Monday, December 27, 2010

Late December Update

Friends and loved ones,

December has been a very successful month for me, both personally AND toward Japan. It has been a time of reconnecting with estranged friends and family. My dear friends Lance, Amy, and Kelsey returned home in early Dec. after a three month absence. At the same time, I've had the wonderful privilege of reconnecting with my cousin Jacob after a decade of radio silence.

It was so brilliant to see my cousin after a decade and realize the ways we've grown together over a great distance. I've always felt like I didn't know my extended family, since I have always been the younger cousin, but speaking now as adults is incredibly rewarding. Last summer, I had my brother's wedding AND a reunion to see my relatives again, and the more of them I meet, the more connected I feel to my family and the big picture. I want my life to involve more connectedness from now on...

God has also blessed me this month with friends who are both supportive and generous, even though it's the holiday season and (let's face it), who REALLY feels generous this time of year? Only by faith. I've been  overwhelmed by friends who've stepped forward to help. So far, about $1200 has been raised toward Japan.

But not all gifts are financial. Just this Christmas, my loving/wonderful girlfriend, Alysondra, gave me some (MUCH NEEDED) new shoes to wear, which will no longer make me look like a homeless man. Even more, I have a camera to take with me now, thanks to the generous contribution of Mark and Stacy Hennings.. to one, to all, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I am incredibly psyched coming off this month to see what God will do in January. I am meeting with the elders from Grace Chapel and Rosemont Alliance in the coming weeks, and the number of people who have chosen to support me keeps increasing. Praise Jesus.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Early December Update...

Hello friends,

As I sit on my sofa with a cold watching old episodes of the office I am drawn my thoughts on Japan, and I feel an update is in order.

I know this is reminiscent of my last post, but, as my mind drifts back to it from time to time, I STILL find myself inspired by Bicycle. Part of this is because fund raising isn't exactly going as planned. Being a first timer, I am overcoming a large amount of challenges all at once. Contacting people, being tactful, planning events that are FUN. My friend group is mostly those who just graduated from or are still in college, it's not an easy fit for them to give monetarily (as it never is for me, either). It's taking some out of the box thinking. All in all, I've probably raised around $1000... five more to go... I feel like I'm chasing little bicycle parts all over town. But this is the world in which I live.

On the plus side, I've got a super-fun Christmas Party/fundraiser coming up on Dec. 17. It should be a big shindig, with live music and a raffle.. I'm hoping that will bring in $500. Every little bit counts.. And it will be fun. Which is the whole point. And yes, I love ugly sweaters.

So, the biggest thing I need at this point is just for people to stay tuned.. and show up to my Christmas party. The fact that you're connected with me right now means the world. If you're interested in seeing Bicycle, there will be a few more showings coming up this month, and I'll be sending out invitations soon. In the meantime, much love muchachos..


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crunch Time

I want to start this note by saying a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who showed up to the movie screening on Saturday. It's a truly amazing feeling to have your friends come see and support what you're doing. I felt the warmth and love of the people in my life in a way new and amazing way. It's surprising and inspiring to see twenty-somethings get together to give not only spiritual and emotional, but financial support to a peer.

We raised about $180.. for a fundraiser of fewer than twenty young people, that's not too shabby. It's not about the money--It was such a blessing to have people partner with me. Here are my shout outs to the people who made this event possible: Alysondra, Haley, Toni , Amber, my loving mother June, Natalie, Ian (the sound guy), and of course Jesus C. (deity).

Today is sort of a nervous day for me because I find out if I got into the MDS pharmaceutical study or not. This is pivotal, because I could earn up to $3,000 toward Japan.. if not, I'll have to do a lot more fundraising. I know God will provide the money. At the same time, in my book, money earned is better than money requisitioned.

However, I am honored to have the partnership of my friends and loved ones on this adventure into the unknown. Allowing others to give includes them in the entire process, and this is just as important as having the funds. This is something I have even been challenged by in my uncle's movie, Jitensha (Bicycle).

In Bicycle, Mamoru encounters an old man at the beach that helps him discover his last lost bike part. In passing, the old man (sporting a yellow poncho, a long, gray beard, and a metal detector--I dream to look that classy someday, but I guess to be Japanese you've got to be born Japanese...), admonishes Mamoru that "sometimes you have to rely on others to find what you're looking for."

It's true for me as well. In this instance, I have to rely on others to accomplish these big goals. I don't have to do everything myself. At the same time, personally, I feel it is necessary to earn everything. But I simply can't, and shouldn't have to.

I am reminded again about how simply inspiring I find this movie to be. Having watched it 7 or 8 times now, I am drawn to how it speaks to me over and over. He's closed up, inside his shell ... this is the world you live in ... sometimes you must rely on others ... your handwriting sucks. All these things and more I find context for in my own life. As much as I am hoping to minister to others, I have already been ministered to in greater abundance.

