Chapter 31 – Culmination of My Surrender

After the initial excitement of telling my family that we were going to be moving to Utah, Bonnie retreated to the bedroom to call her parents and have a good cry. Though she was excited about the move, she was sad at the same time and it was important for her to feel that grief. […]

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Chapter 30 – Moving Home

In the summer of 2013, Bonnie, Lexi, and I made a trip to Utah for our annual family reunion and my Dad’s 86th birthday. As Lexi hadn’t even turned one yet, this was the first time that the family had been able to interact with her walking around. Needless to say, everyone had a blast […]

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Chapter 29 – Fatherhood

Let me just say, Bonnie is a Super Hero. She thrived during her entire pregnancy. She was running four-milers up until she was eight months pregnant and she never complained about anything. Not even about being my designated driver for an entire nine months! But it wasn’t until she gave Lexi a 100% Natural, Underwater […]

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Chapter 28 – Bonnie’s Pregnant

People would often ask Bonnie and I if we wanted kids and our answer was always the same: “Well, we really want grandkids…” As I was only 27 years old when Bonnie and I first started dating and Bonnie was only 24, I figured we had plenty of time before we had to start thinking […]

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Chapter 27 – Teaching

My hope was that not being a classically trained teacher would be an advantage in a community college setting, but I wasn’t so sure. Yes, the format is completely different that a traditional high school or college, but it was still an educational institution and I was coming from the corporate world. I quickly discovered […]

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Chapter 26 – Getting Fired

It was Thursday, April 29, 2010. I knew the day was going to big because it was to be my second to last day at my part time teaching position and I was scheduled to have a meeting with the Executive Director (E.D.) of the non-profit that afternoon. In our meeting, we were supposed to […]

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Chapter 25 – Leaving FBC

Once we had settled in to our new life back in St. Pete, Bonnie and I knew it was time to address our “church” situation. In 2006, when I first started attending the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, I was a different person. My understanding of my role in the world was different, my […]

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Chapter 24 – Starting Over

When we got back to St. Pete (Florida), we had no where to live, no jobs, I hadn’t worked in over two years, and what was left in bank account would soon be gone. Bonnie’s Aunt was gracious enough to let us stay in her garage apartment until we were able to regroup and get […]

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Chapter 23 – Not Moving to Costa Rica

In the Fall of 2009, after spending the summer in Costa Rica serving with 6:8 Ministries, Bonnie and I decided to return back to Florida. Our plan was to get our affairs in order, raise $24,000 of support for our first year in Costa Rica, and then officially make the move in January. Since I […]

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Chapter 22 – 6:8 Missions

When Bonnie and I first heard that our Young Professionals group at church had selected Costa Rica as the destination for the group’s Mission Trip, we were kind of bummed. Out of pure selfishness, of course. Being that both of us are world travelers, we were hoping for a more exotic location like Africa or […]

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Chapter 21 – A Small Wedding

When the time came to start planning our wedding, I told Bonnie that I would do whatever she wanted, but that I had already been through the whole “have a huge expensive wedding” thing and I had learned a couple of valuable lessons from the ordeal. In general, my experience was as follows: ## 1. […]

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Chapter 20 – Wedding Proposal

Bonnie and I had been dating for eleven months when I seriously started thinking that I might actually be willing to give marriage another shot. I knew without a doubt that I loved her, but considering the amount of baggage I carried with me from my first marriage and subsequent divorce, I was gun-shy to […]

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Chapter 19 – Malaysia

After our two weeks in India, we headed to Malaysia for a 6-week stay that we assumed was going to be much of the same. Imagine our surprise when our hosts dropped us off at the Chinese Boarding School and we were informed that we were going to be teaching English for the next six […]

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Chapter 18 – India

Right after we finished our Caribbean tour, Bonnie went back to St. Pete and I headed to training in Kentucky for my very first international mission trip. While I had traveled to Asia before, I had never done so on a mission trip with a group of strangers, so this was bound to be a […]

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Chapter 17 – Caribbean Cruising

It was Superbowl Sunday (2/3/2008) and Bonnie and I were hosting our First Annual Superbowl Party at my apartment. The place was full of good food, good drinks, and a ton of our friends. It had only been a month since my last day at TI and I was still enjoying the freedom of being […]

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Chapter 16 – Relationship Rules

Over the first couple of weeks of our relationship, Bonnie and I were spending a lot of time together. I had such a crush on her that it was starting to scare me a bit. Though probably too soon, I couldn’t help but start the DTR (Define The Relationship) talk. “So, exactly what are we?” […]

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Chapter 15 – Bonnie

The first time I met Bonnie, we’re standing in the parking lot of the church waiting to carpool to a Tuesday Night Young Professionals service called 97 West. “So, what do you do?” I asked. “I’m a potter.” she responded casually. “I’m not exactly sure what that means…?” I continued. “I’m a ceramic artist. I […]

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Chapter 14 – Quitting Corporate

As I began to imagine and pray about the specifics of Story that God wanted me to live, the possibilities were endless. Should I become and international missionary? Maybe I should teach or work for a church? Perhaps, I could start a non-profit? Shamefully, no matter how God-centered and good the story started, it always […]

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Chapter 13 – Get A Better Story

It all started in February of 2007 when I saw Donald Miller speak at the Fusion / Right Now Conference in Orlando, Florida.  At the time, I was working as an Account Manager at a Fortune 100 Company, I had a six-figure salary, and I was a year removed from my divorce.  Money, materialism, and […]

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Chapter 12 – Leaving the Catholic Church

After surrendering my life to Christ, I had so many questions. I started to read the bible feverishly and learn as much about the Gospel as I could. I would would listen to podcasts and watch sermons on TV and read all the books I could. The more I learned about God and His ways, […]

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Chapter 11 – Salvation

It was Monday, February 6, 2006. She had officially moved out of our apartment the day before and I had spent all day simply trying to hold it all together. In trying times, I had heard it said that you “just have to take things one day at a time.” Unfortunately for me, each day […]

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Chapter 10 – Divorce

We had lived together for three and a half years before we actually got married. We should have figured out in that time what we were getting ourselves into. The problem was that we each had very defined expectations of what life would be like after we said our vows, but they didn’t really line […]

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Best Laptop & Software for Web Design & Graphic Design

As a Web & Graphic Design Instructor, I hear this question from students all the time: “What kind of computer do you recommend I get?” So, I finally decided to put together a list of my favorite hardware / software… Recommended Computer Without a doubt, I recommend Apple computers over PCs. There are many reasons […]

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021: Oaths, Revenge, & Enemies

Omar discusses with the Jesus Field Youth Group that though our society is generally accepting of contracts, lawsuits, retaliation, and a general disdain for people who are different, that Jesus called us to be counter-cultural and be honest, turn the other cheek, and love our enemies.

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020: Our Life’s Foundation

Omar speaks to the Jesus Field Youth Group about how everyone has the same amount of faith, but that not everyone puts their faith in God. Some put their faith in material wealth, 401Ks, and the stock market while others put their faith in their country, military, or sports team. Regardless of where we “say” […]

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019: Do Not Worry

Omar speaks to the Jesus Field Youth Group about “worry”. Far too often we worry about things that are out of our control… When a person has great faith, there is no longer room for worry. #GodAlwaysProvides

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018: Don’t Judge, Give Grace

Omar speaks to the Jesus Field Community Youth Group about the importance of looking at situations from other people’s perspectives and seeking to understand the struggles that they are going through, rather than simply passing judgement on them.

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How to Make WordPress Faster

Google cares greatly about how fast (or slow) your website loads and uses this measurement when calculating your search ranking. As such, it is always in your best interest to have a great Page Speed score. You can test your website’s score here: testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com Once you get your score, you can compare it with the […]

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016: Things Change

Omar & Rockmore discuss how their views, philosophies, and theologies evolve as their perspectives change and their understanding increases.  Not only do they conclude that this is ok, but that it is expected as “knowing and understanding everything” is an unrealistic expectation.  Here’s to being comfortable with “it depends”.

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The Meaning of a Man

Over the years, I have studied this topic constantly, written about it on many occasions, and even preached a sermon on it once.  But this last week, a great friend asked me to give it another shot and write a letter as a part of his son’s fifteenth birthday “welcome to manhood” celebration.  As it […]

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015: Priorities for a New Year

Rockmore, Omar, and second-time guest Dallas discuss their priorities for making this year the greatest year of their lives (so far).  From focusing on healthy families, communities, and businesses to south american travels and a strengthening of faith, the guys work through their strategies for growth and accountability.

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Must-See TedTalks

Since 2008, I’ve been an avid watcher of TedTalks.  These are the ones that I’ve found to be the most impactful: Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking Tony Robbins – Why We Do What We Do Dan Pallotta – The Way We Think About Charity is Dead […]

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Christmas Wishes

Every night at dinner (for the month of December), we’ve been playing a game with Lexi & Lili where we count our blessings and our nightly reward is to put $10.00 towards a donation to the 6:8 Ministries – Living Waters Children’s Ranch. Lexi fully understands that there are children in the world who “don’t […]

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Chapter 09 – Texas Instruments

When I first accepted the offer to join the TSA (Technical Sales Associate) Program at TI (Texas Instruments), I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into. As an engineer, my perception of sales guys was that they were slackers who over-promised and under-delivered. But that was before I got to see how the […]

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014: Giving Thanks

Rockmore and Omar recap the month of November and discuss Thanksgiving Traditions, the Facebook Facade, moving from “thanks” to “giving” and why it’s so awesome to #ShareWhatsGood. Show Notes Radius Church – Hungry for a Day

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Chapter 08 – IBM

I was only 19 years old when I was hired at IBM for a summer internship as a software engineer. Though I hadn’t even finished my freshmen year of college and I was no where near the top of my class (due primarily to the intense focus I put on my social life), I was […]

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Bravo Christmas 2015

Rather than focus on the shopping and the decorating or the hustle and the bustle, this year’s Christmas theme is a call to simply “be”… Be Present There is no greater gift than your time.  Let’s spend it wisely, connecting with our loved ones and making new friendships.  The chores can wait.  The gift of […]

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The 3 Things I’m Most Thankful For

Rather than put together an exhaustive list of all amazing blessings that I’m thankful for (like I do most years), I’ve decided to go a little deeper and focus on the Top 3… #1 – The Gospel of Christ Nothing has changed my life more than the Good News.  How the creator of the universe […]

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Chapter 07 – Playing Married

It was the beginning of my Senior Year and my goal was to finish my college career strong. I was going to study harder, work harder, and party harder than I ever had before. And that’s when “she” came back from Spain where she had studied abroad her Junior year. Before she had left at […]

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Chapter 06 – College Boy

After completing my pledgeship and becoming a NAK, I was riding high! It was the end of my freshmen year and as challenging as the year had been, it all seemed to be working out wonderfully. My grades were solid, I had been accepted into an internship at IBM (thanks Inroads / Fernando!), I was […]

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Chapter 05 – Freshman Year

Like many things in my life, I found my college-move-in experience to be very different from the traditional stories that most of my friends tend to tell. Apparently, some people have parents that help them move in and decorate their rooms. They take them to the bookstore to load up on school gear and make […]

