Rosarito, Day 4

Today was our designated “Rest” day, which meant sleeping in a bit, pancakes & bacon, & a slower pace for the whole day. To me, a rest day on a mission trip isn’t a “waste” of a day – rather, it is a celebration of the fact that even when we ARE on a mission, we benefit & are strengthened by stopping from our labors, resting, & enjoying ourselves. Plus, its a reminder for all of us for when we return home to our local “mission from God,” we need time for rest, recreation, & reflection.

After breakfast, we meandered down to the local flea market (it’s not a flea market, but that word gives you the idea of the atmosphere) for people to buy trinkets, ponchos, jewelry, & handwoven backpacks & the like. I didn’t buy anything, but I did walk around & make sure nothing hinky was going on, accompanied by my new friend Alejandro. His nickname is “Tiny” which of course means he would fit in in any NFL locker room at the defensive lineman meetings. Goodness. And I’ve loved hearing his story of redemption – how God took his heart, full of hate, mistrust, & violence, & healed it so he could love & trust again. Gentle dude.


When the shoppers had had their fill of acquisitions, we walked across the street to Paisans Tacos. It was our 2nd trip there in 3 days, & this time, there was barely anyone there. Which meant we could get seconds if we wanted. And I wanted. I ate carne asada tacos & 2 asada burritos with some of the best homemade salsa on the planet. My body revolted against the yummy goodness after burrito #2, but it was nothing Mr. Tums Antacid couldn’t get me through.


Rest day also equals a day at the beach. It’s not really the kind of ocean you just go swimming in – it looks & feels a lot like Santa Cruz, where you’d only head out if you were a) surfing or b) silly. I was neither today, so the closest I got to the water was walking down the beach holding hands with theBean as the water rushed over our feet. Being around living waters (rivers, lakes, & the ocean) feeds theBean’s soul, so you can only imagine the smile on that girl’s face as we walked up & down the beach, talking about everything & nothing, plotting together for next summer when we get to go to Puerto Vallarta. Boom.

One of the highlights of our day was when a school of dolphins appeared in the surf less than 100 yards out from our spot on the beach. We watched them do X-Games-style stunts, jumping & sailing through the oncoming surf, dancing on the surface, splashing around & generally entertaining anyone who happened to be on the beach at the time. It was one of the coolest sites I’ve seen in person. Yes, I’ve seen trained dolphins at Sea World, but man, this was dolphins doing what dolphins do “For Love Of The Game.”


If the sun & surf really took it out of us… the activity back at the place we are staying finished the job. Actually, Tony Mac & I read, a couple others worked out, & the hoopers played hard for a couple of hours, until we decided it was time to end our feeding for the day with chili nachos. All of us were fading as we headed to our daily debrief, but talks about our day’s highlights revived us enough to get us through til bed time.

It’s relatively quiet now (10:27 p.m.) save for the barking dogs outside, the occasional drive by truck with a megaphone announcing a sale on propane or pizzas, or the sound of Jordan being… Jordan. The sea breezes are just about reaching us & are making the rooms almost cool enough for sleep.

Tomorrow, our main activities are heading to the Vista Marina church, about 15-20 minutes from Rosarito, where we get to do our special dance again, set to “Every Move I Make.” And a couple of people will have the chance to “tell their story.” After a sack-dinner, we’re heading back to the beach to meet with the Hope Chapel Youth Group for a bonfire & S’mores. Yes. This is a rough life.

Thank you for your prayers – we feel them & appreciate them.

Rosarito, Day 3

We started our morning at the children’s home, with breakfast & devotions. Made a sack lunch & packed up our bags for the transfer to our new ‘home away from home, then made our way out past the “Cliffs of Insanity” to Joseph House. Joseph House is a home in the making, sponsored by Hope Chapel Rosarito – it’s purpose is to provide a safe haven, a place for deported men to stay, live, & be discipled. There are currently 5 men living in the home, & many of them have jobs (a rarity for deportees.) Our tasks for the day were simple:

  • Paint the 2-story front of the house, as well as 1 of the 2-story sides. No ladders, just extension poles. (Light baby blue. It was nice.)
  • Assemble a corner desk – without instructions, & perhaps without all the necessary pieces.
  • Rearrange the home so that the 5 occupants could better live life in it. After all, dudes are dudes & we need help organizing & designing stuff.
  • Clean the kitchen (see above)
  • Dig holes for a fence to establish the Joseph house property boundary. Make the fence. Using only reclaimed wood, scrap metal & nails.

