Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Holman's Christmas Letter


Here is our annual letter that we sent out to everyone on our email address. I figured that I would take advantage of the blogging followers and send it out to you guys as well. If you did not get this on email, it is because I do not have your email address so send it to me.



Wow! It seems like only yesterday that I sent out our Christmas letter, and now it is time to write another one. It is amazing that another year has gone by and I am still not in jail. So, what has happened in the last year? A lot of stopped up toilets—why our children think that you need 12’ of toilet paper is beyond me (wait, I digress—this is a Christmas letter)

The last year has seen a lot of action in the Holman house. We moved again, this time into an apartment. It has three bedrooms and is about 1100 sq. ft, so it is cozy. We have 5 boys in one room, 5 girls in another room, and then Mom gets the biggest. Dad just passes out on the couch and drools on the carpet. I can’t tell you everything that has happened, this is to be a letter not a book, but that is why we have a website and blogs. If you don’t read them, then your life is empty and meaningless. Change your life! Go by and check them out. The biggest event right now is that we are in the States on our Home Assignment. Because of our family size, immigration laws, and money, we can only come to the States as a family about every three to four years. So we decided to take advantage of being here this year and we took the mama of all vacations. I had received a little money from my dad’s estate when he passed away, and we decided that the wise thing to do would be to put the money in the bank and save it. Since that was the wise thing to do, we did the opposite (we are the Holmans) and went on a never to be forgotten vacation to Disneyworld and on a cruise. Go to my Facebook and check out the photos.

Now to catch you up with us individually:

Joe has almost too many cool attributes to list, but his biggest virtue is his humility, therefore he must depend upon the accolades of the crowds and the discussion in the chat rooms to talk about his marvels.

Denise turned 27 this year, an impressive feat for a woman her age. She is more beautiful than the day I married her, more like Christ than anyone I know, and my best friend. Not only that, she will read this and I will probably get a big smooch for writing such public praise. She is still homeschooling the kiddos, mentoring younger women, and serving Jesus in the world. She also spends a lot of time cleaning and looking for the day that her kids will rise up and call her blessed. I think it is going to happen next Thursday, but she isn’t holding her breath.

Seth turns 22 on January 1. He is living in Alexandria VA and is working as a waiter. We are glad that we are back in the States for a short time and able to see him on a more regular basis. It is so hard being so far from him.

Jacob has temporarily moved back home with us while we are in the States. He is a great young man, loves Jesus and is showing tremendous wisdom with his finances. Any gals interested? He plans on going to college next year and has strong teeth. (if interested, send your dowry description to us)

Caleb is 18 and a senior in High School. We gave him the option of finishing school here while we are in the States or going to Bolivia for another year or two with us. He has chosen….drum roll please……going to Bolivia! He always was my favorite. He says it is because he loves us, but I think it may be that the missionary school is way easier than Mom’s scope and sequence. He can now legally drive (he has been illegally driving for two years in Bolivia, but we cannot mention that) and starts his first ‘real’ job next week.

Ben is 16 years old and 16’ tall. He is in the 10th grade and may have the best attitude of any 16 year old in the world. Or, it may just be that my heart is hardened and I simply ignore him. He still talks about being a pastor, but we are doing what we can to steer him towards professional gambling due to the better pay scale. He loves Bolivia and keeps asking when we are going back. Mom is homeschooling him while in the States, so he will enter the missionary school in the 11th grade.

David is 14 and eating like an elephant. I don’t know where he puts it, but I think he eats at least 10 pounds of food a day. He just got a good pair of glasses, for some reason his North American prescription was 10x different than his South American prescription (this is not an exaggeration). It can’t be the medical care of Bolivia; it must be a Southern Hemisphere thing (that was sarcasm). Anyway, he is so excited to actually see stuff. I think we will call his glasses a Christmas present and save some money.

Josh is 12 and is smooth. That is the best way to describe him. He just flows. Although he is small, he is extremely athletic. He reminds me of the squirrel in the cartoon “Over The Hedge”. He is energetic, always on the move, and loves to work. Seriously, have you ever had a kid that loves to work? It is an anomaly of the universe. We take full advantage of it and have decided in order to truly let him be him, as parents we will let him do all the housework. I mean, wouldn’t it be wrong to do the work ourselves and rob him of his passion?

Faith is 11 and is my first experience with a girl entering puberty. Can someone loan me a gun? She is fashion conscious, always trying to look good, and wears high heels around the house. She is our little mamma and takes such good care of the other girls that we are thinking about signing legal custody to her and calling our parenting over. She can raise them and we write them off our taxes. Works for me.

Hope is 9, almost 20. She is the sweetest thing and loves to just sit by you and talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. She helps out around the house a lot and talks. She is like Benjamin and misses Bolivia more than the other kids. I think she just wants to talk in Spanish.

Joy is 7 and right now has three broken bones in her arm. This doesn’t surprise anyone that knows her. Joy is active and does not know fear. She is also still maintaining her namesake and always joyful. She was even joyful in the ER when waiting to have her arm put back together. That may have been the morphine drip giggling, but it was still cute.

Patience is six. She has adapted well to being an older sister and loves playing with Mercy. She may be the funniest kid and is always cracking a joke or hiding behind something to jump out and scare you. She is Joy’s best friend and they are always holding hands. It is precious. She has the toughest time with Bolivia and ‘The States’. To her, ‘The States’ simply means where you are not currently living therefore she is talking about when we go to the States of Bolivia.

