Category Archives: James

365 Day Photo Challenge: 92-98

Week 14 in the books. I’ll confess that I took some of these pictures not on their proper day because I was laid out pretty good last week with a bug I caught at a 3 year old’s birthday party.

Lots of digital noise in some of these pictures. As light is becoming more and more scarce, I have to remind myself that it is only a phone, but overall, I’m pleased with this collection:


Day 92: Found
Day 92: Found

Day 93: Something Colorful
Day 93: Something Colorful

Day 94: Light
Day 94: Light

Day 95: You Today
Day 95: You Today

Day 96: In Motion
Day 96: In Motion

Day 97: Afternoon
Day 97: Afternoon (Thanks to Dawn for actually taking this picture)

Day 98: 8 O'Clock
Day 98: 8 O’Clock

The next 7 themes:

Day 99: What You Saw Today
Day 100: Corner
Day 101: Pink
Day 102: Hands
Day 103: M is For…
Day 104: Below
Day 105: Watching

I should point out my (physical) sickness did cause me to fall behind slightly in my journal entries, but fear not, Friday’s missing entry will surface soon.

Primary Painting Day

Although Carla and Alexis did a wonderful job of taking pictures, one of the downsides of not having taken any pictures myself is that I didn’t get pictures of everybody that helped.

So thanks to my incredible painting crew on Primary Painting Day:

Jason Stensland
Carla Stensland
Alexis Stensland
Jason Baier
Jeff Daniel
Amy Yin
Jen Gorshe
Derrick Gorshe
Sara Junck
Teresa Kahler
Monica Henning
Nader Parsaei
Jay Janson
Jesse Howard
Shannon Bardole
Becky Perkovich
James Strachota

I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody. They all did a wonderful job and if it wasn’t for the stupid moisture, I’m sure we would have been completely done on that day. With everything except the kitchen cabinets.

My mom also cooked up a wonderful lunch and supper. I think a good time was had by most.

Some pictures from that day in no particular order:



The Master Bedroom


The Office


Roger taking the tile out to make room for a shower.


Shannon painting the entry way.


Jen working in the kitchen. Notice the swanky green color that kitchen cabinets used to be before the horrible antiquing.


Jesse doing some work on the first official piece of furniture to make it to the house, the Hoosier. Shannon’s dad restored it to working order.


Jesse, possibly high on something, working in the kitchen.


Jesse doing some primer work in the kitchen.


Sara and Alexis toiling in the kitchen. I do not know what I am doing.


Alexis and I painting the living room wall. It might be the accent wall, but I’m not sure if it is still considered an accent wall if you paint two walls that color.


Carla painting in the master bedroom. To the left of her is the family heirloom, our Grandpa Bennett’s painting stool.


Painting the living room. Jesse, Alexis, Me and James.


The guest bedroom.


Jason painting the living room.

Jason and Carla came over on Sunday to do some more painting.

Jen came over and did quite a bit more work in the kitchen as well. I just don’t have any pictures of that.

Some Poetry

My friend James has compiled a book of his poetry. You can check it out or buy a copy if you follow this link:


James Book of Poetry

This is one of his poems.

Shadows

Scattered shards of broken glass
I feel as if I�m a shadow of my past

Paint me a portrait of how to be
Someone of strength and beauty

All that is left is the void
The strength I once had destroyed

No comfort no support
Do I have to prove anything?
Nothing to be proven only to myself

Shadows seem such a comfort
No one sees
No one hears
Safely hidden in fear

Wanting to run and hide
Simply can not deny

That I am smart
I am brave
I will not cave

To know this
To think is to believe

I am already the man I wish to be
I just need to change what I think
Perceive differently

Unloading

What this entry lacks in substance it makes up for in size.

Just a few things to get off my chest, including some random pictures without a description.

