Wanted: More Lone Rangers

The Most Misunderstood Hero of the Wild West

My Favorite Westerns tonto-and-the-lone-ranger

We need to be Lone Rangers in the Kingdom of God.  Throughout my life, I’ve heard preachers say the opposite, but it’s simply not true.  God is looking for Lone Rangers who will bravely go where others arelone rangers and silver too afraid to make an eternal difference.

Did you ever listen to the original Lone Ranger radio programs or watch the original TV series?  I highly recommend it, no matter how old you are.

While I work in the office on mindless but important projects, I intersperse podcasts of sermons and entrepreneurial wisdom with old-time radio programs, like The Lone Ranger, Superman, Challenge of the Yukon and Gunsmoke.

These stories from the Golden Age of Radio not only bring a little fun to my life; they also teach me how to tell inspiring stories to children and adults.  This is a skill that I need to develop if I wish to mobilize others to join me in the Harvest Field in Christ’s Service.

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How Much Solar Energy Do You REALLY Need?

How much solar do you need?

This post was written while we were in Chad.

How much of a solar energy system do you need to satisfy the needs of your village home?

The answer depends on a lot of variables, the biggest of which are where you live and what you want to do with it. Some of us live near the equator and want to just run a few lights, while others of us live outside the tropics, yet still want to run a hot tub while they microwave a bag of popcorn as they watch satellite on a large screen TV, while they wait for their clothes to dry.

To run a few lights, all you need is one 70 Ah battery and a 50 to 120 Watt solar panel. I read about someone who was in the latter group, and three arrays with 25 120 Watt solar panels each could not satisfy their need.

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An Introduction to Village Life

Village in Chad

This post was written while we were in Chad.

Some of the most beautiful places in the world can be reached only by following a dirt road, a footpath, or paddling a canoe.

I started off my career overseas as a language survey worker.  This gave me the opportunity to travel to remote villages, and even to live in a small village, to see if the language they speak there was dying out.

Once in Chad, we nearly ripped the bumper off the truck, because the mountain trail we were following was so wild.  We often drove in water that went halfway up the door, and had to “gun it” to keep the water from flowing into the engine.  We became stuck in many wadis (dry river beds), and changed LOTS of flat tires due to the thorny acacia trees!

In fact, that’s why I finally decided to buy a camel.

isolated villageIt always seemed that the more difficult it was to get to a village, the more beautiful it was.

With the rise of adventure travel, people from the technological world have finally got a glimpse of life into some of these places.  I was amazed when I saw a van of German tourists pass by our village home one day.

There is nothing like a landscape lacking in billboards, or the view of a clear night sky, without the glow of a nearby city.

It’s one thing to view these places on a live-stream documentary, or even to stay overnight there.  It’s a completely different thing to call one of these places “home.”

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Road Conditions in Chad: The Good and The Bad

Road conditions in Chad: not as bad as before

My leaders asked me to explain why our vehicle in Chad has so many expensive repairs, and here is what I said about the road conditions in Chad:

This bus hit something standing on the road on the way to its destination“Although I could speak of the inconveniences of Chadian driving, of how easy it is to get lost without a GPS in places and to get stuck in soft sand, I will limit my comments here to the conditions that are hazardous to vehicles.
The roads in Chad have improved since I started serving in Chad in 1992. Back then, there was only 80 miles of paved road, and we spent most of our time driving around the pits that had been dug in by the big transportation trucks. Thankfully in our day, there is a paved road from N’Djamena to Andoum and beyond to the Cameroon border, and all but 160 miles of the road from N’Djamena to Abéché.

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Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Abéché

Christmas in Abéché is just like any other day to most of us...Christmas in Abéché

Christmas is the holiday that brings the most warmth to our hearts, and many memories of romance, love and joy from the past.  For many of us around the world, a little snow on the ground adds that special touch to a perfect Christmas day.

However, the typical western Christmas scene is far different from the one the shepherds experienced on the outskirts of Bethlehem, in what we call the “Third World”.

As we were approaching the Christmas season in Abéché, you hardly knew it. In the central market, there were no Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, manger scenes or Christmas lights. No one was singing carols, no one was running around shopping for presents. And come December 25th, the market opened as it does almost every day, and many inside did not even know how special this day is to many of us.

Not unlike Bethlehem

Of course, not all of this is bad. In the US, perhaps the focus on Santa, elves, trees and mistletoe distracts us from the story that causes us to celebrate! And perhaps this little desert town of Abéché looks more like Bethlehem that blesséd night than the most elaborate, living manger scene in front of an American church or business.

Christmas in Bethlehem

As adults, we understand this and can get by without the glitz and the feeling a winter scene of red ribbons and colored lights brings… but our family of girls would feel homesick without reminders of the season in December, or a few presents waiting under the tree.

If we can overcome the homesickness, Christmas in the Third World can be the best sort of Christmas, the kind which helps us to focus on the true meaning of this holiday: “So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us…” (John 1:14, NLT)

Before you and I ever thought about living in an unfamiliar culture, He did it first. He is our example of how to become a part of our new home without forgetting where we came from, and why we are here…

Gifts and memories

After a special breakfast of pumpkin muffins and a time of reading the passages in the Gospels about Jesus’ birth, we opened our gifts in the morning. Everything worked fine and everything fit fine, except for a few of the gifts I bought for the girls. Sarah’s headphones instantly broke apart, and the stereo for Sharon would not work. Since Christmas is a normal day at the market, I was able to get her headphones replaced at the boutique with ones that have a microphone on them. When Sarah puts the replacement headphones on, she looks like a telemarketer or a pilot, ready to take off…

Christmas Gift: Pepsi mp3 player and radioAnother fun gift we found at the market this year was for Deborah. She broke her fragile mp3 players, so after much effort, we found an mp3 player that looks like a Pepsi can, with a big speaker on the top. She loves to listen to her Pepsi when school is over.

On Christmas afternoon that year, there was a presentation about Christmas at the local English school, featuring the Christian songs and Scripture readings of the Holiday. Afterwards, there were all sorts of delicious refreshments. Debbie got to see her friends from New Zealand, and we caught up with a few of ours. For Christmas, Sharon was in the kitchen most of the day. She made cottage cheese using a recipe simpler and quicker than mine, and used it to make a delicious lasagna for Christmas dinner!

For Boxing Day, each of the girls started coughing and having fevers. It took several days for them to shake them off, and they were quite miserable during that time. Eventually, they were all on antibiotics; God used the medicine and heard our prayers, and just in time for New Year’s Eve, they were doing better!

Pride and Prejudice, the BBC versionWhile the girls started watching BBC’s version of Pride & Prejudice on our little video player, I made grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade fries for supper. After supper, we finished watching the video, and I left a little early to start the bonfire. Either I started it too early or I did not buy enough firewood, or perhaps the brush we used to start the fire was too powerful, because the peak of the flames was over by the time the girls were out. With a little thought, however, we were able to keep a flame going and the embers burning until after midnight… along with memories of the perfect Christmas and New Years we had in Abéché, back in 2013.