Month: January 2006

We Finally Decided!

In 2005 God used EveryStudent.com, a small team in Orlando, lots of volunteers, and one web programmer to bring 37,000 people to indicate a decision of faith in Jesus! This is stunning, and it indicates that God is changing the landscape of ministry for Campus Crusade for Christ.

Back in November our Russian language evangelistic Internet ministry project began working with EveryStudent.com. In the course of discussions I asked the director of this ministry what her needs were and if she could use any help. She was very enthusiastic about this, and the more we talked about it, the more I began to see a “Jerry-shaped” need in Orlando.

At this point in time (mid-December) we were wracked with indecision. On the one hand our situation here is an ideal ministry opportunity. On the other hand, when God moved us here it was for a short-term assignment and committing to stay long term didn’t feel like where God was leading us.

This need in Orlando changed our perspective. With it in sight, God’s original direction in our lives made more sense.

After much more prayer and wise counsel, we finally made the decision to move to Orlando and work with EveryStudent.com. While it is extremely difficult to move away from the job here and our friends, we see this as an opportunity to follow God’s direction in a new and exciting way.

I will still be working with Tom Seely (who will remain in Budapest) to start Internet ministries in Eastern Europe and Russia. Only I will add the work of helping to start Internet ministries, based on EveryStudent.com, in other parts of the world as well. It’s an opportunity to do what I am passionate about, using the experience and skills God gave me, only on a more global basis. Cathy is excited, too, because she has an opportunity to continue working with the short film-based outreach project we have both worked on here from time to time.

When we told the kids, Audrey was very excited, but the other three of us knew we had some difficult goodbye’s ahead. Overall we are excited about the change but sober about leaving friends. The next few months will be full preparing for another big move and transitioning projects so they can proceed with my help from Orlando.

Our biggest project, the Russian language evangelistic Internet ministry, is still moving ahead. Our initial “test site” continues drawing visitors who indicate their decision to trust in Jesus for the first time. In the last month there were 43 more indicated decisions. Keep praying for this as we develop the next phase of this project, a Russian language EveryStudent.com.

Thank you for praying for us through this process!

This is just a synopsis of what God took us through to get to this decision and next ministry opportunity. Along the way it was the most difficult decision we’ve ever made. How did this much clarity suddenly emerge from seven months of fog? You can read the rest of the story at www.hertzlers.com/decision.

Instant Website – Just Add Tom

The other day Tom and I were sitting in a meeting where one of our regional leaders was explaining the need to communicate better with our staff members that are scattered around Eastern Europe. In the past we have understood this need and expected to meet it with a website, but website development takes time and money. This project has been on our radar but not at the top of our priorities.

But then it occurred to us that we could accomplish 80% of this goal with blogging software. Blogging software allows anyone to publish a very respectable looking site with no programming experience at all. If you are reading this, you can publish your own blog. Really. Go to Blogger.com or WordPress.com and try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. It’s free, and you can get your own blog running in less than 30 minutes. (I produced squarejer.wordpress.com in less than 5 minutes!)

As we began thinking about throwing up a quick blog template for our area, we thought it just might be possible to get something more robust going instead. Open Source (i.e., free) Content Management Systems have been around for a few years, and we decided we just might be able to get one of these going since they are very similar to WordPress. WordPress is really a Content Management System (CMS) tuned for publishing blogs, and both of us have installed and configured WordPress. We thought we just might have the horsepower to get a CMS going ourselves instead of needing to hire a web programmer to do it for us.

Tom was clearly the person for this job. He can get new things going quickly, and within an hour he had a copy of Joomla running on a new domain he registered at BlueHost.com. By 5:00 today it was nearly ready for the above mentioned leader to start using. The best part of this software is that it allows normal people to publish content through it.

You can see the results here.

The Thermal Value of Middle School

It is really cold here, -10° C, and it’s supposed to get colder overnight. In order to stay warm in this weather, both Cathy and I wear heavy winter coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. Yet I’ve noticed that my children only require mid-weight jackets. Whenever I suggest they wear something heavier for increased comfort, they explain how that’s entirely unnecessary. They stay warm just fine with what they have.

The only explanation I have for this is their cool factor. That is, no one in their right mind in Middle School would ever wear a heavy winter coat, as it’s simply not cool. And since they don’t complain about being cold I figure their cool factor must, indeed, have some insulating value. It’s about 10° C worth (about 20° F), judging by the point at which they decide it’s time to put on something warmer.

