Tuesday, April 26, 2011

in light of the recent wildfires in Texas


The link above will take you to an article written by an Australian fire fighter who witnessed the devastating 2009 wildfire season in Australia and had concerns about how those fires were mismanaged and how they seemingly caught everyone off-guard. He has some warnings for the U.S. and how we manage volatile fuels and manage wildfire when it occurs. It would be wise for us to read this man's comments and heed his warnings. We do not live in a soft green environment but rather an environment that has burned for as long as there has been fuel, and it will continue to burn. Knowing that this environment we live in is prone to burning what can we do to properly manage our environment and what are the best practices we can take to manage wildfires? Every few years we go through a period where the fuel loads are high, the conditions are dry, and the winds blow - and everything comes together for a big wildfire season. It is unfortunate that when these events occur we are not better prepared. It is sad that many lose homes and some even lose lives. I believe that we can better manage the resources we have to mitigate the damaging effects of these wildfire seasons. The amount of tax dollars that are spent on fighting wildfires and the number of acres burned don't seem to jive. If we were accomplishing our goal would more acres burn every year and would we not eventually see a decline in the number of devastating wildfires? Why do we continue to spend more and more money every year to fight fire instead of being proactive and spending only a fraction of that money on fuel management? We need to be good stewards of the land because what we do on our own land can affect those around us.

I hope you will take the time to read this article.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

still whittling away at our debt!

We have been able to put another $3000 towards our student loan debt since the beginning of March! We are very excited about this and hope to continue paying this thing down as quickly as possible. I think we've been able to put $7200 towards the loan since the beginning of this year. At the start of this year the student loan debt was at $36,105. As of today, the grand total we owe on this loan is $29,133. Like I said in an earlier blog, we are putting all of our extra money towards the loan while continuing to be being faithful with our giving and tithing. I think the most important thing anyone can take away from watching us pay off our debt through giving more of our money away, is that by putting our faith in God to meet all of our needs, all of our needs are being met and we are being richly blessed through our giving. It's not - the more you give, the more God gives you in return - kind of rewards system. It is a - rely solely on God to meet ALL of your needs, and then you get more of God. That is the rewards system we are working on. With this system, whether by God's grace we are debt free by the end of the year or not, we will still praise Him for graciously providing for us and allowing us to be less in debt. I am confident that we will pay this debt off by the end of this year and then a large portion of our finances will be free to give even more to those who have less than we do. We hope to completely pay off all of our financial debt by the end of the year while simultaneously giving more of the money we receive from our jobs to the church, to people in need, to missions, etc.. I must say that our faith has grown tremendously through this period and it truly has been more fun and exciting to give rather than receive. Feel free to ask us about paying off our debt and how God is working in our lives. We would love to tell you all about it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Water For All Training

Two weeks ago we attended a training course to learn how to drill water wells. The course is put on by Agua Para Todos Water For All International (WFA).

Water For All International is a public nonprofit corporation whose mission is to “empower poor rural families to solve basic food, water, and income problems with their own resources, celebrate life and share God's goodness through the Good News of Jesus.” WFA accomplished this by “training poor families to drill their own family water wells and make and maintain their own low cost pumps, using WFA developed low cost drilling and pump technology.” We feel the beauty of the WFA model is that you teach and empower the local rural poor families to drill their own low cost wells. To start a well drilling club, about 10 families get together and decide they will assist one another in drilling their water wells. The families purchase the materials and under the supervision of WFA personnel, they drill the wells. WFA teaches them and oversees the process while the families are involved every step of the way. By buying the needed materials and personally drilling the wells, the families are invested in the well. When someone has invested time, money, and sweat into a water well they are more likely to maintain that well. The families are then the owners of their very own water well. Many water wells are drilled FOR the poor by outside agencies or NGOs, but many times those wells break and the local people are either incapable of repairing the well, are unable to get the parts required to replace broken parts, or simply do not know how to fix the well. It is very important that the local people are involved in the drilling process and are trained to repair anything that breaks or troubleshoot any problems that arise. This system works best when the properly trained WFA personnel lives long-term with the rural poor, learns the economy, develops relationships with the local people, helps form the family well-drilling clubs, trains the locals, and teaches them to build and maintain their own well and pumps. With WFA the families are not having something done for them, but are actually empowered to drill their own wells and provide water for their loved ones. During our training, we were able to get some hands on experience in drilling one of these wells while at the week long course held in Paint Rock, TX. We worked with a group of people from all over the US and other countries. It was thrilling to see people showing up and give of their time and of themselves in order to learn something that can save lives and help people uphold a healthy lifestyle. The week of training was so informative and Terry Waller and Kim Edlund, the course instructors, are incredibly knowledgeable. We were in awe of their love for mankind and their God-given knowledge of drilling and agriculture. One of the main reasons that we were drawn to WFA is that as a WFA missionary you live with or within a close proximity to the folks you are training and assisting. We feel living with and being actively involved in the lives of those people you are trying to minister to is very important in the establishment of creditability and the creation of relationships. This is true in any culture I believe. It is to be expected that getting advice or working out issues is easy after a relationship has been formed. For me to put my faith and trust in another person, I have to know that person well and see them living out what they preach- they must have established some credibility, and credibility/trust is established over many years. This is why the aim of WFA is to live with and invest their lives into the people they are trying to minister to. WFA not only wants to empower the poor and provide water, but also to minister to and disciple the very people they are training to drill wells. Water is one of the most basic needs of all life, and when people are dying from lack of water most other humanitarian aid efforts take a backseat. 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies, which is approximately one in eight people according to UNICEF/WHO 2008. When you lack water the majority of your day is spent acquiring and/or transporting water. It is hard to have the time or energy to care for children, work, provide for your family, spent time with neighbors, have fun, fall in love, relax, eat, etc. when your day is filled with the task of survival. And their survival depends on finding clean water to drink. However, much of the water that is consumned is from polluted sources which then leads to sickness. According to UNDHR in 2006, every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. It is a tragedy that anyone dies from lack of basic human needs like water or food. The areas of the world where many of these people are dying everyday from lack of water are also areas where the Gospel of Jesus is not well known. The greatest tragedy is that while so many die, someone like me lives a comfortable life and has never taken the time to help them get water, never told them about the love of Jesus, and never lived out the Great Commission which says for ALL Christians to go and make disciples. We feel a great sense of urgency when we think about water well drilling because the need is so great and so many are without. We also feel incredibly blessed to have lived our entire lives with clean readily-available drinking water, an abundance of fresh refrigerated food not more than a few feet away, easy access to medicines and health care providers. As a people who have been blessed with so much it is our responsibility to pass those blessings on to those less fortunate by every means available. Please take a little time to look at the WFA website that is posted above. You too can help change the lives of people who are suffering without water. Investing in saving lives is a sound investment!

Pulling on the rope!

Kim Edlund and Terry Waller


The whole team with our completed well