Adventures of a Manboy and his Father

The Adventures of a Manboy and his Father

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Every Chapter Ends


God willing and if the creek don't rise, tomorrow morning I will leave Ecuador.

By the time I get home it will have been 116 days.  Not a lifetime by any means, but definitely a season of life.  A season with ups and downs, mountains and valleys.  A season that refuses to be nicely packaged.

So how do you sum up such an experience?  Can it be told in a hour over coffee or through a picture album on facebook?  Surely a blog fails to do it justice.  No, such a season of life is retold over the years.  It is shared through the stories that burn to be told at the most random of times, the "this smell reminds me of..." moments that transport one to a forgotten place, and the shared struggle not to forget the people you came to love.

As a result, when someone asks me how was my time in Ecuador, I am prepared to answer Really good.  This answer does not connote that I am forgetting the loneliness, frustrations, parasites, struggles, or hard times that arose during these 116 days.  Really good communicates that I am defining this semester based on the singularly most important and influential factor of the last several months (and of entire my life):  God's goodness.  

How incredibly have I been blessed?  In our culture, words were given meanings originally transcendent of the normal daily experiences, but these words have become watered down (eg. A sandwich is awesome.  The new iPhone incredible and amazing.).  As a result, my words fail to accurately describe how good God has been to me.  He brought me to college.  He enabled me to come down here to finish up, and then He carried me through the experience.  Every accomplishment, every shred of grace in my life is just that, undeserved favor.  I've got nothing, and I am not strong or good enough to produce something to change that reality.  Just recognizing all this makes my time down here Really good.   Were there disappointments during the last 113 days here?  Honestly, yes, there were many.  But that's okay.  That's life.  The storm blows over my lawn furniture and some tiles off the roof.  A tree comes through a window, and it all might like a disaster, but my foundation is secure.  Whether I rest in that fact or I allow the damages and the places to rebuild consume my days, my foundation is secure.  Jesus is stronger than the storm, and He puts my feet on solid ground and holds me up.  

I cannot afford to forget this reality, because tomorrow I leave this tempest in order to jump into the rest of my life (which I endearingly refer to as a huge chasm, the void replete of details).  I have no clue what the future holds.  I don't know what I'll be doing.  I don't even really know what I want to be doing, and its okay.  Chapters end, and new ones begin.  And let's be honest, if we always knew or had a plan for the next chapter, there'd be less motivation to be excited for the author's creativity.  

In conclusion of this blog post, I would like to thank anyone who has cared enough to read some or even all of these updates over the last couple of months.  I think I know who most of you are, and I can honestly say that you warm my heart.  There's no way I deserve to have such good friends and family. 

Catchya on the flip side,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I've been slacking...

Man I'm slacking on this whole blog thing (and I'm currently a little tired) so time for a brief update on my life and then some pictures...

Hm... bullet points will work I suppose.

  • During Thanksgiving break I went to a place called Baños.  There, I explored some waterfalls, ate lots of the local taffy, and then rented a jeep with some friends and took it up into the mountains, which included me learning to drive manual as we went (don't worry! There was only one or two scary moments!)
  • After that trip I went into academic game-mode and busted out my last couple of papers and finals, meaning that last tuesday I essentially finished college.  I honestly hadn't thought a ton about that fact until it was upon me. Its pretty cool though to be done.  I just look back and have to give all the glory to God.  He gave me the abilities, then the opportunity, and on top of all that He still basically carried me through it all. 
  • The last week I was in the Jungle doing a VBS and teaching English.  When you travel off the beaten paths, sometimes you meet people who live such different lives than you do it can be hard to even comprehend what its like to be them.  I had some of those moments this last week for sure.  I can't relate to what its like not to be able to afford soap. 
  •  I was diagnosed with an acute infection of toxoplasmosis (which is a parasite that comes from cat feces or undercooked meat).  Its kinda messing with my energy and emotions, but overall no big deal!  God's grace is more than enough.
  • Last night, my friends and I had a toga Christmas party with some Ecuadorian food. 
  • In two days, I leave for our semester's beach debrief (not such a bad deal huh?)
  • In ten days I'll be leaving Ecuador. 
  • In eleven days, I have the honor of being in my friends wedding
  • In twelve days, I'll be home. 
  • A longer blog talking more about where I'm at will follow at some point.  Until then... 

The Cathedral of the town.  One of the nights a traveling symphonic orchestra came and played here.  It was pretty incredible.

Chocolate Banana Empanadas... que rico! I might have eaten more than necessary.

I just thought this was a sweet sight of the Ecuadorian flag and the valley.