A couple of weeks ago the American Film Institute released their list of the 100 best American movies of all time. The thing that pleased me most about the list was the removal of “Dances with Wolves”. However, this is not a complete endorsement of the list, but just an opportunity to make my own list, in no particular order. Let us start with AFI’s list:

RANK/FILM/1997/CHANGE 

1. CITIZEN KANE 1 0
2. GODFATHER, THE 3 1
3. CASABLANCA 2 -1
4. RAGING BULL 24 20
5. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 10 5
6. GONE WITH THE WIND 4 -2
7. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 5 -2
8. SCHINDLER’S LIST 9 1
9. VERTIGO 61 52
10. WIZARD OF OZ, THE 6 -4
11. CITY LIGHTS 76 65
12. SEARCHERS, THE 96 84
13. STAR WARS 15 2
14. PSYCHO 18 4
15. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 22 7
16. SUNSET BLVD. 12 -4
17. GRADUATE, THE 7 -10
18. GENERAL, THE N/A
19. ON THE WATERFRONT 8 -11
20. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 11 -9
21. CHINATOWN 19 -2
22. SOME LIKE IT HOT 14 -8
23. GRAPES OF WRATH, THE 21 -2
24. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL 25 1
25. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 34 9
26. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON 29 3
27. HIGH NOON 33 6
28. ALL ABOUT EVE 16 -12
29. DOUBLE INDEMNITY 38 9
30. APOCALYPSE NOW 28 -2
31. MALTESE FALCON, THE 23 -8
32. GODFATHER PART II, THE 32 0
33. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST 20 -13
34. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 49 15
35. ANNIE HALL 31 -4
36. BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE 13 -23
37. BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, THE 37 0
38. TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, THE 30 -8
39. DR. STRANGELOVE 26 -13
40. SOUND OF MUSIC, THE 55 15
41. KING KONG 43 2
42. BONNIE AND CLYDE 27 -15
43. MIDNIGHT COWBOY 36 -7
44. PHILADELPHIA STORY, THE 51 7
45. SHANE 69 24
46. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT 35 -11
47. STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, A 45 -2
48. REAR WINDOW 42 -6
49. INTOLERANCE N/A
50. LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE N/A
51. WEST SIDE STORY 41 -10
52. TAXI DRIVER 47 -5
53. DEER HUNTER, THE 79 26
54. M*A*S*H 56 2
55. NORTH BY NORTHWEST 40 -15
56. JAWS 48 -8
57. ROCKY 78 21
58. GOLD RUSH, THE 74 16
59. NASHVILLE N/A
60. DUCK SOUP 85 25
61. SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS N/A
62. AMERICAN GRAFFITI 77 15
63. CABARET N/A
64. NETWORK 66 2
65. AFRICAN QUEEN, THE 17 -48
66. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 60 -6
67. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? N/A
68. UNFORGIVEN 98 30
69. TOOTSIE 62 -7
70. CLOCKWORK ORANGE, A 46 -24
71. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN N/A
72. SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE N/A
73. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 50 -23
74. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE 65 -9
75. IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT N/A
76. FORREST GUMP 71 -5
77. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN N/A
78. MODERN TIMES 81 3
79. WILD BUNCH, THE 80 1
80. APARTMENT, THE 93 13
81. SPARTACUS N/A
82. SUNRISE N/A
83. TITANIC N/A
84. EASY RIDER 88 4
85. NIGHT AT THE OPERA, A N/A
86. PLATOON 83 -3
87. 12 ANGRY MEN N/A
88. BRINGING UP BABY 97 9
89. SIXTH SENSE, THE N/A
90. SWING TIME N/A
91. SOPHIE’S CHOICE N/A
92. GOODFELLAS 94 2
93. FRENCH CONNECTION, THE 70 -23
94. PULP FICTION 95 1
95. LAST PICTURE SHOW, THE N/A
96. DO THE RIGHT THING N/A
97. BLADE RUNNER N/A
98. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 100 2
99. TOY STORY N/A
100. BEN-HUR 72 -28 

The next step is to eliminate the 15 movies on the list that I have not seen:
 

1. The Searchers
2. The General
3. Bonnie and Clyde
4. Intolerance
5. Nashville
6. Duck Soup
7. Cabaret
8. Tootsie
9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
10. All the President’s Men
11. Sunrise
12. Easy Rider
13. Swing Time
14. Sophie’s Choice
15. Yankee Doodle Dandy 

I assume that these are decent movies, but I don’t wish to talk about movies I haven’t seen. 

