New Year's Eve in North Portland

After a semi-wild day of playing Assistant Apartment Manager (not assistant to the...where was I?), Ali and I traveled to North Mississippi Avenue for a few places she's been wanting to go.

The Meadow: We stopped first here where Ali had read various Portland food blogs raving on the selection. I being a coffee and wine guy, I should assume that there would be many varieties of salt, but this blew my mind! They have 2 walls devoted to salts from around the world with samples of each. My favorite were the salt blocks (pictured). Supposedly you can cook food right on the block! With equally great a selection was the wall of chocolate. A bit of chocolate is a great way to head of to a taco dinner.

Por Que No Taqueria: This fun place just became my new favorite taco joint. Pay no attention to the poor image quality, but trust me in the quality and taste of the pollo asado (chicken) and pescado (fish) tacos. Ali had a small salad topped with three slices of avocado and we shared some fresh baked chips.

If you ever head down to Mississippi Avenue, and I recommend you do, you may also want to eat at The Mississippi Pizza Pub. We found them while spending time over at Emmanuel hospital with my mom last year. One evening we were all there and asked the nurses if there was any good pizza nearby. Sure enough, they were right.

We're back home now and ready to stay up all night...well, at least to midnight anyway. May God bless you in this new year, 2009.


Christmas Fun

Last year, Brian and I filmed a little Christmas greeting to the students of 180. It was silly and included a couple of nerds—us—dressing up like Santas.

Well, we hope this year is better. Hope you enjoy :)

180 Christmas 2008 from Brian Eberly on Vimeo.


Big snow & ice

The big storm did indeed come. With 12" drifts outside our front door, 8" most other places and a good coating of ice on top of that, it made for some tough walking around town. Ali and I headed up to the grocery store for a few veggies and of course some photos along the way.

Probably my favorite of the bunch, this crab apple tree outside our apartment stands out with it's red fruit showing through the ice. If it were not so cold, I could stay outside and take ice photos all day long!

That would be the 1/4" of ice covering the snow. It makes quite a crunch when you step through it to the snow below.

Think I'll be driving anywhere soon? As I write it's snowing more and they say another 2-4" of snow tomorrow! Are we on Mt. Hood?

Kitty stays in side with all this snow. This is her just about to yawn face. It kind of looks like her just about to bite you face. She has that face much of the time.


More Snow!

Could it be that the weathermen & women of our fine town could be correct twice in one week?! I sure don't mind.

Seeing as we are supposed to get 6" of snow and then freezing rain on top of that later tonight, we went downtown for photos & shopping. Man, I'm sure glad we've got a Subaru. She sure loves the snow!

While we were out, we stopped at Pioneer Courthouse Square for a couple photo ops. Here are a few from our morning.


Snow Day (week?) 2008

What a great day! We woke up not knowing if snow would be here...and it wasn't...alright...get up and go to church. Just a half-hour later the snow began to fall and didn't stop for at least 8 hours! Needless to say, we canceled church.

We couldn't really drive, in fact you'll see that our street was one of three closed by the city of Portland, so we walked to Starbucks with Annie & Matt. After a warm cup of coffee, we walked through Gabriel Park, then over to Ali's parents to borrow some sleds.

It took 6 hours, but we finally decided to come inside to eat and warm the bodies.

Now for the rest of the week....who knows, we aren't supposed to get above freezing until Saturday, with snow coming Wednesday & Thursday. Yikes!

Here are a few pics of the day's adventure.


Sweet Storage

I have a problem. I want to use and access some of my files from home, work, and on the go...specifically our budget. You see, Alison created a wonderful Excel budget file, but I can't see it at work. Sure, I could FTP it every time we edit it, but how fun would that be?

Step in Drop Box. You install a small file on your computer and Drop Box provides you with a folder you can put anywhere you'd like on your computer. Then you drag files you want to sync into that folder. Drop Box keeps the latest copy of that file and anytime it gets updated, Drop Box updates all your computers with the new copy. Bam!

Now I've got my budget at home, work, and on the road! (oh yeah, you can view the files from any web browser too)!

The best part is that you get 2GB of storage for free!

Read more about it here from Lifehacker.


Black Friday

I have stayed as far away from Black Friday as possible—until yesterday that is. You see, yesterday, Office Depot had a great sale on a laptop.

