Saturday, December 26, 2009

Old School Snacks

When I was a kid, we lived in Houston, TX and my dad managed a Christian bookstore. Pentecostal Bookstore was on Eastex Freeway in a rather crazy neighborhood (dealers would buy offering envelopes for dimebags; the store was robbed 3 times) between a sleazy, Fed-dodging "health practitioner" and tiny family owned gas station. My sister and I spent a lot of summer & weekend days camped out in the office or in the back room reading Chick comics and counting pencils. Even now, when I go into a local bookstore, I drink in that distinct scent that only a hot imprint machine, cellophane-wrapped tract bundles & plastic-framed angels can create.

What got me on this little historical trip was my last package of peanut-butter-cheese-crackers. You see, when lunch was gone and dinner was still a long cash count & commute away, I'd run across the cracked asphalt parking lot to the gas station to grab a snack. Clutching my sweaty Coke and crackers, I'd recline at the store bookkeeper's desk as the window AC jugged out a symphony of frozen notes and Dallas Holm kept time out on the sales floor; a 10 year-old's desperate hunger kept a bay.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Past... Christmas Future

And the holidays are in mid-spin! Although I have to say, as I'm sure many in this region do, Christmas music is just notes & tempos with the lack of snow and cold. It's been getting in the low 50s where we live in Amman... not exactly icy conditions... But there's hope for January; a few years ago, there was some much snow the city shut down for a couple of days!

We did get turkey & trimmings thanks to Linda Reed & Sandra Marrar... and a real live pecan pie. No kidding... I tried not to rush dinner to get to desert. The fun part was Mylen... she'd never been a part of an American Thanksgiving. It got me thinking about the traditions that we hold so dear. It's amazing that every year, hundreds of millions of us eat the EXACT same food on the EXACT same day. Weird when you think about it (as opposed to comforting and nice, I guess).

Suzi & I moved into the 3rd Circle office/apartment a few weeks ago and have adjusted to the idea of living by ourselves again. It seems it's been awhile since we've had our "own" place and as much as I'd like to think I could live out of a crate, in a tent, I like having my stuff unpacked. We're actually putting up Christmas decorations (thanks to the Reed's!) this week.

Suzi is progressing nicely. That baby bump continues to grow and the goldfish it seems she swallowed keeps brushing its tail against the side of the bowl. There's certainly something cooking in there! A couple of our friends had their babies in the past week (Go Langleys & McChristians!) and Jaime is due in 60 days or so... how does it work that way? It couldn't be the water, we were all drinking different stuff! This weekend, the office storage room will get cleaned out and we'll start setting up a nursery... absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meeting Dr. Azar

Today, thanks to Nabil & Deborah, we met Dr. Azar at Jordan Hospital (the one across from Plaza for those who know). He's a Stanford-educated OB-GYN with 35 years of experience doing the baby thing. He ran an ultrasound, discussed Suzi's records from America and confirmed our due date as April 15th. He was professional with a dry sense of humor... a perfect match for us. We'll see him again just before Christmas for another tag-in.

We figured Suzi would need a few more blood tests once we got here and he concurred. We popped over to the lab to get poked and were grateful to find a friendly staff and fairly short wait. Because I never seem to remember my blood type, I got poked as well... hopefully I'll remember from now on as that look on my face says, "If I pass out you're gonna have to carry me to the cab and we all know that's gonna be awkward for everyone."

Or something like that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

20 years ago...