Mercy is the greatest. She is two and is the most spoiled child in the world. She has 10 older siblings who think she is da bomb and cater to her every whim. They call her “Princess” and she spends most of her day pointing and giving out orders which are promptly obeyed.

On the whole, it has been a great year. God has blessed us and helped us to become more like Him. We have learned more about dependence and walking by faith, and the importance of having fun with each other. I pray that this year you discover more than ever how much He loves you. I mentioned earlier our websites and blogs. If you do not keep up with us that way, and/or through facebook, please do so. It is like getting a Christmas letter every month. 

Joe for The Holmans

Leia Mais…

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Other Side Of The Incarnation



Jesus became a human. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We celebrate this at Christmas, and although we know it is true, it still blows us away when we try to ponder exactly what it means. God became a man, while maintaining His Deity.

We celebrate Jesus coming to us and we should. However, have you ever thought about what it meant for Him to leave His home? I never did until I went to the mission field. We are overwhelmed at His coming, but how did Heaven feel about His leaving?

When we knew we were going to Bolivia, we began the process of saying goodbye. It was a process because it did not just happen. We said good bye to different groups of people, to various layers of relationships, at different times. From coffee and informal meetings, a going away party at our church, to the tear-filled hugging of Denise’s parents at the airport, saying good bye hurt. We knew we were in the plan of the Father. We knew that it was best. We knew that our lives were going to impact others. We knew that through the pain, good would come. It still stunk. It really, seriously stunk.

Think about what we experienced on our human level. We have imperfect relationships. We live in a fallen world full of pain and sorrow. We leave for school, get married, take jobs in other locations, and die. Good bye is a part of the fabric of our lives. We say good bye constantly.

Jesus never did. He was omnipresent. He was fully present. For all of eternity He had been in the perfect world with the relationship of the Trinity. Good bye was not part of His vocabulary nor His experience. He NEVER left the presence of His home. His family, His Father, the angels, and all of creation were always there. Death was not part of His life. He never had to leave to go somewhere else.

Then, that moment before the conception…that immeasurable microsecond of time when the Word said something He had never said before…”Good bye”. Can you imagine what I was like to leave? What Jesus did for us! He left perfection. He left heaven. He left the angels. He left His worship. He left His Father. He left His home. He gave up His throne. He gave up His omnipresence. He gave up His….I cannot even imagine the list. Christmas was not just Jesus coming into the world, it was Him leaving the Heavens.

This Christmas, take a pause in your shopping, spending, driving, eating, and wrapping and try to meditate, not on the first Noel, but on the first Goodbye.

Wow! God loves you so much!

Merry Christmas!

Leia Mais…

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blessings From The Grave


Doesn't this seem like a weird photo to put under the title of this article? How is Disney World a blessing...from....the...grave.... (read that in a spooky manner).

Well, this is whazzup. Last July my father passed away. He was a blue collar, hard working man his entire life, and when he passed away--well the truth be told his estate wasn't very large and it was divided into fourths for each of the kids, but it was more than we thought it would be. Now, here Denise and I are with some disposable income in our hands. What to do, what to do.


Should we save it for a rainy day?
Give it to the ministry?
Pay for 1/19 of the kids college?
Blow it on cool stuff we never are able to do?

The last time that we took a real vacation was in 2006. The next time we will be in the States as a family will be in 2015 (we think). When we are in Bolivia, it is almost impossible to leave due to visa nonsense and money, so we figured that we have one really good chance in a nine year period to take a killer vacation. I wholeheartedly chose BLOW THE MONEY NOW AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT!!!

Dad is paying for it. That is the blessing from the grave. When dad was alive, we always tried to get him to go on vacation with us, but he never would (which made us and makes us very sad). When we received the money, we thought...why not let dad pay for the vacation of a lifetime, and tell the kids over and over that this is a gift from Grandpa!

That is what we are going to do. We are going to Disney World! It is going to be a nine year blowout blast doing things that no missionary could ever do on a missionary salary!!!!

Dad, I know that you are in Heaven because you knew Jesus, so, "Thanks!!!" for the upcoming memories!!!

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Totally Foreign Concept


I was with a friend the other day, and we were chatting about Bolivia on the way to pick something up out of a storage unit that he rents. When we got to the Storage facility, there were over 100 units and no vacancy. This got me to thinking, so I did about 2 minutes of on-line research and came up the the facts that there are around 55,000 self storage facilities in the USA, with a total average annual market income of $30,855,000,000. Look at that number again! Many of these facilities are even climate controlled, and to be honest, almost all of them are better than the average home in a developing country like Bolivia or most of Africa.

My friend asked me if, when we left Bolivia, we had placed our stuff in a storage unit. I told him that to 90% of the world, storage units are not only unheard of, they are an extremely weird concept. Lets think about it for a minute.

I have too much stuff for my large home and property to hold. I have more stuff than I have room for. So, what is my solution? Do I give it to someone else? Do I allow another to use it? Do I sell it and use the money for something else?

No. I rent a storage facility. Here I can put the stuff that I do not use or maybe not even want into a safe location where others cannot use it. I don't need it. I don't use it. However, I am going to keep it because this is what we do...we acquire and accumulate.

Can you imagine this happening in a third world country? Can you see a row of huts out in the countryside of Africa where people put unused items so that no one else can use them? Can you imagine a poverty stricken nation having storage facilities?

Don't read a bad attitude here...I am just saying that only in a place where wealth is so great and taken for granted would someone not only own things that they don't use, but pay someone else to protect them.

Unlike the first century church that sold their possessions and met the needs of others, we pay others to keep our possessions.

So...here is a challenge for you that could benefit the country of Bolivia.