While in Baños, a couple of my friends went "bungie jumping," which sometimes in Ecuador means jumping off bridges attached to a climbing rope.  I chose not to. 

The Jeep we rented (Jurassic Park anybody?) 

Learning to drive manual

 A street in Baños.  As you can tell its a pretty touristic place.


A chiva, or party bus, that we rented and were driven around to see some of the waterfalls!  (You can't tell it in this picture, but this is actually the dance space with some big ole speakers under the seats)

 And of course... I gotta throw in one artistic pic.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well... that was harder than expected.

The last couple of weeks have been un poco loco.  So i'm going to split my update into two.

First of all, I climbed a volcano last weekend.

The summit  of Pichincha is at 15,400 feet, which means its taller than any peak in the continental US.  The climb took somewhere in between 8-9 hours, and it was crazy beautiful.  After we had been climbing for a while, our friend and guide Daniel asked if any of us would like to go through the pass of death.  I thought to myself, Oh that sounds like fun, besides it can't be that bad.  I was wrong.

This was the razor's edge that lead to the pass of death.... notice how the "path" disappears into the clouds.  Daniel just hopped up there and started climbing

Nobody from our group made a move to follow him, so I thought eh... let's do this.  The razor's edge turned out to be a thirty or forty minute climb up a ridge that was about 3-4 feet wide with hundred feet drop offs on both sides.  This is what I saw while climbing up the razor's edge...

Except of course for the times I looked to the right or left... then I saw this.  (I think this was around the time I almost had a little freak out moment.  Its a weird thing knowing you could so easily die.)

Whenever we finally got to the pass of death, we decided it would be a good idea to use a rope.  (See Mom, I'm trying to be safe!)

So we did!  Except for the time Daniel asked me to take off my harness so somebody else could wear it. (their leg strap had broken). That was really exciting!  (And just in case you're wondering at this point... a lot of these pictures did require a decent amount of effort. I don't actually recommend climbing this stuff with an DSLR.)

I'm not really sure why, possibly the fact that we had a rope, but the pass of death was considerably less intimidating than the razor's edge climb.  In fact, it was more fun than anything.  This is a view of the pass of death from the other side

Eventually, we just started climbing straight up to the top, passing through land that reminded me of Mars...

Coupled with some views that were astounding.  It was hard not to praise Jesus for the magnificence of His creation.  As one of my friends kept saying when she saw something beautiful, "I see what you're doing there God."

Then we made it to the top!  The following picture is our victorious group pic... and although the intent was confidence and accomplishment, I'm not sure what my stance actually communicates

Pensive Pic!

On the way down, we got to go down a scree (really really fine dirt/sand) portion of the mountain!  It was so fun.  You just started running and then you could just start sliding/skiing down the mountain.

After the scree we continued the long hike back to the base camp thing.  

By the time we finished everyone was so exhausted, but so incredibly thankful for God's provision and protection!  It was such a crazy beautiful day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I don't want to

After this semester, I want to go home. I’m tired of being gone.  I’m tired of feeling transient and rootless.  I want to go home, start my career, live with my family and figure out the next step as it comes.  I want to have a rhythm, and maybe start looking at grad schools.  I want to start my life.

But I feel like there's a chance God might have a different idea,  I’m not happy about it.

Family First
          First, it seem to start while thinking about my family, specifically my brothers, and the choices I've made to stay close to them.  I figure anyone reading this blog probably knows these things but I’ll restate them anyways:

What was one of the biggest motivations for choosing JBU? To be close to my brothers.

Why was I in Tulsa this summer?  So I could be close to my family and support them.

Why have I never really considered overseas missions? Because I can’t bear the idea of being away from my family for that long. 

In the midst of these reflections God asked me… “Is your family an idol?  Laughing, I dismissed this question, “Of course not, I just love them a lot. To which I felt Him reply, Do you love them more than me?  Because that’s the definition of an idol.  Drat.  *Sigh* I don’t know… 

I Don’t Feel That
          On top of that, the theme of evangelism in other countries has been showing up in most things I've read lately.  For example, this last week I read Through the Gates of Splender by Elizabeth Elliot.  The book recounts the story of Jim Elliot and friends and how they worked towards the evangelism of the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador.  I began reading the book out of duty as it was an assignment for a class.  As I started, I assumed that I was already overly familiar with the story and the whole thing would just be a review.  Of course, I was wrong.  The book inspired and challenged me.  One thing in particular that stood out to me was the men’s passion for people to hear good news of Jesus.  They yearned for the Huaorani people to know the gospel, they hungered for it, they risked their lives for it. 

