Monday, November 28, 2005

Back in Motown

I forgot that when we travel internationally, we have additional security to go through. As a result, after we went through security the first time at the aeroport, I suggested that we grab a bite to eat before we went to our gate. Bad idea.

As we were walking to our gate, a security person comes running up to us to tell us that we are delaying the plane, and that we have an addtional security check to go through.

As he started us running to the gate, he explained "You are not nice. You are rude. You make the whole plane wait." I guess we made a bad impression on him. We were polite and courteous with him as we ran and went through security, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Ironically, we ended up arriving 30-40 minutes early in Dulles.

It took about an hour to go through customs, and then it was off to the van, and then to morgantown.

We arrived at around 8PM, and I was unpacked by 8:30-9PM.

I checked some email and did a little reading, and then it was off to bed.

and this morning I woke up at 5:30AM.

I may need a little time to readjust to speaking English again. I found myself still speaking dutch on the plane.

It's good to be back, and to slaap lekker (sleep yummy) in Morgantown.

Cycling in Nederlands

Well, a trip to netherlands wouldn't be complete without riding a bike in the city. Tuesday night, after the red light district, and dinner at todds, I rode "amsterdam style" on the back of todds bicycle. We went across town with me on the rack on back.

Later in the week, I did the same thing with melissa. It was with melissa that I was able to successfully attempt the running jump onto the back of the bike. This is said to be a dangerous feat, but I like a little danger from time to time.

What is really cool about the city is that Bikes have their own lanes, and their own traffic signals, and it even appears they have their own right of way across busy streets.

Dutch people typically aren't obese--maybe its from all of the cycling that happens in the city of bicycles.

Riding a bike in 30-40 degree weather is cold, but also invigorating. I'm glad that my friends allowed me the privilege of riding in this style.

I also was able to borrow a bike to ride to the grocery store on Sunday to purchase gifts.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Andrew and Pete

These are the names of two of Jesus' disciples.

They are also the names of two gentlemen I talked to in the red light district Tuesday. They were from Britain and in their fourties. They had come to Amsterdam on "holiday" as many do. They had gotten separated from each other when I befriended andrew. Actually, I think Pete may have been procuring the services of one of the prostitutes in the area. It is the only thing I can think of that would have left these two friends separated in the city.

Andrew told me that he had bought himself some tobacco and "some other stuff" and was looking to have a good time while in Amsterdam.

He thought I was in my early twenties, and that I was an "american spoiled brat kid sent to europe for an education", I assured him that it wasn't why I was here.

I asked him about Jesus and faith, and he told me he had thought about "turning to Jesus", but had reservations. He couldn't understand how God could have taken away his brother and father. Andrew began to weep as he told me this. It was just him and his mum and sister now. I told him I didn't know the answer to that question, but that God was good, and that He loved Andrew very much.

I then told him that I was in Amsterdam to tell people about how they could turn to Jesus, and even tell about my own story of turning to Jesus. He asked me "Are you a Bible Basher?" I assured him that I had never bashed a Bible in my life. He asked if I was religious, and I told him no, but Jesus has definitely changed my life--and he wants to change yours as well.

Just then Pete sat down with us, and we continued the conversation for a bit. I asked Pete if he had ever considered turning to Jesus. He told me that he belonged to the scripture union in scotland when he was younger, but that something had happened to turn him away from God.

It was clear that Pete was much more uncomfortable with the conversation than Andrew, and he assured me that they had to leave, they had to get going.

I can't help but think that our twenty minute conversation on a bridge in the red light district will be a life defining moment for them both. They will probably remember it more than they will remember any other event during their time here in amsterdam.

As they left, I saw them make haste through the crowded street and it looked like they were still talking about our conversation as they went out of sight.

Pray for them. I am convinced that God has His hand on both of them, and that our conversation was a very significant moment. I believe they are both going to turn to Jesus soon--and I'm glad God let me be part of reminding them about his love.

As they went out of sight, I said that no matter where they went in the city or the world, God still loves them, and Jesus still loves them--no matter what they've done, they can turn to Jesus.

No matter what we've done, we can turn to Jesus. Remember that as the holiday season is upon us. You can turn to Jesus no matter what. No matter what.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Bridges

The bridges of the Redlight District are where dealers like to hang out. It is also where we chose to hang out. Already, because of the regular presence of missionaries in this area, dealers and prostitutes and junkies are being reached. God is using his people to slowly transform the heart of this place.

For a long time no dealers set foot on the bridges. It was as if we were preventing them from operating. God was putting up a barrier and undermining their work. They stood on either end of the bridge, and moved around a lot. They didn't really talk to us. I think they knew who we were and why we were there.

