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    Tag Archives for " Guatemala "

    A Broken Heart – Guatemala 2018 Update

    I’d rather have a broken arm than a broken heart.

    Christie Brinkley

    I’m preparing for an upcoming Toastmasters speech where I will be sharing part of my book, Rooftop Reflections, with meeting attendees.  Specifically, I’ll be sharing part of the chapter titled A Broken Heart.

    In the video below, there is also an update about our plans for an upcoming trip to Guatemala later this year along with what I’ll be sharing at Toastmasters..

    How I Got to Guatemala in the First Place

    My passion for Guatemala started several years ago.  Here’s the story:

    Our family is planning our next trip to Guatemala this December.  Here’s how you can help:

    1. Donate funds to help make it happen.  Go to rooftopreflections.com, then click on the GIVE! link.
    2. Go to Guatemala with us.  We need a team of 12-15 people to make it happen.  If we have more than 15, we’ll build another house (or more).  Go to rooftopreflections.com, then click on the GO! link.
    3. Spread the word about Guatemala.  Go to rooftopreflections.com, and click on the ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY! link.  Read it for yourself, and send copies to your friends and families.
    4. Pray.  Seems simple, but this is an absolutely important step as we move forward.  Thank you!

    Rooftop Reflections – My New Book Has Arrived!

    TODAY is the day!

    Rooftop Reflections is officially available on Amazon.com for all the world to see, purchase, and review.

    I’m truly praying this book will have an impact on readers which will hopefully result in having an impact on churches, communities, and the world.

    This process of writing and launching this book has taken me down a wonderful journey – a journey which has confirmed to me that we are meant to be part of something EXTRAORDINARY.  Too many of us are stuck in the ordinary (or at least the perception of ordinary).  I know, because this was my story.  It all changed when a young youth pastor at my church invited me to go to Guatemala in 2012 with him and a bunch of high school students.  I was the guy working in corporate America trying to keep these running smoothly for my family and my life in general.

    To steal a phrase from Jeff Goins, Guatemala WRECKED me.  In fact, it flipped my world upside down and caused me to look at things differently – in an EXTRAORDINARY way.

    Purchase your copy of Rooftop Reflections – Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy in an Extraordinary Place TODAY by clicking HERE.

    For more information about the book, I’d encourage you to go to the book website at rooftopreflections.com.

    Join the Launch Team for My New Book #RooftopReflections

    The most anxious time was during launch, just because that is so dramatic.

    Sally Ride

    ONE MONTH FROM TODAY, my upcoming book (Rooftop Reflections) officially releases.
    The book is ready to go, but there is still work to do before I can release the book to the world.
    This is where I could really use your help.

    In today’s world, a successful book release requires the support of a lot of people.  Gaining traffic and traction for a book launch happens when people talk about the book and share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.  It happens when people introduce the book and the author to other people with influence.

    Rooftop Reflections is all about encouraging readers to move from the ordinary to find the extraordinary in their lives.  The book shares my story and passion for Guatemala, and it challenges readers to find ways to serve their neighbors around the world and right next door.

    Today, I am officially starting the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team.  If you think you can help, I’d love to invite you to join the team.

    When you join the launch team, you get…

    When you sign up for the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team, you’ll get a pre-release PDF version of the book, and you’ll get access to the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team Facebook Group.  In addition, you’ll get updates on the book release.

    When you join the launch team, you agree to help…

    In exchange for joining the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team, I’m asking you to post a review for the book over at Amazon.com.  I’m also asking you to promote the book and share your ideas for making the book launch a BIG SUCCESS.

    To sign up for the Rooftop Reflections Launch Team, go over to the book website at rooftopreflections.com and hit the link to Join the Team.

    (If you know someone who is a perfect fit for the launch team, please pass this along to them and encourage them to sign up TODAY.)

    Thanks in advance for you help!

     

    Hope Rises From The Dust #Guatemala2017

    Sometimes we find ourselves in desperate situations. It seems like there is no hope, no future, and no prospect of things getting any better.

    As I was going through old emails today, I discovered an email that had a video link to the work site where we build a house earlier this summer. The video shows the dusty location where our team would build a house for Lydia and her family. Check out the video below.

    Now look at these pictures of Lydia, her family, and the house.

    I don’t know what your situation is right now.  I don’t know what uphill battle you are facing.  I don’t know the dusty, barren period you have found yourself in recently.

    But I do know there is HOPE for you!

    Hope rises from the dust.

    Recalibrating Your Dreams and Desires #ShortTermMissions

    Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

    Harriet Tubman

    When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Seriously, the thought of blasting into space and exploring the “final frontier” was an amazing dream I had for a few years.  Now, I’m quite content to have my feet firmly on the surface of the earth.

    Over the years, I’ve had many other dreams.  I’ve dreamed about the possibility of writing a book (a dream that came true with my first book – On Track).  I’ve dreamed about the possibility of going to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona (a dream that did not come true).

