Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Weekend Update April 27- late!

The Week That Was - Hmmm, a quiet week. Car went into the shop and we can't figure out where the automatic transmission fluid is disappearing to. No spots in the parking space, no damp spots on the underbody. Curious.

Got swept from the volleyball "playoffs" in the first round. Not surprising. It was fun so I'll probably be back for that in the fall.

Went to a meeting on Saturday of the Youth Ministry Revitalization Team. As always this group did some good work when they were together. I think we're headed in a very positive direction. The plan is to have ideas and resources ready to present at Diocesan Convention in October. I think we can really pull it off.

Camp applications are starting to dribble in. Would love to get a whole bunch in (hint, hint to all you families in WNY out there!)

I've been working on clearing up the mess that is my address book(s). I've never really consolidated it in one place. Most of it was in one place then a bunch in several others. So I'm getting it all in one big file on my PDA. Now I'm in the editing and clearing phase. If I can't remember who the person is they get dumped. It's boring work but kind of cathartic as well.

The To Do List - This is such a catastrophe I'm just going to restart it after I get back next week. Right now it's making sure everything is ready for me to go away for 10 days or so. My whole world right now is CREDO,CREDO,CREDO.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Still doing OK. Hmmmm less procrastinating with no To Do list. Or am I just not as aware of what needs to get done now so I just FEEL more productive?

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To?

Next up is "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ-The Paradox of Modern Iran" by Hooman Majd. Still working on this but really enjoying it. I'm getting a much more nuanced look at Iran and the various power groups there. It's not as black and white as we think. In some ways we are very much alike and in others totally alien to one another.

Working on some Sue Grafton novels as a way to relax. Liked "A is for Alibi" and I'm working on "B is for Burglar" and liking it a lot too. Gotta decide what's going with me to Florida (CREDO,CREDO,CREDO!)

Movies - No movies this week so far.

Music - Gotta load up my ipod with some interesting new stuff and good familiar stuff for the trip to Florida (CREDO,CREDO,CREDO!)

Next Up CREDO,CREDO,CREDO! As one of our priests in the diocese said to me today - You have to work twice as hard the week before and the week after to take a week OFF! In the meantime my lady wife and I are going to check out a local restaurant that a lot of acquaintances just rave about. Looking forward to a nice night out.

How Am I Doing Once I settle down for the trip I'll be fine.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The teenage song

I think both sides would find this accurate.

Thanks to madpriest

Resource Review - Fuller Youth Institute web page

Fuller Youth Institute Web site for youth ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary

OVERALL - Fuller Theological Seminary is a large (5,000 students)diverse (100 denominations from 70 countries) evangelical, multi denominational, international, and multi ethnic seminary in California that has established a research institute to do research to transform youth and family ministry. Some of the results of that research are available through the web site.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Here is a resource aimed at going a little deeper in our ministry with young people. The folks at Fuller offer a wide range of materials (blog, e-journal, online articles, even audio feeds) on a wide range of subjects. I'm impressed with the level of attention they give to the transition from high school to college and its impact on faith. But that's not all. There are sections dedicated to Urban ministry, inter generational ministry and what they refer to as "Deep Justice" which is about service and working towards greater justice in the world. There's lots of research, even curriculum available for free. It's not something that you'll zip through quickly. Plan on spending some time to explore the web site.

RESERVATIONS There are no obvious reservations for me here. There can be some gaps in time between new articles and stuff but that's because it takes time to get all that stuff done.

RECOMMENDATION I'm always on the look out for quality information and ideas. Fuller is dedicated to offering ideas and answers that make a difference. I don't know that I always agree with them but what I've seen so far shows them to being honest and aimed towards helping youth ministry do God's work in the world. And I'll take all the help I can get on that front.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thinking about kids

Big surprise right?

