Thursday, February 4, 2016

The era of Skype

Since about 2007 I have been using Skype to communicate. Using Skype has replaced expensive phone bills. Its been a great affordable way to meet, organize and connect with family and friends.

Many projects have been solely managed over Skype. But with internet still unstable in my community here in Paraguay, even Skype can’t often help.

A few minutes ago I was abruptly disconnected while talking to a pastor friend in the states. We had scheduled this conversation over a week ago.

I realize once again, that flexibility is a virtue I will need to continue developing. I will put my notes aside, and then reschedule the conversation for a future date.

My grandparents David and Lilian Meier, where missionaries to Brazil between 1935-1975. They took ships to travel to Brazil and back to the states. They communicated via snail mail or telegrams if there was an emergency.

Thinking about my grandparents helps me with my current perspective on communications. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Preparing for 2016

Nancy and I love to travel. I believe you can learn so much about each other on trips. I grew up traveling a lot, and I desire to pass on that legacy to Mark, Nicole, and Anahi.

This month we took a week off to visit family in Buenos Aires—aunts and uncles whom I rarely get to see because of the great distance—and get away while the kids are out of school. As we merge two families into one, we are all learning new skills and sharing our preferences on everything from the music we listen to on the radio, how money is spent, where to sleep, what to eat, and what activities to do. It's an adventure—and often a challenge—to reach a consensus. Trips are great triggers to bring out our best and our worst.

At the beginning of our trip, I took a retreat to look back and look ahead. It’s something I have enjoyed doing f
or a number of years at the beginning of each year. I can’t tell you how good these retreats have been for my soul, for my emotions, and for ministry decisions. This year I am trying to be more organized and strategic with my time, energy, and resources. I want to do so much, but I realize that focusing is one of the biggest skills I need to develop in this season of my life.

The kids have two more weeks before school starts. Nicole says she already misses school and is ready to begin again. Mark, on the other hand, enjoys his time off as much possible. If anyone has good ideas for fun, summer family activities, please share! We are looking forward to this year as a family, as we continue to grow and minister together. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A personal growing plan

I love learning by reading. Not sure where it all started. But between my parents and siblings, three of us love books, and the other three just read to get by. My mom has always had books on the shelve and has been my first and earliest reading champion. Thanks mom.

As i was thinking about my personal growth for 2016, I was encouraged by someone to read in one of these five categories:

Best practices: books on how to become better at something
History: learning about the past and thus learning about good decision making.
Biographies: get inspired by people who have left a legacy in a specific field.
Theological: to deepen one's Christian growth. The Bible is a daily must read.
Fiction: this is a category I have given very little attention to.

Here are some books on the list for this year. 

  1. Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings by Martin Luther
  2. What kids need most in a dad by Tim Hansel
  3. Rich Christians in an age of hunger by Ronald Sider
  4. Travel the world on $50 a day by Matt Kepnes
  5. The everything store, Jeff Bezos and the age of amazon by Brad Stone

Feel free to share some of the resources you are using to help you grow over the years?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Family Year

If I had to sum up this year, I would say it was a family-blending year and the beginning of new adventures as a family and in ministry. The five of us have bonded and learned to love each other in spite of our differences. Besides focusing on family, we have also been involved in various ministries. I seem to enjoy and treasure every moment with more intensity.

Ministry highlights:

·        Preaching at various churches and filling empty pulpits.
·        Hosting family, friends and teams from various locations. 
·        Helping organize the 40th anniversary of the Church of God in Paraguay.
·        Teaching an Exegesis course at Posadas Bible Institute.
·        Assisting Radio Alternativa with special projects.
·        Writing a book telling the story of Radio Alternativa (soon to be released).

Family highlights:
·        Norberto and Nancy were married on March 3rd.
·        Nancy began a three-year bachelor's degree in Christian ministries.
·        Norberto finished a one-year specialization in higher education.
·        Mark successfully finished the 10th grade.
·        Nicole finished the 6th grade as best student, as she has done since the 1st grade.
·        Anahi learned to read and finished kindergarten.
·        Bonding, adjusting as a new family, and creating new memories.
·        Beginning to dream and explore possibilities as a new family.

As we embark on 2016, we anticipate being involved in discipleship ministries of Bible and training, as well as the hosting of individuals and teams. As a family, we are defining new traditions and enjoying the gift of love and second chances. 

We also have some very exciting news: Nancy is pregnant. We are expecting a baby, if God so permits, by June 2016. Excited about this Christmas gift and the gift of life. 

