I need an introvert day

Posted in family, friends, kids, leadership at 5:59 pm

I’m an introvert.

There was a time in my life when I thought that was a character flaw. Introverts don’t like people, right? They’re kind of anti-social and maybe even a little snotty. How can that possibly be a good thing? I once had a friend question whether or not an introvert could even be a missionary.

Then I learned the real definition of introvert. We’re not anti-social and snotty. We like people just as much as extroverts. But the difference is that being around people is draining for introverts. It makes us tired. Extroverts come home from a party excitedly talking about all the great conversations they had. Introverts would rather drive home in silence, ready to slip into bed. One time after church my wife was asking me all kinds of questions about things that had happened, and I finally had to sheepishly admit that I was out of words – I honestly didn’t have it in me to have any more conversation!

This week has been full of meetings. And the kids have needed a little more attention than usual. And being the interim team leader means people turn their head and look at me during a meeting when it’s decision time. Which all adds up to a very tired introvert. When I saw being an introvert as a bad thing, it also would have added up to a lot of guilt. “Maybe introverts really shouldn’t be missionaries?” I would think. Now I see it as a part of me being me. I need to take some time to get recharged before I drain all the way to zero. Staying at zero too long often leads to bad things.

It’s a good thing to start to feel comfortable with the personality that God gave me.


What does it mean to be ecumenical?

Posted in church, culture at 1:51 pm

Last night I presided over a Catholic prayer service with a priest who, the first time I met him, told me he had never met an evangelical before.

This week is a special week of prayer for the unity of churches. Every night there are at least two places that are having some sort of meeting with churches from lots of denominations. I was slated for the prayer service in Castelfidardo, followed by a question and answer period after.

The priest was very welcoming. I told him I was there to help in any way, and that I had prepared a short thought after the reading from 1 Peter. He told me he would be happy to hear my thoughts, and away the service went. Things went as planed, except when he spontaneously nudged me during the service when he decided I should read some of the responsive texts with him.

The question and answer period after was fairly low key. I introduced myself and the others who came with me. Most wanted to know what a protestant service was like. The nuns who came up asked me the three classic questions: 1) Do you pray to Mary? 2) Are you under the pope? 3) Is communion for you actually the body and blood of Christ, or just a symbol? Unfortunately, according to one of the nuns, I was “wrong” on all three counts.

I honestly dread these meetings. I’m not much of a PR guy. Crowds of strangers are difficult for me. Question and answer time is rough because the Italian doesn’t always flow under pressure. But after I get over it I always enjoy them. Even after almost four years here, it’s still hard for me to believe how little Catholics know about us protestants. And that lack of knowledge very quickly turns to fear and suspision (and vice versa). And so maybe for a group of 30 people in a small town outside of Ancona, the Chiesa di Cristo La Via isn’t such a scary place.

During the meeting I quoted a friend of mine, who gave me some wise counsel during a time when I was really unsure about ecumenicalism. He told me that if two groups of people (evangelical and catholic) are genuinely following Christ, then at a certain point our paths will meet. That point in time may be tomorrow or it may be 1,000 years from now. But it will come.

And at that point, this week of prayer for Christian unity may make a little more sense.

January 2009 Newsletter

Posted in Newsletters at 1:31 pm

Just realized I’m behind in posting newsletters. Oops! Here’s the last three months…

January 2009 Newsletter

December 2008

Posted in Newsletters at 1:29 pm

December 2008 Newsletter

November 2008 Newsletter

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:27 pm

November 2008 Newsletter


En Garde

Posted in Ancona, kids at 6:45 pm

So my son is a fencer. When he first started I didn’t know the first thing about fencing. Now I know just enough to be able to tell who won a match after it’s over. It’s been a really great experience for him, and I think has taught him a lot of discipline. And maybe even given him some self-confidence.

Here’s a video we took of one of the preliminary rounds of his last tournament. A red light on the scoreboard means a point for him, a green light means a point for his opponent. However, if any of the lights are accompanied by an amber light, the point isn’t valid. In this kind of fencing, only a direct hit with the tip of the foil counts. The scoreboard knows which part of the foil hit. Our son is on the left, furthest from the camera. The lady with the black purse that walks in front of me is one of his coaches.

Hope you like the video!

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The Feeding of an Infant

Posted in culture, family, health care, kids at 9:55 am

Everything is cultural. Every now and then I start to think that surely there must be some universal truths that are true for everyone in every culture. Like raising an infant. There have to be some dos and don’ts, right?

Wrong! Our kids’ pediatrician is teaching us that. Around Francesca’s five month check up, she hands Heidi a badly photocopied recipe called: Diet from the 6th Month. Here it is:

Make a vegetable puree with:

one potato, one carrot, one zucchini, one onion, and either some Swiss chard or celery.

Take 2-3 tablespoonfuls of the vegetable puree and add:

2 teaspoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoonfuls of aged Parmesan cheese

3-4 tablespoonfuls of multi grain cereal or baby pasta

10 grams of powdered meat or 60 grams of pureed meat

And so once a day for lunch, that’s what Francesca eats. For dinner, we substitute ricotta cheese instead of the meat. Starting with the seventh month we add fish instead of meat. And from seven and a half months we add ham. And then month eight brings beans (surely we’ll notice the effects of that!).

We raised three kids in America, and I don’t ever remember boiling an onion or Swiss chard for the babies lunch. I can’t think of any pediatrician that recommends ricotta or Parmesan cheese for a six month old. But we tried it, and she loves it. No gas or tummy aches from the onion. The pureed meat is just fine.

And it all proves that everything – even what we feed our kids – is completely influenced by what everyone around us does.