Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tonight's Chicken Nugget Eating Contest

On July 4th at Coney Island in New York an event will take place—as it has every year since 1914. While it occurs on the holiday known for flags, parades, fireworks and barbeques, this event does not include bottle rockets or John Philip Sousa songs. Still some have said it is “Americana” at its best (or worst).

Last year, over 30,000 spectators (and a TV audience of 1.5 million) watched as Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs conducted a hot dog eating contest – where the contestants had ten minutes to eat as many hot dogs as they could stuff down their pie holes. I guess nothing says “patriotism” and “independence” like a gluttonous adventure into the land of hot dogs. Maybe way back in 1914 when the idea of a hot dog eating contest arose, someone sighed, “only in America” and the rest is 4th of July history.

The winner the past two years has been a guy named Joey Chestnut (you’d think with a name like that he would be gorging himself with Christmas cookies over an open fire, not Independence Day wieners on Coney Island). In last year’s “glutton fest,” after ten minutes and 59 hotdogs (That is not a typo-- Joey ate nearly five dozen hot dogs in 600 seconds. For you non-Phi Beta Kappa’s that’s just about one hot dog wolfed down every 10 seconds. Burp.), Mr. Chestnut was tied with the six-time champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi. In order to determine the winner, the two men then had an “eat off” where each one was given a plate of five additional hot dogs to see who could eat them the fastest. As the wiener eating winner, having consumed 64 hot dogs in less time than it usually takes for me to get my order from the arched burger joint down the street, Mr. Chestnut received a trophy, two cases of Nathan's Famous hot dogs (he should have been given two cases of Pepto Bismol), the famous Nathan's Mustard Belt (whatever that is), and $10,000 (that might help pay for the quadruple by-pass surgery that is surely coming down the road). Double burp.

Having written all of that, tonight (thanks to Pastor Cory and his “volunteering” me in both services last Sunday morning), I will be participating in an eating contest too. There will be no hot dogs and no $10,000 prize. As far as I know, my competition will not include Mr. Chestnut or his Japanese rival. (Although our brand spanking new children’s pastor, Rev. Andy Foster will be there joining in the contest… he is in town looking for a house). Still, against my better judgment and with strong protests from my sensitive tummy, I will belly up to the counter to see how many chicken nuggets I can consume without hardening an artery, tossing my cookies and/or losing all dignity. Can one be in an eating contest and be free from the afore mentioned hazards? We’ll see.

The Olathe Chick-fil-A (at 119th and Blackbob) is sponsoring a fundraiser for our youth mission trip tonight between 6 and 8 PM. Simply mention that you are from Central Church and 15% of your meal cost will be donated to our youth mission trip. Throughout the evening, there will be lots of fun, prizes and of course the dreaded nugget eating contest. I hope you can come and join in the fun and support our students as they prepare to minister in Indianapolis this summer. I also hope that I can consume just enough nuggets to satisfy my hunger, but not enough to be embarrassing.

So as I prepare for tonight’s eating adventure, I have been trying to think if there might be some spiritual lesson I can glean from this experience. I know heaven is sometimes describes as “feasting at the banquet table,” but will it be like munching down a mountain of chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A? Probably not. I used to sing in church the old song, “Come and Dine” but honestly, I don’t think the hymn writer had the deliciously slightly battered chicken morsels and tasty waffle fries in mind. Moreover, I am fully aware that during the Middle Ages gluttony was listed as one of the seven deadly sins, ummm… I will do my best to not step over the line. So what can I learn from tonight?

I think the best thing I can glean is that tonight is about having fun and raising money for missions. It’s about being together as a family and enjoying one another’s company. It’s really not about chicken nuggets. It’s more about community. I am thankful that Chick-fil-A has generously offered their facilities and will donate 15% of the proceeds to our youth. I am thankful for a youth program that recognizes the need to get our students involved early and often in missions. And I am thankful that Karla is out of town this week, so I don’t have to hear that “chicken nugget eating contests” are dumb.

As I reflect upon Barbie Q (the cow that was given to us by the Swazi chief in Africa) and how she gave her life to those who came to our free medical clinic day. Then surely, I can give my tummy to help raise a few extra dollars for the youth mission trip.

See you tonight!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Next to Last Day in Africa

We have had such a wonderful time in Africa.

