Waiting and the Power and Efficacy of Good Works

People frustrate me1, it’s hard for me to even find a word that appropriately reflects my sentiment. It feels like mass ignorance.

I see so many things wrong with the world, religion included — there are so many people who do things in the name of Christ that are downright unchristian and not supported by scripture.

When I come across someone who is spewing mass ignorance, I feel vehemently obligated to correct their erroneous ways. I felt like that is my only response: tell that person they are incorrect and, if needed, show that person why they were wrong, even if doing so required excruciating proof.

This has been my Standard Operating Procedure for many years. It was a frustrating one, but it seemed like the only way. I’ve desperately wanted to find a better way. Today may be that day.

Chauncey linked to post talking about 1 Peter 2:15 (ESV): “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

From thehandmaid.wordpress.com:

If atheism, unreasonableness and bitterness stem from ignorance, that ignorance is as a fury, which can quickly be restrained by good works. If you argue with an atheist in his own rabid manner, you strengthen the fury of atheism. If you converse with the unreasonable by derision, the darkness of unreasonableness is increased. If you think you will overcome the embittered man with anger, you will stir up a greater fire of bitterness. A meek and good deed is like water over a fire.

I like this approach. The problem for me with telling people why they are wrong is that I end up getting all worked up as well. I may have won the battle, but I’m losing the war. This is why I like what Peter is saying, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”2

However, the flip side of this is that it often takes people a lot longer to recognize good deeds than to hear my technically correct but probably ungracious argument. I hate waiting. It’s probably one of the things I’ve had to practice the most in the last few years: being okay with waiting3.

I keep thinking back to this passage from Hustling God:

When I wake up in the morning, I can jump in the shower, grab a cup of coffee, and rush off to work to be productive. Inevitably that will destine me to a day of running. Like Jacob, I will either be running to make something happen, or running away because it didn’t happen as it was supposed to. But if sometime in the morning I become still with prayer and the words of God, then it will occur to me that all of the important things have already been accomplished today. The sun came up and the earth stayed on its axis without any help from me. The Psalms remind me of that. I have awakened to a world I did not create to receive a salvation I did not earn. The Gospels make that clear every time I read them. And I need that reminder, because there are so many temptations in the course of the day to be my own savior, which is always, always, a temptation to hurry in the wrong direction.

For me, it still really is about learning to slow down.


  1. I am “people” too, by the way 

  2. 1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)  

  3. See also: Haiti 

First Thoughts on Being Back From Haiti

I’m not sure what I want to say. I keep jumping all around in my mind, a nontemporalproximal place.

The number of emotions that sweep over me remain overwhelming.

I feel a sadness now that I’m back. I feel like I’ve died.

I feel a great relief to be back home though. Yet, I hate what home brings with it.

I am acutely aware of the sounds: the low murmur of cars on I-5. The buzz of the street lamps in their orange glow. The people yelling down the street. The cars as they drive past me.

It’s so cold here. I’m not used to sleeping with all these blankets.

I put my ear buds in and play a podcast…not my usual one, but one I would listen to in Haiti. My whitenoise maker reminds me of the airplane engines. I fall asleep.

As I walked to the next gate at the airport, I felt inundated with commercial advertisement. What is this product? Why do I need it? Why the fuck are they even advertising this, nobody needs this.

I keep looking out the window, not wanting this plane ride to end. Planes and airports now remain my last vestige of something that means so much, yet I can’t accurately explain what or why.

I don’t want to collect my bags on the carousel. I don’t want to leave the airport — it means I have to say goodbye.

There’s something special about spending such intimate time with these people. We eat together, we sleep together, we pray together, we ride together, we laugh together, we cry together, we work together. We created a new being — a new life form — that existed for 11 days. It was symbiotic and it will never exist again like it did.

I don’t want to go to sleep, because it means I have to move on.

It feels weird to be alone, knowing there’s no one just around the doorway.

We see each other at church and naturally gravitate toward each other.

We seem different now. Sure, we’ve all taken our hot showers; but it’s not that. We act different.

I don’t want to look at my email. There’s 116 new emails covering at least 50 different topics.

Work, even life here, seems too complicated. Too complex. Too overwhelming. I just want to curl up into a ball and cry.

I want things to be simple again. I want to focus on what’s in front of me right now, not what may or may not happen in two weeks.

3026 photos, that’s a lot of memories. I look at them and replay the trip over in my head. I look at the photos from the very beginning of the trip, from when before we really knew each other. Who are these people?

