Thursday, December 28, 2006

Photos Available!

A few photos from our wedding and honeymoon are available online at my Flickr site. I'll hopefully post more as we get more back from the photographer and other friends.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bride and Groom

No, we didn't really have a Disney wedding...and we didn't even buy these hats. :-) We found them in the store and thought they were pretty cool, and couldn't pass up the photo op. More wedding and honeymoon photos to follow soon, hopefully.

No Longer a Secret

Many of you know that I was keeping our honeymoon destination a secret from my beautiful bride...and nearly everyone else. I thought that for those of you wondering who might be checking this blog, I'd fill you in here.

We went to a secluded cabin in northeastern Alabama (about an hour from Chatanooga, TN) for about a week. It is owned by some friends of our pastor and his wife, and they rent it out to couples in ministry needing a retreat (Christie and I certainly fit the bill!). It was absolutely perfect for us--wilderness, mountains, no people around unless we wanted to visit town, good food nearby.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Disturbing Revelation About My Fingers

My fingers are small.

This was made painfully aware to me by a man at the jewelery counter at JC Penney today. Christie and I were looking at wedding bands for me, and most of the styles come in sizes of 10 or higher. I, as it turns out, wear a 7.5. So we went on-line, thinking that there would be a better selection there. WRONG. The lowest size was 8.5.

Do I really have such small fingers that no major jeweler or department store carries a ring within one full size of my own? The answer, sadly, is yes.

(A disclaimer: plain white gold bands are available in my size, but this is the ONLY style available. We're looking into other options...)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

For the first time in the 26 Thanksgiving Day weekends that I've celebrated during the course of my life, I went shopping on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). I absolutely needed a dark suit for some meetings in New York next week, and they were (of course) deeply discounted at JC Penney--the only store I ever shop for clothes.

I had a game plan: one store, only looking at certain items, in and out in one hour. Did I reach my goal? I got everything I needed at good prices and was walking out of the store about an hour and 10 minutes after entering. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Near (Venison) Miss

How is it that I live in rural Michigan for most of my life and the closest I ever come to hitting a deer was just a few days ago in the Wycliffe parking lot in Orlando? And not only did I nearly hit the thing with my car--I almost hit him twice.

Late Saturday night (I was working late to finish things up before a week-long trip to Dallas) I was driving through the parking lot at Wycliffe when a deer darted out in front of me. After slamming on the brakes (as much slamming as can be done at 10 mph), the deer passed and I made it out to the road and turned right. Well...the deer had turned left decided to cross the road: immediately in front of me. That thing almost got squashed twice in a span of about 15 seconds.

And oh what I wouldn't have done for a little venison stew... :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Still Alive and Kicking

Yes, I do still exist, and I have not neglected my blog. In fact, I think about it almost every day. Seriously. There is always interesting stuff going on that I know I should blog about, but other things pop up and I run out of time in the day. My apologies to those of who have been checking this regularly. So...a quick update on life:

I've been traveling a lot. Dallas, DC, Southern and Central California, and various places in Florida. Had a great visit with my parents, who were here for about 10 days. When they first planned the trip, it was going to be a time for them to vacation in Florida and see some of my world. Now that I'm engaged it was all that plus a wedding preparation time (they were able to see the location, meet Christie's parents, etc.). Wedding plans are rolling along, but we're looking to outsource many of the tasks to our friends. If you're interested, let me know! We already have food prep folks, decorators, and a videographer.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm thrilled to be getting married on December 16?! I'm hoping to become a little more consistent with the blog--but I've thought that before, too. :-(

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hurricane Faux Pas

I had a slightly embarrassing moment this morning at work which revealed my naïveté of life in Central Florida.

During our morning prayer time, we were talking about all the people that were traveling to Orlando for two different sets of meetings this week, and someone mentioned that a lot of the travel was dependent on Ernesto. Now, keep in mind that I'm new to the organization and don't know all of the key people yet. However, I really felt like I should know who Ernesto was, as he was obviously somebody important if his arrival in Orlando could hold up so many other colleagues.

