Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Good

Today is Good Friday. We normally use the word "good" when describing food we enjoy, a movie, or having a favorable outlook in our day. It was hard not to use the word "good" too many times in the last setence, because it is such a common word!! We say "Good Friday" because of the choice of Jesus to subject Himself to an earthly ridicule, suffering, and death. The form of capital punishment that Jesus suffered is one the most cruel forms of death ever designed. This type of suffering for the God of the universe? The King of Kings? Why did he go through with it? He could have called on legions of angels to wipe out those mocking fools, or those who were shredding His back open with the whip called the cat of nine tails. This is the script we like to see in movies, the good guy is saved from all the torture and pain. Jesus chose to stay in God's will because He knew that it was the only way that our sins could be paid for. "He made Him who know no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might be the righteousness of God." II Cor 5:21 Jesus knew no sin. He never sinned, and because of this, it allowed Him to be the sacrifice for us, suffer the punishment for our sins, and give us the opportunity to be saved. Here are some verses that help explain this important truth:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We have all sinned, which means falling short of being a perfect person. "Nobody's perfect" is certainly true for all of us.

Once we see this idea that we have all sinned, then we need to answer the question "So what?"
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The wages or results of sin are death. Now, we are all here to talk about sinning, and are not dead, so the death can't mean physical death. This death is a separation from God that is only fully realized once a person dies physically. Separation from God at the point of physical death means that a person is in hell. The death from sin on this side of the grave is experienced by not being able to be close to God, which typically shows itself with a sense of emptiness, feeling like there is much more to life etc. This is not a perfect science on describing spiritual death, but it is certainly real. The contrast in this verse to death is very strong, that there is a free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. More on this later....

John 3:16 helps us understand more about this free gift of salvation that saves us from the spiritual death that comes from sin. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

The key word in the verse is "believe." Believing is not the same as knowing. We can know that it is a good thing to eat right and exercise. It is only when we act on this information that we can say we believe the information. More on this idea to come....

2 Cor 5:21 helps to explain more how Jesus was our sacrifice to God for our sin, and that we can be righteous.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

All of God's wrath toward sin was expressed to Jesus when he suffered on the cross.

Now that we have a more clear picture of what "good" means with Good Friday, there is one more step that is needed. We can agree with the concept in our heads that we have sinned, and we can agree that there is a spiritual death, or separation with God. We can appreciate all the sacrifice that Jesus provided, and yet if don't take this last step, it becomes of no value to us personally. It is like someone else's mail. This last step of believing, and expressing this belief verbally to God is the point when we make it real for us. The truth is there for us to believe, and now we must take action to make it truth that we are believing.

Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord.... you will be saved - This is very important!!

God hears our prayers. You can pray this: "God, thank you for dying on the cross. I have sinned and am separated from you right now. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that I can have eternal life. Thank you for saving me." If you express this to God, He will hear you, and forgive your sins. God will also throw a huge party in heaven celebrating your forgiveness, and new life in Christ. Other Christians will also throw a party if you tell them about your new life in Christ.

Good Friday is really good, because we have a God who saw our need, came to earth, subjected Himself to mocking and suffering, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and wants everyone to experience His love and forgiveness.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Formula One Commuting

One of the biggest shocks of getting back (typing faster now that
melon had his fix - for now) is driving. This picture would only be
possible in a video game in Kenya. In the city, traffic is slowed
due almost constant traffic jams and zillions of speed bumps. These
bumps are huge. They look like coffins lined up across the road.
The only choice is to slow down to less that 5 km/hr (that is near
zero) and go kerchunk up and down over that poor coffin. When
traffic is congested, vehicles get with the thickness of paint to
each other (approximately 2 mm) and do their imitation of a cow in
a herd, trying to push their way into the desired lane of travel.
This normally happens in an ingenious traffic intersection called
"round-abouts" The concept of the round-about is to avoid those
nasty right angles of those narrow minded intersections, and have a
small circle that everyone merges into and merges out of at the
desired road. The problem is that there aren't any defined lanes.
The herding cows within paint thickness distances are inching along
without any order or submission to a lane of traffic. At this
point, you begin to be concerned about the condition of your
breath, as the norm of open windows puts you within closer
proximity to the next vehicle than you normally experience in a sit
down restaurant. Road rage has the potential of turning into an arm
wrestling match. Eventually, the ingenious driver always delivered
us to the desired location, all without a single street sign. Now
that we are back, it is mind boggling to zoom along at speeds
unknown in most of Africa.

