Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
This past Friday, my friend, Elena, and I enjoyed a picnic lunch and delightful stroll throughout the Cochabamba Botanical Gardens. It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I have been to in a long time. The green grass, tall trees, bright flowers, lovely landscaping, and cool breezes ministered greatly to my spirit! There is something about being in a garden environment that makes me feel closer to God and refreshes my soul! After Elena had to leave, I stayed longer reading a book on a bench and just drinking in the surroundings. It's the perfect place to think, pray, study, and relax. I definitely hope to return soon!
Saturday, October 15, 2011
I didn't even know Caleb Nelson. But I've known of his family for several years through my brother-in-law's friendship with the whole clan and my sister's acquaintanceship with one of the other Nelson siblings. It doesn't take knowing a person, though, to be saddened by their death or inspired by their legacy. Such has been the case with Caleb Nelson who died serving our country in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to his young wife and two little boys who are suddenly facing an enormous gaping whole in their life that a beloved husband and father used to fill. At the same time, I am so proud of this brother-in-Christ whom I didn't even know...for the testimony he was during his life and in the wake of his death. The testimony of a young man of character and integrity committed to the Lord Jesus and to being a light in this dark world.
Caleb was the same age I am when he was killed by a roadside bomb two weeks ago. Yet the legacy he's left behind even at this young age makes me stop and ponder. If I were to be killed tomorrow, what kind of legacy will I be leaving? A sobering thought to be sure...
My sister forwarded me a news article that was written about Caleb and it struck me as more of a tribute honoring this brave hero; in reality a breath of fresh air from the media that are usually so bent on badmouthing Christians. Not so with Caleb. I was impressed and wanted to share the article here. Even though it's likely that the vast readership of this blog did not know Caleb Nelson personally either, we can all be inspired to live life to the fullest such that we too will leave a legacy of doing our best in every situation, walking in moral uprightness, and bringing glory to God by a faith that pleases Him.
Comrades: SEAL Was Simply 'Better'By Matthew HansenWORLD-HERALD staff writer
He once tied his wrists together, dived into a lake and saw how far down his leg kicks would take him before his lungs and brain screamed for oxygen. Then, and only then, did he come up for air.
The 26-year-old Navy SEAL didn't simply work out. He lifted giant hunks of metal, sweated and grunted and squeezed every last ounce of energy out of his gargantuan biceps until he had bench pressed more weight than any other SEAL in his platoon.
Good job, he would tell his workout buddies. You'll get me next time. And they'd laugh and shake their heads, because they knew they wouldn't.
And he didn't die the way most of us do — with a quiet funeral, a few platitudes from a well-meaning minister, a service that looks like the others.
No, Caleb Nelson went out big, just as he lived.
More than 1,000 people packed Christ Community Church on Thursday to honor the Omaha native who was killed Oct. 1 when his armored vehicle rolled over a roadside bomb in southeast Afghanistan.
These mourners laughed hard. They sobbed harder. They sang Nelson's favorite hymn, "How Great Thou Art," loud enough to shake the church rafters.
They swapped dozens of stories about a young man who stood out as physically and mentally tough even among the Navy SEALs, the toughest of American fighting forces.
They marveled at a man who managed to leave an indelible mark on friends, family and even casual acquaintances during his short life.
Caleb was "a moral sounding board," said one SEAL in an email typed in Afghanistan and read at the funeral. His identity and those of other SEALs weren't revealed for security reasons. "It was his faith that everyone respected about him."
"A rock star," wrote another SEAL. "We all strived to be him."
"He wasn't arrogant or snobbish, he was just better," wrote yet another SEAL. "And he made you feel like you could be better with him, even though you couldn't."
Caleb A. Nelson was the 144th service member with ties to Nebraska or Iowa to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since October 2001.
He was the fourth SEAL with local ties to die in Afghanistan since midsummer; three other SEALs, as well as a Nebraska National Guardsman, were killed when a transport helicopter was shot down by an insurgent in August.
Nelson had a talent for drawing people to him, as if they were metal and he was magnetized, said his family, which includes his parents, eight surviving brothers and sisters and his wife and two young children.
He didn't play with kids; he served as a sort of giant human jungle gym at family gatherings. He taught them how to roll out of moving vehicles and pack more force into a punch by using the shoulder, said a friend.
He didn't just exercise by himself. He persuaded his parents, most of his extended family and friends to work out, too.
The day Nelson died, one of those friends was running in the Market to Market Relay, the annual Omaha-to-Lincoln team race. She wanted to drop out when she heard the news.
Then she remembered that Caleb had always told her that if you don't throw up when you run, then you aren't running hard enough.
She ran in the race. She ran hard enough that she threw up twice. Then she smiled because she knew that would have made Caleb proud.
Nelson's magnetism drew other SEALs to him during his two deployments in Iraq and then Afghanistan, SEAL officials said.
His platoon leader named him a "recce," head of a group that planned how to best support SEALs with surveillance and sniper fire during battle.
Nelson pored over maps and satellite imagery and designed the best plans possible, his platoon leader said.
"The more you got to know (Caleb), the more you couldn't help but admire the man," the platoon leader said.
As the service neared its end, the pastor presiding over the funeral retook the stage from the virtual army of SEALs, relatives and friends sharing "Team Caleb" stories.
The Rev. Larry Nelson — pastor at Millard Alliance Church and Caleb's father — wanted to say one last thing to the crowd.
It doesn't matter how many pushups you do, how many vitamins you take, how perfectly you turn your body into a temple, he said.
"Our bodies are temporal," Larry Nelson said. "We're faced with the truth that this is the end of every man."
Friends and family said it was Caleb's faith — his insistence on finding a church every Sunday no matter where he was, his practice of listening to his father's sermons on his iPod in Afghanistan — and not his physical prowess that gave them strength on the day of his funeral.
A brother-in-law, Justin Enquist, described what he thinks the afterlife is like for Caleb Nelson:
Caleb didn't just go to heaven. He's in heaven demanding that the angels start working out.
You are looking a little flabby, Caleb tells them. Break time is over, guys.
"May we follow Caleb's example," Enquist told the congregation. "May we finish well."
For a news report video clip click here.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Cine Center is but a short walk from the children's park. (Aren't those mountains gorgeous?) Here we saw a movie (in Spanish) called Winter, A Dolphin's Tale. I had read online about this movie being incredibly wholesome, family friendly, and very inspirational - and it certainly didn't disappoint! We all enjoyed the story of the dolphin who lost her tale and the children who helped rescue her from destruction. I definitely recommend it!