Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Apple a Day...

I believe that the Macintosh is superior to the Microsoft PC in almost every aspect, but especially those of hardware and software. I have used Macintosh computers for almost three years, and have found them to be the best computer no matter the application. Although often portrayed as the underdog, the Macintosh has now become a leader in the computer industry, both in terms of technology and of innovation. No longer does one have to take a huge risk to switch to the Mac. Despite this, Industry and Academia are just starting to realize the potential of the Macintosh.
In addition to being superior in hardware and software, Macs are also highly rated in customer satisfaction. As John C. Wood observes, “Additionally, we note a finding that we did not encounter in this study. Namely, not one participant in our study was unhappy with their Macintosh computer. On the contrary, all of the individuals were enthusiastic – die-hard – users” (14).
There are many reasons to buy a Mac. First, there's usability and intuitiveness. The Macintosh is designed to be easy to use. In a perfect world, the easier to use system would win out over the competition, but this has not happened with the Macintosh. Instead, most users are stuck with  an operating system that forces them to hit a button labeled “Start” to turn off their computer. Most users have simply accepted this poor design over time, not knowing that there is a better alternative, or simply not willing to leave the comfortable confines of what they know.
Most of the power of the Macintosh lies in it's operating system. OS X (the operating system that Macintosh computers run) is based on a UNIX core. Technology reviewer Jan Ozer finds that, “OS X is equally impressive. Connecting to the Internet via Mindspring or an Ethernet connection was a breeze, and I was able to successfully load and run Microsoft's Office Suite, as well as Final Cut Express and the iLife suite...” In addition to being easy to use, OS X is also very stable. Because the OS is based on UNIX (which has been around since the dawn of the computing age) Macintosh users experience far fewer crashes or program freeze ups than their PC counterparts. The dreaded but often used “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” shortcut, so depended on in Windows, can be forgotten once one begins to use a Macintosh. OS X also offers the welcome advantage of being susceptible to far fewer viruses than the PC, making it a far more dependable and durable machine.
A Macintosh also makes it easier to be creative. Most high end professional video and  image editing software is available only for the Macintosh. The Macintosh has built in tools such as the Digital Color Meter and the system wide color profile settings that were designed specifically with artists in mind. Even the user interface is designed using neutral colors, so as not to affect color perception when an artist is editing images.
So, if the Macintosh offers all of these advantages, why is there not a massive rush to snatch up every Mac available? The PC crowd offers many reasons why the Macintosh is a second rate choice, and most of these arguments can be broken down into two categories: price and compatibility. We'll start with price.
In his buying guide entitled “How To Buy A Pc.”, Brian Kennedy points out, “Most of the world uses PCs, so they're cheaper, have more software and more plug-and-play peripherals.” and “PCs also tend to be less expensive than Macs that have the same features.” Macintosh computers can be expensive when compared to their PC counterparts, but I think a basic principle of economics holds true: “You get what you pay for.” This is the case with the Macintosh. Macintosh computers are known to last longer than their PC counterparts. There are two reasons for the Macintosh's unmatched longevity; the quality of the components and the fact that it contracts fewer viruses. There are ten year old Macintosh computers still selling for two to three hundred dollars, something you will not find in the realm of the PC.
Lastly, and most importantly, compatibility. According to Brian Kennedy “PCs account for more than 85% of the desktop computer world; Macs represent a mere 10%. That's why software developers (especially game companies) make a lot more programs for PCs.” For a long time, major software packages were available only for the PC.  This is one area where PC proponents held the upper hand for a long time, but this in no longer the case. Macintosh users now account for a large enough percentage of users that software developers are giving them quite a bit of consideration. As stated earlier, Microsoft's Office suite can be run natively on the Mac. Every day, more and more work is done through web browsers reducing the need for specialized software. And if that wasn't enough, the Macintosh can even run Microsoft Windows for the ultimate compatibility.
These are the two main reasons for not buying a Mac, and I believe that the other reasons are quickly becoming fewer and less relevant as time passes. David Beckman and David Hirsch also share this belief. They conclude that,
Every few years we nostalgically look at, and sometimes write about, the Macintosh. Invariably, we conclude that most of Macintosh's features are better than conventional Windows, but not so much better as to overcome Windows warts. Things are different now. It used to be difficult to mix a Macintosh into a Windows network. No longer. It is pretty much plug and play. There used to be many must-have programs that only ran on Windows. That is becoming less and less true now.
Keeping all of this in mind, I would recommend a Macintosh to any friend or family member without hesitation. It is the obvious choice for someone seeking an easy to use, yet powerful and stable machine.