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013: Jakobi Lau

Omar speaks with Jakobi Lau (aka Jake Johnson) about what it was like to lose his Dad at a young age, grow up as the man of the house to his four younger siblings, and chase his dream of being a professional Singer / Songwriter. Show Notes JakobiLau.com Death Cab for Cutie Sohn Porter Robinson […]

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Chapter 04 – Stanford Rejection

From the time I was eight years old and my older brother got accepted to Stanford University, I knew I was going to go to Stanford too.  Then, when I was in 6th-grade, my older sister was also accepted to Stanford.  By then, I knew I was definitely going to get in.  So, you can […]

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012: Awesome Media

Rockmore and Omar discuss the awesome media that they are currently consuming…  From podcasts to books, journalism, music, movies, and lastly tv.  There is a lot of crappy media out there, but these are our favorite picks. Show Notes Books Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense The Child That Books […]

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Chapter 03 – High School is Bullsh*t

By the time I entered high school in the tenth grade, my desire for acceptance was turning to resentment. After spending my ninth grade year at a newly built junior high with a much more affluent population (which didn’t include any of the poor brown kids I usually hung around with), I was pretty worn […]

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Chapter 02 – Junior High Identity Crisis

My family had just gotten home from our annual trip to Mexico the night before my first day of 7th Grade. (In Utah, Elementary School is from Kindergarten – 6th Grade, Junior High is from 7th – 9th Grade, and High School is from 10th – 12th Grade.) As it was a long travel day […]

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Chapter 01 – Growing Up Different

It wasn’t until I started kindergarten that I realized how different my family really was from the rest of the community I lived in. Because I grew up in a more rural country setting as opposed to a neighborhood, I never had the chance to play with other little kids. All of my time was […]

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011: Share What’s Good

Rockmore and Omar spend time catching up, sharing all that is good with their lives.  From new jobs and great churches, to loving families, exercise routines, and side projects.  They discuss Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” and evaluate his three tenants against their own understandings. Show Notes Jakobi Lau (Musician) – JakobiLau.com Don Miller […]

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168 Hours

Have you ever wished there were more hours in the day? Have you ever wondered how some people were able to accomplish so many things, while all of your time seemed to be spoken for? In this lecture, I share some proven techniques that can help you make each day both more productive and more […]

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010: Allen Canning

Rockmore and Omar speak with local St. Pete Comedian Allen Canning about growing up in Ohio, living through his parent’s divorce, moving to Florida, what it was like to deal with alcoholism as a teen, and what it was like to get sober. Through his sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek comedy, Allen is able to speak about difficult […]

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009: Toxic Work Environments?

Rockmore and Omar discuss strategies on how to turn a toxic work environment into a positive work environment…  From what defines a great boss to how everyone is in the customer service business.  We also do a little catching up on what’s good and what media we’re consuming. Here are a couple of reference links […]

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008: Spencer Boulter

Omar speaks with Spencer Boulter (President, 6:8 Ministries) on what it was like for him to grow up in Lake City, Florida, have his parents’ divorce, get in trouble as a youth, and then join the Army Special Forces.  The conversation includes how he met Molly (his wife), started a family, and then moved them […]

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007: Blake Clark

We talk to Blake Clark (Lead Pastor, Radius Church) about what it was like to grow up in the Bible Belt, be ‘called by God’, serve as a Youth Pastor at a startup church and an affluent church, and then quit to work 90-hours / week in guard shack at the top of a mountain […]

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006: What Are We “For”

This could be called the “hot drama” episode, but that’s not how we roll…  In this episode, we discuss the controversial topics of “Is America the greatest country?”, Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare, Same-Sex Marriage, Donald Trumps Immigration Policy, the Confederate Flag, and Net Neutrality!  Apparently, no topic is off limits :)  

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005: We’re Back! [part 2]

We continue to catch up on the past 16 months…  This time, Rockmore interviews Omar about moving across the country, starting a new job, finding a new church home, having a 2nd child, volunteering at a youth group and more. Show Notes Shout Outs to the following: Bobby Wood [Redemption Church] Brock Johnson [Buena Vista […]

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004: We’re Back!

After a 16-month hiatus, Journey Notes is back with Season Two!  In this episode, Omar interviews Rockmore about what has been going on in his life over the past 16-months.  From starting a new church, getting a new job, and starting a new relationship, Rockmore shares how his Journey continues to evolve. Show Notes: The […]

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Fighting The Good Fight

No matter how great or how terrible the past has been for each of us individually, there is one thing that is true about the future for all of us: There are obstacles ahead. For some, these obstacles will be financial. For others, they will be relational and spiritual, and for still others, they will […]

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God The Potter

An illustration by Omar & Bonnie Bravo that explores our relationship with God by interpreting the metaphor of “God the Potter” as it is found in the Bible.   Share What’s Good! [Video Presentation – Length: 21:33] Transcript: Metaphors, Illustrations, and Parables are used throughout the Bible in order to communicate complex ideas into meaningful, […]

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Interdependance = Maturity

When asked about matters of finance, the most common response I’ve received from people both young and old is this:  “I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be secure.  I just don’t want to have to worry about money.” Seriously?!  You really think these two things are mutually exclusive?!  Being so “financially […]

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Relationships Are Everything

Fame.  Fortune.  Status.  Security.  They are all worthless. Unless, you have someone to share them with. In college, I remember one of the Jesuits (Mario Prieto) telling a story during the 10pm Student Mass about how he and his 10 older siblings used to fight over the food at their dinner table.  To combat their […]

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My 5 Greatest Failures

I’ve failed far more times than I’ve succeeded in my life, but I consider these to be my greatest hits (in chronological order)… Education, 1998 From the time I was eight years old and my older brother got accepted to Stanford University, I knew I was going to go to Stanford too.  Then, when I […]

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38 Backers, 19%

By the world’s standards, the Journey Notes’ Kickstarter project was a complete failure.  With only 38 backers and 19% of the budget raised, it easily falls into the category of “not even close”. Fortunately, I don’t exactly see eye to eye with the world and her views.  Or more accurately said, I choose not to. […]

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Help Needed

It’s not often that I ask for help.  Whether it’s because “I can do it myself” or because I’m too damn proud to admit that I can’t, asking for help has never been a common practice of mine.  But, God is working to change this in my life. I first decided to write a book […]

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003: Dan & Crystal Kemp

Dan & Crystal Kemp –  At just 24 years old, Dan & Crystal are raising three young boys, working full time, going to school full time, and doing everything they can to do God’s will in their lives. In this episode, we spoke with Dan & Crystal about their story, about being unconventional and going […]

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002: Finding Your Passion

In this episode, we dug a little deeper into Rockmore’s Subplot and discussed the importance about finding your passion.  We talked about how Omar broke the news to his students that he was leaving through a “Resignation Lecture“, the benefits of recording important life events (like Steve’s Baptism), the different ways to explore new (crazy) […]

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001: Journey Notes Pilot

A podcast about our journeys through life, the characters who inspire us, the ideas that empower us, and the positives with which we engage. Season 01, Episode 01 Show Notes: As this was our first ever podcast, we discussed the format of the show, Rockmore explained how this whole idea came about, and we each […]

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Make It Count

iv>/div>Some simple advice for making this year the best year of our lives…. Make It Count: Physically Exercise Limit Addictions Drink Water, Stretch Body Fuels the Mind Mentallly Learn from Others Mistakes, Listen > Speak Teach Emotionally Emotions Can’t be trusted Keep Your Cool Cry If You Want To Choose Happiness Spiritually Know What You […]

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Best of 2013

This is just a quick list for the almanac of the awesomeness that was 2013… Spent tons of time being a husband to Bonnie and a father to Lexi Officiated Tyler & Stefani’s Wedding Continued to love my job (teaching) Spent time with my lil’ bro Ivan Ran a 10K with Nick Played in a […]

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Let Go

A lecture on Letting Go of that which is unproductive in our lives in order to focus on that which matters most…   Let Go… Our Past  (Who We Were) Our Ideal Future  (Who We Were Supposed To Be) Our Hurts  (What Doesn’t Kill You) Our Wins  (Your Last At Bat) The Excuses  (A Lot […]

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106 Things I’m Thankful For

Some might call me an optimist, but I feel that my perspective is simply accurate –  Could things be better?  Sure.  Could things be worse?  Most definitely.  So, when I take an accurate inventory of my environment and current life situations, I always start by giving thanks for the blessings I’ve received and the people […]

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Love Your Job

There are times in each of our lives when we have to work at a job that we don’t particularly like (or in some cases hate), but let’s be honest, it’s called “work” for a reason.  Even so, for most of us, we actually have options when it comes to where we work.  Now, if […]

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Give Hope

The story of Jesus Christ is the greatest story ever. It is a story of humble man, who came from humble beginnings, and rose to great fame at the opposition of the ruling class. It is a story of man who willingly and sacrificially gave his own life so that the lives of his best […]

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Tyler & Steff’s Wedding

>iv>/div>On September 7, 2013, I had the incredible honor of officiating my best friend Tyler’s wedding and marrying him and his beautiful bride Steffinee. Though it was my first time serving as an officiant, Ty & Steff tasked me with putting together the whole ceremony (including writing their vows).  Even so, I believe everything came […]

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Expectations of My Spouse

Before Bonnie and I got married (4/4/2009), we went to a few pre-marital counseling sessions at the direction of our church. One of our assignments was to individually write a list of “What We Expected of Our Spouse” and then share it during one of counseling sessions… Fortunately, everything matched up. :) Even so, we […]

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Written On My Gravestone

When you die, what would you like the words on your gravestone to say? “Loving Father & Husband”? “Devoted Teacher”? Or would it be something more profound like “Honor” or “Faith”? The first step in this exercise is to identify two or three words that you would like to have sum up your entire life […]

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Speaking Out of Insecurity

Have you ever heard someone speak about a topic they really didn’t know much about, but they did their best to sound as though they were an expert? How about guys in the locker room, trading “tales” of their many sexual conquests? Have you ever heard a “bully” (be it on the playground or in […]

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Faith vs. Fact

Faith – A belief in something that has not been proven. (example: God created the universe.) Fact – An inescapable truth that can be repeatability proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt. (example: 2 + 2 = 4) In the debate of theology vs. science (which I don’t believe to be mutually exclusive), participants on […]

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Voices In My Head

This is a video of a lecture I gave a few weeks ago where I identify and evaluate the four main “voices” (i.e. influences) we experience as both people and designers. Take a look, let me know what you think!

