Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recording and Partnership Drive!

Hey everyone! So, it's been a while since we've last posted, and since then, a lot of stuff has been going on! During the time we've spent at home in Willmar we've been working on two very huge, very important projects!
1) Partnership Drive. Don't be surprised if you get or have gotten a call from a team member during these few weeks. It's been really cool to talk to alumni and all the people who support the ministry and make what we do possible.

2) Recording! CTI records an album every other year, and we're the lucky teams that get to be a part of it! A TON of work has gone into this project, and the Reed household has been taken over by sixteen musicians. It's been fun, stressful, crazy, difficult, and AWESOME, all at the same time. It's a lot of hurry up and wait in the studio, so there's lots of work going on, but also a lot of napping and facebooking as well.

The schedule is crazy, and sometimes it seems like we're going crazy, but God is still amazing and working through us even while we're not on the road. It's been so awesome to see these projects come together and have everyone working as one body to show God's awesome power.

Soon, we'll be going our seperate ways for Christmas break to celebrate Christ's birth. It's my prayer that while we're home for the holidays, we don't become lazy and complacent. Ministry isn't something that we should be able to turn on and off, it should become a part of who we are. So go listen to a bunch of overdone Christmas songs, eat way too many Christmas cookies, and watch the cheesy Christmas specials, but don't lose sight of the things that truly matter.
Here's a few pictures from the week that sum up a bit of what goes on during these few weeks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

O Canada

Hey everyone,

Since our time in Wheaton, we’ve ventured through Indiana, Michigan, and now, Canada!! We’ve had a blessed weekend with the fellow brothers and sisters at Chartwell Baptist at King’s in Oakville, ON, as well as those at Mountainview CRC in Grimsby, ON.

Here are some pictures from our time at Mountainview CRC:

In the next week, we’ll be playing at a couple more venues in the Greater Toronto Area. On Sunday, we’ll be making our way back to Willmar, MN, and hopefully get back by Monday afternoon.

Thank you so much for your prayers!! We really couldn’t be doing this without you lifting us up in prayer!! Here are a couple more prayer requests for the following weeks:

· Safety as we travel (we’ve got 2 days of 8+ hours of driving on Sunday and Monday as we make our way back to Willmar from Toronto)

· Servant hearts (that we would continue to want the Lord to work mightily in us and through us)

· The hearts of people that we meet (that the Lord would be working even now in their hearts... that they’ll be ready to hear the message that He has for them)

Thank you again for all your support!!

In Christ,


Friday, November 20, 2009


We encounter many amazing people and interesting places on our travels with CTI. And just recently, we were able to get a sneak peek of a place that we could previously only imagine. According the Billy Graham Center Museum at Wheaton College in Illinois, this is what heaven looks like:
Now you know.

With love on behalf of 14:22,

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Reflections on Overseas Ministry

CTI team 14:22 has returned safely from Taiwan! I can honestly say that the three weeks I spent overseas has changed my life, and taught me so many lessons about myself and my faith. When you're halfway around the world, and experiencing culture shock, and don't speak the language, and have spent 36 hours traveling, and you're sick with a nasty cold, and have no time to rest, and really miss people back home, and you have to be upbeat and enthusiastic about sharing God's love when you don't even feel it yourself at the reach a breaking point. About three days into our trip I just felt so...done. I had come to the end of myself, and had no more to give. I was exhausted. I felt so broken. I didn't like being in Taiwan at all. I wanted to be anywhere else than where I was. And I had more than two weeks left to get through!

It was in that weakness and complete brokenness that I learned an incredible lesson. I knew that I didn't want to waste my time in Taiwan, and that even though I wasn't feeling it, I was so blessed with the opportunity to be there. And the only way that I could really embrace that was by giving the situation to God. I was at the end of myself, and needed God to take over. I had to give up my selfish wants, give up trying to control everything, give up my expectations of the trip, and allow God to change my heart and my attitude. That was my prayer that night...for God to change me, for Him to open my eyes to the experience and opportunities that were before me in the coming weeks.

And oh my goodness, did I change. I felt like I had gotten past myself, pushed through what was holding me back, and it was only then that I was able to do what I had traveled 36 hours to do - use my voice and my words and my heart to minister to others.

I want to share with you a story of how I saw God at work in Taiwan. I wrote this as part of my written reflection to CTI right after we got back last week:

We played a concert at a medical university in Chung-Li, Taiwan, in an atrium that many students passed through on their way to classes. The show was hosted by the college's campus ministry, but was open to all students, and by having the concert in a passageway the hope was to get people's attention as they walked by and share the message with those who might not know about God. After the concert was finished, each of us on the team were asked to lead a small discussion group where the students had the chance to ask us any questions they may have about us personally, and us as a ministry.

