Friday, January 20, 2012


Today marks the end of the second week of John's classes here in Durango. A bit has happened in the past couple weeks, mostly just God blessing our socks off.

We arrived last week on Sunday night with Stephen in tow to begin the process of settling down in Durango. Everyone we talked to seemed grim on the prospect of job hunting, as this is not the town in this economy to be in for jobs. Housing was also proving to elude us, as housing prices are a lot higher than in Gunnison. After living rent-free in a van, 600 dollars a month is a big change in the budget! We don't want to jump into anything; We want the right place with the right people. Giving that over to the Lord was (is) difficult. 

The first week was snow-less, and even a hike up engineer mountain was just walking on packed snow. All the adventures in the snow we had planned didn't quite happen. It was interesting getting to know the area and the people.  God proved faithful when we bothered to bring Him into things, like suddenly having people sit down at a coffee shop and chat about Jesus. CJ, his family, and the people of Patrick Crossing were generous to us in letting us stay in their driveway for the first half of the week. At the Patrick Crossing gathering, we met many cool people and we're excited to be a part of their community. God also orchestrated the meeting of Kris. She kindly invited us out to stay at her place near Ignacio, 30-40 minutes from Durango. We ended up having conversations late into the night. We are very excited to be staying there and to help her out with projects around her beautiful land to get it ready to rent and to do fellowship together!

Stephen left from Albuquerque after a beautiful drive down to the airport, and we were sad to see him go.  It was encouraging to have him around and to explore with. Sunday we attended Ignacio Community Church, which was packed. We have met a lot of wonderful Christians here, and we are praying that the Lord leads us to the church He wants us plugged into. Monday brought the snow we were missing all at once, piling up quickly, but leaving Tuesday clear and sunny. Tuesday night we drove into town to meet up with the campus group Connect. We met lots of cool people, and we're excited to be part of the vision there too. (A certain someone from their leadership team unexpectedly bought us groceries; we are very blessed!!)

Please pray for us that we would continue to rest in the Lord as Laura looks for work (one call back so far!) and John keeps plugging away at school (not an easy task). We are hopeful for what He has for us in this community and we're excited about all the new people the Lord is putting into our lives. :)

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." - James 1: 17-18

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Good Ol' Gunny

We are most of the way through our epic holiday season. Shortly before Christmas we left Durango and visited Johns Aunt and Uncle in Ridgway, then continued on to Greeley for Christmas. A few days after Christmas we grabbed our good friend Brian in Colorado Springs and then drove all the way to Minneapolis for a wedding on New Years Eve. On new years day we left for Gunnison to make it to a Bachelors Party in Gunnison on Monday, bringing my brother Stephen along with us. Holy Cow, so much driving! We will leave Sunday after church and return to Durango. School starts Monday!

It is good to spend time with our brothers and sisters here in Gunnison. We are so thankful for how the Lord works in and through their lives. With no snow here to play in, we've been forced to focus on reconnecting with people and investing in conversations about what the Lord has done in our lives since we spent time here last. Maybe that's why there's no snow here... ;-)

Please pray that we would make wise decisions about committing to housing and that we would leave our finances entirely in Gods hands. Pray for a smooth transition into a new school for John. Pray that Laura would trust the Lord to provide her with the job he intends to use to grow her faith and bring her through the transition from student to productive-degree-possessing-working-adult-person.

God is so good to us. He daily sustains our relationship with each other, lavishing us with peace and joy together and a hope for the future he has planned for us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nordic/Cross-country Skiing Primer

For our friend Richard:

Here’s the nordic skiing primer. The gear list is not what you need just to swish around the local golf course. Rather, it’s a set of equipment that you could collect over time to ensure that you will be warm (comfortable) and safe on a longer tour, say up near the cabin. Some of it you probably already have, most of the rest of it you can find at a thrift store eventually. Most of the items on the list will make your swishing about on the local groomed track more comfortable.

