Sunday, June 15, 2008

Children Buried Alive in the Amazon - a Glimpse of Hakani's Story

This is the video I mentioned in the post below that gives you a glimpse of Hakani's story...

Infanticide: Hakani's Story and a Voice for Life

Thump, thump, thump - the sound of the beats of the hollow reeds ring throughout the hut. Members of the Suruwaha tribe, one of the many indigenous tribes of Brazil, signal their agreement that they have recognized an evil spirit in their camp and it must be extinguished. A soulless child has brought the ire of the evil spirits, and for the sake of the whole tribe, her life must be sacrificed. Hakani, not yet even 2 years old, looks on from her mother’s lap with the innocence of childhood as the sounds that cry for her death beat around her.

Hakani has shown signs of not developing as other children do, and because of her handicaps, she is deemed soulless. If she had been born a twin or a triplet, or the was the child of a single mother, her fate would have been the same – she was to be buried alive so that her last breath would be underground and then the evil spirit could not escape.

But Hakani’s parents have too much love for her, and take their own lives before they are forced to take hers. But, what is most tragic is that their sacrifice steals not only their own lives, but leaves Hakani and the lives of her other siblings unprotected.

The responsibility of doing “duty” now falls to the eldest brother, so he buries her alive…only to have someone rescue her and put her into someone else’s hands.

But not all is easy. The tribe will not take her back in, deeming her as cursed, and after another attempt on her life, the 2 ½ years old is abandoned in the jungle, left to scrounge for food and receiving as much help as one of her brothers, Bibi, can give. After three years, Bibi is finally able to take her from the jungle and make the long journey down the river to a missionary outpost to get help for his sister.

It is there that Hakani, age 5 ½ and weighing only 15 pounds, begins her journey towards a different life. These missionaries take her in, get her treatment for her massive physical and mental malnourishments, and begin to watch her grow. Her life is valuable, and at 12 years old today, she is a vibrant and lively girl.

(Picture: Hakani today)

But what of the other children whose voices are never heard?

When you read this story, doesn’t it sound like something that happened ages ago, in a darker time? This, my friend, is happening daily in this very age in the jungles of Brazil. Men and women, who truly love their children and their people, have been deceived into believing that any child born with a handicap, is a twin or triplet or born of a single mother has no right to live and must be sacrificed in a horrific way – buried alive until death takes them.

But there are voices rising up from among the indigenous tribes of Brazil who want to see this unjust practice stopped, and the tide of death stemmed. They see the value of life, they see their tribes diminishing in number, and they want to fight against years of tradition for the lives of their children and for their future. But in the nation of Brazil, the indigenous tribes are not seen as human, thus any claim to the human rights laws of their nation are not seen as applying to them. Those in the tribes who want to see justice restored lack a national foundation for their plea…

Until now.

This month there is a glimmer of hope in the form of Muwaji’s Law. This law would give protection for the indigenous children against infanticide as well as give human rights to the indigenous people of Brazil.

But, they need our help and our voice! Here are some steps you can take to engage with this issue:

1.) View the Hakani video at (search for “Hakani” – there are two videos, and the one farther down the list is longer). Read it and send the link to others, or post it on your own website or blog.

2.) If you have a Facebook account, join the “Hakani” group and invite others to join.

3.) E-mail your approval of Muwaji’s Law to officials in Brazil – use your own words to describe your support of this initiative. If you're interested in the names and e-mail addresses of the people whom you should send notes to, contact me and I'll send them to you.

4.) I have a sample letter you can use to e-mail the embassy of your own nation in Brazil (look for that information online) as well as a letter you could use to e-mail the Brazilian embassy that’s located in your nation (look for that information online). If you're interested in those letters, contact me and I'll send them to you.

5.) After completing these steps, e-mail your own personal contacts to do the same, and ask them to pass this information along. Then watch for the internet movie premier of Hakani’s Story on June 14th on

So, I think I’ll end for now. I wanted to be sure and pass along this story that was so recently brought to me, and to engage with you in being a voice for life for these children who have no voice. Be sure to check out for more information and for updates. (Picture to the left: Hakani and her brother, Bibi, reunite in February of this year)

If you have any questions or thoughts, be sure to send them my way. Thank you for being alongside – until we type again –

Training and Vienna....

