27 June 2005

24 Hours and Counting? You Got That Right!

In a little over 24 hours I will be driving to the Portland Airport to collect my bride who has been, for the past 3 weeks, in Germany, helping a good friend of ours get married. She has also had some good times with her mother and sister as well as others of her family and friends. I am glad that it worked out for her to be with them for this short spell but I can tell I need her back here. I case you are wondering just why I need her back let me begin by saying that I have, of late, been sleeping in a car. Now you must understand that this has been entirely by choice but nonetheless, in a car. In fact, I have slept in a real bed once in the past week!

You see, because of the distance to the DZ (a term used by skydivers referring to the location where they can drop out of planes, the drop zone), I decided last Wednesday that I would spend the rest of the week at the DZ. That meant sleeping in the car. Of course the main reason I was ready to stay at the DZ and sleep in the car was because Angelika was not home! So, now you might understand why I need her back, to get me out of the car!

The car is really not so bad though and it has been plenty comfortable. Last week I cut a ¾ inch piece of plywood off at the end and laid it out on the seats of my VW Vanagon which I had purchased from a friend in Medford several weeks back. I took the backs off the middle seat and had just enough room to lay down my sleeping bag on the plywood. I thought it was great.

We had a boat load of tandem students show up at Skydive Oregon over last week and the weekend. I lost track of how many skydives we made but I know that on some days I was certainly happy when there were no more students on the books. Of course in all of that, not having Angelika about made it less than enjoyable. Although, I am not sure how much she might have enjoyed our accommodations at the DZ in the car. Like I say, it is a good thing that she is coming back!

Now, I should let you know that as of today I have tickets for a return trip to Côte d'Ivoire the end of July for about 10 days. I am planning to return, this time without Angelika (What Am I Thinking?!?), to be there in Bouaké at the time of the turning over of the responsibilities for the ICA campus from the school’s administration to our team. The actual director has asked that I be there for the turning over of the campus, as it will be my responsibility for the next 2 years to oversee the good management of this campus by request of our team in Côte d'Ivoire. There are still a lot of issues to sort out and things to get lined up to be ready for the turnover. If you are the praying kind of person, this is a big area of concern. Having never been in such a position, it is hard to know how this is going to go. True, we did manage this very same campus for a time before leaving our last term in Côte d'Ivoire but that was under the direction of a very wise man. He will no longer be there and it is our heads that will roll if this doesn’t work out.

I guess rolling heads may be overstating the case but you get the picture. Speaking of rolling heads, you need to be thinking about Côte d'Ivoire the next few days. Today all of the big players in the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire were to be meeting in Pretoria, South Africa with the South African president, Thabo Mbeki. This meeting is to be an evaluation of the progress towards peace as outlined in the previous peace accord signed by all of the parties the 6th of April earlier this year. Unfortunately the process has ground to a halt due to the massacre of around 100 people in the west of the country after inter-ethnic fighting flared up. There has been a shake down in the Ivoirian military due to some of the statements made which cast a shadow of doubt on the Ivoirian military’s ability or inability to respond to the unrest in this part of the country at the time of the massacres. Please do not forget to pray and think about Côte d'Ivoire.

26 June 2005

The Moose Foundation

We have a special friend who lives in Mackay, Idaho and heads-up a foundation called the "Moose Foundation". Marty is one of those people who is generous, resourceful, energetic, and prays a whole bunch and we think a great deal of her. This foundation was created for the promotion of moose, one of those great ideas that she and a few others came up with to promote the largest species of ungulates in North America. Check out the link to the Moose Foundation.

Kind of like Ducks Unlimited, they promote moose for both conservational and enthusiast ends. Both go hand in hand in effect. No one wants to preserve moose and moose habitat more than those who live off of the animal. Any thinking conservationist knows that the death toll for many species has been when society forgets about a species and has charged ahead without thinking of the long term effects of its charging. I would say though that moose are hard to forget if you’ve ever seen one.

All of that to say that several weeks ago we were up in northern Idaho seeing some friends and prayer partners (not Marty this time). They have a home that backs up to some hills and forests and is rather secluded. One afternoon I took a walk up to the highest point on the hills behind their place where there are a number of communication towers. It was one of those spring days in northern Idaho when the sky is full of "wannabe" clouds, the sun is brilliant and there is a nice breeze but not so stiff that you can't hear the forest talk to you. I was headed down the mountain, after going to the top, just picking my way through the brush, trying to be quiet but not so much as to not enjoy the walk. I was headed down a ridge that was forested with a fairly thick thickets of willow in both ravines. I had been seeing a fair amount of sign and I was thinking that there must be moose in the area, a fact that our host had pointed out earlier in the day.

At one point I began to pick-up noise off to the left both down in the willow thickets and straight ahead of me. I decided to sit down and watch whatever it was come on up the ridge if it didn't smell or see me first. As I sat there I watched in amazement as a cow moose emerged from the willow thicket straight in front of me and begin to walk straight to the tree where I was crouched. I happened to have my camera with me and I quickly got it out and as it walked towards me I stood, whenever its head was down, and began to click off photos. It was interesting to see the girth and height of this animal. I do believe it is the first moose I have ever seen in the wild and it was a special event. When she was within 3 meters she stopped and looked back over her right shoulder down to the left and there in the willow thicket was her calf chewing on willow branches. It looked like the calf was a yearling, although, who am I to say so, we don't have such beasts in Cote d'Ivoire and for all I know it was an over grown white tail! As I stood there taking photos the cow discreetly walked around the tree where I stood and calmly continued browsing her way up the hillside on her way to the wooded crest through which I had come only several minutes earlier. It is an amazing thing to see wild creatures walk about you and ignore your presence as they go about their uncomplicated lives.

It makes one think about what is truly essential in life. I think we can become so caught up in the happenings in our lives that we forget to look over our shoulder to those younger or weaker than ourselves and then move on taking life in, all the while listening for the tell-tale signs of distress which are, at times, barely audible above the sound of the wind in the trees. Pray that we would be careful to not let the sound of the forest drown out the cries of distress that God puts on our forest path.

As I watched this cow moose disappear into the tickets behind me I thanked God that he had allowed me to see such an amazing animal that has wandered the north country for eons. Making my way down off the ridge I was careful to not get too far off to the left side where that cow moose had a calf chewing on willow, wondering what it would be like to run through willow thickets with a mad cow moose hot on my tail.

It is interesting how life comes at us, different points converge and things make sense that never did. I am not sure what you would call that but for me the "moose thing" is one of those convergences that is somehow strange but comforting. It forces me to think that there is indeed a God who is there and interested in every aspect of our lives as mundane and common as they may seem. I doubt that that moose had any idea why it was walking by this bearded man next to a tree in its woods but God certainly did.

You see, last August on our way to Denver for meetings we stopped in Mackay to see Marty who has been praying for us and supporting our work in Africa ever since I started in 1988. I not seen Marty since 1981, when I finished my course work at Multnomah Bible College. For some strange reason Marty and I continued to correspond. Although not frequent, at least once every two to three years we would hear from each other.