Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday - the me generation

He wasn't fighting terrorism. He was not pushing back terrorists in a region where they have taken over free people's lives. He was not trying rescue hostages at the Taj Hotel in New Delhi. He was trampled to death because...

Jdimytai Damour was working at Walmart. This is really sad.

I was just watching the news when I heard about Mr. Damour who was working at Walmart was trampled to death by shoppers trying to get in the door at 5 AM for the best deals. Click here for more info.

This is so sad. Maybe you could pause a moment and say a prayer for this young man's family, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and parents who will celebrate Christmas with one less person at the table. This is sad.

He gave his life for the "me" generation. He gave his life for consumerism. He gave his life in the name of "the person with the most toys when he dies wins." This is sad.

Followers of Christ have a different set of morals we are supposed to follow. Jesus put it this way:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. Matthew 20:25-27 NET Bible

Back in the day I was one of those lining up at 5:30 AM to do my Christmas shopping, but I have to admit I found it very unpleasant and difficult to "fight my way" through the doors. I haven't been back since.

Take a minute with me and imagine a world where people see themselves as servants of everyone else? I just came back from SE Asia and I saw a little slice of this with my own eyes. The Asians are excellent at serving others, so much to the point that when I arrived back in Minneapolis I was taken back by the rudeness of people. Tye out.

Lord, help me to serve people rather than seeking to be served. It is not always easy so please give me the strength to do so. Amen.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hanging out with my cousin Cindy

My cousin Cindy and I try to get together whenever I am in town, but this time I didn't think there was time so I didn't even call her. Well, she called my parents when I was there and when she fould out we were in town she wanted to get together. So, we carved out a few minutes to hang out at Panera and catch up with one another. We had an awesome time as usual. Tye out.

Duke Energy Train Display, Fountain Square Ice Skating, and Skyline Chili

Pictured on the Jumbotron - Erica, Andrew, Shelley (Judy's brother), and Judy. cool

This afternoon the Nickloes clan headed on downtown on their annual trek to see the Christmas train display at the former Cincinnati Gas and Electric building at Main and 4th. The train layout is an amazing O-guage model that is set up every year since 1946. You can see more about the layout at I took a ton a pics because I continue to this day to be enamoured by trains of all sizes. Click here to see my pics.

Then we walked one block over to Fountain Square where an outdoor ice rink is set up and the kids did some ice skating. Yours truly slipped on over to Starbucks for a delicious beverage.

At the outdoor skating rink there was someone taking pics and then they were being displayed on the jumbotron. Click here for pics.

Then we headed on to Skyline Chili for some of the world's best chili! I'm not sure why, but I can't ever remember it tasting as good as it did tonight. Click here for pics of Skyline.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving with the Nickloes

Today we are spending time with Judy's family which included the tradional thanksgiving dinner. We have now cycled through the naps and had some dessert. A little football, and now a movie. Life is good. God is good.

I'm thankful

Today I wanted to take some time to reflect on the things I am thankful for, and I have a lot! God has been so faithful to me and my family. The past few years have definitely put our faith to the test and for the most part I think I can say that we have grown through it.

"What doesn't destroy you will only make you stronger."

I would add "if you allow it to make you stronger" to the above statement.

So, here goes my list, in bullet points as usual:

  • Thankful for my salvation in Christ
  • For my wife of 23+ years and that she is able to pursue her dreams
  • My four incredible kids and a future daughter-in-law, Erica.
  • New Covenant Bible Church - I love serving there!
  • The incredible bounty we enjoy: house, cars, hobbies, lots of extras. I think we could do with A LOT less.
  • Opportunities to play jazz music in the community (Iowa Vanguard Jazz Collective, CR Jazz, others)
  • NCBC - opportunity to lead men's ministries and small groups. Can it get any better than this!
  • Health
  • Food on the table
  • Good neighbors
  • A hope and a future
That's about it for now. I hope this Thanksgiving 2008 offers you the opportunity to reflect on God's goodness and faithfulness in your life. Tye out.

...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

Friday, November 21, 2008

CR Jazz Hosts Fareed Haque in concert November 22

CR Jazz is hosting Fareed Haque Saturday night, November 22, at 7:30 PM in Ballentyne Auditorium on the Kirkwood College campus. We rehearsed with Fareed tonight and he is an incredible guitarist who is also a really nice guy. I took a few shots of the rehearsal as well as some video. Click on the pic for some pics of CR Jazz rehearsing.

It should be a good concert. I hope. Tye out.

Yes, I have arrived back in the USA!

After a very fruitful week in SE Asia, I finally returned to the USA on Monday afternoon at 2:30 PM right on time, with my luggage. Incredible! Judy, Andrew and Mackenzie were there to welcome me home. Kim Pagel, Dave Kvindlog, and Tim Glass showed up as well and it felt good to be back on home soil.

On Sunday prior to leaving I had the opportunity to speak at Crossroads International Church, the church Rick Griffith founded just two years ago. I shared a message about servant leadership based on the model of Jesus. I met many new friends there and had an awesome time meeting so many people from different countries. I met Shannon Sandquist who is from Cedar Falls, Iowa and knows a few people I know at NCBC.

Can I tell you about the flights? I woke up at 3 AM Monday morning and caught a taxi at 3:30 arriving at the Singapore airport around 4 AM. Singaporeans pride themselves on efficiency and let me tell you they were efficient AND friendly. I can't say the same for Northwest Airlines when I arrived in Minneapolis. The signs were confusing and the attendants were rude. Welcome back to the States!

The jet lag has been really tough this week, just like everyone warned. It has been a very busy week with meetings every night except Thursday. I am hoping that by the weekend I will be back on schedule. Tye out.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A couple more misc. updates...

Singaporean Cuisine
(Egg roll, something else that was delicious, dumpling, and chicken claw)

I am still processing our trip today and some more things came to mind that I thought I would share in bullet points:

  • Riding in a taxi for almost 2 hours to get to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Our driver got lost.
  • Riding in a taxi for almost 2 hours to get back to the hotel - lost again.
  • Driving through the local countryside and thinking about what it must have been like for our veterans 40 years ago.
  • Driving through the local countryside and wondering if I would ever see home again!
  • Being propositioned numerous times by ladies - it is really sad. Actually, a man tries to corral you on the sidewalk while the ladies pop out. The street is the best option.
  • Wanting to eat ice cream.
  • Finally getting ice cream.
  • Staying up too late and getting up real early
  • New friends Jim and Debbie, Al and Linda, Hans, Scott, Kim
  • Meeting someone in the country who used to pastor in Valley View (Cleveland) Community Church. We were only about 2 miles apart, if that.
  • Did I mention the floods on Tuesday night? Water was everywhere - I hope me being Cedar Rapidian didn't do it. : (
  • Shopping - lots of cool stuff to buy.
  • Eat, eat, eat. we ate a lot here.
  • Our friends brought in Oreos - a knockoff brand. But they were good!
Good night.

Arrived back in Singapore at 12 PM today

Delivering Goods

It felt good to put our feet back on Singaporean soil after a 7 day absence. I loved being in the country and learning about the culture there, 8-10 million motor scooters in the city alone. I'm tired and heading for a nap. Here are some quick bullet points:

  • Chopstick technique is improving.
  • Riding in a taxi cab everywhere - we flagged down three or four with one wave of the hand this morning.
  • Cu chi Tunnels - I have a new-found respect for our soldiers who served there. Thanks Earl, Michael, Richard, James and hundreds of thousands of men and women who fought in the country.
  • American food, local food, Italian food within a couple hundred feet of our hotel.
  • People there are friendly and typically helpful.
  • Petite females dressed in business suits riding their motor scooters to work.
  • Motor scooters everywhere. I'm not exaggerating!
  • Did I mention chopsticks?
  • Buying a camera to replace the one I lost in the cab.
  • 1.5 hour cab ride due to flooding that should have been 25-30 minutes.
  • Driving on the right (not left) side of the road, but sometimes in the midde sometimes on the left side against traffic.
  • Man, do I miss seeing blonde hair! Which makes me think of...
  • I really miss my wife and children - I love you!
That's it. Nap time and tonight I will be preparing to address Rick's organization tomorrow and have some interactions with them. Tye out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Soaring to Singapore - Update #6

It is now Saturday (Friday night in the US) and we are having a little downtime before we fly out tomorrow to visit with friends in the other country. I spoke to the men's bible study this morning, but there were only three of us. We talked about servant-leadership and how it applies in our work and home life. Enriko (Holland) who serves as the youth pastor at Crossroads International Church (Rick Griffith pastors this church) and is also a student at SBC was there as well. (pic to left)

You can click on the pic for a slideshow.