The next step is to eliminate the movies that don’t belong on the list: 

1. Star Wars – If you remove the iconic score from this movie, it compares unfavorably with “Ice Pirates”.
2. E.T. – A childhood movie that didn’t age well.
3. Annie Hall – I’m so glad I’m not from New York so that I don’t have to pretend that Woody Allen is funny.
4. Shane – Keep riding Shane, don’t come back to a tragically bad child actor.
5. Lord of the Rings – Okay, but nothing particularly special.
6. The Deer Hunter – Who knew a movie with DeNiro and Walken could be so boring?
7. M*A*S*H – This movie is so overrated that it makes the television show look not overrated. Even the the television show is actually overrated as well.
8. The African Queen – Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn and it still just isn’t very good.
9. The Wild Bunch – Landmark cinematic achievement for violence, but that is about all you can say about it.
10. Platoon – Pales in comparison to other Vietnam movies.
11. Bringing Up Baby – Cary Grant as a nerd? I’m not buying it.
12. Pulp Fiction – If Tarantino was any more overrated, he would be his buddy Rodriguez.
13. American Graffiti – Proof that George Lucas can be overrated in more than one genre.
14. Shawshank Redemption – A good movie, but not one of the 100 best.
15. Spartacus – It hurts for me to put this on the list, but this was not one of Kubrick’s best efforts. 

So this leaves 30 slots to fill. Wow, that suddenly sounds like a lot of slots to fill. Lets see what I can come up with: 

1. Alien (1979) – Simply one of the best science fiction and horror movies ever made.
2. Beauty and the Beast – Still perhaps the best animated film of all time.
3. Braveheart (1995) – Most likely left of the list because of Mel Gibson’s most recent run ins with antisemitism.
4. The Breakfast Club (1985) – One of the most beautifully crafted screenplays of all-time. Doesn’t get its due because it is a teenager movie.
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) – Over 50 years old and the social commentary is as relevant as ever.
6. Gladiator (2000) – Ridley Scott at his best and making me wonder how he can even be related to Tony Scott.
7. Glory (1989) – Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington together. That is all you really need to say.
8. Good Will Hunting (1997) – Proof that Ben Affleck was good for something.
9. The Hustler (1961) – Proof that Paul Newman is the coolest human to ever live.
10. Inherit the Wind – Spencer Tracy vs. Frederic March. One of the greatest plays of the 20th Century.
11. L.A. Confidential (1997) – Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey. That is casting.
12. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – Simply brilliant.
13. Marty (1955) – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a movie that nails the friendships of single men better.
14. Memento (2001) – Every night before I go to bed I pray that Christopher Nolan doesn’t throw away his talent making Batman movies.
15. My Fair Lady (1964) – Slightly sexist ending, but this is Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn at their best.
16. The Night of the Hunter (1955) – During WWII my grandpa shared a bunk with Robert Mitchum. My grandpa hated Mitchum because he was such a “lazy bastard”. That being said, he is perfect as the embodiment of evil in this movie.
17. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Remember when horror movies could be intelligent and filled with social commentary? Doesn’t seem like Hollywood does either.
18. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) – If you love Henry Fonda in “The Grapes of Wrath” (which if you want to continue to be my friend, you do), you need to check him out in this movie about a lynch mob.
19. Paths of Glory (1957) – Kubrick and Kirk Douglas at their best. Watching this movie will do more for cultivating your anti-war sentiment than all the listenings to “Give Peace a Chance” you can muster into one day.
20. Planet of the Apes (1968) – Second best surprise ending in movie history.
21. A Raisin in the Sun (1961) – You ever been in a poor family and had to worry about money? Then you can relate to every second of this movie.
22. Rushmore (1998) – Sometimes it is hard to swallow that Wes Anderson would go on to make “The Life Aquatic” after making the most original comedy of the last 30 years.
23. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) – Playwright Thornton Wilder teaming up with Alfred Hitchcock. Throw in Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright, what else could you possibly need?
24. Stand by Me (1986) – Who would have thought that the fat kid would go on to have the most successful career?
25. The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – Perhaps the most clever dialogue ever put together in a film.
26. Touch of Evil (1958) – It saddens me to think of all the other masterpieces Orson Welles could have put together if the studios would have just gotten the hell out of his way.
27. The Usual Suspects (1995) – Proof that even if a movie has a Baldwin brother in it, it still might be worth watching.
28. Reservoir Dogs – Tarantino without a budget. He actually was as good as they say at one time.
29. Harvey (1950) – If you can’t love a movie with Jimmy Stewart and an invisible rabbit, then I don’t know what type of person you are.
30. The Exorcist (1973) – This movie is madness and I love every second of it. 

