Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Prayer Letter - December 8, 2009

Dear friends,

We hope and pray you are experiencing joy in God this Christmas season!

Urbana preparations…

As I have mentioned in previous prayer letters, I will be leading a Bible study in the Gospel of John for a group of about 1,000 young people at the Urbana Missions Convention, the mornings of December 28, 29, 30, and 31. I would really appreciate your prayers for my preparation, and as I teach at Urbana each of those mornings. The thousand or so people in the study I am leading have signed up specifically for the “International Poverty Track” at Urbana, so they are people who have at least an interest in, if not a calling to, the poor internationally. I am praying that this Bible study would be inspiring and compelling for this group as they consider God’s heart for the poor and suffering around the world.

Last Saturday, I had an all day “practice day” at which I taught all four texts that I will be leading at Urbana. It was very helpful. I got some really good feedback from the group about what things they really appreciated, and some suggestions for improvement. I have another practice day this coming Saturday, and I’m sure that will help even more. Thank you for your prayers for me and for the Urbana convention in this month of December!

Mini’s Corner

The longer I live, the more I value questions. Questions have a lot of power. The power to suggest, “What if we tried this?”, create doubt, “What if this isn’t true?”, clarify motives, “Why do I believe this?”, and much more. I’ve been thinking about questions more often lately thanks to two very smart people, L.G. Palmer and C.S. Lewis. L.G. of course is my three year old daughter Lily Grace who has been a continuous fountain of questions, most of which begin with “Why?” Being around Lily and her questions forces me to shift out of a state of mental lethargy I didn’t even realize I had succumbed to. This is because a lot of things I take for granted as an adult are new and wondrous to a toddler and therefore worth asking questions about and investigating further. For example, we were stopped at an intersection when she asked, “Why does red mean stop?” It’s a great question that I never even thought about asking. Trying to find answers to her questions keeps me alert to the wonders of the world around me and humble because I have to answer, “I don’t know why” to a lot of questions.

I have been reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters and have been learning so much from them. It is written from the point of view of a demon who is trying to instruct his nephew in how to lead a patient (a human soul) away from God (or “the Enemy,” as he refers to Him). Two statements that particularly struck me were from Letter 19, where Screwtape says,

Nothing matters at all except the tendency of a given state of mind, in given circumstances, to move a particular patient at a particular moment nearer to the Enemy or nearer to us.

In the meantime, get it quite clear in your own mind that this state of falling in love is not, in itself, necessarily favourable either to us or to the other side. It is simply an occasion which we and the enemy are both trying to exploit. Like most of the other things which humans are excited about, such as health and sickness, age and youth, or war and peace, it is from the point of view of the spiritual life, mainly raw material…

Since reading these statements, the question I’ve been reminded to ask myself in any situation, whether difficult or comfortable, is “Am I allowing this situation to bring me closer to God or create distance between us?” Because however complicated the situation or issue might be, it is as C.S. Lewis simply put it “raw material.” My hope this Christmas is that whatever situation we are in, we will choose to draw closer to God, especially since he first loved us and chose to draw near to us in a little town called Bethlehem.

Magic Princesses and the Love of God

Back to Dave: My favorite Christian singer in the Spanish language is Jesus Adrian Romero. In addition to his many amazing songs about God, he also has a beautiful love song which he wrote to his wife, called Mi Vida Sin Ti (“My Life Without You”), and another which he wrote to his two daughters, called Magicas Princesas (“Magic Princesses”). I love to listen to these two songs, and think of my own wonderful wife and daughters, and thank God for them.

