We spent the month at Way of the Cross working with other SOWERS until the project ended December 16th and then we hung around to help do maintenance and prepare for the Big Feed. In addition to working a s a group we held a pot luck, traveled to Brownsville for Handel's Messiah and to Hildalgo to meet at another SOWER project and do the Festival of Lights. Juanita and I didn't do much away from the group except to go to the Noche de Paz celebrations at San Juan, Texas.
We have not crossed the border into Mexico so far this winter and plan to stay on the US side to do cooking and KP for the teams going across. One of the side activities of the Big Feed is planned to be the construction of two churches in Matamoros. If there is a shortage of construction capable people in the groups coming for the Big Feed, Paul may go across to help with the construction.
There is never any shortage of work that needs doing to the physical plant of the Way of the Cross ministries. This month SOWERS worked mostly at the training center.
The ladies painted the office, stained and varnished interior trim and doors, sewed new curtains and made bean bags for outreach games in Mexico and Nicaragua. They also packed gift bags for outreaches in Mexico.
The men prepared the main building for painting by repairs to the openings, stucco patching and crack filling and pressure washing. A couple of downspouts were replaced and the first few walls were painted.
Say it quickly and it doesn't sound like much, but all the SOWERS kept busy and the three work weeks passed very quickly.
A presentation of Handel's Messiah had been an annual Brownsville tradition for many years and then wasn't performed for 8 years until two years ago. Juanita and I attended that memorable event and reported on it in the December 2008 update.
This year several SOWER couples attended the sequel performance (still not an annual event) in a beautiful new concert hall at the local University of Texas campus. The hall was a great improvement. The concert was okay. It was better than the Nova Scotian performance a newspaperman reported years ago as: "Last night the Sidney Philharmonic played Handel's Messiah. Handel lost." but not as good as two years ago.
For just the Hallelujah chorus of Handle's Messiah sung by a flash mob in a food court go here.
Professor Grant Horner's Bible Reading System
The denominational magazine we receive as church had a cartoon a few months back with the character saying "I read the Bible almost every day. I almost read it on Monday. I almost read it on Tuesday......"
Consider, then, reading ten chapters a day! They say that doing something for 21 days makes it a habit, I hope so since as of December 22 it is 28 days since I began following Professor Grant Horner's Bible Reading Schedule. I bought a new, large print Bible, cut out the bookmarks in the link provided in Pastor Brett's blog and started reading.
"Try it for a month".
I almost have (28 days is almost a month except for February 3 times out of 4). I think it will change my life even more than the Dukan Diet changed my weight and the hopes for The 4-Hour Body changing my abs.
Books of this month
We've been busy, but there is always time for reading. In addition to daily reading a chapter from each of ten books of the Bible.I have read all of the next two books and the necessary parts of the third.
The Art Of Non-conformity This, for me, is a sort of preaching to the choir type book. I have always been somewhat independent in a conventional sort of way. This book is a helpful reinforcement. Even if you have totally bought into this society's rules and career path for your life you might benefit from reading this book. Who's life is it, anyway?
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard was recommended by one of Amazon's e-mails based on other books I had bought from them. I was enthralled reading all of the available excerpts on-line and bought it. It is one of those books I wish I had read thirty years ago. One of those "I wish I had known what they know now" books. If you need to change an organization or yourself this book will help you. It has some stunningly interesting anecdotes about change and a simple, practical, tool kit to help analyze and do something about the situation you are concerned with. They spend a lot of time covering situations where the person desiring the change had very limited power but managed to make a huge difference.
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman This Timothy Ferris book is, as Tim says, "heavy enough to club a seal". It not a book he recommends you read from cover to cover. It is laid out to provide useful, simple steps to deal with what you are trying to change about your body. The additional weight of the book comes from sidebar explanations of the science and descriptions of the self-experiments Tim has inflicted on his body to provide extreme measurement details of results. (Ps. 1:1 warning: you may not share the author's world view. Also, some chapters are explicit in their bedroom advice).
It follows his recently updated The 4-Hour Workweek. In both books he borrows extensively from other people's work as well as his own experience, but re-packages it in a form that you can use.
The Big Feed
(plus two churches built in three days)
The Big Feed is held annually in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Mexico between Christmas and New Years. We have been involved in previous years (here, here and here). This year we thought our involvement would be all or mostly on the US side of the border.
Turned out that was true for Juanita.
Paul, however, spent three days in Mexico helping with the preparation for and completion of the construction of two churches in the area near the city of Matamoros dump. Didn't see any violence, nor did those participating at the Big Feed site around the corner. This year was the first year a Big Feed was held in that location so the crowds were smaller than show up in locations that have a history. Nevertheless, over 3,000 people showed up to play games, eat free chicken and listen to the music and preaching. It was reported that around 2,100 people made decisions that day.
Found out later that there had been a shoot-out less than a mile away in a supermarket parking lot in the evening of the last day we were there. We were told that over twenty people were killed, but have not seen any confirmation of that in the news or on line.
New Year's Eve found us on the road from Harlingen to Las Vegas, spending the last night of December and the year in a Motel 6 in El Paso, Texas. We were headed to Las Vegas, NV to help pick up a donated motor home, cover the fire damage holes in the roof and side and follow the driver back to Harlingen.
Right after our return on that trip we headed out on our circuitous way to Big Bend National Park for a week of dry camping far from cell phone networks and internet connections (we could set up our satellite dish, but will probably need all the juice our solar panels can generate to keep the furnace running through the expected below freezing nights).
Assuming we survive the trip look for the write-ups in the January 2011 Update!