Ode to the Engineer

Last year I wrote about a particular engineer whom I am quite fond of. I feel I must share an update on how he is doing down here in the field.

When we got married, Kary was largely a field engineer. He spent many days and many kilometres driving to and from various oil fields, inspecting old wells, installing bubble tests and surface casing vent pressure monitors.  He would don his blue coveralls, boots and hardhat and hit the road. We were both fortunate in that his field trips were often 1 or 2 days, not usually much longer.  He would come back tired but satisfied. After spending a couple of weeks behind a desk in the office, he would say “I need to get out to the field again soon.”

Kary is one of those engineers who likes the analytical part of a project. He makes a mean spreadsheet. He cracks numbers with his teeth. His brain stores ideas and information and then spits it out at just the right moment. And then, there is Kary’s more thoughtful, pensive side. He mulls over ways of doing things. He calls it problem solving but I think it’s more like building lego in his mind. He can visualize steps in order. He has an adeptness at thinking about ways things can go right, and ways things can go wrong. You need people like this in your life.

Every now and then, Kary needs to ditch the desk and get his boots on.

And that is what he did for the last 3 weeks since getting ‘the phone call’.

It was a nice date night. We were enjoying dinner at a restaurant in Merida, eating a specialty of the house, deep fried onions injected with chipotle. They arrived at the table like little charcoal briquettes.

The phone call came and at first we thought to ignore it. But when you live in Mexico and Lethbridge Alberta calls, curiousity sets in.

Ten minutes later, the deal was being cast. The director of TGCF (our umbrella organization that provides our non-profit status) was introducing Kary to a man who we will call Phil to maintain anonymity.

Phil is a self-made business man in the construction and dirt-moving business, a Christian. He pulls no punches and he is a no-nonsense guy. His emails contain four or five words like ‘do it’ or ‘send me the flight details’.

Less than a week after the phone call, Kary had convinced Phil to fly down and do some work at Camp John 3:16.

The photos of the work that Kary and Phil did with Gama and the locally hired crews say it all. There are concrete trucks pouring the floor and roof of a dormitory, a D9 clearing a soccer field, rebar being installed to pour a multi-sport court.  Find an engineer and a get-er-done guy, add a local missionary with a story about being rescued by being invited to a camp. Throw in a translator and a lot of arm waving.  Mix in salbutes and some Coca Cola. Add some donated time and seed money. Pray like there’s no tomorrow, and then see what happens.

Pastor Gama is floored by the progress made over the last two weeks. He says he hasn’t seen this much progress at the Camp in four years. He knows this is simply an answer to prayer.

I wonder if this is also an answer to prayer for Kary.

God bless the local church, the engineers and the get-er-done people of the world.




Corrie Ten Boom

Some of you know this name well. Some of you may have never heard of Corrie. Funny enough, it was not until recently that I was introduced to this remarkable woman (now deceased) through a friend who gave me her book, The Hiding Place.

The book touched me deep in my soul. Corrie was from a Dutch family who helped many Jews escape from the Nazis during World War II. Her father was a watchmaker, full of wisdom and strong in character. The apple didn’t fall far from that tree, and Corrie and her older sister leaned heavily on their faith as they were eventually captured and imprisoned in German prisons and concentration camps until her sister’s death. Corrie’s life was spared and she went on to do many remarkable things with her 82 years. Most notably she went on to face the ugly yet important work of forgiving those who had held them captive for so many years.

I am meeting many modern day heroes and heroines here in the Yucatan. Today, I give thanks to one who has already departed by passing on some of her famous quotes. Disfrútala.

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”

“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do. ”

“And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of him.”

“Love is larger than the walls which shut it in.”

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn’t get you anywhere.”

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.”

“If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

“You will find it is necessary to let things go, simply for the reason that they are too heavy.”

“Some knowledge is too heavy…you cannot bear it…your Father will carry it until you are able.”

“Don’t bother to give God instructions, just report for duty.”

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

“God takes our sins – the past, present, and future, and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says NO FISHING ALLOWED.”

“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…it’s something we make inside ourselves.”

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”

“In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.”

“What wings are to a bird and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul.”

“With Jesus, even in our darkest moments the best remains and the very best is yet to be…”

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”

“It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability that counts.”

“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.”

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.”

“The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

“If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes.”

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.”

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”

“There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.”

“When I try, I fail. When I trust, he succeeds.”

“God never measures the mind… He always put His tape measure in the HEART.”

“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.”

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.”

“Now, I know in my experience that Jesus’ light is stronger than the biggest darkness.”

“Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.”

“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.”

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”