Entry 10 / Bethany College of Missions

Sunday

Dedicating Clara Isabel Hedrick

Bethany Church of the Twin Cities

The prayer of dedication

Perhaps it is only fitting that Entry 10 should should feature grandchild number ten. It turns out that our visit to Bloomington, Minnesota coincided with the dedication of Matthew and Noemi’s third child and our tenth grandchild.

Jeanne arrived from Charlotte on Thursday evening and we spent the next three days or so playing with grandchildren, eating and watching the NCAA “March Madness’ on TV and finally seeing my alma  mater and favorite, Kansas University go down in defeat to the untattooed and miniscule North Iowa University. It was a good time with Jeremy and Rachel (our other children) arriving at Matt and Noemi’s on Saturday morning with their two boys. This all meant an exhausting and hectic (frenzied) day of doors opening and banging closed, screeching and screaming.

Prayer for Clara

On Sunday we joined with almost four-hundred others at church where Matt has been the lead pastor for almost seven years. It was wonderful to celebrate perhaps our last of the grandchildren to be born. They all swear that their families have been completed.

Entry 9 / Bethany College of Missions

Thursday

Our last day and a group hug and a memory made…

Almost sixty students being outfitted for mission and ministry

Here’s most of the gang all gathered in front of the main entrance to Bethany College of Missions.

They have had quite a challenge these last wo weeks. First, just to endure me and my stories takes people of unusual stamina. Secondly, even though we only reached Acts, Chapter 17 they had to recall almost all of it for the two tests they took during the course.  I’m impressed (I’m almost always impressed!) as the majority of the students leave this portion of Acts with a full-blown grasp of the content.

One more thing. Let me tell you what’s nice about this experience. I like to watch them grow up and many of them are married with children and on the field. I am often invited to come and teach in their schools or churches in various parts of the world. This is mustard seed faith at work. A small investment, like a small dandelion, has been blown upon and spread all over the globe.

Entry 8 / Bethany College of Missions

Wednesday

Should I even try to explain this?

Jerry's regular eyewear

I am not a believer in or a proponent of astrology but it has been of some concern to me that Jerry and I were born on the same day. I’m sure there would be exceptions to this but we are both extroverts and admittedly love talking, complaining, attention, affirmation and as you might notice, food – we both really like  (adore) food. Then too, I like it because Jerry never “shush’s” me like many other people do. “Oh, Tony… shhhhhhhhh'” they’ll say. I don’t like being “shushed.” All of this combines to bring us together on any visit I make to the Bloomington. Minnesota area.

I first met Jerry almost ten years ago in a photocopy shop when he was making photocopies of Second World War documents and I maps of Slovenia. As a second generation Yogo-Slovenian-Croat-Austrian, Jerry looked over my shoulder and inquired about my interest in the Balkans and that region of the world.

Through this first introduction we took up meeting for coffee in a local shop and over time Jerry listened to the gospel, committed his life to Christ, and within three years sold his house and belongings, moved with his three children (now grown) to Vancouver, British Columbia and took up studies at Regent College where he managed to graduate with a Master’s Degree. He is now on track to be ordained with The Evangelical Covenant Church of America and has a four hundred fifty page book on the monastic movement being read for publication (sorry, I can’t tell you with whom but it is a well-known publisher). He has done all of this while being relatively penniless.

As we sat around the table at Buca’s Italian Restaurant in Eden Prairie, it finally occurred to us that neither of us have had any visible means of support for more than fifteen years and we have not starved to death in some dark, deserted corner of the universe. God has been our constant supply and though scary at times we have much to be thankful for and none of this has anything to do with stupid green glasses that light up and blink, shamrocks, the luck of the Irish or St. Patty’s Day.

Entry 7 / BCOM

I trade work for food…

Tuesday with Amber

On Tuesday afternoon, right after class, I drove out to Prior Lake where I was to give former student and friend Amber Lang (the wife of Rich Lang)  a crash course in watercolor. Noemi, my daughter-in-law (a pretty good watercolorist herself and an even better photographer… www.noemiphotography.com) offered her kitchen table.

Here is a snap shot of me giving pointers. Amber is giving a shot at illustrating a children’s book, something I’ve never done before. I hope that I was able to help her even a little.

This is not out of the goodness of my heart….

Poor Rich. When her husband was a student I often had at my house digging and cutting and trimming so I definitely owe him one. I am only amazed that after I caught him up a tree in my back yard with a chain saw and me without liability insurance that he has lived this long to be married and produce a rather pretty baby – truly I am a debtor. So I did my best though it wasn’t the debt to Rich that attracted me. Amber promised to make me supper and indeed, what a fantastic stew I enjoyed at their house. Jesus was right when he instructed his disciples that should they leave houses, lands, cattle and family members to follow him then they would receive in return all of this a hundred-fold. I can make the boast that I have free beds and meals in literally hundreds of homes in more than twenty nations. Next month fish and chips in London and lutefisk in Norway (not ever). I will be in Norway but I expect the best roast, cheese and salmon in the world.

