23 June, 2007


We had our end of the year party tonight, and John came back to join us! He's still not quite allowed to stay in Croatia, so we are headed to Slovenia tomorrow morning to spend a few days debriefing as a team. Then we'll be back in Rijeka for less than 24 hours before driving to Zagreb to catch our flight to South Korea for CM2007. More on that later...

While you wait, though, this is the slideshow we watched tonight:

15 June, 2007

Just Another Ordinary Day

Events of today:

~Three failed garbage bags: all in a row! Explosions of fermented Mexican food from the fiesta on Wednesday- one in our apartment, two in the entryway. I think it was a faulty batch of bags.

~Two soon-to-be-priests stopped by unexpectedly during our morning team prayer meeting. Here's how it went down:

Downstairs buzzer rings. [This was the 4th ring of the morning.]

Taylor answers.

Taylor says, "It's Tomislav and Dario - the PRIESTS. They're coming up!"

Sunny, Allison, and I (pajama-clad) fly into our rooms and throw on clothes as if our lives depend on it.

I skid into the kitchen just as they walk in the door, Al and Sunny follow soon after.

They are here to drop off some gifts for summer projecters and us (so nice) and we make awkward small talk for 10 or 15 minutes. We sense that they really want us to invite them to stay and pray with us, they sense that we just got dressed and aren't really ready for company. They leave.

~One spontaneous combustion. Yes, that's right. Less than an hour ago, Sunny's computer burst into flame for no apparent reason.

Thank you for reading, ladies and gentlemen. This is our life.

The End Of The World As We Knew It

Andy was just here to visit for about 2 weeks. It was great to spend some more time with him, as we haven't seen him since he left so suddenly 3 1/2 months ago. Here are some pictures from last February when he left:

Even with only a few hours of notice, we still had a chance to give the banana suit a final outing on the Korzo!

Andy with Dario and his dog, Magi (pronounced 'moggy') who also joined us for the impromptu festivities.

A classic John and Andy. Little did we know, John would be skipping town too just a few weeks later.

This dysfunctional, less-than-attractive, oddly composed photo captures the mood of that night fairly accurately.


Waaaay back in February we a) went to a Guns N' Roses tribute concert with Sunny's friend Jenna who came to visit and b) discovered a cool weekly jazz night at a nearby café. We attended pretty regularly for a while, but haven't gone to see them recently. Even so, we seem to keep running into the musicians in unexpected places like a friend's recital, a prayer and worship night on a visiting missionary ship, the movie theater, and, tonight, with a random orchestra doing some sort of cultural performance in an alley/courtyard behind the Korzo.

One Sentence

True stories, told in one sentence. Read here.

Educational Public Service Announcement

I'm not a man so this didn't revolutionize my world, but I still thought it might be useful to some of you out there:

VideoJug: How To Give A Great Man To Man Hug

12 June, 2007

Stranger in the Night

So tonight we went running again. At about 11pm at that one soccer field up the hill. It was gently raining and too warm and muggy, but we haven't gone in, oh, I don't know, forever. And it is time to get back on that wagon.

Anyway, we were spread out, running around, when I passed a weird little stump-like thing on the track. It was pretty dark, and it kind of looked like it could have been an animal, but it didn't move at all when I ran by about 1 ft. away, so I figured it couldn't be. After another 1/2 lap, Allison waved me over because she and Sunny had discovered that it was a HEDGEHOG.

We hassled the poor creature with the lighted screens of our mp3 players, trying to get a closer look and cursing ourselves for not bringing cameras. Eventually it awkwardly scurried away. I'm not sure if it was a pet or what, it was definitely fat, though. My brother had a pet hedgehog for a while, named Louie, and he was a lot smaller than this guy. And in case you have ever wondered, watching a hedgehog climb stairs is no ordinary experience, let me tell you.

06 June, 2007

Best Day Ever!

A couple of Saturdays ago a group of us spent the day at a children's home not too far from Rijeka. We had an amazing time hanging out with the kids and tie-dyeing some t-shirts, playing soccer and frisbee, eating ice cream, and swimming. At the end of the day I think we made a pretty much unanimous decision to return as soon as possible.

