Thursday, January 29, 2009


Tonight, I added another Dominican Republic post (see Friday's entry). Please, check it out.

I think that there will be one more post in the series but it probably won't be up until over the weekend.

Also, check out the picture in the post about Anderson.

ITP is improving and I'm feeling much better!

Take care,


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Home Again

Well, I'm back home again in Indiana. The last few days have been quite an adventure so I'll be filling in some gaps between today and the previous post on 1/24. I also have some pictures to upload.

For those of you enjoying the wonderful winter that we are having, check out these pics.

At airport, 1/20

At airport, 1/27 (the glories of sun)

Sunday, January 25, 2009


On Sunday evening, we had the amazing privilege of being able to attend the church service in Hato Mayor. In 2007, we had the opportunity to help complete this church and today we attended the regular church service. The children's ministry is at 4:00 PM followed by the church service at 5:00 PM.

Some of you know that I have dealt with a blood problem called ITP from time to time. Well, on Saturday/Sunday, I had a headache, sore throat, and upset stomach. This kind of overwhelmed my immune system and by Sunday afternoon, I was sleeping in my bed - exhausted - and spots were showing up on my ankles indicating ITP. However, when asked about skipping church, I just new that was not possible.

The children's ministry is thriving. Arelis is an incredibly talented teacher. The children are beautiful. The team shared some gifts with the kids. Sugar seems to please kids everywhere and it has a language unto itself!

In my journal, I noted two specific moments from the church service. First, the church had a limited supply of song folders so we had to share (kind of an interesting concept). I sat next to a Dominican fellow and so we shared and we sang and we worshipped. Even though I couldn't keep up with the Spanish, the words didn't really matter. No, it was more about connection - about the collision of two cultures, two worlds making a joyful noise together in adoration of one awe-inspiring God.

The second moment brought tears to my eyes. Arelis asked Jim to lead prayers over a child, a boy afflicted with a bacterial infection that has left his mouth deformed. With arms extended, we all prayed together that this boy might find some kind of peace. So please join in this prayer, a prayer of hope and healing that tramples barriers created by borders, seas, languages, and cultures.

Until later,


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some Details

First, please take the opportunity to check out Jan´s blog. She shares some information about our connections to Hato Mayor. She also shares a poignant glimpse into the vision of an incredible man, Pedrito.

Here is the link.

A Dream in Hato Mayor

So what is it like here in Hato Mayor.

There is running water, but it is not potable. Everyone has to get jugs of water for drinking. Sure, our water in Bremen isn´t the greatest (right, Trent), but it is drinkable if necessary. The water here will make people sick.

The sewage system is quite poor here. We have to put the toilet paper in a trash basket. This is certainly a bit of an inconvenience.

There are rolling black-outs. In Hato Mayor, we lose electricity for hours at a time every day.

The infrastructure is horrible. In Bremen, we have pot-holes. Here, the entire road is one pot-hole.

As Americans, we take a lot for granted.

Take care!


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Mission House: A "Good Gift"

The Mission House is the second floor of the Marmolejos' house (pictured above). It is being funded by some folks from the U.S. and includes 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, gathering room, dining room, kitchen, and two porches. (This place is awesome.)

On this trip, we worked primarily on the inside of the house: sanding, painting, cleaning, adding fixtures, etc. You can see below the the color scheme is bright and cheerful.

While working at the house, I thought about the Eucharist, or "Good Gift." In Rob Bell's book, he writes that "The Eucharist is about converting all of that ability and energy and entrepreneurial skill and can-do attitude into blessing for those on the underside of power. Those on the margins." In some ways, I think this house is a "Good Gift." The mission house has certainly required ability, energy, an entrepreneurial spirit, and can do attitude. It will also provide the opportunity for future blessings to those who spend time in the house and the surrounding barrio of Hato Mayor. Those who spend time in the house, will experience a different way of life, a different culture. Perhaps they will even glimpse the presence of God while living in the house. They will hopefully participate in medical missions, neighbor rehab, and retreats. Those in the surrounding community will be blessed directly by mission projects and also by the economic stimulus of having additional folks in town. Friendship have also already developed and those will surely continue to develop and expand.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mi Amigo, Anderson