How about you have a garage sale, then another one, then another one...until your home can hold all your possessions. You can give the proceeds of your garages sales to our ministry, and then also give to world missions the amount that you were paying for renting! If everyone did this...it would mean $30,855,000,000 each year going to the expansion of the gospel from the USA alone! Now, I know everyone isn't going to do this...but couldn't you? Go by our website to see info on how to give! :)

Until next time....how about you start using the Storage Unit of the Heavenly Depository.
Joe

Leia Mais…

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Battle Of The Bugs



The girls were sitting in the floor by Denise and she thought that she saw something. She called them over and looked at their hair. She could not believe it. They had lice. Not just a little louse, or even a few lice. It was Lice Metro. Thousands of lice had set up an entire world in their hair. We could not believe it. We had lived on the mission field for three and one-half years and never had them. Now we were in Loudoun County Virginia and had an infestation. We think that they caught them from someone at church, because we cannot figure out where else they came from.

Here we are, almost three weeks and $100 later and we think that we have defeated them. It was amazing how much work it took. Washing their hair in insecticide shampoo, then soaking their hair with olive oil and wrapping it in saran wrap at night, washing sheets, blankets and pillow cases on hot every day were the most time consuming part of the process. Denise also had to comb their scalp in two square inch sections and dig out the egg sacks and dead lice. They missed three weeks of church because we did not want to have evangelistic mice venturing to the mission field of others kid's heads.

I was thinking about this and how it related to our lives. You know, for most of us, it isn't the big sin that gets us. It is the 'little' vices. (I know this is erroneous theology--but you understand what I am saying).

We are not out murdering babies through abortion. We are not embezzling funds. We are not cheating on our husbands or wives. We are not ___________ (fill in the blank with your mad lib verbal sin).

It is not the big sin...it is the constant little sins that undermine us. The angry retorts, the bad attitudes, the unforgiving heart, the judgmental spirit and the self-righteous soul are the ones that nibble at our heads and suck the spiritual life out of us. It is the harsh way that we respond to our rebellious teenager and in the unkind manner we treat the cashier at WalMart. It is the music we listen to and the things we let not just flow through our minds but take us residence there. These are the internal lice that eat away at us.

However, the good news is that the treatment is easy, fast and complete. It is called Calvary. Why not go there right now!



Faith with head wrapped up in olive oil and saran wrap.


Mercy following her sister's example


The saran wrap singers


Mercy doesn't seem too bothered by her new doo.

Leia Mais…

Too Many Options




I went to blockbuster the other day for the first time in 1,285 days (really, I did the math just for fun). I was in the store for about 45 minutes, and then left. Know what I rented? Was it a sinful ‘R’, a border line ‘PG-13’, a questionable ‘PG’, or an acceptable Veggie Tales?

After 45 minutes I left the store empty handed. Do you know why? I simply had way too many choices. I could not make up my mind. I only had time to watch one movie, and if I picked this one, then I could not watch that one…and that other one looks really great! Hey, here is an action, a romantic comedy, a family or a drama. There were new releases, manager’s choices, summer blockbusters, past Oscar winners, and employee picks. There were classics, westerns, and my favorite, science fiction. I could watch foreign films or Bollywood (whatever that is). I was overloaded.

I went out to eat with some donors to say ‘Thank You’ for their support of us. The menu had 12 pages…seriously, 12 pages! There were 9 hamburgers to choose from. Here are the questions I was asked.

“What do you want to drink?” Tea.

“Fruit tea or normal?” Normal.

“Sweetened or unsweetened?” Unsweetened.

“Would you like a sugar substitute?” No thankyou.

“What would you like to eat?” Steak

“How would you like that cooked?” Medium well

“It comes with two sides, what would you like?” Here I was stumped because there were 10 sides to choose from. I finally settled on a bake potato and salad.

“Garden salad or Ceasar?” Garden

“What type of dressing? House, Ranch, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, French, or Vinegar?” I was starting to get worn down like when you child keeps asking the same question three hundred times. I settled on Ranch.

“Would you like butter on your baked potato?” Yes.

“Sour cream?” Yes.”

“Chives?” (in an Eeyore sounding voice) Yes.

“Bacon bits?” AAGGGGHHHHH!!!! Just bring me something to eat I don’t care!!!!!!

The same scenario happened with everyone else.

Options and options and options. It is an American value. We have so many choices. Count the various chip options that you have, or soft drink options, the next time you go to the store. Look at your closet and see how many shirts (or women—shoes) that you have to pick from.

We have so many choices to make every day that we are bogged down with them. We leave the store empty handed, or worse than that, with buyers remorse because rather than feel grateful for what we have, we wonder if we should have picked something else.

So, here is the point where I usually have a spiritual application. I really don’t have one except maybe that this passage could apply:

(Luke 10:41-42) But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Are we bogged down and bothered by so many irrelevant choices, that we are too tired to make the right choice about what really matters?

Just A Thought,
Joe

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Impressions

We got off of the plane in Miami. Here are first impressions, good and bad, of coming back. 99% of these things I would not have ever noticed had we not lived in Bolivia long enough to change our perspectives.

Efficient—the US Customs is very efficient and friendly.


Mad—People in the USA get angry easily. As we walked through the airport, paying attention to detail, there were a lot of griping people.

Big—Everything is spacious…HUGE is the word.

Clean—trashcans all over the place and people putting things in them.

Shopping—the Miami airport has more stores than the largest ‘mall’ in Cochabamba, a city of almost 1 million people…and every store had people buying overpriced items non-stop.

