A rainbow bright above the trees

Laser tag, go-carting, bowling, these were the ideas thrown out by Silas for his twelfth birthday party. We ended up constructing a series of fun activities of Silas’ design, which was a really fun party for him and his friends. They played the board game Wanted together, which was a hit. They were also provided with a half dozen colors of spray paint and each a plywood ‘canvas’ to try their hand at being artists. Hey, better in our back yard than on the side of a random building! I think they found it fun but not quite as easy or glamorous as expected. The rest of the party was about baseball. This is Silas’ first year of baseball, and he wanted to share that with his friends. We ended the party with a baseball movie, the Sandlot, which surprisingly had a French audio track. And we began the party by setting out bases and giving everyone a chance to swing away! The field was really muddy, but the sun was shining brightly. Suddenly it began to rain, out of nowhere. Looking across the field at the soccer game next to us every drop shone! I thought, there’s got to be a great rainbow somewhere, turned around, and there it was – the widest, brightest, most distinct rainbow I had ever seen. God’s little birthday present to Silas.

Closeup of our djembe, and holding the string to show how long it is.


They showed up suddenly, a few perfectly round dart like holes. Traces of “sawdust” beneath the openings showed something was still at work in there. They were on one of the boys’ prized possessions, the djembe purchased during our trip to Burkina Faso. Whatever the little buggers were they had also eaten a couple holes through the precious skin over the drum. We had to do something!

It seemed to be a furniture beetle, the larva of which bore holes after they hatch. Researching online we found a number of possible solutions. Spraying or brushing certain chemicals was recommended, but how could we be sure we actually got them, and all of them? It was also mentioned that they can’t survive extreme heat. The djembe happened to just fit into our oven, so that’s what I opted for. First I removed the skin from the drum. Once that was off, into the oven the djembe went. Slowly I raised the temperature to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We let it bake in there for a few hours, to make sure the temperature was hot enough to get them. The smell of the heated wood reminded me of Burkina (:

djembe chord

After we were sure nothing could have survived, it was time to restring the djembe. Do you have any idea how long the chord is? LONG! I had taken pictures before dismantling it to make sure I could remember how to put it back together. The guy we purchased the drum from in Africa took the time to tighten it for us, showing us how it’s done. He took a thick stick, put it through the chord and turned it. Working his way around the drum, section by section, he re-tied it at the end. The edges of the drum gave even a higher pitch and the center a nice solid thump. I used the handle of a solid old hammer to tighten the chords, working my way around two or three times. It’s quite a work out!

When the end of school celebration arrived, and Efrem was to play his djembe while the class sang a song for the parents, everything was ready. Want to see the video of Efrem playing on stage? Here it is!

An angel holding a flaming sword


Sometimes what we don’t say is more powerful than our words.

What would it be like to see an angel? Not a secret agent acting in disguise, the kind we’re not meant to notice, but imagine an angel shining with brilliant light, its wings spread, sword drawn, and eyes piercing with spiritual perspective. Our normal humdrum is suddenly burst into with something completely otherworldly and foreign and amazing. It is hard to imagine, and what we might think or feel is even harder.

Several instances are recorded where humans have come face to face with an angels. When Gabriel appears to Mary his first words are – fear not! What does that say about what her initial reaction might have been? John in the midst of experiencing what he recorded in the book of revelation fell down at the feet of an angel to worship him. The angel was quick to react, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant… Worship God.” John was so moved by the things being revealed to him and by the beings that were talking to him that he fell down to worship the angel not once, but twice. An angel from heaven knows he is not God! An angel from heaven also knows to worship only God.

So what about Jesus? What was his response to those worshiped him as God?

When Thomas was finally convinced, touching Jesus’ wounds he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said nothing to stop this. He was thinking of all the people who would believe without seeing him.

The last time they saw him, the eleven remaining disciples went to a mountain where Jesus asked them to meet. They must have had a sense that something important was about to happen. Matthew writes, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” Picture these eleven men bowing down before Jesus, worshiping him. How many minutes did this continue? What was the look on Jesus’ face? Did he close his eyes or look intently into each of their hearts? Did he shed some tears? One thing is certain - this moment of worship was unhindered. Jesus accepted their worship as merited.

But some doubted. Isn’t that a curious addition of Matthew’s? Thomas putting his finger into Jesus’ side wasn’t the end of doubt. Even as they all bowed and worshiped Jesus as God some of them doubted. Who? It doesn’t matter. Those eleven went on, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to launch the missionary age we live in. Who he is overshadows our doubt.

And you, today, do you sometimes have doubts? Are there questions that trouble you? Isn’t that okay? Take a moment to listen to the silence of Jesus. You just might see him for who he truly is. Isn’t that what is most important?

Happy End toilet paper


“I don’t like sad movies. I prefer movies that are… funny,” said a friend of Silas who joined us for dinner the other night.  He is a typical French ten year old, he has seen sad movies.  Think of the cultural differences here! This young French kid has seen sad movies, and has decided he doesn’t really like sad movies. He’s ten. What kind of movies did you see in grade school? I don’t remember seeing sad shows. What about Silas and Efrem…they watch mostly animated movies, they are silly and definitely have happy endings. Life is sad enough, maybe we try to protect our kids from it as long as possible. We hope and pray for a happy ending, in our lives, in our children’s lives, and beyond.

