Welcome to the Baldwin Boomerang

We long to see people in every tribe, tongue and nation transformed for God's glory. Our mission is to share the gospel by producing effective, compelling media tools that people can understand in their own culture and language. We are preparing to serve as full-time media missionaries with Create International. Toward that end we completed an extensive missions training program called a Crossroads DTS at YWAM Perth, Australia and a secondary YWAM school called the School of Frontier Media in Thailand. We are currently on furlough in North America and hope to see you face-to-face in 2010!

Support Information: Our support goal is currently near 50%.

You may send gifts and donations for our support to our sending agency Ripe for Harvest and please designate Account #247 in the memo line without including our name on the check. You may then mail the check directly to:

Ripe for Harvest, P.O. Box 487, Monument, CO 80132

PLEASE note new address.

It can take up to a month and a half for us to see your donation show up on our report. Also, Ripe for Harvest is able to issue a tax deductible receipt in the USA, but YWAM in Thailand is not.

If you want to be added to our newsletter list or have additional questions, email us at baldwinboomerang @ gmail dot com

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parting Shot

So here we go. Our last official post to this old blog. If you don't know where the new one is, contact us and we'll let you know. In the meantime, enjoy this video of My*nm*r shot and edited back in November. It is curiously cropped here in this blog so you can go to the actual link below to see it in all of its widescreen glory.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Report Back Presentations This Weekend

This weekend provides two great opportunities for you to come see our report back presentation on the work we did last year and to hear firsthand of our plans for the future.

Friday, February 26th

7:30 pm – Make Your Own Sundaes!

Middleton Congregational Church

66 Maple Street, Middleton, MA

Sunday, February 28th

12:15 pm (after the 2nd service)

First Congregational Church of Hamilton

Heritage Hall (Next to the church parking lot)

624 Bay Road, Hamilton, MA

At both of these events we will share with you some exciting things that God has taught us and to show you some specific examples of the exciting things God is doing today in Asia through the work of Create International. You will also hear about our upcoming plans to go to India in March and much, much more. Please come and find out how God is actively working around the world today through video production.

You are officially invited. We'd love to see you there.

Lastly, this is likely to be our last post to this blog. Primarily due to the sensitive nature of our work in closed countries, we are creating a new blog without reference to our names. You will be invited to subscribe to this new blog in the days ahead. Feel free to contact us directly for more information.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Volume 15: Next Stop India

4 out of 5 Baldwins agree that 2009 was the most amazing year of our lives—not to mention the most challenging. We survived malaria and diarrhea, conquered tropical climates, preached the gospel on street corners, shot footage of Asian peoples behind closed borders, and experienced amazing new cultures in seven different countries. Together we rose to the occasion and survived an exhilarating year that has paved the way to our future in full-time missions work. Our commitment to this work has never been stronger and we are even more ready and willing to go than when we originally departed in 2008.

Best of all, we are ahead of schedule! When we set out in 2008 we had anticipated being in Australia for up two years. Yet God always seems to put us on different paths that inevitably work out better than what we initially anticipate. Originally, our plan had us completing our Create International training this coming June 2010. Instead, the unusual circumstances of last year lead us to go to Thailand for the School of Frontier Media last July. Steve completed this crucial training in December and Allyson is half-way through this program. Consequently, we are able to begin serving now with Create International as official associate staff members. First on the list, we expect to contribute to an upcoming production for the Punjabi people of India in April. More on that exciting project in a moment.

It's no secret that Samuel's experience this past year was not the same as the other four of us. Instead, Samuel has exciting plans that put him on a different path for his future. One of our biggest priorities this year is to see Samuel graduate from high school and help him through the transition into college this fall. He has applied to UMASS Amherst in the hopes of entering their Computer Engineering program. Please join us in praying that Sam will be accepted with a generous scholarship to make it possible for him to attend college this fall. Appropriately, we do not anticipate making our home overseas again until Sam is firmly entrenched in his college experience.

We are now officially on our first furlough and need to spend a lot of time raising additional funds so we can go back to full-time media missions work. Our support is currently insufficient for our budget here or overseas, so we have a lot of hard work to do this year to increase funding for our ministry. We learned in 2008 that support raising is very nearly a full-time job of its own, so plenty of our time this year will be devoted to the networking needed to increase our funding levels. Consequently, we also don't have a set time-table for our future yet, preferring to depart again when we have received all the funds we need to sustain us long-term. Please pray for us that our time of support raising will be abundantly blessed as it was so beautifully in 2008. If you are not already supporting us financially and would like to start, contact us and we'll show you how to get started.

We our also contributing to a few other video projects this year, including a lot of editing of material shot in Papua New Guinea (PNG) last year. One of those video projects is an HIV/AIDS video intended to help educate the people of PNG about appropriate HIV prevention. We will be posting this video along with others online later this year as they are finished. We also eagerly anticipate screening the Sh*n videos we helped to produce last fall upon their completion later this year.

