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


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...


Great weekend.

On Saturday Paola and I bought a wedding album for our printed photos and then we had lunch with her family at her mom's house. We also had our first meeting with the youth on Saturday night.

Things with the youth went great. Thanks for your prayers. 15 youth showed up and we took some time to get to know them better. Paola and I both gave brief testimonies about how we got to this moment in our life and we had the youth present themselves and ask questions.

As homework, we gave the youth a questionnaire that we created for them to take home and fill out this week. It is a very thorough survey with about 30 questions or so all designed to get to know the personality of each person better. We plan to put all of this info into a spreadsheet so that we can better minister to these youth that God has placed in our path. We are very excited to see how God uses us for His glory in the lives of these youth.

On Sunday we went to church and then in the afternoon Paola went to her friend Evelyn's bacholorette get together (well actually the bacholorette get together was on Saturday and on Sunday was the "welcome to being married" party). Pao went to the "welcome to being married party" because a little over a month ago she became an old married woman...hahaha.

I stayed at her brother's house and played Playstation 3. Some might know that I had a Playstation 3 before but what you might not know is that we just sold it to Paola's brother. And we didn't part ways with it because Paola was mad at how much I was playing thank you very much. She is actually worse than I am if you can believe that. I just felt that we needed to use that time for new and different things. I heard a sermon from Andy Stanley recently and he said that he personally does not buy something new that he would not happily loan to another person. And that hit a little close to home for me and the Play 3. My hands were a little tight around the system.

We are reading more and using more time for God and I know that getting rid of the gaming system was the "wise" move not just for me but for the both of us. And although we miss it, we are enjoying using those "gaming" moments for other things.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Busy little bees

Paola and I are definitely keeping busy these days.

We are about a week away from having all of my paperwork ready to secure my visa for two more years. This has been a daily process but now we are just waiting on a few more documents and we can submit everything to immigration. This is very important because getting this visa allows me to stay in the country for two more years.

Every Monday - Friday from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Paola is in English class. She is taking classes at an institute here and she is improving everyday. We are talking more English at home and that has been good for both of us.

Our first meeting with the youth of the church is this Saturday. Please keep us in your prayers. We have accepted this responsibility to be youth pastors. It is going to be challenging but we are excited that we have this opportunity to minister and serve together so early in our married life.

Paola and I are also helping out another project here in La Paz. It is a project that trains, evaluates and validates organizations that work with children. The project validates the ministries and gives them international recognition for the quality of service that they offer which in turn opens doors for them and gives them opportunities and access to better relationships and more funds. Paola and I and two others are forming a team that will act as a third party and evaluate these organizations. All of these ministries work with children at-risk. And this should be a few month process.

Also, I am helping out my mission sending agency, SAMS, as a communications volunteer. They have developed a new communications plan for 2009 and I will be helping them by providing counsel and advice with regards to the plan. Trying to help them strengthen and improve their brand image and help them better communicate what God is doing through the organization.

These are the things keeping Paola and I busy right now.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

More pics

So I finally got the chance to finish uploading some long overdue photos.


I had already uploaded 100 photos from the wedding. But you will now find three new albums. Several more cool wedding photos taken by the videographer. Photos from our civil wedding ceremony that we had in my apartment the night before the church ceremony. (The civil ceremony is the actual legal ceremony in Bolivia.) And finally photos from our honeymoon in Jamaica. (Thanks Mom & Dad for making the trip possible)

Que disfruten. Enjoy.

Monday, March 02, 2009

It's On

So yesterday in church our pastor introduced Paola and I as the new youth leaders of the church.

There was a big need for a restructuring in the area of youth and God called us to be a part of it. As I mentioned before at first I said NO WAY. But as Pao and I talked about it and prayed about it, we received confirmation that this is something God wants us to do right now.

God gave us yet another confirmation as we read our daily devotional together. Bottom line...God is all over this. And it is just how HE works sometimes. When we say "No". When we feel completely unprepared for something, sometimes that is exactly what God wants and needs us to dive in and do.

There is example after example of this in the Bible. You are going to find alot of unprepared people who God used to accomplish His will. And that is how I feel right now.

I don't feel really prepared to work with the youth. I feel like I won't get their jokes. I feel like I won't be able to break into their world and make a difference. I need God. Paola and I need His help. We need His guidance.

All I know is that we are available for God to use us.
And we have faith that He will.

We start this Saturday. We have formed a new youth group made up of youth from the ages of 15 - 21. We are going to have some fun. We are going to serve others in need. And we are going to all grow closer to Christ.

Pao and I just want to be used by God. We are going to share His word and let Him be in charge of the results.