Saturday, December 31, 2005

PHOTO: Pointing the way

Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
(By Erik)

This lonely road sign tells travelers that the church meets in St. Jo, Texas.

I took this picture in early 2002, on the way back from a medical missions conference in Dallas.

Just before Christmas in 2001 I participated in a service project with the singles group at Memorial Road.

We ate at Cracker Barrel afterward, and I sat next to a medical school student named Jeanie Jacks. I found out she was from Altus, Okla., and that her parents worked for one of the churches there.

A few days later I was thumbing through the latest issue of the Chronicle and noticed that there was an early January gospel meeting in Altus. It was right after the medical missions conference.

As I drove north on I-35E coming back from Dallas, I debated whether or not to swing westward and stop in Altus on the way home. Going to the gospel meeting might produce a story for the paper — and it definitely would give me something to talk to Jeanie about. I exited the interstate just north of Denton.

I took the backroads and stopped along the way to photograph church signs and buildings. There were lots to choose from.

I kept telling myself that I was really doing all of this for the Chronicle — and we eventually ran some of the photos in a feature on small churches.

I drove all over Altus and couldn't find the civic center where the gospel meeting was to take place. I even stopped at the local Wal-Mart and Altus Air Force Base to ask for directions, but nobody seemed to know that Altus even had a civic center.

Finally, I gave up and went home.

I was the first person in the history of the universe to get lost in Altus, Okla. I never found the gospel meeting, but I had a funny story to tell Jeanie Jacks. I still remember her giggling uncontrollably as I told her about my little adventure. I asked her out a few weeks later.

Now, after two and a half years of marriage, I’ve driven by that civic center in Altus at least a dozen times.

Jeanie and I are planning to attend the 2006 Medical Missions Seminar in Dallas a few days from now.

It’s unlikely that we’ll drive through St. Jo, but as we pass through Denton, I'll be thinking about that little westward turn four years ago that changed my life.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Finally, an insurance policy we can use!

Old Glory Insurance
Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
(By Erik)

As a Christmas present to faithful readers of this blog (both of you) I give you the gift of laughter.

Laughter, as you know, is the gift that keeps on giving — at least until you get tired of the joke and it’s not funny anymore.

So let it be with this offering. Follow the link to see a Saturday Night Live commercial for Old Glory Robot Insurance, featuring Sam Waterston, of Law and Order fame. He’s one of our favorite actors, and his deadpan performance makes this commercial a comedy classic.

Watch the commercial

Monday, December 19, 2005

PHOTO: The joy of running on chairs

Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
(By Erik)

I took this photo in Toluca, Mexico (near Mexico City) in November 2001 during the Pan American Lectureship. Members of the Toluca Church of Christ were setting up for a fellowship meal and a young boy took the opportunity to run across a row a chairs.

Jody Jones, who was a missionary in Toluca at the time, said this was his favorite photo, although "we tell the kids not to do that!"

Click on the photo to see a larger version and some of our other photos.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's the end of the world as we know it (and why you should feel fine)

(By Erik)

Micah Hobbs asked me to deliver the sermon at Tealridge, a retirement community that has its own worship service on Sunday afternoons. Here's what I've put together. I'll likely have to shorten it.

When people look back on 2005 they’ll likely think of disasters.

The year began as much of the world was reeling from a killer tsunami that claimed more than 120,000 lives. Earthquakes and hurricanes followed, taking more lives and causing billions of dollars in damage. Widespread flooding has impacted India, and famine has intensified in southern Africa.

Add to that the man-made disaster of terrorism and war. Aside from the continuing conflict in Iraq, there were bomb attacks in the United Kingdom and killing in Somalia and Darfur.

Surely with everything that’s happened this year people around the globe have to be thinking about the end of the world — or so I thought. I asked all of my international contacts how they were responding to such questions from the people they serve, thinking it would make a good story for the Chronicle.

The response was underwhelming.

Only a few people wrote back, and most gave theological reasons as to why they didn’t believe that the events of 2005 were “signs of the end of days.” In churches of Christ we tend to have an aversion to talking about such matters, I believe. Also, I don’t think I did a good job of communicating the type of information I wanted for the story. (This kind of thing happens a lot when you send English-language messages around the globe.)

But Charles and Darlene Coulston’s answer was a large dose of reality for me. They’re missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya, working with a ministry called Made in the Streets. They provide orphaned children with a home, food and education.

“We have talked about the disasters with our students and prayed during chapel times — especially for Pakistan,” Charles Coulston said.

The missionaries also asked the children to break into discussion groups about the disasters. I found their responses quite sobering.

Maybe the events of 2005 did indicate that the world is ending, the former street children decided.

If so — good!

“Our kids are used to pain and loss,” Charles Coulston explained. “They look forward to the end of the world, which will be a new beginning for us all.”

There’s a lot that these orphans in Kenya could teach me about appreciating the little things in life — and staying focused on the finish line.

Christians throughout history have wondered about the end of the earth, but it seems to me that when it’s mentioned in the Bible, it’s never highlighted as “the big deal.”

The books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians are full of references to the final days. 2 Thessalonians talks in depth about “the man of lawlessness” — something I don’t even begin to understand.

But the focus of Paul’s letters to the people of Thessalonica doesn’t seem to be, “The end of the world is coming. Here’s what to look for …”

Instead, he seems to be saying, “The end of the world is coming, but don’t get caught up in it. Keep working.”

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know that very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

Paul seems to be telling his readers to avoid getting too concerned about when the end is coming. Evidently they do get a little too caught up in it, however, and part of the reason why Paul writes 2 Thessalonians is to correct some misconceptions that arose after he wrote 1 Thessalonians.

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us — whether by a prophecy or by world of mouth or by letter — asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

Instead of fretting about what might or might not be happening in the world, Paul tells us what we should do while we have the time:

“You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Some Bible scholars believe that some people in the Thessalonian church had gotten so caught up in the thought that the world would end any day that they stopped working and basically were “mooching” off the church or others. Paul admonishes them not only to work, but to work with their hands. The Greeks thought that manual labor was something for slaves — it was “beneath” them.