And then after about two minutes of listening to this conversation, I blurt out, "Oh, he's a hurricane!" Needless to say, my co-workers got a good laugh out of it.

On a related note, I'm kind of excited to experience my first hurricane. It's very much a cultural thing down here--kind of like blizzards in northern Michigan. To keep tabs on Ernesto, click here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

I think most of the regular readers of my blog are aware of this, but many have been asking for "photo confirmation." Yes, the rumors are true: Chris Winkler is engaged. As I told some friends and family in an e-mail, when I worked in San Francisco, my good friend Wynter and I had a running joke. Whenever one of us would receive an e-mail from a friend letting us know that they were engaged, we would turn to one another with the line, "Another one bites the dust." We would know exactly what that meant.

I "bit the dust" officially last week, when I proposed to my now-fiancee Christie Bradford (she said yes). And now, the long-awaited moment where people actually get to see what she looks like. :-) This picture was taken this week, outside of the house where we will live after December 16 (Christie lives there now).

My apologies for any fainting episodes and shock that this news may have given you. I have heard numerous times, "You're the last person I expected to hear this from!" In reality, I didn't expect to hear it, either, but it all came from God. I hope to post more about our story in coming weeks.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rachel Lake

Rachel Lake from above
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
So I promised a picture from my hike in Seattle, and here it is. You're looking at Rachel Lake, an alpine lake fed by snow melt, some of which you can still see. That's right...I actually hiked through snow in late July!

It was a fabulous 12 mile jaunt (eight miles to the lake/campground and then another 4 on this side trip up higher), a definite highlight of my trip last month to Seattle. Though I wasn't able to go backpacking with my friends, I was able to hike in to their campsite, spend some time with them, and then hike back out myself.

My whole Seattle trip was great, as I was able to spend a lot of time talking with God...and he talked back! Great conversation. I highly recommend engaging with him sometime. :-)

Sunday, July 30, 2006


My apologies to those of you who have been checking my blog regularly only to find that, yet again, I have not updated it. In every way (answering e-mails, updating websites, sending newsletters, etc.), I have been a slacker with communication recently.

I hope (in theory) to get back to regular blogging soon. So...keep checking, and be on the lookout for a picture from a hiking trip in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

More Lizards

I'm sitting here in my dining room, looking at an indecisive gecko who is hanging out on the floor. I think I've blogged about these things before, but they are everywhere! I think the one running around right now is the one who lives in our mail slots (where we sort our mail in the living room). At the moment, he likes Nate's slot...I would, too, since he gets a lot more first-class mail than Jon or I. :-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Orlando Observations, cont.

Here is another strange thing about Orlando that I've discovered: building materials are everywhere on the road.

Seriously, my roommate and I joke that we could build our own house with the random materials that are always lying in intersections, on shoulders or just in the middle of the road. Two-by-fours, nails, cement blocks, siding, etc. It looks like a hurricane ripped through Orlando and dumped stuff everywhere--but it's been almost a year since the last hurricane!

My theory is that it's the building boom happening here in East Orlando. Housing developments are springing up at an astonishing rate (most schools meet in portables, since they can't build schools fast enough to keep up with the pace of families buying new homes), and with that, comes more and more retail. And, in theory, this also brings a drastic increase in the amount of pieces of houses on the ground.

Pray for me as a I drive to and from work, attempting to swerve and miss this junk. (You know this must be a serious issue if I'm blogging about it...surely people don't blog about trivial, useless information.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Only in Orlando (and maybe a few other places)

I recently had two "Only in Orlando" moments. Although I'm sure these things happen in other parts of the world, they seemed pretty special to our area.

Only in Orlando...

...could the most sophisticated machine of all time, the space shuttle, cause a major traffic jam stretching for over 50 miles. Hours before each of the scheduled shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral (normally about an hour away from Orlando), traffic on the three main east-bound roads have been packed solid, from Orlando all the way to the coast. Lots of people wind up watching the launch from their cars while stuck in traffic. If the launch today happens (scheduled to happen in about an hour), I'll watch it from the comfort of my own home...although I might go up on the roof to get a better view.

