May 30, 2008

Day 13- Mamallapuram, Ideal Beach Resort

Sometimes it could to break in a hard trip, thus we have officially landed in the nicest place I've ever stayed, besides the cruiseship for my honeymoon. This place is amazing, located off the Bengali Bay in the India Ocean.

We arrived yesterday and are leaving tomorrow morning for Cochin. Most of today we spent touring ancient Hindu statues and monuments. I would love to share more, but the internet here is extremely slow so I need to the beach!

May 27, 2008

Day 11- Hyderabad

Today ends our journey here on our first leg in India. We mostly took the time to tour the city and spend some time shopping. We were able to see the man made lake that separates the twin cities and then go into the heart of the Muslim part of the city. We visited a Mosque that experienced a terrorist bomb last summer. They were gracious enough to allow the men in our team into the Mosque, it was really good and I was able to pray for peace in that place. Next to the Mosque was Charminar, an old, old structure. You should google it. The last site we saw was the 7 tombs, that were very large and amazing structures outside the city. Apparently I'm popular among the youth guys of Hyderabad, several groups came up to me and wanted to take pictures. It was fun.

The best part of today was meeting a Muslim Christ follower who is working for among the Muslim middle class for house church planting. Please pray for Shake.

Tomorrow we fly out to Chennai, then the next day we get on a train to Cochin. I'm really excited to Cochin, the seat of a successful socialist/communist state in India. Also, this is the purported place of Thomist Christianity in India. India Christianity has the possibility of being as old as the Apostle Thomas, yes doubting Thomas from the Bible.

Continue to pray for Jeff's foot, it is rather swollen.

May 26, 2008

Day 10- Hyderabad

Today we volunteered and served at a local HIV/AIDS clinic. There is so much that I could talk about, so I'll limit it to a few things. First, this is my first encounter and interaction with HIV, and I was able to pray for and be prayed for by Opang, an HIV+ counselor at the clinic. Having a face and story to put with something that is so demonized in our culture sometimes really is breaking. I really appreciated his story.
Also, I met a volunteer, Daniel who got my email. We discussed postmodernism and Christianity, it was really neat. Finally, the most humbling experience is to see these people's faith. Many of the Indians that we've had conversations with or who are ministering to India absolutely love Jesus and rely desperately on their faith. I'm so humbled to pray for and be around these Christians, it has challenged my faith.
Oh, one last note, theology is messy when it hits the ground. I think one of the biggest ways of bridging the gap between high theology and praxis is giving ourselves permission to fail. We need to give our space to experiment and to simply do something, to love people and trust in God to be faithful.

May 25, 2008

Day 9: Hyderabad, India

Yesterday we arrived in India after a long flight. We all lost sleep since our flight departed Hong Kong and we arrived in Delhi at 230am, then from Delhi to Hyderabad at 630am, I think. This place is signifigantly different then Hong Kong, much more foreign and poor. I think there have been two key adjectives in describing India thus far: the land of contradictions and struggling. Although India is growing economically, the cities are still smattered with broken buildings, atructures, and people. Two former missionaries to India have really helped guide us here in Hyderabad, Robbie and James (Pancho), who I found out go to the same church that I just got a job at.

Notables in Hyderabad:
  1. Mango Season! Fresh mangos as well as bananas have been really, really good.
  2. Beggars- I'm still not sure what I have to offer or what the proper response should be, the situation is complex
  3. Theology is messy on the ground. With a growing middle class in Hyderabad because of the developing IT market, the church we attended this morning was very, very Western. It was like they were taking Bill Hybels and directly applying that methodology here.
  4. Please pray for me, I got a sinus headache today which almost put me out of commission. I hope that doesn't occur very often.
  5. We met and had lunch and tea with a wonderful Indian Christian family that ministers to a certain people group. It was great to spend time with them and see how this culture talks about Jesus and what God does in their lives. Pray for Lazarus (Sing Saey) and his wife and family.
  6. Traffic here is unbelievable and crazy. Where there is a void, a car, person, taxi, motorcycle or goat fills the gap. Plus, we've had some crazy drivers.
  7. Tomorrow we are going to work at an AIDS clinic all day.
  8. We've eaten India food as well as pastries from a bakery, KFC, Pizza Hut, and lots of water. So far no one has gotten sick, except for my headache. The India food is good, I like the different dishes and spices. Yogurt is my best friend, because you mixed it in with the spicy food and it helps control the temp in your mouth as well as your stomach.