Optimum Gear List for a full day tour
  • skis
  • ski boots
  • ski poles
  • minimal oh-shit/first aid kit
    • duct tape
    • gauze
    • matches
    • lighter
    • compass
    • shoelace
    • ibuprofin
    • benadril
    • emergency foil bivy
    • sharp knife
    • headlamp with spare batteries
    • moleskin
    • whistle
    • bandana
    • iodine water purification tabs
  • heavy weight wool socks
  • warm gloves
  • thin liner gloves - wool
  • warm mittens
  • warm hat
  • headband
  • balaclava/face gaitor/good scarf
  • wicking baselayer top and bottom
  • fleece - spare layer, not necessary if your never really get cold
  • snow pants-Active layer
  • lightweight shell jacket-Active layer
  • warm puffy coat - sit-on-your-tush layer
  • sunglasses
  • chapstick
  • backpack
  • 2 liters water
  • energy bars/snacks

I wasn’t super happy with the tutorial videos online. This one’s OK:

The basic goal of cross country skiing is to glide as far as possible with each kick/pole thrust. Choose a foot to push off with. Press the ball of that foot firmly against the snow (to engage the grippy part of the ski) and push off with it. At the same time, push off with the pole in your opposite hand. As you surge forward (hopefully) pause with the leg you didn’t kick with slightly forward, knee bent, and let both skis glide for a foot or two. Then shuffle the back foot forward and kick with the other leg.

You should always push with the opposite pole from the foot you kick with. Try to use your poles to propel you forward, not simply to keep you upright.

This is a good image of your body position right after you kick
Notice that the rear ski lifted off the ground a bit at the end of the kick, almost like following through with a golf swing. Also notice that the tip of her front pole is in line with her front boot, ready to propel her forward, rather then out in front of her body.

This rhythm of cross-body motor skills takes most people more then five minutes to perfect. Plan on not covering a whole lot of ground your first time and working on getting a kick that sticks every time, a long glide, and a smooth transition to your next kick.

Resources near Fort Collins:

The Mountain Shop in Fort Collins has very reasonable rental prices. I would go there first to find out about where to ski.

Cameron Pass nordic trails near Red Feather

Free snowshoe day at RNMP with REI

Fort Collins REI rents nordic ski gear. Probably an OK place to inquire about where to ski.

Full Moon Ski & Snowshoe
Feb 19, 201105:00 pm - 08:00 pm
Eldora Nordic Center
Join us and enjoy x-country skiing or snowshoeing under the stars in the full moon light. Trails will be lit with moonlight and flashlights!
$5 trail pass for 5pm-8pm; $15 x-country ski rentals; $10 snowshoe rentals; $1 hot chocolate.
Bring a headlamp in case it's cloudy. Call 303-440-8700 ext 267 for further details.

Have FUN! Call us with questions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"The eagle has landed"

We made it to Durango! The vouse ran great all the way from MN. We did a tune up on both vehicles and found better tires for them before we left.

We are both very excited to be here. We have been anticipating the sun and scenery of the Colorado mountains for weeks now, and it has been absolutely as invigorating as we had hoped.

Overall, Durango is a pleasant town. Campus isn't exactly easy to access, but the ride up the hill should build character and leg muscles. We visited three churches this Sunday. All three were really quite good. Patrick Crossing being the most interesting of the three. Visiting them was going to the Irish pub at 6 to hear the band play and meeting some of the people that make up its house churches. :-)

We are so thankful to the Lord for his provision. He is filling us with peace and joy and hope in his plan to use us here in Durango to further his kingdom. He has provided us with new friends already. Bob and Yvonna were our only acquaintances in town. In hindsight it totally makes sense, but we had no idea prior to sharing dinner with them that they love the Lord and have a beautiful ministry of hospitality and service here. We are so thankful to have had a bathroom and a kitchen to come back to for the past couple days, and a huge orange cat to purr on our laps.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We want to perceive what the Lord is calling us to here, and our fear is that we might miss the opportunities he will offer us if we are too focused on the concerns of job and house. Pray that we press deep into the Word and are continually in prayer together this next week.

God is too good to us!

John and Laura

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back to school!

It's been a bit since the last post from Chicago. I think I'm going to keep this one shortish.

We spent a lot of time praying this summer for the "next step". About a month ago it looks like we got an answer. I (John) am going back to school. We realized that either we were going to accept a temp. job offer that took us into February, or apply to schools in a hurry. It created a moment of clarity where going to school definitely was the choice that pushed me further towards developing the abilities God has given me, which I hope to use as a blessing to the world around me.

What is very cool is that after deciding to go to school, I told Laura that I didn't think I should apply to a bunch of schools, that we should pray and trust the Lord to show us the right one. The next thing I did was, on a whim, double check the majors offered by Fort Lewis College, a small state school in Durango, CO. What do you know, they have a brand new engineering major that didn't even exist the last time I was researching schools in Colorado. Long story short, I'm in, should be registered for classes soon, and Lord willing will leave in about two weeks to start settling in.

