Monday, December 8, 2008

LatinHeartbeat Dec. 2008

The Latin Heartbeat...

You can find our recent newsletters at:

We'll also be putting more pictures there, so enjoy!

Jon and Jeanne

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Jesus Way...

I'm reading a book entitled, The Jesus Way: a conversation of the ways that Jesus is the way, by Eugene Peterson (author of The Message). It is one of those books that really takes me in, not only through the message of the book but also through the style of writing. Mind you, if you want a "fluff" read to reinforce your own world-view, or if you're looking for sugar-coated Christianity...well, you'd do better to read something else or someone else. Like all of the Peterson books I've read, The Jesus Way is challenging, confronting, and at the same time a delight to read.

If you are looking for a good read this Fall or for during the winter months, and you're not afraid to have your world-view challenged a bit, I recommend you take up The Jesus Way. It's the kind of book that you can hardly sit to read a chapter--that's almost too much. I'm reading pieces...a little a time, digesting, turning over, pondering. A church staff would benefit of doing an extended book study...but it seems dangerous--it's the kind of book that can really do a number on a church. But, I think it'd be worth it.

Hope that your reading is going well. If you find a really good read, let me know. I'm out of the loop on this end...and have to trust the suggestions of people on that side to let me know what is new, what is good. Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Chance to Live the Faith...

Of course, it has been in the news. My guess is that it's the headline of most newspapers--the "financial crisis" in North America (and Europe). The government is talking about "bail-outs" for both financial institutions and individuals. Predictions close to "the Great Depression" abound. People are worried...and things look grim. What a great place for God's people to be!!

What do I mean? Well, let's see.... The Scriptures indicate that we are to be a people of joy, of hope, of faith. Fortunately for the world, the call to be such people does NOT come with a caveat! We can't turn from our responsibility of being people of good cheer, of kind words, and joyful faith just because things are falling down around us.

When we read the accounts of the Christians being sent to the lions in Rome in the 1st and 2nd Centuries, we find that they entered the arena singing and praising God. Were the scared? Probably terrified on some level...a terror that most of us will never know. But, they knew that they were called to be a people of faith and confidence...and that their faith and confidence was not to be found in swords or governments or people. Their confidence was in God...that He was working all things together for good, that He would receive them and bless them upon their death.

Well, we may feel that our economy is being fed to the lions right now...but even if that is the case, as people of God, shouldn't we, in this day and age, also enter the arena with confidence, with joy?? As the crisis continues, I hope and pray that Christians across America will not give in to all the nay-saying, to all the gloom and doom. May we stand tall, smile and bring words of grace and hope into the national conversation. For we know that our future extends beyond retirement, that our final hope is not in Wall Street, and that "joy" does not come from nor is sustained by money.

May God bless us in new ways...may we joyfully place our trust in the right place. Jon

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Shall We Live?

Well, the question came up as a matter of course in our "Christian Stewardship" class at the seminary. And, well...the answer came a little slowly and a little painfully....

We find ourselves in a consumer a world where advertisements are calling us to bigger, better, faster, sleeker, prettier,...everything "-er." But, as faithful Christian stewards, should we buy into that...and if we say, "NO," then why not?

Part of our answer in class came as we studied Genesis 12:1-3 where God calls Abram...promising to "bless" him with the goal of blessing the world through him. Now, some will say that this is just God's promise to bring Jesus through Abraham...somewhere way down the road. In our class, we determined that God was laying out a pattern/promise/provision for all--God blesses us that we might bless others.

Thoughts, questions and conversations led us to determine that perhaps Christians should not only reject the consumerism of our times but intentionally LIVE BENEATH OUR MEANS in order to bless others. So often when we get a pay raise, or move up to a better job, or get an inheritance check...we decide that God has blessed us so we can BLESS OURSELVES with new toys!! What if Christians really took this idea to heart, the idea of living beneath their means?? What if we bought a house that was enough, but not all we could afford? What if we drove a good used car rather than buying the new one we could afford? What if we chose to stay in a decent hotel on vacation instead of the four or five-star?? What if we chose to eat out less and eat sandwiches more...even if we could afford to eat out all the time??

