Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bird-spotting with Sean Berquist


It's the last week here in Trinidad of health volunteer and bird lover Sean Berquist. so this morning, we got up at 5.30am to do some pre-work spotting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Post -- 28/05/11

These days, I usually get the weekly blog post done and dusted first thing on a Saturday morning, usually in front of a Premier League game (or in today's case, furiously channel-surfing for any scraps of news from Wembley).

That was not so last week, when I had to log the update late afternoon on Friday, in anticipation of a very different start to the weekend. Here in Bolivia, the standard rendez-vous time for church youth groups is Saturday evening, our own group meeting from 7pm till 8.30pm. However, in a recent leaders' meeting, we sensed a need to freshen things up a little. So last Saturday, rather than wait till 7pm, we opted to leave the church at 8.30am and head to the Laguna Suarez for the morning, a local artificial lake resort. The usual clientele there tend to be fairly well-to-do, so we were allowed the freedom of the lake so long as we cleared off by lunchtime. It was a terrific morning and here are a few snaps to help set the scene (picture credit, once again, goes to fellow missionary Kenny Holt).

As is always the case on a Saturday evening, we kicked off things with a brief worship time, led by yours truly.

That was followed by a game and then some Bible teaching, led by Mariana (who can genuinely be classed as a youth leader as, unlike us, she's still relatively youthful). We continued in the series on The Purpose Driven Life, which we've been doing for about a month now, taking the theme for each 'day' as the weekly focus.

This was followed up by some time in small groups, Amanda and I both finding a spot on the dock. As ever, this was an important part of the session, but by this time the sun was climbing ever higher...

...and a couple of hours of this was the inevitable result.

We headed back to Trinidad, where we had a bite to eat for lunch before all going our separate ways again. The programme tweak helped to freshen things up, allowed us as leaders a little more time to get to know the young people, and excitingly for Amanda and me, afforded us our first free Saturday evening for some months.

Additionally, Amanda was able to spend some time with an older member of the group, Liria, someone who's only just started coming along, but who we both know very well due to her work in administration at FT. It's fair to say that Amanda hadn't exactly been actively pursuing a deeper relationship with Liria over the past months, but out of the blue, Liria told Amanda how much her friendship has meant to her. It was really humbling for Amanda and we had her round for lunch one day this week to try and strengthen the bond a little further. As far as we know, she's still seeking, so please pray for her.

The rest of the week saw the surgical campaign continue until Tuesday, so Amanda was on general nursing duties before switching back to Audiology on Wednesday. My work duties centred mostly around the website, creeping ever closer to launch, and the Community classes, which resumed on Wednesday.

Anyway, must dash. I'm teaching at the youth group tonight, so I need to put the finishing touches to that before heading for a big lunch, a big screen and a big game at Kenny's place this afternoon. As a great philosopher of our age once so eloquently put it, it's squeaky bum time!

• For Craig as he teaches on the theme of ‘Created to Live Forever’ tonight at the youth group.
• For a deepening relationship between Amanda and Liria, and for opportunities to witness to her.

• For a great session with the youth group last Saturday and particularly for the opportunity to develop relationships with individuals that the morning provided.
• For continued progress with the new worship band this week.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Friday, May 20, 2011

Saturday Post -- 21/05/11

Though the school holidays are still a couple of months away, thoughts are steadily turning to July’s Five-Day Holiday Bible Clubs, which, as they did last year, will take place at FT’s headquarters the first week and in the remote village of San Pedro in the second week.

Excitingly, the make-up of the team looks set to have a radical overhaul, with a group of ten young people in the church having been approached to play a part in the running of the clubs, with a particular focus on working with small groups.

Though the Five-Day club in San Pedro took place nearly a year ago, FT has sought to maintain the contact, with three afternoon visits taking place towards the end of last year (though remote and accessible only by dirt road, the village is nonetheless just an hour’s drive from Trinidad). And earlier this week, we made the first of two afternoon visits, the next being in June, ahead of the club in July. Now I personally am relatively uninvolved, the bulk of the planning and preparation being carried out by FT Sports staff. Nonetheless, they’re always in need of someone to play the guitar, and that someone is usually me. However, I also chipped in in various other ways, such as leading a small group – a real eye-opener, I must say, both in terms of Biblical knowledge and literacy levels. Anyway, here are some pictures.

The team, which included four of the ten youth volunteers (the other six are coming next month)

Sing-song time

This is my impromptu small group (the standing kids are the high-schoolers who came to investigate what was going on during their break)

Back in Trinidad, the annual complex ear microsurgery campaign is in full swing, having started on Thursday and finishing this Tuesday. However, this time round, Amanda isn’t at the coal-face, instead covering rudimentary nursing tasks while the other nurses are in theatre, though she’s had a couple of Audiology patients to attend to at the same time. Needless to say, she’s spinning the plates with characteristic. We also got some news on the river trip which Amanda will be embarking on with three other FT health staff and a team from Canada. She’ll now be going on a later trip, from the 22nd of June until the 3rd of July. Though a little later, it still leaves us with plenty of time afterwards to get ready for our trip to Canada the following month. And most importantly, she’ll be back just in time for our anniversary – yes, I may be a bloke but I am fully aware of their existence, thankyouverymuch.

As you’ll be aware, a couple of months ago some younger guys in the church and I began a weekly practice with a view to forming a worship band. Well, at our practice on Monday, in order to prevent lethargy from setting in, we opted to go for broke and set a date for our first Sunday morning service. Sunday 5th of June, then, is the day, and at long last it appears the church congregation will finally be free of boring old me.

• For Amanda as she juggles nursing and Audiology work during the surgical campaign.
• For the worship band as we seek to have everything in place for our debut Sunday.

• For safety and encouragement during Tuesday’s visit to San Pedro.
• For an enjoyable afternoon with Elizabeth (Amanda’s young Sunday School assistant) and her siblings on Sunday.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Post -- 15/05/11

This was written on Saturday morning, but problems with the website prevented us from posting at the usual time. The sermon went really well, by the way.

Here I am in action at the Friday Community class, attended by children of around 4 to 7 years old. Over 100 different kids have passed through the classroom doors on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays since the classes resumed in February, every time receiving a healthy dose of English and Bible teaching.

The picture was taken by Sean Berquist, a 24-year-old health volunteer from San Francisco, who arrived last Friday and has brought his horizontal West Coast ways to proceedings here. Sean, who is hoping to start medical school later this year, is engaging and ultra-positive, and it’s been good to get to know him this week.

Really not too much to report of note this week, though I’d appreciate your prayers for church tomorrow, where I’ll be preaching on John 3:1-21. Given the fundamental nature of the passage, I’m feeling the very real pressure of not messing it up, particularly when it comes to explaining the gospel. Indeed, I have a good chunk still to write, which I’m aiming to do today, so I trust you’ll understand my brevity this week.

• For Craig as he preaches on Sunday.
• For our planned lunch with Elizabeth (Amanda’s Sunday School assistant) and her younger siblings tomorrow.

• For the Lord’s continued and, at times, unexpected provision, which we have certainly experienced this week.
• For the opportunity Amanda has later today (Saturday) to meet and pray with her female co-leaders from the church youth group.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Estadio Gran Mamoré


Estadio Gran Mamoré, a set on Flickr.

This is a bunch of pictures I took a couple of weeks ago to illustrate the Sports section of the new FT website I'm developing. My friend Kenny's wide-angle lens, as you can probably tell, proved extremely useful.