Works Cited
Beckman, David, and David Hirsch. "Big Mac Attack." ABA Journal 90.12 (2004): 60-68. Academic     Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.
Jordan C. Wood, et al. "Self-Admitted Pretensions Of Mac Users On A Predominantly PC University Campus." Educational Media International 47.1 (2010): 1-17. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Kennedy, Brian. "How To Buy A Pc." ON Magazine 6.7 (2001): 44. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.
Ozer, Jan. "ESCAPE From Freedom." Emedia -- The Digital Studio Magazine 16.8 (2003): 48. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We See Genius

  When most people think of a “geek”, a stereotypical image will most likely pop into their head. A lanky, skinny guy, with buck teeth and glasses, walking awkwardly down the hall. He might be wearing plaid pants (held at an abnormal height by suspenders), a striped shirt, and tall socks escaping his tight fitting dress shoes. Geeks are commonly held to be losers with no life. Part of this is due to the way they act. They never go to dances, football games, or parties. Instead, they stay at home and do weird things, like read, study, and program computers. Therefore, the thinking goes, they must not be very interesting or have anything useful to contribute to society. Right?

This stereotypical view is one that is held by my friend Alton Wampler. He said that when he thinks of a geek, he sees someone who “is really obsessed with schoolwork and getting good grades, and doesn't take time to have fun.” He also says that a geek “does a lot of work with computers and stuff that no one really understands.” His description of a typical geek includes glasses, a graphing calculator, and flash drives.

The Wikipedia definition also does a lot to advance this commonly held view. Wikipedia defines a “geek” as “a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person's smooth operation within society.”

My view of a geek, however, is much different. Part of this has to do with the fact that I consider myself a geek. I don't wear tight fitting pants or walk around with a graphing calculator in my pocket (those belong in a backpack), but I am still often called a “geek” by my friends. This is mostly because of my interests in academics and computers. I read computer manuals for fun, thus making me very geeky; or so say the people around me. But, although my friends make fun of me, they're very happy they know me when their computer crashes. They know that I can help them, because this is my area of study and expertise.

So, instead of defining a geek as someone “with no life”, I would say that a geek is someone who is extremely dedicated to a particular subject matter that just happens to be perceived as abnormal by the large majority of people. I think geeks are able to separate those things that are important from the things that aren't, and will pursue those things that are most likely to benefit them in the future. A geek is willing to sacrifice his perception by society to do something great.

A good example of this would be Steve Jobs. Perceived by the rest of world as a loser, Jobs dropped out of Reed College during his first semester so that he could “stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting” (Stanford University). One of these was a calligraphy class that would later inspire the beautiful fonts on the Macintosh. Jobs' invention of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, have literally changed the world by making the internet more accessible to people no matter where in the world they are. Although most thought Jobs' obsession with technology was “weird”, he made an impact in the world through his dedication and commitment to something he was passionate about.

Essentially, I believe that being a geek is about being different, and I think that the following poem, entitled “Here's to the Crazy Ones”, sums it up very well.

Here's to the crazy ones
The misfits, the rebels, the trouble makers
the round pegs in the square holes
The ones who see things differently
They're not fond of rules,
and they have no respect for the status quo
You can quote them, disagree with them
glorify or vilify them
About the only thing you can't do
is ignore them
because they change things
They push the human race forward
While some may see them as the crazy ones
We see genius
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world
Are the ones who do

(Apple Inc.)

Works Cited
Apple Inc. Apple Steve Jobs The Crazy Ones – NEVER BEFORE AIRED 1997 YouTube, 01 Feb. 2009. Web. 24 Oct. 2011

Geek.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia. Web. 13 Oct. 2011

Stanford University. Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Address YouTube, 07 Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Oct. 2011

Wampler, Alton. Telephone Interview. 22 Oct. 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

People are People

(This is an essay that I wrote for my ENG-111 class at Virginia Western)

I believe that people are people, no matter how different they may seem at first. I believe that people, no matter where they live, what language they speak, or what their background they possess, ultimately have the same thoughts, feelings, joys, and needs.
This summer, I went on a missions trip to Poland with my church. On this missions trip, I met a variety of people. At first, most of these people seemed radically different from me. They didn't look like me, they spoke a language that was foreign, and they ate strange food. But, during the week we were there, and as our team ate with them, played with them, and talked with them through translators, I made a discovery. Despite our seemingly radical differences, we actually had a lot in common.
One of the most powerful ways of relating our team had was through sports. The majority of the time we were in Poland was spent in a small village called Szaflary. Over the course of the week, we played hours upon hours of soccer (fütból) with the people of that village. During these games, our relationships with the people grew exponentially. At the beginning of the week, when we met on the field, there were awkward handshakes all around. By day number two, handshakes had turned into fist bumps, and by the end of the week, we were sharing brotherly hugs with this group of people that we had just met several days prior. I believe that the joy of sporting and the human need for companionship allowed our team to transcended the language barrier and build meaningful relationships across cultures.
Another way our team connected with the villagers was through music. Music has been called the “Universal Language”, and this proved to be true once again. During our time in Poland, we sang many songs with the people of Szaflary. Some of the songs they sang, we knew the lyrics to, and vice versa. We would sing along with each other when we could, and sit and listen quietly when we couldn't. I cannot describe the incredible sense of connection and community that I felt as I stood singing those worship songs while the person next to me sang along in another language . Once again, the music was something that both our team, and the villagers could understand on a deeper level than language.
Although similar joys are a powerful point of connection, I believe that similar needs connect us all on an even deeper level. Joys may change, but needs do not. Needs such as family, friends, food, and shelter are universal to all people, no matter their position in life. Overall, I believe the greatest need is to have purpose in one's life. I believe I have found that purpose, and it is my desire to use my life to share it with as many people as possible.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Poland Recap

Poland. What an amazing, awesome, and wonderful trip. But also a bit different in some ways.

