Greetings from Toledo

Yesterday, Angie and I had the opportunity to speak at North Point Church in Toledo, OH (not Toledo, Spain).
The people there were very welcoming and we had a great time. We are delighted that the church has decided to take us on and partner with us for the work in Iraq.
It was really nice to be amongst a group of people with so much interest in or work and people willing to be so supportive. I know that when we share news with them, they'll sincerely pray for us and they will seek out ways to be involved in our experiences. In fact, we even laid the ground work for getting some people together for a trip to visit us.
And by laid the ground work I mean mentioned it! no one ever seems very interested in visiting us in Iraq, but if we keep offering it someone will say yes!
You can read more at Angie's blog, or you can call me up and ask.
Just remember that I have caller ID, though.

I Got 50!

If you loved the UN challenge, you'll love this one

How many states can you name in 10 minutes?

Plus, it's easier!


Their, There and They're

As you may recall, I have a new job!

I didn't know whether I'd be able to work it when I was initially hired, but training was pushed back, so I am gainfully employed!

I started on Tuesday, trained for two days and I am now grading one question from the Ohio Graduation Test, or OGT. I am such a superstar, that I have already been trained on a second question. I am one of only four people in the state of Ohio trained to score two questions on the assessment. Sounds impressive, huh?

I can't talk about the questions I'm scoring or they'll have to kill me, of course. I'll just say that the job is fairly enjoyable, but tedious. I think I've already scored the same question 3000 times.
It's a fine place to work, though; very casual and flexible. They seem to value us as employees which isn't always the case for temporary workers. Today we got free bagels! From Panera! Cinnamon Crunch!
One thing I feel I must say is that it seems no one in high school knows the difference between there, their and they're. Seriously. No one. It's infuriating. Their is no doubt that there teachers must not care about they're education!

Oh, and someone used the word prouph. Seriously.


China Proof?

See my new banner over there on the right?

I went to this site called the Great Firewall of China today. The website's aim "is to be a watchdog and keep track of which and how many or how many times sites are censored." They also ask you to "help keep the censorship transparent."

You can go to the website and test any site to see if it is censored. I tested 13Months and it is listed as CENSORED! but I think it might be a technical error and not real censorship. Up to this point, I haven't said anything that I think they would censor.

I do think that Taiwan deserves full recognition as a state in the international community and that China's bullying of Taiwan is reprehensible. So, there. Now I've said something worthy of Chinese censorship.

Read more at www.taiwanisgreatandshouldbefreeofchinesethreatsandinterference.com

Just kidding, that's not a real website. But, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tiananmen_square_protests_of_1989 is a real website and it is censored. Imagine that.


I Got 117

So let's see how you do! Take the following challenge and then post your results as a comment

You have 10 minutes to remember as many of the 192 United Nations member states as you can. After 10 minutes, the correct answers will appear in this space so you can see which ones you've missed.

Click here to start!

P.S. - Don't forget Mexico like I did
P.P.S. - Don't waste your time, Taiwan is not a UN Member State



I found this picture today as I was cleaning up the dining room. I thought it was lost forever! This is my favorite picture of everyone's favorite deadbeat blogger, Cinderella Jenkins!

This is from her 21st birthday party. I think the pic is priceless. She couldn't recreate it if she tried. Plus, she has crazy ribbons in her hair. I cannot look at it without laughing.

More Internet Fun

Have I mentioned lately that I think MySpace has been killing the blogs in my circle? Well, I am convinced it's true. People who once came to Blogger to check inon their friends or even to express themselves by posting now head to MySpace. It's too bad really. MySpace is much flashier, but also a little shallow.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing MySpace; I think it's great. But, maybe, we can find time in our day for both MySpace and Blogger. In fact, you can click on any of the MySpaces here and add me as a friend! Then we can both be one MySpace friend closer to cool...

I did discover Project Playlist via MySpace. So that's a plus. You should check it out. It's like WebJay. Remember that? I posted it a few months back and no one took my advice to check it out. The main difference is that the music search feature is integrated, so you don't have to do any extra work and you can publish the playlist to MySpace.

I guess that's all for now. What's new with you? Leave and comment and let me know what's happening.


Reasons Why I Love/Hate the Internet

My new obsession has been finding television programs on the Internet. I found a link a few weeks ago which hosts various TV programs, but as it turns out, there isn't any television out there that I want to watch that I'm not already watching. I watched a couple episodes of HBO's Rome, but I found it very, very dull, so I quit watching and I quit searching for TV on the Internet.

