Thursday, August 30, 2007

San Juan et. al.

We're really soaking up all the great thing Puerto Rico has to offer. We visted "El Morro" yesterday and wandered around el "El Viejo San Juan." The people are "bien chevere" with us everywhere we go. The coqui lulls me to sleep at night and the warm Caribbean sun greets me at the dawn of each day.


Originally uploaded by pastorluisalvarez

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Las Bellas Playas del Borinquen

My good friends David and Gigi Img_0075_2 let me tag along with them to PR. We're out here in beautiful Moca, Puerto Rico taking a few days of r & r. We've been hitting the near by beaches of Moca, Aguadilla and Cabo Rojo. What can I say, "la Isla del Encanto" it's a beautiful place. It feels good to get away.


I'll be posting some more photos and perhaps some reflections...


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The 2007 Leadership Summit

Last week 9 leaders (Jeanette, Lolita, Vanessa, Samantha, Chris, Daniel, Gabriela, Noemi and Wanda) and I had the opportunity to attend the Leadership Summit this year at Christian Cultural Center. Once again it was an outstanding experience. Speakers included: Rev. Floyd Flake, Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter and of course Bill Hybels.

Here's a link with video recaps


The Worship Industry

I caught this clip from Brian McLaren on worship. Check it out what do you think about what he calls the "Worship Industry"?


Monday, August 13, 2007

New Fossils Challenge Evolution

Apparently, new fossils found in Nairobi, Kenya are challenging the traditional notion of evolution. Scientist believe that human evolution occurred in linear succession, Homo habilis to Homo erectus to ourselves, Homo sapiens. This new discovery shows that Homo habilis and Homo Erectus were actually contemporaries. One couldn't have evolved from another. Interesting stuff...Of course this doesn't dispose with evolutionary science, but it certainly casts doubt on how we think humans evolved.
Check the article out in the NYU Public Affairs site.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Dr. George O. Wood was elected the 12th general superintendent of the Assemblies of God General Council, August 10, at the 52nd General Council. Having served as general secretary since 1993, Wood fulfills the unexpired term of Thomas Trask, who stepped down during the middle of his four-year term. Needing a two-thirds majority, Wood was elected on the sixth electoral ballot, receiving 70 percent of the vote. Read Wood’s biography.

I've meet Wood in 1999. He's a brilliant seasoned minister. Wood should finish Trask's term with faithfulness and distinction. Lets continue present the AG before the Lord.


Steve and Dorothy Tie the Knot

I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Mr. and Ms. Steven Sanabria, at the Woodbury Country Club in Long Island. It was a fantastic wedding.
Many blessings on your marriage guys!

Here's the Flickr Photo Set.
Thanks Pastor Jeremy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


I was at JFK International Airport a few days ago to pick up my friends from their vacation in Puerto Rico. I waited outside of the airport arrival area for quite a long time. I remember doing this when I was about 10 years old or so. I remember picking up my grandmother as she arrived from the Dominican Republic one cold winter. Back then JFK was the only airport I knew about. We stood in crowds of people eagerly waiting for a glimpse of her. When we finally spotted her there was a sense of joy and relief.

That night reminded me of a time when picking someone up from the airport was an event. I was happy to see it still is for many people. The gate was filled with people from different nationalities Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Salvadorian, and Israeli. All were part of an audience in hopeful anticipation. Some held humorous signs, husbands and boyfriends had flowers in hand waiting for their "one and only," (yes it's true...chivalry is not dead). The appearance of an expected passenger brought shouts. Some passengers felt like celebrities on the red carpet. Rendezvous were endearing. Some were just smiling gazes and one word greetings. It was refreshing to see.

I reflected on how airport pickups embody acceptance and hospitality. They contain encouragement, cheer leaders and personal rooting squads. They bring to the surface thoughts and feelings that are too often not spoken or taken for granted. I wondered how our lives would change if we made most of our meetings "airport pickups". If we saw people as always "arriving," we would express our love to one another more frequently. We would appreciate each other more. We in turn would feel appreciated, cared for and encouraged.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Immigration Issue is Still Alive

Although the general immigration bill failed to pass this year, pieces of the bill are being presented in the Senate, in particular the "Temporary Worker Program" and a version of the "Dream Act." This is a hopeful sign. Please continue to pray on this. Check out the NY Times Article below.

In Increments, Senate Revisits Immigration Bill

Alex Quesada for The New York Times

Juan Sebastian Gomez, 18, and his family received a reprieve this week from being deported to Colombia.

Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, right, listened this week in Washington to friends of Juan Gomez, who asked that he not be deported.

Last week, the Senate approved $3 billion for border security as part of a Homeland Security Department spending bill. Democrats and Republicans have also begun laying ground for a bill to create a new temporary immigrant worker program for agriculture.

Another bill, also with bipartisan support, would give a path to citizenship to high school graduates who are illegal immigrants if they complete two years of college or military service. Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and a sponsor of the bill, attached it as an amendment to the military authorization legislation that the Senate last month put off until September. Mr. Durbin said he would seek to move it again then.

