Sunday, March 1, 2015

Open House

About 2500 years ago King Hezekiah received some bad news. The prophet Isaiah told him to get his things in order because he was not going to recover from his illness. Hezekiah prayed and prayed and the Lord gave him another 15 years of life.
After his remarkable recovery some folks from Babylon came to visit him. It says he took credit for his success, opened up his house, and showed them everything he owned. He forgot to acknowledge God for his recovery and success.
Isaiah came back and asked Hezekiah who had come and what they had seen. Hezekiah proudly remarked that folks had come from a far away country just to see him and that he had showed them all his possessions. That was Hezekiah's first open house and he failed to give God credit.
When we open our homes and lives to outsiders what do they see? Do our homes and lives show others we trust in Christ? Do we give God and others credit for our accomplishments? It's such a temptation to try and impress and win the admiration of others. 
Back to Hezekiah. Isaiah told him the same folks that had visited him were coming back later to take away all his treasures and descendants. Hezekiah's answer was an open house to his heart and he failed once again. He said , O well, at least it won't happen in my life time. He had no concern for what happened after he was gone.
My farmer friend and fellow church brother left this life after his heart attack and is now with his Savior and other friends his age who have gone before him including Steve, Marcus, and Fish. Leon's life showed who and what was important to him.
I served with Leon in church council and had just been on home visiting with him a couple of months ago. At our visits he would always ask and have a concern about other's family life as well as spiritual life.
Leon had a special place in his heart for young people and loved being a youth elder. He always made sure to take time for the kid's youth group events such as their waffle supper.
He made time to go on work trips with our churches teenagers. He not only had carpenter skills, he also had a way to make the outsiders feel welcome and useful.
On this trip parents are standing around their kids and leaders as Leon prays just before they leave to help a community with storm damage.
Leon and Lana were Sunday school teachers for the 4 year olds including three of my grandchildren. On the last Sunday in January Leon gave a children's message to these kids after they had finished singing.
I don't think the children will soon forget what Leon told them about Jesus. I don't think the rest of the church will either. Hezekiah was given extra time and forgot about God. Let's remember Leon's example and work at the important things while we are able.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Part Of A Family

I was going to introduce you to people and wrap up my thoughts on our family trip. However with all the activities and  happenings since we've been home, Jamaica is starting to feel like a memory and it feels like it's time to move on.
Winter is still here however it is slipping away and there is still much to be done. The planters are scheduled for the shop over the next two weeks. We are just 6 to 7 weeks away from using them.
Mike totally went over his dozer mechanically and is even giving it a new paint job. It should be all ready for spring by the end of next week.
Kurt and Emily will be moving to a farm west of Leighton sometime before fall. Kurt and his family have been cleaning up outside including dropping three silos.
Emily's dad and helpers have gutted the farm house and are getting it ready for a remodel. A project like this would be so much less feasible without the help and support of family.
We met as a family leader board this past week and celebrated accomplishments.
For the past four years the cattlemen have grilled steaks for the Iowa Barnstormers. They are an arena league football team.
It's always fun for us to have them come to the cabin for their annual visit.
It's always fun for them to visit since most of them have never been on a farm or near a tractor. Most of them stay together as a big family during football season.
John on the right is the general manager and minor owner. Jeff on the left is the primary owner of the team. He also owns the Casey's stores.
Yesterday was the first time this winter the motorcycles were on the pond. Mark enjoyed riding with his boys.
Last Sunday most of the men in our church went up to sing. God created men to be leaders of their families. God created men to provide, protect, and defend. Our culture today is so trying to take away the masculinity of our society. I'm so thankful our kids are raising families and allowing their boys to be boys. 
 I would ask you to pray for a miracle for Leon and Lana and their family. Leon is a fellow farmer, friend, and church brother. He had a severe heart attack early this week and has remained in a coma. He and Lana have an awesome family with several grandkids as you can see. 
Whether in bad times or in good times we all need to be part of a family. As you can see in the picture below being part of a family sometimes means you don't even have to have the same color skin. This group was one big happy family during our stay in Jamaica.
"You will notice we say brother and sister around here. It's because we're a family and these folks are so near. When one has a heartache we all share the tears, and rejoice in each victory in this family so near."
"I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God. I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint heirs with Jesus we travel this sod, for I'm part of the family, the family of God."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Jamaica 2-Activities And Adventures

