Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bike Rides in the Snow!

We are getting back to classes after a week and a half break. Alace and myself to our language school and Joey, Megan, and Sam to the French public school- which is their language school. So, PRAY for us as we get back into the routine of things. We are hoping that we recall things from our first semester quickly and build upon it effectively.

Also, Joey and Megan are now being assigned a special period each week for one on one interaction with a french schoolmate in a study hall period. Their school is working very hard to accomodate their language learning, which has been very nice. We are also challenging our kids to balance their time between French speaking friends and English speaking friends. As you can imagine, they naturally gravitate toward the English speakers. Please PRAY with us that they get to know one or two French friends well enough to have them for a sleepover by Christmas.

We've also been challenged with some car problems. This was a very discouraging thing as it happened on the outset of our vacation time, casting a dim light upon the coming days. However, we did salvage some extended time together as a family, chilling out at home, and watching some movies that we borrowed from some other students. Please PRAY that we make wise decisions concerning our transportation needs. Just to give you a flavor of things... today we were made our 3 mile round trip to the schools and back in rain, sleet, and snow!

Also, the Euro is clobbering the Dollar nowadays and that's making our funds thinner and thinner. We're working to make adjustments, but there's only so much we can do. Please PRAY that our needs would be met in a way that would bring glory to our Lord.

We are grateful for all our praying supporters. Thank you for this crucial teamwork with us

Friday, October 19, 2007

Scary Moments Part II

Scary Moments, Part deux?

First of all, an update on Megan...

MEGAN- Meg's continues to be great... no sign of any problems. We are praising God for HIS healing touch.

SCHOOL- Studies continue to get harder as more and more is expected. Please pray that we are able to expand our relationships with French people to find one or two that would be willing to be "language coaches" for us.

KID's SCHOOLS- Joey, Megan, and Sam are dealing with some of the normal things (bullies, locker room issues, and homework), but, being the "new & different" kid, the normal stuff becomes tough to deal with.

MOST RECENT "LOST IN TRANSLATION" MOMENT- We wanted to get some rotiserie chicken from a butcher/grocer for dinner. These are often in a very visible "bin" on the sidewalk in front of a store. I (Steve) was with the kids as we rolled up to just such a place. There was no one around and all the items needed to do self service were right there- the bags, the tongs, the ladel for gravey, etc. So, thinking self-service was the way to go, I selected a chicken, put it in the bag, scooped in some gravey, and closed up the bag. It was at this exact moment (closing the bag) that I found a very angry butcher bounding out the front door, yelling at me, and then pushing me firmly to the curb and grabbing the bag of chicken out of my hands in one motion. The yelling in French continued as the kids and I looked on, very alarmed. I even noticed that his co-worker appeared in the doorway of the shop with an average sized butcher knife in hand! In the moments that followed, he calmed down as we used my limited French and his limited English to understand one another. Apparently, they will have an occasional chicken thief and are a little touchy about things. I now know to never ever assume that anything is self service until I have asked!

TRANSPORTATION: We've had some bumps and bruises and very chilly mornings to deal with on our bikes, but there is light at the end of the tunnel- we will be purchasing a 1990 Nissan Vanette in "OK" condition, from a former student. In fact, he's also a pilot/mechanic who is headed to Cameroon with SIL- the place where I will most likely doing the maintenance on the aircraft, once deployed to Gabon. A neat connection.

That's our update for now! Have a great weekend, everyone. Steve

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Scary Moments

Here at our language school in Albertville, France, Saturday mornings are evaluation days. A chance to display what we've learned from our weeks' worth of studies.

I decided to make it to the classroom extra early today to do some studying prior to the test. I arrived just before 7am, made myself some coffee in the game room, and then made it up to my classroom giving me just over an hour and a half to study. About an hour later, Joey came into the classroom, out of breath, saying "you need to come now! Megan doesn't know where she is and mom needs you!"