On my last trip to the Dominican Republic, I met this kid named Anderson. This morning, he hung out at the house before school. We talked - in Spanish. I was reading my Bible out on the galleria (porch) and Anderson showed up. He was watching me write a few notes in my journal. Then, as a plane was flying over, he exclaimed, un avion! This led to an incredible exchange. He told me that he likes baseball and that his favorite team is the Agulas. I asked him about school and he said that it started at 1:00. He also said that he is nine years old. After some further conversation, we started playing this game of sorts. Anderson helped me learn some more Spanish words. We walked around the house and looked out the windows. He taught me words and helped me piece together some more sentences. This turned out to be a pretty incredible experience.

This morning, I also had the opportunity to hit the streets of Hato Mayor for an hour-long run. It is amazing how much this feels like home. It is sad to think that our stay is so short.

Los ninos en el vecindario didn´t really know what to think of this white guy with goofy hair running laps aroudn the neighborhood. En la manana, yo corriendo en las calles de Hato Mayor. They pointed and laughed. Some even started running after me. It was so funny. Their smiles were beautiful and their laughter was music to the ears.

This really is in such stark contract to a fellow that we encountered on the bus from the Avistar long-term parking center in Chicago. He was not pleased that we were on the bus and had so much luggage. Although, the manager said that he didn´t have to wait because of us. He was certain that he was inconvienced and had to wait 5 minutes extra before leaving. You could tell by the way this guy was dressed that he had some money. He also had a major attitude and told us to F-off as he got off the bus.

Contrast this with the folks here in Hato Mayor. Compared to what we have, these folks have so little. Yet, there is so much joy here. I could see it in the eyes of the kids this morning and it is so apparent in the eyes of our hosts, the Marmolejos.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saludos desde la Republica Dominicana

Hace mucho calor aqui (this should have an accent over the i but I can´t find it!).

Yes, it´s true. We are enjoying temps in the 80s right now in Hato Mayor. This is quite a contrast from yesterday driving to O`Hare. We encountered a snow storm on the Indiana tollroad that made everyone a bit nervous. However, by the time we arrived at airport, the sun was out and the skies were clear.

We found this little Internet access store right down from the Marmolejos` house so I`ll try to get down here for some updates.

Quick story. Last night on the plane to Miami, I had this crazy sneeze come over me that resonated throughout the plane. In fact, it caused this gal sitting next to Jim to start laughing. Jim turned to her and said that we were all together and this led to a conservation that lasted most of the flight. (By the way, the sneeze caused my gum to flight out of my mouth. Of course, I exclaim, where did my gum go. This led to further laughter. You don´t want to know where the gum went, but imagine where the gum would go if you lean forward to sneeze. I picked up and started chewing again.) Anyway, we met this gal named Anna. She is from Brazil and had quite a few stories to tell. She even has a pet boa constrictor. On the flight to Santiago, we met a guy from Goshen, IN. He and his family have lived down here for nine years leading various mission projects. What a small world!

Well, have a great day.


Monday, January 19, 2009


Monday was quite a day. It all started around 6:00 AM with a mad scamper over to the weight room. Today featured the chest press, leg extension, biceps, and, of course, stepping. (That stepping machine is by far my favorite.)

Anywho, by 8:00, I was sauntering into the plant for an exciting day of work. This included setting up products to run on our new bunching machines and doing a comparative analysis of specifications for one of our customers.

Of course, the highlights of the day included Dylan's belch during lunch (nice out, but you still need to practice) and a brief afternoon hiatus in the "office" where I enjoyed perusing Plastics Technology.

By 4:50, I was cleaning my desk (Brett, if you happen to read this, it really is clean) for a 5:00 departure to McDonald's for my Monday night 2 hamburgers, small fry, and water to sustain me on the trip up to Bethel.

Tonight, we continued our enjoyable journey in financial statement analysis. I claimed Starbucks for my class project. Oh yeah!

Finally, I arrived back at La Casa de Todd around 10:22 and completed packing.