Coming back this time was different. Last time, I was excited to be home because I didn’t know when I was going to get home. This time though, I could anticipate getting home. I knew almost precisely when I would land.

There was no large contingent of people waiting with bated breath for us at the airport. Just our parents, significant others, or roommates.

We sang our song one last time. It was beautiful, amazing, poignant, awesome…just like Haiti was.

I don’t know if I want to go back. I love the simplicity of it. I love Bruce and Deb. I love to see what God is doing. But I hate the politics. I hate that things don’t make sense. I hate that people sometimes try to take advantage of me because I’m “blan”1; it doesn’t feel good when I’m trying to help.

I don’t want to let go of that feeling of being down there. I want to hold it close to me. But I don’t know how to do that and still live and work here.

I don’t know what’s next. I just want to feel that way again.


  1. white 

Going Back To Haiti

In case you didn’t know, I’m going back to Haiti and leaving in just over two weeks! I wanted to share with you my support letter and ask that you consider partnering with me or directly with Haiti:


Dear Friends,

Just over a year ago, I had an amazing opportunity to go on a mission trip to Haiti.

It was a chance, I thought, for God to use my talents for His glory. I assumed that as a college-educated engineer still wet behind the ears, I would show Haiti all the amazing things that could be done with a little bit of math, some ingenuity, and elbow grease.

I am humbled to report that I was wrong. Well, at least wrong about what talents God would be using.

Before leaving for Haiti, I was praying with Jon Epps, the director of Convergence (the young adults group at church). I was feeling ambivalent about so many things in life. Jon prayed that “God would rock [my] world,” and He really did…in every sense of the word (we were there during the earthquake).

I can’t fix Haiti. My skills as an engineer focus mostly on sensing, control, and communication; not designing hurricane strength aqua ducts, constructing bridges over raging rivers, or building earthquake resistant homes (because nothing is ever really earthquake proof). I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not supposed to fix Haiti. Sometimes it takes a little smack from God to remind me of that.

There is something I can do though. I can engage Haitians. I can come alongside them as best I know how and show them God’s love and compassion. I can do the work that God laid out using the tools He has equipped me with, even if they aren’t the tools I thought I would be using.

I can also come back and tell my story, which I’ve had the opportunity to do as a guest writer in The Oredigger (my alma mater’s student newspaper), and in the UPC Times (my church newspaper), in addition to my pictures and posts on my blog. I’ve also had the pleasure of talking in person with many people at work, church, and around town about my experience and the issues facing Haiti.

Now, I have been given another opportunity to spend 10 days serving the Lord in Haiti. In April, I will travel with 11 others as we come alongside UPC ministry partners Bruce and Deb Robinson. We will engage with the Haitians as we work to continue construction of a school as well as take on other tasks Bruce and Deb set out for us.

So I’m humbly asking if you would be my partner in this service through prayer, financial support, or both. I am looking for a group of people to commit to praying for me and my team during this Spring’s experience. As for finances, we are asked to raise $1600 each.

I know that is a lot to ask, so any contribution you could make to this trip would be greatly appreciated, and I promise none of it will go to pay off my school loans. Your gift will be fully tax deductible (your cancelled check serves as a receipt), and any contributions I receive above my individual cost will be applied to team expenses as a whole. Please make any checks payable to UPC (“Haiti: Andrew Ferguson” on the memo line please) and send the enclosed response card1 with your donation by April 5th.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 [NIV])

Your Brother in Christ,

Andrew Ferguson

If you’re interested in helping support me, you may also do so online through PayPal:





Download a copy of this letter: Haiti Letter (PDF: 345KB )


  1. only if you received an actual letter….you can use the PayPal link below instead 

The Blessing

For everyone at The Colorado School of Mines, class starts today. Despite the fact that I’m not in school, I still like to celebrate this day, taking note of its significance. For me, it’s almost like New Years day, being the start of the school year and all.

I’ve been thinking recently a lot about the desires and challenges of life and where they lie. I have fond memories of playing in my backyard with my brother and my neighbors when I was little. During the summer, I would design tree forts and think, “If only I had the money to build this.” I had a desire to have the means necessary to fund my adventure.

Back then, I got something around a $5 allowance/week. And I could earn some extra money by doing some extra chores. But the $250 in materials needed was freaking huge. I dreamt of ways to come up with money so I could build the ultimate tree fort; I mowed lawns through middle and high school and eventually started fixing computers for friends and family who would also pay me. It never seemed like enough and always got spent in other places, mostly LEGOs. But I desired for the day that I would be a grownup and making lots of money; and then I could do anything!