Yesterday we left Swaziland and headed to South Africa-- to Kruger National Park more specifically. We went into the park and began to look for wild animals. We saw Elephants (lots of elephants), giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, crocodile, lots of impala, kudu, and a few other things. We will go back today for a more guided tour-- and then tomorrow its back to Jo-burg and heading for home.

All are enjoying the sites and I think all are getting ready to head back home-- but we have had a wonderful time in Africa.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Africa Day Ten

Saturday's Highlights in Africa include:

1) On the way to the work site we discovered that "Click it or Ticket" applies in Swaziland. One of our vehicles was pulled over by the police-- and since the passenger did not have a seat belt on-- we were ticketed. We had to pay on the spot 60 rand (about $7.50). When trying to get out of the ticket the "nameless team member" said, "I did not know it was the law in Swaziland." To which the officer replied, "Is it a law in your country?" Honestly admitting it was-- he then received his ticket. Now we know..

2) In the afternoon many from the team went to a traditional dance given on our behalf-- provided by the local chief (the chief that also gave us a cow). We were afraid that it might be a "little too traditional" but we were also afraid we would offend the chief and hinder the work of the church if we did not attend. So we decided to have some of our team attend but not our minors and some others of us-- it ended up being the G rated traditional service (All the women were wearing T-Shirts.) All enjoyed the cultural experience.

3) We completed most of the work on the nurse’s quarters. They were so happy-- even moved in some brand new furniture that we provided. They loved it.

4) Had a celebration service with all the Swazis that have helped us this week. We ate a little more of Barbie Q, our cow. She was a tough lady.

Now today will be church with our friends! I will be calling to our services. Have a blessed Sunday.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Africa Day Nine

Yesterday the Luke Commission-- led by Nazarene Mission Corp doctor Harry and Echo Vanderwal came to Endzingini with there team of nurses and helpers to give a free clinic.

People started lining up before 5AM to see the doctor-- and the lines lasted all day. Hundreds of people were treated; many tested for HIV, screened for other diseases, fitted for glasses, and prayed over. Members from our team worked alongside the Luke Commission medical personnel and the local Swazi nurses.

As people waited in line-- our cow (Barbie Q) who yesterday met her demise-- was put to good use as 100's of people were fed with a meal of beef and "mealie meal" (a corn meal entree that looks like masked potatoes). They all seemed to like "barbie" very much.

The construction crew made great progress again on the nurse quarters. Today will be the last day of work and so we will do our best to get it done and "Move in Condition."

The team is still doing well-- although we are getting a bit tired. I think we wil welcome the lighter schedule today.

Keep us in your prayers. I hope to call back to both the 8:30 and 11:00 services tomorrow.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Day Eight in Africa

Sany-bo-nani (Spelling is wrong but it means "Hello Everyone!")

Our trip continues to be going quite well. Yesterday here's what happened:
The Construction team made great progress on the nurse’s quarters. The nurses are currently living is a rat and bat and bug invested house-- these renovated quarters will allow the critters to stay out-- while a new place is being built. Later these temporary quarters will be use by the clinic. The construction team has been doing electrical, plumbing, painting-- you name it. We really want to get it done by Saturday before we leave... pray that we can.

The Medical Team went to Piggs Peak to work at the clinic there-- they were busier than in previous days-- seeing several people.

Rev. Micheale (pronounced McHale like in McHale's Navy) Lavigne and Yona Schroeder, and I met with the Pastors of the Hho Hho Region. What a great group of men and women. We sang together and prayed together and Rev. Lavigne and I led in a teaching time-- then we went to lunch at the Highlands Inn. The restaurant was OK-- certainly not a five star place-- but many of the pastors indicated that they had never eaten in a restaurant in their lives before-- they were so thankful that we had bought their lunch. We also gave them books and Yona had taken a picture of the group and of them individually-- which we were able to print out and given them. They were so thankful.

There was no VBS yesterday because there was no school for the younger children.

Last night we showed the Jesus film. Over 400 people showed up-- we printed 200 response cards and everyone was taken and that does not include the 70 children that moved forward. The say the response was overwhelming would be an understatement! God moved in a powerful way. Isn't that why we came? To see God heal and work and bring peace and salvation! It's happening!

I must report some sad news... our cow (That we named Barbie Q) met her demise yesterday. Dan Rexroth and several from the team had to travel to pick out the cow and then she came to a bitter end. She is dinner tonight (gulp!)

