Wednesday, June 30, 2010
So, our trip to Nicaragua was filled with amazing experiences and I'll probably be doing a final wrap up of the trip some time soon, but I just wanted to take a second to share 4 things that happened to me personally that I really believe were God. These are not huge, earth shattering things, but as I reflect on them, I really feel like it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me and doing some cool stuff.
1. When we were going to leave from O'Hare on 6/21, our flight was delayed because of some storms. We only had a short layover in Houston to beging with (52 minutes) and our flight was from O'Hare to Houston was going to be delayed 50 minutes. That meant we weren't going to make our connecting flight from Houston to Managua and we would have to spend the night at the Houston airport because there weren't any other flights out of Houston to Nicaragua that day. We were bummed. But, our team prayed about it and about 50 minutes before we were to leave we noticed that the flight had been bumped up from a 50 minute delay to a 30 minute delay. That bump gave us just enought time to make our connecting flight in Houston and we were able to make it to Nicaragua on time.
2. Wednesday evening in Nicaragua we were sitting in a Spanish church service with a couple hundred people from Pochocuape. I couldn't understand a word that was said because it was all in Spanish. But, as I was sitting there, I really felt something in my spirit tell me that I needed to pray for my family. This was at approximately 8pm Nicaragua time (10pm Indiana time). So, I didn't know why, but I just felt led to pray over my family and ask God to protect them and watch over them. Come to find out that around that same time while I'm in Nicaragua there is a tornado touching down in Goshen.
3. We left Nicaragua on Sunday (6/27) and landed in Houston. We had a connecting flight to Chicago but it had been delayed for an hour due to some weather. Anyway, during that time we decided to go to the food court and grab some lunch. After lunch, I make my way to a Starbucks to grab a drink. While in line I just kept on feeling something in my spirit say "You don't want this drink. You don't need this drink." Now, for me to pass up a Starbucks is a miracle in and of itself, but I listened to that little voice and decided against the drink. After I passed up the drink I felt something else in my spirit just say "You better check the flight time to be sure the flight is still delayed." Now, my sister-in-law had been checking this on her phone the entire time and the website was still telling us that the flight was delayed. But, when I checked it in the airport the TV's were saying the flight was on time! I checked at 2:12 and the flight was to leave at 2:15. I book it over the the gate, tell the lady that there are 10 of us in a group and we need to get on that plane. She begins to chew me out up and down and made it clear how irresponsible I was for not being at the plane on time. I took the verbal beating me awithout saying a word (although there were a few words I wanted to say) and the group made it on the flight ... even though we held up the plane.
4. When we finally get back to O'Hare and get to the van, our van has a small luggage box on the back. We put some luggage in it and then go to shut the lid and find out that it won't latch. Despite our best efforts no of us can get the lid to latch even though it should have latched with no problem. I say, "Too bad we don't have a bungie cord." No joke ... 5 seconds later someone looks on the ground and 4 feet away from us is a bungie cord ... not one of the small cords but a long bungie cord ... the exact size we needed to wrap around the luggage box to make sure the lid wouldn't fly open.
Again, nothing huge but enough to help me see the hand of God at work in several different ways and I loved trying to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and follow His lead in several different ways during the trip.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Still, in the midst of all of this, there are people who are trying to help. We met a pastor and his wife today who started a church in Tipi Tapa and they also started a school. They had no money, no supplies, but felt led to start these things and they just prayed God would provide. We spent our time with the children of the school. It was a difficult day emotionally for our team, but we learned what it truly means to serve and get nothing back in return. Below Mariah and Leah are, I believe, putting hand sanitizer on the kids. They loved it!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Below is Brittany playing frisbee.
After that we were able to go to another food location and help pass out some more food to kids. There were about 100 kids that were there. The food locations are all outside. It was about 85 to 90 degrees outside and the humidity is out of this world! They make the food in a little shack that is about 4 feet by 6 feet. Inside this shack is a fire where they boil the water along with the rice and vitamin mixture from Feed My Starving Children. I was helping dish out the food in this shack and it had to have been 110 degrees in there ... combined with all the smoke it made things pretty interesting. But, we passed out all of the food and then we went to spend some time with the kids. This is when things got really fun. The boys just wanted to be boys so we just wrestled and wrestled. Below is Cody getting a "beat down." :)
And, that's pretty much what we did the rest of our time there. Cody and I wrestled with kids, we tossed them in the air, we swung them around in circles, we chased them ... just a bunch of "guy stuff." By the end of our time there, we were both filthy and just soaking wet with sweat ... AND we loved it!
I'm really missing my family right now and in each little boy I saw my son Ezra. Ezra and I always wrestle and I always toss him up in the air and so while I was doing it with those kids I was really struck by the fact that many of these little boys don't have a dad to toss them in the air and wrestle with them. It broke my heart and even though I was beat and hot and I stunk, I wanted to give my all to these little kids because who knows when they'll be tossed in the air again?
The couple of hours we spent there really impacted our team. One girl had on two of her favorite rings, but gave them away to one little girl who just kept commenting on how pretty the rings were. It was two and a half of the hottest, dirtiest, sweatiest hours of our lives ... but two and a half of the best hours of our lives also.
One more thing I'm noticing on this trip ... we're not all that different. Even though we're in a different country with a different people, some things are just the same. Little boys still love competition. Little girls still love to be called "pretty." Babies still love balloons! A piece of candy will always get a smile. Teenage boys just like teenage girls (especially the girls on our team) :) There are some things that will always be universal.
Thanks for your continued prayers.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Today we had a great day. The day was mostly spent interacting with kids. There are a couple of schools in the area and during recess we just went and played with the kids. I had my butt kicked in soccer several times by some little kids. :)
Here's Leah with one of the girls.
Here are some of our kids passing out the meals.
Here are some of our girls walking with some of the local girls.
Today has been amazing so far and it's so awesome to see God working in us and through us. Our kids have been absolutely incredible and have already faced some different struggles on the trip and have passed with flying colors! I'm so proud of them all.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Before we started I reminded our kids that what they believe about Jesus will be the most important thing that they EVER believe in their entire lives. I also reminded them that the reason I do what I do is because of what I believe about Jesus. He's made an unimaginable change in my life and I want to do all I can to point others (especially teenagers) to Him.
We spent some time going through a short workbook on Jesus and looked at things like:
- Jesus was 100% man
- But, Jesus was also 100% God
- What does the Bible specifically say about Jesus
- What did Jesus say about Himself
- Why did Jesus have to die for us
Honestly, for me personally, it was a very worshipful time simply focusing on Jesus ... who He is and what He has done. I left with just a greater sense of wonder and amazement because of who He is.
For more information on what we talked about you can go to http://www.axisgcc.com and click on our What We Believe About Jesus workbook.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I cracked up when I saw this picture of our Mercy! She was playing "dress up" with the daughters of some good friends of ours ... well, maybe I should say the daughters were dressing up Mercy. By the looks of the picture, she didn't seem to want anything to do with it!
It reminded me of a good principle of being a leader. How do you respond to those tasks you're given that you really don't want to do? How do you respond when you think something is unfair or that you're carrying more than enough of the load of work?
I blew it in this area the other day. We had just bought a new and much bigger blow up pool for our kids. We wanted to use it on Saturday, but weren't able to purchase it until Friday night. I wasn't going to be home during the day on Saturday so I knew that it meant I was going to have to blow the pool up Friday night. Anyway, I had worked all day. It was 9pm. It was hot and humid and mosquitoes were flying everywhere! We only have a hand pump so I knew this wasn't going to be an easy job.
I did it ... it took 30 minutes ... I was dripping with sweat ... I lost a pint of blood to the mosquitoes ... and my attitude was awful the entire time! Instead of turning the situation around in to a positive ... my kids are going to LOVE this ... I can't wait to see them swim in their new pool ... I get to serve my wife ... She's going to see my bulging muscles while I'm using this hand pump :) .... I focused on myself ... it's hot, I'm getting bitten by mosquitoes, I'm going to have to shower after this, I'm tired and deserve better because I worked all day. Yep, I blew it and totally didn't follow the principle of "Do everything without grumbling or arguing" (Philippians 2:14).
There are many facets to leadership. The one that often gets overlooked is the fact that to lead you often have to humble yourself and do the stuff no one else wants to do ... the hot, sweaty, I'm going to stink when this is done stuff. Don't complain. Don't argue. Just do. That's the type of leader I want to be and I try to help our students to be as well. I definitely don't have it down, but want to keep working on it. Why? The next few verses in Philippians 2 explain: "So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life." (Philippians 2:15 - 16a)
Monday, June 14, 2010
- We invested in a blow-up pool over the weekend and were able to put it to good use when we had some kids stay with us on Saturday. Ezra LOVED having Ethan and Elisha over for the day and the pool was definitely the popular attraction ... even more popular than the dance recital I had planned for the kids. For some reason, they didn't like it very much. :)
- Mercy got to "strut her stuff" in her new bathing suit (thanks, Aunt Sandra). Seriously ... that girl is the cutest girl in the world!
- Both kids have been sick this week, which has made for an interested week in the Yauger household. Sickness = crankiness for both kids and parents! As of this morning, though, it seems like both kids are back on track physically. Whew!
- We had our ultrasound last week as well. Carol is 22 weeks along now and we were finally able to see our baby. Man, those things never get old! It was so awesome to see the baby moving its hands and legs and just being so darn cute! I can't wait to meet the little bloke or shelia ... that's boy or girl for those who don't know Australian. :)
- Was listening to some Cold Play over the weekend. Love the song "The Scientist."