...would armadillos be the most frequently seen road kill. I don't know if it's migratory season for these things, but the in past week, I've probably seen two dozen 'dillos on the side of the road--most of them dead. The ones that are alive confirmed my suspicion as to why so many of them wind up as road kill: they're slow and not very bright.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Time is Money

I've been thinking a lot about trade-offs in life, including the old phrase, "time is money."

In Orlando, most of the expressways are toll roads. (Unfortunately, the one I use the least is the free one.) This creates a dilemma whenever I need to get to church or friends' houses on the other side of town. On one hand, I could just fork over the cash (although it doesn't feel like cash, because I pre-pay my tolls with an E-Pass) and get somewhere much more quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, I could avoid the tolls, yet use up more in gas money and spend more time getting places.

What do I usually do? I go in spurts. When I first moved here, I took the tolls everywhere, whenever possible. But then I found some "shortcuts" to various places, and started to rethink my philosophy. For about a month, I took almost only surface streets (non-expressway), with the exception of my daily commute to work (which is much more painful when using surface streets). And then the past week or so, I'm back to using the tolls.

In all actuality, I think the tolls are the way to go...and as gas prices rise, the numbers back this theory more and more. If I'm leaving my friends' house downtown, I could take the tolls and be home in 18 minutes, having set me back $1.00 plus gas. Otherwise, I'm home 10-15 minutes later, having dealt with the stress of traffic, the additional wear and tear on my vehicle from stop lights, and spent more on gas. Is it really worth it? My conclusion is no, unless I want a change of scenery.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Soccer Mania

World Cup fever has gripped my office and my house.

When I moved to Orlando, there was a group that played soccer on Mondays and Thursdays after work. We were grateful to have four-on-four, and more often than not it was closer to three-on-three or two-on-two. On a few occasions, we had to cancel or just run drills because of lack of people.

However, something happened about three weeks ago. People started coming out to play...en masse. The IT department had a very strong showing, and people from next door (Campus Crusade for Christ) started playing. Some of the temporary summer help began work and with it, soccer. The more people played, the more word spread through the building about the soccer phenomenon. People that haven't played in years, people that have never played, MKs who grew up playing ONLY soccer, the list goes on.

The associated World Cup fever could either be a cause, or an effect, of this soccer mania. My roommate Jon sent out a bracket on Thursday for people to submit their picks for the World Cup (which started yesterday morning)...less than 24 hours later, he had over 20 brackets back! I think that we're the only office in Orlando, because of the international flavor of our building, that will lose more productivity over following the World Cup than following the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

One more indicator of the mania: my roommate and I sat and watched the entire Germany-Costa Rica game last Spanish! (Neither of us speaks a lick of Spanish.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Another B2B

Chris B2B '06
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
Some of you may recognize this "costume" from an entry from last year. For the second year in a row, this was my outfit for the infamous Bay to Breakers road race, which took place this past Sunday.

Once again, it was a great time, and I somehow survived (and had a very strong kick during the last half-mile) despite not training at all. Whenever I finish B2B, I think to myself, "Wow, if I just did that without training, surely I could run a marathon if only I applied myself." Someday, I think that will happen.

Or, I could continue to run the crazy-busy lifestyle I've led over the past several years and then before I realize it, I can't run anymore. I'm hoping for the former.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Priorities in SF

Did I mention that I love the food scene in San Francisco? I just got back from some early morning shopping at Trader Joe's, a store not yet found in Florida, but hopefully soon! I did almost all of my grocery shopping at TJ's when I lived here, and today I stocked up on things that I just can't find organically and/or cheaply in Orlando.

Honey, sugar, jelly, Clif Bars, cereal, nuts, dried fruit, etc. Now I just need to figure out how I'm getting it all back to Orlando!

And like I mentioned in my previous post, there's also the matter of where to eat meals when here. I think I decided to pick up a burrito at one of my favorite taquerias on the way to the baseball game. Hurray for super burritos!

Smells and Sounds

San Francisco is a special place. Every city is unique in its own way, but there really is something about SF. When I flew into Oakland last night, I could see the sun setting behind the City (SF) and this warm feeling let me know that I was back home (at least, in one of several places I call home).