I was recently watching a concert version of Jesus Adrian Romero singing Magicas Princesas on You Tube (If you wish, you can see it here: I was holding Emily on my lap, and Lily came to watch and listen to the video as well. She asked me what he was singing about, so I was explaining the song to her in English as he sang it in Spanish. I told Lily, “He is calling his two daughters magic princesses… He’s saying how much he misses them whenever he is away. He always wants to cut his travels short and come home… He is describing the joy they bring into his life... He is singing about how beautiful they are… He is saying that he always wants to tell them how important and valuable they are. He wants to nurture and protect their hearts… He is saying that his daughters are like a message from heaven of God’s love… He’s saying they are growing up so quickly, and he sometimes wishes he could hold onto them forever. But he knows one day they will grow up and leave home, and when they do, they will take with them a part of his life that will never return… And so on as he sang the song.

As we watched the You Tube video, the camera alternated between him singing the song on stage, and his two daughters listening in the audience. And his two daughters had tears in their eyes as they listened to their daddy singing the song. So Lily asked me, “Why are they crying?” I said that people sometimes cry when they are very happy, and they were so happy to know that their daddy loved them so much, and was singing to them of his love. I found the song quite moving, so I was actually tearing up a bit too as I listened to it and thought about my own daughters. So I told Lily, see I have tears in my eyes too, because I love you and Emily just like he loves his daughters, and I am so happy that God gave you to me! At this point Lily wrapped her arms around me very tenderly and affectionately, and laid her head gently on my shoulder, with such a peaceful and contented smile on her face, and just nestled there. And when the song ended, she wanted to listen to it again. And again, and again! We listen to the song over and over for about an hour until it was her bedtime, with her snuggled up to me all the while, and Emily on my lap. As we listened, Lily asked me to sing along with him. So I sang the song repeatedly in Spanish to my girls, and told them in English that I felt so grateful to God for both of them, and for their mommy, and loved them with all my heart. It was a precious and poignant time.

After the kids were in bed I did some reflection. One of the things Jesus Adrian Romero says in connection with some of his worship songs is that the spiritual world is just as real as this material world; and that our experiences in this material world are an invitation to experience the spiritual world. I was reflecting along those lines on how this experience of the love I have and was feeling very strongly for my own family was a reflection of, and invitation into, spiritual realities. And I thought about the truth that God loves me with a love that is so much greater, purer, and fiercer than the love that I, in my human limitations and smallness, could ever feel or express, even for the people who are most precious to me; and that the love I feel for my wife and daughters, for example, is an invitation to recognize how greatly – and far greater still – I am loved by my God. A few Scriptures came to my mind:

Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)

It was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. (Psalm 22.9-10)

Thus says the Lord, your Creator, and he who formed you … “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you… Since you are precious in my sight, since you are honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43.1-4)

The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. (Zephaniah 3.17-18)

As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62.1-5)

It is, of course, this great love of God which sent Jesus into this world as a baby, and then to the cross. As we celebrate Christmas this month, I pray that you may know that YOU ARE LOVED, far more deeply than you even have the capacity to love anyone yourself. And may this knowledge fill your heart with joy in God, and rejoicing in the great treasure we have in him, above all else.

We are so grateful for you and your role in our lives. HAVE A MERRY AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

A quote to ponder:

A person is fully human when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live. (G. K. Chesterton)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prayer letter - November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dear friends,

I had hoped to send out a prayer letter about 2 weeks ago, but our house has been hit with sickness for the past several weeks, so I am finally getting to it now. Thank you for your prayers for us, and please keep them coming! Here’s an update from the Palmers…

Preparation for Urbana

In September, I traveled to St. Louis for a training in preparation for the Urbana missions convention, at which I will lead a Bible study of up to 1,000 people. The training was super helpful. I appreciate your ongoing prayers for my preparation for Urbana. As part of those preparations, I plan to hold two all-day-Saturday Bible study sessions at which I will lead all four of the texts in John’s gospel that I will be leading at Urbana. Anyone who wants to attend is welcome – Saturday, December 5 in Paramount (next to Long Beach), and Saturday, December 12 in Pomona. If you’d like more information about attending one of these studies, please email me.

