July 29, 2005

Worth reading

You're really missing out if you've been neglecting to read Jon Trainer's blog as he visits missionary Rob Howell in Mwanza, Tanzania.

The technology of blogging is priceless as Trainer heads into the bush and posts a narrative of events. His post about going to the local jail is nothing short of riveting.

(As a side note, he used the same Internet cafe in Nairobi that my brother used a couple summers ago on a missions trip.)


I've also enjoyed Phil Johnson's posts about the ridiculous Biblezines that are created for targeted pop-culture audiences. First, Johnson posted a real cover image and then I got a laugh about two parodies that his readers sent in.

One thing's for sure, Pyromaniac always has something going on.

Posted by JRC at 11:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Catching up

A couple weeks ago I finally got my craving satisfied. My lovely wife went in search of a root beer float for me since I'd been denied so many times. I enjoyed the float, but I really appreciated her kindness.


Darla's brother is back in the states after his missions trip to Great Britain. He arrived safe and sound and on time. I hear he's got a fair number of photos, but I haven't seen them yet.


For the first time in years, I have shelf space for all my books. My main bookshelf is a six-foot pressed wood specialty, which I bought with allowance money (i.e. not too recently). We got another cheap bookshelf, this one a short one, a few years ago. It almost met the space needs, but not quite.

Our building at work has been remodeled, and they've been getting rid of old furniture as the new furniture arrives. So I was able to lay claim to the sorry looking book shelf that had been in my office. It's about four feet tall, and rather wide; it's bigger than our small one and not as big as the tall one.

It was all scuffed and decrepit, but it turned out to be made of real wood--something very light...balsa? I touched up some of the scuffed areas and we painted it glossy black last weekend. Turns out it's a sharp looking piece of furniture now.

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July 21, 2005

Field fire


Just wanted to share some of my better news images of late. The top image ran in the paper this week. The pictures are from a fire in a dry hay field. The field was freshly mowed and bailed. Thankfully the bails were already gone. About 3 acres burned.

I'd never seen a fire in such a dry field. It ripped down a hill and up the other side, crackling as the dry six-inch stalks fueled flames that reached four or five feet in the air. The line of flame moved quickly because it was in constant need of fresh fuel.

If one didn't pay attention, it wouldn't be too hard to get cut off by the relatively innocuous fire.

One side of the dry field was bordered by a field of something green and growing (see the demarcation line in the top left of the photo below). The fire stopped right at the green plants and went no further in that direction. The fire department used one engine, one brush truck, and 10-12 firefighters to put the fire out in about 20 minutes.


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July 20, 2005

Murphy's Law

We all know that if anything can go wrong, it likely will. Such an occurence took place yesterday on deadline day at the paper.

Without so much as a clap of thunder, lightning apparently struck somewhere in town. Our office and most of the town was plunged into darkness for 40 minutes. We had about one minute of hard rain, which stopped as thunder rumbled in the distance.

Initially I sat there with my left hand on the keyboard and my right hand on the mouse, half expecting everything to suddenly be back on as a left it. Soon I joined my co-workers congregating in a common area. I then ran home (where I had power) to grab lunch and my battery-powered police scanner.

When I got back to the office, it was still dark. My editor and I started to set up a gas generator so that we could limp along until power came on, but before we could finish, the power returned.

Thankfully I was ahead of schedule when the power went out, so it didn't mess me up too badly. It turned out that I had saved my file just minutes before everything shut down, so I didn't have to re-do too much, either.

Posted by JRC at 08:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 17, 2005

Blogging Christendom

There are those in the blogosphere who see blogging as a way to reach the unreached. Maybe it is, but I don't see evangelism--or even reform--as blogging's most effective use for believers.

The Internet is nothing more than an information conduit. Blogs give anyone with web access the chance to publish information. The failure of many blogs is not considering the audience that is reading them. Successful publishers know their readers and tailor their content to those people.

(This blog is actually more a vehicle for me to update friends and family on our life since we're hours away from them. But as you see, I branch out into other areas [such as opinion] on posts like this. So, no, this isn't a perfect--or oft-read--blog. It wasn't intended to be.)

I feel that, instead of hoping to reach the unreached or foment major change in a movement, believers should focus more on harnessing technology to update other believers on how to pray for their needs.

Most recently, we've seen the Leonard family harness blogging to help us pray for missionary John Leonard. This strikes me as the most useful application of blogging for believers. In nearly real-time, Christians around the world can know how to pray for this man, who was shot several times at his church in Brazil.

Other missionaries have seen that they can break free from the traditional (and likely outdated) prayer letters that hang in the back of churches. Instead, they can blog (or even e-mail) current needs.

Whereas in the past, we might find out in February that a missionary wanted us to pray for the Christmas program that the local mayor was coming to, now we can find out before Christmas and pray specifically for that request before and during the event.

Websites and blogs are not nearly as expensive or slow to produce as print communications and slideshows. Through sites, such as those by David Hosaflook or Rob Howell, we can get a much broader feel for a ministry we might otherwise not visit.

It also allows missionaries in closed countries the chance to communicate about their work, as Andrew has done with SpreadingHisWord.org. A couple years ago, he had the vision for some of the thoughts that have been building in my mind for some time now.

Posted by JRC at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

Rolling along, part II


Last fall I blogged about hitting 100K on my VW Jetta, which I've since replaced with a newer Corolla (40mpg is great w/four adults in the car running AC!). Well, the milestone has since rolled around on my 1999 Ranger. It happened on the way back from a field fire last Saturday (photos of that later, maybe).