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Give a Damn

A number of  years ago, I went to the VA Hospital to visit the Veterans with a Young Professionals group from my church.  This was something we did a few times a year, usually around the major holidays of Christmas, Easter, and 4th of July.  In general, it was a pretty simple thing to do…  […]

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Christian Rhetoric

Towards the end of a recent Sunday Church Service, our Pastor gave an impassioned speech for the entire congregation to “be bold in their faith and stand up for what they believe.”  As he was reaching the crescendo of this call to arms, a number of manly sounding “yeahs” and “amens” could be heard responding.  […]

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Turn Signals

When I encounter a driver swerving in and out of traffic without using their turn signals, it appears as though they are “driving erratically” as I have no idea where or when their next lane change might be.  As such, the surrounding drivers and I start driving defensively, tapping the breaks, and causing the rest […]

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Pity the Fool

Sometimes, we make bad decisions and sometimes, we have friends and family who make bad decisions… When we make bad decisions, it’s usually out of selfishness and a disregard for the people around us (especially the ones who really care for us).  When our friends make bad decisions, it is our duty as friends to […]

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My Valentine

In the Summer of 2007, God and I had a serious conversation about my personal life.  He said that I had my shot at marriage and that I blew it.  He said that being in a relationship was a privilege, not a right, and that if I were to find another love it would be by […]

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Embrace Change

“In life, the only constant is change.”   Some people absolutely, positively, hate change.  These “creatures of habit” tend to follow a consistent routine where the more they can maintain the status quo, the better.  For some, this may stem from a desire to “control” their environment, for others it may be due to a […]

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Die Broke

In about 1999, I read a book by Steven Pollan called “Die Broke” and his four tenants about financial management have completely shaped my view and relationship with money ever since.  Since we are all getting older and have parents who are also getting older, the topics of retirement, inheritance, and savings (or lack there […]

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Daily Bread

I used to worry about money alot. Not that I don’t ever worry about money anymore, but not nearly as much as I used to.  In the past, my obsession (or worry) about my finances was a legitimate problem.  The weird thing was that it had absolutely no correlation to the “amount” of money I […]

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Relationship Rules

When Bonnie and I first started dating, one of the first conversations we had started off with Bonnie suggesting that we were both terrible at relationships.  Not believing myself to be “terrible” at anything, I requested that she elaborate.  She then explained “since we’re currently dating, that means neither of us have ever had a […]

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Letter from Lexi

Dear Bravo Family, Even though I haven’t met all of you yet, I am so excited to be a Bravo!  I have heard so many great things about all of you from my Mama and Papa that I can’t wait to spend Christmas with everyone!  Rumor has it that you are all so nice, and […]

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Mamita y Papito

 As a young child (at around age 5 or 6), I distinctly remember crying myself to sleep at night a few times due to the fear of losing my parents.  Unlike most little kids I knew, my parents were very different…  It wasn’t that they were brown and all the rest of the parents were […]

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Alexis Isabella Bravo

Lexi’s First 7-Weeks in Photos…  (Make sure to view the slideshow in Fullscreen mode – bottom right button). So much for giving a play-by-play as the action unfolded.  Here is the recap: While getting ready for bed at about 1am  last night, Bonnie’s water broke.  Since she hadn’t even had her first contraction, we were […]

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Water Break

Just got back from a 1:30am visit to the Birthing Center…  Bonnie’s water broke and we went in to make sure everything was ok.  So far, so good.  Baby’s heart beat is strong, as are Bonnie’s vitals.  She is starting to have very mild contractions, but it appears we are still a bit away from […]

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About Journey Notes

Life is a Journey… These are my notes. One step at a time, we all travel through an endless array of obstacles that make up our lives. At times, we are called to climb mountains. At other times, we are required to roll down the hillsides. Some days take us for a stroll along the […]

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Nothing Worthwhile is Easy

I’m not sure if it is an instinctual trait or something that is learned through our culture, but it seems more common than not for people to desire and seek an “easy” route towards their goals.  Though this makes logical sense that one would choose an easy route opposed to a challenging route if both […]

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Decisions, Decisions

At the beginning of every journey, throughout every journey, and even before and after every journey, there are decisions that must be made.  Some of them are tough while others are trivial, nonetheless, the must be made… Will I start this journey?  Will I complete this journey?  What will I take on this journey?   […]

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What’s Your Story?

Everybody has a story. Some are happy, some are sad, some are dramatic, unbelievable, and/or inspiring. And though most people don’t think too highly of their own personal story, the fact is that everyone’s story is important. Which leads us to the question: What is your story? Before you start panicing because you haven’t ever […]

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My Story

In order to completely understand a thought or opinion, it is necessary to understand the perspective from which the idea comes… Many of the ideas that will ink in the following pages come from the unique experiences that I have personally had though varies scenarios and situations in my life. As such, you may not […]

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God’s Will for My Life

We’ve all heard the statement so many times (and even uttered it a few times ourselves):  “I just want to know God’s Will for my life…” – followed by a resolute pledge to immediately execute His instructions, if we knew them – “so I could just move forward and do it!” Fortunate for us, God […]

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Habitat for Humanity

Habitat’s Vision: “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.” That really doesn’t sound like it’s too much to ask, does it? Most people think that Habitat for Humanity “gives” away houses, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  H4H builds houses using volunteer labor (under professional supervision) and then provides no-profit, […]

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Big Brothers Big Sisters

About 18 months ago, a friend mentioned to me that he had been thinking about becoming a “Big Brother”…  As I had always had wonderful mentors in my own life and have served as a mentor to others many times before, I thought that I could encourage my friend by signing up with him.  Talk […]

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6:8 Ministries

In the Spring of 2009, I led a Young Professionals group from my church on a mission trip to Costa Rica where we were hosted by 6:8 Ministries…  And my life was completely changed. No, this isn’t a story about “my first mission trip”, “how I was saved”, or “the poverty made me feel so […]

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Bonnie is Pregnant!?!?

When I got out of the shower this morning, Bonnie had this funny expression on her face…  Half smirk, have look of confusion.  I asked her in a playful way, “what are you looking at?”  No response.  I said “seriously, what’s your problem?”  Thats when she handed me the “stick”.  Two lines = Pregnant.  I […]

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Great Teachers Create Great Students

I was recently asked the following question: “If 80% of our nation’s public secondary schools are failing, and of those failing schools only about 10% of the parents are committed to improving the situation, then aside from public boarding schools, what other strategies are left if those schools really want to make immediate improvements? In […]

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deepStream Guatemala

This is someone’s house…   Hidden away in the mountains over looking Guatemala City, there sits small village called Buena Vista (meaning “good view”). At just over 7,000ft in elevation, the air is cool and the streets are incredibly steep. A little over three years ago, you would have found the majority of the “homes” had outer […]

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My Thanksgiving List

A wise person once said:  “Happiness isn’t having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Often times, I think we spend too much time focusing on the things we don’t have rather than enjoying, appreciating, and sharing the the things we do have.  In my understanding, God doesn’t bless us just so that we […]

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The Original Super Hero

While speaking to a group of high school students on a mission trip in Costa Rica, I posed this question to the group:  “According to American Society, what defines a REAL MAN?” Immediately, hands shot up and the students (both guys and girls) started shouting answers like “a nice car”, “a big house”, “a boat”, […]

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Jesus Loves Gay People

One of the most controversial issues in American Society today is the the issue of Gay Marriage.  Generally, the media characterizes the debate as Republican vs. Democrat, Conservative vs. Liberal, and Christian vs. Non-Christian. Unfortunately, like most all generalizations, the lines are just not that clear cut… As a “follower of Jesus Christ”, I tend […]

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Definition of Family

There is no greater blessing than “family”.  Why?  Because a REAL FAMILY is the only place that the unconditional (agape) love of God exists. Real families come in all shapes and sizes…  Large, small, fat, conservative, loud, many kids, no kids, biological, social, etc.  But one thing that all Real Families have in common is […]

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Husbands: Love Your Wives

One of the most misused verses in the entire Bible comes to us from the Book of Ephesians, Chapter 5:22-24… Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now […]

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Project 50 / 50

Several years ago, while contemplating the idea of leaving my successful corporate career to pursuit a life of service in the mission field / non-profit business sector, I found myself running into the same circular argument over and over again:  Do I want to help others because it makes me feel good, or do I […]

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Mission 50/50

Mission 50/50 is a lifelong faith journey and life ministry to love our neighbors AS ourselves. Several years ago, while contemplating the idea of leaving my successful corporate career to pursuit a life of service in the mission field / non-profit business sector, I found myself running into the same circular argument over and over […]

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Got A Better Story (Letter to Donald Miller)

Dear Mr. Miller, My name is Omar Jesus Bravo and I am writing you to say thanks…  For inspiring me to “get a better story”, follow Jesus Christ whole-heartedly, and live a “page-turner” life! It all started in February of 2007 when I saw you speak at the Fusion / Right Now Conference in Orlando, […]

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Free Milk (Living Together Before Marriage)

“Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I’ve heard this phrase a thousand times, as I’m sure you have too… Always from males, in reference to females, with regards to sex and marriage.  From a business perspective, the statement makes perfect sense.  Even so, I don’t think I’ve ever met […]

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Attitude & Perspective

Positive or Negative, your attitude is 100% contagious.  Just think about it:  Have you ever been around someone who had a really negative attitude?  And didn’t that person seem to just bring a bad vibe into every social circle they entered into?  Likewise, have you ever been around someone with a positive attitude?  Not an […]

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The Super Hero In You

The flagship article of Real Men Defined is The Original Super Hero as it is displayed on the homepage.  Thus, as Jesus Christ is the Original Super Hero, it only makes sense that we each have a Super Hero inside of us…  Right? Again, Jesus is a Super Hero, we have the Holy Spirit in us, thus […]

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Believing vs. Following

For the first 26 years of my life, I was a believer in Jesus Christ.  I went to church every Sunday, I completed all of my sacraments (having grown up in the Catholic church), and I even spoke to God regularly (but mostly, if not entirely, when I was in need of something)…  There was […]

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Stop Going To Church

A close friend of mine once told me “Sunday Morning Service is like a Pep-Rally for the Big Game of Life that takes place Monday thru Saturday”. I couldn’t agree with this more…  For “church” is not something that happens on “Sunday Morning”. Neither is “church” a building, a ceremony, nor an event. The “church” […]

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Under Armour Boxer Briefs

In general, I believe we are to be good stewards of our financial blessings and not waste money. That said, I have always believed that there are three things that you should not “cut corners” on when purchasing (if at all possible): Shoes, a Mattress (bed), and a Car.  If you don’t have the best […]

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John 3:17 – Jesus Saves

It seems that the most quoted, most popular, and most celebrated verse in the Bible is John 3:16…  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  So popular is this verse that it can often be found […]

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The Rhino Crash

The following was adapted from the book “The Barbarian Way” by Erwin McManus:  It’s a swarm of bees and a colony of ants. A pod of whales, a school of fish, a flock of birds. But wait, they get better: A pride of lions, an ambush of tigers, a committee of buzzards, and a flamboyant […]

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Where Have All The Real Men Gone?

There is a stereotype in American Society that Men have gotten soft. Gone are the days of generations pasts, where “Father Knows Best” and “Ward Cleaver” stood tall. The prominent male figures in present media are known more for their athletic triumphs and off-the-field antics than they are for their values and integrity. If it’s […]

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American Airlines Has No Mercy For Non-Profit, Humanitarian, International Missions Org

After having our International, Non-Profit, Humanitarian Mission Trip to Guatemala canceled by our host missions organization due to major safety concerns (i.e. recent kidnapping / death threats related to the organization), we started calling American Airlines in hopes of minimizing our losses on our canceled tickets… ($1,800.00 in fees and penalties – Keep in mind […]

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Guatemala Mission Trip Canceled

This past week, we received the email below from 6:8 Ministries, effectively canceling my team’s upcoming mission trip to Guatemala due to the increase in safety risks.  As much I hate when God closes doors, I believe now as I always do that His plan is greater than ours.  The toughest thing for me to […]

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God Always Provides.