SP update

Three of the missionaries I have been training this year are hoping to be ready to join our SP team in the Middle East by early January, less than 2 months from now. The Team Leader of that team is in the Middle East right now, continuing to do research and make preparations for the rest of the team to join him and his wife in the coming months. I welcome your prayers at this time for this team and the new members who are seeking to wrap up their fundraising and other preparation.

Ministry in Long Beach

Our small group Bible study has been meeting at our house for 2 months now. It has been very encouraging, to get to know this group of people in a deeper way, and to study and apply the Word with them each week. This Bible study group has been a particular answer to prayer for Mini also, as she values deep relationships, and has really connected deeply with some of the women in our study.

Family update

Lily is thoroughly enjoying pre-school and amazing us with how smart she is. She will be 3-and-a-half next month. Emily is 15 months, and is starting to say some words. She loves to have us read children’s books to her.

Lily wore the green sari that appears in a blog post just below this letter to an Indian wedding we attended, to the delight of the Indian people present. Someone at the wedding asked Lily if she was Indian, or white. She responded, “I’m GREEN!” Good answer!

Smile Pinki

2008 was a great year for Indians in cinema! Slumdog Millionaire was NOT the only movie filmed in India to win an “Oscar” at the Academy Awards earlier this year. The other film was Smile Pinki, which won the 2008 Oscar for Best Documentary Short. It is a 45 minute true story documentary produced by “The Smile Train,” a charitable organization that trains and equips local doctors in the “developing” world to do free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries, thus changing the lives of thousands of poor children affected by this deformity. Mini had received some unexpected money earlier this year, and she wanted to give it to the Smile Train to provide a cleft lip surgery for a needy child. The Smile Train sent us the Smile Pinki DVD as a thank you. The DVD is so amazing and inspiring. It is profound to realize that for a few hundred dollars you can help change the life of someone like the little girl and boy portrayed in this film. After watching the DVD Mini and I both readily agreed that, though we are raising support ourselves for our ministry, if any of you wanted to make a donation to the Smile Train, even if it were at the expense of making a donation to us, we would be completely in favor of that! The extras on the DVD are very inspiring as well. I thought I would share this with you all, in case you would like to check it out. As far as I know you can’t rent Smile Pinki on Netflix, but you can go to the Smile Train website ( and request your own free copy from the home page.

We are so grateful for your prayers for our ministry and family, and are always happy to hear from you!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

A quote to ponder:

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give. – Winston Churchill

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mischievious smile

This has got to be one of the cutest pictures of Emily ever! She's 13 months in this picture:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lily's sari

Mini's cousin Anil got married yesterday to Reeja, and we dressed Lily up for the Indian wedding in this beautiful sari that our friends Jason and Jen gave to her as a gift. When Mini's brother Manoj saw her in the sari, he asked her, “Lily, are you Indian, or White?”, to which she confidently responded, “I’m GREEN !!!” :^) Smart girl!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prayer letter - September 20, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your prayers for us! Here’s an update from the Palmers…

Preparation for teaching at Urbana, this Monday – Wednesday

Please pray for me as I travel to St. Louis tomorrow (Monday) morning for a training in preparation for the upcoming Urbana missions convention. I have been asked to lead a morning manuscript study in the Gospel of John for the International Poverty Track, which will have up to 1,000 participants. I’ve never led a Bible study remotely that large before! Please pray for my preparations, and also for Mini, Lily, and Emily as I am away for the next three days.

Lots of teaching this past month

In my last prayer letter (August 10), I asked you to pray for several upcoming speaking engagements that I had in the past month. Thank you for praying for me; each one went really well. Mini and I had the opportunity to present our ministry to one of our supporting churches at their annual camp, which was a fabulous time and a lot of fun. I also gave a message at our church in Long Beach on forgiveness, from the example of Joseph in Genesis 45. And, I taught at our Commissioning Service for seven new Servant Partners missionaries. As they are about to embark on their lives and ministries among the poor, I shared about on Jesus’ example of incarnation and his identification with society’s poor and vulnerable.

