Archive for February, 2013

Tongue in cheek
February 27, 2013

A denominational leader has this posted on the wall outside his office door:

I apologize to anyone I have not offended. Please be patient. I will be with you shortly.

Try as we might, we can’t please everyone, so we may as well have fun as we ponder human relationships.

Thinking about a worship service
February 27, 2013

We are members of  Harrisburg Brethren in Christ Church. Last recent Sunday two men, as part of the Call to Worship, listed The Top 10 Things We Like about Worship at Our Church.  Here they are:

No. 10 – It’s like the weather. If what’s happening right now is not your thing,
wait a minute, there will be something else soon.
No. 9 – Kim Dalton holding her husband accountable for what he says in the pulpit
– while he’s in the pulpit.
No. 8 – The obstructed view seats are half price.
No. 7 – We look at our worship leaders and teams as brothers and sisters not
No. 6 – We know that as a diverse congregation, we aren’t truly successful unless
we’re comfortable being uncomfortable.
No. 5 – We don’t have to worry that we’ll ever be too polished.
No. 4 – We come as worshippers not as critics.
No. 3 – You’re allowed in even if you’re wearing a Giants, Steelers, or Yankees
jersey and deserve to be stopped at the door.
No. 2 – You can lift your hands, or not lift your hands. You can say amen, or not
say amen. You can run around the sanctuary banging on a tambourine, or not
run around the sanctuary banging on a tambourine.
And the No. 1 thing we like about worship at HBIC –
The Holy Spirit is welcome to take over the service anytime He wants.
By Vu Musili & Andy Saylor
February 24, 2013

February 15, 2013

While staying in friends in FL we saw this quote on a poster:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

So, go let your imagination wander!

The Other Cocoanut Grove
February 14, 2013

On more blog about our time in Miami in February 2013.

Cocoanut Grove is an upscale section of greater Miami, home of wealthy residents and an attraction to many tourists. But Village West is a 65-block, poorer section of the community. Many of the residents are Bahamians, Jamaicans and Afro-Americans.

We visited Village West to meet Kristy Wallace and Laurie Cook, who live there and serve the community as staff members of Urban Resurrection and INNERChange.

They took us on a walking tour of the community.


Some of the houses are abandoned and neglected, and some lots are vacant. Other homes are well-kept. and many of the residents love bold colors.



Throughout the area are fancifully decorated peacock statues. This one gives tribute to the early Bahamians who settled here.



It is called Nassau Daddy.

Tourist buses love to go by this cemetery because it was the setting for scenes from Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller.”



We bought lunch at a window restaurant and took it back to Kristy and Laurie’s house and ate in the shade of their back yard. For the first time in my life I had Jamaican-style jerk chicken.



After all our adventures in Miami we drove north to Sanford, FL, and took the Auto Train home.



With the auto cars and the passenger cars the train stretches for three-fourths of a mile, the longest passenger train in the world. We recommend that you try it for your next trip from the north to FL.

And many thanks for joining us in our travels.

In and around Miami
February 14, 2013

Still more about our time in Miami from February 2-10, 2013.

Our hosts, Rafael and Maria Castro, took us to see the downtown area.



The waterfront area is known as Bayside.



We had a meal at Cien Montaditos – 100 Little Sandwiches. Each sandwich is tiny and costs only one or two dollars, and of course, there are 100 such sandwiches on the menu!


We spent some time at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. This was originally the winter home of James Deering, the vice president of International Harvester. It was built from 1914 to 1916 and is in the style of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque villas that Deering had visited in Europe.




At various places  around the city we saw this flowering tree.


I never learned a name for it. Do any of my readers know? If so, please post a reply to this blog.

Throughout FL we saw Spanish moss, often hanging on the tree known as live oak. To me the moss is one of the symbols of the South.


We made a trip to the Tamiami Kendall Airport west of Miami proper. Burrowing owls make their home there.