Yes, by the time anyone happens to be reading this, I'll hopefully be with eleven others in the Dominican Republic. We are going to finish the mission house and continue building relationships. This will be a great trip!

However, I must confess feeling more than a little overwhelmed right now and will miss the first accounting exam. But, I'm sure everything will work out in the end.



Monday, January 19, 2009

Sleep Walking

So last Friday night, I went to sleep after getting back from Valparaiso. (If you ever have a chance to go to Don Quijote restaurant in Valpo, go. They have wonderful food and the people are incredibly friendly. I had this amazing stew that included the tenderest shrimp I have ever eaten. It also had these amazing clams that practically fell out of the shell. Jenn had this amazing pork that tasted like steak. We had this chocolate pie that was like eating a slice of fudge. Oh, they even gave us some complimentary sherry. We left with a $15 coupon for our next visit!) Okay, so back to bed. A few hours later, I woke up. Only, I wasn't in my bed. No, I was reclining on the futon in the spare bedroom. So like any sensible person, I went back to my bed and fell back asleep. However, in the morning, I realized that I had my swimming trunks on. Huh, that must have been some kind of sleep walking adventure.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Sundays Ago

I am a little hesitant to write this, but it has been on my mind for two weeks. So here goes...

In my younger years I attended one of the three local United Methodist churches here in the Bremen area. Yes, there are three UMC churches within a few-mile radius of my house here in town. According to, our town has a 2007 population of 4,643 people. (Just a side bar, that is a ratio of 1547.67 residents per UMC church. According to the Bremen Enquirer, there are 16 total Bremen-area churches. That is a ratio of 290.19 residents per church.)

Two Sunday ago, my mom invited me to attend Grace UMC here in Bremen. This is the church that I attended from when I was born through high school and I still attend a few times a year. However, this service was very different from past services.

The place was packed.


Two of the three UMC churches here in Bremen are working on a possible merger. These two churches are situated only blocks from each other on Montgomery Street.

Two Sundays ago was the first combined service. I guess you could say it was kind of a "trial" or "experiment."

It was great!

However, as I scanned the congregation, a startling, even troubling, realization entered my mind.


These two churches kind of symbolize something much broader that pervades the contemporary church.

Here we have two churches of the same denomination only blocks from each other who are not currently one, united.

Scanning the congregation, I realized that these few blocks have split families and friends for years, even generations.

While this is one specific situation, I think it is symptomatic of a much broader and complex issue that has left me a bit troubled.

I don't think these divisions are anything close to what Jesus, his disciples, and the early church had in mind.

If we followers of Jesus can't overcome the walls that separate our own churches, how can we expect to break down the walls that separate us from those who don't follow Jesus?

Salem and Grace, way to be leaders in breaking down these walls.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Furnace

This afternoon, I realized that the furnace was running constantly but the temperature remained right at 60 degrees. This had never happened before. Usually, I think the house is too warm and back the thermostat down to 60. This morning, though, I felt chilled upon getting out of bed and bumped up the thermostat. However, the temperature did not increase and the furnace kept running non-stop. So I called my dad and he quickly deduced that there must be air in the water lines that run to the radiators (my house is water heated from a boiler). Okay, that made sense, but the next question is how to get the air out. Well, it turns out that there is this special key that fortunately my grandpa still had. So Grandpa stopped by a little later and we started bleeding the air out of all the radiators. Eager to see if the problem was resolved, I turned the thermostat up to 70 and headed to church. Six hours later (we had extra band practice and a D.R. meeting), I arrived back to a balmy 70-degree house. The thermostat is definitely back down again - that is just too warm for this guy. Anyway, I really started to think about people who don't have a furnace. Sixty degrees actually felt uncomfortable this morning. What about people who don't have a place to call home? What was it like for them during this recent bitter cold spell? Here I was concerned about the thermostat not going above 60. What were they concerned about? Probably, they were concerned about their lives.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back On-Line

I just got home from a community development conference and am now sipping a Campbell's soup at hand New England clam chowder. I really like how the little clam meat chunks come sliding through the sippy lid. Clam chowder out of glorified sippy cup - kind of an interesting combination.

