Monday, September 29, 2008

September Newsletter

From Laura, 9 … It was very exciting to be looking out at the hurricane and seeing plants bending over, branches fallen off our tree, and wind blowing so hard that we felt a little chilly even inside the house. Now that I’ve seen all the damage it did, I remember that moment and think, “Why didn’t I see all that wind and rain and think of all the things that were happening to people, houses, fences, and trees?”

We bought the house that we had been considering! On Wednesday we went and got a remarkable amount of work done on it. We tore all the carpet up downstairs and upstairs except one room. We heaved and hauled and pushed and pulled, but it was great fun anyway!

From Becca, 12 … One of the things I got for my birthday was a hurricane. I’ve never been in a real hurricane. I only knew about preparing for a hurricane: filling buckets, jugs, and bathtubs, boarding up windows, and sleeping downstairs so as to not be by windows. It was very exciting! Those of us who normally sleep by windows slept in the living room, all five of us in a row on the floor. I woke up in the night during the storm, and I could see nothing at all, except for a little bit of grayness by a window. The power had gone out. I think that if someone had done something like grab me while I was lying in bed, I would have jumped out of my skin, because I couldn’t have seen him coming at all.

As the week went on, we got used to having no power. It didn’t seem so exciting or different anymore. I stopped flipping switches as much and I got used to it being dark in the evenings. We went to bed when it was dark and got up when it was just beginning to get light, whereas usually we hardly notice it being light or dark, because it’s always light in the house.

From Seth, 15 … This week I read a novel called Solar Flare. The book is about several massive solar flares that hit the earth, destroy everything that runs on electricity, and reverse the earth’s magnetic poles. It then details the massive changes society undergoes, such as the breakdown of law, order, and communications, and the de-urbanization of America. It was really interesting to think about what our world would look like without electricity, especially considering how in our modern world commerce, transportation, and communication all largely depend on electricity. It leads one to ask, have we become too dependent on electricity; could we live the rest of our lives without it? It was definitely interesting, to say the least, to read this book and to think about these questions in the midst of a week-long power outage!

From Anna, 18 … I recently added a new musical instrument to our family’s collection. I’d been wanting to learn to play the hammered dulcimer for a long time, and I finally bought one about a month ago. I’m no expert yet, but I’m learning, and very much enjoying it!

It has been most exciting to watch the progression of Ray and Katie’s relationship. This whole process has been fascinating, but it has been especially neat to see them making plans both for their wedding and for their future together these last couple of weeks. We are so thrilled with what God is doing and how He has worked in both their lives!

For John, 24, by Becca … John read through all the other newsletter entries and he thought everything was covered and it was all nice and tidy without his addition. He is also very busy. So, these are the results of an interview that I did with John. You may think that if he had time to do an interview with me, then he should have had time to write an entry himself. Well, that is not the case, because I interviewed him while he was working. Recently John brought home a big, old microwave from a job he did. He had replaced it with a little, new one and brought it home to put it in our trash. I think it was almost as big as our oven. The old one was a venting microwave and that is one reason why it was so big. A venting microwave is like the thing you have above your stove. It sucks up air and blows it somewhere else.

From Katie, 26 … I can hardly believe I've been engaged for almost three weeks now! The time has gone by quickly, and so much has happened. For those of you who haven't heard yet, Ray proposed to me on September 9, during family devotions after dinner. He used Ephesians 5:25 as a starting place, then followed it up with words so touching they are now framed and displayed prominently on my wall. We are very thankful for the time we had together during Hurricane Ike, when we were able to get our wedding almost completely planned. Besides that, it was also a valuable time of making decisions together, talking about a host of subjects, and just enjoying each other's company. We have been thrilled to see the wedding details falling into place, and were very excited to get the date finalized and to get the church we wanted. Most of all, we are so thankful and excited that God has brought us together. We are counting down the days until we will be married. In the meantime, visits, phone calls, and emails (in such a quantity that our friends and family just shake their heads in astonished bewilderment) will tide us over.

