Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hungary - Wednesday

AR got baptized on Wednesday, here while in Hungary. Our whole team and the whole CA community was present for it, which was a really neat experience. He's the first person that I've ever baptized, so that was a true honor.

Video of it will be uploaded later.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hungary - Tuesday evening 2

Tonight was Campfire and Pajama night with the CA kids. Our team did another great job executing a fun theme night which included smores [graham crackers, marshmallow fluff - easier to travel with, and chocolate], a movie, and a craft involving "making fire." ha.

LB also hosted an almost sleepover with some older girls, while the guys went on a night hike.

We have a daily team meeting after program ends for evaluation and decompression. This week's meetings also include special guest speakers. Tonight's speaker was CA's director of recruitment. This element is meant to give our students a tangible example for how to get involved in missions full time.

I actually attended the session tonight - they had new staff commissioning, an introduction to a director of operations and a director of North America and some project update videos, and a talk about "Shortcuts Lead to Erosion."

Hungary - Tuesday evening

The team is continuing to do well although AR and SS have sore throats and probably slight temperatures. We are keeping them well hydrated and giving them drugs for the pain. We'll continue to monitor.

Last night's Pirate and Princess theme evening was a blast - there were so many kids that came dressed up. Really fun.

This morning we continued the Olympic Running the Good Race theme. This afternoon was time off so the whole team took off and went into downtown Sopron. This included seeing a few old churches, the Fire Tower, the old Roman ruins and a Hungarian grocery store.

Tonight is Campfire and Pajama night - including a girls almost-sleepover and a guys night hike.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hungary Team Guests - Monday

2008 Hungary team and our special guests Alan and Deb Hirsch. They spoke to us for a little while about being young and wild for Jesus, what makes a church and how transformation is within each of us.

[Related: The Forgotten Ways]

Hungary - Monday afternoon

Things are going great with both team interactions and the actual children's programming. Our team is investing all of their energy - they are already tired but it's a good tired - the result of expending almost all of their energy for someone else's benefit.

Most of the time spent lunch time with one of the 'missional consultants' that are here on site to help CA with team dynamics, leadership development and missional effectiveness. MikeD talked about strengths, the genius that is within you and how to capitalize on making the most of that.

Things are going well overall. The lunch time discussion is going to help propel a lot of our team into a lifestyle of impact.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hungary - Sun aft

PreConference ends - all staff arriving for official conference, starting right after dinner. Our team is doing well, but feeling a bit of pressure to get things done efficiently and as planned. One thing that is needing adjustment is communication. In order to do this, we have assigned a "runner" role and we have gotten the walkie talkie's out. Walkie talkie's were always planned since we were at two locations but the runner is going to open up communication even more. And walkie talkies are so cool.

Like one of my mentors says - communication is perfect in cemeteries because everyone is dead.

Olympic opening ceremonies start tonight.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hungary - Saturday evening

Some fun pictures.

The team in Vienna.

LeslieB sharing with the team in Vienna.

PreConnect kids.

Emilie sharing with the team, Vienna City Hostel.

More pictures to be uploaded here.

Hungary - Saturday morning

The team made it to Sopron Hungary yesterday afternoon with no problems. Preconference started with the kids last night - lots of fun with spontaneous games. Our team is doing great and lots of going with the flow and improvisation.

This morning's program includes a three rotation of tie dye, an obstacle course and a scavenger hunt around the grounds. This afternoon's program plan is for a 'create a sport' - which will also be run later in the week when the whole conference is here, all tied around the theme of the "Olympics." Once again, an element wholly dreamed and implemented by our students on the team.

Each person on the team is doing great - definitely serving with their best and all in order that these kids have a great and memorable time at their annual conference.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hungary thurs nite

Fun in vienna with an urban navigation exercise led by kev great time
splitting up to see different city sights. Big idea was to have our
suburban kids experentially learn how to navigate a city.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hungary - Thursday

We spent the day doing the sights - two palaces. Of course, most of the fun is getting there and back - including when your seven year old almost gets left on the subway platform by herself haha.

Everyone is having fun though - D was a bit under the weather but is on the rebound. Some of us will go into the city center tonight - we leave for Sopron tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hungary - Wed

The team has arrived in Vienna, after one delayed flight and an adjusted connection in Frankfurt. Ah the fun of international travel. We also are missing two bags and a guitar - hoping the airline finds those soon.

Otherwise, the team is doing well. Our other logistics, including a dirt cheap shuttle service and our hostel have been absolutelz awesome. Vienna is cold and rainy today - tomorrow includes some sightseeing and hearing from two SPACE leaders who have done some other wild things regarding mission.

ESunde and her brother Pirate Sven arrived to connect with us this afternoon - a neat feeling as our team is now complete.