Of course, there’s a certain innocence in being a child. While I wasn’t making any money, I also didn’t have to worry about other adult things, like figuring out living situations, paying for rent and utilities, working a little bit, and being generally responsible.

I had a desire to go to college, learn about engineering and get a job. Maybe I would build airplanes. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was prepared.

I went off to college and learned a lot. I had to deal with finding food on my own. Mom and Dad were no longer there to cook meals and I was 1000 miles from home. I had to do laundry, get up on my own, plan ahead, and keep my grades up; all without anyone else being there. I had several internships where I traded in some more responsibility for some more pay. But it wasn’t enough. I felt restricted in what I could do as an intern and in the limited confines of a classroom. My desire was to be done with school and to grow up; to go out into the world and make a difference. I wanted to make my mark on society and I was going to do this by challenging myself to be the best damn engineer the world has ever known1.

When I graduated, I took on an entirely new set of responsibilities. I had a job — a real, full-time job — and practically all the responsibilities of being grown up2. I had to deal with insurance in all its wonderful forms, making doctors appointments, scheduling vacation, getting enough sleep, budgeting, etc. I was working on integrating myself into society as a contributing member of what makes this world work. I had the desire to grow up more though, to contribute even more to society. My new challenge was to meet a woman, date her, marry her, and start a perfect nuclear family3.

Several months ago, probably starting during my trip to Haiti, I took pause.

At every point in life, I was measuring my level of happiness not by what I had, but by what I desired. It was never enough to have accomplished what I set out to do, because there was always another bigger desire behind it. And each desire became increasingly complex and time consuming. What was I really chasing?

I wanted to be grown up. I think I saw not being grown up as a limitation on what I could accomplish and a limit on what my opportunities were.

I came across this bit from C.S. Lewis4:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

This was one of those “A ha!” moments for me. Before, being an adult meant being grown up. But now, I can start to see the difference between the two. And so I think about what my desires for life really are; what are the things that I truly could not bare to be without?

So far, I’ve come up with three things:

  1. A loving relationship with my creator.
  2. A loving relationship with the people I care about.
  3. Never to be left unchallenged.

The last one, while it is last for a reason, is also important. As Scott Adams has pointed out, “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”

I love solving things. I love figuring things out. What makes me excited to wake up in the morning is knowing that I have still have so much to figure out. I know I can be a better Christian, a better boyfriend, a better friend, a better engineer, a better coworker, a better person. I know there are so many things left to explore, there are many questions left to ask, and there are many challenges left to solve. I know I won’t be able to accomplish everything, but I that’s not the point. Besides, if I were to accomplish it all, what would I do with myself?

And so I wake up saying, “Today, I will try to be better than I was yesterday.”

Perhaps this is the blessing5 and what makes me so excited: a God who loves me, friends that care about me, and things — such as dating Carly — that challenge me in all the good ways….and vice versa.

Here’s to another successful trip around the sun.


  1. or something like that 

  2. or so I thought 

  3. this is simplified version of a complex challenge, but I think the point still stands 

  4. emphasis mine 

  5. read Hustling God by M. Craig Barnes for background 

A Haiti Followup

It’s hard to believe I was in Haiti only seven months ago. It’s a weird dichotomy of feeling like time has been going both very fast and very slow, all at once.

YouTube finally decided to allow uploads greater than 10 minutes, so I thought I’d share a video slide show I put together1. Click through to see the HD version (worth it, I think).

Since my group went to Haiti in January, UPC has sent two more groups: one was a team similar to ours (i.e. short term, 10 day mission), the other is team of engineering students from the UW sent by UPC for World Deputation.

Team Haiti: Adam, Jeff, and Jordan

DSC_6201
18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Seattle, Washington, United States

They’re just about ready to return, but have been keeping a blog detailing some of the work they’ve been doing and fun they’ve been having:

On a related note, Bruce and Deb are going to be in Seattle in September and we’re going to get to have dinner with them!


  1. including some wonderful CC-licensed music from Arthur Pope 

Once upon a time….

Once upon a time….
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
…. in a land far away….
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
…. there lived a boy….
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
…. who was waiting.

He loved his family, he loved his friends, and more than anything, he loved God.

Now, this prince had within his heart a desire — a desire that one day, another would come who would glorify the Lord with him and walk this path of life.

So, he waited1 in the arms of his Father, knowing that all He does is perfect.