One thing I really love about our annual Commissioning Service is the sharing that each new missionary does of how God has led them to this point of committing their lives to serving the urban poor. It brings tears to my eyes to hear them share their stories and to see their dedication to God and his Kingdom. I praise God for these seven new workers that he has raised up, and thank him that he has graciously allowed me to work with and influence them at this stage of their preparation. Please pray for our missionaries on the field in Servant Partners, as they work in very difficult and demanding places, the urban slums of the developing world.

Long Beach update

We’ve been in our “new” home for a month and a half and are enjoying it very much. We hosted our first small group Bible study at our house this past week, and we plan to continue hosting them weekly. Please pray with us that as we follow Jesus in this community, and as God’s Word is taught, God would make us and our home a beacon of light for our neighbors.

Family update

Lily started pre-school this past week! It’s just a morning program, but quite a milestone nonetheless for our little girl who is growing up fast. Lily loves going to school. She cried when school let out because she didn’t want to go back home! Check out the attached picture of Lily and Emily if you’d like.

We are so grateful for your prayers for our family and are always happy to hear from you!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lily starts preschool.

Here are a few pictures from Lily's very first day of preschool, September 15. Lily loves preschool so much that she cries when it is time to go home!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here's a cute picture of Lily and Emily together, taken September 15. Lily is 3 years 3 months in this picture, and Emily is 1 year, 1 month.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Emily at 13 months

Here is a very cute picture of Emily at 13 and a half months

Monday, August 10, 2009

Prayer letter - August 10, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dear friends,

The past month has been super full! We have conducted our annual training for Servant Partners here in Los Angeles, bought a home and moved in (!), and celebrated Emily’s first birthday. Read on for more details!

Servant Partners GUTS training

In my last prayer letter I asked you to pray for our GUTS training, July 18 to 25. That first week went fabulously well. The candidates have now gone to Manila, Philippines for five more weeks of training among the poor in the slums. Please keep praying for them in Manila!

I facilitated the training throughout the week, and did about 15 hours of the teaching (there were other trainers as well). I am very excited about this group of new missionaries, and the eagerness with which they are giving themselves to the training and to the work ahead. We had a fabulous time getting to know each other and building our relationships. By the end of the first week of the training, they were enjoying their new friendships so much that they were already talking about how great it would be if they could all be on the same team on the field. I told them with a smile, that’s why the training is six weeks long instead of one – long enough to start to get on each others’ nerves! :^) They are a wonderful group of people and I’m so glad each of them is part of our Servant Partners’ staff team.

I would also appreciate your prayers as I have four more speaking engagements / teachings in the coming month – two for Servant Partners, one for our church here in Long Beach, and one for a supporting church. Thank you for praying for my preparation, and that God would bless and use each teaching for his purposes.

We bought a house!

For the first time in our lives we bought a home. We got a great deal on a foreclosure right here in North Long Beach, less than two miles from our church. Our mortgage is cheaper than our rent was at the apartment, so financially it works well. We moved in a week ago, and we really like it!

Please leave a comment if you would like our new address, and do not have it yet.

One reason why we are excited about the home is to have a greater degree of stability with our neighbors. Homeowners move too, but there is even more turnover in apartments. It was sometimes frustrating, in our apartment, to begin to get to know our neighbors, only to have them move on after a couple of months. We hope to build many long term relationships with our neighbors at our house, Lord willing for years to come. In this first week we have started getting to know a few of our new neighbors. We also plan to begin leading a small group Bible study in the Fall based out of our home, and are very excited about being able to invite our neighbors to it, and to our church, as we get to know them. PLEASE PRAY for us as we settle into this home and neighborhood, that we would be a light and the presence of God’s kingdom in this community.

God is also at work in our real estate agent who helped us get the house. She is a Buddhist Vietnamese American. As we have told her about our life, she expressed interest in learning more about Jesus. We gave her a Bible and she has started reading it and asking us questions. We explained the kind of work we do in Servant Partners, and she told us that we should send Servant Partners people to Vietnam because people there are becoming Christians! So it seems that she is very open to the gospel. Please pray for her to come to faith.