This is not to say that we would NEVER buy things for ourselves, for we believe that God does want us to be happy and blessed as well. But, to spend all of "disposable" income on ourselves? I think not. We would still be able to enjoy the blessing of God...but we could also do what we are supposed to do with our blessing...we could bless others. We could give to others, do for others, buy for others...we could bless their lives in wonderful and exciting ways. If you've ever taken the opportunity to bless someone else, you already know the joy it brings to both the giver and receiver. What if we adopted a life-style of blessing others?!?!

Well, we found this challenge exciting...even world-changing, if Christians would adopt such an approach to life. Tithing would be easy, giving to others--a joy. And, we probably wouldn't worry as much about our "stuff" if we just had less of it.

May the Lord bless you you bless others. J

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A New Wife?!

Well, I have a new wife...sort of! Not really, but some of you are going to notice that I´m now married to "Lia." No, not another person...but another name. When we arrived in Venezuela some three ago, and again when we arrived here in Mexico, we discovered that the Latina tongue doesn´t wrap itself easily around "Jeanne" top it off, it looks like "Ye-an-nay" to the Spanish-speaker! So, my wonderful wife decided to take a "Spanish-ized" form of her middle name to use. So, my "Jeanne Lee" is now LIA. Sounds good, no??

Of course, some would say, "How in the world can you change your name?!?!" After all, it´s a rather personal thing, no? But, if you go back to the Scriptures, you find than a new name is not such a strange thing after all: Abram becomes Abraham, Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter, and Saul becomes Paul. These were "God changes"--they came about after an encounter with the Living God. Could it be that since we´ve be been brought to a new culture that God would have us take new names at times, names that would remove stumbling-blocks of any kind...even pronunciation??

I think it´s kind of cool myself! I love my Lia...and I love her willingness to change something so precious as her own name so that she can communicate and form relationships with people here. Today, I thank God for my incredible wife. Oh, she can still be Jeanne for all the folks north of the border...but here, in this place...she´s my lovely Lia. ...That´s all...Juan, signing out for now!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Changes, Changes!
Well, we are now living in the HUGE and amazing city of Monterrey, Mexico. Huge...with some six million-plus people in the metropolitan area. that is somehow all seems to "work." We´ve never lived in this size of a city, so we came with a little fear and trepidation. We left Blairsville, Ga,--a COUNTY of some 13,000 residents)--just over three years ago. We moved to Barquisimeto, Venezuela,--a city of 1.3 million people. So, we´ve now taken another giant leap...going to a place again exponentially bigger. But, you know what? We´re making it!
Just as sometimes people argue that in the large churches it´s the Sunday School and small groups where folks really find a place, in the big city, it´s the communities within that really become ours. We live in San Jeronimo...and we have found that we have all that we need within about 2 miles of our house--food at Soriana´s, school (el Instituto Laurens), a little ferretería (hardware store), banks...all right around us. Yes, there are times we´ll need to leave our in any case, but we´re making San Jeronimo our "home town."
And, while Monterrey is very different in some ways from our "home town" of Cabudare in Venezuela, we have found a lot of similarities. While the people are different, we find that they are still people--who love life, love their families...who want lives of purpose and direction. While the foods are different (meat-lovers paradise!), the food is good, and we´re learning to eat lots of different ways with tortillas.
All in all...we´re here! And, God is giving us joy as we learn to live in yet another part of God´s great creation, among a people dearly loved of God. May we bring life, light and peace through our presence.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I know, I know...I´ve been away too long, and you probably thought I have given up doing blog entries. But, I´m back! And, boy am I BACK!

What has happened since last I wrote??

We made a hasty and difficulty exit from Venezuela--a beautiful country filled with loving and beautiful people. We left our home, our friends and our ministry there. Few things have been more difficult in my life...I rank it up there with the death of my father.

But, God is good...and faithful and gracious. While we arrived in the US in mid-May feeling as if our very lives had been sucked out, we came through.

In early June, the girls and I went to Monterrey where I participated in a conference...and the girls got to simply "be." In their time of "being," they fell in love with Monterrey and the wonderful people they met. In short, the huge and seemingly bottomless vacuum left in our souls with our leaving Venezuela was partially filled...and the girls are now ready to get on with living in México! That is good news.

