Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Beautiful Beginning

One of the first things Laura and I noticed about the property we have built the guest house upon was the intense noise we immediately heard.  It was the unmistakeable sounds of God.  The day was hot when we first viewed the property in August of 2011, a hot, still day with nary a breeze to cool us.  As we made out way onto the large plot of land which consisted of 9 parcels all nicely subdivided and ready for the builder, we could sense an overwhelming presence.  It was an easy decision.  We chose the most level of two lots side by side and entered into agreement with God; His will be done.

16 months later with the first stage of Rio Vista Mission House almost complete, we still sit in peaceful wonder each morning as He blesses us with His noise.  His creation glistens in the morning light, everything coated in a thin but distinct layer of moisture, truly God's way of providing for all the little creatures that live in the trees and brush which completely surrounds our little enclave.  The towering Caoba trees, some of which are over 200 years old, filter the light of the rising sun each day. 

The bright globe sends beams of yellow light through the leaves and dances through the thousands of water laden spider webs in the nearby bushes.  The first sounds of His creation reaches our ears as the birds of the sky begin their ceaseless twittering and whistling; I don't think I have ever seen an unhappy bird here.
Fully an hour we sit and watch and listen to the orchestra play, the Maestro in full control as He continually adds more and more to the convoluted and yet extremely intricate rhapsody of life. All of these things work together, only most of us take all of His creation entirely for granted, expecting that trees are just trees, plants are just plants, bugs and creeping things are better left unseen. 
Each day we truly appreciate the splendor and noise of God's creation, for this is the noise that He meant all of us to hear, and then understand, and finally to give thanks.

In a few days we will all enter a New Year, a new page in our stories; how much time will you spend in the presence of the Lord in the year to come, or the following years?  "Be still and know that I am God"  All of creation around us shouts to humanity of the glory of God, a deafening roar from the sheer size of it all; created for us to enjoy, growing around us for each of us to explore.  My God does not need to be proven for His existence for pointing out the obvious is entirely ridiculous.  If you didn't know it already, your standing in it.

Our prayer for you in the coming year is that it be a prosperous year, full of blessings as you also promise to watch and listen more intentionally to the noise of God around your lives.  If you find it difficult where you are because your lives are just "too busy", take a break from it, venture out into the sunlight and find a place where you too can hear the noise; and then bask in it.

So deafening, words hardly do Him any justice.

Bendiciones
Mike and Laura


Friday, December 21, 2012

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad a Todos y Dios Te Bendiga!

This year marks our second Christmas away from home, our family and all of our friends at ROL and around Lethbridge.  Things are a bit different this year though as we are celebrating inside the completed first stage of Rio Vista Guest House! 
This room with the tree in it is what we call the "Common Room": this is an area where teams can come together while staying at Rio Vista and do Mission Field briefing and follow-up as well as a quiet room for prayer and relaxation.  Eventually we will provide a computer center with Internet so teams can communicate with their families back home.

I am sure many of you are familiar with the saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder"  I write to tell you that it is more true than I could have ever imagined.
This year we are especially mindful of our immediate family, separated by a great distance between Canada and the D.R.  Both Laura and I have extensive families with four of our own children as well as numerous brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces and this year our first grand-daughter!  While I realize our decision to move to the D.R. would come with the sacrifice of limited time with our family and loved ones I must emphasize the condition of our hearts during this most important season.  Even though we are here without our  loved ones; our children, our parents, and our friends it is during this season that family is most on our minds.  Even when we still lived in Canada our large, extensive family always tried to come together to celebrate the season.  Maybe not all together, but whoever could, they did get together.

It should come as no surprise that now while we are here in the D.R., I wish we could have all of our children around us to celebrate Navidad in our new home.  This year however, it will not be so.  Our hearts look forward to the time when we can be together.  I want to encourage our readers to seek out the time you don't think you have to reconnect with a brother, sister, father, mother, son or daughter.  Make the time to include as many as you possibly can in your busy lives regardless of their circumstances or yours. 
For Laura and I we will at the very least, be available to skype with all of our family during the Festival of Navidad.  Later when we make our way back to Canada in the new year (No date yet!)  we will definitely take the time to seek out our loved and immensely missed family; then we will take the time to deliver the hugs and kisses , gifts and blessings to as many as time will allow.

Laura and I would very much appreciate your prayers for our family, especially for our children Johnathan, Gabrielle, Forrest and Louellen;as well as our grand-daughter Liliko Rose.

We love and miss you all immensely
Bless you all at this special time of the year, Feliz Navidad a Todos!
God willing we will see you soon!

Mike and Laura

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Blessed Attitude

We knew that when we came to the island of the Dominican Republic to live here full-time we would meet people that could or would have an impact on our new lives here.  We were not surprised in the least to see that one man in particular came into our lives while working on the project God had brought us here for.  When we first cleared the land and the skies cleared of winter rains, the crews showed up to lay out the foundation of the Rio Vista Guest House.
The three guys in this picture were on site doing just that in January 2012,  the Foreman is in the foreground facing away from us.

  Rafaelito  was lead foreman at the beginning of the construction of Rio Vista Guest House.  Since then he directed many men, Dominicans and Haitians, in the build of the project.  At our first meeting he seemed a kindly man, sincere and genuine, with a strong handshake and wide smile from ear to ear.  I was taught at a young age by my father that when you meet someone for the first time, you must put out your hand in greeting and when offered the other hand, grip it firmly and as strong as you are met in return, if not slightly stronger.  Rafaelito must have had the same lesson.  Each time we met we would clasp hands and just stand there in a power struggle of friendship; each increasing the power of the handshake until finally one of us backed down from the pain.  Usually it was me.
I know it sounds like a male thing, but most of you understand that there is a level of respect that goes along with the authority of a powerful handshake and greeting.  Maybe it was just the way I was raised.

All through the construction of Rio Vista, Rafaelito continued daily to work beside his men until one afternoon in April he indicated he was off to the neighbor city of Santiago the next day for a visit to the hospital.  I immediately asked him what for?  He always appeared fit and able everyday we saw him; his powerful grip was a testament to his will.
He told me he was diagnosed several years ago with brain tumors that continued to grow and now he was off again to receive treatment at the hospital for his condition.
What a shock!
He showed Laura and I his head and the scars from several surgeries from the past; as well as the immense soft spot on his left side of his head.  His skull cap had been partially removed a few years ago in order for the tumor to grow without increasing pressure on his brain.  I am absolutely convinced that this solution would not even be considered if he had access to proper medical care.

Rafaelito returned to work at the project in July of 2012 and most of the construction was almost finished; at least for his part.  Over the next few months little work was done on our project so we did not see Rafaelito until we heard he passed away quietly at home with his family around him.  He finally succumbed to the tumor, the cancer now having spread to other parts of his body.




Rafaelito never gave up on his Faith that God was the center of his life.  Daily he professed his love for the Lord.  Let us understand something of this; having Faith in God may not save you from an early death or even an illness that can end your life suddenly.  For me I saw daily the strength and fortitude of the Lord which carried this man for years until he could go no more.  While I only knew Rafaelito for a few months, I saw a man stronger with his illness than most men I know who do not have death knocking on their door.
His strength came from the Lord, it allowed him to get up each day and go out to provide for his family the only way he could; with his hands.
The Dominican Republic has a poor social net and an even worse medical network to provide for these individuals properly.  There are no health subsidy programs here; there are no cancer centers; there is little hope.

In my opinion, Rafaelito was the poster child for 2 Cor 12:7-10

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
NIV
Rafaelito knew his strength was from the Lord, he lived in it daily.  All the while he kept a calm and peace about him, he displayed constantly a Blessed Attitude, never complaining about his condition.

Rafaelito expressed his desire for his family to be cared for and prayed until his last breath that God would care for them after he was gone.
Laura and I are lifting up his family in prayer, join us if you could.

Mike


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moved!

Good Morning all!

