About Air Travel

March 30, 2014 - Leave a Response

On a US Airways flight last week I learned a few facts about air travel.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel. The first commercial airplane flight took place on January 14, 1914, from St. Petersburg, FL, to Tampa. There was one paying customer!

Now there are 8 million air travelers every day all over the world.

Enjoy your flight!

More about Nappanee

March 9, 2014 - Leave a Response

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I am still in Nappanee, IN. This morning I spoke at Nappanee Brethren in Christ Church on the theme “Seeing the Peoples of the World through Jesus-glasses.” The pastor here is Jeff Williams.

Nappanee has half-apples all over the city, decorated with various themes. The one below sits, appropriately, outside a bank.

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Tomorrow I will have lunch in Fort Wayne with our long-time friend, Martha Rickman, and then fly home.

Trip to Indiana

March 8, 2014 - Leave a Response

On Friday, March 7, 2014, I flew to Fort Wayne, IN, and then got a rental car to drive to Nappanee for two meetings relating to my work for Brethren in Christ (BIC) World Missions.

On the drive through the country I saw many small flocks of Horned larks. They flit low above the ground in open fields. The Horned lark is our only native  lark. It “horns” are little tufts of feathers, visible only at close range, so as I drove along, I was not able to see the horns. I see a few Horned larks occasionally in my part of PA in the winter, but I saw many here in IN.

On the internet you can see many beautiful photos of this bird, but I couldn’t find any that were not  copyrighted, so I cannot  post any here for you.

At Kendallville I saw signs advertising the Mid-America Windmill Museum, but it is closed for the winter. I think I would have enjoyed the museum, recalling the functioning windmill that we had on the farm where I grew up at Chambersburg, PA.  The windmill still stands there but is no longer operating. Here is a photo of a typical small-farm windmill, not far from Nappanee.

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I am staying at The Inn at Amish Acres in Nappanee.

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Quilts are for sale in the lobby. And the rooms have a quilt-like touch.

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Amish Acres is closed for the winter, but in other seasons you can visit buildings with Amish furnishings and a theater in a  round barn.

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On Friday evening and Saturday I attended the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church. John Zuck is the bishop. We met at Union Grove Church, which is a former grade school building (think modern, not old-fashioned). The pastor is Darin Simms. I also met several pastors whom I had not met before.

I set up a display of books and literature about BIC World Missions. I had many meaningful conversations with individuals about missions. On Saturday I gave devotional thoughts and an update about the work of our missions department.

On Saturday evening I drove to nearby Bremen to have dinner in the home of David and Sabina Rosentrater. I first learned to know Sabina years ago at Manor BIC Church in Lancaster County, PA, when I was pastor there and she was a teenager.

Shaker Village

February 23, 2014 - One Response

While we were in Wilmore, KY, for the renewal conference described in a previous blog, we drove to Shaker Village, about 2o miles south of Lexington, for dinner.

The Shakers were a religious sect founded on the teachings of Ann Lee. They practiced a celibate and communal lifestyle and practiced equality of sexes. Today they are remembered most for their style of music and furniture. Shaker Village is maintained as a reminder of the Shakers and their way of life.

In winter meals are served in the winter kitchen, located in the cellar of this building, known as the West Family House.

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The evening we went to  the kitchen we were the only customers!

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On the Village grounds sugar maple sap is dripping into buckets.

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Shaker Village is most interesting, and the food is top quality. Be sure to include the Village in your next trip to Kentucky.

Here in Kentucky

February 23, 2014 - 2 Responses

We came to Wilmore, Kentucky, on February 19, 2014, to attend a renewal conference – more about that later – and to visit some students and a friend from years ago. We lived in Wilmore from 1965-1968 while I was a student at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Wilmore is in central Kentucky, south of Lexington, and the area is full of horse farms.

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I was unable to get any good photos of horses. But we saw a lot of stone walls or fences in various stages of maintenance or disrepair. Here are two scenes of good repair – walls with no mortar at all.

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Here are some  scenes of Asbury Theological Seminary, including a statue of John Wesley.

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And inside the Beeson International Center forBiblical Preaching and Church Leadership you find this art piece of Francis Asbury, circuit riding preacher and one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.

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At the seminary we met with the two Brethren in Christ persons who are students here: Luke Embree from Chambersburg, PA: and Megan Byers from Mechanicsburg, PA.