From Judith … You’ve already heard plenty from me over the past few weeks, so I won’t say much now -- just a bit more on the Ike aftermath. There are still people without power, but fewer each day. Piles of debris still line the streets awaiting removal and signs and traffic lights are gradually getting repaired. Right now, the most pervasive factor since the hurricane is the swarming mosquitoes! We dodge into our houses in an effort to thwart their entry, but they still get in. My worst experience was when I returned the generator to our kind benefactors on Monday. I guess I had some of the enemy in the van with me because shortly into the drive my ankle began to burn and itch. That one episode resulted in six nasty bites. We’re very much hoping for a hard freeze this winter in order to reduce the mosquito population.

From Gerald … Hurricane, House, Honeymoon… That sums up our lives these days. (Actually, planning for wedding and marriage is much more than honeymoon, but I needed an “H” word.)

It was a bit of an adventure living without power for nine days. But, we had a generator after the third day, so that was a great help because we could power our refrigerator, some lights, and our computers. A friend described it as being like “camping with beds.” That is not too far off. We were thankful to have only minor damage to our house that we were able to fix ourselves.

It was interesting to observe how much more interaction there was between neighbors than usual. There was a real spirit of cooperation, and folks were outside much more since there was no air conditioning without power.

We did buy a house, and closed on it September 17, the Wednesday after the storm. The closing was delayed by one day because the title company did not have power, and the sellers were having trouble getting moved out. We are convinced that we have purchased the ugliest house in the neighborhood, and it needs quite a lot of work both inside and out, but we see a lot of potential in it and are excited about the possibilities.

It has been a real joy to be involved in the courtship between Katie and Ray. We are excited to see them now making plans and moving toward a life together. We expect their wedding to be simple, but meaningful. They have been very intentional about what the wedding service should include, so it will not be a “typical” wedding. It has been interesting for me to observe Katie making these plans with Ray; she is the child who questioned us at various times as she was growing up, asking, “Why do we always have to be so different from everyone else?” Now she understands.

Our Love, Gerald, Judith, Katie, John, Anna, Seth, Becca, and Laura

Friday, September 26, 2008

Woody Allen on The Effect of Belief on One's Quality of Life

I recently came across an interesting quote:

Woody Allen was asked, "Why don't you just find God? Wouldn't it make your life easier?"

He responded, "If you actually have faith, if you believe that there's more to life in a positive sense, then of course it's a wonderful, wonderful thing... I can't bring myself to do it. If I'm sitting next to a guy and he has true belief, I look at him and think, Poor thing, you really are deluded. But his life is much better than mine."

I found it fascinating that this athiest recognized that it takes something beyond this life to make this life worth living. It's also tragic, though, to realize that this man has deliberately chosen to make himself his god, and has turned away from everything that could give him any hope in his life.

The reporter's question was also telling. It shows how our culture has come to think that God is just a good luck charm to make us all feel good. That kind of god may give a feeling of spiritual fulfillment to fallen man, but it won't truly satisfy any more than believing in no god. It is only through God's saving grace bestowed on us, His drawing us to Himself, and His opening our blind eyes that we can have any meaning in our lives now and any hope for our future.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Operation House-to-Home: Digging In!

Ready, set, roll!!!
We went over today and ripped out almost all the carpet in the new house. We also started removing the paneling in the living room...
...we removed the doors on the kitchen cabinets in preparation for removing the cabinets themselves...
...and Seth worked on digging out the roots of some of the bushes we cut down on Saturday.
Lunch break.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Operation House-to-Home: Clearing Bushes

We closed on our new house on Wednesday, so we are getting ready to dig in and make this run-down house into our home. On Saturday we went over and started clearing out some of the bushes in front.
There's still a lot of work ahead of us, but it felt good to get started and do something that made such an immediate and noticeable difference in the appearance of the house!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

WE'RE POWERED!!!!

