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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oh the Places You Will Go

I am truly beyond words right now as I type these words to announce that my plans for Buenos Aires have now been finalized. I have dreamed, hopes, waited, imagined and fantasized about this very moment, the moment that I get to officially confirm all my plans. I will leave here to go on a ferry tomorrow and I will stay one nite in Vancouver. On Friday morning I will take a plan from Vancouver that will stop by in the US for transit for a few hours. I will arrive in Buenos Aires Saturday morning around 9:25 in the morning.
Normally as a writer I would have some kind of elegant prose to write here. But I think for this edition, there is no person or thing that can best express all that is going on in my heart other than Dr Seuss's "Oh the Places You Will Go"

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss


Cover of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"Cover of Oh, the Places You'll Go! Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Avenida Florida

Do all of you remember from earlier blogposts how I kept saying that my church is located not only in the busiest city in Argentina (Buenos Aires) but on the busiest street in Buenos Aires? I found a video clip which features an accurate portrayal of exactly what Florida Street is like. The clip doesn't show Florida when it happens to be busy, it shows what Florida is basically like 24/7 with very little exception. And yes, as hard as it may be to believe, my church is located on Florida.

Whenever I mention to someone who does not go to my church that our church is on Florida, they look at me with a puzzled expression. It is like telling someone that you go to a church that is located in Times Square in downtown Manhattan, New York. This is the street that we were canvassing on and trying to survey people on what they know about AIDS in preparation for Rock & Vida. The moment the congregation leaves the church building we are located in, this is what we literally step out onto and into.

Spare Rooms BA

Unlocking Closed-Door Restaurants

One of most unique experiences you can have while in Buenos Aires is to dine at what's known as "puerta cerradas" (closed door restaurants). It is a restaurant that is actually located in someone's home. In a society where there isn't much space or privacy, it makes for a great way to spend time with someone and get to know them better. I am definitely putting this on my "MUST DO" list the very next time I am in the country and I know exactly who I would really like to take on this culinary adventure. Those of you who are die-hard fans of mine and read every word of every blog don't need to take a wild guess to who I have in mind to have this neat experience with. For the rest of you, keep reading and you'll catch up soon enough...

Watch more Buenos Aires videos at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mi casa

I have never doubted for a single moment in my life that there is a higher being out there who knows me way better than I know myself and has a better understand than I ever will of what I will actually need.  As you all know, planning my return to Argentina has not been easy. I went through alot and as a result, my mind was "out of it" and it made it difficult to plan properly. Which is the reason that my plans kept changing every other minute.  I think trying to find the will of God is like an easter egg hunt, you look here and you look there and sometimes you keep trying but you end up in all the wrong places. But the Bible says seek and you will find and if you search with all your heart, one day you will get it right.

There were so many times on this journey that I thought I knew what God's will was. I thought I knew when he wanted me to go and where he wanted me to stay. But many times my plans would fall through or things wouldn't work out. I almost wanted to give up but I'm glad that I didn't. Because at last I did figure out where I was meant to stay and it happened in an almost unusual manner.  What happened was that I was thinking of renting an apartment starting Oct 1- Aug 1. But I was going to be in Argentina before then so I needed a place to stay until the beginning of Oct. I started looking at the different hostels on trip advisor.  On trip advisor there are reviews, ratings, and rankings of the different accomodations.  I was drawn to one particular place that was ranked #2 out of over 200 accomodations. I was curious to why this hostel was ranked #2.  But after checking the website and reading more than 30 reviews (ALL of them were good. There was not one negative review), then I understood that this was a very special unique style of accomodation.

The Elefante Rosa Hostel

Yes, it does mean "The Pink Elephant Hostel". It is located in a barrio called Boedo in Buenos Aires that  is off the well worn path. The hostel is run by two brothers and it is a bed and breakfast. I don't think there is anything like it in Buenos Aires. All the reviews says that being there is like staying in someone's home. And that the brothers are so helpful, they go out of their way for you as if you are member of the family.  The atmosphere in the house is one of laughter and conversation. And the house itself looks magnificent, tastefully decorated like an art house.  But what caught my eye is that they offer options for those who wish to do an extended stay.