Drug trafficking was being interrupted for a few hours, in the heart of the red light district. God's light and love were shining through a few missionaries who made themselves unbusy for a few hours.

I believe God want's to change this neighborhood. What do you think he wants to do in yours? Do you think he might want you to be a part of it?

De Cleft

De Cleft is a ministry of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Amsterdam. Tuesday afternoon we went with one of the pastors from the Zolder to work with De Cleft and do outreach in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. We definitely weren't in Morgantown anymore.

The Red Light District is sadly what comes to mind when many westerners think of the city. It is the home of prostitution in the city, and it is also the center for drug activity.

Seven of us stood on a bridge that spanned across Voorburgwal. One block away from us was Oude Kerke (old church). It is the oldest church in amsterdam. I think it is several hundred years old. (By the way, the place where we are staying is over 500 years old).

One of the guys from the cleft started playing guitar. He put a sign out saying that he was playing for free and to not give money. The sign also said Jesus loves me!

Before we went out, we spent some time praying for the prostitutes and the dealers, the junkies and the homeless. Then, we entered their world. In two other posts I will tell more specific stories. In a sense, this will need to serve as a preface (even though it is farther down the page than the other posts will appear.)

Hundreds of people walked by us on the small bridge. Police walked by. Dealers walked by. Junkies walked by. The homeless and the tourists were intermixed. Across from the Oude Kerke there were a number of tall windows. Nearly naked women made gestures to entice men to enter. Some laughed and mocked them. Some looked away. Others entered and the curtain on the window would be drawn close for a period. Sex Shops were also abounding around the Oude Kerke. It was 2 in the afternoon, and the heart of the city pulsed with dark business.


Stamppot, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I had this for dinner Monday night. It is called Stamppot Zuurkool Worst. Stamppot is like a mashed potato dish with some kind of meat. The meat in this one was Worst. (Like a kilbasa or something). And this Stamppot also had Zuurkool--like sour craut in it.

It was delicious.

Indian in Amsterdam

Indian in Amsterdam, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Zondag Avond (Sunday evening), I had an awesome privilege. I was able to speak to a church in Amsterdam. I dressed in my traditional Shawnee attire, and shared a Shawnee perspective on thanksgiving and the gospel. It struck me as a bit ironic.

You see, the first missionaries came from the netherlands to the native people of america with the gospel, and gave us hope by telling us of the Sacred Visitor.

And here I am going back to Amsterdam to tell them about the One they have forgotten--Jesus Christ.

It brings tears to my eyes to think that maybe somebody who I shared the gospel with Sunday night was a descendant of one of those first dutch pilgrims to leave from Leydn in the 1600s.

What a privilege to be the first Shawnee to speak at the zolder!

Monday, November 21, 2005


Yesterday morning a group of us from the Zolder, and a few locals joined together to play a little football. Well, european football. Soccer.

It was pretty funny. We had enough to play 6 on 6, and all morning and afternoon while we played, we were being photographed by people who were out walking. We played on the museumplein. It is a large grassy area which is surrounded by one of the most popular concert halls in the world along with the royal museum of amsterdam, and the vincent van gogh museum.

The people who played were americans from the church and our team, an austrian, a german, an italian, and a british guy, an asian, and a couple of locals.

The italian guy just came out and joined us, and gave us a reason to keep playing. His name is Francesco, and we were able to invite him, and some of the others to the zolder zondag nacht. (sunday night) Aaron saw him watching us play, and so he walked over and invited him to join in the game.

Francesco didn't come to the zolder that night--he told us he was an athiest. Then he corrected himself and said he believed in god, but it was his own god. He had been travelling in Amsterdam on "holiday" (vacation) for three weeks, and we were the first people he met that showed such kindness to him. We are hopeful to get a phone call from him before he leaves, but the cool thing about our short interaction is that he knows we are Christians. He knows that we cared for one another, and for him, and he thanked us two or three times for making his morning very special, and the best time he has had in amsterdam.

Pray for Francesco, and pray for more opportunities to communicate the great love God has for humanity.


Dwazezaken, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This word translates to Foolish Things. It is the name of a Christian cafe just outside the redlight district of Amsterdam.

Saturday evening we journeyed there together to grab a little dinner, and to connect with some of the people of the city/missionaries who are in the city long term. It was a very relaxing evening with some great conversations.

This cafe is located across from the train station, and it is absolutely beautiful.

The food was great, and it made for a great way to spend the evening. Because we stayed for a while, we were able to get a feel for the pulse of the city and observe.