Saturday morning after a Jamaican breakfast including fish in the eggs, fried bananas, and lots of fruit, the guys decided to try their hand at tennis. After a brief time of Brian trying to teach us the game, he gave up and we made up our own rules.
We all loaded up on our bus and drove to Dunn River Falls. It's a river coming down a mountain over a series of rocks.
The activity was to try and climb up the rocks for about a half a mile up the river. On one occasion the guys climbed straight up a waterfall.  
The River Falls wore us out so we went to the ocean where about half of us just hung out and soaked in some sun. 
The energetic bunch rented a boat and went out to the breaks in the ocean and went snorkeling. 
Sunday morning we had church together as a family along with Pablo, Paula, their girls, Mommy, Faith and Lili, our cooks, and Gayle, our driver. Mark did an excellent job delivering the message. We listened and sang songs with the help of an i-phone.
After relaxing by our pool we headed for the Blue Hole. This is about 2 miles up the mountain on gravel off the beaten path. It's another river with diving cliffs, water caves, and deep holes. The Jamaicans were very good divers.
We made the Jamaicans hold there heads and laugh with our unique jumping style.
Our home in Ocho Rios was fairly modern however once in a while the native culture would show up. Hot showers were only very occasional. The outside doorways had bars rather than doors. Geckos were a common site inside. Cockroaches liked to stay in dark cupboards. The many dogs usually liked to do their communicating during the night. Chickens were everywhere and we even saw a bunch of goats sleeping on the main highway.
Early one morning there was quite a commotion in the kitchen. Pablo, Mike, Faith, and Lili were all fixing breakfast when a rat came inside to visit. All of a sudden there was war. Thanks to Mike's Marine background the mission was accomplished.
We ate very well. Jerk chicken and jerk pork. Lots of vegetables. Plenty of homemade hot sauce to cover everything. Rice and potatoes. Homemade biscuits or bread. And finally my favorite. The pepper shakers in Jamaica sprinkle out just as fast as the salt. 
Most evenings were spent reading, playing cards, or just enjoying the visit about the day.
Believe it or not Kurt loves to read and read American Sniper while we were there.
On a couple of mornings around 6 am we could see a large cruise ship on the horizon and we knew we were going to have company in town. By 9 am it was docked just in front of our home.
Of course you can't go to the Caribbean without going shopping at the downtown market. Of course half the fun is bargaining. Pablo and the girls did our grocery shopping at a little more modern setting. The guys frequently turned down offers for smokes and I had a number of men ask if I had any work for them in the states.
When eating out in Jamaica with such a large group it usually takes so long to get fed so Pablo, Gayle, and Jan went to this really nice resort owned by a couple from Orange City and made a plan for family style dining at a set time on the evening before our first group was to head back home.
Before the meal down by the ocean we were going to take family pictures. Jan wanted everyone in khaki and white so we looked like the twinky family. The boys found a hole in the sand and decided to dig the critter out.
The disturbed crab was not a happy camper and came out of his dug out home so fast it scared everyone.
After getting introduced we let him go back to his home in the sand.
Tuesday morning we drove back to Kingston across the mountains to the bottom of the island. A long stretch of road is called Fern Gully where probably 15 miles of road is totally enclosed with ferns and trees.
While in Kingston we stopped to see Gayle, our driver's farm. He had a group of small and a group of large chickens.
He had a number of goats of all sizes.
This is Gayle's one pen farrowing house. He has 4 sows and several different sized pigs.
His calf pen was empty. He said about a month ago his neighbors stepson stole his only beef which was a large loss. He also raises bananas and coconuts.
 Mark and Stacy and Brian and Becky left a day ahead of the rest of us. Saying good bye to us even for just a day and hoping they get home safe reminded me of how God has created us in His image to love and care about each other. If we experience that here on an imperfect earth how much more must a perfect God love and care about us.
 Stay tuned for our next visit as I introduce you to the folks we lived with and wrap up with my thoughts.