Twenty years ago today, there was a city cloaked in the Gray.
It was once a magical city, full of wonder and mystery, like a fairytale you can touch and feel and taste. But the Gray had blotted out the fantasy and pushed the wonder into dustbins and deep recesses of cabinet drawers in grandmothers' cottages. And the grandmothers didn't open those drawers for fear of what might be said even when their children asked ever so politely.
One cold November day in the city, a group of students met to remember the death of young man. A fellow student, who many years before, like themselves, lived in a gray place where a few men thought they knew what was best for their tiny corner of the world. He gave up his life to oppose them. The students simply wanted to remember him.
Yet something amazing began to occur as the students gathered in the midst of their darkened city. Small bursts of fantasy and wonder began to pop from around them. It was like the swirls of a soap bubble caught in the afternoon light of summer. The students told their friends who then told their friends and soon there were so many colorful bursts coming from the students that the makers of the Gray took notice. They sent Gray Makers out to spread more Gray and to take away the students with the most color. But for every one that disappeared, many more colors appeared in their place!
Do you know what happened next? The Trolley Drivers saw that their trolleys were jolly when the Gray went away. The Factory Men saw the Gray fading and they too, quit their waiting. Grandmothers opened cabinets long shut tight and they all joined the students as they shouted and cheered and their magical city became, well, bright! So, they said to the Gray Makers, "Go Away! Go Away!" And they chanted and swayed and laughed and played in the midst of their magical city.

Tonight, Suzi & I joined a small group in Amman to celebrate the fall of Communism in the Czech Republic. There was a visit from the Royal Family, an exhibit of photographers and their work from Velvet Revolution of 1989 and presentation on the life of former President Vaclav Havel... the brightest color of them all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Amman International Fellowship

This weekend, Suzi & I were installed as pastors of the Amman International Fellowship. AIF reaches out to the international community in Amman. We have specific services & Bible Studies focused on the Sri Lankan & Filipino communities, as well as services in English that have multiple nationalities in attendance. It's common to have 10 or more different cultures represented in our Friday service.
On Friday we have a Sinhalese service and an international service (translated into Sinhalese) at the church. We also host a Filipino Bible study at the fellowship house. On Sundays, we have a Filipino Bible study at the fellowship house and an international service at the church.
We're grateful to have an awesome team here. We have Filipino men that are reaching out to their coworkers and Sri Lankan translators that host prayer meetings in their homes. Our fellowship house gives Filipinas a safe place to camp out on their off day.
AIF is part of nearly 30 years of ministry in Amman. We're honored and excited to be a part of that deep history. We're expecting to see amazing things happen. The Lord (quite literally) only knows whats going to happen during our 12 month stay here and, later on, what our future holds. Since we've put our lives in His hands, that's all we need to know for now...

Prego... still!

So, what about that "baby bump?"

This is the last shot we had before leaving the States.  Suzi will be working on getting a doctor this week (insh'Allah!) and we'll have some more current shots.  The doctors and hospitals here are top-drawer and we've had a number of suggestions on various places.
We're well into the 2nd trimester and those flutters are starting to be a little more pronounced.  According to, we've got a 1/2 lb, six inch mango dipped in cheese right now.  While the imagery is odd, getting an idea of what's going on in the oven is nice.  Suzi is feeling fine (except for that nasty flu-type thing she just passed on to me).  She's starting show a bit more, although all the Filipinas were disappointed there wasn't more to pat on.  I'm attributing it to all those sit-ups she's done!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jan Hlavac (September 8, 1933 - October 10, 2009)

