Saturday, November 19, 2011

Favorite Things About Being Daddy...

  1. Great big hugs and snuggles first thing in the morning
  2. Hearing my sweet girls voice as she begins to have conversations with us
  3. Sweetest words ever: "I love you, daddy!"
  4. Having my daughters fall asleep in my arms on the couch (best sleep ever!)
  5. Looking forward to favorite routines like watching Caillou together right before bedtime.
  6. "Outside play, Daddy"
  7. Watching Nadia reach her hand up for mine as we walk down our mountainous driveway...
  8. continuing to hold her hand as we walk down the street.
  9. Watching my children learn...
  10. Hearing things repeated we have taught (i.e. look right, look left, no cars, go!)
  11. Excited little voice announcing my presence after being gone ("Daddy home!)
  12. Sharing life with their awesome mommy
  13. Watching Nadia take care of Lydia
  14. Excitement about school craft projects
  15. Playing catch with my two-year-old
  16. Jumping on the pillows (pippos)
  17. Dance parties
  18. Tea Parties
  19. Building palaces
  20. Reading to Nadia
  21. Nadia "reading" to me
  22. Talking on the phone to Nana, Grandaddy, Jor Jor, Al, Pat, Poppa, and Seph
  23. Nighttime cuddles
  24. Going on walks and looking for doggies
  25. Nadia rubbing my ear as she goes to sleep
  26. First smiles
  27. Hands grasping my fingers
  28. Lydia staring into my eyes
  29. Enjoying holidays through their eyes
  30. Kitty kisses
  31. Mimicking airplanes
  32. Going to the zoo
  33. Playing hide and seek
  34. Making our noses honk and beep
  35. Reading with all the voices, just like Mama did for me
  36. Helping them enjoy the things I enjoy
  37. Recognizing the responsibility of raising another human being (or two...!)
  38. Watching my wife teach them far better than I can
  39. Being surrounded by three beautiful girls! 
And the list goes on...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moms and Holidays

There is one common thread among all of my favorite memories of holidays: family.  As a young boy I loved going to my grandparents for Thanksgiving and Christmas while joining with 6 aunts and uncles, 6 cousins, and other relatives from my grandfathers side of the family.  The boys, of which I was the youngest, would go outside and play some kind of sport whether it be basketball, baseball, football, or golf while the girls, well...I don't know what they did.  These events most often took place at my grandparent's house but sometimes would be at our house or another aunt and uncle.  At the center of every family get together was a large meal attributed to all the families and generally prepared by the aunts and Mema.

As we got older the cousins got married and their spouses were added to the mix and not too long after that we all started having kiddos of our own.  In recent years the "whole" family has only gotten together during the moments of sadness, the passing of our matriarch "Mema", and most recently the death of my own mother.  Such is life.  We all grow up.  We get busy with our lives and time moves on.  Not to worry, we do still get together albeit not all at the same time.  Just this past weekend I saw my mom's two brothers and their wives, 1 cousin, and 2 of another cousin's children.  Of course we "see" each other on Facebook and do our best to keep up with all the happenings.

As I think about all these things and the holiday season coming up I am painfully reminded of a huge hole in my heart and a big difference that will be felt this year.  You see, this is a year of firsts.  From now to next July each event will labeled as the first _______ since mama died.  I always looked forward to pulling up to the house and walking through the front door, finding my mom usually in the kitchen, and giving her a big hug as she pulled herself away from whatever the next meal or project was.  I will always remember the way she played with my Nadia.  I was looking forward to watching her continue to do so as she would spoil my children as all good grandparents are supposed to do.  (I had another grandparent explain to me the other day that it was in the fine print of the grandparent contract!)  One of the things that brought me the most grief at her passing was that my children would not know their Gamma.  I am pleased to say that at least for now Nadia will still name her in our family picture at my and Becca's wedding.

Mama made the holidays special.  Whether it was decorating the tree with her as a kid, or all the special treats she made for the family get togethers, or the way she hid our Christmas presents from herself so well that we may not get them until Easter!  There is no way that we will be able to fill that void this holiday season or ever.  But, I know this: we will make every effort to keep her memory alive through the telling of stories, the keeping up of traditions, and the attempting to make her recipes (which I know is a challenge as following a written recipe to a "T" will not produce the nuanced meals that she actually made, just ask the key lime pie that brought me to tears because it just wasn't the same).

We all miss you, Mama!  Dance, jump, and sing, and say, "hey" to Jesus for me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Hope to Dream

     I have recently been made aware of a program created by Ashley Furniture HomeStore called "A Hope to Dream."  They would like to donate a twin bed to a child in need.  "Not all nominated children will receive a bed, but no children will have the opportunity to receive their own bed unless they are nominated" (Michael Herman, from Ashley in an email requesting nominations).

     There are a lot of good programs out there that we can support.  A lot of them require a little money as well.  This one does not!  All you need to do is visit A Hope To Dream and fill out the nomination form.  What a great way to share the love of Christ and take care of the little ones in our midst.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Heading Home!

We are sitting in the airport in Santiago after our first leg of the flight home. We left The Cliffs Preserve this morning around 11:00 and headed to Los Muermos for David and Rebecca to pick up their pick-up and lead us to the airport. We also had to say good-bye to Michelle. She was a great addition to our team this week. As we drove away from the Bed and Breakfast in Los Muermos we passed her walking down the street as she was heading back to her host home. After we got checked in to the LAN flight to Santiago we had one final get together with David and REbecca where they thanked us for our work this week. Dr. Pruett and the team had also written them a thank you note. We certainly appreciate their hospitality this week and all the hard work they put in before we arrived. It is obvious that they are loved and that they have made a tremendous impact while they have been in country. I know they will be missed when they leave, but perhaps not as much as they will miss being in Chile. As one final gift to us Rebecca followed my departure prayer with a beautiful rendition of "May the Road Rise up to Meet You."

It's almost time to board the plane. And this will be the final blog from our trip in Chile. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! It has been a blast to getting to know the dentists and meeting the people of Chile.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dental day 4- Andy in Los Piques y la escuela de Los Muermos

Before we begin let’s go back to last night. Thank you David Hughes for arranging to have a locale Chilean folklore group come and share with us. They came in full costume and danced and sang for us. They even got us up to dance with them.

What a great day! Today I loaded up the bus and headed out with Dr. Michael Pruett and Dr. Ben Lyons alongside our translator Christian and we headed out to Los Piques. We had a short day as we were all needing to be back to Los Muermos by 5:00 for a special presentation with the Mayor of Los Muermos and the director of the clinic alongside all our translators/dental students. We also had to say good-bye to Dr. Trotter this morning. He was flying home early so he needed to leave for the airport by 12:00. His chair had the potential for being one of the busiest so we decided that the Los Piques crew would head back to Los Muermos around lunch. Even so we were still able let Foundation intern Michelle Nance pull two teeth and I got two more as well. So, all told for the week for the assistance in order of numbers of teeth pulled 1st: Rebecca Hughes, 5 2nd; Andy Jones, 3 3rd: Michelle Nance, 2. Pretty cool!

After we got back to town I was also able to walk to the school where Dr. Adrienne Wimbrow was assisted by Elizabeth. This completed my circuit and allowed me to visit all of the sites where we had dentists throughout the week. The mobile unit you see is stationed behind the school and Elizabeth sees the students there on a regular basis. This school is also in partnership with The Cliffs Preserve and the conservation foundation. They have installed healthy snack stations in several schools including the one in Los Muermos.

We had a great presentation with the Mayor of Los Muermos, Leo, the director of the consortorio in Los Muermos, and all of our translators. I was able to combine our pictures to show each of them the work that had been done throughout the week. The mayor expressed his words of thanks to us. Leo gave each of the dentists a beautiful piece of wall art made from a local tree here in Chile. Then, David shared a word of thanks to those two gentlemen for allowing us into their community this week. We were able to present to each of them one of the new drawings of our soon to be completed building with the invitation to come and be with us and the inclusion into our family.

After we finished the presentation we loaded up the vans and headed to The Cliffs Preserve. Our stay here is a gift from the foundation to us. And what a treat it is. Many in our group, including myself, are seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Even though the water is cold I will have to go and put my toes in while I am here. We have truly had a wonderful experience. I hope that we have made an impact on the community. Our prayers will be with Pastor Boris and the Iglesia Bautista in Puerta Varas as they continue to expand their reach of ministry into the Los Muermos region.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

Today started out on a bad note as it was raining quite a bit as we made our way to breakfast and then on to the clinic. The rain lasted only an hour or so here in Los Muermos proper, but apparently it rained most of the day in some of the other places. We got to see a lot of blue sky today. By the end of the day we could see the tops of two volcanoes. They are a lot taller than I thought given the little bit we were able to see yesterday morning.

