Month: May 2005

Of Panic Attacks and Summer Furloughs

About the time I was posting funny “Zack Attack” videos I was actually having an attack of another sort; a panic attack. Life kept getting in the way of planning for our upcoming summer trip and the fund raising we need to do, and by the middle of May I was getting a bit irrational about the whole situation.

I have several close friends with whom I have lunch each week, and they helped bring me back to reality, albeit a sober reality. There was no time to lose, but God would work the situation out in time for our trip to work. My fear was that, having already purchased airline tickets, we would get on the plane and land in St. Louis with nothing arranged.

Two weeks later things are falling into place, and I have a more faith-filled perspective.

Two things I’ve noticed in the mean time.

1. I keep doing this! When will I be able to switch life gears without so much stress and self-exerted pressure? On the one hand I know God will take care of us, but on the other hand I don’t easily trust Him when the immediate future looks uncertain.

2. Stress like this puts the kabosh on my creativity. Since we have lived in Budapest there have been fewer stressful demands on my time (my job is not stressful, just challenging), and as a result I have enjoyed being more creative. Photography and writing have been my two re-discovered outlets. Now that I’ve watched them dry up again, it reminds me that it was a privilege to have that capacity in life, and it is a capacity I am more willing to protect in the future.

Russian Language Evangelistic Site

    – God is using several Internet Ministries to bring large numbers of people to faith in Jesus Christ. and are two examples. We are producing a Russian language ministry similar to, but three things must come together first:

  • funding for advertising (to get people to the evangelistic site)
  • an effective website that connects with the audience (ConnaitreDieu translated and contextualized into Russian)
  • a leader who can organize a network of volunteers to interact with visitors to the site

More about each of these:
    Partnership with Paris for the website
    Emerging Leader in Kiev
    Funding for the project

MinistryNet: Budapest 2005

    – In April 2005 we helped organize a conference in Budapest to encourage the growth of Internet Ministry. Over 67 people from 29 different countries attended! Several new outreach initiatives started as a result.

Student Evangelistic Magazine Sites

   – The first ten minutes that our staff members have with a new student are critical. Either the student will listen to them, or they will dismiss them as someone who can’t relate to their life. We produce student magazines and websites that establish trust between students and our staff members, and they show that we are concerned for the things that relate to a student’s life. We want to introduce them to the most important person they could ever meet, Jesus, and the first ten minutes are critical!

    Poland project      Polish Student Site
    Ukraine project    Ukraine Student Site
    Romania project   Romanian Student Site

Student Short Film Outreach:

   – Students don’t generally read the Bible, but almost all students watch movies. Spiritual Film Festivals have provided a venue for our staff members to discuss important spiritual issues with students in a non-threatening environment.

Based on films from the Damah Film Festivals, we are producing “bonus” material that directs student discussion toward their need for Jesus Christ.
Kiev short film outreach

Filming in Budapest

Two Hertzler kids at Middle School Party

Middle School Party
Yesterday I helped my friend, Mark, do a party for the Middle School Sunday School class at Danube International Church. Over the last year and a half I have substitute taught for him several times. It worked out best to bring Audrey along to the party, and she fit right in with her friends there. It marked a milestone; two Hertzler kids at a Middle School event.

It was a lot of fun. Our friends’ house sits on a hill, so part of their roof is close to the ground. Made for a fun jump off.

jumping off the roof staff
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

Our main destination on this trip was the office in Ozoir La Ferrier (southeast of Paris) and our meeting with Eric Célérier who we met at the MinistryNet conference last month.

It would be hard to imagine how our meeting with Eric and his staff could have gone better. Partnership with his Internet evangelism ministry looks very feasible. Challenges? Yes, big ones – but none that God can’t overcome. We must find the right people to coordinate different Eastern European language translations of, and we must obtain significant funding for the project. But if God intends to use this means of communicating the message of Jesus Christ and developing spiritual leaders, I am sure He will provide.

Another highlight of the day: French coffee!

Wrestling at the Spears

Originally uploaded by squarejer.

Grant was really too young to remember me from two years ago when the Spears and us lived a couple blocks from each other in Orlando, but within two minutes of my arrival at the their house, Grant and his brother, Henry, wrestled me to the floor and kept me busy throwing them around for the next half hour.

It’s good to be with our friends again!

