Guatemala Tour 2014 Rewards

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Jennifer and I are hitting Guatemala for the next ten days, and we’re so excited to go back to a people and a ministry that deeply touched our hearts. Not only will we be able to re-connect with the four children that we sponsor, but we’ll be ministering before some incredible and diverse audiences. Even since Inn Ministries published this infographic, we’ve been notified that another school has invited us to come speak.

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Connect

A few fun ways to engage with us on this trip:

• Get constant visuals via our Instagram feeds (Christopher’s / Jennifer’s).

• Stay tuned here for long-form updates.

Invest $5, $15 or $25 to Inn Ministries.

Sponsor a child for $30/mos.

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Rewards

Giving should be fun. So let’s have some!

Shout Out Pics: For those of you who chose to invest into the Inn, Jennifer and I’ll post a customized picture just for you that will hit Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on our blogs. Mine will probably be whacky; Jennifer’s will be thoughtful. Mine will be random; Jennifer’s will be intentional.

Us and Your Child: If you chose to sponsor a child, Jennifer and I will post a picture of us with your sponsor child. This also applies to anyone who already sponsors a child through the Inn. Again, leave a comment and give us your child’s name. This is a beautiful way to connect with your kids through us—we’ll be your eyes, but you’re still the heart.

Thanks for for being an integral part of changing culture with us.

ch:

New Zealand or Bust!

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Christopher sez: No, I’m not going to New Zealand. At least not yet. She is on my top three “favorite countries I have not yet been to but desperately want to see before I go home to be with Jesus” list.

(Others on that list include Australia, Japan, and Fiji).

But one of my guests has written a piece on travel to New Zealand.

I know I have a number of faithful readers in New Zealand, and I’m curious to know in the comments section if you can corroborate these locations, and perhaps give other notable places to visit. (Im making my own list, so they better be good!).

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New Zealand’s Great Outdoors: Experience the wonders of God’s creations in Kiwi country

The great outdoors isn’t just trees and birds and animals and earth. It also serves as one of the strongest evidences of God’s grace. Many Christians feel a strong link to God’s presence when interacting with the great outdoors. Pope John Paul II was an avid outdoorsman, often going on numerous hiking, skiing, and kayaking trips as part of his ministry. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, exhorted parents to show their children the wonders of God in nature. If you want to do the same, there’s no better place to visit than New Zealand.

With its wide, rolling vistas and breathtaking sights, New Zealand has long been a favorite haven for those enamored with the great outdoors and is a popular destination on Dial A Flight. Here are a few things that the entire family can enjoy on a visit to Kiwi country.

North Island
For a truly authentic New Zealand experience, rent a campervan and embark on a North Island road trip. Kids and adult film fans alike will appreciate the drive through the real-life versions of Hobbiton and Mordor, two of the most prominent locations in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You also get to see a wide variety of New Zealand’s many different landscapes from lush, green rainforests and rolling farmlands to towering mountains and volcanic fields. The journey starts in Auckland and ends at Wellington, the nation’s capital.

South Island
Don’t ditch your campervan just yet. New Zealand’s South Island is where the real outdoor adventure starts. You can head to Queenstown and find out why it’s called the Adventure Capital of the World. You can go on a quick boat ride to spot giant sperm whales or make a beeline for the Otago Peninsula to spend a day with fur seals, sea lions, and, if you’re lucky, royal albatrosses. Lake Wanaka also offers a myriad of water activities including kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Practically everywhere you go in the South Island is an outdoor adventure waiting to happen, with every sight a clear sign of the Creator’s majesty and love.

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Christopher sez: OK, readers, chime in. If you live in or have visited New Zealand, what are some of your favorite places?

Happy travels!

ch:

YouTube Videos from Rex’Quix

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Today we had the incredible privilege of heading up into the mountains over 5,000 feet and visiting a home which is used weekly for church. The husband and wife, Reginaldo “Canche” and Luky, clear out the few possessions they have and preach the Gospel to those that live in the Mayan village of Rex’quix. Despite their dirt floors and sparse furnishings, the selflessness of this couple is overwhelming, and extremely convicting.