          That yearning, that hunger, I am not sure I know what that feels like.  I’ve studied missions. I’ve been on mission trips. I’ve shared the gospel with people.  But, I am unfamiliar with the urgency that these men felt concerning people who hadn’t received an opportunity to know the truth.  I don’t feel it like they did.  Maybe its because I don’t consider the gospel to be that big of a treasure, or perhaps I don’t actually believe in hell.  Whatever the reason, I don’t feel the urgency that drove the lives of those men. I want to feel it.

Don’t Miss The Point
          Then tonight, I was reading Radical by David Platt.  In one chapter he asks what is the central message of Christianity.  The most common answer he receives from people is “God loves me.”  What though are the ramifications of such an answer?  Note the object in that sentence: me.  A obvious result of this thinking is that the central message of Christianity begins to revolve around us. 

          In contradiction to this reasoning, God makes it pretty clear in the Bible that He is actually in the middle of it all.  Consider Ezekiel 36:22-23
Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

It is for the sake of His glory that He works among us.  Our salvation is a tool through which God will glorify Himself, and this doesn't connote that He loves us any less.  It is just that He must glorify Himself for He is worthy.  To make all of reality revolve on anything else other than Him would be unfitting.  God is God and He deserves to be in the center of every story, receiving the glory.   Speaking into this reality, Stott claims, “The message of biblical Christianity is not ‘God loves me, period.’ The message of biblical Christianity is ‘God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness- known among all the nations.’” 

It’s got to be about Him.  Life can’t be about my dreams, my career, my future family, or my ministry.  All of life must be about Him and His glory, and we must have lives that declare this reality to the farthest corners of the earth.  This is what we are called to do, and also the acting in it brings us the most joy possible.  We are fulfilled when we live for Him, because that is what He designed us to do.  Its like we are screwdrivers and our whole lives we've been trying to hammer in nails.  I'm sure we can manage to get some stuff done, but imagine the satisfaction in living they way we were designed to function.  We were not made for the American dream, but for the Kingdom of God and for the spreading of His great and exciting glory.

But I Don’t Want To
All of these thoughts have led me to ask the question: What if God doesn’t want me to go home and start my life?  What if instead He wants me to go out into the world and declare His goodness?  Missions.  Evangelism.  These are words that seem hard, that seem like they would take more faith and effort than I am currently able to muster.  And at the risk of seeming like a bad Christian… I don’t want to.  But what if I want you to? I feel like God asks. 

On one hand it makes sense.  I’m young.  I’m single.  I have no debt.  I have no responsibilities or commitments.  I’ve studied a little of culture.  I'm able.

But on the other hand: I’m tired.  I don’t care enough.  I’m weak in my faith, nowhere near where I’d want to be.  I’m not “called.”  Plus, if this counts for anything, I don’t want to.  

I want to be willing though.  And this is definitely something for which I’ll be praying (please pray as well!).  Maybe I just need some time to rest before I go back out, but this life isn't mine right?  It's His.  And a soldier during the time of war doesn't always get to take leave whenever he wants.  Instead, sometimes He must deny his desires and do what He is able for the sake of that for which he is fighting.  This isn't all drab either.  There is beauty, life, and joy awaiting those who are obedient.  Its all kind of exciting actually.  At the same time, I would want to act not out of perceived duty, but out of obedience. 

May I live for Jesus!  I pray He keeps messing with my heart.  And regardless of what the next step turns out to be, I want to find joy in the willingness to obey, and not just in the big things, but in the small things of today as well. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

I get to do this?

Where do I start?

Galapagos I suppose.

Last week my group went to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are a group of 13 volcanic islands approximately 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador.  They are famous not only for their beauty, diverse and unique ecosystems, and giant tortoises, but they are also the place where Darwin researched and constructed a lot of his ideas on evolution (eventually published under the book The Origin of the Species.)

It was a pretty fast trip. Four days and three nights (2 on the island of Santa Cruz, and 1 on Isabella.)  The first day we traveled (two plane rides, two bus rides, and a ferry) and we arrived at our hotel let me tell you what... I was really surprised.  The place was soo nice!  For our lunch they brought out these fish steaks and you would have thought we were in a five-star restaurant or something.  I was almost uncomfortable with the quality of it all.  That afternoon we hiked across part of the island to see the Grietas which is this series of canyons that are partially filled with amazingly clear water.   At one point you can rock climb up one of the walls and cliff jump from the top (about 45 feet).  It was pretty scary actually, and I afterwards I felt like someone had spanked me really well, but it was so cool!   Here's a pretty sweet picture my friend snagged:

The next day I accidentally changed my clock the wrong direction and woke up at five in the morning, which turned out to be awesome!  I went down by the port and was able just to see a fantastic sunrise and enjoy some intentional time with Jesus.  As a a group that morning we went to a spectacular beach called Tortuga Bay.  There we were able to take a ton of pictures of Marine Iguanas, and just enjoy the sand that was as fine as flour.  It really is a beautiful place, kinda like the ones you see on movies or the travel channel, white sand... turquoise water... wildlife... beautiful people like me without their shirts on... you know.   In the afternoon we took a short boat ride to a tiny little Island and got to see some unique lava formations and more marine iguanas.  That night a couple of us went dancing at a local place and I got to laugh as two guys from Israel tried to pick up two of my friends.