(Typing counts as working with your hands, doesn’t it?)

In the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus tells us, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

I think that one of the reasons I tend to get concerned about the world ending is … well … I kinda’ like it here. I have a great job, great family and a lot of stuff — nice stuff. I don’t want things to change. It’s a very different life for the street children in Kenya.

One of them, Moses Ndungu, said that the first thing he would do if the world ended would be to “run and hug Jesus.”

That’s the kind of faith I need. While I lament the evils of this world and the catastrophic death toll of 2005, I should also rejoice in the blessed assurance that this world is temporary, and there is life after this life.

Historians believe that the non-Christians in Thessalonica viewed death with horror, as evidenced by inscriptions on their tombs. Some of the early church members thought that those who died would not see Jesus, but Paul told them otherwise.

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

A few verses later, Paul writes:

“And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Reaction to finale of The Apprentice

(By Erik)

Jeanie and I jusst watched the grand finale of The Apprentice and we are in complete agreement that Randal is a jerk.

The only thing I'll say in his defense is that when Trump asked Randal if he should also hire Rebecca, maybe Randal thought it was some sort of test and that he would somehow lose the competition if he said yes.

We both really liked Randal — up to the very end. But we liked Rebecca too (and she's a journalist, evidently).

Of course, from what we've heard, Trump doesn't do much with the winners. One of them spent all of his time marketing Trump Water or something like that.

In general, I think that Randal was a bit over-qualified for the job. If you already have five degrees and run a multi-million-dollar business, maybe you shouldn't apply for an intership with Donald Trump.

Food for thought.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PHOTO: From a different perspective

Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
(By Erik)

I was going through my old photos and came across this one. It's still my favorite.

To the left is a baptism that took place during a youth camp near St. Petersburg, Russia, in July 2002. Local church members and some visitors from a church in Tyler, Texas, ran the camp.

I had two cameras with me. One was my parents' old Pentax film camera. I gave that one to one of the Tyler folks who was wading into the water for the baptism. I stayed back with a small, 2 megapixel digital (it belonged to the Chronicle so I didn't want to risk getting it wet).

The guy who used my Pentax got the "typical" baptism shot. I saw this young Russian (at right) who also didn't want to wade all the way into the water, so I took a quick shot.

When the image popped up on the little LCD screen, I knew I had something good.

D'Anne Blume, one of the missionaries in St. Petersburg, said that the photo almost seemed to symbolize God looking down from heaven on the glorious rebirth of one of his children. (Those weren't her exact words, but it was three years ago!)

Sometimes an unintentional change of perspective can really help what otherwise would have looked like a typical baptism photo.

Not to say that baptism is by any means a "typical" event!

Click on the photo to view a slightly larger version if you'd like.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Now take Jeanie's quiz

Jeanie's quiz is a tough one.

HINT: "JETS" stands for Junior Engineering and Technological Society.

Her husband only scored a 70 on this quiz. So, according to the world of quizzes, Erik knows as much about Jeanie as he knows about Bobby and Matt.


(Jeanie apologizes in advance if her quiz comes across as egotistical. She was trying to stump her husband. Mission accomplished.)

Take Jeanie's Quiz on!

See the scoreboard

Friday, December 09, 2005

Take my quiz ... please!

(By Erik)

I stole this idea off of Matt's blog. It's pretty cool, and easy to set up.

If you feel like wasting time, follow this link and then create your own quiz (and let me and Jeanie know).

Take Erik's quiz on!

Or you can check the scoreboard.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Church fire in Altus, Okla.

Altus church fire
Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.

(By Erik)

Our prayers are with members of the Thomas Street Church of Christ in Altus, Okla., the church where Jeanie grew up and where we were married in June 2003.

We learned this morning that the church building was badly damaged by an early morning fire. There were no injuries reported, and the church's family life center survived. This is the church where both of Jeanie's parents work. Firefighters believe that a problem in the heating system may have started the blaze.

The good news is that everyone is fine. I just got off the phone with my mother-in-law, who informed me that the communion trays miraculously survived the fire.

Praise God for the little things.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Merry Christmas (we miss you, Ann)!

Christmas party 05
Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
Our Connection Group had its annual Christmas dinner this evening. Jeanie and I were glad we could be there for it this year. (Last year we were on the way back from a residency program interview in Missouri.)

The food was GREAT (particularly the corn dish)! Big thanks to Dan and Jeannie Sikes for hosting the event (and to Jeannie for cooking most of the dishes). Jhansi Garnett made a really good "molten brownie" dish, too.

A few members of our group were sick and couldn't make it this year. In particular, we spent some time remembering our good friend Ann, who was a member of our group before she left for Japan. She's in a hospital in our area now, and a few folks from the group have been to see her.

You're in our prayers, Ann. We miss you! And we've got lots of leftovers if you're interested.

Try the corn dish. It's really good.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

How 'bout them Dawgs!

Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
(By Erik)

My Georgia Bulldogs are going to the Sugar Bowl! They put the hurt on LSU earlier this evening, beating the third-ranked Tigers 34-14 for the SEC championship. They'll face West Virginia Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl. Because of Hurricane Katrina, they'll be playing once again in the Georgia Dome.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Meeting James Bond

Laotian church 3
Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
“Do you speak Thai or Lao?”

“Neither,” I said. “I know some Spanish, but that doesn’t help much here.”

Crystal Nachampassack was understandably confused as to why a white guy would sit through an entire church service in a language he didn’t understand.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, while Jeanie and her longtime friend Karen were worshipping in the English-language service in the auditorium, I was covering the Laotian- and Thai-language service in the fellowship hall at the South MacArthur Church of Christ in Irving, Texas.

It wasn’t the first time I worshipped with Christians in a language that was foreign to me. There always are similarities. Several of the hymns were translations of songs I know in English — including “Our God, He Is Alive” (better known to many of us as the legendary “728b”).

But the songs I really enjoyed hearing weren’t familiar to me at all. They were distinctly Asian, and the congregation seemed to sing them with more volume and emotion.

There were about 95 people in the service. A few were from Thailand, but most came to the United States from Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia that became communist 30 years ago this week.