I have heard French people make fun of the “happy end” of American films. I have to admit, I’m solidly American there. I love a happy ending. In life, we feel the tension between how tough and sad things can be and the hope we have for something better. Where does this idea of something better come from? Why do we hold onto it so firmly? Reading in Hebrews 11 this morning I was struck with verse 16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” I wonder - how good is my vision of what God has prepared for us? That realization of something yet unrealized is what carried those heroes of faith through incredible trials. What am I hoping for?..

What are you hoping for?

In Ouagadougou, Efrem trying to balance a bowl of fruit on his head like the fruit vendor


Ouagadougou is pronounced – wa ga doo goo, a really fun name to say and the capital of Burkina Faso. The last week of October, which was the All Saints holiday in France, we went to this West African country with a team of 13. Only five of us were Campus Crusade staff members.

I have a notorious fear of the unknown which God has been slowly working on through the years. On the plane flying over an ocean of desert I was anxious. Anxious about how different the culture would be, potential illnesses, malaria carrying mosquitoes, the inevitable heat… There was so much I didn’t know.

We were told to hold on to our luggage as we left the airport, because there are usually people who will try to carry them for you hoping to get some change in return. We warned Silas and Efrem to hold on to their bags and stay close to us. 

As we approached the door a host of students all wearing white polo shirts with a “Campus pour Christ” logo start taking everyone’s luggage. We promptly told the boys to go ahead as we blindly handed everything we were carrying over to these smiling strangers. More smiles and hand shakes followed. Our luggage was heaped into a pile behind a little Toyota truck. Then, just to be safe, three students sat on top of the mountain of luggage. Our team climbed into a large white van, Efrem on my lap. A pile of white people, we made a spectacle that everyone noticed. It was dark, because in Africa the sun comes up at 6am every day and sets at 6pm every day. There is no daylight savings time or variance. They drove us to the complex where we stayed – SIM, which stands for Serving In Mission. Most of the team was crammed into bunks while the Workman family was in a two bedroom apartment. We would get used to turning on ceiling fans and tucking mosquito nets around our mattresses.

Efrem’s first journal entry: When we arrived IT WAS SO HOT!!!! And indeed it was, highs near 100 and lows, well not low enough. At night we would wash pants or t-shirts, give them a light wring, and in the morning they would be dry. I noted one morning, “I drank four glasses of water, one glass of milk, a cup of coffee and a .75 liter bottle of water.” It seems your sweat can take priority over your bladder in some heat, so we were constantly reminding the boys to drink. The dust didn’t help. Every window and door is screened and open, and the air is dusty. At dusk and dawn there is a red haze. The ceiling fans just blew the dust around. Dishes had to be dried and put into cupboards so they wouldn’t just get dirty again. My nose was constantly dry and my throat parched. But it’s not really the heat that made the biggest impression, but warmth of another kind.

Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea

Our campus team is studying Hebrews together. The men’s group and our student leaders are studying 2 Corinthians. I love digging back into the Word together with others. But right now I’m also plowing through Undaunted Courage by Steven Ambrose, about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Like most every Jr. High student in Montana, we spent months and months studying Lewis and Clark, their explorations and discoveries. I remember drawing maps that showed their different treks across Montana. I might have thought their main goal was to explore Montana rather than find a route to the Pacific.

Today I read an account of them hunting a grizzly bear. Six of them were able to approach and surprise it. The bear absorbed four bullets, got pretty upset and ran after them in a roar. Two additional shots were fired, one of which broke its shoulder. This hardly hindered his progress toward them. They then did the only sensible thing when armed with a muzzle loading rifle that’s been spent – RUN! Some of them took off in a canoe. A few others thought they’d keep firing at it from a willow grove, which only revealed their hiding place. They then abandoned their gear and jumped off a 20 ft. cliff into the river. The bear, speaking of undaunted courage, dove into the river after them. It had almost reached one of the swimmers when a soldier on the bank finally shot it in the head. Lewis wrote something similar after every encounter with a grizzly, “these bear being so hard to die rather intimidates us all.” This translated from early 19th century English means – why do we keep shooting at these things?!

It’s a book about the adventurous, exploring spirit and certainly undaunted courage. I think about the adventure before us as we hope to see the Lord work in the lives of French students. The expedition took years longer than planned. I need that kind of patience and perseverance. They had a clearly defined purpose, and so do we – living and sharing the gospel with students here in Rennes. They had a great team: two captains who were decisive leaders, brave men like John Colter, and perhaps the most valuable of all, a sixteen year old Indian squaw named Sacagawea. She kept her wits about her and saved equipment and journals that had fallen out of their boat after her husband nearly capsized it.  Sacagawea knew how to find roots and food to supplement their all meat diet, and her presence told the Indians encountered that theirs wasn’t a war party. Our campus team is also a great combination of networkers, communicators and artists who all share a heart for Jesus and the French. We’re all in this adventure together.

But there are grizzly bears. One fear we have is that we won’t be able to break through the indifference that shrouds the hearts of most French students. How many times will they need to hear the gospel before they will be overcome with Christ’s love? We continue to take initiative with undaunted courage, because God has called us here to do just that. But what effect will our prayers, words and actions have? Time will tell, and one day from heaven we will clearly see.