Tom Butz

Safaris are over-rated

Yeah, the safari was pretty cool, but look at what I get when I get
home? This wild cat just loves to jump on my lap and look
longingly at me pleading to be scratched. That snobby leopard in the
safari didn't look at us once when we were the only other being
within miles. Well for now, this is my cat and I am sticking to it.
By the way, this entire posting has been typed with my left hand as
my right was occupied with,you guessed it, the cat (melon is the
name). If I don't pay attention to melon, it could get ugly. Kind
of the opposite of the leopard at the safari.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Here is a market. No refrigeration, no fancy shelves, no tile floors. This is it. Get your fresh fruits and vegetables. On the day we get back to the U.S. a long faught health care bill is signed. What? It seems like a childish board game.


This is our third morning since getting back on Tuesday. So far, it seems that adjusting to the 8-9 nine hour difference seems a little more difficult here, but I ended up getting up earlier than normal in Africa also. I was up at 2 this morning, and went back to bed until 4:30.

One of the biggest changes since getting back is the experience of driving a car. We didn't drive at all in Africa, so I hadn't driven from March 4 until March 22. Driving in Kenya and Juba (riding with someone else who was driving) was such an experience. First, the only way you know where you are going, is if your mental road map is up to speed. No road signs, so right angles, few lane markers, and continual pushing into your desired lane of traffic. It seemed that once the road opened up to less traffic, there were large pot-holes to dodge, and many people walking along the shoulder of the narrow road. Driving on March 23 here in America was like getting on a race car track. Smooth, traffic flowing, high speeds, and getting there much faster. Just to drive this point home, when we went to the Safari, it was about a 220 kilometers trip, (136 Miles) and it took us 5 hours to get there!! That is an average of 27.2 Miles per hour!! The roads were so rough at times, you didn't know if you were going to leave major suspension parts of the vehicle behind after hitting a bump, or nearly scraping the bottom of the vehicle. Here, it is smooth, much faster, and like driving a Formula 1 race car. Just to make it interesting, driving in Kenya was on the left side of the road (note to self, not how we drive here in the U.S.), and the right side in Juba. After taking all those turns in Kenya into the left lane(we drove much more in Kenya than Sudan), it starts to rub off on the old driving brain.

Spiritually and emotionally, I am sorting through quite a bit, and am confident that God has sown this experience in our lives to impact us on having more influence in our family, and in our world. It was a time of rest on one hand from all our responsibilities here, and allowed us to experience a very deep sowing of seeing the way another part of the world makes it through a day.
This second picture is a typical shot seen while driving down the road. This is where people live. It isn't much larger than tents use when camping. In many ways, their lives are as primitive as we experience when tent camping. Garbage is burned, water brought in by the jug, maybe some electricity for lights. They probably don't own the land they are built on, and in many instances, the government can come in and level a housing area with little or no notice. Let's get perspective on what we call a bad day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Duh!! It's the bean

Having a coffee addiction is socially acceptable. That's why I am not
afraid to come out the closet. The deep panging in my lower cranium
didn't register until a few minutes ago as a need for the bean(see
pic). I had a total of one cup of coffee on the way home, and didn't
think through how to nurse my addiction in the air. I was more
concerned about getting lots of water. The pot is brewing and relief
is on the way. Hi my name is Tom, and am a beanaholic.

The New High Noon

3:43 am. Normally not so chipper. This is 11:43 am Kenya and Sudan
time. I have never been much for sleeping in late. Up for the day,
ready to rock.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Houston, we don't have a problem

We just landed in Minneapolis!! 4-4000 mile legs of the trip are

Frodo Fridge

This is not one of those pictures you see at the fair, where the mirrors distort the image. This is the fridge in the kitchen of where we stayed in Nairobi(we didn't cook meals here, they were provided in another room in the guest house). Anyway, this pic made us laugh, with many things being smaller and more European in Africa, including the refridgerators.

Nighty Mike

Well, these pics are fresh, about 10 min old. We caught a pic of Mike getting some ZZs in the lounge chairs in the Amsterdam airport. I am certainly tired enough to catch a few myself, but haven't had must rest since the wi-fi has been running. I bought a 1 day pass for the wi-fi, so logic tells me to use it as much as I can to make the most of the cost.

