14 June 2008

Family, Friends, & a Bobcat

The Thursday drive from Fullerton to Mesa was uneventful, but hot! The temps have been over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 107 yesterday. We arrived into Mesa and went to see Andrew at his workplace, and was treated immediately to his sense of humour. One of his workmates drew a sketch exhibiting his sarcastic wit, and it depicts Andrew precisely. It says “'Random big word.’ You probably don’t know what that word means!”

Our dinner evening with the small group was fun! Thank you, friends, for your hospitality and generosity to us. One of the couples there were Ona and Ruth, whose daughter Rachel is a sweetie and good friends with Jess. Jess stayed with them the first night, then joined us at Karen and Gary’s last night.

This morning, I had a treat. As I was sitting at the table, tapping away on the laptop finishing preparations for an presentation in the afternoon, a bobcat walked by an arm’s length away just outside the patio window! It walked through the back garden (English term ‘garden’, but actually desert flora and fauna), jumped on a wall and walked along like any alley cat, then jumped into the neighbours front garden. Alas, I tried to talk a photo with my phone, but I hit the wrong button and missed it.

12 June 2008

Symposium Wrap-up

We’re up early this morning, getting ready to finish packing. We leave Pasadena this morning to drive to Fullerton, pick up Jessica, then make the almost 400 mile drive to Mesa. By 4.00pm this afternoon we should be stopping at Andrew’s workplace to meet him. We’re briefly meeting the owner (click here for the company) who’s helping us with some banners for Dickens Heath Village Church and thethirdplace. After that, we’re meeting a small group from Central Christian Church of the East Valley (http://my.cccev.com) for dinner.

While my Final Project Symposium is complete, the work is just beginning. My deadline for completing the 150 to 175 page final project is October 2010. This is where all the studying of the Doctor of Ministry (click here) comes together, and there are a number of intermediate deadlines to keep, the first being August 15 for submitting a draft final proposal for review, the next being 15 October for formal submission. While each class has had immediate personal application and in our church planting ministry in England, the final project should have substantial application.

I have two topics in mind, and can’t yet settle on one or the other until I flesh them out further in the final project proposal format. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Possible Topic One: A Strategy for Church Planter Assessment in the Fellowship of Churches of Christ in England. Thesis: The purpose of this ministry focus paper is to present an implementable plan for assessing potential church planters within the network of churches known as the Fellowship of Churches of Christ.

Possible Topic Two: A Strategy for Planting a ‘Simple Church’ Network in the West Midlands of England. Thesis: The purpose of this ministry focus paper is to present an implementable plan for planting a network of reproducing organic or home-based churches in the West Midlands of England.

The first topic has to do with helping produce a more national strategy to support church planting by coming up with a range of assessment means that help potential church planters start planting churches. The second topic is more local, and has to do with establishing and growing thethirdplace network.

11 June 2008


I'm supposed to be writing my final project proposal, but an evening eating out with Jess and her friend Katie took priority. We went to my favourite eating place in Pasadena, A'Float Sushi. Well, maybe not my favourite place, but one I visit everytime we come here for one of my DMin classes. As for the Final Project Proposal, since I've been waking up at 2.00am every morning since coming to the States, I'll have a few hours to write before meeting with my small group for mutual encouragement and critiquing of what we've developed.

10 June 2008

Los Angeles

There is a reason we’re in LA apart from seeing Jess. Tim is attending a Final Project Symposium for his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) studies. This 2½ day course, led by Dr Peace, is designed to help Tim write a proposal for his Final Project. The proposal is a key piece in providing a focus for thought, research, and writing with specific ministry application in mind. While the final deadline is October 2010 (7 years from start to finish), staged deadlines of 15 August and 15 October of this year for approval of the proposal loom large.

Dr Peace (click here for a description of a book he's recently written and here for more info) is a delightful man, and has really set me at ease about the ‘doability’ of the proposal and the deadlines. Two new points of thinking about it gave me a feeling of relief. The first was that the final project proposal is a tool to progress my thought, research, and writing; that is, the finished product isn’t hogtied to the proposal outline for the 125 to 175 page paper. Second, if I can think about the reading, reflection, and writing as a spiritual discipline that is integrated into my life over the next two years, it will go a long way to making steady progress and bringing it to completion.

Sunday afternoon and being reunited with Jessica was wonderful! We can see her growth and maturity in so many ways. She finished off the semester with top marks, working two part time jobs of 25 plus hours a week and carrying a 17 hour class load. She has a variety of friends (we had lunch with her and Crystal, Miki, Danielle, and Cormack), and can navigate the Los Angeles freeways and traffic like an expert! She’s working full-time this summer in Investigations at Fullerton Police Dept as a police cadet, providing support to the detectives. Where did our little girl go?

09 June 2008

Early Morning Travel

What were we thinking---getting up at 3.00am this morning to catch our morning flight out of Eugene? I guess booking with air miles didn’t leave us much choice, though it was originally scheduled for 8.00am departure instead of 6.00am. The flight changes are a reflection of the consolidation and shrinkage of the industry due to increased fuel costs.

We’ve had a great time the last couple of days. Tammy’s sister (Terry) and husband (Rodney) came down from Seattle with Uncle Bud (Tam’s mum’s younger brother) on Friday afternoon. Sitting around the lounge and telling stories was wonderful! Saturday’s get together with Rick and Margie included a full telling of stories from University days, some of which are even true. Rick was part of our wedding party. Joyce also took part in our meals and memories as a family friend. Joyce made Tam’s dress, cake, and flower arrangement for our wedding.

