Never plays with cannons kids!Amazingly, today was the first time in all of our traveling in Pennsylvania that we were able to visit the Gettysburg National Military Park. We were scheduled to be in New York today, but when I found out that we were less than 2 hours from Gettysburg, and we had no meeting for tonight, we adjusted our travel schedule to keep us in southern PA  one more day so we could visit Gettysburg.

Monument at the Gettysburg National CemetaryWhen we got to Gettysburg the rain was torrential. We made it to the new visitor’s center, but because of the rain, I dropped the family off close to the building. They ended up totally soaked walking in while I was parking the car. By the time I got parked the rain had stopped. We had rain off and on most of the day.

We bought a CD set with audio that takes you through the Auto Tour of the park. This is a tour with 16 stops. These stops are explained in the main park brochure. However, this audio tour went into much more detail of what took place at each location. It was about 1.5 hours of audio on a 2 CD set. Since there is no charge for entering this park, we thought the $20 CD was worth it. I am glad we bought it. It really was pretty good at giving an overview of the park and the events of the 3 day battle.

I took a few pictures today, but the camera is out in the car. I am not sure if and when I will get some pictures uploaded.

If you get a chance to visit the park, it really is worth the trip. We intentionally did not try to see everything today. We did the overview tour today with plans to return in the future to study out some of the monuments and sections that would give more detail about the battle.

Missionary Training Week

This week our mission board had its training week in Jefferson City, Tennessee. This time is for missionaries to come together and talk about some really practical aspects of missions as well as spiritual refreshment.

We talked about prayer letters, how to write them, and what the importance of the prayer letter is. We had a pastor come and share with us what he expects from missionaries. The neat thing about his time with us was that he used to be a missionary. He was able to say “I understand you. I know what you are going through. But here is what a pastor expects from you and here is why you should comply.” It was really beneficial. We also had sessions taught by our bookkeeper about how to keep the proper paperwork in order. She shared with us the new tax rules for 2009.

Some of the more spiritual lessons were on overcoming anger and depression. These sessions were taught by a medical doctor. While he did concede that sometimes depression can be a medical condition, he taught us from the perspective that it is often a spiritual problem that results from a loss of hope in the future. He used Psalm 42 as his basis. However, when he talked about anger he simply stated that anger was wrong and wicked.

There were a couple of sessions about holiness and forgiveness towards others.

I taught a few sessions on technology and why to use it in the ministry. I did not get into the “how” as much as I was trying to explain what tools were available. I focused on open source offerings talking about compatibility within and compatibility in general. I was asked to run most of the presentations through my computer. We popped in CDs and USB drives that were loaded with PowerPoint presentations as well as various media. My Linux machine was seen in good light as there were very few issues with something not looking quite like the presenter expected. Mostly they were small formatting issues that the general audience did not even notice. I was glad to show them that they could save hundreds of dollars in software by looking at open source tools. Two of the missionaries are considering investigating Linux more thoroughly.

One evening in the conference we went to a lake and had a big picnic. We played on a Sea-Doo and pontoon boat.

There were new and old missionaries at the training school. I think there were 13 or 14 couples represented. Four of the couples are new missionaries who have not spent a term on the field yet. The rest of us were either home temporarily or returning to the field after an extended stay at home. It was good to interact and share with one another.

Great week, but busy.

Missionary Talks: Listener Feedback 07

I feel horrible about how long it has taken to get this next episode of Missionary Talks out the door.

Here is my list of excuses:

  • I have been traveling and had to dump my recordings to a different computer. That computer got unplugged when we moved (hours before we left on this last trip). I was not able to access my previously recorded interviews.
  • Then we were in several great meetings, but none of them were mission conferences. I had no missionaries to interview.
  • To make matters worse, I can’t do phone interviews on the road. I don’t carry the equipment I need with me for that.

So there you have it, my list of excuses as to why this has been so long in coming. I will get an interview out soon. We will be traveling again over the next month, but traveling does not keep me from working on interviews. It is the fact that I had none to work on that kept me from getting them up.

In this listener feedback episode I talk about what is going on in my life, what the future holds for Missionary Talks and give a big thank you to the listeners. While one listener stepped forward with a very generous monetary gift, I know that other listeners value the content of Missionary Talks. For that, I say thank you.

At the end of the episode I share some audio from a recent interview. Missionary James Menkhoff shares a story about how God used him to speak a word of encouragment to a pastor who later became a missionary in Africa.

New Bikes

When we were in Arkansas last week we were on the hunt for some new bikes. We had picked up a new bike rack near Knoxville, Tennessee a couple of weeks back but had no bikes to carry on it. Or at least none with us. Our son’s bike had been stolen when our house was burgled. My wife and daughter had no bikes. My nice Bianchi road bike was still sitting in Florida but we were in Arkansas.

We found a bike for our daughter at a Salvation Army store in northwest Mississippi the week before the family reunion. I was not necessarily going to get a bike for me since I already had one, but we were looking for bikes for our son and my wife. While looking, I found a nice Trek mountain bike (830 Mountain Track) for me, a Mongoose mountain bike for our son and a no name lady’s bike for my wife.

I went home and did the research to find out what I could on the Trek. It was not a high end machine when it was built in the mid-90s, but was still a nice bike. It sold for $400 new. That is high end enough for me. We went back the next day and bought three bikes.

The Trek does not have the correct rear wheel though. It has a 10 speed rear wheel. It is supposed to have 21 speeds, but has only 15. I will keep my eyes out for a good used rear wheel. There are some minor adjustments that need to be made to the bike, but it really feels great. My plan is to use it as my touring bike. I want to do some multi-day bike rides and this seems to be a great bike for it. I will need to add some accessories and change the tires/wheels.

The boy’s Mongoose MTB has full suspension. It feels squishy to ride. Kinda fun.

So we are now traveling with a load of bikes. When we leave the house this weekend on our next trip, I am going to have a hard time deciding which bike to take. I have just stripped my Bianchi road bike down to the frame and rebuilt it this week. But I also have this new Trek that I am eager to put some miles on.

Note: While looking for old posts to put links into this entry I found out that I never wrote about my road bike purchase in detail. I will have to get some pictures with the two bikes and give a detailed account of the Bianchi. It has a fun story all its own.

Recent travels

This last month has been full of meetings that took us to see family. We were also able to be in our sending church. I already mentioned our trip to Big Bend National Park. It was while visiting family we were able to squeeze that trip in.

After our 10K race together. David and PlaneT3rrySince then we have been in Knoxville, Tennessee where I ran a 10K race with PlaneT3rry. I was hoping for a PR (personal record), but it just was not meant to be. My training fell apart the last couple of weeks. I was not seeing the progress I wanted so I stopped working as hard to get there. Right now I am really using the running to control my weight. I have struggled a bit this year. Thankfully I am running though. That really helps.

We were in Knoxville for several days and a few meetings. Then we moved over to Memphis for a meeting and a chance to meet with an old college friend.

The vacation part of this trip started about a week ago when we got to my grandfather’s house in northwest Arkansas. We had a good time visiting with him and my new grandmother. They were married at 80 years old. Both widowed. It was good to spend time with them in their new church. They recently moved to Springdale, Arkansas from my home town of Odessa, Texas.

After a few days at their house we moved to Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We had a family reunion with my Dad’s family. Dad was not able to make the trip, but it was fun to get with his 3 siblings and some of their kids. There were 23 of us together for a few days. Grandpa and the new grandmother joined us one day for the festivities.

Grandpa and GrandmaMonday we arrived at the lake and got moved into our campground. We chose to camp at the Dam Site River campground. There was also the Dam Site Lake campground to choose from that was just as close to the cabin where most everyone else stayed. Nothing earth shattering went on Monday other than we all sat around and talked and caught up with each other. Some of the family I have not seen in 6+ years.

Tuesday we went to the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs. It was good, but not great. I thought the play was well done, but it lacked something. It seemed like a “wasted pitch.” There was a great opportunity to share the Gospel and the reason Jesus came to save sinners. Instead it appeared that Jesus died simply because He was a martyr to His claim of being God’s son. While He was God’s son, and His claims of that is why the Jews crucified Him, that is not why Jesus died. He died because we are sinners and need a Savior.

After the play we started back towards the lake. We knew there was a storm coming. We rushed as much as we could to get back and secure our campsite from as much water damage as possible. It was too late. By the time we arrived the tent was standing in water and everything was soaked. Fortunately we did not leave anything in the tent that could have gotten permanently damaged.

The golf ball sized hail that we had to drive through to get to the tent was the encouragement we needed to move up to the cabin for the night.

At Onyx Cave in Eureka SpringsWednesday we went to see some of the sites around the area and braced ourselves for another round of the storm. It was not nearly as bad that evening, but my aunt had already paid for a suite for us. We took her up on it and packed our tent before the evening storm.

Wednesday was the day that the grandparents came over. We traded camera memory cards and copied everyone’s pictures to each of the computers. While we were doing that we also had some singing with cousin Jarrod at the guitar. I secretly recorded that time. I have not had a chance to listen to it to see how it turned out, but you may get a chance to hear some of it here at the blog.

Thursday we high-tailed it back to Pensacola. It was a 14 hour trip for us. We were glad to get home (and back to Internet access).