So tonight, I am back on-line after some technical difficulties in the T-abode. Apparently one of the splitters (I found out there are several) went bad. I still had cable but the Internet went down. It is kind of amazing how much I missed Internet. I like having the opportunity to blog - to be able to write down thoughts, reflections, or just whatever is happening. It is kind of like a journal I guess. Email and facebook are great to have, too.

Tonight, I headed down to the community development conference. The conference was a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I was actually pretty startled by the list of strengths that we came up. Bremen actually has a lot of good stuff going for it. Yet, I think underlying this good stuff is an emerging sense of unrest (I don't think it is just me even though there was a poem two posts ago entitled this) or perhaps concern over the state of our community. The facilitator was really impressed by all the strengths that we came up - she said that we actually came up with a record number of strengths - six pages. However, when it came down to coming up with development or improvement ideas, it was like pulling teeth. - pretty uncomfortable One of the attendees said that we have tunnel vision. I think he might be right. We live in our own little world. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this first meeting.

Monday, January 12, 2009


A sense of utter stagnation,
Devoid of any creation,
Saturates the walk each day.

Overwhelmed by anguished frustration,
With no apparent destination,
I yearn for another way.


Sunday, January 11, 2009


I may rest, but never long

As discontent pervades my youthful soul.

When elusive peace does come, the unrelenting dreams

Permeate the mind.

I may sail, forever long

In gusty winds of hope to be made whole.

When the stormy seas subside, the unyielding streams

Flood the heart and mind.

I exist, singing a song

Intertwined in a place empty not full.

When blessed harmony sounds, the ravaging storm seems

Painful and unkind.

- T.H. -

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My New Friend, Bob

My brother, Chad, gave me the The Essential Bob Dylan CDs for Christmas. I actually started becoming interested in Bob's music because we sometimes sing Knockin' on Heaven's Door at church. I don't know. There's just something about Bob's music. First, I like it because I can understand what he is saying. I really struggle to understand what many contemporary singers are actually saying in their songs. It just all blends together and I can't really pick out the words. His songs also have a certain rawness to them. He pronounces some words with a bit of accent. His voice is raspy (I'm not sure if that is the right description but I can't think of another word). Yet, there is just something to the words, to the music - it is almost soulful.

Here are some of my favorite songs:

The Times They are A-Changin'
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Gotta Serve Somebody

I listened to Gotta Serve Somebody over and over again on the way home today.

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

As I was singing this song, I thought about some of my recent interactions. I'm not too proud of a few of them - particularly a phone conversation on Friday afternoon. I wonder who the person on the other end of the line would have said I was serving.

There just isn't a gray area and Bob really spells it out in these lyrics - the devil or the Lord.

Time to let Hacienda digest.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some further reflection

Wow, is it really Thursday?

Justin shared this great comment to my last post. He hit on something that about took my breath away. What was going through Peter's head when he told this crippled guy to get up and walk? Peter was a man - a person - just like we are people. I wonder if he was nervous, scared, or anxious. Or was he filled with confidence?

What about the crippled guy? What did it feel like for him to ask for help? It isn't easy to ask for help either. Sometimes it can be embarrassing or scary to ask for help.

On Wednesday, I was bench pressing. I have to tell you, I find bench pressing a little intimidating. However, this is an exercise that I want to focus on this year. On Wednesday, we were bench pressing and I was doing okay and just wanted to push the weights up one more time. However, it didn't happen. It was certainly a relief that other people were there when I said that it wasn't going to happen. It was great to have that weight lifted up.

A few other notes...

This week, I started financial statement analysis. I'm taking two accounting classes this spring. I'm more than a little nervous about the next several weeks. Some things have changed at work and we have some major projects. Also, in a matter of days, I'll be joining a group for a week in the Dominican Republic. So much going on!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

From Acts

I have been trying to read Acts. I'm pretty sure this is because of book I'm reading by Rob Bell. I say "pretty sure" because as you can see, there are a few books open on my bed and most of them are not completely read.

