Thursday, December 28, 2006

canada's just alright with me

Finally over the stomach bug. Got out in the snow today and looking forward to going into town tomorrow or soon after.

Canada is kind of an unknown land to most Texans, and I guess most Americans. This is a fact that pisses off Canadians to no end. They'll get over it, I'm sure.

But seriously, Canadian's subtle biterness against anything American is kin to a Napolean complex, or at least that's my diagnosis. I got nothing against Canada. And besides, I grew up next to Mexico. Most Texans don't care what's north of Oklahoma

I was introduced to Canada the way all rock loving suburbanites from Houston were: by Rush.

I haven't listened to Rush in years, except when they come on one of the fair mother city's two classic rock stations.

Geddy Lee gave all of us high-tech bass players with goofy voices hope: that we too could become cool.

My life is not despised one bit. But if I could do it all over, I'd be Geddy Lee. I can at least play some of Rush's songs while immitating his granny-on-steroids voice. That's gotta be valuable somewhere.

Anyway, never in my youth did I suspect I'd marry a Canadian. Glad I did, though.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

it's a U.N. christmas

There were 21 of us at my in-law's house here in Saskatchewan for christmas. Including: my wife's Jamaican cousin, her brother's German girlfriend (now fiance), and a 24 hour stomach flu to pass around.

I was the latest casualty. Which really sucks because I never get sick and I was convinced I had super human strength to avoid this one.

Not to point out blame or anything...but a certain mother-in-law always seems to be a carrier of minor 24 hour bugs. She passed along one in Texas 7 christmases ago (I proudly survived that one). Plus, she announced to us on our first night here how she just got over a stomach flu. Great.

So...I blame her. Even though my 2 year old was the first obvious casualty at the dining table one night. Disgusting.

But honestly, it's been a great holiday. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

And I received the book Irresistible Revolution mentioned here earlier. Not that I was hinting for gifts or anything...but now I won't have to find a copy to borrow. You can borrow mine.

I also received some recorded music by Saskatchewan's finest: Joni Mitchell. Nice.

Hope all is well out there in the agent network.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

testimony #024

Our 8th anniversary was a couple of days ago.

Agent Wife's lil sis and husband gave us a huge gift: an day without kids.

They even got us a killer room at one of the best hotels in town.

Agent Wife and I went out to a movie and ate out at a hoity steakhouse. It rocked.

We haven't done anything remotely similar to this in three years.

Thank you CEO.

Monday, December 18, 2006


While in Saskatchewan, I am determined to hear the CEO on some issues in the life of my family and our mission. Before we left the fair mother city, I wrote down a short, four point list of things to pray and meditate on.

Everybody hears the CEO differently. And I mean "hear" as in...hear, I guess. Anything really. An audible voice. A relevant scripture. Who knows.

I usually hear the CEO while walking. By myself. On long walks. I haven't heard him much in the past year. And that's not due to lack of walking, because I walk everywhere possible. His last word to me was "wait". So I figure I better not expect much more than that. But I'm ready for another word since some things in my life are shifting around.

When I visit my in-law's acreage, I like to walk the perimeter of their property. It's long, lonely, seldom traveled, and I enjoy it. But I usually do this in the summer.

So I figure, what's the difference if there's over 2 feet of snow. I'll just bundle up.

Most of the time the CEO talks to me through my actions. As in...what I find myself doing ends up being the message. Weird, I know.

Saturday I started out on my acreage walk. I got maybe a quarter of the first side of the property and I wondered if was not the stupidest thing I've ever done.

The stupidest thing I've ever done was hiking behind that waterfall in Ouray, Colorado. The path behind the water was about 2 feet wide of slippery rock. And five stories down was the typical jagged rocked death that awaited me. Stupid, but fun.

But this snow trek counldn't be that stupid. It's not like search teams would have to go finding me. You can't get lost on the acrage. But I did see a coyote.

It was only -5C (22F?) and that's warm. But it was snowing and the wind was blowing against me. So it felt like...-90C.

Walking through 2+ feet of semi-soft snow takes a lot of energy. And you don't move very fast though it. I needed to help shovel a driveway after this walk and I wondered if I'd have the energy after this fool-ass trip. I trucked on anyway.

After about half way through I realized that if I do this everyday, it'll probably get easier, since I will have made huge tracks.

If it doesn't snow a lot, and if I keep at it, maybe there will be a huge trail that I can just walk through in the next three weeks.

...there's got to be a message in that somewhere.

Friday, December 15, 2006

testimony #023

In the airport at Minneapolis/St. Paul in route to Saskatchewan, Agent Wife and I met a young couple returning home after a semester in New Jersey.

They couldn't be older than 20. The gal struck up a conversation based on our squirming babies and we hit it off, I suppose.

They of course asked where we were from, going to, etc. Which led to how we met and what do we do in the fair mother city.

For some reason we actually told them without the secret agent lingo, but with more of an Uncle George-like description.

They asked what group we were with and we explained we weren't with anyone but the CEO and that he provided.

I didn't even know if this couple were christ followers or not. Turns out they met each other in some menonite youth group.

When the plane landed in Saskatchewan, they came up the AGent Wife in the baggage claim and slipped us a $100 support check.

Thank you CEO.

PS - we made it to Saskatchewan

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

adios, gringos

As some song says, I'm headed for the land of the ice and snow, where the something something and harsh winds blow. Hometown of Agent Wife. And folk singer Joni Mitchell.

