Sunday, December 25, 2005

Xmas -> Safari

Christmas was different (as expected) but good (as expected). I'm now both tired and full and had the opportunity to ring my family and have them pass the phone around as they enjoyed the evening's festivities at my grandparents' house.

I leave early tomorrow for a Safari that will last for four days. But, before I go, let me share these with you all:

(Link to the video on the right)

Many pictures of Christmas festivities online also.
(Follow the link on the right)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

hey! check this out:

[Like a chorus of little birdies: Sophie, David, Kristina, John]

Tonight I've been invited to the house of the family that hosted Karl for his 7 days of language school. Tomorrow afternoon everyone left on the base will go over to Blake and Carmen's house (the base director) and we'll have a little gift exchange.

A very merry Christmas to all my family and friends from Puallip to North Shore, from Whidbey Island to Apple Valley.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fire next-door

Last night our next-door neighbor's house caught fire. We were able to help extinguish the flames but only after the little building was totally gutted. No one was hurt, but William who owns the house has lost just about everything he had in the world. That includes his home, clothes, mattress, bicycle, and the hand tools that he uses to earn money.

Fortunately, his chickens, turkeys, and lovable dog all survived fine. He had a few friends and relatives there today to help clear the rubble. He has taken the blow admirably and plans to start building again on the day after tomorrow.

Good things that have come of this:
~new unity among the neighbors
~we were able to put the fire out before the structure collapsed
~new unity among our team
~an opportunity for us to show the love of Jesus to him by helping however we can
~William knows that he can trust his friends when he needs them


[This picture (from Karl) is of us in the heat of action throwing buckets of water into the fire. It seemed hopeless but as the fuel was exhausted we were able to save the structural beams.]


[This shows our Posada on the right and the fire truck's lights next-door.]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

ASL project

For my second book report I chose to finish a project that I started last spring with Becky Taylor. We had translated a song by Jars of Clay called "Worlds Apart" into American Sign Language and with some work I finished the translation, practiced lots, and presented it to my fellow students.

The song cries out for brokenness and, through spending time with it and a good dose of sin experience, it became my own prayer to God.

The video file (32mb) is available here.




[While on outreach I had the opportunity to share this again] (Photos from Karl)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Contrasts

My family shared with me last weekend that it was snowing inches upon inches at home in Bellingham. With that in mind, I never thought that I might need sunscreen as I hiked in the Andes on Saturday... but my frightful sunburn which started to blister today reminds me of how close I am to the equator :-)


[Bellingham today] (swiped from B'ham Cold Storage)


[Looking back down the valley that I hiked in]

Monday, December 05, 2005

Choir audio

Here's something fun...
Sophie recorded the concert we had last week with our two gospel choir songs and Stephan prepped the audio files and got them online. Now, I get to glean the benefits and provide these two links:

Keeps on Making a Way

Hallelujah You'’re Worthy to be Praised

And he also put up my recordings from many weeks ago when we performed as a choir (not gospel) in our Thursday evening service.

All in All

Alleluia, Gloria

p.s. Don't forget that you can right-click to take these home("Save target as" or "Save link as")
p.p.s. I sing bass in all four (that's new for me).

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Election day

It turns out that any day that there are elections in Venezuela two things happen:
~no alcohol can be sold the day before, and
~no meetings (public or private) are allowed.

It so happens that this second one includes churches and as the elections are tomorrow (Sunday) that means it'll be a little more crowded around the Posada in the morning. Oh, and our pastor friend Mario who used to be a military police officer told us that the Venezuelan police have the authority to shoot anyone on sight of anyone breaking this little "no meetings" rule. Crazy stuff.

So, in recognition of this heavily militarized election day, here's a picture of an officer in riot gear for last week's student protest:

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Jazz Entre Amigos

Last night we had a concert featuring Sophie and her jazz band and included all of us students in the finale as a gospel choir. Today, we're headed to a home for delinquent boys to hang out with them for the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mini Outreach

I couldn't decide which to post, so here's a handful of photos from the past few days.