Speaking of which, we’ve finalised the travel details for Andrew and Jess, and we’re now beginning to plan a renewal of our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary later in the year. This will take place in England with our Dickens Heath Village Church and thethirdplace family and friends, in December.

06 June 2008

Birthday Greetings

I've been overwhelmed by the number of facebook and e-mail notes I've had wishing me 'happy birthday.' Thanks to everyone who's sent me a note! It was a quiet day without anything special to note, which is quite OK with me. Both the kids remembered and phoned (well done Andrew and Jess!). Tam's still looking for a gift for me that's been on our american shopping list, but hasn't been able to locate it yet.

Last Saturday, after the ice hockey game the Solihull Wolves played against the Coventry Chaos, H (yes, 'H' is what we call him; don't chuckle, I'm called 'Ned' or 'Flanders' from the lads' belief that I resemble the character Ned Flanders from The Simpsons!) had a special request. He wondered if I could find some peanut butter filled pretzels that he once enjoyed on a visit to America. Do you know, I have searched everywhere and can't find anything like this? America has everything but peanut butter filled pretzels! Maybe H will be happy with peanut butter filled cheeze crackers....

05 June 2008

The America Trip Begins

Mail awaited us upon our arrival in America at Tammy’s mum’s. Notable was the Christmas gift we purchased for Tam’s mum. Jess hand carried it back to the USA after her Christmas holiday with us, then mailed it to Tam’s
mum over 5 months ago. Thinking it was for us, she simply set it aside. We enjoyed watching her open the digital photo frame, then watch the several hundred photos cycle through that we had loaded on it. A birthday card also awaited me from my parents. Funny how such a card can sum up a person, and both Tam and I enjoyed a lengthy chuckle as a result.

2008-06-03, evening
“We forgot to take photos!” That’s what I said to myself when I realized we had left an evening hosted by our friends Greg and Elvie for friends and supporters without visual reminders of our time together. While I lamented my lapse of memory for pics, I nevertheless gratefully praised God for the precious dozen present who represented significant input into our Christian formation. Greg took me under his wing some 25 years ago to co-teach a course on God’s incarnational mission to grasp people with his love for them. Along with his then wife, Arlene, they loved and encouraged early on as we prepared to move to England. Several days before we moved to England, we spent an evening with Greg and Arlene, Arlene’s last before being murdered the next morning. Some years later, after Greg married Elvie, we receive their mutual care and support.

Most of those present dated back to our days at University Street Christian Church in Eugene. Besides Greg and Elvie, there was Don and Dorothy, keen supporters of cross-cultural ministries such as ours. Paul and Jan, who influenced Tam long before she met Tim. Two of their children were in the youth group we led for a couple of years. One of them, Steve, died in a car accident on the day Tim was ordained at University Street (21 years ago almost to the day), and the events of that day still shape our view of ministry and service to others no matter what the circumstances. Ron and Jacqui (another daughter of Paul and Jan) were in attendance, long-time translators of the Bible in Indonesia. I still remember meeting Ron at Northwest Christian College and seeing in him a kindred spirit of love for Jesus. Mayretta, Ron’s mum, who came to University Street our last year there before we moved to Arizona. Dick, director of the Restoration Campus Ministry, a locally supported ministry to students at the University of Oregon, who baptised and married us in May and December 1983. Joanne, whose son was in our youth group, and had a riotous sense of humor. Oh, last, but not least, Bruce and Sally, with whom 11 of us (including Andrew and me) enjoyed a week of salmon fishing in Alaska in August 2006.

Alas, no pictures, but burned in our hearts are images of these special friends who have loved us, believed in us, encouraged us, and modeled a love for Jesus that still spurs us on after all these years. Our hearts overflow with love and gratitude for you!

2008-06-03, morning
After getting a lift to LHR (Heathrow airport) by Richard, we spent the next 20 hours occupying chairs either in airports or on aircraft. Tam and I arrived at her mum's in Eugene, late in the evening. It was a long day of travel from England, and it was wonderful to get here. I managed to get a meal in me, then retired to the settee to turn on the ice hockey game, which went into 3 overtimes before going to bed at what was the equivalent of 5.00am. A catnap or two in 24 hours isn't much, but while Tim did manage 8 hours sleep, Tam only got three. I'm feeling kind of tired now, and wouldn't be surprised to nod off while Tam and her mum are out shopping.

After being with Dickens Heath Village Church in the morning, we made our way to Leatherhead (inside the M25, SW of London) for a wonderful evening with our friends Richard, Marian, Laurence and Rosie. Tam and I were so excited to see them! Richard and Marian became part of DHVC in the early days after we had publicly launched the church plant, and Tim baptized Marian not long afterwards. Marian became Tam’s prayer and accountability partner, and it was a sad day when they moved to London with Richard’s employment. The last time we had talked to them was July of 2007 when we phoned them while driving past the St Louis arch---a city they had lived in for a couple of years with a previous job. It was amazing to see how the kids had grown in the 18 months since we had last got together. We rejoiced to see them. What we didn’t know, while we had been stateside, was that they were instrumental in hosting a home group that morphed into a church plant that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Well done Richard and Marian, and thank you for your example and faithfulness as apprentices to Jesus.