CTI 14:22 in Chung-Li, Taiwan

In my small group all the students were Christians, except for one girl – but I didn’t know this, and I assumed everyone there was already a believer. The group asked me to share my testimony, which I did. After telling my story, I could see that this girl was a little uncomfortable, and wanted to say something. She then told me that she wasn’t a Christian, but she knew about God and had been thinking about coming to Him - but she felt that since she hadn’t known Him all her life and wasn’t baptized that she was not good enough or not worthy to. I saw this as a huge opportunity from God to share more with her – since I didn’t grow up a Christian I could completely relate to where she was, being in her early twenties and feeling that pull towards Christ, but being unsure and a little afraid of it too. God gave me this amazing opportunity to share the story of how I came to Him, to share some of the struggles I encountered along the way, and to share the story of my baptism last year. I have often felt that because I’ve only been a Christian for a few years, and because I have made so many mistakes along the way, I’m inadequate to share God with others because I don’t feel qualified to do so. I don’t feel like I have the experience, or the authority to minister to others. But at that moment, I felt like my experience and struggles and my journey towards God was a tool to help someone, instead of an obstacle to ministry. And I could see on the girl’s face she was reassured, and so encouraged by the fact that someone else had felt the same as her. I hope that her life has changed, and that she has the confidence and assurance to walk towards God now. Although I won’t ever know for sure, I feel like the seed I planted in her may have changed her life; and I trust that God is working in amazing ways.
Playing a concert at a nursing school in Taiwan, and meeting with the students afterwards

We're back in Minnesota now, and are leaving on Saturday for our USA/Canada fall tour. Bring on the adventure! There is no one like our God, and there is nowhere else I would rather be this year than serving Him.

With love on behalf of 14:22,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Team 14:22 Arrives Safely

Team 14:22 arrived back in the U.S. safely this evening!

After a lot of traveling and coming back across the international date
line, they are understandably tired. But, the joy of the Lord shines
through their tiredness.

From all acounts it was a wonderful trip with lots of stories of God
working in and through the team!

Check back soon for more updates from the team!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Last Day

It's our last day in Taiwan. Our journey here has been full of adventures. We've only been in country for 16 days, and we've played 20 concerts in hospitals, schools, churches, and outdoor plazas. After every concert, we received reports of God's grace being bestowed upon people's lives through our music, testimonies, and drama. Last night, after we had performed our last concert in Taipei, a girl came up to me and told me that she really sensed God's love flowing through our music, and she decided to re-dedicate her life to Him. What an amazing testament to God's work being done here through us!
The YWAM staff here has been incredible. Mayi (our main contact, translator, coordinator, and essentially, babysitter) has been very good to us and even took us to the Chiang Kai Shek memorial, Shi Lin night market, and Taipei 101 (the world's second? tallest building). A typical day in Taiwan for us usually consists of breakfast at our usual spot, perhaps a morning or afternoon concert, lunch (potstickers!), and supper and an evening concert at a University somewhere in and around Taipei. Many evenings after the concerts, we will roam the streets of Danshui, where there happens to be a bustling night market which usually consists of flying scooters, plenty of bubble milk tea, other various meat/pastry products, some strange and unknown fruits, and best of all, the 10NT store (about 30cents USD). Taipei has been a blast for all of us. We have plenty of stories and experiences to share. God has done some marvelous things in our team.
We also cannot wait to come back and share with you all the love and encouragement that we have received from the people here in Taiwan. We look forward to our return and continual touring in the States and Canada. We leave tomorrow afternoon for Minneapolis via South Korea and Chicago.
Until then,
Jeff on bealf of Team 14:22

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1 more week

Greetings family, friends, and supporters,

I want to first just thank you all for your prayers over the last couple of weeks. Never before have I ever felt prayers so strongly. When I have been discouraged and felt alone, I know that I can always hold on to the prayers of the people from back at home. So thank you all, and we love you very dearly.

Please continue to pray for us during this last week here in Taiwan. Some team members are itching to get home, while others just love it here and don't want to leave. Pray that we continue to make the most out of each day, while ministering to people at every school and church we visit.

We will update once more before we depart for Minnesota this Saturday. Thanks for reading our posts!

~jeff hau, on behalf of Team 14:22

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

God at work in Taiwan

After a week in Taiwan, I am so amazed at how God is at work here. Despite cultural differences and the language barrier (I can still only say "hello" and "thank you" in Mandarin!), our team has really been reaching out to those we have encountered here. To see the excitement on the faces of the people at our concerts, and to hear the joy in their voices when they come to us after the shows to ask about God and our walks with just blows me away what an honour and privilege it is to be here, and to share our stories and share the love that God pours on us.

Earlier this week I got an email from Christian Harger, a former CTI full-timer, and he had this advice for me while overseas:

"Have such a fantastic time spreading the love of our savior and NEVER be afraid to tell somebody about Him."

We will, Christian. For sure.

With love on behalf of 14:22,

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hello from Taiwan!

Hey friends, family, and supporters!

Team 14:22 has made is safely to Danshui, in Taipei County, Taiwan! We're 13 hours ahead of Minnesota here, so we've had a little bit of adjusting to do, but we're all excited to be here and excited to be representing CTI in this amazing country! After 36 hours of travel, lots of time in airports, amazing food (potstickers and Bubble Tea, yum!), and a great apartment to stay in, we are starting to feel rested and prepared to play concerts here and build relationships with the people of Taiwan. Please pray for us as we continue to get settled here, please pray for our health (a number of us are sick, myself included!), and pray that we can be servants for God and share His love with everyone we encounter here in Taiwan.

With love on behalf of 14:22,

Monday, October 05, 2009

14:22 Checks in Safely!

Team 14:22 had a safe smooth check this afternoon at MSP. Check back
for news of their arrival after their long journey!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Taiwan Prep

Hello! This week has been crazy! But that’s nothing out of the ordinary…. Haha. We are back in Willmar right now. We finished getting all of our gear flight packed yesterday. Aside from personal belongings I believe we are ready to go. We are leaving on Monday around 2pm from Willmar. So we still have time to tie up any loose ends if needed. We have been working on learning a few songs in Mandarin this week. It has been a challenge but it is also a lot of fun. I believe I can speak for the whole team when I say we are all very excited to be able to go to Taiwan and minister to the people there. Aside from the thrill of being able to go to a different country, we are all very excited to help spread God’s word to the people there. It really is a privilege for us to be able to go. Thank you so much for supporting us and helping us make that happen! Please keep us in your prayers! And pray for 14:21 as well. They leave for Honduras on Monday morning.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

fresh out of prison!