This time we have all sorts of culture-adjustment experiences in common. The only difference is that the Spears had a really challenging first year, and it’s amazing they still have their sanity.

The Spears

Yep, there it is; Notre Dame

Notre Dame - off in the distance
Paris – Notre Dame
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

Today we visited the NAMESTAN office. That is, the North Africa, Middle East, ‘Stan Republics (Krygystan, Kazahkstan, Uzbekistan, etc.) regional office of Campus Crusade for Christ. The fact that this name sounds normal to me is evidence to how organizations develop their own internal language!

From there we stopped by another CCC office where our staff respond to people from all over the Middle East who write to it for information about Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day we took the metro to the Latin Quarter and found a cool dinner restaurant not far from Notre Dame. This is about as close as we got, and it was how the day went – in the presence of great things but engaged in the details of life.

It was the best of times…

…it was the worst of times.

So opens the Dickens’ tale of my destination tomorrow morning, Paris.

It is the best time to be going for several reasons. Tom and I will be talking to Eric C. about the possibility of making a translation of his site,, into several Eastern European languages. And if this project develops, it will be one of several things Campus Crusade is doing to combine the efforts of our two European regions, East and West. Best of all it will be good to see old friends, the Spears, who moved there last summer to work with CCC’s regional office.

It is the worst time to go otherwise. Cathy and I are so preoccupied with our rapidly approaching summer furlough trip and the end of school that there has been no time to anticipate going.

Maybe when I get there I’ll forget about the rest of my life and enjoy the moment.

This day one year ago

Audrey gets braces
Audrey gets braces
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

This day one year ago was incredible.

ICSB had its annual Family Field Day where all the students play outdoor games at Margaret Island and all the parents get to sit around in the sun, eat, talk, and watch. Fun for all.

ICSB Family Field Day 2004 game

After last year’s field day we had an enjoyable early dinner with the Seelys near the orthodontist office that both of our families use.

And then Audrey had braces installed. She had been looking forward to that day for several years, and the day didn’t dissapoint.

While Audrey was getting braces, Andrew and I took the metro down a few stops to City Park and jumped on the trampolines there. The weather was perfect, and we had them to ourselves. Loads of fun.

Andrew getting upside down on the City Park trampolines

Backyard cherries

When we got home our backyard cherry tree was producing delicious fruit. The cherries were so memorably good that our kids have been looking forward to cherry harvest this year as much as the next shipment of toys from America!

This year was different, though. This morning it rained and Family Field Day was cancelled. What a contrast to last year!

Last Elementary Concert

ICSB Elementary Concert
Last Elementary Concert
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

Today was our first outdoor elementary concert, but it was also our last.

It didn’t occur to me until someone mentioned it, and then I realized we were passing one of those life milestones. Next year Audrey will be in middle school.

We will enjoy our memories of her younger days, but we enjoy her more as she grows up, too.

Gdansk, Poland – not Detroit!

Last week Tom and I were in Gdansk, Poland, home of the Solidarity movement and Lech Walesa. Detroit, Michigan and Gdansk, Poland were both in my category of “Cities I Can Die Without Seeing.”

Now there is one less city in that category, because Gdansk is beautiful! It was nothing like I expected. Its Old Town is still intact and well maintained, the seashore is clean and refreshing, and even the shipyards looked like a place I might want to work.

Click a photo below to see more pictures of Gdansk, Poland.


Click to see video of St. Mary's Cathedral - Gdansk, Poland

Click here to see an audio-video panorama of the inside of St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was unique of all the European cathedrals I’ve seen; all white on the inside.

You can see Hel from here.

boat on Baltic Sea
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

“People come here because there is god in the air, and you can see Hel from here.” That was the funniest thing I heard Anita say as we walked along the boardwalk in Sopot, Poland, a town just north of Gdansk. “God” (pronouced “yod”) means iodine, and there is a town called Hel across the bay on the Baltic Sea.

It was a very beautiful location and reminded me of visits to my grandparents’ house in East Tawas, Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron.

We also had the chance to walk around Gdansk’s Old Town, one of the nicer “Old Towns” in Europe.


* Anita later clarified that the element is spelled JOD and pronounced “yot”. Oh well. It was funnier when I misunderstood her!

Gdansk Campus Team

Gdansk Campus Team
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

In addition to having two good days meeting with Anita and Bartek, we also met the CCC Gdansk Campus Ministry Team. They are a lot of fun and were a highlight of our trip.