Getting here wasn’t easy. Many were put in education camps by the government. Life was hard.

Crystal swam across the Mekong River to reach the border of Thailand in the early 1980s. She was pregnant with one child and carried another on her back. Today she’s a financial adviser in the Dallas area and spends her free time helping her fellow Laotians who settled in north Texas. She held her granddaughter in her lap through the whole worship service.

I talked to a few other members of the church, including a Laotian man who came to the United States from a refugee camp in Thailand in 1979.

I asked him to spell his name — slowly. I figured it would be something like Nachampassack. He gladly obliged.

“First name: J-A-M-E-S. Last name: B-O-N-D”

“Wait a minute. You’re name is James Bond?”


He changed his name when he came to the States. He wanted something short and easy to remember.

“So you picked James Bond?”


I asked him if he was a fan of the films and got another “yes.”

Bond was introduced to Christianity here and said that the faith appealed to him because “it teaches us the way, how to live.” He would love to return to Laos some day, but in the meantime he’s doing what he can to spread the light to the community of Laotians living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Thousands of miles from the land where they were born, they have found a faith, raised families and rebuilt their lives.

They’ve never forgotten their homeland, but they’ve carved out new homes in a new land. They love the Lord and they show by helping each other and reaching out to their communities.

Those things don’t require translation.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
Jeanie and I are back after Thanksgiving with at her grandmother's house. We shot this photo just north of Ardmore, Okla. A strong west wind picked up dust off the dry Oklahoma plains and veiled the sun. I never saw stuff like this in Georgia.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sad news

This e-mail was sent to the Oklahoma Christian community just a few minutes ago. Dale and Carol Gaither, Kim's in-laws, are members of our Connection group. Our prayers are with them and all of their family.

November 19, 2005

To the Campus Community:

She fought the good fight, she finished the race, she kept the faith. II Timothy 4.

With great sorrow, Dr. Mike O’Neal and I let you know that our beloved teacher, colleague, friend, and sister — Dr. Kim Gaither — passed away this evening at about 7:30 p.m. She died at Mercy Hospital, surrounded by her husband David, her son Luke (a current OC student), her daughter Brianna, and her parents.

Dr. Gaither joined the Oklahoma Christian University faculty in 1988, and she was serving as Professor of Biology at the time of her death. Kim was greatly loved, admired, and respected by her students and colleagues at OC, who will miss her deeply.

We will let the campus community know of the arrangements for her funeral as soon as those are known.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Kingly topic: What the Lord looks for

Our connection group (small-group Bible study) is following the life of King David. Our text is David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, part of the Insight for Living series by Charles Swindoll.

Here is a summary of what we discussed at our most recent meeting:

What characteristics of David do we admire most? One response was his honesty before God, as seen in the book of Psalms. Often in David’s psalms we see a man who is fleeing for his life, and he’s questioning God. Where are you? Why are you letting me go through this? But there’s always a sense of resolution at the end of those psalms — a sort of point where David says, “You’re God. I’m not. Your will be done.”

Swindoll calls King Saul “the people’s choice” verses David as “the Lord’s choice.” I personally don’t know to what extent I agree with that. I think that Saul started out his reign as a humble man and had several characteristics that would not have made him “the people’s choice” (hiding in the baggage, for instance.

But he had physical characteristics in his favor. At least twice the scriptures mention that Saul was “a head taller” than those around him.

I pointed out that our own presidents of the United States, on the average, are taller than the general population. Studies also show that the heads of major corporations tend to be tall people. AND recently I saw a news piece in which reporters compared tall and short people in a “speed dating” situation. Women tended to rank the taller men higher than the shorter ones in categories including looks, potential for success and “date-ability.”

I’m 5-foot-10, by the way.

But God looks for things that the world doesn’t look for in a leader, and sometimes God purposefully goes against society’s idea of success to prove that he is sovereign.

We also talked about the years David spent as a shepherd, and the skills he acquired through this time of solitude and obscurity that would help him later in life.

Laboring in obscurity is hard for me. I’m used to having my byline on almost everything I write. Inevitably my sense of accomplishment at The Christian Chronicle is tied to how many people see what I write. But there is a freedom and satisfaction in laboring in seemingly trivial things — I used the example of raking leaves, which I did this weekend (and I’m still a bit sore from it!)

(By the way, did you know that bylines in newspaper stories were introduced not to feed the ego of journalists, but to help the editors assign blame when something in the story is wrong? That’s what I’ve heard, anyway.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Meteorologists predict record usage of “the perfect storm” phrase during post-hurricane season

Tryggblog News Service

WASHINGTON — As the record-breaking hurricane season of 2005 comes to a close, meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict a record number of uses of the phrase “the perfect storm” during the post-hurricane season.

“The post-hurricane season is still weeks away, but we’re already seeing widespread instances of the phrase,” said Jared McTaggart, an NOAA statistician.

"If our computer models are correct, we could be seeing instances of 'the perfect storm' being referenced by stockbrokers on an almost daily basis by mid-December," he said.

"If this pattern holds, it's only a matter of time before Emeril Lagasse is whipping up 'the perfect storm' of wasabi and ginger sauce."

Earlier today, a guest biologist on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation referred to the Bush administration’s stance on intelligent design and proponents of evolution combining to form “the perfect storm of national education policy against scientific reality.”

McTaggart said this is only the beginning.

“We’re predicting that 'the perfect storm' will be used to describe everything from conflicts in the Middle East to toilet clogs in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

Climatologists and linguists predict that the number of out-of-context uses of the phrase this year could match or exceed the number five years ago, when the film The Perfect Storm debuted in cinemas across the country.

The star-studded vehicle for actors George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, based on the nonfiction novel by Sebastian Junger, tells the story of a complex series of meteorological events that coincided to produce an intensely powerful storm off the coast of Gloucester, Mass.

But Gary Scoffield, professor of linguistics at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., said that allusions made to “the perfect storm” this season will have little, if anything, to do with the tragic events of 1991 that claimed the crew of the Andrea Gail.

“The other day I heard one of my students refer to a blind date her friend set her up on as ‘the perfect storm,’” Scoffield said.

