Trip to Spain 2017
July 4, 2017

From May 28 to June 12 we were in Madrid, Spain, and nearby areas as part of my work for the World Missions department of our denomination, the Brethren in Christ.

During the first week we led a learning trip for two couples, and the one couple had their 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons with them. The little boys showed great adaptability as we traveled by Metro, bus and train, had many meetings and kept late hours.

Here are David and Christine, with their sons.

And here is the other couple, Elias and Idotress, on the right, talking with a member of the Madrid Church.

During the second week, JoLene and I had meetings and appointments with our workers as we discussed in depth several important administrative matters.

Cafe del Gato 1

Cafe del Gato 3

In Madrid, we ate several times at Cafe del Gato, the Cat Cafe. There were no real cats on the premises, just the art decorations. In the first photo, the window reflects the street opposite the cafe, and if you look carefully, you can see me as I took the photo.

The Madrid Cathedral, also called the Almudena Cathedral, or the Cathedral of St. Mary the Royal, of La Almudena. La Almudena is similar to the Arabic word, “The Castle.” A modern structure, it was completed in 1993.

Above, the apse, the area beyond the altar; and the ceiling above the altar.

Palace - front

Across the plaza from the Cathedral is the Royal Palace, the scene of state and formal events. King Felipe VI lives in a different palace, somewhere outside the center of the city.

Plaza Mayor 1

Plaza Mayor, a main plaza located a few blocks from the Puerta del Sol (the Gate of the Sun), which is the very center of the city.

Mariachi players and singers in Sol. Like all the street performers, they are looking for donations, so for the privilege of taking this photo I dropped a few coins in the hat.

 

Mercado de San Miguel, San Miguel Market, a glass-walled, indoor upscale market. All kinds of tapas (small portions, a bit like appetizers), seafood, fruit, large stuffed olives (which our group we really liked) and all kinds of drinks.

In Plaza de Espana (Spain Plaza) the Cervantes Monument, a tribute to the famous novelist and poet, author of Don Quixote. Below the statue of seated Cervantes you see Quixote (taller) and his squire, Sancho Panza.

Our church in Madrid meets for worship at noon on Sundays (Spaniards eat lunch at 2:00 PM.) On the first Sunday we were there, they had an international meal. Delicious entrees and desserts, many of them from Latin America. We contributed Hershey’s Chocolate Miniatures.

For our workers, serving means not only singing, Scriptures and sermons, but also clean-up duty. What a pose!

It was a privilege to pray with, bless and encourage our workers.

The members of our two churches are involved in works of compassion. We joined them in packing non-perishable lunches for the members to give to homeless people they meet on the street. I gave my package to a man sitting on the sidewalk outside McDonald’s at Puerta del Sol.

 

This is the storefront (the street level and basement) that serves as the meeting place for our church in the town of Hoyo de Manzaneres, about 15 miles from Madrid.

Here you see Antonio and Aida, the pastoral couple at Hoyo. They are gifted servant-leaders and have a heart to see the fire of God settle on the people of their church and town.

In Hoyo we walked through the town, praying for God to work in mighty ways. On a more mundane note, we saw a huge stork nest, with an adult stork feeding one of its two chicks.

 

We took a bullet train to the city of Toledo, location of the huge Toledo Cathedral, which is impressive on the outside and richly decorated on the interior.

Interior, above the main altar.

Interior, The Disrobing of Christ by El Greco.

This is the Cathedral Monstrance, a structure to exhibit the host (communion wafer, the body of Christ) in a once-a-year procession through the streets. This Monstrance is one of the most famous in the world. The literature says it is made of pure silver, but to me it appears to be gold. Is it silver covered with gold? It is carried on the shoulders of several people, in a procession takes place in the month of June, some time after we were there, so we missed seeing the procession.

Also in Toledo, we spent time in the small museum called Ancient Instruments of Torture, showing many instruments that were used during the Inquisition, which was established by Queen Isabella I in 1478. Originally, it was mostly to ensure the orthodoxy of those who had converted from Judaism and Islam. After seeing the instruments and machines and reading the descriptions, we left the museum with sober thoughts and heavy hearts.