We came to Gdansk because Bartek and Kasha, the producers of (magazine and website) both live here. Anita went to college here, so she was happy to return as well.

Delayed in Warsaw

Tom, bored

Delayed and bored in Warsaw

Originally uploaded by squarejer.

Tom and I are on our way to Gdansk, Poland to meet with our compatriots there who are producing some great web ministry through and

Our flight was scheduled to arrive in Gdansk at 23:50 (11:50 pm), 20 minutes from now.

It’s getting a bit boring, but really this is the first time I’ve busted out my laptop and used the free wireless Internet access anywhere.

All my bookeeping is up to date, and I just read an interesting book, too.

Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom!

Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom! I left before you were available for a Mothers’ Day call, so this will have to suffice instead. You are a great mom, an understanding mother-in-law, and a super grandmother. Thanks for mothering me. I love you.

Budaors Spring Festival

Budaörs Spring Festival
Budaörs Spring Festival
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

I’d like to write that we all had a great day at our town’s festival today, but the reality of it was that I was driving home from the video store when I ran into the street blockade and realized today was the last day of it. When I got home I jumped on my bike and rode back downtown, took a few pictures and was home again in twenty minutes. If you feel like you missed something by not being here for our festival, at least I’m right there with you!


filming the interview
Originally uploaded by squarejer.

The crew chose the field across the street from our house as the location for shooting an interview with Daniel Roemer, the director of the short film, Select Fit (screened at the last Damah Film Festival).

Cathy has wanted to participate in something like this for years, and this week she finally had the chance. Today was the fun part, filming.

Audrey and I were home together since she was sick, so when the crew (including Cathy) decided to descend on our neighborhood, we jumped in and had a lot of fun with them.

Annie even got in on the action, but she decided acting wasn’t her thing. After a couple runs across the field she decided it was better sitting down by the trees and chasing light spots.

The idea of this project is to use spiritual films (c.f. Damah Film Festival) as a basis for discussing spiritual things at student events. Our ministries in Romania and Ukraine have seen very positive response to these discussion oriented events. By filming a director’s commentary and director’s interview we have the chance to highlight spiritual themes in the films that create a setting for talking about Jesus Christ.

Audrey really enjoyed this and said she wanted to be in a movie someday herself.


Three misleading beliefs

Three American cultural beliefs I hold led me to a wrong conclusion that I recently became aware of through our friend Gabi’s experience.

  • If you want to sneak in or out of the U.S., Canada is your best staging ground.
  • If you want to sneak in and find work, come from Mexico where it’s easy.
  • If you want to study in the U.S. it must be easy, given the high numbers of foreign professors I had in college.

From all this I had the impression that getting into the U.S. was relatively easy. Nothing could be further from the truth – at least if you try coming in the front door.

Our friend, Gabi, subjected herself to more intense personal scrutiny than a bank would require for a large home mortgage – only to be denied a visa to come to the U.S. as a tourist. This has also been the experience of our language teacher.

I suppose that is a very natural reaction for a country to have after sustaining an attack on your own soil by foreign invaders who obtained visas.

Nevertheless I have learned that the visa process for any country is not so much about a country’s willingness to allow people in as much as it is the means of keeping people out.

Our visit today to the Hungarian Immigration Office for application for a visa to stay another year came on the same day as Gabi’s news. It put the relative inconvenience and expense of obtaining a residence permit into better perspective knowing this.

Why Latvia?

It wasn’t a question I lost sleep over, but 15 years after it became established I still didn’t understand the need for Latvia, one of the three separate Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Why didn’t they all three just get together and make one country?

Tonight we had Sarlote (“Charlotte”) over for dinner. She came to Budapest from Riga, Latvia this week to participate in the film workshop here. She also answered my question.

Latvia is mostly Lutheran. Ask any Latvian, and they’ll say they are Lutheran. Whereas any Lithuanian would say they are Catholic.

“And what about Estonia?” was my next question.

“They’re Estonia,” was Sarlote’s answer. But apparently they have a larger Evangelical church than the other two countries.

Well that explained it for me. While religion in Europe no longer forms definitive boundaries, it certainly did so before the Soviet era. So when it came time to shake off Soviet occupation, it made sense to return to previous national identities closely tied to faith.

Now the question remains: What’s up with that little disconnected chunk of Russia just south of these three?