Apart from hearing their story, and experiencing their infectious love for Jesus, Jennifer and I were both captivated by their children. We were there for less than three minutes when I look over and see Jenny holding a little girl. Rebekah clung to Jenny’s neck tightly as my wife wept. It was a precious few minutes that eventually turned into laughter as an impromptu fashion show started.

Shortly after, I jumped in with my senior pastor, Kirk Gilchrist, as he started playing with a small group of little girls that clung to the side of the house, spying on us. His son Joseph ended up filming me as we played, a memory which I won’t soon forget.

My life has already been changed in so many ways, I can’t imagine being challenged even more. But I was today, simply by playing with children in a mountain village I never even knew existed. Such is the Kingdom.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus of Nazareth
Matthew 18:3

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sponsor a child inn ministries

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Exterior view of Canche and Luky’s house.

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Wide angle view of the house and surrounding hillside.

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Interior of their home; room used for church meetings.

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Canche and Luky’s kitchen.

Guat.Hop

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Our hop over to Guatemala has been eye-opening, heart-breaking and awe-inspiring.

Beautiful people.

Breathtaking country.

Rich history.

Gut-wrenching abuse.

Life-long Christ-commitment.

Sacrificial love.

Today, Pastor Joseph Gilchrist and I had the unprecedented honor of sharing Biblical truths on sex with one-thousand public high school students. The Superintendant of Schools allowed 3 grades to fill a local church in San Cristobel 3 times.

Jennifer sang over them, and Joseph and I presented God’s life-altering perspectives on sexuality and purity. It was a rare privilege, when we get to do one more time tomorrow!

Here are some pics from today, as well as from our time in Antigua and Guatemala City.

Enjoy!

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Guat.Hop

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Our hop over to Guatemala has been eye-opening, heart-breaking and awe-inspiring.

Beautiful people.

Breathtaking country.

Rich history.

Gut-wrenching abuse.

Life-long Christ-commitment.

Sacrificial love.

Today, Pastor Joseph Gilchrist and I had the unprecedented honor of sharing Biblical truths on sex with one-thousand public high school students. The Superintendant of Schools allowed 3 grades to fill a local church in San Cristobel 3 times.

Jennifer sang over them, and Joseph and I presented God’s life-altering perspectives on sexuality and purity. It was a rare privilege, when we get to do one more time tomorrow!

Here are some pics from today, as well as from our time in Antigua and Guatemala City.

Enjoy!

ch:

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Sitting On Top of The World

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For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you’re sitting on top of the world—at least God’s world—and we’re right there, sitting alongside you!

-Paul to the church in Corinth, Greece
1 Corinthians 4:7-8 MSG

I suppose there are at least a few of you wondering what I might say post-China. And even if you aren’t, I am. Perhaps I’ve been reticent to write anything because I’m not exactly sure what to say or where to start. At least not on a profound level.

China is hard to articulate, simply because there’s so much of it. So much to see. So many people. Digesting it all takes a while. Spiritually. Politically. Emotionally.

But I think the one thing that stands out to me the most–and perhaps a good starting point for debriefing any journey–is simply recognizing how blessed I am.

(Is it so self-centered to describe another nation firstly based on what mine affords me?)

I have so much. Because it’s been given to me. I’m sitting on top of the world. And I have the whole world to give away.

I’m admiring cleanness, and the effort it takes to create it, in a new way. I’m appreciating space in a new way. And I’m savoring freedom in a new way.

Thankfulness for the insignificant grants us permission to offer the significant to others with humility.

I’m endeavoring to dedicate myself to be counted among the most grateful people I know. I think this is a noble and worthy pursuit. I have a long way to go, but I’m growing evermore convinced that it’s the only way to adequately suppress pride, and likewise activate the childlike wonder of loving life and loving God.

Post-China begins with taking account of everything I’ve been blessed with, and critically asking myself how I’m using all of my faculties to serve others for the sake of the Gospel.

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China Bound

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Tomorrow morning at 3:30am, I begin the long voyage to China. I’m excited to see a new land, one which I’ve read so much about. But I’m sad to be leaving my family, and will miss deeply.

For the interests of security, my mission will remain simply that I’m going to encourage leaders dedicated to shaping China’s future.

I’ll be back on the 24th, eager to see my wife and kids, and to share all the exciting news from the trip with those nearest me.

“Souls or I die.”

–William Carey

Thanks for lifting me and my team up.

ch:

8th Annual Writers Bootcamp Getaway Weekend

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Eight years ago, my new-found friend, Wayne, and I decided to embark on a mutual dream of forming an Inklings group of our own. But distance was not our friend, he being in Maryland and I being in northern New York. So rather than a weekly gathering in some local pub, we decided upon meeting for a full weekend at a locale halfway between his home and mine.

The result has been a faithful convergence on a poetic (if not sleepy) Pennsylvanian town or city for the last eight years. And what a blessing it’s been for both of us. The mutual camaraderie is immeasurably valuable, as are the long talks concerning writing, plot and character development, theology, doctrines of the faith. Not to mention the verbose amount of gregarious guffawing we engage in.

And threading through it all are the continuous clicks of our laptop keys as we work on our next stories for the world to read. Wayne is working on a new supernatural thriller series called GHOST, while I’m very close to announcing the title and release date of my newest work, codenamed TSR.

Here’s to Inkblots everywhere who enjoy fellowship and the pursuit of the intellectual.

ch:

Back in Narnia

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I wish international travel was as easy as stepping through a wardrobe. But it’s 2012. So planes must suffice.

22 hours later and we’re home.

Thanks to our wonderful hosts on this week-long journey: Sylvain & Line Freymond, Bedig & Rebekah Nassanian, and Doug & Merrie Gresham. We cherish you all; you are valuable to the King and the Kingdom.

For now, Jennifer and I are back among our children, our patch of earth, ensconced in the Thousand Islands, and planted once again among our people.

ch:

Europe or Bust

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Jenny and I are off to Switzerland for the annual Discerning the Times Conference in Yverdon, about an hour outside of Geneva. We’re excited to see dear friends again, and honored by yet another opportunity to pour into the nations. I recently told a close friend, “As long as God keeps asking us, we’ll keep saying yes.” From there we head to Malta.

Please keep our children and our travels in your prayers. Stay tuned for pics and updates.

ch:

Europe In Pics

I just got in late last night from Europe.

Exhausted.

But as a Christ-follower, having one’s life spent on the welfare of others is one of the greatest blessings imaginable.

Speaking and leading worship at the Radikal For Jesus youth conference in northern France is always inspiring. I’ve rarely attended a more spiritually-free gathering anywhere in the world. Nations represented include Scotland, Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Congo and Switzerland.

I managed two quick stops in Madrid and Brussels on this trip too. Always great photo-ops.

Among my favorite moments were the messages, the 4-hour long worship sets, 1 planned baptism and 15 spontaneous ones, and celebrating my 10th year of working with Church Without Walls in Longwy, France.

Here’s my trip in pics.

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And Three If By Air

TEN TIPS FOR AIR TRAVEL

Traveling by air, like anything, can become an art. It can also become a monster, growling and gnawing at you if done wrong.

In light of yesterday’s flight from CLT-SYR, I thought I’d post a few tips. It’s by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your own.

1.) The TSA is a joke.

I don’t know how else to say it. Knowing this simple fact will help you stay even-keeled when in security.

People that have 100% access to the aircraft – like rampers and gate agents – don’t pass any airport security (and are paid minimum wage; propensity for coercion anyone?), while pilots (who could literally do anything they want to an aircraft) are subject to the same crazy searches we are.

That being said, rules for what should or should not be placed in or outside a bin, on the conveyor belt, left on or taken off your person, are due to change at the whim of whatever over titled, under-credentialed agent you encounter.

2.) Check TSA’s website.

Marking 10 years since 9-11, you’re finally able to pack almost everything in a carry-on again. This is especially helpful for short trips, or those who prefer packing light (like me). Contrary to popular belief, shaving kits are no longer considered threats, fingernail clippers have ceased being a hijacker’s weapon of choice, and even solid-stick deodorants are allowed to stay in your bag (apparently filling them with C4 is out of style).

