Archive for April, 2011

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Easter Weekend

04/30/2011

We had a great Easter weekend here in Phayao. We began Friday night with a time journeying through the Stations of the Cross. It was an opportunity to meditate and reflect upon the hours leading up to Jesus’ death. Heading into the weekend with Jesus being laid in the tomb definitely creates an increased anticipation and excitement for what awaits Sunday morning. I think everyone was blessed by this intentional time focused on Jesus’ path to the cross and the longing for Sunday that it created.

On Saturday morning, Ann and Tonya put together a fun time of Easter activities for the kids on our team and some of their friends. They spent time decorating sugar cookies, dying duck eggs, and having multiple rounds of egg hunts. Then, Ann finished off the morning by telling all the kids the story of the resurrection. The kids had a great time celebrating Easter, especially eating all the cookies and candy.

We met at our house Sunday morning for a time of worship and celebrating the empty tomb. We began with a kids’ activity where they reenacted the resurrection with Star Wars figures. Ryan then led us in time of worship and celebration for the good news of Easter. It culminated with sharing the Lord’s Supper together, accompanied by milk and honey as symbols of God’s bounty in the day of resurrection. We then spent the next several hours driving around town visiting numerous friends and neighbors. Our desire was to share the joy we felt on this day of resurrection, in some small way, with those that we have grown to love in Phayao. Thus, we took each family we visited an orchid flower, basket of fruit, and a card. The card had a Scripture about the resurrection on it and a blessing for our friends, along with the beautiful artwork of our kids drawn on each of the cards. Upon arriving at each home, we gave a brief explanation of our purpose and then we blessed them by reading the words on the card. We did not stay long at each house, but it was so fun sharing the joy of our risen Lord with the beautiful people God has put in our lives.

Here are pictures with some of the friends we visited.

Our next door neighbor Nong

Our good friends Lek and Nong

Our landlord Nui

Haley’s neighbor Gae with her kids

Haley’s neighbor Bik

Binkleys’ neighbors Chamnan and Lon with their daughters

Our friends Rampuey, daughter Mai, granddaughter Nampan and niece Bus

Fikes’ neighbor Lung Paat

And we ended the weekend with a family egg hunt in our neighbor’s yard. The girls had a great time searching for eggs and eating candy. It was indeed a Happy Easter!

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Team Retreat and Other Pics

04/06/2011

This is a slideshow our recent team retreat in Phuket. There are also other pictures from the past 3 months. Enjoy.

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The Psalm of the Day (or Year)

04/04/2011

Psalm 13

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

Is it just myself or is this the most schizophrenic poem ever written? I have been coming back to this psalm for a few weeks now, and it shocks me every time. It actually does not make any sense.

You start reading and soon realize that this person is writing from a very dark place. There is no doubt that the poet wants, or rather needs, some answers. And to be honest, it is that raw pain and frustration that, at times, has drawn me in. Those words have become my words on various occasions.

But, then the whiplash comes. What happened between verses four and five? Read it again and tell me that’s not the most disjointed writing in history. What great event took place between the writing of those two verses? Did the editors of the Psalter make a mistake and combine two psalms into one? I mean, can a brother get a transition sentence—please?

Seriously, I read this psalm, and it actually frustrates me. I feel a deep connection to the honesty and vulnerability of verses 1-4. I resonate with those verses, and so do many others, I presume. So, it almost feels cheap to throw in the last two verses. I want to ask the author, “Why did you wimp out? I came to this psalm for raw emotion, for truth, for lament. And you have to go and wrap a nice, pretty bow on it.”

So, I walk away from the text feeling like I didn’t get my money’s worth.

But, as I start going about my day, I begin to see how the arrival of verses 5-6 might not be as random as first suspected. I slowly realize that this psalm, the whole psalm, speaks truth with more depth and clarity than I could have imagined. Because, on those days when the first four verses are my song, I still find myself wanting to speak a word of hope into the lives of those around me–and that hope seems to come out of left field, or rather, from deep inside myself. I see the systems and cycles in people’s lives that imprison them in walls of despair and fatalism, and I want to shout that there is good news for them. I want to “sing the Lord’s praise” before them and share how “he has been good to me.” And I want to say these kinds of words even in the midst of crying out the words of verses 1-4.

Thus, song #13 in your hymnal speaks truth, but not in the way I first thought. There is no event that happened between verses 4 and 5. This isn’t some cheap, psychological defense mechanism. This isn’t a copout. This is hope.

There is no denying that “How long?” is often the question of the day. Sorrow and longing are frequently in the air I breathe. But, I sing verses 5 and 6 because “he has been good to me” before, and I believe, I trust, I hope he will again. I sing the last two verses not because the questions, the doubts, and the fears have been resolved. I sing them because I hope that God’s answer is coming soon—and his answer will be good.