Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas 2005 in Palm Desert, CA!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas to all!

It is my hope that during these days of celebration that you will join with those shepherds and wisemen of long ago and seek out He who was given to us and is Christ the King!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Black Families Home Schooling

I thought this was an interesting article from the Associated Press - Joe

Dec 11, 6:19 PM EST

Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Denise Armstrong decided to home school her daughter and two sons because she thought she could do a better job of instilling her values in her children than a public school could. And while she once found herself the lone black parent at home-education gatherings that usually were dominated by white Christian evangelicals, she's noticed more black parents joining the ranks.

Armstrong said she wants her children - ages 12, 10 and 7 - to have a "moral Judeo-Christian foundation" that public schools can't provide.

Read the entire article at the Yuma Sun.

National Black Home Educators Resource Association

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Missions to Unreached Peoples

We took a road trip last week to meet with Bruce and Pat Ernst from Missions to Unreached Peoples.

Bruce is the International Director for Member Care.

MUP has 125 missionaries in 20 countries. They are focused on the 1040 Window. Essentially, the provide independent missionaries the opportunity to go to the foreign field.

Their Member Care division provides pastoral care for those on the field. Currently, MUP has most of their missionaries in Asia. However, they also have folks in eastern Europe. They have openings in both sort term and long term ministry opportunities if you feel so led!

Bruce and Pat were very congenial and open with us about the ministry and their role in Thailand. They are back in the States for the holidays, taking a much needed break. We very much enjoyed our visit with them.

It did remind Erica and I of our original intent when I left the pastorate in 1984 - to work with missionaries on the field, providing everything from pastoral support to babysiting to computer help or just a listening ear.

Pray for all who serve in foreign countries that the Father will provide the nurturing that they need. We, also, covet your prayers.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Alissa's Nativity Painting

The Flu arrived!

First Alissa and then Cody have come come with the full blown flu - headache, runny nose, fever, deep cough. But , praise God, neither Erica nor I have had any symptoms yet. I am just glad that we got that out of the way early!

Don't be afraid to say "Merry Christmas" as you are shopping this season!

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas!

Studying the Chronicles of Narnia

The kids are thoroughly enjoying reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Their only complaint is being able to read only one chapter a day!

Thanksgiving 2005

Giving thanks for God's provision, His goodness and His love as well as for our wonderful family!

Monday, November 21, 2005

NBC's Law and Order SVU Smears Homeschooling

Though this press release is from early last year, these same types of programs are running in re-runs on cable. We ought to be aware and responding!

On February 17, 2004, NBC's 'Law and Order - Special Victims Unit' - a legal drama produced by Universal TV Productions - aired a show about homeschooling.

It portrayed homeschooling as a cover for child abuse.

Needless to say NBC and Universal were unconcerned about offending hundreds of thousands of honest, law-abiding homeschool families.

For over twenty years modern homeschoolers have fought successfully against negative stereotypes.

Regrettably NBC and Universal have succeeded in perpetuating this latest attack on homeschooling.

It is blatantly unfair to negatively portray a minority and tar every homeschooler with the same brush.

The consequences for innocent homeschool families can be serious. Some people might actually believe the picture painted by Law and Order SVU and use the anonymous tip procedure to report homeschool families for abuse and neglect without any factual basis. Child Protective Services are obligated to follow-up these reports and homeschool families will face unwarranted harassment. This already happens all too frequently to families all across America. More importantly, real abuse will be missed because the system may be clogged with false reports.

The truth is that homeschool families are not havens of abuse but rather the leading edge of excellence in American education.

HSLDA is considering its options in this matter.

Home School Legal Defense Association

You can email NBC at

God blesses the Cookie Campaign!

Cody and Alissa were successful by the grace of God and raised enough money selling cookies to send two Christmas Care Packs to the children of Nigerian martyrs!

Praise God!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Report: China Arrests Priests, Seminarians

This week is the International Week of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

Read the article here concerning the arrest of priest and seminarian in China.

Take the time to visit the Voice of the Martyrs website.

Pray for those who are laying down their lives for the sake of the Gospel and for those left behind!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Baking cookies for Nigeria

Cody and Alissa are baking cooking today - chocolate chip, peanut butter and snicker-doodles. They are going to sell them over the next couple of days to raise $25 for a Christmas Care Pack to be sent to a child in Nigeria whose parents were martyred for the sake of the Gospel.

We found this through the Voice of the Martyrs who support those families who are being persecuted for the Gospel. This week is slated as a time prayer for the persecuted church worldwide.