Two news stories just jumped out at me this week. First is the story of the mom who dropped her two battling daughters off at the side of the road and drove away. The details are the daughters are 10 and 12, mom is 45 and a partner in a NYC law firm. The girls were in the back of the vehicle fighting like siblings do. My bet is that there was a fair amount of screaming going on. So mom pulls over tells them to get out in the business district of White Plains and drives away. Some of the details remain unclear. It appears that the older child did "catch up" with the mom but the younger child didn't and had to be rescued by a good Samaritan. To me that says that Mom went out of sight. Now I have to admit to having done something similar. The kid could be quite a willful child (still can be) when she was little and would sometimes refuse to come when it was time to leave a store. After trying to get her to cooperate I would inform her that it was time to go and I was leaving. I'd then walk out of her sight BUT WHERE I COULD ALWAYS SEE HER. It usually only took a few seconds before she'd be "ready to go". I'd never leave her to stew or anything like that. I'm astounded to see that mom apparently didn't go right back for the younger daughter or that the older daughter would leave her little sister.

To me this says the whole family has major issues that need some serious work.

The other story is currently being heard by the Supreme Court of the U.S. It involves a 13 year old honor student with no record of misbehavior who ends up getting strip searched (down to her bra and panties) when she is accused of carrying a prescription strength ibuprofen. She was also told to "shake out" her underwear in front of the school nurse and one other (female) staff person. No drugs were found. Family sued school and it has made its way up the judicial food chain.

My first thought was - I'd lose my job. In fact I was hard pressed to come up with a scenario where I'd even consider doing such a thing to a youth. Drugs? Nah. Weapons? Hmmmm, probably not. If I thought, really seriously thought, that a kid had a really serious weapon I'd call the cops if they wouldn't hand it over. But just a suspicion based on another kid saying it? No way. I can not imagine how the school officials justified this idea to themselves. How do you convince yourself this is a good idea? Some of it no doubt grows out of the "zero tolerance" concept, which is one of the stupider ideas of the last 20 years. Zero Tolerance is zero intelligence, zero common sense and zero worthwhile.

Two stories. Both about not taking enough care of our kids. One by doing too little, the other by doing too much.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Update April 20

The Week That Was - Really rather a quiet week. There was the Louisiana trip fiasco (see below) I'm sure to be hearing about that for years from the family. The car decided to act up (something is going wrong with the fuel gauge. Looks like $300 for parts and 3 hours work. It can wait).

I had a new experience in church! I was an usher for the first time ever. They were short handed so I got drafted. Got several double takes. I also discovered that releasing people from their pews to go up for communion is slightly more complex than I'd thought. It's all a timing thing and it changes the further back you get. Very educational. I don't seem to have brought church to a screeching halt.

Other than that I just plugged away. Did some cooking, fresh spaghetti sauce, spicy peanut chicken soup and a beer and cheese soup. First two were fine, last one needs work.

The To Do List - I've started trying to bring the to do list under control. Right now it's mostly camp prep and some spring visitations I need to arrange. Anyone want the youth missioner to come visit?

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Actually doing pretty well at this.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To?Just finished "Mainspring" by Jay Lake. First of his I've ever read and really liked it. An alternate history kind of fantasy - England stills rules the Americas, but God is in actual fact the great watchmaker and the Divine mechanism isn't running quite smoothly. Our hero has to go fix it. Interesting stuff.

Next up is "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ-The Paradox of Modern Iran" by Hooman Majd. This takes a look at Iran and it's culture through the eyes of an Iranian American. Raised mostly in the U.S. Majd helps bridge the very different ways of looking at the world. This book is a joy to read and a real eye opener. I'm enjoying it immensely. More people should read this book. It gives a much more 3 dimensional picture of who and what Iran is.

Movies - Finally! "The Grapes of Wrath" John Ford's Oscar winning movie of John Steinbeck's classic look at the Dust Bowl years. The acting style is a little dated but Henry Fonda, John Carradine and Jane Darwell are worth the ride all by themselves. It's an interesting movie to watch in today's economic times as well. We still have a lot to learn about caring for one another and accepting the stranger among us. This was a great movie

Music - OK I just "discovered" Todd Snider so I know next to nothing about him. I like his sound and this song just put me on the floor. Please note that I do not condone his pro-psychedelic drugs comments (which are probably tongue in cheek) at the start of the video. Skip by them and groove to "America's Favorite Pastime" a song about one of the weirder moments in the history of my favorite baseball team.

Next Up CREDO week. I'll be going to Florida for a week in early May. It's a program underwritten by the Church Pension Fund for clergy and lay employees of the church to help us find a healthier place to live and minister mentally,physically, spiritually and financially. I'm excited a little nervous.

