Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Bringing home the bacon! | 09 Nov 13 | En route to Poipet, Cambodia

Bringing home the bacon! | 09 Nov 13 | En route to Poipet, Cambodia

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 15, 2014

I Am Still As Strong

I am fascinated by stories about endurance athletes of all ages. Last month, a 70 year-old Australian named Cyril Baldock became the oldest person to swim the English Channel. This grandfather of five managed to complete the 21-mile swim in 12 hours and 45 minutes and, in so doing, broke the previous record which had stood for 27 years. Impressive. In 1985, Baldock became the 5th Australian to swim the Channel. He decided then that he would one day attempt the swim again. He waited nearly 30 years to do so in order to become the oldest person to swim the Channel.

Otto Thaning
Last week, 73 year-old Otto Thaning, a heart surgeon from Cape Town, took the title from 70 year-old Cyril Baldock. Like Baldock, this was not Thaning’s first time to swim the Channel. He first swam it 20 years ago. Thaning, who has set other swimming records, told the BBC, “My wish was basically to promote the idea that people over the age of 70 can do things like this if they look after themselves and work hard.” And work hard he did. His training helped him to push past the pain and power through the 64-degree water to set a new record.

Last September, 64 year-old Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. Even though Nyad had previously failed four times to complete the 110-mile swim across the treacherous waters of the Florida Strait, she refused to give up on her dream. On her fifth attempt she completed her swim in 52 hours and 54 minutes. When she arrived in Florida, Nyad told reporters that “you’re never too old to chase your dream.” She knows what she’s talking about.

Caleb is one of my favorite Old Testament characters. He was one of the twelve spies Moses sent to the territory of Canaan. And he was only one of two spies who brought back a positive report. God allowed Caleb to survive the wilderness wanderings and rewarded him with an inheritance in the Promised Land. At 85 years-old, Caleb said, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then” (Joshua 14:11). Caleb did not shy away from tough challenges even when he was old.

Whether young or old, it’s important to have dreams and goals that compel us to work daily to stay active and sharp. Retired football coach Lou Holtz said it well, “If you’re bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.” Determine to dream dreams and to set goals that will challenge you to stretch and that will redefine the geography of your life. Whether your dream is to complete some physical challenge or simply to love and serve others well, keep moving in the direction of your dream. Doing so will make each day just a little more meaningful.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 13, 2014

Bad Weather Warriors

For the past nine years, our missions ministry has mobilized thousands of Kingsland volunteers to engage in service initiatives around the community. We have only had to cancel less than a handful of our outdoor initiatives because of really bad weather. But, not always. A few years ago we committed to do some landscaping for our friends at Iglesia Sobre La Roca (Church on the Rock). Our volunteers laid more than twenty pallets of grass — in the rain!

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Serving others in spite of the weather is important. I am not a big sports fan but I do admire certain athletes, among them NBA great Jerry West who played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers. His silhouette is featured in the NBA logo. West once said, “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” He was right. And, to turn West’s phrase, “You can’t get much done for the kingdom if you only work on days when the weather is pleasant.”

Processed with MoldivThis morning was one of those days when it rained in biblical proportions in Katy. But, in spite of the rain, volunteers from our Outfitters and Extreme Makeover Adult Bible Fellowship groups showed up to do interior painting at Bethel Bible Fellowship’s new campus. Over the past few weeks we have assisted Bethel with projects on their new property. Today, our volunteers did an amazing job of installing new lighting and painting the interior of Bethel’s small group space. The paint dried slowly because of the humidity, but we managed to paint every room.

Processed with MoldivOur Outfitters ABF is one of our younger groups and brought their kids along. I absolutely love seeing families make special memories of serving together. We had plenty of kid-friendly tasks. The presence of children always makes our projects more enjoyable. We are intentionally fulfilling our purpose statement of equipping the next generation by giving our kids opportunities to serve others. I will have to wait until we are all in heaven to hear the stories of how the kids we are training today served the purposes of God in their own generation.

Processed with MoldivI am grateful for our bad weather warriors. It would have been so easy for them to stay in bed this morning or to use the rain as an excuse to stay home. Instead, they got up, showed up, worked hard, and helped us to bless our newest daughter church. They exemplified what it means to go beyond. Thank you all for your service.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Gujarati girl | 03 May 2009 | India

Gujarati girl | 03 May 2009 | India

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 6, 2014

The Bicyclist’s Philosophy

Kids and bicycles are meant to go together, kind of like hot summer days and swimming pools. I have fond memories of the bikes I owned when I was a kid. I learned to ride a two-wheel bike when I lived on Globe Street in San Antonio. Having a bike opened up a whole new world of adventure for me. For the first time I could explore the world beyond my neighborhood and still be home in time for supper. I could not have asked for anything better than that — for the freedom and the capability to go farther than I had ever been before.