That pretty much takes care of my list. 

RATATOUILLE 

I went to see the movie “Ratatouille” today. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. It is the first good movie I’ve seen this year and the first great animated movie I’ve seen since “Monster’s Inc.” It was the first time since I saw “Pan’s Labyrinth” that I left the theater and considered seeing it again and thought about how I can’t wait for the DVD to come out. This is the first “big” movie of the summer that wasn’t a complete and utter disappointment.
 

That being noted, I can’t guarantee that it will entertain children. It might have been too adult in the storyline for some small children to maintain their interest. It is worth the risk though. 

A VIDEO 

My friend James sent me this video. I’m not telling you how to think or act politically, but I do support my friends and the causes they support. So enjoy this small video about the Matthew Shepard Act.


 



 
If you want to take action to help support the Matthew Shepard Act, click on the link below: 

The Human Rights Campaign 

All that is left for this little outburst is to share some pictures from my recent travels. Once again, there is no commentary because I will not write about my adventures until I finish the 14 Chapter blog on the events of May 9 –May 19. A new chapter might be coming this way soon. Here are some random pictures for you to figure out on your own. I will let you know this much, some of these travels were only as far as a few feet out the backdoor.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on the Last Few Days (Part I)

I may have alluded to having a pretty great weekend in an earlier blog. Although it might have been a bit of bragging on my part, I have always been a big fan of the moral philosopher Jay Hanna Dean (AKA Jerome Herman Dean) who argued that “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” So I shall try to back it up with the parts that were great. 

I might as well start out with the major failure from my weekend. Friday was the last day of employment for James at DM. I had all intentions of going in to congratulate him and pop some bubbly. I did not make my goal. As you can see by the image below though, it was the only goal that I failed to fulfill this past weekend. However, I do apologize James and I do congratulate you James. If you are the interested, James has accepted a position in Nevada as a CNA.




Although that was the major failure of my weekend, it would not be the first. I was given the proverbial “shaft” on two separate occasions. The first was the deepest and most savage cut.

I left the friendly confines of my place of employment on Friday night looking forward to the good natured camaraderie that is Friday Night Supper Club. I was slightly concerned because as I hit US30 I had yet to hear from the founder and president of Friday Night Supper Club. I usually get this call from Willy’s pseudonym Lone Wolf Dinner Reservations by 5 pm. I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for the call and I gave a little ring-a-ding-ding to Jay to inquire about this evening’s dining situation. Jay’s response hit me like a bucket of cold water in the face. 

“Willy isn’t coming! He went to go see some steroid jockeys talk about God. You want to go get a salad?” 

Two things instantly occurred to me. First, I’m going to name my upcoming spoken word album “Steroid Jockeys”. Second, Willy is in the process of abdicating his throne. This is something that will need to be addressed at the forthcoming Friday Night Supper Club. 

So Jay and I went to The Colorado Grill. I was so disturbed by the absence of Willy that I knew I would have to take my dining experience up a notch. I normally get the Black Diamond Pita sandwich because the sauce that comes with it is absolutely extraordinary. There are times that I also take down a breaded pork tenderloin. The pork tenderloin is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches and will hopefully be the impetus for a forthcoming roadtrip to Hamlin, Iowa to a restaurant that serves what legend claims is “The State’s Best Pork Tenderloin”. I was going to need beef. So I ordered a sirloin sandwich, medium rare. Just how the gods like their steak cooked.  

Somewhere in the middle of the meal my phone rang. I looked at Jay and said “I’m about to do something extremely hypocritical.” Then I answered the phone. 

The reason that this is hypocritical is because I have with the help of Scott taught the rules of basic phone etiquette to a certain Mr. Ungs recently. He had a nasty habit of answering his phone when he was out to eat with other people. A habit that is insanely rude. A rule that I will no doubt have to teach Jesse in the near future as well. 