Family Update

Emily turned one on July 28! She’s just starting to walk.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family and our ministry. We are grateful to be able to share our pilgrimage with you, and are always happy to hear from you!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

Emily's first birthday party

Emily Faith turned one on July 28! Happy birthday Emily!! Here are some pictures of the birthday girl, her big sister, and mommy and daddy at her birthday party. Her favorite gift was this little wagon in which she sits, and it is so adorable when her big sister pulls her around in it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Prayer letter - June 27, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dear friends,

Grace and peace to you in Jesus! Here’s an update from the Palmers…

Fountain of Life Covenant church update

Our church plant in Long Beach is experiencing a big milestone this weekend, as we are inducted into the Evangelical Covenant denomination as an official member church at the Covenant’s annual meeting. We’re transitioning out of “church plant” status as the church has become established and strong. Praise God for causing this planting to grow and thrive! We are a multi-ethnic, multi-class fellowship in the midst of the city, reaching many new unchurched people from all sorts of different backgrounds. It is a very exciting place to be and I am so grateful we can be a part of this ministry.

As I mentioned in my last letter, our church’s camp was June 5-7. It was a very inspiring and powerful time as we studied Luke 10 together. Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending out the 70 to be laborers in God’s harvest (verses 1-24), and ends with the passage about Mary and Martha (verses 38-42). Martha is distracted and troubled by all her serving, and Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to his teaching. We talked about deepening in our intimacy with Jesus, sitting at his feet and listening to his teaching, and having that be the thing that directs and fuels us as “Kingdom workers” and laborers in God’s harvest. We talked about how easy it is to go to one extreme or another – either the extreme of burning out like Martha because all we do is work, work, work in service and ministry, to the detriment of being with and receiving from Jesus (John Piper has a great quote that it is not temptation that hinders his life of prayer, but service); or the extreme of only contemplating, praying, and worshipping God, to the exclusion of actually getting out there to love, serve, and speak of Jesus with our neighbors. So, as a church our goal is to hold action and contemplation, service and worship in the proper tension, so that we are all personally experiencing deeper and deeper intimacy and life in Jesus, and then allowing that life to overflow to those around us who need the gospel.

Sandwiched between these opening and closing sections of Luke 10 is the famous parable of the Good Samaritan (verses 25-37) – a person who actively loves his neighbor, at personal risk and cost, across barriers of race and cultural prejudice. We talked about how direct the application of that parable can be in our ethnically and culturally diverse city. We saw how the traveler was robbed and abused in the streets, but cared for at the inn. We pray that our church would be such an inn – a place where the wounded may come and receive compassion and care until they are whole. God is definitely doing that in these first years of our church’s existence, and we pray it may continue and increase. PLEASE PRAY for us, that God’s Kingdom would flourish in us and through us for the blessing of our city and beyond.

Servant Partners update

Our annual training for new Servant Partners’ staff, the Global Urban Training School (GUTS) starts in just three weeks, on July 18. PLEASE KEEP PRAYING for my teachings and preparations, as well as for our eight new staff members who will attend the training: Jed, Mel, Tim, Philippa, Amy, Laura, Andrew, and Nate.

They will put some of you to death . . . yet not a hair of your heads shall perish (Luke 21:16, 18)

You may have heard about the murder of an American missionary in Africa this past week. Attackers tried to kidnap him by forcing him into a car, and when he resisted, they shot him in the head. He was a personal friend of some of us in SP. He had devoted his life to serving the poor and vulnerable, and sharing about Jesus. He leaves behind a wife and 4 children. Please join us in prayer for his family, for the poor to whom he ministered who no longer have his compassionate presence, and for the ones who murdered him, that God in his grace would open their eyes and call them to repentance and life, just as he did the Apostle Paul.

