Category Archives: Acts of Service and Faith

Remembering the FRG Train Accident/20 years

I picked up the Tribune today and read the tragedy that took place October 25th 1995—- the Fox River Grove train accident. I was an English teacher at Cary-Grove High School. That day I had a substitute because we were putting on the play, THE HOBBIT. It was going to be a day time play for Senior Citizens. The official opening for the public would be that coming Friday.

But then I heard about the train accident. I immediately went to the office to see how I could help concerned parents connect with their children. It was a day of heavy grief and much prayer.

I found out that two of my students had died in the crash and one was seriously injured.  Stephanie Fulham was a student in my class and had a small part in the school play. I went to her funeral and gave her parents the Hobbit costume she would have worn.  I remember her as a sweet, blonde-haired, petite student. We all loved her.

Susana Guzman was in my speech class. She had just given a wonderful speech on her hero, Selena, a Mexican singer who had been killed. Susana was also petite with long curly brown hair and a beautiful smile.

I talked to the mother of one of my students. Her son was in my class and we were having a test that day. He told his mother to pray for him because he was going to have a test in my class that day. Little did he know the test he would have to endure—–healing and recuperating from a train accident. His twin brother was also injured.

We must have had 70 counselors in the Media Center that week, but most students chose to stay in their classrooms. There was no separation between school and God.  We provided poster boards for the students and they wrote out their prayers and messages for the families. Literature took on new meaning.

The foyer of the school’s front lobby was filled with flowers from as far away as Japan. We were a grieving school for a long time. We had a special ceremony where we learned about the building of the Friendship Circle. Seven white doves were let go to symbolize the passing of seven students.  There has always been something special about Cary-Grove High School. We experienced deep pain and we understood grief. There was a closeness and a caring for students that I have not seen elsewhere.  We rescheduled the play, THE HOBBIT, for December and dedicated it to Stephanie Fulham.

 

The Resurrection-Fact or Fiction? April 2015

My heart goes out to those at Garissa University in Kenya today where militants stormed in when students were gathering for prayer. They separated the Christians from the Muslims and killed the Christians. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:30 “And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour. For I swear, that I face death daily. If there will be no resurrection from the dead—Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die.”  “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.”I Corinthians 15: 20 That is what this weekend is all about. Let’s remember those who have paid the ultimate for their faith this Easter.

Every year the media focuses on Easter and its significance to the Christian community. Questions are raised about Christ’s life, death and his resurrection. “Was he the King of the Jews?” “Did he walk the Earth after his resurrection?” ”Was he truly the Son of God?” Certainly Christians live by faith, but is there also conclusive proof of Christ’s resurrection throughout the Bible and history? “If there is no resurrection from the dead,” said the jailed Apostle Paul, “then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith (1 Corinthians 15:12).” Hopefully, my research will help you draw your own conclusions. The most powerful argument for the existence of Christ is changed lives as seen recently in the book and movie Unbroken. My own life is also an example. The world quit revolving around me when I gave Christ my life looking at a sunset one evening as a freshman in college. The prophecies of Christ first coming are powerful. In addition, there are prophecies about his second coming and I encourage you to do your own study. I was a skeptic myself and understand the many questions and concerns you may have. I have spent years as an educator with a Master’s degree from Concordia University. If you are feeling like something is missing in your life….could it be because you were created for so much more——a relationship with the living God? He has a significant plan for your life. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12).” If Christ was the Messiah and there is such a thing as abundant life here and life after death—————–wouldn’t you want to know? Anything this important cannot be ignored.

To begin, let’s explore the prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming and his crucifixion. No person could possibly script his life to fit where he would be born, how he would die, and where and how he would be buried. These prophecies can be found throughout the Old Testament. But for the sake of brevity, we’ll center on two books. First, the book of Isaiah which was written in 740-680 B.C. Isaiah was born into an upper-class family where he rubbed shoulders with royalty and gave advice concerning foreign affairs of the nation. He also attacked the social ills of his day like many of us who are concerned about the welfare of our nation. He viewed these social abuses as symptoms of spiritual declension. To give you a flavor of his writing, see Isaiah 1: 23. “Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.” Today, we can throw our corrupt politicians/governors in jail. Unfortunately for Isaiah, who lived most of his life in Jerusalem, his outspoken word got him martyred by being sawed in two while inside a hollow log (Hebrews 11:37) under the reign of Manasseh. Here are the statements of a God inspired man. When reading Isaiah 53, one would think he was reading the lyrics for Handel’s Messiah. Many of these verses will resonate with you.

