Recent Blogs

Short Days - Big Projects

Team OnalaskaOur hearts are still soaring and our pantry, our stock of public health teaching supplies and first aid materials, as well as my previously meager store of footwear, have grown substantially, thanks to last week’s visit from Team Onalaska (Wisconsin).

Construction workers on the team helped local Aymaran folks build a new greenhouse in Sicuani, and helped reroof an existing greenhouse in Santa Ana, Bolivia. Nurses and public health workers on the team taught basic nutrition and dental hygiene, and gave much-coveted sunglasses, to two groups of school students and adults – more than 100 people.

On our first day of work with the Onalaska folks, we were welcomed with an early, outdoor lunch -- bowls heaped with rice, potatoes, oka (a nutty-tasting local tuber), and fresh, fried trucha (trout from Lake Titicaca). The builders, including my son Sam, stayed at that site, where they laid adobe for the new greenhouse. The health care folks, Jeff and I moved on to a small school in Sampaya -- one teacher, one room, and 11 students, including several orphans or abandoned children; all from very poor families. We taught dental hygiene and distributed much coveted sunglasses, and school and dental-care supplies.

Photos that welcome the world

A woodland scene

Walking in the woods last week after dinner, I noticed the sun cascading through the limbs then someone walking through that light. There, I was reminded of the little worlds we collide with and walk in and out of each day. How do we say hello with a welcoming word?

This summer we invite you to share images with us at church of some of the ways you have, or will have touched the world. It could be a picture of a neighborhood block party or it could be stepping off the plane in Paris or exiting a boat in Thailand. You can pull out your camera phone and catch Mount Rushmore or a conversation over the back fence with a new neighbor. Wherever vacations or business trips or a ride to a relative take us, we hope you take a welcoming spirit along with a picture. Wherever you find yourself saying hello, to different people and places, share these adventures and email the pictures to Bethany. Please include a brief description in terms of people and place.

We want to geotag these photos and catch a glimpse of the worlds we shook hands with over the summer. A summer walk in the woods, depicted above, did I stop and say hi, did we have a conversation? If so, where did the conversation lead us? Let the conversations begin! Maybe we can see the big things we did together that we couldn't have done alone.

A Day of Celebration

We are so looking forward to this Sunday morning's special worship service, and the great "singing and ringing" Sunday evening concert too!

A praise band will be supporting the music for Sunday morning's service, and the message will be shared by JJ Mannschreck, our seminary intern. The design of the service looks refreshing and joyful - I can hardly wait to be there!

Welcoming the World

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself," says Matthew 22:34-46

Welcoming the world seems to take love for granted. Welcoming is inviting -- making the strangers feel they belong. When we welcome the world around us, we love God.

Pastor's Reflection

Oh, these spring mornings! I relish them, as I am sure most of us do. With the early sunlight streaming in through the windows, and the plants outside growing fuller every day, it's a daily treat to just pause and soak it all in -- even when doing so reminds me that one of these days, I'd better wash those panes!

Greenhouse at the Top of the World

Santa Ana, BoliviaIn June, with help from a mission team from Onalaska, WI, and my son Sam, we’ll be building a new adobe greenhouse near Santa Ana, Bolivia. In the photos at right and below, left, note that the lake (12,500 feet elevation), is quite a bit lower than the site. Cerro (peak) Wara Wara, right next to the site, is 4492 meters – about 14,950 feet. Click on the photos to enlarge them and see more in our photo albums.

The new greenhouse will overlook an old stone road that’s still well trafficked by shepherds driving llamas, alpaca, and sheep. The road, made in pre-Columbian days, winds its way from one side of the Copacabana Peninsula to the other, linking Copa to Sampaya, where small boats depart every morning for Isla de la Luna, Island of the Moon.

2012 General Conference

The 2012 General Conference was held in Tampa, FL from April 24-May 4. This is a meeting held every four years and is the only body that speaks for the 13 million member denomination. Four lay delegates and four clergy delegates represented the Northern Illinois Conference, of which our church is a part. In total, 988 United Methodist delegates from five continents (40% from Africa) attended the event.

General Conference is a time of worship, music, fellowship and decision-making.

Many Hands Blessing the Future

This Sunday will be rich with celebrations! At the 9:30 worship hour, we will welcome new members into our congregation, and at the 11:00 service, we will share in the Confirmation of 31 young people into the Christian faith.

One of the elements in the Confirmation service is the "laying on of hands" for each confirmand, while a prayer for God's continued shaping of their lives is spoken. Laying on of hands occurs in the Bible, and is a symbol of blessing; of accepting to God's call upon the person's life; and of the giving of the Holy Spirit.

One Year Later

Exactly a year ago we each dragged two thoughtfully packed bags into O'Hare, waved misty-eyed goodbyes to Jeff's parents, and climbed onto a Lima-bound flight.

It's hard to believe a year has zipped by!

Our first few weeks were given to mapping out general plans for our work in Peru and Bolivia. It was late April when we finally returned to Copacabana to hunt for an apartment or house to rent. We were lucky to find a very comfortable, sunny house with three small garden areas. Local folks always ask what we pay for rent, and are horrified to hear $143 per month (last year -- this year it's $150!). Then again, when they visit they're incredulous to learn there are not whole families living in each of our three bedrooms. Most apartment buildings here have several rooms about 10 x 12 feet. A whole family sleeps in each of these rooms, and everyone shares a small courtyard adjoined by a single toilet, maybe a small shower stall, and an outdoor sink for washing cloths and preparing food. Usually there's a room designated for cooking, which is done over a one- or two-burner stove, also shared by all the families.

Easter Greetings from Copacabana!

Dear Friends and Family,

Easter Greetings from Copacabana! We hope this time of resurrection and renewal fills and refreshes your hearts. It's a season of new beginnings.

A year ago we arrived in Copacabana on the Wednesday before Easter with some clothes, cookware and a few books packed into four bags. We were lucky to have made hostel reservations in advance because thousands of people travel to Copa for the last days of Holy Week. It seems even more crowded this year.


Subscribe to RSS - blogs

Copyright © 2018 First United Methodist Church, Downers Grove. Please report any problems to