21 September 2007

Unrest in Myanmar

God's timing is incredible. It was only nine months ago that I was able to visit Myanmar. Today the news reports more demonstrations in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. It is the reported fourth day in a row that there have been limited protests against the military junta running the government.

Pray for the safety of the Believer's in that country. Pray for courage to spread the Gospel and that it will go unhindered. They can reach parts of the country and in their own local area that foreigners would never be able to go.

Thank God for the missionaries that have gone before who provided a foundation of Christianity to work from now.

Pray God's blessings on the Burmese people and the numerous other tribes located throughout the country. Pray for the Hill Tribes people that technically are not recognized by any country even if they are residents living in Myanmar or Thailand.


20 September 2007

Dollar vs. Euro

Today, the dollar continues to fall for the second day in a row to a new all time low against the Euro. Currently, $1.00 is equal to .71 Euro cents.

What’s this mean?
If you live in America really nothing unless you are going to purchase a European manufactured product.

If you’re going on vacation in Europe, plan on spending 29% more money for your European based expenses. On the other hand, if you are a European going to the U.S. on vacation, going is even a greater bargain then ever before.

European Missionaries
For overseas missionaries living in Europe, it simply means that we loose .29 cents on every dollar of support we get from the America. Our buying power gets less and less as the dollar continues to fall. Our cost of living does not go down, only the power to purchase.

When I came here in 2002, the dollar was nearly equal to the Euro or at least worth .98 cents. As with the rest of the world, Europe’s cost of living slightly increased over time just like the rest of the world.

Thank You
If you are sponsoring a missionary living anywhere, God bless you. If you are supporting a missionary living in Europe, consider an increase in your giving to compensate for the sliding dollar. I and my fellow missionaries here would really, really appreciate it.

If you haven’t supported a missionary, then prayerfully consider it. You have no idea how even the smallest donation can have an impact on our finances. Combinations of small consistent contributions have a powerful positive end result on our budgets.

Besides all of this “natural financial stuff”, our Heavenly Father WILL bless you back for your joyful giving to the spreading of His Gospel. He will and does take care of our every need, if we live on His economy instead of the world’s economy.

Thank you to my faithful supporters. I can not do it without you.

God bless you in every way,


12 September 2007

Welcome First Step Ministries Prayer Team

Thank you for visiting my new blog.

It's Live!
As you can see there are already some earlier postings below. They are the results of my "beta testing" this concept to see if this was really going to work for me. Now that this is up and running, I am really excited about the possibilities this blog and my "coming soon" ministry blog will provide to me.

Also, thank you for your prayer support all these years. You are invaluable to the Body of Christ in spreading the Gospel. I really do appreciate you.

Feel free to use the "Comment" button located below to leave me any comments you would like to make. Your comments will show up on the blog as soon as I "approve" them. Since it is a public blog I need to have "some control" over what might get posted before it goes public.

Be blessed the rest of this week.

Serving Him in Europe,

11 September 2007

911 - My Story

Today all of us remember the precise place we were at and what we were doing when we heard about the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

My parents often recalled the attack of Pearl Harbor with vivid detail. I can recall the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and now like many others, 9-11.

For me, the event six years and a few minutes ago, found me in the middle of a second day of teaching business strategy and organization at a ministry called Christian Adventures International in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Most of the small C.A.I. staff were gathered in the conference room, when I think, the bookkeeper ran in and interrupted the meeting to tell us that a plane had hit the WTC. Some how in my heart I knew this was not an aircraft accident.

We quickly found a small black & white television, pulled up the rabbit ears antenna, plugged it in and set it up to see if we could get more info. While watching, we saw the second plane hit the second tower and I then really knew that this was no accident but a terrorist attack.

The entire staff of C.A.I. gathered around the conference room and we began to pray and intercede for the victims. Lesley McNulty, the co-founder of the ministry, shared with us a story that had happened a few weeks earlier. She and her husband Kevin were returning on an overseas flight to land at Atlanta Hartsfield airport. Just before reaching the coastline of America, she had a vision of a dark cloud covering the eastern seaboard of the U.S.. It now seems that we were seeing, in real time, the prophetic vision The Lord had given her. It all made sense now.

At that time I was still working for DHL Worldwide Express and knew we had a facility in the WTC. I wanted to check on a very close work friend Debbie Sweeney who worked right across the Hudson River at one of the DHL facilities located in New Jersey.

Later in the day, I called her and found out she was okay. I will never forget the fear and terror I heard in her voice, as she described what she had seen from the New Jersey side of the Hudson river.

