Saturday, April 04, 2015

Easter Message

In three weeks, I'll be returning to prison. This will be my third time on a Kairos Prison Ministry team and my first time at the Maryland Correctional Institution - Jessup (MCI-J).  

As part of our ministry, we write letters to each of the 40+ residents who will be part of the weekend. Most of these men have been inside for years and have received very few, if any, letters from family and loved ones. We do talk about Jesus and what our experience has been following Him, but our biggest goal is just to show them that there are people who love them and are willing to listen to them.

It is amazing to see the transformation in some of these men from the time we meet them on Thursday afternoon to the closing on Sunday afternoon. It's not a result of the actions of the team, either. I truly see it as a chance to have a front row seat to watch the Holy Spirit at work. If you'd like to learn more about Kairos and my experiences, please read my post from November.

As I was writing my letters the other day, I began to feel that I should share some of what I was saying to these men with a wider audience.

God loves each of us as His children and desperately wants to have a relationship with us. He even went as far as to take on human form and live among us - from a birth in a feeding trough to a horrific death via the quintessential form of capital punishment in the Roman Empire.

About 10 years ago, I attended a weekend similar to Kairos, called the Walk to Emmaus.  It very much deepened my relationship with Jesus and had a profound effect on my life at a time I really needed it.  Until then, I called myself a Christian, but wasn't really living my life for Christ.  I'd grown up thinking of God as a stern figure who was just keeping track of all the times I sinned or didn't do what I was supposed to.

However, as we are remember this weekend, Jesus allowed Himself to be brutally killed on the cross as a payment for ALL of our sins.  All that we need to do is accept that gift and live our life in a way that demonstrates our love for Him.  I pray that everyone reading this will accept God's forgiveness, knowing that the one who created the universe wants to be your friend. That is what Easter is all about.

And if you are a Christian, get connected with a local church, if you aren't yet.  The church isn't just a building, a denomination, or an organization.  The church is a family made up of all believers. It is also His body on Earth that is to be doing His work.  We can't fully follow and serve Christ all on our own.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Time in Prison

I recently spent 3 days in prison. No, I wasn't arrested. It was fully voluntary and an amazing experience. I was part of the team for a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend at Maryland Correctional Institute - Hagerstown. 

What is Kairos? First of all, it is one of two Greek words for time. While chronos refers to the chronological measurement of time, kairos refers to the more subjective aspect of time - the right or opportune time. This is how it is used by Kairos Prison Ministry International (KPMI) – more specifically, a special time with God. According to their website, KPMI “is supported by a staff of 9 and has over 36,000 volunteers donating more than three (3) million hours of service each year. These volunteers serve in over 400 prisons in 35 states and 9 countries: Costa Rica, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa and the United Kingdom.”

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46 - NIV), Jesus says, "I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. ...Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

On Thursday night, we met the men for the first time.  Some had been trying to attend a Kairos weekend for some time, some came at the recommendation of others, one admitted he only came for the famous Kairos cookies.  Some were on fire for the Lord, some were ambivalent and some felt they were beyond even God's ability to love or forgive.

It was amazing to watch the transformation of so many of these men as they were touched by the Holy Spirit and came to understand that God loves all of us as His children and desperately wants to have a relationship with them.  And that He wants that relationship so much that Jesus allowed Himself to be killed on a cross as payment for all of our sins and all we need to do is accept His free gift of forgiveness.  Black, White or Hispanic, by the end of the weekend they were truly brothers in Christ, ditching the normal prison segregation.

I wish I could share some of the actual testimonies given at our closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon, but the following testimonies from Kairos alumni are typical of what was shared on our weekend...

“I can never repay Kairos for what it has done for me. I came to the Kairos weekend filled with hate, anger and deceit. I only came because I heard that there would be good food, but I didn't want anybody in my face about God. But as I began to hear these volunteers talk about how God loved me so much that he sent Jesus, His own son to die in my place so that I would be free, something started to happen to me. I began to experience a kind of love that I had never seen or felt before. I now understand that it was the love of God, offered to me by His people.
I made a mess of my life and ended up in prison. My family abandoned me and society had written me off. I was worthless, and I felt that way. Life had lost all meaning for me. I was like a balloon with nothing inside. But these Kairos volunteers fed me with the Word of God, and now I hunger after Him. I will be forever grateful to Kairos for showing me that the way to freedom is through the cross of Christ.”  -Anonymous

I truly feel I had a front row seat to God at work on holy ground, but even the more experienced team members thought it was an exceptionally powerful weekend.
"In nearly 20 years in Kairos, this weekend tops them all!  What an outpouring of the Spirit on these men, and on us volunteers!"  -Anonymous
"Saturday God's Holy Spirit took over, kicked Satan's ×%=€ butt :-)! I felt the Spirit moving me to uncontrollable tears, I wasn't alone, many of us say that God 'showed up' on our outside weekends, but wowsers!"  -Anonymous
"Yes, God came to us there in that prison as a mighty wind taking us all on. What He started He will continue. Halleluja. I am still in a daze."  -Anonymous
Starting in the spring, I am planning to volunteer in Jessup (it's just a tad closer) and am praying that some of my friends in the area will prayerfully consider joining me.  Kairos of Maryland holds weekends at both the men's and women's prisons in Jessup.  So, whether you would like to server inside, as part of the support team, with your prayers, monetarily (each weekend costs about $8000), by writing letters or by creating posters, there is a role for anyone who is interested.  

If you live elsewhere and would like to get involved, Kairos is active in 36 states and 10 countries.

2012 award winning documentary, Changed on the Inside, doesn't mention Kairos by name, but the men in the video are Kairos alumni from Ohio.

Finally, some of the folks my team made the following (bilingual) informational video.

With that, I'll close, but even if you think you might want to get involved with Kairos, please let me know and I'll be happy to talk to you more about it and answer any questions I can.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Busy & Historic Geocaching Weekend

I had planned to join a group of cachers on Saturday for a foray into Pennsylvania.  Our primary targets were a couple of special caches, Raiders of the Lost Cache (GC2HN2H) by mikehoffman and Centralia, The Burning Town (GCPK46) by MickEMT.  I've wanted to visit Centralia for years.  It is a largely abandoned town due to underground mine fires that started in 1962.  However, because of the snow that came through late last week and dumped close to 2 feet of snow in that part of Pennsylvania, the trip had to be cancelled.

I had hoped to make Raiders my 4000th Groundspeak cache find, so I had to think of another special cache to mark the milestone.  After picking up a few local caches on Saturday and after church on Sunday, I was able to finally hit #4000.  I decided to use Military Intelligence, Then and Now by Nighthawk700.  It was special for a few reasons.  First, it was created just for me as one of Groundspeak's I <3 Geocaching Lab Cache program.  These are an experimental cache type that Groundspeak allowed each Premium Member to create one this month that could be found one just one other player.  I worked with both Nighthawk700 and globaltreckers to each create and find one of these caches.  The area was also special since it was the first stage of my 200th cache find, They Served in Silence (GCQVMJ) by dragonsear, and the National Vigilance Park.

C-130 at National Vigilance Park

From the NVP website: Dedicated on 2 September 1997, National Vigilance Park and its Aerial Reconnaissance Memorial stands to honor those "silent warriors" who risked, and often lost, their lives performing airborne signals intelligence missions during the Cold War. The backdrop for the park is a semicircle of trees, each representing the various types of aircraft downed during U.S. aerial reconnaissance missions. 

I was also off Monday for Washington's Birthday (AKA Presidents' Day) and had a great day caching with my friend Charlie (sfcchaz).  We were primarily after a few TerraCaching hides, but also got in some GeoPoker, GeoDashing and even a couple Groundspeak caches.

Reconstructed Original Statehouse
After we each grabbed a new card in our poker game, our first stop was Maryland's First State House (TCE6R), a virtual cache by ziawoods in St. Mary's City.  

