The Value of Consistency

Our Dark Horses series at church this summer has covered a lot of exciting people. Early on we talked about Gideon the wimp who won a war outnumbered 400-to-one. Last week we heard about a little one-handed assassin who escaped through a latrine and brought about 80-years of peace. With stories like these, it’s easy to think we aren’t accomplishing much.

But there are other stories. There are stories of those who had even greater success through consistency. In some ways these are boring heroes. In many ways they are encouraging.

Culture can make us feel like we are inadequate. If culture can make us feel unsuccessful, then they can produce a video and a book about how to become more successful, more happy, more epic—whatever that means.

Then the author becomes epically happy.

Some time ago I read a blog with the title “The Value of Sameness.” It featured Mister Rogers. I couldn’t find the old blog, but it came back to my mind because it fit our Dark Horse Hero so well this week. This week we have a boring hero—not the sermon, the guy! Anyway this same guy, when he died, left the entire country in mourning.

Like Mister Rogers, he did nothing epic. But, he was consistent and his impact was so immense the whole country mourned his passing.

I don’t know if any rumors went around after our Dark Horse Hero died, but plenty went around after Mister Rogers died. One was that he had been a navy seal who covered his twenty-five confirmed kills with commemorative arm tattoos. That’s why he wore long sleeve sweaters, you know. He wanted to cover his tattoos from the kids.

Why did these rumors circulate? I think on e reason is because we want to be exciting, and we want our heroes to be exciting too. We want to find out our parents are undercover Israeli agents with superpowers. We want Mister Rogers to be epic!

The truth is Fred Rogers never went into the military and never had a tattoo. His mother Nancy knitted his famous cardigans for him. He wore them in memory of her.

He wasn’t exciting. He was consistent.

What Fred Rogers did do was to graduate from Rollins College in Florida with a degree in music. Later he created Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and hosted all 895 episodes. He composed over 200 songs for the show and imagined all of it’s fourteen characters into being.

He personally responded to every piece of man mail he received.

He weighed 143 pounds when he was 20, and 40, and 60 and forever and ever amen. A truly boring hero, he said he did this for his wife, as “I” has one letter, “love” has four letters, and “you” has three letters.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood started the same way from beginning to end.

He was a vegetarian who didn’t smoke or drink. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

He was married to Sara Joann from 1952 until his death in 2003. They had two sons James and John.

He got up each morning to swim laps, pray, and to “read the Bible and prepare himself for the day.”

He did do one exciting thing. He moved to Canada in the 60s. It was the CBC that talked him into putting his puppets down for a time and talking directly to viewers as Mister Rogers. Good things come from Canada.

During his mostly (Canada aside) non-epic life, he received 40 honorary degrees, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Fred Rogers often spoke at commencement ceremonies where he would ask for a time of silence to remember the people who invested in our lives. When he received his  Lifetime Achievement Emmy, he did it again. If you watch the above link, you will see what is truly epic about the man. He really seems to put into practice, “they will know you are Christians by your love.”

He wasn’t exciting. He was consistent. And for me, that is encouraging.

Our dark horse hero this week?

From age 30 to age 90 1Samuel 7:15 (NIV2011)  Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16  From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17  But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.

At 90…

1Samuel 28:3 (NIV2011)  Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah.

Dan

We’re Dust

vvwa4Do you remember How the Grinch Stole Christmas? In the original book and movie, one thing he hates is the NOISE! I can so relate.

Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I must find some way to keep Christmas from coming!

For, tomorrow, I know all the Who girls and boys
Will wake bright and early. They’ll rush for their toys!

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
There’s one thing I hate! All the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

That is what my mid-week devotional for our church was about. It’s kinda like a VLOG. I’m tired of the media noise, the mask/no mask noise, the riot noise, the new restrictions/restrictions lifted noise. God knows we don’t need more noise. He knows we are but dust. If it doesn’t show up in your browser below, you can check it out here.

