Story Time- Heat Waves and Airports

It is going to be a HOT day today where I live, which is just a normal part of life here. It will be 104 F, 40 C. Yesterday was a hot one too. The recent heat wave reminds me of two different experiences walking out of airports.

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In June 2010, I went to Ensenada Mexico for a ministry trip. We had a rough heat wave where live the days before we left. We landed in San Diego California where it was a 72 F, 22C, day. When I walked out of the airport there, it was so nice that I wondered if they needed ESL teachers there. I even looked up things like cost of living in San Diego, which after doing so I realized I could not afford to live there. 🙂

In July 2015, I returned from Brazil after five weeks of teaching English at a university in a small city in the mountains of Southern Brazil. With Brazil being in the Southern Hemisphere, it is winter there when it is summer in the USA. The ‘winter’ in Brazil meant it was about 65 F, 18C, each day. It was so comfortable for me. I love cooler weather. When I returned to my city in the USA, it was a hot and humid day here. When I walked out of the airport the heat was too much, I wanted to go back in the airport and catch a flight back to Brazil, but I had to start teaching a few days later, so I stayed.

Both experiences illustrate something about me. I don’t like hot weather, So why I do continue living in a place that is unbearably hot in the summers you might ask? Good question, Thanks for asking. 🙂

God has called me to share the love of Jesus with the refugees and immigrants living in my city. That has been what has kept me here. God has called me to be here.

So on days like today, I am grateful for that wonderful invention called air-conditioning. I will hang out at a coffee shop for a while after my morning and afternoon class and then relax at home in the air-conditioning.

What about you? Do like extremely hot days?

Thank you for reading. God Bless,

Story Time- A Surprise That Was Not a Surprise

In 2008, my birthday was on a Sunday. My Sunday group at that time had a young couple from Brazil, a young couple from Germany, a young couple from South Korea, a married couple of an American husband and his wife from Vietnam, a woman from Belgium, a businessman from Japan, two young men from Congo, a young woman from Ukraine, and three young people from India.

They were busy students that weekend preparing a surprise for me. Their plan was to be in the room with the lights off and yell surprise as soon as I walked in at 9am.

Only one problem- one of the young men from Congo, Olivier. I had a meeting at 8:25 at the church, so I asked Yoshio from Japan to pick up the two young men from Congo. When I arrived at the church at 8:20, Olivier came out to the parking lot, shook my hand, and took my book bag and carried it in for me.

As soon as I saw Olivier, my first thought was, “why is Olivier here at 8:20. He came with Yoshio. Yoshio is always about 5 minutes late.”

It did not take me long at all to figure out what was going on, but trying to be a good teacher when I walked in the door and they yelled surprised, I acted surprised. I did not want my friends to feel bad. One of them came up to me after class and whispered, “Were you really surprised?” I just smiled.

Memories like this one are ones we treasure for years. We remember the people, place, and everything that happened.

Do you know who remembers all of the things you have done for him? God. Hebrews 6:10 says:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them

God remembers everything little thing we did to love him by helping his people. He remembers things we have forgotten. Even something as little as helping someone with a ride. No action performed out of love for God and others is ever forgotten by God.

The following year, there was no attempt at a surprise. But we still had fun. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Why I Started Daily Showers As A Boy

A few months ago, I was talking one day with the 5th grade teachers. They mentioned they talk to the children after they return from physical education about the need to take showers every day. They do so because when the children return from physical education, their classroom is full of ‘stinky’ children. A dilemma faced by 5th grade teachers that lower grades teachers do not have to contend with.

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It reminded me of why I started taking daily showers when I was that age. Yes my parents talked to me about it. Yes teachers in school talked about it in class for the whole class. But I did not pay attention to my parents or teachers.

In the summers I was on a swim team each year. The summer after 5th grade I was preparing to go to summer camp. I told my swim team coach I would miss one week because I was going to summer camp. He said, “remember to take a shower every day. Swimmers do.”

In my 11 year old mind, that translated into the coach had just told me a secret to being a good swimmer. From that day on I took showers every day because the coach told me to. Of course as a 14 year old I realized it was not a secret to being a good swimmer but I continued to do so because there were girls to impress.

Fortunately we do not need to worry about cleansing ourselves spiritually to come into the presence of God. Jesus does that for us. He cleans us up. Hebrews 10 teaches us:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

If we trust in Jesus, he cleans us up spiritually.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- The Purple Evidence

When I was a boy, only blocks away from my home was a small creek that had some wild mulberry trees. In the summer time my friends and I would ride our bikes there with our Boy Scout canteens full of water. We had what each time we thought was our secret mission. The mission? Eat some wild mulberries.