Monday, November 30, 2015


Yesterday we celebrated the Paraguayan version of Thanksgiving in our home. We used chicken and ribs as our main dish. Turkeys are hard to come by.

We have a lot to be thankful for. God has been good in bringing new experiences into our lives. Nancy is God’s gift to me. So are her son Mark (15) and daughter Nicole (12).

We believe that God brought us together after a season of grieving and hopelessness. During that season, we often wondered if joy and fulfillment would ever be the norm again. We are thankful for each other. Two weeks ago, Nancy and I got away for the weekend. We laughed so much and enjoyed each other’s company. We suddenly realized: We are laughing again.

Our three kids have been successful in school this year. Anahi has learned to read. Nicole and Mark are both active in the church worship team. I finished a specialization in a local university. Nancy finished her first semester of theological studies.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend.

CMA 2015

This month Paraguay was blessed again with a visit from CMA (Christian Motorcycles), an organization that has been coming to Paraguay since 2003. Fifteen CMA members came to spend a week traveling the country.

We started out in Asuncion, where we were hosted by the local CMA chapter, a thriving chapter in operation since last year, with new members who are excited to take this ministry into new places in this country. 

We also visited the Colonias Unidas (where CMA Paraguay officially began back in 2006), spent one day painting the Alternative Radio Station (established in 1999 and until recently the only Christian broadcasting ministry in southern Paraguay), and traveled to see the waterfalls at Iguazu (one of the seven natural wonders of the world). I love hosting CMA teams. Their excitement and passion fill you up.

This year CMA Paraguay became an officially chartered nation with CMA International. This recognition has encouraged and blessed the work of CMA Paraguay. God is good and is using CMA to reach the lost in the country of Paraguay. Over the past decade, fifty-some bikes have been given away to leaders in Paraguay. This year, five more bikes were given away to local pastors and missionaries.

Thank you, CMA.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Happy Birthday, Anahi: Part Three

Happy Birthday, Anahi: Part Three

Anahi continues to grow and mature into an incredible girl. She is learning to read and write. She actually knows all her letters and reads easy words. She has also been taking violin classes for the past few months. She loves to jump with the music; at church she claps and follows along with the singing with great rhythm. Anahi also makes friends very quickly.

I often find myself staring at her and wondering what God has in mind for my girl. Why has God chosen me, this family, this home, to be her community of love and support? At night when I put her to bed, I thank God for his love and mercy and for bringing Anahi first into my life, and now into Nancy's life.

Anahi is finding her way in our new family. Although she struggles with the normal sibling rivalry, as time passes her connection with Nicole and Mark and Nancy is growing stronger. God is the only one that can truly bond our lives together.
This morning I looked at some pictures and realized how much Anahi has grown. As I am writing this, I have postponed for the third time some of my personal studies and activities because Nicole and Anahi asked me to play with them after dinner this evening. I realize how important it is to bless my kids now with the gift of time and lots of family moments, and to teach them the importance of living close to God. Quality time with my three kids now is one of the greatest gifts I can give to them.

I've been a bit down on myself over the past few weeks, even though I am surrounded by a loving family, a loving God, a church, and many friends around the world. I've wondered, "What does the future hold for us as a new family? Which area of ministry should I be focusing on more? What are some of the priorities I should be pursuing this coming year?" You know those moments. But this weekend I was challenged by the pastor at our congregation to believe that God is walking alongside me. I don’t have to have all the answers; I don’t have to fear the future. He is with me, and I know I will make it.

And everything seemed okay again this morning when Anahi got up and said, "Daddy, I love you. You are the best." I was blessed and ministered to by my little girl. Happy 5th birthday, Anahi.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Anahi: Part Two

So much has happened since that day. Anahi came to live with us only about one month after we met her. She loved Timothy from the beginning. Julie was an incredible mother; a dream had come true in her life. God had given her a little girl, whom she named Esther because she had arrived in our home for such a time as this.

Esther became part of our family. We went on our first family vacation a few months later. We had popcorn and movie nights. The kids and I played after work in the afternoons. Julie was able to see God answering her prayers and satisfying her deepest longings to have a baby girl. Between September 2011 and April 2012, we had such wonderful times. We were very busy, living life and doing ministry together in Paraguay.

Anahi learned to walk with Timothy. Julie and I got to enjoy not only the Latin American spring, which officially begins September 21st, but also a spring season in our marriage and our ministry. We had been married for almost 12 years. The year before had been extremely busy and hard personally. Since Timothy was born seven years earlier, we had not been able to have more kids. Only two years before the arrival of Anahi, we had moved into our own home.

