Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Photos from our Budapest Bonfire (negative 90 degrees celcius)

As WSN director, it is my job to make sure that the stinters are portrayed as accurately as possible. I just wish I had pictures of Carolyn Culbertson playing "Chubby Bunny". Oh, and here's a trivia question for you: which of the people in the pictures above has had the nickname "saucy"? I just learned this last night.

The Midyear

So, I have these grandiose dreams of writing an entry for every day we were gone to Budapest and filling you all in on all of the cool things that happened every moment we were gone. Buuuut, that ain't going to happen when I still have 400 e-mails to catch up on. The sheer weight of the guilt prevents it.

It seems a shame to gloss over the midyear, though, it was really an amazing experience. I loved working in ministry together with Krista, and it was great to work with Carolyn, Beverly, Tommy and Debbie on the design team. Now I could basically do an Oscar acceptance speech saying nice things about all the people who were there... but let's just pretend I did that already. A special thanks to anyone I forgot. ;)

Here's the part of the midyear that was most amazing for me... on our last night the Lord showed up in a really powerful and effecting way. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly, and it's the sort of thing that I feel a little weird and vulnerable sharing with people. But that's the advantage of a blog, I just pretend there's no one out there reading! Ha ha ha!

Anyway, basically it's this. As I was talking that night I wasn't sharing anything revolutionary... it was just responses to some things I had sensed or heard throughout the week interacting with our stinters. You can see some of the content here.

The difference this night was that I really felt the Holy Spirit on me in a palpable way, a way I have only previously felt in quiet and intimate moments. This was the first time I felt like the things I was saying up front were all from God. Except for the jokes. The jokes were mine.

As I got to the end I felt a sort of internal expansion, a feeling that something had changed. Maybe an increased capacity for the Holy Spirit. Or something. I've never felt anything like it. There was also this strange (simultaneous) moment where I "saw" something, a sort of golden person maybe eight feet tall overshadowing me. Now I sound like a total fruitcake. But it didn't seem strange at all in that moment. I don't know what that was. In the moment I thought it was connected with the feeling of expansion, maybe a sort of envisioned analog to the internal feeling of growth.

We had some prayer/sharing time and then worship time. John shared about some things the Lord has said to him recently, and others shared about things the Holy Spirit was putting on their hearts in that moment. You should all put notes on John's blog asking him to share what the Lord said to him because it was really cool. The worship guy decided to stop singing and just had people share some more. It was, overall, a pretty profound time for me. Lots of people seemed to be getting specific messages from the Lord... I was actually pretty surprised by the number of people who had strong, clear messages from the Lord during that time.

Two other observations from that night: one, I found that I really did not care what anyone said or thought about the message I shared that night. I knew that I was only saying the things God had told me to say, and the response really didn't matter to me. Two, I realized that this whole thing had absolutely nothing to do with me. It actually seemed ludicrous to me when people said "good job" later, because I realized I didn't really do anything. If the Holy Spirit hadn't been there it would have been a dead, lame night.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


If I ever do something really really terrible to you and you are looking for a way to punish and/or torture me, here's a way you could do that.

I give you this knowledge hoping you will never use it against me, sort of like Superman giving Batman some kryptonite just in case he ever goes crazy.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We went out to lunch today, forgetting it was new year's day! Luckily we went to chinese food anyway! The kids are growing up, deciding that they really preferred cashew shrimp to sweet and sour chicken.

Meanwhile, I just took one of those really unsatisfying jet lag naps, where you wake up feeling worse than before you took the nap.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I think I have jet laaaaaaaaa..... zzzz

Yeah. Krista and I had an amazing time in Budapest, we just got back today. Right now I am using this blog purely to keep myself awake (the opposite way that most of you use it, I am sure). I have many things, many things to share with you. Funny, sad, tragic and hilarious things. It will be like a circus, but without the animals and clowns and tents and ringmasters and popcorn and trains. But there will be freaks! Oh yes, there will be freaks.

It starts out funny and then it just gets disturbing

So, everyone in Budapest was talking about the zookeeper who gave his elephants vodka to keep the chill off this winter. One of the inebriated pachyderms then ripped the radiator out of the wall. Ha ha ha! Now that's funny. But then as you start to read further on in the "see also" links of the Moscow paper you start to see that it's pretty dangerous to go to the zoo in Russia. Did you hear that all you stinters out there? NO ZOO IN RUSSIA!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Escape to Budapest

The flight to Budapest had a lot of things to recommend itself... mostly that it actually eventually took us to Budapest.

On the down side, the electrical system went completely berserk about a third of the way through the flight. Reading lights were flashing on and off like a disco-era dance hall. The movie sound would cut in and out. Every once in a while all of the attendant call lights would go on, and then the attendants had to walk around to everyone, wake them up and make sure they hadn't called the attendants.

Also on the down side, the woman in front of us smelled like she was dying. I mean it. I didn't notice it at first, but then my lovely wife pointed out that the poor woman got up every half hour and assaulted us with the highly offensive odor of rotting insides. I felt a little bad for her, but being essentially an evil person, I mostly felt sorry for me.