Each Christmas care pack includes a shoulder bag filled with:
• T-shirt
• New Testaments
• Christian Children's books
• bar of soap
• toothbrush & toothpaste
• school supplies
• eating utensils
• some food and a few sweets

You learn more about the persecuted church at the Voice of the Martyr's website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia as curriculum

Erica and the kids have recently started a unit study using the C.S. Lewis "Chronicles of Narnia" as the base. The study includes reading through the Chronicles, though not in the order in which they were written, Bible and character studies, vocabulary and spelling and, of course, reading.

They are all having a great time with it. There are lots of extra activities and good ideas included. The kids are doing a crossword puzzle today!

The study is entitled, "Further Up and Further In" and is available from Cadrom Creek Publishers. There is a different book by the same title about C.S. Lewis but it is not the unit study.

I recommend you investigate it or contact Erica for more information.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Burgan Newsletter November 2005

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Ps 27:13-14 NIV

As hard as it is to believe it, 2005 is almost over!

This has been a year of waiting – waiting in line at the border, waiting on the Mexican government but most of all just waiting on the Lord. Many years ago, I took a verse from Ecclesiastes to heart.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” Eccl 9:10 NIV

So that is what we have done this year.

To read the entire newsletter, click on "Read More" below.

La Sombra is a work planted and pastored by Rich Barcelona who, along with his wife Lori and their five children, has been in Mexico for eight years. This past summer, the church celebrated its fourth anniversary. It is a work that, like all work in Mexico, sees good days and bad. The folks accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior then comes that “working out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12) Fornication and adultery are so common that it is difficult to convince the people of the need for purity. It must come from the Holy Spirit. The same holds true for lying, gossiping and back-biting. These things are so ingrained in the culture that only revelation brings liberty.

Rich and Lori have, by the grace of God, established a good work here. They stand steadfast and faithful. They have proved to be good friends, for which we are grateful to God. It has been our privilege to lead worship on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings for them this year. Cody has been doing an incredible job on the drums, but we haven’t been able to convince Alissa to sing with us as yet. As out-going as she is with the kids, she is still shy in front of groups.

Also, this summer, I spent a number of weeks working on a house remodel in Palm Desert, CA. Erica’s great aunt (her grandmother’s sister) Rachel, moved to Palm Desert, which is right next to Palm Springs, last year from Los Angeles. We had the pleasure and privilege of taking some time away and visiting with her over those months. Rachel has been involved with some friends there in the Coachella Valley in some real estate ventures; mostly remodeling, but now some new construction as well. Anyway, they were going to hire someone to help out at the house and asked if I would do it.

We were certainly grateful for the opportunity to work to help meet the bills and for Rachel’s generous hospitality in hosting us at her house even a couple of weeks when she was back east.

Erica has continued pressing forward with the kids and their education. Thank God for the Internet and public libraries! With those two resources, it has been easier to find what she needed. Erica is also serving as vice president for the local homeschool support group – H.E.Y. (Home Educators of Yuma)

Since we had the time, we have taken the opportunity to spend more time together as a family. Cody and I have been building a model airplane of the Corsair used by Pappy Boyington of Black Sheep Squadron fame. Both Cody and Alissa are working on earning badges through the Contenders for the Faith and the Keepers at Home programs. The kids must fulfill certain requirements to earn a badge, similar to merit badges in Boy Scouts.

We have also added to our family recently. Two years ago, the kids received parakeets as gifts from Adalberto and his wife. This summer, Erica decided to let the birds build a nest. You buy these pieces of logs to put in the cages which the birds hollow out into a nest. As long as they don’t have a nest, they won’t lay eggs. Well, our little birds got busy and soon had a nest of eight eggs. When we returned from one of the weeks in Palm Desert, we found all the eggs broken. It wasn’t long, however, until we had eggs again. This time they have begun to hatch. So far we have three new baby parakeets. There are still 3 or 4 more eggs so we may yet have more.

Just a few weeks ago, we were blessed with a visit from the ACTS Church of Bedford, PA. They spent several days blessing the folks in SLRC. Their days included preaching and sharing at the Dump, hosting a movie nite at La Sombra (which was a packed house), clowning at an old folks’ home and sharing the Gospel with the Oaxaca and Chiapas Indians on the outskirts of town. They all had a real servant’s heart and were an encouragement to us as well.

