Month: February 2006

Airsoft War 2

Andrew Takes Aim with his airsoft rifle

Andrew Takes Aim

An abandoned building in the neighboring village, Törökbálint, provided the perfect grounds for Airsoft War 2. With two floors and plenty of corners it was as good as urban warfare gets – with airsoft guns.

[Warning. If you are a mother of any of the boys who played today you should stop reading. Your boy had lots of fun and came home safe. That’s all you need to know.]

Broken glass and debris littered the floor, and graffiti decorated the walls. None of the windows were left intact, and the second floor had some ventilation holes (15″ diameter) that opened onto the first floor. These made great sniper locations. Broken drywall sections created barriers behind which made safe shooting cover, but the best spot was the stairs between the two floors. Holding this strategic position made the team on the second floor invincible.

Time ran out before the energy did. I’m sure this will be the location of another airsoft war!

Stung by ValueHost.co.uk

For the last year or so I have recorded and posted sermons for our church, Danube International Church. Soon after I began working with the web hosting service provider that hosted this site, www.ValueHost.co.uk, I noticed suspicious irregularities. Russian language tech support messages were the first clue.

Several months later our site suddenly crashed. After more emails (coming from Russia) with their tech support we learned their server had crashed and all our files were lost. Fortunately we had backups, so we reposted the site’s files and were going again in a couple days.

At the time I decided our church needed to find a new hosting provider, and I began to expect an ugly fight from them to release our domain name, danubechurch.org. They registered this name for us as part of their service, but that also meant that we did not have exclusive control over the name.

Tom jumped into the game recently since he will be recording sermons after we move to Orlando this summer. He set up a new hosting service account at Blue Host and went to arrange the transfer of our domain to them. This is where the trouble began in earnest.

ValueHost.co.uk never responded to any of our emails. To this day, they have never responded to any of our emails or phone calls. Yet their email server sends us a renewal notice every day telling us our account is about to expire. In frustration we contacted the Internet registration service they used, BulkRegister.com, and we initiated legal action to free our domain name. ValueHost.co.uk didn’t respond to this either!

We are still in the middle of the process to transfer our domain, but now there is a cute Russian message on the danubechurch.org site.

?????? ??????? ???????????
?????????? ? ?????? ?????????.

Translation: Don’t use ValueHost.co.uk. If you do, this will happen to you! You have been warned.

Now you can read Hertzlers.com on your phone!

Many people have contacted me over the last few months asking how they can stay current with Hertzlers.com when they’re on the move. Visitors to Hertzlers.com from Asia, where they use mobile phone technology extensively, have complained that the site is difficult to view on their phones. My life was consumed just responding to all this demand, so I finally did something about it.

Behold Hertzlers.com for mobile phones. Really.

P.S. I don’t have a mobile phone that can access the Internet. Can someone test this and leave me a comment if it works?

Yes, Today is my 40th Birthday.

Jim wished me Happy Birthday 40 times here (he did it today on yesterday’s post which was showing earlier today). Thanks, Jim.

I don’t have any profound things to say, but I’m thankful for the life God has given me for 40 years.

100% of my life has experienced the love and care of my parents.
93% of my life has been as Jim’s big brother. (100% as Beth’s little brother).
88% of my life has been in relationship with Jesus.
60% of my life has enjoyed ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ.
50% of my life has been in the pleasure of knowing Cathy.
35% of my life has had the blessing of children.
12% of my life has been spent watching my hair depart.
8% of my life has been lived in Hungary.
0.3% of my life has been spent celebrating my birthday.

Mirstudentov.com

One of the decisions we made this week was the name of our next Russian language evangelistic website domain, MirStudentov.com. “Mir” means “world” or “peace” in Russian, and “studentov” is the plural of “student.” It was a triple challenge finding a word that was Russian that could be written easily with Latin letters that had appropriate meaning and was not already taken.

Our other close candidate was www.planetastudenta.com.

On Getting to the Office in Kiev


Breakfast Buddies

My Breakfast Buddies

These two guys, along with their sister, have been my breakfast buddies this week. Getting up in the morning with my hosts, the Stemple family, has been a pleasure. They made me feel at home here in Kiev. (Thanks, Stemples!)

Getting to the office from their house is a public transportation adventure. The second leg of the journey (after walking to the bus stop in sub-zero Celsius weather) involves hopping on a crowded minibus. About the size of a 15 passenger van, the minibus we rode yesterday morning had 25 people. I was in the standing section and braced myself against the roof with my head. I couldn’t use my hands because everyone else was passing me their bus fare to give to the driver.