Laura and I are pleased to announce that we have completed our move into the Rio Vista Guest House!  Although we are still in a state of construction, we have power and water, both hot and cold.  We now have the task of completing the detailing of the project on a room by room basis.
The last year has been quite the eye opening experience for us, but through the experience we have gained a tremendous amount of wisdom.  Of course we have always been aware that doing this sort of project in a third world country could provide a few challenges; but through them all, patience has been the key word.
For those who may not recall we began the project on November 30, 2011 with a ground breaking ceremony, where we gathered with some fellow missionaries and gave the project and land entirely over to God's will.  Since then we have seen the work progress, slowly at first, and at times with great bursts of development.  Recently we reached a point where our funding was stretched to the limit.  Again we placed ourselves in God's hands as our provider and trusted for His provision.  Again those prayers were answered through several people who blessed the project with donations and gifts. Today we are ever closer to seeing the first team come and use the facility for what it was intended.
You can see from the pictures that a lot has been done to provide a secure location for us and the teams, the fencing is high and totally encloses the property.  Atop each column is lighting which illuminates the perimeter at night.  The wall out front is almost finished and will display the name of the project as soon as I can paint it. (still rain every day so cannot paint it totally!)
We increased the security at Rio Vista with the addition of Pancho Villa, he is a Rottweiler/Chow cross and is just a year old, so he is very young and his feet are still bigger than his body.  But he will learn quickly from Raven our older dog; he is already starting to relax in his new home after a nervous first night on Sunday.

Laura and I appreciate all the help we have received to bring this project to this stage, but we are not quite done yet.  Small details like bathroom fixtures and window coverings still require funding.  The entire project is surrounded with a red clay that leaves its mark on every floor, so we hope to have out grass in soon to keep the mud down.  However, we are in and looking forward to the next chapter of God's will for us.
We look forward to seeing a team from Lethbridge in the spring; I pray that many of you might step out and explore God's Mission Field with us in the D.R.  If you are interested in helping us with Rio Vista or with other projects we know of here, send us an email.

Bendiciones a Todos!

Mike and Laura

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Uncommon Valor

Hi everyone!
This has been on my heart for some time now and I think it is simply because the definition of Valor is so simple:  Great Bravery
Combined these two words give us by definition:

A rare great bravery.

So just what makes "Uncommon Valor"?

Of course Hollywood gives it a definition as a bunch of mercenaries who journey back to Vietnam to rescue lost sons and fellow soldiers in in a film with Gene Hackman, Patrick Swayze, and a few other guys who show "Uncommon Valor" as they proceed into enemy territory and face an opposing army of bad guys with many guns and grenades.  Of course they win in the end and rescue a couple of soldiers who were held prisoner against all odds, but not after exacting a tremendous amount of destruction and death upon the enemy; proving that this is "Uncommon Valor!"  The title of the movie could have just as easily said "Uncommon Courage" or "The Strong Few".  I guess "Uncommon Valor" sounds much more cool.  Hollywood depicts "Uncommon Valor" as substance derived from the brotherhood of soldiers and never leaving one behind as the pervasive theme.

This view of course will get you a great "B" movie, but I think there is more to this.

There is another way to look at Uncommon Valor and I suspect that all of us already have this valuable characteristic we can use for each of our lives simply because not using it would mean a life that would miss what God intended for each of His children.  So why is it that so many fail when it comes to using this Uncommon Valor?  Is there something about this characteristic that seems to dwell inside us that is elusive to some yet readily available to others?

My perspective has to come from what I have seen with my own eyes, for I believe seeing is truly believing.   The Word of God tells us to have Courage and Strength, which are synonomous words for Valor.  Whether the word  in the Bible is courage or courageous or even strong and strength (depending on the translation) we are instructed many times to use this quality for our lives as it is essential to overcome trials.

1 Cor 16:13-14
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
NIV
Many of the writers of the Bible continually use these words as if the ability to use courage or be courageous is already contained within us.  This inner courage or strength quality is somehow imprinted onto our souls right from birth, therefore it is inherent all the time; but what is the trigger that enables the characteristic to flourish?

The Apostle Paul talks about this "strength" within us as definitive within God, who's Spirit resides within us; and that it is by trusting in the Spirit of God in us through our trials that we become better at our lives.

2 Cor 12:7-10
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
NKJV

So let me clarify this scripture, Paul tells us that strength is of the Lord and that this strength
is perfected during our trials.  But we must use the Lord's strength through the trial in order to become stronger individuals.

However, Jesus said "My Grace is sufficient... for My Strength is made perfect in weakness."  So then, what is Grace? 
Rom 5:15-17
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, (Adam) how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 
NIV
 It is the the knowledge that His strength is the Grace He gives us when we first turn to Him!  That Grace is the gift of Salvation with Him!  That with that Grace we are internally "empowered" with His Strength!  This of course is the Holy Spirit, who now after our choice to accept Jesus, continually intercedes for us during our trials.   It is when we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit within us that we can become triumphant through our trials by overcoming the trials we face with the Lord!  
So, Grace extended to man from Jesus is Salvation and forgiveness for all of our sins.  But you must believe first, then Grace can be given, but believe and it will be given.  This then is the hope we all have for our lives.  Once you receive this Grace you need not live in fear of any trial for with Grace we can live the potential lives we were meant to.  

Walking through your life without having the Grace of Salvation causes us to falter and stumble when we encounter opposition or situations that give us fear.  You need to know that the lack of using the courage we have already been given means we may never find what it is God has for each of us and the lives we have been given to live.  Each of us is confronted daily with trial and challenge and too many run and hide from challenge because we fail to use the courage God gave us to begin with.
Paul tells us very clearly, that we must have the Grace of God (which is the hope of Jesus) in us in order to overcome these trials.  That the Grace of Jesus, our Lord is sufficient and with it, by accepting Him, you can overcome all trials.

Now none of this explains why some can have powerful strength and courage while others cower in fear.  What is it that represses the courage in each of us?  It started with the first man and woman,
"Gen 3:6-10
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
NIV

Sin first entered mankind when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, fear captured their hearts and took over their minds.  They fell victim to the consequence of the new sin in their lives and allowed the shame of their sin to control their actions.  Embarrassed and afraid for their actions and what the Lord might do to them, they hid from Him.  Of course the banishment from Eden and the subsequent journey of mankind to today has been up and down for all people; born into the sin of Adam and now having to suffer the consequences of the sin.  Fear is a consequence of sin, when we sin, either by choice or inadvertently, we sometimes condemn ourselves to shame and embarrasment.  Just as Satan lured Eve to the sin, the same exists for each of us.  When we sin Satan laughs gleefully as we fumble through our lives afraid of everything and anything. 

It makes perfect sense when you look at your life from this perspective.  How will you know what you should do with your life?  Too many complain about their trials and are too afraid to stand and face them, or are beaten down so much they cannot take it anymore.  Many just turn and run thinking it is easier to run away and hide, hoping you won't have to deal with them.  When in fact it is through the trial that we endure, by using the courage and strength of God within us that we become ever stronger.  Daily overcoming with God creates stronger people, stronger community, and a stronger world!
 Every time we run and hide from the trial we are accepting a lie that we cannot overcome it, the lie that says we don't have the strength to overcome the trial, the lie that cannot come from God but comes directly from His enemy.  Satan is mankind's enemy and I will give him credence anymore, not now, not ever; neither should you.

So this is it, this is where the rubber meets the road for mankind; how many will continue to hide in fear because they lack the faith to trust their inner courage and how many will go through their trials with courage and strength, bearing witness to the truth as you overcome. 

Let us totally understand this Courage, this Strength, this Uncommon Valor; it is not Uncommon at all; for it is the Grace of God that we are given this gift.

All have it available to them, few choose to see it today; just look around you at the fallen world, full of fearful people.  Afraid of their own shadows.

Don't be afraid anymore, for you have the choice to take on the strength of the Lord within you, to be able to use the courage you have been given; if only you would only believe.

John 3:18
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
NIV
Believe, receive the Grace of Salvation and with it the power of the Spirit of God in you, face your trials, endure and overcome, and be changed from within for the rest of your life.

So there you have it, only with the Spirit of God can you really overcome all your adversities, don't believe that stuff you see on T.V. about courage and valor; that's just Hollywood.

Bendiciones
Michael





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We are so small....

In the big picture of the History of the world, each of us could feasibly consider that we could not possibly play a significant part in the whole scheme of things.  A little perspective is required here:

-you are one person alive in a sea of over 7 Billion other people on earth
-since the dawn of recorded mankind science estimates that over 110 Billion people have lived and died since creation, more or less, I am not sure if this is right as it is only an assumption based on the age of fossil discoveries
-our planet is one planet in our solar system that is part of a larger system we call the Milky Way.  This system is only a part of a much larger Universe which surrounds our system.  The Milky Way in perspective contains millions of stars similar to our sun and likely those stars have planets that rotate around them.  This creates a huge potential number of planets in the known Universe.  Moreover, other systems of planets exist in our visible Universe besides the Milky Way.  This means we are part of a system which contains literally billions of stars and planets, not to mention the uncountable numbers of satellites and moons.

So what is my point?

Science today has tried to speculate as to how everything was formed, in doing so man has also speculated as to how we came to be alive; as in how everything came alive!  But folks this is the kicker:
The one thing science and mathematics cannot tell anyone of us is "Why?"  anything was created at all.

You see the scientists have formulated many hypothesis over time using visible evidence of the Universe and mathematics and then proposed many theories.  The most popular theory today is that our Universe and all that is in it are a result of some cosmic accident over 14 Billion years ago that set in motion the expanding of the known Universe and then the random creation of planets and stars; the "Big Bang". With the then random start of life from lifelessness, and the subsequent expansion of life and progress of the development of higher order species evolving from single cell organisms into humanity and a million different species of life so different from each other it still boggles the mind.
Now if you believe that everything is here around us, on our planet, in our solar system, in our Universe is the result of a cosmic accident you still have no answer as to "Why?" anything happened at all!  Think about it, what can cause a giant spark to happen in a big empty space of nothing,(which by the way defies all logic and known laws of physics surrounding fire).  Even then after this "Big Bang" happens which was caused by nothing and with nothing for no purpose other than to expand a bunch of nothing into a whole bunch of planets and stars which a spinning around and around each other for millions of years growing farther apart with no end in sight.  Really?  I mean Really?
Interesting point here, some of these scientists and physicists are beginning to look at the evidence and are also seeing the problem they have created with the theory.  I'll explain...The theory states that everything started way back when with some sort of massive explosion, some form of spontaneous combustion of an unbelievably large pile of all the elements needed to create everything.  The Big Bang Theory estimates that all the stuff that makes up our Universe existed at some point as a large pile of matter, unformed and non-responsive to any of the known laws of physics (This is just a guess of course)  Then something, caused the explosion which forced all the matter in the Universe to expand away from this one central point in space, expanding away, forming into planets and stars, moons and satellites, rivers and oceans, amoebas and elephants, dogs and cats, people and chimps.
I have a headache.
This is what happens when man falls away from the truth, he creates such a complicated lie and continues to build on it so that by the end of the story (I'm sure we are not there yet) it sounds like science fiction instead of truth.

There of course is another theory.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1

The evidence for this is right within each of us, after all, there is no other species running around trying to figure out how all of this came about.  Only man has the ability to reason out details which God himself has exposed to us for us to discern.  Our fathers all trusted God since the dawn of recorded History.  Oh sure, many of our fathers never even walked the path of God trusting Him to guide their lives, this is evidenced by the destructive nature of mankind.  Our History is still vibrating with the cataclysmic nature of our wars and battles between ourselves, usually over nothing but pride or greed.  Today some of us have continued to stray so far away from God and His truths that we would believe a lie created by ourselves and compound that lie generation after generation with more speculation as to how we came to be.  Only to get to discover that your lie has a flaw..."Something had to create all the elements that make up the Universe?"

I like my theory better....much easier, not simple mind you....you should try it.

Go ahead...I dare you.

Michael


Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Work Continues

Hello everyone Y Dios te Bendigas!

After only a couple of weeks and a flurry of activity around the project of Rio Vista we are now even closer to seeing the reality of the dream come true.  In the past month North Coast Missionary Services has received a tremendous blessing which has allowed us to continue with the build of the project.  As many of you know Rio Vista Mission House was contrived as an idea more than 5 years ago and Laura and I have been walking out God's plan for our lives with the Mission House in mind.
It was only a year ago that we found a suitable property upon which we could build the facility which would house Mission Teams who come to the island each year to work with the poor.

Previous blog posts have shown the construction of the Mission House from ground breaking until today and we are now even closer than ever to opening the house for Mission Teams.

Those of you that understand what God is doing here will see the fruit of His labor through our hands and know that He has truly blessed the project with support and gifts from many of His children.  We continue to give thanks to those of you who have been a support to this important Mission and encourage others to partner with us to see the fulfillment of His plans for the many lives which will be affected by this Mission in the years to come.

The pictures show the work continuing with the installation of wiring and light fixtures as well as the construction of the pump-house and kitchen to which we will later attach the open-air dining area.  (needs funding)

We have also begun the build of the perimeter security fence which will surround the compound of Rio Vista.  The pictures show the foundations of twelve columns which surround the property; each column has a solid concrete foundation with a stone laid in the concrete.  As you can see from the pictures each stone has upon it the name of each of the twelve Apostles.  Later the columns will also be adorned with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; three plaques on each side facing North, South, East and West. 

 Taking this right from Revelations 21:12-13 I believe we are doing the most we can to bring protection to the Mission House and all those who stay at the facility.
 After the columns have been poured we can place a six foot wall between them which will fully enclose the compound.  We still require funding for the fencing between the columns; about $4,000 still to be raised.













Rio Vista Mission House will soon be ready for the first team to come and stay.  The Lord has surely seen the need for this facility as we have many groups now that are interested in staying at this facility.  It was the wife of renowned writer/minister Norman Vincent Peale who wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking" who gave him the quote "Find a need and fill it"

With respect to Mission Field necessities we have witnessed here in the Dominican Republic, Rio Vista Mission House fills this objective. quite nicely.
Moreover, because Rio Vista generates revenue on an annual basis the Mission will also be able to provide funding for many projects that still need to be completed in so many poor villages it boggles the mind.  This of course solves a tremendous problem of funding these many projects.
We are now taking bookings for teams for 2013 on a first come first serve basis.  Churches and Mission Organizations can contact us through this blog or through our website.
We still require funding to complete the first stage before teams can stay, after-all, we still need to buy the beds!  In total each room requires funding to completion of about $800.00  This means we need about 5,000 to buy beds, build closets, provide fans (For the hot nights!) and finish the bathrooms.

All in all less than 10,000 is all that stands between now and the first team to enjoy the all-inclusive comfort of Rio Vista Mission House.  Well maybe a little money for grass around the building; it will surely keep the mud out of the rooms!

I pray that you are blessed in your day and we look forward to seeing each of you soon as our guests at the Rio Vista Mission House!

To donate directly to the project through our Canadian Partner in Missions please click the link:

http://www.bridgesofhope.ca/index.php?p=International_Projects

For information on team booking or the work of North Coast Missionary Services and Rio Vista Guest House please follow the link:
http://ncmission.com/

Bendiciones a Todos

Michael








Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What am I doing here?

A few weeks ago I posted a blog that detailed some of the people we are helping as we continue to build our Mission Guest House in Sosua.  Last night it happened again.

While working at 3 Amigos, a good customer of ours came in again after a brief time away.  Most of our customers are transient as they may live in other countries but travel back and forth to the D.R. for work.
In this case this man is Canadian but was born in Haiti 50 years ago to the parents of Missionaries who worked with the poor for over 30 years in that country.  Turns out this fellow is also a Christian having been raised up to trust God with his life.  For the past few years he and his wife have been bringing teams down to the island to work in a big city on the North Coast of Haiti.  Cap Haitien is not far from us, about 6 hours by car and is almost 200,000 people; most of whom are extremely poor.

But this is not the story I want to tell you about. Although the work he and his wife are doing is good and provides better standards of life for many, the story today is about a more personal sacrifice he and his family have made.

Last night, this man whom I hardly know other than our kindred Spirit of God, shared with me the events of the past six weeks.  His son of only 27 years suddenly passed away in Canada late in July.  After a police investigation and subsequent autopsy it was determined a "natural" death.  Meanwhile the parents had now buried their son, and without answers from the authorities as to what happened, tried to pick up their lives.

As I listened to this man share his story about his son, I was overwhelmed with the sense of love and concern he had for all of those affected by this seemingly senseless death of a young man.  His concern was stated emphatically that he cared only for his immediate family; his wife, ex-wife, other sons and relatives who did not all have a solid footing in God.