Boom. We did it. Finished all of the projects with the help of some skilled labor (Mario & Alejandro, 2 of the once-baddest-but-now-big-softies-for-Christ-that-I’d-want-walking-with-me-on-any-street-in-the-world type of guys) & a lot of sweat. And sun. It was hard work, & took a lot of ingenuity on the part of Tony Mac, who rigged two extension poles together in order to finish painting one section of the house, & of Janelle, who came up with the idea of hanging out the upstairs windows to paint other parts of the 2nd story. Good times.

An added benefit is that we met a family from the US that just relocated to Rosarito. Jason & Dulce have 3 kids, & the funny part is that Jason went to the same high school theWeez currently attends in the greater Reno-Sparks Metro area. Small. World. Jason is a photographer & videographer working in Baja, & he’s been shooting a bunch of pics for us.

At the end of our work day, we took time to pray for the house & for the men who do (& will) live in it. It was very moving to know that this place is (& will be) a refuge for men who have lost everything… & that they will become men who have found everything again when they find Christ.


We were dead tired (& dirty), so we made our way to our new home, the House of Rest. It is sponsored by Calvary Chapel & is a world-class place, with room for 64 people & some really great features. The best one so far was the SHOWER because I was covered in baby blue paint sprinkles.

Freshly scrubbed, we made our way to Grandma’s House, a Baja restaurant specializing in (wait for it….) food like Grandma used to make. Ate to our hearts content. And with eyes glazing over & people starting to nod off, it was time to go home.

Wrapped up our day with a brief discussion, a song, & prayer, & the promise of PANCAKES & BACON for breakfast in the morning. Another happy thought is that we will be sleeping in & having a rest day. Without a rest day on a trip like this, it would be easy to lose focus, get burned out, & turn into virtual zombies. With the demands of our schedule Friday-Sunday, we can’t afford that, so Thursday is rest day/beach day/buy a poncho day for those that so desire.

And it will be grand. Thank you for praying. It makes a difference.

Rosarito, Day 2

Slept great, & woke up just before my alarm. Because we’re staying at a children’s home, they get first dibs on the kitchen for breakfast prep/clean up. This means we get the kitchen around 8-8:30 & prep breakfast. We’re trying to take turns making breakfast/cleaning up so that everyone gets to experience the joy of washing dirty dishes. There’s nothing like it.

After breakfast, most of the team was charged with engaging with the special needs children. Very cool to see how many of the little ones have changed, grown, developed, & gained areas of function. The year between our visits really displays the significance of a place like “Catherine’s Home” to help those who society has abandoned or given up on, & invested time, energy, & the love of God.

The boys were tasked with painting a clear-coat wood sealer over a mural in the kids main play room. While the kids were playing in it. We were given rollers & a paint tray, & pointed in the ‘right direction.” And did I mention that the clear-coat sealer came with explicit instructions NOT to apply the sealer with a roller? Or NOT to apply it indoors? Well, that was fun. It made my brain feel silly, as did watching the rest of the team attempt to “lasso the wind” as every mobile kid in the place tried to make a run for it, hoping to bathe their little hands & faces in the toxic goo we were applying to the walls.

And then we ran out of sealer, 1/2 way through. So, Tony Mac & I did what anyone would have done in our places. We jumped in the van, with Daniel the Man, & went looking for “the Home Depot” we’d seen when we came in yesterday. Found it too. Boom!

Turns out, they didn’t have any toxic goo similar to what we’d used, & after attempting to translate into Spanish what we wanted, we were handed off to the English language Paint specialist, Eduordo.

ED: why do you want clear coat wood sealer? Are you painting wood?
ME: Nope. Drywall.
ED: So you want a drywall sealer? We have that. It comes in white.
ME: Nope. We want a clear coat wood sealer.
ED: But you’re not painting wood.
ME: Nope.
ED: How about concrete sealer? You want that?
ME: Nope. We need the wood sealer. I know it doesn’t make sense, but we want the toxic goo we put up to be the same kind of goo we already used.
ED: Sorry. We don’t have it.

