March 30, 2007

New Puppet Character

Check out one of Nice's newest creations. 

There are all kinds of possibilities for this guy--I see him as a mad scientist in a segment that is being planned right now.  He will set out to prove evolution--but end up disproving it. 

Any ideas for names (they will have to be transformed into Portuguese, of course)?

Posted by Andrew at 2:36 PM
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March 29, 2007

Caption Challenge for 04-29-2007

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March 28, 2007

Book of the Week: A Scandalous Freedom

If you read one book this year, make it this one.

Usually, the Book of the Week is a volume from my library which I have read recently. One of my main reasons for starting this feature on the blog was so that I had an incentive to read one book a week. Today will be an exception, however.

I was handed a copy of Steve Brown's A Scandalous Freedom by a missionary colleague during last week's conference. I already had a couple books I planned on reading that week. My colleague mentioned that I could skim it if I preferred. I read one page, and realized that this was far more important than anything I was reading at the time. The whole book was finished in three days.

What made this such fascinating reading? A hint can be found in the subtitle of the book: "The Radical Nature of the Gospel".

You see, Brown's basic premise is that the Grace of God sets us free. Of course all of us would agree with that. Where many will find Brown's book hard to swallow (if not downright disturbing) is that he defines freedom as...well...freedom. Not freedom from, nor freedom to...simply freedom.

Now before we get into calls of heresy, Brown is no antinomian. Perhaps one of his most vivid illustrations in a book full of vivid illustrations is his description of the Law of God as a map to guide us through a minefield. He is just tired (as am I) of God's people being burdened by man-made laws. The following quote from the book puts it quite succinctly:

I fear too often the church has become an organization of guilty people with a guilty preacher standing in the pulpit, telling guilty people that they should feel guiltier

I'm afraid that this small review is not doing Brown (a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary) justice. I just know that, upon reading this book, I came away with a much greater desire to really know Jesus. Perhaps missionaries are expected to have that base covered, but I confess readily that I do not.

Those of you who have followed these reviews know that when I believe a book is less than quality, I say so. Take that into account, then, when I say YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I am not saying I agree with the author on everything (after all, nobody has achieved the level of spirituality it takes to totally agree with me!). I am saying your walk with God will be greatly benefited by it.

Posted by Andrew at 2:57 PM
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March 26, 2007

New BMM Blogger! to me, anyway.

One of the neat things about working in such a large field (both geographically and in number of missionaries) is that national conferences are times when we can meet colleagues we didn't even no we had.

It's even better when they turn out to be bloggers!

Please welcome the sixth in the list of known (to me) BMM bloggers: The Jewell Family (Mike, Dawn, and Abby). The fifth was the official BMM Conference blog, which I mentioned some time ago.

Please stop over and check out the Jewell's blog. They minister in the city of Sorocaba--quite a distance from us. We are, however, part of the same team!

If anybody knows of any other BMM bloggers I have missed, please let me know via the comment section of this blog.

Posted by Andrew at 7:47 PM
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March 25, 2007

Accident Aftermath

I returned from my trip to Fortaleza yesterday. It was a great trip, and I will be posting details in separate posts as the week progresses.

To get things started, I am posting this video of an accident that took place outside the house where I was staying.

It was about 2 am, and I was unable to sleep because of the heat. Suddenly there was a loud screeching noise from outside, followed by an enormous "crash". Grabbing my video camera, I hurried out the door. The following was the scene that confronted me.

Unbelievably, nobody was seriously heart. As I talked to onlookers, the story began to unfold. The following day, more details were filled in.

It seems the driver of the black car was on his way home, when he stopped in front of a dance hall to give a couple a ride home. In gratitude for his generosity, the couple attempted to car-jack him. The car careened through the neighborhood, passing in front of where I was staying. As the driver (whether the bandidos or the owner were in control I don't know) tried to cross the intersection, he broadsided the white car, which flipped over on it's hood. The black car wrapped itself around the nearest telephone pole.

I am having trouble getting this on my YouTube page, but hopefully I will get it figured out soon.

Posted by Andrew at 3:21 PM
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March 22, 2007

Quick Update

There have been some neat things going on here. Stay tuned for full reports.

Posted by Andrew at 5:50 AM
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March 18, 2007

A "Why Do I Bother" Moment

I just got back from Sunday School here in Fortaleza. During the closing ceremony, a very funny event (to me, anyway) took place. The worship leader called all those celebrating birthdays to the front, where the congregation would sing "Happy Birthday" to them. The piano player played a nice introduction, at which point the people began singing--in a completely different key!

The look on the pianist's face--right before he began scrambling to find the key everybody was singing in--was priceless.