I would like to share with you some of what we see as needs here in San Luis. Though I am not entirely sure as to the reason why, most Mexican couples that we encounter are not married to each other. If there are children, and being good Catholics there is usually a brood, the chances are real good that the man currently in the house is not the father or at least only the father of the youngest. Because of the cultural dominance of the Catholic church, divorce is not an option. So, rather than divorce, they just commit long term adultery.

What this means is that if a woman gets saved and the man she is shacking up with does not, she is faced with a dilemma. If she stays in the home, which often belongs to her and not the man, she commits adultery or fornication. If she asks the man to leave, then she may be separating a couple of children from their father and she has no income coming into the home. If she leaves, then you add to the above that she has no place to live.

There is such incredible need for a place where these women can go and find refuge and safety, where they can learn a skill, where they can get out from under the oppression and away from the danger of drug and alcohol abuse. There is such need for a place where women can learn how to be mothers, how to manage their households and how to walk right with the Father.

School is mandatory up to 6th grade which is called Primary. Grades 7 – 9 are referred to as secondary and are not mandatory. To go to Secondary, parents must supply uniforms and often pay a small fee per month and buy books and supplies. What we in the USA would recognize as high school is called Preparatory and is not free. Not only are there uniforms, books and supplies but there is also tuition required for attendance.

For many teen girls, the future is pretty bleak. Even if they can finish Secondary, job perspectives are slim and low paying. The lure of the sex industry is strong with prostitution legal in Mexico and “table dance” clubs very popular. Even if the girls know enough to stay away from these jobs, the cultural pressure exists for them to find a man to take care of them. Again, because of the moral climate of the culture, 15 and 16 year old girls are shacking up with 25, 35 or 45 year old men. The chances are very good that they will get pregnant quickly and their fate is seemingly sealed having prostituted themselves one way or another. We know of one woman, and I am sure that she is not unique, who is in her mid-forties and has eleven children by five different men. She has grandchildren older than her youngest daughter.

There is a need for a place for these girls, a place where they can be safe, where they can receive training in computers and English, sewing and cooking, and following Christ in purity and integrity. There is a need for a place of refuge and comfort where they will be loved for who they are, protected from the wolves who would use them and then cast them aside, pregnant and desolate.

Statistics tell me that about 6% of Mexicans are non-catholic Christians. What those statistics don’t tell me is how many of that 6% are Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon or some other sect or cult. What I do know is that in our town there are many small churches. I am talking about churches with less than 25 people in attendance. Of those churches who really are Christian, if there is a pastor, he or she has very little if any training in understanding and teaching the Word and no training whatsoever in nurturing a flock.

When you are confronted with a society that is corrupt to its very core from the lowliest beat cop to the highest level of municipal, state or federal government, mediocre Christianity is not going to have an impact. When the culture is saturated in a religion whose expressed purpose is to squelch the evangelical movement and which has such a stronghold on the people as to be demonic in nature, a Christianity without the power and demonstration of the Spirit is an exercise in futility.

There is a need for a center where the local pastors can come and to where they can send their flock knowing that they will not be proselytized but that they will receive Bible-based training for the whole man. There is a need for a place where life skills can be taught – what the Bible says about finances, government, marriage, and parenting, where the Word is taught in its fullness, in its entirety, where one can learn to flow in the gifts of the Spirit by example and by receiving instruction to avoid abuse and misuse.

These are the needs that we see, that burden our hearts:
- a place of refuge for mothers from the sex industry or those just trapped in ungodly situations
- a place of safety and training for young women to prevent them from falling into the traps of this culture and the enemy
- a place for training Christians, preparing them so that they may help prepare others for the soon return of Christ.

We recognize, however, that we cannot meet these needs, especially not on our own. More than anything, we need people, people with a burden, people with a calling, people willing to lay down their lives here in Mexico.

There will be other needs but unless we have the people the rest is moot. Join with us to pray the Lord of Harvest to send laborers here – from the USA, from Mexico, maybe you!

Please do drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

Joe, Erica, Cody and Alissa Burgan

Monday, October 10, 2005

God continues to provide!

Joe has been been working for the last three weeks doing construction in Palm Desert, CA which is next door to Palm Springs. The first and last of those weeks, Erica, Cody and Alissa were up there with him. The middle week, he was there by himself. We realized that that was the first time since Erica took a trip to England while she was still working at the hotel in Memphis, TN that we have been apart for more that a day. It was a lot more traumatic than we thought it would be.

Thank the Lord, though, for the opportunity to earn a few more bucks. We were able to bless the kids for their birthdays last month and pay all the bills. This Sunday is our 23rd wedding anniversary. So we will be able to do something special as well. There is an Italian restaurant in Yuma that Erica really likes so I am hoping that we will get the chance to have an evening out together!