Food—lots of it and it is GOOD. (my taste)

Food—did I say lots of it. We ate our first North American meal and they brought us enough food to feed a village.

High Pressure Water—the showers in the hotel had a lot pressure…what a difference from Bolivia…I cannot stress how nice high pressure showers are—don’t take them for granted people!

Credit Cards—you can use them everywhere. We haven’t used credit cards in three years, here you can rent a cart to carry your luggage with one.

Just a few quick impressions as I turn in for the night.

Leia Mais…

Monday, May 31, 2010

It Makes Me Happy To Be Sad


This sounds like a paradox doesn’t it? Or maybe an oxymoron like military intelligence…happily sad.

Yet, it does make me happy to be sad. So, am I a glutton for punishment? Am I some wacked out weirdo that has such a negative view on life the only thing that makes me happy is to be miserable?

It makes me happy to be sad. I was thinking about this as we said our good-byes to our friends at the airport. For a few days we have been getting tears in our eyes (for us manly men) or crying (for those girly girls). We have been sad and it makes me glad. Weird?

If I am weird, then I am in good company, because, well, read it for yourself.

(Mat 5:4) "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

This is a quote from the Beatitudes. By the way, I do not know why we have added such a mysterious interpretation to the word ‘blessed’. Think about it, what does that word mean? If you were asked to define the word, how many sentences and “uh’s” would you use as you tried to explain what it meant to be ‘blessed’. Let me clear it up for you.

The word only has one meaning, and it is a one word definition. It means ‘happy’. That is it. No mystery. No need to do Greek conjugation or in-depth word studies. It just means, “happy”.

This is what Jesus was saying.

Sad people are happy people.
You will be happy when you are sad.
The way to be happy is to be sad.
Sadness reveals how happy you are.

He is literally saying that you can measure the happiness in your life by whether or not you get sad.

Why? This is speaking about our heart, and here is what it means.

You can only be sad when you have had something meaningful and lost it.

You can only be sad when you have loved, and/or been loved.

Sadness is what fills the vacuum that was left when a relationship with another person ends or changes.

I am sad. The reason that I am sad, is because I am leaving people that I love. It is not permanent. I will come back. But we are friends. We are co-workers for Christ. We have a relationship that is being changed, ended or put on hold.

I am sad because I am loved and because I love…and those whom I love are being taken away from me by my home assignment. I am sad because my life is meaningful here...and that is temporarily changing.

This is why I am happy. I am happy because I am living my life in such a way as to be sad. I am loving others. I am being loved by others. I am influencing and being influenced. My life is being intertwined with the lives of others.

I can be sad because I have been loved. That makes me happy.
(Mat 5:4) "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

As I leave my Bolivian friends for a while, I can be happy because it takes me to the arms of the One Who truly loves me for comfort.

This makes me happy to be sad.

Closing question from my rambling thoughts.

Are you living in a way that makes you open to being sad? I hope so.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Three Days And Counting



3 Days And Counting

Last night I woke up to go to the bathroom. This is happening more and more frequently due to my small bladder, my drinking problem (I drink way too much water my kids tell me that I am an addict) and my age. Well, I got up to go to the restroom, and stubbed the dog out of my toe on a suitcase. There was a stupid suitcase right in the way. Why in the world is there a suitcase between Mr. Bladder’s beginning point and the sweet destination of toilet town? The suitcase isn’t part of the decorum of our room. It isn’t our solution to not having a bedside table. We don’t have a pretty vase of flowers on it to add a ladies’ touch to the room.

The suitcase was inadvertently left there by someone whom I shaved the previous morning. This unknown (but incredible intelligent) person was packing it. I (the person) should have stacked it with the other 10 when he finished, but in a malicious attack against me, he left it in my way.

You know why we are packing?
Cuz we are going on Home Assignment.

What do you think we are putting in the suitcase?

When you go on a trip, and you pack, what do you put in your suitcase?

Well, it depends on where you are going. If you are going on a snow skiing vacation, you put warm clothes, ski goggles, and stuff like that. If you are going on a cruise in the Caribbean, you don’t pack your snowboard.

We are packing our bags the same way that you do, based on your destination and what you will need there.

This is a great example of two things. First of all, it shows us how to live the Christian life. The second thing is that it reveals the power of vision.

First, how to live the Christian life. This is where I differ GREATLY from popular psychology. You see, modern psychology teaches that I am who I am because of my past. I believe that I should be who I am based on my future. I know that one day I will see Him, and because of this I purify myself even as He is pure. I know that, although I have not yet reached the prize, I press for the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. My life is to be based, not on what my parents did or who they were; but on what my Savior did, and Who He is. I live now, not because of yesterday, but for tomorrow. This is the moment that I express to myself and others who I will be. I am not anchored to my past, I am freed to my future which is the anchor of my hope.

The second thing, and the reason for this post, is the power of vision. When you know where you are going, it is an incredible thing. A huge frustration that I have here in Bolivia is this: the light bulbs stink. Bolivia loves fluorescent lights—but they are so weak and diffused that it is hard to see. Compare this with a laser. In college, we had the opportunity to see a laser that could cut through 6 inches of steel in a few seconds. Light concentrated.

This is what vision does. Without vision, we are life diffused. With it, we are life concentrated. Vision gives us motivation and direction. We know where we are going and we want to get there. It also permits evaluation, as we can check out our current position based upon where we want to be. Vision pulls you. Vision challenges you. Vision calls you. I once read that if you want to recruit a sailor, you don’t host a knot tying convention, instead you start to talk about the far off unseen, the exotic lands, and the challenges of the open sea. That is vision.

