Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time To Say Goodbye

Tuesday was an extremely hectic day.  Perhaps it was good that there were more things to do than there was time to do them so we would not spend a lot of time feeling sad about the whole situation of leaving our firstborn behind.

We had an early start as the first item on the agenda was the 7:30 a.m. college orientation followed by an 8:30 chapel service.  Next there were two tests to take; one for English and another for Bible.  After that we ran to Wal-Mart (again) and had lunch at McDonald's.  The afternoon consisted of a meeting for all the students who will be working on campus and another orientation.  Mixed in was getting a post office box key, a laundry card, an ID card, two trips to the finance office and then filling out forms for her on-campus job and lastly, purchasing her textbooks (ouch).

Perhaps the most important item of the day was the registering  for classes.  Morgan was able to get all but one of the classes she wanted.  Each day, she will have a 7:30 a.m. class.  and on three days out of the week, she will be finished with all her classes before chapel.

Here's her schedule:
7:30 Old Testament Survey
8:30  English 101
9:30  Computer Lab  (Mon & Wed only)
10:30 Chapel

On Wednesday and Friday she will have a cooking class from 11:30-1:00

Tuesday & Thursday
7:30  Speech
8:30  Personal Evangelism

Wednesday will be her toughest day for classes as she will have both the cooking and computer class on  the same day with church services at night.  At the present, Morgan is carrying 15 credit hours but there still may be additional credits earned if she is able to get violin lessons.

Morgan was fortunate to get an "on campus" job and will be working two or three hours a day doing cleaning and maintenance.  She does not yet know what her specific job will be but she is excited to have the opportunity to help her parents out on her school bill.  Just those few hours each day are going to reduce her monthly tuition payments by one third.  She does not mind the custodial aspect since she is used to that kind of work and it will give her some physical activity away from the rigors of sitting in class and studying.  It might be nice over the course of her college life to work in some of the ministry offices directly to improve her ministry training but she likes what she has to start out.

As I said, we were so busy following Morgan and helping her any way that we could, when we finally left the school, there was not a lot of time to have a lingering departure.  Just quick hugs and kisses and we walked away.  I could have cried all the way to the car and all the way home but the Lord has given all of us great peace that this is His will and we have embraced the reality that the time has come for this new chapter to begin for us all.

We thank the Lord for a safe trip home and those who looked after our pets and our home in our absence.  We arrived at our house at 11:30 at night.  The jet stream was not in our favor this time so it took us seven hours to make it home.  I will post one more blog on Wednesday for a few concluding thoughts about this entire experience.  Please keep Morgan in your prayers.

Morgan with her two roommates, Kim from Texas and Rebekah from Michigan.

Lot's of forms to fill out.

Crying is not allowed.

Parting shot.

Monday, August 29, 2011

College Life Begins

On Tuesday, Morgan's college career commenced with her officially signing in and receiving her dorm room assignment.  Morgan will be living most of the next ten months in Sisk hall room 213.  Once we had the info, it was time to get unpacked and moved in.  After that, it was off to Wal-Mart for all the last minute stuff she needed for the room. 

When we were in Wal-Mart, it was as if the entire store was on campus as there were dozens of families from the college shopping just like us to buy the last minute items before classes begin.  While shopping, we were surprised to run in to a family we knew from the church I worked at 14 years ago in Long Beach.  Mario who was in Morgan's K4 class was shopping with his dad as he too will be a freshman at W.C.B.C. this year.  

Each year at W.C.B.C., the school year is commenced with revival services.  As in previous years, Pastor R.B. Ouelette from Michigan started the year off with a great message tonight about Jonah and how he had run away from God's calling on his life.  He challenged the students and the many parents who were present to follow the Lord's leading in our lives.

When the service was over, we left Morgan to spend her first night in the dorm.  We are planning to head back to Yuba City on Tuesday but will not be able to leave Lancaster until Morgan finishes the registration process in the afternoon.  With a six or seven hour drive ahead of us, we will be arriving late into the night.  I would appreciate your prayers for me that the Lord will help me to stay alert and that we will have a safe trip home. 

Welcome to College!

Sisk Hall where Morgan will be living for the next 10 months, (it was real windy).

Now where should I put this Rachel?
Nothing like running in to a classmate from 14 years ago.

My room mate from 25 years ago, Gary Spaeth with his wife Melissa.

At church on Monday night.

My teacher from Bible College will also be one of Morgan's teachers, Dr. Mark Rasmussen.

The revival preacher, Dr. R.B. Ouelette from Michigan.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

News From Lancaster, California


As many of you know, we are in Lancaster, California to bring our oldest daughter, Morgan, to West Coast Baptist College.  It is a bitter-sweet time for Teresa and I as we have to get the scissors out and start cutting the some of the cords tying us together together to Morgan.

It was about a six and a half hour drive to Lancaster from Yuba City on Saturday.  We had no real problems getting here in our eleven year old van.  We are thankful for the safety God has given us on the highways through the years.