I have often thought about the verses from Luke 21 in the heading above. Immediately after telling his disciples that they will be hated by everyone because of his name, and that some of them will even be put to death, Jesus reassures them by saying not a hair of your heads shall perish. By referring to each individual hair of their heads, Jesus hearkens back to his earlier teachings (recorded in Matthew 10:30-31 and Luke 12:7) where he says the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. If God does not forget one sparrow (Luke 12:6), and no sparrow can fall dead apart from our Father (Matthew 10:29), and we are of much more value to God than they; if we are so known and cared for by God that he keeps track of how many hairs remain on our heads at any given moment, then we can have confidence that no harm may befall us but that which God sees and superintends, and we truly can live our lives free of the fear of death and in joyful anticipation of entering the presence of a great and loving Father. I am grieved that this man was murdered. I am also inspired by his faithful example, and reminded that all that truly matters and will endure is blessedness in God’s eternal Kingdom. May we all devote ourselves in our own ways to those things that will endure eternally!

Financial update

I thought I would share a mid-year update with you all concerning our financial support. With the economic downturn we have lost over $600 per month because of donors who have had to suspend or stop their giving. We have recouped some of that lost support with new donors who have come on board this year as well, but we are still encountering a shortfall each month. Our situation is not remotely as difficult as that of many who have lost their jobs entirely – including some of our former donors – so we do recognize and are grateful for how blessed and provided for we are even now. And, of course we totally understand if any of our donors need or choose to stop giving at any time. But we do need to work on some additional fundraising this summer in order to sustain our work. So, I want to request your prayers for that. And, if you are interested in hearing more about our ministry, or joining our financial support team, please let us know. That would be a great blessing to us!

Lisa B. update

In previous prayer letters I told you about Lisa B., a Servant Partners intern who suffered spinal inflammation and paralysis in March. She is still paralyzed, slowly improving, and expected to recover in 2 to 3 years. She can move her head, and has some movement in her shoulder, wrists, and hands. She has a voice activated wheelchair and a voice operated computer that she can work on. She is holding onto the goodness of God in the midst of her suffering and trusting that he has a purpose in it. Please keep praying for Lisa.

Family Update

We celebrated Lily’s third birthday on June 11. Emily will be a year old on July 28. You can see pictures of them on our blog.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family and our ministry. We are grateful to be able to share our pilgrimage with you, and are always happy to hear from you!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

A quote to ponder:

I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted, and behold, service was joy. -- Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lily rides a pony

We took the kids to Griffith Park and the LA Zoo last weekend. The highlight was Lily riding a pony -- only $3 at Griffith Park1 We also rode the miniature train. Here are some pics:

Emily on the train...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Emily, a chair and a laundry basket

Here are cute pictures of Emily exploring under a chair, and posing in a laundry basket...

Lily's third birthday

Lily had her third birthday on June 11. Here are some pictures from her birthday party on June 14. The theme was "My Little Pony":

Friday, June 05, 2009

Emily standing

Emily can stand up unassisted all by herself now. She is 10 months. She should be walking before too long. Here is a picture of her...

And another one from the same day...


Here's a cute picture of Lily and Emily taken this week. Emily is 10 months and Lily is a week shy of 3 years old...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Prayer letter - June 3, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dear friends,

Well, summer is pretty much upon us. We appreciate your prayers for us through the summer months, which will include our church camp this week, our major annual training in Servant Partners next month, and both of our daughters’ birthdays. Read on for more details!...