The last day was my favorite.  In the morning we went and saw giant tortoises.  At one point, as I watched a two foot long tortoise much on some leaves, I realized something:  not only was this tortoise actually older than I was, but twenty years after I die, he'll probably still be living on an island munching on the same type of grass.  Kinda a humbling thought.

Then in the afternoon I got to go snorkeling for the first time!  I'm not sure I can describe how incredible it was.  At first I followed around this sting ray for a while.  Then an 8ft sea lion came and swam around us (which was a little scary actually), and I was able to swim with a school of surgeonfish.  The most amazing moment came when my friend called me over and we were able to swim with a sea turtle.  The thing was really big and had a kind of nobility to him.  Something about the graceful way that old creature moved through the water just spoke to me.  I just had to keep thanking and praising God while swimming with that guy.  It was so cool! After snorkeling we were all pretty beat and headed back to the hotel for a chill night and a beautiful sunset.  During the trip I just kept asking, "I get to do this?"  The Lord blesses me abundantly, unfairly, so generously.

Coming back from the Galapagos, it was a little hard to get back in the swing of things academically (sometimes I forget, or at least want to forget, that I'm a student still).  Then to make it worse this week I  started becoming sick, especially for the last 3 or so days.  Chills, hot flashes, headaches, loss of quality sleep, loss of appetite, coughing, eyes that hurt when I move them.  Its been a crazy ride! Kinda fun in some ways, and God has been faithful in providing everything that I need, and this morning I feel a decent bit better, I think I'll even try to teach today.

I'll close with a quote.  Yesterday, while still pretty sick I read nearly all of the book Through the Gates of Splendor, written by Elizabeth Elliot, which chronicles what God did through the lives of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian in their attempt to reach the Aucas in Ecuador.   Many things were impressed upon me while reading this book, such as how talented each of the men were, how well they planned for each step of the process, and how driven they were for evangelism (with such a passion to which I am unfamiliar).  One thing that blew my mind though was many of Jim Elliot's famous quotes were actually not penned on the mission field, but instead while he was in college, wow.  One of these quotes in particular hit me last night:

When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Donde he estado

This last week has been pretty crazy. 

 I attempted to read three books on the Christian worldview.

Thursday- Saturday my group went to Papallacta, which is a village with hot springs about 2.5 hrs. away from Quito.  There, we were given the opportunity to experience the hot springs (which were really beautiful, enjoyable, but crazy hot... like to the point of pain and lightheadedness).  We also began our 7 day- 40 hour worldview class intensive, which continues to dominate my days.  The class is really cool actually and focuses on how the Biblical story impacts every part of our lives, and how God wants every part of us to reflect that reality.  The class is taught by a guy named Spencer, who is a professor who flew down from Eternity Bible College (CA) for the sole purpose to offer us this class. 

Last night, while attempting to return home from our class, my friend Jasmine and I hopped on the wrong bus and received the opportunity to travel to another city at night.  When I finally got back home hours later, my family expressed concern and then just laughed at me.  Haha.

Tonight, has been one of best nights with my family.  During dinner, I asked my mom if she knew how to play cards.   One thing led to the next, and soon I was blowing off homework to play a newly learned card game (Cuarenta) with her.   It was fun just to be confused, laugh, play, and connect with her.  Its one of the first nights I've done anything with my family besides eating. 

In two days, I leave for a little fall break trip to the Galapagos Islands!  I'm pumped.  If following this blog thing is something you do, be prepared for muchos pictures! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Religion, Pharisees, and the Most Beautiful Journey

Time to get real.  (Note: this post is going to be longer than most... so feel free to skip to the next one.)

Ever since I was a little kid do you know what I wanted to be?  I wanted to be the best.  The best.  I think my mom, family, and close friends can account to this.

         In elementary school that meant I would be the first one done with math drills, on the winning team in kickball, and friends with the cool kids.  In fourth grade, when we had to list our three life goals, I wrote: become president, go to the University of Oxford (I had heard it was the best), and ride a jetpack (which is still a goal of mine).