That is until I saw an ad for something called Secret Satellite. For just $67, I could get access to thousands of satellite TV stations from around the world. I was intrigued, but I didn't want to pay $67 and I certainly didn't want to pay it for something I knew I would never really watch. A couple of days later I just searched for "free satellite." Lo and behold, I found wwiTV.com! It lists hundreds of international satellite channels which one can watch for free! No $67 needed.

Since I found it, I've been watching RTL 102.5 from Italy nonstop. It's a music channel I used to watch when I was in Iraq. It's pretty great. There's a bunch of other stuff, too, but I pretty much just watch the one channel.

One other thing I found on the website was an ad for PeekVid. PeekVid hosts a huge number of TV shows, movies, comedy bits, cartoons, etc. available for viewing. Yesterday, I watched The Queen. It was fantastic. I thought I had struck video gold!

Then today I tried to watch Accepted for a little comic relief. Each movie is posted in a number of segments. The Queen had 3, Accepted had 5 (I think) and The Devil Wears Prada (more on that later) has about 6. Anyways, The Queen worked perfectly. Accepted? Not so much. Only the first segment worked! Now what am I supposed to do? I am mildly interested now.

Tonight, I tried to watch The Devil Wears Prada. I went through some of the movies to check which links worked and which didn't. Well, TDWP worked, but I soon found out that they only posted about half of the movie! I mean, Andrea had to get a steak from a restaurant that wasn't open and get an advance copy of the new Harry Potter book for the twins and I have no idea whether she can pull it off. I think she can, but I'll never know now.

In the previous paragraph, I mention that "they" only posted half the movie. I have to be honest, I don't know who "they" are. I think "they" may have been bootleggers who posted The Queen. I'm not sure about the other items I've watched. It's the brave new world of the Internet, I guess.

And I know I can't blame the Internet, but I also tried to watch An Inconvenient Truth starring Al Gore. I will not be debating global warming here on 13Months, but, man, that movie is boring. I also found problems with the graph he uses as the centerpiece of his whole discussion. I mean, I'm sure the science behind the theories of global warming are sound, but his graph is not and the argument he uses to support the graph are not. He successfully describes a correlation between CO2 and temperature, but not any type of cause and effect relationship. In fact, his graph showing temperature and CO2 levels over time shows them rising and falling together with no lag. This either means that the very moment CO2 levels change temps do too or points to a third factor which causes the two to act so similarly.

Again, I am not trying to discount global warming, rather I'm pointing out that I didn't like former VP Gore's graph or his movie. I was too distracted by the graph.

I would also like to take this chance to point out that, no matter how many times he tries to tell me otherwise, Al Gore lost the 2000 election according the the law of the United States. The founding fathers created the Electoral College to separate presidential elections from the popular vote, and that's been the law for over 200 years. Let it go, Mr. Gore. Let it go.


Yo, It's Alright. Ain't Gotta Fight.

Ode to Daylight Savings

Yeah, it's that time again, my friends
the waiting ends
time itself bends

I get one more hour of daylight
Yo, it's alright
Ain't gotta fight

For it, cause the fed said yessir
and it's a blur
it's earlier

Three weeks earlier in fact, yo
small-y2 (oh!)
k, they say, no?

I don't care if it all falls apart
We gonn' be smart
a later start

To the dark part of the day. Night
Yo, it's alright
Ain't gotta fight

Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed it as much I think you should. See ya back here in November for more time-related poetry.


First Look!

Guess who that is!


Another New Post !?!

Today, I helped my sister, Erin, move stuff from one house to another. All in all, it wasn't too bad.I think everyone knows how I feel about moving, but she was pretty well-together and we just had one truckload of goods to load and unload.

She and I had lunch and talked about a number of things. One thing we discussed was prophecy and specifically the gift of. I really think it's a very powerful gift. I'm sure most of you are thinking something like "duh" at this point, but hear me out.

I don't mean it's powerful in the God-reveals-the-future-and-changes-lives kind of way, although it is. I mean it's powerful in the more subtle God-knows-you-and-has-a-message-for-you kind of way; a way that breaks into your everyday life and points you towards God.

I've been reading the Gospel of John for a few weeks now praying and meditating on what Jesus is doing in that particular book. I haven't made it very far to be honest, because I am struck by the first miracle in the book.

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, " Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."