The agriculture and student measures “have a decent chance of passing this Congress because they have strong champions, broad bipartisan support and they have been around for a long time,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, which supported the broad bill. But he cautioned that they would have to overcome a “toxic” atmosphere on immigration in the wake of the defeated bill.

The college bill attracted renewed interest this week because of Juan Sebastian Gomez, a student who just graduated with honors from Killian Senior High School in Miami. On July 25, immigration agents in Florida detained Mr. Gomez, 18, his brother and his parents, all illegal immigrants from Colombia, and prepared to deport them. Immigration officials delayed the deportation on Wednesday after a group of Mr. Gomez’s high school friends roused support in South Florida and then flew to Washington to pound on doors.

The friends pointed to Mr. Gomez’s academic record — a near-perfect 3.96 grade-point average — and top scores on 11 Advanced Placement exams. They said he should not be punished for his illegal status because his parents brought him to the United States when he was 2.

The sweeping Senate immigration bill, which included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, was defeated by opponents who said it would reward knowing lawbreakers and the employers who hired them. But many legislators, including some who opposed the broader bill, see the student measure differently because it would benefit immigrant teenagers who are illegal only because of decisions their parents made when the children were young.

“It’s unfair to make these young people pay for the sins of their parents,” Mr. Durbin said.

The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, says nearly a million immigrant students across the country could gain legal status under the bill, whose backers call it the Dream Act.

While the bill’s prospects seem favorable in the Senate, the outlook is not as bright in the House.

“We call it the Nightmare Act,” said Representative Brian P. Bilbray, a Republican from California who leads the Immigration Reform Caucus in the House. “We’re giving status to immigrants based on the fact they are here illegally. It really sends a mixed signal to both legal and illegal immigrants.”

Support has also re-emerged for the agricultural bill as labor shortages have hampered harvests this summer in states like California, Michigan and North Carolina. The bill’s supporters include growers, the United Farm Workers, conservative Republicans like Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California.

The bill would expand and streamline the existing agricultural guest-worker program and offer legal status to illegal immigrants who are experienced farmworkers. At least 70 percent of the workers in agriculture are illegal immigrants, says the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, a national trade group.

The bill’s supporters say they are looking for ways to bring it to a vote before the year’s end. In one effort last week, during the debate on financing the Department of Homeland Security, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, sought a vote on an amendment that would combine the agricultural bill and the illegal immigrant student measure, but he did not succeed.

Mr. Gomez’s case has given Washington a vivid illustration of the issues behind the illegal immigrant student measure.

An affable teenager who attracted friends at Killian High by tutoring classmates in subjects as diverse as European history and biochemistry, Mr. Gomez seemed likely to be an exceptional college candidate. A volunteer at a neighborhood homeless shelter, he often did his schoolwork on the computers of friends because his parents could not afford one.

(Page 2 of 2)

Mr. Gomez’s parents, Liliana and José Gomez, brought him and his brother, Alejandro, who is a year older than Juan, to the United States from Colombia on tourist visas in 1990. The parents stayed and started a small catering business in Miami, and the boys went to public school.

Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Mr. Gomez’s parents applied for legal status but were denied in 2002. They have been facing deportation orders since then.

Mr. Gomez, barred from applying for financial aid because of his illegal status, enrolled in a Miami community college for the fall.

“All I’m hearing now is that I’m Colombian, but I’ve never really been there,” Mr. Gomez said in a telephone interview from Miami. He said he had no memories of the country where he was born and does not speak articulate Spanish. “They are taking me from my home in America,” he said.

The family was arrested as part of a nationwide immigration agency operation to track down immigrants scheduled for deportation, agency officials said.

From the vehicle that took Mr. Gomez to an immigration detention center, he made furtive cellphone calls to his high school friends. They opened a site on Facebook to signal his plight and contacted the news media.

A week later, Mr. Gomez’s site had more than 2,000 members and seven of his friends were working the hallways on Capitol Hill.

In interviews here, friends recalled Mr. Gomez’s spurring them through a three-day sleepless marathon of studying for an Advanced Placement exam in world history.

“I truly see Juan pursuing a career that does America good,” said Andrew Dubbin, 17, a junior at Killian. “He could do anything. He’s just genuinely smart and sociable.”

On Monday, Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Republican of Florida, offered a private bill to the House Judiciary Committee asking for legal resident status for Mr. Gomez and his brother. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, delivered an appeal for the brothers to the White House, and Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, called immigration authorities.

On Wednesday, officials stayed the family’s deportation and released them for 45 days to give Congress time to consider their bill, Ms. Gonzalez, the immigration agency spokeswoman, said.

On Friday, Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee, will hold a meeting to consider private bills for three other illegal immigrant students facing deportation.

Ms. Lofgren said she hoped to take up Mr. Gomez’s bill after the August recess.