20140320_110927aSiesta.

I’m reluctant to write this post, since I feel tremendous guilt for sharing what I’m about to share. Nonetheless, here goes… our missions team went to the beach today.

That means I don’t have a great story about the orphans, nor can I tell you what I helped build, clean or fix today. I wish I did – because I know that many people who are reading this worked hard today. I tend to work hard most days, too.

20140320_142943But today… today I walked around on a beach with dark sand made from the lava-based mountains foundation nearby. I ate locally-seasoned shrimp, experienced drinking coconut juice right out of a coconut and I put my feet up in a hammock. I walked the shore and picked up seashells with my 13-year old son.

A “siesta’ is typically a short nap taken that people in warm countries take after the a midday meal. It just so happened that our siesta embodied most of the day.

Again, I apologies if this creates any ill feelings on your part.

I have been in seasons of life where reading something right this would have made me want to bark back in bitterness, “Boy, that must be nice. I am nowhere near that experience.” I get it, I really do. Most days I’m off trying to juggle plates, chainsaws, bowling balls and more, too.

Today, though… I experienced sabbath and rest.

I live at a pace that is always cranking out the next thing. Even now, I’m putting off going to bed just a little while longer to write this. It can become easy to be a “human doing” versus a “human being.”

So today… I was a human being.

It gave me time to simply slow down my thinking and remember that the universe runs on God’s energy and not my own.

(Maybe you need that reminder, too)

There are real issues still in my life that need my attention. In fact, tonight my wife sent me a brief news update about a shooting in our hometown that happened today. It was at a location that she could have been at had the plans she made turned out according to her timetable. Instead, God allowed some circumstances to slow her day down and prevent her from being there.

1911841_10152263063296460_1068908084_nI wonder what will happen in me tomorrow because I slowed down today.

  • Will I love the orphans a little more genuinely?
  • Will I swing the hammer a little harder?
  • Will I push a kid on a swing a little longer?
  • Will I learn a story a little more attentively?

Siesta.

Where can you build some into your life? It’s easy to swing too hard one way on this… either valuing rest (and even time with family) so much that you never get to the to what matters more… or working so hard that you never get around to Sabbath.

Maybe it won’t involve a beach or a hammock, but maybe it will involve being still and doing nothing right about now, and remembering God is God.

“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28)

Lyrics.

Words create worlds.What you say has the power to mentally transport someone from where they are to where they could or should be.

Ironically, worlds also create words.

As I mentioned yesterday, our team met a couple of women in the afternoon who each had a unique story to tell. On the way to visit one of them, the tune “Lifesong” by Casting Crowns came on the radio. Our driver/host Levi likes to play worship music as we travel, whether it’s in English or Spanish. My toe was tapping along while I lightly sang along to the song.

When I say “lightly sang along,” I think you know what I mean. That’s means, “If I was alone, I’d really be singing out. Since I’m among random people, I won’t break social etiquette.” I once sat in front of a guy on a plane who sang opera music… the whole plane ride… but I digress.

After the truck stopped and we got out to meet the woman, I learned her story – from her fight with cancer, to the four young children she wonders about in terms of who will care for them if she dies. When we piled back into the vehicle and “Lifesong” continued playing, I got a whole new meaning out of it.

razorwire

And so this afternoon… I sang worship songs in a prison.

We visited with several women who were in for crimes they were accused of or committed. I don’t have any pictures to share since the security didn’t allow for it.

What I can do is try to offer some words to create a world, and a world to create some words.

Imagine yourself standing in a jail cell door today as I did.

All around you are prisoners. They may not look like it, since they don’t resemble the actors from movies nor even have on the same colored jumpsuits. They look like mothers… sisters… wives… neighbors. They’re dressed in casual clothing.

But they’re all prisoners.

If you’re honest, you relate to this. There are things in your life that you have felt a prisoner to.

Urges. Pride. Lies. Addiction. Sin.

So there you are, standing in the middle of a jail cell that leads into a corridor of incarcerated community… and someone with a guitar begins to sing the Spanish version of songs you know well.

And you think, “I’ve sung worship songs in so many different environments… but never with the honesty of a prisoner.”

You begin claiming God’s grace in your life.

Open the eyes of my heart… I want to see You…”

Your grace is enough… Your grace is enough… Your grace is enough… for me…”

“I see his love and mercy… washing over all our sin.. the people sing… the people sing… Hosanna…”

“…I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the ways that He loves us…”

Have you ever sang worship songs in a prison?

Talk about a visual aid.

Words create worlds. Worlds create words.

I’m feeling quite broken over that right about now. Want to make sure that lasts.