We will be living in Falmouth, MA until the end of June, and looking for some freelance video production work to subsidize our income to make ends meet this year. We will also be participating in a number of media missions projects providing video production support like the one with Create International to India this April. Please pray for us to be able to set aside the crucial time to contribute our expertise and resources to these missions projects while also working part-time.

In the meantime, we have two opportunities for you to come see our report back presentation on the work we have been doing recently. The first is Friday, February 26th at the Middleton Congregational Church, 66 Maple Street, Middleton, MA at 7:30 pm at an ice cream social event. The second is at our home church, First Congregational Church of Hamilton, 624 Bay Road, Hamilton, MA at 12:15 pm in Heritage Hall on Sunday, February 28th. At both events we'll be sharing some specifics about our journey reporting back on the past and looking ahead to the future. We'd love to see you there. Feel free to contact us directly if you require additional information.

Create International has been invited to India to produce a series of key videos. There are over 80 million Punjabi people presently on the planet. They represent over 40% of the population of Pakistan, and the majority of the Indian province of Punjab along the border with Pakistan. Their culture is an ancient one stretching back over several thousand centuries and often fraught with conflict along ethnic and religious lines. Today, the Punjabi people are largely Muslim, Sikh or Hindus roughly in that order. We will be providing an evangelistic film in the Punjabi language and culture similar to the work we recently did for the Sh*n people of B~rm* with a special focus for the Sikh peoples of the area.

We will travel to India at the end of March for a Create Staff & Family Conference in Jaipur near New Dehli. Then Steve will remain in India for a few weeks to provide video production assistance to the teams at work in the Punjab district, while Allyson will return to the States with the girls. We need several thousand dollars for the roundtrip travel and outreach fees for the events taking place in Northern India. Please contact us directly if you are able to assist us in this important endeavor.

Can you contribute to our upcoming expedition to India?

Just like last year's outreach to Papua New Guinea, this year's spring project requires a considerable amount of support to get us to Northern India at the end of March and back.

We require $6500 by March 1st to pay for our roundtrip travel tickets and ground fees in India.

Please prayerfully consider whether you could make a special contribution at this time. Contribution information is on the top of our blog. Thanks, mates!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vol. 14i My*nm*r Memories 8: Kids!

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Today's focus will be on the children of My*nm*r. This one features a young man wearing a longee, which is a long skirt worn by men of this country. What everyone woman knows is that a skirt is cooler than pants, but here in Burm* the boys get to stay cool too. This is a tropical land near the equator, so every little trick to stay cool helps!

We had a photo of this young woman earlier in this series. She's the one who attempted to sell us a bird so we could receive a buddhist blessing by releasing it. Here she is featured with her bowl full of trapped birds. That's just something you don't see every day.

In the center of the country, we met a heartbreaking group of kids up in M*nd*l*y. We met the mom so at least they had one. I just can't imagine what it must be like to have to send your children out to beg so that you can get enough money to eat every day. Yet, millions of children beg for their daily bread all over the world.

Here is the girl's little brother. We never did find out what happened to his arm. My*nm*r has one of the worst health care systems in the whole world, so it's likely he never saw a doctor and this sling was gerry-rigged by his mother.

And here is one of the other brothers. We got these kids some snacks and hung out with them on the street for an hour or so while we waited for our taxis to arrive. They didn't understand any English at all, and we didn't know any B~rmese, so you can imagine how tricky it got. And, still, fun was had by all!

Most kids understand the Funny Faces game, and after making funny faces with them for a while, they were rolling in the road with laughter, literally. I think about these kids a lot. If you want to see a moving documentary, I highly recommend Born into Brothels. Different country, but similar situation.

Before long we had an audience and other kids from the neighborhood showed up to see our shenanigans. “Those crazy people!”

Later on we arrived in a small town in Sh*n St*te, and walked the streets to find a restaurant. Along the way, we met many Sh*n people like this mother and child by the side of the road. I wonder how many older children in this family have worn this well-worn hat before this child?

This little guy greeted us from the local DVD vendor's shop. Southeast Asia is notorious as a place where you pirated copies of Hollywood blockbusters are bought and sold. The people here are certainly not going to pay Best Buy prices for DVDS, they simply would not be able to afford them. Instead, unscrupulous vendors make copies and sell them for a dollar or two. I'm always a little embarrassed by what sells and what doesn't at street stands like this one. Let's just say that horror is a real hit here.

Here is one of my favorite photos! This mom has done her shopping for the week and now she and her child are going to bike back home to make dinner. What a cutie! Sadly, there is little or no enforcement of safety rules here, and in most cases such laws don't even exist. Consequently, it's very common to see babies being held by parents on motorbikes or a pile of kids hanging off the back of pick-up trucks.