Here is the latest…  Since making the decision not to move to Costa Rica (on 12/30/2009), God has continued to open doors and provide as He always has. First off, He provides a sweet little 1940’s two bedroom house in a great little neighborhood, complete with a hardwood floors, coffered ceilings, a really cool screened-in […]

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Not Moving to Costa Rica

Dear Supporters, After a solid 4 months of fundraising, Bonnie and I now have approximately 15% of our budget raised with an additional 20% pledged.  At the beginning of this journey, we prayed that God would provide us with confirmation through our fundraising efforts.  As such, we believe we have received a solid “no” to […]

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Preparing vs. Planning

As my Mom always says:  “If you want to make God laugh, just make plans”. As I child, I hated hearing my Mom say this.  Especially if it were in the midst of sharing my dreams of going on a great vacation or of the things I would do / accomplish in the future!  But […]

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2 Weeks.

We’ve back in the U.S. for two weeks now and it feels like we’ve been back for two months…  Things have been incredibly hectic! For the first week, B and I spent most all of our time reconnecting with our amazing friends and family that we have in St. Pete.  This was so great as […]

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Day 138 – Last Day

Today was our last full day in Costa Rica.  We spent the morning hanging out with Spencer’s family and then headed to Juan Pablo to deliver some new shoes to a young guy as well as give Lalo one last haircut.  As we went through the Juan Pablo barrio to say goodbye to all our […]

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Day 137 – Community Soccer League

Church this morning was amazing!  One of the guys on the team (Jason) gave his testimony to the whole congregation:  Long story short – Grew up in a good home, got hooked on crack, went to prison, got out prison, cleaned up his act, started smoking crack again, went back to prison, gave his life […]

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Day 136 – Costa Rica vs. Mexico

We split the team into two groups this morning. One of the groups went to build out a kitchen in the back of the church that will be used for the new Feeding Center for the homeless. The other group went to Juan Pablo to do children’s ministry… For the most part, I spent the […]

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Day 135 – Obedience

A team of 8 men and 3 women arrived today from Celebration Church in Jacksonville… This is awesome because the last team from Celebration that came down was amazing, so I had really high expectations for these guys. We started off the same way we start every group off with: A prayer walk. As we […]

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Day 133 – 5.3%

That’s right, folks!!! We are on the board!!! I just updated the fundraising thermometer… So far we’ve received $1,273.00 in pledges! God Always Provides. Special thanks goes to handful of supporters who got their donations in right away… It would have broken my heart if I would have opened up paypal and found a zero […]

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Day 132 – Faith

Dealing with unknown shouldn’t really be that difficult, seeing as how we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  Even so, in the American Society we live in, we convince (fool) ourselves into thinking that we have complete control over everything.  That is, until we surrender our lives to the will of God and accept […]

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Day 130 – Tortuga Adventure

As we have a couple of days off before the next team comes, Spencer wanted to take his family on a little excursion, so we decided to tag along. The destination was the Tortuga (turtle) Beach to see the Giant Sea Turtles lay their eggs… After about 90 minutes in the van, we pulled into […]

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Day 127 – Fundraising

I have spent the past two days organizing / putting together our budget for 2010… It looks like $2000 / month should cover all of our expenses. This is impressive that two grand will cover both Bonnie and I for a month considering that used to be my weekly budget a few years ago :) […]

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Day 125 – Websites

Since sending the team from PA home yesterday morning, I haven’t stopped working! Not on mission work, but on websites. It never ceases to amaze me… God holds off all the web work so I can focus on the teams here, and the second the teams go home the emails start flowing like a river! […]

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Day 123 – He DOES Exist…

The team headed to CCA for service this morning and we were surprised to find that the church had a special recognition ceremony for us during the morning service!  The pastor called everyone who worked on the construction project up on stage along with the two families who received the houses…  A few people were […]

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Day 122 – House Dedications

The morning was spent putting the finishing touches on both houses… Installing windows, touching up paint, installing a couple of lights, (no running water though). By lunch, everything was done… An absolute miracle… Building two houses on the side of a mountain in six days with high school students. Just another testament to fact that […]

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Day 121 – Drama with Thugs

The team spent the morning painting the outside of the first house and assembling the walls of the second house!  I can’t believe that this team has built two houses in five days!  We’re actually scheduled to finish one day ahead of schedule! That’s what I call a God-sized project with God-sized blessings…  One of […]

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Day 119 – Walls & CCA

After two hard days of hauling rocks and building panels separately, the team was reunited on the side of a mountain to put up the walls of the first house!  It’s so cool to see the walls go up so fast (especially since they were pre-assembled)!  After a late lunch, the rain came and we […]

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Day 118 – Hauling Rocks up a Mountain

We broke ground on our house builds yesterday morning and the past two days have been spent as follows…  With such a big group, we split into two groups:  guys / girls.  While the girls stayed and put together the panels (walls) of the house in the church parking lot, the guys headed up to […]

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Day 116 – Sacrifice vs Giving

This morning, I heard a great message at Iglesia Celebracion (Jorge’s Church) on “Generosity”… First off, generosity is not limited to money, but it also includes time, talents, love, patience, etc.  (Keep in mind that this is a very poor congregation.) Next, Christ is the perfect example of generosity (to the extent that He gave […]

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Day 115 – Planning

The past few days have been spent recovering from the last team and planning for the team that arrives tomorrow.  More than anything, I have been doing administrative planning for my new role…  As the ministry grows, what started out as a one man organization has blossomed into a two-country, multi-family, operation with owned property […]

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Day 111 – Gun Shots & Hot Dogs

First thing today, the team split up:  Half of us went to deliver food (rice, beans, salt, sugar, spaghetti, etc) to a family in Jasmine the rest of us went to deliver food to two families in Juan Pablo.  After that, we headed down to Aurora to visit Jose Antonio (the little boy with mental […]

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Day 110 – Cement Work

This morning, we continued our work on the Grandma’s house in Juan Pablo…  We painted the new walls we put up on Friday and poured some cement to repair the foundation. After lunch, we took food to a few families up to Jasmine (the village on the hill).  While we were up there, we visited […]

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Day 107 – Remodeling

We spent the morning working on a grandma’s house in the Juan Pablo barrio.  The team put up a new bedroom wall, bought here a new kitchen sink, repaired an exterior wall, replaced one of the tin sheets on the roof with a transparent sheet (can you say skylight?) in the bathroom, and we bought […]

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Day 106 – Testimonies

I am emotionally worn out.  And my throat is a bit soar… We spent the morning at the CCA Men’s Center (a rehabilitation center for drug addicts and alcoholics) giving and listening to testimonies.  Literally, our team of 14 sat down with 10 or so men and went around the circle, each giving our testimonies.  […]

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Day 105 – A New Start

For the past two days, the team has been cleaning and painting the inside of Binda’s house…  Talk about a big job.  On top of the mold and the crampped living condictions, it would seem that the family had not dusted nor swept for at least a few years.  Nonetheless, we moved all the furniture, […]

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Day 104 – Tuesday Service

This evening, the group attended the Tuesday night service at Iglesia Celebracion (also known as the old recycling center).  Wow, has this place changed!!!  I’ll post pictures in the gallery… Anyhow, the Tuesday night service is aimed at the Youth of the community, but pretty much everyone comes, including a handful of homeless / alcoholic […]

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Day 103 – Part of Something Bigger

Today was our first full day back in Costa Rica…  Talk about starting things off with a bang! First thing this morning we went to check out a potential project for the team that arrived this afternoon:  We heard about a lady named Binda who has a mentally retarded son and her family is in […]

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Day 100 – Youth Camp

Today was our last day of Youth Camp…  Overall, this trip was an absolute blast!  Though I don’t really relate very well with the middle school kids (they’re just too young), I have found that I am able to really connect with the high school students.  That said, as the “Dean of the Boys Cabin” […]

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Day 89 – Goodbye Alaska

Today was our last day aboard the Island Princess Cruise Ship…  What a voyage!!!  Four weeks, 16 port stops, and the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen.  Alaska really is “the last frontier” (as it reads on the license plates).  As part of our compensation (in addition to the room / board), we were […]

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Day 58 – Board Interview

We drove up to Jacksonville last night and stayed with Rita (one of the 6:8 Board Members).  She was so nice!  I stayed up until about 3:30am working on a website though, so my lack of sleep continues. The interview with the Board of Directors went well.  They asked me questions and I answered them. […]

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Day 56 – Florida Home

We’ve been here in Florida for the past week now, but it seems like we’ve been back for several months! That’s not in a negative tone, it’s just that we have been so busy, we’re completely exhausted…  I’ve been working quite a bit and we’ve been catching up with everyone of our friends (who are […]

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Day 48 – Home Coming

After seven weeks in CR, we headed back to St. Petersburg today. So far, being home has been wonderful… Air Conditioning, traffic laws, and no crazy smells. It was a long day of travel, but we made it home safe (thanks for the prayers!). Just watched the Lakers lose to the Magic! Whoohoo!

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Day 47 – Jaco Beach

The RCC Team had their free day today so Bonnie and I chaperoned them to Jaco Beach. What a relaxing day… All we did was chill out on the beach while they ran around doing the Zip Lines and touring on the strip. It was wonderful and much needed. Especially since we are both recovering […]

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Day 46 – Church BBQ

This morning, there were over 85 Ticos at the morning service!!! Including Gringos, there were over 110 people worshiping in the old Recycling Plant we now call Iglesia Celebracion!!! After service, we fired up the grill and provided the entire congregation with hamburgers. It was an absolute riot :) This afternoon, the team headed into […]

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Day 45 – Painting

The team started the day off by going to the Saturday Morning Market and passing out free juice and invitations to the new Celebration Church! They really handed out a ton of invites! Hopefully we’ll have standing room only tomorrow… After the market, we headed to the church where the team finished up most of […]

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Day 44 – Prayer Walk

19 members of the River City Church Youth Group arrived today! Right after they arrived, we had a quick lunch and then headed out on a prayer walk. Now, if you have never been on a prayer walk, thay are really cool. The idea is to walk around a neighborhood, stop at a couple of […]

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Day 43 – Calm

Today was our last day before the next team arrives. Bonnie wasn’t feeling very well, so she spent most of the day in bed. I worked on the computer all day and then Dave and Leisa had everyone over for dinner (which was wonderful). All in, a relaxing day. But really, it was probably just […]

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Day 42 – Ticos vs. Gringos

This morning, Jorge and I returned to elementary school to drop off the invitations for the soccer camp. We didn’t see the Principle, but we saw the Vice Principle and he said the Principle would give us a call later in the day to confirm. The VP said it wouldn’t be a problem. After that, […]

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Day 41 – Crack

Jorge, his wife Marisol, and I took the bus down to San Jose this morning to pick up some Gold, Silver, & Bronze Medals for the Children’s Soccer Tournament that the team will be putting on next week. While walking around downtown San Jose, we passed by a young man huddled against a city building, […]

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Day 40 – New Plan

This morning, Bonnie went to the Feeding Center with Candy where they taught the women how to crochet and I went over the the church plant and helped Jorge and Victor put on a new tin roof over what will soon be the children’s room! I also finished a five foot cinder block wall! I’m […]