My first experience purchasing a laptop (5 yrs. ago) ended in credit card debt, many interest payments, and when the laptop broke, I returned it using the cash to pay off the credit card. All in all, I leased a laptop for one year. No fun.

This time was different. Actually paying for something outright is a much different feeling. Thanks Dave Ramsey, and oh the wisdom of Proverbs.

Getting the laptop did mean some sacrifice however, like waking up at 4:30am. I was 25th in line...not as up front as I would like to have been, but 100 people showed up between my arrival and the store's 6am open time. Yikes! I did however get a jump start on a John Grisham novel while standing out in the cold.


Happy Thanksgiving

I hope all who read enjoy their Thanksgiving and remember how MUCH we have to be thankful for.

I found this video from Sandy Hughes. It will brighten up your day a bit!


Friday Thoughts

I take a break from the list of errands for a random posting of thoughts from today:

  • New tires aren't cheap!
  • I'd love to be in Nashville for the National Youth Workers Convention right now. They even have a "Live Blog" where you can view 5 youth workers blogging their thoughts as the convention roles on! Check it out!
  • If you want to hear some serious preaching, check out the Cornerstone Community Church podcast (find it in iTunes) from Francis Chan in Simi Valley, CA. Brian and I saw him at the convention last year.
  • In listening to the podcast, Francis spoke from 2 Timothy 3 about the last days...and that people would be lovers of self of which he said is the sewer pipe that the rest of the junk comes down. (the love of money, boastfulness, pride, etc...) The quote that made me think the most...and probably the most convicting was
    We will get to a point where we are more concerned about our standard of living than we are about other human beings actually living.
    Check out his series on The End Of The World for's not your typical end times message!
  • Speaking of standard of living...I'm enjoying the iPhone 2.2 software update. It's pretty cool directly downloading podcasts and then just listen away. No more syncing!
Well, so far that's my Friday...more errands next and some website work for Dennis the Dentist! If you're in Tigard, Sherwood, Newberg area and are looking for a dentist...check him out!


Encouragement from iTunes

I'm sitting here working while listening to favorite NYWC conference worship band this year, and can't get the song Remain out of my head. The chorus rings so true in trials and when it seems like everything in life is changing all at once.

You are God with us
You're victorious
You are strong and mighty to save
For Your word stands true
There is none like you
And when all else fades, You remain
Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.


Weekend Update

This weekend was phenomenal! We took our High School group paintballing in central Oregon. The terrain was incredible, and the It was my first experience getting shot with the paintball gun, and I must do it again.

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Old School Math

No, I'm not talking about the way we used to do math compared to how they teach kids now. I'm talking about our weekend.

Last Saturday, Ali and I took a walk through Multnomah Village to look in all the shops. We came to Paganwood Restoring, a wood restoration shop with plenty of antiques. Entering Paganwood feels a bit like going to my grandma Geist's house back in the day.

Ali's eyes immediately found a 1920's era mechanical adding machine. Being an accountant, she wanted it for her office. The cool thing is that it still works! After coming home, she looked it up online and discovered how to use it (in a very convoluted way) to subtract.

If you're looking for a touch of something from yesteryear and a good walk, come on down to Multnomah Village.

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Before I Resign

Encouragement is powerful. We are commanded to encourage one another, and yet sometimes it comes few and far between. This weekend, Brian and I received a copy of a student's paper on youth ministry from one of their college courses. The student had written it, reflecting on their own past in our ministry and as a high school student. It floored me, and encouraged me enough to keep going another 5 years! (no I wasn't thinking of quitting :)

Brian and I share this with you to remind you that you never reap in the same season that you sow, that it takes time to make faith our own, and to never underestimate the role of relationship in the lives of students. You can read the text of the letter from Brian's blog...the link is below.

Years ago, as an intern of Jon Knapp, he told me to create a before I resign file. Put in that file cards, notes of encouragement, and anything else that reminds you of what God has done through you. When that day comes that you think that you're having no impact, go to the file and be reminded of what God has done, and that ministry takes time.

This note is going in the front of that file!

Letter from a student.


Closed Ended Questions

It is my day off—1st one in over 2 weeks!—and I'm sitting here, listening to a seminar from Andrew Marin from the National Youth Workers Convention. He talks about building bridges with the gay community.