Sorry for the lack of updates lately! We have been pretty busy with concerts and spending time with our host familys.

Well, this week has definitely been a good one! We just got out of prison a few hours ago. We played music for about 70 inmates. They all seemed to really enjoy it and I think everyone had a really good time. All of the inmates were very welcoming to our team. For some reason I was under the impression that some of the people might not be too encouraging to our ministry. But they all welcomed us in and clapped and sang to the music. It was really amazing. After we played a few of the inmates played our instruments. One of them got on the drums and he played exceptionally well, and another played Jon’s guitar. That guy had some skill. He was playing some awesome solos and had everyone in the gym watching. Tomorrow we are playing in another prison in the evening. We have a few more days on the road before we head back to Willmar for overseas training. I think everyone is getting pretty geared up for that! We fly out on October 5th! I haven’t been taking too many pictures but I had this picture of a windmill or “wind turbine” that I took a few days ago. We’ve been seeing a bunch of them lately. I guess it's pretty normal for some of you to see but I had never seen any before. We don’t have them on the east coast. They look pretty cool.

Thanks for all the prayer and support!

- Team 14:22

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Awesomeness of Host Homes

CTI team 14:22 has been on the road for a little over a week now, and I’ve just been blown away by the love that God has shown us – specifically through our host families. To arrange meals, accommodations, and showers for a team of 8 musicians (plus our awesome CTI staff member, Paul) is quite a burden, yet every place we’ve stayed so far has done so with grace, kindness, and incredible generosity. One specific example that sticks with me is our time last week at the University of Minnesota in Morris, MN. Rachelle and I were hosted by some of the members of the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) group – four awesome girls named Ellie, JoJo, Katie, and Chelsea, who lived in a tiny 2-bedroom campus apartment. Not only did they make dinner for our entire team (and then got up crazy early to cook everyone pancakes at 6:45am the next day!), they gave up their beds so we could have a good sleep, stayed up late getting to know us, and just blessed us with their enthusiasm and love. I felt like they gave us so much during our brief stay there…they just filled us up so that we could be sent out to continue to minister to others. And this is something that I never would have expected. I know that we are here with CTI to be God’s servants, but I didn’t realize that so many people would be serving us in return with sincere joy.

For the past couple of nights, we’ve been in host homes where there are musical instruments present. And I’m sure you realize, guitars + a piano + a group of musicians = SPONTANEOUS JAM SESSION! Totally unplanned, we’ve ended up leading these awesome acoustic worship sessions with our host families, with everyone singing along and praising God together. And this is what I love so much about CTI – it really isn’t about us being performers on a stage. The important stuff happens off the stage, in our host homes, with the people around is. It’s about the love, the community, and building relationships.

14:22 Singing Chris Tomlin's Unfailing Love in Edgerton, MN

To everyone who has hosted this group of musicians so far, and everyone in the next year who will host us – thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. We know we are here to serve, and not be served. So to have all this love pouring out on us and be so blessed by you…well, I don’t think there are words to express our gratitude.

With love, on behalf of 14:22,

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Adams Family

Helloo wonderful friends and supporters!

We are two days into our training tour, and we have already played at two churches (Grace Community Church of Bagley, MN and Woodland Bible Church of Warroad, MN). I am currently writing this to you now from the beautiful home of our very own teammate, Matt Adams, here in Warroad, Minnesota (about a stone's throw from Canada). God has already shown us that He is Lord as the past two days have been brought together through a turbulence of confusion and uncertainty. The lyrics, "Oh no, You never let go through the calm and through storm," have rung true, and we look forward to the even greater mysteries God has to reveal to us about himself.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Please continue to pray that we will trust in His limitless power and remain enveloped with His abundant love.

Team 14:22... over and out

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

At Last!

Hello friends and supporters,

I want to first apologize for the lack of posts in these past several days. As you can see in the video below, everyone has arrived safely, and we are in the midst of training. I want to first introduce myself. My name is Jeff Hau, and I am from San Francisco, CA. I will be the team leader for CTI Fulltime Team 14:22 this year ('09-'10). I want to officially introduce you to our entire team of 8 - myself, Eric Mok, Lesley Denford, Denny Nestibo, Rachelle Poppema, Dan Mumbert, Matt Adams, and Jon Lee. Please follow us on this blog. We will be posting updates as often as we can (at least once a week... I get in trouble if we don't!).

The entire team arrived promptly and safely two Fridays ago, and we have already enjoyed two weekends of fun and a week and a half of rehearsals and leadership training. Each day is challenging, yet beneficial and rewarding. We are learning a lot and growing closer to one another very quickly. Please continue to pray for us as we learn new music, but more importantly, prepare our hearts for ministry. We leave for tour on September 5.

In addition, we have our first practice concert this Thursday at 6:30pm. Come join us at First Baptist, if you can make it out! Thanks so much for all of your prayers and support!