May 23, 2008

Day 7- Hong Kong to India

Today, we've spent the majority of the morning and afternoon in HK with a businessman who is developing a coffee company in SE Asia. I really respect and enjoy the man. Overall, the morning was good and lunch was very tasty. We ate authentic Hong Kong (Chinese in essence) food called Dim Sum(n?). They bring out the portions as they are made, so I ended up eating way to much. I do really enjoy this culture, food, and city. Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities now for sure.

After a short rest here at the palce we're staying, Tao Fong Shun retreat center, we'll head to the airport and fly out to Delhi at 10pm. In Delhi, we'll stay for several hours, go to the domestic terminal then travel to Hyderabad. Sometime in there I present on Hyderabad, which I should be an expert on by now since I met a man from there on my 14 hour flight to China and he told me all things good about the city.

So far the trip has not been overly difficult or challenging, but that will all change once we hit the ground in India. It seems so strang that we've been gone for near a week, but we still are not in India. Yet, I find myself less and less ready, because the difference, culture, and people will be extremely different.
I'm not sure when I'll be able, if at all to post pic's.
Pray for our group. Jeff scraped his knee yesterday, so we don't want that to get infected. Groups dynamics are playing out and people are growing together. There has been no conflicts, but it is only inevitable. Continue to pray fo rour safety and groups relations, communications, openness, and honesty.

May 22, 2008

Hong Kong 6

Yesterday after our 14 hour flight we landed in Hng Kong at 630 am, and spend literally the entire day marching throughout the city. My first impressions of Hong Kong was that it was beautiful, green, and very Western. The islands is tropical with low mountains, thus making for beautiful backdrops to the seemingly endless skyscrapers. Our second day in Hong Kong, we again marched throughout the city on the infamous Dr. Stroope March. Even though I'm still jet lagged, I'm feeling really good. THe trip has been and is getting better the more I'm getting to know my team mates and get back to normal.


  • The Hong Kong subway is very efficient, very.
  • I could like in this city.
  • The city has lots of color and is tropical.
  • We visited a Buddhist garden and Temple where we saw people practice Taoist rituals.
  • I'm asking questions about myself personally, what I believe and what are my passions.
  • It is interesting to take the many conversations and ideals that have evolved in seminary and see how the reality of life and the world makes distinctions, classifications, and high ideals so messy.
  • I like my far!


Tomorrow we will be in the city until 10 pm then we fly out to India. We fly into Delhi then go straight for Hyderabad. I present on Hyderabad tomorrow. Dr. Stroope said that things change after about two weeks into the trip. I'm both looking forward but anxious about this time. I wonder what it will look like when all of our personalities are more open and are being made vulnerable.

May 18, 2008

Day 2- ReThinking Forum

A few notables from today's (our last day) from the forum:
  1. We were lead in "contextual" Indian style worship by Arandha, an incredibly talented group, Berkley trained, and yes the lead man plays the guitar. 
  2. Dr. Stroope gave a paper today on the identity of the outsider.  It was really good.  The insider (the local, indigenous people) need to be local, and outsider's must recognize that they can never be an insider because of enculturation.  Thus, instead of vocation we must focus on formation.  Not what do I do, but who am I becoming.
  3. EGG story!  Today for breakfast I went downstairs for the continental breakfast at the Inn.  In the fridge there were hard boiled eggs, which sounded good.  So I pulled one out and thought there is no way I'm eating a cold, hard boiled egg.  Along with my pancake, sausage dog I placed the egg in the microwave.  After about 30 seconds, I pulled out the egg and pancake dog and took about 4 steps toward my table, then BOOM!  Apparently hard boiled eggs, and there was no shell mind you, do not go into the microwave.  The thing exploded everything:  the wall, the window, curtains, floor, the side of Jeff's face, Sarah and Mary Beth's hair, and ALL over me.  My face, beard, shirt were covered in egg and everyone was looking at me.  What do you do when a room full of strangers are staring at you.  All I could get was, "I'm okay!" while covered in eggs.  It was great!
  4. Tomorrow, we fly out and it'll take a while to get where we're going.  So along the way, there will be plenty of time for conversation and being together in a group.

May 17, 2008

Love of my life!

Today begins one of the longest periods my wife Charlotte and I have ever spent apart.  A few weeks ago we moved into our new apartment into a new city.  The last two weeks have been rather crazy, getting reading to go, packing, finishing the semester, etc.  

Fortunately, in the midst of it all we were able to spend some good, quality time together.  This morning our goodbye was somewhat hurried I felt like, but the last few days was excellent.

I'm not sure how to say goodbye to the person I love the most and wish more then anything she could be here.