Dinner with Drew

Drew

Drew

This weekend was full of good times with friends. Shortly after ending our fun time with Steve, I went to dinner with my friend, Drew. He and I got to be good friends here in Budapest, so when he returned here for ministry business, our lunch group and his former work group took him out to dinner. We miss the Parsons, but it was good to see Drew again!

St. Istvan sees St. Istvan

Steve and Jerry in Budapest at Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Steve, Jerry at Fisherman’s Bastion

Today my friend Steve, whose name in Hungarian would be Istvan and who is also known in heaven as St. Istvan, given his position in Christ, saw relics of his Hungarian namesake, St. Istvan. Steve absent-mindedly left his ring in our bathroom this morning before we left for the day of sight seeing, but his namesake left his entire hand at the church bearing his name! Hungarians, eager to venerate their hero, clung to whatever piece of him they could keep, quite literally. All they could get their hands on was his – right hand. His holy right hand. So they enshrined it in a glass box inside St. Istvan’s Basilica, and you can put 100 Forint ($0.50) in the box next to it so the lights go on and you can take a picture.

While I generally work hard to understand the cultural values of my host country, I haven’t spent too much time working on this one. The preservation of this 1000 year old mummified appendage is just – wacked.

St. Istvan's Holy Right Hand

The glass box containing
St. Istvan’s holy right hand

[Lest anyone think I’ve concluded my own country men wouldn’t do a similar thing, I bet any amount of money that if someone found George Washington’s wood teeth that we’d have a tourist attraction somewhere near Mt. Vernon where you could pay to see them.]

BTW, Dinner at Adler was great. We didn’t get to Parliament, and we rode Bus #16.

Steve is here!

Our friend, Steve Schwander, came for a visit this weekend. Tomorrow we’ll see Budapest, and I’ll post a picture of us having a great time. There has never been a time when we’ve shown Budapest to a friend when we also haven’t experienced something new ourselves. Tomorrow the new thing will be Bus #12 and possibly a tour of the Parliament building. What will remain the same will be dinner at the Adler!

European Shirt Rippers

European door handle

European
Shirt Ripper

Known as door handles to most people, these devices were installed across Europe to increase the business of the clothier’s guild. Here’s how it works. You walk close to any open door, and the door handle’s point catches any loose piece of clothing you may be wearing. Upon catching your shirt the handle sets like a fish hook, and while you continue walking away, it rips a hole in your shirt. This, of course, ruins it and causes you to buy another one. Grrr.

Cat’s Hunt

Cat's two mouse kills

Cat’s two mouse kills

I guess Cat feels our home is her home now. A few days ago she brought us one of her kills and partially devoured it on our balcony. Tonight she brought home fresh meat but left it intact. Little did she know that her rival, Annie, would get more enjoyment out of it than the rest of us.

If these were coming from inside our house we would be extremely happy, but they’re coming from the field across the street instead. There may be no end in sight to the dead mice piling up on our balcony.

Extra Innings

When the regular nine innings of a baseball game end in a tie, the extra innings can drag on forever. Our decision to stay here in Budapest or move to Orlando has been in extra innings for a while now, but neither team can seem to pull off a victory.

The Away Team (or would it be the Home Team?) hit another few runs today during a meeting with our area director. It was the last chance for this team to score a run, and they did. This brings the game back to a tie and us back to our conundrum. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

God didn’t promise us an epiphany, although that is really what we want. I’m not sure we want handwriting on the wall, as the last time God had to make himself known in that fashion it didn’t bode well for the readers (Daniel 5). Yet godly people resolved tough decisions in the past with a flip of the coin. (Acts 1:26) That option is looking better and better as time goes on.

Maybe we just need to change the game metaphor to soccer and declare a sudden-death shootout!

Another sighting!

yellow mongoose

Yellow Mongoose
(Photo courtesy of
copyright-free-pictures.org.uk).

Just before Annie and I made the turn toward home on our final walk of the day (10:45 pm), it ran across the street just a few meters in front of us. I got a closer look at it, even though it was no more than one or two seconds. Riki-Tiki Tavi, our neighborhood mongoose, is still hanging around!

What I saw matches nothing I can find on the Internet, but the picture I matched it to last time remains the best fit. The coloring is definitely not yellow; it was dark with lighter stripes. And, no, it was NOT a skunk! It’s body was shorter than a mink’s, its tail was longer and bushier, and its snout was longer.

This has me intrigued.

