Thursday, December 29, 2005

Global Address Book

As I was looking at the messages in my e-mail inbox, I felt a part of something bigger than my own ministry. I have e-mails from friends in China, Honduras, Israel, Cambodia, and Germany right now! It is exciting to partner with and pray for these friends (and others around the world), as they are serving the Lord as missionaries or tentmakers in a foreign culture.

Pray with me that God would continue to use them in their respective areas to advance His kingdom!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Want to Take a Trip?

So I've been looking at maps recently, trying to figure out my route from Michigan to Florida (it looks like the move will happen in about a month!). I'm beginning to realize that it's a really long trip down there and it might be good to have a traveling companion. Anyone know somebody who might be interested in driving from northern Michigan to Orlando...or at least making a portion of the trip?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Scary Big City? Worse...

I'm not scared of big cities. I'm scared of big malls. At the moment, I'm sitting in Woofield Mall in suburban Chicago, the largest in the area.

My thought is that they are built to scare people. Too many stores on too many levels, with too few directional markers and maps. It's like trying to navigate the streets of an old European city (curvey, narrow and confusing) with maps only at the major intersections where cars are careening at each other at 60 mph, and everyone crowding around to figure out where they're going.

Give me downtown Chicago any day, over this madness I'm experiencing right now.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Internet Connectedness

All day today, I've been listening to my favorite San Francisco radio station, KFOG. One of the beautiful things about the Internet is the ability to listen to stations that might be thousands of miles away. It allows me to reminisce a little (hearing about the traffic back-up on the Bay Bridge and the amount of fog covering the City) and also hear the music that was always on in our office and my car.

When baseball season begins, I'll probably renew my subscription to Gameday Audio, which allows me to listen to any game, anywhere as long as I have an Internet connection. This means following my A's on KFRC. (I still haven't decided if I'll have to become a Devil Rays or Marlins fan when I move to Orlando. It seems unlikely, but it's sometimes nice to follow the "home" team, as well.)

It makes it difficult to imagine what people did before the did people stay connected? Are we more connected now because of the Internet, or do people communicate less because of not using the phone? All random musings on another cold and snowy day in northern Michigan.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fascination With Fire

Why is it that humans are so fascinated by fire? I know I'm not alone in my ability to sit and stare into a burning fire for hours. That's half of what makes sitting around the campfire what it is. (The other half is sharing with each other and being in fellowship.)

There was a major fire in our town today. I don't think anyone was killed, but a man reportedly had to jump from a second story window to the ground and was sent to the hospital. It was early this morning, but I happened to be up for a prayer meeting and I swung by the fire (we heard about it on the news) on my way.

Just like a campfire, it was captivating. Mine wasn't the only car that was just parked, staring at the flames leaping from the top and sides of the building. A large bucket truck was there, dumping tons of water from the sky, yet the fire raged. It's encouraging to know that the firefighters (from five different cities) are putting that fascination with fire, that we all have, to such constructive use: saving lives and property. It certainly is more productive than poking that stick into the campfire, moving around the logs and sending sparks flying.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Great Place to Nap

Did you know that the library is a great place to nap? I'm sitting here in the Hope College library, site of many Winkler snooze sessions over the course of 1998-2002, reminiscing about those days. This is mainly due to the fact that I've been watching one guy sleep since I arrived, about an hour and a half ago.

No joke, I used to bring my alarm clock to the library, knowing that I would probably fall asleep. If you're wondering about the noise caused by both my snoring and the clock, I would make sure to get an individual "study" room. How silly--putting a nice, quiet room on one of the quiet floors, complete with a door. Depending on how my back was feeling, I would either curl up on the floor or just rest my head on the table.

Fleece jackets make great pillows.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Different Thanksgiving

The past three Thanksgivings have been all been quite different from each other.

In 2003, I went down to hot and sunny Palm Springs, in southern California. It was spent with the family of a good friend from college, enjoying the hospitality of her grandma. Swimming, tennis, horseback riding, hiking, and fine dining were all on the docket for the weekend. It was something of a luxurious holiday.

Then there was last year. It started with a lovely dinner with friends from church in San Francisco. Following the turkey, there was karaoke upstairs! I made a bread pudding which would have made my mom and all previous holders of the recipe proud. The next day was my infamous Point Reyes solo backpacking trip. Well, I guess it wasn't solo if you count the coyotes and the kind folks who ran over to my campsite to help put out the picnic table fire. Long story...ask me about it sometime!

Today is another Thanksgiving, but instead of the heat of SoCal or the mild temps of SF, we are in a whiteout. Instead of the traditional Winkler-Dunn gathering of 20 people, there will be four of us (my immediate family) hunkered down in Boyne City, amidst a blizzard and prayers that a tree isn't blown over into our house. At least we can still watch the Lions lose! (Assuming the power doesn't go out, which is entirely possible.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Porch Snow

Porch Snow
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
A good indicator of how much snow has fallen is the snow level on part of our front porch, which is exposed. Here is a picture of it!

From the time that I wrote my entry Wednesday, I don't think it has stopped snowing for more than an hour. The sun was out for a brief time yesterday, but my guess is that we've gotten around nine inches. Not as much as near-by Lake Ann, which got 17" according to the national news this morning!

I don't think I've ever been so excited to see snow! Goodness knows I won't see much of it when I move to Orlando...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The First Snow!

snow on shed
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
This one is for all of you out there who wish you were in snowy weather (e.g. home) while you're stuck in single-climate San Francisco.

The first snow of the year (to my knowledge) hit this afternoon. I looked out the window a few minutes ago and this is what I saw. It's not really accumulating, but with a couple more days with this cold snap, it will be.

There is a running joke in our family (although it's spreading outside the family now) that whenever a big snow hits, it's because my mom and dad are going to visit one of their boys. Maybe I'm cursed with this...I'm supposed to go to Traverse City tomorrow (hour and a half away), and the weather isn't looking good.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sibling Look-Alike

My brother (Bradley) and I do not look alike. Or so we say. Everyone else on the planet, however, seems to think that we do. I've been to the post office here in Boyne twice in the last week. On one of my trips, a guy who actually knew both of us during our high school years (Bradley and I are over four years apart) called me "Brad."

Then this morning when I went in to the post office, the clerk says (in response to my "First class, please"), "Are you still playing?" Now, put yourselves in my shoes at this moment. When I lived in Boyne, I only played three things on a consistent basis: the saxophone, high school football and church league softball. None of them were especially notable, except for perhaps the music, but that was years ago. So in that first split-second, I had no clue what the guy was referring to.

Then it hit me. Of course, he was not thinking of my hitting skills in slow-pitch softball. He mistook me for my brother, who plays the banjo. The clerk had played in some open-mic events with Bradley, and had no doubt that I was that gifted banjo player.

I told my brother this week that this is just payback for him having to live in my shadow for so long; now it's my turn. And maybe it's finally time to admit that maybe we do look a little alike.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Wycliffe Website

In case you're wondering why I haven't been writing anything about my new career with Wycliffe Bible Translators, it's because I've been working on a new website specifically devoted to that. There is a new permanent link at right.

So...if you want funny personal stories, this is the place for it. For updates on my ministry, including pictures and prayer requests, check out my "Wysite." I'll be updating it regularly in these next couple months, and there are also some syndicated stories which are always interesting and will change from time to time. Plus, you can even donate on-line!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rain and Leaves Don't Mix

Backyard Leaves
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
Yesterday, my parents spent the day raking leaves. I spent a few hours with them. I guess that's part of the price you pay for the beautiful colors we've had in the past month. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get everything picked up and it rained throughout the night.

Rain does two things that detract from the raking of leaves. First, it knocks them off the trees at a rapid rate. Second, it makes them wet and very difficult to pick up. This picture was taken this morning, after all the rain. I think life was a little simpler living in San Francisco, where noone had yards, much less leaves to rake!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
We found this spider tonight at my parents' house in Michigan. I had never seen one like it before, and couldn't find any helpful websites. Anyone recognize it? The orange thing on it was full of white pus, which turned to yellow shortly after getting squashed. :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Price is Right

"The Price is Right" is just not the same without Rod Roddy, who passed away back in 2003. For the first time since his passing, I watched part of an episode today, and the flair of hearing Rod yell "Come on down!" and seeing him in his vibrantly-colored jackets was all gone. Whoever replaced him has a good voice and is professional, but I think it's one of those things that because Rod was such an icon, he can never be replaced.