This is exactly what I was looking for, a place that is close to the area that I work. I didn't necesarily need my own apartment, I like being around people and am very open to shared accomodation of some sort.  Sharing space is common in Buenos Aires and if you are willing to do it, you'll find that it very economical. And I like the fact that a nice breakfast that includes cornflakes and milk awaits me every single morning!

Being in an nurturing environment, there is no doubt in my mind that I've be refreshed and rejuvenated and as good as new in no time.  I will be staying in the hostel until October 9th when I will be moving to an apartment in the same neighbourhood. But no matter where I go or what I do, just know that you are always welcome in my home as an honored guests.

Mi casa.

p.s. Just for those of you who don't know, the picture that you see above is of one of many "float homes" that can be found here in Victoria, B.C.  Basically they are houses that are floating on top of the water and are attached to the wharf. I would love to spend a year in one of those just to see what it would be like....

Spare Rooms BA

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Attack of the Automatic Teller Machines

Buenos Aires has several rites of passage for those living in the city who wish to cross over from simply being a travelling tourist to someone who is living like a local. And one of those rites of passage that is part of the initiation process is when you feel sweaty palms and your heart racing as the ATM tells you that your card does not work.

Things get tricky when it comes to accessing your money in a third world country. Basically, you cannot open a bank account in Argentina unless you are a permanent resident. So for day to day living, you have to rely on cash or your bank card for funds. You can bring up to $10 000 USD into Argentina. Keep in mind that as of Dec 29, 2010 there is now a reciprocity fee for Australians, Canadians, and Americans coming into the country. You will be required to pay about $100 USD to enter the country if you are a citizen of any one of these nations. The first time I landed in the country was before that policy was in place so I did not have to pay. But traveling on an Australian passport, I will have to pay this new fee this time around.

But back to the subject of ATMS, it is one of those things about the city that can be wonderful yet annoying at the same time. It's wonderful in the sense that there are ATMS are around every corner and you need not to walk far to find one. But it can also be annoying in the sense that when you stick your card in an ATM that you haven't used before, there isn't a 100% guarantee that it is going to work.

If this is the case, you there are one of two ways to respond. The first is to stay calm and keep telling yourself that there is another ATM in the city that will work while you scour the city for an ATM that seems to be in a better mood than the one you first tried. Or when you are unable to access your money, you can respond the exact same way that young Kevin did in this famous and unforgettable scene from "home alone"

Mind you, I have actually tried both responses. Upon encountering a stubborn ATM that refuses to cough up my precious dough, my response tends to be like Kevin in this movie. It's a fun way to respond but it really doesn't do much in the way of getting me close to my funds abroad. So when my mini temper tantrum is done and I finish stomping my feet and snorting like a bull that's running wild in one of  Spain's bullfights, it is then that I collect myself and pick up whatever dignity I have left and continue my search for an ATM who is ready to welcome me with arms open wide.

Ordinary Ways to Learn a Language Extraordinarily Fast

Monday, September 13, 2010

Traffic In......Traffick Out

Buenos Aires is home to the widest avenue in the world, the 16 lane avenida de Julio. I've crossed that street many times, always saying a prayer before hand seeing as the city is home with both bad drivers and bad pedestrians. Many times I've seen people almost come to a sticky end in the ongoing war between vehicles and pedestrians. And I have heard statistics that everyday, 20 people do come to a sticky end in the city due to the dangerous traffic conditions. But if there is one thing in Buenos Aires that is killing more than the road conditions and the traffic, it is the trafficking.

I would love to paint for you the picture of this charming city where people dance tango all day long and sit in cafés drinking café con leche with churros and dulce de leche. But I wouldn't be painting a honest and realistic picture of the city. Part the reason I think so many of you love this blog is that I take you above and beyond what any tourist brochure will ever tell you. And together we see a holistic picture of Buenos Aires, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I'm figuring that by creating awareness of the ugly parts, we work to make a difference.