Decision Time

For the last seven months we’ve been wondering what God had in store for our future beyond Summer 2006. When God called us to Hungary three years ago, circumstances developed with crystal clarity. We all thought it would be a great adventure, there was a timely opportunity for ministry (starting Internet Ministry initiatives in the area), and the leadership of Campus Crusade, although reluctant to let us leave operations in Orlando, couldn’t deny the strategic value of sending two of us (Tom and Jerry) over here. A decision like that was not difficult to make.

Three years later all that clarity is gone. Originally we came under Campus Crusade’s “short term” designation, normally intended for a one year stint. We extended it to three years. Now CCC’s policies are catching up to us, and it is no longer possible to take things one year at a time so easily. We either need to go through further training and an extensive application process to become “International Representatives” or return to Orlando.

Now there are two homes we love; Budapest and Orlando. We see ministry opportunities in two locations, we have dear friends in two locations, and we like life in two locations. Finding factors to weight our decision in either direction has been extremely hard.

We think we found that factor, but before we make things final there are several people here to talk to.

In the mean time, not much else has seemed blog-worthy to post.

Hope for our van

After calling several Ford dealerships around Budapest today, none of them would touch our van. But another Internet search yielded two more people who agreed to work on it, and whose price was good! One of them even had access to parts. (I was expecting to have to order the parts myself from America.) We thank God. It looks like it may not be dead quite yet!

Technical Problems – You’ll get errors

Note: If you click on some of these blog photos you will get errors.

[I have since created a work-around for the problem I discovered on this date.]

You’ll either see a “Page Not Found” error (hit F5 and the page may then load properly), or you’ll see nothing at all.

Fixing this will be another puzzle for me to solve.

Geek explanation:

Since I upgraded to WordPress 2.0 the photo links stopped working when viewed with Internet Explorer. Since I don’t use this browser very often I didn’t notice it until yesterday. The cause of the problem is some software that won’t be fixed for a while, so I decided to revert to the previous version of WordPress. That’s when the trouble started. Several reinstallations later, I got things working again – only in the [almost] exact same state as I started with. Now the problem is just a bit worse!

Praying for an accident

At one time in our early married lives we acquired a Ford Escort. It turns out this little red car was pretty good. We bought it at a discount, and it served us inexpensively. The manual transmission gave it spunk (for an Escort), but the car had one fatal flaw; no air conditioning. We moved to California and found we couldn’t sell it, even though it was a great little car. The air conditioning was too great a detriment.

Then one day our problem went away. I made a left hand turn into the front grill of a large pickup truck. While I disliked the no-fault California law which required me to claim the accident on my own insurance policy, I liked the final result on our balance sheet. We received a check for the totalled car that was greater than what we paid for the car 18 months earlier! What a deal.

Yesterday my tumultuous relationship with our 1995 Ford Windstar began its final chapter, and I have begun hoping for a similar ending to its life. With a diagnosis of a failed head gasket, it is not long for this world. The cost of repairing this US-made vehicle will exceed the car’s already questionable value. (But I still have one dealership to call tomorrow as a last hope.)

So I’m praying for an accident that’s not my fault, and maybe someone else’s insurance company will take it off our hands!

I’m Cathy’s hero!

Grant directed me to a very important psychological self analysis tool that sheds light on my inner most being in ways I never anticipated. This is deep.

I am Neo.

You scored as Neo, the “One”. Neo is the computer hacker-turned-Messiah of the Matrix. He leads a small group of human rebels against the technology that controls them. Neo doubts his ability to lead but doesn’t want to disappoint his friends. His goal is for a world where all men know the Truth and are free from the bonds of the Matrix.

Neo
Neo, the “One”
 
79%
Batman, the Dark Knight
 
71%
El Zorro
 
67%
Indiana Jones
 
63%
Captain Jack Sparrow
 
54%
Maximus
 
54%
The Amazing Spider-Man
 
54%
Lara Croft
 
54%
William Wallace
 
50%
James Bond, Agent 007
 
42%
The Terminator
 
38%

[Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0 created with QuizFarm.com]

_______

Now the significance of this is more than surface. There is an inconsistent way in which it is somehow OK for women to declare their deluded infatuation with a male actor but which makes it entirely forbidden for their husbands to state a crush on any female actor – unless the actress is completely ugly. For Cathy that man is Neo – Keanu Reeves!

So this is amazing. All along, when Cathy was fixated on Keanu, she was really vicariously fixating on my secret alternate personality, Neo. If she only knew how similar we really are. Clearly I am better looking than KR, but he has more money. Our acting abilities are the same. But best of all, both of us fight for a world where all men know the Truth and are free from their bonds.

Trinity: Neo… nobody has ever done this before.

Neo: I know. That’s why it’s going to work.