Sports fans in the Bay Area recently felt a similar loss. Bill King, who at one point was the play-by-play announcer for the Oakland A's, Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors simultaneously, passed away a few weeks ago. Though I have only been a die-hard A's fan for a few years, I grieved his loss. As the A's announcer since 1981, he was the A's to many people. He was the main reason I purchased a package this season that allowed me to listen to any baseball game at any time, as long as I had an Internet connection--I never missed listening to Bill for lack of a radio feed. Much has been written about Bill's passing so I'll let others say it better than me, but I had to write about this great loss for the Bay Area.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pulse Dialing

One other parents still have pulse dialing. For a majority of the general public who has no idea what pulse dialing is, it is the opposite of touch-tone. For instance, when a voice prompt says to "push zero for the operator," you can't just push the "0" key. You have to push a special button first, then the digit. Or when you dial a number with several digits, you have to wait for the "pulse" on each one; it's anything but instant.

Yes, pulse dialing does still exist.

A Whole Different World

Moving from the heart of San Francisco to rural Michigan is a shock in multiple ways. One of the biggest has been technologically.

In SF, I had wireless Internet access almost everywhere, and most certainly at home and work. Even in all of my travels last month, I could connect via Wi-Fi in Boston, Philly, NYC, DC, Orlando, Chicago, Holland, etc.

Then I got to Boyne.

Thankfully, my parents have DSL. But wireless is not available, meaning that right now I am using a cable pulled out of the back of their desktop PC and plugged into my laptop. Not the most convenient, but it'll work for now. (All the while San Francisco is providing Wi-Fi for the entire city.)

Another issue is the age of the computers I'm having to work with. The computer sitting next to me is about the size of a small refrigerator and is louder than a car from the '80s with a bad muffler. When trying to e-mail a file from that computer to the one my mom uses at work, I had to install a driver for my flash drive (it uses Windows 98SE). Then I had to download the file at mom's work, which uses a dial-up connection (I didn't realize those were still around). After waiting 20 minutes for a two-page PDF file to download, the version of Acrobat Reader decided it didn't like the file...and there was no way I was going to try and download an update! (In case you're wondering why I didn't just use my flash drive to transport the file, you should know that the computer was using Windows 98, which doesn't accept flash drives.) That made for a rough evening.

What will probably happen is that as soon as I adjust to living in this low-technology world, I'll move back to a big city. Isn't that the way it happens?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Classic Northern Michigan

I've been in northern Michigan for a total of five nights, and have already fallen into a bunch of stereotypes. No, I haven't been deer hunting...although close. Last night, we went to Boyne City's football game. During the fall, everything not called football shuts down (except for hunting of course) in Boyne, and the town goes nuts.

When I played (yes, my scrawny little body survived three grueling seasons), any player was able to walk into any restaurant in town and either: a.) receive preferential treatment; b.) get a discount on food; or c.) get free food. Not a bad deal, especially for someone like me who didn't play very often, if at all.

While at the game, we went to visit with a friend from church who is in charge of shooting off a real-life cannon whenever Boyne scores. Within minutes of arriving in the cannon area, the Ramblers were getting ready to score again (we were up 34-0 at halftime) and someone had asked me to pull the cord to fire the cannon. I hesitatingly agreed, and proceeded to set off one of the loudest explosions I've ever heard in my life--and that was with headphones on.

Today, I drove with my parents up to Sault Ste. Marie--on the Canadian border--to visit my brother Bradley at school. The highlight will be tonight, when we get to attend a Lake Superior State University hockey game. It doesn't get much more "Michigan" than hockey, and the game will cap a week of reaquainting myself with this beautiful state.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Game is Almost Done

For those of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seat for a State Game update, here you go. Since the last update, I have seen North Dakota, New Hampshire and Hawaii. Oddly enough, I saw Hawaii in Boston about five minutes after telling my friend who had picked me up from the bus station that I only needed Hawaii and Alaska.

That means Alaska is the lone remaining holdout for me to "win" the game. Chances are that I'll need to do it in the next few hours before leaving Chicago, as rural Michigan tends not to have a lot of out-of-state plates.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

On the Way Home

It's tough to eat healthy when traveling. Today for lunch, I downed some orange sherbet and two pieces of pizza...the fifth time I've had pizza in the last week. But I've finally begun the last leg of my month and a half of travels. I'm in Chicago right now, and from here, it's a train to Holland (Michigan) tomorrow and a bus to my parents' house on Monday. All I want right now is to be in one place for a while (and eat healthy again)...and that will happen to a degree when I get to Boyne.

The past two weeks in Orlando have been a strain on me in every aspect, but it was a great time of growth and learning about my future career. (E-mail me for specific details; I can't put them on this blog.) Exciting things are in store for the coming months and years...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Orlando, FL

For the first time in the last month, I was able take all of the clothes out of my backpack and put them into a dresser. I also unpacked my toiletries to put in a cabinet in the bathroom, set up a mini-office in my room, and have a refrigerator to call my own. I will be stationary for two whole weeks! That seems like forever after spending no more than four nights in one state since I left SF on August 30.

Orlando is home to the Wycliffe USA headquarters, and where they host Training Camp for new members such as myself. Lots of intensive classes, and getting to know others who will also be serving with Wycliffe in the near future. No funny stories yet, but I'll be sure to pass them along as they occur. When you get 40 people wacky enough to live the rest of their lives in developing countries, crazy things are bound to happen!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

New Friends at Yankee Stadium

Here's a story that I absolutely had to post...I only wish I had been able to do it sooner. This is one of the craziest "small world" stories of my life, and if you know me, you know there's been many!

I went to Yankee Stadium only to see the stadium. I can't stand the Yankees, and was not really a Baltimore fan (although I was on Monday!). After being thoroughly unimpressed with the park itself, and settling in to watch two teams that I didn't care about, by myself, I was thinking it was going to be a very long game.

Then, a couple sitting behind me had to move down to my row, after they realized they were in the wrong seats. Amazingly enough, they were Baltimore fans--now I had someone to root with! I began talking with them, and the topic turned to our jobs. When I told the husband about CSM and what they did, he said, "Oh, a friend of mine is trying to start that here in New York."

He didn't have to say anymore. I knew that his friend was Cindy, whom I worked for in Chicago and has been in NY for a year attempting to start our site there. They knew all about CSM, and the wife had even had breakfast with Cindy that morning. (And I was having breakfast with her the following morning!)

10 million people or whatever live in NYC, I know two (a friend from college also lives there), and I wind up sitting next to a close friend of a co-worker! What are the chances? The three of us had a great time cheering on Baltimore together for the rest of the game, although were disappointed when the Yanks won on a walk-off homer...which landed only three seats away from us.

Monday, September 19, 2005

New York, New York

Wow...I've been in many of the world's major cities, including a few in the past couple days, but there's just something about New York. I've been here for all of one hour, and I'm in awe. Not really anything I can describe, but maybe it's just the knowledge that I'm in one of the most "important" places on earth. More to come...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Richmond, Virginia

What a nice treat I got tonight. I’m in Richmond, VA, for the wedding of a CSM staffer (and good friend) from DC, and I was supposed to stay at the house of the boyfriend of a bridesmaid (or some other random connection like that). But when I got here, the VP of staff for CSM, Greg, offered me a space on the couch in his hotel room. So...after a couple weeks of travelling, I’m spending my first of all those nights in a hotel. There's just something about a hotel that's different than friends' houses and CSM housing sites. The icing on the cake is that I’m able to watch the A’s game, something I’ve only done a few times this season. Thanks to GP the VP for the offer!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Look that Says, "Ask Me!"