It was an adventure. We bought ourselves a celebratory Coke Zero, & went home.


Most of our afternoon was spent walking a dirt road neighborhood that could only be accessed by helicopter. Not really, I made that up. It simply required that we drive the van up sheer, boulder laden cliff-like roads at great risk to our personal safety. I dubbed them “the Cliffs of Insanity.”

Not really, but it was steep & rocky. Our team talked to many kids. I was lagging in the back, & was tapped on the shoulder by a 60ish man named Augustine. He knew gangsta-rap English (all the swear words too) & we were able to communicate very well. He walked with me for about 10 minutes, & then told me he needed to stop & head home because his back hurt. Because he was old. So I asked if I could pray for him, & did, in broken Spanish & Spanglish.

He burst into tears near the end of the prayer – & gangsta-Spanglish spilled out as he thanked me & our group for coming to his “god-forsaken barrio, a place of hopelessness.” Then he thanked me for having a real conversation with him, & treating him like a person, a real person. Because he is a worthless alcoholic, deported 30 years ago, who lost his wife & kids in the deportation. And now his only meaning in life comes from giving pesos to little kids so they don’t starve. And losing himself in the bottle. He thanked me again, & headed wobbily down the street. I wept.


TheWeez was called upon to give the message at the outreach – she had the crowd of mostly U12’s waiting on her every word. She started her talk with a chant, “UH – LEESE! UH – LEESE! UH – LEESE! UH – LEESE!” The crowd went wild. She told them how Jesus delivered her from bad-dreams when she was a little girl, how she had been taught to call on the Name of Jesus when she was afraid or in a time of need.

Off to the side, I wept.


Turns out, when we were on our paint run, we missed most of morning dance rehearsal. Yes. Dance rehearsal. For our outreach this afternoon. Missing rehearsal doesn’t mean you miss the performance. It just means you get to shake it like there are no repercussions for doing so. And we did. Tony Mac, Daniel the Man, & I. Booyah!


We got back to the children’s home, had dinner & cleaned up. We’re heading to a debrief (let’s talk about the day) in 10 minutes. Then, it is sleepy time. Tomorrow, we’re heading back up the Cliffs of Insanity to do some work at the Joseph House, Hope Chapel Rosarito’s outreach to deportees.

Good night. Thanks for praying.

Rosarito, Day 1

Met at the church today at 5:30 a.m. & had the van packed by 5:50… on the road by 6. Quickest pack job ever. 9 of us prayed & piled into the van for the long trip that would eventually end with us in Rosarito, Mexico for day 1 of our mission.

I was the driver today… didn’t initially plan to drive the whole way myself, but it worked out… & I don’t feel like a zombie. The only difficult part was when everyone in the van went to sleep, leaving me cruising down the I5 attempting to will any drowsiness away. Didn’t turn on the radio until we hit LA traffic.

Made it to our destination, Carl’s Jr in San Diego where we met up with Don & Sandy Godwin, the pastors of Hope Chapel Rosarito, & their daughter Emily (who lived with theBean & I for several months last year.) They will be serving as our hosts for the next week. Don & Sandy guided us the remaining 3 miles to the border, & led us across. Our van was stopped by a border agent – he asked a question or 2, looked in the van, & sent us on our way. Rosarito here we come.

20 minutes later, we were reminded WHY we have been told over & over that we need to be flexible – the place we were supposed to be staying for the next week turned out to be double booked, & we, like Joseph & Mary at the time of Jesus’ birth, found there was no room at the Inn. Stables, anyone?

A few phone calls were made & we found that we would be able to stay at the same children’s home we did last year – this could be a win-win situation, as we are already familiar with the home & many of the children… our only wild-card is we don’t know how the ‘cooking our own food while the children’s home staff are in the kitchen prepping their kids food” thingy will go. Here’s to a couple of necessities: Flexibility & Humility.

Emily prepped us for some of the outreach work we’re doing tomorrow, & gave us all a lesson in cultural norms & appropriateness. We wrapped up our day with a short debrief & a quesadilla snack. The weariness of the day’s travel is setting in. Please pray for us over these next days – our team is safe & doing well.