We are back home for at least these two weeks. A group from the Acts Community Church in Bedford, PA is arriving this coming Saturday on a missions trip. We will be finalizing their itinerary this week and working with them next. We look forward to seeing them again.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Happy Birthday, Alissa!

Our Alissa turns 9! Happy birthday, baby girl! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Happy Birthday to Cody!

Wanting to wish birthday blessings on our not so little son who turns eleven today!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Been working in Palm Desert

We have had an interesting late summer. Joe has been able to work construction in Palm Desert for four weeks out of the last eight which has helped with our financial situation. We have been graciously hosted by Erica's great aunt Rachel at her condo while Joe was working. This last week, the family took a trip up the tram to the mountains overlooking the Coachella Valley where Palm Springs and Palm Desert sit. The view was spectacular! In the winter, there is snow up there for nearly the whole season. It is about 8000 feet above sea level.

We are back home now and geting back in the routine of school.

Cody turns 11 on Wednesday. Hard to believe!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

We wait!

We are glad to be able to help out the local church, La Sombra, here in Mexico but we have no other leading as to what is next.

So we wait!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The new Spiderman?

It has been a crazy week and a half!

On the 4th, while at a local swimming pool in Mexico, Joe was bitten by a spider. This is the second time for him! The locals have a particular name for it but we haven't been able to figure it out yet. It is a small white spider whose venom is very painful.

After being bitten on Monday, Joe's foot began to hurt that evening. The pain got worse on Tuesday until by Wednesday, he couldn't walk on it. The last time this happened, we didn't know what was wrong and the bite got infected. This time, Joe immediately elevated the foot, began icing the area and applied an ointment which the doctor prescribed the last time.

Fortunately, no infection this time and the pain was bearable. Finally, today, Joe is able to walk around without crutches for the first time since last Tuesday!

Hope you day is going well!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Celebrate Freedom! Happy Fourth to all! Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 04, 2005

Hope you have a wonderful and blessed 4th of July with family and friends.

Celebrate freedom!

Cody on a rope swing! Posted by Picasa

Alissa on a rope swing! Posted by Picasa

Las Palapas Swimming pools in Mexico! Posted by Picasa

Folks from La Sombra at Las Palapas! Posted by Picasa

Celebrating the 4th with friends in Mexico! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Our newsletter for the summer of 2005

Summer is upon us in the world’s second largest desert. We are routinely having afternoon temperatures in the 100s. If we get a break, the mercury drops into the high 70s at night! Thank God for the swimming pool we bought the kids earlier this spring.

The kids only have a few days of school left and Erica has moved the schooling to the afternoon so that she and the kids can spend the mornings in the pool before the temperatures rise and the sun is directly over head. It can get to 120° in the sun. Even if we keep the van windows open, the steering wheel can get to hot to touch! In the afternoons, after 4:00 pm, the pool is in the shade but the water is like a bath tub. Oh, the trials and tribulations of the mission field. ;-)

As you know, after leaving our previous position at the boys’ home, we felt of God to establish an outreach center for women and young girls. Two things have transpired that have put that on hold for the time being. The first was getting reacquainted with some old friends from Pittsburgh who are now living in the Phoenix area, Randy and Diane Shrekengast.

Randy served for many years as the missions pastor for a church on the east side of the city. Several years ago, he and his family moved to Arizona to work with a ministry called the Antioch Network. ( The purpose of this network is to pair up local independent churches with unreached people groups throughout the world, giving them an opportunity to be involved in missions.

During our visit, Randy gave us a book to read entitled “Loving the Church… Blessing the Nations”. In this book, the author discusses how to go about planting churches on the mission field. Among the first steps is to establish a team. We felt that this was God speaking to us that before we dive into a building project or go any further with establishing Hope House, we needed to raise up a team.

As we set ourselves to prayer regarding this team, several of the key members came to mind from folks we knew here in San Luis. However, before we could even take the first step, we ran smack dab into a situation with the Mexican authorities. I’ll not go into detail at this time but suffice it to say that it was serious and discouraging.

As a result of that, for which we hope to have resolution soon, we have put all plans for training a team or setting up the house on hold. But that hasn’t deterred God one bit in what He has wanted us to do.