I must have a look about me that says, "I'm not a tourist, ask me for directions." Perhaps it comes from years of working in the inner-city, where I know that the best way to not get mugged or anything else is to make it look like you know where you're going (walk with a purpose, go into a store if you need to look at a map, etc.). Like I mentioned two nights ago, it happens a lot in Chicago, and I'm able to help people. In DC, a guy asked me on Tuesday for directions, and amazingly I was able to give them to him. (It helped that the street he couldn't find also happened to be the one we were standing on.)

But in Philadelphia? Here I was yesterday, dragging three bags through downtown, looking just about as touristy as one can get...and I still get asked for directions. Finally, I had to turn down someone's request, based primarily on the fact was that I had been in Philly for all of two minutes. Maybe today I'll strap on a fanny pack and wear an "I Love Philly" t-shirt and see if people still think I'm a local.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Brief Lapse in My Sense of Direction

I like to think that my sense of direction is above average. Three or four times when I was in Chicago, people asked for directions and I was able to help them. It helps that Chicago is an easy city to figure out, and I'm there so much that it's like taking refresher courses every year. On the other hand, DC got the better of me tonight.

The streets here are funny. There are east-west letter streets (e.g. K Street, where all the lawyers are), the diagonal state avenues (e.g. Colorado Avenue, where I'm staying now), the north-south numbered streets (e.g. 16th Street, which runs into the White House), and all sorts of other random things, like another set of alphabetical order and such. But those don't always stay true, and I got turned around big time on a little stroll through the neighborhood I took tonight. It was several blocks too late when I realized that the house numbers were going up instead of down.

But in any case, I found a thrift store to replenish my reading material and saw some of DC that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Helpful, since I'll be living here next year.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From Chicago to Charleston to Washington

My time in Chicago was just as I wanted it to be: relaxing and full of memories. Three days of wandering around the city, primarily visiting my old stomping grounds. I stayed at CSM, where I worked during the summer of 2002, on the campus of North Park University. Uptown Baptist Church, a favorite place of mine during my seven months living in Chicago, was just as diverse and lively as I remember it. Oak Street Beach, Canterbury Court Apartments, ultimate at Montrose and Western, Chicago Semester, the museum campus, and Lou Malnati's pizza also all found my favor once again.

Tuesday night, I threw myself a party at Leona's, my favorite Chicago restaurant. People from many different parts of my life converged, all of whom it was great to see again and who all had some sort of connection with one another, as well. It was cool to see the networking and reuniting take place! Thanks to all who came and made it a special night.

Wednesday morning, I was back on a plane (I'm flying as little as possible on this trip) to Charleston, South Carolina to meet up with other CSM staff from around North America for staff retreat. This was a major blessing, as normally I wouldn't have been allowed to go (considering that I no longer work for CSM!), but they invited me to join them for half the week and it was great. Four days in a beach house on the Atlantic Ocean...not too shabby! (See my previous posting for a picture and more comments.)

I've been in Washington, DC, for the last couple days, hanging out with my friend Justin (who works for CSM here). Another great church service that spoke right to me at a time I needed to hear it, and another baseball game (Justin, also a big baseball fan, lives literally two blocks from the stadium). This morning, I met up with the Wycliffe people here in DC--this was important, because I'll start out my time with Wycliffe here next year, possibly for up to a year and so it was a time of meeting with my future co-workers and learning much more about what I'll be doing.

Next stop will be Philadelphia, on Wednesday.

State Game Update (Total--45 states, 2 provinces, and DC):

Rhode Island
New York
South Dakota
North Carolina
New Jersey
New Mexico
South Carolina
District of Columbia
West Virginia

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston Sunrise
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
For the last few days, I've been able to hang out with all of the full-time nationwide staff of CSM in Charleston, South Carolina. On Wednesday morning, I flew from Chicago (more on that later) to Charleston. It was a time of closure with many of my best friends from the past several years, with quality time spent in two ocean-front beach houses, great food and of course, the games which I always look forward to at staff gatherings.

Right now, I am staying with a friend in Washington, DC, and am safely away from Hurricane Ophelia, which is now threatening the very city we slept in last night. It's late and I'm tired, but will try to update more later this weekend.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Here's an interesting column from the BBC about the media's attack on the federal government's response, or lack thereof, to the hurricane. I very much appreciate the fact that people are speaking out, especially as it was New Orleans' most vulnerable citizens who were herded into the Superdome--with full knowledge that it could turn real ugly, real fast.

The reports coming out of the Gulf Coast have urged me to do something. This is a time in my life--these next few months--where I don't have a job, and it dawned on me that I am in a perfect position to volunteer down there for a few weeks. After making some phone calls to both the Salvation Army and Red Cross, I'll probably go with the Army after I get back from my travels in the middle of October. I was ready to drop everything and leave today, but I need to go through a brief training and have to go down with a scheduled group...which wouldn't be for another six days or so. This makes October the best option. If any of you friends of mine are interested in going with me, or knows anyone, please let me know! It'd be great to go with a friend or two.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Getting Close

Chicago is so close now, I can almost smell it. We’re still in farm country, but are on track to be at Union Station by 8 hour from now. The first ring of suburbs isn’t too far off and it’s familiar ground from then on. The sun, about to set, is gleaming off the corn stalks right now, and it’s a cool view--about as interesting as miles of corn fields can be. Though I’m not on a tight schedule (others around are being rerouted onto different trains or having to get put up in a hotel for the night), I’m still anxious to get to a bed and settle in for more than a night or two. Plus, the fresh air will be welcomed. One good thing about arriving in Chicago in the evening instead of the afternoon is that it won’t be nearly as hot! I got off for a minute at a stop in Iowa, and it was so blazing hot that I had to get back on right away. Welcome back to summer in the Midwest, eh?

State Game Update (17 total):

Baseball, Sunset and the Mountains

We’re just leaving Omaha now, something like four or five hours behind schedule. The cool thing is that I don’t really care. No one is waiting for me in Chicago, and I’ve got plenty of things to do, not the least of which is watch the scenery go by...even if it is the flat land of Iowa.

Last night in Denver, I had a slight schedule change for the better! I knew there would be about an hour and a half layover in Denver, so I asked the station attendant in Grand Junction if she knew if the train station in Denver was near anything worth seeing, or at least a cafe to check e-mail, upload blog postings, etc. Her first reply was that Coors Field, where the baseball Rockies play, was only two blocks from the station; I didn’t hear another word she said. I had heard good things about Coors and with all of the other stadiums I was visiting on this trip, a quick peek at the outside of the field would fit right in.

When we were pulling into Denver, I could see flocks of people walking with baseball mitts and decked out in Rockies gear, a sure sign that there was a game that night. Even better--I’d be around the stadium in a real baseball atmosphere. The climax was when I went up to the station attendant in Denver and he answered my three questions: when would my train be departing (about two and a half hours late), what time did the Rockies game start (7 p.m., which also happened to be the current time), and could I still get cheap tickets (they had an abundance of $4 tickets released just before game time). Perfect. Now I just needed to figure out what to do with my bags. Thankfully, I had already befriended a mother-daughter pair that were traveling to Iowa and they had brought up the idea of one of us staying with all of our stuff while the other two went out to find dinner. I asked if they would be willing to stay with my stuff (at least one of them couldn’t go anywhere anyway) while I went to the game. They agreed, and I was off to Coors.

I got there just in time to see the sun set over the Rockies--from inside the stadium! It’s a beautiful park, with views of the mountains and downtown. After walking around for a half-hour taking pictures and getting dinner, I finally made it to my seat to watch the game. Four home runs, just in my five innings there--typical at Coors Field, where the outgoing winds and high elevation (my seats were almost exactly one mile above sea level) make it the most hitter-friendly park in the majors.