May my lifesong sing to You.



Hoy ha sido otro gran día!

(Yeah – I totally did a Google translate on that. My Spanish is improving, though – and by that I mean instead of only talking English I now talk English with an Antonio-Banderas-from-the-movie-Zorro accent.)

Anyway, today was another great day. There’s so much I can say about it.

Perhaps this video sums it up best, though.

And… you’re welcome.

20140318_094251We (obviously) connected further with the kids at the school the Honduran missionaries serve.Part of that included more work on the playground – from sanding down the climbing wall we constructed yesterday, to working on repairing a bridge.Other team members did some cooking and teaching, including one of our gals who is a computer major in the United States. She was able to give the kids some great instruction (via one of our translators, Christian) to the kids on what the internet, their operating system and more.

1236436_10202511273215716_103545513_nAdditionally, our team spent some time with two ladies who shared their stories of being blessed by God through the great work being done here. One of them is a widow (with four children) who has cancer, and she welcomed us into her home as we heard her story and prayed with her.

After a full day, our hosts let us pop into a local grocery store. People on mission trips at this point usually do one of two things:

  • Try as much of the local food as possible.
  • Get as many things that you can find that remind you of home in order to feel comfortable.

20140318_185449aMy son and I opted for a combination of both, getting soda and cookies as a special treat – but picking some flavors that aren’t readily available in our neck of the woods.

I think he’s going to be awake a while tonight.

It’s okay, though – he’s been amazing on this trip (as has everyone on our team). Tonight he said, “Dad, I want to do this trip again.”

We’re not even halfway through it yet. Wow!

I’ve got the power!

(can somebody go cue The Snap, by chance?)

The power went out at our retreat center tonight. Keep in mind that we’re being incredibly spoiled by our hosts, from air conditioning in our rooms to an amazing fresh-cooked meal three times a day. It’s easily the kind of place you might spend $100 a night in if you were on vacation…so much better than any of us were prepared for.

Our team (l-r): Robin, John, Kristi, Cristin, Blake, Joshua, Tony

Our team (l-r): Robin, John, Kristi, Cristin, Blake, Joshua, Tony

While the power was out, our group hung out and got to know each other better. We busted out our flashlights, played a couple of games to break the ice, and kept waiting for the system to cool down and restart. Finally, it did – just as my son and I were wondering how our evening showers would pan out.

The deal is it’s about 100 degrees here in Honduras. I don’t mean that as an exaggeration, either -the temperature is literally around that all week long. We picked the hottest time of the year to come, not knowing it was the hottest time of the year to come. Nonetheless, God had plans for us today.

To save money on every house the ministry builds, they created a business that makes the blocks they use in building.

To save money on every house the ministry builds, they created a business that makes the blocks they use in building.

We kicked things off by hearing more about the ministry here locally and its connections globally. First, we listened to a presentation from our hosts, and then went for a prayer walk to see some of the local and global ways the ministry reaches out. They do everything from generate income through coffee sales to run a concrete business to fund their ministry to orphans. For example:

  • The concrete blocks are used to build homes, but they also sell 3,000 concrete each week.
  • The coffee business is now called “REVIVE Coffee,” but you can catch some of its vision and the people we connected with today through a slightly older video on it.

20140316_110602

This is the view from our retreat center. By the way, the cow’s name translates to “Little Table Cloth.” Just thought you should know that.

Within a stone’s throw of our retreat center is a village of 42 small stone shacks and homes that have been built to accommodate more than 100 people (many of them being children) who have no place else to live. Several of the kids come from situations where a parent died due to HIV/AIDS. We hung out here for a while, connecting with a couple of kids who were very interested in the “My Talking Ginger” app on my phone.

The hottest part of the day kicked in, so we hung out at the retreat center just a bit before heading out to serve at the orphanage our hosts minister through. I was again inspired by the hospitality of the Honduran people. One of the gentleman who takes care of the retreat center made sure I knew where to sit outside so I would stay out of the sun as it moved about the courtyard.

20140316_192458aBefore we knew it, we were off on our next assignment. This time it was building a fence to protect the playground area and offer more structure to the kids who use it. They certainly made the project come alive as they ran about, sneaking in a hug or wanting someone to play with them. We made some great connections, especially with a 14-year old boy named Danny who was one of our key helpers.

I’m not going to lie – it’s easy to high-five each other after a day like this. What we’re finding is there is more to a trip like this than a high-five. God is speaking to us through these events, and even the power-outage tonight was a reminder that He’s the God over everything we try to control. We’re not the “saviors” here – He is, and always will be. We’re some of His sweat and hugs, though.That’s a role anyone can fulfill wherever you’re reading this today.