From an e-mail I just sent to a church in Durango, "Please pray that we would have peace throughout the move and especially that the Lord would provide a community of believers for us. We are praying that the Lord would reveal his plan for housing and employment that provides a foundation for everyday ministry in hospitality and dynamic service to the people that come into our lives."

John and Laura

Friday, September 16, 2011


Right now I'm (John) writing from my 80 year old Grandmother's laptop, which is a little incredible in itself.  I wanted to take a moment and share some of my experiences from the last week and a half.  We're currently in suburban Chicago, which I reached by way of 550 miles of pedaling.  My friend Brian invited me to join him in "Cycling With a Purpose" along the Mississippi.  Laura joined us for the first few days, then returned to Minneapolis for a week before taking a bus out to meet me here and visit with my Grandmother.

It has been a real pleasure to be able to simplify life and lifestyle again for a season and focus on serving others and sharing the hope of the gospel.  One of my goals for the trip was to humbly advise Brian on how to better utilize his navigation tools to be able to complete his upcoming solo sections efficiently.  This sounds relatively straightforward, but the reality of life is that we're called to empathy and compassion in everything we do, and there's really very little overlap between the engineering process of optimization, and the Spiritual journey of service.  Although I'd considered this tension before the trip, walking humbly in the Lords descernment of when it was time to "optimize" and when it was time to "empathize" never got easy.  It wasn't easy to switch gears in my head, it wasn't easy for Brian and I, as well as we know each other, to communicate about the transition between the two, it simply wasn't easy.  But, it was absolutely beautiful.  God used the fact that we needed to face practical issues to reveal underlying Spiritual issues.  He solved practical issues with spiritual answers.  Most importantly, through it all he saturated a frail, sin-beset human process with an overflow of Grace in humility, love, patience, and faith.  I want to take these lessons into my marriage, into our ministry, into my "normal" life.

I am so thankful for seasons in my life where everything in my life from the time I wake up till the time I go to sleep serves as a reminder to focus on the Gospel, in my love and in the words that pass through my lips. 
Pulling your nasty bike shorts on in the morning: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
First stiff, painful pedal strokes of the day: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
Up the long hill: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
Looking out at the panorama at the top: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
Stopping to ask for directions: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
With other customers at the bar for dinner: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
As you introduce yourself to the church who's hosting you: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
I have a hunger to grow in my ability to treat every day this way.  I also have a passion, if the Lord wills to use us for this purpose, to help the Church see every moment and every human relationship of every day this way, to the Glory of the matchless name of Jesus.

What we, or I, have done recently is not very important.  Rather, what the Lord is calling us to do next, for his Glory and the furthering of his Kingdom here on earth, is very important.  Please pray for us that we would have descernment and courage to follow him into what's next, even this coming week.  As we wrote last "Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We've come to a point in our journey where we're stationary, wondering what to do next. We made it back to Minneapolis safe and sound, bringing our Tacoma up to join the vouse.

We few out to Denver late July where Laura's parents picked us up and took us to Greeley where we hung out with them for a few days. We went bouldering with the little brother, brewed beer with Dad, made a medieval costume with Mom and went and saw older brother's new apartment and hung out at Horsetooth Reservoir.  

They dropped us off in Colorado Springs where our truck was parked in a friend's parent's driveway. We had a good time talking with Mrs. Parr about faith and life. Encouraged, we set off for Gunnison. It was amazing to pull in to a friend's house and find the community you left still going strong. We pulled in late at night and found a bunch of people hanging out after just sharing a meal. It seems like it was what we were looking for all summer - close fellowship of loving friends who lived around each other.We caught up with friends around town for a couple days and met a girl named Katie who was visiting the little community. More about that later. We then left for Ridgway to attend Laura's college roommate's wedding - Tiffani and Rusty. Beautiful wedding, it's always exciting to see others enter into the covenant of marriage. Tough but worth it! (We just reached our first anniversary on the 14th. (: ) We stayed at John's Aunt and Uncle's house and took a beautiful 4-wheel drive trip up Imogene pass from Ouray to Telluride. Thousands of wildflowers of every color graced the scenery amongst 13,000 feet tall passes. With the cool night air and beautiful mountains - we missed being in Colorado!