“Curious, I probed for details, wondering what social and economic factors could have combined to cause her to equate her experience with a weather event that has happened only once in recorded history.

“She stared at me blankly and replied, ‘He took me to Red Lobster and told me not to order anything over 12 bucks.’ It was clear she had no understanding of the universal archetypes referenced in the syntax of 'the perfect storm.' Nor could she spell 'archetype' when I asked her.”

Scoffield and McTaggart agreed that the 2005 hurricane season, with no less than 23 named storms, will contribute greatly to overuse of the phrase in the post-hurricane season.

“Images of destruction from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Beta are still fresh on the minds of the American public,” McTaggart said. “As a society, we often cope with disaster by turning it into a catch phrase and saying it over and over again. That’s why people are continuing to say ‘How you doin’?’ — to cope with the absolute disaster of Joey, the ill-fated Friends spin-off.”

Scoffield added, “It’s as if the news of the hurricanes and the desire to sound intelligent — yet not afraid to tip one’s hat to pop culture — have combined to form the ‘perfect storm’ of phrasal over-usage.”

Unlike the current trend in tropical storms, however, experts predict that the verbal affectation will last only until it’s replaced by another kitschy-yet-academic nod to Hollywood.

“By this time next year, we could be looking at a highly active season of people ending their conversations with ‘Good night and good luck,’” McTaggart said.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Commercial commentary: "A moment I’ll never forget" and "jumping the shark"

(By Erik)

Tonight’s episode of ER was OK. I like to consult Jeanie as we watch to see if what the doctors are doing is right.

I’ve been watching the show since its first episode, and I think that almost all of its original cast members are gone (same thing’s true of Law & Order).

But what’s up with the recent spate of TV promos that build up each show like it’s the Titanic?

I realize that the mark of successful TV show (or a commercial) is that, if it airs on Thursday night, it’s all that’s being talked about around the water cooler the next day. But that doesn’t mean your advertisement should literally say, “This is the episode you’ll be talking about around the water cooler tomorrow.”

There’s actually a Law & Order promo that says, “This is the episode you’ll be talking about all week,” for example.

But the ER promos are worse. Here’s a show that everybody seems to know is not as good as the days when Anthony Edwards and George Clooney were on the roster. So all the recent promos have contained phrases such as, “In a season that critics are calling ‘as powerful as ever’ …”

They might as well say “In a season that’s not nearly as bad as people are saying it is …”

Tonight’s promo featured a shot of Kovac (Goran Visnjic) kissing Abby (Maura Tierney). The promo referred to it as “a moment you’ll never forget.” Come on! This is a recycled plotline from several seasons back, if memory serves.

I’ll decide if I forget this “moment” or not., thank you very much.

Next week they’re going to crash an airplane into downtown Chicago in an attempt to help their ratings. I suppose I won’t be forgetting that moment either.

The only real “moment” I remember from ER in recent years is when a helicopter blade chopped off the arm of Dr. Romano (Paul McCrane). For me, that was the moment when the show “jumped the shark.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to the moment when a TV show hits the “point of no return,” doing something so outlandish that the program itself slips outside the realm of plausibility. Usually “jumping the shark” signals a show’s demise.

There’s a great Web site that details when TV shows of all kinds jumped the shark. Appropriately enough, it’s

I just checked it, and the episode when Romano loses his arm is the 10th-ranked incident of shark jumping in the series’ history.

The incident that’s in second place happened a few episodes later — when they dropped a helicopter on Romano and killed him.

Maybe that’s what the show’s new promos should say, “Next week on ER, it’s the biggest moment since we dropped that helicopter on Romano.”

“You’ll never forget it. Run to your water coolers now!”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Finding the way in Liberia

(By Erik)

Liberia got to me.

I’ve been blessed and humbled by my job at The Christian Chronicle. I cover international news and I’ve been able to see parts of the world that I could only imagine a few short years ago. I’m usually able to keep somewhat of a professional distance from the stories I cover.

But one scene from the Liberia trip stands out in my mind. It’s the moment I saw Christ in an 11-year-old boy named Martin.

A lot of folks aren’t familiar with the history of Martin’s country. Before the trip, several people asked me if I was going to Libya. On the plane coming home I met a worker with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) from New York. She said that happens to her all the time.

Liberia is a small country in western Africa that was founded by former slaves from the United States. Since 1989 the country has been in an almost-constant state of civil war. Today many parts of the capital, Monrovia, are in ruins. You could hear the hum of generators from my hotel room. We ate lunch at restaurants surrounded by barbed wire.

At one point we drove by the VP Road Church of Christ. It was a Saturday afternoon, and some of the neighborhood kids were playing outside. One of them, Martin, sheepishly approached our group. I asked him if he went to church here and he said yes.

I was skeptical, of course. Reporters tend to be like that, and I had been through a similar situation earlier in the year in Nigeria. (We drove up to an empty church building and a group of local guys approached us and said they were members. They promptly asked us for money.) I tried to think of a question I could ask Martin to find out if he was telling the truth.

“What did you learn in Bible class last week?” I asked. He mumbled something in response and I asked him to repeat it.

“Memory verse,” he said.

That caught me off-guard. Maybe this kid was telling the truth. Certainly he wouldn’t still remember the verse, though. It had been nearly a week since last Sunday.

“Do you remember your memory verse?” I asked, quietly. Now I was feeling sheepish.

He paused, deep in thought, and then he said, “John 14:6.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father but by me. John 14:6”

I shook his hand and congratulated him. It was one of those moments I knew I’d carry with me for many years to come.

During the years of violence — more years, in fact, than Martin had been alive — Christians were carrying on the work of teaching the young to love Jesus. It’s a testament to their love for Christ.

Liberians went back to the polls today to elect their next president. Like most of them, I’m praying that this election will herald a new era of peace. I’m praying that Martin won’t have to see the face of war again, and that he’ll grow up to be a great, humble man of God.

He’s off to a good start.

