Sunday, August 19, 2012

International Youth Convention: Denver (feat. Kathy)

Skydiving for my birthday last Saturday was incredible!  Stay tuned for some stories and pics from a birthday weekend filled with rock wall climbing, hiking in the Gorge, go carts, laser tag, worshipping with our church family, a party, multiple coffee/lunch/dinner get togethers with friends, a Los Lobos concert, and jumping out of an airplane from 12,000+ feet!  I can’t wait for my friends to send me some pictures from last weekend so I can post them here.

In the meantime, my wife Kathy has graciously agreed to give me a much needed break from blogging this past week.  In a rare appearance on BlogSpot, Kathy has picked out some photos and written a follow-up to my earlier Intermission: IYC Denver(From the road) post—Check out that link for more exclusive stories and photos from our IYC trip.

Dedicated readers are probably aware that I intentionally keep my BlogSpot as secular as possible, but I’ll occasionally break loose with a student ministry update.  And who better to write about what God is doing in our young people’s lives than my amazing wife?
Take it away, guest blogger Kathy!

DSC_0657_edited-1.JPGIYC, Day 4- Impact: Denver Service Project- Students partner with other churches to restore a rundown playground and beautify a public park, on the second day of International Youth Convention.

July was the month we had been anticipating and working towards for two years:  International Youth Convention-Denver!    In July and August, we are dedicating two separate posts for IYC stories and pictures on

The theme for IYC this year was Free, Awakened, Empowered, and Connected, encouraging us to live out Romans 8.  Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon were our days to relax in Denver:
We visited Elitch Gardens theme & water park and explored the city of Denver.

CameraZOOM-20120704182340367_edited-1.jpgOn Wednesday night, Matt Papa led worship and snowboarder Zane Black opened the conference with a talk on being free in Christ and learning to let go of the things that hold us back.

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to give back to the city during the IMPACT Denver project.
CameraZOOM-20120705150459410.jpgOur group, along with a couple of other churches, cleaned up a park in downtown Denver.  There was playground equipment to seal, trash to pick up, and debris to be swept away.  The lady from the Parks Department was so thrilled that we were there.  She said that due to cutbacks, the playground hadn’t been sealed in over 10 years and they couldn’t afford to have people pick up the trash.

DSC_0644_edited-1.JPGWe were so proud of our students.  They worked hard and didn’t complain, even though it was the hottest day in Denver that week.  

That night, Margaret Feinberg shared what it means to be awakened.  We each have a unique purpose in the body of Christ and being free in Him allows us to be awakened by the Holy Spirit. 

On Thursday and Friday mornings, there were different conferences for the students to choose from: understanding Islam, sharing Christ with and loving Muslims, having Christ-centered relationships, and having a powerful prayer life (just to name a few).  The youth pastors had the privilege of hearing Steve Fitzhugh, a former Denver Bronco.  His encouragement to us was to live for the prize.  Ministry can be tiring and discouraging, but we need to keep our eyes focused on the prize as we run this race.

Friday night, Harvey Carey shared with us on living empowered by the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who can empower us to make a difference for the Kingdom.  The closing service was on Saturday morning.  We had another awesome worship time led by Charlie Hall, with the final message from Francis Chan on being and staying connected to God.

This is just a snippet of a fun, life-changing week in Denver.  We believe that God was at work in our lives and the lives of our students.  Thank you so much for all your prayers and support for us.  And for those who are wondering:  Lena did come along with us, and she charmed everyone!

Thanks for sharing, Kathy!  Here are a few other pics from IYC Denver that Kathy wanted to include here:

DSC_0558_edited-1.JPGDay 2- The group relaxing in between rides at Elitch Gardens theme and water park

DSC_0632.JPGDenver IYC, Day 2- The evening before International Youth Convention kicked off, baby Lena and Will kicked and flailed together on the girls' bed in our Grand Hyatt hotel room.

CameraZOOM-20120704133755660.jpgOn Day 3, we had lunch at Johnny Rockets on the opening day of International Youth Convention.

CameraZOOM-20120705124757684.jpgAnd our lunch on Day 4 was at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

CameraZOOM-20120705153657743.jpgDay 4- Impact: Denver Service Project- Garth took turns performing acrobatics with a member of an outdoor wedding party to knock down a moldy, maggot-ridden burrito from the roof of a park shelter.  Nasty!

Coming soon on BlogSpot…

Skydiving stories, photos, and other assorted birthday excitement from last weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tomato Battle: Portland

IMG_8378_edited-1.JPG by gkhamilton
IMG_8378_edited-1.JPG, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.
FOOD FIGHT!! Kathy, me, and Brett study the art of war at Tomato Battle- Portland

If only La Tomatina festival in Buñol, Spain wasn’t so tricky to reach flying standby. On July 21, those of us Portlanders choosing to remain in the U.S. this summer assembled for the next best thing-- Tomato Battle: Portland!