When Jan told the story of immigrating from Prague, Czech Republic to America, he recalled the moon launch of 1969, saying, “I knew I’d made the right decision. These Americans could do anything!”
That crossing of Old World sensibility and new technology defined Jan Hlavac. Deeply inquisitive from a young age, Jan found himself fascinated with the world of science, creating rockets and tear gas as a preteen. As a child, he spent his summers in the country, running through the forests of Volyne. Always the entrepreneur, Jan smuggled black market goods across the border during the Communist era, sometimes traveling across mountains on foot, shouldering a pack full of coffee or cigarettes to sell.
It was freedom from Communism that drove Jan and Sasha’s decision to take two suitcases on a “ski-trip” to a neighboring safe country. Instead of hitting the slopes, they got passage to America. After three months as refugees in Austria they arrived in Moberly, MO.
It was to be only a stepping stone; a brief layover with his sister, Ata Munroe. But a job in the chemistry department at Banquet Foods led to buying a trailer a few months later. Then the birth of Lucy, followed by Suzi, and the purchase of their first house kept them there.
Two weeks ago, Jan climbed to the top of the bluffs overlooking Huzzah Creek in Southern Missouri where his children learned to swim in its waters. His curiosity piqued by a rock formation or a skittering reptile, he wove stories as he walked. That same night, he lay on the cool ground, surrounded by the banter of his children and grandchildren, looking at the sky and picking out constellations and fast moving satellites.
From an early age, the wooded trail or mountain road called to him. This past summer, he clambered over fallen trees while hiking around a lake over 10,000 feet in the Rockies. Every year, he anxiously awaited the chance to get to the cool mountains, loving the idea of surviving on solar power and well water.
This was Honza, Jan, Tati, Mr. Hlavac, our friend and technical advisor, who every week or so baked his own bread. This was the consummate scientist who tracked the weather via his own personal station and kept charts of which light bulbs burned out first. (No one could compete with his kids at a Science Fair.) He had the first laptop many of us of had ever seen and vanquished bridge opponents, scrupulously tracking every board.
Jan did what he loved to do and was always full of ideas. When faced with an obstacle, whether physical or mental, his ingenuity kicked in. Tired of renaming computer files? Just write a program to do it. A bandsaw too heavy to lift into its spot on the shelf? Design a pulley system to do it. With a little duct tape and rubber hosing, he could improve a process that took a host of engineers years to develop.
His house was a Czech home. Long car rides were punctuated with the songs of his youth. He never lost his accent. There was usually a bottle of brandy in the cabinet. The pragmatic way in which he approached almost ever task. The bags of dried mushrooms in the freezer and paintings of Prague in the hall. And, always, fish on Christmas Eve.
What do we miss of Jan? A slice of his bread as we wander through the kitchen? The way he saved a worn out shirt to ceremonially burn in Colorado? Who will “hold their thumbs” for us to have good luck or cut a tree from the backyard for Christmas? Who will baste the chicken wings (in two batches: normal & spicy)? He was the one who made the family picture every holiday and posted the photoshopped results on his website. We’ll miss his stories, his warm socks and green terry-cloth shorts that he wore even in the winter. But, mostly, we’ll just miss him.
Honzo, dekujeme za všechno a dobrou noc, náš príteli!
(Jan, thank you for everything and good night, our friend!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Get Your Head In the Boat

I've been dragging my boat around on the roof of the truck for a week now, hoping I can jump in the water for a bit.  Those faithful readers know that I'm not a rough water guy, but do fancy a trip around the lake to relax.  This afternoon I had a few minutes and decided to head over to Rothwell Lake for a half hour while Suz went for a walk w/ Shannon.

With a steady rhythm I crossed the lake in about 10 minutes.  I bounced around the far corner for a bit (and found a ConAgra duffel bag floating near shore...weird).  As I headed back to the boat ramp, I realized my neck muscles were tightened up.  I was developing a typical tension headache... all the while doing what I thoroughly enjoy.  It became obvious that my body was engaged with the boat, but my mind was far from the lulling dip and pull of the paddle.

Odd, isn't it?  How can we relax if we don't... relax?  Now, I usually don't take this approach on this forum, but it begs to be said.  For those of us who profess a belief in Christ and His overarching ability to carry all things (easy yokes, light burdens, et al), how many times are we eager to relax in the safety of His everlasting arms only to check our watch, nod a quick "thanks a bunch" and hit the road... carrying what we should have left at His feet?

Our body might be in the boat, but our head (heart) is far from Him.

This week, I'm gonna get my head in the boat.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sir, put down the cheesecake and back away from the table...

Read & weep. Like I do when I step on that menacing platform.

210 lbs.

And I've enjoyed every ounce. EVERY SINGLE OUNCE!

When we came home in June, I was a happy 185 (at one point I was as low as 175). That means I've packed on an astonishing 25lbs in 4 mos. But this is the cycle it seems I've adopted. Binge on luscious fried green beans, heavy TexMex, pound cake (what an ironic name) and then purge once I get back to the field. Undoubtedly, I'll pick up a bug of sorts, spend a week in the white room and drop a few pounds pretty quick. The rest of it will drop off due to increased time on my feet and some healthy diet that Suzi will surreptitiously slip me onto without me being any wiser.

In the mean time, I've got a few more weeks before we head back... and I see some chicken fried steak in my future!

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's pretty real...

Now, before I go into this, remember that I'm a gearhead from way, way back. That being said...