         Then, in Middle school, I realized that those things didn't matter as much as I thought they did, so I shifted my sights onto greater things: I aspired to be the best Christian I could be.  I remember revering older Christian guys who seemed to live out the life that I wanted.  Everyone seemed to love them, and they seemed alive, and so I set my heart on it.  I would burn bright.  I would be a leader.  And I would serve Jesus with every fiber of my body.

         Now, was there anything wrong with those desires?  No! I think they were fantastic, but my heart quickly twisted them.  Soon the desire to burn bright resulted in creating high standards for myself.  Unattainably high standards, which I rationalized by saying it was good that I never would be able to realize these expectations, because then my consequent daily failures would ensure continued effort.  Right? This was how you gave your all right? So I kept trying, each day a little harder, except for the days I didn't, which I would regret and chastise myself, questioning my commitment to Jesus.

         Eventually, the feeling of constant failure drove me to my knees.  God I can't be good enough for you, I would consistently pray.  I want to be good! but I'm a constant screw up, hanging on strictly by Your extravagant mercy.  I don't deserve Your love. Why don't you just forget about me?  The desire to be better would keep me up at night.  (And I'm no longer just talking about Middle school, I'm talking about highschool, I'm talking about this last year.)  I have spent so many nights lying in bed, reflecting over each of the day's interactions one by one.  Failed there.  Failed there as well. Could have love more.  Eh, that was okay, but I still did this.  God I don't get how you love me, I don't really get how anybody could. If they really knew.  And those are representative of the good conversations, the ones that don't end in tears or curse words. Those are the conversations that don't follow whenever I fell to an addiction, thought about hurting myself, or screwed up a conversation with a girl.

         The fact is I've never felt good enough, and I often find my weaknesses pitiful.  Most days this disgust with my sins or just general failings can probably be stripped away to reveal simple self-loathing.  I hate that I can't be the person I want to be, the person I "should" be.  To make it worse, I take this idea that I'm not good enough and I start to see everyone around me making the same conclusion.  I know people realize how far short I fall.  My inadequacies are trumpeted in every program or position that's turned me down, and I know that girls come to the same conclusion.  I see the look in their eyes, or at least I think I do, and I reason that it is better to preemptively reject yourself, when you are pretty sure that they will as well if just given enough time.  It is always better to hurt yourself than to let others hurt you right?

         So where does all this often leave me?  Crying out for mercy.  Asking God not to turn His face from me.  Many days I strive and fight desperately for what I know I can't have on my own: approval.  I say I know grace, but the evidence seldom displays itself.  So do I really know it?  Don't get me wrong, I know the theology.  I know the verses and the ways they should affect me.  I've taught the lessons and prayed the prayers, but living in its reality escapes me most days.

         Which brings us to identifying the problem, most days I miss out on living in the life Jesus has given me.  In the pursuit of being good, personal righteousness has become my idol.  When I read the verse, For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.  I don't think Well I need to live dependently on his grace then! Instead, I'm prone think, Maybe I can do that. 

         A couple of people in the last couple months have said to me, if only you could see how much Jesus loves you Drew, the striving, the anxiety that flits in and out of each day couldn't hold you.  Well, I want that.  I do.  I pray for that in the middle of the night and randomly through the day.  When I read the Bible sometimes it hits me, and I'm overwhelmed by its truth, and other times the book seems boring or completing my homework seems like a more important task at the moment.  Why can't I just get it?

         Timothy Keller, in his book The Reason for God, explains that people avoid Jesus in two different ways.  One, some people simply reject his grace, they avoid His Lordship in their lives, and choose instead just to live however they want.  Two, other people avoid Jesus by avoiding sin.  When people (and I think I've often fit in this category) strive their hardest to avoid sin, often they also are simultaneously avoiding Jesus being their savior.   Even if they know they aren't saved by their works, they still build their identity and evaluate their relationship with God based on their track record of righteousness.   We are modern day pharisees who have perfected a religion based on Christianity.  As Keller writes, "We [pharisees] struggle for a sense of worth, purpose, and distinctiveness, but it is based on conditions that we can achieve, and that are always slipping away from us."  He goes on to say:
  "Despite all their legal righteousness, then, Pharisees have lives that are, if anything, more driven by the despair of sin.  They build their sense of worth on their moral or spiritual performance, as a kind of resume to present before God and the world.  The moral and spiritual standards are all religions are very high, and Pharisees know deep down that they are not living up to those standards.  They are not praying as often as they should.  They are not loving and serving their neighbor as much as they should.  They are not keeping their inner thoughts as pure as they should.  The resulting internal anxiety, insecurity, and irritability will often be much greater than anything experienced by the irreligious."
When I read that I needed to put the book down.  Dang.  He was almost too right on.  Each of his words seemed like they were picked out for me.  However, To borrow a lyric:

"I don't want to live that way."