We had seen the ministry of the radio station grow and succeed into autonomy and have an impact in the Paraguayan community and were getting ready for our fourth trip back to the States for furlough, a trip we took every three years to see families and friends in the States. Tickets had been purchased; we had our itinerary laid out.

That’s when the accident happened on a cold, foggy April morning on our way to Asuncion.
Later I realized how Julie is definitely on furlough, enjoying the best ice cream and the best road system (she always told me she missed the paved roads of the USA). She and Timothy have made it home.

Anahi is only five now. As she grows and understands, I will be telling her the story, a story of redemption, grace, and so much love. First the love of God the Father, and then the love of Julie, who was a voice for the abandoned and homeless. And finally the story of my life, of how God has changed me in the process, from not considering adoption to embracing first Anahi and now two more kids as my own. Today, I cannot fathom my life without Anahi. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Anahi (part 1)

Happy Birthday, Anahi

Anahi turned five this week. She arrived in our lives after a long wait and a season of challenges, in ministry and personally. On a personal level, we had struggled with infertility for many years. In ministry, we were pioneering the ICCI Bible school and walking alongside a struggling church as interim pastors, as well as shouldering other ministry responsibilities. The adoption process we'd begun as a result of our infertility was going nowhere, to the point that we were ready to give up. The paperwork seemed endless. Stamps, copies, legalizations, interviews, background checks, and so forth. We were getting tired of the countless trips lasting 10 to 12 hours to the capital city for meetings and interviews. We were stretched emotionally and financially to the max.

But one phone call brought a new season into our lives. It came on a Monday morning at 10 a.m., on July 18th, when the director of the adoption agency called us with probably the best news we got in 2011. She asked if we could be in Asuncion in the next 48 hours at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20th. She said: "You are eligible to take home a little girl, if you still want to proceed with the process."  

We cleaned the crib one more time and made sure the girl toys were all ready. We rehearsed with Timothy some manners as to what the arrival of a little girl would mean in his life. I purchased a new memory chip for our camera. The house was spotless. We headed out for Asuncion very early and got there before our interview.

We stepped into the office and were greeted by the director. She was very kind and thanked us for our patience during the two-year process. She brought out a picture, printed on plain A4 paper. The quality was average. But when I saw the smile in that little girl's eyes, I burst into tears. I did not want to make a show of myself, so I remember swallowing my emotions and trying to keep them to myself. I instantly fell in love with that little girl. She was incredible. I felt that she was made for us and that God had ordained this moment since Creation.

The director said, "If you sign this paper today, your next step will be to spend a few weeks interacting with Anahi in the foster home. Based on how Anahi reacts and connects with you, you can take her home sooner. If she struggles with adjusting to you, you might need a longer transition time; otherwise she could move into your home soon."

The interesting fact is that all this happened two days before Julie's birthday. I remember her saying, "This is my best birthday gift." For the next seven months, we became a family of four, excited about the future with our little girl.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

From my journal this past week, Sept 2015

I began to occasionally journal in my last year in high school. One of my professors challenged us to keep a log of lessons we learned as we took his, bible and ethics class. Although not very regularly, I kept a journal to this day. Here is an entry from last week:

It's 9:45 p.m. We are moving into spring in only one week. Today temperatures reached 95 degrees. Forecast tells us it will be a hot summer. Farmers are worried; prices are at a two-year low.

“I finish my day tired. I was very busy today. I just helped Nancy put Anahi and Nicole down to bed. We packed Mark's bag for a weekend camp. After getting the kids out the door to school this morning, I spent about 3 hours networking on Skype, and 4 hours with unscheduled guests, attending the cable repair man, crawling into my ceiling to connect some cables. I worked on some papers and forms on the computer, and studied some for my exegesis course, which I teach in two days.  The internet went out two times for approximately 1 hour. And there was a 10-minute power outage, as well.” (From my journal today)

It helps to share a day in my new life. I would love to sit down with you (family member, personal supporter, prayer warrior, or friend) and drink a cup of tea and catch up. I am sure you have a lot going on and much to share, as well. I would love to hear about it and connect in that way. But we both know this is impossible right now.

I find myself in a new season that is gradually unfolding. There are new responsibilities, new schedules—in a way, I am re-engineering life and dreaming new dreams. I know I need to be brief. You are busy, and I should get to bed soon.

Anyway, thanks for being there during these last years—many of you since Julie and I crossed the Paraguayan border in our Chevy Suburban in November 2002. It’s been a quite a journey, to put it mildly.