When people think of a missions trip, most likely images start to pop into their heads. Most likely these images include mud huts, poverty, and perhaps many people coming to know Christ.
But, our mission trip to Poland didn't match this mold. In fact, it was much different.

Now don't get me wrong, the people we were working with in Poland were still very poor, but they weren't as poor as a lot of the people we had worked with before in Romania. The people in the village we were working in (which was called Szaflary) were mostly Christians. Jerry Goss (the missionary that we were working with) has instilled the concept of stewardship in their lives.

A lot of what we did during our time there was just to fellowship with the believers in that village. Our team ran a VBS/day camp for the kids, and several of us played volleyball with the teenagers and young adults. During our time there, we had one young man re-dedicate his life to Christ, and one young woman become a believer.

Now, it would be easy to look at that and become discouraged. Compared to the response that we saw last year, this would seem to be disappointing. But what if we take a closer look? Justin Krehbiel who stayed behind in Romania last year, has since been able to tell us, that of the many we believe gave their lives to Christ during last year's trip, he only knows of one who is really changed in lifestyle. This gives me hope that maybe this one in Poland was genuine. I believe that the concentrated time we spent with the body of believers there truly made a difference.

So, I would like to give you the answer to three questions that I have been asking myself since we returned.

First: “How did God use me?”
I believe God used me to connect people back at home with our group. I hope people were and are able to feel a part of what God is doing in Poland by hearing and reading about what he did on this trip. But, I feel God taught me much more than he used me on this trip.

So, “What did God teach me?”
The biggest thing God taught me this week was how the church is one. No matter the barriers of language or geography, we are still united. I felt on this trip that I connected more with the church in Poland than on my trip to Romania last year. I think that had to do with the amount of time we spent with believers in the village. In addition to us going to the village each day, the believers from the village would also come to our hotel at night to have a time of sharing and fellowship. For me, these were some of the most powerful times of the whole trip. It was amazing to hear each person share, some in English, and some in Polish. The music is always amazing to me, hearing the music in two, three, or even four languages.

Lastly: “How did God change me?”
This week, God changed my perspective on prayer. Sometimes when I pray for people, I feel so detached from them, that after a while, I get discouraged and quit praying for that particular person. Most of you have heard the story, but for the benefit of those who haven't, I will repeat it.
Three years ago during Fuge camp, we were asked to write the letter “Z” on our hand to remind us to pray for a baby named Zachariah. Well, during this trip, we worked closely with that baby's father and mother. The baby ended up dying, but Andrei (the baby's father) and his wife now have a powerful ministry helping the people in their village. It was just amazing for me to see that connection... that from half a world away, I was praying for this baby, who's father I would meet three years later. Crazy.
So, two things I would challenge you with. Get rid of preconceived notions. Missions can take on many different forms, including discipleship and fellowship. Also, when praying don't be discouraged, even if can't see the connections immediately.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Last Day in Poland

Wow, this week has flown by. I can hardly believe that we are leaving Poland tomorrow morning!
First of all, there will be no blog from Claire and Joseph today. Everyone is pretty worn out, and we have to leave at 06:00 tomorrow morning. I, however, decided to push through, and bring you another blog post.
This morning we awoke and went down to breakfast for the last time. It was the usual meat and cheese fare that we have grown used to.
After lunch we packed our stuff into the vans which had just arrived. There was little bit of concern about how long it would take us to make it to Krakow, the town we flew into. It usually is a two hour trip from where we were near Zakopane. The cause for concern was a bike race (called the "Tour do Poland. And no, I'm actually serious) that was going through the town of Zakpane. So we started off, thinking we might have to sit in traffic for four hours. Thankfully, we beat the traffic, and had no problem getting to the hotel. We unloaded our luggage from the vans, and then went out to see the sights. We went to a castle, the square, the cloth hall, and a few other prominent landmarks around Krakow.

Then, my group (which was a subset of the whole group) went to eat dinner. Jerry took us to this restaurant that looked like a hole in the wall from the outside. We went inside, took a set of steps down, and went way back under the street it seemed. It was crazy and awesome. Melissa Andersen ordered fish, and she got fish all right. A whole one, with the eyes still in it. We started laughing, making fun of it, and taking pictures. Doug said, "You guys cut it out! Don't act like a bunch of hicks!" Ha-ha.

After dinner, we had a time to just debrief, and talk about how the week had gone.
After that, we went back out into the town for about an hour to see Krakow at night.