I have also experienced close death in my family but I have never lost my son, which I would feel would be extremely close and absolutely unfair.  So what grounds a person into accepting this tragedy?  How is it that some can cope and others flee towards medication or worse yet; place the blame entirely on God?

The fact is more than 250,000 people die each and every day all over the world.  These statistics are real, most of them dying from natural causes, but many die with question marks attached to them.
Too many people have queried, "Why did you take my son God?"  "Why my wife Lord?"  "Why me?"

This is probably the toughest subject to deal with from a perspective of Faith, but I have to give it a go because I do not believe in coincidence.  God places people in your path for a reason, either they are there to feed into your life or you are there to feed into their's.  One or the other.
This is probably one of the most debated topics about God ever since man began dying.

It is very difficult to put in perspective if you do not know God, if you do not have a foundation in how He operates with us as His children.  Because we know this truth, "And we know that God makes all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28) NKJV
 I fully realize the difficulty of losing a loved family member, having lost my father last year.  I do understand that losing your first-born son could be worse, that just maybe it might hurt a bit more.  I propose to you that although it seems unfair to you at the time, you should not blame God for "taking" what you loved, the son you raised or the daughter you cherished.  This is a truth for each of us who is born; we will live, then we will die.
The real tragedy occurs when people do not accept this axiom of truth about our lives and begin to destroy their own lives as a result of losing a loved one.
You may not all believe in God today, but I would suggest to you that if you find yourself in the same shoes as this man who shared with me about his loss, look at the life that was in your son or daughter.  Celebrate the life that was, mourn for a time, for Jesus tells us we will be comforted.  (Matt 5:4) NIV

I hope and pray that none of you who read this would ever have to endure the loss of your son or daughter.  As the saying goes,  There except by the grace of God go I.

I pray that your foundations are grounded in the Faith of the truth, that you would trust Him to live your lives to the fullest so that when the inevitable end comes for the flesh to die you might be ready to see.
None of knows how long we are given to live for this is also a truth of God,

James 4:14
 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
NKJV

Laura and I are nothing special to what we believe we have been called to do here in the D.R.  We have simply come as we are, trusting that we might be used mightily to give some people any reason to see the good of God for our lives.  It is almost daily that someone new comes into our lives and all we do is listen to them as they pour out their hearts and hurts in front of perfect strangers.

But are we really strangers?  Are we so far apart from each other that many do not have someone to share our hurts and concerns with?

The community of mankind is supposed to be like this, the Kingdom of God is bearing one another's burdens when we can.  But the greatest truth to Faith is trusting Jesus as He tells us,

Matt 11:28-30
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
NIV


Bless you all
Michael

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moved to Compassion

Today I was moved to compassion beyond anything I have ever felt before.  It was a usual quiet night at the restaurant when we were approached near closing time by a Dominican woman.  I was sitting outside with Joanne who works with us at the restaurant when the woman stopped near us and first apologized for interrupting our conversation.  My first thought was that she was a customer but she quickly stated that she only needed to talk to us.  Joanne asked her what was wrong in Spanish and after a fast and lengthy spiel of which I caught only pieces, it was determined that the woman had quite the story to tell.

She had just come out of the pharmacy located beside us where she tried to buy a prescription of medication for her very young daughter.  She told us her name was Santa and then she indicated she did not have enough money for the 340 peso prescription and I immediately thought to myself, "she is going to ask me of course"

I asked her why she needed the prescription and after Santa related what had happened I knew two things about her:  1.  She was genuine
                  2. She had Faith that could move a mountain.

Santa told Joanna in Spanish and broken English what had happened earlier that day.  The day began as normal she stated as she got up with her two young daughters and got them ready for the day.  Her father lived with her as he had suffered a stroke the past year and could not live on his own.  Since the stroke he had also begun to slip into the early stages of Alzheimer's.  Today she left her youngest daughter Rosete home with her father while she went to the colmado with the other daughter to buy a few things for supper that night.  Santa returned after about an hour and her little house was in a terrible state.  Turns out her father had a problem with his bowels and did not remember what to do about it, his Alzheimer's was quite advance now, so he had defecated in his chair, and on the floor and tried to clean it up with his hands.  Things went from bad to worse then as he must have figured he was cooking a meal for the family because he gathered up his feces into a large cooking pot.  Thinking what he had was food he then began to feed the 1 year old baby his feces.  From the story and the amount of tears coming from Santa's eyes I could hear the anguish in her voice as she told us.  Santa stated that she was almost beside herself when she discovered her father, her house, and her baby; everything covered in her father's mess.  At first she wanted to end his life, for what a burden he was to her and her two daughters.  She refrained, thankfully.  Within an hour after consuming her grandfather's mess the baby became violently sick; throwing up uncontrollably and then filling her pampers with an unbelievable black mess.  The baby was in intense pain as Santa called a neighbor to watch her other child while she took a motoconcho to the hospital in Sosua.  The hospital immediately transferred the baby to the big hospital in Puerto Plata where they could better care for the baby.  It was better for her anyway because CMC in Sosua is a private hospital which charges for services.  When Santa left her baby at the hospital to come back to Sosua and try and get money for a prescription she did not know what to do.  She only made about 200 pesos a day repairing shoes in her own little business attached to her house; not enough to pay for the prescriptions as she had already spent all her money on food that morning.  Her baby was hooked up to IV's to re hydrate her but she was still unconscious from the pain she endured in her tiny body.  Probably better that way I thought.
Santa told us that she thought of going to the street and maybe finding a gringo who she could sleep with once to make some quick money for the prescription.  She told us that she was ashamed and cried as she cried out to God for help.
Five minutes later she was sitting in front of  Joanna and me after the pharmacist had told her how much money she needed for the medication.
Santa finished telling her story and then turned to me asking, "Sir, are you a Christian? Do you know God?"
"I know God." I replied to her calmly, "He's here right now Santa."

Now please hear me people when I say this, I am not God, but we are His hands and feet; all of us who believe and are called to serve His people.  People who, when they are at the end of their rope, when they can only cry out to Him.  These are the people whom He brings in front of you.

Santa never asked me for the money, but she did ask me if she could fix my shoes for a small charge, or maybe she could wash our windows or clean my house for a small fee; enough for the prescription for her baby.
I have lived in this poor country now for more than a year and a half and I have seen the beggars and injured people who use their infirmity as a business.  These people don't want to be healed, they make a good living out of begging change from the pockets of the tourists each day.
Santa was no beggar, this I know.  I asked her for the names of her children and her address where she lived.  Then she asked me if I knew anyone who could help her tonight; I had already watched this complete stranger breakdown emotionally in front of two people whom she did not know.  A young mother who related an almost incredulous story of pain and suffering that no-one should have to endure.

I gave her the money. Santa jumped out of her chair and started crying again, this time Joanna went to her and gave her a compassionate hug.  After a moment she gained her composure, and I assured her the money was a gift; that I believed there are no coincidences and that I saw her Faith was powerful.
After we prayed for Santa and the baby together, she left promising to let us know how the baby is doing tomorrow.

I'll let you know.

Michael

The Real God Market (6) Business as Missions: A Case for God

Hello again all!
I know it has only been a few days since the last post but I am feeling inspired to write.  In my last post I eluded to the Vision that has brought Laura and I to the Mission Field here in the Dominican Republic.  More than 5 years ago now the steps of our developing ministry were started in our home church in Lethbridge, River of Life.
I knew then as I know today that what we were going to attempt to build in the D.R. was not conceptually normal as far as Missions are concerned, but fundamentally the idea of a Mission House that supports itself while creating opportunity for empowering Missionaries to be more successful at their calling falls right in line with God's Word.

First of all I want to state emphatically that what we believe God is doing within this Ministry in no way reflects poorly on the ways other Missions operate throughout the world.  We are called to serve exactly where we are gifted.
1 Peter 4:9-11
 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 
NIV
For years prior to our stepping out into the Mission Field, our lives have been blessed with successful business operations both in Lethbridge and prior to that in Calgary.  These years of developing skills to manage food service businesses and the ability to train individuals to become skilled managers dealing with people day in and day out will soon be put to use in the service of God's people.
The Rio Vista Mission House is currently under construction and when it is finished (First Stage so far) it will provide comfortable accommodations, meals, and security for Mission Teams who are working in many Fields of Ministry in the D.R.  Our concept is not unique as there are many NGO operations who have these types of facilities around the world; YWAM is one of the biggest Christian Mission organizations that provide Mission Accommodations for their many teams that work in Mission Fields.  Their Mission Houses help fund the many programs they provide for empowerment of all kinds of indigenous people all over the world.
In reality it does however take a lot of funding to put these facilities in place before the operations can be self supportive.  That is the irony, we need to raise funds through donations in order to be able to provide an adequate facility to generate more provision for God's people.  The end does justify the means simply because once the facility is operational it will sustain itself.
Already we have established relationships with many Mission Groups who rely on international teams to bring the necessary resources, funding, and training skills that are required in these Mission Fields.
I believe that the reason God requires His people to "use whatever gift he has received" is exactly for this reason.  The Mission Field today is extremely diverse and requires "specialized" Missionaries that can effectively implement specific operations that produce fruit in communities all over the world.

It is clear today that the evolving Mission Field that God has sent us into is filled with compassionate people who are wholly committed to giving all that they can so that many will become empowered through the work they do.  We are a small part of the "specialization" in the Mission Field.

Rio Vista, which means "River View" will provide a definitive facility from which the Compassion of God can reach those who need it most.  Each team that stays at Rio Vista will enjoy daily meals and private accommodations necessary for refueling Missionaries who give tirelessly of themselves.
Rio Vista in turn will turn revenue generated from the people who stay at the house into empowerment programs designed to lift people up with better education, better health, clean water, better food and better homes.

The self-sustainable Mission model is one of the most viable solution to continuing the difficult task of ministering to God's people.  Everything is more expensive now because inflation and demand has driven costs up to almost unreachable totals.  There is a new term floating around the established Church Community more and more today than ever before; "Donation Fatigue"  I have heard this story from every Missionary who works in this Mission Field.  I am sure it a universal term among most Missionaries of the world.  This term has been around for a while but today the impact of declining economies and many families burdened with mounting debt has resulted in a retraction globally on giving.  This means Mission Groups must find new ways to provide for themselves; in order to be successful in the Mission Field.  For without success in funding they go home, unable to fund their projects or even pay the rent in many cases.
Some would argue that this is God's will ultimately for He created everything we see, including money, and He can certainly provide if needed.
However, I also believe God does not want us to live our lives creating mountainous burdens of debt for ourselves; ultimately being crushed and broken by the same debt which provides our lifestyle.
No, I say it is far better to provide a means of compassion in Missions through a self-sustaining model that ultimately provides everything the Missionaries require within their Mission Field.

I also believe that there are many in the Community of God that are beginning to ask the same question.
This is far reaching people, and it is affecting everything around us daily.  It is not just International Missions that suffer, the local church is also under increasing pressure to survive in this declining Global market.

This I believe is God's will today in this evolving global economy we live in.  It makes sense to use the wisdom God blessed each of us with and make decisions for Missions and the Church that create empowerment programs that are self-sustaining.  More and more people are called into Missions everyday; more and more they will have to become ever creative in order to provide for the poor.

The foundation of Rio Vista Mission House has been built on this principle; a self-sustaining Mission to provide empowerment programs for the poor.

We are almost ready to begin operations at Rio Vista; ironically, we do not have enough funding to finish the security perimeter and landscaping.
We are excited to announce that we have booking requests from four teams now!  We are encouraged by the support we have received for Rio Vista up to this point and we are again asking for your support to help us become a fully operational-self sustaining Mission!

Please check out our website to see all of the groups who we work with and maybe bring your own team to experience what God is doing here in the Dominican republic!
http://ncmission.com/

Corporate and personal donations can be made through our partner in Missions, Bridges of Hope.
http://www.bridgesofhope.ca/index.php?p=Donate

Bendiciones
Michael

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Real God Market (5) Vision

Good morning all! Blessings from the sunny D.R.

So here's the thing, last night I was awakened from deep sleep at least three times.  I got up each time and walked about the dark apartment looking around; all seemed normal.  It was quiet outside, the dog lay snoring in her usual spot beside our bed, the night watchman was the only one awake outside in his chair near the gate.  I thought maybe it was because Laura was not with me as she was still in Canada with our daughter and brand-new grand-baby.  Then I thought maybe it was the arugula I had eaten for dinner.  No, I thought the third time; it was definitely God.  I woke the first time with a memory of a 411 listing, and it was for God, but as I saw the listing I saw also myself looking in a mirror.  So I got up and wrote it down, has to be something right?
The second time was a phrase that kept rolling through my mind, "Compassion is the outward reflection of Jesus."  Nothing more, so I got up and wrote it down.
The third time I was awakened after seeing again the vision that I was given on April 8 2007.  The day I knew God was telling me to go to the Mission Field.  I didn't have to write this one down.  This one has been emblazoned on my mind for more than 5 years now.  Long before I knew I was ready to go anywhere or do anything.
The connections with all three awakenings might not seem apparent, and to me it didn't click until this morning when I finally got up in the breaking daylight (about 5:30) with thoughts of several local people I have come to know over the last 18 months.  Each of them are entirely unaware of the other yet each has been placed in my path; there are no coincidences.
I met Johnny first, over a year ago, while Laura and I worked in one of the remote villages with some other Missionaries helping in a feeding program their Ministry ran.  At first Johnny (who was about 11 then) appeared in the lunch room with a few of his siblings.  He was one of 9 children borne to the same mother in the village however it was a certainty all the children did not have the same father.  Their mother was often away from the children as her only form of income was working the streets as a prostitute.  When she returned to the home in the village she would beat many of the children or neglect them entirely, so angry was she with her situation.  Many Missionaries helped care for the children as best they could but without any social net or ability to involve authorities (they are Haitian and therefore have no rights in the D.R.) the children suffered greatly.  Last week I was in the village and Johnny gave me a hug when he saw me.  I asked him where his mother was. "Gone" was all he said.  He never asked me for a thing, but I could see the hope in his eyes as he received the 75 pesos I had in my pocket.  "Gracias" he said. "Dios te bendiga." He smiled at me as I drove away from the village.

I met Fabio in March of this year in downtown Sosua soon after we opened up 3 Amigos Mexican Restaurant in the heart of Sosua.  Fabio is about 60 or so and was born with a club foot.  Actually he only had half of his left leg as what appeared to be part of a foot protruded from where his knee ended.  He walked with a large stick as a prop, wrapping his "foot" around the pole and hopping along.  I saw him daily but never spoke to him until one day he spoke to me, "Dios te bendiga baron!"  The first words he spoke to me, unknowing of my situation or ability to understand, "God Bless you son" came out of his mouth.  My response was automatic, I stopped, turned, extended my hand to him, "Igualmente Senor" which means, "Likewise sir".  He proceeded to rattle off in slurred Spanish which I understood about half about how without the ability to work he knows Dios will provide for him the same way Dios provides for the birds.  I cannot do much for him so we do what we can, it cost about 50 pesos for the rice and beans with a little chicken I give him daily as I see him.

The last guy is even more strange, again in the center of Sosua at the restaurant I was visited one day by the dirtiest, almost naked man wearing only tattered jeans, no shoes or shirt.  He was not old, looking to me about 25 or so, and he was not Dominican or Haitian.  He was talking to himself the whole time he walked and as he entered the shop he stopped and looked around, standing in the middle of the shop very near the counter.  He mumbled something in bad Spanish several times but I could not understand him.  Then he tried another language which sounded like German; again I did not understand him.  Finally he spoke in perfect English, calmly and politely, "Can I please have a cup of water?"  At first I was stunned, but I quickly gave him a cup of water which he drank in one gulp, turned and left.  Mumbling the entire way as he left. I don't know if I will ever see him again but I suspect yes.

This is what I got today: The string that connects us all is obviously the Spirit of God, inside each of us, even when we are entirely unaware.  The image of myself in the mirror states clearly that the "411 of God" is in me, as I have already submitted to His Word and truths.  The phrase, "Compassion is an outward reflection of Jesus" is definitive as who God has given me to help, in this Mission Field.  I fully understand that I did not have to travel 6000 miles to find these unfortunate souls, I can only suspect that it has always been God's heart to extend compassion on His people and that compassion must come through His church; His body at large.
 The vision of the Ministry from 2007 was fourfold at the time; first I saw a road leading to a large house protected by a gate, on the wall beside the gate were the words "North Coast Missionary Services" The second was the house itself; a two story structure with a large balcony with stairs leading to the second floor, a beautiful landscape washed in sunshine.  The third was a view of the airport here in Puerto Plata, I was in a large white van picking up a team which had just arrived.  The fourth was a Google page depicting a search of North Coast Missionary Services.  All of these are coming to existence, some already have.