Bus fare wasn’t much (1.5 Ukraine Hgrivna, or about $0.30/person), but I found it interesting that everyone paid. Even more interesting was the driver who collected all this cash himself and made change from his wallet. It seemed an odd way for the system to collect public transportation money, but I found out why. The driver pays a daily rate to the system and keeps anything over a base amount. This keeps the buses full and the riders paying. Not a bad system.

The metro is the third leg of the journey. Crowded subways are not something I deal with in Budapest since I walk to work, but in the middle of Kiev rush hour they are unavoidable. On one memorable ride, after the train came to a stop, the doors of an already full car opened to a crowd of about 20 people standing near me waiting to board. With one group motion we all pushed toward the open train doors and forced our way in. In that moment all my notions of personal space and appropriate public behavior left me, and I shoved my way into the middle of the crowd. I elbowed past old fat ladies, pressed against stinking old men, and landed sandwiched between two complete strangers. No one seemed bothered in the least; business as usual.

I’m going to miss this in Orlando!

Meetings, Day 3


Meetings in Kiev

Meetings in Kiev, Day 3

Generally three days is the capacity of most people for absorbing information at conferences or meetings. Today is our third day here in Kiev, but we have another half day scheduled for tomorrow. Doing the math, I can see now that tomorrow morning will be a challenge.

Cold, Snow, Kiev


Walking in the snow in Kiev

Walking in the snow in Kiev

This, our third trip to Kiev, has been another productive time. Most of it is indoor training meetings, but every meal and every ride home involves a walk outside.

Tonight it snowed as we hunted for a cab and, despite the low temperatures, made for a nice evening walking on the clean white paths.

No cab came within flagging distance, so we took the metro home instead. The contrast between the clean white snow outside and the black slushy mess in the metro tunnels was sharp, and it made me thankful my life didn’t take me through those tunnels very often.

I miss my Valentine.

Dude! That was TOTALLY AWESOME!


Andrew Catches Snowboard Air

Andrew Catches Snowboard Air

“Dude. That jump was completely sick. Did you see how much air he caught?”

Andrew and his friends went on like this all weekend until their voices began coming out of my thoughts, too. Dude.

Across the street from our hotel were some easy slopes which provided ample ground for all the snowboarding jumps and tricks they all wanted to learn and do. It was all we dads could do to get them off to snowboarding lessons the first afternoon (on more difficult slopes 20 km away) because they just wanted to have fun on everything they found there. They had the instructor teach them how to do jumps. Even after lessons and riding bigger hills they didn’t want to leave the fun, easy slopes, and they spent the entire day there today.

Twenty or thirty years ago our hotel on top this Slovakian mountain was in its prime and must have been a beautiful ski resort. Today it’s a bargain. Its current management hasn’t quite figured out what most skiers like for accommodations, so we had the place mostly to ourselves and at quite a low price. Sure, our rooms were freezing and the hallways had only one or two light bulbs working, but there was hot water and a warm bed. The hotel restaurant wasn’t bad either.

One interesting thing about the trip was the odd feeling of familiarity I had when we discovered the hotel manager spoke Hungarian. In the middle of Slovakia it was something that made me feel at home.

Click here to see a 10 second video drive-through of a Slovakian village.

Click here to see a 18 second video of Andrew snowboarding.

Both of these video clips require Windows Media Player.


Bratislava Snow Bound

With cheap skiing ($10 lift tickets!) nearby, four days off school, and lots of snow in the area, Andrew and I and some friends are heading to a ski area near Bratislava, Slovakia (2 hours away) for some snowboarding fun. This will be a nice mental break, if not a physical break. When I learned to snowboard two years ago I discovered why not many old guys like me snowboard; it beats you up pretty bad trying to learn. In this case, none of the boys on this trip can snowboard better than me, so I’ll still have the upper hand, albeit a rather weak upper hand! This should be fun.

Burning Energy on our Decision

No one should be subjected to my belly aching – except Cathy and sometimes Tom (well, and I guess Valerie, too). So you won’t read much of that sort of thing here.

Nevertheless the last two months of our lives have had an unusual background energy drain with our decision to move to Orlando, and the absence of that aspect of our life from this blog would be inconsistent.

While we don’t plan to change our decision, and while we even anticipated the discomfort we’re experiencing now, this has been both the hardest decision we’ve ever made as well as the hardest decision we’ve ever had to live with.

We had enough clarity to make a decision at one point in time, 26 January 2006 @ 11:30 am!, but since then the pain of unsettled emotions put us back into a cloud bank. Having decided to pursue one set of advantages in Orlando, we now are acutely aware of all the advantages here in Budapest we’re leaving behind.