There was much hopefulness building in the van about 8:00 this evening as we got closer and closer to home and yet were still seeing lights on – even in the residential area! Dared we hope we had power again??!! INDEED, WE HAD!! WE HAVE POWER AGAIN!!!! There was whooping and hollering in the van as we pulled into the driveway. After nine days, we were back in business!

Whereas our church family had not been able to be together last Sunday, we were able to meet today. Since power at the church didn’t come on until late yesterday, the Sunday potluck fellowship meal had been canceled. Yesterday one of our elders had sent an e-mail encouraging those with power to invite us “powerless” ones over for extended fellowship after church. In anticipation of an invitation, we packed up fixings for a large salad, some store-bought dinner breads, and -- two loads of dirty laundry!! Delightfully, we were taken in! We had a wonderful time with two other families from church and one of the singles (Katie’s fiancĂ©). The funny thing was that the power went off THERE for a while! It came back on, though, so we didn’t need to come home with one half-dry and one half-washed load of laundry.

Sweetly, we have been offered a bounty of help from our Houston friends and church family -- more offers than we could ever avail ourselves of. Here’s one offer that really tickled us:

“Many years ago, my mother gave L. what we call an EZ-bake oven. It is actually a little countertop oven/toaster that could probably be powered using the generator. Several years ago we had 8 guests coming to stay with us over Christmas holidays. Friday night, a day or two before Christmas, our oven blew its heating element and we were not able to get it repaired before the guests descended upon us. I pulled out the EZ-bake and it baked 2 cheesecakes, a roast with carrots and potatoes, rolls, muffins, toast, etc. The “etc.” is for all the other food that I cooked that week that I’m unable to remember now. Needless to say, the LORD taught me how He can teach us to be sooo creative at times like these. Would you like to borrow it?”

Thank for caring about us and being interested in our happenings. Please pray for the many, many people who were truly devastated by this storm. It will be a long time for them before life is back to any sort of normal.

Ever in the Lord’s care,

Gerald, Judith, Katie, John, Anna, Seth, Becca, and Laura

P.S. This will be the last Ike update. Our regular monthly newsletter will go out in about a week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Today's Ike Update

Every so often we get word of another family in our church having their power restored and a cheer goes up here! In time, we’ll all be back up and running. A neighbor heard that our area might have power by Monday.

The trampoline worked very nicely for drying the laundry. When I sent Becca and Laura out to gather it all up, they amused themselves by still referring to it as “emptying the dryer”!

Gerald and John replaced the wind turbine that was lost in the storm. We still need to repair the shingle damage on the corner.

I didn’t realize how much we bake here until this week! We usually bake various items for our breakfast food and for dinner side dishes. We’ll be glad to have our oven back in use. We have been using our bread machine, though, so we are getting to have homemade bread each day now! Also, soups and legumes are regular features in our meal rotation, but they require long cooking times which don’t work for camp-stove cooking. So, we’ll also be glad to have our cook top back in use.

We’ve realized that a diet low in meat and dairy is quite advantageous at times like this. We haven’t had to throw out any food yet. The stores are only now beginning to get meat, dairy, and frozen goods back on their shelves. Produce and non-perishables, though, have been readily available.

Please don’t misunderstand these reports! We are not at all complaining. We know that what we are experiencing is very minor. Many, many people all over the world live their whole lives in far, far worse circumstances than ours. These reports are only being sent because many are interested in what is going on here.

Pictures from Ike Aftermath

Surveying the damage. Putting plastic over the hole in our roof.
One of the most badly damaged trees we saw in our neighborhood.
Looking at the nearby creek, which must have had well over twice as much water in it as usual.
A flooded street in our neighborhood.
Trimming the branches off our tree.
Enjoying the power from our borrowed generator.
Laying out laundry to dry.