In some sense I need to lean in and make sure I engage in this trip with this group of people, while never letting go of Charlotte.

So, I love you babe and miss you much already.  You are strong and I really love spending my life with you.  

Day 1- Rethinking Forum

Well, it's nice to finally be on the trip.  We've been building up for months, preparing, reading, packing, and meeting and finally we are on our way.

Today began our first day.  This first leg began with  two hour flight from DFW to Minneapolis for a two day hiatus, also known as the Rethinking Forum.  Basically practitioners, scholars, and people interested in the conversation about mission to Hindu's have gathered for a few days to talk about contextualization.  

My first impression has been very different from most conferences I have attended.  This forum is very intimate.  I feel like this is a conversation among peers, partners, and friends.  This is a very important conversation, but like most conversations that push beyond the veneer and surface level of what we often call "conversation" the discussion can become frustrating and difficult to maintain.  So like this conference, this is trip is about a difficult and sometimes frustrating conversation.

Not that I think this trip will be bad or even overly hard, but to fully engage and get everything out of this conversation it will take effort and be hard at times.  

Tomorrow we go back to the conference and Dr. Stroope will be presenting a paper.  Monday, we take the morning to rest, fly to DFW with a layover, then to San Francisco with a layover, then we fly out to Hong Kong for the long 13 hour...23 hours with time changes ;) 

May 16, 2008

Journey Begins Tomorrow...

Today I'm putting the final touches on packing, chapstick, toilet paper (for roadside toilets in India), jacket, malaria meds bought in Mexico. Everything fits quite snug inside my pack, which I'm hoping to take as my carry-on.

Tomorrow we fly out at 8:00am to Minneapolis for a Rethinking Forum on Mission to Hindu's until Sunday. Then we fly to Hong Kong for a few days to get out feet underneath us. When we're used to the time change, we'll fly to Delhi and start our time in India where we'll be for the majority of our time.

I plan on updating on this blog to let all my faithful readers, all two of you, to know where I'm at, what, we're doing, and all that good stuff. So, check back every once in a while. I'm not sure how often I'll update, but hopefully more often then not.

May 14, 2008

Packing for 37 days

Total of 37 days, mostly in India:
  • 1 Gregory Palisade 80 Backpack
  • 3 T-Shirts- 1 Exofficio & 2 cotton/poly blends
  • 3 Pants- 1 Convertibles, 1 Cargo, 1 Linen & Cotton blend
  • 4 underwear- 2 exofficio, 2 cotton
  • 3 pair socks- ankle hiking
  • 1 pair Chaco's
  • 1 Pair of running shoes
  • 1 Marmot Light Jackot
  • 2 Shorts- 1 swimming, 1 athletic, 1 pair normal shorts (possibly)
  • 1 Polo
  • 1 hat
  • 1 MSR Towel
  • 3 Books, 2 Journals- Bible, Kierkegarrd's Fear & Trembling (to read & give away), Peterson's Christ Plays in 10,000 Places, 1 Travel Journal, 1 non-ruled journal
  • 1 Under clothes passport & money holder
  • 1 pair of Pepper's sunglasses
  • 1 Watch
  • 1 Dry Sack- for dirty clothes, 1 compression sack
  • 1 Nokia NV10 Camera, 3 batteries, 2 1 gig cars, charger, adapter & case
  • Lots of pills, med's, toiletries, baby wipes, TP, glasses & contacts, bug spray, ear plugs
  • Misc papers for insurance, check card, flight receipts, etc
  • Most importantly- MYSELF, packed & ready to go!

May 1, 2008

Sad Day...

I'm sitting here in my last class ever in seminary. Although I don't graduate until December and still have mentoring for the Fall, this will be my last semester of class. Yes, I'm really excited about continuing on this journey and of course I'm excited that I have a job and a place to live. I have to admit though, that I will miss this place a lot, as well as the academic setting.

This time in seminary has been really good, but also really hard. I 've experienced everyday the deconstruction process, while being pushed toward healthy reconstruction. I had someone ask me today would I do seminary again and I said, "Yes, absolutely!" I'm not certain I'm in the place I wanted to be in leaving school, but maybe that's best. I don't have answers, but lots of questions and I'm okay with that. I'm just not sure how that will pan out in a concrete, church setting where everyone is looking for answers.

In my last class today, we read a story that almost providentially tells my story: the
Blind Men and the Elephant. I thought this story was the perfect way to end my seminary experience and begin the next chapter in life. As I'm preparing to leave and enter the "real" world, I'm still struggling how to structure and talk about what I believe and have experienced. How do I talk about being a Christian in Austin?