Life, right side up, & other musings…

Friends@FenwayI never thought I would have the opportunity to go to Fenway Park… Boston is on the other side of the country, a mere 2,888.2 miles (by car) from where I live. And then some dear friends moved there to take the pastorate of a church just outside the city… & then there was a hope that somehow, someway, we’d be able to visit them. One day.

One day happened. Jason & Alyse (our theWeez’ namesake) invited theBean & I to come be with them, their family & church for a week in early August. And, Jason said, if we came then, the Red Sox were in town. BOOM! It took me about 3 seconds to consider the invite & we accepted. It was a fantastic trip.

There were a lot of highlights from our time there – here’s a few:

  • walking the streets of downtown Boston in beautiful weather
  • visiting the park known as Boston Common, a place that I saw the whitest human beings in the history of the world attempting to add color to their skin through exposure to the Glowing Orb, which evidently doesn’t make many appearances in the great Northeast
  • watching theWeez & iDoey ride the trains like pros.
  • dining at the fabulous Regina’s Pizza in the North End
  • spending precious time with theAge & Sandra Nell, & getting to check out their new place
  • entering Fenway Park from the crowded street lined with vendors, getting a little weepy at the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was 10.
  • trying to squeeze into the oh-so-small bleacher seats in right field.
  • the anticipation of the space between the top & bottom of the 8th inning – its the time Fenway faithful erupt in a Boston rendition of the Neil Diamond classic, “Sweet Caroline.”
  • Singing “Sweet Caroline,” & catching the experience on video. It was SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!
  • Hanging out, doing nothing at our friends’ house in the forest.
  • Touring the Sam Adams brewery with theAge & Sandra… (it’s free, & if you go, you will enjoy it.)
  • Getting the opportunity to spend an intensive 3 day period with another church family… & rediscovering the commonality & bond that we have because of Christ.
  • hearing one of the people who attended the conference we spoke at tell us that the speech that evening was “Wicked Awesome!”

Happy sigh.


Our time invested in family, friends, & fun stands in stark contrast to a big section of the life I have lived up to this point. I haven’t vacationed much, relaxed much, let down much. Instead, I work. Study. Pour myself into my tasks. Something in my brain tells me that this is how life is supposed to go, working & producing, & yet I have found that in doing so, I have robbed my family of time that would have been better spent doing nothing. Somewhere fun. Something simple, time away, not working, being together. I have lived a portion of life Upside-down.

Rather than bemoan the messed up priorities & practices of days passed, I’m making changes – turning life right side up. Saying a resounding “No” to the voices & inner clock that drives to dominate my mind, & saying “Yes” to the things that matter. To the pursuit of abundant life, life in all of its fullness. To the taking on of the yoke of Christ, the One who promises rest & restoration of our souls.

It’s not too late.

And as long as I have breath, I will continue this pursuit.

Life is beautiful… & full… & other musings…

I’ve been functioning at ‘high-demand’ the last 8 weeks – & I’m feeling it. A full complement of pre-marrieds, Wednesday night Revelation class, & deadlines for my “Human Behaviour In Organizations” (aka HBO) class have been shoe-horned into the normal life schedule, leaving me with at least 4 nights/week spoken for… so I’m shaking it up. Finishing the grad school class tomorrow, marrying off a couple (booyah!) & zealously guarding the evening times wherever possible. Here’s to living in balance.


Got to fulfill a lifelong dream: saw U2 in concert in Oakland on Tuesday with theBean & a couple of great friends. It was a great time. Even the part afterwards where we got to experience traffic jams, a BART snafu, & the Amazing Disappearing taxi cabs of Oakland, CA. The show ended at 11:40ish, & we arrived back at our hotel at 02:45… That experience is its own blog, which I can now write because I have lived it. Now just to recover enough to do it.


My final project for the HBO class is a “Conflict Analysis” – I get to review a conflict that has taken place at a place of my choosing, (I pick my church!) review Conflict Management Theory, & apply relevant theories for managing & resolving conflict in a functional (aka beneficial, good, productive, healthy) manner.