As I was studying at the school, here is what was unfolding at home: Megan, upon waking up, had blurry vision, even after putting on her glasses. She's near sighted, but couldn't even make sense of things close up, nor could she make sense of any written words from a book she's been reading. She became very frantic and, as she walked around the apartment, realized that she couldn't figure out where her room was. Crying, she found Alace, who started to realize that this was an emergency and sent Joey for me, on bike, at the school.

As Joey and I got back to the apartment, we made some phone calls and secured a ride to the hospital. The reason that Alace hadn't made those calls prior is this- we just had our phone service come on line a couple of days ago, and we're still getting used to having access to phone numbers. I found some numbers and within about 10 minutes, we a teacher at our school walked through our apartment door and we were on our way. While we waited, Megan's condition became very drowsy and she was unable to recall some basic information as we quized her. As soon as she really started to concentrate on answers to our questions, she would start to doze off in my arms. As you can imagine, this disturbed us greatly. At this point, I prayed for her aloud and then sang "How great is our God" and rocked her back and forth. She was very limp in my arms and it was such a helpless feeling as a dad who can usually figure things out for his kids. Many things were racing through my mind- meningitis, a freak virus, a stroke or related issue.

We are blessed that the only emergency room in Albertville is only about a mile and a half from our home. We had no idea this was the case, so we were blessed that our teacher, Verena Teko-Agbo was our driver. The hospital took great care of us and promptly got Megan to a bed, made an initial analysis, took some blood to run tests, then put her on an IV. All throughout the ride, Megan continued to come in and out of awakeness. We would ask her questions, so of which she could answer, others that she struggled with, mumble some jibberish, and then doze off again. As expected, when she saw the hospital workers, she perked up a little and was not happy about needing a needle prick in the arm.

As this was going on, Verena stayed by our side as our interpreter and we were happy to find that many of the hospital staff spoke some English. Others from the language school (CEF) started to show up to pay a visit and pray with us. It was such an outpouring of love and support- we were, no doubt, the most visited in the ER. Lisa Nikky, another student training to join the team at the Bongolo Hospital in Gabon, came quickly as well. It was so comforting to have her there, as someone highly trained in the medical field.

Over the next hour, Megan continued to go through phases of dozing, then sitting up, sometimes vomiting, and then laying back down. The doctor returned with news that the blood tests came back all normal and the next step would be a CAT scan. As we wheeled her down the hall to the scan, we noticed that Megan had perked up slightly and was able to answer questions about herself, what day it was, and what had been going on that day. This was greatly encouraging. The scans went well, with Alace in the room with her, and I in the next room, watching the computer images of my daughters head. The technicians and doctors looked at them and I looked for any signs in their mannerisms for bad news. However, these tests came back normal as well.

Megan was then assigned a room in pediatrics for continued evaluation. The doctors noticed a marked improvement in her state. She hadn't thrown up in a while and was smiling and very responsive. The analysis of the doctors seemed to be pointing toward a possible reaction to a sever migraine. There is a history with Alace and her mom to similar instances, however, never at such a young age. However, with many other things ruled out, this was looking like a possibility.

Throughout the afternoon, Megan ate some bread, kept it down, and continued to joke and be her funny, spirited self. More visitors came and, around, 5:30pm, the pediatric doctor released her. We were advised to monitor her closely for any behavior out of the ordinary. Tonight we will be waking her up every two hours to ask her some questions and ensure that she's ok.

Today was a scary one for Alace and I. Feelings of hopelessness and fear came and went many times. It's amazing that we are back home this evening with our daughter who is bugging us to go play with friends and go climb trees! We are thankful for the return of her health and praying for it to remain.

It was so great to see such a huge outpouring of support from the community of faith here in Albertville. We've only been here a short month, but people came forward quickly to help get us to the hospital, comfort us, bring us lunch, let us borrow a car for the afternoon, pray over Megan, and take care of Joey and Sam. Thanks so much to those that helped us our and prayed for this situation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thoughts from France

Hope you all are doing well.