How Am I Doing I'm OK at the moment.

Resource Review - "I Am Standing Up"

I AM Standing Up By: Luke Long 153 pages $9.99 Published by Zondervan

OVERALL - Stories from a self described "freak of nature" (Luke is full grown at 5 feet tall and by his description about as wide as a sumo wrestler). It's a funny walk through being different and living a life of faith.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Luke takes a light hearted look at what it means to be different and some of the lessons he's learned. The book is a combination of quick stories, "freak factoids", "Stories with Uncle Luke" and comics that he's created as well. It's a funny, heart warming and very familiar tour through the painful process of trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in. Given his physique these issues are writ large (small?) in Luke's life. And he explores them all - "momentary hormone-induced stupidity", being picked for teams in phys ed, dates, friends, visits from angels and more. This book is perfectly aimed at middle school age (in fact the MS boys are gonna love chapter 12-The Peach Cobbler Story and chapter 18-Soiling Myself Shogun Style). You could treat the book as a book or just take it one chapter at a time. Each chapter has its own faith connection and Lang generally does a very nice job tying them with clear faith connections. Each chapter is an easy chunk (in a 153 page books he's created 27 chapters plus 6 other pieces)and could get some great conversations off an running. There are plenty of places for folks to connect with Luke's stories. As a parent I couldn't stop laughing at chapter 19- Cow Manure and Grace.

RESERVATIONS There are a couple places where the faith connections are awfully simplistic. Concepts like give everything up to Jesus and the pursuit of the kingdom. The ideas are certainly good but they are rather like jargon. Relying on quick pat phrases does nothing to help our young people really come to grips with a life in faith. I don't want to teach kids the cliches of faith. I wanted him to give a more solid explanation of what that means for the kids. I also got a little itchy with a small aspect of the story in the anointing of David. These are small things but because so much of the rest of the book is so GOOD these little things glare out a little more than normal.

RECOMMENDATION Once I got started reading this I wanted to finish it. Lang's stories all had a very familiar feel to me. Chapter after chapter I got the "Oh yeah, been there, done that" feeling. He reminds us that Jesus called the freak, the geek and the weak. The book isn't written as a youth program but it'll fit in very quickly. This would be a great place for a middle school group to start talking with each other. Plus you'll have fun reading the book and it just might make a huge difference for your young people.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

For Lee

Because he loved photographing flowers. These are the first blooms in my yard and I thought of him.

Here's a daffy-dil! The first flower of the spring, right next to our front door.

I'm not sure what this one is - crocus? We've got a bunch of these and tulips that grow sort of right in the middle of our backyard. Part of the strange landscaping decisions of a previous owner.

This are little bitty guys about the size of a nickel, maybe a little bigger. These are on the opposite side of the house from the daffy. Don't know what they're called either.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I am an idiot

Well I am.
Helping the kid plan a post semester trip to visit some of the relatives.
Had it all planned.
Bought the tickets.
First leg is Buffalo to New Orleans, then New Orleans to Burbank and Burbank to Pittsburgh. Very neat and amazingly affordable.

Completely overlooking the fact that one set of relatives no longer live in New Orleans but in Shreveport.


Needless to say we have a small problem.
Which I will figure out.
Right after I stop pounding my head into the floor.

And some of you people leave your children in my care.



(Cartoon courtesy of ASBO Jesus)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maybe the most amazing performance I've ever seen

Take a look at this lady. She is, without meaning to be mean in any way, a frumpy, overweight, middle aged woman. You will be agonizing for her as she prepares to walk on stage to perform on the UK's "Britain's Got Talent". But wait and listen.

She brought tears to my eyes. And what a choice of songs!