Every so often while walking in the city, I'll come across a poster with the picture of a young girl who has gone missing and the family is desperately searching for her. She might just be lost or seperated from her family somewhere in the city but chances are good that she has become the latest victim to the human trafficking and sex trade industry that exists in Buenos Aires. As I stare at that poster, it reminds me of a story I heard by a speaker from Hillsong church named Christine Caine who heads up Equip and Empower Ministries. She was giving a message in Greece and she happened to stop by one of these posters with the pictures of a girl on them and asked what it was all about. It is then that it was brought to her attention the ugly reality that in the 21st Century that human slavery exists and there are more than 27 millions slaves on planet earth today.

I'm not going to get into the brutal statistic of human trafficking but if you wish to know about it, just go onto the website of the A21 Campaign and you will find more than enough information. But the long and short of it is that what happens is that girls from eastern europe like Moldova will see an ad to be a hair dresser in Greece. The ad promises good wages and job security. Alot of these girls are from impoverished backgrounds where they are seeking a better life. They accept the ad and book a plane ticket, thinking that they are going to be a hair dresser. When they land, they fall right into the hands of their captors and enter into a life of hell on earth. Girls in Buenos Aires are trapped and trafficked in a similar manner.

Human trafficking a domestic & international issue

When I first heard about the A21 Campaign, it was easy for me to shrug it off. After all, what does eastern europe have to do with me? My passion is for South America and Argentina. But I didn't shrug it off, instead I listen to what was being said and let the desire to make a difference take root in my heart. And I am glad it did because then I find out that this country of Argentina I love so much has the same problem. And truth be told, it is a global problem that affects every level of society all the way to the government and law enforcement.

Christine Caine said that in that moment that she saw those posters, she realized that all the "spiritual" stuff and all the good that she thought she was doing for the world up until that point was really nothing. Within one year of launching the A21 Campaign, her organization has been successful in pushing through new legislation in some of these countries where trafficking is alive and well. They have built a shelter where victims are taken to upon being rescued. Over 300 care packages have been handed out to victims. All because one woman stopped to look at a poster and was willing to ask those questions.

Tourists come to this grand city and exclaim "I love this city". What they mean is that they like the ambience and the people and the culture, nothing wrong with that. But do they love the city in the sense that they actually care for what goes on inside of it? If we defined 'love" in a sense of caring for someone or something, then we would probably find that there are a significantly fewer amount of people that actually could say that they "love" the city enough to care for it. In my walk of faith, I'm being challenged to redefine "love" and what it means to "love" something.

I am definitely joining in the fight to end slavery even if it is something as simple as making a small donation to the A21 campaign and creating awareness by using this blog. And I believe with all my heart that I will live to see the day where the only "traffic" that exists in Buenos Aires will be the traffic on avenida de Julio ;)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?


How are all of you out there? I've been resting and am still trying to take in all the events of the last few days. Literally, I went from a season of having nothing to a season of abundance and having plenty in the matter of a day.  It feels incredible to suddenly have so much resources yet at the same time it's a huge responsibility. But I am handling things very differently than I did before.

The old me would immediately have started to want to control things and make plans for every single item I have been given. With the mentality that "I HAVE to get everything right and hear God's plan for me without making a mistake." But now my approach is very different. I am just as serious and responsible as before but this time know that God is going to help me find his will. We are going to do it together!  And there is plenty of room for that's quite a bonus!  I may not get it right the first time but I will get there and I hope many of you out there will be with me for the long haul.

It is really important that I stay relaxed. Not just for my own well-being but for medical purposes as well. You see, a couple years ago I was in the office of a psychologist working out some issues. At one point, she ran a test on me. She handed me this paper with like 400 questions on it. Quite similar to the final exam high school students take at the end of the year.  She didn't tell me at that moment what she was diagnosing me for but later I found out. The test was to find out if I was exhibiting the symptoms of schizophrenia.

