Archives for category: travel

From June 28th through July 31st, a team of riders will be cycling down the 1800 miles of the historic Underground Railroad route in order to raise awareness of and bring an end to modern-day slavery on the Stop Injustice: 5 Weeks for Freedom tour.

5 Weeks for Freedom supports the work of International Justice Mission, a human rights agency doing incredible work around the world to fight injustice and bring hope to many people trapped in slavery and other forms of injustice. The cycling tour will be led by Venture Expeditions, who have sponsored cross-country ride:well tours with blood: water mission in the past.

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For awhile, those “My experimental year” books were all the rage:  One year  …living without products made in Chinafollowing the Bible as literally as possibleeating locallymore eating locallyliving with lessgiving up unnecessary shoppingworking minimum wage jobs …and on and on…

To start the new year, I have noticed a mini-theme emerging on television:  Travel shows revolving around a quirky theme.

Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food, travels the nation, attempting to eat an array of enormously-proportioned food, including a 2.5 lb Dagwood sandwich (he finished!) and a 7.5 lb hamburger (not quite!).   Here’s a list of his food travels, in case you’re interested in following the fullness.

Wreckreation Nation, from Discovery, features host Dave Mordal travelling the nation, searching out unusual competitions and traditions such as lawnmower racing and catfish grabbing.

Looks like many of these travel with a theme jobs are already well-staffed:  Eating (thanks a lot, Andrew and Tony!), visiting various haunted places (no thanks!), solving ancient mysteries, treasure hunting, visiting the most eco-friendly homes.  If I’m going to host one of these shows, then I’ll have to find some obscure niche somewhere… maybe I’ll bring Sufjan Stevens around to the 48 states he hasn’t written albums about yet for inspiration and hijinks.

I don’t make it through many of the viral video fads (too busy playing Word Challenge!), although some are pretty funny — “What are you sinking about?” or this literal take on the 80s Aha classic Take On Me.

However, the Where the hell is Matt? video series always makes me tear up a bit.  There’s something so odd and wonderful about this gooner going around the world, dancing up a nerdy storm in beautiful locations and getting all kinds of people to dance with him.

I would gladly sacrifice some “professionalism” in church life for this kind of unhinged joy.

Greetings from Japan, friends!

I am writing from Katsuta Church in Hitachinaka, outside of Mito City (a bumpy two and a half hour bus ride from Narita International Airport in Tokyo). I am leading a team of five people from our church community in San Diego for a twelve-day outreach in Japan.

While less than 1% of the population here follows Christ, we are privileged to be partnering with a beautiful church here. The congregation here has been nothing but hospitable, warm and gracious — and we see in them a vibrant faith that is often missing back home.

We did not come here with any colonial notions of “bringing Jesus” to the “pagans” of this nation. In fact, we have tried to maintain a missional mindset from the get-go: God is already at work in the world, and we are simply participating in whatever He asks us to do. And it has been very clear that much of our work here will be as learners.

Katstuta Church planted a church in a nearby city, Ohmiya, a couple of years ago. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony there this morning. At first glance, the church might seem small — only about ten adults and four children. However, consider that they are the first and only Christian church in the city. In this light, the two people who have given their lives to Christ and been baptized through the ministry of this church are nothing short of a revolution. Our church has a lot to learn from their example.

One really great phrase I have heard throughout the day here is the word Subarashi for the Gospel. Subarashi can be translated as “wonderful, awesome, great.” I often hear that phrase used in animes — so it definitely tickled my ears to hear it used during a church service. But more than that, I love that image of the message of Christ as wonderful, awesome and great — subarashi news!

I will try posting photos tomorrow (I foolishly left my memory card reader — and camera charger! — at home). Please keep our team and this church in prayer if you have the chance. More updates soon!

Last year, Smart USA opened a dealership here in SD. Although our family is certainly interested in driving a car that leaves less of an impact on the environment, SD (like most of Southern California) is basically a jungle of oversized Gravedigger wannabes. In the midst of these ridiculous behemoths, a Smart Car just seems like a really bad accident waiting to happen.

We’ve always liked small, boxy cars. Take the Scion xB, for example — the delightful bread truck variety, not the we’ve come from the future bearing aesthetically displeasing vehicles variety. Not sure how I feel about the new Mini Clubman — kind of feels like it defeats the purpose of being mini by making an extended version; sort of a “jumbo shrimp” conundrum.

None of these wee cars, however, can out-small the Peel P50 I saw recently on Top Gear. Top Gear usually features bigger, louder, faster in the automotive world — for example, a Veyron racing a jet. While the P50 might have the loud department covered, it isn’t much bigger than this familiar playground icon. In fact, if you have time to watch the clip below, you’ll see one of the hosts drive his P50 onto the sidewalk, and then grab the handle in the back and bring it to the office with him (it fits into an elevator, with enough room for another person to stand alongside it as well). I think my favorite is the “sports car” iteration of the P50 (reminds me of Homer Simpson’s vision of the perfect car).

Here’s a clip from that episode of Top Gear:

I’m heading out on a weekend retreat with our youth group. Please pray for me.

Here’s a little design I worked up for our retreat:

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If I’m not back by Sunday evening, please send a team into the woods looking for me.

In honor of the Labor Day weekend, I thought I would share some thoughts on traveling. I think I really enjoy shows like Globe Trekker and No Reservation with Anthony Bourdain because they allow me to do my vacationing vicariously — neatly edited with a snappy soundtrack, with none of the hassle, humidity or jetlag I might encounter should I actually travel to any of these far-flung locales. A nice vacation in my book would involve a lot of lazing around the beach, chocolate ice cream soda in hand. There are a couple of place, though, that I would like to see in person.

An icon of modernity, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, opened to the public for tours this past spring — and quickly sold out until 2008. For me, the Glass House has a particular resonance because it reveals that modern design and nature must not necessarily conflict, but can exist in harmony. Imagine the view from inside the house — a year-long cinema of the wonders of God’s creation. Architecture and design can have an impact beyond being aesthetically pleasing. This article, “Mississippi Turning,” from Dwell magazine shows how architecture and design has inspired hope and restoration for one community hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.


If I could book a quick architecture/design vacation, I would also visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri to see the new Bloch buildings there. Like the Glass House, these new buildings symbolize a kind of beautiful convergence — in this case, of classical and modern architecture. From the New Yorker [read the full article, “Lenses on the Lawn,” here]:

Its boldness is no surprise, but, in addition, it is laudably functional, with a clear layout, handsome and logically designed galleries, and a suffusion of natural light. Furthermore, Holl’s five glass structures, punctuating the hill, don’t mock the old building as you might expect; they dance before it and engage it.

I love the idea that the new must not necessarily push out or reject the old; sometimes, the new can revitalize and reinvigorate the old. I am sure the are theological and ecclesial implications but I will explore those another day. I also appreciate that many have commented on how the new buildings do not compete with but, rather, complement (and even perhaps enhance) the art pieces they house.

Have a happy Labor Day weekend. Please, stay hydrated!