From the cache description...
The original building was completed in 1676, and the Maryland Assembly and the courts of law of the colony met here for twenty years until the capital was moved to Annapolis. The first floor of the building is one large chamber for gatherings of the Assembly and the Provincial Court.  After the capital moved, the building was used as the County Court building, then for more than a century starting in 1708, as the meeting place of the local Anglican Parish. The original building was demolished in 1839, and rebuilt in 1934 as part of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Maryland. 

Despite having been right by here before and having parked in the same lot and walked right past the building, I hadn't realized what it was.  That's what I love about geocaching (well, one of the things).  You're always discovering something new, no matter how familiar you think you are with an area.

photo by ziawoods
Drayden Shoolhouse (photo by ziawoods)
From a "big example" of state history to something much smaller and out of the way, our next stop was Historic Drayden Schoolhouse (TCEMK), also by ziawoods.

[It is] one of the earliest extant schoolhouses for the teaching of African American children in Southern Maryland. [It] was built on land donated in 1889...first holding classes in 1890...[and] was one of only three in this district. 

Up to forty students attended each year, with all seven grades taught by one teacher. School days here started with a devotional song, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher taught each of the grades in turn, and some days had trouble getting to all seven classes in a day. For its first 44 years, there were no high schools in the county for graduates of Drayden... In many cases for the early students here, children or grandchildren of former slaves, they were the first generation of their family to learn to read or write.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Since it was George Washington's (observed) birthday, we thought it appropriate to jump across the Potomac and pay a visit to George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, VA for another ziawoods virtual cache, Washington Family Burial Ground (TCEK2) by ziawoods.

From the cache page:
The family originally settled in 1657 on Bridges Creek. ...[and] acquired additional land located on nearby Popes Creek, and some time before 1718 John Washington, George Washington's great-grandfather, built the first section of the house in which George Washington was born. George’s father enlarged that house between 1722 and 1726. It was further enlarged by the mid-1770s to a ten-room house, known as "Wakefield". But this cache does not take you to the main plantation buildings; instead it takes you to the site of that first cabin and to the family burial grounds.  Members of five generations of the Washington family, including George Washington's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather are buried here. In all, thirty-two graves of Washington family members have been found at this Bridges Creek cemetery plot. Replicas of two original gravestones, along with five memorial tablets placed here in the 1930s, may be viewed.

Horne's Restaurant
I was a little surprised not to see more activity here, today, but maybe they do something on his actual birthday, February 22.

After this, we stopped for a few more physical caches and swung by Horne's to pick up some snacks for the road.  They're at the intersection of US 17 and US 301 in Port Royal and I always try to stop when going by.  

TCing Snowman
We grabbed a couple traditional Groundspeak caches and then stopped to claim a GPSgames Dashpoint - a first for both of us.  I was even able to claim a TerraCaching Locationless Cache, TCing Snowman (LC74I) by JAYMEDINC, in the same neighborhood.  

We'd decided to just head home after my meetup with Frosty, but as we were pass Fort Belvoir, we got an alert that SoccerFanatics had placed our GeoPoker cache near my TerraCaching virtual, FortWillard (TCEMJ) that Charlie hadn't found, yet.  It was an obvious decision to swing by since it would be a 2-fer for him.

Fort Willard

Fort Willard was a Civil War fort constructed in 1862 as part of the Union defense system for Washington, DC. It is now located in the Belle Haven area of Fairfax County. It was the southernmost fort built to defend Washington.  The principal features remaining on site consist of earthen fortifications, cannon embrasures or platforms and the remains of a bombproof (bomb shelter) and magazine (arms and gunpowder storage) area.

After that, we finally headed straight home to get ready for the work week ahead.

Even though, the trip I'd been looking forward to ended up being cancelled (postponed, at least), this weekend included much of what I love about geocaching.   I had some solo caching time in the snow on Saturday, a special milestone on Sunday, and a full day of exploring interesting locations on Monday with a good caching friend.