One thing remains true no matter where I travel--people are really similar. You steer away from the language, and some of the foods, and really we are all very closely connected. We all laugh and cry. We all have hurts and triumphs. We all carry wounds, and at the same time want to make a difference in the world.

Pray that our small team can make a difference in this place.

As I write this, I am praying that you will make a difference where God has you today!

Amsterdam Crew

Amsterdam Crew, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This is our crew. Our peeps. Our WV connection.

Left to right. Greta, Kelly, Becky, Aaron, and Melissa.

Greta, Kelly, and Aaron our our team.

Becky is a friend of Kelly's from London who visited us on Saturday.

Melissa is has been stationed here in the Jordaan district working in a hostel. She was a part of our mission team in 2003, and she came back to serve in the city for nearly a year. One of our goals as a team was to connect with her and her co-workers and bring them a little taste of america, while we serve zolder 50 and reach out to the city.


Canals, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I think this is Singel Gracht. Isn't this city beautiful? The whole centrum of the city is filled with these canals that prevent Amsterdam from being completely under water.


Haring, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
A dutch delicacy is raw herring (Haring) with pickles and onions. Aaron and I split a portion of this dutch treat at a fish market in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam.

Our friend Melissa took us to the market which is only open on saturdays. We also ate some really old cheeze, and some dutch licorice.

Although the Haring doesn't sound that appetizing, it was really good. I think we miss out on a lot when we aren't willing to try new things. It also allows us an opportunity to connect in a deeper way with the local culture.

Try some Haring if you ever get a chance, yum!

Interesting Art

Interesting Art, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This photo doesn't have the crispness I had hoped. I photographed a piece of art on display in a gallery in amsterdam Saturday night. At first I didn't see the skull, all I saw were the four quare images that made up the picture.

Of particular notice are the top two images that portray the september 11th world trade center attacks. In the lower right hand corner is the murder of Theo van Gogh (descendant of vincent van gogh). He made a film that gave a negative view of Islam, and he was murdered in broad daylight in the Dam square. He was stabbed in the chest with a note.

The lower left corner, I am not sure about. but I felt like it was a very intriguing piece of art that you might reflect on as our group did.

Let me know what you think.

It's an Apple World

It's an Apple World, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, while on the town Saturday--our free day, I saw this door in a photo studio. There is also an Apple Store right in the heart of Amsterdam across from the train station.

I think this door marks the digital photo lab of this photo studio. There were some cool underwater photos on display when we stopped there too.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Our View

Our View, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This is a view from outside our window in the Zolder (attic).

The waterway is Singel Gracht. (Singel Canal). It is one of a series of canals that keep Amsterdam from being underwater and divert water from the amstel river.

It isn't that clean, but the water looks beautiful.

So this is where we are. Hopefully there will be more photos later

Words of wisdom

As we were getting ready to land, one of our flight attendants shared this cool little proverb with us.

To the world, you may be just one person, but to one person, you may be the world.

There's a lot in that little phrase. Remember it as you go through your day today. Think about what significance you may have for other people as they see the glory of God manifest as you reflect His glory back to Him.

I heard this one too. Lee Dubois, one of the staff members of the zolder shared it.

It is the tallest tree that gets the most wind.--Dutch proverb.

As we step out in faith, we run the risk of being buffetted. It is much easier to stay inside or away from danger than to venture out of our comfort zones.

Just a little something to think about.

God or us?

Before leaving from amsterdam, we were having a conversation about how self-sufficient our culture is becoming. Those of you who were at h2o on sunday might remember the story I told about the Chinese Christian who couldn't understand how Americans could maintain lives of faith amid their self-sufficiency.

We often think it is entirely us who are in control of our lives. God laughs at this and says something like, "apart from me you can do nothing." Paul says that it is "in Him that we live and breath and have our being." Yet we like to take credit for things. And, interestingly, God allows us the privilege in playing a part in what He does.

As we were descending into Amsterdam our pilot told us that it was cold, but we were descending into clear skies. Two minutes later, the lights all came on in the plane, and we hit some huge turbulence. Apparently we hadn't quite reached those clear skies. It was odd, but it was just some turbulence.

A few minutes after this minor episode (eqivalent to travelling on an old country road with a few potholes), the 1st officer came on the speakers. She wanted to let us know that there was nothing to worry about. Our plane had just been hit by lightning a few minutes ago but all electrical systems were functioning perfectly fine.

I thought to myself--was it the great electrical system of the plane that had saved us, or was it God who was preserving our lives? Was it the innate skill of the pilots, or was even that skill the gracious gift of God that was working all things for the good?