This young man lives at the local Sh*n temple and is probably responsible for its upkeep. I can't help but think about him and the other children here who have never had a Christian as a neighbor or a friend. Situations like this remind me that the task of taking the gospel to the world is far from done. Someday, Lord willing, this young man will know God as we know Him and thank us in his prayers for our joint efforts to bring him the Good News. Join me in praying for the salvation of the Sh*n people and the timely completion of the Sh*n evangelistic film being worked on right now.

Thanks for being a part of our team that made this expedition possible. With your partnership we expect to contribute to many more projects like this one.

This is officially the last My*nm*r Memories photo-journey post. We hope you have enjoyed the journey. Let us know!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vol. 14h My*nm*r Memories 7: Monks

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In Southeast Asia everywhere you look there are monks! In this place everyone is reminded of their religion constantly by numerous temples and the consistent presence of monks, the keepers of Buddhist teaching.

Through extensive Buddhist law or Dharma, the life of a monk is shaped specifically to support their spiritual practice, live a simple life, meditate on the Buddha's teaching, and work toward that goal of attaining Nirvana: the “great Nothingness or Obliteration” that awaits Buddhist followers.

All monks must take the five vows referred to as the "Five Precepts" of Buddhism:

  1. I will not take the life of a sentient being (you shall not murder)

  2. I will not take what has not been given to me (you shall not steal)

  3. I will refrain from sexual misconduct (you shall not commit adultery)

  4. I will refrain from false speech (You shall not lie)

  5. I will refrain from becoming intoxicated. (You shall not get drunk)

Most Monks have over 200 other rules that govern a wide range of behaviors including their speech, entertainment, sleep patterns, and use of cosmetics.

Monks can also be some of the most educated and affable people in these Buddhist communities. Most of the monks I have met are as curious about us Christian visitors as we are of them. With a little help with translation you can strike up great conversations with monks you meet along the way on a number of relevant subjects of spiritual interest.

One of the words used for Monk literally translates as “beggar” or “one who lives by alms.” It is part of Buddhist cultures that orphan boys are often taken in by monasteries and raised as monk novices as a sort of social service solution in countries lacking state welfare programs. Early in the morning you will witness a procession of monks collecting alms that are used for their support as well as upkeep for the numerous temples.

We visited a remote monastery in Sh*n St*te where monks and their novices live and work by the Vinaya framework of monastic discipline that governs their conduct and education. These Vinaya or rules vary from country to country, but in this community they have 227 specific ordinances to live by.

In the countryside, the local altars are much more homespun than the lavish gold altars found in major cities. In an attempt to devote themselves thoroughly to the Buddha's Dharma or teaching, most Buddhists use rituals in pursuit of their spiritual aspirations. Buddhist will often kneel before these altars and offer prayers or meditations while burning incense.

The largest of the big cats, the tiger is indigenous to this region and serves as an important symbol in local mythology. Animal Planet recently voted them the world's favorite animal (just beating out the dog of course), which should help raise awareness of their status as an endangered species in most of their natural habitats. I confess, they are one of my favorite animals, too, how about you?

Tiered-roof buildings for religious functions in this area are commonly called pagodas. Here some monks oversee construction of a pagoda that will be used as an altar to receive the adoration of Buddhists worshipping their enlightened teacher. Somehow I think this wasn't actually what Siddhartha Gautama Buddha had in mind when he founded Buddhism, but since his teachings were not written down for at least 400 years after his death there is plenty of room for misinterpretation today.

Here is a rare glimpse of Bhikkhuni, or female monks. Women monks are not often well accepted here and even looked down upon. It seems that these patriarchal societies are not quite progressive enough to accept women in these spiritual roles yet. Although women have been monks since the founding of Buddhism, their second-tier status continues 2500 years later.

Giant statues of the Buddha are quite prevalent in this culture. Depending on the culture, depictions of the Buddha can vary widely. Some feature the Buddha as a gaunt, seated ascetic and others as a fat, laughing wanderer. Every attribute is chosen carefully to reflect some purported truth about the character of the historic Buddha himself.

With somewhere between 230 to 500 million adherents, Buddhism is far and away the most popular religion in Asia outside India and the world's fourth largest religion after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Join me in praying that Buddhists everywhere will truly become enlightened and see the one we know as the “Light of the World.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vol. 14g: My*nm*r Memories 6: Transportation

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I thought it would be fun to take a look at transportation in My*nm*r today. In the big cities like Y*ngon, one of the most common options for getting around is by bus. They really know how to decorate their buses here. This busy intersection is also a good look at the city, which by our American standards is fairly relaxed in most all ways except for the consistent speed of vehicles.