      The alternative to this is a life of freedom under the acknowledgment of how much Jesus loves you.  How do you discover how much Jesus loves you though? How do you let it sink in?  Rushing through your blood stream, filling your lungs, and changing your marrow.  Letting each day be transformed by it.  Do you sit and wait for it?  What road do I need to be on, or how often do I need to read the Bible?  Cognitively, I know He loves me... like actually loves me. It is locked in my head. I mutter about it when I'm falling asleep and I talk about it alot.  And there's definitely been times in my life when I've not only felt it, but the reality of it woke me up with a smile in the morning.  But most days I don't feel it, and I'm not sure how much it changes the way I live. 

        Does the fact that I don't always feel His love mean I've forgotten it, or that I never really had it to begin with?  I've struggled with this question a lot.  The answer I've come to is No, I don't think so. I think we discover how much Jesus loves us by walking out in faith.  If the Bible is true, then His love is already there being sung over us and I just need to walk in reality daily.  That statement seems so ethereal though!  What specifically does walking in his love mean for what I do tonight or tomorrow morning?  I don't really know.  I know that I want to wake up and instead of confessing how much a better job I'm want do following Jesus today, I want to bask in His love.  I want to be loved and love Him. But all the practicalities I'm not really sure. I feel like it all comes down to this question though.  Discovering and living in the reality of how much Jesus loves me, despite what I can offer, seems more important than all those hours and days I've spent in conversations about community, leadership, missions, or even about how we can best follow Him.  It seems more important than everything.  All my thoughts, accomplishments, and efforts are nothing in comparison.

Because if He loves me, if what the Bible says is true...  I don't know.  Jesus. The cross. Me?  My eyes are threatening to cry as I write this.  My brain hurts just thinking about it.  My heart hurts wishing for it.  If He loves me...

        Right now though.... It's late. I'm tired.  It has been a long day.  So I guess I just want to end this post saying Come Lord Jesus.  And if anyone reading this can identify with any part of these ramblings, I encourage you to join me on this journey! Let us share our questions and our insights.  Just so you know, I don't think it will necessarily be a journey to a far off land, and it won't involve some sort of remarkable intellectual ascent.  It just involves learning to walk in the love that's already been spoken over us.  Learning what we already have.  Discovering Who we can have.  Abandoning lives of fear, inadequacy, and striving, in order to explore what what it would be like to be adopted into God's family. God's family!  It changes everything.  To be told, Of course you're can't be good enough, but I love you. That's crazy.  Join me though!  I don't know the way, but I'm certain its the right path.  I'm willing to bet on it. 

Through the darkness, addictions, and questions that are sure to loom ahead, I think this will be the most beautiful journey.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quick Update

Dear team (aka the people who read this),

We've been doing pretty good with this updates lately.  I write one summarizing what I've been up to. Then sometimes I write one about my latest thoughts or questions.  Thus, before I write another one about the stuff I've been processing, I wanted to give a brief update about what's happening.

First, my friend Aimee introduced me to a game called SpikeBall.  Its kinda like volleyball.   As you might surmise, I really enjoy it, and playing it helps me feel better about the fact that I've only been able to play soccer once while I've been here (tragic, I know.) This is a picture of us playing outside....

Second, this last weekend I moved in with an Ecuadorian family!  In my Ecuadorian family I have an older brother David (he's 29) and a Mama.   It is pretty much the chillest family you can imagine.  Most of the time I'm either home alone or just hanging out and eating with one of them.  I'll be living with them for the next month or so.  Most things about my semester changed when I came to live with them. For example, I now have at least an hour commute everyday to my internship site or to my classes.  Also, I've started to eat better again and will probably gain back the couple pounds I've lost. 

For real.  This family is just more evidence about how the Lord continues to provide for and bless me!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Two Questions (aka the I Don't Know post)

I realize I haven't really been praying for what the next step in my life is, so I've started to try to do that. (Good idea right?) In these times of prayer, two questions keep presenting themselves.  The first is a reactionary question to Matthew 10:39:

What does it mean for me to lose my life? 