Wedding Planning


Hurricane Ike was very much a blessing in disguise for Ray and me. He spent the weekend with us, we had very little damage to our property, and the power was out so a lot of our normal activities weren't possible. That all added up to having a lot of time to talk and to plan our wedding.

We made a lot of progress in the planning, and had a very special time thinking through it all together. We were able to consider what is important to us in a wedding celebration and how we can keep the focus on those elements that are truly meaningful and significant.

Now we just have to be patient, since we are SO excited!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Life After Ike

We've appreciated all the sweet loving notes and offers for help! God bless each of you!

We are still without power (6 days now), but are happily and gratefully using the generator our church family brought us. It's a bit expensive to run in that it uses roughly about $15 worth of gas each day, so we are using it very sparingly. Whereas we are normally powering two fridges and one chest freezer, we are only using the one fridge during this time. Tomorrow I will see if I can fit as much as four-days worth of perishables in it. Besides the fridge and occasional small appliances, we are primarily using it for our electronics in addition to a table lamp at night.

It does look like I'll need to wash underwear tomorrow. I think I'll try to lay it all out on the trampoline to dry. If that doesn't work, I'll go, with wet laundry in tow, to visit our various sweet friends who have offered laundry services.

Gerald's workplace experienced water damage which has delayed him going to his office until Monday. He has been working off and on from home.

Ray and Katie are delayed in their wedding plans due to not being able to make contact (probably due to the storm) with the church they hope to use.

Now here's some really nutty news in the midst of Ike's aftermath! We bought a house yesterday!! The closing was delayed one day due to Ike. So now we own a home here and a "project" about 15 minutes away. To begin with, and before we move in, we will repair the foundation, replace the kitchen and floors, and paint the whole place inside. We will work on the bathrooms, the exterior, and the grounds later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How We Are Faring After Ike's Visit

The short version of our update: We’re all fine but still don’t have electricity.

The long version:

Hurricane Ike has paid his visit with much drama indeed!

At noon on Thursday, September 11, Weatherford sent everyone home. That enabled Gerald to make a considerable contribution to the hurricane preparations that day and on through Friday. At this point (Thursday) Gerald and I were still anticipating a trip to San Diego. (We were to learn later that evening that our flight had been cancelled and there was no way for us to get there.)

We got in touch with Ray (Katie’s fiancĂ©) on Friday to see what his hurricane plans were. We didn’t want him to ride out the storm alone in his apartment. We invited him and his roommate to come here. Ray accepted, but his roommate made other plans.

We nine then bedded down Friday, having completed the preparations, and awaited the storm. When it came in the middle of the night, several got up to watch a bit then went back to bed. There was rain with it but not a lot.

At about 3:00 Saturday morning, after a series of bluish-green glows and sizzling sounds from the transformer by our house, our electrical power went out.

When the wind and rain finally let up midday on Saturday, folks began emerging to assess the damage. Some branches on our backyard tree broke. One branch took off a wind turbine, leaving a 12-inch hole, and another branch ripped up a bit of one corner of the roof. The guys fashioned a temporary patch which was soon put to the test.

In the early morning hours on Sunday, heavy rain began to fall and continued on through the morning. That slowed the recovery. We checked and, thankfully, the roof patch did its job.

About the time the rain started early Sunday morning, we also found that we no longer had running water. (Without electricity to run the pumps, the water towers that dot Houston will supply until the existing supply runs out.) We immediately went into major water-conservation mode.

The sun came out late Sunday morning and, oh, my, what a sultry day it was. All but Judith went walking to check out the storm results – flooding here and there, tons of tree, fence, and sign damage, and people already out cleaning up and comparing their damage.

At lunch time our water began to run again after about 11 hours without it, and we were all so very, very thankful! Feeling quite confident of our water supply at this point, we released everyone to freely take showers. That was a great relief considering our heat, humidity, and lack of air conditioning!

