Prairie View

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Eloquent Farewell Speech

Today we had a special commissioning service for the Misael and Regina Aguilar family. The parents and five young children plan to leave this week to live in El Salvador, Misael's native country. They will help to build a facility for Strong Tower Children's Home and contribute to the work otherwise. Seeing this happen is the fulfillment of a dream Misael has had for many years.

The dream no doubt was nurtured when he was a young boy, and financial hardship after his father's death necessitated his being cared for at an orphanage. He speaks now of that time of his life having been filled with pleasant memories. The house parents were David and Susanna Yoder, now our bishop and his wife.

Misael shared two memories of his time at the orphanage today when he spoke at church.

Whenever Misael had been away from the orphanage for a short time, he always found a note on his pillow from Susanna when he returned. These notes assured him that he had been missed; he was welcome back; and he was loved. Misael said today that those notes helped give him a sense of self-worth.

Misael also remembers a time during El Salvador's Civil War when armed robbers came to steal from the orphanage. All the residents of the orphanage waited in the living room while the robbers searched the premises for valuables. When the unwelcome visitors arrived back in the living room preparing to exit, one robber had difficulty hoisting his backpack because it was so heavily loaded with stolen goods that he couldn't lift it while hanging on to his gun with the other hand. David kindly helped lift the backpack comfortably onto the thief's back. Misael spoke of this incident as having been a powerful demonstration to him of the way of nonresistance.

From his vantage point now, after 8 years of living in Kansas and being part of our church here, Misael sees that many who are part of the older generation in our congregation blessed his life long before he even knew of their existence. Through their support of the mission work in El Salvador, personnel and funds were available for him and others like him to have good food every day and a comfortable bed every night. Misael expressed his profound gratitude.

Misael went on to remind us that we are among the wealthiest 5% of the world's population. As such we are a unique people with unprecedented opportunities.

Citing United Nations statistics, he told us how many millions of orphans will likely be part of the world population by 2010. This will be an unprecedented situation of need.

Misael expressed gratefulness and admiration for the passion he sensed at times when he had an opportunity to spend time with the young people of our church, especially during an all-night prayer and missions awareness gathering he attended. He quoted our son Shane, who had spoken to the group about Esther who had come to the kingdom "for such a time as this." Misael believes that all of us are part of the kingdom of God now, with our remarkable wealth and gifts and passion because the needs now are remarkable also, and an all-wise God has strategically paired the prepared people and the needy children of this time.

With the skills of an accomplished orater, Misael pulled all the strands of his presentation together by calling to mind an image Kansans are familiar with--gathering the harvest. The harvest of souls will be gathered in when God's people pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers into his harvest. But prayer is not the end of the harvest. As Misael said "When the grain is ready, we don't go to the house to pray. We go to the field and start gathering."

Misael speaks heavily accented English, but today I was in awe of his command of language and his ability to convey deep truths in a memorable way. The fact that I could reconstruct the essence of his talk without having taken notes gives evidence of the sound organization of his presentation and the effectiveness of his delivery.

Kingdom work sometimes seems long and hard. But today, in a mature, capable, and passionate Christian man who was once a needy child that someone cared for and taught well, we saw how a modest investment can produce phenomenal dividends. When one who was "gathered" himself becomes a "gatherer," the cycle of multiplication that is part of the kingdom economy is in effect, and people are blessed, and God is glorified. My heart is warmed.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Family Campout

My parental family and their local descendants camped out last night in my brother's pasture. Here are some of the things I observed and learned.

1. Perfect evenings occur sometimes in Kansas, sometimes in August.

2. Coyote howls are often accompanied by much yipping. The yipping is far friendlier-sounding than the spine-tingling howls are. It always sounds close.

3. Little boys should wash their hands after building "Cowpie Castle" a creation erected and named by the four 5-7-year-old boys in the extended family. It had a shrine shape with carefully arranged plant material adorning the interior. What I thought I saw on the boys' hands turned out to be exactly what it looked like, judging from the fresh appearance of some of the construction materials in the structure.

4. A cluster of pincushion cacti one foot in diameter can be comfortably perched on with bare feet because the spines are mostly oriented in a horizontal direction. The above-mentioned boys demonstrated this to me.

5. Three-year olds who go to sleep before Mama has seen to all the before-bed preparations should be helped into Pampers before they are temporarily put to bed on my cot.

6. Prickly pear fruits are turning purple-red in August, and the clusters should be dodged when driving across the pasture. They're being monitored for their readiness for harvest as a jelly-making ingredient.

7. When you build a fire directly over the home of an underground resident, he/she/it may be smart enough to exit the residence during the night after the coals have cooled. The evidence is a hole surfacing in the middle of the ash pile the next morning.

8. There's no better time or place to keep watch during a meteor shower than in the middle of a pasture on a Kansas prairie before the moon rises on a crystal-clear night.

9. A gentle pink and peach Western color wash at sunset is just right for an August night--reminiscent of the brightness and warmth of the day, but carrying the promise of a soft and comfortable night.

10. Some of my male relatives demonstrated a rather twisted sense of humor when I pointed out the constellation Cassiopeia (accent on next to last syllable), and someone asked "Cassie did what?"

11. When a nephew arrives at the campout with a sheriff's escort (It must have made the officer's day to be bumping along through the pasture, among the buffalo wallows, cowpies, and cacti.), he may not be feeling as invincible as he had felt only minutes earlier behind the wheel of his grandpa's car. If the nephew's encounter with the officer proves to be a direct answer to his mother's prayers, and if his father has had business dealings with the officer earlier in the day, the story takes on some astonishing twists and turns. Driving safety lessons were duly delivered and taken to heart, and, in the end, no tickets were issued.

12. If you ever dump coals that were used to cover the lid of a dutch oven for baking cobbler, do it where no one with bare feet might run through it, or make sure first that everyone is wearing shoes. A pail or basin of ice water is the best way to relieve pain on the bottom of blistered feet. If the foot still hurts when bedtime comes, wrap the boy in blankets, bundle him into a chair and let him dangle his foot into a bucket of cold water. He'll sleep just fine and you'll find him the next morning with his foot drawn into the bundle of blankets on the chair.

13. Snow-on-the-Mountain, and grey-headed coneflower are the two wildflowers in bloom right now in grazed areas.

14. Every pasture needs at least a few trees or thickets, or you need to bring along a port-a-potty.

15. I like for my husband to go along camping , but if he refuses, it's better to go cheerfully without him than to let his absence ruin the whole experience.

16. Take more covers than you think you'll need.

17. When you sleep under the stars, tie back all the hair that might dangle onto your forehead and do a dance in a night breeze. It tickles unbearably otherwise.

18. One of the benefits of a summer drought is that there are no mosquitoes.

19. The meteor you missed seeing will likely be the most dramatic one of the night.

20. The cattle who normally inhabit the pasture you appropriate as a campsite do not appreciate being locked into the corral overnight. They will vocalize their protest periodically throughout the night. But no one wants to wake up eye-to-eye with a Gelbvieh bull, and cattle are far too curious to stay away when novel activities are taking place nearby, so their being penned away is a necessity.

21. Birds make pleasant sounds during the night. They don't sing loud or long in a pasture, but they are there and sound comfortable.

22. A long afternoon nap is a wonderful sequel to a night of camping. The environment is a lot less interesting but the bed is a lot more comfortable.