  • “He was despised and rejected by men-a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Is. 53.3
  • “But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all……he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Is. 53.5-7
  • “He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Is. 53:9
  • “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied: Is. 53:9
  • “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Is. 53:12

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered on January 28, 1949. The whole Old Testament was discovered except for the book of Esther. The book of Isaiah was relatively intact and is 1000 years older than anything found previously. The Isaiah scroll dates back to the second century B.C. which would make it impossible to falsify to fit the life of Christ... The Dead Sea Scrolls also called the Qumran scrolls (Qumran is the main location in the Dead Sea area where the scrolls were discovered) demonstrates unequivocally the fact that the Jews were faithful in their transcription of biblical manuscripts. The Jewish writers were extremely conscientious about copying the biblical text, and memorization was a key component of their education. The Old Testament books from Qumran are those which we find in our Bibles. Comparing today’s scripture to those found in the Dead Sea Scrolls speaks of the accuracy found in the text.       

The second book I examined was the book of Psalms which was also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The following are some of the prophecies of the Messiah.

  • “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads; He trusts in the Lord let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Ps. 22: 7-8
  • “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me…my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; Ps. 22:14 (Medically this is an accurate description of what takes place when a person is crucified.)
  • “They have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Ps. 22:16
  • “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Ps. 69:21
  • “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy one see decay.” 16:1

There are hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah which Jesus has fulfilled. Here are a few more.

  • Bethlehem was named as the birthplace of the Messiah seven centuries before the event. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”(Micah 5:2)
  • “See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
  • “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10

I welcome questions and discussion on this all important topic.  It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make.

 

Sue Schuerr (sschuerr@gmail.com) or www.lifewithlarry.org/The Resurrection/Fact or Fiction?

Rattled by Earthquakes-2.9 earthquake hits Lake in the Hills/Felt in McHenry County

 (Larry visits Haiti in 2006/2007)

picture haiti 001

 

I was told this morning (3/26/15) that a small earthquake happened in the Crystal Lake IL footprint. My good friend Sue Scorzio said she actually felt it. It reminded me of when Larry, my husband, woke up at 4:30 AM in 2010 to a rumble which he thought was caused by a large branch hitting our Fox River Grove home. Listening to the news, we soon realized it was actually a mild earthquake in the Sycamore area that caused the rumble. We were still reeling from the earthquake footage we were seeing on TV of Haiti. We worried about the people we knew there and the huge task it would be to rebuild this already impoverished city. What was especially vivid was the footage of the Squatter’s Ravine, the place in Port a Prince where the poorest of the poor lived pancaked one hut upon another. “Peering down a very steep ravine, I could see 400/500 huts with a mass of humanity living in them. The roof of one was the partial floor of another, recalled Larry. One little shake and everything would be at the bottom of the ravine collapsing like a deck of cards.” The structures were made with cement cider block but the average person could afford only a little cement. Larry remembers on his 2007 trip that he was able to crack a block with the palm of his hand—-no wonder the Haiti Earthquake of 2010 was so devastating. The people living in the ravine were entombed as the earth swallowed them up. But from here on, I’ll let Larry relate his story.

I had recently retired from teaching Industrial Arts at Dundee Crown High School and it had always been my desire to find more avenues to use my gifts, talents and skills.  So when Bright Hope International asked me to help in Haiti, I was excited about the opportunity.  Could I make a difference in what to me seemed a hopeless situation?

I flew with several others from Miami to Port a Prince where we could see UN soldiers and police all over the place. We waited for the safe house driver to pick us up to stay for the night. The road took us up and down huge crevices somewhat like driving through a quarry with a four wheel vehicle. I looked to the right and saw a huge concrete slab that had been the floor of a building at one time and people were crawling under the slab to capture water coming from a spring below the slab. Iron Bars fortified the city buildings. Garbage was everywhere—electricity was sparse. Everything we took for granted was rare for them. After spending the night in the fortified safe house, we flew 80 miles inland to the town of Pignon. Today the town has doubled in size with refugees from Port a Prince.

One of the first things we did in the town of Pignon was to help deliver Hope Packs (small gift boxes) to the children.  As a former teacher, I was deeply moved because all I saw were children with pencils and spiral notebooks. In Haiti, there were no textbooks, and the only tool the teacher had was a worn out blackboard and a piece of chalk.   The children laughed with delight at receiving their Hope Packs, which contained school supplies, small toys, a T-shirt and even a Bible.  Later, Cary-Grove Rotary club sent a shipment of Creole/English picture dictionaries which became a treasured teaching tool.