Greetings from Germany!

Don’t worry – your eyes are not deceiving you. It truly is another note from me, and so close on the heels of our last communication. Crazy!

But, there are a few things happening around here that I knew if I waited to tell you until later, they might never be told. It seems I draft more notes in my head to you than ever get written, so I thought I’d just take the bull by the horns and write while I was thinking about it.

So, let’s begin, shall we?

All Base Training time
I know I already told you that we had the privilege as a community to have a couple who have been in YWAM for 34 years, Jim and Judy, as well as a church prayer and teaching team from Tacoma come and be with us for two weeks. That time is over now, but when I look back, I see such richness and life that came from all they poured in – it was perfect timing to hear again some of the teachings that were brought

Because of the nature of YWAM, we have many people who join us and move on in a short amount of time. Of the 75 staff we now have, only about 15 had been with us when we had our last Staff Training time, so these sessions served to bring us together as a community as teachings were brought on fundamental issues like repentance, integrity, what it means to disciple, self-leadership and responsibility, mentoring, the fruit of our lives, along with many other topics. (Picture: Herrnhut Staff and Students in front of the Castle)
When the idea came for us to have another time of Staff Training, I knew that the desire was that our root system, the core of who we are as individuals and as a Base, be cleaned out and strengthened so that we could grow more solidly and produce life giving things to the world around us. While there will always be things to correct and adjust, I felt that this time was very successful in strengthening me personally and as well as our whole team. Now let’s just see if we can walk out all we’ve been taught so that the world can see more of Jesus in us.
Outreach to Vienna
To say that soccer (or football, as it’s known everywhere in the world other than in North America) causes some strong feelings in its fans would be putting it mildly. J Fans are a’buzzin with news of games, and in a nation where they rarely fly their national colors, the German flag is almost ubiquitous – on a car here, hanging from a window there, and just yesterday, I saw people wearing leis in the colors of the German flag!

The EuroCup is upon us, and Vienna, Austria (the nation just to the south, southeast of us) is playing host. So on Monday, about 50 of us from this community are heading down to join several organizations in a massive outreach to the fans of soccer. These kinds of events offer such opportunities to reach out to people from all kinds of nations and walks of life, and one of the things that is most cool for me is that it’s not YWAM that’s the main organizer – we just get to join with other ministries in support of the message that matters: Jesus is real, He is as passionate about you as you are about soccer, and He wants relationship for a lifetime.

I don’t know all that we’ll get to do, but there will be kids’ events, coffee tents, bands on the street, dramas, and even more. I look forward to being stretched personally in how I reach out to people in a real and impacting way, and I anticipate a time of getting to know not only our staff and students better, but people of other nations. (Picture to the left: A Cathedral in Vieanna)

And, if I’m really lucky, I’ll even get to have a free moment for a coffee at Starbuck’s. :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Lecture About Trash and Other Life-Changing Topics….

Greetings from Herrnhut! I hope that this note finds you enjoying the beginnings of summer, no matter how crazy your weather might be (which ours has been, but that’s a conversation better had over a cup of coffee rather than through a note, don’t you think? So, when can I expect you?).

Let’s jump in…

It’s about the 5th day of our New Staff Training process (and even the process itself is new – more on that later), and I smile as I watch one of our new staff members, Ruth, don a hat, frumpy shirt and belt to transform herself into “Trashy”, a fun-loving character that will tell us about the somewhat confusing and complicated German trash system (picture on the right: Ruth doing her "Trashy" imitation). Ruth is British, and her humor is contagious as she holds a tea bag and plastic bottle in front of her and expounds on the virtues and consequences of separating our trash into the correct receptacle.

And why, may you ask, is that at all relevant to the future of nations? Very good question, actually..thanks for asking. I look at this young woman, with all her humor and all her creativity, all her desires for Jesus and passion for the arts and people, and I see a beginning. Within what God has given her in the way of talents, giftings, personality, lie answers – answers for people who don’t have hope, people who are searching, people who are hungry for something more.

But over the last year as I’ve taken on this role in our Community of Staff Development, I’ve become more aware that all our Staff will go farther and will be stronger here and in the nations if they start off at a higher place. If they can come in with a stronger understanding of their role, of expectations for being a part of this Community, of how they can fit into the bigger picture, won’t they grow deeper roots, grow stronger lives and produce more lasting fruit? And that for me, and I know for you, is my heart’s cry – may these Staff members be strong so that the fruit that comes from their lives in the nations will have a lasting impact. (Picture on the left: Group photo of the new Staff during the intake process. Along the back are the members of the Staff Development team, l-r: Martin, Grazyna, me and Johanna. Great group!)

Besides, who wants to miss out on a “Trashy” experience?

And that is a brief glimpse of what the last months have been for me here – a prayerful, concentrated and focused effort, along with my great team, to create some processes we’ve not had before at this location. God has blessed this Base with many new staff – and they just keep coming! – but we’ve not yet had the time or resources to create a way for these staff to come into this environment in a more concentrated way. God put these things on my and my team’s heart some time ago, and we were able to see that desire realized in the middle of May. So fun! And we hope the intake process will be refined and repeated for many years to come.

Immediately following, we began an All Base time where we as an entire Herrnhut community put a stop to our normal activities and took the time to come together for teaching and refining. We’re in the middle of that time now, and though it’s busy and lots of work, it’s well worth it. We have a couple who have been in YWAM for 34 years as well as a prayer team from a church in Tacoma who have come to serve us for this time, and I’m already seeing roots being strengthened, including my own. Again, my hope and prayer is that the foundations of this very young community can be strengthened and kept strong so we can continue to have positive and impacting fruit come from our lives.


Also in the midst of these Base training times, we have a DTS running, and what a great group of students! We have a school of 24, and just recently they have chosen their international Outreach locations. As always, I so enjoy having a school running in this community because it increases our outward focus and brings forward again why we do what we do – the desire for changed lives. (Picture at left: Some of our Staff and a Student during a recent Nations night where we celebrate the different nations in our Community for the DTS)

In future notes: More about the All Base time, the DTS, and our Staff Outreach to Vienna!

So, it’s time that I leave you for now – thank you for taking one of your most valuable resources (time) and sharing it with me. I appreciate the prayer, support and encouragement you give, and realize again the intricacies of how God brings us together – without each other, very little would be possible in changing the world around us.

As I go, I’ll leave a few prayer requests, but please keep in mind that I’d like to hear from you if there are things I can pray for. We may not be able to meet for coffee, but our prayers have very long arms.

Ø All Base Training time: We are in the middle with one week left to go, and my prayer is that God will go deep in our lives through all we’re learning and having prayed over us. And, as a result, we will have a renewed and fresh vision to impact our community and the nations around us.
Ø My Staff Development team: I have really enjoyed working the team I’m working with now (there are 3 others besides me), but for great reasons, two of my team members are stepping way. Yikes! If we are to continue to serve this community and the nations, two of us are not enough (we have about 70 staff as well as varying numbers of students). We need for God to bring the right people with the right heart to join us.
Ø The DTS: They are preparing for Outreach to 5 countries. Pray that they prepare well, and that God brings in all the finances for the Staff and Students to go!
Ø Me, personally: This has been an interesting season – increased responsibility, but for some reason, no extra time! I am doing overall well, but am still working through the tension of carrying all God has called me to right now (which I really enjoy) and not pushing too hard. I need wisdom, just like each of us!

Ok, I believe that’s it for now, though you know there are always more stories to tell. Drop a note when you can and let me know how you are, and know I appreciate working with you.

Until we type again,


P.S. Be sure and check out my blog now and then at: Sometimes I update that with other news and pictures, and I would welcome a visit!

Here's me celebrating my country on the Nations night, and yes, I am wearing American flag earrings!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dixieland in Dresden?

