Happy Purim!

While I am not Jewish, neither in nationality nor religion, this year I am remembering Purim!  Since childhood I have thrilled to hear the story of Esther, and how God miraculously saved His Chosen People from the plot of Haman in answer to their prayers.  On the other hand, inspired by my sister at  http://pickmeuppapers.blogspot.com, I recently read The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, the story of a dear Dutch family who risked their lives to hide Jews during Hitler’s reign of cruelty in Nazi Germany; through this, I was inspired to care more for God’s People and their plight.  So today I am celebrating Purim with two thoughts: First, I have a great God who cares for me and answers my prayers, and second,  the Jews, God’s precious people, have been hurt so awfully through the ages, but God always delivers them.

Hamantaschen are Jewish cookies served at Purim. The word literally means "Haman's ears" or "Haman's hat." My mom first introduced them to me, wanting to serve them to her fourth grade girls' Sunday School class when telling them the story of Esther. She always tried to make the story come alive to them! We made peach, cream cheese, and blackberry fillings.

There are many amazing things about the story of Esther, but one of the foremost is how God worked miraculously in answer to the prayers of His people.  Esther was chosen queen although she was a Jew living in a foreign land, ruled by a foreign people.  While in the palace, a wicked man named Haman conceived the plot to exterminate all Jews because of a personal grievance with one Jew named Mordecai.  While all the Jews prayed, and after fasting for three days herself, Esther risked her life by going before the king without being asked for.  The fate of her people was in the balance, and her own life also; the stakes were high.  And I see an indispensable lesson here.  When faced with threatened extinction of the whole Hebrew race, and death for herself, Esther went first to God.  And she did not quickly mutter a prayer, but rather gave herself to three days of fasting and praying.  I believe in those three days she resigned all claim to her own dreams, desires, cares, and even breath of life.  She lay all at the Lord’s feet, willing to endure anything He asked of her, yet imploring His aid, and determining to do what was in her power to do.  She did, and our righteous God, who never left His people desolate, heard those prayers and miraculously saved His Chosen Ones.

Proverb 34:15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

It was such a great salvation that day that Israel’s enemies were smitten instead of Israel!  Mark that down as a prayer answered!  My youth pastor once even recommended the use of a “Purim Book” to record prayers answered!  Our God is wonderful God!

This was not the first time God’s People had been threatened, neither was it the last.  Throughout history they have been attacked time and again, and yet miraculously they have survived.  There is no reason a small ethnic group as the Jews should ever have endured so much and even returned after centuries to establish their own country…no reason except for a God who is behind them.  We may never know why God chose them to have special dealings with, them to guide to a Promised Land, them to give His own Son unto, but of one thing we may be sure: He will not be overcome.  One man called them the “Apple of God’s Eye.”  And as such, I will stand with them, for I would never wish to be counter a Living God.

I have recently been exposed to three separate accounts of the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.  The truths were overwhelming; I will never understand the demeaning of fellow human beings for the simple reason of skin color or race.  And as to the blatant, unashamed murder of so many thousands of precious lives…why, it is beyond my comprehension except to say it was the power of sin unleashed. My heart went out to those people, and could not understand how others, so many others stood by watching, doing nothing.  Then, to think of the people themselves, their lives reduced to mere survival, acting as vicious animals, scratching and tearing one another simply to stay alive, I saw the utter depravity sin is.  But where Christians revealed the light of the Gospel, even amidst horrid conditions, there was love and unselfishness, brotherhood and singing hearts.  Where human feet tread hard, icy, ground, “beautiful” Christian feet walked with Christ.  Where human bodies ached from disease, starvation, and hypothermia, Christian hearts soared to see God’s Hand at work even in prison camps.  And what was the difference?  The Light of Christ shone through His servants; where there were no Christians, the Light did not shine and sin wreaked havoc.  I prayed that day that God might use me –if it be, in a horrible place like that –but that I might never hinder His working.


Well, here is our little video from our trip to Mexico.  This is the first time I have done anything like this, so bear with me!  Actually, it was a lot of fun putting it together.  Overall, I am happy with how it turned out.  I hope everyone enjoys it!

[blip.tv ?posts_id=3280898&dest=53645]

The direct link, where you can view this in full screen, is here

I apologize for those of you with dial-up, and some internet filters that may block this.  We are having a few people over for dinner this Friday night, if you would like to come eat and then watch this.  Don’t worry about the driving distance!