Of course, if you want to get around the country a bit faster, an airplane is always a great choice. There are only a handful of domestic airlines that operate inside the country and regrettably none of them have a great reputation. The only international flights allowed must come into Y*ngon and from there a number of smaller planes like this one run a shuttle service to other small airports around the country. What time you arrive at your destination will depend on whether you get the jet or the propeller engine plane that day.

Most of the vehicles around here look about 50 years old. With soaring inflation a constant problem here, nobody can afford to acquire a new vehicle. Consequently, you see a lot of fixer-uppers that are exceedingly well maintained to keep them on the road. These little blue cars may or may not be running at this time.

We spent more time in a taxi than any other vehicle, since the trip into Sh*n St*te was basically 6 hours one way. These are the two taxis we took at a gas station where the gas is brought out to you in cans. No pumps!

Here we are going through one of the many tollbooths that are used to restrict the movements of people in the country. The population is very much controlled here and nobody gets far without government officials or their network of spies knowing their whereabouts.

Even in the city you will see a lot of people on bicycles. Motorbikes, however, have been outlawed within city limits. Some government official decided he didn't like them and had them banned from city streets. What a contrast from Thailand where motorbikes and scooters are everywhere!

Once we got out into the country, we had to cover a lot of ground for shooting so we used these bicycles to get around. We think these bikes may be about 50 years old too and they were difficult to maneuver. Nevertheless, we were grateful for them because even a tricky bike beats walking! It does make you wonder if Jesus and the disciples would have enjoyed some bicycles had they been an option to footing it everywhere.

You just don't see a lot of horse buggies in the United States unless you're in Amish country or on a tourist ride. This buggy doesn't fall into either category. They really do use these here. Feeding a horse may still be cheaper than putting diesel in your auto.

And if a horse is not readily available, why not hook up your ox to the cart for a ride into town. Truth be told, I saw many more ox driven carts than horse buggies, making the old ox cart the working man's main means of transportation in the field or on the road.

And should your cart break down, there is a handy mechanic nearby ready to repair your cart and get you up and running as soon as possible.

But the most interesting form of transportation around town may be the number of people we saw driving their trusty old tractor through town. We'll end here with a series of fun tractor shots and see if it makes you want to trade in your American made car for one of these dual-purposes vehicles.

More to come: Kids and Monks!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Vol 14f My*nm*r Memories 5: Sh*n People

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We've recently taken a photographic journey into the beautiful Sh*n countryside, now let's meet the beautiful people who live and work in this land.

On our way into and out of the Sh*n St*te we had to pass through a number of military checkpoints. The government uses these frequent outposts to restrict the movements of people around the country. In fact, much of the country is completely off-limits to tourists, and the military completely controls interactions between foreigners and indigenous peoples. We had secured passes to go to certain points, but we were not free to move about the country. Needless to say, this shot was taken discreetly.

The lack of an educated workforce with skills to use modern technologyy perpetuates the growing problems of the economy. However, along the roadsides between villages you will often stop at various vendors for refreshment. These stands offer the local people an opportunity to share their wares with travelers. The bananas from Southeast Asia are quite tasty.

And if bananas are not to your liking, there is also the watermelon women to help satisfy your cravings for fresh fruit. Suffering from decades of stagnation, mismanagement and isolation, the country is one of the poorest nations in southeastern Asia. Therefore people are very resourceful, using what they can glean from the land to make ends meet.

It is a very common sight to see men and woman carrying large loads along dusty roads. Not many people here have access to a vehicle. To move their produce and other wares from their fields to their markets requires a lot of sweat equity and a tough noggin'.

Here a woman sits at a cigar rolling device that allows her to make nearly 1000 cigars per day. This country is also one of the world's largest exporters of opium and drug abuse is a common problem among the population.

The country's slow economic growth has helped to preserve much of the environment. These woman do their best to support themselves by selling these fun pancake thingies.

And this man sells a sort of dim sum or dumpling filled with bean paste. If you like crushed bean, he's your man. After the cyclone devastated entire communities a few years ago, many men were forced into new occupations to support their families.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Great Quotes!

"I have been called and commissioned, through no merit of mine, to carry this message, to tell this story, to give this invitation. It is not my story or my invitation. It has no coercive intent. It is an invitation from the one who loved you and gave himself up for you. That invitation will come with winsomeness if it comes from a community in which the grace of the Redeemer is at work." - Lesslie Newbigin

God desires that we be like living signs of the kingdom, to provide visual aids of what life will look like one day when the kingdom is here fully. We will not bring the Kingdom or build the kingdom, but our privilege is to live out previews of “coming attractions,” revealing what this Kingdom will look like. - Tim Dearborn, "Beyond Duty."

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. Maya Angelou

"The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time." - Carl F. H. Henry

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