We have a great vision. You can see it on our website, www.Holmanfamily.org . Our vision is to help Bolivian church leaders know God better and love Him more. Bottom line is this.

We want to change the leader,
so he can change the church,
so it can change the nation,
so we can change the world.

Our vision is changing it all.

Check us out….then join the fun!




Leia Mais…

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Missionary Or Moochinary? Part 3



Missionary Or Moochinary? Part 3

ABBA has a song, and although the lyrics don’t fit the title says it all, “Give Me, Give Me, Give Me.” This describes what we have been talking about for a couple of days now. Are we missionaries or moochinaries?

When I permit the devil to win, and I often do, I feel like a burden on the church and a drain on my friendships. I feel like Wimpy in the old cartoon Popeye. I always need a burger today and we both know that Tuesday will never arrive.

Don’t you get sick of missionaries asking you for money?
Are you now immune to the photos of malnourished children?

When you hear that there is going to be a missionary speaker at church, do you want to leave your checkbook at home?

When your church, or honestly I should probably say “If” your church has a mission conference, would you hesitate to attend because you have your own bills to pay?

Here is how I feel.
I feel like when I am in the States, people do not want to meet with me, talk to me, spend time with me, or hear my stories. You know why? Because they are scared that in some form or fashion the concept of money will float to the surface. They do not want to be asked to give, made to feel guilty for not giving, or just think that they ought to give.

Here is how I feel.
For the first 23 years of our marriage, Denise and I were big time givers (we still are, just keep reading). We gave to our churches, to causes, and to missionaries. We have on more than one occasion giving all of the money in our savings account to a missionary. We lived a giving lifestyle. We were donors. We were givers. We met needs. It felt good to be a giver. There is a certain spiritual joy in knowing that God is using you to meet the physical needs of other people. It rocks, and we did it.

Now, it seems like we are moochinaries. Instead of answering the plea of someone else to give, we are asking to receive. Instead of feeling the joy of writing a check, we are embarrassed over our need for one. Instead of adding to someone’s financial well being, we are taking from it. Now, we still give a large percentage of our finances—way above tithing—to the kingdom of God, but…well even our giving is dependent upon our receiving. We can’t give to others until we receive from others.

It is hard to live a dependent lifestyle, ESPECIALLY if you are from North America. For us U.S. Citizens, the Declaration of Independence wasn’t just a historical document, it is a way of life. We want to be independent. We don’t want to need other people. We are like the two year old who jerks their hand out of mama’s hand and says, “I can do it myself!”.

We hate asking others to help us in any way. It makes us feel like beggars. It makes us feel indebted. It makes us feel ‘less than’ you.

This is the struggle of most missionaries. We are called to be missionaries, but we feel like moochinaries when we are in the States, writing appeals, or expressing needs.

Then, the door bursts open and the truth of the Word of God carried by the wind of the Holy Spirit blasts through the room.

I said earlier that I would leave the mission field before entering the mooching field (article one). It is God’s truth that allows me to stay here on the field and ask you to help me be here. I am not a moochinary. A moochinary is seeking to manipulate someone into giving something for a selfish end (i.e. Wimpy). My goal is to bless you and others!

Here is the truth. The Bible says that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Read it with me.

(Act 20:35) "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, `It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

Is this a truth or not? Is this true or not? Is this the Bible or not? Is this the written, and spoken (notice the emphasis) Word of the Living God or not?

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that HE HIMSELF said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

I have to remind myself of this. In other words, if I can share with you the vision that God has laid upon our hearts, if I can excite within you a desire to cheerfully invest in the Kingdom, if I can encourage you to donate your money to our ministry….now get this…YOU are more blessed than us.

When you give us money, it blesses our socks off. However, according to the Bible, it blesses you more than that.

Consider this. If you give us money that helps us live here and minister to Bolivia, then:

  • You are mimicking God who gives.
  • You are Godly.
  • You are Christlike.
  • You are following the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
  • You are participating in a virtue, therefore virtuous.
  • You are investing in the eternal Kingdom and will receive 1000 percent interest for all eternity.
  • You are laying up treasures in heaven where they are eternally secure.
  • You are being an example to others of faith in action.
  • You are prioritizing your life around spiritual matters.
  • You are walking by faith.
  • You are serving God more than money.
  • You are being rich in generosity.
  • You are helping take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
  • You are impacting the eternal destination of others.

We purchase milk and eggs.

Who is more blessed? Don’t get me wrong. We are BLESSED and NEED the money.

However, if the Bible is true—and it is—you are MORE BLESSED for donating.

So, in the true attitude of humility and servanthood. Let me bless you today. Join our team of donors and help us impact Bolivia.

We are missionaries, not moochinaries, and it is our goal to bless those on the field and those sending us to the field. We are seeking to MORE BLESS 75 people who will donate to us on a monthly basis. Will you be one of them? Let us, well, let God make you MORE BLESSED as you BLESS us.

Go by www.HolmanFamily.org and follow the links on giving.

Joe

Leia Mais…

Missionary Or Moochinary part 2


Missionary Or Moochinary? Part 2

Remember our friends that we met with a few days ago? (see previous article) They were flat broke and at the end of their rope. They were not asking us for money (although the Holy Spirit led us to give them some). They wanted to know what to do. How could we live joyfully on the mission field? How could we meet the needs of our family? How did we handle the constant stress of NOT? Not having this, that or the other.

As we shared Scripture with them, first of all about the sin of worry and of walking by faith, we moved from the spiritual side of depending on God to the practical side of faith. I asked what they did to raise money? What was their plan?

