Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Experiencing and Encountering God at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola Part 1: 18 hour bus ride from Streamwood to St. Francisville
Thursday morning started out at 3:30 so we could clean up and drive over to Awana to board the bus and be ready to get on the road at 5:00. We left a few minutes late, but made good time. Most of the 39 people on the bus slept for a while, most until 7:20 or so when we stopped for breakfast. We stopped at one of the truck-stop McDonald's attached to the rest of the building. Very small with very few employees.

So in troops 40 people, including the bus driver, who's name was Adam. Add to the confusion that it was all on one check and you can imagine the chaos! People got other people's food or parts of their breakfast was missing. I felt like I was part of the plague of locusts, and when we all started to leave you could see the relief on those poor peoples faces.

From there we drove to Mt. Vernon, IL where we said good-bye to Adam and picked up Kass. Back on the bus until 1:30 or so when we stopped in New Madrid, MO. The pronounce it New Mad Rid down there. New Madrid is famous for the earthquake of December 11, 1811. This quake changed the course of the Mississippi river, created new lakes in a matter of minutes and destroyed most of the structures in New Madrid. Damage was reported as far away as Charleston, South Carolina and Washington D.C., and in Boston Massachusetts the church bells rang. The earthquake was felt south at New Orleans and north up into Canada. This was just the first of 4 major quakes. The second came several hours after the first. A third quake rocked the area on January 23, 1812, and the fourth and biggest hit the area on February 7, 1812. Many Geo-scientists thing the area is due for another huge earthquake within the next 25 years.

Our stop for lunch lasted about 20 minutes and then back on the bus, with most food being consumed on the bus. We drove until 7:00 PM and stopped for dinner, again around 30 minutes, most people eating on the bus.

30-40 miles down the road it it started raining very hard and it didn't letup until after we were checked in and in bed. The rain was so hard that the windshield wipers on the bus could barely keep up. Margaret and I were sitting in the front quarter of the bus and could see out the windshield, and let me tell you the water was pouring across the road in torrents. It was the kind of scene that is very exciting to watch on television, just not fun to experience.

We got to the hotel, and again we overwhelmed the night clerks. There were only two of them and there was a very tiny lobby for 39 people to stand in. We finally got our room key, got in, got ready for bed and crashed and burned. Didn't take very long to fall asleep. And if rocks sleep soundly, then I must have. Woke up in the exact position I fell asleep in.

So, this is a nice travelogue, but the title is experiencing and encountering God. So, where is the encounter and experience God part? Well, let me see if I can articulate it. Margaret asked me the first year she went if I would go with her. I am ashamed to say that I even refused to consider it. I spent a lot of time B.C. attempting to stay out of places like that, and the thought of volunteering to enter one gave me the chills.

Well, Margaret asked me agin if i would go and I told her I would pray about it. Well this time I did and asked God to somehow make it clear whether I was supposed to go or not. Several days after my prayer Phil Wallis from our A/V department (did i fail to mention that iI work for Awana in the IS department?) saw me as i was passing his workroom and said “Will, you've got to come in here and see this.” So I walked in and Phil fired up his computer and showed me raw footage of a Returning Hearts Celebration. He said “Will you really need to go to the next one, and we could really use you”. So, I have learned that if you ask God to clarify things for you, and you pay even the slightest attention, He will answer you.

Something else God showed me was on the bus. He showed me men and women who were excited about serving Jesus through serving the men of Angola Prison and their children. I was still very nervous and not sure that iI wanted to go through this. My fellow bus riders, and most especially Margaret, got very full eyes when that talked about their previous trips. It is humbling to sit on a buss for 18 hours with people that are excited about serving that much. It made me feel ashamed, and I asked Jesus to forgive my lack of excitement.

So, after 18 hours on the road, trapped in a very small seat, and all of my body aching I finally got to bed around 11:45 and had to get up at 5:15 Friday morning.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Who I am and why I'm here

I am a white male Evangelical Christian in his mid 50's. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and name Him as my personal Saviour. I have been born-again for 23 years, I am also a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, in recovery for 24 years.

I have strong views on most issues in life, like to comment on them, but am willing to listen to well reasoned arguments opposing my view. I'm as likely to talk about a struggle in my personal walk as I am to make comments on our culture and the direction our country is heading in.

If I don't irritate you some of the time then I'm not doing what I've set myself to do: make people question what it is they think they know and own it after questioning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt"

I have always thought that good advice, advice I rarely have followed. So I think it's a perfect title for my venturing into the blogosphere. Most of you who know me know i am not very shy in sharing my thoughts and opinions.

So, I expect to remove all doubt on a fairly regular basis.