And in order to explore possible connections between Brethren in Christ World Missions and the Seminary, I met with Dr. Gregg Okesson, Dean of the E.  Stanley Jones Center for  World Mission and Evangelism; and with Dr. Thomas Tumblin, Dean of the Beeson Center, which serves as a link between the Seminary and the global church.

Now, for the renewal conference that brought us to Wilmore at this time. This conference was sponsored by the Francis Asbury Society (FAS), an organization founded by Dennis Kinlaw and dedicated to proclaiming the message of biblical  holiness through evangelistic meetings, conferences, retreats and publishing. You may learn more about the Society by visiting its web site.

Here are some views of the building that serves as the center for the Society. The society’s emphasis on the Holy Trinity is shown in a window and the unusual table in the board room.

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Speakers for the conference included Jerry  Coleman, Director of International Ministries for FAS; Stan Key,
Director of Operation for FAS; and guest, Sam Kamaleson, seen in this photo.

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Kamaleson, originally from India, studied at Asbury Seminary. He has founded and directed two foundations in India, published books and spoken around the world in pastors conferences for World Vision.

This renewal conference was held from Friday evening through Sunday noon, February 21-23. The theme was “Living Lavishly,” taken from Ephesians 7:1-8: “…according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us…”

Through times of worship, prayer and teaching we drew near to God and pondered the mystery, beauty and power of the fact that God wants not only to be with us, but in us. JoLene and I had the privilege of meeting many church leaders and missionaries who have served in many nations of the world.

We plan to return home on Monday, February 24.

Thinking about God

January 29, 2014 - Leave a Response

Last Sunday we attended New Joy Brethren in Christ Church in Ephrata, PA, where I spoke on missions vision and the work of Brethren in Christ World Missions. In the song time we sang a song that was new to me (where have I been?) and that resonated with my view of God.

The song is Sovereign by Chris Tomlin and others. In it we worship God as ultimate sovereign, not in some icy distant sense, but as a loving, sustaining God whom we can trust fully because of his unfailing love.

Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm

Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you

This song fits with what we learn about God in the Bible and with the way I am experiencing God in my life.

Big or little?

January 25, 2014 - Leave a Response

Do you sometimes feel your work for God is big? Do you sometimes feel your work for God is small? Do you also realize that God is working out his larger purposes around us and through us, and that our analysis of big or small is not the main point?

Mother Teresa once wrote: I am just a little stub of a pencil in the hand of God, who is sending a love letter to the whole world.

How simple – how beautiful. You can be that stub of a pencil. God can send his love letter through you. Every day can be a day of holy living.

Transforming Harrisburg

January 24, 2014 - Leave a Response

On January 23, 2014, JoLene and I attended the Groundbreaking Ceremony for new townhouses in the Allison Hill section of Harrisburg, PA.

These townhouses are a project of the Brethren Housing Association (a ministry of the Church of the Brethren) and Pinnacle Health. Six blighted homes on Hummel Street and Haehnlen Street (really an alley) will be demolished, and five townhouses will be built, in which homeless single mothers will get a second chance at life.

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For 25 years Brethren Housing Association (BHA) has helped women and children out of homelessness through rehabilitated housing. In so doing, the BHA and its many partners in the community have been a stabilizing influence in a distressed neighborhood.

On this bitterly cold day the groundbreaking went forward, on site and outdoors, with many community leaders turning shovelfuls of dirt that a workman had already loosened with a backhoe. Without his preparatory work who could have turned any dirt with a shovel on a winter day like this?

About 50 people attended this event. Part 2 of the event was a business luncheon at the Church of the Brethren on Hummel Street. At last we got warm! As part of the program a mother who has already been helped by the services of BHA told her story of moving from homelessness and helplessness to a new life for herself and her children.

If you want more information about this project, or if you would like to make a donation, you may  contact Steve Schwartz, Executive Director of BHA, at: sschwartz@bha-pa.org.

The Church of the Brethren cares about people’s spiritual needs, presenting faith in Jesus Christ as the way to true life, both now and in the world to come. They also care about the whole range of human need, reaching out to help in all kinds of practical ways. This multi-sided ministry is a sign of the kingdom of God.

My wife and I live in Harrisburg, and we are pleased to see ways individuals and agencies are working together to see people’s lives transformed in ways that bring long-term good.

Winter Birding 2014

January 24, 2014 - Leave a Response

On Saturday, January 18, my son-in-law Ed and my grandson Yohannes, age 17, and I went on a field trip in Juniata County, PA. It was the Juniata County Winter Birding Trip, led by Aden Troyer, an Amish man, and Chad Kauffman.