For me.  To lose my life. What would that mean?  My possessions don't mean that much to me (I mean I like them), but could it mean giving up friends and family? Would that ever mean to say goodbye to the ones I love, or to give up my dreams and potential for the sake of seemingly menial things. Maybe. On a related note, I ask myself "How am I like the young rich ruler?"  What excuse would I want to give Jesus if right now He showed up and said come follow me? I don't know! I'm not sure what excuse would attempt to come flying out of my mouth, and not knowing is not comforting:  for whether or not we know what it would be, I think we all have our excuses we would want to give Jesus.  Jesus, just let me finish this before I do that.  Jesus, I'll follow you, but only if I can still be relatively comfortable, I mean, I promise I won't ask for that much.   Jesus, I'm totally on board, but can we share that wheel? I've just got some ideas as well that I wouldn't want you to miss.

The second question I have comes from the idea that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  Correspondingly, I ask:

What are the desires of my heart?

 This is a simple answer  "I don't know".   I don't know what is would mean for me to lose my life.  And I don't know the desires of my heart.  Most days I think I have lost the ability to dream in anything short of abstract conceptions.  Most days I'm a stranger to my own heart.  Conditioned (by myself and others) to follow duty over desires, my heart no longer surges with specific visions, only general principles I can vaguely imagine myself embodying.  It's weird.  I want to have a dream, and I long to know how I might live in the Kingdom, how I can join in with what God is doing, and how I can use my head, heart, and hands.


On a slightly different, but obviously related note, isn't it crazy that these two questions aren't mutually exclusive?  God wants, but does not need, our sacrifices.  In fact, He often uses our sacrifices to turn around and bless us more.  So as much as I search myself for answers and insights, I recognize that finding them falls a distant second to knowing Jesus.  Jesus Christ the risen one, the lover and maker of that heart I don't even know.  Together with the Father and the Holy Spirit He promises to finish what He starts and to lead me through this crazy thing called life!  So while I continue wrestling and asking these questions, I can also chill, He's got it. 

(Although, if you know the answer to these questions for me, feel free to share!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

There and Back Again

For all practical purposes there is no rhythm to this semester.  After finishing our Spanish crash course on Wednesday, my group packed it up and took a four day trip to Misahualli (a small town five hours away, located smack dab in the jungle).   On the way there, we stopped and explored one of the biggest caves in Ecuador.  Now imagine the following scene.  There is a dense forest with a with a cave.  The pitch black cave has a river that runs through it, and at one point the underground river has a waterfall.  In the waterfall, our guide showed us a hole through which one could dive, swim down fifteen feet or so of a slightly twisting tunnel all to grab a rock from the bottom.  It was terrifying thing to picture doing what our guide was talking about, so when I found myself being the gringo who said,   "Sure yeah I'll go for it.  Just going down until I reach the end right?" I think I slightly surprised myself.  I went for it though, and it was just as freaky as I imagined it being.  Still when I came back up, I held a rock in my hand. 

While we were in the jungle town of Misahualli, we learned about Youth World's understanding of short term mission trips (based on mutual reciprocal blessing and partnering with local Christians), put on a day long VBS, played basketball, played soccer (!), and helped finish some woodwork on a house.  (Note:  I didn't bring my camera on this trip, so atypically all of the pictures on this post were taken by other people.)

Yo y mi amigo nuevo

We all made some animal masks

In case your interested: we saw a multitude of bullet ants while we were in Misahualli.  Bullet ants, or paraponera, are over an inch long and have received their names for their bites, which supposedly can be as painful as getting shot and cause over 24 hours of uncontrollable seizures.  If these facts have peaked your curiosity at all, you should look up how bullet ants are utilized in initiation rites of the Satere-Mawe people of Brazil.  Crazy stuff!

Before leaving the jungle, we went and played at a waterfall.  It was really fun to rockclimb, laugh, and cliff jump (Don't worry Mom, there was substantially more water than there appears to be in the picture).  The bus ride back consisted of rain, cliffs, car sickness, and a couple rounds of Mafia. 

Today, I began teaching english at a school called San Francisco at Quito.  In the morning I have two elementary classes and in the afternoon I have two middle school classes.  When I arrived at the school this morning, I had no clue where to go or really what I was doing.  So, after wondering around for a while and asking the same people multiple questions, I found the teacher I was supposed to help.  She immediately gave me the following orders: talk to the kids in English.  Problem: the kids don't really speak English, so what ensued was an hour of Drew smiling, nodding, and asking what is your favorite color twenty different ways.  At lunch I was ready to quit.  For real.  I literally walked over and hung out by the exit door while trying to figure out how to get another internship placement without inconveniencing everybody involved.  The break was short however, so before I knew it I was heading apprehensively to my even longer afternoon classes.  They went great though!  I had a different teacher who handed me a book with the day's lesson plans.  She even remained engaged during the whole lessons, helping trouble shoot a couple of confusing exercises and generally just encouraging me with little smiles and nods.   As a result, the day ended up being mostly in the positive.  Below is a picture of me on my first day of school as a teacher.