Stephanie was on the phone. She was offering to donate her tips from Friday and Saturday night to the American Cancer Society Fundraiser that I was intending on attending on Sunday.  I accepted the offer and thanked her.  What a nice person! 

The rest of the night went by without incident.  I went to bed early to ready myself for what was supposed to be a busy Saturday.   

I had made the following plans:  I needed to go to Hobby Lobby to purchase a can of matte sealer and some mat board.  I was scheduled to go to visit Shannon and learn how to make lye soap.  Then I was going to go to Des Moines with my eldest sister Teresa to conclude my Oscar Party pre-work by seeing “Notes on a Scandal” at the Fleur Cinema and dine on the tasty goodness that is Hu Hot. Then I was to head to The Colorado Grill to celebrate Shorty’s 70th Birthday. 

Most of these plans fell through. For starters, Teresa had been hinting all week that if the weather was bad she wouldn’t want to drive down to Des Moines. I told her that she was a coward and I was ashamed of being related to somebody that would let weather dictate their life. She relented and “agreed” to go. Then on Saturday she calls me in the morning to tell me that she can’t go because she has been to the doctor’s and she has “Strep Throat”. Strep Throat. That is a made up ailment if I have ever heard of one. On par with Countchoculitis. 

I hadn’t gotten off the phone with her for more than an hour when my phone rang again. This time it was Doris (Shorty’s wife) telling me that she was and I quote “uninviting me” to Shorty’s birthday shindig. The roads were just too bad.  

I still needed my stuff from Hobby Lobby. So I did what any “real” man does when the weather is bad. He gets in his car and goes to Hobby Lobby. After all I was out of matte sealer and I need to come up with a new picture for Salon 908. “Last, Loveliest Smile” is nearing the end of its 6 week engagement. I’m thinking about using a B&W flower picture from my sister’s bathroom redecoration project as the next one to go on display. I don’t know if I will be able to get this past the sole proprietor of Salon 908. Kelly possesses a longstanding disdain for B&W photography. This one could take a little bit of the Mayor Goldie’s magic touch. If he sides with me. He might side with his wife. 

I also heard from my Ogden Agent, Monica, this week. With her shrewd negotiating skills she has found a home for some of my pictures in “Everlasting’s”. So I need to make some product for this exciting new outlet. Since this is a flower shop, I’ll probably stick with flower pictures. I don’t anticipate selling much there, but you never know. Allegedly people have inquired about buying “Last, Loveliest Smile” and it isn’t even for sell. 

So I hopped in the car and headed to Ames. I’m telling you people, the roads weren’t that bad. You could easily do 35-40. The only danger was swerving around the person going in the ditch in front of you, but after a couple of times of that it almost becomes second nature. 

Hobby Lobby. I don’t know why, but it seems like every time I go there I forget about there incredibly slow service. It always seems a surprise to me that I wait in line for 10 minutes when there is only two people ahead of me in line. I always stand in line asking myself the same question: “Do I really need this thing that bad?” Although I almost always tough it out, it never ceases to amaze me that as I am walking out the door, the “other” Hobby Lobby employee resurfaces and opens up another cash register.  

Despite yet another painful experience at Hobby Lobby, I swore to not let it ruin my day. If my sister faking an illness and being uninvited from a birthday party weren’t going to ruin my day, neither would waiting in line for 15 minutes to by 1 can and 2 matboards. 

I headed to the nearest Salvation Army to look for cheap used frames. I don’t usually find much at these places, but on this day I left with a 16 x 20 frame that I can paint and use to house the next Salon 908 image.  

I made my way across an ice skating rink that I swore was a parking lot last week and called Shannon. 

“Still making soap?” 

For the first time all day, somebody wasn’t letting the weather dictate to them what it was they were supposed to be doing. The Little White Lye Soap Company. I believe it was this company that Herodotus was thinking about when he penned this line: “these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed”. 

So I learned how to and got to take a small part in the making of the latest batch of Little White Lye Soap. So next time you pick up a 6 pack, I might have played a small bit in the making of that soap.  

Shannon said that it “wouldn’t be very exciting.”  