"YES" there's plenty of room in our apartment! Come on over. Here's our address: 1090 Rue de Commandant Dubois, Btmt. E Etg. 2, 73200 Albertville FRANCE. Drop by any old time.

I've got a day off- Wednesdays are free in France for most schools. It's a day for sports and clubs. Then, they have a 1/2 day of school on most Saturdays to balance it out. It's kind of interesting. We're not sure how to feel about it. I do know this... when Wednesday rolls around, I'm usually always ready for a break!

We unpacked all the stuff from the packages that finally arrived from the states (4). It's so so so nice to have some more of our stuff from the states. Alace whipped up some mashed potatoes with "Mrs. Dash" (one of the items in the pkgs.). That was a little taste from home- good stuff. I think some customs or UPS workers helped themselves to at least two things from our stuff- our DVD collection (big bummer) and our wireless router (that thing with the bunny ears to make your internet wireless in your house). There was a lot of craziness the last couple of days in the states, so it's very possible that we put them in storage instead of in the packages, however, I'm 95% sure that they were in one of the boxes. A little sad.

Good news... my HP printer works great and we already put it to use making some copies. Also, the Starbucks and Scuttlebut (York brand) coffee was in one piece. The French drink little espressos at meal time only, so the coffee will be nice to have at our home.

I'm off to a decent start to the day, today. I walked with Joey to his school (6-12 grade on one campus- a little intimidating) with another girl from a family attending the language school. I had to drop off some paperwork (the French LOVE paperwork!!!) and then, on my way back to the language school (where I am now), I found a little cafe/bakery that had some great cafe au lait and donuts! I'm going to start making a list of creative excuses to have to walk Joey to school, now!!! They will even serve their coffee TO GO! This is very unusual for a French cafe. They view beverages and food as social items- when your partaking of them, you do so with other people sitting down.

Speaking of eating with French people (am I venting?), we had a SEVEN HOUR LUNCH with our landlords last Saturday!!! NO JOKE!!! The good news is, they live on the side of one of the Alps about 30 minutes outside of Albertville, so the kids had a blast exploring and hiking. They didn't mind one bit. We had cheese, then the bread, then a salad, then a drink (thought it was cider, found out later it had a little touch of alcohol in it- called Panache... who knew!), then some vegetables, then some meat, then some more bread, more cheese, more drink, and so on and so on. I was stuffed to the gills. They made so much food and the expectations were very high for the Americans to feast. I think that's their impression of us... probably a true impression, however, they went overboard.

They're a very nice couple; Marcel and Liddy (pronounced LEEDY). We're renting their apartment in A-ville for about $1200 a month- and we're told that it's a great deal! That's almost twice what we had budgeted for lodging. We're a little disappointed at the school for not giving us fair warning about this. They wouldn't tell us where we were staying until the last moment. They said that this is necessary in case there are those whose visa's fall through and they need to relocate some. Hmmm....

Ok, enough venting. Hope all is well with you. It's a chilly morning here. A reminder that we'll need to start getting serious about finding a car soon. We're looking at a van this weekend.

We miss you all alot!

Come visit some time! Don't be a stranger! Love, Steve

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We Sold Our House!!!

Dear Support Team,

We have some exciting news... WE SOLD OUR HOUSE! Praise God! Please check out the "Breaking News" section of our website, "" for the full story on this and Steve's daily journal of his time at Missionary Aviation Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho.

Thanks for praying for the sale of the house! We are so grateful for your support.

Blessings from Colorado,

Steve, Alace, Joseph, Megan, and Sam

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cleared For Takeoff!!!

"Cleared for Take-off"

Taxi for take-off: At 9:30pm, September 1st, Samuel, Megan, Joseph, Alace and I will climb aboard Aer Lingus flight 108 from JFK airport in New York City to Dublin, Ireland and then onto Lyon, France. It has been an incredible past couple of months and it's hard to believe that we're almost on our way to our 10-month language school in Albertville.

Sale of House: Thank you for praying for this very important detail. As of this writing, we have a couple of promising offers, however, we're waiting for the buyers to secure financing to come through. The prospect of leaving the country without selling doesn't sit well with us. We are certain that there is a reason this is dragging out with this, however, it doesn't make things easy on the stress level.

Pilot Evaluation: On Monday, July 23rd, after hours and hours of cross-country driving, I walked in the front doors of Missionary Aviation Fellowship US headquarters in Nampa, Idaho. 4 days later, my flight skills had been observed and evaluated very positively by Scott Channon, part of MAF's elite pilot instructing team and also a LeTourneau University grad. This affirmation is a blessing from the Lord as we seek to confirm a high level of excellence in our air ambulance efforts. As I write this, I'm in my second week of evaluation with a focus on my skills as an aircraft mechanic. A big thanks to Dusty and Chandra Benner, from the Rock Church, for hosting my stay.

Family Cross-Culture Prep: After two and a half weeks apart, I will reunite with Alace and the kids at Denver Int'l airport this Sunday (8/5) and we'll make our way to Colorado Springs and the Missions Training International campus. The 17 days at MTI will focus on assisting families as they make the huge transition to completely new cultures. Pray for us as a family as we seek to draw close and help one another through the challenging days, weeks, months and years to come.

Bon Voyage Events: On July 14th, about 50 State College area supporters blessed us with a great time of fellowship and a prayer of blessing over our family. Thanks to all those that attended and the very special ones that put so much work into setting it up (Kendra, my big sis Jane, Mom, Dad & others). The very next day, we were back at Pine Glen Alliance Church for a repeat visit with one of our most supportive churches. At the close of our visit, I was moved to tears as the congregation gathered around our family and lifted up prayers of blessing over our family. These sweet times will be cherished in our hearts and dwelt upon on those difficult days of language study. Thank you so much!

Bongolo Bond Update: We're over 90%!!! Thank you supporters! For information on joining the Bongolo Bond team (monthly donation of $50), please visit our website,

Aircraft Funding Update: Since last October, the total raised for purchase of an aircraft grow to over $60,000! Recently, Joey, Megan, and Sam donated $40 of their own from a lemonade stand fund-raiser! You can also get involved in raising funds creatively for this effort. Drop us a line if you are interested:

Upcoming Dates:

7/30-8/3: Nampa, ID- MAF Maintenance evaluation

7/31: Steve and Alace's Anniversary!

8/5-8/23: Colorado Springs, CO- MTI Cross-cultural preparation

8/6: Megan's birthday!

8/7: Alace's birthday!

8/16: Colorado Springs- Meeting w/ IFAP leadership at Christian & Missionary Alliance offices.

8/25: Samuel's birthday!

8/26: York Alliance Church- worship service (10:15am) and "Bon Voyage" lunch

8/29: York Alliance Youth "Sanctuary" meeting (7pm)

9/1: Mount Kisco, NY- Air Calvary "Bon Voyage" (2pm)

9/1: JFK Airport, NY- Depart for France (9:30pm)!!!

9/3: Albertville, France- Kids register for school

9/6: Albertville, France- First day of language school classes

Prayer: Above all, we covet your prayers for the sale of our house, the transitions to France, and the acquisition of the French language.

Our "airplane" is on the taxiway getting ready for takeoff… and you are all on the passenger list. We could not make this trip without support from each one of you. We are so grateful for your partnership in this journey to bring Health and Hope to Central Africa in the name of Jesus.


Steve, Alace, Joseph, Megan, and Samuel Straw

Sunday, July 29, 2007

1 Evaluation down; 1 to go

I wanted to follow up with info about my exciting first week of evaluation at Missionary Aviation Fellowship, here in Nampa, Idaho:

Week 1: Evaluating Steve's flying skills

We started with a "get to know you" time- me and my evaluator, Scott Channon. As it turns out, Scott was at LeTourneau Univ. as a student at the same time that I was! He was married and lived off campus, plus he had already done a fair amount of flight training prior to coming to campus, so we were only acquaitances back then. This connection with Scott helped put me at ease, a little- I had a fair amount of anxiety about being evaluated.

