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Friday, May 27, 2011
Witnessing at the Downtown Square

Well, I had asked for today (Friday) off as a Vacation Day, but my company said no, because 5 people were already taking it off, and 5 is the maximum number of people that can take any one day off. So I figured that I would not be joining the Christian group that goes witnessing and passing out gospel tracts at the downtown square on Friday nights (they're there from 6:15 pm to 7:30 pm, and I have to work 12 noon till 8 pm). But apparently God had other plans, because my car would not start this morning. The battery was completely dead, since one of the cells was bad. So I called AAA and they jump-started my car for me, then I went back into the house while the car was still running to get something, and when I came outside again, my car had died again. I tried to start it again, but it would not even turn over. So I had to call AAA again. This time I made sure I didn't go back into the house again, but I drove straight to CarQuest to buy a battery. I asked them if they install the batteries, and the guy said they do, but he said the problem was lack of time, because it would take him away from the phones and away from behind the counter (yet when I got there, I was the only customer, and I think only one other customer, possibly two, came the whole time I was there).

So I had to change the battery myself, out in the parking lot. I had an adjustable wrench to unscrew the posts, but I didn't have a tool to unscrew the bolt that held the battery down. Before I even realized that I needed another tool, a black guy who was working on his car next to me said to me, "Hey, if you need any tools, I have plenty here in my truck." I told him I could use his help to unscrew that bolt, and he got out a socket wrench (which I don't have) and unscrewed the bolt and, after I put the new battery in, he screwed it back in. God worked it out perfectly, because I don't know what I would have done if that guy had not offered to help me out. I told him he was a Good Samaritan, and he said it's no trouble at all. I told him I didn't have any money, but I have a message that is more valuable, and I gave him a few gospel tracts. He said that certainly is more valuable, so he may have been a Christian; I don't know.

Well, I then went home, and the thought came into my head (probably put there by the Lord) that I should go to the downtown square tonight (even though I had already given up on that idea) and help hand out gospel tracts. However, for the past couple days I've had a sore throat, and I was tired, so I thought I should probably stay home instead. Well, I was talking to my mom on the phone, and she basically told me that I should quit feeling sorry for myself and quit pampering myself so much. So I decided to go.

Well, as I was driving downtown, the sky was black with dark thunderclouds, and that confused me, because I was wondering why God would allow a heavy downpour or possibly even a thunderstorm, after He had gone to all the trouble of causing me to not be able to go to work, even after I had been denied taking the day off (in other words, even though the company had not allowed me to take the day off, God had made it so that I would have to take the day off anyway, because of car problems, apparently so I could go and hand out gospel tracts downtown).

So, now it appeared that we were going to be rained out, and we would not be handing out gospel tracts after all. Well, I figured if God could cause me to have the day off even after the company said "no," then God could work this out too.

So, I kept driving, and ended up going there and passing out gospel tracts, and I think I counted 5 raindrops on me total, the entire night. Those black thunderclouds that I had seen and that had looked so ominous, God had apparently blown away. It ended up being the best Friday night downtown yet.

Afterward, my feet were hurting (and even now, they still hurt a little), probably because the tennis shoes I wore were bought at WalMart (my mom also told me I should invest in better shoes whenever I can afford it), but it was well worth it, and I thought of Isaiah 52:7, which says, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" My feet may have been sore and hurting, but God caused me to use them to serve Him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Since I have not entered anything in this Journal for a year now (partially because I have been busy updating my blog site, which I update on a daily basis), I figured I would write a very brief review of the movie "Fireproof."

I knew that "Fireproof" was a Christian movie about marriage, and I knew that it was made by the same people who produced the absolutely fantastic movie "Facing the Giants." Since I am a Christian, I wanted to support the movie "Fireproof," but since I am not married, I figured it would be pretty boring. I was dead wrong. It was fantastic! My sister and brother-in-law saw it, and my sister said that they both cried the entire time...and my brother-in-law is a skeptic who never cries! My mom brought Kleenex with her when she went to see it, and she absolutely loved the movie! I thought it was far, far better than Carman's "The Champion." I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend "FireProof."

Note: Because this movie highly honors marriage, is a decidedly Christian movie, and contains a powerful gospel message, I fully expect the media and the public to attack and criticize it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

For the past 20 years or so, I have not had a single kid come to my door Trick-or-Treating, at either of the apartments I used to live in, in either city I've lived in. Well, I bought a house this past Christmas, so this is my first Halloween here. I have noticed that there are quite a few children in this neighborhood, so I suspected I might finally have some Trick-or-Treaters knock on my door this year. I bought 3 giant bags of various candy bars, and I already had hundreds of gospel tracts (2 piles of tracts specifically for Halloween, plus many other tracts). I bought some plastic sandwich bags and made up 28 bags with a gospel tract and candy in them. I had more candy and tracts and sandwich bags, just in case I ran out. After I came home from work (I got off work at 5:00), I didn't see any kids walking around, so I thought I might have to eat all that candy myself. Suddenly, around 6:00, about 10 kids and teens came knocking on my door! A few minutes later, another group of about 10 came knocking on my door! Within several minutes, I knew I had to start making up more candy-and-gospel tract baggies as fast as I possibly could! I wasn't sure whether I would have enough! Well, from about 6:00 until about 9:00, I had kids, teens, adults, and even babies in strollers knocking on my door every few minutes! I kept count of how many showed up, so I could be more prepared next year. At the end of the night, 150 kids had knocked on my door! (More if you count the adults.) I had to dig into my snacks that I use for my lunches, because I was running out of candy! I gave them 1-3 pieces of candy each, and 1-5 attractive gospel tracts each, of various types.

One lady even had her little black dog in her arms, and she had painted a white stripe down his back to look like a skunk!

When I opened the door for some teens, a lizard jumped from my screen door, onto this teen girl, and she screamed. Jokingly, I said, "That's my monster." Another teen exclaimed excitedly, "You set that up??" Laughing inwardly, I replied, "No, I was just kidding." I couldn't believe he actually thought I had somehow trained that lizard to do that.

When two little kids came to my door, the little girl (maybe 4 years old) just walked right past me, and went into my house like it was her own house. Before she had gotten too far, I gently directed her back outside while I was laughing.

The oddest event was when a very Redneck-looking man and his small son knocked on my door, and, as I was about to give them candy, the man said, "We don't want candy. We just need to use your bathroom." So they did!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Last week, I gave a pack of food, a bottle of water, and some gospel tracts to a homeless man under the expressway overpass. I also prayed with him.

That same morning, two men who were Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door and I talked to them for about 20 minutes.

They don't believe in Heaven (they believe there will be Paradise on Earth) or Hell. They believe that the soul will die when we die (they were showing me verses in both the Old and New Testaments that say the soul will die). They do believe in a resurrection, but they believe those resurrected are going to live in paradise on earth. They were saying that we must live righteously to be accepted by God (even though they did admit we are all sinners). They said that a loving God would not send anyone to a fiery Hell (to which I said that God is not merely loving, but He is also just, and I used the analogy of a Judge who says to a mass murderer, "Don't worry about it; you're free to go"---that is not a good or a just Judge; to which they agreed.) The one guy used the analogy that he would not punish one of his children by burning them (to which I replied that unbelievers are not God's children, but are God's enemies; he said that we are all God's children, but I said that is not true. I told him that only when someone is made right with God through accepting Christ, do they become children of God).

