Sunday, July 30, 2006

Casas Por Cristo (Allyson's mission trip to Mexico)

Allyson with a little mexican girl.

Click here for the NCBC missions trip website.
Click here for pics from the trip.
Click here for pics of the kids leaving.
Click here for pics of their arrival home.

Last Friday Allyson boarded a bus with 47 other students and 12 adult sponsors on our youth group's annual Mexico mission trip. They spent the next 24 hours on the road until they reached to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The next day they drove to El Paso. On Monday morning at about 5am they crossed the border without a hitch. This was a praise because we had been told that the Mexican border agents were not allowing buses to cross the border. There was a back up plan - rent vans for $2500 which would have been a waste of the Lord's money and the loss of a half day of work on the site. Praise God for his intervention!

Tonight the group returned at 6:15pm and headed to the worship center for testimonies, slides, etc. It was neat to hear teens talk about how lucky they were to have so much after seeing such poverty. Many of our kids live in expensive houses with almost no inconveniences, except when their cell phone battery runs down. They have nice cars to drive and spare money to go to movies, buy shoes etc. In Mexico, many live in shacks and have almost nothing. What a stark contrast.

It's good to have Ally back with us. She is still sharing experiences with us and I'm sure the impact on her life has been great.

Special thanks goes to our cool youth pastor and all the adult sponsors who gave up a week of their lives to make a difference in our kid's lives. Muchas gracias!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

RAGBRAI 2006 Part 2

Welp, it was back up this morning at 4:30am and I drove to Coralville and parked at the Coralville mall to meet Pat and Tamara, and Mike, Tamara's husband and our wonderful SAG driver Barb, Pat's sister.

We were off at just before 6am and on our way. After winding our way past the University of Iowa (go Hawks!!!) we were back out in corn and bean country. It was a hot, humid day, but as long as we kept riding it wasn't that bad. Today I decided to spend time riding with Pat, Mike and Tamara but also spend some time racing as well as chatting with other riders. Here's some one line highlights:
  • Rode with a guy on a recumbant with a fairing and wrapped in an aerodynamic fairing - whoah!
  • Saw a guy wearing a dog suit. Other's were wearing goofy stuff on their helmets.
  • There were tons of cool bikes - mine is vintage 1988. Lots of tandems.
  • Unicycle? yup, some crazy guy was riding a unicycle with about a 36 inch mountain bike with mini handlebars and a brake.
  • Some people even carried their camp gear on their bikes. (I used to do this until I discovered the joy of racing!)
  • One guy was pulling a trailer with a battery (like one you jump your car with) and a boombox. We jammed for a while to YMCA! Nice guy from Muskatine.
  • I prefer to hammer hills while most riders shift down and take their time. I love attacking on hills.
  • People are very friendly.
  • Free enterprise - lots of people selling water, Propel, Gatorade, fruit, cookies, kolaches (I had a peach one)
  • Lots of free stuff - water, cookies, etc.
  • Cyclist terminology - "on your left!" and "rider on!" and "where ya from?" and "stopping!"
  • My average heart rate Friday - 136bpm, Saturday - 137bpm
  • My max heart rate Friday - 196bpm which is a new high for me, Saturday 188 (my legs hurt from Friday's hard riding!)
  • Average speed (Sat) - almost 15mph. (Friday - i think it was about 13) Not bad since I spent some time with about 10 cyclists cruising along in a paceline around 25 mph. At one point we wer going 35 mph on a slight downhill.
  • Strawberry Smoothie in New Liberty was dee-licious!
  • 40 oz of gatorade, 70 oz water, two powerbars, and snacks
  • Met people from San Diego, all over Iowa, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas, and Ohio.
  • Mike said the rootbeer float was incredible! (i don't like rootbeer)
  • I learned about "dipping the wheel in the Mississippi" - it was cool!
  • The afore mentioned paceline almost piled up when everyone started breaking for slow riders. It was scary! I loved it!
  • It was really cool riding into Muskatine with all the people on the sides of the road cheering us on. It was like riding in the TDF on the Champs-Élysées.

I did have one negative experience. I missed the departure of Pat, Mike, and Tamara from New Liberty so I needed to make up some time. So, the first person that went by real fast I chased them (him down) and started drafting. (this is normal for road guys like us)

Well, we passed his friend (I didn't realize they were together) and I stayed with them for a while. Then, all of a sudden the guy hits the brakes and almost caused me to crash and then says, "quick sucking my wheel (euphemism for drafting). Pardon me, but that was cruel! If he didn't want me drafting he could have said something. NO! He tried to wreck me! I backed off and then blasted by them and apologied and the guy didn't even recognize my apology. What a jerk! Why would you intentionaly try to wreck another rider?