They felt like virtually every missionary that I have ever met feels. They did not like to ask for money. They did not want to appeal for funds. They did not want people to know that they were having such trouble, but at the same time they wanted help solving the problem. They were praying, but there was no shoe leather to their faith.

They were missionaries, not moochinaries. They expected God to provide for their needs, and for others to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and give, but did not want to ask.

Being a moochinary stinks. Being a missionary is wonderful.


Take a minute as you read this and think about what it would be like to be a missionary. Forget the imagined glory and the quasi-spiritual, super Christian ideal. Walk with me down the corridors of reality on the mission field.

You cannot work on the field because of two reasons. One is that you do not have a work visa and cannot get one—it is illegal to earn money. The second is that the working conditions are so bad that if you could work, you would not earn enough money to support your family or do ministry, yet:

  • Your one year old needs milk.
  • Your family needs a home.
  • Your kids need shoes.
  • You need electricity, gasoline, propane, water, internet, phone, food, clothing, shelter…the necessities of life.

Yet, you cannot work in the country in order to purchase these basic items.

You look at your ministry. You want to provide teaching, training, and instruction to people. You want to meet their spiritual and physical needs. You want them to attend events, have access to books, information and education. Yet, they cannot afford to feed their family, so how can they further or even begin theological and ministerial training? (Point of fact: I only know one full time pastor after three years of being in Bolivia). You want to meet their needs and help them grow spiritually, but you have to buy diapers for the baby.

Here is what it is like to be a missionary.
  • Every single thing that you own.
  • Every thing that you do.
  • Every purchase that you make. Whether we are talking about a car for the family or fruit for the kids, from paying the electric bill to underwriting a pastor’s conference…imagine this…everything in your life is dependent upon someone else paying for it.

Your life is the result of someone’s donation.

How would you feel if EVERY purchase no matter how big or small, need or desire, personal or professional, could only happen if someone in another country was generous?

Can I be honest with you?

I know that I am a missionary, but many times the devil makes me feel like a moochinary.

So how do you handle the struggle? How do missionaries survive on the mission field? Next time, same battime, same batchannel.

Leia Mais…

Missionary Or Moochinary?


Missionary Or Moochinary?

I was chatting with a missionary friend two days ago. Our family had gone to their house for a goodbye lunch and we were spending the afternoon with them. After eating, they pulled their chairs together and leaned forward with a slight look of conspiracy. They asked me if the kids could leave the room so we could talk in private.

When the kids left, they asked us for counsel and prayer. The woman begin to cry as the man lovingly patted her knee. She wanted to know what to do, how to handle their lack of finances. She felt like she was becoming materialistic and greedy, because all she could think of was how they needed money. She stopped a few times to catch her breath and wipe her eyes, and then continued to tell us of their financial condition. With shame in her face she said that she wasn’t sleeping at night because when she lay her head on the pillow she would think in the quietness of the bedroom about money. When driving, she thought about money. When alone, she thought about money. When her and her husband talked, they talked about money. Her passion for accomplishing their mission had been replaced with a desire for money. She felt sinful, and they were having conflict in their marriage over, well over money.

They had no phone. Their electricity had been shut off but they were able to reconnect it but as things looked now only for a month. They were concerned about water and they had no money to pay for their children (3) to go to school. Their son had been invited to join one of the sports teams, but they could not afford the extra money for equipment or gas to and from practices so they had to say no—which he did not understand. They painted a pretty bleak picture with a broad black brush. Their lives were drab and gray. Bottom line, they were not trying buy a boat, they were trying to keep their head above water while not permitting their kids to drown. They needed money for electricity, phone, water, gas, gasoline and food.

How can you live on the mission field, without money? Denise and I have been here for three years. In that time span, we know of 21 FAMILIES, not 21 people, but 21 families that have left the mission field. I wonder how many of them left because of money?

We are called to be missionaries…so who wants to be a moochinary? I am not going to do it. I will leave the mission field before entering the mooching field. Or at least most missionaries apparently do.

So…what happened? Read the next article to find out.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same


Over three years ago, we were in limbo. I had resigned as the pastor of the most incredible church in the world (http://www.brbible.org/), and we were preparing to go to the mission field. We had moved out of our house and were living in a campground at sandy cove. The entire family was experiencing, in reality, cabin fever.

Denise has never been a computer gamer. The computer was a tool, not a toy. However, in order to just do something, I bought her a game from Walmart called Zuma. She became the queen of Zuma. If Zuma became an Olympic sport, she would gold medal. She is the double black diamond of Zuma.

Fast forward more than three years. We are one week away from going back to the States on home assignment. Our family of 11 is in a 3 br apartment on the fourth floor. We have said our goodbyes, and have stopped our current ministries, putting them on hold till we return.

Thursday, we opened a package sent to us from a friend. Inside of it was a computer game called, Zuma’s Revenge. Yes, it is the new, the updated, the sequel where the marble eating frog continues his feast.

Has anyone seen Denise? I can’t find her or my laptop.

Leia Mais…

Friday, May 21, 2010


Have you ever given your wife/mom/husband/friend roses? You go to the florist and find just the right ones to express what you want to say (red means love, I cannot remember which color means passion), then take them home and put them in a vase…waallahhh you are a hit.

When Denise and I first got married, I would buy her a dozen roses every week. We did not have much money, actually we were flat broke because I was in college and we were young (I was 21, she was 18).

After a few months, she came to me and said, “I really appreciate you giving me these flowers. However, we are really tight on money, so it is the thought that counts. Please stop buying them for me.” This worked for me, after all, thoughts are free (just think about it…see, no charge).

