Tuesday, August 19

Cocoa growers in Ivory Coast get first taste

Wonderful, ah-ha moment! It seems unfair that they'd not have access to chocolate. But now that they know -- perhaps they'll jump on it.


Saturday, August 16

50+ container houses

Which do you prefer -- the houses that maintain the raw shipping container facade or those with a more finished exterior?

Thursday, August 14

Magic Fluke Cricket Violin

My first instrument was the violin, which I played regularly for about seven years. Subsequently, I played the acoustic guitar, acoustic bass guitar, and a little mandolin. All that was before I fell in love with the ukulele. One of my favorite ukes is a concert size Flea built by the Magic Fluke Company. It has a distinct sound that charms me like no other.

There are, however, times when I'd love to bring a violin sound to the occasion. And I think that this Cricket Violin made by the Magic Fluke Company would be perfect for what I do. A wonderful sounding instrument for about $550 with the appropriate upgrades. Hard to beat.

Wednesday, August 13

How the Dutch got their cycle paths

The storm

A blast of humid air instantly coated the lenses of my glasses with fog as I left the store with my ice tea purchase. That doesn't happen often in the desert. It immediately brought back favorable memories of life in the tropics.

After last night's monsoon storm, which dumped over 9 cm of rain onto Laveen in less than five hours, there is a lot of standing water -- and 70% humidity -- which is quite high for us.

The canal picture above shows where one of the breaches occurred when the ditch was overwhelmed with water creating a rushing river along Dobbins Road. Wanting to check on the building, I had driven to the church meetinghouse on Dobbins once the rain had stopped. No damage -- although the rising water came within one inch of entering the structure.

However, while I was there the water on the street rose rapidly and I was briefly stuck in the flash flood. I'm still not sure how but I managed to maneuver out of it. The fire department ended up rescuing 20 people within a few block stretch of where I was. One traumatized man died after suffering a heart attack during the event. But everyone else is okay. Our car did not sustain any damage. I'm sure that some will be obtaining salvage titles.

This morning I returned on my bike and discovered that part of Dobbins Road, a block east of the meetinghouse, is still closed. Our parking area behind the house has some standing water but is still usable. The animals are all fine. 

MasterPiece Church purchased the house and is in the process of getting a special use permit and is remodeling it to be used as an ag-themed child care center. Eventually, we hope to also operate a small school for special needs kids in the community there. We'll use it during the off hours for congregational gatherings and ministries.

Tuesday, August 12

Shai Reshef on University of the People --
"An ultra-low-cost college degree"

University of the People is now DETC accredited.

What's the most interesting thing you've carried?

I regularly carry groceries, coffee grounds from Starbucks, and packages from the Post Office. But I've also carried:

  • a tank of propane for the gas grill
  • two huge bags of potting soil with a couple of plants
  • four two gallon water bottles -- full

What is the most interesting (or challenging) thing you've carried on a bike?

Monday, August 11

Saturday, August 9

Ministry with South Sudanese

Since we left Turlock in 2006 I've done a good job of avoiding funeral detail. But Mary Nyayual Dhor, the deaconess in our South Sudanese partner congregation in Phoenix, died last week. And the lay pastor was pretty insistent that I officiate at her service. Well, just before the service began this afternoon, Elder Peter Lual, a prominent Presbyterian pastor showed up. He had driven over from San Diego. So the lay pastor and I adjusted the service some and included him. And it still flowed well.

When working cross culturally, flexibility is name of the game. I've actually come to enjoy that aspect of ministry -- a lot. And through it I got to meet Peter -- a great man. (Peter and I took this picture at the cemetery).

During the committal service Pastor Peter suggested that we ask a visiting Episcopal priest to sing a song in his Dinka language. (Peter, like most everyone in our South Sudanese congregation is Neur.) And the Neur people responded to the music with enthusiasm. What a great moment of Christian hospitality. If we put these guys in charge, the Dinka-Neur conflict that has torn apart South Sudan would quickly become history. Could it be that a broader hope is born from a funeral? I mean, we were talking a lot about resurrection.

Wednesday, August 6

Are we still defining ourselves by skin tone?


The latest from Copenhagen

Copenhagen not only does bikes better than any other city -- except perhaps Amsterdam -- but they also know how to crank out videos to tell their story. Here's the latest update from Denmark. You'll love this snake.