Again on the downside, we arrived at Frankfurt with only an hour to make it to our connecting flight. Which I wouldn't usually think was a big deal, and probably wouldn't have been if our plane had left on time. Or if the Frankfurt airport weren't the size of an entire city. Seriously! And if I had tied my shoes. I ended up getting blisters running the airport.

I might sound a little cranky here, but there were some good points, too: for instance, they lost our luggage, which meant it got delivered to our second hotel. That was a big plus, actually.

We stayed our first night at "the hotel Regina" which had beds that looked like this:

So Krista and I got to sleep head-to-feet.

I also made the semi-classic mistake of not checking the exchange rate before getting money out. You know, everywhere else I' ve been in the world you can barely get an atm to give you more than a hundred dollars, so I figured, well, 150,000 forint must roughly equal 100 or 200 dollars. So I got it out. Try $750!

I had a meeting about two hours after we landed in Budapest, so I rushed off to that. Then we took "The Rijeka Tigers" out to dinner at a Hungarian restaurant along with Carolyn Culbertson, which meant singing and dancing and also that I got turkey kiev: a stick of butter wrapped in turkey and bread and then deep fried. IT WAS GREAT! I bought dinner, which means that Pete is drinking cola in the picture above. In case you were wondering.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


K and I are sitting at PDX waiting for our (delayed) flight to Budapest. We're going to the eastern europe/ russia midyear. I probably won't be blogging much or maybe at all for the next few days, but here are the blogs of some of the people we'll be hanging out with:

Sara and Tim
Andy and Marni

As you can see it's going to be a lot of fun!

Here's where we'll be staying. Click on the side to see some pictures!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Eggs and Green Ham

Ken sent me this link about glowing green pigs. For an extra laugh, be sure to note the name of the article's author.

Question: Is there some reason I find animals so hilarious?

Sunday, January 15, 2006


The kids are playing "superman" in the bathtub. Here is what is happening in this episode:

Lex Luthor: This is KRYPTONITE!
Superman: I hate that stuff! It kills me!
Krypto (super dog): Aroooooooo! Don't kill my master!
Lex Luthor: Stop SPLASHING, Superman!

Keelhaul the landlubbers!

I love pirates.

Pirates love the academy awards.

A look in the mirror

Okay, this link is also in the last sentence of the post about LOST, below. But re-reading the article I really thought it was worth a look and shouldn't be buried at the end of a love note to LOST.

Want to see what people think when they look at Christian fiction and movies? Take a look. It might be hard to look at, but read to the end to get the full picture.

You have to admit that this article is pretty funny, too. No, really. Not as funny as a mouse setting a house on fire or anything like that, but still funny.

LOST catholics

I have told Krista for a while that it is pretty clear that are one or more Catholics writing for my favorite tv show, LOST.

For some reason, Catholics seem to be better writers and better able to write about themes of redemption and spirituality than Protestants (here is my obligatory paranthetical telling you this is, of course, a generality). Whether it's Charles Williams'thrillers and horror novels, or Brian Lumley, or J.R.R. Tolkien (it seems like cheating to add the incomparable Flannery O'Connor and G.K. Chesterton), the Catholics rule when it comes to quality fiction with strong Christ figures, great entertainment value and powerful stories of people wrestling through life as spiritual beings.

This week the writers of LOST really outdid themselves this week with an episode called "Psalm 23" and written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. I can say without exaggeration that this is probably the best, most realistic, most positive and well-rounded portrayal of a Christian character I have ever seen on television. I am dying to share more details here, but I don't want to put spoilers in here, because it will be better if you see it for yourself. Basically, it's a redemption story (two intertwined ones, actually) where one man decides in the end to embrace a deep relationship with God and another continues to use religion as a cover to hide his own emptiness and addictions. It was powerful! And it culminated with the two characters quoting THE ENTIRETY OF PSALM 23. Not just "the Lord is my shepherd" but every word of it.

I told my buddy Dan (hi out there Dan) that this episode should be required viewing for Christians who want to be writers or filmmakers. Somehow someone snuck the Bible into one of the most-watched shows on television. I think that's better than the "Apocalypse" movies (personal opinion, of course).

Mmmmmm San Diego we love you

I had to travel to San Diego for the int'l summer project training for Campus Crusade. All of the people leading a summer missions trip this year were there to get training and figure out what they are going to do. It was great to be in CA again! K and the kids joined me, mostly because K and I are leaving for Budapest on Tuesday. So that was cool.

Then yesterday we went to Disneyland. Nice.

Mostly I liked listening to all the leaders of overseas projects having culture shock in California:

"This mall is OUTSIDE! What do they do when it snows?"
"So many people speak Spanish here."
"It's so hot here."
"Why does everyone look like a skater or a surfer?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

One Hundredth Post Celebration

In honor of this, my one hundredth post, I did a little experiment I have been waiting to do. I went onto google and googled "burning hearts revolution" as an image. Here's my favorite result. Happy blogiversary and special thanks to all the good people in Armenia.

Mouse Fire, oops I mean House Fire

HA HA HA HAAAAAA! I know I am a terrible person, but this is just too funny. This is why when I am sad, I just watch the news. If you don't like this one, blame it on my lovely wife, who brought it to my attention.