Igor was popular.

Here's everyone working hard...

...and playing hard.

This could be trouble...

This little guy had limited mobility but we played a very respectable and long-running game of Keep-The-Latex-Glove-Balloon-Up-In-The-Air-For-As-Long-As-Possible-Without-Letting-It-Hit-The-Ground. And I got to sign his cast.

Off to the pool!

Igor was very popular.

It was incredibly warm that day, and, well, the sea was refreshing.

03 June, 2007

The Internet = Good or Bad? You choose…

Real-life things I have looked up:

• How to tie-dye clothing
• The Croatian word for ‘goiter’
• James Hetfield
• Statistics on foreign drugs imported to the Netherlands
• Bird clip art
• Infanta
• How to shotgun a beer
• Homeless World Cup
• The plot of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (this was after viewing the film)
• Oxycodone and its uses
• The definition of teetotaler
• The Legend of Zelda FAQ
• Whiffle bat
• The ins and outs of correct apostrophe usage
• Brain

Redemption Song or Kutless Is My New Favorite

Osijek: Final Installment

As the sun rose Sunday morning, we collapsed into bed. While falling asleep, I remember trying to make sense of some of the more minor interactions we had as the night turned to morning. It had been requested that the kitchen prepare boiling water and cups for everyone at departure time, and in reality only one person actually drank any. Someone else was annoyed that the pre-packed lunches we sent them off with contained apples, not bananas – I guess we scored some points with bananas that first afternoon on the bus. I think my favorite moment was when a disgruntled traveler emerged from the elevator and headed towards the door. Looking for all the world like an oversized toddler unwillingly roused from a nap, he paused before he reached the automatic sliding glass doors. He started again, but the open doors had started to close in on him. He stepped back and directed the EVILEST look of disgust at the door (which, if I may remind you, is an inanimate object) before plodding out to the waiting bus. It really was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

So, anyway, we slept for quite a while. Too long, actually, since checkout was supposed to be at 12:00. We talked with the cleaning lady and she kindly waited to do our room last so we could pack up and get out. After some lunch and coffee we got a ride to the festival once again, where we had little to do for most of the afternoon. In the evening we got to hang out with the wife of one of Kutless’ band members and help out a little at their merchandise table. They are from Portland, and also spend time in Seattle pretty regularly, so it was great to hang out with someone from close to home. Plus, she was just amazingly kind, genuine, wise, and honest in general. Hearing her talk about the band’s philosophy and goals, as well as her own, was incredibly refreshing. Their attitudes and actions in the face of several tricky/frustrating situations at the festival were very gracious and humble. In short, our time with her was tremendously encouraging.

We were lucky enough to be able to sort-of-sleep during the drive home, which miraculously only took about 4.5 hours. Then we had a few hours at home in our beds before a day of summer project briefing on Monday. It was definitely a whirlwind of a weekend, but we had a good time and learned a whole lot in the process. I enjoyed the change of pace, and the way that being thrust into a completely new environment gave me a different perspective on life and values and human beings and the way we behave. It shook me up a little and broke down some of my assumptions, but ultimately reinforced my core beliefs, passions, and desires in a new way, which was kind of cool.

02 June, 2007

Till The Morning Comes

Osijek, continued...

The evening was fun and relatively uneventful. We got to watch most of the sets and play with some of our favorite kiddos.

This is one of our friends who is going to CM2007 with us!

Around 1:30 or 2:00am we rounded up all but the last performers and rode back to the hotel. After we got there we rested a little and searched for anything decent to watch on TV (Bridget Jones' Diary dubbed in German, for instance, didn't make the cut). Then we met various groups that were departing for the airport at 3:30 and 4:30 to make sure checkout went smoothly and take care of some last minute details.

By 5:15, our beds were a very welcome sight.

Somebody’s Gotta Do It

More about the weekend in Osijek...