Towards the end of June, Jeanne and I got to take a week up at Fairhaven Ministries ( Located in the mountains of east Tennessee, this retreat center exists to help pastors, missionaries, church workers to rest, recover, renew...or whatever the need is. For Jeanne and me, it was a time of recovery and renewal...and preparation. Just what the Dr. ordered!

Now, we count down the days until we get to Monterrey...and we should arrive there around July 15th. May the days pass quickly!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Grand Visit to Monterrey
On April 21st, I (Jon) arrived in Monterrey to see what this "brave, new world" would hold for us. And, I was NOT disappointed! Our friends and co-workers, Ron H. and María G., met me at the airport and moved me deftly and nimbly through the amazing traffic in the city of some 4 million people.
The mountains south and west of the city are spectacular...and sit in stark contrast to the flat desert that goes out east of the city. There is that strange conflict of wealth and poverty that exists in many Latin-American cities...small, barely adequate houses sitting in the shadows of tall, 21-century sky-scrapers. Flavors of Mexican life and Americana simmer together side by side in this sprawling city. And, the flow of cars, buses and trucks--carrying the life-blood of the city--engage in an unending dance and flow on the heat-radiating highway....
We finally arrived at the Conference Center where I would spend the week. After stowing the suitcases, Ron and I headed over to the seminary--El Seminario Metodista Juan Wesley--where we were greeted and welcomed warmly by administration and students alike. Much of my time during the week was spent getting to know the director, dean, office staff and the incredible students. We sat together, worshiped together, and ate together. ´Twas time well spent!
I also got to visit the city...walk the parks and the "Macro Plaza"--a plaza that stretches some six or seven city blocks...with sidewalks, benches, bordered by museums, theatres and libraries. In truth, the city-center is beautiful. History seems to emanate from all around through the architecture, statues and other reminders around abouts.
I was able to worship with two congregations--one "mission" and one older, larger congregation. Both pastors asked me to preach, which I did "con gusto!" The people in the congregations were both warm, friendly...the way I like to find Christians. The worship was similar to what I find here in Venezuela...but there were differences as well--but it´s hard to put my finger on the difference. Here, the church is so young--and exudes a youthfulness. In Monterrey, the church has been around for a little longer--and exudes a maturity that was both refreshing and a little reserved. Hmmmm.... I´ll think on that a bit more.
Well, the time came to leave...and on Apr. 28 I started the almost 20hr. trip back to VE--a combination of cars, planes and buses. I left Monterrey feeling encouraged about our ministry there, already in love with some of the folks I had met, certain that the Lord was opening a new and joyful chapter in our lives. As we "close up shop" on this side, with certain sadness, we look forward with great hope, joy and anticipation to what awaits our family in Monterrey!

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Man Ahead of His Time -- Charles de Foucauld

I´m a keeps me informed and it keeps me sharp and it keeps me thinking. Recently, I´ve been reading _Letters from the Desert_ by Carlo Carretto--a collection of his thoughts and experiences as a Little Brother (Franciscan) from Italy that moved to Saharan Africa to live and to serve.
I was struck in my reading today as Carretto described the approach to ministry of his community´s founder, Charles de Foucauld: "He came to the Arab world dressed as an Arab. He lived among those who were the servants of the Europeans as though they were his masters. He built his hermitages, not on Roman or Gothic lines, but on the simplicity and poverty of the Saharan mosques. Being poor, dressing like "them," accepting their language and customs, he immediately knocked down the barriers and lived in dialogue with them. Real dialogue: between equals...´going towards them who do not yet know Christ´" (p.96)
Amazing to me is that this was his missional 1902!! We at The Mission Society ( strive to follow this same approach now in the 21st Century...and we call it "Incarnational." We strive to live with the people, among the people, as much as the people we serve and work beside. "Incarnational" the flesh. And, indeed, it knocks the barriers down and allows us to share Christ in a real and wonderful way. And best of all, it works in any setting...whether it be Barquisimeto, Venezuela,...or a village in east Africa,...or inner-city Atlanta--in all of these, we can be "incarnational" out our Christian lives in the flesh, as Christ among the people.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Fresh Start...

I´m trying to get the hang of this "blog" thing. Yes, I need to be on more, have more updates...but life just keeps getting in the way! ha, ha. And, that´s been the case of late.