Happy Trails!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Giving It Another Shot

I've decided to try the blogging thing again.  It's been 7 years, since my first brief experiment. 
It'll just be occasional ramblings on whatever is on my mind at the time.   More of a journal than an attempt to develop a major following.  While I imaging that my geocaching adventures will feature prominently, I will be as likely to discuss issues of faith, scouting or geek stuff.

I was partly inspired by the recent Christ is All podcast from Frank Viola I listened to at lunch, this afternoon.  I was also looking for a way to organize the blogs that I try to follow, but never seem to keep up with.

Well, this was just a way to say I'm back and to get myself started.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Our Bigger Adv. - Day 1

Yorktown, VA - After arriving at our host's house, we got settled and headed off for Yorktown. The visitor's center was closing, but we were able to take an auto tour of the two battlefield loops. Saw a lot of deer, in addition to the historic aspects of the tour. We also completed a couple of virtual geocaches along the way.

Afterward, we headed down to the town of Yorktown. We strolled the beach (James River), ate at a local restaurant, and went to Ben and Jerry's for some treats.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 10

JESSUP, MD - Fianlly made it home about 6:30 pm. We had got up latter than I'd hoped and had breakfast at Waffle House. We left Roanoke a little after nine.

Decided that since it wasn't THAT far out of the way, to take Nathan to Mustoe to see Nanny's home place. We visited the house, church, and the cemetary where a lot of her family (including parents) are buried. We ate lunch at the Mountain Hideaway up the road in Montarey.

On the way back to 81, we stopped at the Confederate Breastworks overlook. Enjoyed the view, read some of the markers, and even found a cache on the site.

It was great to hitting the landmarks that meant we were home. Congestion on 66, the Beltway, seeing the Welcome to Maryland sign at the Legion Bridge, taking the 95 north exit, entering Howard County, taking the Laurel exit, and finally arriving home. Every one got a big cheer from each of us.

Already starting to think of ideas for Nathan & Dad's Next Big Adventure 2007.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 9

ROANOKE, VA - We left Aunt Barbara / Uncle Bob's around noon and stopped at DQ for lunch before hitting the road for real. Decided to take the "fast route" and head north with the intent of getting on I-81.

We ran into some serious thunderstorms just before getting to Virginia. That slowed us down ALOT. We ended up stopping for dinner at Cracker Barrel in Bristol hoping to wait out the storm a bit. Worked a bit, rain wasn't so hard afterward.

Did not reach Roanoake until about 10. Starting to wish that I hadn't made reservations, so we could have stopped earlier. At least we'll have a shorter trip today. We're thinking of making a special stop, but I'll wait to mention until we do. Nathan is still sleeping at 7:36.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 8

YOUNG HARRIS, GA - Headed out around 10:30 to the highest point in Georgia - Brasstown Bald Mountain. On the way, we headed partway up another mountain for a cache. Hadn't realized it would involve driving up the side of a mountain until we got there. Found without much problem, though. The CRV did a nice job once I put her in first gear.

When we got to Brasstown Bald, we had a 0.6 mile hike up from the parking lot. We could have taken the bus, but that would have been wimping out. We finally reached the top after about 30 minutes. Please not that Nathan had a tough time keeping up with his old dad. Had some great views from the observation tower, but it would have been even better if it hadn't been so hazy. We walked back down as well. Suprisingly, that was nearly as much of a workout. Met a woman who'd jogged / walked up and down the 4 mile road that the bus takes. That was nuts.

After stopping at Hardee's for some lunch fit for a couple of mountain climbers, we met Uncle Bob and Aunt Barbara at the boat. We landed on the shore of a penninsula that I'd found had a cache not far from the water. We didn't find it, thought. Will have to try from the land next time we visit.

Came home took some much needed showers and had dinner. After a bit, Nathan and I went to Fun World - a local amusement center. We had fun at Skeeball, pinball, mini-golf, and some racing video games.