Global Urban Training School begins July 18

Our annual training for new Servant Partners’ staff, the Global Urban Training School (GUTS) begins July 18 – 26 here in the Los Angeles area, then continues in Manila, the Philippines for 5 more weeks. Preparations are well underway for this major training event. PLEASE PRAY for me as I am doing most of the preparations, as well as doing some of the teaching at GUTS. We plan to have eight new staff members in the training, plus six children. (Two married couples are among our new staff, with three children to each married couple.) PLEASE BE PRAYING for our eight new staff members who will attend GUTS next month: Jed, Mel, Tim, Philippa, Amy, Laura, Andrew, and Nate. They are all raising funds for the training this month, as well as doing some reading and writing assignments in preparation for GUTS, so PLEASE PRAY that God would provide for them financially in a challenging economy, and prepare them mentally and spiritually over these next six weeks until GUTS begins! I also appreciate your prayers for my own preparations, including the various teachings I am preparing for the training school.

Fountain of Life Church Camp

Our church in Long Beach has its annual camp this weekend, June 5-7. We will be focusing on Luke 10 and deepening in our church’s vision and life together as a family of faith. The two previous camps were very powerful times of deepening in relationships with one another and convictions and values from God’s word together as a community. PLEASE PRAY that God blesses us all this weekend!

The New Friars

In my last prayer letter, I asked you to pray for our trip to San Francisco last month for an annual gathering of the leaders of several ministries that focus on incarnational mission among the urban poor. Our whole family had such a fabulous time. It was refreshing to be among and strengthen our relationship with other like-minded friends. Mini got to participate in all the discussions because childcare was provided, which was so refreshing for Mini, and the childcare was so excellent that Lily asked if she could stay in San Francisco when it was all over! A major focus of the discussions was a writing project that all of our various ministries would collaborate on together. So, Lord willing, we hope to publish a book in 2010 that includes voices and stories from all of our various ministries of the things that God has done, and what God has taught us, as we have lived and ministered among the poor. We pray that it will be an encouragement to many in the Church whom God is calling into mission among the world’s most vulnerable, and I welcome your prayers as well for those who are working on this project. (I personally am not one of the authors – others in SP will contribute.)

Family Update

Lily is almost 3 years old! Her birthday is June 11. Emily is 10 months and on the verge of learning to walk. You can see updated pictures of them on our blog, if you like.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family. We are grateful to be able to share our pilgrimage with you, and are always happy to hear from you! Every blessing to you this summer!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

A quote to ponder:

Vulnerability means to be hurt over and over again without seeking to love less, but more. Divine love is sheer vulnerability—sheer openness to giving … Being vulnerable means loving one another as Christ loved us. If we did not have to forgive people, we would have no way of manifesting God’s forgiveness toward us. People who injure us are doing us a great favor because they are providing us with the opportunity of passing on the mercy that we have received. By showing mercy, we increase the mercy we receive. The best way to receive divine love is to give it away, and the more we pass on, the more we increase our capacity to receive. (Thomas Keating, The Heart of the World: An Introduction to Contemplative Christianity)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prayer letter - April 28, 2009

April 28, 2009

Dear friends,

After 21 years of writing prayer letters, I have finally decided to give them a name: “The Palmers’ Pilgrimage” (which is also the name of our blog). If you want to know why I chose “The Palmers’ Pilgrimage,” then read this next section. If not, you can skip to the following one!

Why I’m calling these letters “The Palmers’ Pilgrimage”

The origin of the name “Palmer” dates back to the Middle Ages in England. It refers to a person who goes on a pilgrimage to a “holy place,” such as the city of Jerusalem. Medieval Christian pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem were given a palm branch as they entered the city, hearkening back to Jesus’ triumphal entry (see John 12: 12-13). They were then called "palmers" in reference to their palm branch.

I appreciate the associations between palmers and pilgrims, because, of course, the Christian life of faith is commonly referred to as a pilgrimage, a journey through this world to our heavenly home. John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress is, of course, the classic example. There are a number of passages in Scripture from which this concept of God’s people as pilgrims comes – we are strangers and exiles on this earth, sojourners who are on the way to our true homeland, for which we eagerly long:

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11, KJV)By faith he (Abraham) went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, … for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11: 9-10, ESV)These all died in faith, … having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11: 13-16, ESV)

These texts have been very significant to me throughout my adult life. I long to live my life “for the joy set before me,” with my eyes fixed on Jesus, as a pilgrim and sojourner on this earth. I hope that naming these prayer letters “The Palmers’ Pilgrimage” will remind me and others of the journey of faith we are all on to the better country, the city that has foundations.