(If you want to learn more about churches of Christ in Liberia, click here for a link to the Christian Chronicle’s coverage.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Kingly topic

King. Conqueror. Giant slayer. Adulterer. Musician. Poet. A man after God’s own heart.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the life of David?

That was the lead-in question for this week’s Connection Group meeting.

More than two years ago Jeanie and I launched a once-per-week Bible study with members of our congregation, the Memorial Road Church of Christ.

In a church of more than 2,000 members, we thought it would be a good way to get to know some people outside of our Bible class and age bracket. Memorial Road launched a bunch of these groups at the same time.

I thought that the idea would last maybe six months. Shows what I know.

We have about a dozen people — ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-80s — who regularly attend. It’s a great time, and there’s always dessert.

For the next few months we’re planning to study the life of David, using as our guide David: A Man of Passion and Destiny by Charles Swindoll. I’ve looked over the book and an accompanying study guide. It seems like pretty good stuff. I may not agree with everything Swindoll says, but what fun would it be if I did?

So, as suggested by the study guide, I asked for first impressions of David. There were 12 of us present for the study, and I got at least 12 different responses:

• David and Goliath: God was with him. He overcame obstacles
• Selected by God to be king instead of his “strong, studly” brothers
• His friendship with Jonathan
• Dedicated himself to doing God’s will and repented when he strayed from it
• Showed kindness to Mephibosheth, one of Saul’s sons
• Prayed fervently for his unborn son, even after Nathan told him the child would die. After his attendants told him of the death, David got up and went on with his life.
• David dancing before the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant returns.
• David’s affair with Bathsheba.
• Nathan confronting David with his sin.
• David playing his harp.

As you can see, the simple name “David” brings a lot of varied images to mind for different people. Swindoll points out that a lot of scripture is devoted to David — more than any other Old Testament personality.

We backed up a bit and talked about the life of Samuel, focusing on his role as the final judge over Israel before the time of the kings.

One thing that’s always struck me about Samuel is his devotion to God and the way that he becomes angry with the people of Israel when they begin grumbling for a king. Samuel almost seems to become angry on God’s behalf, even when God is telling him not to take it personally. “They’re rejecting me, not you,” God says.

One of the reasons the people gave for wanting a king was that Samuel’s sons were not following in their father’s footsteps. They weren’t good rulers. They were taking bribes and “perverting justice,” as recorded in the book of 1 Samuel.

Samuel himself was raised in part by the priest Eli, and one of the reasons Samuel became a judge over Israel was because — guess what — Eli’s sons weren’t up to the task. (They were pretty thoroughly rotten, as a matter of fact.)

I sometimes wonder if Samuel’s sons didn’t turn out so good because Samuel’s model of fatherhood was Eli. Of course, no man can blame his actions on his bloodlines, and I have to believe that, at some point, Samuel’s sons chose to pursue dishonest gain.

A good point made during our study was that the use of the “your sons aren’t getting it done” argument was really just an excuse for what the people of Israel wanted — a king. And the real reason they wanted a king was “because everybody else has one.”

God, on so many occasions, had warned his people not to live like the nations around them. But this time he conceded and gave them exactly what they wanted.

What happened next is a lesson in “be careful what you wish for.” That’s next week’s topic.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What will your answer be?

Here are some interesting questions to ponder. We shamelessly stole these from the blog of Bobby and Tamie Ross, by the way.

Would you rather speak with God for one minute or add one year to your life?

Jeanie: Talk to God. Talking to God for a minute is more important to me than spending more time here to do whatever. Spending time with friends that you would see in heaven anyway doesn’t compare. Why spend an extra year earning money that you can’t take with you?

Erik: Technically I can talk to God right now through prayer, but I’m guessing that this question means that God would answer you as if you’re having a live conversation. (I’d also argue that God does answer us here on earth — though we’re sometimes blind to his answers.) Saying “speak to God” seems like the obvious answer, but are we really ready to hear what he has to say?

Would you rather meet Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, Garfield, or Bugs Bunny?

Jeanie: Mickey Mouse. I like him best. I’m a fan of Disney. Snoopy doesn’t talk, Garfield’s too temperamental and Bugs Bunny plays mean tricks on people.

Erik: Snoopy. He’s obviously the Joe Coolest of this bunch.

Would you rather end hunger or hatred?

Jeanie: This one’s hard. One would have to address the physical needs of a society before one could tackle the deeper social issues of society. However, I think it’s more important to end hatred, and if we ended hatred it might solve some of our hunger problems.

Erik: Hunger. Like Jeanie said, it’s the first step to ending a lot of the other problems that cripple our society. Hatred often is an outgrowth of fear and envy, because we live in a world of limited resources. I think that focusing on hatred is focusing on a symptom rather than the underlying problem. We do that too often.

Would you rather be gossiped about or never talked about at all?

Jeanie: Never talked about at all, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about what other people are saying. I’d rather people just talk to me.

Erik: Ever since that incident at Braum’s, there’s been a lot of gossip about me. I’d just to say, publicly, that I thought the items in question were complimentary. And I still maintain that sending in 12 National Guardsmen to “take me down” was a bit excessive.

Would you rather find one million dollars or find true love?

Jeanie: True love. You can go through a million dollars really fast. True love lasts a lot longer. Money can’t buy friendship or companionship when you’re lonely.

Erik: True love. I think there’s a study out there showing that people who win a lot of money aren’t significantly happier than they were before. People start coming out of the woodwork wanting a piece of the action. No thanks!

What talent do you wish you possessed?

Jeanie: I wish I had the ability to get along with everybody. Some people are very hard to take, and I wish I were more patient and not so judgmental at times.

Erik: It’s more of a superpower, I guess, but I wish I had to ability to communicate and understand any language on the globe. Or, if that’s not possible, I’d settle for Spanish.

If you were going to a remote place and could only take one CD with you, which one would it be?

Jeanie: Christmas music. I like Christmas music. I don’t have a favorite artist or a favorite song, but I really like Christmas.

Erik: A mix CD with Johnny Cash and Def Leppard.

If you could hire one of the following, which would it be? (Driver Chef Maid Stylist)

Jeanie: Stylist. I don’t like doing my hair. It never looks the same as when I come out of the salon.