Entry 6 / Thunder Bay

 Thursday – Sunday

The REAL DEAL! There was a time when you would not have wanted to meet him in a dark alley.

    About six years ago, after completing studies at Bethany College of Missions, they arrived in Thunder Bay with nothing but a hand-made trailer with all of their belongings pulled behind an old (and often repaired) Volkswagen Jetta. 

Angie balancing the books. The work is never done.

Emergency food pantry.

Today they have a native family center called, “An Eagle’s Cry” located in the notorious Simpson Street area where most “proper” people will not venture after sundown. Begun with virtually nothing, their storefront ministry stretches the distance of three shops. Several times a week “Eagle’s Cry” is filled to capacity with entire families being fed,  little children doing crafts, games being played by teenagers, others getting hair cuts and at times, the Bible explained to many who have not even completed grade school level education.  

Games room

Computer skills

Dining and meeting

Hair care

 

As you can imagine, this outcome gives his mother and I some satisfaction. In fact my dad and mom would be thrilled to have lived to see this as they ministered to native people’s while I was growing up in Wichita, Kansas. Because of my early exposure to native American playmates, it was slightly reasonable for us to adopt Sky. We picked him out of the newspaper almost forty years ago when he was but two and a half years old. It wasn’t always easy for us or him but here he is today and a great blessing (as is Angie) to his entire family and hundreds of others who have yet to experience the grace of God that Sky and Angie have encountered. 

  

Arriving in Thunder Bay with nothing other than the call of God and faith they now have the Center and even though rented, live in this marvellous home on College Street.   

 I enjoyed cooking for them in their gourmet kitchen. Here we enjoy one of my favorite meals, Penne and sausage.  

We had to rub sticks together.

Entry 5 / Weekend in Thunder Bay

Thursday – Sunday

Jesse Greenhouse (left) and Justin Hedrick (right)

Tony as Kermit... "It ain't easy being green"

My grandchildren expect a great deal from me. They have heard stories about my antics and so they expect unusual and mischievious behavior from me.

In particular, the boys have heard tales they want me to live up to, like the time I dressed up in a rabbit suit at Easter and knelt down before Jesus on Highway 169 or another occasion when I pulled up my shirt in front of the Abercrombie and Fitch store, exposing my large and rather unattractive stomach, until security came to inquire if I was out on a day pass or not.

These legends have made their way around and in the process have gotten larger than they really were. My family is generally embarrassed by me except when people retell these stories with apparent enthusiasm at knowing such a person – let alone being related to one. Because of this they want me to tell these funny stories or do odd things in public. They sometimes get in a “Double-Dare” mood and when they do I just can’t help myself.  Over the weekend Jesse and Justin, at different times, wanted me to do weird stuff like this one picture in Starbuck’s at the Chapter’s bookstore in Thunder Bay.

My updated profile pic

Later, my older grandson thought I might look valiant in his paintball helmet. At my age I would stumble over myself just to admired.

Entry 4 / Bethany College of Missions

Wednesday

Time for a grandkid fix…

Leyton with his mommy, Noemi

After a typical morning of three hours on the Book of Acts (or the more precise name: “The Continuing Ministry of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit and among the Apostles”) I finally reached the martyrdom of Stephen at the end of chapter seven. Tomorrow the students will take the first of two summary essay exams on what we have so far covered before we move on to the next section, beginning with the conversion of Saul. Acts can be handily divided into three sections (Acts 1:8), Jerusalem – Judea, Samaria and the utter most parts of the earth.

The afternoon was spent, as it was yesterday, working on a Mormon power point presentation entitled “So, what’s the difference?” In the fall I hope to be teaching two courses (Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses) on modern religious movements while in Italy. I will also offer these courses in the Charlotte area in late October and November and though I have taught these on numerous occasions, I have a lot of catching up to do. These quiet afternoons provide time for that sort of business.

Matt with his hands full, Adriah and her new baby sister, Clara

At five this evening, I jumped in Pastor Eric Burgdorf’s loaner (Mr. Taurus as it is so called) and ran out to my son, Matt’s house for supper.

Adriah, considered to be the most photographed child in North America

Another one of this cute fella they call Bubba.

 

I managed to see Noemi before she stepped out the door to be with her friends but enjoyed some chicken and rice she brewed up for me beforehand and then hung out and played with the kids, Adriah and Leyton. Later little Clara woke up and I handled her for a while. What a cutie!