I thought the ultrasound machine was the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.

The room's all dark, there's LED lighting over the bank of controls and LCD screens on the walls... it was like being in a studio. Suz gets all comfy and the technician does her thing and... nothing. The big LCD screen pops up with swirls of light and dark, then big patches of dark and small patches of light and the whole time I'm thinking, "Do I need one of those LED lights for my keyboard?"

Then the tech's voice gets a little giddy note to it. She taps a few clicks here and there in the swirls of light and dark... viola! There's our kid!

All 1 cm or so of it.

Now, I know it looks like our li'l one is wearing a hoody, but that round thing you're seeing there isn't the head... it's the yolk sack. And by measuring that blob attached to the sack, the tech changed our due date out to April 15, 2010.

So, impressive machinery. Oh, and impressively small kid... at least for now.

The Doctor talked to us very seriously about different tests that would tell us everything including the planet our extraterriestial came from and which mineral would cause it to lose it's powers. Then we did the blood draws. Count 'em... FIVE vials. Somebody counted, I guess, while I contemplated a year-old copy of Contempary Home. See, I don't do blood very well. But the nurse was excited to get in on the blog action and since she was really sweet to Suzi we obliged.

Speaking of the lady, she's doing OK. Heavy emphasis on the "OK." I ask, quite frequently, and that's what I get. A shrug and an "OK." More often than not it's accompanied by a grimace. No weird food desires, but grilled chicken is totally off the menu. Guys, think about having the flu for 4 weeks straight. You're just nauseous enough to want to stay in bed, but not quite enough to take you over the top and into the toilet. And everyone keeps telling you how long they'd been sick or their sister-in-law and you think, "Uhg... that gives me no hope." And discreet plastic bags go everywhere with you and you have to be ready pull over to shoulder real quick like. Just in case.

And all the time you keep telling yourself, "This kid better change the world or at least make it through high school without getting arrested or something..."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yes, We Can!

There's always been that nagging question... do we or don't we?  Several years ago, it was decided, after waaay too much discussion that we'd table the conversation until Suzi turned 35.  Well, this is the year we both hit the magic number and it was time... In July we decided to look for a "Go / No Go" signal for launch.  It seems we got the Go signal and in the oddest way! 

Last Friday, Suzi was scheduled to give my mom a perm and those in the industry know that pregnant women can't handle those caustic chemicals.  Suzi decided to check (just in case) and she called me in from working outside, saying, "I need to talk to you... NOW."  So, standing there in bathroom, we stared, dumbstruck, at that little "plus" sign.  After rereading the instructions three times and comparing all the possible indicators, she had to withdraw from the perm process... much to my mother's delight!

On Tuesday, the folks in lab coats made it official.  We're due April 5, 2010!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thankful Means Full of Thanks

You can get all the details at our family blog & see photos on my FB page.

I was never so happy to see Johnathan & Jaime walking...

Just. So. Thankful.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

DIY Towel Holder

So, I've always enjoyed piddling around in the shop... and I'm cheap if I think I can build it myself.

My dad needed a paper towel holder in the garage and I wasn't about to spend $25 for a "Durable" version of what I could DIY... I used a bracket from the chalk rack of an old blackboard, a piece of aluminum from an old pop-up stand and a piece of iron stock.

Try to rip THAT off the wall!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Humanity & Harvest

I got up this morning to find my mom in the garage surrounded by bags of corn she picked up at Shepherd Farms.  She & Doris had gotten up early to meet the trucks as they came out of the fields.  At $2 a dozen, it was worth it.  They got fresh peaches, tomatoes, pecans... and they were not alone.  Mom reported long lines of cars and mobbed trailers of produce.  So, the two of us sat outside in the cool morning breeze and shucked 122 ears of corn; my feet resting on the galvanized tub. 

It's amazing how human it is to MAKE food.  From the earliest days of humanity, we've been hunters & gatherers.  (Of course, today that translates into list makers & list getters.)  But there is something so absolutely primal about digging into a pile of leaves and coming out with sustenance... and it's catching on.  Over the past few weeks, I've read articles in Oprah's little journal & Newsweek about the influx of small farms.  Stories abound of new farmer meet & greets that doubled or tripled organizers' attendance expectations.  It seems that average farms run 400-500 acres.  These new little farms are 4-5 acres, are trending to younger owners and are going organic.