As I write this, it is 00:43 in the morning, and we have to leave the hotel at 06:00 tomorrow. I should be getting to bed. Goodnight!

Our Last Day in Szaflary

Today was our last day in the village of Szaflary. We piled into the vans after breakfast this morning to make the daily trip down. When we first got there, we took a minute to greet the kids, and then took some of the older ones to play soccer and volleyball.
We had a great time like yesterday, giving each other a hard time the entire time, and smack talking. We had the usual Polish Sausage for lunch, along with a special type of cheese that they cooked on the grill. Once lunch was done, Mrs. Carter, a translator named Monica, and I took food to two holocaust survivors that live in the village. They were overjoyed to see us, even on this, the third day of us bringing them food. One lady said it better than any of us could. She said "You must care a lot about us to come so far to visit us!"

Also today, the Roma people put on a cultural performance for us with song and dance and traditional costumes. After we were done, Claire, Pate, Amanda, Courtney, and a few others from our team put on a cultural American performance, and taught them the Electric Slide.
On the ride back down the mountain, we got close to topping a record for Jerry's van. We managed to squeeze 22 people into his nine passenger van. The record stands at 23.
After we ate dinner, we had group share time with the Christians from Szaflary. It was a great time of sharing, but what impacted me the most was when one of our Polish translators said that he thought it was a shame that a group from America has to come all the way to Poland to work with the Roma like the Christians in Poland already should be doing. Also, he said that he is ashamed of the way that most Polish people have treated the Roma, and that he is going to work hard to break that stereotype. What he said about the Polish and Roma peoples is also true of us in America. It made me realize how important it is to reach out to those around me every day.

Now, I'll turn it over to Claire and Joseph...

Hello friends and fans! This is Claire and Joseph for the last time. Don't be sad, for we will return home soon and you will be able to hear of our escapades and adventures in person. Today was our last day in the village. It was such an amazing day!

As you all may or may not know, the Tour de Poland is passing through our area right as we speak. (true story) Today, we were on our way to the village as a few of the racers rode by. Mark Andersen couldn't let the opportunity to join the race slip by. He demanded that the van be pulled over so he could jump out and begin racing. A moment before he exited the vehicle, he looked both ways before crossing traffic. From across the road, a brilliant idea came to his mind. This was going to be a family adventure. He yelled for the entire family to join him and soon enough, the entire Andersen family was going to make history.

The Andersen family consisting of Mark, Beth, Katie, Dillon, Melissa, and Ian are the first family to attempt the Tour de Poland on foot. Mark should probably be on mile 47 by now. The others unfortunately did not have such luck. In fact, they are not with us anymore. Beth was apparently "in the zone" when she tripped over a log and barrel rolled off of the snow capped Carpathian Mountains. Fifty yards back, Dillon accidentally ran into an electric fence. Ian took a wrong turn and encountered the still raging Polish Beast that nearly obliterated Doug and Ricky the day before. Katie and Melissa sadly did not make it very far in the race. Around mile 1.5, inflammation began to occur in Katie's shins. Crippled by the excruciating pain, Katie had to be carried on Melissa's shoulders. A freak storm came over the mountains and the two sisters were struck by lightning. Last but certainly not least, Mark was approaching the finish line when the camera man from helicopter covering the breaking story dropped his camera on his head. Mark's idea did not turn out to be so brilliant after all. However, Mark, Beth, Katie, Dillon, Melissa, and Ian will forever be remembered as brave heroes. They have become legends and inspiration for people all around the world.

Signing off from Poland, for the last time :(
Joseph Wampler and Claire Guilliams (Undefeated pingpong doubles champions)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Story Connected With FUGE

To start with, let me clarify this for anyone who may have had a misperception about the blog. Everything Claire and Joseph have been writing is fiction, and what I write is what actually happened during the day. I did not get left behind in the airport, Matt does not have a massive head wound, and Doug and Ricky did not start a stampede of cattle (today's edition). I have allowed Claire and Joseph to post these bits of humor as way to lighten the sometimes serious mood of this blog. Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings, I will be moving their segment to the end of each blog post.
So, I want to tell you guys about something really cool. Several years ago at Fuge, during a missions emphasis on the Roma people group, we were told about a Roma child called Zachariah who was very sick. The Fuge staff asked us to write a "Z" on our hand with a permanent marker, so that when we saw the "Z", we would remember to pray for baby Zachariah. This week we are working with that baby's parents, in the village (Szaflary) were they live in! The parent's names are Andrei and Ola. Their baby did end up dying, but they now have a powerful ministry in the village. Andrei is now the leader of the church in the village. It's just amazing to see this connection. Sometimes when you sit in a pew and hear about these people, you might send up a quick prayer, or drop a few bucks in the offering plate, but not really think on the reality of the matter. It's really struck me this week how real these people are. These are real physical interactions, not just hearing about it second or third hand. The IMB missionary we are working with (Jerry Goss), was also featured in some of the Fuge missions emphasis videos about the Roma people group.
Now, the rest of what happened today.
We left the hotel in Banska Wyzna and went back to the village of Szaflary. We arrived and were a little disappointed to see that most of the guys that we had played soccer with yesterday were not there. So, we had and impromptu worship service, praying especially for Andrei and his work in the village.