Then, before we could celebrate our first year of marriage, she came back to me and said, “Remember how I said to stop giving me the roses? I was wrong. I really liked receiving them and having them, could you start again?” I told her I would think about it. 

That is one of the benefits of living in Bolivia. Roses are almost as cheap as thoughts. I can buy a dozen roses for less than $2. Other flowers are cheaper than this. So, being the super giving, loving, romantic (cheap) guy that I am, I try to keep a vase or two full of nice flowers.

Yesterday, I was sitting at Denise’s computer working. I noticed something. It was a horrible, rancid, putrid, septic smell. Now this is normal in Bolivia, but we had the windows closed. I thought, “Oh no, the toilets have backed up and are coming out of the floor drain.” I thought this because it has happened. (any one from Bolivia reading this, can you tell me why every bathroom has a drain in the floor that toilets can send septic into the house from?)

I looked around and the bathroom was okay. There was no vomit in the floor from amoeba-ville. The baby wasn’t dirty. All clear. I went back to the computer and started working and there it was again. A NASTY smell that assaulted my nasal passage like a special forces team of stink.

I looked around, desperate to find the source of this bio-warfare. Then, I found it. Right next to Denise’s computer monitor was a vase of roses. I had given them to her two weeks earlier. When I gave them to her, they were beautiful, red roses that smelled like, well they smelled just like a red rose.

Now, the only thing that had changed was time. The flowers that once had the aroma of love now had the stench of hate. As my kids say, “I ain’t gunna lie to you…they are some kind of horrible.”

I actually gagged when I poured the water out into the sink. Now this is coming from a father of 11 that has changed more poopy diapers, cleaned up more diarrhea, and wiped up more vomit than most of you will see in your lifetime. I can eat a sandwich and change a diaper at the same time. (and you thought I had no talent) Yet, the smell was so bad that I truly, outloud, gagged.

I was thinking about those roses today, and a weird application came into my mind. Those flowers are like a lot of us.

We start off bearing a lot of spiritual fruit. Our fruit baskets are beautiful, they are full. They are displayed on our spiritual tables for all to see. Our spiritual lives are fragrant and gorgeous.

But, at some point we stop relying on Christ. We allow our religiosity, our morality, our rituals, our rules to guide us. We aren’t doing anything wrong or bad, it is just that we are no longer going to the ‘market’ to get fresh fruit and flowers.

We still have our spiritual fruitbaskets on display. Our flowers are in the vase, only, unnoticed by us, the petals have started to fade and there are little brown spots on our once bright fruit. Small patches of brown mold is floating in the once clear water. More time goes by, and we are oblivious to what is happening. The truth be told, our spiritual lives now stink. The fruit is rotten and the flowers are dead. Still on display, but no longer accomplishing the purpose for which they were originally given to us by the Holy Spirit. The fruit was for other people, and the fragrance for Him. But unused fruit spoils and unchanged water stagnates.

A sad but vivid image of our moral lives, rotten and stagnated. Remember, we are not doing bad things. We have not replaced the flowers in the vase with marijuana. We have simply not done anything.

Listen to me. Missionaries are not any more spiritual than anyone else. Our vases can stink and our fruit spoil. The only difference is that my vase is in Bolivia and yours is in England or America. All of us have to keep going to the fountain of life, the living water, so that rivers of living water can flow through our innermost being. WE must all actively cultivate our lives through dependence upon Him.

If not, that once romantic and fragrant vase of flowers simply becomes a spiritual stench, and who wants that?

So, friend, when was the last time you put new fruit in the basket and new flowers in the vase? Today is the day to change it!

Joe

Leia Mais…

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Doing The Best With Stress


Do me a favor, take this stress test.

http://www.stress-management.net/stress-test.html

I took this as an end of term evaluation, see if you can guess my score:

We had a miscarriage.
My father died.
My grandmother died.
We have moved 8 times.
I changed my career.
We moved to another country and culture.
We have been victims of armed robbery 4 times.
Once we were in the line of gunfire.
We have been in three earthquakes.
We have spent 75 days at home due to political unrest.
We have experienced one miscarriage, and one birth. We have learned a new language—or tried to learn it.
One child finished High School.
We have had two children leave home to live on another continent.
We have changed our eating habits and diet.
We have had major financial issues.
Our house has flooded.
We have had two sales contracts not go through on our house.
We are re-financing our mortgage.
My salary seriously decreased.
Our living conditions radically changed (comfort levels)
We have been to the hospital 8 times due to illness or injury.
We have had amoebas/parasites 156 times.

These are things that I have thought of off the top of my head, just sitting here and typing.

My score? It was over 900 on this site, a little under 900 at another site with slightly different questions. Both sites say that if you have over 300 you have an 80% chance of getting a stress related illness.

I don’t know about you, but its Friday night and I am all stressed up with no where to go.

Living on the mission field does bring about a lot of stress, but stress isn’t always bad. Stress tests have to be done to structures in order to reveal their worthiness. Would you want to drive over a high bridge or be on the top floor of a building that had never been stressed tested? Or would you want take a plane on a cross Atlantic trip if its construction process had not been stress tested? The time to check the seaworthiness of a ship is before it is in the middle of the ocean.

A stress test at the doctor can reveal the health of your heart and lungs. Stress is indeed a test that reveals things.

For the Christian, it reveals your heart and your dependence upon Christ. It is easy to ‘live for Jesus’ when you life is comfortable, finances are good, and people are nice to you. However, how do you respond when none of the above is in place?