Until Spring’s Flowers Come…

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
(Song of Solomon 2:11-12)

Japanese Lantern Hibiscus
Rooftop terrace at Posada Yum Kin
Red Bugambilia
Banana flowers...see the green bananas above the left flower?!
Orchid-Hibiscus Boquet

Coconut Palm
My beloved red bugambilia again!
Papaya Tree...almost ripe for the picking!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4a

Back from the Yucatan Peninsula/ New Jersey/ Washington DC

Yes, we are home, alive, and very well.  We had a vacation that was far better than we could have ever imagined in Mexico.  Right now, I am kind of scripting out our video of the vacation.  We figured it could “capture the moment” we had, without having to post a thousand pictures (that’s about how many we took!) and telling a bunch of stories.  So that is my little project for now…

We got home Thursday evening at about 10:00pm in the evening.  We had a nice American “midnight snack” that night just as we were getting back from Sheetz, a Pennsylvania convenience store chain.  I had a “Dustin Special,” as my wife (or parents) might call it.  Now, please don’t be grossed out by this–its a toasted white bread sub with pepperoni as the main meat; then Buffalo sauce, Parmesan cheese, pickles, salt, pepper, oregano, and lettuce to top it off.  Strange, huh?  At least Andrea and my parents understand me…

I look back at our little goals and am amazed by how many we were able to get accomplished in Tulum:

  • Snorkel in the coral reef ✓

Snorkel we did!  We were out for about an hour 1/4 of a mile out from the shore.  I think we saw a jellyfish too–or at least it looked like one.  We never figured out if it was a plastic grocery bag or jellyfish.  I didn’t really care to find out.

  • Swim in a cenote ✓

This is one of the most fun and interesting things I can remember doing in my life.  The water was SO clear, and it was neat to snorkel and look at all of the stalactites far beneath us.

  • Take more pictures than I can count ✓

To be honest, I can count them–937 to be exact, plus several short videos.

  • Spend a lot of time at the Mayan ruins in Tulum ✓

They were simply amazing to look at.  The backdrop for the ancient ruins is spectacular!

  • Learn more Spanish ✓

I actually learned a lot of new Spanish words, and a few Mayan words too.  About a third of the population of the state of Quintana Roo still speaks Mayan fluently!

  • Learn to like Mexican food more than I do ✓

I have always had a problem with corn tortillas.  I never had a good taste for them.  However, for this trip, I tried to make myself like them more, and believe it or not, I did!  We had tacos from a restaurant on five or so different occasions, and each time I had a corn tortilla and really liked it!  Although the last night or our stay I had something called a gringa, which is a basically a quesadilla with a flour tortilla–one of my favorite foods of the trip!

  • Visit an indigenous Mexican church ✓

Well, we sort of did.  Truthfully there is not even a Baptist church in Tulum, or even anything close.  We saw an LDS temple, the usual Catholic church, and several Pentecostal-type churches.  One evening while we were biking, we came across a literal church built out of sticks (very typical in that part of the country: for houses and buildings to be built out of sticks and a palapa roof).  We gazed in for several minutes into the semi-open air service.  We found out soon that it was a non-denominational church with a Pentecostal flare, unfortunately.  It was interesting to see they are in some sort of church service though.

Until I finish the video within the next several weeks, I thought I might wet the palette a bit with this picture of the Tulum ruins that Andrea took.  It was very hard to take a bad picture here!  We’re actually talking about having this one enlarged to hang on our wall.

You may ask why the title of this post says “Washington DC” in it.  Well, we had a choice of taking a flight to Baltimore (where our car was) or Washington National Airport (about an hour away from our car).  The problem is that I could not fly into Baltimore because that would have put us at home three days later instead of just two.  So, I chose Washington.  The problem was when we got there–the blizzard still had all of the public transportation shut down!  I mean all–no buses, subway, or anything.  So, we had to take a taxi to Baltimore instead.  It was kind of a pain finance wise, but turned out a whole lot better than it could have been.  Someone told us that DC taxis were the cheapest on the East Coast.  Here is what my car looked like when we got to Baltimore:

We dug it out in about 15 minutes, and were home two hours after landing in DC, praise the Lord.  What a memorable adventure just getting home from Mexico!