In his work, Andrew often gets yes or no questions in relation to his topic. His point about yes or no questions is brilliant and can help us in answering people in many circumstances. He points out that closed ended questions are asked because the inquisitor already knows what they believe and want to peg the answerer into a category based on their response. At that point, there is no further dialogue.

He points out that Jesus was asked 29 closed ended questions in the John the Baptist, by His disciples, and by His enemies. Can you guess how many times Jesus answered with a yes or no?


And those three times were to Pilate...when His ministry was over and the only thing that remained was the cross. Other than that, Jesus didn't answer with a yes or no to closed ended questions.

Answering closed ended questions with a yes or no puts the hearer in a position to fight, stand their ground and close off hearing you. Answering as Jesus often did puts us in a place to continue dialogue.

I'm pretty good at answering those questions with a yes or no. And I hope that I can become more like Jesus


Teen Sex

That may be the most shocking title this blog has ever had, but equally shocking and encouraging is the new research published by The Heritage Foundation on Parents and Teenage Sex. There are few other topics—save the choice we make about God—that have such lasting impact than our sexual activity.

I encourage you students, parents, and youth ministers alike to read the full study here. I'll summarize a few of the points I found troubling and helpful:

On Sexual Activity:

  • Almost 2/3 of high school seniors have engaged in sexual activity. (That goes beyond sexual intercourse.)
  • 2 out of 3 teenagers that had sex said that they regretted the decision and with they would have waited longer. (Wow!)
On Consequences:
  • The chance of getting an STD doubled for those engaging in sexual activity at age 13.
  • Sexually active teen girls are 3 times as likely to become single mothers and 40% of those will give birth outside of marriage.
  • Sexually active adolescents are half as likely to be in a stable marriage.
  • Mothers who began sexual activity at ages 13 or 14 were more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
On Parental Influence:
  • When asked "Who is the most influential regarding your decisions about sex?" (depending on the age breakdown within teenagers) 39%-59% said parents. Only 5%-8% said religious leaders. (Wow! I can say a lot as a youth worker, but the most influential person in a teens life is their parent! Parents...I'm praying for you!)
  • Parental factors that appear to offer protection against the onset of early sexual activity include: intact family structure, parents' disapproval of adolescent sex, teen's sense of belonging to and satisfaction with their families, parental monitoring, and to a lesser extent, parent-child communication about teen sex and it's consequences. (They say to a lesser extent because those parents who exert "excessive or coercive" control might lead to negative outcomes.)
  • Parent-child connectedness is measured by the level of satisfaction parents & teens feel in their relationship, the amount of warmth, love, affection, and the level of parental involvement in their children's lives.
On What a Parent Can Do:
  • Avoid sending ambiguous and mixed message about teen sex.
  • Convey clearly to their teens their values on this subject.
  • Focus on imparting clearly defined values. Simply discussing sex does not necessarily protect teens.
  • Seek to strengthen their relationships with their teenage children.
We certainly have a difficult job to do as parents and youth workers, especially when you factor in the extent at which our culture at large give us freedom to do and explore whatever we want. We no doubt need to bathe our actions and conversations in prayer when it comes to speaking about sex. But be encouraged at how strong your influence is in your relationship with your child!

Students have a tough task as well, facing peer pressure, cultural influences, and their own desires. Students, this article isn't just for parents. Ask yourself, "How is my relationship with my parents?...What do they really think about all this?...Do I listen to wise advice and consider the consequences before taking action?"


NYMC 08 - Highlight Reel

What a great weekend down in Sacramento for the National Youth Workers Convention. This wonderful event put on by Youth Specialties is one of the highlights of my year. Just about the only thing I didn't enjoy was not having my wife alongside.

I'll be blogging through what individual speakers shared as the weeks go on, but I wanted to tell a few of my favorite things.

The People: Although I went for the teaching, worship and soul care, connecting with people was one of the most encouraging elements this year. It was neat getting to know a few guys from my neck of the woods, as well as some from the online world. If you're in youth ministry, you should check out Tim Schmoyer site. He is a dedicated youth worker in Minnesota who provides countless resources and tips for those doing student ministries themselves. In fact, I'm listening to a video podcast of his as I type!

The Communicators: You can't go wrong when people like Tony Campolo, Mark Yaconelli, Shane Claiborne, and of course YS President, Marko bring their thoughts on life and serving God. But I loved the great variety of topics taught. It ranged from 2,000 plus years of church history and its effect on where we are now, to how we act justly today, how we think about the gay community, and those dark times in the wilderness in which all leaders pass.

The Bands: Hello...Starfield, Lincoln Brewster, Shane & Shane, Kendall Payne, and others! Great worship leaders and artists.

The Freebies: It's real nice coming home from the convention with a bag full of free ministry resources, and a few valuable purchased ones too. Above the Golden State, a local Portland band even made it into my freebie bag!

The Tech: For those of you Twitter people out there, my total tweets increased 47% while at the convention. It was fun tweeting and reading my fellow youth workers' tweets as we all learned different things.

Brian had the chance to Liveblog the event, which meant that during all the sessions and seminars, there were 4 laptop laden people typing their thoughts and experience for the world to see. It was fun to interact on the liveblog. If you want to check it out yourself, even see videos & pictures from the convention, check it out here.

The Passion: The convention provides a camp experience for 2,500 youth workers. There are a bunch of people heading back to ministries this week with new passion and vision. You can pray for them as they seek to excite those around them in the things they learned.

Well, for someone who hasn't typed that much in a while, I think I'll call it quits. Check back soon for my thoughts on the speakers.


NYWC - Connection

Though I come to the convention for the learning, the music, the
speakers and more, this year I've enjoyed the new connections and
meeting other cohorts in ministry. Between lunches, coffee, seminars
and random hallway conversations, it's been preety cool.


National Youth Workers Convention

Well, Brian and I are here in Sacremento for the convention. We are
pumpped for what's in store. You can check out the happenings on my
Twitter (on the right of my blog), or at
where you can follow a few live bloggers...Brian is one of them.

Here is a picture of the stage as people are entering.


Twitter & Up and Coming

You may have noticed my serious lack of blogging as of of always. But do not worry, I haven't forgot about my blog friends. In fact I think that this next weekend will provide ample opportunity for me to share my thoughts. Brian and I are heading to Sacramento this weekend for the National Youth Workers Convention. This will be our third time there in four years. I am way excited about going. It's always a good time of care for the soul, learning about ministry, and experiencing some great times with 3,000 other youth workers.

In case you hadn't looked on the side of my blog recently, I've become a Twitter addict. It started out very simple and mostly so that I could see what the big todo was. Now I'm hooked. Feel free to follow me by going to


Mexico Media

I finally have some more stories from Mexico, but this time it's not just from me. Yesterday, our Mexico team used the sermon time during our church services to share stories of what God did in and through us.

You'll find the 40 minute session along with our PowerPoint slide show links next. I've also embedded the 4 minute video slide show that Zach made. Soon, I'll post the 20 minute version that he and Caleb spent so much time creating.

The PowerPoint file is in the 2007 version. If you don't have that version, click here for a 2007 viewer.

Mexico Sharing Audio - MP3 File
Mexico Sharing PowerPoint - PowerPoint 2007 File
Mexico Pictures - These are the 'best' 500 out of the 1600 taken!


Mexico - Beauty

I just went through all my pictures, taking out the dust marks. Seeing all those pictures makes me miss my time there. I could stay for a while longer. The last few days have been filled with laundry, cleaning, trying to rest up and later I'll go in to work for a few hours before a meeting.

There is no way I can post further reactions to our trip and or give a sampling of pictures all in one post. So I've decided that I'll post under multiple categories...hopefully one a day, but if you're an avid reader of this blog, you know that may not happen :)

Besides the fact that there isn't much greenery, and you're surrounded by poverty, dirt and penetrating dust, you can't help but marvel at how beautiful this area of Mexico is. From the hills to the bay of Ensenada and even its people, Mexico is very beautiful. It truly is a Psalm 19 place, where everything about it is declaring the glory of God.

Here are some pictures of the beauty and wonder, taken by Sara L., my dad and myself:

Sunset over an island in the bay

Sunset over a peninsula in the bay

A red ant on Lucas' arm

Our daily view

Again, our daily view

A squirrel enjoying the view at La Bufadora

Nighttime at our living quarters

One last look at the sunset


Mexico - Day 10

I'm sitting on the plane and won't post this until we land. It's both
exciting that I'll finally be home, yet I love being in Mexico and
living in that culture so much. I know that if I had to do it every
day my story might change. Who knows.

Well, I had the craziest travel and border crossing experience yet.
Like I said yesterday, instead of taking our usual route through
Tijuana, we followed Tim & Kathy up to Tecate and then into the States.

The trip itself was beautiful. There were hills covered in giant
boulders and we traveled through the Mexican wine country. The only
problem was that we got stuck behind many trucks going up the
mountains. At times we would be going 5mph uphill. It wouldn't have
been too bad minus all the extra travel time except for John's van. It
began to overheat going uphill behind the trucks, so on a 92 degree
day, the other van had to turn on the heater! Ugh.

The reason for going through Tecate was because the Tijuana border
crossing takes at least an hour if not more. We only waited in line
for 5 minutes here! I was thinking, "no way!" but...

They pulled both our vans into secondary. I followed the usual
crossing procedure, giving over all the IDs and offering up passports
and birth certificates. The guy asked if I'd ever crossed before. I
wanted to say yes, 6 times without problems. Then he asked both our
vans to unload an go inside the immigration building. You've got to be
kidding me right?! Well we went inside and the officertold john and I
to get checked first and then go park our vans on the street and wait
for everybody else. The guard letting John and I out to get the vans
couldn't even believe that they brought us in in the first place.

Well, at least we made it across the border. Then we got to drive back
west toward San Diego of course stopping at In 'n Out. Good stuff. We
debated the finer points on whether or not it was better than
Burgerville. It was nice to have a good show of support for the NW

Yesterday was wonderful. There were so many hard workers on our team
that helpped finish more than we planned to accomplish. VBS ended
which was sad saying goodbye to all hose kids.

A group of us poured concrete steps leading up to the Church from the
dirt road. A few more painted the upright poles and benches outside
and another team of us finished tiling an grouting. We estimated a
little over 800 sq. ft. of tile laid. Grouting gave me a few good cuts
and stained hands but we sure had fun.

It was a long day. About six of us had quick breaks for lunch and
dinner at the church bit pretty much worked straight through untill
8pm. I feel very tired, but that's good. I feel that a number of us
used up all the energy given.

Our last group session was special. The new pastor at the church,
Melquiades and his wife Salvina-who works with the kids and youth-
shared with us how God brought them to this point. It is exciting to
know the church, pastors, kids and town that our group supports.

Well our decent is beginning and the sights and sounds of home will
soon be before us. What will each of our lives be like now? We prayed
that the changes that God put on our heart in Mexico through our
serving, observing the culture, and listening to God's Word would not
soon be forgotten. (Really never!)


Mexico - Day 9

It's late. We worked late but completed all the grouting. Whew! I'm
tired and ready for some sleep. Just a quick post to say we leave
tomorrow. We'll be following the missionaries out of Mexico as they go
to the States. It should be fun because we will head through Tecate
instead of Tijuana. Supposedly there is very little wait at that
border crossing. Blessings and catch you onthe flip side...of the
border that is.


Mexico - Day 8 Part 2

Whew! The long day is about over. I am already missing the kids and
the last day is not yet here. I'm currently putting the student's
pictures on my laptop so my train of thought may be more broken than

I drank my last cup if hot chocolate tonight. Some how, our group
downed 3 containers of the powdered drink mix. I blame Katie and her
hot chocolate shots.

VBS was good again but a bit more tough as we lost a few of our team
members to other projects. Tiling of the church continued today while
half the team poured a foundation of a house to be built in September.
In the afternoon, we finished grouting the main room of the church
while my dad tiles the back room.

We had church tonight in the new floor. They were so thankful and it
was just more evidence of God's provision in their lives. Cristian,
Caleb and Katie V share their testimonies tonight. They were powerful
and it as so wonderful to watch them me used. Zach, Caleb and I
helpped lead worship which finally seemed to to well. We did have to
figure out the guitar chord on our own and they were singing in keys
like Bb and Fminor. I got to preach tonight too. It was good but
always interesting when having your words translated.

Most of those feeling ill are better. Just one remaining with some
ickiness. Keep praying and we'll keep taking care.

Tomorrow is our last day of ministry. It wouldbe nice to stay longer.
Oh! And how could I forget?! I gave my first guitar lesson in Spanish
today! The gal who receive the guitar brought by Haley asked if I
chould play with her. I was able to teach her three new chords and
tune her guitar. It turns out that instead of chords and notes A B C D
etc... They use do re mix fa sol la ti! And their first note "do" is
our "C" ...crazy!

Till tomorrow

Mexico - Day 8

Buenos dias! I planned to rise at 6:30 this morning to finish going
over my message but was awoken at 5:15 by the sounds of dogs barking,
roosters crowing, trucks driving and who knows what else! So I finally
got out if bed around 6 and finished the message then. I'm excited
about it.

I decide to post an update this morning because a couple of our team
member's digestive systems aren't in perfect condition. Nothing
horrible, but nothing fun either. I know they would appreciate your
prayers as would I for the message tonight.

Hope you all are having a great week in the states and we can't wait
to be back to share stories. As for me...I could stay here longer.
What a great place!


Mexico - Day 7

Buenas noches

Just a quick post tonight. We had a good long meeting led by Kathy the
missionary and I've got a shower and final message prep to do yet.
I'll probably violate our curfew, but that's a perk of leading I

More great VBS, more tiling, more loving on kids. The Mexican kids
just love us to death and it is so fun to talk with them and play with

A family from the church prepared a hominy soup for us tonight. It was
wonderful. Thy are an incredibly generous people and give glory to God
for everything.

Well, I must continue with my evening. Lots to do tomorrow!


Mexico - Day 6

Ah the second week has begun. What a great day. We begun VBS by
inviting kids from around the villages. That was real fun...inviting
kids in Spanish and then leading a group of them down the street
toward the Church.

While inviting kids, we went to the house of the family we built fir
last year. It was wonderful seeing the living in the house. They even
invited us in for Coke and to see pictures she had from last year.
Later today, Zach, Caleb and Jacob went and invited them to church.
Hopefully they'll come on Wednesday.

We were presented with a need last week. The church is trying to
inatall a tile floor and only had 1/3 of the tiles necessary. Our team
donated the funds to purhase the remaining tiles an we began
installing them today. If all goes as planned, we will finish before
church on Wednesday night!

We feel prepared for tomorrow's VBS, but plans always change in
Mexico! Shannon did a great job teaching today and we're looking
forward to Haley teaching about Jonah and obeying God. About 40 kids
came today. Who knows how many more tomorrow!

Mexico - Day 5 part 2

Duh!!! In my excitement of writing about last night I forgot to
mention that yesterday was taco day!!! Woohoo!!!

Mexico - Day 5

I got to bed last night late after lights out, so no time to post. At
least I went to bed thinking that God knew what He was doing. More on
that in a bit.

Yesterday was our day of rest. We had breakfast early then went to
church here in the village. Zach, Caleb and I accompanied their
worship on guitar. Haley and John both shared testimonies. It was
wonderful and blessed the church.

We then left to our laundrymat for the clothes washing for the week.
After a half hour of driving, we arrived to find out that of was
closed! That's okay ;) we asked where another nearrby one was. It was
mch smaller and we all had to partner up on washers so no one got as
many clothes clean as we had hoped. But hey! This is "Flexico" not
Mexico. :)

After laundry an lunch, we headed out to La Bufadora, a tourist
shopping area at a natural blowhole on the coast. It was a fun time.
Students bargained for the price they wanted on various items and and
I had some fresh churros. Good times.

We came back and had our group meeting. In our small groups we talked
about Ephesians 4, using our gifts an unity. You know how when you ask
God for patience, he gives you oppourtunities to be patient? Well, we
realized after our meeting that when you ask God to help you be
unified, He shows you where your disunity is. This is always one of
the hard parts on the trip. We're halfway through, many are tired,
many haven't been away from home this long and lived with this group
for so long. Add in the emotions of having just finished a house and
the thought of one more week to go and the disunity shows.

The good news is that God knows what he is doing. He uses this trip to
show us our rough edges, and then gives us the grace to smooth them
down. Both of those happened last night. I went to bed thanking God
for the day and am excited for what this week has in store. We begin
VBS today, so please pray for us!


Mexico - Day 4

I'm without cell service tonight for some reason, so this may not post
for a bit.

At last...the house is complete! What a joy it was to finish the hard
work and turn over the keys to the family. In reading Jeremiah this
week, he chided kings and people for doing nothing when they saw
injustice and opression. How amazing to work with a group of high
school students who do.

We were fed the most amazing lunch today: chicken with molé sauce,
homemade totillas and rice. Mmm mmm mmm! Molé is some sort of sauce
made of chocolate and spices. One of those things you wouldn't think
would be good but turns out to be incredible! Dinner of enchiladas
ended our eating.

Kathy led our discussion tonight. We talked about being able to "feed"
ourselves spiritually and about poverty. There was some wonderful
sharing about experiences with poverty and discussion about
contentment and need.

I can't wait to upload and share pictures with you all.


Mexico - Day 3

Tiredness set in today. It's 9:30 and I'm ready for the sack. My hot
chocolate and some good time to relax is keeping me awake right now.

We accomplished much today. Mudding, sanding, roofing and trim are all
nearly done. Those tasks should be finished within the first hour as
painting begins tomorrow. We look forward to dedicating the house. The
students went to the dollar store tonight to purchase house warming
items: soap, kitchen utinsels, backpacks and lightbulbs...

We took a trip after diner to Comercial Mexicana for some supplies and
good ol Mexican pastries. That was fun being in a local supermarket.

The time is flying by so quick. We encouraged the students to make the
most of every opportunity and remember who this trip is for.

What a great atmosphere right now. A circle of backrubs after the long
days work, a card game, shared cinveraations over hot chocolate,
writing in encouragement journals and a few sitting outside in a
"quiet" Mexican night. No night is complete without the dogs,
roosters, ATV backfires and the baseball game down the hill.

It's quiet down time in ten minutes and bed in forty. What a Gloria a Dios!


Mexico - Day 2

Great day! We just celebrated a student's birthday with a homemade
cake following an incredible tamale dinner. Got to love the food!

Today was wonderful. We just about finished the roof, electrified and
sheetrocked the house. The family is helping and is so appreciative.
It is so cool that God is using us to do His work! We met even more
neighborhood kids today and it is so fun to play with them. Thy are so
content with so little.

Our team is full of great workers. I am so glad to be a part of it.

Today, a van pulled up at the church across the street from where we
are building. It said Portland OR on the side. I asked if they were
tom Portland and ten realized that I went I school with the guy! Here
he was brining down a group from Mosaic church to do a VBS at this
church...El Roca Fuerte...the solid rock!

Well, it's time for cards encouragement journals and then the
wonderful bed.

Till tomorrow.


Mexico - Day 1

Wow! What a great day full of laughter and surprises and joy. Typing
on my phone isn't condusive to a long blog recap but I'll try to give
the hilghlights.

We framed and put siding on the whole house today...very encouraging.
We are having a lot of fun too while working. Each team member is
encouraging one another and working hard. I got a pretty good sun burn
on my lower back. Must remember to wear a longer shirt tomorrow!

We just finished small groups after a service at the local church. It
seems that God is blessing them and they are excited to have us here.
It gave me so much joy to see children that I met last year! This
place is a place of peace.

We're all pretty tired from the long day, relaxing now, playing games,
writing in journals and listening to music before our 10:30
appointment with the dorms.

Well, hope all is well in the states. And Steve, if you're reading
this, CMac says hi.

Dios le bendiga


Off to Mexico!

My Dad, Alison and I are in the car driven by my sister heading for
the airport. 22 of us from our church will fly to San Diego, then
drive to Ensenada for nine days of serving the church in Mexico and
aiding some local missionary friends. We will build a house for a
family in need, help lead a VBS, participate in a local 'store' where
the food and clothing ate given away, and learn like crazy!

Pray for us that God would use this experience to grow us up in our
faith. Pray for those we minister to and with.

I have limited data usage in Mexico before I run up a bill, but I will
try to send in updates to the blog.

Dios le bendiga!



Checking out the new Lifecast software formobile blogging. Seriously google...when is yours coming out?

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I'll have cup of coffee...minus the coffee

Thursday brought great weather and a fun trip with our mid-school group to Wild Waves in Federal Way, WA. After a cool time on the water slides and roller coasters, we headed back home, a three-hour journey.

Of course, we stopped at Starbucks so that our van drivers had the gusto for the trip. I ordered my favorite drink—a triple-grande-caramel-macchiato: Steamed milk, vanilla, caramel and of course the all important 3 shots of espresso.

The drink starts out sweet as you sip the caramel floating on the milk foam, then turns nice and bitter as you hit the milk & espresso, finishing sweet when you reach the caramel on the bottom.

After leaving the store and returning to the road, I noticed that the drink was staying a bit sweet for far too long. I began to suspect that they didn't put enough espresso in, or worse...none. Alison opened the cup and sure enough, a white drink.

NO COFFEE!!!??? What?

How do you order a Triple shot drink and receive none?

I could not believe it! We'll see what happens. I wrote Starbucks customer service. Maybe they'll give me a free drink :)


Surprised by God

Pastor Steve from our Church began a new series a couple weeks ago entitled Surprised by God. This meant-to-be-fun Summer series has quickly turned into a look at a God who seems to love surprising His people. From the way He saved Israel from Egypt and the way He sent Jesus to this earth, to the remarkable test He gave Abraham after surprising him with a child in old age, God still surprises people.

Steve shared of two surprises in our own church body: A changed cancer diagnosis in a 25 year old man from terminal to treatable, and a 5% chance of survival during heart surgery into leaving the hospital just a few days later. Wow! How incredible.

It made me reflect on times when I've been surprised by God, some medical, some financial, some spiritual. We have a God who delights in surprising us with outcomes and paths that we didn't even know to exist.

While at this time of morning, I'm usually trying to grab every last second of sleep, I'm getting ready to clean our apartment's laundry room. That was a surprise. Faced with part-time jobs that took full time, we wanted to pay off credit card & student debt much faster than we were able. God surprised us when our apartment manager told us that he was looking for someone or two to clean the laundry and rec rooms for a good chunk off our rent. Surprise!

We're not ready to call up Dave Ramsey yet for the Freedom chant, but working our way. Thank you God.

How have you been surprised by God?


Farewell to Seniors '08

It is once again that sad time of year where we say goodbye to our Senior class and ready ourselves for the incoming Freshmen.

To help celebrate our Senior's time in the group, we create a farewell slide show. I'm showing this tonight at group. They will be missed!


Las Vegas Photos

We made it home safe and are sad that vacation is over. Here's a small sampling of the photos we took on our trip. To see the pictures in their full size glory, go here:


From the Road: Jackpot!

Okay, so my title might not be quite correct, but we did make 0.5%
profit on thus outing. That's right...we put in $4 and ended up with
$4.02! Woohoo!


From the Road: "Breakfast"

We had the lunch buffet at the Luxor today, our actual anniversary.
We're in line to see an afternoon magic show-2 for the price of
kind of pricing. Oh...the line is moving. Got to go.


From the Road: In 'n Out

Remember how I said that it doesn't get much better than sleeping in
and so and so...? Well, it does. Vegas has seven area resturaunts and
we hit up the Henderson location on the way back from the Hoover dam.

From the Road: Hoover Dam

This phone picture doesn't do justice so expect more on this when we
get back home. But all I have to say is that it is pretty impressive!

From the Road: M&M's World

Yes there is such a place. And it is a marketing extravaganza.

Breakfast in Vegas

Nothing like sleeping in and enjoying a wonderful Belgian waffel with
Ali. The 80 degree weather doesn't hurt either. :)


Mi Amigos

Saturday night, Ali and I were treated to Kabobs made by Justin over at the Ubel's. It really doesn't get much better than a night with friends, our Goddaughter Brooklyn, great food, some backyard disc golf and a game of whist.

But alas, it is Monday morning, and I—as I'm sure everyone else in reach of the early Northwest Summer—am not ready to go back to work. I'd rather have another kabob.


Breakfast & "Mr. Buddy"

Ali and I took part in our traditional non youth event Saturday morning activity: Breakfast & Starbucks. With the weather being so nice, and us only wanting to be outside before it hit 80, we walked. I'm going to miss the hot drinks for the season, but I enjoyed my iced caramel macchiato, and Alison, her iced Americano, all of course while attempting the Saturday crossword.

You'll notice pictures from the walk of various flowers and of course, Mr. Buddy from our backyard. Alison named any squirrel we see Mr. Buddy, because they become our cat's buddy. He was up in the tree, a little angry that I was taking pictures of him instead of providing his morning diet of roasted peanuts.