Lisa B. update

In my last two prayer letters I have asked for prayers for Lisa B., a Servant Partners intern who became paralyzed from the neck down on March 13. Thank you to all of you who have been praying for her. She is in physical therapy and is gradually regaining some mobility. She can now move her arm some, and wiggle one of her toes. She can eat and breathe on her own. She is now in a motorized wheelchair which she controls by moving her head. So she is making gradual progress. She feels that God has spoken to her that she will be fully healed, but also that she will need to be patient and wait for it to happen. Her doctors are estimating anywhere from 6 months to 2 years of physical therapy for a complete recovery. Of course, God may heal her faster than that. Please pray that God would give her and her husband Eric patience and strength to persevere through this difficult time. We have been requested to pray along the lines of Psalm 27:13-14 for both Lisa and Eric.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Family Update

Mini and I celebrated our sixth anniversary two days ago, April 26! I am so thankful for my wife and family. The kids are doing fine. Emily is 9 months “old” today. She is crawling everywhere, exploring the world, and learning to stand. You can see pictures of Emily and Lily on our blog.

The New Friars

Next week our family will travel up to San Francisco for 4 days to attend an annual gathering of the leaders of multiple ministries that focus on incarnational mission among the urban poor. I request your prayers for our travels and for these meetings, May 4 - 7.

Scott Bessenecker is one of the leaders who plans to be present at these meetings. If you’d like to learn more about what next week’s meetings will be about, and what incarnational urban poor ministries like Servant Partners are all about, then I highly recommend and encourage you to read Scott’s excellent book, The New Friars (InterVarsity Press, 2006). Scott describes five characteristics that today’s missions among the world’s poor have in common with monastic orders and other friends of the poor throughout the history of the Church. He profiles several of our Servant Partners staff in the book. It is a very inspiring read which powerfully conveys many of the convictions, values, and passions that many of us in incarnational urban poor ministry share. I commend it to you and would love to hear any comments you may have on The New Friars.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family. We are grateful to be able to share our pilgrimage with you, and are always happy to hear from you!

For the joy set before us,

Dave, Mini, Lily, and Emily

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Emily stands up

Still a few days shy of 9 months old, Emily can pull herself up and stand on her feet, as long as she is holding onto something with at least one hand.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Lily Mermaid

OK, this was NOT coached or prompted! :^) Lily was stepping into Ariel's fins all by herself after watching "The Little Mermaid" DVD a few times, and it was so sweet we just had to record it!

Oral Hygiene

Emily (with 2 little teeth poking through on the bottom) is getting a jump start on oral hygiene...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Jesus loves Emily

Emily's shirt says, "Jesus loves (heart) me," and Emily looks very happy about that!

All clean

Emily is all clean and cute as can be after a bath! She is 8 months...

More Ponytails

Lily's hair is a good length for ponytails now. Here are some pictures we took yesterday...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Emily at 8 months

Emily is 8 months today. Two-thirds of a year. She is crawling now and has been very happy and smiley this week, perhaps due to the joy of greater mobility. Here are a couple of cute pictures we took, including one where she is giving us a "high five":

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fairy Princess Lily

This picture was taken today - Lily is 2 years and 9 months...

Emily sitting up

This picture was taken today, Emily is a week away from 8 months...

Pretty in ponytails

Lily was 2 years and 8 months when these pictures were taken...

Emily's dedication, March 1 (7 months)

Emily was dedicated on March 1, 2009 at both of our churches - Fountain of Life Church and East West Church. She was seven months old. Here are some pictures...

Emily at 6 months

Though Emily is just a week away from 8 months now, she was 6 months when this picture was taken. I've been remiss in updating the blog these days!