This will be a long overdue break (three whole weeks) from the fair mother city (and Texas, and the US at that).

I don't plan to spend much time on computers, but I'll post agent reports as they come up. Vacation or not, agents are always on duty.

Please keep in touch...

Monday, December 11, 2006

irresistible quote

Throughout the agent network and its related blog reports, I’ve read many quotes of this Shane Claiborne and his book Irresistible Revolution.

This sounds like one of the many, many books I’d love to read, yet can’t afford now. And since it falls under our local library’s radar scopes, I can only hope a local acquaintance has a copy to lend. (Hint).

Here’s the latest quote I’ve read:

When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: “When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.”

Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping poor people. People are crucified for joining them.

Charity: good.

Love for the poor: bad.

I think I can definitely endorse these words without having read this book.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

so you want to be a secret agent (pt. III)

Try not to blow your cover.

When you’re out on the field and hear words like “shit, fuck, god damn, or ass hole”, don’t flinch.

You don’t have to embrace, repeat, or encourage words like these.

But flinching will blow your cover.

Mission over.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

so you want to...(pt. II)

So Agent B (if that’s you REAL name), I see that you don’t have a JOB. You are unemployed. Do I also have to be jobless to be a secret agent?

No jackass. Your job/career field could very well be the mission out reach that the CEO has placed you in. So go undercover in your work place by not waving your Christianity on a flag. Blend in with the scenery. Learn to love and befriend your coworkers.

My “unemployment” was a subtle transition into this secret agent calling. The ministry I was associated with had lost its funding over time. Eventually, I had no pay but the CEO continued to meet our needs somehow. And the ministry (izzy group) eventually lost its presence in the city and the CEO has been showing me how to minister amongst the poor without the confines of an institution. I do not know how long this assignment will last.

Hide my faith at work?!? Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth and to let our light shine before men. How else am I supposed to tell my heathen coworkers that I’m saved and they’re not?

Aw man, I don’t even know where to go with this...

As a bonafide salt lover, I’d choose chips over cookies any day. Have you ever put salt on your food and have the saltshaker top fall off and dump the whole bottle on your food? Did you eat it? It tastes like crap, right? Salt is meant for small, consistent, reliable doses. Not a slap in the face.

I also see that you are not associated with any of our lord’s institutionalized churches. Do I have to leave my church to be a secret agent?

No. Your church could also be a place for your undercover activity, depending on your specific assignment from the CEO. Just be aware of the possibility that your church leaders may eventually place expectations on you that are contrary to the calling the CEO gives you as a secret agent. And in the end, it’s best to choose god (CEO) rather than man (church leaders) – Acts 5: 29. At least, that was my experience to a degree.

Monday, December 04, 2006

so you want to be a secret agent (pt. I)

The following series of blog reports will be a semi-serious attempt to explain this missionary schtick of mine known as secret agent, aka undercover operative for the CEO of the universe.

Not that I believe in wordy explanations for anything.

Like music, if the artist(s) have to explain their music with verbiage before and/or after an initial listening, then the music didn’t do it’s job.

Faith is similar. When jesus followers have to give verbose explanations and debates for everything, then perhaps their life as a whole is lacking in the faith they claim. I don’t know. Just a theory.

But the agent b files have been up and running for over a year. And it’s time for a somewhat clear-cut explanation, if possible. So as long as I’ve got time to waste, here goes…

Part I: definition

What is a secret agent/undercover operative? – There is no Webster’s definition that I know of. And I don't feel like googling a definition. But it’s basically a person masquerading as someone else in order to complete a task or extended mission.

I have real problems with that “masquerading” part. That word generally means faking or pretending. I like to be real, not fake. Movie actors who pretend to be someone else on film will actually go through real life situations before or during filming in order to not fake it. In preparation for Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg put Tom Hanks and crew in a real life army boot camp for six weeks.

I watched a TV program recently about an FBI agent who went undercover as a biker in order to join the Hell’s Angels to help bring some of their murdering members to justice. The FBI couldn’t send in some guy faking the biker life. He’d be exposed and killed instantly. So they used an agent who actually was a biker in his spare time and knew the culture. Some faking might have happened and some on-the-spot acting was necessary. But the agent could fit in with the Hell’s Angels without being noticed. Basically, the agent WAS a Hell’s Angel.

My particular missionary calling is to the poverty culture of the fair mother city. It makes sense why the CEO had me do this. I’ve been in this city almost half my life. I was born and raised middle class. But many key situations throughout my life have trained me for this moment without my knowing. Including a 4-year stint as a minister of benevolence with a food pantry and other offerings to the poverty community.

Now I am one of “them”. Embedded within their neighborhood and various life situations. No longer an us vs. them ordeal. I am them. But I am the CEO’s. I am one of them, but I am not. Confusing? Maybe.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

testimony #022

As a christmas gift, a family member decided to buy me and my family airline tickets for our Canada trip in two weeks.

This is a huge answer.

Everyone who hears this says something like, "good. I was nervous about you driving".

Yeah, no duh. How do you think I felt? Driving 1700 miles one way, straight north in winter conditions, with my two babies in diapers, in an aging semi-reliable car with 238,000 mi that's never operated in -25C before.

Guess I'm a Texas driver.

Thank you CEO.

Friday, December 01, 2006

1000 words #002

(circa: late 1930's)

This is Obi-Wan and, "...some woman I took to a dance." He can't remember her name.

But that hasn't stopped him from keeping this framed photo in his living room for over 50 years.