Yesterday (Friday) was sightseeing day so we headed out about 11 AM and spent the entire day sightseeing, shopping, and just hanging out. We started out by visiting the International Community School that Rick and Susan helped start 16 years ago and where their kids all attended. Anyway, here are some of the highlights: (click on the links for a slideshow)
  • Eating with chopsticks - I did it!!!
  • It is permissible to place your face close to the place to eat.
  • Visiting a Buddhist and Hindu temples - it is sad that they worship gods that require upkeep.
  • Learning about Singapore history at the cultural museum
  • Visiting Chinatown and all the shops
  • Finding gifts for the fam all in one place!
  • Driving on the left side of the road - yikes! It is quite nerve-racking.
  • Having fish for both lunch and supper
  • Eating less food with chopsticks has caused some weight loss!
  • Hot climate - humid and in the 90's
  • Visiting the arts center after supper and enjoying the Singaporean skyline
We wrapped up the evening by watching an outdoor performance by an Indian group although we stayed only a short time. It was quite pagan and s-l-o-w as well. Too much for my tired mind and body.

I got a good night's rest last night and we left at 7:30 am to go to the men's bible study. There were only three of us but we still shared the word and had a time of prayer. Afterwards we walked up the street to Mr. Beans where we had an American breakfast.

Rick and I are heading out this afternoon to find a Starbucks to go over our business for next week. The next time I write will be from the other country where we are meeting our friends for business. Please keep us in your prayers as we meet with these folks that the meetings will go well. With great joy, Tye out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Correction on Update # 4

Soaring to Singapore Update #4 had a picture of some students/pastors/leaders and I said that there were nine countries represented and this is wrong. There were five countries represented. Please accept my apology. Tye out.

Soaring to Singapore - Update #5c

I jammed my finger when I tripped at the Griffith pad last night and my baby finger is a little sore and swollen. All together now, "aahhhhh." Thanks for feeling my pain. Thankfully it is not broke and I will survive. Tye out.

Soaring to Singapore - Update #5b

Tonight the Griffith's took me downtown to one of the many shopping malls. It is at least six or seven stories tall and there are 8 or ten of them in the area where we were! Click here to see some pics.

We ate supper at the Manhattan Fish Market. We had some fish for supper - I have fish and chips. The fish was dory fish, like in the movie Finding Nemo. It seemed a little strange to be eating a fish that is a cartoon. Besides, fish are friends, not food. : )

Susan had to come back early for choir practice so Rick and I rode the subway and bus system to get back. But not before a stop at Starbucks. Their Dark Cherry Mocha was absolutely delicious!

We also enjoyed a nice chat about the recent election and the reporting here in the Singaporean papers. The papers here are no different than the states - very slanted to dems. Click here to see a pic of the front page. McCain is not even mentioned -well, "Mc" is because there is a McDonald's ad on the bottom.

(Rant warning) I wonder what would have happened with the election had the media had told the truth about Obama? What if they had challenged him about precaucas statements in Iowa promising voters to dismantle the military and stop excessive defense spending by pulling troops out of Iraq. What if they had grilled Obama about his "policies" like they did Sarah Palin.

In the end, I truly believe God is in control and I will sleep well resting in that fact. Tye, from Singapore, out.

Soaring to Singapore - Update #5a

Pictured above (L to R): Rick Griffith, Joni (Indonesia), Chumbeni (India), William (Singapore), Michael (Malaysia), me, Kafat (Indonesia), Joshua (India), David (Singapore).

It's Thursday afternoon here in Singapore and I have already had a great day! Last night I slept about six hours and am barely feeling any effects of the jet lag. We wound up staying home last night so we will be doing a little sightseeing tonight and tomorrow.

I uploaded some pics. Click here to see them. (or, click on the pic above)

I attended two of Rick's classes today and had opportunities to interact with students/pastors/leaders from at least ten countries. The student's last chapel was today and it was a joy to listen to Dr. Siang Fiang Koh give the talk. She is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.

The students are very engaging and quite interesting to talk to. We have had many conversations about church ministry and they have been intrigued by our "flock structure" that we have at New Covenant Bible Church in Cedar Rapids. One student comes from a church that is set up very similar to ours.

After chapel several of us went across the street to enjoy some Singaporean cuisine. Once again the conversation moved to politics because they are very interested in what is happening in America.

Tonight we are heading out for supper and will probably do some shopping as well. Tye out.