Anyway, Peter and John were on the way to the temple and they met up with this crippled guy at the gate. The crippled guy asked Peter and John for some change. Peter replies,

"I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked. (Acts 3:6-8, MSG)

Now, honestly, I have to tell you, when I have read this and other healing stories in the past, I really struggle with them. Why? I mean how often are you walking down the street and this guy looks over at some ill guy and says, "You are all better. Get outta here!" Uh, hello?

However, as I rested in my bed wrapped up in my blanket, some different words stood out from the page. On the page, it was almost like the healing story took backstage to just one sentence in the story.

"He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up."

Wow, all of the sudden this healing story went from this almost irrelevant thing of the past to something very real and tangible. I particularly thought about those who have taken me by the hand and pulled me up. Several come to mind along with the healing that pervaded those moments.

This left me feeling incredibly challenged.



Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Fit

Well, the holidays are officially past and tomorrow marks a return to "normal." However, I don't anticipate this week being particularly normal so there might be more to follow in the next couple of days.

I have a lot that I would like to write about tonight. However, I'm not really sure how to extract these thoughts from my mind into written word. These thoughts have to do with time and place, movement and stagnation, life and death, passions and purpose, peace and discontent.

Tonight, though, I think it best to stick with...


On the Friday after Christmas, Troy and I headed up to Mishawaka with some Christmas cash that needed to be spent. My recent trips to Oswego ruined my favorite pair of Skechers (that is another story into itself) so in the back of my mind I kind of wanted to get a decent pair of shoes. (My other pair of Skechers got downgraded to work shoes.)

So we passed this store, Tradehome, at University Park Mall, and I asked if we could stop in there for a minute.

Wow, this turned into a shoe purchasing experience. I have never had anyone else actually put shoes on my feet. Honestly, that was kind of weird.

So I chose this pair of Doc Martens. One of the guys at the store asked if this was my first pair. (It must have been that obvious that I was kind like a fish out of water.)

"Yeah," I sheepishly replied.

He said that I made a good choice and that the shoes would start to fit around my feet.

In the back of my mind, I thought, "Yeah, right. This guy is just happy to be making a sale in this poor economy."

Well, he was right. The shoes have changed in the week that I have been wearing them. They changed to fit around me feet. It is so strange. They feel great. Even though they are huge (they give me extra height), they have these amazing cushioning soles that are almost like walking on air.

So I was thinking about these shoes today - about how nice it is to have something that fits just right.

Honestly, I struggle with feelings of not fitting - not fitting into B-town, into my profession, into my own goals.

However, I'm starting to wonder if maybe that is okay. Maybe it is okay not to fit - because that could make things too comfortable. It would become to easy to get complacent and just go through the motions.

I'm not totally sure about this, but it kind of makes sense.

If you happen to be reading this lowly blog, I hope that you have a nice Monday.



Thursday, January 1, 2009


Wow, 2008 has come and gone. "Oh how the years go by." Some memories remain burned in my mind from this past year.

This past year, we celebrated Easter at my house. Before the Easter meal, the entire family gather in the living room and sang, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." I'm not sure that there was a dry eye left in the room, as each of us, in our own personal and yet collective ways, contemplated our lives and our losses, our celebrations and our sorrows.

In July, a group from Horizon headed up to Vermont for a retreat. We spent a week living together. We traveled together, ate together, studied together, explored together, jumped together.

During the summer, Ben, Trent, and I took bike rides - long bike rides. I can still remember the anticipation that gripped me in the hours and even days before our rides. With the earlier rides, this anticipation included a bit of of anxiety and nervousness (translated, I don't think there is any way that I can do this). By the later rides, this morphed more into a sense of camaraderie and shared experience.

The fall included my first 5K (and 10K) runs ever. Something I fear is conforming so much to culture (translated, B-town), that I just simply go through the motions without even thinking. This running thing had all started months previously under the moonlight when I felt this nudge to pick up the walking pace and run. This seemed so crazy at the time and yet it has opened my eyes. I'm not exactly sure what I'm seeing yet, but my eyes are open(ing)

So what will 2009 bring. I really don't know. However, my hope is that the light of Jesus would begin to shine more visibly through me and into the world. My hope is that He would continue to defeat fears. My hope is to grow in love for others.