One Girl's Perspective of Team 14:22

Hey everyone! Hopefully you've had a chance to check out the video in the post below and get to know your 2009/2010 Team 14:22 a little bit. We're a diverse bunch hailing from all over the USA and Canada, and although we've all grown up in very different ways in very different places, we all share common passions for music and God. Since the video clip only very briefly introduces us, I thought I'd share a few tidbits that I've learned about my team in the past couple of weeks:
Jeff - Sound tech and team leader. Gives good back cracks. Can make the team sound good in just about any room (which says a lot about his skills, as we are still muddling through and learning our repertoire!).
Eric - Vocalist and guitar player. Seems mild mannered, but can belt out a song with killer pipes. Watch out.
Jon - Stellar guitar player. Has the most pedals and fancy things for his guitar that I've ever seen. Also seems to really like Pop Tarts.
Matt - Really tall guitarist. Can't cross his legs. Which is fine, since he always plays his guitar standing up (and he's really good at it, too).
Denny - Wickedly skilled drummer. Loves to wear head-to-toe denim. Also has a hilarious giggle.
Dan - Bassist extraordinaire. Has an extra-special bass guitar that randomly picks up FM radio frequencies and broadcasts them through our sound system. In addition to our own music, we hear a lot of the local weather.
Rachelle - Keyboardist with a love for Converse sneakers in every colour. Does not like birds.
Lesley - That's me! Vocalist (who occasionally plays keys, despite the fact that the keyboard does not like me and transposes itself in the middle of a song). Also loves Converse sneakers in every colour. Also does not like birds.

I think we've got a good team here. We're goofy, energetic, fun, passionate, and so excited to be a part of CTI. After just a week of rehearsals I'm confident that we can get out to the world and use our God-given musical talents to minister to youth and really challenge and encourage our audiences. I feel like we're being really well-equipped by CTI with the skills we'll need for the year though musical training, seminars, personal devotional time, and team bonding time. Team 14:22 is getting ready to hit the road and share the love of God! Watch out for this Pop Tart-loving, bird-disliking, sneaker-wearing, denim-loving bunch coming soon to a city near you.

With love on behalf of team 14:22,
Lesley Denford.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meet the new crew!

Introducing CTI 14:22 '09-'10:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Standard of Living

(written last week while still on the road)

This morning I washed my hair in a sink. If you haven't ever done this before with long hair, believe me- it's a chore. I then used one of my t-shirts as a towel and dressed myself in a pair of jeans that I think I've been able to wash once this tour so far. The other girls just opted for a quick face wash and put their hair back and if I hadn't woken up with one of the worst cases of bed head I've even seen on myself, I would have followed suit.

Take note: I am not complaining. In fact, it was kind of cool to relive the days of when I was a camp counselor using anything for any task, whether created for it or not. I mean, we were even in bunks and everything.

I instead bring this up because all year, but this tour especially, I've been asked "How can you do it? How can you spend every night somewhere different? In a different bed? On a different schedule?... I could NEVER do that...". Really, what most of them are saying is 'I am unwilling to leave the comfort of the life I've created for myself.' This always causes me to wonder two things a) am I really that different that I can handle being a nomad for a year? and b) what about all that stuff in the Bible where it calls us to not worry about our future because God will be our provision?

First of all, I am not different. The people on my team are not different. Yes, we have youth on our side, but we also all have our own things that we may struggle with while being on the road. For example, I can get some nasty migraines at times that threaten to keep me away from light and sound for hours- days even... try being in a band with that one and not relying on God. I guarantee, it ain't gonna happen.

There is a chunk of Matthew that I've heard thrown around this year, and not by any of the CTI folks oddly enough. Rather, I've picked it up throughout the year from different contacts and usually it was said more in passing than anything else.

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Previous to this year, I always thought about this passage as the one you draw the 'lilies' part from, embroider on a pillow, and place is a room full of flower-printed couches and lace doilies. Not that this verse was bad to me, I think I always just saw it presented as a Hallmark card rather than Christ's call to us to lay down our worries and future needs and to instead focus on our relationship with our Father, letting Him provide for our needs when the time arises. I think this is a principle that is so evident throughout the Bible, testaments old and new, that we fail to grasp the truth of. I think we see God's provision as a thing which we might say we believe but by the end of the day we really view ourselves as the provider. After all, we do have the job, make the money, pay the bills, do the shopping and cooking, etc, etc, etc. Plus, steak is so much better than raining manna, right?

I think this year (for me at least) has really caused me to reevaluate how I understand my place in the world as a child of God and sister in Christ. I am not exempt from the need to plan and organize and know what my future holds. However, the closer this full-time year draws to a close and I still have no idea or inkling as to where I will be living next year much less what job I'll have, I recognize the wisdom in walking in faith that my God will provide.

So, when people tell me they could never do it, I have begun replying with something like "I think you are much more capable of doing something like this if you are doing it for the right reasons- because that's the only way we are able to keep going ourselves". Most of the time, I just get a smile or a quick answer in passing, but occasionally I see a light bulb moment happen. It's for the moments when someone else shares my realization that God may be the almighty creator of the universe, but He's going to give us food, shelter- even a sink- when we need it as long as we are serving Him.

--sara hoagie

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Spring Tour Thoughts

The past week I have been working on reading Jack Miller's The Heart of a Servant Leader. The past 2 days I have tacked on the Jars of Clay book The Narrow Road as well. Both books deal with missions work. The first is a collection of letters that Jack wrote to fellow church workers and missionaries, the second the story of Brother Andrew, noted found of Open Doors International. The Jars of Clay on is going down very easily comparatively (I'll be done by tomorrow). The Jack Miller one I can't seem to go 30 pages a day there's so much content that I'm underlining/dog-earring to come back to. I highly recommend them both, they've garnished a lot more of my attention than half my physics textbooks combined.

While reading them both I am struck by an overwhelming sense of.... inadequacy? pressure? ineffectiveness? impotence? mediocrity? (Thank you thesaurus) I'm not sure the word I want here. Hearing the stories of these people who have done amazing wondrous things in the mission field, and then to think that we at CTI claim to be on the mission field, and yet we... I am not in tune with God's will daily. How can I have the power to go into missions after this year (I'm currently enrolling in an M.A.R. program through Reformed Theological Seminary)? As these thoughts go through my head, I'm reminded of one fact, that I can't. It's impossible. And scarily enough, that's the most comforting thing to hear. It's impossible for me to do any of this on my own. It is only through the immeasurable power of Jesus Christ that we can get up in a foreign country and preach His word. It is only with Him by our side that we can continually fly/travel with our gear and not have it seized at a border or seriously broken in ways that we can't fix. Only His power has kept our gear lasting twice the normal wear and tear age, with more than double the normal wear and tear. Only His power can use a sound tech with a traveling band to connect two family members in different institutions that haven't been able to find each other in 10 months. I could go on. The truth is this is exactly what we've been writing about all year. It's not our power. It's God's strength, and that is all the more evident when we realize that we can't do this on our own. It's impossible. We may not feel like we have the strength/faith of Paul, but at the end of the day everything he had came from God too.

If you take anything away from this, hear this. No matter what happens (in our economy, in a war-zone half a world away, in the family next door, in your own life) let God have His way with you, and work through you. If you are considering something like CTI, or another missions oriented group, do not let anything short of God's word stop you.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spring Break

CTI 1422 is now on our 12 day spring break! We look forward to our upcoming tour headed east from Minnesota (Michigan, Toronto, and VA among other stops). We would love to hear what you would like to hear from us (i.e. specific questions about the ministry, questions about our life on the road, what's impacted us, etc.)! Please do not hesitate to post questions to us and keep us accountable to stay in touch. Until then. We're enjoying our break!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Summer Ministry!

At CTI we are gearing up for our summer ministries. To let our supporters know more about that, here is a nice handy video for your perusal...

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Home in Houston

Have you ever met someone and instantly been amazed? For me one of these individuals is a woman whom we stayed with in Houston, Brenda. From the first hello, her love and joy spilled over. There was no doubt she was serving God with all her life. One night as we sat and worshiped together with her family she shared her story of the Lydia Home. Her home is open to any and everyone who needs a place to stay. A few years back God spoke to her and told her to build a home. She was in a small apartment but knew she needed to obey God. So, she sought out land and heard clearly from God exactly where to build and then built the home where we stayed for 3 days. God told her that she would not need to do a thing but build the home because He was going to bring in the people for her to bless. As she told us this story I was amazed at the amount of faith, but more than that obedience in her life. Building a home at her stage in life with no way to really pay for it and no way to know who would be coming in her home made absolutely no sense. Still, God spoke so she obeyed. She then shared that it’s not that she’s just such a nice person but it’s because she knows that God wants to use her in this way. She said it doesn’t matter whether or not we feel like doing something or that it makes sense, but instead when we just obey God’s call we are always blessed. There have been so many different people who have come to stay at the Lydia Home and each of them are touched by Brenda - her generosity and genuine love for others and God - and in turn Brenda is blessed by those who share life with her even if only for a short time. As we parted ways in the driveway that Saturday morning, we were sad to leave and she was sad to see us go but in true Brenda form, “Remember if you are ever in Houston, come on in. You have a bed and home here.” I think that it would be the same for anyone needing a home in Houston area for short-term. If you ever are there and in need, call up Brenda because you will have the opportunity to be amazed and blessed by a woman who is simply listening to God and obeying Him no matter how strange the call may seem.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trampoline Fun

A fun day off at our host home yielded this video. The pictures were taken by Gretchen on her camera. The person you don't recognize would be Meghan, my girlfriend, who flew out for the weekend to visit. As far as we know nothing serious happened during the making of this video.
Meghan has a patrially-torn MCL and potential meniscus damage, MRI to follow....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And now for something different....

Most of what I see and want to express, I do through our videos. In case you don't know me too well, yes, I joke that much in person as well. But the past two days have posed some new venues for us that have been... eye opening (not the right phrase, as you will see later) for me/us. You might remember that we spent a great week in Seattle with the Union Gospel Mission there. Here in downtown Dallas we were again reunited with the UGM. Last night we played for their chapel service. We've been in non-standard concert venues before (detox houses/missions/boys & girls ranches/etc) so I was expecting more of the same. And outwardly it looked like more of the same that we have done before. But it felt different. We've had some bad weather here the past few days (read, highs in the 40's, overcast, and raining) so the guys coming off the streets to the mission were not in the best shape. At one point I looked down and noticed wet footprints. One of the guys didn't even have a pair of shoes. By the time we played there was over 220 people in the room with us from all different backgrounds (I even met one from just outside of DC in VA). Something struck a chord in me during the show. Coincidentally I was also the one who was supposed to talk. I'm still not entirely sure what I said from stage. I know it wasn't anything close to what I was planning. And that my usual nervous ticks weren't present. Where am I headed with this post? I'm not entirely sure. I'm not really known for my writing abilities. Let's leave it at, God is definitely using the different places we play to show us His view of all aspects of humanity, to mold us unto His will, and transform us into something different....
Today we played at The Bridge (a shelter type place) where we saw a lot of the same people. It was astonishing... Sadly there is no documentation of either concert.... oh well...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Episode 9

Top 10 reasons we like prison ministry....
In no particular order...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I love giving gifts!