Riding BART from Oakland to SF, there is a very distinctive sound that the train makes (a friend of mine absolutely can't stand the sound). For me, it conjures up good memories--mainly going to A's games. The busses also make a unique sound, particularly the electric ones. I'm staying at my old house, and there are several bus lines running down our streets (we're on a corner).

The smells--not counting pot, of course--cannot be described on a blog. You just have to be here to experience it. Maybe it's simply because I lived here for a while, but I urge you to come and check it out!

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. A's/Giants baseball game this afternoon, dinner with a large group of friends tonight, Bay to Breakers and church tomorrow morning, then informal visits with folks tomorrow afternoon. The one issue, though, is that it creates the dilemma of so many great places to eat (Mexican, Indian, Thai), and so little time. I'm thinking Mexican for lunch today, Indian for lunch tomorrow followed by a Thai dinner? You can see my issues with this! :-)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Prayers Answered

Isn't it amazing when prayers get answered in a way we never would have dreamed? For weeks, I had been praying about setting up a particular appointment, which was just not happening. Presumably, God's response was, "Wait." Eventually, I gave up trying to call/e-mail, and left it to God.

Then, out of the blue, I got a call yesterday that changed everything. In a flurry of phone calls over the span of about 15 minutes, I was able to nail down the appointment--aligned perfectly with another appointment in the same area.

Praise God!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What if...

Many of us in the Christian world talk about what certain people could do if only they were Christians. "Wow, he would be an excellent preacher, if only he knew Jesus." People outside of the Christian community have skills and talents which could be put to use just as well for the Kingdom as they are being used in the secular world.

I had a thought today, reversing this idea. What would I be doing today if I was not a follower of Jesus? I recently met a pastor who, after a few minutes with me, said, "You seem like a sharp guy. You could be making a lot of money somewhere else, if you weren't in the ministry."

Whether he was right or not is debatable. However, I was talking with a friend today and I wondered aloud where I would be working if I were not a Christian--and God had not called me to be a missionary. She said I'd be good at sales. I suppose I'd be interested in making a lot of money, so maybe sales would be the way to go. I very easily could have gone down the business/accounting route in college, which possibly would have landed me a good job. Travel would probably still have been a passion, so I may have used my wealth to see the world.

However, Jesus came into my life, and now I try to live how I think He would have me live. And I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Not Your Typical Luau

The generational minister at our church, Christie, was thrown a surprise birthday luau on Saturday night. I was asked to be her driver and videographer for the scavenger hunt that would bring her to the party. When we arrived, we were BOTH surprised by what we found.

Two of her friends, Tim and Lee, put on the most elaborate themed party I've ever seen. Beyond the tiki torches and Hawaiian shirts, there was food, decorations and musics to go along with the theme.

But the kicker came after we ate. Christie was blindfolded and led to the "volcano" on the back porch. It was actually their in-ground pool, died entirely red. Just before Christie came out, they poured in dry ice, making the whole pool churn and bubble, and covering it with smoke (seen in the picture).

Describing the rest of the scene would not do it justice, so I won't even try. Just be sure to contact Tim and Lee if you ever need a party thrown!

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Importance of a 5K

After posting last night, I realized that I shouldn't be downplaying the accomplishment that running a 5K is. In my mind, Chris Winkler running a 5K is not too momentous. However, it is hugely important to people who do not exercise on a regular basis, who use the 5K as motivation to get in shape, who see a 5K as I might see a marathon.

To me, running this 5K was good motivation to start thinking about a marathon again. :-)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Natural Athlete?

Some friends told me tonight, "You're just a natural athlete." I laughed at them.

Here's the context. A group from work had just finished running a 5K here in Orlando. I had finished in about 25 minutes, behind two other people from Wycliffe. Not a great time, you may think, so what would prompt someone to say that?

People were shocked that I never trained. To me, a 5K is not much; I've run several of these without any training at all. (At my first, during high school, I won a gift certificate to a resaturant because I finished first in my age group--out of one.) The real kicker was the 12K (Bay to Breakers) that I've run each of the past two years...without absolutely no training.