As their name suggests, these small owls live in a hole in the ground – an abandoned animal burrow. They are primarily nocturnal, but in daytime you can often see them standing near their burrow entrance. It is astounding to me that they live on the airport grounds, so close to the noise of airplanes and road traffic – one of the mysteries of bird behavior.

Churches and Pastors in Miami
February 14, 2013

More about our time in Miami from February 2-10, 2013

The Brethren in Christ (BIC) have 57 Hispanic churches throughout Florida, most of them in the greater Miami area. I will introduce a few of them to you.

I spoke at Esmirna (Smyrna, from the Book of Revelation) Church in Country Walk, a section southwest of downtown Miami. The pastor is Jose Rodriguez, originally from Cuba. One of the members of the church is Mercedes Velez, a woman who makes frequent ministry trips to Dominican Republic and has started 14 BIC churches there.

All told, the south FL BIC churches have started or adopted about 60 churches in various nations of Latin America.

I spoke on a Wednesday evening at Vida Abundante (Abundant Life) Church in Miami Gardens. The congregation is in the midst of a major renovation of their large building, which was formerly a business of some sort. Because of city ordinances, for the present, the meetings are held in the parking lot under a tent.


Here is the work in progress on the exterior, making a new entrance.


And here are the lead pastoral couple, Roberto and Mirta Colloca.


Every week this church gives away over 100 boxes of food to families in the community.

On February 10 I spoke at El Aposento (The upper Room) Church in Hollywood. It is a store front church that seats 40 people. Here is a view of the interior.


The pastoral couple are John and Vicky Gallo.


Three doors away from this church is another BIC store front church with a somewhat unusual name, The Holy City.


This church is seeing conversions regularly, so they hold a baptism at the beach every quarter, and everyone invites their friends who are not yet believers to witness the event. The pastoral couple are Juan and Stephany Gallo.


Juan is the son of John Gallo. Father John leads a Spanish-speaking church, and son Juan leads an English-speaking church. Oh the joys of language!

Monte Sion (Mount Zion) Church meets in Teatrico America, an unused “store front” theater in Little Havana.


On the left are the pastoral couple, Samuel and Aracelli Ramos. On the right are lay leaders, Milton and Monica Sousa. They are all Guatemalans, so we enjoyed our Guatemala connection in that our daughter and son-in-law, Melanie and Julio Avila, live and serve in Guatemala.


It is a privilege to give you this brief introduction to these pastors and lay leaders. They are beautiful people and are diligently serving Christ and making  a difference in their communities.

Trip to Florida – Miami
February 10, 2013

We are in Miami from February 2-10, 2013, for more world missions contacts and speaking appointments.

We are staying in the condominium home of our friends Rafael and Maria Astuto, who are the parents of Annette Cintron. Annette and Mark are global workers in Madrid, Spain.

I preached in three churches on the radical nature of the gospel, with illustrations from Brethren in Christ (BIC ) World Missions. This was with a translator, of course. I met with various pastors and lay people regarding several different aspects of missions. We met with our good friends Eduardo and Jill Llanes to talk about ministry and have fun and eat at La Carreta, a restaurant featuring Cuban cuisine.  The name of the restaurant means The Cart, referring to an old fashioned wooden cart used by farmers or market people.

We also toured Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, located one mile south of downtown Miami. This was originally the winter home of James Deering, the vice president of International Harvester. Well worth seeing – you can check it out on the internet.

We leave on Monday, February 11, to return home by Amtrak’s Auto Train, which is the way we came to FL two weeks ago.

I hope to add some photos to this blog, but not tonight.

Trip to Florida – St. Petersburg
February 9, 2013

We are in Florida for two weeks missions contacts. We came by overnight auto train from Lorton, VA, (near Washington, D.C.) to Sanford, FL (near Orlando.)

The first part of our stay was in the St. Petersburg area.

We stayed at a condo on the Gulf Coast in the town of Madeira Beach. Here is the view from our balcony and a view of the condo from the beach.




Nearly every day we walked or jogged on the beach. I enjoyed seeing the shorebirds – Great blue heron, Willets, Brown pelicans and the ones shown below.