Kind of reminded me of this:

Posted by Andrew at 9:24 AM
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March 16, 2007

In Fortaleza

I am currently in Fortaleza (8 hours from home) taking care of some documentation issues with my car. I will stay through next week in order to attend the conference of our All-Brazil field council.

Had a little adventure last night--I will tell you all about it as soon as I can upload some video.

Posted by Andrew at 3:36 PM
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March 13, 2007

It's a Boy!

We had another doctor's appointment today, and it was confirmed to us what we already expected--that our new addition is a boy.

Here is the latest snapshot, taken today.

Potential names are currently being negotiated. Any suggestions?

Posted by Andrew at 6:00 PM
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March 12, 2007

Stop the Presses!!!

Baptist Mid-Missions, the mission agency with which I serve, has just set up a blog! At first I could not believe it, and then I was overjoyed.

The blog has been set up specifically for the upcoming annual conference. It is a start, but the possibilities are endless. I can foresee a day where all the administrators will have their own blogs, and use them as a means to communicate to the missionaries on the field, as well as with those interested in service with BMM.

I can just imagine--"Blogging with Dr. Anderson". It can happen!

Congratulations to the IT team at the home office. May there be many years of missionary blogging in your future.

(The blog is coming out a little weird in Firefox, but looks good in IE)

Posted by Andrew at 3:43 PM
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Of Presidents and Hugging

Brazil is a hugging society. I love that about Brazil. Handshakes are almost always accompanied by a hug, or at least a pat on the shoulder or stomach. Hugging is an art which Brazilians have mastered, while Americans struggle with their "private space".

Which makes the following picture all the more curious.

Here we have the American President (George W. Bush) and the Brazilian President (Luís Inácio "Lula" da Silva) engaged in an embrace, and Bush is obviously more comfortable with it than Lula.

What gives?

My personal opinion, after seeing news reports and articles about Bush's recent visit here, is that Lula found himself in a position he never dreamed he would encounter--that of being the favorite of Washington among Latin America's presidents.

The expression on his face seems to ask "How did this happen to me?"

Bush, on the other hand, is living it up. He loves the fact that the more he and Lula hug, the more Lula's own party screams bloody murder. He loves the idea of Hugo Chavez (who's name he never mentioned, even when prodded by reporters) looking at that picture.

Or this one:

If Chavez is upset by Lula's proximity to Bush (indeed, in a few weeks Lula will be the first Latin American president to stay at Camp David since 1991), he has only himself to blame. Chavez' heavy hand in Boliva and the rest of Latin America, his screaming hissy-fits during Bush's visit, and his unnerving rhetoric are driving Lula and the rest of Latin America--even the left-leaning countries--to hedge their bets and seek stronger ties with Washington.

Publius Pundit--from whence I got these pictures--has this to say:

Meanwhile, as Bush gets his footing, Chavez is losing his, making a screaming fool of himself as he follows Bush around at impromptu hastily thrown together events, flying from country to country, always on the outside, looking in, and wanting the camera attention. These acts are all pratfalls and make him seem desperate. [H]ow embarassing.
And Bush just sails on, enjoying his adventure without a thought of the jealous Chavez as he visits the countries on his tour. Chavez, by contrast, is scheming like Wile-E-Coyote, hoping to outsmart Meester Boosh once again. What an idiot.

Read the whole article if you are interested in a good perspective on Bush's recent visit.

And happy hugging!

Posted by Andrew at 8:01 AM
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March 11, 2007

Caption Challenge for 3/11/2007

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Book of the Week: Faces of Latin American Protestantism

Reading this book, I was impressed with how little I actually know about the forces that have shaped Protestantism in the very region where I serve as a Protestant missionary (and yes, I am a Baptist who has no problem claiming the title of Protestant).

José Bonino's treatise is a must-read for anybody involved in missions in Latin America.

Having said that, there are, I feel, a few weaknesses.

First, Bonino is far more sympathetic to Pentacostalism than he should be. Since the writing of this work, Latin America has seen the rise of the "prosperity gospel" mega-churches, epitomized by Edir Macedo and his Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. This was--in my opinon--a natural outgrowth of the Latin Pentecostal movement--and one which Bonino failed to forsee.

Second, Bonino is overly critical of Fundamentalism. To his credit, he tries to maintain an air of neutrality, but his distaste is easy to see. Granted, many of the abuses he cites are real and need to be acknowledged by fundamentalist leaders, but I feel he goes to extremes in his criticism. It is key to note that one of his complaints is the fundamentalist reliance on Scripture. This clues the reader in to the author's theological starting point.

In all, Bonino provides good analysis into what he calls the "faces" of Latin American theology: liberal, evangelical, pentecostal, and ethnic.

Those looking for an easy read should look elsewhere. One frustrating aspect is that it is chock full of facts, but the author seldom comes to a conclusion.

