Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back from Managua

Well, it seemed like a whirlwind trip, but we're back in Central Oregon after a week in Nicaragua. We learned a great deal, and saw some amazing things that God is doing, transforming people and communities through the local churches and some compassionate long-term missionaries.

As far as service, what we mostly did was help with a powerful ministry to girls being rescued out of prostitution, loved through the healing process, and taught to provide for themselves and their families. Many of these girls have been raped and betrayed into sex slavery at a very young age, and don't know love until they encounter the love of Christ through the women who run and volunteer at House of Hope.

But rather than duplicate effort unnecessarily, let me link you to the blog of my teammate Amanda Wingers, where you will find pictures of these young women and girls, and bit more of the story.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Genealogy Redux

A couple of Sundays ago, I was the guest speaker at Redux, Antioch's Q&A service. Any question is fair game, but since I'm a scientist (as well as an elder at a Bible-believing church), the questions posed to me often deal with reconciling God's Word with God's work in creation. The first question that day had to do with whether the Hebrew genealogies recorded in Genesis 5 and 11 can be used to date the origin of the human race. Here's my answer..

The Genealogies In Genesis from :redux on Vimeo.

Monday, August 23, 2010


With my son, Jasper, and a team of nine from Antioch, I woke up this morning in Managua. It rained a good bit during the night (and has been raining every day). It is the rainy season, but I guess the current frequency of rain is unusual for this, the western and drier part of the country (weather comes mostly east-to-west in Nicaragua).

I woke up early to the sound of bird calls, some familiar and some new. Great-tailed Grackles are common here, and obvious, and the next bird I identified was a Social Flycatcher. Parrots, parakeets, doves, and pigeons are numerous, but I haven’t had time to identify any to species yet. There’s a smallish hummingbird just outside the window, and a family of what I take to be ant-wrens foraging under the garden trees.

The goal of our week is to learn about how God is working here in Nicaragua. We'll hope to serve a bit, with a ministry called House of Hope, which rescues girls from the prostitution that's ubiquitous in this country. We've already learned quite a bit about the Nehemiah Center, which promotes transformational development, a holistic, community-healing approach to missiology.

It's a great team I'm here with, and a privilege to be getting to know them. And our host family, the Loftsgards, are really special, and have made us feel like we're long-time members. In some respects, it's just a week carved out from the normal hum of my life, but in others it promises to be life-changing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


A week from today, my son Jasper and I will be on our way to Nicaragua with a team from our home church, Antioch. There'll be just 9 of us, and our destination is Managua and a consortium of ministries together at the Nehemiah Center. These include House of Hope, which rescues women and young girls from a life of forced prostitution.

We'll have opportunities to serve the House of Hope and some of the other ministries there. But more importantly, we'll simply get to meet and hang out with Christians in Central America, and to observe firsthand what God is doing in this, the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

A big bonus for Jasper and me will be the chance to meet a little Nicaraguan girl that our family sponsors through Compassion International. I'm really looking forward to the trip, and will try to let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well, it's August, which means that my son Nathan and I are deep into our annual head-to-head snake-capturing competition. We do this based on the calendar year, though the first points aren't usually scored until March. (This year, I caught my first snake--a Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)--on the 2nd of that month.) Each snake caught scores 1 point, regardless of species, but they have to be caught and handled, not just seen.

We do have a couple of special rules, however. Baby rattlesnakes need only be touched, not actually picked up (but all other rattlesnakes must be captured to count). Garter snakes (of all sizes) need only be touched as well. In their case, this rule is due to their propensity to excude a nasty-smelling musk that stays with you for some time. Nathan is rather sensitive to smells, so we could call the garter snake rule the 'Nathan Rule.'

We have two competitions, really. One is total snakes caught for the year, and the other is number of different species caught. The last couple of years, I've won the total individuals category, while Nate's taken the species crown. Oregon doesn't have a wealth of snake species, so his mark of 8 each of the last couple of years has been pretty impressive.

As for this year's contest, we haven't compared notes lately, so I'm not sure how we stand. I've been leading in total snakes most of the season, and I suspect that I'm still ahead by a half dozen or so. My total is currently at 71. All of mine are captured in the course of my daily field work, but Nathan is not above going road-hunting at night just to find snakes and try to keep up with the old man. Should he read this post and discover my total, he's liable to head for a favorite snake road yet tonight.

I'm pretty sure we're tied at the moment in the species count, with the same 7 each. Those would be Gopher Snakes, Racers (Coluber constrictor), Western Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis), Rubber Boas (Charina bottae), Western Terrestrial Garters (Thamnophis elegans), Common Garters (Thamnophis sirtalis), and Night Snakes (Hypsiglena torquata). We've each seen one other species, the swift and elusive Striped Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus), and it could be that catching one of these could decide the species contest.

I trust you'll all be rooting for me... we wouldn't want Nate to get a big head.

Here's a photo he took of a Western Rattlesnake eating an Ord's Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ordii).