They asked if they could come back and talk further, so I said OK.

Interestingly, they insisted that we stay on one subject at a time, so that they won't get confused. If it weren't so tragic (i.e., their souls being in eternal danger), I would find that funny.

Well, they came back today.

Actually, only one of them came. I told him at the beginning that I only wanted to ask questions and to listen, and that I did not want to get into an argument.

I brought 2 chairs outside and we sat under the shade of a tree.

I did not use my Bible; instead, I asked him to read from his Bible (the New World Translation, which is the official Watchtower Bible and Tract Society version), so that he couldn't claim that the version I was reading to him was wrong. (Also, they don't accept any other literature than Watchtower literature.)

I tried to show how the Watchtower has changed their stance over the years on doctrinal issues, but he only used the excuse that "we're all learning," and he called those false prophecies and flip-flops in doctrine, "errors," adding, "but we have corrected those errors."

A few times he was swallowing hard and looking nervous as I asked him questions and talked with him, and a couple times I saw his eyes getting slightly wet. Other times he made his eyes real wide momentarily, which may have been him fighting off tears or something. Hopefully a seed was planted that will lead him to have eternal life in Christ.

The one thing that seemed to unsettle him the most was when I told him that Christ came to set us free from the Law and doing 'good works,' so that we no longer have to be under the bondage of always working toward our salvation (which, in his case, would be things like attending meetings 5 times a week, not wearing beards, counting your time in preaching on a slip of paper, or distributing Watchtower literature). He doesn't believe in salvation by works, he said, but he did admit that he believes in salvation by faith + works.

He asked me if I have been talking to any Jehovah's Witnesses, or if I was an ex-Jehovah's Witness. He mentioned someone he had talked to once, who was not a Jehovah's Witness, but who knew more about the Jehovah's Witnesses than he himself did, and he implied that I seemed to know more than him (which is funny!), even though he said he has been a Jehovah's Witness for 60 years I think. He said that he really dislikes "apostates," as he calls anyone who is an ex-JW.

I have prayed for him, that he will see that the Watchtower is a deceptive organization that teaches a false gospel, that he will eventually surrender his life to Christ as the Lord of his life, and that he will then be forgiven of all his sins by the blood of Christ Jesus, and that he will be saved from God's wrath, from eternal condemnation, and from eternal damnation and punishment in Hell.

I forgot to tell him that "Jehovah" is actually a mispronunciation of YHWH, and that it is correctly pronounced as "Yahweh." Oh, well.

Sunday June 17th, 2007
I haven't written anything here in many months, so I thought I would write down a quick summary.
I went to Sunday School and church, then my friend Byron and I went door-to-door in my neighborhood, telling people about Jesus and how to receive eternal life (Byron just got back from a short-term missions trip to Paraguay). Tonight I went to church again. Was a really good day.

Friday I killed a Brown Widow spider on my front porch. A few months ago I killed a Black Widow that was in my garage. I also put out glue traps (one in the garage and one in the screened-in porch) with peanut butter in the center, and so far have caught 3 spiders (2 big ones) and a Palmetto bug in the glue traps.

I bought a house about 6 months ago.

Sunday October 1st, 2006

Tues, Wed., Thur. and Fri., I was putting gospel tracts on cars in parking lots during lunch and after work. Friday night, I stopped outside a busy Mexican restaurant and put some Spanish gospel tracts on cars, and gave Spanish tracts to several Mexican people.

I spent all afternoon yesterday (Sat.) with my friend Byron and 4 other guys, passing out tracts and trying to witness to people outside the football game. One of the guys, at the beginning, said he only had 300 tracts. I thought to myself, "That should be plenty!" But another guy said, "Here are a couple more stacks." I thought, "Wow, are they going to hand out that many?"

It wasn't long before I found out just how fast those tracts can be handed out. A couple hundred can be handed out in no time at all. There were thousands of people walking up and down the streets. I was hot; soaked with sweat; my feet were killing me; I was getting shin splints a little; I was very hungry and thirsty; and I was totally exhausted. But I got both spiritual and physical exercise. Byron gave me a stack of 'Giant Money' in the form of super-huge $100.00 bills. Those went over great with the kids that were there (though there weren't that many children). We handed out all sorts of different types and styles of gospel tracts. Byron picked me up at about 11:15 am and I got back home around 5:30 pm. Although it was extremely exhausting, it was definitely time well spent.

Today, after church, Byron and I went witnessing door-to-door, giving gospel tracts and loaves of bread to people. Byron talked to one guy who seemed to be saved, and we encouraged him, and gave him a loaf of bread, along with information about the church.

Byron gave a couple other people loaves of bread, along with a handout that he had printed out off the Internet that talked about Jesus being the Bread of Life. He explained to them that the bread could satisfy them for maybe a week or so, but that only Jesus could satisfy them completely. Byron also talked about the wrath of God and our sinfulness. In addition, he told them about the food pantry at the church, and welcomed them to come for that. Byron also gave a loaf of bread and some tracts to a little girl who was housesitting for 2 houses, and told her about Jesus being the Bread of Life. We saw another little girl walking a pit bull/Chow mix dog, and Byron gave her a loaf of bread, along with info about the church and a tract.

I talked to one guy, giving him a loaf of bread, along with info about the church and the Bread of Life handout that Byron had printed out. I told him that we're handing out bread, which can satisfy their physical need, but that we're also telling people that their spiritual need can only be met by Jesus Christ. I asked him if he went to church, and he said he did sometimes. I asked him if he considered himself to be a good person, and he said yes.

I asked him if he had ever lied in his lifetime, even a small lie, and he admitted he had. I asked him if he had ever stolen anything in his lifetime, even something as small as a piece of gum, and he admitted he had. I asked him if he had ever looked with lust at another person, and he said yes. I told him that Jesus said that if we look at another person with lust, it's the same as committing adultery in our hearts. I told him that we had only covered 3 of the 10 commandments. I asked him: if going to Heaven or Hell were based only on this criteria and nothing else, would you go to Heaven or to Hell? He said Hell. I told him that we're all in the same boat, because we're all sinners; and that's why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. I asked him if there was ever a time that his life had been changed, so that he could now say that Jesus was his Lord and Master. He said there was not, that he was not a Christian.

Though I was tempted to lead him down the Romans Road and lead him in a prayer of salvation, I remembered Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron's teachings, and the fact that modern-day evangelism techniques, for the past 30 or more years, saying things like, 'Come to Jesus and He will make your life happier,' has resulted in easy-believism and many false converts who fall away when they find out that their life doesn't suddenly become a bed of roses once they've prayed a salvation prayer. So instead, I encouraged him to talk to God himself, and told him that he doesn't need a church or a Pastor in order to talk to God. I encouraged him to read the Bible and to consider his eternal destiny, because we did not want to see anyone spend eternity in Hell, and that God loves everyone and doesn't want anyone to go to Hell either. I could see by his eyes that he was moved, though to what degree, I don't know. I gave him a gospel tract and told him that none of us knows how long we'll be on this Earth, so therefore not to put this off.

We also talked to a guy named Dwight. He immediately came out and talked to us, very enthusiastically. We gave him a loaf of bread, and he said that other people need the bread more than he does, but he took it anyway. We told him what church we're from, and I told him about Jesus being the Bread of Life. He said that he doesn't believe in a Heaven or Hell, or in good or bad, or in God or a devil. He said that he has read the Bible, and he does believe in Jesus, but he believes we will all have a second chance. He believes we will have the chance to become better and better. Dwight said that he practices meditation.