Posted by Andrew at 7:44 PM
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March 10, 2007

President Bush in Brazil

Here in Brazil, we have a phrase: Tudo acaba em samba (everything ends in a Samba). Apparently, even US presidents are not immune to this law when they visit.

In case you have not been following the news, President Bush has spent the last couple days here in Brazil as part of a goodwill tour of Latin America. News reports that I have seen both here and from the US have focused on the protests. Bush did not let these spoiled children hinder him from enjoying his time here, however, as the video below illustrates.

If you watch the whole thing, you will discover that even Condi and Laura get into the act.

Hat tips to Hot Air and Gateway Pundit(who also has some good still shots).

Posted by Andrew at 2:35 PM
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March 8, 2007

Oh Brother! Where Art Thou?

Busy getting themselves mentioned on the internet, apparently.

First, it was my brother David, who was the subject of an article about his souped up tractor trailor.

Among other things, the writeup had this to say:

Walking through the lot of most truckstops you'll probably see one common thread among all of them, row after row of Petes, KWs, and Freightliners. Every so often, a hood sticking out of one of the rows catches your eye. You see something so unique that you have to get a second look. This month's Working Show Truck is one of those trucks that will make you look twice. It's a beautiful periwinkle blue 1994 Ford LTL9000 owned and operated by David Comings.

Of course none of this comes as any surprise to those of us who know David.

Then, as if that were not enough, my brother Daniel--who is currently attending the Shepherd's Conference in Burbank, CA--managed to get his picture on the conference website.

Notice the nice, studious pose. If you are interested in what is going on at the Shepherd's Conference, you can check out Daniel's blog, where he is keeping up a running commentary.

That, of course, leaves just one brother who has not been featured online. But I'm sure Joe has other things on his mind right now;-)

Posted by Andrew at 8:19 PM
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March 4, 2007

Caption Challenge for 3/4/2007

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Book of the Week: The Age of Revolution

This third book in Churchill's magnificent treatise on the English-speaking peoples deals with the upheavals that occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries--including the American Revolution.

On this subject, Churchill provides a balanced, yet uniquely British perspective.

Posted by Andrew at 2:25 PM
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Puppetry School Redux

As promised, here is a full report of our weekend puppet school.

We started out on Friday afternoon at the registration table. Each participant got a manual and a name tag.

"The puppets were layed out on the table with care..."

Our first day consisted of instruction in the basics of puppetry.

We made extensive use of videos to illustrate our points. This is our technical setup.

One of our biggest advertising points for the puppetry school was that each student would actually make their own puppets. Here is the kit we used, developed by Cicero and Anice.

Anice administered the puppet-making session.

The students put in their best effort.

The results were amazing!

When they had finished making the puppets, they put on programs using their new creations.

I shared some final thoughts on the philosophy of puppet ministry. Mikey helped.

We finished off the event with a little "graduation" ceremony.

In all, 32 people participated in the school of puppetry. Most were from this area, although there were a couple people who came from other states. We look forward to hearing of the fruits as these people take this powerful tool back to their churches.

If all this talk of puppets has put you in the mood to do a little "puppeteering" yourself, you could start by checking out Cowboys Kings and Villains, a collection of puppet skits with biblical messages I have written over the years.

Posted by Andrew at 1:56 PM
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March 3, 2007

School of Puppetry

Yesterday was the first day of our School of Puppetry. Here is a shot of our receptionist.

Full report later.

Posted by Andrew at 4:37 AM
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March 1, 2007

Brazilian Ingenuity...Continued

Cícero, the technical director for our Cidade Feliz productions, has posted some more videos of his inventions on YouTube. I thought I would re-post them, just to give you an impression of the gifted people that God has put in our path.

Machine for Closing Plastic Bags

Cícero and Nice use this all the time. It is a lot more effective than zip-loc (tm).

Machine for Making Foam Circles

The problem of uniform pieces for the puppets was solved by this little machine. It uses, among other things, an old scanner.

Eyeball Cutter

Not human eyeballs, puppet eyeballs. I just saw this yesterday. It is truly a home made wonder. The wheel-track for a dresser drawer, a bottle cap, and the principles of the guillotine form the basis for this invention, which cuts the eyeballs of the puppets to exactly the right size.

Posted by Andrew at 9:05 AM
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Mikey Teaches Junior Church

Last Sunday Mikey's junior church teacher borrowed one of Itacyara's audio-visual materials--the story of Jesus instructing the disciples to cast their net on the other side--for use that evening.

When Mikey saw the book, he recognized it and asked if he could tell insisted on telling the story.

According to the teacher, he did a good job. He did add a part about Jesus admonishing the disciples to be careful not to swallow any bones as they ate the fish. This may be apocryphal.

At least we are making progress from Spider Man.

Posted by Andrew at 7:05 AM
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