I pray that you all are called in a way that fulfills His will for your lives.  Take a minute in your busy life and look outside, maybe you will see who God wants you to speak to today.

 This is where I find myself today, we are building a foundation for continued Ministry to His people in the Dominican Republic.  We are building a foundation for many Mission Groups to come and minister to many of these people, empowering them for success.
You can still support this Mission with your donation to help complete our project.
Please donate at the link
http://www.bridgesofhope.ca/index.php?p=Donate
Please visit our website to see the work we are doing.
http://ncmission.com/

Michael


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Real God Market (4) The Indomitable Spirit

Greetings all again from the sunny D.R!

Indomitable Spirit:  a spirit that cannot be subdued or overcome...Urban Dictionary

Two days ago I took my wife to the airport and put her on a plane bound for home.  She returned home to be with our oldest daughter who is set to give birth to our first grandchild!  Truly a momentous occasion for any family for the gift of a child is a blessing we are expected to enjoy; to celebrate as best we can with all the circumstances of our busy lives getting put on hold when birth occurs.  At least for most of us.

While the gift of the birth of a child is a gift to the parents who conceived the child it is interesting to note that within that conception reigns a furious debate over just what it is that causes life to start.  You see today scientific advancements have allowed man to look deep into the inner happenings of cellular development of all kinds of animals including humans but something mysterious still eludes the scientists.

WHAT starts the life of an animal or human and for that matter WHY?

Scientists have recently viewed cellular development of embryos with the aid of strong microscopes, and in "real Time" as it happens and they still have no answer as to What causes life to occur.
They speculate that the combination of the thousands upon thousands of cells forming in different ways and are triggered into development by many other factors, far too many factors for the average person to get their head around.  But even as the scientists watch all this happen right in front of their eyes, they do not know why the heart begins to beat in our bodies.  They cannot scientifically figure out what starts the life of an embryo.  We know this because science cannot create life in the lab for surely they are trying.

Of course believers know the answer but we need not consume our lives with trying to understand the HOW.
Mainstream science has classically demonstrated the conundrum of trying to prove that all life is a product of one accident after another, and that we are the result of course of millions of years of evolution as one prior species develops into the next.  Through scientific investigation man has determined that the odds of life today, in any form, whether it be a simple plant to the complex human, these odds are so astronomically impossible that there has to be something behind it all.  Something has to be manipulating the experiment in order for life to have occurred.  Science has shown that Mathematics cannot be incorrect, therefore their solution of the creation of life to be an accident is mathematically impossible.  However the scientists of today are not yet ready to abandon their theories yet, for to abandon them would mean they would have to admit that God definitively exists. Or at least something like God.

Do any of you see the irony here?

Life is a gift, the life of a child conceived by parents is a blessing.  But each parent provides only the physical evidence required to start life, the two cells that come together and join in a miracle that even science has no answer for.  Once those first two cells join and begin to double and double again, the point where life enters is an equally bigger mystery.  Somewhere between conception and the first heartbeat a greater thing is applied; something bigger than science can explain.  Bigger because Spirit is infinite, without form, and without time.  It has to be Spirit because man has already examined and determined all the chemicals, all the amino acids that make up DNA, all the chromosomes of DNA that determine hair color, height, eye color, skin color and shoe size for that matter.  The trigger is still missing from science.  There are no wires connected to each embryo to some invisible minute battery inside every mother that somehow "jump-starts" the heart.
 Life happens because God touches each embryo with His Indomitable Spirit, His Spirit that He places inside each one of us; His Spirit that touches everything alive in our world around us; His Spirit that then stays only with humanity after life begins.  We know this because humans are the only sentient species on the earth, the only species that can reason and produce results from reason.  His Spirit stays within because this is the only way God can talk to us, through His Spirit within us.

C'mon you scientists, when are you going to admit that there is no solution other than God?  The Philosophy of Logic dictates that there can only be one solution to life, because even logic dictates that all life starts in some way, but it all starts!

Rest assured that science will likely continue to ignore the obvious truth and press on looking for the needle in the hay stack.  As for me and my family, we will enjoy the blessing that God has given us in the gift of our grand-daughter.  Liliko Geyer/McMullen will be born soon, (Due on August 16, 2012) and will already be filled with the Indomitable Spirit of God within her.  May the Indomitable Spirit continue to inspire her, encourage her and empower her to be all that God has willed for her; for this is the truth of WHY we have life, since the Indomitable Spirit of God has most certainly touched all of us first, for you are alive with the same Indomitable Spirit as well.

Abuelo Michael

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Teachings of the Ant

I'm sitting on a restaurant patio watching a trail of ants. There must be hundreds in view at all times. They are making a six inch path between a rotten piece of wood on the building, across the rock patio about 20 feet to a bush growing out of  the walk way. I can't tell which is home and which is the destination. I wonder how many are at the destination and how many are sitting at home. At any given view of this path the ants are coming and going simultaneously. They swerve, intermingle and go about their business on the path they have set before them. What an amazing creature of task. Alone it can seem lost and vulnerable, but with the multitudes on the trail heading either direction they are quite a fascination to the art of an organized community.
Is every one of them doing a job? Are all of them working together to complete a common accepted task? Such a tiny creature, but with so much potential to teach us humans the fine art of working in unity and harmony for the common goal.
Then I think of me, my family, my friends, church and community. How often are we like these ants? How often are we not? How often do we sit and let someone else do the work? How often do we look at the task and find our spot in the community to do our part? Or do we sit on the sidelines and give a play by play commentary on how the others are doing it all?
What does God see when I'm sitting and watching these little creatures do all the work while I contemplate why things aren't going the way I planned or how I wanted?  Or am I just lackadaisically confused about everything in general? Oh sure; I'm a greater creature than these ants. But is my faith as great? And are my actions or lack thereof based on my faith? Fear? Greed?
Hmmmm.....
I want to be part of this community. All bodies of Christ bumping into each other going to or coming from the task He has set before us. Could you imagine the effect this community would have on the world He so loves?  "Go YE therefore, and teach all nations..." Matt 28:19 KJV
I can accept my name as YE. Can You? Where are Ye on that ant path?

Laura

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Real God Market (3) Compassion is our Passion!

Throughout the ages mankind has been positioned above all other creatures on our earth and I believe it has been for one reason; compassion for our fellow man and all living things around us.
While I do not want to get into a philosophical argument with scientists about how we have risen above the millions of species of animal life in a natural order of selection outlined by the farcical theory of evolution, I do want to point out a few glaring holes that man cannot ignore.
First of all, I do not think it is arrogant of man to assume his place as a sentient being in dominion over all other creatures.  The fact of the matter is many people in the world today and I might add, over many generations before us, have slowly turned away from God as our master and commander looking for their own answers to the meaning of life.  Believers know that The Bible states quite clearly that God gave man Dominion over all of the animals right from the beginning, "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28 NKJ  It is through this belief that we can come to a place of understanding what life is about.

Non-believers of course think all of this is just a big accident, or a "Big Bang" if you will.  Both groups agree on one thing, mankind is driven by emotion and  this includes compassion.  But, which group has the root of compassion figured out?  What is it exactly? Why is it only mankind that has this interesting characteristic.
Now let us understand and agree on one thing: Man is the only living creature that can show compassion through emotion, and as a result of the ability to reason, can do anything about it.  Let me say this another way because the scientists are vibrating right now.  There is no other species beside mankind alive today that comes to the aid of its own kind when assistance is needed.  Nor has any species ever before that has lived and gone extinct ever organized compassionate assistance for its own members of the species.  Aside from the parental tie between mother and infant there remains a large gap between humans and all animal species for the ability to show and give compassion to their own species.  Dinosaurs didn't bury their dead, neither did the birds of the air, or even the amoebas in the prehistoric oceans.  Many species in fact turn on the weaker within their communities and eliminate them giving most the appearance of a pack of wolves who turn on their wounded brother.
Scientists will tell you that this is because mankind evolved with certain brain functions that give us the ability to be compassionate.  (Not to mention the myriad of other emotions)  They would say this because recently they have discovered that mice and even some species of whales seem to show compassion to other members of their species when death or suffering is near.  The problem is, even if some species show or mimic compassion they can do nothing about the situation, having neither the faculties or resources available to them.  Is it then only an assumption made by arrogant man that we must be the only species able to show compassion?
I think it is a greater assumption of man to believe that animals can show compassion toward their own members or even other species (like man does) when the stack of evidence against the existence of compassionate animals is far greater than any evidence of existent compassion in other species.  The fact of the matter is nowhere in history since man has been recording our timeline has there been any witness or any evidence of any other species showing developed compassion and organization of compassionate assistance.  Neither have archaeologists dug up any evidence of an extinct species having compassionate tendencies.
Let us take this one point further:
If man is a result of millions of years of evolution culminating in a relatively short period of history to today, then it is equally likely that another species could have evolved, or should have evolved into another sentient being like we are now.  More-over, if it is possible to show mathematically how species evolved using the many DNA combinations (and it is) then there should be thousands of species alive today that have both the ability to reason and show compassion.  It is far more improbable that only one sentient species (mankind) should exist today given the mathematical opportunities that are possible through evolution; unless of course evolution is pure hogwash. Or maybe life has been carefully orchestrated this way, or somehow created with an evidential purpose.  Hmmmmm....

Now the scientists are really vibrating.  Especially because mankind has only been around for about 10,000 to 40,000 years, according to fossil records and pure speculation.  Life apparently evolved from a primordial soup and after thousands of "natural selections" and random recombination of DNA over millions of years we have MAN.  From small beginnings (only two, it still takes a man and a woman to have a baby right?) to having created almost 7 billion of us today.  In total estimates as many as 69 Billion to 110 Billion people have lived and died before us.  Creationists estimate around 51 Billion and the scientists the larger number believing man has been around longer.  It really doesn't matter because evolution does not leave enough time for man to develop to the way he is in only a few thousand years.  I mean we only came out of the cave a few thousand years ago. Again I say...Hogwash.

The real tragedy here is not that many do not believe in God anymore, but that they would rather believe such an implausible theory like evolution and continue to try and prove that theory by digging deeper into the science of our world.  All the while they dig they discover the more complex things are, how mathematically impossible it is for everything to work together the way it does.  Each new discovery about humanity and the way we are put together.  Did you know that there are over 10,000 working processes in each human body going on at any given time?  Many of them rely on each other to occur such that if only one or two processes were removed then life could not happen?  Yet still today man cannot make life from lifelessness, but we obviously came to life from lifelessness. (According to the theory of evolution, wait a second...didn't God do that?) Ironic isn't it?  Mankind today tries to prove the Non-Existence of God and through his efforts proves the immenseness  and complexity of God. 

Let's face it folks, I don't know about you but I am a fairly logical person and I do understand that even when mathematics cannot explain the impossible odds of the existence of mankind or for that matter our entire universe.  It still amazes me how afraid of God's truth the world is that millions of people would continue to try and unravel the mysteries of humanity, our world and our universe.  Just recently an agnostic astronomer was quoted with this,
“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” - Agnostic Astronomer Robert Jastrow (http://www.thepoachedegg.net/, July 17 2012)
No kidding...

Our compassion is "Our" passion, all of us have it, we have always had it, and many have continued to show it throughout our history.  No-one can explain the evidence of compassion in any real term other than the fact it exists in mankind, and only in mankind.  Compassion also explains why; Why we are here.  It is in the nature of God that we have compassion toward our fellow man and other species alike, for it is the nature of God to be compassionate.  It is His gift to each of us, as His creation, for we were made in His Image.  This is why you were born,  this is why you are alive today, do not reject it, embrace it with passion.

Rio Vista Mission House is built on this foundation of God's Compassion for humanity.  We fully appreciate all of the Mission Groups and their teams who will stay in the Mission House while they dole out mountains of Compassion to the local community here in the Dominican Republic.  Please support us as we continue to push forward with final steps to make the Mission House ready for teams.  I continue to pray God's blessing to enrich all of your lives through our experiences here in the D.R.  We thoroughly enjoy reading your comments and emails of encouragement each time we send up a blog!
We still need financial help with a few of the smaller details to complete the first stage of the project.  A detailed list can be viewed on the last blog.

Bless you all
Michael Boisclair


http://www.bridgesofhope.ca/index.php?p=Donate

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Real God Market (2)

Good morning everyone Y Dios te bendiga!

Here is the latest in the progress at Rio Vista Mission House in the D.R.  Today we watched as the construction team poured concrete for the top of the 2500 gallon fresh water cistern.  You can see from the pictures that it will make a sizable foundation as well for the pump house and eventually an outdoor kitchen. Once the concrete is dry they will build a small casita on top and enclose the water pump for the house.  The picture also shows the pipe behind the cistern which is the well we drilled two weeks ago.  Once we have power hooked up to the property we can fill the cistern with fresh water and then pressurize the pipes connecting the cistern to the house.(no leaky, leaky!)


water well pipe

 


The other pictures show the newly installed doors with security deadbolts attached.










I want to continue building the platform which explains The Real God Market here in the D.R.  In my last blog I expressed to our readers how important our work is to the big picture in God's Kingdom.  We are all Kingdom builders during our lives and ultimately this is the test for each of us, whether we believe in God or not, the truth of the world still stares each of us in the face as we go through any day.
This is the question:  What are you doing with your life and does it leave a positive impact on those you come in contact with daily.  Ideally this will involve your family first, as this is every man's First Ministry. "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Prov 22:6 NIV
and concurrently we are told three scriptures later, "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."  Prov 22:9 NIV.

In the same breath we are governed with the command of God to teach our children the right ways AND give to the poor.

I started talking in the last blog about "Economic Empowerment of the People"  which I believe sums up the commands from God to all of us.
Educational reform is happening in this country and other countries slowly and largely through Missionary based operations like Dominican Advance, Servants Heart and Island Light Ministries.  There are others however I want to focus on the work of one in particular.

Island Light Ministries is primarily a Christ centered outreach to a small community near us.  Pastor Jim Tunnicliffe and his wife Debra are Missionaries in the village of Paraiso.  Pastor Jim works with the local church in Paraiso bringing hope to the faithful through God.  The village of Paraiso houses more than 1000 Dominicans from the poorest of the communities around.  Each family was given a home, built and donated by another Mission, Samaritan Foundation. Statistics reported in the village that more than 50% of the adults  cannot read or write, making them available only for labor positions in the marketplace, if they can find a job.  The labor market pays very little in the third world, in most countries the average is under $2.00 per day.  Here in the D.R. the minimum wage for hard labor is not much higher and a good laborer can make around 8,000 pesos a month or $7.00 a day.  Many here average less than that because they do not have sustainable work daily.
The wage separation between educated and uneducated is massive here as skilled university positions pay almost at parity with the rest of the world; lawyers, doctors, engineers and business owners make far more than laborers.  Economic empowerment for the majority of the people can only come through education.


One of the mandates of the Millennium Development Goals which were created by the United Nations in 2000 stated that in order to eradicate poverty each nation must provide basic free education for primary children.  In a follow-up report issued in 2005 the D.R. is still falling short of many of the MDG's, but they are committed to continue.(1)
The MDG's establish only educating children to grade 8 in all of the third world.  The D.R. is trying to meet this mandate as  many children under the age of 12 can attend a free primary school for free.  After that the government has no concrete plans for sustainable education.  There are some secondary schools for teens and a few good universities as well, however, less than 60% of children go on to high school.  Of those that complete high school, few go on to university, simply because they have no money.  Vocational schools in the private sector are almost non-existent, again, the people have no money to attend higher learning centers.