Heshima Tour

In our early days of the trip, when in Nairobi, we toured the special needs school called Heshima, which means "dignity" in Swahili. Tracey Hagman started the school, and it is providing help to children that are not properly cared for by their parents (who live in the slum, that is right next to the school). This is an amazing example of looking out for the needs of those who can't help themselves, and how God can reach out and touch lives when we step up and serve. The picture on the right is a shot from outside the school. I will provide more pictures in another post.

Waiting in Amersterdam

We are in the Amsterdam airport, with a five hour layover. Julia and Matthew got some good sleep, but Julia's neck is pulled, and Mert is providing many muscle relaxing messages. I also gave her a neck and shoulder rub before the professional (Mert) started. Mike is also on the same flight, and neither Mike or I got some good sleep on this leg. The trip seemed longer than the earlier flight, but it was a nice plane, a Boeing 777-200. More pictures and posts coming.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh so chipper

Julia, mert, mike and I are in the Kenya airport waiting to get on the
plane. There is no seating near the gate. Oh, the shopping Julia just
got back. Things are more expensive here compared to the market. We
didn't get any pictures, but trust me, there wasn't much room for any
fleas. Well, we will be getting in Minneapolis at about 1 pm
Tuesday. We also found out that someone made an image of Julia's
checkcard and starting going nuts with charges. Fraud claim has been
made. Pray for quick resolve. Talk to you later.

Last Day

This is Sammy, who works with Eric Hagman on construction projects.
Sammy has such a huge heart for God, and he shared His heart.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This is traffic in Nairobi on the way to the safari.

Just the facts

This sign was in a bathroom and I thought it was really funny.

Holy water buffalo herd

This is one of the big five in Africa who are all the "titans" who can
all hold their ground against each other. Lions, leopards, elephants,
and rhinos round out the five. We saw a herd of water buffalo push
four lions hundreds of yards away, and it was very amazing to see the
lions act so sheepish.

Nice sunset

This was taken at the end of the day coming back late in the day
after driving around looking for wildlife.

Hey hey it's the Monkeys!!

On the walkway outside the resort, there are many monkeys running
around. There was one day that they seemed a little too friendly and
we had to stand up to them. The next day they were more laid back and
fun loving. There were many cute babies who were picking little bugs
off their mom while she laid down. This is what is happening in the

Safari pic

Here is a lion male and female that we saw one morning. It was amazing
to get this close to them. We were safe in the vehicles. The shadow
shows how the van has an opening in the roof to allow easy viewing of
the the wildlife.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Back in Kenya

I keep thinking I will look over and see an open package of bologni.
(like I am in the fridge compared to Juba). It is much much cooler,
and it really feels nice. Looking forward to heading to the safari
tomorrow morning early. Had lunch with Eric and Sammy today and Sammy
will be our guide on Monday when we get back to Nairobi.

Heading out of Juba

We are loading up and heading to airport. Ttyl!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baka Project

This is Mr Bennett and he is working on the Baka project. They are 75%
completed with their translation and have about 75% of their people
that are Christian. We had a real sweet time of fellowship and
encouragement. More video will be posted later encouraging us to
follow God's ways.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hard Things

The hard thing about hard things is that they are hard. It sounds so
obvious. We don't tend to like hard things and tend to shy away or run
from them every chance we get. Being an athelete involves making
decisions to do hard things that most people avoid like the plague.
Deciding to be fit and eating better are other examples of deciding to
do hard things with an expected benefit. What if hard things happen
that we can't control. Suddenly we are 100% sure these are from hell
and we must do all we can (control) to change the situation or the
person to "get it back on track". Oh, the logic rings so true in our
heads, and we spout our self protecting frosting to all that will
listen. God has a purpose in taking us through hard things, hard
things that we can't control. Check out James 1 and Romans 5 for
starters. Just as we can easily see health benefits to exercise and
eating well, God sees character benefits to taking us through hard
things. So the next time you see a little kid kicking and sceaming
when they don't get a piece of candy in the grocery store, remember
this might be how we look when we kick and scream emotionally when we
are going through sonething hard. God has designed hard things to
grow our character to be more patient, more loving, and less selfish.
We can be more like God if we follow his plan of growing through hard
things, instead of acting like that repulsive little brat in the
grocery store.

Tom Butz

Pass The Sheets

Every night in Juba has been very warm. That was until last night. It
was still a bit on the warm side, but by early morning hours, it was
feeling warm enough to cover up with a top sheet. We weren't sure why
they were provided until now. This is our last day of work in Juba
and we will be leaving tomorrow to go back to Kenya.