Erik: Maid. Although a chef would be nice.

Can you play a musical instrument? If so, which one?

Jeanie: Piano, flute and piccolo. I was in band sixth grade through my senior year of college. I also played in a community band until I got into medical school.

Erik: I took one year of piano and then my teacher mysteriously decided that she didn’t want to teach piano anymore. She only kept two of her students. They were both from Japan and it was easier to just keep teaching them than to explain that she was quitting to their mother, whose English wasn't so good. I attempted to learn guitar for a while there, but I got frustrated because it seemed like I spent all my time tuning it and I never could get it to sound right.

Have you attended a high school reunion yet?

Jeanie: I didn’t go to my five-year reunion. My 10-year reunion is in June 2006, but I’ll be on the wards then and probably can’t go.

Erik: No. My 10-year reunion was in 2002, but I was in Oklahoma by then and it was in Macon, Ga. I’ve lost contact with most of my high school friends, unfortunately.

You're stuck in an airport, what paper do you turn to for the news? (New York Times USA Today National Inquirer or, You don't follow the news.)

Jeanie: I don’t follow the news. I’d go look around at the stores. Or find a TV.

Erik (sighing in dismay from Jeanie’s answer): I’d probably buy a New York Times, but I can’t guarantee I’d read it. I prefer magazines like Time and The Economist when in airports. I usually try to bring a novel. Just seems to work better for me in airports.

Leno or Letterman?

Jeanie: Leno. I like his monologues and the headlines. Leno also brings on more animals than Letterman. And he and his wife have been married for 20-some-odd years, and she’s active in the fight for women’s rights in the Middle East.

Erik: I used to be a die-hard Letterman guy, but I’ll watch Leno on occasion for the headlines. I just can’t stand that Kevin guy who laughs at EVERYTHING Leno says regardless of its true level of funny-ness. The camaraderie between Dave and Paul is much more fun to watch. Sometimes I prefer Nightline on ABC.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Jeanie: Rocky Road. Love the marshmallows.

Erik: I love the soft-serve frozen yogurt at Braum’s. They also have a really good cappuccino chocolate chip there. However, please note that a tub of said ice cream product does not constitute a “free sample” (see earlier question).

What CD is in your CD player right now?

Jeanie: None

Erik: Lemme’ check. Looks like I’ve got three CDs in the player right now. One is a mix CD of Africa music, including tunes from Rex Lawson and the soundtrack to “Hotel Rwanda.” The second is “Facing Future” by Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. Finally, there’s a mix CD of a cappella worship music by Zoe Group. I’ve got the player set on “shuffle.”

If you had one day to live, what would you do?

Jeanie: Spend it with my husband, and call all the rest of my family members and my friends. I’d probably have Mexican food.

Erik: Pray, and skip my cholesterol medicine.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Commercial commentary

(By Erik)

I’m still officially in mourning over Georgia’s loss to those hated Gators of Florida this past weekend, so I’ve been waiting the obligatory three days before blogging.

We were playing without our starting quarterback because he messed up his knee against Arkansas the week before. Amazing how, because of one injury, your whole season can go from Rose Bowl to Toilet Bowl.

Just kidding! We’re still in the hunt for the SEC title. Go Dawgs! Beat Auburn (and Kentucky, and Tech)!

If I couldn’t write news for a living, I’d try to make a career out of critiquing TV commercials. It’s a service I perform for free now.

I am VERY opinionated on this subject (ask Jeanie) and I tend to either really like or severely dislike commercials.

So, in that spirit, I’m going to critique the next batch of commercials to come across my TV screen.

(The weather’s on now. Just a sec.)

OK, here we go.

1. Sonic: This is another one of their “two people in a car” series of ads. This one is the married couple talking about something called a “breakfast bistro” burrito or something.
It’s not particularly funny, but this series is so good I can let it slide. The two guys who originated this series are consistently hilarious. Favorite line: “You can nod your head all you want. All I’m saying is, I didn’t know it was gonna be spicy.”

2. Draxxin: Now here’s an interesting twist on the flood of prescription medication advertising. This one isn’t peddling a drug for humans, but for LIVESTOCK. Do ranchers watch the news at 10? It’s a shame that they don’t have to list the possible side effects of drugs for animals. “Draxxin is not for everyone. Cattle that may be pregnant or nursing should not take Draxxin. Side effects, though rare, include hoof-in-mouth, loss of appetite, sore horns, and mild to moderate joint pain. Most were similar to sugar cube.”

3. Automax Hyundai: Yet another car commercial. We have a lot of these in Oklahoma City. Evidently, “the deals are automatic” at this place.

4. Deaconess Hospital: This is a commercial about screening for breast cancer. I don’t really feel right critiquing it. (Maybe this activity wasn’t such a good idea.) At least it’s not the Integris commercial for their physical therapy department. That one’s hard to watch (and the Roy Orbison music doesn’t help).

5. OG&E: This is another public service type commercial telling people to “call before you dig.” No problem there. Does the power company pay for these ads, or do they give the TV station a discount on its bill? If they are paying, I wish they’d pull the ads and put the savings toward our bills.

6. Eyemart Express: Glasses in an hour. This is the first time I’ve seen this commercial. Looks like they used real people in their testimonials. Looks like they have five metro locations. One is likely located near me.

And you thought reading blogs was a waste of time!

Friday, October 28, 2005

E-myths: ABC, The Practice and apologies

(By Erik)

As you no doubt know by now, the Internet is the biggest repository of misinformation ever spawned by mankind.

I’m doing what little I can to turn the tide of tomfoolery, shining light into the dark corners of cyberspace.

To wit, I’ve gotten the same e-mail forwarded from two different sources this week, so I thought I’d share my findings.

The e-mail claims that a man named Jim Neugent wrote the following message to ABC after viewing a controversial episode of the network’s hit show, The Practice:

ABC is obsessed (or should I say abscessed) with the subject of homosexuality. I will no longer watch any of your attempts to convince the world that homosexuality is ok. THE PRACTICE can be a fairly good show but last night's program was so typical of your agenda. You picked the 'dufus' of the office to be the one who was against the idea of his mother being gay and made him look like a whiner because he had convictions. This type of mentality calls people like me "gay basher". Read the first chapter of Romans (that's in the Bible) and see what the apostle Paul had to say about it. He and God and Jesus were all 'gay bashers.' What if she'd fallen in love with her cocker spaniel is that an alternative lifestyle? (By the way the Bible speaks against that, too.)