We then cooked and ate lunch. We had some amazing organic bacon. Each slice was about a quarter-inch thick and tasted delicious.
After lunch we played a huge game of volleyball. It was hilarious, we were smack talking each other the entire time. Mr. Andersen was absolutely hilarious. Justin gained the nickname Pele for his soccer like volleyball moves. Ricky Wampler (6'7") kept stuffing everyone. There were some awesome saves.

On the way back up the mountain, we broke this weeks previous record of fourteen people in a nine passenger van, and went with twenty. Sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do. The van record in twenty four, so we may see what we can do about that.
We then came back to the hotel, ate dinner, and had our nightly share time with the believers from the village. During our worship service, one Roma man rededicated his life to Christ, and one Roma lady became a believer.
So far it has been an awesome time, and I'm looking forward expectantly to what God will do tomorrow.

Now for Claire and Joseph's Blog

Greetings fans! Claire and Joseph here, back by popular demand! Today was an absolutely fantastic day for everyone except for Ricky Wampler and Doug Hayes. Ricky and Doug were taking a walk down the road to the local convenient store when Ricky spotted a cow begging to be milked. Being the type that Ricky is, he simply could not bear the thought of a cow remaining un-milked for more than a seven hour period. Ricky headed towards the un-milked, Polish Bovine when Doug put his foot down on the situation. "Ricky, I think we need to think through the matter at hand first before any action takes place," Doug hesitantly told him, "we do not know if there is any potential for aggressive behavior." After a moment of thought, Ricky exclaimed, "Let's go!" while grabbing Doug by the arm and dragging him towards the Polish Beast.

Ricky approached the seemingly harmless cow while it stared back in return. Moments after Ricky began her milking session, this cow no longer seemed so harmless. She began bucking, kicking, and mooing to warn her herd of her current danger. Before Ricky and Doug knew what had happened, Doug felt a blow to his pancreas, knocking him flat on the ground. Before Ricky was able to give him aid, he too was dropped to the ground with severe pain in his lower left extremities. Helplessly they attempted to inch their way towards civilization. Thankfully, Katie Andersen spotted them and heard their faint cries for help and was able to carry them back to safety.

Ricky and Doug are a little sore, but their blood pressure and spirits are still high. We will be sure to keep you all posted on their recovery. Our team is both excited and sad about our last day in the village tomorrow. We have truly had an amazing week thus far.

Signing off from Poland, until next time,
Claire Guilliams and Joseph Wampler (STILL REIGNING Polish pingpong doubles champions)

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Post That I Couldn't Think of a Title For

Hello Franklin Heights! Greetings from Ezra! Today was a stupendous day in the village. We packed into small vans and headed to the village at approximately 10:08 a.m. It was still precipitating today, so we were very limited to where we could minister. Children's ministry was inside a small house. There were probably around one dozen children, seven adults, and eight of our team members inside one room. We did balloon animals, crafts, stories, drama (where I, Ezra, made my acting debut), and songs. Outside, the fellows on our team played soccer for the majority of the time. I volunteered to be the goalie so my delicate body would not become battered and bruised. I remained unharmed PTL (Praise the Lord) but Matt Mays on the other hand cannot say the same. Matt is suffering from a minor head wound today resulting from an unfortunate encounter with a soccer ball. Apparently Matt thought his skills were a match for the Polish expertise and finesse. Well, he thought wrong. Matt is resting as we speak and we hope that the tremendous swelling will go down and he will regain vision in his right eye by tomorrow. I will be sure to keep you all posted on Matt's recovery, as the swelling incrementally recedes. Today was a remarkable day and we are all certainly looking forward to what tomorrow's day will bring.

Signing off from Poland until tomorrow,
Ezra's replacements and still reigning pingpong champions,
Joseph Wampler and Claire Guilliams
So, what really happened.
This morning we got up and ate breakfast as usual. We then packed into one van and two cars and rode down the mountain from the hotel to the village. We made two trips, and I stayed behind and waited for the second trip.
When we got to the village, it was raining, but after we played a round or two of spoons, we decided that we would play some hardcore soccer. So in the rain, under a volleyball net, running around in the mud, we played football. Hard core football.
I was playing goalie, and some of those guys looked like they could take my head off if they were able to take a straight shot at the goal. Luckily, I didn't have to take too many straight on shots, thanks to my team who did a good job blocking the shots so that the other team wouldn't get a good angle. We also made balloon animals and acted out the biblical account of Adam and Eve. We then cooked Polish sausage and chicken wings for lunch.
After lunch we took a plate of food to holocaust survivor who lived in the village. During the holocaust, her entire family was killed, and she was the only one left alive.
Once we were done at the village, we crammed back into two vans (+one small car) to ride back to the top of the mountain. We managed to fit 14 people into one of the vans, and that's with Ricky Wampler!
After a light dinner, we had a great time of singing, testimony, and sharing with the Christian Roma from the village we are working in. It's hard to put into words the power of a time like this. It's just so amazing that a group of people who have just met can be so connected and so real with each other after only knowing each other for a day or two. It just shows how the love of Christ can reach a across oceans, country borders, and language barriers to connect a group believers to each other.