Oh and Simon doesn't tell a fib at the end.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Update April 13

The Week That Was -
I have no idea what happened this past week. It was like three short weeks all at the same time. I've commented on our experience at Jesus Christ Superstar. My lady wife and I checked out the Abstract Expressionist show at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. Who knew that Buffalo had played such a pivotal role in cutting edge art back in the day? Very interesting stuff. Then we went to the Aquarium of Niagara. It's very small but pretty cool. Kind of a starter aquarium (they'd probably HATE that description!) experience. Then picked the kid up from college for Easter break. Kind of took the rest of the week easy. Did some work, Good Friday off, helped the kid clean her room, Easter Vigil, Sunday Easter service (almost 300 people, very cool. Single service) then figure out that we CAN help the kid go on a big trip after school ends. Plane tickets for a round the nation trip are really cheap (three legs for around $300 total). Nothing else really exciting going on. Did have a long talk with the kiddo about her current book project where I totally messed up her plans then helped her figure out how to make it work.

The To Do List - The to do list crisis continues. I need to get away from the office for a while and just whip it into shape.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - The To Do List mostly.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To?Kind of stalled with the books I'd been reading so I jumped ship and read Sue Grafton's "A is for Alibi". It was the perfect thing to read for a long weekend. I liked it a lot. Not sure if I'm going back to the books I was reading.

Movies - Nothing this week. Really didn't have much time

Music - No time for much music either. I did download a batch of free tunes from Paste magazine but haven't had time to unzip them yet. Did get a new set of speakers for the computer. Hope they sound good, they should.

Next Up Camp planning, working on an idea for a one day spiritual retreat, Credo prep, spring work around the house

How Am I Doing Feeling a little down but have decided I'm not giving in to it.

Resource Review - Joopz and Tatango

Joopz and Tatango- Text messaging services for youth groups

OVERALL - It's a two fer one this week. I felt bad about just doing Joopz (again) since I mentioned them last year before I started the 52 resources in 52 weeks challenge. Then I found Tatango which is a different way to achieve the same goal. And that's the ability to reach out to our young people with text messaging. These are oriented to mass texting which gives you the ability to reach the entire group all at once! Both have free and low cost versions.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? It's interesting to see two companies taking very different approaches to the same concept. Joopz offers web based texting that is two way (folks can respond to you), group messaging, reminder messages, and scheduled messages. It's a pretty straight forward service. The free service is very usable and their full service is only $19.95 a year! Tatango is a slightly different. It has more bells and whistles (for example you can send a voicemail to all your group members through the service). There's a very usable free service. The pay services (there are about five different levels) are more expensive while still being a fair value for all the options you can get.

With either service you'll get the ability to connect with your youth using the medium that they use most often. And the great thing is that you can do it from any computer anywhere! I've been experimenting with the text service the last couple weeks and it's very quick and easy. You can even divide the contacts so you can just text adult leaders, parents, youth or all of the above.

RESERVATIONS With Joopz it's the fact that you can't create a group larger than 10 people. It means multiple groups to cover everybody. It's a minor annoyance but it's an annoyance. For Tatango it's that the free service is paid for by small ads inserted at the end of your text. They are small 30-40 character (age appropriate) ads placed at the end of each text message. For a great free service you'll just have to choose your poison.

RECOMMENDATION I've been very impressed with both of these services. Take a look at both services and decide which one will work better for you. Right now texting is THE preferred way to communicate for young people. With these services you can get on the cutting edge with very little upfront cost to you.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Night at the Theater - Jesus Christ Superstar

Three quick points before I start about Jesus Christ Superstar:

1: I love this show. It is one of my all time favorites and the second soundtrack I ever purchased (A Chorus Line was the first, hey it was the '70's).

2: I am fully aware of the show's shortcomings. It is emotionally overwrought and musically bombastic (Hey, it was the '70's). It's also not a great telling of the story of Jesus.

3: I can not explain how I reconcile #1 and #2. It's a Holy Mystery, deal with it.

We saw the national tour of JCS at Shea's in Buffalo last night. My lady wife, the kid and I all were in great anticipation of enjoying a long time favorite. It didn't go as planned.

So here is what we liked:

James Delisco as Judas. Well done, great voice.
Christina Sass as Mary Magdalene - a 2004 graduate of the kid's alma mater (Niagara University) and a lady with a fabulous voice.
Matthew G. Myers as Simon - another great singer
They really gave a great performance.

Then there was what really ruined the show for us:

Caiaphas - they had the actor doing something weird with his voice. Caiaphas is a very low vocal role. But he ended up sounding like James Earl Jones on one of those throat cancer voice boxes. Really distracting. I'm not going to blame the actor but the director for this one.

"Church music-ing" the music - they slowed a fair part of the music down. Just like is often done in church. Everything at dirge tempo. It's a ROCK OPERA for the love of God! Don't know who should get blamed for this one.

Far and away the worst offender was Ted Neely who played Jesus. Where to even begin? Neely played Jesus in the film version of JCS, a film about which it is hard to say enough bad things. It's horrible (why does the promo copy keep calling it "ground breaking"? Unless they're digging a hole to bury it). It also appears to be the one big thing in Ted's career. And so this production is all about Ted. It should be noted that even in his 60's Ted can hit the high notes. Problem is that he couldn't sing in time with the orchestra, appeared to forget the words, did his best "Buddy Jesus" impression through the whole thing (I swear I saw him give the thumbs up at one point), and was generally a weak, aging, worn out Jesus. The show is all about Ted. He is planted center stage for virtually the entire show. Everyone else is dressed in dark colors (other than Mary Magdalene's red dress) while he is dressed in white so the spotlights that play on him constantly (even when he's not the center of the action in the scene) make him glow. The worst moment for that is during "I Don't Know How to Love Him" probably the biggest number in the show (during which Jesus is SLEEPING!). Ted was splayed center stage and lit making sure that you kept looking at him rather than Cristina. In other scenes he constantly mimes speaking to unseen crowds and gesturing towards them. Which distracts from the center of the scene. Or what would be the center except that Ted was standing stage center. Even his curtain call was light front and back. And the cover of the playbill didn't use the usual JCS logo, nope it was Ted. I spent most of the show with my head in my hands.

And whose idea was it to have Jesus ascend FROM THE CROSS?!?!?!?!?!!?

Can't say it was awful. The supporting cast was generally quite good. But a lot of directorial choices said community theater to me rather than national touring company.

And then there was Ted. Ted Neely is probably a very nice guy. The cast seems to enjoy being with him and he has plenty of fans. (I began to wonder if the production was paying claquers - professional applause shills. Ted got some "ovations" for things that weren't worthy of the acclaim that started with single voices, and I mean SINGLE voices, from the far reaches of the crowd).

But it was SO disappointing. Fortunately the kid has the original soundtrack cast on her ipod so we flushed our brains with that version on the drive home.


PS - In the comments is a note from Mark Baratelli. Mark is the actor who plays King Herod in the show. Given the negative nature of my "review" I give him a lot of credit for a very polite visit. As someone who had hoped to make the theater my life and spent my career performing on radio I know how much bad reviews suck. My hope is that the entire cast has a fabulous rest of the tour.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Resource Review - Youth Ministry Exchange (YMX)

Youth Ministry Exchange - A forum for people working with youth

OVERALL - Imagine a place where you can meet other youth ministers from many different denominations? A place where you can vent with relative safety. Even better a place where you can get ideas, bounce ideas off of others and discover a lot of new concepts for your ministry. Youth Ministry Exchange can offer you all that and an online community that "gets" you.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? A few years ago Youth Specialties ran its own youth ministry forum. Economics led them to drop it and a a couple enterprising youth ministers created their own. For me it was a great loss as the original had been a great community for me (nothing against the second forum they did a great job. I was just in a different place at that point). The latest version of Youth Ministry Exchange is the best of both. The forums, articles, reviews, free resources, job listings and more. There's even a section just for women in youth ministry. The best part is that all of it is available for free. There had been a membership fee but that's been dropped. So register for your free account and start to talk with some truly great folks all over the world.

RESERVATIONS Again, hard to find something to dislike.

RECOMMENDATION If you're looking for some community and you're comfortable online this can be a great resource. In the past sometimes the conversation could get a bit heated but that's the same in any virtual community. My experience has always been that there are many more faith filled, wonderful people than there are grumpy trolls. Take a wander through and see if there's anything to help you waiting there.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Weekend Update April 6

The Week That Was - This was a strange and varied week. Beginning with the bad news on Monday morning, it moved on to be frantic and fun and wonderful. So it was an interesting experience. Because I was on a short week getting the first two batches of camp apps had to be a priority. And against the odds I got them out. I should get the final batch out first thing this week. But it was fold, fill, fold, close, address and stamp over and over and over. When that was done I moved on to the Province II youth ministry network meeting in Buffalo. It was the first time the network had met here and I wanted them to enjoy the city that has become very special to me. A great group of folks - Pat Mitchell from NY, Ron Rhodes from Long Island, Kep Short and Debi Clarke from New Jersey and Roger Speer from the Virgin Islands (Kai Alston from Newark is also a great person but couldn't be with us). So we got our work done (we're looking at some leading edge stuff as goals), had meals at great restaurants (Anchor Bar with Bishop Garrison, Towne Restaurant (greek) and the Pearl St Grill), checked out Niagara Falls, got some walking in and shared lots of ideas and stories. Everything you could hope for from the group. Drove home on Friday feeling like the Queen City had be well represented (and the Diocese of WNY too)

Saturday was a great feel good day. I went out and bought some new clothes - in a SMALLER size!!!! Dropped a size in the waist and the old pants were just hanging on me. So 3 new pair of pants, new shorts for the summer and a new swim trunks. I'm not really that into clothes but the smaller size just made it feel great.

My lady wife and I scoped out a new restaurant just up the road (Sapore in Westfield) and came away very impressed. Palm Sunday at church, home for the Formula 1 race in Malaysia and a quiet evening the rest of the way. Baking some bread, movie night. Very relaxing.

The To Do List - I'm in a To Do List crisis and I need to confront that. It's been a month since I updated it and I'm losing track of projects. Seems like as soon as I sit down to work on the list I draw a blank on what needs to be added. Bad sign. I know I need to add the program stuff for Senior High since I will be leading that this summer.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - The To Do List mostly.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Stephen King's Duma Key, is now done. An excellent read, I really enjoyed it. Plus it's made me thinking more about creativity issues again. Now I'm working on two books - Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations by David Warsh. The first is a radical, new, faith based way of approaching politics that is very different from the current faith based approach. The second is a history of economic theory. I'm reading it on a bit of a whim but it got pretty good reviews. I'm trying to fill in some gaps in my education.

Movies - Nothing this week. "Grapes of Wrath" is up next and I'm told I MUST watch "Say Anything". Been watching old Lovejoy episodes and the first installment of Ken Burn's "The War"

Music - Been hearing a lot about the group "The Decemberists" and got a chance to hear a little bit. Sounds like very much my kind of stuff. I'll have to dig around some more and find more to listen to sometime soon.

Next Up Final camp mailing, To do list update, some other camp related stuff and start thinking about Credo (less than a month away)

How Am I Doing The visit with the P2 folks was a great balm for me. I'm doing better. And that feels really good.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Province 2 meeting

I'm "away" for a couple days. All the way to Buffalo! The diocesan youth ministers in Province 2 get together twice a year for fellowship, idea trading, planning and more. One meeting each year is extended by a day to create a small "sabbath" event. We did our first last spring when we met in Newark and spent the day in NYC. It was a lot of fun as we rode the train into the city and checked out the NY Auto show.

So we're meeting in Buffalo. Dinner tonight is at my favorite Buffalo Greek restaurant- The Towne Restaurant. We'll do our business meeting first (work first then play) at the Diocesan offices tomorrow morning. Then it's the Anchor Bar for lunch (birthplace of the Buffalo chicken wing). The afternoon will be spent at Niagara Falls, then dinner at Pearl City Grill just down the street from the Cathedral. Then we'll all depart on Friday morning. So we get our work in plus I get to show off some classic Buffalo/WNY stuff to my friends. When I picked up the folks from the dioceses of NY and Long Island we needed to grab a quick bite so in keeping with the all WNY theme I took them to Tim Horton's!

These are some of the events on my calender I always look forward to. For folks in the dioceses of New York, Long Island, Newark, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands I just want to say you have some really awesome folks working in youth ministry. I hope you appreciate them! We'd love to have the folks from Albany join us but they have declined every invitation for years. Sadly Rochester and Central New York are without folks at the moment. Love to have folks from Haiti and the Convocation in Europe join us but the cost is just impossible.

So I'll be away from the office for the next couple days. I'll be checking in at the start and end of the day.