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We would rinse them off with the water in our canteens and have a feast. We would spend a few hours there eating mulberries, exploring nature, and getting into the typical endeavors of 11 and 12 year old boys.

The first few times when I would come home, my parents would ask if I had gone to the mulberry trees. I confessed my endeavors wondering how they knew. I asked them how they knew. They told me my purple lips and fingers gave it away. It was the purple evidence.

Just as I could not hide my mulberry adventure from my parents, we cannot hide our sins from God. Fortunately for us, God still loves us even though we cannot hide our sins from him. Romans 5:8 says

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Sadly the small creek was turned into part of an underground sewer system and the mulberry trees and other trees taken out as part of residential development. God’s love for us will never go away and can never be taken away.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- My New Teaching Toy

You know the saying, “the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys?” This past week that has certainly been true of me for my U.S. Citizenship classes. The Community Center I teach them for rents space from a larger Community Agency. That agency had something new installed in the conference rooms I teach in.

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The new set up has a large screen TV which is connected to the internet, a cool sound system, and has a cordless keyboard and mouse. It has been so much fun this past week trying out my new toy. 🙂

The classes are blended classes with some students joining in Zoom and some students in person. We can see the Zoom students on the large 64 inch screen. They can see the whole classroom. I have been having fun exploring what I can do with this wonderful new toy. 🙂

Even with the fun new technology, the most fun for me is the diverse group of students. My students come from Burma, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Libya, Mexico and Sudan. As I teach them, I think about how they can all become Americans. We are all studying together because they each share the same goal.

Yet as wonderful as it will be when they each become citizens, it pales in comparison to the ultimate realization of diverse people coming together as one with the same purpose which will be to rejoice over being in the presence of Jesus. People from every tribe, tongue/language, nation will be there.

Another thought- no electronics, tech, toys etc in this life can compare to what we will see in heaven. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- My Successful Recipe

Yes in the past I have shared stories of my failed attempts in the kitchen. It is true that my cooking skills often fall short and the outcome is not quite edible. Case in point is my frustration with gluten free frozen pizzas and their inability to tell me when they are done resulting in somewhat overcooked pizza.

My news today may send shock waves through the blogosphere. I came up with a recipe that is delicious and impossible to overcook. Perhaps you are on the edge of your seat anticipating what the recipe might be, so with no further delay here goes.

Chocolate ice cream is a fav of mine. I am also a big fan of Greek yogurt that has fruit with my fav being black cherry Greek yogurt. A few weeks ago a thought came to me. I love chocolate ice cream with mix ins at ice cream places such strawberry ice cream mixed in. So the idea came to me to mix in some black cherry Greek yogurt with chocolate ice cream. The result was a taste sensation of EPIC proportions.

I am sure you are overwhelmed by my master chef level creativity. No need to thank me for this recipe. Enjoy it anytime you like. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless..

Story Time- Don’t Try This for Breakfast

The children’s show Sesame Street used to have a song of one of these things doesn’t belong/fit in. That has been true at times with food combinations I think of. A recent one this week was yet another example of why I should never be on a show like Top Chef.

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I like eating an apple with some all natural peanut butter in the morning for breakfast. It is a healthy combination and tastes good to me. Apples are one of my favorite fruits. That combination I would suggest for anyone unless they have a peanut allergy of course.

The problematic breakfast the other day did not involve an apple. I had the all natural peanut butter, but no apple. So what is a person to do? I looked at what I had in the kitchen because it I did not feel like going to the store. I noticed I had an avocado.

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So I thought to myself that avocadoes are technically fruit not vegetables. I cut the avocado open and spooned out the inside to place in a bowl. I then put some all natural peanut butter on top of it. I took one bite and realized it was a big mistake. Avocadoes and peanut butter do not belong together. Cue the Sesame Street song.

But in my defense it is not like the avocado tried to warn me it would not taste good with peanut butter, so really I blame to avocado. 🙂

Fortunately for us, even though none of us fit in with Jesus on our own, he made it so we can fit with him because of what he did for us by dying for us. We can belong to Jesus for all eternity. We can belong to God.

Apples and peanut butter yes. Jesus definitely yes. But please learn from my failed experiment and do not try to eat peanut butter with an avocado. 🙂

I wonder who I should cook breakfast for? Alicia, Brenda, or Dawn. You can vote by commenting.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Adventures with a Frozen Pizza

Yesterday after my morning class, I stopped at a small market near my place to buy some food. One of the items was a gluten free frozen pizza. The young woman who was the cashier asked me if they were good. She wanted to know because she is gluten sensitive. I told her, “This one is good, but the key is to not forget you put it in the oven.”

