Category Archives: Personal Happenings

Overnight office

Well, I’m on my way to Newark now to meet up with Grant and then head to India! Last night I had an overnight layover. I’m trying to go ahead and get my body adjusted to Indian time, so I just hung out in the airport and got some work done for most of the night. Here was my work station:

Airports aren’t too exciting at 2am:

A seasoned world traveler advised us to not eat during hours that we will normally be asleep in India for a day or two before the trip. I guess it has something to do with your liver putting out stay-awake juices when you’re eating things (to put it in the technical terms of medical professionals). Something like that. So I started that up yesterday, fasting from about 10am to 6pm each day.

We had a good time in Idaho the past few days. We shared for about 10 minutes at one of our partner churches on Sunday morning, then hosted a Mexico night Sunday evening at Erin’s parents’ house and had about 20-25 people come. I enjoyed the Mexico night a lot. Erin and her mom cooked a great Mexican meal of tortilla soup and quesadillas for everyone. We shared for a little while about how things have been going with the ministry this past year and then opened things up for Q & A. It was a lot of fun. Everyone had great questions, and it was neat to give them more of an inside peek at the ministry in southern Mexico.

I got to do a bit of fishing with Erin’s dad and brother. That was cool, because I hadn’t gotten to do any fishing to speak of in about 2.5 years. It was pretty slow with the cold weather, but I did catch one decent brown trout in the Clark Fork river, and Erin’s dad and brother caught a couple, also.

Thanks for everyone who has been praying for our car problems and encouraging us with that. We have our van in the shop now to get the engine rebuilt, and it should be ready by the time I get back from India, just in time for us to drive to Colorado. So that’s good news!

Being in a foreign country most of the year, I’m amazed sometimes at the efficiency in the U.S. For example, this morning I went to get breakfast at McDonald’s here in the airport. I walked up, gave my order, swiped my credit card, and by the time the receipt had printed off they set my entire breakfast in front of me. I’m not kidding, the entire transaction didn’t take more than 15 seconds. Now that’s fast food!

Okay, this is me signing off until next time. I’m going to try and get some blog posts up about the trip while we’re in India, so be sure to check back, or even better, subscribe to the newsfeed or to have new posts automatically emailed to you (see the right sidebar of the home page of my blog).

God bless!

Through the windshield–Texas to Idaho

Here are a few more through the windshield photos from the U.S. leg of our roadtrip:

These windmills all over Texas and Colorado were pretty impressive. Nice to see us doing something about alternative energy sources. Have you seen these things? Anybody have any idea how well they work? They’re pretty impressive. In Lamar, Colorado they had one fin of one on display, and it looked like it had to be close to 20 feet long.

Crossing into Oklahoma

The reason Oklahoma has a little strip of land between Texas and Colorado–no one else wanted it :)

Crossing into Colorado

Wyoming at night

We enjoyed some beautiful scenery while driving through Montana. The photos don’t do it justice.

The Clark Fork river in Montana…and bugs on the windshield

And finally, our destination–Erin’s parents’ house in the Idaho panhandle

Total mileage from southern Mexico to northern Idaho: 3,040 miles
Total drive time: 53.5 hours

You know your car has problems when…

…you burn 29 quarts of oil on a 3,050 mile road trip. That’s right, that’s just a hair under a quart of oil every 100 miles.
Gas economy: 20 mpg
Oil economy: 400 mpg

The good news is we arrived safe and sound this afternoon at Erin’s parents’ house in northern Idaho. For that we are very grateful. Our trip got held up a couple of days ago when we broke an engine coil. We picked up on this at a gas stop in Plainview, Texas, when the car began to idle roughly and then the dreaded check engine light came on.

The good news was there was a Toyota dealership literally across the street (we have a Toyota minivan). The bad news was it was Sunday afternoon. Being a small town, by the time the dealership opened Monday morning, diagnosed the problem, got the part in, and made the repair, it was Tuesday afternoon before we were on the road again. We managed to entertain ourselves for two days, though, and then we made good time on the rest of the trip.

The oil loss, unfortunately, is not due to the engine coil. We bought our van used back in December, and it has been a great blessing to us. Turns out the previous owners, though, did not take care of the engine at all. So it has broken down at a very premature age, and it looks like we’re facing a rebuild of it before we head back to Mexico in a few weeks. I’m very partial to Toyotas (our family driving one to 330k miles sold me), but the lesson for car owners is this: It doesn’t matter how good a car you have if you don’t take care of it!

We would appreciate your prayers that we will be able to get the van repaired and ready to go for our drive to Colorado in early May and then our return trip to Mexico.

And those are our car adventures on our trip up here. We’re in good spirits and thankful to God for getting us up here safely and for the fact that we have a car to drive. I’ll share photos from the latest leg of the trip in a separate post.