As I toured the village, I met a man who was doing carpentry work and I handed him a donated hand tool. Delighted with the gift, he invited me into his tiny Haitian home which was smaller than my garage to see some of his handcrafted work and meet his family.  No welfare system exists in Haiti and the people are looking for hope and opportunities to improve their lives.  With the earthquake, this will be even more difficult.

Our team stayed with Pastor Jephthe Lucien, Bright Hope’s Haiti partner.  Pastor Jephthe is well respected in his church and among the villagers. His great sense of humor makes him popular with everyone he meets.   He gave me the job of building school desks with the Haitian men.  We communicated through pantomiming and humor. “Laughter like music is a universal language.”

On the last day I was there, Pastor Jephthe asked me if I would consider working with him to help build a trade school.  I returned again the following spring with a team of men and we built a school which now serves as housing for displaced earthquake victims. The picture above is of a little girl in the process of making cement by breaking up rocks I now have a vision that a team can make a difference in what I had at first thought was a hopeless situation.

After the earthquake of 2010, much attention was centered on Haiti. I was proud of Americans who helped in so many ways. Yes, one person multiplied can make a difference in this world.

By: Sue and Larry Schuerr

Costa Rica/ A Bit of Paradise

“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25

CR photo

It was with great joy that I connected with Eric and Caroline  and their lovely children, John and Evie. Eric was one of my students at Cary Grove High School where he was the valedictorian of the class. Caroline was Kate, the lead, in our school play,” The Taming of the Shew.” I had heard that they were working in Costa Rica.  My husband and I began supporting them a few years back. So it was interesting for us to visit them in a different relationship. We actually knew little about their ministry and their role in Central America. I emailed Eric and asked if we could visit. He graciously invited us and set up a two-week agenda for us.

Our first morning in Costa Rica, I woke up to the sound of birds, the crowing of roosters and the smoke from the nearby volcano dotting the pink clouded horizon. Eric took us on a tour of the campus which is a taste of paradise. The flowers, palm trees and large pines spoke of God’s presence in nature. We were able to pick oranges, lemons and grapefruits off the trees. I had been transported from below zero temps in Chicago to the warmth of the sun. With tears in his eyes, Eric shared the wonderful story of how God provided this unique campus. The day in CR begins and ends between 6 AM and 6 PM.  A lot is packed into that framework which included joining a visiting Pennsylvania church group in jobs like cutting down trees, varnishing doors and windows and taking down a termite infested building. Serving and eating together helped us develop close relationships.  Our cook, a little size 2 dynamo woman named Marlin,  cooked up a storm for us. It was not all work. We were part of the bus tour to La Paz where we saw waterfalls, animals and tropical plants; we also enjoyed a wonderful buffet. From there, we visited a coffee plantation.

When the Pennsylvania group left, I mentored some of the staff members in English while my husband continued working with the grounds’ team. As a former English teacher and now a writer, the role fit me perfectly. I also loved hanging out with the many children on the campus.  I’m uplifted by their energy, imagination and pure love of God. I encouraged little Evie to speak Spanish with me and she occasionally corrected my pronunciation—nothing like learning from a four-year old, smart cookie.  John runs like the wind just like his father did in high school. They both enjoy playing and watching soccer.

We then rented a car for three days at $50 a day which included a Garmin. We spent our first day at Jaho beach, our second in La Fortuna, home of backpackers and volcanoes. We stayed at the Arsenal Palace, a suggestion by a local, that gave us a great view of the volcano and a  full breakfast—all for $60 a night, no tax.  Our last day, we took a boat trip on the Rio Frio near Nicaragua  to see monkeys, sloughs and birds in their natural habitat.  Larry said he has a muse in the  slough who sleeps in a tree and comes down once every two weeks to relieve himself.

It was inspiring to watch Eric and Caroline follow in the footsteps of Jesus by developing disciples. Eric has a heart for the youth and Caroline is devoted to women’s small groups. This took on the form of stepping into Bible studies with them and taking pictures of their soccer games. God uses so many means to draw people to himself.  We also joined in the evening meetings where the Pennsylvania group processed their working day and shared what they learned in their personal devotions.

After our two weeks in CR, we were convinced that this is a wonderful ministry to support with our work and finances.  We hope to encourage others to be part of a team with us next year.