I asked Dwight, since he said he doesn't believe in good or evil, whether he thought that a rapist or murderer should be punished for his crime. He said that was not for him to judge. We gave Dwight a book of John, and I asked him if we could pray for him. He said, "Sure!" So Byron and I both took turns praying out loud for him. We shook his hand and he invited us to come back and talk to him anytime.

We met another guy named Tim. Tim said he goes to a Methodist church. I asked Tim if he had ever lied, stolen, etc., and he admitted he had. I asked him if, based on those, where he would end up, and he said in Hell. I asked him if there was ever a time when Jesus Christ had changed his life, and he admitted there was never such a time. We gave him a loaf of bread and some tracts, and we also prayed with him, and then encouraged him to read the Bible, and not to put off turning his life over to Christ, because we don't know how long we have on this earth.

Sat. July 1, 2006


Byron picked me up this morning in his truck. We were all supposed to meet at 8:30 AM (so we could have an hour before it started, to pray) at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where the 3-day Conference was being held. The official time for the Conference to begin was actually 9:30 AM this morning, yesterday morning (Fri.), and tomorrow morning (Sun.). We met Angel at a nearby Kash N’ Karry parking lot. Byron had recruited Angel to go with us. Angel, who is a strong Hispanic Christian, sometimes goes with Byron witnessing door-to-door on Saturday mornings. Angel’s brother is a Jehovah’s Witness.

Angel followed us in his van. We were running about 15-20 minutes late. Pastor Eric was supposed to meet us at the front entrance gate of the Conference. On the way there, Byron played a CD he had of Walter Martin, the late definitive authority on cults, author of the famous book, “The Kingdom of the Cults.” Walter Martin said that no one should wander into the enemy’s camp without having the full armor of God on; and that, unless you were a mature Christian, you should stay away. He said that this is a spiritual war, and, unless you had the full armor of God on, you could get hurt. Even though I consider myself a mature Christian, this made me feel very nervous and afraid. Byron made the comment that he felt intimidated after hearing that. Walter Martin went on to say that Satan should not be underestimated; that Satan is a strong and powerful enemy.

Byron talked to Pastor Eric on his cell phone as we were driving there. Pastor Eric had already arrived (he got there before 8:30), and he was passing out flyers already, outside the main entrance. He had written up and printed out a HUGE stack of flyers that focused specifically on the attendees of that conference. He said that there were a lot of people there already. A short time later, before we could even find a place to park, Byron talked to Pastor Eric again on his cell phone. Pastor Eric had been kicked out.

We decided to meet Pastor Eric at the Firehouse Subs restaurant across the street from the University. We all bought muffins and sodas, with Pastor Eric paying for all of us, and we sat down at a table and talked, went over Scripture, and went around the circle praying. At first, Byron thought that we could go to the other entrance gates and hand out flyers there, but Pastor Eric said that everyone was being herded into one main entrance.

Pastor Eric told us that he had passed out 50-100 flyers. He said he was telling everyone, “I’ve got good news!” as he passed out the flyers to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One JW told him, “I don’t think we’re allowed to pass out any literature.” Pastor Eric responded, “Okay,” and kept passing them out. A short bit later, another JW came up to him and said, “Don’t you know that we’re not allowed to pass out any literature?” Pastor Eric replied, “No, I didn’t hear that. No one told me,” and kept passing them out. Another JW came up to Pastor Eric and said, “I’m going to report you!” Pastor Eric replied, “Okay,” and he kept passing out the flyers. Pastor Eric asked one JW, “Would you like to hear some good news?” to which the JW responded, “No, thanks. We’ll hear plenty of that inside.” Then some JW security came and escorted Pastor Eric all the way back to his car. Pastor Eric asked them, “Don’t you want to hear some good news?” to which they responded, “No!” One JW walked behind Pastor Eric, yelling to everyone, “Don’t take any literature from this man! He is handing out apostate literature!” At that point, people started handing back the flyers to Pastor Eric.

Pastor Eric was excited that he had gotten to hand out 50-100 flyers, but the rest of us had just arrived, and had not had a chance to do anything. Byron said, “I want to get kicked out too!” I think it was Byron’s idea to go to the parking lots and put flyers on all the cars. I pointed out the fact that the flyers had Pastor Eric’s name, phone number, and e-mail address on them, so if anyone decided to take any action, Pastor Eric would be the one to take the full brunt of it. Pastor Eric was trying to decide what to do, and whether he wanted to risk becoming a target (he has a wife and 5 small children). I suggested that we pray about it, and so we went around the circle, each praying for guidance. Pastor Eric came up with something to tell them if they happened to call or e-mail him, and we decided that we other 3 would put flyers on the cars. Pastor Eric had already gotten to do his part, so he went home.

Byron warned us that there may be JWs walking around, patrolling the area. Angel went to one parking area outside the Convention; Byron drove a ways and dropped me off in the middle of the main parking area in front of the entrance, and then he drove on to a parking lot a little further down, and told me he would pick me up in about 20 minutes.

I started putting flyers on cars, watching out of the corner of my eye as JWs would either walk by or drive by in their cars. Every man there wore a suit and tie, or a long-sleeve white shirt and tie, and every woman was dressed up. Many of the men wore name-tags that had the name of the Conference on them. We thought there would be a lot of non-JWs there, coming out of curiosity, since the JWs had gone door-to-door in all the surrounding cities and handed out flyers that advertised the Conference. But every man there had short, neatly-cut hair and wore a tie. Some of them carried briefcases, while others pulled those little wheeled carts that you see people pull behind them at airports. As I was putting flyers on cars, I noticed that just about every single car had a copy of “Watchtower” magazine on the far left corner of their dashboard, on the driver’s side. My guess is that they were told to put those there for ID purposes.

As I was putting flyers on cars, more and more JWs began looking at me funny. One guy in a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase, did walk by, smiling, and said, “Hi!” to which I said “How you doin’?” The entire time I was praying, “Lord, blind the eyes of those who would stop us,” and, “Lord, please protect us; let your angels surround me,” and, “Lord, don’t let your Word return void; please prepare the hearts of those receiving this literature, and open their blind eyes to the Truth, and let them be open to reading these.” After a short time, I heard Byron calling my name. He had driven over to where I was and had parked, and walked over to me and said, “Angel just called me. They threw him out of the parking lot. Now they are beginning to come out and walk through the parking lots.” He told me to keep putting flyers on cars for a little bit. As I continued to do so, I noticed two men in white shirts and ties, 1 or 2 rows over, standing side-by-side, staring at me and watching me like hawks as I went from car to car. I tried to look and act like I wasn’t doing anything wrong, and I casually walked over to the next row of cars in the direction away from them, and began putting flyers on those cars. I continued to pray that the Lord would blind the eyes of those who would stop us. I began to see more JWs watching me closely, and looking at me very suspiciously. JWs are specifically told that they are not allowed to receive any literature except official Watchtower literature, and they were, apparently, specifically told that no literature was allowed to be distributed by any attendee of the Conference. Soon, Byron decided that we should probably stop before we attract too much attention, thereby possibly causing the JW officials to go and take every one of the flyers off the cars and throw them away. So Byron got in his truck and began driving alongside me as I was putting flyers on cars, and I thought, “This is great! Byron’s truck has dark, tinted windows, so they can’t see who is in it. Maybe the JWs will think that Byron is a JW, and will assume that he is following me to possibly warn or reprimand or stop me, or even throw me out; therefore, maybe they will think, ‘Ok, he’s taking care of the problem of that guy putting those flyers on cars,’ and therefore, maybe the JWs will leave me alone!”