Soaring to Singapore - Update #5

Today was the final chapel for the students here at Singapore Bible College. I shot a brief vid of Dr. Siang Kiang Koh speaking, followed by translation into Chinese.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Soaring to Singapore - Update # 4

(Correction: this blog post mentions there are 9 countries represented in the pic below. There are only five. I apologize for this error.)

I am happy to report that I was able to sleep about 5 hours this morning which felt great! Susan spoiled me with a delicious breakfast - see pic above.

At 9 AM I went to one of Rick's classes he is teaching on Song of Solomon. There were pastors and leaders from all over in this class. I enjoyed the interaction with the students and the lesson on the Bible. At 10 AM Rick meets with a group of pastors (see pic) who are receiving their training here at Singapore Bible College. This group represented nine countries! They had a lot of questions about Iowa (I still do!) and ministry there as well. The election is also on everyone's minds.

It is now 2:30 PM on Wednesday and I am feeling myself fading. The goal is to stay up until sometime early this evening so I can sleep all night and get on schedule. Rick, Susan, and I will most likely do something early this evening to help me stay awake. I'm hoping to get some sightseeing done and maybe even have a cup of Starbucks. Tye out.

Soaring to Singapore - Update #3

Greetings from Singapore! Our flight was slightly ahead of schedule in Tokyo where we had to go through security and board another plane, a big, beautiful, Airbus 330-300. Han Soo actually walked me through the whole process and then even walked me to my gate. Thanks so much!

We boarded the newer Airbus 330 and took off around 6 PM Tokyo time. After 7 hours of flying time, two movies, part of a book and a nap we arrived in Singapore at 12:30 AM Wednesday. My checked luggage arrived safely, I found Rick and we headed on out the door...

In Singapore they drive on the left as they sit on the right side of the car. I am staying with Rick and Susan right here at the Bible College. I finally got to bed around 2:30 AM Wednesday Singapore time, 12:30 PM Tuesday CR time.

Today I am laying low and just resting. Rick has invited to meet with some of the male students at 10 AM and then have lunch with the students (I think). I am hoping for a little site-seeing later today so I can try to stay awake as long as possible.

Thanks for your prayers. They made a HUGE difference throughout the trip! Tye out.

Soaring to Singapore - Update #2

Joanie, Han Soo, and me

Welp, it has been a long day. My clock says that it is 10:35 PM which means we have been on this plane now for 10 hours. We departed Minneapolis at about 1:30 PM and we are expected to be in the air around 12 hours – make sense? We are literally outrunning the sun because it is still fairly light outside.

Our next stop is Tokyo. I then have another 7 hour flight to Singapore. I will have travelled about 26 hours when we arrive in Singapore. I slept about 40 minutes and plan to stay up now.
I am sitting next to a gentleman from Korea, Han Soo, who is (was) reading “Spiritual Leadership” by Blackabee. he is an engaging individual, but I can hardly understand him. Next to him is a really nice lady from South Dakota, Joanie, who is traveling to Thailand to see her daughter who is in the Peace Corps. They are both sleeping right now. See pic above.

I have already read my first book for the trip – IT by Craig Groeschel. I heard Craig speak at Leadership Summit this year and wanted to read his book.

I love travelling. Lots of people, new places, adventure. Please pray for me that God would use me on this trip. Pray that he “enlarges my borders” as it pertains to the Kingdom of God. Tye out.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 19:19-20 NET Bible

Monday, November 03, 2008

Singapore bound!

It's been a while since I have blogged because it has really been hectic. Eight Days of Hope was here the past week and things were busy around the church. I had the privilege of serving with them for two and half days as we restored flood-damaged homes. You can read more about it at

Welp, today I am flying to Singapore where I will be meeting up with Rick Griffith at the Singapore Bible College. I caught an earlier flight to Minneapolis which turned out to be a good thing because I wound up flying with Joe Golding who attends NCBC. So, thanks to Joe, here I am sitting in the Northwest WorldClub enjoying free WiFi, a quiet setting with free coffee and snacks. woohoo! Thanks Joe!!!

I sat with "Greg" (see pic) who attends the the Friendship Baptist Church in CR. It was a relaxing flight talking with someone who felt like an "old friend." The other pic is me and one of the Northwest people helping us with our baggage.,

I have been told that I will have connectivity while we are there so I should be able to do some blogging about the trip. Tye out.