In less than 2 hours I'll find out about the medical study. If that's not the ticket (I've never succeeded in getting into one), then I know God will make another way. I guess it's a lesson in trust waiting to happen.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Postage Paid

If you're tuning in to this today (or any other day) it is probably because I sent support letters this week. First of all, THANK YOU for reading. A double huge thanks to anyone who clips out my picture and sticks it on their fridge.

It was a gigantic relief to finally see the letters go this week. They had been weighing on me, and I just wanted them to be perfect. I spent so much time meticulously fine-tuning them down to the tiniest detail--I wanted to show an excellent portrait of my vision. If I hadn't put my heart into them, I would be selling myself, and ultimately everyone, short. Having done that, there is a certain point at which you have to let things go, let things be themselves, and wash your hands of it. I had reached that point, and, now that I've contacted you, I hope you can capture my vision for this project.

Japan is still two and a half months away, and though that seems far off, time is short. I know the holiday season is difficult, but I am hoping to raise the $5,000-$7,000 that I'll need by 2011. This would be another giant relief, and a huge answer to prayer.

On my end, I've also been working with my brother, Mark, to learn video filming and editing. I made a trip to Omaha last week and filmed some footage with Omaha Video Solutions, and, under Mark's guidance recorded some of the material that appeared in the final video here.

Mark is so talented--it's awesome and awkward to be having my younger brother wow me with his knowledge. We always joked about how Mark would be a millionaire when I was growing up. But we were always secretly serious. And now I see why. So much love, bro!

My weekly update is concluded, so I would just like to emphasize an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who read their letters this week. I'm excited to see you all subscribe.

Peace, love, and Happy Halloween.


Monday, September 27, 2010

What does it mean?

Things are moving this week. I'm going to stuff my excitement for a couple more days and withhold the exact details, but my support letter for Japan is nearly finished, so many of you will be hearing from me (maybe for the first time) very soon. In light of this, I'd like to write a bit about the concept behind this page.

Cormac McCarthy (Thanks to
What do I mean when I say "carrying the fire?" To be truthful, this is a reference to a book called The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, which I recently finished reading. McCarthy is also famous for No Country for Old Men (2005) and All the Pretty Horses (1992). The Road (2007) was quickly followed by a movie version in 2009. The Road is a sparsely written tale about a post-apocalyptic world, in which a man (Viggo Mortenson) and his son are meandering through the wasteland, trying to reach the ocean. The background on this website is a screen shot from the movie.

The story is altogether depressing. The prose is filled with unexplained desolation in a world where all the plants and animals have died, laying now beneath a darkened sky, as if some mysterious vandal had taken a sledgehammer to our life cycle for no good reason. The aptly depicted movie, even more so than the book, is both visually stunning and devastating. A hopeless and dying world brings days filled with only hunger, cold, and fear. Many of the people left living have turned to desperate and dehumanized measures in order to survive.. cannibalism not excepted. The greatest danger in this world is not dying, but being taken captive by the "bad guys."

The man and the boy trudge slowly toward the ocean, hoping feebly to find a place where things are different, where the scorched earth still struggles to live. Neither of them knows why they are walking. They wrestle with questions of their own purpose, surrounded by death, knowing that their own ends are not far away. The man tries to encourage the boy, even though he has no hope in his heart. Indeed, his only hope is the boy. They are the "good guys." They are "carrying the fire" together.

carrying the fire
I've been overwhelmed with the paucity of hope flickering in the middle of barren emptiness. I find this a relevant corollary for my faith. I find that in the midst of doubt, trial, and injustice in this life, not knowing my path but sensing a direction I should be traveling, faith is often small, even wavering. But it is furiously and even senselessly stubborn. I do not envision my faith as a brilliant bon fire, but as a Zippo lighter, barely making enough light or warmth even for me to trudge a days march in the right direction. And I'll scavenge for fuel where I can. carry the fire.

Perhaps the fire is in the very struggle itself?

My thoughts also turn to my journey to Japan. It is a foreign road to me, where my challenges will be unknown and my limits will be tested. If I brave the darkness with my lighter, will my light increase, or will the confronting darkness close in, striving doubly to snuff me out? Nonetheless, I will continue in the direction that has been laid out for me. I believe a way has been made, though I don't understand how. carry the fire.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend reading The Road. It is both poignant and beautiful, while concurrently somber and sparse. Cormac McCarthy, in few words, has shown much insight into the human spirit.

At any rate, now you know where I am in my thoughts.

Stay tuned..


More about The Road:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello world

I think it's been too long since I put myself out there, so let me start by saying it's good to be back.

I'm starting this journal as a place to detail my travels and exploits, especially those in the coming months with Japan.  It's a way to keep you all up to date on what's going on with my growing process, the travels themselves, and what God is doing.  It's also a way for me to fill you in a little bit more than I can via snail mail.  Congratulations; you're going inside my psyche.  It will probably feel something like being inside a running dishwasher.

I'll keep this first one short, since most of you haven't heard from me yet.  And yes, I'm still under construction.  For now, take solace in the fact that I'm here, I'm talking to you, and eventually I may even say something of meaning.  No promises.

Peace and Love