We headed back to Gunnison Sunday morning for a church service that will stay in our memories a long time. We got to watch Katie get baptised after coming to the Lord that week. It was wonderful to have interacted with her that week, listen to her life's story and come alongside other brothers and sisters to tell her about the wonderful truth of the gospel through Jesus Christ as opposed to through the mormon church. Anyone who reads this please pray that her faith would be guarded and that other Christians could come alongside her and encourage her. She needs much prayer for her family situation right now as well in Pueblo and South Dakota. We got to drive her back down to Pueblo when we left and talk with her about life and faith. We were filled with such joy to have the chance to encourage her. It seems like most people we invest time and love into we are in the long haul with them - wanting them to experience the full freedom in Christ but seeing slow progress. To see God move so quickly and powerfully in Katie's life was amazing. Praise Him!

We then stayed with Brian in Colorado Springs helping him with the last details of getting ready for his bike trip, then headed out one evening and drove through the night to get us all back to Minneapolis. Brian then left to start his trip and we stayed here, getting anxious about the future. Work potentials were falling through, and our desires and ideas about what would be next were unclear, different, or seemingly unattainable at the present. God has been patient and very faithful to us however, blessing us more than we deserve, and while we don't have a next big goal in mind, we are still learning and growing. We just got back from a couple days hanging out with John's brother Stephen in Duluth, and we leave for a leg of Brian's trip on Saturday and then possibly to visit relatives around the Chicago area. Please pray that we would continue to draw close to the Lord! Sorry for not updating much, please feel free to bother us by phone, facebook, e-mail or leaving a comment!

Philippians 3: 8-15
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cycling Southbound

Our friend Brian is leaving on his bike trip on Saturday, and is now here in Minneapolis with us. Just wanted to give him a shoutout! John will be biking with him in a week or so from Minneapolis to around De Soto, WI. We've had some cool travels back to Colorado and we'll post about that later!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Godsroots Initiatives

The Vouse has landed in Minneapolis to visit family and friends. It feels strange to not be on the road, and not to be in the vouse. (The heat and humidity here have made us glad not to be in it).

Plans are to fly back to Colorado to visit Laura's folks, to attend a friend's wedding, and to help drive Brian up to Minnesota to start his trip. The past few weeks were spent at a lake cabin with the Naglak relatives and sailing with John's parents, brother and a friend around Duluth for a few days. We're now back in Minneapolis for another week and a half, hoping to catch up with some friends here and tell about our travels and hope to be an encouragement to them. The Lord hasn't given us any bigger picture plans, and it's a struggle to turn to the Lord for every little thing while staying put.

Living in the vouse was something the Lord called us to  - a big learning experience about dependence on Him. He has provided for all our needs, all the bills have been paid, we stayed warm last winter, and were able to have free time to spend on encouraging friends and learning how to relate to Him and each other better. While our "minamalist" lifestyle might be kind of trendy, we didn't do it just cause we thought it would be cool to be hippies living in a van and feel good about ourselves in what we could do without. We hope we haven't come across as judgmental or above anyone for our choices. We try and take Matthew 6: 19-34 seriously - we want Him to be our treasure, for we "cannot serve God and money" or "be anxious about [our] life". We hope to share this idea with other Christians. What can they give up to the Lord? How can they let Him be sufficient enough? To ask Him about the "stuff" in their life. Is is being used to glorify Him or would it be better to give it up or sell it to the poor? We feel God has let us keep our outdoor equipment in order to bless other people by taking them on adventures. This was a big part of our time in Gunnison - taking people xc-skiing, mountain biking, rock and ice climbing.

The frustrating thing is many non-christians seem to be more on board with this communally invested lifestyle than Christians. The green movement has brought up people who want to involve community in helping each other. We've encountered initiatives like community gardens, the hourdollars service exchange, Food Not Bombs, and many other innovative ideas that spark our interest. However, these organizations don't bring people to Christ.  Conversely, Christians don't seem to galvanize worldly people the way these do.
Christians aren't cool in popular culture, partly because Christ doesn't care about being hip to the world's standards, but possibly because Christians seem hesitant to embrace "grassroots" ministry efforts.  We think there a need for more Christians to pursue a diversity of ministry opportunities based on the leading of the Spirit, within the accountability of their local family of believers. Many Christians seem to want to seek out larger existing ministries or organizations. These have a larger budget and an organizational structure. Not to say these ministries aren't effective or good, they are, but we wish many more christians would see the needs around them and just jump in and start meeting them. We as believers don't need authorization from larger groups or to wait around until a budget appears (God will provide for what you need to do, if it's His will) in order to best bring Christ to those around us; we need the leading and the power of the Holy Spirit and the support and accountability of the Word and the Body.