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Day 39 – Iglesia Celebracion

This morning, it was the 2nd Official Service at Jorge’s new church and there were over 50 people there! I can’t believe it! 10 days ago, the place was a recycling center!!! And now it’s a legit church! Only God could have accomplished this… As a parting gift, the Wade Baptist team bought 50 new […]

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Day 38 – Hagase Relax

We sent the Wade Baptist team home this morning and then had the rest of the day to relax. As it was our first day off in a week and a half, we took the time to catch up on the essentials. First, we headed to the Saturday Morning Market and loaded up: Lettuce, tomatoes, […]

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Day 37 – Little Yellow House

This was our last day on the build site (half way up the mountain). Today, the house had to be finished! As a matter of fact, the dedication ceremony was scheduled for 1pm… Pizza, Prayer, and Praise. And though the floor and foundation were all that were done, the team came through. The walls went […]

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Day 36 – Everything for a Reason

Today was relatively mellow in comparison to most days. Since I was out late yesterday with bus breakdown, I got the morning off and did some web design stuff. (For those of you think I’m on vacation, I got the morning off from shoveling cement and spent my free time working on websites.) After that, […]

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Day 35 – Jungle Breakdown

Today was the free day for the Wade Baptist team, so Bonnie and I took them to the Jaco Beach and on the Canopy Tour Zip lines. All in, the day was very nice and relaxing (much needed), except for the end… On our return trip, the bus broke down. As we had just left […]

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Day 34 – Wade Baptist

This was my first full day with the team from Wade Baptist (Mississippi). Their project for the week is to build a “Little Yellow House” in Jasmine (a shanti town half way up the mountain – about 4000 ft above sea level). As they assembled all of the panels yesterday, the men spent the day […]

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Day 33 – Patricia

Today was our last day with the Celebration Team… Talk about going out with a bang! Our plan was to hike to the first Cross on the mountain this morning as our time was limited and the rain last night made going to the third Cross to dangerous. On our way up, we passed by […]

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Day 32 – Church

The team spent all morning cleaning up the warehouse in order to get ready for the first ever service at the new building. What an amazing service!!! There were about 50 attendees and most all of them were from Juan Pablo. As Jorge ran the service, I actually served as the translator which was a […]

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Day 31 – Amazing Day.

The day started off with a quick walk through the Saturday Morning Market to get some fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh tomatoes, fresh mangos, and fresh bananas on our way to the team house. After that, it was right to work at the recycling center (that is now the new church plant)… First, we dismantled […]

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Day 30 – Prayer Warriors!

Today was absolutely wonderful… We started off with a staff meeting first thing in the morning. Now, I’ve been to a lot of staff meetings through my career, but none like this. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the schedule of the next two teams that are arriving, but it was also […]

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Day 29 – Recycling Center

Today was a big day for Jorge… In case you don’t remember, Jorge (the crazy Tico who led worship on the last night of the Crossroads trip) has be commissioned by a Florida church to plant a church here in Alajuelita. The original space that was rented and renovated just isn’t big enough as the […]

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Day 28 – Websites

The past few days have been great! I’ve been able to finish up another website and I’m currently working on two more. In addition to that, Bonnie and I have had a chance to relax and simply enjoy each other’s company (this is, after all, our honeymoon). Today, Duke and Candy (President of Board of […]

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Day 25 – Sign Us Up!

Spencer, Bonnie, and I flew back to Alajuelita early this morning. Fortunately, the trip was completely uneventful. We did, however, get a chance to talk to Spencer candidly about our future with 6:8 Ministries… After much prayer and discussion, Bonnie and I feel that we have definitely been called to serve here in Costa Rica […]

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Day 24 – Tired

Early this morning we said goodbye to our new friends from Marble City, Mississippi… They really were a great team! Right after they left we had a staff meeting and debrief… And the rest of our day was left at leisure. This afternoon, we headed to the park as Brock and Luis had a basketball […]

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Day 23 – Digging Trenches

This morning we had the opportunity to work on one of the Deep Stream houses! The house they are building this month is for the family of a local Pastor who has been living in a Sunday School classroom with his wife and four children for the past four years. His name is David and […]

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Day 22 – Chicken Coop #3

The men built the third chicken coop on site at Bryon’s house this morning while the woman went with Rosa (another recipient of a Deep Stream house) to learn how to make torillas… Bryon is a 10 year old boy whose mother and two sisters live in some pretty poor conditions. Essentially, there home was […]

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Day 21 – Ruins

Today was the team’s “free day” so we all headed up to some nearby Mayan ruins in the city of Tecpan. Though these ruins aren’t especially spectacular, they are only about 90 minutes away and the team seemed to enjoy them. For lunch, we went to this amazing restaurant that puts all of those Brazilian […]

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Day 20 – Chicken Coop #2

Another session of VBS at Buena Vista Elementary this morning. Unlike yesterday, we had 115 K-3rd graders! Once again, they were extremely well behaved and we all had a great time. After lunch, we headed back to Buena Vista to deliver the second chicken coop. This one went to Conchita (the same family who just […]

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Day 19 – VBS Activities

This morning we headed up to Buena Vista again, but this time we went to the Elementary School to play games and do VBS activities with the students! What a blast… I honestly can’t believe how well behaved these children are. What amazed me even more was the fact that 4th, 5th, & 6th graders […]

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Day 18 – Chicken Coops

We headed over to a small village just outside of town this morning to build to build the first chicken coop. Dirty floors, tin roofs, outhouses, stick walls, and no running water. The ladies cooked tortillas over a campfire… And yet the children were still able to smile without much hesitation. While a few of […]

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Day 17 – Marble City Baptist

The new team arrived today from Mississippi and all is well. Right after we unloaded all of their stuff from the bus, the skies opened up! Not with just the typical rain though, we also got a good amount of hail! After the storm passed, the team went on a prayer walk and met the […]

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Day 16 – Deep Stream

God has so blessed us with such a great group of people here in Guatemala… Spencer (6:8 Executive Director), Brock and Kerri (a couple who is starting a ministry here called Deep Stream and Spencer’s best friends from Jacksonville – they have three kids), Amy (a 24 year old, single, white, female from Minnasota who […]

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Day 15 – Guatemala

Today was our first full day in Guatemala and boy is this place different than Costa Rica! First off, Guatemala City (the capital) is huge (14 million people) and there is a lot more organized crime (kidnappings, cartels, etc) than Costa Rica. Fortunately, we’re about 10 miles outside of the city in a small town […]

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Day 14 – The Crash

Today was spent packing and traveling to Guatemala. Because of rain delays, what should have been a quick trip turned into an all day affair. Either way, we made here safe. The day of travel enabled me to finish a book called The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus… Here is his explanation for the rhinos […]

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Day 13 – Roofing

This morning, the fellas re-roofed the shanti of a family down in Juan Pablo. Though the mother was at work, her two boys helped paint and worked the entire morning with the rest of the team. Lalo, who was a bit of a hellian has really started to come around. It appears that all he […]

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Day 12 – God the Potter

We headed to Aurora today… Talk about an impactful trip. I’ve been around the world and have driven past barrios and shanti towns, but I have never gone into these places simply to love on the people there. Though today wasn’t my first time going to Aurora, it really wasn’t any easier to see the […]

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Day 11 – Doctor Visits

This morning, the while the team headed to CCA for the regular service, Bonnie and I went to Juan Pablo to participate in Jorge’s children’s ministry. What a blast… Jorge has such passion and energy when it comes to those kids. We sang all kinds of children’s worship songs, complete with choreographed dancing and hand […]

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Day 10 – Lalo’s Haircut

We headed to the Saturday Morning Market with the team right after breakfast… Bonnie loves the fresh tomatoes and mangos, plus the cheese is so much cheaper than at the MegaSuper (local super market). After the market, we headed down to Juan Pablo where half the team helped clean and setup the room for the […]

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Day 9 – Pottery Wheel

We headed out with Spencer and Victor (local handy-man) this morning to San Jose in search of a pottery wheel. After striking out downtown, we were directed to a nearby art district where we found an 80 year old blind man with a kick wheel (manual) who said the only way to get a wheel […]

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Day 6 – Honeymoon

The past two days have been great… Bonnie and I have just been enjoying each other’s company, just like a real honeymoon. In the evenings, we’ve been playing cards with Alexis and Molly (Spencer’s daughter and wife). Spencer comes back tomorrow and Dave (Director of Operations) and his wife Lisa come in on Thursday, so […]

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Day 4 – Faith Must Grow

Bonnie and I walked up to CCA this morning for the 10am Service… Talk about a great sermon: The pastor talked about what it means to have the “Faith of a Mustard Seed” as it is in the parable. (Matthew 13:31-32, 17:20). Though many people interpret this parable to say that you only need a […]

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Day 3 – R&R

The team from Michigan left this morning. Spencer also left for a short trip to Jacksonville. Thus, Bonnie and I have been instructed to relax, recharge, and get ready for the next team. This break is very much needed as Bonnie and I haven’t taken any sort of break for the past few months… Between […]

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Day 2 – A Long Hike

This morning, we made the hike up to the Cross on the top of the mountain (from 3700 ft to 7700 ft). Rather than come down via the same route we went up, Jorge decided to take us down the back side of the mountain which made for a fun yet challenging trek, lengthening our […]

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Day 1 – Painting

Today was our first full day in Alajuelita (suburb of San Jose). So far, so good. We are currently hanging out with a 4 person team from Michigan and having a blast! We spent the majority of the afternoon doing demolition in a newly rented room that Jorge (the crazy Tico who led worship for […]

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Day 162 – End of Sabbatical

After 162 Days of traveling, I am today preparing to head back to Florida to start the next chapter of my life… Having spent the past few days with my family in preparation for my older brother’s departure to Afghanistan, I am both happy and sad to be leaving Utah. Happy for what God has […]

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Day 153 – Utah Fun

Over the past week, I have had such an amazing time here in Utah… I’ve spent a number of days and nights with my brothers and cousins, playing golf, hiking, running, hanging out at the American Legion (three of my brothers are Veterans), and simply enjoying each others’ company. Though I was really reluctant to […]

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Day 146 – Goodbye SLP

Today is our last day in Mexico… : ( As such, I decided it would be only fitting that I spend most of the day sitting at the kitchen table of my Tia’s house. This was made very easy as the conversation was flowing as soon as we heard that Sarah Palin had been selected […]

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Day 145 – B and B

Basketball and Bible Study. Armando and I ran a set of ball this morning at the gym down the road and then I headed over to my Tia’s house to hang out with my cousin Eduardo in his Internet Cafe (pictured above). This evening, I again attended Armando’s Bible Study. God Always Provides. Until next […]

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Day 144 – Kitchen Table

I spent the morning in bed, answering emails and working a flyer for an upcoming event that Bonnie is running. After rolling out of bed and making the 40-yard walk to my Tia’s house, I took my place at the kitchen table with my sister Hilda and there I stayed for the next thirteen hours. […]

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Day 143 – SLP vs. Ecuador

This evening, my cousin Gil treated us all to a live fútbol match between the San Luis Potosi Gladiators and a team from Ecuador. It was really great because Gil brought his son Jorge and his daughter Michelle, his nephew Gerardo, and then me and Armando came too. All in, we had a great time! […]