- The band on my iTunes that may surprise you ... The Devil Wears Prada.
- I finally bought new shorts. While on vacation, I decided that it was time to get some new shorts to wear. As I talked it over with Carol, we both realized that it's been 5 years since I last purchased a pair of shorts. The expression "When pigs fly" can now be replaced with "When Rich buys another pair of shorts."
- We have just a fantastic week planned at Grace Community next week. Dad Fest is gonna rock! We are combing all 3 of our services in to one for the first time since meeting in our new building. We are also doing everything we can to reach men and are actually giving a way a Honda Shadow to some lucky guy next week. For more info on Dad Fest AND Kid Fest, click on the logo below.
1. I believe doing this makes God happy.
2. I believe doing this will really allow us to be Jesus to kids and adults who live in a very impoverished area.
3. I believe this is going to change me.
4. I believe this will change our teenagers going.
Sounds like a win any way you look at it! I've been on several cross-cultural trips, but have never been out of the country ... unless you include my 2 hour stay in Canana while on our Alaskan cruise. I'm glad that my passport is actually going to get some use now and I can't wait to see what God has in store.
Here is a link to a slide show of where we'll be serving. I'd really appreciate your prayers.
Friday, June 11, 2010
I had the opportunity to honor our graduating high school seniors this past Sunday at Grace. We had 30 seniors from Grace Community moving to the next chapter of their life. This graduating class was filled with a variety of students ... some have been coming to axis since 6th grade ... some just started coming this year ... some are from the other side of the world (one from Russia and one from Norway) ... some were born an raised in the area. We had incredible athletes, incredible musicians, amazing dancers, hard workers, and two who tied for valedictorian at their school. Some were very regular in our youth ministry and others maybe came once or twice. But, one thing I do know is that when this class is "officially" gone from axis this fall, there is going to be a HUGE void in our ministry. This was one of the strongest graduating classes that I have ever been associated with in youth ministry. We had such amazing servants and such amazing leaders! Some were great upfront. Some were incredible behind the scenes. I really bonded with this group and am totally going to miss them.
We tried to do several things this year to honor our seniors. We had a special senior night where I took out any seniors who could make it out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the area. It was really a lot of fun, especially when the cook was throwing things at our kids! We then brought them back to the church and I had a few of our adults share some really cool things with them. We also had a night at our youth ministry where we honored them and prayed for them. Then, finally, we took time to acknowledge their hard work in front of our church on a Sunday morning.
My advice to them ... do more than what's expected of you. No matter what they do from here on out (college, military, work, whatever) if they do more than what's expected of them, God will honor that (Proverbs 13:4) and it will allow them to have a good reputation before others ... something God says is far better than wealth or a big paycheck (Proverbs 22:1).
I'm truly going to miss this group and I look forward to seeing what God will do through them and who God will raise up to take their place in our youth ministry.
Our summer series will be "What We Believe." On this night we spent time looking at What We Believe About God. I made up workbooks for all of our kids and basically walked them through every question and every Bible verse on God and what we believe about Him. I really want our kids to examine their faith and understand why they believe what they believe. As we progress through our summer, the idea is to really help our teenagers see why we believe what we believe and then understand that what we believe changes and impacts the way we live. We don't embrace Jesus' way of life simply to do it. We embrace His way of life because of what we believe about Him.
For more info on What We Believe About God, you can check out what we went over by going to our website www.axisgcc.com
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
For more info on what's happening there at our South Bend/Mishawaka campus, check out this video from WNDU.
Monday, June 7, 2010
- We flew to CT, but then drove to ME. The trip to Maine was for a family reunion. Very nice to be at, but a 7 hour trip turned into an 11 1/2 hour trip! Yikes! It was Memorial day weekend and the traffic was just absolutely horrible! It seriously took us 2 hours to go 5 miles at one point. We were all exhausted from the trip, but overall our kids did just amazing!
- While in Maine we spent time at a state park. It was so nice to be outside and Maine is just a beautiful state. Mercy just had a blast walking around the place.
- I also took Ezra fishing for the first time and he caught his first fish! He wouldn't touch it, though, because it was too "flippy" as he called it. :)
- If you haven't watched the movie Food, Inc. you really need to rent it. It will completely change the way you look at food. It's similar to the movie Super-Size Me, except instead of talking about McDonalds it confronts the entire food industry. You would not believe the power the food industry holds in our world and how a few companies control a majority of the food indurstry. And, those same companies exert and unfathomable amount of influence on government and policies. Watching that movie really made me even more committed to Going Organic.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
"The first testicular guard cup was used in hockey in 1874. The first helmet was used in 1974. That means it took men 100 years to realize their brain was also important."
Funny ... but a lot of truth to that. :)
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