It turned out that the results of the exam indicated that there could be some symptoms there but it was inconclusive. What this means is that whatever symptoms I do have aren't enough to take over my life.  The symptoms only start coming around when i experience a high level of stress. This is why I need to really relax and not be too hard on myself when it comes to trying to find God's will. When I push myself too hard, that's when the symptoms start to exhibit and I can end up somewhat delusional.

Have you ever watched the movie "A Beautiful Mind"? It is a great movie of the true life story of a science professor who has schizophrenia.  I think it is an accurate portrayal of what a majority of the people who have this are like.  Most people who are schizophrenics living in society are highly unlikely to injure or endanger someone. Schizophrenics are more likely to endanger or injure themselves while seeing or hearing things that don't exist. The extreme cases are the ones in the mental hospital having to be locked down and on 24 hour watch. That is the stereotype that society has of people with this disorder. I certainly don't need to be locked down LOL  But I do need to stay close to people and check in with myself occasionally as well as allow others to check in on me.  And trust me when I say that I've had some pretty scary moments when the level of stress from day to day life has caused delusions and I haven't been in my right mind

This is why this time around, I need God to be the pilot and  be the copilot on this next adventure. Because I'm a little too much of a wildcard. For example, one day I may feel to donate something to someone and it turns out that it is totally God and I heard right. Another day I may feel to give or donate or do something for someone else and the voice or intuitive feeling that I think I am feeling may come from this disorder. So when I get the feeling to do something, it can be truly of God. Or it might be my own natural mind and feelings that I mistake for being God's voice. Or the third possibility is that I am truly hearing voices telling me to do stuff but it is a result of this disorder. 

There are a thousand decisions that need to be made for this next trip and the voices that I hear when I pray come from 3 different origins! Talk about complex!  But understand that God created me and he knows my disorders. He will place me with the right people who know about my condition and  will keep me accountable. He's not going to allow circumstances that are two dangerous for me to handle knowing I have this condition. And he will send one of his angels to stand and over me by my bedside all the nights that the delusions are in full force and I lie there clutching my tear-soaked pillow crying out "Will the real God please stand up?"

Ordinary Ways to Learn a Language Extraordinarily Fast

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sundays on the Way

On today's blog, we'll be putting a new twist on an old story. It is the Bible story of Abraham & Isaac. Alot of you out there probably have already heard it but for those of you that haven't, I'll summarize it.  Abraham, who is in his 90's and childless one day receives a promise from God through some angelic messengers that he is going to have a child even in his own age. Eventually the prophecy comes to pass and his wife Sarah gives birth to Isaac.

Abraham rears Isaac with the hope that this heir will produce many descendants and generations to come. But one day it seems like Abraham's hopes are dashed when God comes to him and says to him that he would like Abraham to take his only son, the son of promise and sacrifice him to God on an altar.

Broken hearted but obedient, Abraham takes his son and puts him on an altar and gets ready to kill him. But just before he can strike his son, an angel appears to Abraham and tells him not to do this and that this was only a test to see if he will obey God no matter what. And because of Abraham's obedience, God keeps his promise to Abraham and makes him the father to what we know today as the Jewish people.

I was imagining that Abraham, knowing that Isaac was the child of promise must have taken extra special care and attention in Isaac's upbringing. It's been the same for me on this journey, there have been special areas in my life where I feel God's told me that he's going to put his blessings on and there will be a fruitful outcome. The three specific areas where I feel God has highlighted are firstly in my area of finances. Secondly in my dealings in Argentina and the vision for teaching english. And the third area is an interesting one, it is actually my relationship with my best friend in Argentina, Marisa. I do feel that God has some amazing stuff planned for this bond between us and this is a relationship that I should give special care and attention to.

Treasuring all this promises that have been placed on my heart, I have given special care and attention to everyone of these areas and made sure that I always gave the best of me.  I feel like I've been caring and nurturing each of these things like a tender plant, even when I haven't seen the fruit of my labor.  Then one nite in my prayer time, I felt a strong sense to give these things back to God just the way Abraham did. I felt God wanted me to be willing to let go of these things in my heart and even be OK with it if none of the visions ever got realized.  So that is exactly what I did, I took all these visions that I had been cherishing and said "God, I just release it back to you. I'm not going to hold on to it."