I stayed in Los Muermos and worked with Dr. Bill Trotter today. Here in the town of Los Muermos we have a mobile clinic that has two chairs. Dr. Trotter was doing extractions all day. In the other chair Dr. Sharla Bush was doing some fillings and a lot of root canals. Most of the day we had people lined up outside the truck for work to be done. It was great to have people waiting on us rather than the other way around so we were able to maximize our time.

Because of the set up in the mobile unit and the need for two translators Dr. Andrew Currie was helping to translate and write prescriptions for Dr. Trotter and Dr. Bush. He did a great job sharing the translating responsibilities with Diego. That left a place for me to assist Dr. Trotter. I was able to man the suction and get each extraction kit ready for use. It was a great day. I felt like I was really being useful and not just in the way. After lunch I even got to pull a tooth. Then, I really felt like part of the team. It was a great day!

Just before lunch time David Hughes stopped by and he had with him Pastor Boris from Puerta Varas and Jerry Bowling, missionary from Santiago. We were able to talk about the possibilities of partnerships between First Baptist Augusta and the Iglesia Bautista de Puerta Varas. We had a great conversation and I look forward to the possibilities even after the Hughes’ leave in July.

We took a walk through the town after we were finished with dentistry. There were several shops and several restaurants that we saw. One of the little restaurants was called Moe’s! How cool is that? However, it was certainly not the same. It was actually the Moe from The Simpsons. There was also a man on the street selling all kinds of sea creatures (snails, mollusks, and some kind of squishy ink thing) out of a wheel barrow. We have seen all kinds of things here.

Dr. Pruett and Dr. Lyons were once again treated to lunch at their clinic. I will be heading out there tomorrow for some pictures with them. Tomorrow we will be bringing our dental work to a close. We will also have a special presentation with the mayor, the local dentist, the director of the clinic, all of our translators, and all of our team. I will prepare a slideshow to show pictures from all of the clinics and our work here in the area.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 4- Estequilla

Tuesday April 26, 2011

This morning at breakfast we were treating to a nice surprise by our creator. We had heard that we would be able to see the volcanoes from the bed and breakfast we are staying in. So far we have not been so lucky. But, today as we were sitting down to breakfast I went to the window that more or less overlooks the town and could see the volcanoes below the cloud cover. I made this announcement and several of us ran for our cameras. It was really cool. I hope we will be able to see them in all their glory before the week is over.

Today I went to Estequilla with Dr. Andrew Hamilton and Dr. Misha Ghazarian. Our translator was Carla. She did a really good job. I have a picture of the American dentists outside of the clinic and a picture of all three of them inside the mobile van. Carla is a dental student here in Chile so not only was she able to help us with translating in Spanish but she knows the dental terminology as well. She may be able to do some dental work before the end of the week with one of the attendings assisting her.

Estequilla is only about 5 minutes from the cost of Chile although we wouldn’t have known this if David hadn’t told us. After we finished work today we asked our driver if we could go to the coast and he gladly agreed. It was gorgeous. I have never been to the coast where there was no beach only cliffs and rocks. That is what it is like in most of Chile. And the wind was whipping as well. It was cold. David Hughes says that he has been in the water in the middle of the summer and he had to where a wetsuit. So you can imagine what it would feel like now as we are approaching Winter here in the Southern Hemisphere.

But, in spite of that everything is very green. This is due to the 56” of rain this region gets per year. As a matter of fact today was the first day that I have seen significant blue sky since we have been here. Perhaps this was due to being so close to the coast. As we made the hour-drive back to Los Muermos the cloud cover returned and it looked as if we might be in for a good rain shower tonight. We’ll see.

The week is going well. We are hearing good reports from all sites. One pair of dentists was treated to lunch by one of the patients. She brought them a meal prepared from items on her farm (fresh chicken, zucchini, carrots, etc.). Then, this same team who had just treated the principal of the nearby school took them to see the school and gave them a tour. What a neat point of connection for these dentists!

Monday, April 25, 2011

First day in the clinics of Los Muermos et. al.

April 25, 2011

Today the dentists spread out around Los Muermos, Los Piques, Estequilla, and Cumbres Altes. For all teams there was a slow start to the day which is to be expected at the beginning of any mission trip. My plan is to go with a different set of dentists each day to be able to share pictures of everyone in the group as well as all the different areas. Today, I accompanied Drs. Brooke Loftis and Beth Rainwater. Our translator for the day was Rebecca Murchison Hughes. All three of these ladies did a fabulous job. The dentists are picking up and using new Spanish phrases as they relate to their patients. Rebecca was wonderful in her role as translator. I was able to assist by keeping a log of all the patients seen including what procedures were done.