And while you still need to take your shoes off to go through security, children under 12 can keep them on now. (Terrorists don’t mind blowing up innocent people, but they’re quite averted to putting shoe bombs on random orphans).

Any drinks, however, must be consumed in their entirety or be thrown out before going through security. (That HCL you’re carrying may not burn a hole in your sleekly altered plastic bottle, but it sure does a number on your digestive system).

Checking their website can help you know how to pack. And because they’re constantly changing protocol, it’s worth checking regularly if you fly a lot.

3.) Get good luggage.

When purchasing luggage for check-in, I prefer non-fabric, non-zipping. Samsonite clam-shell style cases have been the best I’ve ever owned. Strong, lightweight, and durable. They’ve never gotten knocked out of alignment (where they no longer close right), they hold a lot (with new weight restrictions, often too much), and they protect well. I’ve had one since 2002 with over 500,000 international miles on it.

Granted, I recently broke this rule with a higher-end TJ Maxx find, but it was calculated: the bag was med-sized, had super-heavy-duty zipper construction (ye’ big ole’ fat kind), and the nylon weave exterior was extremely dense and double layered. It’s served very well for shorter trips.

Asking people in the airline industry what they prefer is always a good idea. Certain manufactures try and make handles, wheels, and overall dimensions conducive to the majority of aircraft types.

4.) Roll your clothes.

Yes, it really does create more space.

5.) Leave a little extra room for your return flight. Whether it’s an item your friend wants you to bring back with you as a gift, to souvenirs you purchased at the airport, to a bag of cashews you bought at a gas station but never quite finished, you’ll virtually always be bringing back more than you left with.

6.) Use technology.

While I may be a pastor, the only thing truly sacred is His presence. Therefore, that beautiful, leather-bound, 8″x10″ beast of a Bible I’ve loved so dearly over the years? Yeah, she stays home.

All my notes, messages, Bible translations, concordances, cross-referencing software, and bookmarks are kept on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Pro. Should they all be stolen or fail, everything is backed up to two different cloud services. And when all else fails, I’ve either memorized my messages and scriptures in advance, or I snag a Bible from someone willing to lend me theirs.

Because of the advent of the e-reading age, I also take a whole library of books with me, as well as my music. Loading and charging your devices properly ahead of time can help fight boredom later. And I rarely get so much free time to read as I do on planes.

7.) Think power.

I always pack a three-socket 10′ extension chord in my bag. While carrying my chargers is important, often there is no wall outlet close by (this goes for airports and destinations). That home extension chord has saved me more times than I can count.

I also carry a AA backup charger for my iPhones. The day Apple finally finds a smart phone battery that last for than a day will be celebrated in the Hopper house with gusto.

In addition, I keep multiple terminus convertors (or plug adapters) for each nation I frequent (and purposely collect them). While almost every gadget I own will have a power convertor built in (110v-220v), the physical plugs need to be changed. No more than a dollar or two, without them you ain’t got nuthin’.

8.) Embrace your new clock.

While there are a myriad of remedies – natural to neurotic – that help with jet-lag, the best tip I’ve found for adjusting to time change is all on the opening day (especially traveling east).

If you land in Europe at 7:30am, resist that urge for a 5-8 hour nap. Sleep at 12noon for an hour, but then stay up as late as you can. By day 2, you’ll be feeling more acclimated and alert. This practice is especially useful on short international trips.

9.) Stay hydrated.

Planes are, by nature of air filtration, a dry environment. Resist your soda pop, ask for bottles (or multiple cups) of water instead.

10.) Be yourself, but be courteous.

I like talking with people. I’m an extravert. But not everyone I meet is. Learning how to engage in casual in-flight conversation can be daunting, but rewarding. I have friends to this day that I met on flights.

But some people are over-talkers. Having a pair if earbuds or a book/e-reader is a great way to politely signal, “I’m tired if talking and would like to be left alone.” ch:

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