Monday morning brought the blessed relief of the first cool air of the fall. It was truly delightful to feel cooler, dryer air for the first time in months, and to have it come when we would most appreciate it!

Recovery is coming gradually, but it is slow. Essential services are partially up and running, while other businesses are trying to get open also. Gerald’s office still hasn’t been able to open up again. John is delayed in getting on with his work, due to damaged traffic lights, very long lines, and shortages everywhere, particularly the home-improvement stores. The title company for our house purchase hasn’t had power, so the Tuesday closing looks like it will be Wednesday or Thursday.

As of this writing we are at almost four days without electricity. One of our elders called this morning to check on us. He also wondered if we needed/wanted a generator. Gerald assured him we could carry on in our camping mode, so the generator should go to another household in greater need. That seemed to settle the matter. What a surprise, then, when another church member showed up later in the morning with a generator! I guess our elder decided we were the neediest.

About our food … Since we rarely have meat in our freezer, our situation has not produced any loss yet. Admittedly, we’ve had some funny meals as we have focused on eating up the food that wasn’t going to last as long. We figured we would eventually start living out of our two ice chests, with a trip to the store each day or two for ice and just the amount of food that would fit. We are cooking on our camp stove.

Now that we have the generator, we are powering just one of our two refrigerators and not the chest freezer. We powered the bread machine, but still can’t use the oven or range. We have also powered up the computer and then some lamps this evening. We’ll do laundry only when we must, since it will mean hanging clothes (can’t use the generator for the dryer).

It remains to be seen when Gerald will get back to Weatherford. They put out notice each day. He knows he won’t be going tomorrow.

Now about how we have spent our time over these past four days … During the hurricane and the rainstorm that followed, we were hunkered down and played games that were promised to Becca for her recent birthday. Sunday afternoon we slowly began the cleanup. Monday, though, the paced picked up and there was a flurry of activity, both here and at the neighbors, with much progress made toward getting back to normal. That continued into today. In fact the work included a major and blessed thorough cleaning out of the garage! (There are perks with these hurricanes!) Today I thoroughly cleaned out both refrigerators and the chest freezer. Ray and Katie were able do a tremendous amount of planning for their wedding and for their future together. It was really quite a boon for them!

This morning Katie and I ventured out for the first time on account of wanting to look at material and patterns for her wedding dress and to take care of a few other errands. Tonight I went out again to buy the three days worth of groceries I think I can fit in one fridge, but found the stores had all closed early. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

Here is what we are thankful for:

We were not hurt.

The house had only minor damage.

We enjoyed sweet fellowship together as a family.

Ray and Katie made great progress with their planning.

Our weather became cooler and dryer yesterday and today.

We had lots of good interaction with our neighbors, helping them with their cleanup, visiting with them -- even getting to encourage one in his Bible reading.

We saw firsthand the body of Christ caring for each other when the generator showed up.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Zambia Trip: Close Encounters

We got to visit a crocodile farm, and the tour became even more exciting than we expected when the guide said, "I will get a stick and go in there to make it move!"
We also went on a safari that included a river boat ride, then a drive in an open vehicle. We saw many animals, and some of them were very close.






See what I mean?!
This lion was using the vehicles as hiding places while stalking a warthog. It didn't recognize us as potential meals, but just saw us as part of the vehicle. At least, that's what the guide said! It must be true, since no one got eaten. It was quite startling to have a lion looking right at you from only three feet away, but what a great story we all have now! It was also fascinating to see an animal hunting in real life.
Goodbye to Africa!

Preparing for Ike

Yesterday and today we've been boarding up windows...filling jugs with drinking water...
filling buckets with tap water...
charging batteries...
and trying to get our computer work done in case the power goes out.
It looks like we will be getting our first ever experience with a real hurricane. We prepared for Rita, but didn't get any more than a breezy day and a smattering of rain.