 

Unexpected Jesus

snotWe have had an infant, almost a toddler, living at our house for the last few weeks. They are wonderful, cute, (smelly), cuddly and all that stuff. But what’s the worst thing about an infant in your house?

It’s not the diapers.

It’s not the sickness.

It’s the snot-sucker.

I didn’t like them when we had infants of our own, and I don’t like them now.

Today they try to make them better by lying. They now call them “Baby Nasal Aspirators,” made with “ergonomic design.” I even saw a $200 electric “Medical Heavy Duty” model. That’s flat scary, some things don’t need more horsepower. Besides, a rose is still a rose, clean one out and you’ll agree.

It’s a snot-sucker.

The Magi went to Jerusalem, looking for, “The King of the Jews.” They expected to find the King in the capital. They went to the palace.

But He wasn’t in Jerusalem, He was five miles away in Bethlehem.

Jesus wasn’t in the Palace or the Temple.

He was in a feeding-trough.

His earthly dad wasn’t a king or a priest, and His mom wasn’t a queen. They were teenagers stuck a long way from home.

Jesus wasn’t wearing a crown. He was wearing a diaper. And, if there was an equivalent to Baby Nasal Aspirators at the time, I’d bet mother Mary had one.

The Magi didn’t get the King they expected. This had to be a massive shocker.

Yet they worshipped.

We all have expectations of Jesus. We want a Jesus of our making. We’re interested in Jesus because we think He might give us that spouse, or ideal job, or even just decent health. But that isn’t worshipping Jesus, that’s worshipping a Jesus-as-you-wish. That’s an idol.

Jesus IS, and that’s enough reason to worship.

This Christmas, let’s sacrifice our expectations.

Let’s worship Jesus.

Period.

Dan

Humor, The Babylon Bee, and Snopes

mockup-08ba252e_1200x1200Why I love humor, the Babylon Bee, and Snopes

In our crazy world of extreme echo-chamber paranoia, the Babylon Bee is my online source of satire sanity. Check out these article titles (better if you go to their site to see the pictures).

  •  Nation Torn Between Watching Democratic Debates, Sticking Face In Blender.
  • Promising New Prospect Lebronna James Expected To Dominate WNBA
  • Trump Proves He’s Not A Racist By Showing His Rejection Letter From The KKK
  • Gideons Announce Daring Plan To Sneak Bibles Into Progressive Churches
  • Polar Bear Apologizes For Being White
  • Ginsburg: “I Am Mentally Fit Enough To Serve Through The End Of President Eisenhower’s Term.”

And it only gets better thanks to Snopes, the “definitive fact-checking site and reference source…”

I like Snopes, have used it a lot, and I don’t think they are part of some left-wing conspiracy to remove all source of humor and sanity from the interweb, but what do I know? This time they took themselves, and the Babylon Bee, too seriously. Snopes was a Facebook partner last year when they had Facebook slap Babylon Bee with a warning for posting this fake news article. See if you think this is fake news or satire. Ready?

Really? In addition, the warning threatened the Babylon Bee with limitations and demonetization. Later Facebook acknowledged the mistake saying the piece “should not have been rated false in our system.” Calling that article fake news rather than satire is itself fake news. This year they have been going after even more Babylon Bee articles. Things got ugly. How do you out-Snopes Snopes?

The Babylon Bee had an idea. The top of their home page now says,

Better yet, BuzzFeed just reported the top-performing article on Facebook related to the topic, “democratic debate” just before the last debate was an article by The The Babylon Bee.

The title?

And the article is even better:

Snopes Issues Pre-Approval Of All Statements Made During Tonight’s Democratic DebateU.S.—With the Democratic primary debates in full swing, many fact-checking websites are preparing to review candidates’ statements for accuracy. Thankfully, Snopes, the most unbiased fact-checking website ever, has found a way to expedite their evaluation process.

 Since their original founding in 1957 by the KGB, Snopes has gained a reputation for objectively reporting what someone’s secret motivations probably were, and what they probably really meant when they said something. More recently, they have perfected the art of determining whether a satirical article is hilarious, left-leaning comedy or divisive, conservative-leaning fake news.