Also there was a three or four foot tree snake that wanted to come to the Jesus film last night. Just prior to her entrance the Rev. Dlaminni sent her to Snake heaven (Is there such a place? Probably not).

Today is the free medical clinic day. We are expecting over 1,000 people. It will be so busy--please pray that we minister in Jesus name.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Day Seven in Africa

Yesterday was a big day as the Prime Minister from the Kingdom of Swaziland came in the morning. This was a very big deal-- for it wasn't "just" the Prime Minister but there were several members of Parliament, chiefs (not the Kansas City variety), other ministers.

The Prime Minister is a Nazarene (and a Preacher's kid... maybe there is hope for my boys!). He was also born in the Endzingeni Clinic where we were working. They put a plaque on the wall of the clinic honoring his birth. He gave a speech as did other officials-- and Dan Rexroth represented the group-- and gave greetings to everyone. I closed the morning with a prayer for the health of the Prime Minister and the well being of the Swaziland. Following the speeches the Prime Minister left-- but he provided wonderful lunch for everyone to share.

Oh, I almost forgot-- one of the area chiefs (not the Kansas City variety) was glad that we have come to work that he gave us a cow! Central Nazarene has a cow. Well not for long-- as is their custom the cow will be um... invited to dinner for everyone on Friday night. I have learned they cook every part of her-- from head to hoofs. I am hoping for something in between the head and the hoofs.

After all the hoopla, we got back to work. The construction team has a long way to go if we are going to be done with the nurse’s quarters before we leave-- pray that we get it done. The Medical clinic saw a few more patients (many people are waiting to come until Friday when there will be a free clinic day), and the compassion team held another VBS-- this time for the 5, 6, and 7 grades. Between 300 and 400 children were there. I wish you could have heard them sing-- to say Awesome is not good enough. It was so beautiful.

Today-- more construction will be happening, I will meet with the pastors of the Hho Hho Region and the nurses will work in the Piggs Peak Clinic. Tonight we will be showing the Jesus film (pray that it goes well!).

Again forgive all spelling errors-- there is no spell check.
Everyone is doing well-- there have been no injuries, no troubles, no problems of any kind. We have a great team!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Day five and six in Africa

I am typing from the Maguga Lodge before we head out for our Wednesday Activities. It's been a busy few days while I haven't been able to Blog (this computer is a dial up one-- it's been a while since I've used dial up-- hope it works).

I am to be with the group in 15 minutes-- so this will be brief:

Sunday: We worshipped in the Sharpe Memorial Church in the morning with around 1,000 of our Swazi brothers and sisters. It was a good morning. Following services, we ate dinner with Dr. Samuel Hind-- a pioneer missionary and medical doctor who came to Swaziland in 1925 as a baby-- he is 84 years old and is still seeing patients. We also met his daughter-- Dr. Elizabeth Hind and grand daughter. Dr. Elizabeth runs the orphanage that we visited on Monday. In the evening we met with more Swazi leaders.

Monday: We broke into two groups-- half went on a tour of the hospital and half went with the AIDS Task Force for home visits (and then we switched). I learned a lot about the medical care in Swaziland. They have many dedicated and qualified workers—with very difficult conditions to work in. For instance, there is not an MRI machine in the country. There are only a couple of CT scans (the hospital is hoping to get one later this year). The hospital average 25 births a day! They see so many patients it’s unbelievable for the small staff.

The in home AIDS visits were humbling. To pray with someone dying of AIDS is something I will ever forget-- we visited (all total) probably around 20 homes. We also took a bag of groceries-- the people were so very thankful. Some received medicines. Pray for Swaziland and the AIDs epidemic-- 42% of the population has HIV/AIDs.

We then went to the New Hope Center-- the orphanage. What a joy to see these children happy and singing. It is a wonderful place of love and acceptance. They currently house about 40 children-- but they are making plans for many many more. We planted gardens in the plots that Central Church provided-- my group planted onions, beats, spinach.

Tuesday: Our work began on the medical clinic-- much construction was done. The medical workers saw a few patients, and the VBS crew got ready for the afternoon VBS-- we were anticipating 50 children on the first day-- 500 showed up! Had to go to plan "B" but all was good.

Our accommodations have been nice-- we will be here for a few more days working, seeing sick folks and holding the VBS.

Oh yes, today-- the Prime Minister of Swaziland is suppose to join us! WOW!

I'll try to write more later. Sorry for the spelling errors-- I am five minutes late!