Granted, ultimate keeps me in shape, and I consider this excellent training for any other sort of activity. But by no means am I a natural athlete!

(On a side note, I confirmed today that I should be in SF on May 20 and 21...this means a third year of Bay to Breakers, as well as another round of the A's-Giants rivalry! Steve and Amy, we should talk about tickets.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Winter vs. Summer

A great perspective on the weather in Central Florida was given to me recently.

Someone told me that summer in Orlando is like winter in Michigan: people will complain about it, no one goes outside, and the rest of the year is nice. How true. Back home during the winter months, most folks go from heated homes to heated cars to heated workplaces, only venturing outside to participate in snowsports, or shovel the driveway. Here, people simply don't go outside during the summer, going from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned workplaces.

The only problem, for me, is that I would much rather go out and play in 0 degree weather with snow, than 90 degree weather with 100 percent humidity. Everyone tells me the horror stories of summers here, and I'm not looking forward to it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Back to Urban Ministry

I don't think God has called me to be in urban ministry full-time. Hence, the reason I am no longer working for CSM.

However, I do miss it. I miss hanging out with people without a roof over their heads at night, people with amazing stories of war and faith and drugs, people who simply want someone to talk to. I miss the chaos of a soup kitchen trying to serve dozens, or thousands, of hungry guests. I miss seeing the dedicated staff of inner-city ministries, hard at work in difficult situations.

Today, I got the chance to dabble again in ministry to people that are homeless. The Orlando Union Rescue Mission held their annual Easter banquet this afternoon. I heard about it from a friend who works in the Women and Children's Division of the mission, and since it was Good Friday, I was able to volunteer.

One of the first things I noticed was that it was one of the few times that I was able to serve without having to worry about 10-20 junior highers and making sure they were safe, had enough work to do, etc. It was nice to serve and interact, and not worry about much else. The staff was great, and I'd like to continue volunteering on a somewhat regular basis (once a month?).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bird Dropping Area

Bird Dropping Area
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
Has anyone ever heard of a "Bird Dropping Area" before? Then you haven't visited downtown Orlando recently! Check out this link for an interesting situation here in Orlando. Thanks to Natalie for sending me the link, and Sally for sending me a hard copy of the story which wound up in the Kalamazoo Gazette!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Leave those blinds closed!

A couple people have asked me about the weather down here. Let's just say that we try to keep the blinds closed during the day, and open them up at keep the hot weather out and trap the "cool" weather in. Last night was a problem. I went to open up my window to cool off my room, and there was a lovely gecko between the window and the screen.

Since he might have wound up in my bed, I shut the window. :-)

Ironic Timing

I really like this church I've been attending. I hung out yesterday with people indirectly related to the church, and will spend this evening with people directly related to it. Lots of young people with similar passions, and plenty of older folks to learn from.

In church this morning, the pastor was making an illustration and asked everyone who was 25 years old to stand up. There were two of us, and he proceeded to explain that he would give each of us a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant...if we came to church next week. The point he was trying to make was not why I'm blogging this. It was the irony that today is the last day that I will be 25...I turn 26 tomorrow. He said the offer is still valid, and I think he's serious.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mega Churches, Small Churches

One of the main reasons I prefer small churches over mega churches was made ever more clear this week.

Last Sunday, I visited (alone) a small church that is meeting in the gym of the downtown YMCA in Orlando. Immediately, the pastor came up to me and introduced himself--he could tell that I was a newcomer to the congregation and wanted to welcome me in.

Then on Wednesday, I was attending an event at work, and was sitting with the pastor of one of the largest churches in Orlando (about 10,000 people on a Sunday). The situation was reversed. People were coming up to him and introducing themselves, informing him that they were members of his church.

This is a concept that I still struggle with. I don't think either way of "doing" church is right or wrong, but one just fits me so much better than the other. In case you're wondering where I went this week, I was back at the church at the YMCA--and received an invitation to dinner at the pastor's house tonight. :-) Click here for a little background on the church.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tackling Tough Issues

My good friend Ryan, a former roommate from San Francisco who now lives in Iowa, has always had keen insights into tough topics, especially homosexuality. His story is powerful, but his friendship is priceless. This blog posting by Ryan is controversial (as he mentions), but I wanted you to read some of his thoughts.