I have several times taught on spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit can be seen by the kneejerk reaction ‘in my heart’ when something happens to me. I am not talking about what I do, but what I want to do….not how I respond but how I want to respond, when life takes a negative turn. Your heart, your thoughts, your desires in times of financial, emotional, physical, and relational stress reveals your fruit. It shows the reality of you relationship with Jesus. It magnifies the hypocrisy that could result in everything coming apart, the holes in your very structure.

What has the stress in my life revealed to me?

I need Jesus. Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to preach and teach lost people that they need Jesus Christ in their lives to forgive their sins and restore their relationship with the Father, but at the same time forget how much we need Jesus right now? I need Jesus. Not I needed Jesus. Nor is it that if this or that doesn’t happen then I will need Jesus.

Nope. The fact is that right now in this breath and heartbeat I need the truth of Calvary and the Person of Christ in my life.

Another thing that stress reveals is that I need you. The truth of the “One-Anothers” of the Bible are magnified on the field where there may not be a ‘nuther’ for your ‘one’. I need family and friends. I need people that I share a history and a culture with. I need someone that can truly understand me.

This is the main reason for Home Assignment. Mission agencies have realized that no matter how effective a missionary is on the field, they need to occasionally go home and seriously stress-out…let the stress out of their lives. Home Assignment is a time to reconnect with our own culture. It is a time to pick up those face to face relationships that leaving for the field put on pause. It is a time to laugh with someone who shares your sense of humor (which other cultures simply do not). It is an opportunity to be with other Christians who share your sense of call and desire to impact the world. Think about it. Even the Apostle Paul kept returning back home after every one of his mission trips to share his journey with his personal friends and supporters.

We are coming home. Not because we want to leave the field, nor any other negative reason. We are coming home to share, laugh, connect, join, and regroup for our next term.

We can’t wait to see you! Help us laugh our stress away!

IN Jesus,

Joe

Leia Mais…

Thursday, May 6, 2010

State Of Mind


One of our favorite places in the whole world is Sandy Cove http://sandycove.org/. It is a beautiful place for the family, the individual, and the couple. A place to connect and reconnect with God.

Our friend, Dom, writes a newsletter for those who go each year to the Sandy Cove Homeschool Conference. Below is the text of an article that I just sent him for the newsletter. I just felt like putting it here also.



A State Of Mind

If there is anything that you can say about the Holman household here in the last few weeks, it could be about our State of mind. Not really the mental state of our mind, but the fact that our minds are on the States.

The States. We are talking about them, dreaming about them, and looking forward to them. You see, we have just finished up our 3rd year on the mission field, and it is time to go to the States on furlough, or home assignment.

The States. Now I know that those of you who have been there over the last three years have been engaged in political debate, economic recovery (or not), health care, and blah, blah, blah…but for us. The States represent so much more than the daily grind.

They represent our food. This sounds so cheesy (pardon the pun), but food is a hot topic (pun) in our house. We are charting the course to our favorite restaurants. We are going to eat at On The Border between the airport and my Father-In-Laws house when they pick us up. I have already told my kids that we will NOT eat a hamburger until we can go to Five Guys and Fries and I can buy them a real hamburger. The Cheesecake Factory, Baja Fresh, Red Lobster, and, believe it or not, Long John Silver’s are daily topics. It is amazing how much food means, but when you have gone three years without YOUR food…you just can’t wait to savor the flavor.

The States are where our family is. Seth and Jacob are so missed by us. When they left, it was like a large part of our heart was torn out of us and sent to another country. We can’t wait to laugh with them again. Paul and Darlene, Denise’s parents, are our best friends. They are going to meet us at the airport and we will stay with them for a while. I am going to hug my Mother-In-Law until she pukes. 

The States is also where our spiritual family and friends live. To be able to share, visit, eat (there is food again), laugh, and just relax with those who are in the community of Grace with us…I cannot tell you how much we want to do that. We cannot wait to be at SANDY COVE! The entire family will be there in JUNE!!! I have tears in my eyes as I write this.

The States is our heart home. We love Bolivia. We love the mission field. We love our calling. Bolivia is now our home. However, our heart home…that will never change. The States formed us and made us who we are.

As we talk about the States, I can’t help but come back to thinking about Heaven. Now, the States are not anything like Heaven , but the parallel is so close from our perspective.

Heaven is our heart home. We live here, but it is heaven that is shaping us and changing us. It is our heart home of heaven, our citizenship there, that compels us to do the things that we do.

Heaven is where our family is…literally. My best friend and brother, Jesus, lives there. He is my Lord. He is my Passion. He is my everything. My dad went to heaven last July. My mom went to heaven seven years ago. My grandma went to heaven two years ago. Denise’s grandma is there. Our little baby Jordan is there. We so want to see all of their faces again.

Heaven is where our spiritual family is…those in the community of Grace. I want to see the myriads of saints from every tribe and nation. I want to be a part of that worshipping multitude.

The states is where all of our sensory appetites will be satisfied and satiated. Oh, to eat at the marriage supper of the Lamb, to see, feel, hear and experience a world with no more curse, no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death…a world where the former things have passed away and all things become new.

I want to go to Heaven!

We are here in this world, serving the Lord in the same manner as you. But, although we are here…set your minds on heaven where Christ dwells at the right hand of the Father!

See you at Sandy Cove!
Better yet, see you in Heaven!

Joe

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Family Photos...

Our good friend and talented artist Angie took some new family photos for us. Here they are in no particular order...just the way that they uploaded. I wish Seth and Jacob could have been here!












































































Leia Mais…