Shazam!

A funny thing happened on the way to Facebook today…MTS called. A lot of things have changed. Two days after a friend asked me how my studies were going and explaining to him just why I didn’t see any possibility of returning to MTS, I just might be returning to study after all.

You see, ever since the heart attacks, I’ve been struggling just to survive and figure out how to live and function with a severely damaged heart. Going back to work has been challenge enough, but adding two graduate classes at a time to my schedule and all the stress of late, nearly-sleepless nights reading, studying, and writing papers just doesn’t fit into what I’m capable of doing. So, over months of sporadic thinking I had come up with a list of reasons why I couldn’t study any longer, and I also had developed a list of some conditions that would have to be met in order for me to ever consider resuming my studies.

1). The MDiv at 90 hours is just too much for me at this point in life, all things considered. I don’t really need or have a passion to learn Greek and Hebrew (though I completed 9 hours of Greek already). It just isn’t all that practical or necessary for the kinds of ministry I do, and the learning of a difficult language, while I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Spanish language, is just too much for me. I’m not at an age and life situation where earning an MDiv is all that practical. I mostly got into it because it was the only accredited, online seminary masters program in existence when I started it. I needed more Bible learning/training and this was the unique vehicle available to gain that. If I were to resume online studies, it would need to be for a masters that doesn’t include biblical languages and is for a much more modest number of hours, say in the mid-30s. (I’ve completed 24 hours including the Greek.) I would also need for most of my earned credits to transfer to this other, previously non-existent online masters degree.

2). I can’t afford the studies with one son in college and another just a couple years away. The Timothy Scholarship is only available to those who enroll and maintain 15 credit hours per year. I have to have that matching scholarship in which I only need to pay 1/3 of the tuition, or I simply can’t continue. Thus, I would need for the Timothy Scholarship to be offered even though I only took say 12 hours a year instead of 15 hours.

3). I can’t manage two classes at once any longer. I could probably handle one class at a time, but the MDiv program requires 2 classes at a time in order to finish within the allowed number of years to get it done, and the biblical language studies require a 2nd class to overlap since they stretch those Greek and Hebrew classes out over a longer time. Any resumed studies would have to be such that I only take one class at a time, which means, 2 classes per semester or 4 classes per year, which means 12 hours a year.

So, that’s my list of non-negotiable requirements to make it work. As far as I knew, this was an unlikely, if not impossible, set of requests.

And then today the GSA (graduate student advocate) calls me and says, they’re offering a new online master’s this fall, starting in late August.

  • The Master of Arts in Biblical Studies is only 36 hours.
  • Out of my 24 credit hours earned, 15 of them can be applied to this degree (the 9 Greek hours are useless and Greek to them too I guess!). So, I only lack 21 hours (i.e. 7 classes).
  • The Timothy Scholarship has been changed so that only 6 hours per semester or 12 per year are required in order to receive it. To get 12 hours per year, I only need to take one class at a time.
  • The courses I lack for this new online masters are basic Bible and spiritual formation courses. Perfect. That’s what I really need and want.

So…I’m not sure what there is to pray about at this point. I’d already prayed that all of these things would have to happen before I could consider resuming studies. It’s more about praying that God stops me from going back in at this point. I honestly can’t see a good reason why I shouldn’t. It is the desire of my heart…battered though it is.

So, maybe you can pray with me that I’ll continue to understand the Lord’s will in this matter, but perhaps we can start praying for the finances as well. I will need some help to take these courses. They’re now up a little to $410 per credit hour or $1,230 per class.

I’ll have to re-apply for the scholarship which is a formality and to set it up with my home church in WV as well. This also means that I’ll need donors for 1/3 of that amount times two (for two classes this fall semester). All that to say, I’ll need $820 given through my church for this year’s fall semester and again for next year’s spring semester. I’ll have to come up with the rest of those funds unless anyone wants to help me with my portion as well which would be greatly appreciated too.