The thing I appreciate about Ryan is that he often relies solely on his own experience--while people can argue theories all day, you can't debate one's own story. Check out the rest of his blog for the complete story.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

World Baseball Classic

Nate and Chris, WBC
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
A few months ago, I blogged over my excitement of getting tickets to the World Baseball Classic. The game finally came, and it was well worth it! This picture is of my roommate Nate and myself at the game.

The thing that struck me was the national pride. We watched the Dominican Republic (DR) beat Australia 6-4, and the Domincan crowd was large and vocal. It almost felt like being at a soccer match. Large groups of Dominican supporters paraded through the crowd, chanting (in Spanish), singing, and draping themselves in the DR flag.

The best was near the end of the game, when a group of about 50 Dominican fans marched on top of Nate and I...literally. I've got video to prove it.

On the flip side of that, the U.S. was knocked out of the tournament early, and most observers are saying that it was due to a lack of passion. Though the DR didn't make it to the finals, it certainly wasn't because of that!

Monday, March 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
Those of you who know me, know that I don't like dogs. REALLY don't like dogs. But this has to be one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen in my life, and wanted to post this picture, which I thought was pretty cool. Her name is Zoe and it belongs to my friends Brian and Krisha.

This past week was one of those where I didn't blog because so much happened that I couldn't choose what to write about. How about ultimate...

As many of you know, I try and play ultimate wherever I go. If I'm in DC for a few days, I'll hook up with a game on the mall. When I lived in Vienna, I played with a team for the duration of my time there. Seattle, Houston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cameroon...I've picked up with ultimate games everywhere I go. It's my connecting point with an area.

So of course, the first thing to do in Orlando was find ultimate. I joined a league team, and signed up for a hat tournament (so named because the players' names are thrown into a hat and selected pseudo-randomly).

Then the losing started. My league team lost our first game. My team at the tourney went 0-5 in one day. My league team proceeded to lose their next four games. Now I am officially 0-10 in ultimate in the state of Florida.

At least it keeps me humble. :-)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bad Place for a Blood Drive

So we hosted a blood drive today at work, and we were wondering what the turnout was like. Someone made the comment that an overseas missions agency is probably one of the worst places to host a blood drive. The rules stipulate that you can't donate if you've been in a country with malaria in the last 12 months, or lived in a country with malaria in the last three years.

Considering that a large portion of our building has violated at least one of these guidelines, I doubt the turnout from within the building was very high. :-)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Snowman in Orlando!

snowman in orlando
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
And you thought my first weather-related post from Orlando would be about 80 degree, sunny weather...okay so maybe my previous post included some of that, but this is quite the contrast.

A few weeks ago, there was a "cold" front that came through Central Florida, which left frost on our cars for two consecutive mornings. My roommate Nate, who is from New Hampshire, wanted to have a little fun with it. So he took all of the frost scrapings from on top of his car and made a little snowman, pictured here.

FYI, that is our house in the background (complete with palm tree).

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Settling In

Two weeks after arriving in Orlando, I'm finally starting to get my feet on the ground. The first week and a half was a whirlwind, but now I've got a real bed to sleep in, a dresser to put my clothes and am starting to unpack. (Also, I'm finally able to update this blog.) I just got back from an ultimate tournament today. For those of you in the Midwest right now, this might be a little hard to believe, but it was 80 degrees today. I was sweating profusely after my warm-up lap, at 9 a.m.!

It has been interesting to make the comparisons between Orlando and my time in Chicago and San Francisco. Orlando is one of the fastest growing (if not the fastest) cities in the nation, and there is building everywhere. Some schools are housed entirely in portables, because the school system can't keep up with the kids who keep moving in to the district. I could go on and on about these differences, but I'll save some for a later date.