Also in Toledo, we visited a shop where they make damascene plates and jewelry. Damascene is the art of inlaying gold and silver in a darkly oxidized steel background in intricate patterns. The English term comes from the fact that the finished work resembles the rich tapestry patterns of damask silk.

On a day off we went to the town of San Lorenzo of El Escorial to see the Royal Site, a vast building complex that was once a monastery, royal palace and burial place for the royal families. It was conceived by Phillip II and completed in 1584.

Today it is still a monastery of the order of St. Augustine and also a tourist site.

The photo above is the iconic view of the building, which is laid out in an immense square and has spacious gardens of three sides.

The main entrance.

After you enter the main entrance, you step into a courtyard facing the basilica, or church.

This concludes our photo tour of Madrid and surrounding areas. Thanks for joining us.

Please post a short message on my blog so that I know you are there!

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Greetings from Kansas
May 30, 2013

I hope to return to some blogs about London, but this blog comes from Kansas, land of beautiful open sky.

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The wheat fields are green. Harvest will come at the end of June.

We are here for the funeral of Rev. Charles Norman. JoLene and I became good friends with Charles and Elaine when we lived in KS from 1968 to 1974. I was pastor of the Zion Brethren in Christ Church, north of Abilene, and Charles was pastor of Rosebank Brethren in Christ Church, south of Abilene. He was a mentor for me in ministry and encouraged me constantly. He had asked that I conduct his funeral. He died last week while JoLene and I were in London.

Discipleship Group
April 17, 2013

Global worker Steve Newcomer says that one of the gratifying parts of his ministry is the discipleship group he leads every Sunday afternoon for about 25 pastors and lay leaders, some of them Brethren in Christ and others from a variety of other churches. The group meets at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) center in Beira (Mozambique).

The approach of the group is to do direct study of the Bible, especially inductive study, a method in which you let the Bible speak for itself instead of imposing your own assumptions on the text. You ask questions such as who, what, how and why? You study the original intent of the author and the meaning for the first listeners or readers. Then, at last, you consider how this might apply to us today, and what God is saying to us through this Scripture.

I went with Steve to the group on Sunday evening, April 14. This week there were 17 participants, 15 men and two women.

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On the wall of the MCC meeting room is an unusual item. A descriptive paper explains: This saxophone was created from former weapons by artisans in the Turning Weapons into Ploughshares Program (TAE in Portuguese). This program is coordinated by the Christian Council of Mozambique, which is MCC Mozambique’s longest-running partnership. MCC encourages the message of peace and hope which is central to TAE’s vision.

The Brethren in Christ Church is a member of MCC.

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In my Mozambique blogs I have often spoken about missionaries Steve and Chris Newcomer. At last I got a photo of them.

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The city of Beira is on the Indian Ocean, so I conclude with these beach scenes. Our churches hold baptisms at the beach. And Steve enjoys exploring the sand bar at low tide (the last photo above).

Thanks for following us around Mozambique.

Celebrating with Zion Church
October 28, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

We had breakfast at Main Street Cafe in the tiny town of Durham, KS, where JoLene went to high school.

Today we began a 2-day celebration with Zion Brethren in Christ Church, which is observing its 125th anniversary. Here is the church building, located 6 miles north of Abilene, KS.

This was the first church that I served as pastor, from 1968 to 1974.

Today there was a display of photos and other items from the earlier years of church.  The display was set up in the Talmage Museum and Library.

Our daughters, Sheryl and Melanie, were ages 4 and 2 when we left Zion Church to go to Manor Church in Lancaster, PA.

Saturday evening Howard and Melissa Engle hosted a cookout and hay ride at their pasture.

Sunday, October 21

Zion Church’s celebration continued today with a morning service, a noon meal (outstanding pork barbecue sandwiches) and an afternoon service.

The services featured short talks by church members and previous pastors and music by a men’s quartet and a ladies’ trio. I gave a talk in the afternoon on three things: ┬áZion’s story while I was pastor here, Zion’s involvement in world missions through the years, and an update about Brethren in Christ World Missions today.

It was a joy to be part of this weekend of celebrating what God has done and anticipating what he will do in the future.