After I reached the end of that long line of cars, I got in Byron’s truck, and we went home. We prayed again that the Lord would work through those flyers, and that JWs would read them with an open mind, and that their spiritually-blinded eyes would be opened, and that they would receive the Truth of Who Jesus Christ really is.

However, the thing that affected me MOST was that, when we first arrived and were looking for a parking space, we saw lines of cars backed up for BLOCKS, waiting to get into the parking areas. I had expected to see maybe 100 or 200 people there, but I was shocked. Pastor Eric and Angel also said that they had not expected to see this many people there. Entire streets were closed off for this Convention. People in ties were holding signs that said, “JW Parking.” One guy stood up as we drove up to him and waved to us; it was obvious that his job was to be an official “greeter.” They had people directing where to park. There were droves of people walking to the Convention for several blocks or more. This reminded me of a huge county fair or something. There were THOUSANDS of people there.

I see people every day, and I’ve seen many crowds before---and I know, in a general sense, that most of the people in the world, as well as many of the people you meet every day, are on their way to Hell. But you usually don’t know, when you meet people in stores or on the street, or when you see crowds of people, who might be saved and who is lost. However, this was different. By their dress, every single person going to the Conference was very obviously already a Jehovah’s Witness. Therefore, every single person at that Conference, that we saw, was following damnable heresy that was wrought by Satan, and was on their way to eternal damnation. And there were THOUSANDS of people going into the Convention. It hit me hard that all these people, who were going to be further deceived by more lies and devilish deceptions, were like herds of cattle going over a cliff…in this case, into everlasting destruction. I have never before in my entire life seen such a graphic, physical picture of so many people who were DEFINITELY, without a doubt, destined for the Lake of Fire…the eternally-burning garbage pit of Gehenna. This was heartbreaking, and it seemed even worse when I thought about all the Christians in the U.S. who focus on their own healing or their own prosperity and wealth, while people all around them are dropping into the fires of Hell every day, where they will be for all eternity. I was convicted today. This was powerful, convincing evidence that every single one of us who are born-again Christians should be about the business of soul-winning and telling others about Jesus. The fields are white unto harvest, but the laborers are pitifully few and scarce.

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

This afternoon at 1:00, my friend Byron and I went to the Mall to do some witnessing.

We met at the Food Court, ate something, then split up and went throughout the Mall to hand out tracts and talk to people about the Lord.

A few people refused the tracts I offered them, and one guy got very angry with me, and even raised his voice to me and told me to get away from him. Funny thing was, he was the one who initiated the conversation: as I got up from the little table in the Food Court, he asked me, "So, how was lunch?" I told him, "Good," and I handed him a "Ticket to Heaven" gospel tract, asking him if he would like one. He looked at it, noticing the words "Ticket to Heaven," and he handed it back to me with a very negative response. I asked him, "Do you consider yourself to be a good person?" He looked at me with an angry look, and told me that he didn't want to listen to me promoting my "personal project." I asked him if he believed in God, and it was then that he got even more angry, and raised his voice to me, and told me to get away from him. So, after trying to say one or two more things to him, I finally said, "Alright, sir, have a nice day," and I left. I went into the restroom, very discouraged and depressed, and I didn't want to come out. Being a sensitive person, I have always had a very hard time with rejection, and, having been raised by a dad with a dominating personality, and being emotionally abused to some extent, criticism and reprimands therefore tend to make me want to give up. I felt that I didn't want to be there, and I just wanted to go home. I prayed, then prayed again, and finally left the restroom, though my confidence was still down. But I kept praying, "Lord, I surrender myself to you. I am yours." As I continued to hand out tracts, that incident stopped bothering me.

Several people did at least act appreciative and thankful when I offered them tracts. A few different people, when I would ask them, "Would you like something to read?" said, "Sure!" and took the tract. I asked others, "Would you like one?" and handed them a tract, and they took it. I was handing out various types of gospel tracts. A couple times I went into restrooms and put tracts in the stalls as well.

I had some of the "DaVinci Code" tracts, and I would ask people, "Have you heard of the movie, "The DaVinci Code?" to which they would almost always say, "Yes." I handed them the tract, and told them, "This is about that movie." One guy, when I handed him this one particular "DaVinci Code" tract that was in the form of a large $10,000.00 bill (which you can get from: ct_Code=214 ), said, "Do you just go around, handing out $10,000 dollar bills to EVERYONE?" I ineptly replied with something dumb like, "I'm giving them to SOME people." He thanked me and said, "God bless you." Later, I walked by him again, and he said, "I'm going to FRAME this!" I asked him, "Cool! But are you going to READ it?" He replied, "Oh, YES, I'm going to read it!"

A group of Hispanic kids were playing hackey-sack, so I joined in and kicked it one time to one of them, and then I gave a few of them a gospel tract.

Byron and I were supposed to meet back at the Food Court at 3:00, so I went back there and sat down. I gave a tract to a couple men who were sitting close by, and started talking with them. They were Seventh-Day Adventists (which I consider to be either a borderline or a full-blown cult because they apparently believe in salvation by faith + works, even though these guys said they were born again and that Jesus was the way to Heaven), so we had an interesting conversation. Byron came and sat with us, and after talking to those guys for a short bit, we left the Mall.

On the way home, I stopped at the gas station, and put a couple tracts in the gas pump handles. I gave one to the lady at the pump next to me, and I noticed her shirt said, "Church at the Springs." I said, "Oh, you go to church?" to which she replied, "Oh, yes, but I'll still read this!"

All in all, it was a good day. Though getting out of your comfort zone is not easy, and times of rejection are a given when you witness to various individuals, it is well-worth it, and it is very rewarding. Life becomes an adventure when you go out and tell others about Christ. When you come up against questions you can't answer, it forces you to dig for the answer, thereby drawing you into a closer study of your Lord. It forces you to rely on Him more. It also helps you in your walk of personal holiness when you witness: similar to the way that I tend to eat more healthy when I work out. It can be compared to teaching kids (i.e., as a school teacher) or raising kids (as a parent): it's a tough job, and can be discouraging at times (and you can feel at times that you have failed), but it can also be very rewarding.

Anyway, may this encourage others.

"No higher honor could be conferred upon the Christian, and no greater privilege be given the believer in Jesus Christ than to be associated with Him in the great and blessed work of bringing a lost world to the knowledge of the truth." ("Handbook for Christian Workers," arranged by Ralph W. Rusthoi, copyright 1957)

"Lord lay some soul upon my heart, And love that soul through me, And may I nobly do my part To win that soul for Thee." (from same book)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I just got back from my trip to took 7 hours to drive down there, but only 5 1/2 to drive back (I made a few more stops driving down, and I drove slower than I did coming back; plus, I drove down on Sat. to my friend Walt's house, and I began my trip back from a restaurant which was about 30 min. north of Walt's house). I was dreading the trip, but the Lord answered prayer in great ways.