It is amazing how the Lord works in our lives.  Twenty-five years ago my roommate in college, Gary Spaeth was from Buffalo, New York and I was from Fort Myers, Florida.  For the time we are in Lancaster this week, Gary and his wife Melissa are graciously hosting us in their home.  It is too long of a story to type but suffice it to say, God moves in mysterious AND wonderful ways.  Had you asked either of us if we would both be living in California in twenty-five years and that I would be a pastor and Gary would be teaching in the same college my daughter attended, it would have seemed totally impossible, yet here we are!

Do I have enough stuff for school?

The van is full.  Good thing it is only about a 7 hour trip.

Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert.

Gary and Melissa have a spacious 5 bedroom house that has been great to stay in.

We had to get to church early to keep from having to sit in the balcony on Sunday night.

Pastor Chappell's impressive mounts in his den.

Pastor Chappell invited us to his house after church Sunday night.
Church was a blessing today and tonight with two great messages.  For Sunday School, we attended Gary's couples class which just so happened to be for the same age that we are. After the morning service, Pastor Chappell invited us to his home for fellowship following the evening service so we decided we should stay in Lancaster instead of making a quick trip to Long Beach.  On Monday, Morgan will be given her dorm room assignment and we will do our last bit of shopping for her. 

I will try and put up another post Monday night so check back for an update and more pics.  Thank you for praying for us and for being such a blessing to Morgan before she left home. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Monday we were all up early to finish packing and go to the airport for the flight home.  We had one final treat as Mrs. Latham had arranged for us to stop at a Brazilian cowboy store to be photographed in some of their clothes. 

We left the house at 9:00 in the morning for our 1:00 afternoon flight.  One blessing on the trip was being on the same flight with the Herberts to Sao Paulo and sharing a long layover together before our connecting flights home.  Once we checked in at the airport in in Porto Allegro, we ate lunch in the airport with the Lathams and Erick.  The last goodbye was the most difficult as when we had to say farewell to them both.

In the airport, it was an advantage to our group to have Morgan on crutches.  First, we were given better seats on the flights.  They moved us up to the front of the planes where it was less crowded and close to the restroom.  The blessing was that the unoccupied seats allowed us to move around and give Morgan an empty seat to prop her leg up on.

In the terminals, every time we went anywhere, an airline employee would push her in a wheelchair and we would follow.  The employee knew where to go and whenever we would go through security or customs, the entire group would go to the head of the line.  We were also the first to board and had our "escort" waiting for us when we got off.  When we arrived in San Francisco, the escort retrieved our bags and we were even able to bypass the final baggage inspection at U.S. customs entirely.

One of the most moving parts of the trip was flying in and out of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Sao Paulo is the fifth most populated metropolitan area in the world with eight million people.  After spending two weeks in Southern Brazil, we learned how long the odds are for someone to ever hear the gospel in their lifetime.  Seeing how large Sao Paulo is and knowing how few missionaries are there, the need for more missionaries must be vast. Pray with me for more laborers to enter the harvest field for all of Brazil.

This trip home technically added a second country to our trip as we had to stop in Lima, Peru for a layover.  This layover was two hours long so we had time to hit the gift shop for Peruvian souvenir.  Another blessing for which we are most thankful is that once again there were empty seats in our area for us to spread out during the final, eight hour leg of our flight home.

Taking 14 people to the airport at once requires coordination.

Morgan received v.i.p. service on the way home.

The cast's final picture together.

I guess Erick was bored.

One last goodbye.

Look at the dessert!

Ready for liftoff! 

This is what Sao Paulo looks like outside both sides of the aircraft.

Home at last!

By the time we arrived home, 30 hours had lapsed since we had left the Latham's for the airport.  We are all home now safe and sound and looking forward to what the Lord has for us wherever we may be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

DAY TWELVE - Father's Day

Sunday was Father's Day in Brazil.  We started Sunday with a men's breakfast at the church followed by our morning services.  During church, they had a testimony time and though we could not understand most of what was said, the people were sincere in their comments about their dad.  With the traditional family unity being so scarce in Brazil, many of the testimonies reflected on how their Pastor, Tom Latham, was the one they looked up to who has given them the guidance they have needed in their life.  It was obvious to us all that he is beloved by his people.

It was an emotional day for us all as we had to say goodbye to all our new Brazilian friends.  With the amount of time we had been there, we had attended two sets of Sunday and two mid-week services which gave us the opportunity to grow close to the church family.  In addition to the church services, we had meals in the homes of most of the families in the church.  There were lots of hugs and kisses and many tears were shed when it was time to go.

In the evening we were able to drive to a famous German influenced town that is called Gramada.  One of the biggest attractions there is a nationally famous chocolate store, where we all bought some goodies to bring home.  After that we had a little time to do some souvenir shopping in the town shops.  The weather did not cooperate very much but it did not deter us from having a good time.

After we arrived home, it was time to start packing for the trip home.  We are never going to forget the Lathams and all that we have been able to do here.