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Day 142 – Armando’s House

As the weekends always seem to be so packed with activities, Monday’s tend to be my day off. Thus, I woke up, did some email from bed, and then headed down stairs for an awesome breakfast with Armando and Maggie. After breakfast, I did some more work on the computer and before I knew it, […]

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Day 141 – Bull Fights

This morning, I went to church with Armando and Maggie. Since Armando leads the Young Adults Bible Study, I was right at home. The pastor’s message was also very good… 1 Corinthians 9: 24-25 24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such […]

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Day 140 – Media Luna

Today, the whole crew headed up to La Media Luna (“the Half Moon”) which is a natural springs preserve about two hours from here. The place is actually in the middle of no where, but the local farmers whose property the springs are on have banded together and have commercialized the place just enough… In […]

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Day 139 – Running

Today was a mellow day. I started off the day by going running with my cousin Toño. We decided to get aggressive and do 9K today. Running through Tangamanga Park really is nice. There is so much open land there… A tennis complex, volleyball courts, a lake, soccer fields, basketball courts, and tons of trees […]

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Day 138 – Productive Day

When I woke up this morning, I had planned to spend the day working on some design projects that I had on my To Do List. But that was my plan. God apparently had a different plan for me… I started off the day by going with my Dad to the Saucito Graveyard to visit […]

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Day 137 – Mexico vs. Honduras

And then there were four… All of our group has gone home except for my parents, my sister Hilda, and me. Thus, the party factor has gone down significantly, but we’ll do the best we can to keep the vibe going : ) For the most part, I spent the entire day simply hanging out […]

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Day 136 – Farewell Dinner

As most of the group is heading back to the U.S. tomorrow, we spent today running through the Centro (“downtown”) and the Mercado (“open air market”), picking up souvenirs. This evening, our cousin Hector invited all of us over to his house for dinner… And of course, it turned into a party! (group picture above.) […]

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Day 135 – Guanajuato

This morning, we got an early start and boarded our own private tour bus at 6:30am this morning to head off to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende for the day. As there are so many of us traveling together, and because one of our cousins owns a Bus Line, we decided to go ahead […]

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Day 134 – Tony’s Birthday

This morning was really nice… Woke up, enjoyed the cool air of Mexquitic, and milled around the retreat center compound. A small group went hiking, but most of us just hung around and enjoyed the morning with omelets, coffee, fresh juices, and smoothies! My cousins, Mom, and Aunt spent soooo much time in the kitchen […]

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Day 133 – Mexquitic

My cousin Armando (who is an Architect) built a small Christian Retreat Center on some land he owns up in the hills just outside of the city. So today, we all decided to take a trip up their and stay the night… What a blast! All together, there was about 40 of us who came […]

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Day 132 – Family Visits

Another great day! (I know I say that everyday was a great day, but candidly, for a long time now everyday has been amazing…) This morning, Bonnie, Hilda, Joe, my cousin Toño, and I all went running at “El Parque Tangamanga” which is a huge park in the city center. We ran an easy 6K […]

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Day 131 – Mexico!

As always, when one chapter ends, another chapter begins… This morning, I jumped on a plane in Nashville and headed to Dallas to meet up with my four of my siblings (Hilda, Araseli, Tony, & Joe) and Bonnie, so that we could head out to Mexico together to meet up with my brother Noel and […]

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Day 130 – End of Chapter

Today was our last day of debrief… Talk about going out with a bang. I started off the morning with a two mile run through the dry Kentucky air. After that, we headed out to this park on the bank of the Ohio River where the weather was amazing and conversation was deep. After a […]

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Day 129 – Reverse Culture Shock

We landed in Nashville at about 9am this morning. Fortunately, we had zero delays, all of our layovers (Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Dallas) went smoothly, and all of our luggage arrived! Upon arriving, Mark and Roy picked us up in a giant van to cart us up to Owensboro, KY where our journey began two […]

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Day 128 – Rodney

First thing this morning we jumped in a van and headed to up to KL to start our long journey home… When we arrived at KL, our host Rodney was their to meet us and take us out for a farewell lunch. On our way to lunch, Rodney gave us a tour of some newer […]

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Day 127 – Goodbye Melaka

This morning, we lead music at SBC for the final time. It was a great worship set, but it was also sad to say goodbye to our Malaysian family after the service was over. : ( During the service, I picked up a great quote from the guest pastor who said… “The famous last words […]

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Day 126 – Debriefing

Today was our second full day of debriefing… Good stuff. The team is really getting a chance to get some closure on a number of issues. After a good lunch, we headed to band practice at the church. Following practice, we headed out to dinner with our crew from the Youth Group and from the […]

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Day 125 – Bejing Olympics

Did you see the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics? It was amazing… The “footprint” fireworks, the screen on the floor, the giant type face machine, the athletes walking across the paint, and then the guy flying through the stadium to light the torch!!! Awesome! The entire team sat through all four hours over dinner and […]

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Day 124 – Goodbye Payfong

Today was our last day at Pay Fong High School…. As challenging as our time here has been, it truly has been rewarding and I am definitely going to miss these students! They are all really great kids and they have definitely left an impact on me. Our last English class today was so much […]

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Day 123 – Multimedia Society

I started the day off by running 5K. As the air in Melaka is hot and humid, I count running in the heat of the day the same as spending an hour breathing in front of a humidifier. Hence, my cold seems to have taken a back seat today. For lunch, we met up with […]

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Day 122 – Sick

I’m sick with a head cold. So, I slept most of the morning. For lunch, we met with one of the students name Jonathon. This kid is 13 years old and knows more about World Politics and American History than anyone on our team. Really great kid. After lunch, I taught one english class and […]

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Day 121 – Back To School

We came back to the school first thing this morning, still riding high from the weekend activities. I taught one English class after lunch and then hit the basketball court. After a 30 minute set, I ran a quick mile and then hit the courts for another 30 minute set. After that, I took a […]

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Day 120 – Emotional Overload

We started off the day with a completely chaotic sound check for a church service this morning. The band was hurried, I hadn’t finished the power point (since my computer died) and the service started earlier that we had originally expected. Nonetheless, God came came through and the worship set actually turned out great and […]

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Day 119 – 31 People Saved!

The morning started off well as we opened the morning session with a worship set at 9:00am. After than, I was trying to finish the Power Point slides for the next music set and my laptop completely dies… No matter what I do, I can’t get the dumb thing to start up. Oh well, everything […]

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Day 118 – Thai Massage

We had this morning free so the guys (me, Ross, and Job) headed over to the mall to take advantage of some little luxuries. We started off with a 60 minute Traditional Thai Massage. Unlike the massages in India, you remain fully clothed during this session, which essentially entails the masseuse performing WWF submission holds […]

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Day 117 – Kuala Lumpur

This morning we headed into KL by bus (about a 90 minute ride) as we will be performing at a Youth Conference here this weekend and attending the Passion ’08 Concert on Sunday night. In addition to the normal team, we have been fortunate enough to have Job come with us on this trip… Job […]

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Day 116 – Whoa!

“Whoa! What happen to you?!?!” said the Chinese man behind the counter as I entered into his restaurant. “I stepped in a ditch” I replied. “You a real mess!” he commented with a thick Chinese accent. “You clean up in here…” he said as he showed me to the washroom… You see, I went out […]

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Day 115 – Last MMUCF

This morning I worked on the India video for a few hours and then headed out for a 5K run. After that, I taught a class I called “Using Flash in Websites” to a group of high school IT students (pictured above). This went really well! After class, I spent some time finishing up “Mere […]

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Day 114 – School Days

Today, I taught to English classes and both of them went well. After class, we headed across the street to small restaurant where the student CF meets once a week to fellowship. Though the group is really small, it is a blessing to be a part of what seems to be just the beginning of […]

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Day 113 – Relaxing

Today was the first Sunday that the team wasn’t responsible in some way for serving at church… The regular band played and the Youth Service was cancelled so our Sunday was actually light. After service, Joyce (one of our hosts) wanted to get a team picture (see above). After service, we went to lunch and […]

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Day 112 – Peanut Sauce Fondue

Today, the IT Faculty and Staff invited the group to have lunch with them… The meal was called Satay-Everything (ok, so I made that up). Essentially, there is a Peanut Sauce called Satay here that they dip their meats in. Well, today, we treated the Satay sauce like a fondue sauce and dipped everything in […]

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Day 111 – 40 Day Fast

I was supposed to go golfing again this morning, but just like last week, it was pouring rain all morning. So instead of golfing, I spent most of my day off simply laying in bed watching movies. After 110 days of travel, I really am starting to wear out… This evening, we headed over to […]

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Day 110 – Youth CF

I taught two English classes today and then attended a student meeting this afternoon to discuss the formation of a CF (Christian Fellowship) at the school. This was really interesting… You see, though there is every other kind of student group at this school, religious groups are not allowed. Thus, the students (on their own) […]

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Day 109 – Run Forest, Run

I taught one Web Dev class this morning (Fundementals of Flash) and one class this afternoon (Introduction to SPRY). In between, the IT Faculty took me out to get some Laksa Mee for lunch (noodle curry shrimp fish soup)… So good! If I haven’t said it before, I really like teaching the Web Dev classes! […]

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Day 108 – The King of Fruit

Today was pretty eventful… I taught a Web Dev class this morning and then taught an English class this afternoon. After that, we all headed to the University as the band was leading music at Student Service this evening. While the band was finishing up sound check, I went across the parking lot with a […]

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Day 107 – Senior Design

I had one English Class this morning and then headed to the Computer Society’s Senior Design Contest this afternoon. Since I have been teaching classes in the IT Department, I was actually invited to be one of the six judges on the panel. All of the projects were either videos (i.e. fictional movie trailers or […]

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Day 106 – Youth Talks

This morning’s service was awesome! The team led music and this was part two of the pastor’s series on “What to do with the Youth?” It really was a great sermon on how we are all responsible for the youth in our society whether we have kids or not… And he related everything back to […]

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Day 105 – So Busy

Today was great! We started off by having a 7:00am breakfast at the Worship Pastor’s house… His wife made an awesome breakfast complete with chocolate cake, muffins, fried chicken, rice, cheese egg casserole, guacamole & crackers, samba (chile / salsa), and mango steam fruit! So delicious!!! After breakfast, we headed to the church for band […]

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Day 104 – Rained Out

What a day! This morning, we met up with Ron, a local guy who invited Ross and I to golfing at his country club. Knowing how much I love golf, there was no way I was going to miss this. So, at 7:00am Ross and I were on the curb, in the drizzling rain. With […]

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Day 103 – A Long Walk

Our first class this morning was cancelled due to some exams happening, so our day was kind of light. Our second class did take place, and went off fine. Since I was pretty tired from yesterday’s run / b-ball set, I decided I would just go for a stroll and takes some pics this afternoon. […]

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Day 102 – Banner Day

I started off by making some major progress on the intro of the India video. After that, we headed out for a walk through the city to do a little bit of gift shopping. Just as we were getting back from our excursion, Jerry pulled up and he has Melissa (our sixth team member) with […]

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Day 101 – Campus Recognition!