Tom Butz

Monday, March 15, 2010


Wow, the church service on Sunday was really amazing. Dance, music
with only drums(I thought this was pretty cool) and solid teaching
from the Bible, all under a thatched roof. It was hot, and at times,
I felt like a little kid wondering when the service was going to end.
The service was 2 plus hours, but it was very nice. This girl in the
orange was really dancing. We will post video.

Lunch near the Nile (end of bad puns)

We had lunch at a the Juba Bridge Hotel yesterday. It was a nice day
off and we really enjoyed getting a break. It has been busy in Juba
with our work.

Morning Devotion

On a weekly basis, all the translators get together and have a
scripture reading and prayer request time. It is neat hearing all that
God is doing. It is also hard to hear of various sicknesses due to
parasites etc. Lots of this kind of sickness.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Video Showing Our World in Juba

Here is a video showing the compound where we are staying. We will get more video on the inside the building we are working on today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sorry It's A Little Late for the Group Shot

Left to Right, Dan Sandberg, Josh Cadd (from Kenya), Mike Klismith, John Sybrant, Joel Anderson, Julie Sybrant, Matthew Butz, Julia Butz, Tom Butz

This picture was taken in Hagman's front yard area, and it was a luscious green, compared to the dryer Sudan, being more sandy, and not nearly as much nice grass. The team is all staying healthy, and glad to have today (Sunday) off. We will be going to church today, and then seeing the Nile River while sipping on a fine soft drink. Everything is going well. Keep praying, and pray through the end of March, as it will take a while to get acclimated back to the American way of things when we get back.

Live Music Video

Check out the live screwdriver guitar solor of "Taken" from the Rock Minneapolis CD.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sir Cabinet

Dan is our cabinet builder. Things are taking shape on the first
installation. Looking good !!


What a great smile. What a servant!! We will be painting quite a bit
in the next few days. Oil based paint has strong fumes. It is really
hard when the power goes out and the fans stop turning.

Name Those Legs

Mmmmm. Legs, but whose? Comment and let your guess be registered.

John's Detox

Hi, I'm John. Do you have bugs that are bugging you? Give me a call,
and I will detox your house of all those bugs. Remember, it takes tox
to detox.

Super Nailman

See John nail. See John lean and nail. See John steer the nails. See
John nail in three in the time everyone else can nail one. Almost
finished with the ceiling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This Must be a Typo

No, it isn't photo shop. It is s cool 84 this morning. It is getting
pretty late and not much sign of life from others as the cooler
weather becomes a chance to catch up on sleep. Very nice morning and
break from the heat.

Just Getting By

Can't say much about this picture. Rows if fresh produce stands. It
looks like this man has cerebral pulsy. Sad.

Out to eat

We ate at an Ethiopian Restaurant last night and experienced eating
injera, which is a unique bread. Injera looks like a thick napkin, and
you tear off a small piece and use it to grab meat pices like stew
meat and other sauces and veggies. We did the big "no no" there, and
Julia and I both had small portions of fresh vegies. There is a
greater risk of getting sick. Stay tuned for the updates. I have had
some strange pangs in places that don't need more detail, and
hopefully it doesn't turn into a porcelain experience.


There are very crude homes like this all over and it is much too
common to see people crammed into small living spaces. Wood to cook
on, small spaces, who knows what they sleep on?

If John has a Hammer

If John has a hammer, things go well. John Sybrant is our team leader.
Picture how most people eat with chop sticks. Food dropping. Small
bites. It is all part of the dining experience. This is how most
people hammer while putting up a ceiling. John however can hammer
upside down like most people can wolf down a bowl of corn flakes. When
the going gets tough holding up sheet of very flexible particle board
(painted by J&J painting - Julie and Julia) John comes swooping in
like Superman, unloading nails from one hand, nailing with the other
until the floppy board is square into submission. Sorry this isn't
the best picture, but we can clearly see the orientation of the hammer
that makes us all stand in awe of John behind the hammer.

Dryers Not Needed

Laundry becomes a big need, with the heat(sweat) and dust and mess.
Julia said the clothes dried in about an hour. This compares to 2.5
days hanging in room while in Nairobi. Maybe Sudan could have a new
service of drying the world's clothes. It might get a little tricky
shipping over all the wet clothes, and the time saving may not work
out in the end.

