Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hispanic Ministry Training

After years of participating and sometimes leading mission teams into Mexico and Honduras it is exciting to find many opportunities to be in ministry with our Hispanic brothers and sisters here in the United States. A group of friends are helping me to offer some opportunities in the Augusta area during the next year. We'll start with conversations around the topic as we invite members of Trinity on the Hill UMC and interested clergy and laity from area United Methodist churches to gather in the fall. Of course, we'll also have other interested parties in the conversation who represent local community development or friends who've been part of overseas mission teams who desire to continue their involvement in Hispanic concerns.

Hispanic Ministry Training
Sundays, September 21 - October 19
5:00 P. M. - 6:30 P.M.
Facilitated by Rev. Scott Parrish
1. “Where are We & Where Does God Need us to Be?”
2. “Hispanic Community and the Role of the Church”
3. “Hispanic Context in the U.S.: Challenges and Opportunities”
4. “Hispanic Community and Missional Strategy”
5. “Where is God Leading us from Here?”

Contact Trinity On The Hill UMC @ 706-738-8822 or for more information

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Life in Cuba

Have you seen the insightful, well written view into everyday Cuban life?

An interesting broad view of Cuba may be found in a current news report of the challenges and potential for change at

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mission Outpost

Did you hear this NPR story yesterday? A lot of great concepts employed by a jazz nonprofit in New Mexico. I heard a variety of elements in this story which might transfer to other arenas. Check it out and consider for yourself.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

BEST Summer Drink

It seems that almost every time I've worked in Mexico on a mission team I've enjoyed not only fresh fruit but wonderful fresh fruit drinks. One of my favorites is watermelon juice. Oh so refreshing, quenches the thirst and cools you off. Google recipes and you'll find some folks add a little water, maybe a little lime, or perhaps a little honey or sugar. But truth is it's worth cutting that seedless watermelon, blending it up into a drink, and then giving it a try before you add anything. WOW, what a great summer thirst quencher!

Enjoy the summer and all the great happenings of it,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Basketball Camp continued

Add a Savannah River Site engineer who loves basketball, a retiree who played at Clemson with Coach Maravich, a host of other volunteers, and a bunch of middle school boys in the summer and you have the makings of a great basketball camp in Harrisburg (the old mill village section of Augusta).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Catching Up

So much to show and tell after a week in New Orleans! We returned Saturday night around 7 PM, then work on Sunday, then a "typical" week with Vacation Bible School in the morning, a basketball camp at the church in the early afternoon, another basketball camp at an elementary school in nearby Harrisburg community in the late afternoon, and the "normal" activities that seem to occur every day in local mission work. Pictures and stories from these exploits will be appearing in the days to come.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Civic Index for Quality Public Education

This doesn't seem novel, maybe common sense, though it certainly highlights what SOME communities are missing in public education. This tool looks at the strengths and weaknesses of a local community in regard to public education. Apply to your local school and community, discuss some, and then let's go to work!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Togo & Life Memorial

I'll end the Togo reflections with a story that was profound in it's emotion and impact. Three of our team members attended a memorial service for the patriarch of the family just hours before we caught the flight in Atlanta taking us on to Paris then to Lome. The grandfather had spent his first 9 years of life in Africa as a child to missionaries. They celebrated his life, and the celebration continued by extension of their mission.

I posted a number of pictures and a video from our busy Tuesday with the large crowd. During lunch the 3 went to a nearby mango tree, offered a prayer, and placed some of the ashes at the base of the tree. One of the locals, curious what was going on, went to them and asked what was happening. When he realized he too offered a prayer of blessing!