Debbie related to watching the fire and smoke rise across the Hudson River and ultimately seeing the buildings fall. Dealing with the masses of people that were evacuating the New York City on foot across any bridge or tunnel that would get take them.

She also mentioned that the DHL office at WTC was okay with no loss of life since the office was located in a side building on the WTC complex, not in the twin towers.

Being caught on the other side of the country from my home in Arizona, I didn't know what to really do. Flights were all cancelled for days. The westbound train was already booked for the next two weeks. They were not selling tickets even on a "standing room only" basis. Rental cars were not available to drive from Florida to Arizona without and incredible drop-off penalty. Or they not allowed to leave the Florida entirely. I was to sit still.

That night at the McNulty's home we watched the replay of the planes crashing into to buildings, them falling and the people fleeing from the falling debris. It felt like a never ending nightmare. We were all just numb.

By Saturday, Southwest Airlines announced they would have limited flights available. I decided it was time to try to get a flight back to Phoenix. One of my problems was that I had flown out to Florida on an Interline ticket from DHL. This was like a "Buddy Pass" but for airline employees. I would be the last one to be able to get on the flight after all the paying passengers had been accommodated.

To be honest, it was with some in trepidation that I wanted to fly anywhere. But it was time to return home and I believed the Holy Spirit would guide my steps. If I wasn't to be on that particular flight, I wouldn't board it.

The only way to explain the atmosphere in Orlando International airport was tense or nervous. Absolutely everyone was looking at everyone else with fear and suspicion. The ticket agents and the boarding personnel watched the waiting passengers for anything out of the ordinary. We watched each other.

Since this was one of the first flights of Southwest Airlines moving from the east coast to the west, no one really knew when it was actually going to arrive. It had only been earlier in the morning that SWA knew that they were going to be able to have any limited repositioning flights.

We all waited patiently in the boarding area for what would end up being about four hours. We had no choice. No one was going to say complain about anything. The atmosphere was much to tense to want to cause someone to "notice" you.

The plane arrived from it's point of origin about ninety minutes late but no one complained. Everyone just wanted to get home. The SWA ticket agents began the process of finally handing out our plastic colored and numbered boarding passes. They had withheld them until they were absolutely sure we had flight was going out.

Amazingly, I was able to board nearly at the beginning of the loading process. I'll never forget the looks of concern from the flight attendants at the jet's door. Since I was one of the first, the plane was virtually empty when I started down the aisle to pick my seat.

I went about a third of the way down the aisle and picked a row of seats on the plane's left side. I sat down in the aisle seat and immediately jumped back up. It seemed as soon as I my butt hit the seat, I knew I was not to sit there. My reaction was so quick and startling to me, that I noticed even the flight attendant become startled at my action. Remember, everyone was nervous and on edge for anything unusual. What I did was clearly unusual and hard to explain.

Yet, I grabbed my bag from the overhead locker and slowly moved down the aisle. When I got to the back third of the plane, I took a seat on the plane's right side and the aisle seat again.

The plane loaded uneventfully. The plane was nearly full but no one had joined me in my row. I had two empty seats next to me. A married couple were nearly the last to enter the plane an naturally, they wanted to sit together on this flight. Their hope of sitting together wained as they walked down the aisle. Strangely, every seat was taken, except for the two next to me. They couldn't believe their eyes when they saw these two open seats together.

The plane was eerily quiet even fully loaded. No one was speaking. If they did it was in muted tones or whispers. My guess was that everyone thought there was a possibility that they might die on this flight.

I got up from my seat to allow the couple to enter the row and we all settled down, buckled up and waited for the push back and engine start. It was very still on the plane. No babies crying, no restless children, no noise.

As we taxied to the active runway, we were cleared for take-off immediately. After all, there was very little traffic on the airport or in the air. We were only one of a handful of flights in the area.

As the pilot ran up the engines to full power for take-off, I noticed the woman next to me tightly holding her husband's hand. I also "knew" or sensed that she was praying even though you couldn't hear her. Probably many people were praying even if they had never done so before.

We were airborne and the flight attendants started to pass out snacks and drinks. Still, the normal humor and easy going style of the SWA flight attendants was missing. The passengers also were still subdued.

As we made progress across the country, I noticed that the lady sitting next to me was reading a Dr. Dobson newsletter. Yes, she was obviously a Christian. Yes, she was praying during take-off. I mentioned the newsletter and she engaged me in conversation. We established that we were all Christians. She mentioned that it was amazing to find two seats together for her and her husband.