Fun loving Northwest tomato warriors (14 years old and up) showed up in droves for this massive food fight/concert/costume contest at MacTarnahans. It was tomato juice drenched chaos.

Many readers will be justifiably horrified about wasting food in a world where so many needlessly go hungry. Don’t worry, no “edible” tomatoes were used as ammo. With that issue put to bed, Kathy and I each came prepared for battle with a fighting spirit and a clear conscience.

In the abridged words of the organizers:
The Tomato Battle unifies as many as 5,000 fruit-chucking fanatics for an afternoon of dancing to music and flinging 300,000 pounds of roma tomatoes at one another. Mosh in a ketchup-covered fray with live entertainment and a costume contest. At 4:00 p.m., soldiers converge on piles of past-ripe tomatoes and set about pelting people with fruits like sentient apple trees avenging the initial-carving of amorous teenagers. Beats flow until past 7 p.m., when ruddy troops lay down their arms and rinse themselves clean of pulp and juice. An extra set of clothes is highly recommended.

All of the tomatoes used during the exhibition will have been previously marked for disposal, making the Tomato Battle an efficient and entertaining use of nonedible waste. Onward.

In other words, since all that red fruit was headed for the trash anyways, it would be a waste to NOT throw these tomatoes at people.

I passed up the earlier festivities of the day in favor of spending some time with baby Lena. By the time Kathy and I showed up at MacTarnahans, Tomato Battle was already underway. Here’s what we missed:

The first few hours of music

The costume contest

The opening salvos

[Both photos above are courtesy of Kyle Helstein’s Facebook uploads and his "Clever Brilliant Mad" BlogSpot page].

Kathy and I arrived as clean as freshly laundered tube socks. We then learned, in spectacular fashion, that charging into a Tomato Battle already in progress makes you the hottest targets in the yard. A random girl cheerfully leaped up and latched onto me with a lingering tomato pulpy arms & legs bear hug. Tomatoes pelted us from all directions. The festive mob heaved, shouted, laughed, tackled, and showed no mercy.

Passing the camera around led to some interesting photos, but most of them were blurry and ludicrously framed. Here are a few good shots, mostly taken as the battle was winding down:


Sharp readers will recognize that Tomato Battle action shot of me, cropped down from my “Food Fight!” post on Tuesday. I launched a double-fisted aerial tomato counter assault on a retreating attacker. Believe me, he flung first.

This leads us to the one fatality that was inflicted during Tomato Battle. Our Canon digital camera, taken along with me on dozens of overseas trips, met a tragic demise. The camera was on its last legs anyway, so I thought it fitting to honorably send it afloat in a tomatoey grave. R.I.P., trusty friend.

It’s anyone’s guess how Kathy managed to stay so clean while my friend Brett and I got saturated with tomato slush and ketchup rain. But I and my fallen camera-in-arms shared a similar fate as we left the battlefield that day. We were both…
…completely and utterly PWNED by tomatoes.

Coming next week on BlogSpot...
My wonderful wife Kathy makes a rare appearance here on to follow up my previous International Youth Convention post with her favorite moments and photos from last month’s IYC in Denver, Colorado.

And after that, I’m praying that I’ll still be alive to blog about this upcoming weekend’s adventure:

Birthday Skydiving!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Preview: Food Fight!

Why am I assaulting this poor man with two fistfuls of tomatoes as he is obviously running for safety? All will be revealed on Thursday morning when I finally get around to uploading my “Tomato Battle- Portland” blog post!

This summer has been nonstop. After walking in the door just now, I have about 15 minutes to freshen up baby Lena and run back out again.

Admittedly, I announced (read: overpromised) in last week’s Japanese Potty Training post that you my readers would be feasting your eyes on some Tomato Battle pics and stories today. Thanks for stopping by BlogSpot this evening, but…

Check back here later on Thursday for a rundown of the tomato throwing frenzy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Japanese Potty Training

Now that we have Tokyo Drifting 1, 2, 3, and some summery fresh updates from IYC Denver and wave riding in Banks Lake WA (links) behind us, I have a small clarification:  

In my first “Tokyo Drifting” blog post, I had mentioned the utter lack of English signage in my Tokyo neighborhood.  That wasn’t completely true.  The more touristy shops and restaurants in the area sprinkled their Kanji displays with a Yankee phrase or two, and English instructions were ubiquitous throughout the Hostel Kawase Tokyo and Capsule. 
In fact, my capsule/hostel went the extra mile and added a helpful illustration to their posted English instructions for using their Japanese toilet:

Don’t laugh.  Odds are, countless American college backpackers have welcomed said instructions as they opened the WC stall door and found themselves staring down at this:
You just got learned.

Coming this Tuesday night on BlogSpot… Photos and tales from the trenches of Portland’s biggest ever food fight: