Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas lights at the Opryland Hotel

We were in Tennessee visiting Erik's folks for Thanksgiving and took the kids (Maggie and cousin Luke) to the Opryland Hotel to see the Christmas lights. It used to be free to park at the hotel. Now they want $18 — plus tax! So Mimi and Papa T dropped us off and picked us up later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trying out the new swing

Papa installed this swing in the backyard a while back. Since we had some nice weather recently ...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from Miss Maggie

My computer screen is cutting off about a third of this photo, so I won't post any more for a while and see if the problem gets resolved. Anyway, I've got more of these on my Facebook page. -- ET

Monday, October 20, 2008

Big bow, big grin — and a new wagon

Maggie just figured out how to grin. We took a few photos after church yesterday.

Looks like she's up to something!

Attempting to grab the camera.

I was laughing and didn't get her all in frame, but this one's still pretty cute.

Practicing her new grin with Nana and Papa.

Papa took Maggie for a ride in the new wagon he got for her. (You'll notice our neighborhood supports both ends of the political spectrum!)

Papa went slow, but it was nonetheless a white-knuckle ride for Miss Maggie.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maggie goes to IHOP

But, much to her disappointment, she didn't get any pancakes.

She did, however, get to try out a new bib that her great-grandma sent her.

Maggie's new skill — clapping

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A tale of two Margarets

Maggie finally got to meet her namesake last weekend.

Her great-grandma Margaret Tryggestad from Sioux Falls, S.D., came for a visit. My folks flew from Nashville to Omaha and drove up to see grandma. Then all three of them piled in the car and headed down south to OKC.

We got some really nice shots just before they left. (Jeanie already was at work.)

Four generations of Tryggestads.

Margaret and Margaret

Maggie and Mimi

Friday, September 12, 2008

A present for Maggie

Oh boy! A package from grandma and grandpa in Tennessee.

Let's see if it passes the taste test. Mmmmm ... cardboardy.

OK ... I'm going to open it now. No more distractions.

Hey look, Oklahoma just scored again. Go Sooners! Hope they'll show the Bulldogs score soon.

Mmmmrph! Pffft! Mommy says I have something in my nose.

OK, back on task now.

Wow! Halloween PJ's! Thank you, grandma and grandpa!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sooner born, Bulldog bred — I mean Sooner bred! (No I don't.)

(By Erik)

Jeanie's Aunt Bea got a look at photos of Maggie sporting her Georgia Bulldogs attire and retaliated in a big way.

So here's Maggie sporting her OU pacifier (which we got her a while back — she likes it almost as much as her TWO Georgia pacifiers). Everything else OU-related in these photos was a generous gift from Aunt Bea.


(By the way, Bobby Ross told me a GREAT joke today about how you make Sooner cookies. I'll let you guess the punch line!)

Checking the score
College football ... IT'S GOOD!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Miss Maggie loves Bible class

Maggie has officially been "promoted" to a toddlers class at church (passed all her tests and got her thesis approved), so we got some shots of her on Sunday during her final day in the nursery class.

She's growing up fast!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


(By Erik)

I rarely get involved in politics, but I feel that, in light of recent "news" about Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, I must break my silence.

Quite simply, I think that certain aspects of candidates' personal lives — and the lives of their families — should be off limits to reporters.

It fills me with disgust when I see members of the media harping on a subject that simply should be of no interest to the voting public. (It's also absolutely none of their business.)

It's especially disturbing when reporters (and bloggers) continue to ponder an aspect of a candidate's personal life when she simply has NO CONTROL OVER IT.

That's right, you can say all you want about "instilling family values." Some things just happen — they JUST HAPPEN.

And it's not Sarah Palin's fault!

So, for what feels like the millionth time, I'm asking reporters, bloggers, politicians and pundits to STOP POINTING OUT HOW MUCH SARAH PALIN LOOKS LIKE TINA FEY!

Thank you.

(Wow! They really do look alike. I wonder if Tina's going to make a bunch of guest appearances on SNL.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ready, set ... GAMEDAY!

(By Erik)

"It's the most wonderful time of the year ..."

And this year I get to inflict my love of the Bulldogs on someone who is (mostly) powerless to resist it.

So, before we left for day care today, Maggie tried on the Georgia Bulldogs shirt that grandma and grandpa got her some time ago. It's a bit big (12 months) but I think it looks pretty good on her.

In the middle of our little photo shoot, the phone rang. It was mommy, calling from work because she sensed something was wrong. "You're not just shooting her in her diaper, are you?"

Ummm, no mommy. So, after a quick wardrobe adjustment ...

And finally, to make mommy really happy ...