Tomorrow, right after class I will grab my things, pick up my grandson, Jesse and head almost straight north of the “Gunflint Trail” for Thunder Bay, Ontario about a seven or more hours up the north shore of Lake Superior. Just take a map, put your finger on Duluth and follow it three and a half hours northward. Once there I will enjoy the weekend with my oldest son, Sky and his wife Angie who work with street people and native youth. They have two (almost grown) children, Justin and Alysha. 

Entry 3 / Bethany College of Missions

Tuesday

Ann and Luke Hinrichs

After teaching for three straight hours in the morning and finally arriving at Acts, Chapter 5, I went for the remainder of the afternoon to Starbuck’s where I drank coffee and worked on my Mormon power point presentation. Every teacher worth his or her salt has to master technology or no one will take him or her seriously.

The Sesame Street generation expects to be entertained while they learn. So while they have promised us, in days past, that instructional technology will save us lots of time and free us up to play golf in the afternoons it has managed to do just the opposite. I am chained to a table in a coffee shop.

The happy visit with the Hinrich’s  

Ann trying to abscond with MY cheese cake

Ann and Luke have been friends for at least thirteen years. I first met Ann while she an I served on the same staff as full-time instructors here at Bethany. Ann is now engaged as the Worship Pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church here in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. Plymouth Congregational has about twelve hundred people and three services every weekend so she has a lot to do.

Luke, her husband, is an editor at Bethany House Books and once worked about two office doors away from, but alongside my wife, Jeanne who did a similar job.

 Ann has been on the ACCI Board since the beginning and has a history of making more than twenty-five trips taking teams (nearly 300 people) to the central American country of Belize.

She and her husband Luke have joined me in my effort to help Italy and Slovenia and have made a number of trips to those gospel needy nations as well.

Entry 2 / Bethany College of Missions

Monday

About sixty students in all.

When facing a classroom full of new students, the hardest part of  teaching for me is finding “The Sweet Spot.” Every class make-up is different. Bethany College of Missions can be a complicated challenge for anyone. Though this particular class is made of people with many similarities (age, nationality and so forth), this has not always been the case. From time to time I have had classes where there was a range of  seventeen to nearly sixty years of age. I have had, in the same room, Pentecostals to Presbyterians and Baptists to bugerheads. Some of the students have earned PhD’s while others barely have their GED’s. Then on top of all this, I once had a student body made up of people this range of ethnic and cultural diversity –  US, Canada, England, France, Japan, Tajikistan, Zambia, New Zealand and on and on it goes.

Frankly, I like teaching in this kind of minefield. I love stripping people of their cultural and denominational dispositions and doing my best to introduce them to the idea of living instead in the culture of the King.  

Meet World Changers, Larry, Curly and Moe

These are a great group of committed young people who have made the hard decision to never have a REAL job. They have for the sake of the world and eternity thrown themselves upon the gospel and have no “Plan B.” They have made the choice – all of their lifetimes – to  face the headwinds of adversity.

When I stand before them I often feel like the writer of the Royal Book of the Hebrews when in chapter 11, verses 37-38 the text reads,

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth…”

 

Entry 1 / Bethany College of Missions

The Book of Acts

Bethany College of Missions, Minneapolis

March 7-17, 2010

One of the Perks!

The work starts tomorrow morning at 8AM when I enter a classroom with about fifty to sixty missionary students. I have taught Acts on at least fifteen separate occasions to approximately 1,000 people. I used to be allowed and entire semester of three, one hour classes a week for thirteen weeks. In other words, minus the five exam periods, I had about 36 hours of lecture time. Even when I had such time available, I never managed to complete the entire book and often only got as far as Chapter 21 (there are twenty-eight chapters). I have my work cut out for me.

But… in the meantime…  

Next weekend I will have the opportunity to visit my son Sky, his wife Angie and two children, Justin and Alysha in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

 
 

Jesse and Dylan getting ready to devour a scrumptious lunch of homemade soup and bagels!

Today I had lunch with my daughter Rachel, Jeremy her husband and two boys, Jesse and Dylan.

 

This is what a real bagel looks like. You should taste it! Most of my friends who have only tried Brueggers or Einsteins have yet to taste the real thing. Wait until you sink your teeth into a Montreal style bagel – a hand rolled, wood fired bagel made by authentic Jewish rabbinical students. This one turned out by Jeremy comes pretty close

A chip off of the ole’ block!

 
 

 

Tonight I had a quick pizza with my son, Matthew, Pastor of Bethany Church in Minneapolis. During the next seventeen days or so I will have a number of occasions to see his wife Noemi and children, Adriah, Leyton and Clara, the newest one that I haven’t even laid eyes on yet. This is certainly one of the fun parts of being away from home for two weeks or more.

                                Punch Pizza…                       

The closest an American can come to Napoli without leaving the continent.