 As part of their ongoing goal of being able to rush to judgment as quickly as possible, Snopes published a pre-approval of all future statements made by candidates during the Democratic debates. 

 “While we understand there may be some disagreements among progressive candidates on certain issues, we know that nobody who shares our worldview would ever say anything factually untrue,” Snopes explains in their article.

 Snopes also clarified that in the event a candidate does say anything that sounds untrue/conservative, they will automatically conclude that the individual had pure intentions and meant something completely different. As a very last resort, they may change a particular rating to “mixed,” assuming some context was missing.

 At publishing, Snopes had also released a fact-check for all future statements by President Trump, rating them all as “False.”

 Don’t mess with the Bee.

 

 

Almost Home

Haiti, Thursday Night June 28, 2019

It feels weird to be packing up to go home already. Here is a short list of what I can remember that we did or took part in during English Camp Leadership Training. But first…

There are two big needs here.

  1. Sue’s 2003 Rav4 is done for. The head gasket has started to leak, the rats have made a mess of the wiring, and the suspension is metal on metal painful to hear. She REALLY needs a new vehical, and probably one with a truck chassy for these roads.
  2. Both ovens are toast. One doesn’t work at all, the other messed up an otherwise perfect batch of Cooley Chocolate Chip Cookies. They could use a commercial oven, especially when English Camp is in full swing.

If you want to help contact Maranatha Ministries. Now for our week…

  • Sue wrote the Science curriculum for the next 6 weeks. Then Sue got to teach adults for the first time in Haiti. This week she taught four 1-hour classes in Science each day to the leaders who hope to be junior counselors or translators for the Science class for the next 5 weeks.
  • Jenn wrote the Bible curriculum for the next 6 weeks. Then Jenn spent Monday following a group through all four classes. On Tuesday Jenn started teaching four 1-hour classes in Bible each day to the leaders who hope to be junior counselors or translators for the Science class for the next 5 weeks. She got a LOT of really difficult questions, everything from election to details about Isaac’s birth through his elderly parents. They are terrific students.
  • Dan (I) did some evening devotions the first week, and the Opening Assembly Bible story each day on the second week. Each story was accompanied by a skit, and introduced the Bible lesson coming later in the day. I was also the handy-man removing and repairing toilets, attempting the RAV4 resurrection which is still on-going as I write, fan repairs, hanging shade cloth, building a little table, fixing screens, some errands, that kind of thing. I may have also talked to a few folks along the way. OH—and I made Cooley Cookies last night. But the oven here lies. My “10-minutes at 350 degrees” took about 25 minutes set at 400 degrees. It made some excellent biscotti.
  • Connections: We were able to go to church on Sunday, which was a nice break. I met a guy and his daughter who had just moved here from the States. He is a pilot with Missionary Aviation Fellowship, retired from the Air Force. We also met Jabez from India and his family, who plan to start a Children’s Home in Haiti. We met Britney who recently moved here from the States, and I think is working fill-time now with Maranatha. She was here a few years ago—when Micah stayed here for a couple months. Of course, reconnecting with Byron, Shelley and family is always a joy.

So much for 2019 at Maranatha Children’s Home.

Back to the Cooley Home,

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10 Things that Only Happen in Haiti

IMG_20190626_091637-001(mostly) Only in Haiti…

  1. Do people dance in the heat. I get dancing in the rain, but around here, when anyone is singing dancing is the norm. Maybe it isn’t the heat that stops me joining in, maybe I was Baptist too long.
  2. Are car horns more necessary than mirrors.

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3. Do the dogs love to play on the trampoline.

4. Does the “bad part of town” change daily.

5. Is it impossible to completely put on a pair of latex gloves. Buy them 3 sizes too big and blow them up a thousand times, they still won’t go over your sweat-sticky palms. If you get your fingers half way in, call it victory.