By the way, Maggie got upset when I took her Georgia gear off and exchanged it for her Thumper day care outfit. That's my girl!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My first blog post

(By Maggie)

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Lithuania to Texas to Nigeria and back — how I spent my summer vacation

A prayer during the 2008 Africans Claiming Africa for Christ conference in Badagry, Nigeria.

(By Erik)

The summer travel season (and frantically writing about it for The Christian Chronicle) is almost over. A scant three weeks after I returned from Lithuania, I headed down to Arlington, Texas, for the second Global Missions Conference. It was at the Arlington Convention Center, just across the street from the ballpark where they Texas Rangers play — just next door to a huge new stadium they’re building for the Dallas Cowboys, I think.

Anyway, I had an amazing lunchtime conversation with Isaac Daye, who serves as a missionary to the tiny West African nation of Gambia (seriously, get out a map of Africa and try to find this place. It’s a little sliver of a country contained entirely within the borders of Senegal) and Willie Gley, an evangelist in Accra, Ghana.

Me and Isaac Daye at the Global Missions Conference.

In addition to planting churches in Gambia, Isaac has worked extensively in Liberia, Sierra Leone and (I think) the Ivory Coast — all three of which are recovering from internal conflicts. (The movie “Blood Diamond” does a good job of explaining the civil war in Sierra Leone. The movie “Lord of War” involves the war in Liberia and has a good explanation of the role of the AK-47 in global conflicts, but the film has A LOT of objectionable material.)

I’ve known Isaac for a long time through our e-mail correspondence, but this was the first time I got to speak with him in person, so that was a treat.

Willie Gley

Willie’s involved in a really cool ministry, too. He’s learning Spanish to be a part of a new work in Equatorial Guinea, a tiny nation on the Atlantic coast, just under the “elbow” part of Africa (around the Cameroon-ish area). Only a small part of the country is on the African mainland. The rest, including the capital, Malabo, is located on a group of islands. Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking nation in Africa, and until now there’s been no significant work done there by Churches of Christ.

My in-laws and my two girls (Jeanie and Maggie) drove down a day after I got to the conference and we all stayed at the home of Jeanie’s sister and brother-in-law. We took Nana and Papa out to Texas de Brazil in Fort Worth for an early celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary (which actually happened about a week ago). It’s a Brazilian steakhouse, called a churrascaria (I’ve never been able to pronounce that word). Basically, that means the waiters come at you with swords — swords full of delicious meat, that is. The salad bar alone is worth the trip.

We came home from Fort Worth on Sunday afternoon, and less than 48 hours later I was on a plane headed for Atlanta. I met up with Trent Wheeler of Nashville-based African Christian Schools in the Atlanta airport and we boarded a direct flight to Lagos, Nigeria. (Yes, it took me five flights to get from Vilnius, Lithuania, back to OKC, but only two to get home from Nigeria!)

It was a much better experience than my previous trip to Lagos in late 2004. (The Northworst – I mean Northwest — flight from Memphis to Amsterdam was delayed, so we ended up staying at a hotel in the Netherlands overnight. That was a really nice experience, but then our flight from Amsterdam to Lagos got diverted en route and we had to spend two or three hours in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, waiting for clearance to fly to Lagos.)

We arrived in Lagos and stayed overnight on the campus of West Nigeria Christian College in a town called Abeokuta, about an hour north of Lagos. It’s a new school and one of four affiliated with African Christian Schools. Nigeria has thousands of Churches of Christ and at least 250,000 church members, but the highest concentration is in the eastern part of the country. WNCC is an attempt to supply preachers for the less-evangelized western part of the country. A Nigerian church elder and businessman donated the land for the facility, and the school has a board that includes many Nigerian church leaders. And the facility, which is still partially under construction, is very impressive.

The next day we headed back to the Lagos airport to get a domestic flight to Calabar, a city in eastern Nigeria. I was a bit nervous about the experience (even though I had done it before — flying between Lagos and Port Harcourt in 2004). We ended up flying out on Virgin Nigeria. That’s right, Sir Richard Branson bought controlling stock in the now-defunct Nigeria Airways and spruced it up (although now he’s looking to sell his shares because of a dispute with the Nigerian government). It was a great flight.

From Calabar, we drove a little more than two hours to Ukpom, the home of Nigerian Christian Bible College. The school, also connected to African Christian Schools, has been around for more than 50 years, and its annual lectureship draws more than 2,000 attendees. I got to see the final resting place of John Beckloff, a longtime missionary who died just a few days before I started working at The Christian Chronicle. Reporting on his death, which followed a concussion he received after falling down a set of stairs, was my first assignment at the Chronicle. John’s brother, Ken Beckloff, is a longtime missionary to Kenya and is missions minister for the Memorial Road church, where Jeanie and I are members.

