Good Things Come to an End

I sometimes have a hard time saying good-bye to things.  Today, we decommissioned an old time friend: my Dell Inspiron 3500.  Purchase around 1998 by my sister who used it for her business before giving it to me to run my side web business and for me to use during my seminary classes – it was “Designed for Windows 98” sporting a Pentium II processor.  Today, we tried to load the latest Ubutnu (Linux) operating system on it and it failed which told us that maybe this was the end of it’s usefulness.

The ministry that this laptop has been a part of is huge:  from running my sister’s Christian counseling practice, to helping me with my seminary classes to being the laptop that I developed some of my earlier websites on to being the “guinea pig” for new software we developed or processes we designed, to helping run “electronic survey” outreaches in France to being a kiosk station for conferences in multiple countries around Europe, to numerous other projects over the years.  It’s had to have had at least 6 different operating systems (including different flavors of Linux) running on it.  It’s had a full life.

So with that, I say to my Dell – You have lived a long and prosperous life (for a computer).  You have served us well and now we will over-write your hard drive and take you to the recycling center so that your various components can be reused in newer technology and what can’t be reused, be disposed of properly in today’s era.  RIP.

End of a decade

In a few days, I’ll be traveling to the embassy to pick up my new passport.  My old “friend” will have a hole punched in it  and decommissioned from use.  As you can see, it’s been in my pocket a lot.  When I travelled with one group through Polish prisons, we had to turn in our passports with the guards.  At the end of our times, everyone immediately knew which battered, old passport was mine without even opening it up.

This passport has been on 5 continents and over 20 countries (most countries multiple times) endlessly living in my pocket.  It’s first use was to go to Brazil on a short-term youth mission trip which is where God began the final stage of preparations to move Krista & I into full time missions.  It traveled with me through the explorations for where to serve and then through our first term of being based in Germany to use technology to build His Kingdom throughout Europe and beyond. It had to have the “extended pages” sewn into it mid-way through to handle the stamps and visas.

To me it’s a reminder of so many people I’ve gotten to meet. From the family I stayed with in Brazil to Anna, our translator in Ukraine, to Joe at the Anchorage Project in Ireland, to Igor in Moldova to Paul & Ruth in the Netherlands to the young guy at the crepe store in Serbia to the many friends in our town here in Germany and so many more.

Next week I’ll begin crossing borders with a new (RFID chipped) passport with all it’s new anti-forging techniques and security measures.  I wonder where God will take us.  I wonder who are the people I’ll associate with this new passport after the next ten years.

A more civilized form of defacement

This morning, I looked out our window towards our car only to see that something wasn’t right.  We’d been flying our German auto-flag from the side window to support our guys in the Europe football/soccer tournament (they’re doing good – to the finals guys!!!) but now the flag was missing.  All that was there was the plastic pole that attaches to the window – and it was bent.  Then I noticed a note had been placed on our windshield.  Oh no, had we been flying it wrong?  Was it too frayed to be flown?  It had rained, should we have removed it during rain?  What had we done wrong?

As I pulled the note off the windshield, I noticed it was a kind of form letter.  For those who don’t read German, here’s a rudimentary translation:

Dear driver,

Sorry that we have bent your German flag but we simply can’t take this $%!@ any more!

With anti-national greetings,
Your “Anti-fascist Action”

Interesting that this group, which originally formed to stand up against Hitler and the Nazis, is feeling the need during these times to go around ripping off German flags from cars – even in our small little town.  Well, I’m out 1 Euro (yes, I think Germany’s flags are made in China too) but this gave me a good chuckle.

Love them anyway

The Paradoxical Commandments

by Dr. Kent M. Keith

  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.
  9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

Something a little different

Here’s something a little different for you.  I came home from work yesterday to be asked a question from my 11 year old son, Alex:

Alex: Hey dad, can I borrow your pocket knife to take to school tomorrow?

Me: No, you can’t take knives to school.

Alex: Actually we can dad.  5th graders are allowed to bring a knife to whittle sticks on our annual hike up to Sausenberg (the local castle ruins).  Only the 5th graders are allowed to do..  I’d like to take yours because it’s sharper and has that locking thingy on it.

My wife confirmed all of this even though I wasn’t doubting my son at all (he’s a really honest kid).

I have to say, I didn’t give him my pocket knife – instead I pulled out a brand new knife that I had been storing for when my knife was too dull.  We sent him to school today with the sharpest (locking) blade in our house so that he can be “packin” with all the other 5th graders.

Wow, I love having a kid that I can trust and being in a place where he gets to do things where he’s empowered at his age, not trapped in a box because of “what ifs”.

Solving the question of How

Most Information Technology based work is solving the question of “How”.  How do we communicate with individuals quickly and efficiently?  Email.  How do we enable team collaboration through great distances?  Intranets and collaboration software.  You get the idea.  Here’s some of the “How” questions we’ve been working on lately or are continuing to work on:

How do we get people from billboards to a website? Use mobile/cell phones via text messaging/SMS & QR codes as well as making sure the website looks good on mobile phones.  This was the question our partnership in Turkey asked when they were running a billboard campaign asking the question “What if what we believe is wrong?” to the 99.9% muslim population of Istanbul.  Our first run had over 1200 visitors in a 3 week period, many texting in requesting a phone call while others filled out the online form to request literature and so many more saw and began to think about the possibility.

How do we take some training that was originally for 10 hours a day for 10 days and use it for people who don’t have that kind of concentrated time? Video tape the training breaking down all the elements of the training into smaller chunks.  Then break up the training by bringing the trainees together for a 4 day face-to-face session using the videos and live instructors and then create a “hangout and training area” website for them to exercise what they learned, share their experiences and receive more training through online coaching, peer interactions and videos.  They can also review the materials from their 4 day face-to-face as all the videos and materials are provided through the website.  This was our answer to our mission’s training group as they’re working to train church planters on a process called T4T (which we’re calling Discipleship Multiplication Training i.e. DMT – here’s our website still in progress).

How do we interconnect 31 short term mission teams that are serving throughout a large city during one of the largest events in the world?  We go back to interactive websites and mobile phones.  When people can’t be face to face, technology can fill the gap and that’s where we’re building a website that will allow members of these short term teams to post pictures, videos, stories and prayer requests and allow them to see all of these things from the other teams working during London Summer Olympics 2012.  It will give them the ability to not only see the difference they are making in their area of London but to see how they are part of the larger picture.  We’re “under the gun” on this one and are feverishly working to get it ready in time.