I stopped at every Service Plaza on the way down (except the first one) and handed out gospel tracts, and put tracts in bathroom stalls, on top of video games, on top of weighing scales that told your fortune, on top of telephone booths, next to Florida attraction brochures, etc.

At one point, as I was handing out tracts to people and also putting them in bathroom stalls, etc., I was washing my hands in the bathroom, and my right thumbnail very oddly got caught in the bottom edge of the faucet, and it tore half of the top of my thumbnail off. My thumb started bleeding, and soon became covered in blood. I then thought, "How can I hand out tracts now? I'll get blood all over them." I toyed with the idea of using that to illustrate the blood of Jesus, but then I figured, with the fear of Hepatitis, AIDS, etc. today, people might not appreciate that. So then I just decided to use my other hand.

I gave a tract to every toll booth attendant except one ($40.40 in tolls round-trip, plus a full tank of gas each way!). Going back to Ocala, I put tracts in a couple or more bathroom stalls at each Service Plaza, plus in various other places. Again, I gave a tract to every toll booth attendant...except for two who refused. Other than those two, everyone accepted the tracts seemingly very gratefully. One guy asked me what it was, and after I gave him a quick explanation, he took it, and I also gave one to his wife and son.

In Miami, I basically went to 2 birthday parties (one in English, in Walt's back yard, which was a combined birthday party for their 3 kids---and another birthday party in Spanish, also in a back yard, except this one was my former Pastor's neighbors who lived behind him; that one was a birthday party for an adult, which included a D.J., huge speakers with loud Latin music until almost midnight, and much dancing...I gave a gospel tract in Spanish to the host as we were leaving the party). Sunday morning I went to Sunday School and church. I spent the night at my former Pastor's house, and after church, I went out to lunch with Walt and his family.

Arriving back in Ocala, I pulled into a gas station (leaving a tract on the gas pump). I decided to go into the store to buy an Energy drink and a Cuban sandwich. I saw a guy standing outside, with a bike lying beside him, and I gave him a tract and told him to read it.

I went into the store, and as I came out, I walked by him. He waved the tract at me and told me he needed $54.50 for the motel across the street. Thinking he was scamming me because he now figured me to be a "soft-hearted" Christian, I asked him if he wanted me to drive him there. (Recently I had told a guy holding a cardboard sign, asking for money for food, that I would take him to a restaurant to treat him to a meal, and he refused, which tipped me off that he was running a scam, so I figured this guy was doing basically the same thing.) To my surprise, he said, "Sure!" as he began to pick up his bike to load it into my car. To my discredit, I did not want to spend $54.50 on a motel room for this guy, and I didn't want to try to fit his bike into my trunk when I already had my luggage in my trunk. So instead, I cheaply offered him $20, which he took.

I asked him if he believed in God, and he said "yes." I asked him if he considered himself a good person, and he said "yes." I asked him if he had ever lied in his lifetime, and he said "yes." He then went into a long explanation of how he had gone to Catholic mass that morning, and he told me what the sermon was about; he told me that he had been in the hospital for a number of problems, and at that time (if I understood him correctly), he had prayed to God to save him. He said he believes that we all should be prepared for the day when we die. I asked him if he believed that Jesus Christ was his Savior, and he emphatically (and somewhat impatiently, apparently believing that he had already made that clear) said "yes!" I asked him if he followed and obeyed Jesus, and He said "yes." I asked him if he had a Bible, and he said he has one in Spanish and in English. I asked him if I could give him a gospel of John, and he said "sure." So I gave him that and another (different) tract.

I asked him what his name was, and he gave me his full 4 names (he was Hispanic; I'm guessing Cuban). I asked him if I could pray with him, and he said "sure." So I did, and afterward he shook my hand. He told me (assuming that he was being honest) that, minutes before, he had just asked God to send an angel to him, and that I was that angel. As he said that, he had tears in his eyes. A few minutes later, as we continued to talk, he wiped tears from his eyes again. I told him that maybe I will see him again sometime, and he said he hopes to see me again.

In summary, praying with him was the 'icing on the cake' to a trip that started out with me dreading it, to the point of stressing out and becoming depressed over it and even getting a headache (I hated the thought of putting up with all that traffic, road rage, crazy drivers, long drive, and a foreign culture and language again)...but the Lord, in answer to several people praying for me, miraculously turned it around and made it into a sort of fun and adventurous 'missions' trip. Not only that, but I didn't have an accident, didn't get a flat tire, and didn't break down. Also, the traffic didn't seem anywhere near as crazy as I had expected, nor as crazy as I had remembered from when I used to live there. The entire 2 days was a very pleasant, and oftimes even joyful, experience. Praise God!

December 25, 2005

When I was young, my home church was Hope Lutheran Church, in Miami. From that church parsonage library, I found a book one day that told the story of 5 missionaries in Ecuador that were killed, and it had photos of their bodies floating down the river, face-down, with spears protruding from their backs. I didn't read the entire book, but I scanned through the photos and read parts of it. Those pictures were burned into my mind, and I never forgot them. It left a real impression.

A couple months ago or so, I rented a movie that was a documentary, telling the story of those same 5 missionaries. It was called "Beyond The Gates of Splendor."

This morning, I met the son of Nate Saint. Nate Saint was one of the missionaries that was killed by the Waodani (there are movies and books that tell this true may already be familiar with the names Jim Elliot or Elizabeth Elliot; Jim Elliot was one of the missionaries that was killed). Nate Saint was the pilot. His son's name is Steve Saint. Steve and his friend gave an awesome message, and afterwards, I purchased a book called "End of the Spear," written by Steve Saint. Steve Saint personally signed the book for me. I shook hands with Steve. His friend could only speak a few words in English. His friend's name was Mincaye, and is one of the Waodani that murdered Steve Saint's dad and the other missionaries. Since those murders, Mincaye has become a born-again Christian, and the joy of the Lord shows all over his face as he constantly smiles brightly. Steve and Mincaye have travelled all over the world..India, Amsterdam, and many other places...telling their story, and talking about the love and forgiveness that Christ Jesus offers. I got to hug Mincaye twice, plus shake his hand. This short primitive, with giant holes in his ears from ear piercings, where he used to wear giant primitive ear rings, the lobes of his ears being pulled down to an unnatural length, wearing tribal ceremonial headband and other tribal clothing...this man, who had speared missionaries, enemy tribesmen, foreign oil workers, and even his own tribesmen, before he got saved...this man, who had murdered many people...smiled and laughed as we hugged. It was an amazing experience. He, too, signed my copy of the book, but since he cannot write, he simply pressed his thumb on an ink pad and put his thumb print as his signature.

After I left, I came back later to purchase 2 more copies of the book to give as Christmas presents. I wasn't sure they would still be there, but they were. However, I was told by another person that they were all out of books, but that I could buy them at the local Christian bookstore. I was discouraged, because I wanted signed copies. Then I saw Steve Saint again, and he said "Merry Christmas" to me. I also got another laughing hug from Mincaye. I then asked Steve if he had any more books. He said he had some in his car, so I followed him and Mincaye to his car. Since he wasn't the one who was collecting the money for the books, I was trying to figure out how to pay by credit card, since I didn't have enough cash. He told me, "Don't worry about it. This will be my Christmas present to you." So he signed 2 more copies, personalizing them with the names of my sister and niece whom I was going to give the books to, and he gave them to me...FREE.