I got to tour the campus and I had dinner with some of the school’s graduates. Because of some recent trouble with the local village heads (church schools, unfortunately, go through this every once in a while in Nigeria), the school hired security guards to follow us around. I really don’t think they were necessary, but the school’s Nigerian officials didn’t want to take any chances. So there I was, interviewing Nigerian preachers while a guy with an AK-47 roamed around behind me.

The highlight of the experience was preaching a sermon in front of nearly 2,000 Nigerians. Trent spoke first. My assignment was “The Good Shepherd” — John 10:11-14. I spoke and a Nigerian church member translated into the local language. I told the audience that we are all sheep in a huge flock that spans the globe.

“So I greet you in the language of sheep — baaaaaaaaa!” I said. They all had a good laugh. That was the highlight of the trip for me — and the best part was watching my bewildered translator try to decide if he needed to translate that or not. Finally, he kind of shrugged and said “Baaaaaa!”

I think about 24 young people came forward to be baptized after Trent and I had finished preaching. (I’m not saying it was our dynamic preaching that swayed them. I think the Nigerian ministers had been talking to these young folks for some time.) We walked down to a nearby river and watched the baptisms. It was an uplifting experience.

Here's Trent with a couple of our "bodyguards" just before we left NCBC. I showed them a photo of Maggie and one in the middle said, "Awww. How old?" Kind of took the edge off his toughness, but I thought it was cool.

The next day we flew back on Virgin Nigeria to Lagos and traveled back to Abeokuta. We spent the next few days on the campus of WNCC. I got to meet James Beckloff, another Beckloff sibling, who lives in Arkansas but spends a lot of his time at the West Nigeria school, helping with administrative tasks. I also got to meet the school’s director, Biodun Owolabi, a tall, soft-spoken Nigerian Christian who has worked at the school since its inception.

Biodun was helping with arrangements for the Africans Claiming Africa for Christ conference, which we all would attend in a few days. On the Tuesday when Trent and I flew to Nigeria, Biodun was driving in Lagos, on business for the conference. At about 4 p.m. a group of robbers started shooting at cars and taking people’s money and possessions. They shot through the windshield of Biodun’s car and hit him in the hand. It was a traumatic experience for him, to say the least — and a reminder of the dangers and challenges that many of our Nigerian brothers and sisters face. Biodun had minor surgery later in the week to remove some shrapnel from his hand. I asked him about the experience and he gave me a lot of great information about faith and perseverance. Biodun has a really great story that I’m hoping to use as a profile in the Chronicle before too long.

We worshiped with a local congregation in Abeokuta on Sunday and did some shopping on Monday before heading down to Badagry, a former port where slaves were shipped to the New World. There, at an administrative college, we attended the ACAC conference. More than 400 church members from across Africa attended. It was a great experience. I just finished writing a story about it for the September issue of the Chronicle. We’ll get it posted only before too long and I’ll post a link.

I got to see a lot of old friends at the conference — and I got to meet in person several folks who I previously knew only through e-mail. In the past people have pointed out that I rarely appear in any of the photos I bring back from overseas. So I reluctantly let someone else use my camera and got a few shots:

Here I am with Fred Asare, who works with the Village of Hope ministry outside Accra, Ghana. Fred has visited us in Oklahoma City before and is good friends with Lynn and Joy McMillon. Memorial Road has been involved with Village of Hope for several years. (The ministry was featured on "Oprah" not too long ago, too.)

Augustine Tawiah and I have been friends since our days together in Sewell Hall at Lipscomb University. Augustine, who was born in western Ghana, was working on one of his many master's degrees when I was an undergrad. Now he's president of Ghana Bible College in Kumasi, Ghana, and he overseas Lamplighter Academy, a primary school in his hometown, Sefwi-Debiso. I visited the campus last year and wrote a story about it for the Chronicle. I also designed the page for our print edition ... and it won first place in the Associated Church Press competition for layout and design. Whoo-hoo! Augustine always challenges me to go back to school and get at least one Ph.D. The other Ghanaians and I joked that, when he's in his 80s, Augustine will be working on his 16th degree.

One of coolest parts of the conference for me was getting, albeit briefly, to meet Arnold Dzah. He's a native of Ghana who is working in the predominantly Muslim nation of Senegal. He oversees a Bible school that recently graduated its first students. We've corresponded by e-mail for years, but this was the first time we were in the same place at the same time.

The conference happens every four years, so the next one won't be until 2012. Churches of Christ in Zambia will host the event, and they've already got a Web site —

This was the longest trip I've done to Africa — nearly two weeks. I got A LOT of great information.