She lied. It was exhilarating. It was indescribable.  I wish I could tell you all about it. I can’t because I signed a “confidentiality agreement”. I can’t tell you anything that might compromise any of her trade secrets. Sorry. 

The rest of Saturday was a wash. The best part of it being that I fell asleep on the couch during the ISU-Kansas game so I didn’t have to watch much of it. The worst part of it being that I’m trying to build this computer for Willy for his birthday present, but the thing keeps crashing every time you load Service Pack 2 on to it. It is trying my patience. 

This is to be continued at a later time. So I can write extensively and exhaustively about the Oscar results.

Random Notes, Nothing on a Scandal

I was saddened on Wednesday by the passing of the founder of Hilton Magic. I have one quick story about Barry Stevens I wish to share.

Back when Barry Stevens used to play for the Cyclones my mom worked the training table. After wins they would prepare a victory dinner. The dining staff prepared lobster after what was a milestone win for Johnny Orr. As the players got their lobsters, Barry Stevens asked for ketchup. Johnny Orr heard him ask for ketchup to put on his lobster and raised quite the ruckus

Today is a milestone even for all old Campusites. Today is the last day for James with DM. He is working a 3-10 shift if you want to go into West and slap him on the back and congratulate him. That leaves only 6 Campusites left in the employ of DM. The cleansing has almost been completed.

Today when I got to work I got a surprise in my mailbox. Mark’s newletter from Taiwan was waiting for me. This is always good reading and I would just like to share a portion of it with you today. Mark recently spent some time working in Indonesia. I would like to share a little bit of that part of the newsletter:

With all of this damage, many organizations came to Aceh to offer assistance.

Two of these organizations are World Harvest and LCMS World Relief. It was with these two Christian organizations that I worked in Aceh.

The tsunami was a devastating event that brought more questions than answers, but it has allowed more Christian organizations to work in this strongly Islamic community.

Aceh is nearly entirely Muslim, and this can be seen in the presence of many mosques, sound of daily Arabic prayer calls, and the site of women wearing head scarves.

Christianity is not common, and while it is legal to be a Christian in Aceh, it is illegal to evangelize.

The mission work being done in Aceh then is not direct evangelizing, but rather sharing God’s love through action and building relationships with people.

While I was there I helped lead an Internet seminar to introduce teachers to email, the Internet and how to use these tools to make them more effective English teachers.

The teachers were a joy to work with, and the workshop will hopefully empower them to improve their English instruction on their own.

Another part of my service involved traveling to schools. I went to four different Junior High Schools. At these schools I helped student practice their English conversation. Many of them have never had the chance to speak with a native English speaker, so this opportunity was exciting and educational for the students. They had real and practical application of these skills they have been learning about in their textbooks.

In the end, this trip was very educational and a blessing from God. On the trip I was not speaking boldly about Jesus, but I was sharing God’s love and helping LCMS World Relief and World Harvest in their continued attempts to build relationships with the people of Aceh.

The coordinator for LCMS in Aceh, Dennis Dennow, often describes the work in Aceh as moving rocks. I think this really fits the current situation there. I like to think about it like the Parable of the Sower. Jesus talks about the Gospel being like a seed that is thrown on four different types of soil: the path, the rocks, the thorns, and the good soil. It is only on the good soil that the seed grows and produces a harvest. People are the soil, and just like the parable, there are many rocks, thorns, and birds that prevent the seed of God’s word from growing in their lives.

In the Islamic community of Aceh, the Gospel cannot be openly preached and spread. There are many preconceived notions and fears about Christians that prevent this. But love can be shown. Fears and stereotypes can be taken away. Relationships can be built, and individual conversations can take place. Rocks and thorns can be removed, and it is my prayer that one-day God’s word can be openly preached. Then those relationships that have been formed and all of the love that has been shared will be the foundation for continued preaching of Jesus as Savior. God’s Spirit is definitely at work in Aceh, Indonesia.

Mark also sent along a copy of this picture of a boat sitting on top of this house. The tsunami hit the day after Christmas in 2005 and the boat is still there. I would wonder how that could still be, then I remind myself that we haven’t done much better helping the victims of Katrina in our country.