What's Really Been Happening

Wait, wait, wait. Don't believe a word that Claire and Joseph write. I'll be locking my door from now on after that post.
Here's what's really been happening.
So, the time since my last blog has been a whirlwind, and I'm going to use that as my excuse for not getting out another blog sooner. Also, once we finally got the key to the internet, it actually went down for a while.
So, nothing really exciting happened from the time I wrote my last blog post until we got to the hotel. We landed in Munich yesterday at 8:00 AM Germany time (2:00 AM Eastern Time). We had a three hour layover in the airport. We crammed into the shuttle that took us to the airplane, and climbed on. I got to my seat and went right to sleep. Unfortunately, while I was asleep, I missed my in-flight pretzel. Oh, well. We arrived in Poland and met the Goss family and our translators. We then took a three hour bus ride into the mountains where we will be staying and serving this week.
That's when things began to be a little more interesting.
After we unpacked, we went outside in the 45 degree whether to play volleyball in the rain. We were all slipping and sliding and getting soaked. That was a lot of fun. Then, some of us took a walk to the local convince store. There was a small soccer/basketball court behind the store, and we walked over to have a closer look. There were a few kids hanging around on the court. Almost immediately, one of them asked (in fluent english) "So where are you guys from?". I responded with "The United States". Apparently, the girl that asked the question didn't like the answer. Let's just say that that's the first time I've been cussed out by someone in a foreign country, speaking English. Joseph, Dillon, and Matt all thought it was hilarious, of course. Actually, when we played soccer with the kids a bit later, the girl that cussed me out actually helped us communicate by translating a few things for us.
That was yesterday, now to today.
This morning I wake up to "Ezra, Katie just blew up your transformer." I thought "Great way to start the day, huh?" Apparently, she had knocked on our door at about 6:30AM asking for my transformer. Matt got up, answered the door, and gave it to her. Well, Katie decided to run her hairdryer through it, which blew my transformer up, and killed the power outlets in both our rooms. OH, boy.
This morning we went to a Polish church service. It was very similar in many respects to our church, barring size. They had a praise band who did praise and worship, a stage and sound system, etc. Oh, I forgot to mention, their service is two hours long! It was a great time of worshipping with fellow believers. It was blessing to me, and think to the rest of the team as well. It's just amazing to hear other believers singing songs in another language ,that you know ,while trying to sing along yourself… in english!
After lunch, we had a time of planning and prayer with the believers from the Roma village in which we will be working this week.
For the rest of today, we have been hanging out and just getting to know the Goss family, the translators, and each other better.
So far, it's been great, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week!

An Important Message

Greetings from Poland! Everyone is doing well here except Ezra. I regret to inform you that Ezra was unfortunately left behind in Munich, Germany. Our team was in a mad rush to catch our flight to Krakow when we realized Ezra was missing. Apparently, Ezra was filling up on hot chocolate when he accidentally spilled some on his brand new macbook pro. We told Ezra not to wipe up the mess but his exact words were, "Save yourselves! This macbook is my life. I can't leave her behind! You must go forth to Poland without me. I will be okay! If my macbook makes it through alive, I will book another ticket and meet you all there." So, we had to leave Ezra. However, he arrived early this morning, but is still very shaken up. Joseph and I (Claire) have taken on Ezra's blog responsibility because he is simply unable to perform the task at hand. Please send your condolences to him. He could really use some encouragement. However, his macbook seems to be okay! Otherwise, you would not be receiving this update.

No seriously, (Sonja) Ezra is okay. That was all fiction. Our team really is doing great! We can already see the Lord moving here and our team is enjoying building relationships within our team as well as with translators and the Goss family. However, we almost broke a relationship with Ezra by stealing his computer... BUT we did not shatter our relationship completely and that is why this message is allowed to be brought to you by Claire and Joseph (reigning ping pong double champions). Anyway, I hope this was a fun update for you all. It just goes to prove how great of a time we are already having together. Thank you for your many prayers. We look forward to updating you tomorrow and the rest of the week about the incredible things that the Lord is doing here!