[The two families we spent our time with. Pastor Mario in center with grey shirt.]

We were in a small town outside of Mérida encouraging the Pastor of a house church and had a great time doing it.



What's next is a series of concerts over the next three days including our two music teams and all of us together as a gospel choir.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Day of rest

I have had the most restful day of the whole DTS today. After a slow morning, Almut and I went down to the church to clean it (that's our work duty) and after we had finished there, she went into town with some other students and I stayed at the shiny-clean church all afternoon and played music to my heart's content.
...guitar, piano, drums, listened to music, disassembled an amplified, tuned the floor tom... it was marvelous.


And this is what we did this past week. Writing worship songs in small groups and then recording them. The recordings are very much in the rough draft stage and our song, itself, is still only a draft. But it was a good learning experience.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Decisions made!

The big news has arrived! ...I am now officially on the team bound for Argentina in January. The big changes that this makes are that we now have new motivation, we can now start to brainstorm and plan how we will prepare to reach the people of Argentina, and we will be rehearsing music separately from the Jamaica team.

One thing that has confused me until recently is that we have three separate outreaches...

~Outreach #1 begins later this month and lasts for one week. This will be in some yet-to-be-determined place in Venezuela, near where we are living.

~Outreach #2 begins in January and lasts for one month. This will be in Argentina and we will set up our HQ at the YWAM base in Mendoza. From there, we will minister to the city of Mendoza through music on the streets, in churches, and in concert settings. Other ideas up our sleeves are to learn to juggle (like the street performers that are so common), make balloon animals, write and perform dramas, choreograph dances (ones that aren't hokey), and there's a slew of neat ideas for how to work lyric projection.

~Outreach #3 immediately follows outreach #2. It follows so closely, in fact, that we will not return to our home here in Merida between the two. However, this outreach is in Venezuela. We will fly from Argentina to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and from there we will travel east along the coast toward the Origonoco river. (I'm really excited about this.) This outreach will also last from one month, finishing in mid March and leaving only one week for debriefing with the Jamaica team back in Merida.

So that means one week in Venezuela this month, Jan to Feb in Argentina, Feb to March in eastern Venezuela, and one week of debriefing before heading home to the US.

The biggest and best



Last weekend I rode on the longest and highest cable car in the world. It departs from the other side of town, here in Merida, and climbs up to 15,600+ feet over a length of 7.7 miles. Many more photos on Flickr.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Back from Aruba

I'm back from Aruba after three long bus rides, one short one, five taxis and two airplanes. The weather gave us a little of everything and we enjoyed every bit of it. Now we're starting a week on The Heart of the Artist and sound technology.

[A palmy plant with beautiful color]

[Not the recommended way to carry children and plastic bags]

Monday, October 24, 2005

Contact info

Okay, surprise surprise but it turns out that the channels of communication are a little inconsistent here. First off, I gave you all the wrong phone number. Secondly, the phone only sometimes works. I've found it strenuous to try to keep up with personal contacts alongside the busy schedule, so ...drumroll please... I've treated myself to a USA phone number.

1 (360) 450-5231

Now you can call this number just like any other Whatcom county number and my computer will make a fun ringing sound. I will almost never have the microphone at the ready, so I won't be able to answer right away but you can leave a message and I can call you back as easy as that.

Details:
~Starting next Sunday (30 Oct) our clocks will be four hours ahead of PST. That means I'm starting my day when the pacific clocks say "3am" and I'm hitting the hay at 7pm PST.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A group picture!

Finally, after a month and a half, we took this picture and you can see all of us in one glance.

This includes the 14 students, 7 long-term staff, 3 short-term staff, and the three kids: Jeffrey, Michelle, and Rachel.

Two pictures



I came across these flowers last weekend when we climbed the hill near the Posada. They're two of my favorite photos.

Friday, October 21, 2005

News and talk

Wow, well... life continues at a ferocious pace and I'm trying to keep up with it all. I've been out of touch with you for a couple of weeks (and by that I mean a general "you" and the individuals "you") but I hope to be surfacing from that, now.