I take issue with the notion that Jesus was a “gay basher,” but anyway …

The e-mail then claims that Neugent received “ABC’s reply from the ABC on-line Webmaster:”

How about getting your nose out of the Bible (which is ONLY a book of stories compiled by MANY different writers hundreds of years ago) and read the Declaration of Independence (what our nation is built on) where it says "All Men are Created Equal" - and try treating them that way for a change!? Or better yet, try thinking for yourself and stop using an archaic book of stories as your crutch for your existence.”

Whoa! Not nice! Is your blood boiling, fellow Christians?

(Don’t be too hasty and jump to conclusions. That’s what the e-mail wants you to do. Keep reading.)

The e-mail ends there with a response from Neugent that he’s going to contact his local newspaper. And, of course, there’s the obligatory Internet call to arms — “forward this to every single person you know!”

When I read this, I thought, “This HAS to be a hoax.” The first place I go whenever I’m forwarded an e-mail is It’s a sort of urban myth debunker Web site. I typed in the search terms and …

Whaddaya know. I was wrong. The incident really did happen to a guy named Jim Neugent in 1999 in Mena, Ark.

HOWEVER, the e-mail message only gives you half the story. Turns out that Mr. Neugent got another message later from ABC. Here’s the text:

Dear Mr. Neugent:

We apologize for the e-mail message that was sent to you with comments that reflect neither the view of ABC nor of its executives. Viewer mail is traditionally handled by our Audience Information department for response. Your message was inappropriately handled by a programmer from I want to assure you that the response that you received does not in any way reflect the views of ABC Television, and most importantly is not at all consistent with the manner in which KATV, our valued partner in Little Rock, would ever treat their audience/community members.

Unfortunately, as in any organization, there are bound to be a few individuals that step out of line. To that end, we completed a comprehensive investigation into the matter earlier this afternoon. While the individual was deeply contrite and wanted to apologize to you, we felt that his actions were reprehensible and terminated him immediately.

Specifically in response to your original concerns regarding the subject of homosexuality in our programming, the ABC programming department has tried to treat such subjects in a sensitive manner. We recognize that we are serving a large, diverse audience with a wide range of attitudes towards all types of entertainment programming. We believe that programs thoughtfully reflecting social issues existing in our present society constitute proper television faire. We appreciate your original comments and take serious note of your thoughts on the potential direction of future story lines.

We are glad that you brought the e-mail incident to our attention. We truly regret that this happened, and we hope you understand by our actions that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior from any member of our staff.

Finally, I would like to once again add that the response that you received should in no way be attributed to our partner in Little Rock, KATV. As you well know, KATV has been the news and public affairs leader in Little Rock for years, and will be for many more. A finer, more committed television station does not exist. I would not want their reputation to suffer in any way due to our mishap.

Please accept our apologies and regrets.


Daren Benzi ABC Television Network

I find it odd that this portion of the story was left out of the e-mail, which continues to this day to circulate on the Internet. It joins the hundreds of other e-mails that seem to be designed for the same purpose — to make Christians angry for no good reason.

I also can’t help but think that a nicely worded initial letter from Mr. Neugent would have prevented all of this hubbub. His obsessive (or should I say abscessive) behavior clearly violates the “admonish one another with all wisdom” rule.

If you want to live for Christ, don’t waste your time complaining to ABC. Instead, turn off The Practice and go practice Christianity. Get off your couch and be Christ to someone.

And please check before forwarding e-mail.

I math good

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Roger Ebert's job is quite safe, evidently

(by Erik)

Jeanie had a day off from the NICU today, so we went to see the new Wallace and Gromit movie.

We highly recommend the film, although I still think The Wrong Trousers is the claymationed couple’s best work to date.

Every once in a while I feel the need to voice my opinion about films I’ve seen. I recently rented The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a “re-imagined” version of the classic Douglas Adams sci-fi comedy novel. I went to an online movie site and left the following review.

At first I started to write a “normal” review, but then I scrapped it and instead wrote a sort of tribute to Douglas Adams:

“I just now finished watching the DVD — and when I say ‘just now,’ I in fact mean earlier today, but of course I might as well say ‘just now’ because it's the same difference, isn't it?

“I suppose if you're reading this on, say, March 27, 2034, then ‘just now’ is referring to a time nearly 29 years ago when I watched this DVD — which, if you’re living in 2034, likely means nothing to you since DVDs are no doubt obsolete.

“In that case it wouldn't suffice to say ‘just now’ at all, unless you're a member of the insidious Ordothion race of Gamma 12 Zeta, east of Yorkshire.

“Ordothions live to be upward of 2,184,362 years old, and frequently refer to time spans of 29 years as ‘just now.’ “They also refer to periods of 10 years or less as ‘right now’ — and they refer to dachshunds as ‘rather long dogs.’

“Of course it should be pointed out here that the Ordothion year is equal to one-hundredth of a second on Earth, making an Ordothion’s lifespan about 6.067672 hours in earth time. So an Ordothion is quite unlikely to watch The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy since it would take roughly one-third of its natural life.

“Besides that, it’s well known that Ordothions don’t have eyes or ears and “see” using their tongues. They also prefer comedies starring Kate Hudson.

“By the way, I thought the movie was great.”

Last time I checked, the movie review site kindly informed me that “0 of 1 people found this review helpful.”

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Uf-da! What a name!

(By Erik)

Tryggestad (we pronounce it “TRIG-es-tad,” but the actual pronunciation is closer to the two-syllable “TRIG-schted”) is Norwegian.

It’s the name of a small farming village in Norway — the home of my great-grandfather. “Trygg” is the Norwegian word for “safe.” (There’s a Norwegian company called Trygg Playground Co. that does business here in the States. They make playground equipment, so obviously having “safe” in their name was a good idea.)