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6. Do you have to look up while working on a car. I was working on the Rav4 when I realized I had parked it under a 40ft coconut tree heavy with ripe fruit. Hail damage has nothing on coconuts and how do you explain a concussion while changing oil?

7. Do people look so mean, and then with a wave or a smile look back so friendly.

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8. Do the best artists use taxis for their canvas (tap-taps).

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9. Do you have the best mangos, avocados, bananas, and pineapple on the planet.

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10. Can you so quickly realize what is important in life—and what isn’t.

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Voodoo Caesarian

HAITI TRIP, June 24, 2019

What a fun day! I got to tell an opening assembly Bible story—chose the one about King David’s 3 friends sneaking into Bethlehem to get him a glass of water while others acted it out. We added some xtra-biblical events like crawling backwards and falling into the pool. Good fun.

Sue from our church taught four Science classes today, while Jenn rotated through them all to see how things run. I believe Jenn is teaching the Bible class for the rest of the week. One of the new folks, don’t know if she is an interpreter or junior counselor, accepted Christ during training!

Not to be out done by a simple salvation, I did a quick supply errand and then went to Sue Spinny’s house, the crèche, to put the brain back in her car.

I forgot about the stares when a white guy is driving around here. I keep thinking I blend in, but maybe not.

I also forgot just how frustrating it can be living here. The car has sat since the brain was stolen (again) back in January. So, there was also a tire to fix, a dead battery, stuff they broke when taking the brain, and side mirrors they stole to replace. Of course they cut the wires when taking the mirrors rather than simply unplugging them, so replacing is taking longer. And they took the running lights. And of course stuff is busted, including a window, to get inside and get the brain. Anyway…

I got the tire, battery, and brain done, car running, and thought I’d drive over here to Maranatha to finish things. All went well till I turned on the main road. It’s the width a desert two-track, with deep cement trenches of death cut in the sides of the road to total cars and kill people who aren’t paying attention, filled with cars and trucks and tap-taps, as motorcycles weave in between at 40mph. I hit the road and floored it.

Nothing.

I crept down the road at 12mph idle speed.

Thankfully I didn’t have far to go—and thankfully I don’t know Creole. I imagine the motorcycle riders leaning on their horns were yelling, “Sorry I can’t help, but my wife is getting an emergency caesarian at home by the voodoo doctor at 3.”

We may need to find a way to raise some $ to help to make the crèche safer. Losing a Toyota brain is one thing. Losing your own is another.

So much for Monday!

Pictures are:

Top is just a fun homemade see-saw we use for camp. Bottom is the Bible class, Science class, driving through town (yes, it is a two-way road. Aren’t they all?), and the final is stolen from the Babylon Bee. It seems Lot’s wife was actually taking a selfie. Even Haitians need humor.

Dan

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lots wife

Sunday in Haiti

IMG_7551Haiti June 23, 2019

Today is Sunday. I suppose you knew that. It’s about 8am here–something you didn’t know. We don’t know yet if we will be going to church. The roads may be safe, or not, in that part of town today. We’ll wait for reports to come in before traveling.

Yesterday was a good day of final repairs around here. We got two toilets removed and re-installed, another one repaired, and a dozen or so fans working so that there will be enough for the team coming after we leave. If someone thinks what we are doing here is unimportant, have them turn off their AC and hold things in for a day. It helps me feel essential.

Jenn and Sue have pretty much finished up the curriculum, mostly just a lot of printing left to do. The pool is refilled, more shade cloth installed, and Clorox tabs put in the water tanks for good luck.

Tomorrow begins training so things will get lively. Living here is a lot like camping. Water is limited, electricity is on-and-off, and your fan is your AC. In the same way, food tastes better, you spend more time together than in front of a screen, and time moves more slowly.

Monday I hope to put the brain (ECU Computer], side mirrors, filters, and an alarm in Sue Spinney’s RAV4. Sue was at AnchorPoint a year ago, lives about a mile from here with five kids in her house as a small Cresh. All the houses in this area have tall walls around them, most with razor wire. Hers has no wire, and someone has been jumping the wall at night to help themselves to her car’s parts like it is their private junk yard. Both front running light assemblies are also gone. We brought one of those a few years ago—it didn’t last 24 hours after we put it on her car before someone took it off as their own. But the brain, that costs around $300 used, and leaves you stranded. Hopefully the alarm will help. I suggested she keep a python in the car. Or a ferel cat.

WENT TO CHURCH, BACK, PICTURES ARE…

Top pic is Ben, one of Byron and Shelley’s kids, in a shirt some AnchorPointers may remember.

Bottom is me and the pastor I met from India, and the family and staff here at supper time. Then Byron and Shelley who direct this place, then Sue whose RAV4 I get to work on tomorrow. Chef Jeff, a young man who came to live here due to circumstances after the earthquake is at the bottom. He is a good kid, much fun, often asking me how Micah Cooley is doing. That makes me like him more.

Thanks for your prayers. It was good to be able to go to church today. No issues and a nice break. I met a guy and his daughter who just moved here from the states. He is working with Missionary Aviation Fellowship, and is a retired US Air force pilot. His wife is in the states for a bit longer, selling the house or something, I can’t remember.

OK, enough rambling.

Dan

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sue

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Missionaries Lie

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Haiti June 22, 2019

Missionaries Lie.

That or I’m a bit slow in understanding. It did take me 8 years to get that 4-year-degree.

THE GOOD

When the missionaries say “English Camp,” they are referring to the entire camp, from training of leaders through the end of camp. I didn’t realize that. So this coming week is…

Training for the junior counselors and interpreters. That means there will just be 100 or so of us here at the house, rather than the 400 campers plus the rest of us. During the training they will go through some “normal” camp days, so everything does need to be up and running. But it is way less stress knowing all classes and meals will be smaller. At the end of next week, they will pick which interpreters and junior counselors will be used for the next 5-weeks of English Camp.

Our little team has been trying to do what we can. Sue and Jennifer are about finished with the Science and Bible curriculum. Today will hopefully wrap it up—pretty much has to as they or someone will be teaching it on Monday. Sue was able to give a grand devotional to the staff last night. I’ve been able to give a few also, one to the national staff yesterday morning. I hope to record them singing hymns one day, and will try to upload. Mercy it is beautiful. Otherwise I’ve kept busy repairing and installing all the trampoline stuff, putting up shade cloth, getting the tool room organized, a bit of small electrical repairs, and totally enjoying talking with the staff and missionary family. They have some amazing kids!

But, there is still an opportunity, as I see it.

THE BAD

Once we leave they have a team coming in, and are pretty well covered for the first couple weeks of the real, not training, English Camp. And, wisely, they have shortened Camp to just 5 weeks, 6 with training. But there is a major issue with so few teams coming in this year.

Stuff.

Each team that comes brings 2-50lb bags of stuff with them that the missions team then doesn’t have to buy for Camp. Everything from crayons to peanut butter to back packs normally comes in those bags. A team of 10 brings 1000lbs of stuff. Also, because teams are invested here, they tend to also bring money. So, there is a double issue. Less stuff and less money to buy the stuff here.

Help?

 So, if you would like to help, their website is www.mcmhaiti.org, for the giving page click here. You have to scroll down past the sponsorship stuff and then there is a place for one-time gifts.

THE UGLY

I believe the dogs have taken a liking to me. They have three dogs here, and a little white curly-haired thing that I have yet to identify. Some call it a dog; I have my doubts. The dogs, it seems, are quite good hunters. Yesterday I thought they had forgotten me, but then, late in the day working on the trampoline, they showed up, rat in mouth. If they do to intruders what they do to other unwelcome animals, they are good guard dogs indeed.

OH – the pool was also a bit ugly. But, it is now empty, cleaned, and being refilled with wonderful generator power and well water. We will shock the typhoid out of it and have a grand time swimming before doing it all over again in another week. Blessings!!

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