We've been learning about Relationships this week and it has been some of the most rich, insightful, and impacting teaching yet. I hope to get the lectures online this weekend but the cool part is how many connections I've been able to make between the teaching and experiences I've had with many of you. And I've already begun to apply the new stuff along with the last section that was on Conflict Resolution. I've run into conflict this week, taken it head-on, and come out of it with both parties knowing that we've reached resolution and our friendship is stronger.

I've been convicted this past week about my role in a number of my friendships. I hope to write some letters in the next couple of days. If you're thinking that there's something between you and me that needs to be resolved and you haven't heard from me by Monday then please, drop me a note and mention it. You know how to reach me.

here we go...

News Flash:
We will be in Aruba one week from today.
We're in the country on tourist visas and need to leave overnight to renew those. Aruba happens to be the closest, least expensive country to get to (excluding Columbia as per the recommendation of the US government) So we leave next Thursday for an 8hr bus ride, a 20 minute flight, two nights and one full day in Aruba, then another 20 minutes in the air and 8 hrs rolling. If all goes well, we'll be back in time for a new lecture week on Monday with shiny new visas good until after we've left for outreach. Which reminds me of something...

News Flash:
We've heard more about what the outreach phase will look like.
We will split into 2 teams. One will go to Mendoza, Argentina and the other to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The international outreach will last for one month and most of what we will be doing is "concert evangelism". Each team will be hosted by a local YWAM base and they will take the responsibility of following up our work with long-term discipleship.
The staff has recommended that we begin asking God where would have us go and we will talk about it together next Wednesday. So far, I'm thinking Argentina but there's no confirmation on that.
After the month is finished we will return to Venezuela for 1 week of domestic outreach with our two separate teams and finally, one week of debriefing back at the base before we head home. It's amazing to me how fast this is going.

Tonight we're all dressed up and headed out the door for a fancy dinner as a group. Gotta run!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Report finished

Ahh... now that the report is done I have the time to catch up on some things. Yesterday I finished an audio project for last week's speaker, Ron. (hey, I could post it! That'd be fun.) and after church today, Almut and I started the reading for the next book report. The next book is a doosey of a volume called Heart of the Artist. It's thick with character-building prose that can be hard to read. The plan: 2 chapters per week for 5 weeks, then a project to sum it all up.

In other news, the mountains were beautiful the other day...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

An excursion

If you're checking this to see how I'm doing, I'll say right away that I'm doing fabulous. If you're curious to see what I've been up to, read on...


This is my new favorite picture that I've taken. And where did I find it? Way back in the jungle outside of Merida. DTS staffer John Henry and I went hiking today and it turned out to be quite an adventure. If you'd like to see more pictures (75 in all) mosey on over to my photo site and select the photo set called "Jungle Adventure". I tried to tell the story bit by bit through the captions so I hope you can follow along. There aren't any big plot twists, but certainly some fun sights along the way.

I have loads of fun audio recordings of lectures, music, and lightning that are ready to upload and share with you all, but my book report that is due this Friday will have to come first. It'll be something to look forward to.

This book report is regarding the book called "Is That Really You, God?" by Loren Cunningham about both the roots and beginnings of YWAM and at the same time about learning to hear God's voice when he speaks. It made me re-examine where I've been and where I'm going. And how the tinsey bit that I have heard from God may play out in my future.
..That's very vague, but it will have to do for now.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Video online

Our "Hospitality Commitee" looks after our guest professors through the week, but it's also their job to make birthdays special. Carla (from Australia) turned 24 recently but because she was on the hospitality commitee, I was asked to come on board to help with her gift. During our free time through two short days we managed to pull this video project together. (Sorry if the 46mb file is too big for some of you to download)

I decided to post it in the hopes that it help you get to know not just Carla, but become familiar with almost all of the people here on the YWAM base.

