Sunday, December 2, 2012

What to do…

...when I needed an unusual piece of furniture built?
...when I needed to convert a set of shelves into a chest of drawers?
...when I needed someone to build ropes course elements?
...when I needed someone to supervise the construction of a house? 
...when I needed someone to fix something at camp, or at our house, or in one of the Sunday School classrooms?
...when I needed someone to watch the house while our family was traveling?
...when I needed someone to teach Short-term missions teams to make cement?
The answer is the same for all the above questions: I would call Don Carlos Romero. (see pictures on the blog)
Carlos Romero passed away into the presence of the Lord tonight.
Alfredo’s aunt, MariaElena, introduced me to him in November, 1998 and he has been working with us intermittently since then. Every time we received a work team, Don Carlos would gladly participate with us, often traveling the week before to the campsite to advance on the project, then once we arrived he would supervise the workers and teach the North Americans to make cement! The last team Don Carlos accompanied us with was this past July in El Salvador when we built low ropes course elements. His specialty was building 12-foot climbing walls.  
He was 88 years old and still very spry for his age. 

I can’t tell you the number of projects he would be recruited to build, everything from wooden guns for Victor, to a reading nook/loft, closet, and desk for Valerie, shelves for my office, and furniture to hold all my Creative Memory photo albums (which he equipped with light bulbs to dissipate the humidity), office closet and desk for Alfredo, …. He even built a gazebo for us from a huge pine tree that fell down in our front yard. 

Don Carlos was a very humble man, a Nicaraguan, who had lived in Honduras for the last 30 years, serving with us off and on for the last 18 years. He had a servant heart and our family, plus those who would visit our home, and all the short-term missions teams developed a special affection for him. 

He often reminded me of my father, both were very handy, and could fix just about anything. When my father passed away, I brought back a number of his tools to give to Don Carlos for him to use is his carpentry  workshop.
We will miss him greatly. There's not a room in the house where his hand-prints can't be found. We have many memories of special  moments shared together.  During one of the many long drives we would take to Fountain of Life Camp outside of San Pedro Sula, he told me his life story and I was able to present the gospel to him and he assured me that he spoke to God frequently and believed that Jesus was his Savior. I look forward to seeing him in heaven. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Remembering how I got started in missions...

So what do you want to be when you grow up Lisa? My answer from High School on was that I wanted to be a gym teacher, just like Mrs. Bryant at North Allegheny High School has been for so many years. So, I attended Penn State University, main campus, and during my practicum, right before I graduated in 1982, I found myself seated in a locker room asking myself the question: Do I see myself doing this five years from now?  I was quite dismayed to hear myself say: NO.

Up until this point, I had a strong relationship with the Lord, having been brought to Christ through my mother, Bobbie Anderson and having grown up nurtured in the Lord by my parents (George & Bobbie) and Memorial Park Presbyterian Church under the leadership of the youth pastor, Jay Passavant.  However, I had never really considered becoming a missionary. I do distinctly remember loving the stories Pastor Black (affectionately known as Blackie) used to tell us about their missionary service in Africa. Missions simply was not on my radar. That was quickly about to change!
After that shocking discovery that I didn’t feel fulfilled being a gym teacher, I was encouraged to attend Urbana 1981-1982, a huge gathering at University of Illinois campus, to join in with 14,000 other college students to ask: What would you have us do with our lives, Lord?  I signed up for a SHORT TERM missionary experience which I figured would get whatever was bothering me out of my system, after which I would return to the USA to get a job in the field of education. God, however, had other plans. Exactly, almost to the day, one year after signing up with Latin America Mission I was in Costa Rica learning Spanish. In the intervening year I had graduated from PSU, fallen in love with the ministry of Christian Camping while serving as a VIM (Volunteer in Mission) at Bingle Memorial Presbyterian Camp in Fairbanks Alaska, and raised support to serve as a missionary at a Christian camp outside of Mexico City, Camp Kikotén.

1 Lisa Anderson is leading a team of young people to discover what it means to be “The Body of Christ working together” as they prepare to climb over the 14 foot wall a work team from Pittsburgh has just built.
The first hump God had to overcome was getting me to commit to a THREE year service contract when I had anticipated only ONE year (and that felt pretty generous to me!). God wooed me by providing me with a job description that was my dream job—it required of me elements that I already possessed like my PE background, love for nature and building outdoor recreational facilities, a strong desire to disciple and reach young people for Christ plus other elements I had little or no experience in like developing promotional materials for camp, and training camp counselors. Drawn by such an attractive job description, I said: Alright God, I’ll give you three years, and not a day more! What a sanctified attitude I had! God is so patient with me.

2 There's no better way to learn about "letting go and letting God" than experiencing the trust fall and reflecting on its implications for your life.
As my time of service neared its end, my Mexican boss, Juan Isaias, prodded me to reconsider and stay on another two years. At first resistant, shortly after our conversation the big Mexico City earthquake hit (8.2 Richter scale Sept. 19, 1985), I found myself deeply moved by the suffering and anguish all around me. God used this and other experiences to woo me into continuing to serve Him as a missionary. So, “my call” had no bells and whistles, no bright lights or voice from heaven. It was progressive in nature and at the end of those first five years, I returned home to Pittsburgh for a year’s furlough and felt like there was nothing else I’d rather be doing than being a missionary.

At that point, I was invited to serve with the Association of Christian Camping International in Latin America (CCI/LA) as the director of leadership development. I was to live in Honduras and develop a curriculum to train camp counselors and program directors. That is exactly what I did, working together with a team of Hondurans we wrote a number of training manuals which are currently in their 5th edition and are being used throughout 12 different countries of Latin America.
The Umana-Anderson family
Almost thirty years have passed since those initial years of wondering what I would do with my life. I have found that following God’s promptings no matter where they lead you provides the most adventurous, exhilarating journey one could ever ask for. While in Honduras one of my students was Alfredo Umana, who is now my husband of 16 years and with whom we have formed a family with Valerie (born 199) and Victor (birth 2001). We live in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and serve at our local church, Christian Community El Hatillo, in charge of the Sunday School for ages 0-18 years and we regularly use camp outs and nature activities to create a strong bond of friendship within each Sunday School class and to discover those invisible attributes of God which are visible in His creation (Rom. 1:20).

4 CCI/Latin America's multicultural team of professors, receiving on the job training during the IFI held in El Salvador Aug. 2012