As I prepared for the project, I had the “good fun” of looking back over many conflicts within the church from the last several years. Many of them began as differences of opinion. Some as hurt feelings. Unmet (unspoken?) expectations. Frustration. Real/perceived violation.

In retrospect, the conflicts that seem to end up as “functional conflicts” had a few factors in common:

    -clarified, persistent communication from both parties, even when the words spoken were hard to hear;
    -little to no ‘outside communication’ (aka pleading one’s case to other parties, people not directly connected to the situation in question)
    -humility & grace extended;
    -believing the best for & from the other person;
    -a willingness not only to ask for & extend forgiveness, but a determination to LIVE in it, thereby rejecting the temptation of being offended & not developing the always deadly & always resulting bitterness

My hope in life isn’t to attempt to remove conflict; I think that would be impossible, because whenever 2 or more people live life together & attempt to accomplish something, conflict WILL happen. But it doesn’t have to be destructive.

I’m contending for that. & purposing to try to live in such a way that I can hope for & bring out God’s best in people’s lives.


Looking to head to the gym with theWeez as soon as her breakfast settles. I haven’t been able to gymnasium for a couple of weeks as I’ve been letting a couple of minor ‘ouches’ get better & heal on their own. Today, I’m going to go at it lightly, & hope for the best.

Day 2 musings… – Columbus, OH – Connection 2011

Day 2 – Columbus
This has been a very rich experience for me – every meeting, every interaction has been full of significance & meaning. As I’ve looked back on the day to try to “sum up,” I find that my words are inadequate to do justice to describe it & will probably leave . So, here I go with some musings…

From the messages –
• Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; He came to make dead people alive.
• In the context of 1Kings 17 & Acts 20 – if/when you come across death, hug it – the life that is in you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will bring life… For the same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead is alive in you, & gives life to you…(Romans 8:11)
• Bitterness, unforgiveness & resentment from past hurts are deadly, spreading poison, barrenness, disunity, & isolation – with the ultimate result a lack of fruitfulness & sensitivity. The only way these can be truly dealt with is with true humility & repentance.
o Isaiah 58:8,9; Isaiah 1:18,19; Matthew 11:28-30; John 7:37-39
• On the heels of repentance, God calls us to hunger & thirst for righteousness, & for the work of the Holy Spirit in, through, & around our lives
o To determine to repent, forgive, to be healed
o To see God work physical miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit
o To release to the church signs & wonders that point to Jesus Christ


I met for lunch with Jan von Wille, a friend & pastor from Germany – we spent several hours catching up over food & coffee – talking through the commonality of experience we have, albeit in different contexts. I came away feeling refreshed & encouraged, like 2 parts of my life that haven’t been ‘connected’ in a long time had come together. There’s a piece of me & my heart in Germany, & when I’m gone from there too long, I really feel it. Here’s to hopefully being there again this November for the Foursquare Deutschland pastorenfortbildung (Pastors training/strengthening/conference.)

In the afternoon, I had the privilege of being a part of a ‘task force’ that is specifically strategizing how to help the Foursquare church (local, division, district, etc.) find ways to reach, train, empower the next generation – over the next months, we’ll be offering up practical suggestions & steps to help do this, looking 3-5 years into the future. Good times.


The highlight of my day happened on accident – right after the task force meeting, I had to make a run for the facilities… unfortunately, there was no restroom. So, I had to make my way down a couple of escalators & search, (increasingly frantically, I might add. And BTW: that isn’t the highlight.)

In my search, I ran into my friend Jason D. – he is a dear friend that I haven’t seen in several years; his wife, Alyse, is theWeez’s namesake – they were a part of our church & youth group leadership team in Carson City, & they now live in South Carolina.

They’re at convention working in the ‘exhibit hall’ – serving as sponsors of a booth that is helping raise money for kids in Nepal – they’ve been active in missions in India, & have a heart for the kind of life & ministry that meets practical, tangible needs, as well as presents the gospel Good News in a way that makes sense to where people are.

I spent more time than they had, just listening, talking, & well, looking with disbelief at these two. More times than I can tell you, I’ve wanted nothing more than to be able to see these guys again… I feel very rich to have the relationships, friendships, & community that I do in Reno; I realized today that my heart has longed for the reconnection of the very old & dear friendship of these dear people.