These 2, who was not only a missionary, but also a missionary's son and a martyr's son; the other, a primitive savage murderer who had become a born-again Christian, and who had killed the other one's dad, along with his dad's friends...these men, who were an amazing example of the love and complete forgiveness that Christ offers....were part of a story I had heard and known about my entire life, and now I finally was able to meet them. It was like meeting celebrities that I had incredible respect for. Not only that, but the message they gave moved me in a powerful and incredible way. There was even more awesome stuff that happened, but it would be too complicated and wordy to explain it all.

Their movie, called "End of the Spear," opens Jan. 20th. Their documentary ("Beyond The Gates of Splendor") is also available for rental at movie rental stores. There are also several books out, all relating to this true story, some written by Elizabeth Elliot.

As I was driving to my sister's house later (my family was meeting there for Christmas), I was unbelievably excited, and I couldn't wait to get there and tell everyone what happened at the church I visited (my own church did not have any service Christmas morning). I have not been that excited in...well, I don't remember when I've been that excited. I was yelling and shouting in the car just about the entire way, and smiling like crazy.

God worked a miracle in just allowing me to be at church this morning. I went to bed at 5 am (last minute wrapping of gifts, etc.), but I prayed that God would still help me go to church Sun. morning, despite the fact I was going to bed so late; my alarm went off at 8:30 am; I went back to bed, which usually spells doom for getting up again in time; but the Lord woke me up at 9:10 am, which gave me the exact amount of time I needed to get there, which was amazing, and I knew it had to be the Lord doing that; I drove to the church (which I had never been to before), but I did not see it; I turned around and came back, but still did not see it; I was going to just forget about it, disappointed, and just drive to my sister's house; but then I said (and I think it was God moving me), "Just one more try"; I drove by again, but still did not see the church...but then I looked on the other side, and I saw it!; a few other people were arriving just as I was, and the service was only just starting, so I didn't miss anything. Praise God that I made it!

Then, as Steve (in English) and Mincaye (in his language, with Steve translating) started sharing, I was mesmerized with interest, and I could feel the Holy Spirit moving in that church (New Testament Baptist Church). Mincaye explained the Gospel in a way I had never heard before, because of the way it had to be translated into his language (i.e., his language has no word for "love" or for "salvation" or for "forgiveness," or for a whole lot of other words we normally use as Christians). I don't remember all of what he said, but part of it was this: God, the Creator, had a Son, and His Son made a trail for us. It's a trail that we can only see with our hearts. But Mincaye's heart was black, like his shirt. God, the Creator, did not "see us well," (= did not accept us) to walk His Son's trail, but Jesus marked the trail with His blood. Jesus' blood is like the foreigner's soap which the foreigners used to wash their shirts. Jesus' blood was able to wash clean Mincaye's black heart, so that now Mincaye could see the trail. God's Son wants us to walk His trail, but He does not want us to walk it alone. He wants us to tell everyone how to get on His trail, for it is a good trail, and it leads to God---the Creator's---home. God wants all of us to come to His home and live with Him.

That's only a small part of what they said, and I'm sure I did not convey any of the feeling I had while listening to them. Suffice it to say that it was awesome.

December 11, 2005

Went to see the play, "The Gospel According To Scrooge." Was very good. It was their 20th Anniversary performance.

November 19, 2005

Went to Light Up Ocala. Was very crowded, since thousands of people attended. Ate some black beans and rice, along with pork.

November 11-12, 2005

Attended a Men's Retreat at Camp Kulaqua. Went hiking. Also went on a 5-hour canoe trip. Saw several deer, and got within 10 feet of one wild deer. Saw 2 Great Blue Herons, and got about 15 feet from one, which was about 4 feet tall. Saw fish jumping out of the water. Saw hundreds of turtles---more turtles than I've ever seen in my life; groups of 50-60 turtles would pop their heads up out of the water. My partner jumped in the water and caught 3 of the large turtles, and threw them into the canoe; but we later lost them, when our canoe flipped over while we were caught in rapids. We had a difficult time pulling the canoe to shore, fighting against the current.

October 1, 2005

It has been 10 months since my last entry. Mostly, I've just been working a lot.

Tonight, I went to a Cultural Festival, where they had booths of foods from around the world. They had different cultural dances all day long, as well as various shows. They had a Caribbean steel drum band; young dancers from India performing both classical and modern Indian dances while wearing their traditional costumes; a really good break-dancing group; and much more. It was a fun time.

A few days ago, I was cutting my toenails in the back yard. I looked down, and I saw a fire ant carrying away one of my toenails. I started laughing, and I thought to myself, "Now what is he going to do with that?" A little later that same day, a moth landed on my finger, which was pointing straight up. I walked about 30 yards, the moth staying on my finger the entire time, until I finally just blew him off my finger with my breath.

December 5, 2004

We went to St. Augustine and rented a boat (11 of us) and a captain and his mates, and spread my dad's ashes out in the water, after going several miles out. St. Augustine was my dad's favorite place to go. We each took turns saying something, then each of us took turns pouring out some of the ashes. It was a sad time, especially for my mom. Though my mom's faith is strong, she still very much misses my dad, and it's not easy for her. I miss him too.

November 26, 2004

We had a memorial service at the church for my dad (he was cremated). Several of our cousins and friends came from out of town, in addition to friends and church members in town. My two brothers, sister, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law, and I, all shared in front of everyone, including reading poems and singing. It was a beautiful time. Others also shared briefly how my dad's life had touched them.

November 14, 2004

My dad died, approx. 6:22-6:24 pm. He was 81 years old. He had gone into a coma this morning around 1:00 am. At the hospital they determined he was bleeding severely from the brain, and the brain stem was damaged beyond repair. After having him on life support for a while, my mom had them take him off life support, after which he survived about 4 more hours. A good number of people came to see him, and stayed for hours.

October 1, 2004

Jeanne left me with no electricity from Sunday AM till Thur AM, and no phones for one day. Jeanne did more severe damage, at least in my area, than Frances did. Although my place is fine, many large trees were snapped in half like twigs; other huge trees were uprooted; in my apt. complex, a tree fell through a woman's roof; my neighbor's second-story roof had some of the trim torn off; the fence around the complex was smashed in one corner from a fallen tree; other trees and large branches were down; a very large branch partially blocked off the exit from the complex.

September 17, 2004

Well, Charley missed us, and so did Ivan; but Frances left a ton of leaves and branches that still isn't completely cleaned up, and I was out of power for 4 days, with no phone for 1 day. My previous long-term temp job (over 1 year) ended 3 weeks ago, but Mon. I start a new job with better pay! Yesterday my parents had a tornado go through their yard, which took down some huge branches, split a neighbor's large tree right down the middle, took a roof off a shed, and lifted up my parent's 600 lb. well (which houses their pump) twice (but didn't carry it off, since it was tied down). Today my parents saw 2 deer in their back yard.

August 13, 2004

Today is Friday the 13th, 12:30 in the afternoon. I got off work early today because Hurricane Charley is expected to hit here tonight. Whether I stay here or go over to my brother's house (because of all the pine trees around my place, which could fall onto the roof) is yet to be decided.

Since I haven't written anything here for a while, I'll bring things up to date:

Several weeks ago I broke my toe, and it is almost healed now.

About the same time (just a few days after I broke my toe) I got an insect bite on the toe next to the broken one, which was at first 3 sets of puncture wounds in a circular formation, and then became red and swollen, and then dried up and became white bumps, and then turned into open blisters. It didn't hurt; it only itched for a short time. That is almost healed as well.