Honestly, it's better than the man who was hit by a deer. Just classic.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A cool gift I got for my daughter's birthday

My best friend came to my house today (No, not Jesus you smart alecks. Besides, he's omnipresent and thus cannot "come to my house." So there.) He came because we needed his kids to come celebrate one of my kids' birthday (3 years old, princess party, but that's another story).

More importantly, why is My Friend my best friend? This is very simple. You see, he painted me this watercolor you see to the left of a burning heart. Right? He painted it for the blog. He gave it to me for free! He's sold art before, you know. And, you know, he actually introduced me to blogging when he saw the terrors of my own attempt at making a website. Did any of you do that? No, you did not. In fact, you people haven't sent me a single drawing. Not even a stick figure! So. If you would like to send me a picture I'll stick it up in the comment section of this post. When we get all the legal things worked out maybe we'll sell tattoos of all the images we gather.

Friday, January 06, 2006

They don't write 'em like this any more.

With the noteable exception of our good friend Rob E, they really don't write songs like this anymore:

"I went to the animal fair
the birds and the beasts were there
the big baboon by the light of the moon
was coming his auburn hair.
The monkey he got drunk
and sat on the elephant's trunk.
The elephant sneezed and fell to his knees
and that was the end of the monk

My wife thinks I am an elitist

Krista was reading my blog and she read the post about being a closet intellectual and she turned to me and said, "You're an elitist." What? Me? First, she says, one shouldn't admit that they are closet intellectuals. Just stay in the closet, my friends! Second, she found my little Latin pun a little smug and insufferable. Well, I only have one thing to say to all that: it's a good thing I am so far above everyone else so that doesn't hurt my feelings. Ha ha ha!

Not elite enough, though

Tonight at the grocery store the cashier said, "If you put that basket on the floor I will beat you."

I just don't have enough money to be as elite as I would like to be. I would like to send my butler to buy the groceries, but oh well.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Speaking of Medieval Literature

I was amazed to see an advertisement for a movie of Tristan and Isolde, a medieval french tale of romance and chivalry most famously spun by Chretien De Troyes . The tagline is "before Romeo and Juliet there was... Tristan and Isolde." I am not sure that's going to sell a lot of tickets. I guess the question is whether it's going to hang in theatres until Valentine's Day.

As with most french chivalric romances, it's the story of a knight who falls in love with his master's wife. There is a great deal of cheating followed by a great deal of bloody retribution. Yes, exactly like Arthur, Gwenivere and Lancelot.

James Franco stars, so that's good I suppose.

A new devotional

I write occasional devotionals for our stinters. I try to make them rare like gold (rather than rare like beef). Here's the most recent one, entitled "I'm the one to blame for you being so annoying."

My editor

I had a good talk with "my editor" Ryan last night. We talked about my story, medieval and renaissance english literature, demonic possession, security and the spread of Christianity in East Asia. All of which made me think, "Why didn't I do this a long time ago?" Anyway, I pitched the new ending of the story to him, and he liked the idea. Now I just have to write it and if he likes it I shoud be a published author in the next few months. Yay!

Third person, singular

Matt realized yesterday how often he refers to himself in the third person, like when he is talking to his kids. "Wait for Daddy," he says. Why not, "Wait for me"? He is not sure. Maybe he is trying to assure his children that he is an authority figure. Maybe he has a disturbing mental problem. Maybe he is still learning how to speak the language. It is hard for him to say.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Here's an important photo of my friend Bob that I don't think is getting enough exposure for my taste. I am thinking about making it a website of its own.

Top ten signs I'm a closet intellectual

In honor of Carolyn Culbertson (a huge Jurgen Moltmann fan), I've compiled this list of facts that show that I am, indeed, a closet intellectual:

1) My favorite authors include Chesterton, Percival Everett, Steinbeck. I can come up with some arcane, impressive sounding people, too.

2) In support of the "closet" side of things, here's the book I read today for my day off.

3) My wife, who is a genius (in the most technical sense of the word... she even qualifies for MENSA) still finds my company intellectually stimulating (even though I score lower than her).

4) Me am still in school!

5) I can honestly say that I don't know why either "Friends" or "Seinfeld" lasted more than one season.

6) I like Shakespeare. No, really!

7) I wore glasses as a child, but using my super-brain I constructed a rigorous eye excercise curriculum which eventually allowed me to repair my astigmatism naturally. I now have better than 20/20 vision. This is true.

8) I read Latin. Not extremely well, but well enough to survive a few days in ancient Rome when I finish construction of my time machine.

9) I also play chess. I could not beat a Cray super computer. Or Bobby Fisher. Or this guy from my high school, Aaron Tribble. There are probably plenty of fifth graders out there who could beat me. Or, well, to be honest I am an expert at the forced stalemate.

10) For all you kids out there, remember... it's cool to be an intellectual. Or, as I would often tell my students when I was a high school literature teacher: Aut disce aut discede! Ha ha ha ha! Get it, it's sort of a pun because disce and discede sound so similar. Haa ha ha ha! Good one!

Oh, forget it. My students didn't laugh, either.