shared some great insight and then one girl was a little sad and said that she “really needed to hear these words at this moment in her life.” That's it. That's why I do this.

We talked about faith...so my rockstar wife, Paola, came up with a great activity where we blindfolded the youth and led them around to teach them more about what it feels like to trust and confide in Christ for everything. Here are a few photos…



The bottom line is that God let Paola and I feel really useful yesterday. And it was our first true meeting. He let us feel like instruments. And we left the meeting as newlywed missionaries, praising God and walking on air.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Watermelon Man

Crazy story. A first for me.

Monday night Paola and I were sleeping and it was about 2 a.m.
All of the sudden we heard this really really loud noise. And we both woke up. Seriously it sounded like thunder or that something really really big crashed in the apartment above us. I got up to walk around our apartment to see if anything had fallen and everything was fine. So we decided to go back to sleep.

Well...I kinda forgot about the noise but when I was talking to the landlady yesterday and paying my rent she explained everything to me.

She had heard the noise as well and had gotten up and gone outside to check on her car but her car was fine. Turns out (and I promise I am not lying) that someone in the building next to us threw a whole watermelon at Paola and I's bedroom window and the watermelon exploded. The window did not break thank God but the watermelon exploded everywhere.

Had to be some crazy person in the building next to us.
Here is the view of the ledge where the throwing had to have taken place...

And here are the leftovers that were on our window ledge.
(No that is not blood...)

So just a lesson to all you out there. If you hear a really loud noise in the middle of the night that sounds like thunder right above you, check your windows for leftover watermelon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gospel in La Paz?

So I was shocked to find out recently that there was going to be a free gospel concert here in La Paz. Gospel music in Bolivia? What? Well come to find out the US Embassy sponsored a group to come from a university in the states and the performance was this past Friday night.

And you know I couldn't miss this opportunity to get my praise on.

The concert was packed but Paola and I were lucky enough to find a friend outside who had two extra passes to get in. And it was a great time.

I won't lie, I was expecting more. I was expecting the full on gospel experience with the huge choir and band like so many are blessed with every week in Atlanta. There was a small choir of older white folks and about five soloists.

But although it wasn't what I expected...they could SING. And gospel music came to La Paz. It was a much needed taste of home. And I thank God for these moments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Daily Bread

So most days Paola and I are reading and sharing a devotional together. I won’t lie to you and say that it is everyday but I will say most days. Our goal is to have a Bible devotional together daily. And if we can’t pull it off at this point in our lives then we probably won’t ever pull it off. Because I heard life only gets busier. Can I get an AMEN?

But reading the Bible and praying together daily is our goal. We want Christ to be at the center of our relationship always. And we want to start yesterday.

To be honest I thought it would easier. Two people in love with Christ and in love with each other should be able to find time for God easily each day, right? But it turns out that is not the case. Life gets in the way for everyone. For businessmen on WallStreet and for missionaries in La Paz, Bolivia. Life is full of distractions. And if we don’t fight for our time with God we lose it. And when we lose time with God we slowly lose our relationship with Him. That is just how relationships work.

Well Paola and I want to fight for our relationship with God And that is why this daily devotional together is so key for us. And in several instances already God has used the devotional to really speak to us as a couple.

One instance I will mention was when we were trying to discern whether or not God wanted us to work with the youth of the church. As I think I mentioned in a previous post I was a little scared of this responsibility with the youth at first. I was timid and shy. I did not think that I was capable or ready for this service. But as I also mentioned in that post…God does not always wait for us to be completely ready to do something before He asks us to do said thing. That was the case for boatloads of people in the books of the Bible and that was the case with me.

The verse that was part of the devotional on the day when we were thinking about the youth was 2 Timothy 1:7. And as Ton Loc said… “And it goes a little something like this…”

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.”

That verse seriously hit me hard. Because I am by nature a timid and shy person. Back home it was true and it is certainly true in a foreign country and culture. But I am convinced now more than ever that part of the reason God brought me here to Bolivia was to break me out of that shyness some. Through the experience of moving to Bolivia and now through the experience of trying to be the Godly head of my household, God is slowly taking my shyness and replacing it with boldness.

Take heart in this verse. Most of us have areas of our lives that our controlled by shyness and timidity and I think God wants to replace those areas with the boldness that only His spirit can bring. What is that calling or opportunity that you have on your plate right at this moment that’s got you on the ropes? Don’t forgot this wonderful promise and confidence booster from the Bible. Ask God to give you boldness in that specific area of your life and watch what His spirit can do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Witnesses

This past Saturday Paola and I were witnesses at our friends’ civil wedding ceremony. Erlan and Evelyn got married legally on Saturday and the church wedding ceremony is this coming Saturday. It was cool being an engaged couple alongside them and it will be even cooler to be a married couple alongside them.

Congrats Erlan and Evelyn!
May Jesus always be at the center of your marriage and may you always remember that you can do more for Him together than you can do separate.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Baby Got Work

Some nights Paola and I just sit at the dining room table.
We don't have cable which makes sitting at the table easier.

Sometimes we read.
Sometimes we just talk.
Sometimes we work.

Tonight she is preparing an activity for the youth group to do this Saturday. She's got her papers and books all spread out.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Wait a sec honey...I'll be right back

Raise your hand all you out there who need a dictionary sometimes to communicate with your wife?

My hand is up...