Several days after that, I got a very large, badly-infected cyst on my chest/shoulder area that was very sensitive to touch. A large area of my chest was red around it. The doctor lacerated/lanced it and packed it (instead of using stitches). Though the doctor shot me several times in the upper chest with novocaine, it didn't work very well, because I could feel the sharp blade cutting into my chest, and I was gritting my teeth in pain (they had put a cloth over my face, and I had my face turned to the side; the nurse could see my face, and she said, "He's making faces; he's feeling that." The cutting hurt much worse than the needle injections did.) I was not allowed to bathe for 9 days. That is pretty close to being healed as well now.

About 2 months ago I started taking karate again: the style I am now taking is Soo Bahk Do.

My dad is now walking by himself again. The other week he even walked around the entire block! His speech and awareness are back to normal, and his memory (though he can't remember his days in the hospital) is pretty much back to normal. Praise God for such an awesome recovery!

May 8th, 2004
Tonight I was driving on the expressway, doing about 95-98 mph in the speed lane (Hey, why do you think they call it the speed lane?). I was praying to God for protection; a few seconds later, I slowed down a little and moved to the center lane behind another car which was also going fast. A few seconds later, the car in front of me hit the edge of about a 3 foot long piece of tire (debris in the middle of the expressway), knocking it up into the air. Suddenly I heard an explosion, like someone had just hit my front windshield, right in front of my face, with a baseball bat. That big chunk of tire hit the windshield right in front of my eyes. I immediately shut my eyes, because I knew the tire would come through the windshield, and it would hit me in the face, possibly killing me, and large pieces of glass would shoot into my face and chest and shoulders and neck.

I opened my eyes, but the windshield was not shattered. I looked for cracks in the windshield, but there were none. The windshield wiper had busted, and there were tread marks on the hood of my car from where the tire hit the hood before it hit the windshield, but that was it. I couldn't believe that such a powerful explosive impact did not shatter---or even crack!---the windshield.

Some people might attribute it to the thick windshields they make today, but very often road debris easily breaks through windshields and often kills people. Personally, I attribute it to God answering my prayer. I was shaking a little after it happened. I know that God spared my life.

May 1, 2004
On March 26, 2004, my dad had a stroke due to intercranial bleeding (likely brought on by blood thinners he's been taking for his high blood pressure). His right side was completely paralyzed and his speech was badly slurred to the point of incomprehensibility. On March 31, he was moved from the hospital to the Rehabilitation Center, where he currently resides. We were allowed to bring him home for a few hours for the first time on Easter Sunday, and since then my mom brings him home to their house for a few hours on weekends. He now has a little movement in his right arm and leg, though he still cannot walk. His speech is almost back to normal, and his memory is much better, but he will never be the same. However, God has done many positive things through this, including making my dad a more humble man. On Easter Sunday, several of us slowly walked to the base of a tree in my parent's back yard to see a hawk in her nest feeding two baby hawks, which was cool. While walking into or out of the Rehab Center, animals have been close to me a couple times: one squirrel on the ground let me get two feet from him before he scampered away; and a raccoon was 6-8 ft. in front of me, just beginning to climb a tree. When he had gotten about 8-10 ft. up the tree, he sat on a branch and just stared at me. At my parent's house, I've gotten as close as 3 feet from wild rabbits and snakes.

March 6, 2004

Left at 8 am Sat. to go to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. After spending a few hours there, we drove to Daytona Beach for Bike Week. An estimated 600,000 motorcycles were there. I learned some new terminology like Ape Hangers (high handlebars causing the biker's hands to be at or above shoulder height) and Rice Burners (Japanese-made bikes). We visited the OCC (Orange County Choppers) trailer and saw several of their theme bikes. Got home shortly before 1 am.

March 3, 2004

I went and saw "The Passion of the Christ" today. It was awesome! Concerning anti-semitism, to anyone who has the attitude that "The Jews killed Jesus, so we should hate Jews," this is completely antithetical to the message of love that Jesus taught. First of all, not a single Jew living today had any part in what happened 2000 years ago. Secondly, anyone who blames the Jews for Jesus' death is missing the picture entirely. Do you want to know who killed Jesus? YOU did. I did. Our sins killed Him. It was for us that He died. He voluntarily laid down His life for us, an event foretold in prophecy, both by God and by man, from the beginning of mankind. Why? Because He loves you. He loves you so much that He was willing to endure excruciating torture and suffering---not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well---just so that you and I could spend eternity in Paradise with Him. He took our place---He took the punishment for us, which we fully deserve because of our sins. All we have to do is accept Him, by faith, and turn our lives over to Him. He wants an eternal, loving relationship with us, and He was willing to suffer unbelievable, terrible agony and death to get it. Are we willing to love Him back?

Feb. 3, 2004
I moved into a 2-bedroom apartment a few weeks ago, and I've been buying furniture and stuff for it. Yesterday I bought a PlayStation 2 and two games for it: Tekken 4 and Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (they were on sale). I had formerly owned only PC and Mac games, but I really like one-on-one martial arts games, so I finally gave in to buying PS2.

Dec. 22, 2003
After limping for a few days, my right knee is now healed enough to where I can walk normally, though it is still swollen and hurts. I kept a heating pad on it for a few nights, but I should have put an ice pack on it right away. Oh, well; live and learn. Next time I exit the ice-skating rink, I'll walk out instead of jumping out at full speed.

Dec. 17, 2003
I twisted my knee at the ice-skating rink... not on the ice, as you would think, but on the carpet! Instead of stopping at the edge of the ice and walking onto the carpet (like I should have done), I went full-speed toward the edge of the ice and jumped onto the carpet, intending to run a few steps on the carpet until I could reduce my momentum and come to a stop. Instead, my right skate caught in the carpet and caused the carpet to bunch up, while my left skate slid straight forward. While my left leg straightened and went forward, my right knee twisted inward, and as I went only halfway down, all my weight went to the outside of my right knee. My knee swelled up, and it was painful.

Dec. 16, 2003
I went to see the play "The Gospel According To Scrooge." It was very professionally done, complete with special effects. The actors did an excellent job and made it very enjoyable.

Nov. 29, 2003
This morning the temperature dropped to 38 degrees. Yesterday I worked out at the gym, then volunteered at the ice skating rink (which is under a tent) for a few hours. (It may sound noble, volunteering and all that, but I have selfish motives: I get to skate as long as I want for free!)

Apparently someone was digging in the ice and kicking at it with the back of their skate blade in order to dig up ice chunks to throw at someone; in doing so, a leak formed, where the green liquid refrigerant that helps keeps the ice frozen, leaked out badly.

Soon there was so much liquid leaking out (plus the ice was cracking badly for about 10-15 feet or more, and getting worse), that we had to close off 1/3 of the skating rink. Then we spent about an hour cleaning up the liquid with squeegees (pushing it out a few small holes in the side) and even shovels and a bucket. We had to close the ice skating rink a few hours early. They had to call someone out to fix the leak.

Tonight I volunteered at the ice skating rink for about 4 1/2 hours.

Since I haven't written in this journal for a while, here's a few of the things I've done in the past few weeks: Nov. 6th I went to see "The Matrix: Revolutions." Nov. 7th I went to "Cafe on the Rock" ( Nov. 8th I went to the Springz ( Nov. 15th I went rollerblading at the park. BTW, my bike now has 2 flat tires from going in that retention pond on Oct. 26th. Apparently the many burrs that covered both me and the tires dug deep enough into the tires to put holes in them...I know they sure dug deep into me.