Still can’t quite believe it. Feeling thankful. Alive. Joyful.

Day 1 – Connection 2011

Day 1 – to Connection – Columbus, OH

I hadn’t intended on coming to the Foursquare “Connection 2011” (which is a euphemism for “Convention.” But Conventions are boring, while Con-nneeections are where you can… connect. And they’re obviously more fun. But I digress.) It wasn’t in the budget. However, an “outside of the budget” force within our Foursquare family provided enough money for me to buy a plane ticket, get a hotel room, & eat while I’m there. So, let’s just say, there has been a sense of “I guess I was supposed to be here.”

Everything has gone perfectly since I woke up this morning. Woke up, not to an alarm, but to a kiss from theBean (a real, “Do I want to leave this woman ever? kiss. Sigh.) Said goodbye to the fam at O-dark:30. Got a ride to the airport, & checked in, & made it through security in a total of 3 minutes. For the whole thing. Flights were smooth. Connections on time. Got free food. Booyah. On the airplane, I worked on the final project for the “Human Behavior in Organizations” Masters class – wrote 2 pages (out of 10), including the introduction, finished my “Abstract & References” pages, which to me, are the toughest parts.

Arrived in sweltering Columbus. 90 degrees. Humid as a shower. All I needed was sand, & I would have laid down for 3 days to soak in it.

Got to my hotel, only to find a) my smoking room was exchanged for a non-smoking (booyah) b) my hotel has a dinner & breakfast available for zero dollars; c) there is a soda fountain where I can get as much soda as I want, also for zero dollars; & d) my non-smoking room is plush. Air conditioned. Quiet. Did I mention air-conditioned? And quiet.

Got to see Jan, the German Foursquare National leader; we will be eating lunch together tomorrow.

Spent some time thinking & praying – enjoying the total lack of stimuli. Listening. Felt the anticipation, true anticipation to gather with people tonight for the services.


Sat with some friends for the meeting – several things stood out to me from the worship & the message:

• The world (the people) isn’t the enemy – the world is the prize. It’s who Jesus died for.
• God inhabits the praises of His people.
Psalm 149 – the connection between our praises & the defeat of the real enemy… read it out loud.

Jon Tyson from Brooklyn by way of Adelaide, Australia spoke – from Revelation 2:1-7 – the Ephesian church.

Jesus had commended them for their hard work. Perseverance. Their holiness. Their good doctrine & faithfulness to the teachings. But, they’d forgotten one thing: their first love. What it meant to be WITH Jesus, vs. doing stuff FOR Jesus. Tyson called it, “Building a kingdom, but missing the King.” And if they didn’t repent, Jesus said that He would take the church away, because without the 1st love, He didn’t want it.

What really cut me to the heart were Jesus’ words from John 15 – paraphrased, it’s: “Remain in Me, & you’ll grow, flourish, & have life. If you don’t you’ll wither & die. Remain in my love, or wither. There’s no other option.”

I spent a lot of time quiet, listening, praying… in my head & with words. Just receiving the encouragement that comes from a word timely spoken.

It’s late, & I need to go to sleep, but I feel refreshed… & confirmed in the calling that being with Jesus is what real life, in all of its fullness, is all about.

Good night now.

jetlagging on a Friday & other musings…

Ahh, jetlag. The 12 noon feeling of blah, where my body is telling me that its really 3 a.m. Fought it hard both in Germany, & now at home. Not that I have a great ‘fixall’ short cut or method for dealing with jetlag; I’ve been trying to fly under the radar for the last couple of days to give myself time to rest & recover from my trip.

There’s a lot of temptation to try to hit the proverbial ground running, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea. Part of the reason is that I came back with a bit of the crud – seemed like everyone I interacted for the last 2 weeks was sick with a cough. Mine hasn’t gotten bad, though I can feel the war within my body, & also have the sense that it wouldn’t take much ‘pushing through’ & ignoring my physical limits to open the floodgates for sickness. No thanks.

I’m almost feeling normal in the morning.