I told her my side of the story on how it came to be. We agreed that God had a plan for us. This row of seats were "reserved" for us.

The couple departed the flight at Austin, Texas, our only stop on the way to Phoenix. During the flight we talked about things Christians all talk about. Just before they left, we exchanged business cards with the promise to keep in touch. And although it has been a little more time in between contacts, we still stay in touch and they receive my First Step Ministry newsletter. In fact she is part of the First Step Ministries prayer team.

Over time, everyone on the flight seemed to loosen up a bit and relax. My continued flight and arrival in Phoenix was uneventful. It was good to be home and back to normal. But it seemed to me that fear and sadness from this event, hit everyone on the east coast much more than the west coast.

For me this event will be one of those times in my life that I will never forget.

And today, as in every year since I have been in Germany, on the anniversary of 9-11, my American flag flies from my balcony here in Germany. In a way, it is an act of defiance against those that would try to take our freedoms away from us.

10 September 2007

Terrorist In Germany

On a tip from the British, the German SGS, their special terrorist unit, broke up a ring of three Islamic terrorists last week. You may have read about this in the world press. It was a big deal. The terrorists were located in a small village about 100 miles, northeast of me. What caught every one's interest here in Germany was that two men were of German decent and a Turkish man who was born and raised in Germany.

It was reported that they had some 1,500 pounds of chemicals that they planned on turning into explosives to use against U.S. military facilities and places frequented by Americans. With one million American Expats living in Germany that would not be hard to do.

Two weeks ago the Danish broke up a group of terrorists located in their country. The Europeans seem to finally be recognizing that this problem is more than just a U.S. or U.K. issue. Or maybe it is more fair to say that it is now more visible in the press than ever before.

Last Year
Last year a couple of terrorist tried to blow up a regional train with two propane gas cylinders. Thank God, literally, the bombs failed to trigger and were removed from the train without harming anyone. That specific commuter train is one that runs through my village.

Every overseas missionary runs risks now that were never foreseen two generations ago. It doesn't matter where in the world we serve, we are exposed to hazards no one would have considered years ago.

Yes, our missionary forefathers faced their hazards and in some cases gave their lives for the furthering of The Gospel. They needed prayer support and so do we.

Pray For Us
No matter where God calls us to serve we all know, whether it is spoken or unspoken, before we take that flight from the U.S. to our mission posts, we know the risk and God's protection, grace, and strength.

It is still hard to explain to our families, friends, and fellow home church members in the U.S. why we take the risks or expose our families to the risk.

Ironically, to the nationals we serve overseas, they don't understand why we would leave America to live in their country. This is even true in Europe.

No matter what denomination or independent church you represent, all overseas missionaries, know that God's Calling on their lives is not satisfied until you are where The Lord has sent you.

In fact, once you've been serving overseas for awhile, it is hard to see yourself anywhere else, especially back in America until He sends you back or your finances just run out. (That's another topic for another day.)

"Go or Send"
There is an old axiom that has floated around the church world for a gazillion years. "If you can't go yourself, then send someone." "They" can't go unless "someone" supports them.

Psa 37:23 "The steps of the righteous man/woman are ordered by The Lord." In these days, everyone must stand on that scripture and know, believe and have faith, that your steps will be ordered out of harms way. You just can't get "them" saved if you're in heaven.

All of God's protection on you and your families,


Holland Trip Update

Dutch Rhema Day
All of you would agree that there is not enough time in a day. With the days quickly passing, I realized my need to update my blog with a couple of pictures from the pastor's meeting in Utrecht before it really becomes "old news".

We had about 30 in attendance which is less than last year but it also gave everyone a chance to "meet & greet" everyone, an advantage over last year. My presentation was "short & sweet". In hind sight I wished that I had brought a Power Point presentation along but didn't know that there was going to be a video projector and screen available for the meeting. My mistake in not asking enough questions.

It did make me realize that I need to believe God for these media tools for my own presentations in the future.

Hilversum International Christian Center
The day after the pastor's meeting my friends took me to an international church in Hilversum. It was a blessings to attend and be able to meet the pastor and some of the church's staff. The praise & worship was incredible and Holy Spirit inspired. After the service I complimented the worship leader, Rachel on her sensitivity to lead the congregation into God's Throne room to worship Him. It was wonderful.