That happened on Sept 3rd, one year to the day that I left my job. I was in a position where my financial situation did not look good, I no longer had a job, and I was no where close to getting to Argentina. In short, I it looked like I had absolutely nothing left. But I placed my future in God's hands and decided to trust him regardless of whether my dreams would get realized or not.

When I woke up the next day, there was a different feeling in the air.  It felt like I had passed some kind of test. And I heard a voice speak to my heart "Angelina this whole thing was a test to see if you would be willing to lose everything for me".  And  I realized that God stripped everything away from me to see what was in my heart. But I felt that now God was saying "Well done!"

It got even better from there. My parents came to visit me where I was staying and that Sat nite, my fridge got filled with groceries. By the end of the day Sunday, there was groceries in my fridge as well as a couple of hundred dollars worth of visa gift cards.  I got to go out to a Sunday brunch buffet at the fireside grill. And to top it off, they brought up the subject of supporting me through prayer and finances for my life in Argentina.  Long story short, these are people I have a strained relationship with so when we connect, I actually don't expect any kind of support and I don't bring it up. It was all their idea to want to do these things for me.

Two days ago, I readily surrendered all my hopes, dreams, and visions to God only to find out that it was really just a test to see what was in my heart. I passed the test and pleased God. Now I'm in a new season where there is incredible favor, blessing, finances, and resources for anything I want to do. Like Abraham, I placed my dream at the altar and was ready to let it die only to have God give it right back to me in ways I cannot imagine. It may be Friday but Sunday's on the way.....

Ordinary Ways to Learn a Language Extraordinarily Fast

Friday, September 03, 2010

passionate, proud, and possesive porteños

RMS Titanic's bow as seen from the Russian MIR...Image via Wikipedia

It was December of last year when I finally held up the white flag as a sign of surrender. All of Marisa's efforts to get me to open up would finally pay off. It would be through this up close and personal encounter with this porteña that I realized that there is a basic formula that makes up porteños and porteñas (by the way, a porteño/porteña is someone who is native to Buenos Aires).  passionate + proud + possesive = porteños/porteñas

In different cultures, there are different ways of expressing when you like someone or desire some sort of relationship whether it would be friendship or romance. Some cultures tend to be reserved and polite and if the other party expresses no interest in engaging with you, then you are expected to respect that and cease any further efforts to win the other parties affections.

Porteños/porteñas are a breed of people all on their own. Having spanish and italian ancestry mixed into their blood, there is nothing subtle about them when it comes to showing cues that they desire to connect with you.  It does take some getting used to, especially for those of us who are from more reserved cultures. Eventually you realize that people here are not offended when you directly tell someone " no".

When it comes to the people of Buenos Aires, you have to learn to be upfront and direct  if you feel truly comfortable. The act of not doing anything and not responding to the other person's gesture of friendship is not a sign to them that you are disinterested. In that culture, they will see it as a green light that they can keep on "nudging" you in the direction that they want because you haven't told them an outright "no".

This is what happened to me. I am a person who graduated from the school of hard knocks. So as kind as I may seem, I can be hard, proud and cold almost cruel to people's gesture of affections if I wanted to be.  I was like the titanic, unsinkable until Marisa came along. She was the first Bible group leader I had in the church and it took about one or two sessions for her to decide that she liked me and we were going to be friends. Looking back, I realize that I never really had a choice in the matter, her persuasive porteña spirit would sink this unsinkable ship.