We met at Lost Creek Shoe Shop near Mifflintown. Aden and his family own and  operate the store. This is an old-fashioned (gas lamps, not electricity) but well-stocked country store, with a lot of fascinating products besides shoes and boots. Horse gear, for example. And binoculars, including some high-end Swarovski binocs that cost $3,000. I didn’t even ask to hold that pair!

There were 14 of us on this adventure, in five vehicles. It was a very cold day. From 1:00 PM until dark we drove the country roads, stopping frequently to get out and check out the birds, and getting warm again as we rode to the next site.

We were hoping to see some winter birds such as Short-eared owl, Lapland longspur and Pine siskin. Unfortunately, we saw none of them. But we did see some species that I see very seldom: Red-headed woodpecker, Northern harrier, Raven, Wilson’s snipe and Red fox. Yes, I know that last one is not a bird, but it was a notable sighting. Yohannes is a keen observer, and he is the one who spotted the fox, walking slowly up a grassy slope into a woods.

We saw four Bald eagles at one time, sitting in trees. One was a buff-colored immature bird that kept our experts guessing for a while, but then they all agreed it was a bald eagle.

I would love to post internet photos of some of the birds we saw, but so far the images I have found are copyright protected, so I will not post them. You can, of course, go online, enter any bird’s name and see marvelous images for yourself.

I do have a photo Yohannes took of the fox. The fox is far from us and not highly visible, which is exactly what every fox aims for.

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Aden Troyer has published a book called Birding Thrills, An Amish, Nature-Loving Family’s Birding Journal. His wife has created the bird drawings in the book. Of course, I had to buy a copy and am enjoying reading it.

The Store also sells bluebird nesting boxes, the kind with a slot opening, intended to discourage House sparrows from occupying the box. So I bought two of them. I already have about 20 nesting boxes set out here and at Messiah College and at Roxbury Holiness Camp, but some are dilapidated from long exposure to the elements, so I need some replacements.

Winter birding is not my forte. Call me when spring and summer come.

Exploring San Antonio

November 28, 2013 - Leave a Response

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today JoLene and I drove to San Antonio, nearly a two-hour drive, to spend a half day seeing some of the sights. We rode the red City Bus, with its narration of the main points of interest.

I suppose the best-known site in this city is the Alamo.

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It was originally named the Mision San Antonio de Valero, and served as home to missionaries and Indian converts to Catholic Christianity for 70 years. In the 1800s the mission became a military headquarters, occupied at various times by Spanish, Rebel and Mexican forces. It played a critical role in the Texas Revolution against Mexico. In February 1836 General Santa Anna, President of Mexico, and his soldiers surrounded the Texans – about 200 of them –  in the Alamo. The defenders held out for 13 days. Then Santa Anna’s men were victorious, killing every Revolutionary fighter in the Alamo.

In April of that same year General Sam Houston led the Texans in defeating Santa Anna’s forces in the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. This battle lasted only 18 minutes and led to the Republic of Texas becoming an independent nation, which continued until Texas joined the United States in 1845.

The iconic Alamo building we see today was originally a church and is only a small part of the original Alamo complex.

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Here you see the plot  plan for the entire Alamo. The large rectangular space in the foreground marks the walls of the Alamo. The church (its facade is shown in my first photo above) is the small structure in the upper right section of the plot plan. Evidently during the battle of the Alamo the “church” served as ammunition storage.

Reflecting on the friendly relations between Mexicans and Texans today, I pondered the thought that surely there must be a better way than war to lead to friendship.

Later we rode an elevator up the Tower of the Americas.

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A 750-foot tall observations tower and restaurant. As we had lunch in the Chart House restaurant, the restaurant slowly revolved a full circle so we had awesome views of the entire city.

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Yes, the person sitting at the barely-visible table is JoLene.

Extensive water features are found on the grounds below the Tower.

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San Antonio has an attractive River Walk.

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Since today was cold and windy, we did not follow the River Walk.

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During the bus tour we saw this creative and impressive mural.

As for birding, en route to San Antonio through ranch lands we got a brief glimpse of the striking Crested Caracara.

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I went on the internet and found this superb photo by Matthew Studebaker. You can check out his work at http://www.studebakerbirds.com.

I am also seeing many White-winged doves.

White-winged Dove

This image is from John Schwarz at http://www.birdspix.com.

What city have you visited recently? Or  what notable birds have you sighted?

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