This map shows the provinces of Canada that we’ve preached in over the years: Manitoba and Ontario. One Lent, Greg preached four three day missions and a two day mission in 15 days in Manitoba. Major league cold for a Florida boy.
The two day mission was in Winnepegosis. The first night (Saturday), there had been heavy snow and no plowing. We had 14 people that lived close enough to walk there. The next afternoon (Sunday), we had about 70 people from about five different denominations. A couple in their forties told me, we’ve lived here our whole lives except for moving away for university. You are the first mission preacher that would drive all of the way out here to our little church. We always try to at least do a short mission at the mission church locations when we are preaching in the larger parish associated with it.
I was so pleased with the warm coat that someone had him me out of their going-to-Goodwill box when he was in TX just a few weeks before the missions. Two old women told him at one of the parishes, “You are from Florida. We feel so bad for you. All you brought is that little Spring coat!”
In 1985, when our hearts were ablaze with the call from Mark 16:15, Catholic lay evangelists Bruce and Linda Simpson invited on the road to share in their ministry of preaching. In that time, we had a chance to do the work of preaching the Gospel. Perhaps more importantly, we saw that we could do it on our own.
The next summer, we set up our own itinerary and preached in Florida and Louisiana. That summer (1986), Greg left teaching and we began to preach full-time. Since the first time we loaded up our little Toyota with us and the two kids (ages three and one) to go and preach, we’ve had a lot of stops along the way. The map shows the states in which we have preached the simple message of the Gospel in parishes and called people to conversion to Jesus.
Time in the mission field is at a premium. Our trips are organized by the local diocese and many days we are preaching morning through evening. Pictured above is our family’s favorite place to visit when we have a few hours of downtime: the beach in Elmina. Pictured are fishing boats tied up while not in use. Most boats don’t have outboard motors, they are rowed to sea by teams of fishermen.
Cape Coast is the original capitol of Ghana. No longer the capitol, it is Ghana’s fifth largest city with more than 150,000 people. We stayed in Cape Coast in the “mission house” for the diocese. Most mature dioceses in Africa have a mission house, a rectory or “parish house” built with extra bedrooms in order to host any official guests to the diocese. In Cape Coast, the mission house is in a village called Pedu. It is on the outskirts of Cape Coast, just outside the gates to the regional seminary.
The beaches in Cape Coast are beautiful and empty except for teams of fisherman coming and going with their boats. But the waves in Cape Coast are huge and powerful with daunting undertows. The beach in nearby Elmina is calmer and a much more pleasant place to visit and walk. On the day that I took the picture above, I was in Ghana alone. I left for the airport as Florida was evacuating for a hurricane. I taught a week-long School of Evangelization for village based catechist in “the hinterland.” The nearest phone to call the USA was a 90 minute drive from the village where the school was held. The one time I made it to a phone, the call would not go through.
On my walk to the bus station this day, I was passed on the road by the local archbishop, Cardinal Turkson. He rolled down his window and laughed. “Just where do you think that you are going?” “To get a bus to Elmina,” I answered. Sunday was the day off for the driver that typically was sent to take us places. He said, “You will make me look bad. People know you and they will wonder why I have given you such poor hospitality that you are riding on a bus!” He insisted that I return to the mission house so that he could send his driver with a car. I said, “But I already know your driver. I can make new friends on the bus. Besides, your driver is the third most recognized face in the region (behind the Cardinal and Koffi Anan at that time), I will spend all of my time waiting for him to sign autographs. But, I will wait at the house if you want…”
I got to Elmina much faster with the car and driver than I would have by bus— a van known as a trotro (“troh-troh”). Perhaps the Cardinal’s prediction concerning perceptions of hospitality were correct, but so was my prediction about walking through Elmina with his driver. We were engaged in conversation by some 20-30 groups of people that either knew the driver personally or knew who he was because of the car that he was driving. Far more people knew or recognized the driver that knew me. 🙂
On August 8th, we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. We didn’t make it to the beach this year, but it what we try to do every year. Our son, Cyrus, took this picture of us a few years ago on our anniversary at one of our two favorite Florida beaches: Palm Beach Shores Beach. Our other favorite is the beach in Hollywood, FL. We used a software filter to give the picture an “impressionist” look.
Lydia is preaching at our open-air rally for 1,600 people in Tanda, Zimbabwe. You won’t find Tanda on most maps. In the 11 hours it took from the airport to reach this small town in what Zimbabweans call “the bush,” we only saw one traffic light. Most of the people at the rally traveled by foot to attend. The group from one parish walked 23 miles to attend!
There are so many stories to tell. Neither Lydia nor the translator are using a microphone as the electricity is off. I originally nicknamed the translator “Michael Jordan” but later changed his nickname to “P.A.” as in “public address.” He had a booming shout and came forward to translate whenever there was no electricity. We had driven (five hours one-way) to the office of the power company earlier in the week to insure that these typical, planned outages would not be implemented in Tanda during the three days of the rally.
Lydia is holding up one finger because we teach the people to remember the simple message of the Gospel (kerygma) with just four words: “God, man, Jesus, you.” She is having them say each word as she holds up the corresponding number for each one. Of the 4 to 5 billion non-Christian people in the world, 40% of them can’t even read a single sentence. We are convinced that the message of the Gospel is simple enough that even people that can’t read or write can be effective Gospel workers.
Well, we think we are up and running. Check back from time to time to find new blog entries. Some entries will have spiritual insights and encouragement but only be a few paragraphs at most. The longer articles will be posted on our ministry website: www.preachJesus.org. This blog will also have entries to show you our travels, parishes in which we preach in North America, outreaches in the mission field and both pretty and goofy pictures of what we see along the way.
Lydia photographed the flowers above (plumeria) in Independent Samoa. They were growing in one of the gardens at the shrine where we were staying on the trip. The archbishop lives on the grounds of the shrine himself. Our main event was teaching our School of Evangelization (this one was Mon-Fri) to the Nation Catholic Youth Council. The archbishop arranged for it to be broadcast live on national radio. School was not in session and many youth groups listened to it together on parish grounds.
In general, this blog will help you know us better as people and stay more connected along the way. Many of the things (travel photos, worship songs, and recipes) never seemed appropriate on the ministry website but will find a home here. Here you will find a more lighthearted look at life as we answer God’s call and have a little fun together along the way. Life is good because God is good.