We had multiple extractions and multiple cavities to be filled. We had slight problems with some of the equipment, specifically the generators which slowed down progress. I believe most of the kinks have been worked out with all groups and our speed and production will only increase. I await the reports from the other teams.

As I reflect on the day I know that dentistry is certainly not a field in which I am called. Dr. Loftis was in the middle of doing an extraction and Rebecca and I were struggling even to watch. Her nurturing side was coming out as she was feeling bad for the patient. Afterward we were mentioning our thoughts and she said something which I feel all dentists must feel at some level. “I have to think about the fact that once I do the procedure the patient will feel much better and will not be in pain.”

The plan for tomorrow is that the attendings, Dr. Bill Trotter, Dr. Andrew Hamilton, Dr. Mike Pruett, and Dr. Brooke Loftis will return to the same places they served today and the residents will rotate to serve with a different one. That way we will be able to maintain some sense of consistency in the clinics while allowing the residents multiple opportunities. The transportation situation in the morning will determine where I go.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Preparations in Los Muermos

April 24, 2011

Rebecca and David met us at the hotel this morning at 10:00. I rode with Rebecca on to the church and David walked over with the team a little later. I finished my devotion last night around 2:00AM. I emailed Rebecca and Dave so they could print it out for me. I met Pastor Boris briefly before the service but not to gain any detail about the service. He confirmed through Rebecca that I would help administer the Lord’s Supper. I was never sure when I was going to be called on to share my devotion but I was ready. One of the lay people helped to lead the beginning of the service while Pastor Boris was leading the singing from the keyboard. Rebecca was singing in the band during the morning service. Eventually, I was called on to come forward. At first, I wasn’t sure if they were calling on me to recognize me or to come speak. Eventually, the translator came through and said that I would be sharing a little bit from the word. Then, I knew I was on.

I had read over the message briefly from my seat because I wasn’t sure what it may have been since I finished so late. I think it turned out pretty good. I wish I was more able to preach extemporaneously, but that is very difficult to do through an interpreter. The service lasted from 10:30 until 1:00. It didn’t seem like it was that long. There was great variety within the service. At one point the children came up and did a piece. I got some video of that. Pastor Boris used a lot of different scripture in his message. Fortunately for us they had a PowerPoint going so we could read the references and find the English translation. They have been studying through Philippians. Today, we heard chapter 2 verses 5-11, the attitude of Christ.

At the end of the service the men’s group came up to sing. Rebecca wasn’t sure how good they were going to be, but actually I thought it was very good. Pastor Boris was a part of that group as well. He has a really good voice. We got a picture with him out in front of the church. He will be coming to Los Muermos on Wednesday to meet with Jerry Bowling, Pastor Ivan, and myself to talk about future partnership and how we will move forward from this point.

For lunch we went to another great restaurant. I can see why PV would be a great vacation spot. Most of us had fish at the recommendation of the Hughes’. I had Congrio which is eel. It was a great whitefish that did not taste fishy at all. We are now travelling to Puerto Montt. This afternoon we will meet with Leo and make preparations for the team. Decisions will be made as to who is going to be staying at the clinic and who will be travelling to the villages. Each group is going to have a translator with them who is also a dental student. We hope this will be a great experience for these students. It will also be good for our team as they will know some of the dental terminology as well.


Upon arrival to Puerto Montt we took a tour of the clinic and one of the mobile dental units. Pictures were good, but it is much better to see the places in person. The dentists were able to ask questions of the local dentist (Alex) and the manager of the local clinic (Leo). After taking a look at each of the chairs here in Los Muermos we were able to unpack our supply bags and repack the supplies into the teams that will be spread out. There will be three chairs here in Los Muermos and three elsewhere in the surrounding villages. We are eager to get started with our work tomorrow.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23- Day to relax and get out bearings

Today we were shown around the lake town of Puerta Varas by our in country trip planners David and Rebecca Hughes. Tomorrow we will attend Easter service at the local Baptist church here in PV. Andy Jones, Minister of Mission and Faith Development at FBC Augusta will assist Pastor Boris in the administration of the Lord's Supper. We have been told that this service will last from 10:30 to 1:00. This was explained as a mini-fast during the day to enhance the religious experience. The Pastor and church have a pretty good idea for how the service will flow, but there is enough flexibility to allow for improvisation and the movement of the Holy Spirit. I have also been asked to share a brief, 10 min. or so devotion as a part of the service. I will be meeting Pastor Boris in the morning to find out more about what he wants me to do and when.