Then one day….
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
…. his Father said….
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
…. “it is time.”2

I would like you to know that I have a girlfriend. Her name is Carly and she’s awesome. We’ve been good friends for several months now (we also went to Haiti together) and after lots of back and forth-ing, some might even say arguing, I asked her out two weeks ago and then we decided to start dating.

To say it’s been a long road to this point would be an understatement. However, we both agree that the adventure is just beginning. Unfortunately, Le GF is going on a road trip tomorrow, followed by me taking a trip to Colorado, so I won’t see her for a week-and-a-half.


  1. though impatient at times 

  2. NB: This is based on something my cousin, Katie, originally wrote. I’m repurposing it because I honestly don’t have a better way to express my thoughts. 

You Are Not Eligible to Donate

I tried to donate blood last week during a drive at work (interesting side note, Boeing pays for time spent donating blood). One of my coworkers asked me and I thought it would be a fun experience, especially since I haven’t donated in a while.

I knew that because of all my recent travel, there was a chance I couldn’t donate, but I thought that enough time had passes and that at least I hadn’t been to Africa.

I told the nurse what areas I had been to, Europe, Eastern Europe, and Haiti. She was pretty sure I wouldn’t be eligible to donate, but we went through each country I visited just to make sure. The nurse meticulously wrote down every single country and major city I visited, from Moscow, Russia all the way through Frankfurt, Germany, and Haiti. As it turns out, all of Haiti is at risk for malaria. And despite the fact that I had taken chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, I have to wait an entire year until I can give blood again.

I understand the need to be safe, and I promise I’m not complaining, but it seems like the odds of someone actually getting malaria are low enough that it should be worthwhile to collect the blood, test it, and use it if it’s clean. What diseases are tested for anyway?

Haiti: January 8-21, 2010, A Photo Essay Book

I spent the last couple of weeks putting together a photo essay on my time Haiti. Unlike my last book, this one is almost entirely full bleed photos. It was a difficult book to put together because I initially didn’t know how I wanted to tell the story. I spent a lot of time fiddling around until I was able to decide on the format, using my fundraising letter as the introduction and a letter Bruce sent us as an epilogue.

The book finally arrived last week and the people who have had the opportunity to spend some time with it have been very impressed (some people actually didn’t believe I made the book).

I made this book for me…so I could have something to be able to look at and be able to share with other people when they came over (without having to jump on the computer). However, you can also purchase a copy of the book. It comes in two flavors, softcover ($41.95) and hardcover ($60.95)1. The book is 122 pages in length and includes 242 photos.

As a side note, I’m starting to cook up ideas about making a book for my Europe trip. I’m currently convinced it will have text, however the text will be separate from the photos. With 1665
photos (three times the finished amount I have from Haiti), it’s going to be a nightmare putting that together. Maybe I need an editor…any takers?


  1. Both of these are at cost and I make zero dollars 

Links on Haiti

I’ve been collecting some links of things I have been reading related to the Haiti Earthquake. I thought it might be worth passing some of them on, listed roughly in the order that I found and read them:

The Big Picture: Earthquake in Haiti
The Big Picture: Haiti 48 hours later
The Big Picture: Haiti six days later

CNN.com Video: Mile-wide smile

The Big Pictures: Faces of Haiti: “Aid agencies are still ramping up their efforts – the Red Cross alone has deployed what it calls its greatest deployment of emergency responders in its 91-year history.”

IEEE Spectrum: Engineers Race to Restore Communications after Haiti Quake

awesome.good.is: Haitian Aid

USGS Issues Assessment of Aftershock Hazards in Haiti

The Seattle Times: Stunning recovery: Haitian girl pulled from debris

Wikipedia: USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)

The New York Times: Case Stokes Haiti’s Fear for Children, and Itself

Helping Haiti respond to the earthquake
Staying connected in post-earthquake Haiti
New imagery of Port-au-Prince

The Seattle Times: Body of Port Orchard woman found in Haiti

Red Cross Blogs: Help not hinder Haiti

Los Angeles Times:Jet Propulsion Lab working on radar project to map movements in quake-devastated Haiti

CNN.com: Ten big ideas from TED: Every eight days, the toll of a Haiti quake

The Seattle PI: American Airlines set to resume Haiti flights Friday

Updated: Here are some other perspectives by some teammates:
A New Normal: Reflections on an Adventure in Haiti

Going To Haiti Again!

Update: A couple more links
Haiti Earthquake Aftermath Montage
The Big Picture: Haiti three weeks later
NGO networks in Haiti cause problems for local ISPs