There’s also a relatively new fee from Faithlife which is the author of the Logos software I purchased for the MDiv and is required for this masters as well. Now there is Logos Live! which allows access to many expensive resources for a hefty subscription fee of $300 per semester. Unfortunately, it’s a requirement to get it, and so that’s another $1,200 that will be added to this semester if paid to Moody which would cover the 4 semesters/2 years of expected studies. There may be a payment plan available if I go directly through Faithlife for this, but I don’t know if it costs more on such a plan, and I don’t know if it is charged each semester or simply is measured out over a few extra months. Stuff to find out.

Wow. I’m really excited about the prospect of being able to resume seminary studies and being able to earn a degree that is practical and in-line with my needs and desires for learning. I think I can do it. It seems manageable.

Pray about it with me. I’ve still got some time to decide. Pray for the finances too. It’ll be a chunk of change to get through this, but to my knowledge, our eternal Provider has not run out of resources. Trusting.

 

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April Library Day

The “Library Man,” “Library Lady Beth,” and “Library Boy” are hosting the monthly library day. One family is away on home assignment and another couldn’t make it, so we have a smaller group today. As you can see, it’s as much romper room, playtime, and gym class as it is library browsing, but those are all healthy things for learning, exploring, and discovery as much as looking through books on a shelf.

Today’s selected preferences include Thomas the Tank Engine, animal books, and Adventures in Odyssey DVDs.

Selected readings by “Library Lady Beth” included, “Miss Lollipop’s Lion.” (I enjoy the facial and body expressions by the kiddos. The little girl listening from the doorway was enjoying playing with some toy cars. It looks like the story was so good, it just about knocked off her britches!

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Oh! What a Tangled Web We Weave

I passed through the dining room and flipped on a light near Bethie’s desk and the water station. I just happened to glance at a blue, plastic drinking cup sitting on top of the large water bottle, and something caught my eye.

I had knocked that cup off just yesterday and put it back up there not knowing who was wanting it there. So, within 24 hours, a small spider had completely taken over this cup. I’m not sure what it was planning, but I guess it figured if it pulled this off, it would eat like a king for years!

(I found it challenging to take these pics as the placement of the lighting was an absolutely essential element. I ended up opting for mostly monochrome and some effects to help bring out the intricacies of all the webbing.)

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Peace (A Communion Blessing)

Though we’re strangers, still I love you
I love you more than your mask
And you know you have to trust this to be true
And I know that’s much to ask
But lay down your fears, come and join this feast
He has called us here, you and me

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
[Falling] on these souls
This drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And though I love you, still we’re strangers
Prisoners in these lonely hearts
And though our blindness separates us
Still His light shines in the dark
And His outstretched arms are still strong enough to reach
Behind these prison bars to set us free

So may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Like those little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

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Jumping in the Dark

One of the MK’s from our team (Ben) invited Dayton to accompany him and his sister to an indoor trampoline place to celebrate Ben’s birthday. We’ve never been to one of these kinds of places before, so it was a fun experience.

I can tell you that you’ll need better photog skills than I possess to take good pictures in a large dark room with some bright window lighting in limited areas. It was challenging, but I got a few that came out more or less ok. I definitely need to keep learning how to manage the camera settings and a lot of other elements involved, but it was fun to try.

In case you’re wondering, Ben’s sister is active in ballet as you might notice from her flexibility and gracefulness while jumping.

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Me, My Selfie, and I (in Puebla)

I’m not really going to put up a narcissistic post, but I am in the pictures, and they are selfies, so that’s probably a subjective statement.

Friday morning we took off in our van with its newly rebuilt transmission (seemed to handle the mountains well) and headed the 3 hours to Puebla. Dayton was signed up to take the ACT test at Puebla Christian School on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. until noon.

We got there on Friday in time for Beth to teach her Geometry student, Emma Bult (a daughter of the director of Camino’s Puebla Biblical Seminary). Emma takes all her clases at PCS, but she struggles in math and needed a one-on-one teacher this year. It’s been very difficult to do this via the Internet due to some special needs involved, but Beth found teaching her in person was truly a joy. So, we were glad we at least had one opportunity for an in-person class session.

While we were there we also got to catch up with some teachers and staff at the school and for Beth to talk to some students (and their parents) to whom she is giving a weekly tutorial session online for an Algebra class. Several of the MKs are struggling with some of the concepts and mostly are struggling with following their teacher who is brilliant but who apparently doesn’t have the patience for re-teaching or explaining concepts more than one way. Sometimes math students need to be taught multiple ways to solve equations because they may connect better with one method over another. So, Beth spends an hour every Wednesday afternoon with several boys who have questions and need some re-teaching. This is new and has only had one session, but it went well, and everyone seemed excited to continuing through the semester.

Of course, our main ministry here has always been MK Education, but over the years that side of ministry has decreased due to missionary attrition, but it seems to be on the upswing again. We’re glad to see that happening. We sure would love to see more workers for the harvest down here. So many missionaries have left in recent years (not just our mission but many others) that there apparently are gaping needs in Mexico for all sorts of ministry types.

While having a great conversation with the temporary fill-in principal (just this semester), I noticed Keith Myers had a WV coffee mug and so I couldn’t resist asking him where he was from. Yup, Fairmont, WV. Turns out, we are both supported the same church in that area. Small world. So, in order to preserve the memory of our chance to meet him, I took a selfie. This was not the first selfie I’ve ever taken, but it probably was one of the first 5 I’ve ever taken. I don’t take them very often. I guess I did it right. That looks like us.

 

Later that afternoon, I accompanied our country facilitator and host for the night on a quick run to Costco since he needed to pick up some foods for cooking up a special meal.

While we were there, we providentially ran into a couple that is fairly new to our field and are still in language school there in Puebla. Zac and Jennifer Malthaner are doing an amazing job learning the language and are a bombshell of joy and bubblyness (it’s probably a word…don’t look it up though) that is fun to be around. So, in order to preserve the memory of our providential appointment in Costco (along with Jonathan Baker to my left, your right, I took a selfie. BTW, Zac and Jennifer are young enough to be from the selfie generation and I had to laugh while they corrected my selfie-skills. I guess it came out ok.

 

That meal we were shopping for was for our co-workers, Chalo and Beth Sandoval. Beth has been undergoing chemo for leukemia for some months now, and thankfully, Friday was her last chemo treatment. By the time Jonathan and wife Barbara had the meal ready and we went over there, Beth had only been home for about an hour. We’ve prayed often for Beth and Chalo, and it was a blessing to be able to see them in their home and to preserve the memory of our visit with…you guessed it:

 

Finally, strange thing happened Friday evening as we were sitting around chatting and watching YouTube videos with our hosts. My hands began to break out in some sort of allergic reaction. I took a Zyrtec pill, but it didn’t help. I didn’t want to take a Benadryl because I needed to be alert for the 3 hour Saturday afternoon drive back home. I finally took a Benadryl and promptly slept for about 2 hours. I woke up with no real change and things just seemed to get worse from there.

By 10:45 I knew I was not going to sleep with the itching and blistering and burning, so Bethie and I went to an emergency room (not the one that almost killed me last year) and they wrote a prescription for a cream and an injection. I got the injection. It seemed to bring the itchiness down and I slept ok. Unfortunately, the hands look more red, though possibly trying to heal. They’re beginning to itch again. Not sure if I need another injection or a different medicine. Fortunately, it hasn’t spread past my elbows and is only on my forearms and hands/fingers. (No problems breathing or anything serious so far.) We have no idea what caused it. It’s possible I’m allergic to Puebla, but I hope not!

I don’t know if taking a picture of one’s hands is considered a selfie, but I took these pics with my regular camera, so I don’t think so. But just to preserve the memory…

Other than the fingers-thumb placement, and just based on the redness and swelling, I can’t really tell my left hand from my right hand. According to Jesus, that’s a good thing, so I’m gonna go with that.

Gotta hand it to me for reaching around with my left hand to snap the picture of my right hand…not that I know which is which or anything.

 

 

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Weekly Flowers

One thing I’ve been trying to be more intentional about is buying my wife flowers regularly, at least while we’re in Mexico. They’re inexpensive here and we enjoy looking at them, and yes, sometimes we do stop and smell the…roses (or whatever flowers we may have that have a nice fragrance). It seems most don’t have much notable fragrance. Hey, I just buy them. I didn’t say I know anything about them!

Here are some I picked up today (about $6.50 USD, glass vase included!).

Some other flowers from recent months (I don’t always take pics of them):

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