Father's Day breakfast at the church.

Father's Day cake!  I'm not sure what Rachel's problem is...

Speaking at the church one last time.

Brazil's most famous chocolate!

Looks like Rachel had a little too much chocolate.

The Moyers with one of their new Brazilian friends.

When we returned home, we had some of Dr. Latham's sweet treats.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

DAY ELEVEN - Ladies Tea

Saturday was the first time in six days that I did not have to start my day by putting makeup on my face!  Mercy me, you ladies have a little more sympathy from me when it comes to having to start your day with that as your routine.

The day began with two wrestling practices.  Those of you who know Dr. Latham's ministry are aware that he uses the sport of wrestling to reach young people and has seen many families saved and added to his church.  At 66 years old, he is still going strong and has shown a great love for young people.

In the afternoon Mrs. Latham hosted a Ladies Tea at the church.  She had over eighty ladies in attendance.  The meeting lasted about two hours and everyone seemed to have a good time.  The men had the honor of being servers and working in the nursery.  The Herbert's once again provided the great music for another event.

We had some entertainment tonight as we went out to what amounted to a dinner theater.  There was some traditional folk dancing and great food.  They had some kind of acrobat swinging wooden balls on a string all around the room.  I don't know what it is called but it was pretty impressive.  By the time we arrived home it was nearly midnight which means our special Sunday breakfast is going to arrive far too soon.

Praise the Lord Erick woke up feeling better this morning.  Jodi Herbert has been fighting a cold.  I assume that visiting a foreign country exposes you to a variety of irritants, germs and such that your body is not used to fighting.  Add that to fatigue and you have yourself a combination that lends itself to people easily getting sick.  As a testament to all the good food we have eaten, we are all very happy that dysentery has not been on the list of problems for us!

We counted over 80 ladies and daughters.  They just kept coming in and we kept setting up more tables.

Famous dinner theater in Porto Allegro where they bring out all the meat on a stick and slice off whatever you want.  They had every kind of meat you would see on the menu at the best restaurants and it was "all you can eat".

We saw figurines of this guy in all the shops.  He is either Brazil's Marlboro Man or some kind of historical figure.

Friday, August 12, 2011

DAY TEN - The Final Act

Friday was our fifth and final day in the public schools here.   We have been able to minister to over 3,000 students and school employees this week.  I thank God for the privilege that He has given me to make this trip.   I must take this chance to say thank you for all of you who helped make this possibe and giving us this opportunity.  We trust that the Lord will use all of our collective effort to produce a harvest of souls.

Our drama and music program has improved with each performance.  Every day we have been able to add a new twist to the program including a festive rally of music to open things up.  The kids love it, the school staff loves it and we have had a ball.  Including breaks, all grades only go to school for four hours a day.  With such a short day (and fund shortage), there are no music progams, sports or any extra-curriclar activities in the schools here.  During recess today, the kids were playing soccer using a two liter bottle for a ball.  I have not seen playgrounds with any equipment and as you may have noticed from our pictures, there are no indoor assembly halls.

These conditions give a group like ours coming in to provide a little entertainment with a positive message an appreciative audience.  The message they hear and see is that there are some people who care about them and what happens to them.  The most important thing that they hear is that there is a God in Heaven who loves them.  When Dr. Latham shares his testimony, he gives a clear presentation of what Christ has done for him and how they too can know Christ.

Word has spread between the schools about our presence here.  We had an adminstrator from another school come to our drama presentation and ask if we could come to present it at his school before we go back home. Dr. Latham also had a phone call from different school asking if it would be possible for us to fit them into our schedule. Unfortunately we are down to our final two days in Brazil and the calendar is already full.  There is however another group coming down in March from a church in Minnesota who will be ministering in the schools just as we have been able to do this week.   

A week of long days and short nights has caught up with several here on our team.  We are all very tired.  Erick took ill tonight with flu-like symptoms and Rachel is not completely recovered from her allergy struggle. Please keep us in your prayers.

Saturday we will be busy with wrestling practice in the morning and a ladies function at the church in the afternoon.  We are helping out with setup and the progam and helping Mrs. Latham clean up.  In the evening while I don't know what exactly what it is, we are going to some kind of folk show.

Sunday is Father's Day here where we will be singing and testifying in church.  Dr. Latham has made plans for our last evening together before we start to pack for our flight home to the USA on Monday.

Enjoy the photos.  In case you had not realized it, you can click on each picture if you would like a larger view.

The lady wearing the sweater in the middle is the principal of the school were at today.  I told here it was the cleanest school that we had been to all week.  It was no surprise that the students there were the best behaved of all the schools too.  Congratulations to her and her staff.

Mekennah and Hannah surprised us all this week.

Jon Henderson has done a great job with his characters playing the bad guy.


Rachel and ...

Brazilians love their coffee and so do we.  Would you believe that I have been drinking it black.
(You are supposed to stick your pinky out with these small cups)