Click here to see it:


Monday, September 26, 2005

Daily schedule and more

Here we go, it's time to inform all y'all.

So, as I groove to the stereo drums in the kitchen next door, let's start with a run-down of our daily schedule.

6:00 - rise to make breakfast (only every-other day)
7:00 - breakfast starts (every day)
8:15 - (M/W/F) Worship through music
- (T/Th) Prayers of intercession
9:15 - two blocks of teaching with a break between
11:30 - quiet time
12:30 - lunch
2:00 - (M/W) Music workshop or rehearsal
- (T) Free time
- (Th) Small group meetings
- (F) Work duties
6:00 - dinner
evening - (M/T/W/F) Language classes, teaching hour, open house with guest professor
- (Th) Host a community worship service at the church nearby

Weekends may have special YWAM activities (like visiting the countryside as a group) or can be free. ..Free to hike nearby hills and rivers, catch up on long-distance communications, get ahead on the reading, take the bus into town and run errands, jam with our fellow musicians, or just chill at the Posada with a nap or a movie.

This afternoon we had a workshop on drum kit and electric bass. Afterward I stayed behind and read the manual for the sound board while listening to Sofie getting a bass lesson from Blake and Steph practiced on the drums. Learning lots. (and not just from product manuals)


Saturday afternoon was an excellent experience.. It started out as a stroll around the neighborhood with John, Stephan, John, and myself. We went to where there had been a swimming hole on the river nearby but found that the rains had destroyed the giant homemade dam and it wasn't much of a swimming hole, anymore. So we found another spot and began to build our own dam. After a little time there we found a tree to climb, a jungly vine to swing on, and a hill where we could look down and see the Posada.

Check out the pictures (on the right). They're worth a couple thousand words.

It's starting to rain really hard and we might lose the internet connection, so that's all for now.

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Richness.

As you have noticed, I haven't taken a lot of time to keep this current. As you may not have noticed, I've been posting new pictures every few days and have a formidable collection for your perusal. (The link to them is on the right: "My Pictures".)

Now that I've broken the ice again, I'll try to post something more informative in the next day or so. Just a brief overview here:
We've had three weeks of lectures (one in English, one Spanish, and one mixed) and two weeks of music rehearsals. I got to play bass guitar the first week, percussion, last week and I hear it'll be guitar this coming week.

It's past my bedtime,
-Brian

Monday, September 05, 2005

Beginnings

We traipsed all around the State of Merida last Saturday and saw many, many neat sights (including a 1hr horse-back ride to Black Lake). The state is very mountainous, green, and beautiful.

On Sunday I went with a group to attend a small church in town (~30 ppl) and had fun riding the bus across town to get there.

Today we had our first day of lectures and work duties. The official schedule has begun. My duty for the next two months is to wake early and make breakfast every-other day with girl from Germany named Almut. Today we had fun as we tried our hand at making coffee and porridge (a first-time for both of us). The lectures have begun by looking at the Nature and Character of God. Today we talked about God the Father and tomorrow we discuss how Jesus the Son reflects the Father's character.

Hasta luego!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Safe, sound, and loving it.

I'm here. And it's positively amazing.

So far, this is my theme picture. This visually describes what it's like to get on a plane in Caracas.

We've taken the last two days to rest, gather supplies, and orient ourselves in the city. It's been a new experience for me to meet so many people from around the world. It's interesting to talk about accents and to see cultural differences. Those especially come up in our assumptions and misinterpretations... does "now" mean "immediately"? or "sometime today"?

Language is crazy. We have six United Statesians (half mono-lingual with English), three native Spanish speakers with some English, a good dose of bilingual people (Span/Eng, German/Eng) and two trilingual (Norwegian/Eng/German, French/Eng/Span). Every announcement, every group gathering is given in both Spanish and English so it is accessible to everyone. But the variations between Pennsylvania and England mix things up a little. To top it off, the Venezuelan Spanish is different from both Mexico and Spain. Put them all in a busy room together and you end up with a lot of rephrasing and trying again.