Through the windshield–Veracruz and Tamaulipas

We get to see a lot of really cool stuff on the road trip up from southern Mexico to the U.S. Here are a few shots of the view through our windshield and windows:

Veracruz has some gorgeous landscape…

We spend a couple of hours driving right along the Gulf Coast in Veracruz

Content travelers

Shrimping boats in the mouth of a river emptying into the ocean

The numerous small towns are very picturesque

Roadside pottery stand

The hilly coastal lands of Veracruz are covered with orange, banana, and pineapple plantations. Town after town is lined with roadside stands selling fruit and honey. A bag of 100 oranges goes for under US$2.50.

This statue is in a small town located in an area called The Golden Valley of the Orange

Crossing the Tampico bridge over the river into the state of Tamaulipas

Entering cooler lands–crossing the Tropic of Cancer

No room in the inn

We’re currently on a road trip up to the United States (Idaho, to be exact), and then I will be leaving for India in about a week and a half. Yesterday, we drove up to the U.S. border and crossed into Texas. We took some photos, which I will get posted as soon as I can.

We had planned to spend the night in McAllen, TX, but since we made good time to the border, we decided to continue on to San Antonio. We rolled into the south end of San Antonio about midnight, exhausted from a very long day of driving and ready to get some rest. I went into a Motel 6 to see what kind of vacancy they had.

“We just have the suite,” the girl at the counter says.

“Okay, how much does that go for?” I asked.

“$299, plus tax.”

“Oookay,” I said, “I think we’ll keep looking.”

I hopped back in the car and commented to Erin how Motel 6 sure seems to be moving up in the world of lodging.

Next stop was the Super 8 Motel across the street.

“Do you have any rooms with 2 double beds available?” I asked the guy.

“Sure, we have one. It’ll run $189 plus tax.”

“Wow!!” I said, wondering what on earth had happened to motel prices while we’ve been in Mexico. “Is that how much they normally run?”

“No, they’re normally about $50, but it’s because of the Final Four.”

Who knew. I haven’t kept up with college basketball at all lately, so I had no idea we would be hitting San Antonio the same weekend the Final Four was hosted there.

Knowing that would be the situation all over town, we continued on to the next town, about 40 miles past San Antonio. When we saw parking lots at the first couple of motels full of motorcycles, I knew we were in trouble. A long search determined that all 9 motels in town were booked completely solid. There was nothing else to do but to keep driving. The next town, another 40 miles up the road, had just one motel, which was also full. They had a sign on the door, though, recommending a Motel 6 ten more miles up the road.

Success! That place had a room free. It was going to be $59 plus tax, but I bargained the guy down a full $5, since it was now 3am our Mexico time, which was actually 4am local time. We got a few decent hours of sleep (Molly’s sickness explosion all over the bathroom notwithstanding), and now we’re ready to hit the road again.

On a side note, when we got into our room, I realized the guy had already been giving me a deal, because this room apparently normally goes for $105 plus tax. Which still leaves me with the question, “What on earth ever happened to Motel 6 being a good deal when you’re traveling?!”

5,286 miles later…

 A Familiar View

If details bore you, don’t read this post, but if you want a sense of our crazy trip, read on! 

Saturday night we returned from our holiday trip to the United States.  Besides having a great time visiting my family and a number of friends, we drove more than we have ever driven before in such a short period.  Here’s what our trip looked like:

Friday, December 14, we took an overnight bus to Mexico City, where we spent two days hanging out and seeing some of the sights as a family.  (It was $400 cheaper for us to fly out on Monday, so we figured ‘Why not?’)

That Monday, we flew to Houston, where Erin and the girls rented a car and went to visit some friends near San Antonio, TX for a couple of days.  I, meanwhile, flew to Tampa, FL to pick up the minivan we had just bought.  I arrived in Tampa at midnight, was met by the car salesman at 1am, and was in the car by 2am.  I drove an hour to where I would have a breakfast meeting the next morning, then caught a couple of hours of off-and-on sleep in the car.

That morning (Tuesday), I got to hook up with one of our interns from last summer for breakfast.  I then hit the road for Jacksonville, where I had lunch with a mother and daughter who became friends after they came to Oaxaca for a mission trip the summer of 2006.  I was right back on the road after lunch, arriving in Tallahassee to visit and spend the night with friends from Four Oaks Community Church, who we have also gotten to know through mission trips they have taken to Oaxaca.

The cool thing was that Wednesday morning, as I headed towards Texas to meet Erin and the girls, some of our Four Oaks friends were heading the same direction.  I caravanned with them until the New Orleans area, where I stopped to meet with the missions directors of a new church that is planning on sending down a mission trip team this coming summer.  Continuing from there, I caught back up with our Four Oaks friends and was graciously invited to spend the night with them at their aunt’s house in Lake Charles, LA.  They fed me authentic shrimp gumbo (I think that’s the first time I’ve had it), and it was awesome!

The next morning I met with another pastor just east of Houston whose church is coming to Oaxaca this summer.  I then hurried to meet Erin at the car rental return, arriving only about an hour late.  Oops :(  We met up with a college friend of Erin’s that afternoon, and then were taken out to a great Korean restaurant by Korean friends who came on a mission trip in July.  They also were kind enough to host our family for the night.  See how many friends you get to make from all over when you host mission trips?

Friday, December 21, we finally drove to Little Rock, AR and joined my dad and some of my siblings for Christmas.  We had a really fun time visiting together.  Oh yeah, the day after we got to my dad’s, he and I drove to Tulsa, OK and back to pick up my siblings.  (Joint parenting stuff after a divorce is a mess – I don’t recommend it.)  Christmas was good, and the day after my sister Catherine and her boyfriend arrived.  Since we were close already, we took the opportunity to drive to Memphis, TN for a day to visit some extended relatives.

So after all that, our family and my siblings then drove to Sterling, KS (commonly referred to as ‘the middle of nowhere’) to visit my mom.  My sister Hannah surprised the family by coming out from Colorado to visit us, so we had all seven kids in our family together for the first time since mine and Erin’s wedding six years ago.  The time at my mom’s was a great visit, too, highlighted by an impressive fireworks display put on by my brother Ben for New Year’s.

The day after New Year’s it was time to head south again.  We headed out in the morning, meeting another college friend of Erin’s in Oklahoma City for lunch, meeting with leaders of another new mission trip team that night in Austin, TX, and then spending the night in San Antonio, TX.  After putting the car in the shop the morning of January 3 (it has a mysterious oil leak we’re still trying to figure out), we were on the road again by early afternoon.  We crossed the border into Mexico at McAllen, TX at 8pm and then drove on a few hours to a small town called Soto la Marina.

Now we’re up to last Friday, and getting close to home.  We drove on to a beautiful town on the coast of Veracruz, called Costa Esmeralda.  We got in late afternoon, got a hotel room, and spent the evening and the next morning eating out and relaxing on the beach to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary.  Our anniversary was this past Saturday, the 5th of January.  We hit the road about midday Saturday, stopped off in the city of Veracruz for a late lunch at Carl’s Jr., and then were home by 10pm that night.

23 days, 12 states, 2 countries, 11 different sleeping locations, 5286 miles driven, and 92 hours in the car.  And I would do it all over again.  (I can’t speak for Erin.)  It’s hard having family all spread out, but the cool thing is that we get to visit so many more people, now that we have friends all over the place.  Thank you, God, for a good trip, and thank you that we’re now home and settled for a little while!

Winning the league soccer championship

I joined a local soccer team back in May.  This has proven to be one of the better ways I’ve found to develop good friendships with non-Christians.  It is also meeting my need for exercise and outdoor activity.  It’s always nice when you can kill two birds with one stone.  (Really, we’re trying to do a better job of killing multiple birds with one stone in everything we do.  Church planting is a lifestyle, not a job.  As we work, eat, shop, and play, we try to plant seeds of the gospel and make disciples wherever we go.)

My team was a new team that was forming for the season that just finished.  We ended up doing really well and making a run through the playoffs at the end of the season.  Yesterday, we played for the league championship and won.  The game was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation (I scored our goal on a header), and then it was still tied 1-1 after 30 minutes of overtime, so it had to be decided in a penalty kick shootout.  We won the shootout 4-2.  I got to be one of our team’s 5 shooters and scored on my shot.

The way soccer works, there are usually several leagues.  At the end of each season, the best couple of teams from each league move up to the league above them, and the bottom two teams in each league move down.  This keeps the competition good in each league and makes the top one a really tough one.

There are 3 leagues in our town, and we had to start at the bottom one since we were a new team.  Since we won the championship, we now get to move up to the second league at the start of the next season, which will be underway soon.

Below are some photos Erin took of me playing yesterday.  They didn’t turn out great because of the distance, but oh well.

Me getting ready to cross the ball (below):

Here I’m just about to put in what would have been the winning goal in overtime, but I was barely offsides:

This is me making my penalty kick during the shootout at the end of the game:

Sea turtles and mahi mahi

Postcard from Puerto Escondido: Wishing you were here…

Our church planting team is taking a team retreat for a couple of days on the coast of Oaxaca, which is a gorgeous place.  This morning we went on a boat tour to look for cool sea creatures and do a bit of fishing.  We didn’t see any dolphins or whales, but we saw a number of sea turtles.  One of the turtles we got to jump into the water with.

The thing that really surprised us was the fishing!  We didn’t expect to catch much of anything, but we ended up catching a bonita and three mahi mahi (one isn’t pictured).  A little restaurant right on the beach cooked up some of the mahi mahi for lunch, and it was delicious.

Wish you were here!  Below are some photos…

CPT in Puerto Escondido

Sea turtle

Tino, Ali, and our guide with a turtle

A beautiful mahi mahi

Our guide with a mahi mahi

Our catch

The prize of the day