This morning, after Kingsland’s first early morning prayer vigil (which was a wonderful experience), I met the CityGates men’s group at Rudy’s for breakfast. I love these guys and their passion for serving. Every Christmas the CityGates guys assemble more than 250 bikes for local kids. I knew that they would be the perfect group to recruit to assemble bikes for students at Generation One Academy in Houston’s Third Ward — all at-risk kids from low-income homes. Our goal is to give a bike to each kid between now and next summer.

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After breakfast, we loaded fifteen bikes-in-their-boxes into our vehicles and headed downtown. When we arrived at GenOne, the kids helped us offload the boxes and other gear. They each claimed a box and eagerly waited to get started. My friend Jay Jackson ordered the bikes for us from Haro and did all of the shopping for helmets and pumps and other gear. Another guest secured tool kits for each of the kids. We spent a couple of hours of one-on-one time helping each kid to assemble their bike.

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Our first order of business after assembling the bikes was to give a quick safety clinic, something very important since these kids live in a busy urban area with lots of traffic. And then, the best part of all — taking the kids on their first ride on one of the downtown “rails-to-trails” trail. The kids were so excited that it was a bit like herding cats down the trail. The guys talked to the kids about riding safely as we cycled across streets and major intersections. We had a great time and rode 4.5 miles before returning to GenOne to eat lunch together.

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The kids and their parents were so happy to receive the bikes. These bikes will offer new opportunities for the kids to learn important lessons about responsibility but also about life. With so many things keeping these kids off-balance, we hope that the lessons they learn from something as simple as riding a bike will seep into their hearts and somehow remind them to keep moving forward.

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One of my favorite bicycle quotes is from Susan Vreeland’s book entitled Clara and Mr. Tiffany. It reminds me of why having a bike is a good thing, especially for kids: “You know, bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance,” I said. “it’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life.” All things considered, that’s not a bad philosophy at all. Thank you, CityGates, for loving and serving the kids at Generation One.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Testing water wells for arsenic content. | 1999 | Bangladesh

Testing tube wells for arsenic content. | 1999 | Bangladesh

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | September 1, 2014

The Adventure Addict

Swiss explorer Mike Horn may very well be the most interesting man in the world. Unlike Jonathan Goldsmith, the debonair actor who plays the Most Interesting Man in the World in the Dos Equis beer commercials, Horn has an impressive resumé of accomplishments. The 48 year-old adventure addict has climbed the world’s tallest mountains, swam the length of the Amazon solo and unsupported, circumnavigated the earth at the Equator, walked to the North Pole in winter, and more. Horn thrives on tough challenges.

Mike Horn
Horn’s next big adventure begins this month. He will embark on a circumnavigation of the planet via the prime meridian and international date line — a 25,000-mile trek that will take him across both poles. He plans to travel all 360 degrees in 360 days. How will he do it?

Horn will sail a 105-foot ketch, the Pangaea, from Monaco to South Africa where he will pick up a four-man crew to accompany him to Antarctica. Once he reaches Antarctica, Horn will set off on skis, dragging a 450-pound supply laden sledge 3,600 miles across the frozen continent. On the opposite side of Antarctica, Horn will meet Pangaea and sail north through Alaska’s Bering Strait. He will then jump ship and begin another grueling walk across the frozen north. Horn will drag a modified sea kayak over pressure ridges and melting sea ice all the way to Greenland where he will board Pangaea and sail back to his starting point.

I have no doubt that, barring something beyond his control that might stop him, Horn will accomplish his goal. In many ways, he has prepared a lifetime for this challenge. Every previous adventure, every summit, every swim stroke down the Amazon, and every hard-won mile have all contributed to preparing him to circumnavigate the planet via the North and South poles. The risk of failure will stalk him every mile of his journey but so will the hope and possibility of success. One thing is certain, it would take a lot to stop a determined man like Horn.

I enjoy reading and following the adventures of guys like Horn. They remind me that we are capable of doing so much more than we think possible. And, they challenge me to have bigger and bolder dreams. Horn admits, “My dreams still scare me. If they don’t they’re not big enough.” He’s right. There is something good about being scared and attempting a task that has a high risk of failure. I hope that Horn accomplishes his goal. But, if not, I will still admire him for dreaming big and attempting something epic.

We don’t have to swim the length of a river or climb a mountain, but we should endeavor to go beyond the usual stuff of our lives. Each of us should consider how we can push ourselves to attempt something that will take us a little farther than we’ve ever been. That may mean loving a little more, forgiving someone when it’s hard to do so, or actually taking on some physical challenge that will cause your muscles to ache. Whatever it is, trust God to help you do something that will scare you and take you farther than you ever thought possible.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 30, 2014

Serving at Christ Clinic

Sooner or later it happens to all of us — some ailment or ache or concern prompts us to make an appointment to seek medical attention. For those who have medical insurance and a family doctor, this is a no-brainer decision. However, for those who are uninsured or underinsured, the decision about where to seek medical attention is a bit more challenging. The options are not always as clear for the poor and the homeless. That’s why we are fortunate to have Christ Clinic in our community. Christ Clinic is the only Katy-based clinic that provides low-cost acute and chronic care for people without insurance.

Christ Clinic Adult HelpersOur missions ministry has supported and invested in the work of Christ Clinic for several years. Kingsland member Dr. Cindy Anthis regularly volunteers her time at the clinic along with others from Kingsland. Our members have served at Christ Clinic during our annual Caring for Katy day and at other times throughout the year. This morning, an assortment of volunteers from the Grace Awakening and Insula Adult Bible Fellowship groups and several girls from our student ministry served at Christ Clinic. Our assignment was to do a deep and thorough cleaning of the entire facility.

Processed with MoldivOur team did a great job this morning. We cleaned every room from floor to ceiling. We mopped and scrubbed and dusted. We moved every piece of furniture to clean under and behind and around. We wiped down furniture and shampooed carpets. We squeegeed windows and cleaned every door. Some stood on ladders to reach high places while others dropped to their knees to scrub baseboards and floors. By the time we were finished the entire clinic looked and smelled great.

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My friend Kara Hill, the director of Christ Clinic, stopped by to personally thank our team. I am grateful for Kara and her staff and the service they provide our community in the name of Jesus. The clinic is open five days a week and is usually packed with people in need of help. The staff at the clinic also compassionately care for any homeless folks in our area in need of medical attention. We are fortunate to have Christ Clinic in our community. I’m happy that we could serve and bless them today.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 28, 2014

Our TWS Training Begins

Preparing for the 2015 Texas Water Safari

After a one year hiatus from canoeing, Doyle and I are finally back on the water — and we couldn’t be happier. Early this morning we loaded our gear and strapped our canoe onto Doyle’s red truck, stopped by Whataburger for a quick breakfast taquito, and then headed West toward Luling to do our first training run in preparation for the 2015 Texas Water Safari. This 260-mile ultramarathon canoe race is billed as the world’s toughest canoe race. And indeed it is. Doyle and I crossed the finish line last year in a little less than 90 hours. We know that in order to compete in this brutal race you have to train, train, train.

Canoe on Doyle's Truck
Today we decided to paddle the San Marcos River from Zedler Mill Dam in Luling to the low-water crossing at Palmetto State Park, one of the checkpoints on the safari. This 15-mile section of the race course offers some technical challenges to paddlers. And, to make things even more interesting, the river here is littered with all kinds of trees and logs swept here by floods in recent months. We thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of paddling around obstacles and seeing all of the changes on the river since we last paddled here.

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The section of the San Marcos River between Luling and Palmetto is also challenging because of the Son of Ottine Rapids. When Doyle and I did the safari last year, we arrived at these rapids late at night. We picked a good line, managed to avoid the rocks, and made it through without incident, saving us the time of portaging. Because the water level was a little low today, we bottomed out on the rapids. But, no problem. Doyle hopped out of the canoe, gave us a nudge, and we were on our way.

Ottine Dam Sign
Ottine Dam is located a few miles down from the rapids. There is a required portage at this dam because it is deteriorating and dangerous. A paddler from San Marcos died here on a training run a few years ago. Thankfully, the dam is scheduled to be demolished. When we arrived at the dam we pulled our canoe up the sandy bank, dragged it around the dam, and then lowered it back down to the water. Once we hopped back into our canoe, the skies opened up and it rained on us all the way to Palmetto. No problem. The rain was refreshing.

Ottine Dam
Although Doyle and I have not been in our canoe for almost a year, we thoroughly enjoyed today’s training run. We talked a lot along the way about last year’s race — what we learned from it, what we need to do different in order to improve our time next year, and about our next training run. We understand what it takes to do the safari and are committed to intentional preparation one training day at a time. I enjoy the safari because it is hard, it stretches me, and there is always the possibility that anything can happen along the way to keep us from reaching the finish line. These are all ingredients for a great adventure!

Canoe at Buc-ee's

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Meat Market

A neighborhood meat market. | 15 March 2013 | Kolkata, India

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