After the fifth inning, I ran back to the train station, only to find out that our train was delayed for another hour. But, the Iowa couple and I continued to chat and then wound up on the train next to each other. That’s one of the great things about train travel--meeting new people and carrying on conversations, something that just doesn’t happen on planes.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The State Game

Some people asked before I left if I had plenty of reading material. The truth is that I only brought an atlas and the latest issue of Reader’s Digest. I’m fascinated by the scenery in this beautiful country of ours, and wasn’t really planning on doing a whole lot of reading. Since leaving Grand Junction (on a bus, since they were working on the train tracks between there and Denver), I’ve marveled at the Colorado River, the canyons that it has formed, and the mighty Rockies off in the distance.
The bulk of the Rockies is yet to come, and we have significant elevation to gain. The bummer right now is that the bus driver is a fan of country music, and has had it playing for a while. Thank goodness for my laptop and headphones, which have rescued me from those wretched songs.

One note: After fond memories of playing the license plate game as a kid on road trips, I’ve decided to do the same for this trip. So...I’ll keep you posted on all the different states’ and provinces’ license plates that I pass. Here’s the list (13) thus far:


Grand Junction, Colorado

For the past two days, I've been enjoying western Colorado with my friends Carol and Katie Miller in Grand Junction. Carol is a good friend from Hope and Katie is her mom, whom I got to know well in Michigan, as well as Thanksgivings in California.

After arriving around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, we dropped my stuff at their house (complete with a golf course as a backyard) and set out on a hike to Liberty Cap in the Colorado National Monument. Gorgeous. I loved how different it was from the landscape in both the Sierra and Utah. Loose sandstone, unique in color, with horizontal layers showing the eras of the past. And of course, a fabulous view from the top!

Thursday brought a longer and even more spectacular hike (Liberty Cap was only about five miles). Crag Crest Trail on the Grand Mesa was a 10-mile stunner, with steep dropoffs on both sides of the trail, 360-degree views and a variety in the scenery. (More photos are available at my Flickr site.)

For dinner, we hit the farmer's market in downtown Grand Junction, followed by tennis and a long session of throwing the disc (AKA frisbee). A tiring day, but worth every moment. Now it's off to the train station, where I'll take a bus to Denver and get back on the train for Chicago. Another entry should follow once I make it through the Rockies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Beautiful Utah

Utah is beautiful. (I know at least one reader of this blog, Nat, will agree!) The train follows a river canyon for a while, past ranches, through tunnels and into rolling hills. I woke up this morning about 7 a.m. (MT), after a pretty good night’s sleep, considering the circumstances. At the time, we were stopped in Salt Lake City, approximately three hours behind schedule. The only good news about this scenario is that it means we were able to see the Wasatch Range of mountains near SLC in the light; otherwise, it would have been pitch black. I’ve discovered the observation car, with big windows, no curtains, and seats that face outside. There is a movie playing, strangers are conversing and everyone (it seems) is enjoying the ride. I’m tired after a late night on Monday and not sleeping straight through last night, but am excited to see Carol and Katie in a few hours. I’m running low on battery power, so this will probably be my last entry until Grand Junction.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sunset over Nevada

Last night I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world. Tonight, I’m watching it over the Nevada desert. Quite a contrast, but both beautiful. I was somewhat anticipating this stretch of the trip to be somewhat boring (although not as bad as Nebraska will probably be on Friday or Saturday!), but it’s just as gorgeous as the Sierra Nevada was. For me, seeing the Sierra up close and personal like we did today was nothing new, although it brought back fond memories, seeing all that manzanita and granite. Now it’s off through Nevada during the night, waking up in Utah, and then on to see the Millers in Colorado!

All Aboard!

All Aboard!
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
A few hours ago, I boarded an Amtrak train in Emeryville (next to Oakland) and left the San Francisco Bay Area after three years. It’s kind of a weird thing: I’m moving, but won’t actually be at my final destination (somewhere in the developing world) until sometime in the middle of next year. Heck, I won’t even be in Michigan for another month and a half. But the fact of that matter is that I am no longer in SF. I polished things off last night by winning my SFUL game (now it’s on to the beer bracket championships, though they’ll have to do it without me) and then on to a bonfire at Ocean Beach.

The weather could not have been better for both events. I always tell visitors that SF is not a beach town; residents who want to hit a beach drive two hours south to Santa Cruz. It’s just too cold, windy and foggy. But last night was absolutely perfect: warm, with no wind or fog. I couldn’t stay long (packing awaited me), but had a good time saying goodbye to former roommate Ryan and enjoying the sunset over the Pacific Ocean--something that I ironically have not done much of, even though I only live a few miles from it.

At the moment, I’m listening to great music, enjoying the scenery of the Central Valley, without much of a care in the world.

Travelogue...frequent updates

Just a quick update...I'm hoping to post lots on my blog from my travels this month, including lots of pictures. I may not post immediately after I type something (no Internet access on the train), but will alter the date to reflect the time I wrote it. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2005

36 Hours...

In about 36 hours, I will board a train and leave SF after three years. The past few weeks have been full of good-byes and "lasts" (e.g. the last time parallel parking and other fun stuff like that). Tomorrow will be spent at the post office (shipping the last of my stuff) and running other errands--getting my hair cut is on the list, as I thought it would be good to actually see the scenery out of the windows on the train.

I'll be travelling (visiting Colorado, Chicago, South Carolina, DC, Philly, Baltimore, New York, Boston, and finally Orlando) until October 10, so this blog will be full of my cross-country adventures for the next several weeks. And thanks to my new camera and the wonders of Flickr, I'll be able to share pictures, too!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ace Pitchers and Missionaries

Jason Schmidt!
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
I love baseball. Nothing beats being at a professional baseball game, with the sights, sounds and smells that can only come from the ol' ball park. I grew up loving the Tigers (thanks to Mom and Dad for making the five-hour drive at least once a year). My brief stay in Chicago made me a Cubs fan. And now I'm an Oakland A's fan.

But today, due to the A's being out of town and the offer of free tickets to the Giants game, I headed out to SBC Park here in San Francisco. A beautiful day for baseball with three good friends, and my passion for the sport was flamed yet again.

Once the game ended, though, the fun wasn't over. We had gotten the tickets courtesy Jason Schmidt, the Giant's ace pitcher and today's starter. He provides tickets for inner city kids (1600 so far this year) to a ministry with which we work, and then comes out and talks to the kids after the game. My co-worker Leigh Anna and I took up our ministry partner's invitation to meet Jason during this time.

Getting over our nerves, we were able to carry on a conversation with him--just three normal people, meeting for the first time. He is a very nice man (and a Christian!), and seemed genuinely interested in my future career with Wycliffe. He posed for photos and signed autographs (unfortunately, the photo with me didn't turn out), after what had already been a long day for him. Kudos and many thanks to Jason!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fun With MUNI

Public transit is an interesting thing, and I love it. Anything can happen, there are all sorts of people, and in many ways, it brings people together. Everyone on that bus (or train or cable car or whatever) is in the same situation: trying to get somewhere cheaply and efficiently, and relying on the bus driver to do it. This is regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or anything. In part, it's this coming together of people that makes the rides so interesting.

I've seen fights break out based on age, race, and favorite baseball team. (Seriously, I once saw an elderly woman take out a young man at the knees as he was exiting the bus!) Just this week, I thought a man was going to start pummeling the driver--while he was driving! So tempers get a little pent up while trying to get across the city. And then there's the random run-ins, too.

Since I sold my car on Sunday, I've been taking MUNI (SF's public transit system) everywhere, primarily to and from work each day. Every day, I've run into someone that I know on the bus. Monday was Veasna, who works at the Rescue Mission (one of CSM's ministry sites). Tuesday was my boss, who I've seen only very rarely ride the bus. And today, as I made my way to the back of the bus, there was Sam, one of my roommates.

I've always said that if I didn't work for CSM (a job which pretty much requires a car), I would love to rely on public transit. And now that I get to for a few weeks, I feel the same way. The only problem is taking all these boxes, to be mailed to Michigan, to the Post Office...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

An Old Friend

I'll be saying good-bye to a lot of people this month, but none have I spent as much time with as the one I bid farewell to today. She's been there through thick and thin, rain and snow, tears of joy and tears of sadness. She was steady as a rock, and never talked back, even when I yelled at her. Plus, she got great gas mileage.