It was an amazing thing to watch as the week unfolded and as these 3 worked, and laughed, and lived. There was grief, yet it will continue to give way to celebration and to life.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Togo Full Report

The team saw 1231 people come through the medical clinic and pharmacy, about 750 additional people received worm pills and either vitamins or aspirin, and another 1023 people receive glasses.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Togo Eyeglass Clinic

The eyeglass clinic is always a phenomenal success when we do these mission projects. Imagine people who've NEVER had access or ability to have their vision checked or to receive glasses. The results and the joy is immediate! Many people in their 50's, 60's, 70's, and older have struggled with the daily tasks for years and accepted their situation. Many children of these poor families who live a subsistence lifestyle struggle with little hope of acquiring a luxury like a pair of glasses. Imagine suddenly being able to read, or thread a needle, or see a face at a distance. The results are immediate and profound. A small everyday miracle for us perhaps, though for much of the world it is a transformational moment when someone receives a pair of glasses.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Idol or Protector

This is an idol in the village of Aklakou in Togo. It's at the outskirts of town. Once they'd had a Roman Catholic crucifix in the center of town, but they moved that out claiming it had brought them bad luck. I couldn't imagine how anything could have been any worse in that primitive, isolated, 19th century location. I'm trying to use harsh language because it really is even worse than you can imagine, even by Togolese standards! The crucifix sits further outside town with it's back to town. This idol sits between the crucifix and the village.
Further into town their is another idol, and then around town there are many "babies" which are small stones. It's all pretty foreign to Western sensibilities and thinking. But there was some revelation in all this for me a couple of years ago in my first visit to the village. The local people don't call these idols. Instead, they refer to them as the "protectors."
Now that's an interesting, new way for me to tackle this. Turns out there are many "protectors" in my life which I rely on. These are monuments I set up in my world which give me a sense of stability, priority, safety, protection. These aren't rough stones, but polished weapons, agencies, governments, entities. I won't enumerate them for you. Chances are it's a rather lengthy list if we are honest.
Hmmm, maybe I'm not so different from the villagers in Togo after all.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Shifting Gears

So I've returned from west Africa, spent a few days eating my regular food, sleeping in my own bed, and enjoying my family, and it's time to go again.

I leave this morning at 6 AM with a team headed to New Orleans to do Hurricane Katrina relief work. Yeh, I know it's been awhile, but the work still continues.

I'd signed up since I'd heard the guys would be working inside. After all, who would want to be on a roof in New Orleans in July. Guess what?! A few of us, including me I'm afraid, have been volunteered to help some teenagers from TN do roof repairs.

Shift gears, keep taking the malaria medicine, and now eat gumbo in a different locale!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Togo- Luke Dancing with Blessing

We enjoyed having a mixed group of ages on this recent mission experience. That really is the best way to do it! We had teenagers, young adults, and adults of all stages. Part of the children's ministry had teenage workers, and they gave the energy and enthusiasm which adults would loose by mid afternoon in the African sun! Check out Luke dancing with a little girl named Blessing. Note the music is missing, & the sound was so distorted with so many other voices that I muted it as it detracted from the beauty of the video. Just imagine the music and put yourself in the shoes of one dancing with Blessing.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Difference Between a Vacation and a Short Term Mission

I really liked this article in the Washington Post on the difference between short term missionaries and "vacationaries." Strong points to be considered!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pya, Togo Worm Pill Line

So many strange, unusual things happen during a mission experience in a foreign country it's often hard to know where to start or what to say. And it takes some time to settle into your life so that the emotion and the experience of it all match up. Sometimes those don't ever match up. About all you can do is tell the story.

At end of the Tuesday med clinic when we ran out of time to see everyone in line we gave out worm pills and vitamins or aspirin. Check out the previous posts to get an idea of how large the crowd had been ALL day. Add the noise level. Include English, French, and a couple of ethnic/tribal dialects like Ewe & Mina but multiply times 200. For me this video offers a strange contrast with Michael James playing keyboard and singing in background as the large crowd receives a "parting gift."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Another Day, Another Crowd

This was from our Tuesday medical clinic in Pya, Togo. It stayed like this all day. Even though we saw many people many more would come to take a place in line. The whole med team wore scrubs no matter what our duty or specialty might be. I had the experience of walking through the crowd and people trying to show their problems and get a diagnosis even though this guy in scrubs isn't a medical doctor!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Togo Med Clinic Crowd

I'm still readjusting to my "normal" life.

I'm still feeling like I'm in another time zone, maybe on another continent.
This is the crowd I was in one week ago today.