Signing off from Poland (until the next time we steal Ezra's macbook),
Claire Guilliams and Joseph Wampler

*No Ezra's or macbook pro's were harmed in the making of this blog.*

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In-Flight Blog Post

Blog Post 072911
So, the first blog post for the Poland missions trip 2011. I'm writing this as we hurtle through the air 37000 feet straight up, traveling at roughly 550mph.
Well, we got to church at 9:00 this morning in order to sort out all the luggage and all related baggage weight issues. All in all that went as well as could be expected.
We started off our trip to Poland with a bit of a road trip, driving from Rocky Mount down to Charlotte, North Carolina to fly out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. My ride down was actually quite enjoyable. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel an hour outside of Charlotte to have lunch, thus avoiding exorbitant costs for food at the airport. I ate hearty knowing that it might be my last chance for a decent meal this week.
We continued our trip, and made it to Charlotte an hour or two a head of time. We lugged our suitcases to the closest shuttle stop, and waited for ten minutes in the blistering NC heat for the shuttle. The first thing I noticed about said shuttle once boarding, was that the glass box, with "break glass in case of emergency" printed across the front, had already been broken. Great, what glass were we supposed to break in the case of emergency.
This is jumping ahead of myself a little bit, but I noticed on the plane, they give the instructions first in German, then in English. If there's a real emergency, and the pilot needs to make an announcement, what is he going to do, give it first in German, and then the rest of us Americans can wait and listen for the English version? I guess it might pay to be German.
We made it to the Charlotte terminal, and drug our suitcases off the bus onto the sidewalk, to this message "May your flight be better than your bus trip to the terminal!" "And have better safety equipment, I thought.
We then got our boarding passes and proceeded to security. Although they made me nervous by running my backpack through the X-Ray machine several times, we made it through without incident. No knives this year! Several of the members of our team did go through the full body scanner. Apparently Doug, Joseph, and Mr. Andersen look extra suspicious.
We proceeded to our gate, and the Carters, Joseph and I staked out a spot behind a kiosk that had a power outlet. Joseph went to buy a Dr. Pepper, and Amanda and I followed. We found an amusing toy dog rolling around on the floor, which Amanda, always the compassionate one, promptly untangled from it's leash. I said "Amanda, it's a toy."
We then continued into the staging areas and, from there, onto the plane. Takoff was smooth. We weren't ten minutes into the flight when Mrs Andersen, sitting several rows up turns around and yells "Tanya, you doing OK back there?" I enjoyed a great documentary on Google. Having so much fun!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Poland Informational Blog

Witaj! (Polish for Hello)
At the moment I type this, I am less than a week away from leaving the country with a group from my church. We will be traveling to a small village located in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains of Poland. The village is half a world away, but as I learned during our trip last year, the people are the same as they are in every other place in the world.
As this trip draws closer, I can barely contain my excitement. What a great privilege and opportunity it is to travel across the world to work with people that otherwise I would have no chance of meeting in my life, and share with them a life changing gift. As Doug (our youth pastor) has emphasized several times, this is a beautiful picture of the love of Christ. That people from half a world away would give up valuable time and resources to come visit, and share Christ with a specific group of people.
So, a little bit of background about the trip: On this trip, we will fly to Poland with the specific intent of sharing the love of Christ with the inhabitants of a small village of about 100 people located in the mountainous region of southern Poland.
Other goals for the trip include:
To be a blessing and encouragement to the Goss family (IMB missionaries that we are coordinating with) and further their mission efforts.
To be a witnesses of Christ as we travel and interact with people that come into our paths.
And, to experience a deeper level of community with our own team from Franklin Heights Baptist Church.
These are our stated goals, but we know that the nature of missions is that things can and do change. So, an unstated, but very important goal for us on this trip, is to be flexible in all that we do. I must confess that although I feel as though I can adapt to change fairly well, it does jar me a bit whenever things do change. My personality is one that likes to know what’s going on and why, almost all the time. I hate getting in a car and just riding. I want to know where we’re going. I’m OK if plans change, as long as we have another plan, and we know what it is. The one thing I hate is “Just winging it”.
So, who’s going? Well, here’s the list (in no particular order):

Doug Hayes
Courtney Taylor
Pate Doherty
Meg Carter
Amanda Carter
Claire Guilliams
Ricky Wampler
Tanya Wampler
Joseph Wampler
Fran Wampler
Kateleigh Wampler
Shana Kohnen
Amy Layman
Eryn Layman
Matt Mays
Ezra Richards
Mark Andersen
Beth Andersen
Katie Andersen
Dillon Andersen
Melissa Andersen
Ian Andersen

I apologize in advance if I misspelled anyone’s name.
You can tell just by looking at the list that the group dynamic is a bit different this year. We have several families going, and not quite as many youth as in previous years. Although this is different, I’m actually looking forward to it. I think the unique mix of students, adults, and children will make for an exciting and interesting trip. I also think it will be a lot of fun!
During the trip, I will be doing my best to keep everyone informed on how the trip is progressing, so that you can know what’s going on with our team, and will know how to pray. My goal is to write one blog post a day, as well as post occasional photos and videos.
There are several places on the web where you can check for these updates:
First (and most important) this blog:
Second: My YouTube Channel:
Also: My Facebook and Twitter pages
I will be posting updates on the youth group Twitter and Facebook pages as well:
So, if you haven’t already, go like/follow the youth group pages!
Do Widzenia! (Goodbye)

Monday, July 18, 2011

VBS Poems

Seeing as how we just finished VBS at Franklin Heights, I thought it might be appropriate to post a couple of VBS related poems for your enjoyment. Enjoy!