Plan to get up early (for Nathan, that's before 10) to do a couple of more urban caches nearby. Plan to head out of town around lunch.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 7

YOUNG HARRIS, GA - Started today out with a little North Georgia Geocaching. Found a 3 stage cache that started on the campus of Young Harris College. Turned out it was located at a small waterfall that Aunt Barbara had wanted to take us to anyway. It eventually let us to a very interesting archeological siteof some possibly ancient Indian petroglyphs. One Cherokee story relating to the rocks is that the marks, many of which look like animal tracks, were created when the animals left the "great canoe" after a world wide flood and the rocks were still soft. Aunt Barbara accompanied us and lent some important assistance. As a reward, she learned why the nearby Track Rock Road was so named.

From there we swung by the house on the way to the lake for a cruise on their yet unnamed boat. We spent a couple of hours out on the water with some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and forest. Nathan and I each had a turn at the helm. Nathan was very serious and real professional behind the wheel.

Went home to relax and take it easy. Had a great dinner. Later, Nathan asked Aunt Barbara to make him a milkshake. Then she made us a couple of ice cream sodas. Hey, it's my vacation. I can indulge, can't I?

Mapped out a couple of caches to try in the morning. Also hope to visit Bald Mountain, the tallest point in Georgia - just a few miles down the road.

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 6

YOUNG HARRIS, GA - Before what would be a long day on the road, we made a quick farewell trip to the beach. After a couple of quick stops to fill up our cooler and grab a few souvenirs, we finally got on the road just after noon. We didn't get far, though, before we had to stop at Sonics for lunch. Probably a good idea since we hadn't really have breakfast. Nathan was excited about that since we always see commercials, but don't have any near us.

Not too far out of Myrtle Beach (an hour?), we passed through the home town of country star Josh Turner. Don't recall the name, but it wasn't much. Nathan did pretty well for most of the trip, but was getting very anxious to at least reach Georgia by five or so. Finally, around 7:15, we arrived in Georgia. Did see a "Welcome to" sign, so had to settle for a Chattahoochee NF sign. Made me want to pop in an Alan Jackson CD.

We got to Aunt Barbara's and Uncle Bob's around 8:30. A bit longer than I'd thought it'd take. Apparently, my original itinerary did say it would take about 8 1/2 hours, but once I mapped out our routes in the atlas, I didn't even look at the original online directions. Bed was sounding very appealing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 5

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC - Started the day out by doing a little local geocaching ( Scouted 9 sites, but stopped after 5 finds and 1 DNF. It was time for lunch. Gotta eat!

Then we went to the beach where Nathan met a friend (Alex, 8) who was visting his grandpa. They clicked like anything and he forgot about dad. That was cool. Alex even gave Nathan some skin boarding (?) lessons.

When we finally left the beach, we went by the open mic night that Mike (Bug) was hosting. Unfortunately, he'd broken his finger and wasn't able to play. We would have seen him play quite a bit since there was only one other musician who showed up. There was a comedian who made his rather brief debut tonight, but he only told one joke and said he'd exhausted his material. He'll have to work on that if he's going to make it in show businesss. (video available upon return)

I ended up going bowling with this struggling stand up. He didn't do badly and I think he's looking into some physical comedy ideas to supplement his limited repository of jokes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 4

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC - After a big day at the beach yesterday, we slept the morning away.

Headed out around noon to go bowling per Nathan's request. Along the way, he changed his mind and wanted to go miniature golfing. We played two rounds (diff. courses) in the 95+ degree heat instead of bowling in air conditioned comfort. He did get two hole-in-ones, so I guess it was worth it.
Came home and had a couple of tuna fish sandwiches. I was going to go out, but Nahtan requested tuna at home. He's so thrifty. Sometimes.

After our late lunch, we haded for the beach for a couple of hours. Surf was much closer to the traditional "sissy waves", as Aunt Donna says.

Had thought we might get together with Mike, Mike, and Matthew today, but "little" Mike broke a finger at football practice this morning. He's an aspiring musician AND a wide receiver. We'll, he won't be either for a month or so now. At least we got to see him play at church Sunday.

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 3

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC - Attended church service with Aunt Donna and Mike. It's a small new non-denomination congregation and Mike is their praise "band". It was a long service, but very energetic and a good message. Afterwards, we went to the Golden Egg for breakfast. Nathan's eyes were (again) bigger than his mouth. I don't know what's up. At home, we can barely get him to eat in the morning.