One of the best things about being down here so far is that I have made several friends rapidly. One young married couple has already had me over for dinner twice (followed by a game night) and the two guys I live with are great. This is quite a change, after going nearly a year in SF before making a non-CSM friend.

Here is a prayer request before I get back to unpacking. Many of my friends and colleagues from work are currently in countries (or will be soon) that are in the news because of the cartoon violence. Pray for their safety and for the Lord to somehow be glorified through it all.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On the Road Again

I hit the road again tomorrow (Monday). I'll probably have two seven hour days, followed by a 10-hour day. Your prayers, which have been much appreciated over the past several months in this time of transition, are still needed. Thank you so much. I hope to post again sometime next week, once I get settled in Orlando.

Just a reminder, updates pertaining to my ministry with Wycliffe are available at my website.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Car

new car
Originally uploaded by Chris Winkler.
As promised, here's a picture of the car. I parallel parked with it for the first time today and did a lot of jockeying around town, and it's becoming more natural.

Tomorrow, I'll drive when my parents and I go up to Sault Ste. Marie to visit my brother, so that should be lots of good experience. Plus, they can let me know what I'm doing wrong in my handling of the manual transmission.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Piece of Baseball History

I'm feeling really good right now. I just bought tickets to the inaugural World Baseball Classic. It just so happens that one of the first round pools will be held in Orlando, where I am moving in a week. Two tickets to watch the Domincan Republic play Australia. The DR should annihilate the Aussies, but the DR team is stacked and since it's the first time it's ever happened, it'll be watching a piece of baseball history. Plus, tickets were really cheap (comparable to outfield plaza at the Oakland Coliseum).

The only bummer is that the DR/Venezuela game was already sold out (an hour after individual tickets went on sale). But I can live with that. The DR team tentatively has Vlad Guerrero, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, Miguel Tejada, and a ton of other stars.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Back Home

Five hundred miles and only five stalled engines later, I am back in Michigan. The manual transmission of my new car (a '98 Jetta) is significantly easier than the vehicle I learned on (an old pickup) and by the time I made it home, I was able to drive fairly smooth. Some things are still pretty rocky (e.g. starting out in first from a stop), but I LOVE the feel of it and the control I have over what the car is doing.

If I'm ever able to master it, I don't know if I'll ever go back to an automatic. (Of course, most of the rest of my life will be spent living in countries where they've never heard of automatic transmissions.) I'll put up a picture of the car soon.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Another Mall Experience

A few weeks ago, I posted about my dislike--and fear--of big suburban malls. Yesterday, I was forced to spend time in the biggest of them all: the Mall of America!

Because of my need for a cheap flight, my plane landed in Minneapolis yesterday morning at 8 a.m., Central Time. This meant that any of my friends in the area wouldn't be able to pick me up for several hours. Since it was cold outside and the mall is just a short train ride from the airport, I wound up at the Mall of America.

Thankfully, I discovered that it didn't open until 10 a.m., so I killed some time in the airport before heading over. I also had the brilliant idea of how to kill a large chunk of time, cheaply, at the mall: seeing a matinee movie. So following lunch and watching the three-hour "Munich" (an excellent film, another Spielberg classic), it was time for my friend Andrew to pick me up.

Not nearly as painful a trip as it could have been!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Side Effect of Too Many Cop Shows

Last week, a friend took me out in his truck to give me a lesson in how to drive a manual transmission. I will be flying to Minneapolis in a few weeks to pick up my new car--which is a stick--and I figured it would be good if I knew how to drive it.

But I consistently did two things wrong. Like all beginners, I often let up on the clutch too quickly. The other mistake: slamming the gear shift around. I think my friend was worried about me going from first to second followed by the gear shift being ripped out of the floor.

As I thought about this in the days that followed, I made a realization. Perhaps it happened when watching an episode of Magnum, P.I., the show I watch daily during lunch. My slamming of the gear shift came from watching all these cop shows (e.g. Magnum or Rockford). Whenever there is a chase scene, and the cars have a standard transmission, the shifter is thrown around hard to stress the urgency of the situation. As I discovered at the high school parking lot last week, actually driving a stick is NOT like that.

Now if only I can pull a U-turn like on TV...