I love to read, especially when I’m traveling – this last trip, I was able to make it through Lord of the Rings, Kidnapped & Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, 4 George MacDonald shorts (The Princess & the Goblin, The Princess & Curdie, The Light Princess, & There and Back.) I read Tolkien on every Germany trip, (it just makes sense to me :) but I haven’t read MacDonald for years & years. Glad I revisited him; especially loved the Princess & Curdie. Felt like I spent time with a couple old friends, & came away refreshed with a new appreciation for them.


Traveling by myself provides lots of opportunity for reflection, thought, & introspection. And people watching. I think that you get to see the best & worst of people when they travel; the self-less & the selfish. The impatient & the gracious. The compassionate & the callous.

A picture that stands out in my head is from the Frankfurt to DC leg of my trip home. A young mom had a 12-15 month old little girl with her, & the baby wasn’t happy… the kind of “baby unhappy” that comes from an interrupted schedule, a lack of sleep, & unfamiliar surroundings. Mom tried all the tricks in the book to keep her girl quiet, but the little one had had enough, & was past comforting.

I watched as some in her vicinity went out of their way to make comments to her about getting her kid to shut up (if not directly, then loud enough for her…& me… to hear…) as though she wanted her baby to be in total meltdown. And I got to see a person volunteer to help with the baby so mom could go to the bathroom. Eat her meal. Have a good cry & regain her composure. Hmm. It moves me even as I type this.

Challenges me to think & rethink my own life & viewpoint, how I see people & situations that are unfolding in front of me. Trying to remember that the world around me isn’t a movie set for a movie that I am the STAR of, with the rest of the human population serving as the supporting cast & extras… that there’s more going on than just what I see. Feel. Hear. Experience.

This is especially true in the context of church & functioning within a church family. It’s possible to be ‘saved & redeemed’ self-consumed, self-focused, grumpy, petty individualists with no patience, & to treat those around me with indifference or frustration when they’re not doing what I’d like them to be doing. And when they’re not considering Me & My feelings, which are Real, Important, & Significant, don’t you know?

Umm. My filters are on the fritz.


Eddy picked up the new Samuel Harfst CD for me (us) while i was in Frankfurt. I have listened to it over & over for the last few days. Unlike audiotagebuch, this one is all in German.


TheBean has been more than patient with my slow ‘rest & recovery’ pace of the last few days… so I agreed to go to Costco with her, with the provision that we’d go to Starbucks afterward… NEWSFLASH: Christmas is coming. Just in case you didn’t know.

It was crowded (even at noon on Friday,) & there was so much noise, so much stuff, & so many people that I was wiped out after only 20 minutes. By a great feat of strength & skill, I managed to make it another 10 minutes, then we headed to the car, just in time. Fortunately, the Grande Americano revived my soul, as did looking into (& getting lost in,) the deepest blue eyes Ever. Sigh.

Day 11 & 12 – Deutschland Fall 2010 – Ottersweier & other fun things to say…

Day 11 –
After a great evening of being wined & dined by the Kern family, I slept great. Woke up to coffee & a small German breakfast with lightly sweet bread & homemade quitten geili mit amaretto (aka: quince berry jelly, with amaretto.) Oh so tasty. I ate waaaaay more than I normally would on a Sunday morning just because it was So. Good.

Julia took me to the church in Otterweier – it is the only “free” (non-Catholic/Lutheran) church in the village, & the building itself faces a mammon twin-spired Catholic church. The Arche Ottersweier (Julia’s church) has been in existence for 8 years, & has grown to about 50 people, a testimony to the goodness of God, prayer, & the faithfulness of pastor Roland. It is almost impossible to explain the missionary task that they face – attempting to live out a living, vibrant, loving, gospel-declaring faith in a manner & context that makes no sense in comparison to the traditional way of how things are… it’s not uncommon for church goers in the state churches (& Catholic) to not ever have heard, let alone understood, the news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was resurrected from the dead, & now sits at the right hand of God the Father. People haven’t heard that salvation is necessary, let alone available to all who would believe, repent from sin, & turn to God through Christ. Roland (& others) are attempting to live out simple, faithful lives, aiming for reaching the next generation with a clear picture of Christ. It’s a life-long vision, which stands in stark contrast to the ‘microwave faith’ culture of a desire for immediate gratification that the Western church can often epitomize.