Around 8:00am Sunny’s phone rang and we were told that the bus was leaving at 10:00 instead of 9:00 so everyone had a little more time to get ready and eat breakfast. It had been a late night, so this was good news. Everyone else had apparently been notified, so we felt content and relaxed while getting ready for the day, and headed down to the lobby for a quick breakfast around 9:30.

We greeted a few of our compadres, scoped out a table to sit at, and headed over to the self-serve coffee station – clearly a high priority. Sunny had the carafe of coffee poised in mid-air above her cup when she was interrupted by one of our less-than-favorite people, who demanded that she go outside to the bus immediately to deal with a situation that had arisen. Later, when asked how she felt at that moment, she confessed that her entire being had been filled with rage. That can’t be good for the lifespan. [This might sound like an overreaction, but, trust me, if I could really go into detail about some of these events I am confident you would empathize with our frustrations.] Even so, she proceeded calmly to the tour bus and dealt with the issue, which basically amounted to some miscommunication about timing and schedules. Due to her masterful diplomatic work, by the time I got out there everything seemed calm so we went back in and ate a quick breakfast. In the short 30 or 40 minutes between leaving our room and boarding the bus, there had been a number of small interactions that led us to believe it might be a pretty stressful day, so the half-hour ride to the festival site was a perfect time for some reflection, prayer, and personal preparation.

It was weird to be thrown into such an odd set of circumstances, dealing with so many emotions and sensations and issues and powerfully asserted egos all at once. Everything seemed to be colliding, and while I looked out the window, the setting of all of this chaos started to become clear. We were staying in Vukovar. It is considered the most war-devastated place in Europe since WWII, and evidence of the damage from the war in the ‘90s is still visible all over the town. Among wrecked and bullet-riddled homes and buildings there were old men on bikes, and children playing, and women working in gardens.

As we drove the distance to Osijek through fields of grass and golden grain, the landscape was punctuated by beautiful bunches of bright red poppies. There were also signs every hundred yards or so sternly warning everyone to stay out (because there are still land-mines in the fields), illustrated with skulls and crossbones. Seeing these things, and thinking about what they meant – especially for the people who lived through it all – lent an element of gravity to my general state of mind, and by the time we arrived I felt sobered and somewhat softened.

We received our ‘Organizator’ identification badges and got the lay of the land. The venue was actually a Franciscan monastery, with a big tent and stage set up in a large field. While everyone went through their sound checks we spent most of our time in a dining/waiting/hangout room that served as the green room. We were doing such an awesome job fetching coffee and delivering messages and such that some people – understandably – wanted to take pictures with us. Or maybe it was because Sunny looks like a “Hollywood movie actress.” [This is an actual quote, admittedly taken slightly out of context…]

As the sound checks wrapped up, one of the performers informed us that he needed a razor. We found out where a few drugstores were, and another guy we know from church offered to drive him. Unfortunately most of the stores were closed by that time, but the driver didn’t know exactly what the passenger needed and the dramatic demeanor and mannerisms that characterized his quest led the driver to take him directly to a hospital, believing that he truly needed urgent care! Eventually they made their way back to the waiting bus, sans razor, and we headed to the hotel for some food and a few hours of rest before returning to the festival that evening.

Dinnertime brought a new round of challenges as some of the food was deemed unacceptable, with replacement dishes suffering the same fate. Sunny and I got to enjoy some downtime toward the end, and had fun watching people play PlayStation2 soccer.

Soon it was time to get back on the bus. We were already tired, our patience was wearing thin, and the evening had yet to begin. Fortunately we were armed with angry music guaranteed to get us pumped up. I started off with some long-forgotten Fiona Apple, and Sunny trumped that with what became our theme song for the weekend- The Roots’ Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Here’s an excerpt:

Somebody's gotta be there when it gets ugly
Somebody's gotta be there when it gets bloody
Somebody's gotta get their hands dirty
Yo, it's a ------ up job but somebody's gotta do it
Somebody's gotta come up with a plan
And be there when the ---- hits the fan
I hope ya'll out there understand
Look man it's a ------ up job, but somebody's gotta do it