    I think there is something positive about having dreams and desires for our lives.  These dreams give us reasons to live intentionally.  They give us an avenue to escape from some of the realities we face in our everyday existence.  Dreams can give us hope for what is yet to come.

    Sometimes our dreams and desires get twisted and tangled.  Maybe we let the dreams of our parents become our dreams.  Or maybe we look at the “perfect” world of those on television or in the movies thinking our lives would be better if we were just like them.  And sometimes we simply chase after the wrong things.

    One of the things I love about going on a short-term missions trip is that they always seem to have a way of recalibrating my dreams and desires.  Besides expanding your community and changing your perspective, they have a tendency to adjust the way you think about the future.

    For example, my dream of building 100 houses in Guatemala for widows and their families didn’t just appear suddenly while I was working at my job in Blue Bell, PA.  This dream and desire came about as a result of spending time in Guatemala serving widows and orphans.  My short-term missions trip experience in Guatemala allowed me to see the impact a house could have on a family, and I wanted to replicate that for other families.

    Last year while our family was coming home from Guatemala, Leanne and I made a decision to sell our house, so we could live more, save more, and give more.  After an unsuccessful attempt at selling our house this spring, we remain committed to seeing how this plays out in the coming year.  We believe the dream and desire to downsize was not placed on our hearts by accident, and our trips to Guatemala for short-term missions were instrumental in recalibrating our dreams and desires in this way.

    When you go on a short-term missions trip, you open yourself up to the possibility of new dreams and desires that go way beyond your wildest expectations.  And they go way beyond your self-centered, normal way of thinking.

    If you like to dream but need to dream bigger, you should consider going on a short-term missions trip.

    “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
    Colin Powell

    How has the practice of serving others impacted your dreams and desires?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Changing Your Perspective #ShortTermMissions

    “I just want people to take a step back, take a deep breath and actually look at something with a different perspective. But most people will never do that.”

    Brian McKnight

    When you always look at something from the same angle, you almost always see the same thing.  When you look at something from a different vantage point, you see something different.

    Going on a short-term mission trip gives you the opportunity to see things from a totally different angle.  The different angle will cause a change in your perspective.

    For many people, this idea can be quite terrifying.  “I’m too scared to see life from a different angle.”  “I might not like what I see.”  “I might even be convicted to change things in the comfortable life I live everyday.”

    For many other people, this idea can be downright unnecessary.  “Why do I even need a different perspective.  After all, my perspective is the correct perspective.”

    Regardless of where you are in life – your age, your economic status, your employment condition, your health, whatever, you need the perspective provided by putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

    One of the reasons I value my short-term mission trips is that I always come home with an adjusted perspective.  For one, I have learned to appreciate the material blessings in my life, and I’ve learned to hang on to them much more loosely.  This comes from seeing how many people live on so little.  Secondly, I’ve learned that contentment in life can truly come without the hurried pace of life that seems to exist in many parts of the United States.  The mission trips I have experienced have also taught me that I actually have more to give.  Life is not just about me.  It’s about giving; it’s about sharing; it’s about spreading God’s love through words and actions.

    Since I’ve been home, I’ve found it easy to slip back into the rat race of life.  One of the reasons I write so frequently about short-term missions and about my experiences in Guatemala is to make sure the perspective changes stick.  I do not want the positive perspective changes that have come as a result of going on a short-term missions trip to be a short-term thing in my life.

    A short-term missions trip can change your long-term perspective if you let it.

    “Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.”
    Henri Nouwen

    How has your perspective changed as a result of serving someone?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Expanding Your Community #ShortTermMissions

    Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about short-term missions.  They ask me why I think mission trips are important.  And sometimes they even tell me I’m crazy for thinking short-term mission trips are worthwhile at all.  This week, I’ll share with you some of the reasons I believe short-term mission trips are worthwhile and important.

    Before I start, I think it’s important for you to know my history with short-term mission trips.  I’ve been on more than a few trips.  When I was in high school, I went on five mission trips with my high school youth group.  We went to Bellefonte (Pennsylvania), Cherryfield (Maine), Coatesville (Pennsylvania), Rochester (New York), and Syracuse (New York).  Each of these trips gave me the opportunity to serve with my fellow students building houses and doing other handyman projects.  As I look back on these trips, I remember how much we accomplished, and I also remember the fun we had together working hard and playing.

    When I was a college at Grove City College, I had the privilege of going on two Inner City Outreach (ICO) trips to Chicago where we worked with Habitat for Humanity providing housing to people in need in the Irving Park area of Chicago.  I’ll always remember playing softball across the street from the Irving Park Methodist Church with Hunter Boyd, Erik Anderson, and Mike Black.  These trips gave me an unbelievable opportunity to bond with students from Grove City College while we served during our Easter break.

    More recently, I’ve been to Guatemala five times in the past six years where I’ve had opportunities to serve in the villages of Santo Domingo Xenacoj and San Raymundo.  These trips have included house construction, feeding programs, and ministry to orphans and widows.