One of my absolute favorite things to do in this life is give gifts. So, today was a very good day for me was ED'S BIRTHDAY!
Sara, Carrie and I came together with this fantastic plan to give something spectacular to him for his big day (he's 23 now in case you were wondering). He's always joking around that he wants to beat me up, and that the only reason he will ever protect me against evil is because he hates the idea of anyone being mean to me aside from himself. We have a very stereotypical brother-sister relationship :-)

Therefore, I figured the best gift I could give to Ed was to let him actually beat me up. Soooo...we got him a pinata that very much resembled me. It was fantastic! The bonus was (as if having a Pinata for your birthday wasn't enough) this whole shindig took place at a car wash in El Paso Texas. We found a park on the GPS, but when we arrived at our destination there was no park to be found, just a Self-service Car wash in the middle of nowhere. As luck would have it, it was the perfect opportunity to distract Ed while we rigged up the Gretch-Pinata.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lessons Learned on the Road, Part 2

So, I know this is my second time around with this full-time thing, but I still had a thing or two to learn about living in constant community.
That, and I feel we should be honest about who we are. Sure, we can be serious and we love writing the 'thinking man's' entries, but we aren't serious all the time. Much of the time, we are a little less impressive than that.

On that note, here are a few things I've learned so far:

  • Cleaning the van once a week isn't just a rule the office came up with arbitrarily. It is a necessity for anyone who values hygiene and keeping their nose happy.
  • Following a TV show when home is hard enough. Doing it on the road when you have concerts scheduled or host homes who either don't have TV or watch a competing show makes it much more improbable. But we don't back down from a challenge... downloads and van rides are our best friends.
  • Carl and pants never make it very long. The pants seem to always move on into the afterlife not long after he decides they are his 'favorite' pair.
  • Sometimes, the floor really is the best option for sleeping.
  • We have a lot of fun on stage. Sometimes, I like to make faces at Carl when he's looking.
  • In an effort to not feed us lasagna/pizza/spaghetti, people instead feed us steak. Lots and lots of steak. I think this is a good problem to have, especially for the guys.
  • No matter how hard I try, I absolutely can not sleep in a moving vehicle. I'm still optimistic that it will one day happen, but realistic enough to have plenty of vehicle activities in stock (hello coloring books!).
  • Carrie and I read through books way too fast. We have a decent library forming in the back of the van. Book donations are always appreciated. We may even trade if you ask us nicely...
  • The bigger the dog, the more prone it is to believe it fits in your lap. When it's a 180 pound bull mastiff, this can prove to be a problem for a human much, much smaller than the dog.
  • We started out with 7 team members. Over time, we have found that personalities are asexual- they begin to multiply on their own. Right now, I'd say we have about 9.5 personalities on the team right now. As of now, there is no known cure.
  • When Eric is backing the trailer up, don't speak to him in terms of 'feet'. He is Canadian and an avid practitioner of the metric system, rendering him helpless when told he only has 3 more feet of space to move in.
  • When left to our own devices in conversation, it always comes around to poop and occasionally other body functions not generally accepted in day-to-day dialogue. Seriously. Next time you see us, just hang around for a while- it'll come up. Whether in passing or emotionally charged debate, it will happen.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lessons Learned on the Road

I really wish Blogger let me upload the HD versions of these, the compressed ones don't do it justice...Facebook is getting some larger ones....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paul Comes to Town!

We are SOOOOO stinkin' happy that Paul is on the road with us. For me it's even more special because it brings back fantastic memories of our past tours together. I have had the pleasure to travel to Singapore on a CTI team with Paul, AND lead a team to Guadalajara Mexico with him as well. Needless to say, it feels good to be on the road with him again.
I would venture to say that Paul is enjoying his time just as much as we are...even though we put him to work almost as soon as he got here ;-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My apologies

This video started out as a better concept than it turned into. This will be the worst video I post to the blog. If you have anything you'd like to see a video of (what we eat/eating candy/etc) post a comment with ideas.
This video was based off of some thoughts pre show. It somewhat walks you through the physical and the spiritual aspects of getting ready for a concert.... Again, rough, not great, worst that you'll see from me on this blog. 

The Great Divide

So, we originally planned today to be not only a driving day from Las Vegas to Phoenix, but we had also thought we would visit the Grand Canyon on our way out. This morning, we decided to nix the visit since it would add at least another 3 hours of driving time to our already 7 hour road trip and move it to next week when we have a few days of no concerts. We were all fine with this plan and still got to see the Hoover Dam when we crossed the Nevada-Arizona boarder, which was a pretty phenomenal site to behold.

All in all, we had planned a non-eventful driving day.
But of course God had other plans.