Yes, I sold my car today. A friend from ultimate bought it, which eased a lot of my worries about the process. It was the first time he had bought one, and my first time selling, so we walked through the whole thing together, and made the transaction today. It was a prime example of a win-win situation--I was able to sell something that I needed to get rid of, and he was able to get a reliable vehicle to get around in, for a price that suited both of us. All that said, I never want to buy or sell a car again.

It's not that the car didn't run great, or that it wasn't nice to have. But the hassle that went into researching, buying, maintaining, paying for, and attempting to sell the car was not an experience I wish to duplicate. Plus, it's looking like I'll be spending a good portion of the rest of my life abroad, where purchasing a car won't be an issue.

I praise God that the process went as smooth as it did!

Friday, August 12, 2005

My Room in Shambles

My Room in Shambles
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
For the past week or two, my room has been in shambles. From the moment I started taking the posters off the walls (which created a weird echo), this bedroom has been a disaster area, with half-filled boxes, going from totally controlled chaos to out-of-control, to the point where I can't find stuff I need.

Tonight I'm moving from my bedroom to the living room (a cost-saving measure), to allow the new roommate to move in tomorrow. People ask if it's sad having all of these "last" moments, and I really have to say no. Though I'll miss the friends I've made, I'm looking forward to the next steps.

So...having mass chaos in my room is not driving me completely nuts, as it normally would. Much of my stuff has been shipped to Michigan already, and much more will be shipped tomorrow. For now, it's back to packing!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"When News Breaks, We Duct Tape It"

Many of you know about my love affair with duct tape. Some have even contributed to it--like my Chicago friends who bought me the book "Duct Shui" and the CSM group member who made me a duct tape wallet. But how many people know that there's a lot of other people in world that share this passion?

Check out this website for tons of great links! Especially intriguing was the news section and the "Gospel According to Duct Tape". As I have not yet listened to the sermon, I can't vouch for its hilarity, but I'm sure something can be taken away from it...for better or worse.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A New Kind of Tired

Usually at this point in the CSM summer, we are tired. Several weeks of hosting dozens of junior and senior high school students takes its toll!

But today, I felt a new kind of tired, one that I hadn't really felt yet in my three years here in San Francisco. Strangely enough, though, it wasn't the first time I felt it. I remember a distinct period back in late 1997 and early 1998 (AKA my senior year of high school) when I was tired like this. At the time, I was tired of homework that I felt was too easy, tired of cliques and flings, tired of high school. Hey, I didn't even turn in my application to Hope (the college I wound up going to) because there were essay questions!

That feeling came again four years later, during my senior year at Hope. I loved Hope, don't get me wrong, but I was tired. Tired of homework (although no complaints about difficulty this time!), tired of the pressure to marry, tired of dorm life. I was ready to move on, and along came CSM, which became my gateway into what the post-college world would be like.

Today, the past three years hit me like a brick wall. I was tired of shopping for a hundred people per week. Tired of answering the same questions from annoying junior highers. Tired of the frustrations of dealing with forgetful interns. Today, I had absolutley no motivation to do much of anything, work-related or otherwise.

If you couldn't tell, I'm ready to be done. It's a good thing that with the way I'm feeling, there are only 26 days left before leaving San Franciso...but who's counting, right?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Hope and Calvin Unite!

Hope and Calvin Unite!
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
When I was a student at Hope College, I hated Calvin College. Okay, so maybe hate is a strong word, but I really did not like anything having to do with the "other" Reformed college in west Michigan.

Then I started to meet students and graduates of Calvin. And as it turns out, they're quite nice and have actually learned something while there. It started with my semester in Chicago, where I became good friends with a Calvin student and really picked up after moving to San Francisco.

Since living out here, so far away from Dutch west Michigan, I have befriended four Calvin grads who have made my stay in the Bay Area much more enjoyable. Steve and Amy Carlson, East Bay residents and fellow hard-core A's fans, have been a breath of fresh air when needing to get away from the city (along with '03 Hope grad Lisa Canterbury).

And then there's the random story of meeting Ryan and Kelly Dubois (Calvin '02) at the 4th and Geary Farmer's Market. I now attend their small group and they have been a great support in the past six months--many thanks to Kelly for wearing a Calvin shirt that fateful day!

So with this newfound support for Calvin College, I approached Steve with the idea of co-hosting a joint event for alumni from both Hope and Calvin: a tailgate party and A's game. A quick call to Hope's alumni office showed me that with their help, planning such an event could be fairly easy, so we embarked on preparations.

The final result, which took place yesterday, went better than we could have imagined! Nearly 30 alumni and friends (including a professor and some current students), from both schools, gathered for good food and fellowship at a tailgate party and then found our way into the stadium to watch the A's beat the Detroit Tigers (how appropriate!).

Somehow, I've overcome my prejudice against the Knights while maintaining my pride for the Flying Dutch!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

My Buddy Daragh

My Buddy Daragh
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
If you want a close look at one of the things that I'll miss most when I leave San Francisco, check out this article and accompanying photo gallery. This picture really encompasses my job--working with people that are homeless, along with kids who grow up around such situations.

I love the Tenderloin neighborhood, where this photo was taken, and especially the kids I've come to know and love there. This means that I'll have to stop by there much more often in my last month here in San Francisco!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

It's Official!!

As many of you know, I have been in the application process to join Wycliffe Bible Translators since Novemer of last year. Though it's had its ups and downs, I've kept pressing on for about eight months, and just this week, I heard that I am officially a member of Wycliffe!

With this news comes a wave of emotions. Relief at the fact that the lengthy process is completed. Excitement that things are in motion for me to be moving overseas in the next year or so. Frustration at the thought of moving twice in the coming months (from SF to Michigan and then Michigan to DC for an internship). Some fright at leaving the US to live in the developing world, even though this is something that I've dreamed about for a long time.

Not the least of my emotions is confidence. (On second thought, is confidence an emotion? For the sake of argument today, let's say it is.) I am confident that this is the direction that God has called me--a lot of prayer has gone into this decision, and God has opened and closed the right doors at the right times. And in the same vein, I am confident that I will be able to do well in my future job, and will like living overseas.

My good friend Ryan, whose blog I was reading in between moments of typing this, just posted an interesting entry on his struggle with uncertainty as to his calling. I suppose I would be one of those people of whom he is jealous, because of my aforementioned confidence. (By the way, Ryan is one of my closest friends and I know he would love to engage in further dialogue on this topic; nothing I said here is meant in a negative way.)

So now I return to the long and tedious tasks involved with picking up and moving across the country. More boxes were packed today, probably the last until a few weeks before the move. But it all has a different tone now--I'M IN!!!!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pics Coming Soon

For those of you wondering about the lack of pictures on my blog, it has to do with my lack of a digital camera (see my previous post on this topic ). I have since purchased one (thanks for the advice, Steve!), received it, and promptly had to send it back because of a defect in the viewing screen. It should arrive any day now and I'll have a lot of pictures to take in the next month and a half.

That's right, only a month and a half left before leaving the city of San Francisco! Crazy. My room is trashed right now (this would be an opportune time to use my non-existent camera) because of shipping so much stuff home. A lot of my clothes are going out today; books were all shipped last week. I'm realizing that there is a lot that needs to happen before I move, so I'm doing as much as I can now. Anyone have tips for moving cross-country?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Missing the Fireworks

The fireworks here in SF are scheduled to start in the next half-hour or so, and here I sit, in my room, with absolutely no intention of leaving the house until tomorrow morning. For the first time since 2001--and only the second time in my entire life--I'm missing live fireworks on the Fourth of July. And to be honest, it doesn't bother me in the least.

Fighting crowds and attempting to see the show through the city's notorious low-hanging fog (although this year it looks like it might actually be clear), I can certainly do without. I'm tired, I've got things to be working on and honestly, I'm sick of the ethno-centric American attitude.