I have to wonder about what God has in store for our team. We left uncharacteristically early for the airport and made it just in time for our flight. Our plane was struck by lightning on its descent. We have spent one day here in amsterdam, and are just getting oriented to our new surroundings, but I can't help thinking God is going to teach us something far greater about Himself in this process than anything we even bargained for. I believe something more than a heart for evangelism and service (which are both great things) will be the result of this short period across the big water.

Waste Culture

I'm thinking about writing a book. The book is going to be about waste. I've read a few books about it, but I really haven't read a lot from a faith perspective. Not sure whether fiction or non-fiction would be better.

Aaron and I started noticing the waste our one little flight generated. At the security check, they had plastic bags. The suggestion with the bag was--empty the contents of your pockets into this bag, and then put this bag in your carry-on and you will save time at the security check. I took one, and then I started thinking. The suggestion convinced me to do something different than I would normally do. Normally I would just chuck my contents in my bag, or toss them into a bin. This time, I took the bag. Not a big deal, really--it's just one bag.

I wonder how many thousands of people made the same choice as me that day. I wonder what they will do with their disposable bags.

As we had multiple snacks/cups of water served on the plane, I once again thought about waste. I wondered how much waste our one 8 hour flight together generated. Thankfully, the airline at least gave a semblance of environmental care. Cups and cans, and cardboard boxes were all taken up separately, and in theory they will be recycled.

I just bought some paper towels the other day called "Seventh Generation". They were made from recycled paper. On the back there was a break down of the amount of waste that would be prevented if every family in america bought one pack. I'm a sucker for advertising at times. I bought two. When I opened the package, one of the first things I noticed was that the 3 pack of towels weren't individually wrapped. I wonder about our obsession with individual wrapping.

As we walked down the sidewalk toward our domicile early Friday morning in Amsterdam, I noticed the trash. Doesn't seem like the Dutch generate a lot of waste--small bags, and very neatly placed on the sidewalk.

Take a look at the amount of waste you have been responsible for today--is there anything you can do different tomorrow? I'd love to hear your stories.

From Dulles to Schipol

Well, Thursday evening we boarded a plane to head to Amsterdam. We left a little early to get to dulles, and gave ourselves 3.5-4hrs to catch our flight. The irony in leaving so early is that none of us are known for this quality, and yet, I felt like we should err on the safe side. DC traffic can be a real bear (I believe it has the second worse traffic problem in the US), and we didn't want to get caught in early rush hour.

We made a wise choice. The we arrived at our gate just before boarding started, and so we had time for one last minute phone call and a bathroom break. We had a bit of a scare while standing in line too, because there was some baggage that someone left unattended that we called securities attention to. It ended up not being a big deal, but we were all a little concerned about these two random bags in the middle of the line at the international baggage check in.

We did make it to our plane though, and as our altitude increased, our minds moved on to preparation for the mission, and beginning to relax. I read a book on Amsterdam during the flight, and started another book about staying focussed on the really important things in ministry. My TV didn't work on the plane, so instead of watching a bunch of movies I read--I think it was worthwhile--but I would have liked checking out the movies. I haven't watched a movie in a while.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Old Stomping Grounds

Although I am already in Amsterdam, there were just so many things happening over the last 24 hours that I feel it is necessary to share them.

It's interesting what God has done with our time so far. We left a little late Wednesday night for DC, where we stayed with some close friends. It was a bit surreal for me. I have travelled the road from Morgantown to DC so many times in the last ten years, but this time was really different.

I usually stop and reflect as I pass Friendsville, MD--for many years I spent great amounts of my spare time in this little town. My tribe has land there, and this is the home of my tribe's sacred ceremonial grounds. This is the first time I have been by that piece of land since 2004, and long before I resigned from my chieftainship. I didn't realize how it would affect me, but mainly I was nostalgic. If it weren't for what God has done in my life through my tribal community, I might not be where I am in my walk with Jesus right now.

So, this trip was a new beginning for me. This was the first time I went through this journey to DC without looking to make a concerted effort to connect with my own tribal community. My tribe has helped prepare me, and indirectly, our team, for work in Amsterdam.

We were concerned about the weather when we left, but we had clear skies all the way through our journey to DC, and we have had beautiful weather thus far in Amsterdam.

More news soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Final Prep

Later today, four of us will journey to Amsterdam for a fun short term mission. In the mean time, I just want to ask for prayers from everyone that we will be able to be impactful during our time. I am going to go buy some groceries, etc. from a "wish-list" generated by the team. Looking over the list, it is easy to see some of the every day luxuries we take for granted in the US. For instance, I think there were 3 separate requests for stove top stuffing. They can get it in Amsterdam but it costs 2-3 times as much as it does here--and there is never really a sale on that kind of stuff.