Island Light Ministries also manages a large vocational school in the village of Paraiso which provides free education in the technical trades for those interested in rising above the poverty level.  These programs include a carpentry school, electrician school, sewing school, beauticians and soon an automotive school will begin.  The waiting list is immense already as the classrooms can handle only a few students at a time. Resources for these vocational schools come from donations mainly from North American Mission Teams and churches back home.
These vocational programs will create a new revenue base of skilled laborers in the village of Paraiso, a skilled labor base that will provide success for a community.  Ultimately that community will grow and begin to support itself with a "buy at home" mentality.  You see, as a community develops with education and skilled training, the revenue available to those that live in the community also grows.  These people in training at the vocational school are also taught the economics of local buying.  This keeps the earnings from the newly trained workers right within the village they live in.  When local money is used properly in this manner a community will thrive and grow.
This program provided  is absolutely essential as a solution to an economic crisis that continues to grip this little country and her people.


Island Light Ministries survives on donations and support from Mission Teams and churches back home.
We hope that their success with these vocational schools continues; we support them as teams continue to bring resources for the schools.  We hope to support the teams when they are here.

Rio Vista Mission House is provided for the support and sustenance of these Mission Teams and the work their Mission Groups are doing here in the D.R.
You can support our Mission by donating to our project.
Please visit Island Light Ministries site as well to see how they operate.
May God guide your steps.

http://www.islandlightministries.org/

http://www.bridgesofhope.ca/index.php?p=Donate

Bendiciones
Michael



(1) http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/Alliance/INFORME_NACIONAL_EN.pdf




Monday, June 11, 2012

The Real God Market

Over the last year a realization has been building in my mind as to the purpose and look of North Coast Missionary Services here in the Dominican Republic.  The Non-Profit Charity of NCMS is multi-faceted and has at least two stages of operation before the full realization of God's purpose is revealed in NCMS.  Primarily I believe entirely that God's purpose for using a business model for establishing this Mission is wholly centered around talents that He has ingrained within both Laura and myself.  We are hospitality people, we are caterers and restaurateurs; essentially we feed God's people.  With that said, at first I could not entirely understand why He wanted me to build this type of Mission, I mean there are other ways to feed people, especially Missionaries and is feeding Missionaries really the whole point of the Mission He has sent us here to fulfill?  I suggest to you that God has had an idea for North Coast Missionary Services since He birthed the vision in my mind...this is how it looks to me now.
Each Mission team that will stay in Rio Vista Mission House is part of a larger community of Mission Teams who visit the Mission Field in the Dominican Republic every year; there are literally hundreds of groups that work with different Mission Groups in every Mission Field you can think of, or should I say more precisely, the Mission Fields that God has thought of.  I want each of you who read this to put Missions in another perspective right now, a perspective that might look a little different than what you might think is a traditional Mission Field.  This is what I refer to as The Real God Market.

The Real God Market is specifically about Missions, or more effectively, the "WHY?" anyone does Missions.  The Real God Market is what God has been telling all of us since He gave us the great commission to "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matt 28:19 NIV.  The Real God Market is about the people, all of them, even you and me.

Everything else is the World's Market, not part of the Great commission, but nonetheless, still belonging to God for it is written, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." Col 1:16 NKJV.

This means what exactly? This means that we must use the resources from around us, in our world, from our earth, all things and anything that He has provided for ALL of humanity to live in order to do the things that He has commissioned all of us to do.  What we do with the blessings we have, with the wealth we have made is entirely important here and now, actually this has been the rule since God created it.  This actually  means that you are the proud owner of nothing, you may think you are but in reality, you are using everything you have on "Loan" from the Lord.  Think about it, we all trade time for money so we can buy the things we need to live; and sometimes we sell those things we have to make more money to buy other things.  So while we live we are all trading stuff back and forth among each other, using just about anything for currency since the dawn of recorded history.  Today, money is the current form of currency, however, it could have likely been fruits and vegetables or even chickens at one time in history.  Money is just easier to handle today instead of chickens.  The point is, we are called to be good stewards with what we have been blessed with and to continue to bless those around us with our blessings.  This is the way it was supposed to work from the beginning.  So what happened?  In a word...Greed.  Sin and temptation entered as wealth was discovered, resources were dug up and poured into molds and called ingots.  Man turned away from God's edict and began to write his own history.  We all know it, history is full of war and conflict, nation after nation has conquered and been conquered all in the name of Greed, again since the dawn of recorded history.
So what about today?  Can we change?  Are we changing?  What can we do now that we see our history laid out behind us like a finely plowed field.  What are we supposed to plant in this newly furrowed field?
The rules are still the same as they were then, "Therefore go and make disciples of men,"
But what can you do you ask?  Each of us has a part to play in our lives on earth.  We just have to understand what the part is, and even then not fall to the temptation and snare of the World around us; the trappings of the World that cause us to trip and fail, trappings like drugs, alcohol, pornography, crime, and a myriad of other vices.  Those that are not ensnared by these trappings might like to think you are doing OK competing with the Jones'; newsflash, it is not a competition.  Hear it again,  "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." Col 1:16 NKJV.
You came into the world with nothing and you will leave with nothing, it is what you do with God's property in between birth and death that is important.
Here is another suggestion for what to do in between life and death:
God gave us His promise when he said through Malachi, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour out you a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Malachi3:10 KJ
God is telling us in this scripture to "test" Him on this, if we tithe back to Him a portion of our blessing, He will open up the taps on us and we will receive more than we can handle!
How many have the Faith to do that?
Giving to Missions is also considered as tithes and offerings, you see, God created this edict to establish a revenue source for Missions to the poor, to the orphans, to the lost, to The Real God Market.

The Mission Field in itself is becoming very specific in nature as Ministries are defining "How" to do God's work in many different ways, largely because of the size of the problems we all face in differing Mission Fields.

 The biggest God Market that most of the world is not engaged in entirely is the Economic Empowerment of People.  It is compassion for people that we are driven to do more for them than we do for ourselves.  The Mission Groups that are working here in the D.R. and for that matter anywhere in the world, are all involved in some form of Economic Empowerment of the People.  Each Mission group involved in programs that provide improvement in Education for a nation; Mission Groups involved in programs that create training for vocational jobs, even those that provide micro-loans for people to get started in a business.  Mission Groups that are involved in providing medical services, even Mission Groups that are involved in feeding orphans, widows and the elderly.  You see each of these Mission Groups is fully committed to God's plan of Economic Empowerment of the People, and these groups survive in the Mission Field by bringing teams of individuals to their respective Mission Fields every year.  Year after year these teams will continue to bring needed resources, finances, and God's love for the people.

This is what we are doing here in the Dominican Republic. We are assisting those that are involved in the Real God Market with fulfilling God's will, to "feed His sheep",  "to be with widows and orphans in their time of need", and "to make disciples of men."
We have looked into the Mission Field here and "Filled a need".  The Mission House can assist Missionaries  at what they are called to do, we can do this by providing a safe, secure, private, Christ centered environment; a "refueling station".  These teams can return each day from the Mission Field and "refuel" for the next day.  At the same time Rio Vista Mission House will support itself and all other programs the Non-Profit of NCMS will be involved with in the future.  In essence, a Mission that can survive economic downturn because Missionaries will continue to come here to work in the Real God Market.

What we are building here with Rio Vista Mission House is a place for us to do a better job for all of these Mission Groups who are involved in His work.
I cannot express to you enough how important it is for all of you to understand that this is the "Why?" in my life, in my wife's life, in my life with God.


We are not quite finished building the Rio Vista Mission House, we need a few more support dollars in order to complete some of the projects before we can receive Mission Teams.
The full list is available here.

Water well                                             $2500
Backup Power, Inverter                         $500
Security Wall                                     $10,000

Bathroom fixtures                                $2500 for six bathrooms (toilets, sinks, taps, tiling)
Security Protection on Windows       $2000  (15 windows)
Electrical Wiring, Lights and Fans   $3,000
Bedroom furnishings                          $3800  (six complete rooms @ $440.00 each)
Dining Room Furnishings                    $500
Kitchen Equipment                             $1000
Two Hot Water on Demand
Includes Propane tanks                      $1000 


Green Program: (wish list)
Solar Power Start up                          $6000 includes 10 Kyocera 210 Watt Panels, Inverter,                    Batteries System



Support us as we continue to support all of the Mission Groups that are sending teams to work in God's Market, The Real God Market.
Praise God queries of bookings are starting already!
Your gifts are tax deductible, we are so close.
http://www.bridgesofhope.ca/index.php?p=Donate

Bendiciones
Michael and Laura