Evidently the village was named “safe town” because it was a refuge from the avalanche-prone mountains that surround it.

For a long time we thought my great-grandfather’s name was Ole Iverson (because his father’s name was Iver), and he changed his name when he came to the United States, but I believe we’ve since found some records from Norway where he’s referred to as Ole Tryggestad. It’s a family name still in use in Norway today.

Great-grandpa came to the United States in 1910. And people have been mispronouncing his name ever since.

Two of Ole’s uncles, Andres and Nils Tryggestad, came to America in the 1870s. Their offspring settled in the Michigan, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin. Today there’s a bunch of Tryggestads up in those parts. (There’s even another Erik Tryggestad, believe it or not. I think he works with lasers.)

Ole Tryggestad settled in South Dakota and raised a family. His son, Irvin Orville Tryggestad, married Margaret Helen Loen, also the child of Norwegian immigrants. They moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., and raised three sons. The oldest, Thomas Nolan Tryggestad, is my dad (who, incidentally, hates cold weather and suffers from a malady our family refers to as “the hard chill”).

Dad joined the Air Force and moved to Washington, D.C., where he met my mom, Karen Puckett, from East Tennessee. My sister, Amy, and I were born in Alexandria, Va. (I'm the oldest.)


Velkommen to Tryggbløg

After years (or months … maybe weeks, actually) of complaining that blogs are a complete waste of time, here we are with a blog of our own.

I’m Erik Tryggestad of Edmond, Okla. My wife, Jeanie, has been reading her friends’ blogs for some time, and that was part of the reason we decided to launch this site.

I don’t know whether or not blogging (I’m assuming such a word would have two g’s together like that) will prove to be a fad in the great universe of things that define this decade, but it seems to be an increasingly popular form of communication, and I’m in the communication business.

I’m a reporter with The Christian Chronicle, a monthly newspaper for members of churches of Christ. We’re online at Oklahoma Christian University owns our publication.

Jeanie is a first-year pediatric resident at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. We’ve been married for close to two-and-a-half years. She’s the red in my painting, to borrow a line from the film I Am Sam. Jeanie grew up in Altus, Okla. I’m from Macon, Ga.

We’re not quite sure what sort of stuff we’ll post on this blog. There will be some family news, and likely some of my bizarre rants about television commercials.

I’m also hoping to use this site to give the Chronicle’s readers a bit of insight into the editorial process we use at the newspaper.

The Chronicle, like most newspapers in the United States, is looking for ways to connect with new readers, especially those under age 50. Some months ago my brother-in-law asked me for a copy of the paper. A popular Oklahoma Christian professor, Curt Niccum, had written a column for our paper and he wanted to read it. He found out about the column by reading Dr. Niccum’s blog.

That means something, I said to myself. So here we are.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Recent news from India/Pakistan border

Following is a story I wrote exclusively for the Christian Chronicle's Web site, You'll find additional stories about relief efforts for the recent hurricanes on the site. -- Erik

Missionary taking aid to Pakistan sees 'chaos everywhere'

Minister says 4 million need supplies, medical help in Kashmir region as death toll reaches 54,000

By Erik Tryggestad
The Christian Chronicle

Few Indian evangelists would have traveled into Kashmir in years past. But on Oct. 11 Paul Renganathan and a team of relief workers drove through it and up to the border of Pakistan, a nation that once stood on the brink of war with India over the disputed region.

Renganathan, a minister based in the southern Indian city of Chennai, accompanied Tariq Abdulla Malik, Abdul Rashid, Manzoor Ahamad and Ali Mohamad into towns destroyed by the Oct. 8 earthquake to distribute a truckload of supplies. Several ministries in the United States also are arranging for relief shipments.

The 7.6-magnitude earthquake’s epicenter was close to Muzaffarabad in the Pakistan-controlled region of Kashmir but caused devastation for hundreds of miles throughout the Himalayan region of Pakistan and India. The quake killed an estimated 54,000 people, officials said Sunday.

“What I have seen is chaos everywhere — injured, hungry, sick, homeless people,” Renganathan said. “Exposure to cold weather killed many children. Many (who were) seriously injured still are waiting for medical attention.”

The team visited towns and villages in the Indian-controlled regions of Kashmir, including Uri, Jabala, Salamabad, Nowgam and Tangdhar. Almost every home in each location was destroyed, as well as schools and hospitals. Most of the survivors were sitting along the roads, in the rain and snow, waiting for relief. Many were weeping, said Renganathan, who estimated that as many as 4 million people in the region need assistance.

Healing Hands International, based in Nashville, Tenn., was waiting for a report from its assessment team, said Roberto Santiago, the ministry’s international development coordinator.

John Kachelman, minister for the Judsonia, Ark., church, also is assessing needs and planning to send shipments of relief supplies from church members to the affected region using his contacts at the U.S. State Department.

In the Philippines, church member Chito Cusi said that MARCH for Christ, plans to send a team to the affected area. The medical ministry has sent several teams to areas affected by the Dec. 26 tsunami

“We are ready. Our experience in Sri Lanka and Indonesia … give us a big advantage,” Cusi said.

“We can be among the first to hit ground zero with the love of Christ.”

The region’s mountainous terrain and bad weather have slowed aid thus far, according to news agencies, but meeting the emotional needs of the victims will take even longer. Indian church members outside the affected zone said that the quake nonetheless had shaken their sense of security, especially after the Dec. 26 tsunami.

G. David Illankumaran, minister for the Maduma Nagar church in southeastern India, said that it seems that “north India and south India are under attack by nature, What will happen in next minute, we do not know.”

But the earthquake also has united the people of Kashmir after years of hostility, Renganathan said.

“India and Pakistan were preparing for war some time ago,” Renganathan said. “Now God has given something else for these people to do for a good while.

“And (that’s what) they are doing now — helping each other.”

In Guatemala November 2004

Erik and Jeanie in Guatemala
Originally uploaded by eandjtrygg.
This is a photo of Erik and Jeanie in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, in November 2004 during a Health Talents International medical mission trip.