Sunday afternoon we will leave for Los Muermos where we will check equipment and prepare for the work of the week. The dentists have very much appreciated the graciousness of our hosts and hotel here in PV but, we are all anxious to be in Los Muermos to begin the work of seeing patients and using the gifts and skills that God has given us. Details and pictures of preparation will come tomorrow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dental team arrives in Chile!

April 21-22, 2011

We got away from Augusta on time with not too much incident. Bill Trotter arrived at the airport without his passport and had to return to Evans and back in about half an hour. He made it back and they held the plane. We still got away without delay. Upon arriving in Atlanta we met up with Drs. Pruett and Hamilton. We had supper (or so I thought) at Chick-Fil-A. The six of us that were together then went to the Sky Club lounge to wait for our flight. For the 9 hour flight from Atlanta to Santiago, Chile I was in the Business class. What a way to fly! The flight attendants totally take care of you and the seats are fantastic. See the leg room in the picture! We were given menus for supper and treated to a three course dinner and dessert! Now, I have seen how the other half lives!

We arrived in Santiago and waited in line to pay our reciprocity fee, then waited in line to go through immigration to collect our passport stamps, then went to baggage claim to get our bags before going through customs. I was the lucky one that got stopped on the way through. The dental equipment wasn’t the problem. It was all the glasses that had been packed in my bag. After using my very limited Spanish with three even more limited English speakers I and my bags were released. The rest of the team had gone on up to the third floor. Once I figured that out I headed up as well. Jerry Bowling was standing with them and introductions had already been made. I quickly removed the proclaimers and the C PAP machine to give to him before re-checking my bag on the LAN Chile flight. At first, there was question as to the weight of my bag, which I am still unsure if it was overweight after removing the above items. Once she realized I had only gotten to Chile this morning by plane it was no problem to send the bags through as a continuation. I, however, still had to wait at the desk although I wasn’t sure why. It turns out she was not able to tell me the gate we would be going to 4 or so hours later because it was too early. That was all. No issues beyond that.

After rechecking our bags we all headed over to Dunkin’ Donuts for a snack which allowed Jerry and I some time to chat about future partnerships in Chile. I was able to snap pictures with him and the C PAP machine and the Proclaimer. Jerry is planning to come to Los Muermos on Tuesday or Wednesday to talk with David and Boris about what the future holds once the Hughes leave in July.

Now, we are waiting to board the LAN flight in about half an hour to make our way down to Puerto Montt and PV. I think we all would really like a shower and a nap. Hopefully, I will find some time to work on a devotional message for Sunday. The butterfly idea, resurrection, and new creation seems to be a great theme.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can I still be a "Lifer"?

So, I good friend of mine remarked the other day upon hearing of my new position, "I thought he was a lifer" referring to a career in Student Ministry. I always thought I would be. If you had asked me two years ago if I could see myself doing something other than Student Ministry I would have given you a resounding and heartfelt "NO!" I understood my calling as one to love students and help them develop a love relationship with our Lord. And I still do. My call has simply expanded. When the opportunity for this new position came up, however, I knew that the Lord was in it. Some difficult discussions were needed and a time of waiting was inadvertently established. Throughout those trials (and they were) my wife and I wrestled with this new calling. I realized that God had been preparing me for this moment all along. What a joy these last few months have been as I dove right in to the new responsibilities. Thank you to FBC for challenging me with these new responsibilities. I pray that you will grow with me as we expand this two-fold ministry before us. We will strengthen what is already in place and we will also embark upon new endeavors. I offer this one word of advice, "Hang on, it's gonna be a wild ride!"

What a difference a year makes!

I can't believe it has actually been a whole year since my last post. I guess one of my New Year's Resolutions ought to be to blog more consistently. Maybe I will. As some of you know I have transitioned in the last few months out of Student Ministry and into another passion of mine, Missions. My title is actually Minister of Missions and Faith Development. I like the charge I was given by my pastor to help our church recognize these two aspects not as a dichotomy, but as two sides of that same coin. As we develop our faith this leads to a desire to serve others at home and abroad (Missions) which in turn helps us to develop and deepen our faith. You can't have one without the other. Thanks to James for a great discussion on the relationship between faith and works. Pray with me as I charge ahead into this new calling of God.