Rant warning (I'm tired!) - Only in America would a cyclist act this disrepectful. European sports (cricket, soccer, and cycling) are played with a great amount of sportsmanship and respect. Our culture in America seems to breed a dog-eat-dog mentality. It's bad.

I've been spoiled for the past year working in a servant leader environment. This poor guy is super self-serving!!! While his action freaked me out for a while, I prayed that God would show him the error of his self serving ways. I truly feel sorry for people that live selfish lives only thinking about themselves. It must be a life-sucking way of life.

It was a good day today and I loved almost every minute. It's always a good day when I get to ride my bike. Thanks again to Pat, Tamara, and Mike for letting me ride along. Thanks for Barb for handling the SAG responsibilities.

Friday, July 28, 2006

RAGBRAI 2006 Part 1

Today I rode the 6th day of RAGBRAI (Record's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) and it was thrilling to get to ride with some pretty cool people. I didn't want to take the whole week off to ride all 7 days so I decided to join our women's ministry coordinator Pat Rieck and her friend Tamara Johnson. Here's how it went.

I arose at 4:20am and finished packing up my stuff for a 36 mile drive to Marengo where I would meet Pat and Tamara at the Iowa County Fairgrounds (where they had spent the night in a tent!) at 6am! My son drove me out at this early hour and we arrived at 5:45am ready to go. We were able to hit the road around 6:40am and start out for the 48 mile ride.

I rode with Pat and Tamara for a while until they split up (each riding their own pace). Then I split my time riding with each of them - it was fun trying to catch Pat as she road ahead.

By the end of the day I had met a lot of people from all over the country. I rode with the assistant to the secretary of the Air Force. At times I was riding with a group at over 20 mph and then at other times going real slow to chat with others. I met a guy with a 1965 VW bus - it was gorgeous. Powerbars sustained me all day along with water and gatorade.

We wrapped up the day at Applebee's in Coralville where Judy picked me up - after a great meal!

I'm planning to ride tomorrow from Coralville to Muskatine. Should be fun.

P.S. No, I didn't get to see Lance Armstrong. Heard stories about him though.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cost of Swing set: Hundreds of dollars and over 50 man-hours...

Smile on a little girl's face: Priceless
(click here for photo sequence of construction)

Well, it's finished. But this swing set represents way more than you could possibly imagine. Here's why.

We moved into our new house in Wadsworth Ohio in 2002 when Mackenzie was 4 yrs old and we left our swing set behind and promised her that we would build her a new play gym when we got our yard put in. Then, everything changed at the church I was serving in, so we decided to put the gym on hold. I really didn't like doing it that way, but our future was very uncertain. The good news is that our neighbors put a swing set in so KK could at least use their's - Many thanks to the Rush family!

So, last year we found out that we would be moving to Iowa so we waited again. Then, we moved into a rental house for almost a year. We didn't want to do anything in temporary housing.

Well, 4 weeks ago today we moved into our new house and my first order of business was to get the play set done. And it's finished. yeah!


Todd Stafford - helped modify the original kit and plans to build it bigger so KK would get a few years use out of it. Then, you directed the construction and did a fantastic job as we continued to modify the plans as we went. It was fun! You are the man!

Russ Galle - you showed up at just the right time with all your cool tools and helped finish everything up. Thanks!

Brian Wohlers, Dean Slyter - although you were only able to help for a short period of time, your contribution was huge. Thanks!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Swing set construction day 3 - final

Adriane and Mackenzie

Sunday night when we wrapped up we had the swings, slide, and rock wall finished. Monday night was an off night for the team but I couldn't resist the urge to put on the vinyl canopy as kind of a topping out ceremony.

Tuesday night Russ came over (Todd had baseball with his son Caleb) and we built the second A-frame for the monkey rings and got them installed. Mackenzie really wanted the monkey rings and it is good for strength building! We got everything installed and level and KK attached the rings to the beam. That was cool!

Then, we went to work building a ladder for the rings. Adriane Galle (Russ's daughter) came over and helped out drilling pilot holes in the ladder. Thanks A! (see pic above)

Next, we had to complete the walls on the tower. That went pretty quick and at 10:08pm we were finished!!! YEAH! I'll sleep good tonight!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Swing set construction day 2

Mackenzie and Russ attach rocks to the rock wall

Sunday afternoon we started up work again on the play set around 2:30pm. Todd came over and we got right to work. Our next task was to build the A-frame that would hold the 4x6x12' for the swings. At just the right time Dean Slyter showed up to help us hoist the 4x6 into place - thanks Dean!

By the time Mackenzie got home from church at 6:30 we had the slide and the swings in place and she was able to give them a test ride. That was cool!