People want something new and innovative to be excited about.  Christianity is viewed as ancient and stuffy.  We have a God who is more creative then anyone has imagined; more exciting then anyone has ever experienced.  How can each of us who believes in him make him REAL in our community?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catching up with our thoughts...

We embarked on this trip seeking out a better understanding of what the Jesus wants us to focus on in our future.  At this point we have as many questions as ever.

John was daydreaming in church on how to reach climbers. Climbers don't come to church, they are at the crag on Sunday. Bikers, skiers, etc. are all spending their weekends out of town doing the activities that they love and this means that there is almost no way to get them into a church building on Sunday morning to hear the Gospel.  We've been also thinking about the nature of church and how to best present it to people who don't understand it, or even want to understand it. How can we be "Christians" without bringing all the stereotypes and prejudices that people associate with that word? The essentials of the Sunday morning church "event" are worshiping God together, having the Word preached, and praying together. People also need to know that church is happening in order to participate and it has to be culturally accessible to them. What bothers us is that there are a bunch of outdoorsy people who don't show up to church because it conflicts with their priorities, and because they don't feel comfortable there.

The question is - how do we bring church to them, such that they recognize it happening and that it feels accessible to them. The answer seems simple - go to where the outdoorsy people are, when they're gathered there, and hold church in an obvious but unobtrusive way. The mental image is get out the cardboard sign that simply says "Church", and put it up next to us, let people know that they're welcome to join, and then when we're done we're going to go have fun climbing or whatever we're there for. Then do church, even if no body comes. Preach a sermon to the air if we have to. Keep it simple, succinct, deeply heartfelt but un-affected, visible but not obnoxious. Maybe "Church" on Wednesday night at the local trailhead parking lot is a prayer meeting for twenty minutes before the evening ride.  Get the sign out, briefly walk around and personally let people know what's going on, go pray without making a big scene of it, and then go ride. There are all sorts of climbing, riding, whitewater, and skiing festivals and gatherings.  Most of them are held over weekends.  Go bring church to them so that they can see God being worshiped, and hear his word being preached. This seems to be a call that we feel is unmet in the American West.

This is a daydream, a question we have for God about how we might serve because it is something we are saddened by - the lack of Jesus people visibly and actively living their faith amongst the outdoors community.  We would like it if you all would pray for us as we seek out answers and guidance and also that you would give us your feedback here on the blog.  This wouldn't be something that would be wise to pursue as a replacement to participation in "normal" church or outside of supportive christian fellowship. We certainly would rather settle into a single community for a season, either for John to finish school or to simply put down some roots for a while.  The reality for us at this point is that God hasn't pulled us toward any one community or established ministry yet. We certainly have spent time in communities that make us really happy, that we can see ourselves living and investing in.  But as we've interacted with mature believers around the northwest, they have had the opinion that the Lord is using us doing exactly what we're doing and that we should be satisfied, even confident to continue it.

One of our frustrations is that we desperately desire to be more actively sharing the gospel and focusing on seeking out unbelievers and loving them extravagantly for Jesus.  It's from this heart that the trailhead "church" daydream comes.  We need so much prayer from you all that we would confidently take every opportunity to share the gospel specifically with people we meet, instead of copping out and simply talking about "caring" or "investing in others". 

We've  been meeting so many cool people on our trip. Some of the most open, generous people are not christians. Our views seem so parallel, and through our lifestyle we can easily connect. Other van-dwellers for example. People who desire to live simply and help people out. The desire for community, living not for one's self but for others, is a common ground we have with many people. Lots of other people are "spiritual". It's difficult to want to communicate Christ with them, because they claim happiness and love and peace already. We feel they're just missing Something, replacing it with yoga, the universe, or other religious or spiritual beliefs. We believe that the power of God through his Holy Spirit gives christians something essential and irreplaceable.  Obviously, though, few christians live as though they have some awesome power in their life that others should want for themselves.  So we meet many people who wonder why they should believe in Jesus when most of what they see of His followers doesn't do justice to their own ideals. We often feel outdone in generosity by these people. In Christ, we should be able to blow everyone else out of the water with His love, generosity and care through us. So pray for us that in Him our expressions of Love would be inexplicable with out him.

Again, please communicate with us about these things we're sharing with you about ourselves.  You guys are our family, our community, and we value your advice.  Love you all!