In making a follow-up call the next day to Pastor Sebastiaan, I found out the receptionist, Katie, was originally from the Phoenix Metro area. I was sorry I missed meeting her the day before. But I am sure that I'll be back sometime in the near future and we'll meet face to face.

The trip was a success in many ways. Thank You Lord.

05 September 2007

Back In Rolandseck

Hi Everyone,
Well Labor Day is over in the U.S.. The holiday doesn't mean anything outside of America so it was a regular work day here but it does mark the "end of summer" in any northern hemisphere country.

[Editor's Note: Guess this posting is going to be more personal than work and ministry stuff.]

Got back home last Wednesday. The train ride was uneventful which is always nice. In fact, I took the very last seat at the end of the train and had the whole little area to myself to think and contemplate about the trip. The balance of my time in Holland was great.

First Flight
My close friend Bernard not only celebrated his birthday while I was there but his very first flying lesson.

Photo Rt: Bernard is, not surprisingly, grinning from ear to ear as he readies for the start of his big adventure.

This was a momentous occasion for both of us. He had his first lesson and I celebrated my umpteenth anniversary of my first solo flight in a small plane when I was 15 years old. Phoenix International Airport aka Sky Harbor, has never been the same since.

Photo Rt: Larry posing for a newpaper article about high school kids that are pilots. Unfortunately I'm not next the plane that I soloed in.

Like every other pilot, you never forget the day your instructor opens the door of the plane and steps out. He then tells you to do what you've been trained to do. Procedures, the essence of safe flying, kicks in and you do it by the numbers.

You go back to the "run up" area, do an engine check, contact the tower, wait for your clearance to take off, catch a big breath of air and push the throttle forward, rotate and all by yourself with the help of the laws of physics you are off the ground by yourself. Unbelievable.

You go around the traffic pattern, per your instructor's instructions, usually a couple of times making "touch & goes" then bring it back and tie it down. The adrenalin really hits you when you are taxing back and realize you really did it.

I soloed in a little Cessna 150, registered as N1135Y. Strangely after all these years, that little 150 is still flying in the Phoenix area. If that little plane could talk you wonder what tales it could "post" to its "blog". Stranger yet is that you remember the call sign. It's sort of like your first kiss.

Closer to God
Flying for me has always been a way to relate to my Heavenly Father. How is that? I don't really know except from the first time I was in small plane and "broke the surely bonds of earth" I felt close to God. As I looked down on humanity, it was like how it looked to Him.

That some how He actually knew how exciting it was see things from His perspective. It was looking down seeing kids playing ball, people mowing lawns, people stuck in traffic and them being given an "opportunity" to pray for their fellow commuters. This all happened at a time when I really didn't know Him, certainly not like I know Him now. Amazing huh....

Flying "back in the day" was much different than now. But actually, it isn't. Yes, much has changed in technology, no doubt, just look around us. But taking the "high road" and looking down and seeing more of God's creation at altitude is still breath taking. Granted the limited view of a Boeing 737 at 35,000 feet is not the same 360 degree panorama a Beechcraft or Cessna provides at 5,000 feet of the world outside.

The only thing that brings you closer to the elements in a power plane is a flying a sail plane. Now that is FLYING! I regret never getting my endorsement when it was so close at hand but at least soloing was just a "plane" kick in the butt. Some time I'll tell you the story about flying in formation with a hawk over the Sierra Estrella Mountains south of Phoenix. It was amazing and also a part of God's creation.

The Next Generation
Younger son William, now serving as part of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flight crew is creating his own aviation memories as he serves all of us. It will be exciting to hear about them as they occur. Helicopters, the one thing I am envious about him being able to do. They have got to be a real kick in the butt to fly. Maybe God will give me a chance to do that some time in the future. It's not impossible for those who believe. I do.

Flying vs Motorcycles, Not Really "Versus"
The only thing that comes close to flying is riding motorcycles. Yes, I've done that too. Are you surprised? Bikers relate to their environment like pilots. Plus the sense of speed, of windy turns with "G" forces, etc.

My cousin Blake and his wife are on an annual motorcycle adventure called "The Three Flags Rally". For the last seven years, Blake has ridden from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Well you say, a lot of people can and do do that. Well yes.... but try doing it over Labor Day weekend. Yes, border to border in three days. NOT a lot of people do that...

Why? It's hard to explain actually. But if you'd like to read Blake and Giovanna's blog while they are en route, check it out on my link to the right under "Friends Blogs" You'll enjoy it. Giovanna does a terrific job at documenting the events. Yes, I'll admit it. I am also envious of him.

God bless you,