I started off the morning by doing some work on the video from our India trip, followed by a nice 2-mile run. After that, I hit the computer lab to sit in on a Photoshop class and catch up on my email. At 2:30pm, I taught one class and then headed to my room to […]

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Day 100 – Nothing To It

After One-Hundred Days away from home, all is well. Today was a pretty simple day… I taught to classes this morning, got in a good set on the basketball court, went for a one mile run, had some dinner, and then decided to watch some movies on my laptop. Nothing to crazy, just happy being […]

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Day 99 – U.S.A. Basketball?

Today started off with the morning church service where the team performed and I ran the powerpoint for the lyrics. After service, we headed out to lunch with a basketball team from the U.S. that is doing the same thing as us (except they play basketball and we play music). The church set us up […]

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Day 98 – Web Lecture

I started off the morning with a two-mile run through the city. After a quick shower, I headed to the IT Office to finish preparing for my lecture… Everything went well with the lecture! After about an hour of training, the Faculty said that they had learned a lot and would be able to apply […]

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Day 97 – Day Off?

Today was supposed to be my day off, but instead I started the day with an 8:30am meeting with the IT Faculty. We met to discuss whether I could help out with any of their Media classes… After discussing my background qualifications and going through my portfolio, they asked me if I could do a […]

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Day 96 – End Week One

Today, we finished up our classes for the week. Overall, I think we did a pretty good job at fulfilling our teaching duties, especially since we were only supposed to observe this week, but ended up teaching a full schedule right away. (picture of my morning class.) After class, I headed directly to the basketball […]

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Day 95 – Assembly

A fantastic day all around. I spent the morning preparing the Powerpoint Slides for the Assembly. After that, it was off to the sound check… Our performance this afternoon went off without a hitch! The students were into the songs, and our set list was 80% worship music. In between each song, we took turns […]

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Day 94 – MMUCF

First thing this morning, we had an impromptu meeting with the Principle. Over breakfast, he informed us that we would be doing a 1-Hour performance during tomorrow’s assembly. Though it is short notice, I’m sure we can handle it. Candidly, this is a really great opportunity for us as the entire student body (2500+ students) […]

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Day 93 – 1st Day of School

Today was our first day of classes. We were only supposed to be “observing” the classes this week so we could get a feel and understanding of what was expected of us, but instead, we were immediately led to the front of the room and handed full control… “When given lemons, make lemonade.” Thus, on […]

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Day 92 – Cultural Day

This morning, I got up at 6:00am to attend a Chinese Cultural Day show near the school where many of the students were performing. The location of the event was actually on top of a hill that was part of a 500-year-old Chinese cemetery. As there are not many tall buildings in Melaka, I was […]

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Day 91 – Settling In

Last night was really warm. Even with the fan on, my skin was damp all night. It actually reminded me of the hot summer nights in Utah when I was growing up (maybe 5-years-old) when my brother Noel and I used to share a bed… With no A/C, the fan pretty much just blows the […]

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Day 90 – Independence Day

First off, Happy 4th of July! I am truly grateful and convinced that we live in the greatest nation in all of the world. Prayers go out to all of our veterans and our troops who have fought and died to make it so. We started off today with Wendy, the resident English instructor, to […]

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Day 89 – Culture Shock!

This morning, we landed in Kuala Lumpur safe and sound. Our host Jerry was there to pick us up and take us to the boarding school we will be working at (about 1.5 hours outside of K.L.) As we were all excited to be in the city, Jerry decided to take us for a tour […]

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Day 88 – Farewell Tour

Today was our last day in India… As such, we decided to go out on a high note. Paul and I started off the day by heading to the spa again for another massage. This time, we both got the Sports Medicine treatment, which basically means they do WWF style “elbow drops” on you for […]

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Day 87 – African Lunch

Today was great! After my morning office routine, we headed over to the home of the African musicians we had played a few gigs with. They actually invited us over for a late lunch, but it turned into a lunch and a jam session all in the same. The fellowship and the music made for […]

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Day 86 – IT Fellowship

Today, I spent the morning in the office and then we headed out to the Botanical Gardens after lunch… Nothing too exciting. In the evening, the band performed at the Monthly IT Fellowship where many of the Software Engineers in the area get together. In the middle of the performance, I got the opportunity to […]

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Day 85 – Worship!

Today was a packed and eventful day. We started off by playing at a small Methodist church in the morning. Though there were only about 50 people in this service, I guarantee that everyone was moved by the pastors message on Ephesians 5:21-31. He talked about how our family life is the foundation of spiritual […]

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Day 84 – Children’s Home

Talk about an amazing day… First thing this morning, my friend Max (the Trance DJ turned Worship Leader) came to pick me up. As I’ve stated before, there the traffic in India is the craziest I’ve ever seen and there are more scooters here then in Rome. On top of that, it is completely acceptable […]

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Day 83 – Indian Massage

The last time I slept in my own bed was 3/26/08 and since then I have slept on a firm (rock hard) bed on the cruise, approximately eight different couches, one floor (Thanks, Noel!), and have spent over 45 hours sitting in airplanes. Needless to say, my back really started bothering me this past week. […]

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Day 82 – Red Shift Cafe

Today was good. Aside from the regular daily activities, the team got a chance to have lunch with the Pastor of one of the local congregations. He and his family have been here for just under two years and they hold their Sunday Service in the conference room of a local hotel. The band actually […]

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Day 81 – Purpose… ?

“So, what exactly are you doing there? Because it sounds a lot more like a vacation than a Volunteer Trip…” Often times, when we think about reaching out to other parts of the world, we tend to focus on the same demographics: The orphans, the poor, and those in need of medical attention. And though […]

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Day 80 – Rest

After ten straight days of training, traveling, and being in a foreign country, I decided to take some personal time today… After our morning devotional, I spent some time in the office helping out with the web redesign until about 1:00 pm. I then headed up to the apartment and spent a couple of hours […]

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Day 79 – Office Day

Today was the one day that the band didn’t have a performance scheduled. As such, I decided to go into the office and work with some of the volunteers who are here on 2-year assignments. Tina is a retired programmer here from Dallas who is porting a couple of old websites into one new one […]

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Day 78 – Sunday Worship

Today was another great day… We started off by leading the music worship for a small start-up church who holds their service in a hotel conference room. After the service, April was speaking with some of the local children when they busted out their rendition of “This is the Time to Worship” in the middle […]

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Day 77 – World Music Day

It’s Showtime! Today we had our first two performances… The first was at a small coffee shop and the second was at the Alliance Francaise Cultural Center as today was World Music Day and they were having whole bunch of different bands performing. As the coffee shop gig was the first real performance for “De […]

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Day 76 – Real World: India!

“This is the True Story… of Seven Strangers… Picked to Live in a House… Play in a Band Together and Have Their Lives Changes… To Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Real: The Real World: India!” As funny as it may sound, our first day here really has reminded […]

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Day 75 – 40 Hours of Travel

During our fourteen hour flight from LAX to Hong Kong, I was actually able to sleep about ten hours, thus minimizing the jet lag since we arrived in Hong Kong at 7 am. You may have notice that there is no entry for Wednesday, June 18… This is because we crossed the international date line […]

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Day 74 – Last Day in USA

Today was officially our last day in the U.S. along with our last day of training. We started out the day by having breakfast at the world famous Pancake Pantry in an upscale neighborhood in Nashville. Above is our team picture: (from left to right) Ross, 20, from Baton Rouge, LA; Wes, 23, from Sinclair, […]

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Day 73 – Dress Rehearsal

Today was our last day of training… As you may have guessed, another 15 hour day. Good stuff all around, but once again exhausting. Two highlights for the day: 1. We had a guy named Byron come in to facilitate one of the training sessions on “Arts in Ministry” and how we should see ourselves […]

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Day 72 – Technical Difficulties

We started the day off with a really good Bible Study about how God defines “Beauty” and how that contrasts with how we as Americans define it…. Pretty deep stuff! The rest of the day consisted of church, eating, rehearsal, team building, and trying to fix my stupid video camera. Unfortunately, it appears that the […]

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Day 71 – More Training

Today was another good day. We spent the morning doing cultural training / personal stories and then the band rehearsed throughout the afternoon. After dinner, we spent some more time working through cultural training and ended the night with our second-to-last personal story… As great as it is to learn about my fellow team members […]

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Day 70 – Team Building

Today was a really great day… We started off the morning with some prayer and some worship songs and then jumped right into our team building activities. One of our assignments is that each of the team members has to take turns telling our life story / faith story, complete with all the messy details […]

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Day 69 – Owensboro, KY

Talk about a great day! Not only did I finally get to meet all of the people I will be going on the Mission Trip with, but I also got to see the Celtics beat the Lakers in a 24-point come from behind victory!!! : ) Seriously, everyone on the Mission Team seems really great… […]

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Day 68 – Washington, D.C.

Obama ’08! The past five days here in D.C. have been spectacular. Hanging out with my brother Noel, my sister-in-law Patricia and their two kids has been such a blast! We took the kids to the pool on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, thus setting the record for the most consecutive pool days for the […]

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Day 63 – Atlanta, GA

I’ve got two words for you: Southern Cooking. The past five days in Atlanta have been fantastic. Not only did I get to meet up with Bonnie again, but we were able to stay at her Grandma’s house and make it up to Rabun Gap too! At her Grandma’s, we were fed like Southern Royalty: […]

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Day 58 – Dallas, TX

The past five days here is Dallas have been great! Not only did I get to spend time with my brother Joe and his family, but I also got to hang out with Heather (one of my best friends). In general, the week / weekend was packed: I went to my nieces End of Year […]

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Day 53 – Layton, UT

Home Sweet Home!!! For the past week, I have been eating home cooking and enjoying all of my family and friends… Talk about being blessed!!! Not only have I been able to catch up with my folks, but I got see two of my brothers (Tony & Efren), two of my sisters (Araseli & Corina), […]

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Day 46 – Bay Area, CA

Oh, to be in college again… For the past five days, I have been hanging out with my NAK (Nu Alpha Kappa) Bros and doing my best “Old School” impersonations :) Candidly, I have been away from the organization for the past three years and this weekend was a great opportunity to meet many of […]

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Day 42 – Seattle, WA

Well, the original plan was to meet up with my brother-in-law Bob while here in Seattle…. Unfortunately, his new job called him out of town the day I arrived so I have been left home alone. :( Normally, this wouldn’t be a bad thing as I am staying at his house, but because he and […]

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Day 40 – End of Chapter

First thing this morning, Bonnie and I caught the shuttle to Vancouver Airport where she would be flying back to Tampa and I would be taking the bus to Seattle… After forty amazing days, we are faced with the decision whether we will be sad because they are over or happy (and grateful) because we […]

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Day 39 – Whistler

Today we went horseback riding through the woods… And as beautiful as the scenery was, it was really hard to concentrate when my hands were completely frozen to the reigns! This was the coldest day I’ve experienced since December when I was in Utah. Needless to say, right after horseback riding went to get some […]

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Day 38 – Oh Canada…

Boy, was God on our side today! Though disembarking from a ship can tend to be a long and hectic process, the day couldn’t have run more smoothly for us… We were among the first 100 people off the boat (out of 3000), and probably the 20th to actually leave the port! We quickly caught […]

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Day 37 – The Last Supper

Just like all great things in life, this ferry ride too must come to and end. Today was our last “Sea Day” aboard the Coral Princess. We spent almost all day hanging out around the boat with our new friends. At night, we went to the evening show, which happened to be a hypnotist show […]

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Day 36 – San Francisco!