    I’ve helped to plan several of these trips, and I’ve attended as a participant.  The experiences have all been very valuable.  I share this to let you know that I’ve gone on multiple mission trips (and I hope to go on many more).  While I still have a lot to learn about short-term missions, I believe I have some experience that has served me well and will hopefully cause you to think about going on a short-term missions trip of your own.

    Short term missions provide an incredible opportunity to expand your community.

    On a short-term missions trip, your community expands by putting you in a foreign place.  Whether you serve overseas or domestically, you are likely to find yourself outside your normal community.  Thanks to my short-term mission trips, I’ve connected with people from across the country and around the world that I normally would not have met – people like German Espana in Santo Domingo, Guatemala.  He’s a man who had tried to provide for his family by working in the United States.  His heart for widows and orphans expanded when he moved back to his own village and deepened his relationship with Jesus.  I also count as blessings the families we have served – people like Lydia, Betty, Angela, Maria, Dolores, and Carmen.  These women and their stories have touched my heart and expanded my understanding of community.

    On a short-term missions trip, your community expands by drawing you closer to your team members.  This summer when I traveled to Guatemala with a group of 33 people from my church, my community expanded tremendously as I connected with each of the team members and learned many of their stories.  The trip gave us an intense and intentional time together where we were able to share together, pray together, eat together, serve together, and even play together.  I laughed, cried, and huddled with people I may never have really known outside the missions trip.

    On a short-term missions trip, your community expands by opening your eyes to what others are doing to serve.  I have connected with so many great people from organizations like Casas por Cristo, Habitat for Humanity, Adventures in Missions (AIM), and GO Ministries as a result of these trips.  My community expanded to include people like Tyler Miller (Casas por Cristo), Pete Dockery (Casas por Cristo), Joshua Crabbs (Casas por Cristo), Dave Sgro (GO Ministries), and Seth Barnes (AIM).  I’m thankful for these ministries and missionaries who have showed me what it looks like to expand your community with the intention of sharing God’s love.

    You and I were meant for community.

    That community should be happening right where you live, but it doesn’t have to stop there.  Now is a great time to consider expanding your community outside your neighborhood through a short-term missions trip.

    How has your community expanded as a result of a short-term missions experience?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    How to Overcome Post Mission Trip Depression #Guatemala2017

    It’s been nearly a week since I returned home from Guatemala, and I’m still in recovery.

    The other day, I mentioned that I might have a case of post mission trip depression.  A good friend said that was a real thing.  I’m not sure if I’m all together depressed, but I’m definitely dealing with some feelings I don’t normally have.  My stomach has been a little unsettled that past few days which could be a result of a couple of meals I tried toward the end of my visit – namely the street side tacos from San Raymundo or the meal I enjoyed at the house dedication.  Beyond that, I’ve missed the team we spent the week with in Guatemala.  I’ve also been pondering the next moves in building more homes for widows.  And I’m feeling the realities of being thrust back into a high pressure, fast paced world after being in a low pressure, slower paced Guatemala.  I’m confident things will improve in the coming days, but these feelings got me thinking that I’m probably not alone.

    Today, I want to give you some advice on how to overcome a case of post mission trip depression.  (And by the way, I’m writing this for myself too.)

    8 Ways to Overcome Post Mission Trip Depression

    1. Find a way to serve in your local community.  Serving around the world in places like Guatemala is important, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be serving right in our own communities.  When we serve others, it uplifts the people we are serving and us.
    2. Share your story with others.  Don’t let your mission trip story fade into the past.  By sharing your story, you may inspire others to serve others, and you get the benefit of reliving your experience.
    3. Get some sleep.  Typically, a missions trip throws your internal clock for a loop.  It’s important to get appropriate sleep to help you return to the “normalcy” of your typical routine.
    4. Schedule time to get together with your team.  If you served with a group of people, you should consider setting time aside to get together with the team.  Maybe it starts with dinner out with some of the friends you just met.  It would also be a good idea to schedule a “reunion gathering” for your team to share pictures, stories, and general feedback on the return to home.
    5. Don’t forget to eat.  Food is often the key ingredient to keeping us emotionally stable.  Make sure you take time to eat.
    6. Get some exercise.  Even a walk in the park can do wonders for our emotional health.  Make sure you get out and exercise when you come home from a mission trip.
    7. Read a good book about missions trips or about serving other people.  This fall, I’ll be releasing my next book, Rooftop Reflections – Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy from an Extraordinary Place.  I’ll share more about this in the coming weeks.  This kind of book can keep your brain on the right wavelength as you try to remember your experience and as you try to find ways to apply it in your everyday world.
    8. Start planning your next mission trip.  Why wait until next year to sign up for a trip?  Start fundraising now.  Start collecting donations to give to the widows, the orphans, and the poor you might be serving in the future.  Take an active role in getting ready for another trip to serve others.

    I’m already feeling a little bit better just thinking about taking these actions.

    How have you handled your thoughts and feelings upon returning home from a missions trip or life-changing experience?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

    I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

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