Oct. 26, 2003
The other night I went rollerblading at the park. A couple nights before that I went to see "Kill Bill."

This morning, thanks to the time change, I got up early and lifted weights a little. After coming back from church, family and friends came over for a visit. Later I took my mountain bike into a retention pond, and I made it across (the first time), despite the sugar sand that slowed me down.

But the second time I tried it, I foolishly tried to go across this drainage pipe. I saw the narrow but deep hole too late to avoid it; I knew immediately that I wasn't going to make it. The front wheel dropped into the hole and caught; the bike flipped, and I went head-first into the dirt. Instinctively, I put my forearms in front of my face to keep from breaking my neck. But I still got a mouth full of dirt, and I got sand spurs buried deep into my face, arms, legs, pants, shirt and shoes... even in my hair. It took a while to get all the sand spurs (burrs) out, and I still have long scratches on my legs. I also had to pull out a few thorn pieces where the sand burrs had broken off into the skin. Thankfully I didn't get hurt. Nevertheless, it was fun!

For the past couple weeks, I've been playing "Extreme PaintBrawl 4" on the PC. That's a fun game. For the past few years my favorite games have been "Freedom Force," "StarCraft: Brood War" and "Diablo II."

Oct. 4, 2003
Today we went trail biking in the woods at Santos Trailhead. I’ve done 15-mile bike hikes at Shark Valley in the Everglades before (where you’re often just a few feet from alligators), but never have I experienced what I experienced today. Biking on the street, concrete or asphalt doesn’t compare to this. It was like a difficult obstacle course. We had to go over logs, roots, large rocks, pit holes, soft sand, high grass, dirt, and even some soft mud.

There were three difficulty levels of paths. We went on the Beginner (Yellow) trail, which was easy; we also went on the Intermediate (Blue) trail, which was quite difficult to us as beginners. But we didn’t even try the Advanced (Red) trail, since we were warned strongly against trying it.

My brother took a spill, and bent his bike up, going over some large roots or something. My bike fell once, but thankfully I landed on my feet. I also crashed into a small tree once, trying to avoid a large rock or root on the ground. Sometimes the trees were so close together you could barely fit between them, so we had to rely on balance, control, coordination and concentration. We had to duck under one log that had fallen and had caught, so that it extended across the path at about head level. We had to squeeze by long, thick vines that extended down from the trees. Some parts of the trail were so impassable (at least by beginners) that we had to walk over them and carry our bikes. Sometimes the trail would curve at a sharp 45 degree angle so that it was difficult to stay on the path at such a sharp turn, and a few times I went off the path, into the weeds, mud, roots and underbrush.

At one point there were large grasshoppers flying back and forth in front of our faces, hitting us, etc. I felt one large grasshoppers’ wing brush against my arm, and it felt as big as a bird’s wing.

Thankfully, I got through it with only a bruised knee and a few small cuts. It was an interesting and fun adventure. I can’t wait to go again!

August 22, 2003
I haven't written in this journal for a while, so I decided I might as well write something now. Finally went and saw "Pirates of the Caribbean." Afterward, for the first time in my life, I attended a Messianic Congregation. I've never been to a Jewish temple before, let alone a Messianic (i.e., "Completed Jew" or "Born- Again" Jew, or Jewish Christian) service. It was a unique experience.

I bought a bike last weekend, and I've been riding it up and down the hills here, which can get pretty tiring. I've also been rollerblading, as well as practicing with my martial arts weapons, practicing kickboxing, and working out to my cardio kickboxing video ("Knockout Workout"). I've been working out with weights at home a little, since I haven't gone to the gym for several weeks now (lazy me).

June 20, 2003
While driving to work this morning, a deer ran out in front of my car, suddenly appearing out of the woods. It scared me, because I thought for sure that deer would be dead in the next second. But to my relief, the deer stopped at the edge of the road, turned around, and ran back into the woods.
I drove past a few hundred cows today, and maybe 60 or so calves. I've also seen many horses with their colts, in recent weeks. The other day, three rabbits were chasing each other in our back yard. Breeding season is definitely in evidence around here.

This being both the horse capital of the world and the lightning capital of the world, it's not surprising that a woman at my church had 3 of her 5 horses killed by a lightning strike the other week. Their metal horseshoes apparently intensified the damage, and the result was very messy. The three horses were on their way back to the barn, mere feet away from the barn, when it happened. How tragic.

April 13, 2003
Today I saw "Blackie," the indigo snake that visits us every year. We have daily visitors in our yard, including: hawks, playful squirrels that entertain us by chasing each other around, wild rabbits, raccoons, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, giant Pileated Woodpeckers, small Downy Woodpeckers, Bluejays, Cardinals, Eastern Bluebirds, Brown Thrashers, Robins (briefly each year), crows, buzzards, doves, and various Finches.

April 5, 2003
Went kayaking on the river. My kayak was transparent, so you could see the bottom of the river, similar to a glass-bottom boat. I saw many cormorants (water-birds) diving for fish, herons sitting up in the trees with their wings spread out to sun themselves, egrets, an ibis, a number of fish, and even an alligator swimming along.

March 8, 2003
Went in a dune buggy through the National Forest, and did a little mud bogging as well. We got lost for a while in the forest, but even then, it was fun going incredibly fast over bumps, ditches, through mud and water, and terrain that even a jeep would have a difficult time with.

At one point we went through a deep mud puddle really fast. A huge tidal wave of water and mud rose up over the dune buggy like a giant hand and splashed down on top of us. I ducked my head and covered myself with my arms, but the shocking cold water poured over me. I was wearing goggles, so that helped, but I was covered in mud and water. The whole time dirt and sand were pelting the back of my head as the wheels kicked it up against my back. My right arm and shoulder got especially covered with mud. We had to stop and clean off the goggles and the rear-view mirror so we could see.

Several times we went between trees that were very close together, at a very fast speed; if we had hit those trees, we would have been seriously injured. One time we stopped and saw fresh deer tracks. Of course, the loud noise of the dune buggy scared away all the wildlife. I brought a complete change of clothes, including shoes, because I was covered in mud. We also went canoeing and went on a paddleboat. We had a blast.

We went back to my brother's house, and about a block from his house we saw flashing lights from an ambulance and fire trucks. We also heard sirens and some loud explosions. We ran toward the house, and there were about 5 or 6 fire trucks, about 4 or 5 patrol cars from the Sheriff's Dept., and an ambulance. We heard a few loud crashes and explosions, and then some loud popping sounds. There was a beautiful, expensive house, and from the center of the roof there were huge flames that rose several feet above the roof. Once they got that fire out, suddenly from a room in the back, 3 windows glowed bright orange as flames filled the room to the ceiling; we could see giant walls of flame inside the room. One fireman ran in and rescued a dog. People were screaming and crying. Thankfully, the entire family got out, with one woman getting only minor burns (like you might get from a sunburn) on her face. Apparently a gas water heater exploded in her face, and they immediately threw her in the bathtub and doused her in water.

The media was there, and a local news station asked to interview me. I agreed, so they filmed me and asked me a few questions about what I saw and heard. So I got to be on the 11:00 news.

Jeff Jenkins