Well the rest of the story is this. I came home and put the frozen gluten free pizza in the oven and lo and behold, I got distracted. It was not a noble distraction such as an important phone call or deep studies in the bible. I was playing a word game online. Then I remembered the frozen gluten free pizza in my oven.

It was still edible, barely, but a bit overdone. lol

In my defense, the pizza did not tell me it was done, so really it is the pizza’s fault. 🙂

Fortunately for us, God is much more mindful of us than I was of the frozen gluten free pizza. Jesus said in Matthew 6:

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

and in Luke 12:

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

God knows the number of hairs on our heads. He pays attention to every little detail about us. He will never overlook us.

Now I wonder whose kitchen I should cook in? Dawn, Jenny, or Brenda?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy Thanksgiving Day- USA- Story Time

It is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. I would like to wish all of my fellow bloggers in the USA a Happy Thanksgiving Day. I realize that due to COVID Thanksgiving might not be the same. Some states have draconian lockdown rules. Travel is not the same.

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For my fellow bloggers in other countries, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. is one of the biggest holidays of the year. It is a time that families come together often traveling to visit.

Many bloggers will post what they are thankful for and that is wonderful. I felt more like posting a humorous story about a Thanksgiving in the past. Hopefully it will give someone a smile or a laugh.

Many years ago, I decided to cook a Thanksgiving lunch for my weekend groups. I invited all of the people who came to my weekend groups and their spouses/families. I had it all planned and had even bought two large turkeys.

There was a restaurant that served red potatoes cooked with some of the skins still on. I loved those potatoes. So I decided to boil some red potatoes to make mashed potatoes.

I put the two large turkeys in the oven and began boiling a huge pot of potatoes. Then I realized one little problem. I did not know how to tell when the turkeys were done cooking. Since I was in the kitchen in my church basement, I had an idea.

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I went up to the main floor hoping to find one of the women from the church. I found one. It was my friend Kris. I asked her a questions, “Kris how do I know when turkeys are done?”

She answered with a question similar to ones I have heard many times, “Why what are you doing?”

I explained I was trying to cook a Thanksgiving lunch for my weekend groups. She came down and saw what perhaps was a disaster area in her mind. She took over.

She explained to me that one has to wash potatoes before boiling them and that was why there was dirt floating on the top. She also explained it takes longer to cook turkeys than to boil potatoes. I realized I was out of my league. I let her know if she helped me she could invite her family to join us.

The meal ended up being a success. My international friends enjoyed the experience. Kris’s family enjoyed a meal and I was happy that God had placed someone in my path who knew what they were doing.

So who wants me to cook for them?

Happy Thanksgiving America. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time-What Is It About Me and Babies?

For some reason I seem to stumble onto saying something about a baby before a woman knows for sure she is pregnant. I should qualify that it has only happened maybe 5 to 10 or so times in 30 years, so my women friends please do not stay away from me 🙂 .

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A few years ago a woman in my morning class told me her stomach was upset. I asked if it was because of a baby. She pointed her finger at me laughing and said, “don’t jinx me.” She already had four children, so the idea of a fifth was not exciting for her. That was in late April towards the end of the school year. Sure enough in early September when class started again, she was showing. She would joke that the teacher jinxed her. She was happy to have a baby daughter later in the school year.

Yesterday I had a Zoom session with a woman from Brazil living in Canada. We do English lessons twice a week. Last week as we were talking she talked about her two year old son. I asked her if she wanted another baby and she answered when the time is right. She did a home pregnancy test an hour after our lesson and found out that she is indeed pregnant. She shared that with me during our lesson time and asked me to teach her English for talking to the doctor. I was also sworn to secrecy, but no one who reads my blog would figure out who she is, so it is okay to write about it.

This is a bit amusing to me because I have never been married, thus no babies ever in my life. I have also never changed a diaper. I only know how to get babies to smile and laugh. I really do not know much about babies.

One thing I do know is that babies are precious to Jesus. God loves babies. Psalm 139 says:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

It is amazing that hundreds of years before Jesus came and thousands of years before DNA was discovered that the wording- knit me together- was used. When a woman’s egg is fertilized, that is exactly what happens. The DNA from the mother and the father knit together to form a new person.

Babies are precious to God, so it is my privilege to pray for my women friends who are pregnant for a healthy baby. But that is about all I know about babies.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.