Something to munch on as I leave.  A couple of days ago I was given the opportunity to switch internships, but I have come to a realization: more than my 16+ years of education, a degree, spanish classes, random trainings, and whatever else I have worked so hard on in an attempt to equip myself for life and ministry, in Quito, it is my ability to speak English that might be the most valuable thing I can offer people.  English.  I could be in an internship where I could feel more gratification or get to know people on a more personal level.  I could work in an orphanage or with a Compassion International project down here.  But it might just be that the best way I can actually serve for this next season is by asking what a kid's favorite color is twenty different ways.  I am uncomfortable with this reality, somewhat frustrated, and certainly humbled, yet I rejoice.  To God I ask "knock me down, and build you up."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Adventures of a Manboy and his Father

Time to explain how my blog design relates to what has been going on inside of my heart.

First of all, the title: "Not all who wonder are lost."  This is a fragment from a poem by J.R.R Tolkien (which appears in the Fellowship of the Ring).   The stanza from which I snatched my title follows:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

 I chose that line for two reasons.  First, my older brother once told me it was one of his favorites, and so in many ways it reminds me of him and even his story.  Second, the line represents my story as well.  I wander in more ways than I can recount.  I strive to wander from the normal American story.  I lament how I wander from Jesus.  I am constantly tempted to wander from the challenges He allows to come before me.  Still, despite these wanderings and the others unmentioned, I never feel like I'm lost.  No matter how many times I see the disappointed or chastising look in others' eyes when I say "I don't have a clue what the future holds, I just want to love God and people," I don't feel lost.  Yes, I might be a dreamer.  No, I don't have a clue about my future, but I have a feeling I'm right where I need to be. Besides,  you probably need to have a direction before you can be lost.

The subtitle: Adventures of a Manboy and his Father.  It started in February while the light outside my window had just begun to fade.  I remember sitting in my dorm room, melancholy, reflecting on on a recently butchered social interaction.  Previously lost in my thoughts, I suddenly jolted up on the couch with a realization, "Wait a second... wait one second.  I'm still struggling with the same crap I did in highschool.  I am ridiculously tired of this same old stuff.  Jesus, I'm ready to start dealing with this. Let's go."  In that moment, I saw really clearly that I was still just a boy, and do you know what I wanted to be?  A man.  A man abandoned for God, and yet, I wasn't.  Instead, I was scared of relationships.  Preoccupied with the fear that I was ugly.  Worried if anyone actually liked me.  Anxious about my to-do lists.  In a word, pathetic.  Now, I know that might seem like a harsh judgment, as pathetic truly is a strong word, but it really is stupid.  It is stupid to let fear run my life.  It is stupid to worry about things that Christ has promised He has already taken care of.  And its pathetic to still be acting like a highschool boy when I'm 23.  I know culture tells me these are perfectly reasonable struggles and that I shouldn't be so critical, but well... for me... I think that's stupid as well.

Which brings us to today.  I want to be a man of God.  I want to have deep roots that cannot be reached by the frost.  Most days, however, I still feel stuck somewhere in between the man to whom I've been called and the boy I used to be.  However, I'm tired of being scared, preoccupied, insecure, worried, and anxious.  God has already redeemed me from that crap.  He has stripped away those slavery inducing emotions from my heart, so why do I keep returning to them?  Yes, the road away from these things is hard, but it is straight.  And I praise God, for the hope of my maturation rests not in my ability to overcome, but on the faithfulness of my heavenly Father.  And when I pray, I know can ask boldly for I know these things because I have certainty that they are in His will.  That being said, I also long to couple my prayers with action.  Not letting a day go past without being in the Bible and hitting the floor in prayer, refusing to let fear dictate my social interactions, and fighting my old childish habits until they die, these are the actions that I want to be able to reflect on as I go to bed each night.

The best part of it all?  It is not just for me.  The fight for manhood is for my family, my future spouse (if God brings one), and the Kingdom of God.  And that reality gets me jazzed up.  Plus, I know He's got it! The Holy Spirit doesn't start something without the intention of finishing it.  I just ask that you would have patience with me, knowing me its still going to be a long road!

Lastly, The background: the background of my blog is white.  White represents simplicity and purity, both of with which I long to characterize myself.  I don't need to be a mystery anymore, and I am learning that not every part of me needs to say something.  Furthermore, the color white seems like a static color.   There is no question of gradation or shade with it: it just is.  I want to be like the color white.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I forgot to mention that last weekend we went ziplining in the rain forest.  It was pretty cool.