I think that makes nearly 18K miles in less than a year and a half. That includes a coupla trips to SC and several months of 60 miles a day commuting.

I happen to know the Jetta is still doing well in its new hands, and I hope the truck will be able to do likewise. May they both do as well as this Kopp car. And may it be many more years before I make another post like this.

Posted by JRC at 04:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Foiled, again

For several weeks, I've had a craving for a root beer float. I don't like root beer by itself, and I don't eat much ice cream, but the summer heat has had me wanting a float.

Last night we went out for ice cream after Wednesday church with some church people. For the third time in a month, my well-laid plans for a float came to naught. Some people have all the luck.

The last two tries failed when the two different stores were out of root beer. My first try came at the expense of a teenage girl at the same store as my failed second attempt. I ordered a float AND a Sprite for Darla to drink. The teen worker thus gave me a Sprite float, and I was too meek (don't read weak) to push the issue.

One of these days I'll get that root beer float. Hopefully it'll happen before the leaves change colors and fall off the trees.

Posted by JRC at 01:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2005

Attack: BBC In-depth

If you haven't clicked on the link in my Brit Team post to the BBC News page about the London terrorist attacks, I urge you to check it out. The link goes to a page dedicated to covering the horrible attack, and it's packed with useful and impressive information.

Reporters' log: BBC reporters are continually sending in brief reports from the field, covering a variety of angles on the tragedy in three- or four-paragraph dispatches, likely sent via Blackberry devices or something like that. These snippets are more informative than the updated and recycled wire stories.

Eyewitness accounts: A page that features written accounts from eyewitnesses and responders. Also has links to videophone footage, which I did not follow.

Readers' photos: A small, but growing gallery of photos made by those in and around the bombing sites. Some stunning visuals, thanks in part, I'm sure, to camera phones.

In pictures: Another photo gallery. This one is a mixture of "professional" photojournalists' work and some of the "civilian" images.

Interactive map: This interactive map helped me get a better feel for what happened in the four bombings. It definitely cleared out the muddle of the early TV reports that showed seven sites (due to victims and rescuers at Underground stations at both ends of bomb sites, I'd guess).

Posted by JRC at 04:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'05 Brit Team: Out of harm's way

I just got word that the 2005 BJ British Ministry team was not in London this morning when the bombings occurred. The team was, in fact, hundreds of miles (even more hundreds of kilometres) away in Scotland, near Edinburgh.

Also, Darla's aunt and uncle who are missionaries in Slough (west of London) are also safe. They are out of town at a conference with the new BJ chancellor.

Praise the Lord for his sovereign protection.

(I guess now we kind of understand how Scott felt on 9/11, not knowing where we were in NYC that day.)

UPDATE (7/7/05 10:55 a.m. EDT):

Here's an e-mail from the team:

Dear friends and family,

Hello from Falkirk, Scotland. We are again enjoying sunny weather and balmy temperatures. The Lord has been so good to us during our trip.

We wanted to send out a quick update in light of world events. As you may know, the G8 conference is taking place near us, but thankfully we have been isolated from all of the peaceful (yet violent) protests. Most of the problems are in Edinburgh. When we traveled around Edinburgh we experienced very few traffic problems. Please pray that we will have very few problems again on Monday when we travel to Oulton Broad. Thankfully, our last two stops are very removed from London!

You may also have heard about the recent bombings in London; it appears a branch of al - queda was responsible. In light of this, we're praying about our plans to spend a final day of sight-seeing in London. As our thoughts develop, we will keep you all informed.

Thank you for your prayers; we need them every day.

In Christ,
David Schwingle

UPDATE (7/7/05 4:20 p.m. EDT):

Mike and Janice Berbin are GFA missionaries bound for New Guinea. They are staying at Darla's aunt and uncle's in Slough on the way there. Below is an update from GFA via Sandy, an e-ink reader and friend of the Berbins.

We were concerned about our GFA folk in England, including the Berbins who were sight-seeing there. We just were able to get through to them. Apparently they were on their way to see some sights when the explosions occurred. Mike said they spent 5.5 hours touring the non-touristy sections of the city in a bus - roads were quickly closed after the bombs went off. They are back in Slough where they are staying at another missionary's home. So, it's a blessing to hear of the Lord's protection!
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July 06, 2005

BBQ review

There's a new lunch counter open in town, and I was surprised to find out they specialized in barbecued meats, smoked at the family home over hickory wood.

I was already heading there for a quick lunch today, but my trip gained urgency with the barbecue revelation.

Since I was in a hurry, I opted for the pulled pork sandwich and I was disappointed. It was soaked in sauce and tasted like it could have been cooked in a crockpot, not over hickory coals.

Before I cross the joint off my barbecue list, I really ought to go back and try the ribs, chicken and pork loin. They deserve the chance to redeem themselves. Plus, that pork loin sure looked good.

Posted by JRC at 05:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Icing on the cake


We made a quick weekend trip to South Carolina over the holiday. As always, it was a whirlwind visit with two sets of parents to visit, let alone other in-laws and aunts and uncles.

The highlight (and main purpose) of the trip was a jaunt down to Columbia for the first birthday of our niece Charlotte. Of course, there were the classic first cake moments that are almost a rite of passage.

Thankfully we had good traffic (lighter than normal, I'd say) for our trip down and back. The only tie-up was for a wreck in Columbia, which we detoured around. We were in stop-and-go traffic for a few minutes, but there was another 10 miles of that when we hit the back roads.

Posted by JRC at 05:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack