A Visit to The Rock

Welcome to The Rock—Alcatraz.

Fortress. Military prison. Maximum-security U.S. penitentiary. Native American activist stronghold. Bird sanctuary. National Park … and as a dear friend would describe it, a place swarming with redemption.

On a day celebrating independence, our team decided to incarcerate ourselves, walking the very paths of high profile felons like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert “The Birdman” Stroud.

Located 1.5 miles from the shores of San Francisco, Alcatraz—named for its dense population of sea birds—is surrounded by the chilly Pacific waters and the Bay Area’s relentless winds.

The sights and sounds of the City taunted prisoners enslaved within the cold, concrete walls of the most infamous U.S. prison. The sheer proximity to freedom psychologically agonized inmates. It was seemingly at their fingertips, yet could not be grasped.

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Good behavior was rewarded with time out of the cages to enjoy America’s pastime.

Just beyond the chains dwell signs of redemption–gardens kept by inmates and new life on an island paradise for the birds.

This is where hope is felt. Hope that just one inmate found eternal forgiveness behind those steel bars. Hope that a stony place with a tainted past can spawn beauty from ashes.

And I’m confident it can.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” -Ezekiel 36:26

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My little piece of Heaven

Sandies – my own little piece of Heaven on earth where I spent much of my childhood.

This is the place I learned it’s okay for girls to play in the mud, climb trees, and race four wheelers. But most of all it’s the place the leading men in my life taught me to respect and care for the great outdoors.

Six miles from electricity and cell phone service, Sandies has become a place of solitude … a retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in the Metroplex to be still and know.

Yes, places like this still exist. You just have to turn down a dead end road and hope your vehicle makes it through the ruts to get there.

Here the vastness of the sky reminds me of my insignificance. Here the infinite beauty of God’s masterpiece leaves me in wonder. Here I find rest.

My family spent Easter weekend here … where the lush greens of spring serve as reminders of the Hope that bloomed after a long, cold winter.

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. -Martin Luther

[Travel] The Latin Word for “Flex”

Missionary is a Latin word for “flex.”

My gullible self immediately thought our trip leaders were serious when they opened our training day with this line … for my easily persuaded friends out there, missionary doesn’t actually translate to “flex” in Latin.

Although they were facetious, their words served as a forewarning of the travel woes to come when our 6:00 p.m. flight to the other side of the island was cancelled without reason, rescheduled for 4:00 a.m. the next morning, and we didn’t have a hotel room to stay in because we’d checked out that morning.

Did I mention everyone was emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually drained from spending five days in a knock-out, drag-out fight for the gospel?

So what do you do in a foreign land when your flight is delayed for no apparent reason?

ADVENTURE!

At our first stop, we explored the nooks and crannies of a 400-year-old 10922807_10100113124564690_5949600144154495871_nfortress and watched the sun kiss the Caribbean waters goodnight.

Then we climbed to the third floor of a home/restaurant for a coast-side dinner and laughter hour where delirium kicked in and a few teammates lost their mental marbles.

Around 9:30 p.m. we headed back to the airport to waste time and rest in the lobby before our 2:00 a.m. flight check-in … only to find out the airline conveniently forgot to mention they provide complimentary hotel rooms for situations like ours.

10974655_10152634977031517_4535731372048368680_oWe laid our heads down for about 2.5 hours before our alarms went off at the ungodly hour of 1:00 a.m. and we headed back to the airport in hopes of making it to our day’s destination (enjoy this glamor shot to the left).

Our flight remarkably left on time and we landed in the country’s capitol at 6:30 a.m. After another 4-hour catnap at the hotel, we headed out for a day of touring one of the most vibrant and historic cities I’ve wandered in my short 23 years of life.

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In retrospect, I’m glad airlines in developing countries don’t get uptight about canceling a flight. I trust there was a divine reason our initial flight didn’t make and the Lord gave me another opportunity to work on my patience. The way I see it, it was a win-win.

It turns out this being flexible thing isn’t so bad after all.

[Missions] Claimed

Island

There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God & counter-claimed by Satan. | C.S. Lewis

God is taking back His island.

I witnessed it firsthand in the trenches of the island of old cars.

In the matter of four days of ministry, a team of ordinary men and women had front row seats to the extraordinary. Over and over the gospel was preached and lives were changed … 650 people heard of God’s great love for them and 542 responded to the tender tug on their hearts.

It was a fishing trip like none I’ve experienced before. I can’t wait to tell you more.