While in Colorado, Suzi & I used a solar panel for the first time to power the lights in our trailer.  We hauled water from a hand-pumped well.  And you know what?  We managed 2-3 gallon showers & didn't leave the lights on.  While we were traveling across Colorado and Kansas on Hwy 70, I was amazed at the huge wind farms... dozens of turbines in that "flyover" territory harnessing free electricity.  Don't get me wrong, I know they make a lot of noise and disturb bird migratory patterns and make the cattle skittish, but at least someone's trying.

Now, I've not gone moldy green, but I turn off the water when I brush my teeth and I always look for ways to keep paper & plastic out of the landfill.  If we'd all be a bit more conscious of what we're leaving or using, this little bubble we call a planet may keep us afloat just a little longer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mountain Livin'

We've hit the road with the boats & the T@B in tow this week to spend some time with Suzi's parents in Colorado.  Every year they head out for awhile to escape the heat of Missouri and we try to carve out some time with them.  On the way from Kansas into Colorado, we caught the tail-end of a summer storm blowing through... It's been nice here, cool and dry so far.

You can follow along with us as we hike around & hopefully hit some water!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Running it out...

Ever had a cramp in the leg and someone suggested you "walk it off?" What happens when you're on a horse and your hip cramps up? What do you do then? "Whoa, there... Let me hobble around here for a bit while the rest of the ride goes on ahead!"
The cramp worked its way out and I stayed with the ride as we trotted around the New Mexico landscape last weekend. We were up for my cousin's (Stuart) wedding in Los Alamos. Amazing country... absolutely amazing history as well. Bonnie took us to visit a family whose house is certified to be circa 1760... but they have records going back into the 1600s!
The wedding was nice, seeing family was great and the ride was, well, a harsh 30 hours roundtrip... but we did it and have pictures to prove it! Click here to goto my Facebook album to get all the views.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bumper Munchies

So, we pulled our 2001 Ford Focus out of storage this week and immediately noticed a little something missing... much to our chagrin.  It looks something with teeth liked the taste of the bumper and gnawed its way through.  Odd.  Didn't count on coming back to driving a chew toy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Home... Again

So, to wrap up the last week... Jeremy & Shandrika had a beautiful baby girl, Natalie.  Nothing like the crack of dawn wake-up call from a father at the hospital!
The church went on a trip out of the city for last Friday's service.  We had a great buffet, games and worship in hills north of Amman, near Jerash. Check out our website for more pix and details.

Of course, on Sunday there was quite a bit of tears and some long hugs goodbye.  We have really come to love the people in Amman... all of the nationalities that make up our church there.  We will miss them terribly.  The Lord knows what's next for us... whether there or somewhere new, we've made some great friends and, hopefully, impacted some folks for the Kingdom.

We left Tuesday morning after dropping our gear off on Monday afternoon, going to Marka for service and inviting Sandra, Muteib & Madaline over one last time.  It seems we've gotten to know this route home fairly well... It's our third trip home from the Middle East.  Thankfully, all went well, in spite of a few changes in the baggage policy that sent my roll-on to the baggage carousel.
We got home to beautiful weather and amazing green grass... which I find myself walking thru even if it makes the trip a little longer!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just Another Week...

We're headed into our last week in Jordan. The group pictures have begun in earnest!

It seems almost amazing that four months has passed so imperceptibly. There's been no shortage of projects and issues to devote our time toward... what we've produced only time will judge.

The weekend began innocently enough, although Jordanian traffic took one last swipe at us on Saturday. Thanks to Muteib, I've learned the power of rubbing compound and was able to clean up the worst of it.

Then the evening found me under the familiar grip of a sickness that's all too common in these parts of the world. Again, ending as I began this trip in 2008 (involuntary weight loss... what better way to go home)!

We've gone through the transition of finances, personnel, processes, etc with Linda Reed, our supervisor, who returned last week. The coming week will be full of last minute craziness, packing (which Suzi has already started) and more incoming personnel from the States.