What a fantastic day! We got off the ship at 8:15am and my sister Hilda, her boyfriend Moises, and my nephew Meissa were right there waiting to pick us up… We headed straight to the Nob Hill Grille (my NAK bro Fabio’s Restaurant) for an awesome breakfast! It was too bad Fabio couldn’t show up, […]

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Day 35 – Last Day of Work

Today we completed our last duties as Pottery Instructors aboard the ship. For the next three days, we will solely be passengers. Whoohooo! All in, the gig was a success. We had a ton of great students and have made some really great friends! Tomorrow, we will be heading into San Francisco for the day […]

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Day 34 – So Cold!

For the past four months, I haven’t experienced anything but 80+ degree weather… So you can image my surprise when I woke up this morning to find the temperature off the coast of San Diego to be a balmy 59 degrees!!! This wouldn’t be an issue if I had any clothes other than swim trunks […]

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Day 33 – Cabo San Lucas

We started today off with a 60 minute Sea Kayaking trip and then followed that up with 30 minutes of snorkeling. When compared to the 90 degree gulf waters of Florida, this 72 degree was freezing! Either way, we had a great day on tour and then headed into town to get some authentic tacos […]

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Day 32 – Updated Itinerary

Since today was another Sea Day, I had a chance to solidify some more dates for my upcoming travel… I can’t wait to meet up with all of you (and sleep on your sofas) as I make my way back across the nation in preparation for my upcoming mission trip! Here is the current plan:

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Day 31 – Acapulco Deluxe

Today we took a whirl-wind tour of Acapulco… What a great place! Tons of history, plenty of great resorts, and some very nice beaches. We started off the day by seeing the world famous Cliff Divers (I took the picture above)! These guys dive from 138ft into a narrow canyon pool only 16ft deep… 2.5s […]

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Day 30 – Biking in Huatulco

Holy smokes… Today we went on a “Hill Climbing Bike Tour” through Huatulco, Mexico. Talk about a workout. Not only were the hills challenging, but we were riding the worst mountain bikes ever. During the first hill, we couldn’t get the bikes to shift out of the highest gear! On top of that, it was […]

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Day 29 – Ship Activities

What a great day! For the first time, we took full advantage of the activities that are constantly happening on the ship during our Sea Days. We started off the day by holding our last pottery lessons of our contract. After that, we headed straight to one of the onboard bars for the 2pm “Classic […]

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Day 28 – Trifecta in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is officially batting 1.000 in my book. After Kayaking in Round One and Zip Lines in Round Two, we decided to do some River Rafting through the Rain Forest for our third tour of Costa Rica. Though the river was pretty mellow (Class II), this meant that we had to do quite a […]

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Day 27 – What’s Today?

So we woke up this morning, got ready for our River Rafting Tour in Costa Rica and headed out the door… Only to find that today was Thursday and not Friday! With our swimsuits on and our cameras in hand, we were a day early for Costa Rica! Today was a Sea Day and we […]

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Day 26 – Bad Escargot

Today sucked :( Though we were going all the way through both the Atlantic and Pacific locks of the Panama Canal, both Bonnie and I were forced to watch most of it from our bunk beds… Unfortunately, last nights’ Escargot wasn’t very happy about being in either of our digestive systems and decided it wanted […]

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Day 25 – Cartagena: Part III

Today was a good day. Since this was our third time in Colombia, Bonnie and I decided to go out on our own and get away from the tour buses. We took a taxi downtown and walked through the Mercado (open air market) and all around the business district. Then we headed out to shanty […]

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Day 24 – Arubu: Part III

Like the old saying goes: “Third times a charm!” Today in Aruba was great. We went to a small island off the coast that had been converted into a little beach resort / water park. After doing some snorkeling and hanging out on the beach, Bonnie and I headed over to the slides. Now, if […]

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Day 23 – 52 Countries in 1 Year?!?!

After Bonnie casually mentioned to the Cruise Director (VP of Passenger Services) that we had cancelled two days worth of lessons due to not having, a box of clay magically appeared five minutes later! I’m pretty sure his subordinates who had been giving us the run-around about how long it takes to process the inventory […]

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Day 22 – Lessons Cancelled

Due to the fact that that we ran out of clay last cruise and our new clay is still being processed through the ship’s inventory store, we had to cancel eleven scheduled lessons for today. So, I spent the day coding in the sun while Bonnie glazed all of the pieces she had made during […]

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Day 21 – Caught Smuggling!

Today started off pretty interesting… We disembarked at 7:30am in order to beat all of the passengers through customs as we weren’t taking our luggage off, but only our backpacks. Apparently, carrying gifts for our friends in our backpacks wasn’t the best of ideas. You should have seen the looks of the Immigration Officers when […]

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Day 20 – New Website!!

It’s Official! After three long years, I have finally updated the Bravo DMS site! Though the old Flash site was great and cutting edge for it’s day, this new site uses all of the latest and greatest technologies and should load faster, function better. If it doesn’t, let me know asap! http://www.bravodms.com As you all […]

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Day 19 – Jamaica Strikes Back

The first time around, Bonnie and I both considered Jamaica as our favorite port… However, today was a much different experience. Despite being on a Cruise Ship, we have really done well to get away from the “tourist traps & shopping malls” at each port. Unfortunately, Jamaica took us hostage today. The day started off […]

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Day 18 – Coding @ Sea

Nothing crazy to talk about today… I spent the day coding and Bonnie spent the day reading and napping. Granted, all of these activities took place on the Sun Deck next to the pool. : ) …Not bad, for an office job. God is good. Until next time, Omar

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Day 17 – Zip Lines in Costa Rica

Today, Bonnie and I headed into downtown Limon and spent the morning doing a little souvenir shopping. After lunch, we headed into the Rainforest for a Canopy Tour & Zip Line excursion… Way fun!!! And seeing as how this was the first tour that we actually had to pay for, we actually got our money’s […]

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Day 16 – Panama Canal, The Sequel

Today was a nice easy Sunday, cruising through the Canal. We slept in, checked out the Canal from the top deck, got caught up on a ton of email, and watched a couple of movies on TV. As awesome as the Canal is, the true highlight of the day was the French Onion Soup we […]

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Day 15 – Mud Volcano, Colombia

I will preface this entry by pointing out that this was completely Bonnie’s idea… : ) Today we visited a natural Mud Volcano about one hour outside of Cartagena in the countryside of Colombia. Being a potter and having an intense love for mud (clay), Bonnie really wanted to go on this excursion. Though I […]

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Day 14 – Aruba, Take Two

What a great day! Our first stop in Aruba last week was nice, but we took a tour around the island that was less than inspiring. Today, we spent the whole trip on a Catamaran snorkeling through the crystal clear waters and then had a complimentary lunch at this restaurant whose patio seating was literally […]

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Day 13 – Mission Update

We made it through another day of lessons… All is well. Now, onto the real news: I just received some more info on my upcoming Mission Trip! Here is the schedule as it stands right now (I think it speaks for itself): June 12th – 17th: Training in Owensboro, KY June 18th – July 3rd: […]

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Day 12 – Pottery @ Sea

Today was a great day. We had a full schedule of pottery lessons again today, but all of the students were really great and Bonnie and I are really working well together. Our only issue is that we are starting to run out of clay, but I think we will be able to make it […]

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Day 11 – Fort Lauderdale

Back in the USA… We landed in Fort Lauderdale this morning, thus completing our first 10-Day Tour. As fun and exciting as it has been, it was nice to catch up on voicemail and I was able to get online with my own laptop! One of my best friends, Ricardo, picked us up at the […]

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Day 10 – Coding At Sea Again

This was our last day at sea for this cruise. Really rather uneventful. I spent most of the day coding, we had our Champagne Party where all of our students came to pick up their finished pottery, we saw a comedy show, and then had dinner again with our new friends Mary Ann, Jerry, Roger, […]

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Day 9 – Ocho Rios, Jamaica

No problem, Mon! Ocho Rios is absolutely amazing… We started off by taking a 45 minute drive into the rainforest where we were to put in for our river tubing adventure. After that, Bonnie and I enjoyed some authentic Jamaican Jerk chicken and a Red Strip on the water. The river we were on had […]

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Day 8 – Coding At Sea

Today was the first day that the “vacation” feel started wearing off and the reality that we are “living on this boat” started to sink in. I spent the day coding on the 14th Deck looking out over the water. Same old grind, but a much better view! I must say, not having internet access […]

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Day 7 – Costa Rica

This morning, we landed in Costa Rica where we went kayaking through the rainforest and then did a little tourist shopping. The kayaking trip was absolutely gorgeous along with a workout. The pictures speak for themselves. Until next time, Omar

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Day 6 – Panama Canal

We are making our way back through the Canal as I type. We went through the first few “locks” this morning and entered into Lake Gatun, which separates the two main sections of the canal. Though there are a limited number of excursions here, Bonnie and I decided to simply hang out and catch up […]

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Day 5 – Cartagena, Colombia

Like yesterday, we decided to serve as Escorts and jump on the “Best of Cartagena” tour… Unlike yesterday, there was plenty to see in this small Colombian city! It actually reminded me a lot of the cities in Mexico. Traffic was crazy, the architecture was very Spanish, and the people lived in humble dwellings. As […]

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Day 4 – Aruba

We landed in Aruba this morning and took our first excursion entitled “The Best of Aruba”. Since we are considered both Crew Members and Passengers, Bonnie and I were able to go on this excursion complimentary, in exchange for helping get the 500+ Passengers seated by their excursion groups in the morning, prior to disembarking […]

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Day 3 – MultiTasking Exercise

Today was our second “At Sea” day and round two of our Pottery Lessons. This time, as opposed to having both Bonnie and I focus on the “Wheel Throwing” lessons, I was in charge of the all the people who took lessons yesterday who had come back to glaze (paint) their dried pieces, while Bonnie […]

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Day 2 – Death by Pottery Lessons

Today was our first “At Sea” day and our first day of giving Pottery Lessons. First off, our studio is amazing… It is located above the Lotus Pool on the 15th Deck, enclosed entirely with glass walls and ceiling and air conditioned. That said, my role was to get people to sign up for the […]

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Day 1 – Fort Lauderdale

Well, we made it safely on board and we able to find our room amongst the chaos on the Crew Deck. For those who don’t know, the crew to passenger ratio on a Cruise Ship is about 1:1. Thus, there are almost 1000 members of the crew running through hidden hallways throughout the ship at […]

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Good Times

Having completed the first 90 Days of my Unofficial Sabbatical, I thought it would be a good idea do a “Quarterly Performance Review” with myself… As you might have guessed, I received Outstanding Marks in all areas : ) And as a reward for my 1Q2008 Performance, I’ve decided to take some time off from […]

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Resignation Letter

Dear Friends, After five spectacular years at Texas Instruments, I have decided to resign my post as the Florida DBM in order to pursue full-time employment opportunities in the non-profit business sector, completely outside of the semiconductor industry.  What that means exactly, I’m not quite sure yet…  The first order of business will be to […]

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