How to be Safe while Serving in Construction

safety (Click here to see the video)

The house we built in a week with Habitat in Katrina, Bay St. Louis
The house we built in a week with Habitat in Katrina, Bay St. Louis

Larry has been working with my son-in-law on remodeling their house. Yesterday they worked on installing electrical sockets, etc. As a result they both got mild shocks—-they soon discovered the problem. Larry has worked in the construction field as a contractor, a teacher, and now in retirement. Click on the above link to see the Blitz Build safety video he shared with a team at Willow Creek Church before going to help Katrina victims in Bay St. Louis. Not only is it helpful, but quite entertaining. He mentions and shows footage of Mike Breau giving a message and accidentally stapling himself. Enjoy and learn some tips.

xdgxdg

 

Hats the new owner gave us to combat the intense sun.
Hats the new owner gave us to combat the intense sun.

Volunteering Brings Joy and Purpose in Life

Cascade 2013 020 Larry and I met at a Valentine’s Day dance over 40 years ago. It’s a love that deepens with the years. Hopefully, our story will inspire you to build a stronger and more lasting relationship with the one you love. After retiring from teaching, he has devoted himself to working for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Bright Hope, Faith in Action, Love INC and most currently Adaptive Adventures. In the past, Larry managed, with the help of friends and family, to fix up and give away more than 2,000 bicycles. We have always been a team. We have a tandem kayak, a tandem bicycle and I wouldn’t miss a ride on the back of his Gold Wing Motorcycle up to Lake Geneva. This probably is one of the reasons why we are close. We choose to serve together, pray together and play together. Not that we don’t have our problems like any other couple. But our nature is to love and to laugh and it’s hard for us to stay angry for very long. We try to follow what the Bible says. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Many times we just agree to disagree. We can both be stubborn at times. We look to the Bible for guidance as it is a source that never chances unlike the latest counseling advice. Finding happiness, we have discovered, comes from serving one another and helping others. It once has been said,” A person makes a very small package if he is totally wrapped up in himself.” We both love people, the outdoors, and each other so that is why our latest serving experience is so perfect. It embodies all of our passions. Larry is my trailblazer setting us off on yet another adventure.

For the past four years, Larry has been an instructor at Wilmot Ski Resort where he noticed a group of Adaptive Adventure Skiers in the cafeteria. Being retired military, he immediately wanted to know how he could get involved helping GI’s returning with causalities from Iraq and Afghanistan. He met Reilly who lost a leg in combat. We were so impressed to see how well Reilly skies and how he teaches others the sport. We knew it was an organization we wanted to get involved in. It wasn’t long before Larry was spending two full days a week helping disabled adults and children. My first experience with Adaptive Adventures was a weekend up at Cascade. I thought I was going to shadow Larry. But before I knew it, they had me skiing with Hailey, a legally blind 17 years old. She was so excited to be on the mountain on a warm, sunny day. We talked non stop about her family, school and skiing. As a former English teacher, we discussed The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare, etc. We talked about poetry slams and decided to write a poem about Jeff, the young man who taught her how to ski. We could only find paper plates and a marker to write our hilarious poems. The most I had to do for Hailey was to take her by the arm as we got off the lift and to guide her down the hill. She did a splendid job avoiding any potential hazards.

We came in for lunch and the table looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. It was surrounded with prosthetic legs. I never knew there were legs for skiing as well as legs for walking. Sarah, an Africa American teenager dressed all in pink, just beamed as she smiled at Hailey and me. She and her friend were taking a break from their morning adventure on sit-skies. Yes, a paraplegic can ski while sitting and control the directions.

Yes, life with Larry has been full of adventures in our quest to help others and in so doing—-help ourselves.

 

A Breath of Fresh Air

After two days of rain, I was pleasantly awakened by sun streaming into my bedroom window. The earth is  clean and sparkling but chilly.   I can’t remember waking up and being able to see my breath in July with temperatures in the 50’s. But it promises to be a beautiful day in the 70’s.

Life with Larry means a lot of volunteer work. We have been up to Conference Point in Wisconsin and the Life Center in Schaumburg. We are at that stage of life, being retired, where we are blessed to be available. We are praising God that we have the ability to be used in this way.

A few years back, we went to Bay St. Louis where the Katrina disaster took place. We helped Willow Creek build homes there and made many close friends doing it. The temperatures were so hot at times that Larry’s muscles cramped. But the job got done.  A very cheerful black woman gave us these hats as gratitude for helping build her Habitat for Humanity home.  I’ll treasure this picture and the memories. When we finished one of the homes, we got in a circle and all sang and danced to —“Sweet Caroline”.  Every time we hear the song, we remember.

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