It was a very strange moment when I stepped out of the main train station in Dresden, for what should drift to my ears but the sounds of swing and English words! Where am I - the States? Nope (or "nein" to honor the host land) - just the annual Dixieland Festival in Dresden.

I went up for a weekend to visit good friends and got the added pleasure of crawling through the crowded streets to listen to music on many different stages - jazz, swing, Southern flair - all there, and all being played by German bands! The music was great fun, and if you click on the video below, you'll get to hear a bit of one of the bands - I really enjoyed their red shoes. Too bad you can't see the guy on the other side of the stage wearing his cow patterned coat!

The rest of the all-to-brief trip to visit Tom, Jen and the kids went well. Some of went for a walk through a

beautiful part of Dresden - what beautiful buildings! We walked...and walked....and walked, but the blazing was well worth it because of all we got to see.

So fun!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Seeds of Change...

It’s the day after Easter, and I’m walking in a place that may seem strange to some – the Herrnhut Cemetery. It takes less than 5 minutes to get there from my house, and upon entering, I am immersed in history, in stories untold. (To the left is the path up to the Herrnhut Cemetary and the Prayer Tower)

Names and dates greet me as I go from stone to stone: Mathilde, 1875 .…Johannes, 1902….Heinrich, 1913, Amelie, 1930. Interestingly, my mind goes back to last week, to the stories that were told by the Staff and Students from our Fall Discipleship Training School. They have just returned from the international outreach part of their DTS, and they bring with them accounts of lives touched – the orphanage they worked in, the Ethiopian tribes they worked with, the almost forgotten African village tucked away in the corners of India that they searched for and found.

Why the connection between the Herrnhut cemetery and the DTS? Because while I was walking through that graveyard as well as listening to our students and staff, I heard the future. I looked at those headstones and wondered at the countless number of lives that were touched, and when I listened to those 10 teams report back, I thought the same. These staff and students carried with them seeds – seeds of the hope that was within them, their relationships with Jesus. They planted their seeds, not always with knowing how they will grow, but trusting they will produce much when God brings them to life.

I wish you could have been here last week during the report back time for our DTS – I would have even saved you a seat! As with every school, the stories are not always full of easy passage, but I see and hear God’s hand in the lives of those who go, stories from staff and students who gave up their known way for a season. (To the right - the report back by the team leader of the Chad/Cameroon/Ethiopia team)

We had 10 teams this year, which encompassed 95 people on the field in 12 countries: Chad/Cameroon/Ethiopia, Ghana, India/Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Israel, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Thailand. They left on their outreaches in January, and thankfully (though we had a few tense moments with several teams, i.e. having to emergency evacuate one team from their location because of attacking rebels), all returned safe and sound.

And with stories. I recall the Ghana team and how they didn’t have an overabundance of finances, but were able to raise 5,000 Euros (about $7,800) for a project they were working with. I think of the somewhat strange story from the Israel team about one of the ministries they did – digging graves. That may sound unusual, but they told us that this was the one cemetery in the whole region where Christians, Jews and Muslims could be buried together – one island of peace in the midst of an area in vast turmoil. (To the right: The report back from our China team)

The stories go on! But, above all, I walked away with the reminder that what you and I do by supporting these teams impacts not just their lives, but the lives of hundreds of others. The seeds of change have been planted, and the stories remain to be told, in your life, in mine and the lives of those in the nations.

(Click the video below and listen to the Nepal team singing!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Great Time at Home...

What can I say? Being able to be home for a break from the end of November through mid-January, and home for the holidays for the first time in three years, was truly a gift. Good times with family and great friends, good food, great connection time with my church family, a zillion choices, and most everything in my own language – wow! (Look - it's me, Mom and Dad at Christmas - so cute!)

I didn’t get to go to all the places I wanted to go, like to my family in Kansas, so that’s on the agenda for the next time I’m home (which I’m not sure when that will be). But, all-in-all, the time home was refreshing and thought-provoking. I come away each time with a thankfulness for my parents and family, amazing friends and supportive church…and, of course, the wonderful Seattle coffee. (Picture on right: good friends, hanging out)

Here I am, speaking at my home church.....and celebrating my 33rd birthday with good friends