This morning was nice and sunny, with a breeze, but it has started to cloud over now, and the breeze is stronger than it was. We're far enough northwest in Houston that we don't think there's any danger of our house blowing over, so our main concern will be falling branches and the loss of power and/or water. We don't know exactly what will happen, but we know that God is in control!

By the way, in case anyone is wondering, I am going to respond to the comments on this post. I have a follow-up post partially written, but with everything going on this week, any thinking on deep political/theological issues has been rather neglected! Hopefully that will be going up on the blog before long.

Learning to Not Presume Upon the Future

This has been a crazy summer to say the least! Whereas we normally take just one long road trip each summer, this year we stretched ourselves and planned two long road trips and one air trip. The first was mostly to see family and visit the mountains. The second was sightseeing northeast of us. The third was for Gerald and me to fly to San Diego to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. Added into this mix was Katie’s trip to Zambia.

Well those were OUR plans. Then the picture began to change when we made the decision in early summer that it was time to start seriously looking for a new house. We had the location and other particulars in mind. Of course, this process means that when you find the right place, you need to jump right in before it’s sold. There was one house we almost bought when we got home from our July trip, but it sold to someone else.

Next, a certain young man named Ray, having patiently waited for us to arrive home in July, went to Gerald on July 17 to say he was interested in marrying Katie. We had been carefully and quickly getting to know Ray prior to that time, but that process intensified considerably at this point. In particular, it meant throwing in a whirlwind 4-day trip to Washington State, to meet Ray’s family, the next day after our 9-day August trip.

About a week and a half later we found a dilapidated house we wanted to pursue. That has involved negotiations, planning, designing, inspections, and estimates. (We will close on it September 16.)

That brings us up to this weekend -- the long-awaited and planned-for birthday/reunion in San Diego!

Then came Ike.

Okay, we thought, our children can handle this hurricane without us. As long as our flight wasn’t cancelled, we were still going to San Diego. We prepared for the hurricane, we wrote instructions, we coached the family, we all prayed together – then we got online and realized that no flights within a 300-mile radius of us were going to San Diego until probably Sunday. Wow! What a blow! There was no way for us to get there.

The reality of God’s sovereignty was driven home to me. There was nothing I, nor anyone else, could do to change our circumstances. So -- this is clearly God’s perfect will for me this weekend. I am called to rejoice in all things, and so I rejoice that God has made his will known.

I will continue to make plans for the future, but you can be sure I will hold them loosely, as I eagerly look to each day to see what God has in mind for me -- in spite of my plans! All the while I am trusting that he will equip and prepare me for whatever comes.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Prov. 16:9

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town (San Diego) and spend a year (or a long weekend) there and trade and make a profit (or have a reunion/birthday party)’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring (a hurricane maybe?). What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (in the winds perhaps?). Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:13-15

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zambia Trip: Livingstone

We now return to our regularly scheduled program. :-) With this week's engagement news, my trip to Zambia seems even more like a distant memory, but I didn't share about the rest of it yet, so we will now continue.

We spent the last few days of our trip in Livingstone, mostly for sightseeing, but also to visit a church there. Pastor Voddie preached in the morning service on Sunday, and afterwards, one young man became a Christian. Praise the Lord!

On the way to the local pastor's home for lunch that afternoon, I got to hold a baby who was quite startled at being held by a white woman!
One of the men on our team preached the message for the evening service. It was a joy to fellowship with these believers on Sunday, and also over dinner with several families later in the week.
We got to see Victoria Falls, which was very low, this being the dry season. It was still impressive, though.
We had fun scrambling around on these rocks above the falls. They will all be under water during the rainy season.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Engaged!

Last night, Ray asked me to marry him, and I said yes!! It was during family devotions after dinner. Using Ephesians 5 as a starting place, he told me for the first time that he loved me, said he wants to lay down his life for me, and asked me to marry him.

Everybody was excited!
After catching our breath (almost) and talking for a little while, Ray gave me the most beautiful ring ever.