Many of you may already know of our changes...others not. After three years in Venezuela, we are moving this summer to Monterrey, Mexico, where I (Jon) will begin teaching at El Seminario Juan Wesley. We are very excited about our move...the possibilities, the opportunities. And, we´re very sad to have to say good-bye to so many friends and loved ones here in Venezuela. We´ve come through so much here in just three years...and now we leave it behind.

For all of you out there who have prayed for us, supported us, encouraged us and stayed in contact, we are SO grateful. Hang in here with us...and we´ll write a new chapter in life together as we move among the people of Monterrey, Mexico.

Until next time!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

Well, Easter 2008 in Venezuela was a joy! And, it was different from the other Easters we´ve experienced here. Each year at Easter, we go worship with one of the congregations in our area that work closely with...and this year we worshiped with the wonderful folks of Lugar Altisimo....

How was this year different?? This year the Methodist Church actually celebrated Easter!! Historical note: When the first Protestant missionaries arrived some 70+ years ago--whether intentionally or incidentally--they led the "evangelicals" here to reject out of hand everything that the Catholics practiced or held dear. Well, they "threw the baby out with the bath water"...arriving at the point where they didn´t even recognize Christmas and Easter in the Church...or at least refused to celebrate them at the "traditional" times. This past Christmas and this Easter, the Methodists in Barquisimeto celebrated BOTH!! And, today´s Easter program at Lugar Altisimo was WONDERFUL!!!

We began the service with prayers and some wonderfully slow, worshipful choruses. Then, the children performed a choreographed dance on the theme of Easter. After their presentation, we sang choruses again...and a new one was introduced--"Lord I Lift Your Name on High"! First time we´ve sung it in Spanish...and it was beautiful. After the singing, the youth presented the Resurrection in drama...and it was beautiful! Pastora Yolanda ended the service with a brief sermon based on Matthew 28...proclaiming that the Tomb is empty...He is Risen...and He wants to live in you and me. After the service, we enjoyed a pot-luck together...arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), ensalada de pollo (chicken salad)...sandwiches...and some cake. It was a joyful time...and we truly experienced the joy of the Resurrection with our brothers and sisters at Lugar Altisimo.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Market Day...

Every Wednesday morning, we go to market! Oh, not like your supermarket in North America...rather, it´s a street market, and it´s where we purchase all of our fresh fruit and veggies. We´ve been going so long now that we have our "route" that we follow through the streets, the same vendors we buy from each week.

We start at the top of the road with the "chicken lady"...who has the freshest and best cuts of chicken breast--"Dos milanesa, por favor!" Next, we stop at the young lady who has "calabacin" (zucchini), "auyama" (pumpkin), "pimintón" (green peppers)...and "lechuga" (lettuce.) One week we got home and decided she forgot to put the lettuce in our bag...and we told her the next week. She insisted we take one free. When we got to the car to put our stuff in the truck, we found a bag...of squishy-had-been-lettuce! Ooops. So, we went back and paid her...since the mistake was all ours.

Then, we move on down to the fellow and his little boy who sell the best tomatoes, potatoes and onions. We drop a 500 coin in the little boy´s hand as leave. Just a few more stops. The cheese man is a round, jolly fellow...and he always gives us a sample of his fare--delicious, salty white cheese. "Medio kilo, por favor!" We stop at the couple who has the sweet breads and buy a package of "pan de guayava" (guava bread) for the children for their morning snack. We go around the corner where the quiet older lady is patiently pealing and slicing pineapples--two bags, please. Finally, we stop at the "egg-man"...for a flat of eggs.

We load it all in the car, and head home. For some reason, even though I often dread going each week(must be a "guy thing" that has to do with shopping!), it is always a joy to see and greet people at market. The smells, sounds and sights seem to energize and lift me up. It is as if being in that mass of human energy some how sparks my own life. And, a trip to the market always means a guava bread with my next cup of hot tea! Que chevere!! Jon

Monday, March 10, 2008

Here We Go!!

Well, we've finally joined the 21st Century...with our very own blogspot, for all of you who have time and energy enough to read up on our lives. We are so glad that you've taken time visit...and we hope you'll stay with us on this journey. Our hope is that each time you visit you'll find something interesting, challenging, or at the very least, amusing. Thank you for joining us in the joy of the Journey. May the One who guides us be your Guide. May you know the Peace and Joy we have found...and now share with others.