Unfortunately, Roger had to leave this morning for week long business trip.

The four of us went to the beach for a few hours after getting home. The surf us unusually rough for down here. Nathan and I would head up the beach a way before getting in with our boogie boards since we'd be carried south pretty quickly. It was lie a ride at a water park. We'd go in, get taken past our spot on the beach, get out and hoof it back past our spot to start over. It wasn't really warm enough for Aunt Donna or Mike, but Nathan eventually got Mike in the water.

Big Mike, Bev, and Matthew came over for dinner. Couldn't even recall the last time I'd seen them. Hung out for a while and watched the first quarter of the Skins - Bengals pre-season game. Nathan and Matthew spent the time outside bird watching. They seemed to get along really well.

Plan to let Nathan sleep as long as he wants tomorrow. We may be getting together with Mike, Mike, and Matthew to go to a water park or the beach again.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 2

WILLIAMSBURG, VA - Once I was able to get Nathan up, we started the day with a good breakfast as a local pancake house. He ordered a lot of food and we even bet whether or not he'd be able to finish it. It was close, but I won and he had to not watch any DVD's on the way to Myrtle Beach.

After we checked out, we headed over to Colonial Williamsburg for a series of re-enactments covering event in the former Virginia capital from 1776 to 1781. First, we ran into Patrick Henry. He was taking questions from the audience. I didn't get a chance to let him know that Sandy had portrayed him in elementary school, though. Other noteworthy figures that we "met" included Benedict Arnold, Lafayette, and George Washington.

Nathan enjoyed it (despite the picture) and we plan to go back some time this year. I learned an important lesson, too. Charge my camera battery every night while on vacation! It died, just as I was bout to get a nice shot of the original "George W."

We finally headed out of town around 1:30 and did not arrive in Myrtle Beach until 9:00. Perhaps my plan to take the scenic route and avoid interstates could have been better thought out. As it turns out, "little" Mike was performing at a local coffee house and we missed his last song by maybe half an hour. We stayed long enough to catch a couple songs by two other singers, including Sister Otis ( Although she's originally from Detroit, she's sort of a local favorite. Unfortunately, I only got to see one of her songs, before Nathan just had to leave. I'd put him through a tough enough day in the car that I didn't want to push him.

Finally got to bed around 11:30. I think we both slept very well.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nathan & Dad's Big Adv. - Day 1

WILLIAMSBURG, VA - It was almost 10:30 when we left home. After stopping to pick some cheap sunglasses, we went by to see Sandy before heading out of town. Since Sandy couldn't accompany us, we decided to take along one of her bears. Ginger will go everywhere we go and we'll take pictures of her adventure to share with Sandy when we return. We stayed for about an hour, but before we left Aunt Irma and Aunt Joan came in for their regular Friay visit. That was nice since we'd had such a short visit. We stopped at Chick-fil-A for a hearty lunch, hit the ATM, and were on the road by 12:40. It was beautiful day - partly cloudy and 80 degrees. We put the windows down and opened the sun roof.

We decided to avoid the interstates and have enjoy the ride without being rushed. We took US 301 south to US 17. When we got to the 301 / 17 junction, we stopped at Horne's for some Hershey's ice cream at their counter. Nathan had a hot fudge & strawberry sunday and I had a chocolate shake. Then he decided he wanted some fries to go. We were back on the road by 3:30.

We got a little turned around when we got close to Williamsburg, so didn't get to the hotel until six. Checked in and headed back out to Colonial Williamsburg. We tried to get tickets to a participatory demonstration of the life of a Revolutionary soldier, but had some problems and ended up at at the hotel pool after getting some dinner. We plan to go back in the morning for some re-enactments.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Self Proclamations is Back

Well, I'm going to give this a shot. The new "Self Proclamations" will be a mix of family news, political stuff, and whatever else comes to mind.

The first updates will be of "Nathan and Dad's Big Adventure" road trip starting Friday, 11 August.