Since last fall, we have been attending a newly planted Baptist church, called La Sombra, in the southeast corner of the city. Almost eight years ago now, Rich and Lori Barcelona came to Mexico from northern California in answer to the call of God to plant a church. I mentioned that it is a Baptist church but it is by no means your “normal” Baptist church nor are the Barcelonas your “normal” missionaries.

The church recently celebrated its fourth anniversary. They have seen the church almost double in size since last fall. We are doing what we always do– whatever we can to help.

The Barcelona’s daughter, Brittney, was playing the keyboard for their worship with two of the Mexican ladies singing along with her. However, she was not having any fun! We joined her for a while as backup instruments and voices and then stepped up to lead after a few weeks. We are now leading worship on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings. We are taking the opportunity to teach new music and music styles but also we are teaching the congregation how to worship. Being made up almost entirely of new Christians, the church has no experience in worshipping. It is quite a challenge to bring a people to that place in God where they can truly sense His presence and be those who worship in spirit and in truth and not just sing songs. But this is not our first time at this.

We have also been asked by the pastor, Rich Barcelona, to serve on the leadership team to give counsel and help in any way we can. Joe has continued to use his computer experience to update and troubleshoot the Barcelona’s home computers. He will also be working with a computer lab that has just been set up in the dorms on the church property. By the way, the dorm can house from 1 to 60 people if you should want to plan a short term missions trip. There is plenty of opportunity for ministry in the church, the community and the city. From nursing home visitation to reaching out to the homeless in the city center, from Sidewalk Sunday School to full-blown evangelistic campaigns, the opportunities are infinite!

Erica spends her day homeschooling Cody who is 10 and Alissa who is 8. The kids are growing up fast. They will be turning 11 and 9 respectively this September. Cody is playing drums for the worship and doing a great job of it. God has really blessed him and through him is blessing us. Alissa is still too shy to join us in singing but we hope that she will soon!

Joe has started a “blog” which is a web log where he has been writing, almost daily. It is mostly teachings that may some day be gathered into a book. He has called the blog “Musings of an Iconoclast”. You can read his entries at We have also started a family blog where both Joe and Erica will be making occasional entries. This one is more chatty and is about was is happening day to day, often with pictures. You can view it at Both of these blogs allow you to leave comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us. Recently in a time of prayer, the Lord took Joe to Jeremiah. We have continued to seek God as to His will and direction. Anyhow, Jeremiah is giving the word of the Lord to the nation of Judah and says,

'If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.' Jer 42:10-12 NIV
We have felt strongly to stay in Mexico and continuing working with this local church and whatever else the Father brings our way. We covet your prayers.

Please do drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

In service to the King,

Joe, Erica, Cody and Alissa

Monday, June 27, 2005

Just a Few Thoughts

I am new to blogging, so here is my first go at contributing to this family blog.

We are in our last week of homeschooling here and have moved our schooling to the afternoon in order to be able to enjoy the more moderate temperatures (only around 95-100 degrees) in the mornings in the pool and then spend the hottest hours of the day indoors wrapping up our studies. We have spent this school year studying the history of the world and how God was preparing the world for the spread of the gospel. We have studied MANY missionaries and read about 13 missionary biographies. It has been a truly incredible year for really focusing our hearts and minds on what the Great Commission is really all about. Our family devotion and prayer times have been wonderful and sweet. And I believe that, even more than before, our children feel the heart of God to reach everyone.

Tonight I went into say goodnight and pray and sing with my kids and my son was reading from Proverbs. He wanted to read several verses aloud to me and it really touched my heart. What a gift we have been given to be able to teach our children and be so close to them during these important years of their lives!! They BEG me each night to read several chapters from the current missionary biography we are reading - they absolutely LOVE them! (These are the YWAM missionary biographies, by the way).

We will probably take a couple weeks break before starting the new school year, but I hope to be able to take the kids up to Palm Desert so Cody can visit the World War II Air Museum - since we studied World War II a couple weeks ago, he has been asking when we can go there. And maybe we can go to Soak City, too:-)

Well, that's all for now, but I will try to write regularly so that you can keep up with our family's journey here in Mexico, perhaps from a little different perspective as a mom.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Alissa at the fountain on the waterfront in Charleston, SC 2000 Posted by Hello

Cody in the fountain at the waterfront in Charleston, SC 2000 Posted by Hello

Friday, June 24, 2005

Erica and Alissa doing water aerobics. Posted by Hello

Erica and the kids in the pool this morning. Posted by Hello

Cody hanging out in the pool this morning. Posted by Hello
Summer is here in full force. Temperatures have been around 115 degrees this week! Thank God for air conditioning!