I've got a few meetings today, and then it will be time to finish packing, and prep to head out toward DC tonight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner

Since most of us morgantown college folks end up going to other places to celebrate thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate it a little earl together. Today, I am going to make an ancient recipe turkey for my friends (and my parents are coming up too!). It should be a relaxing time in the midst of preparations for amsterdam.

Whirlwind weekend

I flew back from FL thursday night, and began scrambling through a number of different venues. I started working through Sunday's message. I also attended a Regional church conference Friday night as well as an Open mic. I came back and did some more work on a talk that I gave Saturday for the conference. After giving the talk, I scrambled home so I could join my fellow mountaineer basketball fans for the first round of the guardians classic. (Next week we face off against #2 Texas). Saturday night I felt like I was coming down with something. I've been a little fatigued of late. I woke up at 4AM Sunday morning, and prepared for speaking sunday morning. Then I watched WVU play round two of the guardians classic. I departed for the library after that and researched for a class presentation today.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Heading back into the cold north

From the weather I've been enjoying, it appears I am in for a rude awakening upon my return to Morgantown. It is supposed to be down to 32 degrees tonight.

My period of fun in the sun is coming to an end. Amazingly in the middle of all of the class and conference time I've also been able to catch some waves read 5 books, and write three essays. Unfortunately I haven't been blogging as much.

My apologies.

It is interesting to note that blogging provides an opportunity for reflection and introspection. While I haven't blogged, my time floating on the waves also gave time for introspection, and I realized something. I have been missing out on that space. Even while on my rental board it took me a good two hours before I could really slow down and connect with the water. Sometimes everything just feels so rushed.

I do look forward to sabbath rest coming soon. It's important to slow down, and to connect with the would in which we find ourselves.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Being a bonehead

I was just thinking this morning about some of the cool people I have met and taken classes under in the last three years, and I just realized--I should have gotten my pictures taken with them. Those are cool memories, and pictures are great ways to capture memories.

I take my camera almost everywhere, and I forget to take pictures in most of those places. I need to really work on that one.

This past week, I had a class with Alister McGrath, and last summer I was able to hang out with Graham Tomlin and Dallas Willard. I would have loved to have gotten a picture with them.

I could remember and reflect upon lessons learned and experiences gained through and since those courses more easily perhaps with the supplement of a photo.

My roommate nic takes some awesome photos--I look forward to the time he gets a digital camera so the world might see his skill.

What are some cool experiences you've had, that you haven't recorded in some way?

In my experience, recording those experiences helps to seal them in my memory.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

MGM Studios

A convergence of worlds is taking place before my eyes. I feel a bit like Neo in the matrix.

While on the soundstage at MGM, I can look out a window in our lobby and see 100s of tourists walk by each day. I wonder if they even know we are inside the facility recording this theology class?

It's like I can completely see their world through the windows, but they have no clue about mine. Maybe it's like the old testament prophet and his assistant who saw the spiritual reality of the armies of the Lord while everyone else's eyes were oblivious to this reality.

There is also another humorous consideration to being on this set. In the same building as us, the "who wants to be a millionaire" attraction is bringing in droves of tourists. As we come out of the doors of our soundstage, I can't help but wonder if they think we are celebrities. I'm actually tempted to go over to these people being held behind a rope and sign some autographs just for giggles.

It makes me wonder about the perceptions we carry about others--what are legimate, and what are not? It also makes me wonder about our awareness. What events are transpiring around us that we are entirely oblivious to. What is happening just outside your house right now--what's happening next door, or across town that would shock us or thrill us?


Last week was much more packed than I expected, and this current week as allowed minimal downtime for reflection and writing. But, I had a window to share some of what has been happening in my world recently.

Mostly I have been feeling a bit of a crunch because much of this month has me travelling. I am currently in Orlando, FL on one of the soundstages at Disney's MGM Studios. That's right--you had thought it might be the case, and it's true--I'm a star.

Seriously, I am taking a class on Faith and Science and it is being recorded on one of Disney's soundstages. There is this big empty room (8000 square feet) and in the middle of it is our "classroom". Dr. Alister McGrath is our professor, and he is the former principle of wycliffe hall in Oxford (this guy is really smart--he has a PhD in both Molecular Biophysics and Theology).

I still need to upload some pics from vacation and other cool events, but that may have to wait until later in the week.