In our past, our conviction of God’s leading created enough resolve and momentum to get past the emotional consequences of the decision. For example, moving to Budapest from Orlando three years ago was hard, but we knew it was where God was leading, so following through was not in question nor painful to do.

In this case, we had two nearly equal options and the freedom to choose either. There did not appear to be a “right” choice between the two. We finally concluded that our act of faith would be to make a choice and trust God to sovereignly work his purposes into the outcome.

So we decided, in a moment of God-given (I think) clarity, to move to Orlando. We expected that the clouds would begin to clear and the value of our decision would become apparent, but instead even more clouds rolled in, and we have remained in the fog ever since. Except that we made a decision, and we made it by faith.

So we’re clinging to hope and belief that God is bigger than our ability to make a decision and will work this out for good.

It’s not getting any easier, and it’s burned up a lot of energy in our lives lately.

Today I will quit thinking about it anymore and get on with moving ahead.

Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl!

You probably already knew that, but I just watched their victory tonight. It’s difficult to get broadcast American TV here, and the Super Bowl always presents an interesting challenge. During our first year here we got a taped version off the American Armed Service Network. While we saw the game, we missed the commercials. Worse, the US Military used those time slots for their own infomercials. They had stuff like the importance of brushing your teeth and good hygiene for soldiers. It was so bad it was entertaining. This year we got a DVD straight from an Orlando broadcast, thanks to Tom’s dad, complete with American commercials and The Rolling Stones half time show. As is our annual tradition, the CCC office hosted the night in our conference room and anyone from the community was invited to join us.

My only comment on the game is that the referees handed it to Pittsburgh. They called back one touchdown of Seattle’s that hardly seemed like pass interference, and they scored one touchdown of Pittsburgh’s that hardly seemed to break into the endzone. That 14 point spread made all the difference.

The next ‘Billy Graham’ will be a geek

I think there exists the potential for a geek to be the next ‘Billy Graham’ by inventing a tool that will make organizing and using spiritual information easy. Maybe that will herald the next Great Awakening? Who will realize that the church is a social information network and build a tool to enable and organize it?
– Tim Bednar

Read the full article here: Gmail from Google: The 20 memes changing your congregation @ e-Church

I think Tim is right in his article. (This quote is at the end of it.) But I think he’s wrong, too. Someone with a strong desire to tell people about Jesus and who recognizes the power of the Internet will be the next Billy Graham. Even if they’re not a geek it won’t matter, as all that work can be hired out anyway.

Ministries like EveryStudent.com, led by a soccer mom with a large team of volunteers, prove this point. With a hired web programmer and a vision, Marilyn A. has led Everystudent.com to be part of bringing 37,000 people to indicate a decision for Jesus in 2005. As a guess, I think this number would compare favorably to the number of people who indicated a decision for Jesus at Billy Graham Crusades in 2005.

Hertzlers.com Expired. D’oh!

Hertzlers.com Expiration Notice

Hertzlers.com Expiration Notice

Hertzlers.com expired on 31 January 2006, but I didn’t know it, and it didn’t take effect until today. Auto-renew only works if your credit card is current, and email notification only works when you’ve submitted a current email address! Fortunately I discovered it today within a few hours of my registrar cutting it off, but you may have caught a glimpse of the expiration notice in the mean time. D’oh!

Muslim Worldview

I don’t normally make political comments, and when I do Cathy hates it. But….

I’m bothered by the “1 billion” Muslims who are offended by the cartoons published in Europe blaspheming their prophet, Mohammad and who feel justified in making this a political issue. Even the dullest Muslim political leader understands that Western governments don’t control their media. The fact that they are conveniently ignoring this and taking political offense at the governments of the countries who published the cartoons makes me wonder what they’re up to. The fact that much of the Muslim world is acting in unison on this issue is disturbing, too.

Add to that the recently successful political platform of Hamas (who just won the elections in Palestine) which calls for the eradication of the Israeli state and the Iranians who are pursuing nuclear “fuel” enrichment developments, and it looks like a bunch of trouble brewing to me.

Back with a new heart

Tom and I drove across town this morning to pick up our repaired Ford Windstar. I opened the hood just to verify that something looked different, and I was surprised to see that the entire engine looks like it got an overhaul! Everything connected to the engine blocked was replaced. It looks great. The mechanic even replaced a couple bad belt pulleys, too. All this for less than half the price of what a head gasket repair would have cost in the US.

Ironically this van has turned the corner for me. Rather than performing below my expectations, it has begun exceeding my expectations. After driving another car for three weeks, I actually enjoyed driving the Windstar again.