It's been neat to get comfortable riding public transportation around town. Today, we went downtown as a group to orient ourselves and find last-minute school supplies. I was pleased that my Spanish is returning quickly enough that a conversation that began as a street vendor hawking his wares ended with him pointing out city landmarks to me (without me buying any cologne!).

The program schedule has been unabashedly flexible so far as this is a "re-pioneering" of this school. They've had a YWAM base in Merida for something like ten years but they haven't had a discipleship school here for a while. We begin the scheduled program tomorrow and we'll be figuring out many details as we go. Some of us are getting a little antsy to start.


(There are more pictures available through the link on the right: "My Pictures", then click the photo group called "MDTS")

Monday, August 29, 2005

"A first time for everything"

First off, I want to thank you all for your prayers. Especially those for my safety. God listens to you and hears you. And he answers, too. Just not in the way we might expect.

Yesterday, I got my first ambulance ride ever. I also met a lot of really nice people who do their jobs well.

Some context: I'm staying with my big brother, Jeffrey, at his apartment in Palo Alto. I flew in on Saturday afternoon and leave for Venezuela tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Jeffrey and I decided to go camping and so after church yesterday we gathered up some gear and drove up to a the ridge west of here called Skyline Divide. We parked a the well-used trailhead with a dozen other cars and started hiking. We both wanted to see the formation called Castle Rock, so we went that way first and at this famous rock climbing spot, I slipped and fell. We had been walking, not climbing, but that didn't change the ten feet of open air below me.

As soon as I was in the air, good things started happening. I landed relatively softly for being upside down and Jeffrey was right beside me to help immediately. There was a medical student climbing about thirty feet away and he not only saw the whole thing happen but was there in a flash to help. There were many cell phones within shouting distance and the California Department of Forestry fire station with their EMTs was a mere 3 miles down the road. In less than 15 minutes we had stopped the bleeding on my head and there were about six trained professionals sliding a body board under me just in case I had any back or neck injury. Not long after that, an ambulance arrived and all my new friends helped carry me to it. I was conscious and alert for all of this and answered so many questions that I was "conscious times four". We figure that means I answered the same questions consistently four times.

So, in summary, I am bumped, bruised, scratched, stitched, and still alive enough to leave tomorrow. My flight leaves in the morning for Dallas and then on to Caracas. I'll stay the night in Caracas with most of the 13 other YWAMers, then fly to Merida on wednesday morning. From there we'll have one day to get ready and then the lecture phase begins.

Please keep praying. It's powerful stuff.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Three, two, one..

Preparing to leave now fills my waking moments. Errands, just starting to pack, and last-chance lunch dates are the order of the day. My grandpa is driving up from Seattle to have dinner with us tonight and it'd be real great to finish a couple college applications before taking off.

ETD: Saturday 11:25am from Bellingham.

Check out the "My Pictures" link on the right. I've posted some pictures from Alaska and there'll be more new ones as time goes on.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fire and Soda

"Immaculate Conception"
"Incinerator Plant"

What ties these together? They are both Pepsi customers in NW Washington with a vending machine on their property. And as I built a customer profile for each of them it struck me as ..disconcerting.. to have them listed next to each other.

I've been working full-time under my dad this past week in an effort to squeeze out funds for the trip. It's been a trick to balance working, preparing to leave, and seeing my friends off. So much of a trick that there have been more than a few late nights and some early mornings trying to fit it all in. I'll only be working a day or two in this coming week in an effort to put everything to sorts before my departure.

The best part about having some friends that are leaving earlier than myself is that as we say "goodbye" there have been some amazing conversations and reflective prayer. This has been preparing me for Venezuela more than all my research, planning, and running around put together.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

On your marks, get set...

I'm moving down my list of what needs to happen in these next three weeks.. now I can cross out "~start a blog".

Hopefully, this will become a way to communicate with my many friends and family back home in Bellingham, WA, USA as I travel south to Venezuela for these next months.

Looking forward to sharing with you,
-Brian