You can pray that we get those bags and that everyone recovers from a long long travel day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008 Hungary Leader Reading

About this time, our flight should be taking off from Dulles. Anytime I think about teams, leaders, airports and planes, I think about what my leaders should be reading.

Here is the 2008 Hungary installment:

:: Only In The Local Church via Sam Metcalf

:: Selected slides from Justin Long's Swarming

:: Pendulums and Fire from Ron Martoia

[Related: 2005Brasil, 2006Cameroon leader readings.]

Gift Card Giver

I just need a stamp....
GiftCardGiver via Jeff Shinabarger

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Packing Party Results

The tangible results of the packing party - 15 loaded bags of stuff. Each bag is tagged with a "name" and we have a manifest of items in each bag. Each bag will also be numbered so we can quickly track if a bag is missing.

The intangible result is potential. This is potential waiting to be executed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Inbox

This is my current inbox. As you might see, it's dominated by this little project I'm involved in called SPACE 2008 Hungary. That includes:
- making sure RachelJ's arrival on Monday is all worked out
- final payment confirmations for a few pieces of our lodging
- various announcements from the Connect team at CA
- responses to daily Hungary team updates
- stuff about our team being prayed for in church this coming Sunday
- input into debriefing/decompression activities
- a list of every kid coming to Connect and who on our team is praying for them

My inbox also includes other random stuff like:
- last minute finance stuff for our two other overseas teams - England and Cameroon
- fun emails with our Cameroon hosts, G and W Nen.
- a prayer request from Jeremy Del Rio
- comments and feed from my blog
- an email thanking one of our supporters who is in Australia right now

You might notice that this Gmail inbox looks different. That's because sometimes I use this. The idea to show you my inbox came from Brad Lomenick.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The age old question - what would you do with $"fill in the blank" amount of money? We are almost at a very significant milestone for SPACE - our 2008 summer teams are on track to have raised over $100,000 in the next week or so. Yes, you read that right - one hundred thousand dollars.

I have mixed feelings about this amount of money. I'm elated about how much we have raised so far and quite nervous about the rest - we still have a significant amount to go. And I'm so proud of our teams - there has been a small percentage raised from fundraisers, but most of it has been via mission support letters - excited and optimistic predictions about summer experiences that will involve learning, serving and risking.

On the other hand, I know it's a huge amount of money to spend in one summer. I'm almost embarrassed to say that amount out loud. When most of the world lives on far less, when church plants struggle week to week, when long term missionaries scrape by, we will burn through an amazing amount of money in the course of about eight weeks. We knew this summer was our most ambitious yet based on sheer quantity of teams and people and the financial targets. And before we pulled the trigger on any of these teams, I sought significant guidance on whether this was the right thing to do or not.

Within the tension, I know that this money is spent for the future, for those we don't know yet, for those who don't know yet. For those of you on a SPACE team, it isn't necessarily spent on you although you directly benefit from it. It allows you to exercise what you know - that you reaching out to serve someone is a reflection of God reaching out to you. And that your life takes on a different meaning because of what you did this summer. And to those you that gave - your investment isn't all about this summer or next or even 2010. You have sacrificed so that lives awaken and careen into making the future brighter and I'm convinced some of us won't ever see that impact while we are here on planet earth.

Of course, we will certainly be doing a post-summer evaluation. Not necessarily a return-on-investment style critique, but evaluating your investment is a crucial part of how SPACE does things.

Celebrate with us and help us do the right thing.

[Related - a few recent reads:
TallSkinnyKiwi on Are Short Term Missions A Waste of Money
Seth Barnes on Short Term Trips Continue to Boon
WashingtonPost article Churches Retool Mission Trips]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Packing Parties

One pre-departure tradition we have with overseas teams is the packing party. It's a meeting where the team comes together to pack team gear - meaning any stuff the team needs to execute the program. In addition to this gear, we bring other items requested by our overseas hosts. Specifics usually include stuff that can only be purchased in the United States. This year, the most wanted list includes any kind of candy, salad dressing packets, muffin and brownie mixes, children's medicine and more candy. It's another nuance of serving with well trusted partners - it's no longer just stuff you are giving. Instead, it's providing for some dear friends.

The picture is the pile in our living room, filled with all kinds of stuff, including some of the list above as well as: construction paper, baby dolls, cleaning wipes, pipe cleaners, tie dye stuff, board books, foam art, crayons, markers, tape, toddler toys from fast food kid meals, bubble stuff, dress up clothes, and my personal favorite mission trip supply for this year - toilet paper rolls.

6 days until departure.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Connect 2008 Invite Video

This is our invitation video to the kids that are coming to the kids program in Hungary [the conference is called Connect.] I've always wanted to make a movie!!