Black skimmer in foreground


Royal terns



On Sunday, January 27, we went to Community Bible Church in Sarasota, and I gave a brief report on Brethren in Christ (BIC) World Missions and interviewed the woman who is the world missions advocate in their church.

At Camp Freedom (see my blogs last year) we set up our display and literature table, and on Missions Day I spoke twice about the work of BIC World Missions.

The other speaker on Missions Day was Eric Himelick, founder and director of Victory Inner-City Ministries in Indianapolis, IN. He has a solid grasp of the nature of inner city work and speaks with effectiveness and passion about the work and the need for Christians to love their neighbors – love them in fact, not just in words or good intentions.

The web site for Victory Inner-City Ministries is:

Twice we had breakfast at Sweet Sage Cafe in North Redington Beach. The place has a huge number of signs and sayings. Here are a few:

It is never too late to have a happy childhood. 

Unattended children will be given and espresso and a free puppy.

I’m so miserable without you it’s almost like you are here.

Each day I worked on missions reports and other duties, and some evenings we met with friends. One evening we ate dinner with Walt and Ann Schlemmer and Henry and Marsha Barley and another friend of theirs, all from Lancaster , PA.  Another evening we had dinner in the home of Lou and Ann Marie Astuto, who just last month retired from assigned pastoral ministry and moved here to St. Petersburg.

On February 2 we drove to Shell Point, near Fort Myers, to have lunch with our friends Harold and Caroline Schmul, and then went on to Miami. For more about Miami see my next blog.

Costa Rica – Natural Paradise
February 7, 2013

We had a trip to Costa Rica from December 29, 2012, to January 10, 2013.

The first part was a tour with Caravan Tours to several regions of the nation to see the variety of natural beauty. This included the Caribbean coast, rain forest, cloud forest (drier than the rain forest, but often misty and of course, cloudy), the central valley and the Pacific coast.

Lush vegetation, birds, monkeys, crocodiles, banana plantations, coffee plantations, fields of pineapples – we saw it all. We were at Poas volcano, but the day was cloudy and rainy, so at the lookout we saw only three feet in front of our faces – not the  lovely green lagoon in the crater. For this we had to by post cards! We did see Arenal volcano – at rest. No lava eruptions.

Based on our experience, we give a strong positive recommendation for Caravan Tours.

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Above you see two of the hotels where we stayed.


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Beautiful flowers.

We saw a remarkable bird, Montezuma oropendola. It is the size of a crow and has a loud, rattling call, like a kingfisher on steroids. It is mainly chestnut in color, with a tail that is bright yellow with two dark central feathers. The tip of the bill is orange in color, and the bird has white patch on the side of the head, under the eye. Because of the chestnut color and yellow tail, Montezuma oropendola is especially striking in flight.  I have not found a photo online that is not copyrighted, so you may look it up for yourself, if you wish.

And here are the largest birds we saw.

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Here is the well-dressed rain forest explorer. Doesn’t look like Superman to me!


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Arenal volcano.


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Coatimundis, somewhat like raccoons but with a distinctive way of holding their tails.


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JoLene and I at the luxurious J.W. Marriott Resort on the Pacific Ocean.

After that tour we spent three more days on our own in San Jose, the capital city. The highlight of this was the time we spent with Pastor Alex Alvarado and his wife Pastor Ana, and their daughter Jeanette and son-in-law Johan Murillo. Alex was formerly a Catholic and a dentist, now the founding pastor of Ciudad de Dios (City of God) Church, a church of 800 that has planted four other churches in the city. Several years ago, after positive contacts with Bishop Eduardo Llanes and other Brethren in Christ leaders, Pastor Alex and all five churches transferred into the Brethren in Christ. It was a joy to hear about Alex’s spiritual journey and the extensive ministries of his church today.

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Pastor Alex and Pastor Ana on the left. Jeannette and Johan Murillo on the right.


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City of God church building.

And so ended our delightful time in the beautiful land of Costa Rica.