Russ Galle came over around 5pm and our building program moved into overdrive! Russ is incredible. He went right to work building the rock wall while Todd and I wrapped up the swings and then started working on the tower again.

Russ and Mackenzie then worked together attaching the rocks to the rock wall. We finished up around 10pm and now we only have to build the A-frame for the monkey rings.

Funny thing - Mackenzie says at the end of the evening, "I'm giving everyone the day off tomorrow." It was a welcome break. :) Tuesday we will finish.

Call me crazy...

I just read about a cruise ship that had a mishap yesterday. (click here for article) Seems that the 113,000 ton (wow) cruise ship "Crown Princess" had a malfunction of some sort and the ship listed significantly. Unfortunately, many people were hurt 14 of them seriously and 2 critically. That is sad.

Think with me for a minute. If you put a 113k ton ship in an unpredictable ocean and then consider all the oceanonics (I made that word up for all the radar, mecahnical and electrical systems) that could potentially fail and you have to wonder how they keep from having more mishaps.

Call me crazy....

P.S. I'm still hoping to take my wife on a cruise for our 25th. That is, if our ship comes in...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Swing set construction day 1

Me, Mackenzie, and Todd

Saturday morning at 11am Todd Stafford and I started working on Mackenzie's new playset and it was over 90 degrees with high humidity. We decided to sink the tower posts into the ground about one foot so I got a good workout digging the holes.

We put the tower together and discoverd that the slide was going to be too high so we actually lifted the tower out of the holes and cut off the ends to lower it about a foot. That took a while. Funny thing is that Mackenzie came out after we had finished putting it back in the holes and she couldn't understand why we hadn't done anything!

By the end of the evening we had nearly finished the tower. Brian Wohlers stopped by and was definitely a "shot in the arm" for our moral and a great help as well! Thanks Brian!

Todd Stafford is incredible. He is a strategic thinker and really knows how to build stuff - gotta love them engineers! We work well together since I am an implementer/refiner.

The heat is the other story here. It really takes it out of you to be out there in 90+ degree heat with high humidity.

Although we didn't get nearly as far as we had hoped, we took our time and was certain that everything was level and cut square. It was a good day!

Monday, July 17, 2006

A promise kept

Mackenzie at Home Depot

Four years ago when we moved into our new house in Wadsworth Ohio and we promised Mackenzie a wooden swingset after we got the yard planted and our landscaping in. Then we got the news that we would be looking for a new job. Hmmm - what to do?

Four years later we finally moved into a house we hope will be more permanent than the last one and so it was time to keep my promise to Mackenzie.

Todd Stafford offered to help me put the swing set together. We decided to build the swingset using a kit from Timber-Bilt by Swing-N-Slide. After weeks of planning it was time to go shopping and buy the lumber. So on Friday Mackenzie and I headed off to Home Depot to purchase the kit, wood, and accesories. Click on the picture above to see a slideshow of our shopping trip.

More later.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Happy 19th birthday Andrew!

Andrew and friend Austin

It's hard to believe, but 19 years ago July 3rd we went to the hospital and had our firstborn in a Chattanooga hospital. We have enjoyed this wonderful bundle of joy and we are excited about what God is doing in his life. The past 2-3 years have been very difficult for him but it seems like he has persevered and is doing quite well.

Happy birthday son! We love you!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

ARGH!!!! Stopped up sink!

Kevin the Drain Medic

Thursday night I came home to water on the kitchen floor and a plunger in the sink. Yup, the kitchen sink and and dishwasher was backed up with smelly water. Since it was already 11pm we decided to go to bed and work on it in the morning.

Next morning, I borrowed a POWER snake (guys care about this stuff) from an undisclosed friend (otherwise you would all call him next time you need one!) and went to snaking out the drain. Short version: It didn't work and the schedule 40 pvc pipe I cut needed to be rejoined - bummer.

(Enter Drain Medic) Kevin, the Drain Medic, came over after I called him up and he brought in a power snake, a BIG power snake. AND, he said it was his smaller one! I love power! He went right to work. He went downstairs and started snaking the drain at the clean out and hit the blockage pretty quick. Back upstairs and he tightened my connections under the sink and we were back in business!

Thanks to Kevin, the Drain Medic!

A clean deck

Jon Hufford cleaning our deck
(click on pic for slideshow)

Thursday afternoon Jon Hufford brought his powerwasher over and cleaned our deck. There was stain on it so it took quite a while to get the job done. We took turns spraying the deck until most of the stain was gone and our deck looked almost new.

That powerwasher was fun to use - it literally strips the stain right off. Isn't that what Jesus did 200 years ago. He stripped off the "stain" of sin and made us new. And like the deck that was powerless to do anything about its condition, we too could not do anything to help clean ourselves up. Only Christ could do that. : )

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Co 5:17NIV