This past week, I attended my last OWWA Bible Study. We had a great time and many of the girls were ministered to... This group of ladies is so special to us. We hope that when we return, they'll all be gone to their respective homes. While they're in this state of flux, we do what we can to provide some sense of balance, love and compassion. They're just precious, quick to laugh and, with soft hearts, to worship, as well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesdays are Days OFF

Several years ago Suzi and I realized that ministry was about balance and balance meant getting away from the crowds and going "up into the mountains"... sometimes to pray (ie Jesus himself) and sometimes just to take in the view and take a deep breath. At the time, we were working full-time secular jobs and staying up all night with ministry stuff. It's not unheard of. I think many ministers deal with some sort of workaholic syndrome driven by any number of issues. But I'm convinced that too many ministering families burn up because they don't take a sabbatical. Not the "month off to go on retreat" sabbatical... I'm talking about regular time off. Whether it's setting aside some time with the spouse for dinner out or a day with no calls or meetings just to read in the sun, we have to recharge our minds and spirits.

When we came back to Jordan this year, we decided, based on our work & service schedules, that Tuesdays would be our day off. We make no plans or meetings; if our phone rings, we answer, but, unless in the case of absolute emergencies, we ask to handle the issue later in the week. Our staff is aware of this and respects it. Sometimes we go out of the city and sometimes we veg on the couch. It gives us something to look forward to and keeps us focused on the task at hand. Most of the folks who attend our services only get Friday off. That means their day off is our day to minister ("work"). These are the concessions you make in our line of work... but to compromise on restoring yourself is a setup for burnout later on.
So, today we slept in and went to the King Hussein Mosque park for a picnic of PBJ on flatbread and walk in the gardens. It was a beautiful day and the views of the city from mosque were amazing. My phone did ring once with a request. And I set up a meeting. For Wednesday morning.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Band Concert!

If you check back in the annals of time, you'll find we've now attended three Baptist School band concerts in the past year... I think we officially qualify as Band Boosters! Sara plays trumpet and looks mighty spiffy in uniform. Thursday's Spring Concert performance included both Bands, but I've just captured Sara's side. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Speaking of Dinner... Fisheyes anyone?

So, it's a given that living outside your comfort zone's going to get you into some interesting stuff... but this weekend Suzi took it way outside MY zone.
See, I've never been one for fish stuff... maybe some shellfish, Bill's fried catfish, some crabcakes (oh, and an authentic clam chowder or lobster bisque...hmmm...tasty!), but don't just drop a whole fish on a plate w/ some garnish and expect me to jump up and down. The Filipino folks do the fish thing and Suzi's on board. Cheryl does it up right with stuffing and such, but I've yet to try it.

So, we find out that Cheryl eats the eyes... right out of the head. "It's so easy! Just push one eye through into the other and pop it in your mouth!" Suzi, always up to a culinary challenge, takes fishhead in hand, muscles one eye through... and she's chewing.

"I'm brave! Kinda tastes like the rest of the fish... but I didn't dwell on it too much..."

That's my girl...!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dinner out... Way out.

Last Friday, we had a great time at Robert & Shirley's house. There was such a wide swath of folks from Ethopians to Papua New Gunea... it doesn't hurt that Robert works with UNESCO here in town, so dinner at their place always has a UN flair of nationalities. (Big thanks to Jacob for working the grill in spite of Rejoice's constant commentary!)

It just reminded me of dinner at Chandrani's place several weeks ago (above) I went digging to find a rudimentary clip (below) of the dinner party that I described in our last newsletter. I think that's what I love most about this part of the world. Many of the folks we encounter are far from home and food reminds all of us of the friends & family we've left behind. Sitting around the table in that one-room apartment under the stairs, all of us jabbering in language of laughter... I couldn't help but feel at home.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Socks & Soge & Sand (still!)