20140316_171547aI’m so inspired by my son’s hard work, too. I’d appreciate your prayers for him – that God would speak assurances into him that would enlarge his world and spiritual journey. It would be easy for this just to be a “good deeds” experience, although I sense the spiritual wisdom our leader Robin is adding to the trip will ultimately guide that in a deeper direction.

I think we’re going to sleep well tonight. We’re likewise looking forward to what tomorrow holds.

Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement!



Rest. Retreat. Relax.

Josh Griffin —  June 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

This week I’m away from my computer. Anything you see appearing on the site was written in advance (this one on Saturday night, in fact!) and is being updated by WordPress automatically because … I’m completely offline this week. Crazy, right?

This week I’m away with my wife at a retreat for our refresh our marriage, recharge our ministry and rest our heart. We are enjoying time just the two of us and with some ministry friends. I look forward to it every year and am SO thankful it was established years ago as a priority in our ministry.

I’ll be honest with you: it is a rare thing to slow down in ministry – I wear busyness as a mark of achievement and think slowing down isn’t a spiritual discipline but a sign of weakness. There is always more to do. But every year as I get to the breaking point I’m so thankful for these 5 days away to rest, retreat and relax.

I’m guessing you might need to do that every so often, too. Start this year with a little chunk of sacred time you block off and see what God does!

JG

This is my favorite week of the year – I’m sitting in a hotel room in Palm Desert at our annual Student Ministries Retreat. It is a life-giving week that our church gives the people who serve youth workers and their spouses. While we have no formal sabbatical (how do I get in on that, come on!) but this is so generous.

So I’ve got a few blog posts set to land while I’m gone – but thought a quick list of a few past articles about vacation, comp time and retreat might be helpful. Here’s some of my favorite stuff on this topic in the past here on MTDB:

JG



Genius! I loved this blog post from Paul Martin about making retreats more effective. One of his ideas there is ripe for stealing and claiming as your own (I do that all the time – doh!). Check this one out below, and head there for the rest:

5. Bonus, bonus – Also, I set up a video camera in a private room to let each person check in, a la The Real World, so that they can talk about their experience in private. When each of our students graduate, they get a video edited down of each of these “check ins” so they can see the growth they had over the years.

Love, love, love that.

JG

Thought this article from Luke Trouten on youth ministry events was fantastic – it goes into practical detail about planning and preparing a big event. Some really great stuff here – read the little bit I’ve stolen here, head there for the whole piece. Awesome!

Find Your Range
Because of all those variables, you won’t be able to nail down an exact per-person cost for any trip. To make sure you don’t lose your shirt (or your job!) it’s important to figure out the best-case and worst-case scenarios for sign-ups. You want to make sure that if you sign-ups are particularly low you can still afford the event. It can also give you an idea of the minimum number of students you’d need before the event can pay for itself. Likewise, it’s important to know what happens to the price if everyone brings 5 friends to the retreat.

Our parent church goes to the same convention we do each spring, but they charge much less than we do. I assumed it was just because they have a larger budget and could afford to subsidize it more. Out of curiosity, I plugged in their numbers to my formula (they bring about 5 times as many students) and was amazed to find that the price plummeted for a group that big. Sometimes the per-person costs don’t work how you’d think.

Don’t Apologize for the Price
It can be tempting to apologize when an expensive event comes up. While it may feel like you’re winning points by sharing in the sticker-shock, ultimately you’re devaluing your own event. You should be confident that the trip or retreat your planning is worth every penny it costs (and more)! To be honest, most youth trips are a bargain, and planning a similar event for your family or school group would cost even more. When you apologize for the price you convey that it maybe isn’t worth that much to go to the event. People are willing to pay if they are confident they are getting a good value for a fair price. Don’t undermine it by insinuating maybe the event costs too much.

Offer Assistance
While you shouldn’t apologize for the price, you also shouldn’t let the price get in the way. The reality of trips is they cost money. The reality of life is that sometimes money is tight. If your church does fundraisers, that can help offset some of the cost. Our church has a few reasons why we don’t do fundraising. But we still say, over and over, that money should not be the only reason a student can’t attend an event. That’s right, if the only thing keeping a student from signing up is the cost, we take away that obstacle. We ask if they can afford part of the fee, and the church covers whatever is leftover.

If we are going to tell students to that God provides if we trust in him, then we better put our money where our mouth is. This has been our policy for years and it’s provided many opportunities to see God come through in powerful ways. One of my favorite sayings is, “If it’s God’s will, then it’s God’s bill,” and he’s picked up the tab (and created some great stories) more than once.
JG