Is it a miracle? I think so, I mean, Nathaniel certainly seemed to think so. He says "You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." Why? He says this because Jesus tells him something about himself that a normal man could not know. Before you were called to come to me, I knew what you were doing.

Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

I just find this all very interesting. I think I know why Nathaniel is so excited by Jesus' statement. Sometimes, when I go to church, I secretly hope that the pastor will call me by name and say something prophetic to me. Anything at all. "Robert, God has a word for you: Stop obsessing over nachos," or "Robert, God has laid it on my heart to tell you to go to bed earlier."

I have seen "greater things than these" and yet I still desire the simple thing, the "I saw you under the fig tree."


Not Always Black or White

I like to pride myself in my flexibility and ability to keep an open mind, but the truth is I often see things in black and white. At least when it affects me.

Case in point:

As you know, I have looked at this trip to Iraq and seen two options.

  1. Angie and I don't raise 100% of our support by March 9. In this case, the training goes on without us and we stay home, never to return to Iraq.
  2. Angie and I do raise 100% of our support by March 9 and we go ahead as planned.

Turns out, though, that there's a third option: Training could be postponed until April 13th!

We can totally raise 100% of our support by April 13th. As of last Friday, we have 22%. Not too shabby.

In other news, Daylight Savings Time begins on the 11th and you know what that means.



The Manatee Has Become the Mento

Today, I feel excited. Today, I believe in miracles.

I think I really needed to vent as a way to process my emotions. And my stress. This is a really big deal. I think that over the past few weeks/months I've minimized my fear and my general excitement about heading back to Iraq.

I am excited to see what the future holds in Kurdistan and for the Kurds. I am excited to see what the future holds for my Kurds. I am excited to see what the future holds for my family. I am excited to see what the future holds for me. I am excited because I believe that God is using this experience of raising funds and returning to Iraq to create this future that I feel so eager to see.

I have minimized my excitement out of fear. I am afraid that this won't happen; that Angie and I will be sitting at home on March 10 rather than training in CA. I am afraid that if I express my joy in the future, I will seem pathetic when it doesn't happen; that people with look at me with pity and as a fool.

In turn, I have tried to minimize my fear. I say that everything will be alright and that I'm not worried and that I'll be okay.

But my fear is well-founded. This is impractical, it is silly to believe that God can/will make a way in this. It is foolishness. My history seems to suggest something else. It's a big deal for me to move forward in spite of my fear and to express my joy in the future God has for me. It is important for me to be honest.

I have said that we are created by God to have emotions for a reason. Our desires lead us to God and we should never disregard our desires, but when it comes time to put my money where my mouth is, it's a little harder.

But, man, my heart wells with joy to think of what God is doing with and for the Kurds. I feel honored to have been given a chance to know this people group. I have been blessed by God through this people without a land to call their own and I am out of my mind with impatience waiting to see them again.

My good friend, Joan, sent me this when I asked her to read my post about my broken heart:

"i don't think you shared too much. i am glad to know where your heart is.

the only thing i know is what He told me several years ago:
"all i am asking you to do is believe Me NO MATTER WHAT."
...no matter what people say...no matter how circumstances look...
no matter what your past experience would tell you to believe...

and the greater issue is not Iraq...it's your heart that He's after the most.
I don't know what healing your heart will look like, but i will bet my life
He'll do it. And going to iraq will be icing on the cake."

She's right, of course. She usually is about things of this nature.

Over the past few days, Angie and I have had the opportunity to share our vision for the future work in Iraq and my past experiences there. We've shown the 60 Minutes clip each time. In it, Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, is asked about air travel to Kurdistan. The interviewer says something like, "Do you see an American airline with direct flights to Kurdistan in the near future?"

And he smiles a little smile. And he looks like I feel; full of hope and childish excitement. Like anything is possible and the future can only be amazing. There's a look in his eyes that gives me goosebumps when I watch it and he says, "Why not? Yeah, why not?"

If you ask me how I decided to go to Iraq the first time, I'll tell you a lengthy story which involves the usual quote, "I didn't have a heart for any people, i had a heart for a type of service." The second half of that is still true, I do have a heart for a certain type of work. Now, though, I have a heart for a people. I fell in love with the Kurds, of all people. A people without a home. A people persecuted throughout their history. A people with no friends but the mountains, as they say, but a people with the potential for a glorious future and big dreams.

Like the president of Sulemania University says at the end of the clip, "Well, sometimes dreams come true. I hope my dream will come true. Will be a reality. Why not?"