What really bothers me is the song, and the general theology of, "God Bless America." Should people really be asking God to send blessings down on America as a country? Should the richest and most powerful nation in history (arguably) be petitioning the Lord of the Universe to bless it? One of my former roommates, and others (including a bumper sticker), says that we should turn that phrase into "America, Bless God!" Why do we insist on asking for more, rather than attempting to live our lives for the one who gave us everything we have? We ask God to bless our financial situation, rather than asking him to use our tithes and offerings to bless others.

Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and other countries of the world struggle daily with fear of war and terrorism. It strikes once in the US, and the entire nation freaks out. At Yankee Stadium in New York, they still play "God Bless America" during every seventh inning stretch, a tradition that was started following 9/11. Even the tragedy of that day wasn't enough to bring America out of its ethno-centricity; if anything, it deepened it.

I don't think we should stop praying for God to bless people or aspects of our lives. I'm saying that we need to make sure that we are blessing God and living a life pleasing to Him. Plain and simple, that's my view. My Bible dictionary lists several definitions of "bless." Only in one definition is it referring to God's blessing of people (e.g. Psalm 33:12). The other four definitions are about men blessing God and others around us.

Take note, America. We need to be honoring God.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Chris the Bouncer

My job allows me the opportunity to wear a lot of hats. Really, no day is ever the same, which in many ways is good. My former roommate Ryan had one of those jobs that was the same thing every day, and I doubt I could ever handle that.

That hat on Thursday was bouncer. Seriously. Those who know my physical make-up, know that Chris Winkler serving as front-door security--the only front-door security--at a soup kitchen in a tough part of Oakland is something like Steve Urkel playing quarterback. It's just not a natural role. As a skinny little white guy, I don't quite exude "Don't even think about going through this line until I say it's okay."

Needless to say, this role got off to somewhat of an awkward start. But once I got the hang of how the system was supposed to work, and some of the regulars (guests could come back through the line as many times as possible) started to open up with me, things were rolling. Only one small scuffle broke out, and I was able to carry on some fun conversations with guests as they were waiting in line. What started as a somewhat nerve-wracking job turned into one of my favorite "hats" to wear.

If anyone was wondering, I was serving at the St. Vincent de Paul Free Dining Room.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

No crying here!

Here is a continuation of my last post.

What I will not miss:

--Two seasons. Rainy (winter) and summer. I like four seasons, and am looking forward to spending a large portion of this coming fall and winter in the midwest or on the East Coast--bring on the snow!

--Transiency. As I eluded to earlier, just when you get to know someone here, they move. I'm somewhat of a "long-timer" now that I've been here almost three years! This concept, and a number of other factors, have made life difficult socially. In just two weeks in Cameroon (in September), I felt like I had made better friends than many of my relationships here.

--Driving. Though my Saturn is a great car, I do not like owning a car, nor do I like driving it. I am very much looking forward to selling it in August! Included in this are all the other ugly things associated with driving: finding a place to park, remembering where I parked, street cleaning days, etc.

--Accordion Man. Several nights a week, a man attempts to make money by playing his accordion (and unfortunately, singing) on the corner across the street from our apartment. The "music" invades directly into my bedroom, making reading impossible (I've tried earplugs to no avail) and forcing me into the kitchen or to play my music louder than normal. (As I write this, I have opted for the latter option with Accordion Man playing in full force.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tears will be shed

One of the most popular questions that I've been asked in the past few weeks, as my plans for post-CSM continue to come together, is what (if anything) will I miss about San Francisco. Here are my thoughts on that. (And stay tuned for the flip side of this in a few days...)

What I will miss:

--The Salvation Army Turk Street Central Corps. What we at CSM call "Turk Street" is my favorite ministry site (but not that I play favorites!). They have a large after-school program and summer day camp, with dozens of kids (K-6ish) enrolled. I lived in this building for my first three months in SF, and my ties to both the kids and the staff here have always been tight. They have dubbed me "Spiderman" and I try to "swing" in as much as possible. (The nickname goes back to when some of the kids thought I looked like Tobey Maguire; then some of the younger kids thought that I actually am Spiderman, so the name stuck.) Tears will be shed on my last day here.

--Geographical beauty. Northern California has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. I currently live just a few miles from the ocean, 30 minutes from wilderness backpacking, and four hours from Yosemite National Park. And there's a lot more that I just don't have room to write here.

--Friends. Of course, when leaving a place, one will miss the friends they've made. For my first year and a half here, friends were few and far between, but things have improved and there are a fair amount of people I'll miss. Small group, church, ultimate, house, CSM, Hope/Calvin alumni, etc. But the Bay Area is a transient place and two of the people I've been closest to have moved, so some goodbyes have actually already been said.

--The CSM full-time staff. We have great people in each of our eight North American cities. Even though we only meet a few times each year, many of our staff have become some of my closest friends. I'll miss our Sonic runs, late-night card games, and sharing of stories that only other CSM staff can fully appreciate.

--Ultimate. Hands-down, the Bay Area is one of the best places to play ultimate in the world. This summer, I could play six days a week if I wanted to--though I'll probably only play three. Good players and good spirit.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Our Summer Staff!!

2005 Staff
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
For you pray-ers out there, here is a picture of our summer (and full-time staff) so that you can pray for them by name and face.

Back Row: Wynter Olson, City Director; Sean Anderson, from Arlington Heights, IL; Drew Reding, from Pittsburg, KS; me; Kyle Staley, from Folsom, CA; and Shelby Bossert, from Reno, NV.

Front Row: Lisa Trump, from Tinley Park, IL; Leigh Anna Ridge, from Ruston, LA (she's in training to take over my job); Abby Rogers, from Katy, TX; and Quinn Ellsworth, from Portage, MI.

Praise God for the miracle of having three male hosts this summer!

A sad passing

I found the following announcement in my home church newsletter, and couldn't help passing it along on my blog:

With all of the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed a short time back. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey," died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in...and then the trouble started.

Monday, June 06, 2005

George Bush and Calvin College

Interesting topic, huh? George Bush and Calvin College. If you haven't heard, Bush recently spoke at the Calvin graduation (Calvin is the rival school to my alma mater, Hope College). It was supposed to be a perfect location for Bush to speak--super-conservative west Michigan and supposed college students who would fall into the trap of "Christians must be conservatives." Karl Rove thought he had met the ideal venue--instead he met his match.

Jim Wallis explains it in an article in a recent issue of SojoMail, an e-newsletter that I have come to read regularly. In short, progressive Calvin students, faculty and staff responded with their hearts, "protesting" Bush's policies regarding the war, the environment, the poor, etc. Graduates wore "God is Not a Replican or a Democrat" pins on their gowns. Many faculty and staff wrote an open letter in The Grand Rapids Press (the complete text of which I looked for on-line but could not find), outlining ways in which they disagreed with the President.

Unfortunately, the reaction to the protest--instead of applauding students for stepping up against an administration that thought it could just waltz onto campus without controversy--was extremely negative. West Michigan is an area where Bush's campaign visits are to raise money, not votes. Staunchly conservative. And the public didn't like people at Calvin objecting to the President's policies. While I didn't find the original ad, I did find the letters to the editor the week following. Not pretty. Almost every letter was against the fact that the students, faculty and staff spoke out against Bush. One of the letters I found belonged to one of my own professors at Hope, Dr. Jack Holmes.

While at Hope, I did not like anyone from Calvin. They were the "enemy," especially when it came to sports. But since I've left campus, some of my best friends have been from Calvin. One Calvin friend was telling me that people have actually written to the college, telling them that they should remove "all references to being a Christian college" because they disagreed with Bush. They are even expecting enrollment to decline for the fall, in the wake of the protest.

After all this, here are my thoughts: First, I have a lot more respect for the people of Calvin--I admire their willingness to stand up in a tough situation. Second, I value my time spent in west Michigan, but I'm SO glad that my worldview has been shaped by influences outside of the region!

Any thoughts on this?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Store Wars

Store Wars
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
Okay, so I know I said that I wasn't going to post for a while, but this was too good to pass up! Check out this short little flick. If you like Star Wars, or organic foods, or just need a good laugh, this is right up your alley!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Crazy busy

You know those times in your life that are so busy that, well, you're just constantly busy? These next couple weeks are like that for me. All of our hosts (interns) at work arrived in the last few days, and we started training with them yesterday. For much of the next two weeks or so, we'll be working with them on how to work with the groups that come to serve in San Francisco--both practically (like navigating through the city) and spiritually (helping the groups process what they are learning). (Click here for more info on CSM and what we do.)

All that to say that I doubt if I will update this blog in the next week or two. But thanks to all who have been checking it out, and I'll check back in with you as soon as I can. Pray for our sanity and rest--I was at work last night until 10:30 p.m. and am going in this morning at 7 a.m.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Digital v. Film

Check out this article in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

I have been debating for several months--probably almost a year now--whether or not to purchase a digital camera. I have a little bit of money (thanks to some donors) put away for an out-of-the-ordinary purchase, and have reallly been leaning toward buying one. At Target last week (killing time waiting for my brother's flight to arrive at SFO), I was able to hold a couple models and liked the feel of them, and I love the concept. Being able to do whatever you want with a picture so easily, instead of being limited to paper and scanning. Plus, it's so much cheaper. I haven't taken many pictures since living in SF, largely because of film and processing costs.

But this article brings up the cons--yes, there actually are some--of digital photography. None of which are really making me think twice about buying a new digital, but definitely thought provoking. What will digital storage be like in 20 or 30 years? Will we even be able to access our pictures from 2005 at that time, if they're not in a hard-copy form? As is the human way, we're always going to be finding something bigger and better, but at the same time, it forces out our old stand-by options.

Any thoughts on this phenomenon, or recommendations on how/what to buy when it comes to digital cameras? :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What do Santa, Cookie Monster and Harry Potter Have in Common?

Well, in this instance, they're all in the same photo.

Bay to Breakers is an annual San Francisco tradition. It's the largest foot race in the country (70,000+ participants) and certainly the craziest.

Traditions include the throwing of tortillas through the air (their flight is remarkably similar to ultimate discs) at the start line, hundreds of naked runners, rolling kegs and/or full wet bars, centipedes (teams of runners roped together), and thousands of costumed runners.

After running it in running clothes last year, I wanted to go with some sort of costume in 2005. So, my roommate David and I were off to the thrift store, in search of the perfect outfit. David found a nice floral shirt and some hideous red corduroys, which he turned into court jester shorts. Fellow roommate Jim's Santa hat topped off his outfit, seen in this picture. My "costume" consisted of a borrowed "horn" hat (thanks to our fourth roommate, Ryan), a thrift store Hawaiian shirt and Harry Potter glasses. (We don't know the Cookie Monster seen in this picture.)

The 12K run was great (it's like one big party, so it doesn't even feel like you're running that far) and the company was better. Our entire house ran, along with my brother Bradley from Michigan, my friend Jarrett from Chicago, and Ryan's friend Michael from Seattle. As always, it was a great experience!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Knowledge...or lack thereof

A few weeks ago, I took the Bible Knowledge Assessment for Wycliffe Bible Translators. I'm in the application process to join the organization, and the BKA is a part of the large amount of information that they glean from prospective members. I can't talk about the specifics of the test (for legal reasons), but I learned something from it that I wanted to write about.

The test was difficult. In all honesty, I'm not sure if I've ever taken a test where I felt as though I knew so little of the material. I've been a Christian and going to church all my life, but this test really made clear to me that my study (including memorization) of the Bible has sorely been lacking for most of my life. All those Bible stories and whatnot from Sunday school and youth group were important, but in my mind, it wasn't deep enough to understand all that I could about Christ and life with Him.

My personal devotions have never amounted to much, at least in terms of the Bible. My personal prayer life has really been strengthened in recent years (largely due to my lonliness), but scripture has usually been limited to reading a few verses in Our Daily Bread, and that never goes deep enough for me to learn--ODB is more about being inspired.

When have I gone the deepest in my study of Scripture? Ironically, when I'm preparing to teach from the Bible. For a few months last year--and February of this year--I taught Sunday school at Promised Land Fellowship. It was in preparation for those lessons that I had multiple Bibles, a concordance, and a Bible dictionary spread out on my bed and I was really digging in, praying for divine guidance and enjoying it! Interestingly enough, there were questions that I answered correctly on the BKA that I know came as a result of those times of teaching.

I just found out that the results of my BKA are in and I will not need to pursue further Bible study in order to join Wycliffe. This is a good thing (I'm still planning on joining WBT full-time in January). The better thing is that it has brought to the forefront of my mind that I need to be studying the Bible. If for no other reason, my stress over the BKA was good for that!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Rain, rain, go away!

For those of you not from the Bay Area, here's a rough summary of how SF weather works:

November through March: Rainy season, temps between 55 and 75.
April through August: No rain, temps between 55 and 75.
September/October: Hot (relatively speaking, of course), temps between 60 and (on a rare day) 90

Unfortunately, today (May 4), we're getting rain again. Just when we were looking forward to summer! There's an interesting article in the Chronicle today about the weird West Coast winter. More rain in LA than in Seattle!


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Last (Fell Street) Supper

I couldn't resist posting this fun picture! From August of 2003 through July of 2004, I lived in a great house on Fell Street with a fun Christian community. The house was sold and we all moved on from the house, but not out of contact.

Last month, we hosted a gathering at our new house for people who had at one point lived in the "Fell Street House." This picture shows just some of the fun from that night!

Thanks to Jim for the picture!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Church Satire

I've added a new link at the right--Lark News. It's a hilarious website, updated once a month, with satirical "news" on life in the North American church. Whether you attend church or not, this site is worth checking out. Especially funny are the "ads."

By the way, I'm working on getting some pictures up, so you can visually see what life is like out here in SF. (The fact that I don't own a digital camera is slowing down this process a bit.)

Please feel free to leave a comment using the link below. I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Pacific Northwest!!

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful. Granted, the San Francisco Bay Area is no slouch, either, especially with the Sierra Nevada just a few hours away. But being nearly surrounded by mountains, both Seattle and Vancouver are absolutely gorgeous and the wilderness afforded by the mountains is easily accessible.

I just returned from a week-long trip up there, visiting friends and just enjoying time away from work. I had no agenda, something that I've come to appreciate about my vacations--it used to be that I'd pack as much stuff as possible into the trip. Now, I've learned (from experiences coming back even more exhausted than when I left) that it's good to have a shell of a plan, and just go on instinct and the Spirit.

Another vacation "strategy" that I've picked up is to avoid doing all the main touristy things, and get out to see the "real" city. That comes largely from working for CSM--my job is to show our students all aspects to the city: good and bad, touristy and scary, rich and poor, etc. So when in Seattle, I spent some time just wandering around different neighborhoods that a tourist had no business being in. I walked a lot, took the bus a little (always an adventure in an unfamiliar city), found a couple ultimate games to pick up with, and helped to paint my friends' coffee shop which is about to open.

I used to think that taking a nap on a vacation was a waste of time--one should be out exploring everything! Not so anymore. I napped when I got in to Seattle, in a park downtown on the water. I napped on my first day in Vancouver--on the most uncomfortable futon, I believe, in the world. I napped on a plane, on a train, on a bus. And I slept long and hard most nights. Waste of time? I think not! For once, I came back from vacation well-rested. I suppose that's the purpose, right?

Many thanks to all my friends in the Northwest who hosted me in some way: Brian and Jamela, for VIP treatment at the A's-Mariners game on Thursday and a bed to sleep in; Hayden and friends, for allowing me to hang out and sleep on a couch; Paul for the mini-tour of Seattle and floor space; Julia, for a brief moment of catch-up time; and Erin and Christina for bringing me into the Regent community (and Tut's roommates for allowing me to crash on a couch)!

If there's one thing I can say about the Pacfic Northwest, it's this: I'll be back. (To steal a line from our governor.)

Monday, April 18, 2005


I spent six hours yesterday, running around in gorgeous weather (we were in Sacramento, not San Francisco, hence the nice weather) playing ultimate, the sport I love. We had a fun time and I played fairly well, so surely ultimate was the highlight of my day, right? Nope. It was a cool little story that happened shortly after I got to the fields.

After I checked in at the registration table, I was checking out brackets and schedules for the day when a woman came up and said, "You're Chris Winkler, aren't you?" I was kind of taken aback, but I affirmed that she was correct. "You sent us a thank you note last're the best ever." Though that's probably not verbatim, it conveys the gist of our conversation and what I'm getting at. Let me explain...

I was at this same tournament, Hat in the Sac, last year as well. It was a first-year event, but was very well organized and a lot of fun, so when I got back to SF, I sent the organizers a thank you note for putting on such a great tourney. It wasn't much, just an e-mail expressing my congratulations for a successful tournament and appreciation for making it happen (tournaments are not easy things to pull off).

This woman, Megan, was one of the organizers and the effect of that thank you note was obvious! She sought me out of the other hundred participants and thanked me for my thank you note! There is a bit of irony in this, but it brought out something that is absent in our society, and that is gratitude. As a missionary, it has been drilled into me from books, my supervisors, and experience that thank you notes are important in support raising. But what about in thanking our parents for things they did for us growing up? What about our coaches for volunteering time to hang out with us as teenagers? What about our friends for simply being there? One of the things that we hear over and over from the groups that serve with us--most of whom come from affluent backgrounds--is that they will no longer take for granted what they have. They tend to thank God for his provision in their lives, and often then choose to live more simply.

And I'm not just talking about expression of gratitude, but simply feeling it. If you start to feel gratitude toward those around you--and those who came before us, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.--then our lives will change. And when that feeling comes, expressions of it will come. It might be in the form of an e-mail, a phone call, or (imagine this) a snail-mail letter, but it will mean a lot no matter its form. It's a lesson I'm still learning, and will probably never fully learn in this lifetime.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Leaving...on a jet plane...again

Tomorrow morning at 7:35 a.m., I'll board a plane for Houston. I'm travelling there for a one-day workshop for all the CSM people who do what I do (which equates to one person in each of our eight cities). It will be my second trip I'll have made since getting back from the Midwest in January, and a week after I get back on Wednesday, I'll be flying again...this time to Seattle for vacation.

When I took my first flight, to England as a high school junior in 1997, everything about it enthralled me. Since I wasn't afraid of flying and don't get motion sickness, I loved every minute of it. People-watching in the airport, seeing the ground below from so high up, trying not to say the wrong things to the security people (this was back when they still asked you if you packed your own bag, and the like). I was a wide-eyed kid from rural Michigan, and I soaked up every minute of it.

The following year I flew to Mexico...then it was Honduras...then Vienna...then, shortly after graduating from college, I was flying several times a year. Here is a brief outline:
2002: Chicago-Houston (RT), Chicago-San Francisco (RT)
2003: Chicago-SF, SF-Houston, Houston-Chicago, Grand Rapids-Minneapolis, Minneapolis-SF, SF-Chicago
2004: Chicago-SF, SF-Nashville (RT), SF-West Virginia (RT), SF-Cameroon (RT), SF-Chicago
2005: Chicago-SF, SF-Los Angeles (RT)

All this travelling gets a little ridiculous after a while! (Note that I understand many others fly much more than me!) Sometimes, I feel like it's a sign of prestige, because I'm a "business traveller" with an important job or something. But really, I'm sick of it. Though it's often the quickest and cheapest way to get from Point A to Point B, it's a hassle and has gotten to be boring. Granted, the people-watching aspect is still somewhat exciting, and following along from the air with my atlas still holds a special place in my wandering heart, but I'll take a train trip over the airport/airline/airplane inconveniences any day!

The thing that keeps me going is the people that I know I'll see when I get to the destination, whether I'm on the way to or from somewhere. I love our CSM staff (I'm so excited to see so many of them tomorrow!), and of course vacations are always something to look forward to, whether it's friends or family. If there was only a way to see them without all this flying!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Do you have a fever?"

Wynter, my boss, leaned over today and felt my forehead, asking, "Do you have a fever?" No, I wasn't looking sickly, or saying I felt warm. It was something I said in the course of normal conversation.

What could I say that would prompt Wynter to make that comment (jokingly, of course)? I had said that I wouldn't mind going to see the new movie "Fever Pitch" in the theater. The key to this comment is "in the theater." Since I've lived in San Francisco, I have paid--with my own money--to see a movie in the theather a total of four times. That works out to an average of a little more than one per year. Wynter knows this, as whenever the topic of movies comes up, I get on my soapbox about how much movies cost these days, I'll just get it when it comes out on video, etc.

Growing up in rural northern Michigan, I could go see a movie for something like $5. Granted, the movie theater in my hometown, in an effort to show more than one movie at a time and bring in more revenue, decided to "add" a screen by simply building a wall down the middle of the one existing theater! But still, it was a movie on the "big" screen, and even going to the neighboring town that had a little more modern theater still only cost $6 or $7.

Then I left for college. The local theater was something like $8 or $9, so I almost never went there, especially when the college showed movies (fairly recent releases) for $2 on the weekends. During those four years, I think my total of movies (in a real theater) reached somewhere in the vacinity of three. (Two of those were historical dramas that I saw with a history prof and/or fellow history nerds.)

So that's my soapbox. Movies cost a lot. But what's the importance of this well-known fact to this blog? It's to demonstrate my love for the game of baseball. The aforementioned movie "Fever Pitch" is built around the dating life of a hard-core Red Sox fan. I love the game and though I only rooted for the Red Sox for a few weeks last year, would love to see a movie about baseball--especially since it was shaped around the incredible run the Sox had in 2004. Even if it means shelling out $10 for two hours of sitting in an uncomfortable seat behind noisy teenagers and having to smuggle food in...oops, there's my soapbox again!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

democracy in action...

"Now this is democracy in action," said my friend Ben (and fellow Michigander). We were being herded into room #416 at San Francisco's City Hall, along with about 80 other people wearing matching t-shirts. What were we doing? What San Francisco does best! Grassroots lobbying. Let me explain:

I am an ultimate player. Ultimate, in this sense, is a noun not an adjective. Better known as ultimate frisbee or sometimes frisbee football, ultimate has been my exercise outlet for the last seven years, but especially in the last three here in SF. One of the things that makes ultimate special is the "Spirit of the Game," which in short says, "Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed-upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play." This means helping another player up after knocking them down (accidentally), admitting to a rules violation, and having fun. Unlike any other sport I've seen, there is true camaraderie in ultimate, which is what brought me to City Hall this afternoon.

Not only do ultimate players have a bond with each other, but also with other players of disc sports, like disc golf (AKA Frisbee golf). So when the call went out from the SF Disc Golf Club to attend a meeting of the Recreation and Parks Commission, who was debating whether or not to extend the temporary permit for the disc golf course in Golden Gate Park, the ultimate community showed up in force to support the golfers.

The committee voted to extend the permit by 60 days to allow for further investigation into the impact on the park by the course, but just having 80 disc golfers and other supporters overflowing the hearing room--in the middle of a weekday--was quite a sight and surely made an impact on the commissioners.

And through it all, hippies and coporate folks alike being herded into that small room, this was truly a case of democracy in action.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

finally caving in...

It seems as though everyone and their brother (except mine, at least that I'm aware of) has a blog, so I'll jump on this bandwagon. What helps this is my recent purchase of an Apple iBook G4, allowing me to have Internet access at my home.

A bit of an intro, although I'll reveal more as this blog develops:

I grew up in Michigan and moved to San Francisco during the fall of '02, shortly after graduating college. I am serving with a ministry called Center for Student Missions, working with suburban and rural youth who come to the City to serve in various soup kitchens, homeless shelters, afterschool programs, etc.

I will be leaving SF at the end of the summer to join Wycliffe Bible Translators, moving overseas to one of their many branches in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, or Central/South America.

Happy blogging!