Julia did a great job translating me – we hung out with the church after the service, & I had the privilege of talking & praying with several people that really just wanted to pray for boldness – that they would live as witnesses for Christ, & not grow weary. It humbles me to think about it.

Headed back to the Kern house for food – & Goodness! there was food. Julia’s grandparents came over – he was quite the character & from the time he arrived until he went home 6 hours later, he didn’t cease to give me a good-natured hard time, going into painstaking detail about why Germany is better than America. Good times. Took a brief nap after dessert, then the whole family went for a walk in the nearby vineyards, (some of which had provided the wine we had last night. Cool stuff.) The vineyards are laid out on hills in ways that defy gravity, & left me wondering HOW the vinzer (vintner) would go about harvesting & caring for the grapes. We walked for about 90 minutes at a leisurely pace; the highlights were 3 generations of family humor, an amazing sunset (the top picture in this post,) & Heiko, the boyfriend of Linda, Julia’s older sister; he wore his Nevada t-shirt proudly, a relic from his visit to the states in 9/2008.


In the evening, I was invited out to dinner by Roland & his regional overseer, Jochen (who I last saw at the Foursquare Convention in Atlanta in May, where we had lunch.) They took me to a local restaurant called, “Blume” – which means flower – & we all got Amerikan Rumpsteak & Paulaner, the world’s best hefeweizen. And it was great, & came with a huge plate of french fries.

We ate to our heart’s content; I was really encouraged talking with the two of them about their strategy for the region – they live in an area made up of small villages – so, they’re attempting to plant smaller, relationship-based churches that share resources. Each one has a pastor, & each church is ‘autonomous’ – but they all intentionally choose to work together, to cover each other with a layer of relationship & accountability that insures no one (& no church) is isolated or solo. Great ideas that left me with all sorts of ideas & inspiration.

Made it back to the Kern’s in time for some late night hanging out & prayer; giving thanks to God for the budding relationship & friendship between us, celebrating the commonality we share with other people who follow Christ. Truly precious.


Day 12 –
Today was a travel day, meaning Julia & I had to head to the train station by 9 so we could make our way north, me to Mainz, Julia to Frankfurt; she’s flying to Norway Tuesday to visit her sister & her family. After a goodbye at the train station, Julia & I navigated our way through the maze & haze that is the DB (German train system.) Our 2nd train connection was randomly canceled, so we were escorted to another train, a high speed one that normally you have to pay big $ to ride on. However, we were assured that because our train was canceled, we’d have no trouble. Right. :)

We made it to the first “ticket checkpoint,” about 10 minutes into the train ride & took a tongue-lashing & dressing down from an uptight DB agent. Fortunately, we were rescued by a supervisor, but not until we had heard how wrong we were to be on such a fast train without having paid the extra money for the extra speed. Good times.

Said a tearful goodbye to our dear Julia, made my way to my meeting point with Jan, the pastor of enChristo church & National leader of Foursquare Deutschland. Normally we do pizza together, but he spared me the anguish of yet Another trip to Italy by taking me to a favorite Chinese place he frequents.

We had deep talks about the state of Foursquare in the US, as well as what is happening in Germany. Good stuff. Both of us were plagued with sneezing & coughing fits, so lots of hot tea was consumed, along with our duck in plum sauce, surrounded by vegetables. Yes really. Can you hear that? It’s me! I’m growing.

Caught the train back to Frankfurt, & walked the last couple blocks to Eddy & Laura’s in the hardest rain I’ve ever experienced in Germany. I was absolutely soaked by the time I arrived. Changed out of my wet things & into my Reed hoodie & sweats, & warm, dry socks. Ahh. Comfort. Hot tea helped too.


Just packing tonight, then heading out with Levent & Ines as soon as I post this. We’re going to grab some Turkish food & celebrate their pregnancy. Ines is about 7 months along if my counting of weeks is accurate.

I absolutely cannot wait to come home & see my family. Hug myBean. Be with my church family at Hillside. Celebrate a good trip with lots of answered prayers. Sleep in my own bed.

Booyah! And thank you. I am grateful, & filled with thanks tonight.

Blessings to you.