Every year when VBS rolls around,
I have to be running when I hit the ground.
I walk in the door and I‘m handed a CD,
And from then on it’s all up to me.
I start to put together the slide show,
And oh! Here we go!
The first slide is there: “Boomerang Express”
But where are all the rest?
The computer decides to hibernate,
Oh, this is just great!
In the middle of all this,
While for a break I’m starting to wish,
I hear Brandon start to cry.
And when I ask why,
He whines “No girls in my group!”
I tell him “No big whoop.”
A wireless mike starts to feedback
And my eardrums are about to crack
When something goes wrong
It doesn’t take long
Everyone turns around to see,
Who the person that caused it might be.
One thing they need to understand,
And I hope eventually they can:
If everything comes to a halt
It’s not Ezra’s fault!
Ezra Richards

VBS 2010
Craziness, craziness, VBS
It wouldn't be authentic if it was anything less
Two hundred screaming kids galore
Well, at least it can't be called “a bore”
Slide shows, light shows, and music to boot
At least the question of whether it's complicated is moot
Snacks, crafts, and games are in there too
And the opportunity to serve no matter what you do
Whether you help with registration, rotation, or as a group aide
There's no one place where you've just got it made
It's never easy, (sometimes hard)
But it can all be summed up in one response card


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anti-Social Month Recap

First of all, let me say, that I am hesitant to even write this blog post, lest in doing so, I defeat one of the stated goals of this experiment by making a big deal of it; namely, to prove that teens are not addicted to social media, and it is not a big deal to give it up for a month.
Also, on that point, I have had people say “Ha! You picked February because it is the shortest month of the year.” *Cough, Brandon, Cough* While I admit that it was a fortunate coincidence, this was not a large part of my original reasoning for picking the month of February. February was simply a month that it did not appear (though I was later proved wrong) there would be much happening. I knew I would miss the Super Bowl (since I'm a huge sports fan anyway) and Valentines Day. Big Deal. But, to solve this little quandary I decided to extend my “Anti-Social Month” experiment to include the first several days in March.
So, what did I learn?
First, different people have varying opinions on teenagers and social networking There were some that said “Wow, you're doing THAT! Why?!”. There were others that said “Yeah, I don't get on my [Facebook] very often, so it's not a big deal.” But, by far, the biggest response I got was “Yeah, I need to do that too.”
Second, for me at least, doing this for a month was not really hard. Now, I know for some of my friends, an experiment like this would have been a harder proposition, living in a dorm room, or at home with internet access. We only have dial-up at my house, and I get on my Facebook page most of the time at the library, so it wasn't there staring me in the face all the time. There were times during the month when I felt “out of the loop”, or wished I could post about this or that, but altogether it was not particularly hard..
Third, during the past month, I began writing letters again, after about three months during which I had slacked off. It was refreshing to use an older (though not antiquated), more personal and meaningful form of communication. I did not get as many letter written as I had wished, but hope to continue this habit, of letter writing ,into the coming months and years.
Fourth, it was amazing how much could actually happen, unexpectedly, during one short month. The entire Middle East and North Africa erupted in protests. Apple released iPad 2 and the new MacBook Pros. Principal photography began on “The Hobbit” movie. The lead guitarist for Skillet, Ben Kasica, left the band to pursue other business ventures, and the possibility of another Narnia movie was announced, among other things.
So, in conclusion, the “Anti-social Month” experiment taught me a lot. It was good to take a break from the continuous stream of information, but I did occasionally miss the information and being able to add to the stream.
With that being said, over next several weeks, be watching for tweets with the #TDASM tag, which stands for: Thoughts During Anti-Social Month. I will be tweeting my thoughts on the various events which occurred during the past month, interspersed with my regular tweets.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anti-Social Month

For the month of February I will be going anti-social. Now before anyone gets excited, let me explain what this means.
What it is:
During the month of February I will not be using any social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
What it isn’t:
This is not an attack on social media. I think social media is a very useful tool for communication. Also, this is not a complete withdraw from all screens, or even from the internet. I will be using a computer, and I will be on the internet this month, I will just not be using social networking sites.
Reasons (These are several in number):
First… I have heard a lot of people (adults especially) comment on how teenagers seem inseparably linked to technology and social media. While I agree that this might be the case with a portion of teenagers, I know it is not the case with all. This experiment is partially intended to prove to myself and other people that it is possible for a teenager to “cut the cord” so to speak, if only for a limited amount of time. ☺
Second… I want to prove that I can do this, before my parents decide that it would be a good idea to make me. ☺
Third… In the last couple of months, I have drifted away from letter writing, which is something I enjoy very much, and is a good release. I want to use this month to revive that practice. Again, this is something that most adults couldn’t ever imagine a teenager doing.
Plus, February is the shortest month of the year. If I’m going to go without, I should at least be able to do it during February!
I would encourage any of my friends, that find this interesting, to join me in this month-long experiment. It’s only 28 days, you can do it!