A couple of years ago, Jan & Sasha gave me a set of Acorn socks for Christmas.  Now, before you go on about lousy presents and inlaws, let me tell you something... I love these socks.  I'd been jealous of Jan's for years on those cold Mid-MO nights and now I had a pair of my own.  Guess what?  Last year, I got a pair of blue ones, too... Let's see Santa top that! So, I brought the brown pair with me, thinking, you know, maybe the floor might be cold in February or something... yeah... I'm STILL wearing them! I've singed them so many times off the heater that the bottoms have that marshmallow crustiness.  I'm getting another pair to bring back.
We've had the pleasure of working with Soge for the past year.  He's part of the culinary staff at several restaurants in town.  Soge's a faithful Christian who is returning home to see his family in Indonesia this week.  We'll miss his guitar at our Sunday afternoon Bible Studies!  
The 50 Days of Sand continue... we've got an antihistamine running 24-7 to keep the sinuses open for business.  One day it'll be clear and blue skies, the next day you can barely see across the next wadi.  Craziness that's supposed to end in mid-May... please!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I'm 35 today.

And I just posted on FB that I'm the happiest I think I've ever been.  I'm probably also under more stress than I've ever been... carrying more responsibility than I've ever had... I'm further away from my family, my gear, the life I've always known than ever before.  And I'm right where I'm supposed to be... at 35.

I don't think I planned this.  In fact, I'm positive I didn't.  This isn't the life I chose... it's chosen me.  And I'm so glad I agreed to come along for the ride.

OK... enough serious stuff!  PRESENTS!!!  Some of the church folks gave me a very cute card with a couple of ties (what else do you get the pastor!).  Suzi picked up a cake and box of sweets from Fantastic Cake and gave me all these cool little gift boxes she made full of fun li'l things... like U2's new CD, a Donuts Factory gift card... you know, the good stuff!

Monday, April 13, 2009


This afternoon I heard this sound outside and... sure enough... a herd of sheep hanging out next door! This is pretty common for us as there's a lot of open land around our house (we're kinda in the country here). The shepherd takes them from one place to another and sits for awhile, then moves on. You can see a bit of how dusty it is today in the shot above... we lcome to the desert!

The GAP Arrives in Amman!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This Week

Today I have to say I'm a bit distracted.  I'm supposed to be preparing for Palm Friday.  We're going to talk about John following Jesus to cross... and our need to follow Him today... both for salvation and in all things, giving thanks, no matter what the circumstance.  I'd been prepping this idea (actually out of an email my dad sent to me last week) but having no idea what this week would hold.  Ironic how the preacher gets to preach to himself sometimes.

This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I looked in the mirror and told myself, "My dad's been diagnosed with colon cancer."  I've been saying that to myself throughout the day.  Maybe just getting used to the sound of it.  How the connection of "dad" and "cancer" sound in the same breath.  I know it's not unheard of... many in our families have experienced this... and I can't say I never thought it wouldn't happen, but now that we're in the midst of this experience, however harrowing, I have to say it's rather surreal.

My family's just always been on the other side of the bed.  The ones who are lightly tapping on the door, poking our head in with an optomistic smile and light eyes that say, "Hey, we're here and we're gonna pray and God's gonna touch you and then it's gonna be alright."  We hold hands, pat (gently!) and make sure there's a cassarole waiting when you get home.

And now we're on the other side.

And it's just an odd feeling.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Facebook, et al

OK... I've been officially sucked into Facebook.  If you want to know my daily, mundane or otherwise, activities, you're gonna have to stop by there (see link).  I didn't think I'd like it, but it's great touching base quickly with people who've dropped off your radar... for good or bad.  I'll still keep updating the blog here since it allows for longer messages, and there's still a lotta folks who haven't or won't take the FB plunge.  You know who you are... stay strong and resist.

So... a few tidbits:  we had dinner with some of our Sri Lankan friends tonight... they held off on the spice a bit for our sake, but it was still just so tasty!
This weekend in Jordan is Mother's Day and our church celebrated with some fun during the service.  Here are a few of our moms from the noon service... quite a cross-section of nationalities... it's so cool to be part of this group.

We made a quick run to Mt. Nebo this past week with Christy, one of our Aimers.  It was a beautiful day and you could see Jericho, Palestine, the Dead Sea... it was so clear.  Kind of a coolness factor... we met some of our Filipino friends who were there on a day off!