We are happy, excited, and thoroughly amazed at how God has worked in our lives and brought us together. It gives us great joy that the Lord has called us to begin a new family and to serve him together.Please pray for us as we prepare for marriage and see how quickly we can put a wedding together!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Zambia Trip: Visiting World Vision Projects

We found some time to slip away from the conference on two afternoons to visit a couple of World Vision projects. Our trip included a very memorable Land Rover ride on a road that would have been exciting on a mountain bike!
We were warmly welcomed by workers singing greetings to us.
We visited a family who has lost all the young adults to AIDS, and now has aging grandparents looking after the orphans. World Vision is very active in the villages in the area to provide food, clean water, education, and AIDS care. We saw the remains of the old, tiny, mud-brick school which has been replaced with this one.
We also visited a project in the city, where there is a youth center, a facility for teaching sewing skills to teenage mothers, and a library.
After some impromptu street preaching, we went on our way, followed by crowds of excited children.
Seeing the work going on was thought-provoking. So many physical needs are being met, but it was troubling to see such extensive work in the villages that has been going on so long, yet there is no church there. I couldn't help but wonder if the priority is really right. Are we placing earthly comfort above salvation from eternal punishment?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Just a Couple of Thoughts on McCain/Palin

Okay, I give in... I wasn't going to say anything about the whole McCain/Palin hullabaloo. After all, there is so much out there already, but, after talking to a couple of friends at church yesterday, I decided it can't hurt to add a couple of thoughts to what's been said elsewhere, so here goes!

1. God has ordained men to be the leaders in the home, the church, and the civil government.

This does not mean that women are inferior or are being subjected to some obscure role. Rather they are called to be the wise, industrious, and intelligent keepers and nurturers of their homes. They are to support the men in their lives to be the godly, wise, able leaders that we desperately need. This is no ignoble calling.

The clear instruction of God's word on this point makes any woman biblically disqualified for the role of a civil ruler. Does this mean that a man is qualified, just by virtue of his manhood? Certainly not! This is but one of many qualifications, but it IS one of them!

2. Regardless of her qualifications, or lack thereof, Sarah Palin will have very little influence on policy decisions as vice president.

Think a moment. Can you recall the name of any vice president before your lifetime who did not either become president later or do something notorious aside from politics? I can't. Of course, there are some pretty obscure presidents as well, but no one can deny that the president has far more influence than the vice president does. Many conservatives/evangelicals have rushed to embrace McCain since his VP pick, leaping over any concerns about Palin's qualifications, or even questions about her positions, but for what? Do they really think that McCain will veto measures for embryonic stem-cell funding or strict gun control laws just because his VP disagrees with them? Voting for a candidate for president just because you like his running mate is like a man marrying someone because he likes her sister!

Zambia Trip: Reformed Family Conference

Most of our time in Lusaka was spent at the 19th annual Reformed Family Conference. The theme this year was apologetics. There were people from 12 different countries there, and many of them endured grueling travel to be there. When we met a man who had traveled three days by bus, we stopped complaining about our travel experience. It was a joy to meet so many people at the conference and to catch a glimpse of what the Lord is doing in southern Africa.

This is where the main sessions were held. By the last night, we were packed in, and there was overflow seating on two sides. The approximate count was 650 people.
The preaching was excellent. Dr. James Grier gave an overview of the foundation for a Biblical worldview, walking us through the complete story of redemption, from creation to Revelation. We became suspicious that Dr. Grier had the whole Bible memorized! It was great to have the opportunity to benefit from his lifetime of walking with the Lord and studying the Bible.
Dr. Voddie Baucham gave several messages on how to be an effective apologist. We learned a good definition of apologetics: "Knowing what you believe, why you believe it, and being able to communicate it effectively to others." Pastor Voddie's last message was "applied apologetics" on the topic of Biblical manhood and womanhood in marriage. It was both convicting and inspiring.
Part of our team standing in line for "tea break."