Joel sighting or " if I had a hammer"

I couldn't decide on the title. Joel made it to Africa aproximately 24
hours after the rest of the team. Here is picture evidence from Sudan.

And then the hammer. Sorry for putting that song in your head. We are
putting in a ceiling in the converted office area and it involved
putting up a 4x8 grid that had some wandering to it at times(involved
putting additional boards to make sure there is always a surface to
attach). Joel, shown in figure 1, us doing the impossible. Hammering
upside down with small nails, all while holding the nails in his
mouth. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the great Joel.

When Electricity met Plumbing (too bad it wasn't Harry met Sally)

As Murphy would have it, the plumbers were drilling through the cement
wall and slightly nicked the electric line. Once the pipe was in the
hole, it made contact with the hot electric wire. In two seperate
cases of plumbers doing their job, the wrench on the pipe (now at 240
volts), sparks were seen and jolts were felt. Praise God nobody was
hurt. Murphy also made sure that this happened when the power from
the city was out and the generator was being used and has a higher
voltage (240) compared to the city voltage of 200 volts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Our heart goes here.
Our heart goes there,
from the voices that we hear
Hear them all,
but only one,
Is the voice that we obey

We are not so random
Of the voices that we hear
They are screaming, shouting, whispering, what do we hear?
When we learn His voice
The voice of the great I AM
We know it doesn't matter
The chorus of the noise
Words with chocolate promises
That make us empty groan
His way, His Truth His Life

Historic Lock

Matthew was looking through a box of keys and some paddle locks. There
were many keys and a few locks. Mert kept looking until he found a
key to the large lock. There is a national on site named Tartisio that
knew that the lock was used to lock one of the containers used to
store the SIL files and supplies when the compound was abandonded from
1988 to 2006. It was amazing that none of the supplies were lost
during the war. This lock is a startling piece of history because the
compound was taken over during the war without any losses to the
supplies in the container.

103.... Sideways.

Another day in Juba. Probably hotter now at 4 pm local time. Very
predictable weather.

The Historian

Wes is a history buff. Not just random history, but Sudan history. We
will capture video of Wes and let you hear the amazing rundown of what
has happened in this corner of the world.

Finding Old Records

While moving records from the original SIL office, Wes and John, who
have both been here full time in the past, ran across an old file
showing the picture and profile of missionaries that were here.
Memories were flooding their discussion and some sadly have left us
for their eternal reward. What a gold mine of a find. God will
remember every deed done in His name and this file contains a hall of
fame rundown of His saints that have worked in Sudan.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Seat

Heb 10:11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time
after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;

Religious. Routine.
My will remains
Old and empty
No new life

Heb 10:12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,

But he
Not me
He offered
I could not
He sat down
I could not
Next to God
I still can

The I AM

I AM has always been
Has never been afraid
Never a rut of habit
Perfect power wisdom
Never short of time
Never short of Schillings
Never in the dark
His voice His Way
Is always in the chorus
Will I hear
Or want another?
My choice. My growth.
His life. Not mine.
He waits. He rejoices.
Then waits. How much?
Us God? Us know? Us grow?

Heb 3:7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice
have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Thermal Shock

We kept hearing from people about the heat of Juba. This is our first
night and it is very very hot. It is 1:30 am and 90 F. I slept from
about 10 pm until 1. Julia has been tossing all night. No covers.
Ceiling fan spinning wildly. Air not felt strongly through mosqueto
netting. Certainly no AC. I had a dull headach most likely from
needing more water. Lights out. Headlamp shining when needed in common
living area outside the room near the dining area. This is a time for

Chickens and pigs

Familiar animals. Interesting dice game. Playing chickens and pigs
after our first day of work in juba.

Out with the old

We are removing an old kitchen cabinet/sink from a 1 bedroom space. We
(not me) will build a new custom cabinet. I specialized in removing
nails in the scrap wood. Julia was the design specialist giving
feedback on the new design. Mert was de-nailing and unloading 110 lb
cement bags from the truck. Julia also went into town with the manager
and experienced the chaos of the markets. Digging in and working.
Drinking lots of water. Hot (90) but tolerable.

Linguistic lesson number 1

Matthew is getting a great dose of linguistic info. More from Mert


Here is a picture of the Nile we saw on the flight into Juba. Picture
taking is very limited in Juba. No pictures of govmt buildings or
officials, unless you want fines or jailtime.