My makeup as a person was very much like the titanic. The titanic had 6 chambers and in order to sink it, water would have to have reached the 6th chamber for the ship to go down. I am the same way, showing me a gesture of affection isn't going to win me over straight away.  It would take someone with a clever strategy and alot of patience to finally break that 6th chamber in my soul and "sink" me....someone like Marisa.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Parable of the Lost Son......Retold

God is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO amazing! I just finished listen to a sermon on a podcast and it was exactly what I needed to hear. I listen to alot of messages via podcast each week and I don't talk alot about them on my blog here because those are for me personally. But this particular message is one that I have to blog about. In fact, when I am done writing this, I am going to listen to the message again because it is THAT good.

The story is about the parable of the lost son. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, it is the parable in the Bible that Jesus told of a father with two sons. The younger son tells the dad that he wants his inheritance early and upon receiving it, takes off and squanders it. Eventually he ends up broke and winds up working for a farmer and living amongst the farmer's pigs. Things are so bad that he gets to the point where what the pigs eat looks good to him. Then it dawns on him that even the servants in his fathers house eat better than him. He decides to come home and tell his Dad that is only worthy to be a servant in the household. But when the Dad sees him coming home, he welcomes him with open arms and orders a great feast to be prepared.  The older brother however, reacts angrily that he has been "good" but yet his father has never lavished him with anything. The father responds by telling the older brother that every he has belongs to him but for today, they must all celebrate. For the son who was once "dead" has come back to life.

Many of us growing up in church have heard that but I am pretty sure that none of us have heard that story with the twist that I am about to tell you. In the Jewish culture, the older brother had special privilege. He would have been able to spend extra time with dad out in the field, hearing words of wisdom and capturing the heart of the father. An interesting point is that if anything happened to the father, it was the elder brother's job to keep the family together. The inheritance that he would have received, he was expected in that culture to spend every last penny to salvage his family.  The Bible says that when the younger brother asked for his inheritance, the father divided the inheritance between the two of them. Why would the Dad have given both of them the inheritance when only one requested it. Because if anything happened to the younger brother, the older brother was expected to use his portion to go out and find the younger and bring him home.

The audience at the time Jesus told the parable would have understood this. That is why the story to them would have been quite scandalous that the younger brother came home all by himself and the older brother never went out to search for him. The part of the message that really got to me is that the point of the older brother given the inheritance was so he could pour it out to help the family, not for this own safety and comfort.

And this is something that I've been putting into practice for many years now and it is something I will continue to put into practice no matter whether I am having a season where there is plenty or there is little. I have always believed that everything that I have was for a reason. Not that I can't enjoy or benefit from it, but I had to watch that I don't start building a lifestyle of comfort and forget the purpose of why I have been given what I have been given. 

Tomorrow is one year to the day that I left my last job. It was a job that offered me alot of job security. I made $3000 a month. That's not bad for a 29 year old without a degree! But it was really important that when I worked there, that I took the surplus of those earnings and put it to whatever God wanted or directed. I donated alot to whereever I felt I was suppose to donate. Sometimes my friends fell into bad times and I really felt that I had been given such a good job so that I could help them.

Today I have only a tiny fraction of savings left from my last work place. Some people may think that I am stupid and that I could have a very different lifestyle had I not made those choices to donate so much.   But when I was earning that kind of money, my number one concern wasn't making sure that I was going to be taken care of. It was making sure that this money that I was making was being used for the very reason that it was given to me. That always has and will be my number one priority.

I also strongly feel that God gave me that job to test me and see how I would handle it when I was making good money. Because I really do sense that in the days to come, he has so much financial blessing that he wants to pour into my life. But if I can't act responsibly when I was making $3000 a month, then there is no way he is going to trust me with more. I believe that the last job i had was really only "practice" for me so I learned to get good at handling large sums of money. 

You can be absolutely certain that in the days to come, God is going to come through of me and take care of me.   In the Bible he says that those who take care of the poor will be taken care of.  In fact, in many major religions of the world like Islam, Judaism, taking care of the poor is an integral part of their worship and it is believed that God's heart is close to the poor. And if you take care of the poor, you are touching something close to the heart of God and you will actually invoke a blessing on you and your household if you take care of the poor. I may have  been made poor right now from pouring out my heart, life, and finances for the poor but just you wait and see......

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas