We have been pondering the idea of documenting our move to China as well as our new life there using a family vlog. I, John, have been doing video and film for over 8 years professionally, but have never thought of filming my own family. Honestly, the endeavor sounded fun but daunting. Then we went and visited our friends the “Dale Tribe”. They have been doing this for 2 years. They launched their vlog to the public in December and it went viral. They have almost 40,000 subscribers now! John and Amy really inspired us! So without any more delay here is our first vlog episode: TRIP TO CHINA TO SEE OUR NEW HOME.

We will post new episodes here.

We have a big announcement. We are leaving the country!

Raised $46,265 towards the $46,265 target.
IECS_LogoVery soon the four of us will be moving to China. Yes, crazy we know. Kristine and John will be teaching English for two years south of Beijing at a university. The whole family is excited about the move. We plan to post updates and all the transition stories (we already have some great ones). We also will be doing a video blog (Vlog) about a family of 4 living in a foreign country.  We will be raising funds for a few needs (insurance, flights for the kids, training). If you would like to support us, you can sign up through our organization IECS. You can track along with us on our fundraising goal (see the thermometer here).


July 19, 2014

When I was in my early teens I found so much freedom in cycling the farmlands of rural NW Oregon. I could leave everything behind and just enjoy the wind, lonely pavement and the rush of speeding down steep hills and the achievement of long climbs. Recently Kristine and I took up cycling again. It has once again become a special sport offering much needed time to recharge.

As we have prepared for our trip to Rwanda we have been reading books and watching films. One we found last week really surprised me. I found myself very caught up in the story of the Rwandan national cycling team and their coach Jock Boyer in the documentary Rising From The Ashes.

Much of the film is about healing, both for Jock and the young cyclist that make up the team. So for me it was a real winner.  The relationships that they all built as a team are so touching. If you can, I highly encourage you to watch the whole film in Netflix streaming. Jock’s journey from reluctance to passion makes is worth it. Below is the trailer as well as a 2014 update.

We are only 20 days away from leaving!

Not A Cliff

June 10, 2014

Recently Seth Godin posted an entry on his blog that really got to the crux of what I have been thinking about lately as I consider what our family is becoming. In the post he talks about the contrast community builders can get stuck in (crisis, cash and cliffs) as opposed to the real beautiful work of connection, commitment and conversation.

Kristine and I since 2008 I’ve been on 4 trips to Asia where I was able to exercise my love for connection, community and storytelling. And now as a family we are seeing a much more colorful and exciting storyline emerge.

9030034170_7acef2d09a_oIt is often hard to get across that this is not about one place or one trip. We’ve felt led to build something way beyond ourselves. We want to change the world. Our kids want to change the world.

Since I was very young, news of tragedies and human suffering around the world ate at me more than it seemed to for others around me. Be it the killing fields in Cambodia or stories told by Alexander Solzhenitsyn of the horrible prisons in Siberia, I wanted to do something to help these people. But like many I had no idea I had everything in me to make that change. I was created with these desires and everything to fulfill them.

Kristine, from a young age, has always had a heart for helping those who can not help themselves. The poor, the abandoned and the orphaned. She didn’t know that she would find herself an orphan at 24, but through it, her heart has grown even more passionate to help the helpless.

Our kids are just now beginning to see those passions to help others emerge, and they are beautiful, optimistic and pure.

So you see, this all fits together. Thailand, China, the American West, and now Rwanda. It all is part of the same plan, map, journey. In between travels we are growing, learning, equipping. And often the plan changes because we only have the next day’s itinerary.

Couriers Of Love

May 16, 2014

Love is the answer. It doesn’t matter what questions remain in a place where so much hate was manifested 20 years ago. In post-genocide Rwanda, I’ve often wondered how people can even smile, let alone carry on with their lives. It’s because love conquers all and darkness can not stand light.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-love-letter-image3063456Imaculee Ilibagiza tells her story (in Left To Tell) of how a French colonel and his troops protected her and others after she escaped her hiding place. Hatred overwhelmed him as he witnessed scene after scene of senseless massacre. Imaculee saw how the same power that drove her family’s murderers could so easily turn a good man, with good intentions for justice and protection into more death. She saw visible evil come over his face as she recounted all she lost. Imaculee saw in that refugee encampment that love was the only answer, even for those she saw murder her family, friends and neighbors.

So, how does this have anything to do with my families role in Rwanda? Everything.

We will have the honor of delivering love to every orphan, widow, and heartbroken person we meet.  We get to be couriers of love.

I will leave you with a question. Imagine this. Someone rings your doorbell and has in their hands the one thing that at that moment speaks pure joy and love to your heart, something that may change everything for you. And unlike anyone else that has come to your door, they don’t have a magazine to sell, a book to believe in or a cleaner to demonstrate on your clean carpet. In fact they ask for nothing in return. What would they be holding in their hands?


April 23, 2014

2014 summers plans had begun to form even while we recovered from our last Asia trip this past August. I (John) started working for Saddleback Leather Co. a year ago famlast month. Every year our company takes employees and family in groups to help in the recovery projects in Rwanda.

Kristine and I are very excited since this is the first time we will be able to bring our kids along with us. Both have expressed a deep desire to join us on our trips abroad for a while. Now because of Saddleback’s help, we will be able to fulfill a long time dream.



kneesAs a family we have been drawn to explore together new cultures and far away lands. We have started to dream about places we would like to both visit as well as possibly live for a while. And for Kristine and I that is a big stretch. You see we are both babies in our respective families and with that comes a past of wanting others to take care of us. Striking out into foreign lands was not, lets say very high on our list of to dos. Now as we have grown up, we even have a sign for each other when one of us starts to fall back into baby mode. We pretend to suck our thumb. Of course we know when our pose has been called and we laugh, buck up up, act like the grown ups we are and move on.

International travel is filled with unexpected detours and disruptions. I travel a significant amount in my professional life. I notice two types of seasoned travelers. One is the go-with-the-flow individual that can take anything in stride, even natural disaster. They are pleasant to be around and if you are stuck late at night in a terminal they are the one who will keep your spirits up. They have learned that fussing and fighting an unbeatable situation will just wear you down and cost vital energy. And you need that energy to survive.The other type of traveller fights through every circumstance, even those they have no control over. They exhaust themselves and everyone around them.

In the old days I imagine that the one survived and the other probably got taken out by fellow travelers.

About a month ago we watched The Impossible Starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. The true story family is the type of travelers I hope I am more like. Even in tragic circumstances they remain good people to be around.

On this recent trip through Asia we have been met with all sorts of obstacles, one including a major natural disaster. One thing we have made a priority is keeping each others spirits up.