Tuesday, June 17, 2014

He Called Me Woddy!

"It will be the ultimate adventure."

He called me "Woddy."

It all started with my grandmother who called me Chaddy Waddy Doodle All the Day. I've never really considered until this moment why she chose those words to describe me. I do remember going to her house to color, I'd take a crayon in my hand and be content for hours. My uncle Stephen has been 13 years older than me my entire life. I have struggled to catch him for decades, but he has been successful in fully maintaining that distance. In Guatemala I am known as a "Primo," meaning that I am an only child. The secret that I will share will you today, is that Stephen is my big brother. If you look us up on the family tree, he will be accurately displayed as the brother of my mother, but if we set geneology aside and focus on the pespective of the heart, then you will see him as I do.

Stephen would taunt me with my elaborative name, "Chaddy Waddy Doodle All the Day." As you can imagine, it was quite an effort to speak it in entirety and as most long names are destined, it became shortened over time. I became, "Chaddy Waddy," and then simply, "Waddy." It was about that time that my food intake began to overtake my growth and so I became quite the chubby little boy who had trouble keeping his pants up and shirt-tail properly tucked in. It seems that I developed a habit of wading my shirt-tail up in the waistband of the back of my pants... and so Waddy became, "Woddy."

And of course... Woddy stuck.

And so, wobbly little Woddy followed around after Stephen. I could never catch him. He wore bright white Reebok tennis shoes, designer jeans, and the coolest shirts. My jeans were Husky brand, my shoes were KangaROOs (they had zipper pockets for my house key) and bright button up shirts with palm trees and parrots on them. My grandmother (the same who gave me my elaborate name) saw me looking at them in Swallen's department store, and so she bought me one of each color. I wore them because she bought them for me and my love for her was greater than the taunting I took from my classmates. They called me names, but they didn't know my Mammaw. She was worth it. Everyday I wore those shirts, I carried her with me.

Stephen drove a Ford EXP with a luggage bar in the backseat and a sun roof. Later he upgraded to a Nissan 300ZX  Turbo with a T-top and little washer blades on the headlights. I rode a Huffy BMX with a miniature license plate that had my name on it. He had loud and crazy friends who seemed to laugh all the time and I would stand in the doorway as they put on their designer coats and then sped off together into the night. He seemed to embrace and chase life. He went to concerts, he told wild stories about running through cemetaries and rigging flying ghosts across scarey rural streets.

I decided that if he could pursue life and find adventure... then even a fat little Woddy-boy like me could do it too.

This past week uncle Stephen has laughed loud and created new crazy memories with me as together we've sped off into the ancient and thrilling landscape of Guatemala. I'm still chasing him, he still has those 13 years on me, and I still look forward to being his age. But for these two weeks that are carved out into the surface of our lives... we run together.

He forgets that he called me "Woddy."

But I still remember... and I make sure my shirt-tail is smoothly tucked.

He also sometimes called me "Howie." I have no idea why. Maybe I'll ask him this week?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Panoramic Look at My Myopic View

The lady in the middle wearing the brown cap is my wife. She has been with me for nineteen years of marriage. We dated well over four years before that. The first time I saw her was in 1990 in the parking lot of Towne Boulevard Church of God in Middletown, Ohio.

The young man to her right wearing all black is Luis. I met him in 2010 when Kellie convinced me to take a one-week mission trip to Guatemala. We helped build his family's house. Luis is now a junior at university in the U.S.

During that same trip I met a man who had a major influence on my faith. His name was Larry Renner and the young lady wearing a black t-shirt with fluorescent green embellishment is Larry's niece, Samantha. Sam is an intern with us this summer.

The lady sitting in the chair near the center of the frame is Mercedes. She is being fitted for glasses in this picture for the first time in her life. 2 years ago I worked with the Breiel Church from Middletown, Ohio and we built a home for Mercedes and her 3 children.

The gentleman with his elbow bent and hand over his heart is Pastor Tim Kufeldt of the Dayspring Church of God in Ohio. He and his wife are former missionaries to Japan. He is now my overseeing pastor for ordination and a mission partner.

This is how God sees our lives.

A little boy from Somerville, Ohio, a little girl from Trenton, Ohio, a little boy from Campenero, Guatemala, a little girl from West Chester, Ohio, a little girl from Labor de Falla, Guatemala, and a little boy from Tavares, Florida...

...each of them separated by culture, history, decades of time, distance, education, financial standing, religion, society, language, and just plain ole' what are the odds type stuff...

...united in this singular moment. It is likely that we will never all gather in this same place again. But today we stood together on the concrete of a little school where our belief in God resulted in a beautiful shared afternoon.

Sometimes we get so lost in the day to day grind of our lives. And yet... when we open our eyes to the moments of our days, we see a beautiful panorama that is a sweeping of the eye of God from one end of our timeline to the other.

My God takes the best pictures.