Related: Pirate Sven in 2007.

Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 Middle School Mission WrapUp

Middle school kids and Charm City Church : Besides me leaving the church without one of the students [and not realizing it until an hour later when they called me - not a good sign of a mission team leader...] the weekend was a ton of fun with some kids that really get it in terms of serving outside of themselves, being willing to immerse themselves in another environment and partnering with some trusted friends who have a proven success in launching.

Some quick bullet items of note:
- Our hosts, Colleen and Crystal, are known by just about everyone in this community. If you want to get a good glimpse of incarnation, watch their example.
- We spent a good bit of time talking about "culture" and "worldview." Yes, even middle school kids can get this. We defined the terms, provided examples, read through the book of Jonah aloud and pulled examples of each out of the story. After each element of the weekend, we revisited those concepts again, asking for real examples.
- I didn't quite realize that this particular area had quite so many blue lights - an indication of the relative safety of a neighborhood. Part of the purpose of this weekend was to really see what it was like to stay there with a student group. We never felt unsafe there and, like all urban SPACE teams, we follow some standard behaviors designed to not put our students in danger.
- Had a really fun conversation with the lead church planter for Matt's House. RobB is also the guy in charge of Project Serve, as you can tell, lots of shared interests and passions in that conversation.

[Related: Middle school mission trips - 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

3 To Go

Three teams [New Orleans, Baltimore and Middle School] have departed, served and blessed and returned home safely. You'll hear much more about them soon. Three [Hungary, England, Cameroon] more to go, our overseas teams. Hungary will be the first to depart from the next batch of teams, on July 22. Really appreciate your prayers for these teams.

And tell you more about middle school team on Monday.

Photo: JoGrab, 2008Baltimore leader, making fire. JoGrab also served on 2006LA.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

2008 Middle School

I'm leaving for our middle school mini weekend later today. It's a short, three day excursion with a tiny group of middle schoolers and some selected high schoolers and graduates. As in the past few years, I've wanted to put a lot more energy into this.

We have two strong convictions about middle school. First, the more we invest in middle schoolers, the better off our youth ministry, our church and our community will be. Second, middle schoolers can change the world. So, I think it's worth it. And of course, a few days with some of these kids is a chance for me to ignore my real age.

A few other things:
- We are local, serving with Charm City Church [the same church we serve at Mission Advance with. Colleen is again our gracious host.]
- This follows the progression we've been on - younger students are local with a trusted partner host.
- We'll be trying to focus these kids on culture - the cultural differences of the city versus their homes, why it matters and probably reading through Jonah with a filter on culture as well.

[Related: Middle school mission trips - 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007]

Wednesday RocketFuel

::: Gary Haugen, Just Courage
Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission, has a new book titled "Just Courage." His first book, Good News About Injustice, is an amazing read.
via Jeff Shinabarger

::: Convoy DC
Convoy of Hope is a non-profit organization that provides resources to churches and organizations to meet both physical and spiritual needs for the purpose of making the community a better place.
Link via Mark Batterson

::: Bart and the Smell-O-Vision

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

T Minus 14

14 days to departure - lots to do. D and I spent a bit of time this weekend going through our list of items to purchase, syncing that with expected numbers of kids for each activity and wandering through AC Moore.

Context and culture are significant. This context includes serving kids that have split time between the US and Europe while living in pluralistic, multi-cultural urban centers and serving to make the outsider a priority. Although we could have certainly taken advantage of canned-Bible-school-type material, it seemed to be more important to come up with something ourselves. More important because we can then incorporate such vital elements like global cultures, teachings relevant to pioneer personalities, and our own emphasis on saving mankind. And of course, when you create something out of nothing, it's all you and God on the edge.

Photo: lists and lists

Monday, July 07, 2008

Baltimore 2008 Departs

This is our Baltimore team - a small but fun team. These are guys and gals that just finished their freshmen year in high school and this grade typically serves in a context that is somewhat familiar and local - in this year's case, in Baltimore with my good friend Matt Stevens and his crew at Chain Reaction.

Within an hour of this team's departure, our NOLA team was scheduled to return. One team going, one team coming. That's what some of it is about.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Longest Travel Day of My Life

From the SPACE archives....

Even longer than the time we flew into Orlando after being delayed for seven hours and then I called the wrong hotel shuttle to pick us up...

Cam team - bring some good books!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Impulse

The impulse to go is latent within all of us. The Gospel moves - it moves from culture to culture, to localities, from people to people. It is what Alan Hirsch calls the "missional-incarnational impulse." This urge to see lives changed, to be a part of something bigger, to mark human history is already there - it is there from the moment when Jesus captures our lives.

The challenge is not to coordinate, organize or manage. The challenge is to unleash, empower and catalyze the impulse into action into transformation.