We stopped for lunch in Bullhead, AZ. Instead of frequenting a fast food chain as per usual, we decided to eat at a grocery store instead- eat healthier and, for the boys, get rotisserie chickens to split. Bullhead is in the Mojave desert and not a very big town- in short, assumed to be non-eventful for us. After we paid for our food (which we saved $4 on because my family's old phone number was still in the store's system- score!), we scouted a couple tables next to the deli that we were going to sit and eat at before we continued on our long journey.
Then it happened. As we reached the tables, a middle aged couple sat down with their coffee and donuts on the end, leaving only 6 seats for the 7 of us. Dang it! So, we began to sit down anyway and kind of squeeze 4 of us onto 3 seats (nothing I would recommend for everyday dining) and they began to talk to us. To me, this automatically sends me to my introverted place that always wonders why people can't just follow the social norm and ignore each other. Note: I am naturally a pretty introverted person who doesn't just naturally open myself up to the unknown, including nice people in grocery stores- I mean, you never know how people will react, right?! Luckily, I travel in a group with Carl and Nate who both thrive on social interaction (socialists, perhaps?) and opened up right away to the couple, Dean and Dolly. We told them why we were traveling through, who CTI was.... the usual conversation for us when we meet people not familiar with the ministry.
Then we got to know why they were there: ministry. They live in the Bullhead area and have been regulars at the grocery store for years. The reason they choose to have coffee and donuts at the grocery store is because they willingly and actively place themselves in a position where they can meet people coming through and share the love of Christ with. My jaw dropped- seriously?! How crazy is that! Here we are, a bunch of ragged-looking missionaries, and we sat down to a couple who have taken the Great Commission to heart and are living it out in their own community! I mean, who else but God could arrange that?
We talked for a while over lunch, exchanging life stories, why we have committed to the ministries we have and the blessings and hardships of living out those ministries. We then prayed together and for each other, we gave them our website and ministry info to look into, and then went our separate ways. By the time of our parting, I was just amazed at how remarkable my day had just turned out to be. I started the day off by thinking that, since it was a traveling day, I wouldn't have to socialize much- even with my own team. Next thing I know, I'm speaking to two very awesome strangers, listening to their histories and witnessing how the Lord is using His people to spread the news of His glory in a unique way in a common place- the grocery store.

I guess I can say I have learned/re-learned/been reminded of two things:
1) That we really are a body- I may be awesome at some things, like organization and rocking the bass, but I really fall short in the being-able-to-reach-out-right-away-to-others thing without help. I truly believe this is why we are told in the Bible that we can remain strong in Christ best through community.
2) That Christ calls us to take a leap of faith in our lives. Yes, it is initially to trust that He is Lord and give ourselves completely to Him, but that call doesn't end there. Everyday we are called to exhibit the love of Christ to all those around us and remain open to His love in anyway it manifests- even in people. We must be willing to cross the great divide we humans have created between each other. Like the Grand Canyon, it looks massive- like one could never even hope to get across by just jumping. However, once we make that leap and take a chance on others, we realize that the footing has been there all along-- it just happened to be glass, requiring us to act on faith rather than our limited sensory experiences.

So, even though we didn't make it to the Grand Canyon today, I still got to see it. I faced my own fears about stepping up to the edge of that glass floor and was forced to deal with them by my team. Well, God through my team. I can't say I'm cured of my fear of the unknown person, however I do believe I am a little more willing to take that step of faith I am called to now. What about you?

Monday, February 09, 2009

So I noticed that no videos have been posted to our official blog since Nov. In light of that, I wanted to highlight some of the beauty of the land we have been driving through on our journey. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


BEAUTY. This is the one word that I would use if I was to describe the tour so far. I have seen so many beautiful things. Some of them the nature of God's creation like the canyons, mountains, and beaches. Other things like the attitudes and generosity of our contacts and host homes. But the most beautiful thing I have seen so far is the body of Christ at work.
Like in 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about how we are like a body with many parts, each so important and we cannot say to one part we don't need you. This has been so clear to me as we travel from city to city and state to state. I have seen a lot of people, met many different faces, and ministered alongside various denominations. Every where I have been I am reminded that each of us are made differently with different gifts and that's what makes the body work so well. If we all had the same heart for the same people, many would fall through the cracks and never experience the love of Christ. One youth worker in Greely, CO ministers to "unchurched" kids, while another in Wellington, CO encourages the ones who "know it all", then one school in Fort Collins, CO has kids with hearts for Christ, while the next one in Los Angeles, CA we are sent to just needs to know God is there for them, then we go to a jail in Washington that has many who are hopeless, while the next one in Denver, CO we instead are blessed with their passion. Needless to say that is the BEAUTY that makes me fall deeper in love with a God who loves variety and has placed each one of us somewhere where we are able to be a part of the body of Christ. I just count it a privalege to see so many parts of the body of Christ at work this year.

Basking in the BEAUTY,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Our time in Vegas was great.We got to stay with some of Sara's family, see the strip, have a day completely off, and play 4 shows in one day. While the day off might possibly beat the previous best day on tour (the day off in Warroad where we never even got dressed for the day) another fun part was going into the Christian Elementary School on our day off to teach the 3rd grade music classes. We played an acoustic rendition of Hallelujah Jesus while teaching them to play the drums and maracas. They even brought in the 2nd graders to see us. It was great that they think we're rock stars. It gives us a better platform to speak from, and they feel so much cooler since we're taking time out of our day to teach their classes. I really enjoyed our visit and would love to go back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lessons for the Gretch

I've been shown two things this past week, and I want to share them both with you.

I was reading in Romans the other day and I was struck pretty hard with this passage: "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Ro. 5:3-5 ESV). I was struggling with a couple things during the week and I was feeling so guilty because I couldn't get over it. I kept telling myself, "Gretchen, you're stronger than this! Gretchen, you are more mature than this! Gretchen, just let it go! Gretchen...WHY do you do this to yourself!?" And when I read this I was just reminded that I am going to have struggles just like everyone else. I think there's this misconception, or expectation (whether we place it on ourselves or it's placed on us from the outside) that because we're "missionaries" everything is going to be all glorious all the time and we're never going to have spiritual or emotional struggle because we're in constant ministry and always talking about God and such. Well, that's just not the case. No matter where we are in our Faith, we're still fallen people...we're still going to make mistakes. And then it happened! I related what was happening to one of our rep songs! Yes, yes, a testimony was born in this moment. It was quite humorous for me because I sing the song Sometimes and Carrie or I talk about this song at every single concert. But it's always been something that we're TEACHING, how "we're all going to fall; we're all going to make mistakes. But when we do, we fall into grace...delight in THAT, don't get caught up in the mistake; get caught up in the grace that follows". This day however, it was a lesson I was LEARNING.

Let me tell you about Carrie really quick...
she's so awesome! Man, I'm so glad I've gotten to know her. I love her! You know how sometimes people ask you how you're doing and you can tell they really don't care what your answer is, they're just asking you out of obligation? Well, it's not like that with Carrie...not at all! Every time she asks me how I am or if she can do anything to help me...even if she asks me several times a day, I know she's being sincere; I know she cares about the answer I give her.

So yeah. Just thought I'd share those lessons with you all...because they've been a blessing to me. Hope they are to you as well.

So long for now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Beauty of it all...

So today carl and I had the oportunity togo hiking on the Colorado National Monument, outside of Grand Junction, CO. What beauty! I've seen mountains before, shoot, I've even been on and fell off mountains before! But this is my first trip to the "south western" US area, and I've have never had the pleasure of rampaging around in the "red rocks" of Western Colorado, and the veiws we had were simply breathtaking. Carl and I were constantly muttering out loud (which we do almost inceasantly anyway) about the beauty of God's creation, musing about what creative prowess, and deliberating as to wheather or not we had indeed found the perfect place to pee (we never did, or if we did find it, we didn't make proper use of it!).

Allow me to change gears for a minute (actually, you have no choice, i'm switching gears, willy-nilly as it were. You're only other option is to stop reading right now! But please don't...). We've had some incredible ministry experiences, both that we observed in others or were done to us by others. One of the latest of which was performed in the city of Greely, CO. We had the amazing opportunity of playing at the YFC's Higher Grounds coffee house/skate park. The Audience we had there was not our usual audience of church kids or Christian schoolers. These were the un-churched, or maybe even anti-church kids. And while we felt we were out of our league with them, both the kids and the folks who work there are simply incredible. Without going into any of the specifics, we were informed of how a church in the area had requested that the YFC staff STOP recomending their church to the kids who went to the skate park as they (the kids) made some of the members uneasy. At first I was livid, and wanted to go tell those so and so's what was up. But it was some something that Ryan, the YFC Director said that called me on my attitude- he said that he was not willing to complain or criticize anyopne or thing without attempting to be a part of the solution. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that by my critical attitude I was actually perpetuating the cycle. Carrie reinforced that today in our team meeting when the issue was brought up when she said "it's easy to go around pointing fingers at the darkness, but it's a whole different thing altogether to go and shine a light there" (my paraphrase, as I can't remember verbatim what she said). And I was once again reminded of what an incredible ministry oportunity we have with CTI. We get to go around, and try to shine light into these places, both the churches and the non-churches. To be an example of Christ's love, of the Gospel's extension to all people. And to me that is such a beautiful thing...

While the beautiful remains, I am also convicted by all of this. First of my attitude- if I allow that anger to fester and mature in me, then I will be rendered inefective as a minister in that I will not be able to love those peole who have angered me. Secondly, I am the same as them. I point my finger at them and say "aha, you're the problem" or "I can't believe you are that cold" and I am the same. I do it to them, or to other that don't meat my criteria of "Coolness" or whatever. This is such a struggle for me, being of a naturally self righteous bent. But I'm wrong, and I know I am. God, change my heart on this. Make me able to love those who I believe to have wronged others the same way that you do. Give me Your eyes in all of this. Create in me a clean heart, oh God. And teach me to love as You have loved me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some churches...

remind us of certain people. This one in Nebraska reminded us of Paul Vasilko.
So we took pictures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prison Ministry

I’d like to highlight one facet of our ministry. When we go into Prisons or Detention Centers, we are faced with two potential crowds. The first is the crowd that came willingly, already Christian, and VERY receptive to the Gospel and our music (standing/singing/shouting Amen during testimonies/etc). The other crowd is the people who decided to come just for something different/a break from the monotony of everyday life. The receptive ones are some of the best crowds we ever play for. We usually mostly play uptempo songs, with worship thrown in and a more evangelistic testimony. We’ll work with any normal standards that the group we’re playing for has. Last Weds we played for a weekly group that meets at FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) Englewood. We found out ahead of time that they usually do hymns/worship with a guy playing guitar with people randomly picking from the audience (and shouting it out of course), along with Bible study. So at the end of our set, since we had more time, we let them shout out some songs and if we knew them, we’d play them. One of the songs was He Reigns by the Newsboys. At first Eric said he didn’t know the chords, someone in back shouted F-C-G. So Eric and Nate figured out the progression, and they started to play. The next problem was figuring out/remembering the words. That wasn’t going so well, so when we noticed two of the guys there were singing it, they were invited up on stage to lead the song. It was great seeing them singing it with all the guys in the room (over 100) singing along. For me, these concerts make up for the ones in churches or schools where we are welcomed with lackadaisical clapping, or significantly less than whole-hearted worship. I’m not saying all churches/schools are like that, but we’ve had our share.