Anxiety that had been building ever since I put the dates on my calendar months ago!
Scott went over the "syllabus" for the week and we dove right in to a discussion on aerodynamics. Lift, drag, thrust, gravity and all the rest. I got a little hung up on recalling a key phrase regarding rudders- ADVERSE YAW!!! It finally came up from the depths of my brain after a little coaching from Scott. We chatted about airspace regulations, VFR chart symbols, and then it was out to the hangar where I demonstrated a thorough preflight on one of MAF's Cessna 206's. After lunch, we headed out to do some flying. As we walked to the airplane, I was informed that Scott, my evaluator, was being evaluated as well! That meant yet another person in the airplane for me to impress! My axiety jumped a notch and, internally, I asked the Lord to calm my nerves and take it easy. Brian Shepson, an MAF veteran of 20 years or so, would be riding in the back and watching all the fun.

We taxied for takeoff and, once airborne, turned to the south of Nampa for some airwork- stalls, slow flight, and flap exercises. Then it was on to a small airport that sits along the Snake River for some takeoffs and landings- shortfield, softfield, emergency, and normal. After this, it was back to Nampa- a total of almost 2 hours. In my estimation, I performed well but, as we refueled the aircraft at the pumps, I was in search of some comments. Scott had informed me that my evaluation would all be done at the end of the week- not after each flight. To my shagrin, he kept his word and didn't offer any feedback. This was a little disconcerting to me!

We were set for a morning flight, so I arrived early and began the preflight. Scott approached me in the hangar and said, due to the weather (haze/smoke from forest fires), we would be scrapping the flight and doing simulator work. Again, the anxiety hit me hard- I wasn't expecting the simulator work 'til Thursday and would be prepping for it the night before. Without this prep, I was certain to my performance would suffer! However, Scott was calling the shots and it was off to the simulator for some instrument work. After getting used to the feel of the sim, we did some VOR holding, VOR-DME arc work, and then approaches- NDB, VOR, and ILS approaches. It all worked out just fine. On all the approaches, the computer showed a "green" light as we descended to the decision altitude, meaning that I had accomplished the goal- taking the airplane to the airport! Always good for a pilot to be able to do! HA! Scott did make the comment that usually a candidate will miss one of the three approaches, so I breathed a big sigh of relief and was very thankful that the LORD had assisted me in recalling the skills necessary to perform well. After the sim work, we went back to the briefing room and chatted about the flight for the next day.

This day was a lot of fun. It incorporated a bit of instruction on MAF protocols for mountain flying- crossing ridges and flights in and around higher terrain. We headed into the higher elevations south of Nampa for this. From there, we went back to that small strip near the Snake River where Scott demonstrated MAF style pattern work. After each of the demonstrations, I did my best to incorporate what I saw and perform likewise. It went well and I learned a lot about how and why MAF does things in a certain manner. As we arrived in the traffic pattern at the Nampa airport (1000 feet above the ground level), Scott powered off the airplane and said that he would like me to demonstrate a commercial maneuver- the power off 180 degree landing. It had been a while since I had practised this, but, the LORD was good and I nailed the landing exactly on the runway centerline and on the exact spot that I was aiming for. Scott sarcastically joked that I would need to work on my accuracy more! At first, I didnt' catch that he was joking, so I said "ok"- thinking I must have done something incorrect, then he said, "man- you nailed it!". Needless to say, this put me at ease and I went back to my host house feeling pretty good, but being careful not to get a big head about it- one gust of wind and things could of been different.

Thursday was the big wrap up- a cross country incorporating all that we had done through the week, as well as a chance to see my precision in flight planning and execution, especially in the midst of the flight when Scott gave me a deviation. We departed Nampa and headed north to McCall- about a 40 minute flight. We climbed up to 8500 feet and I hit my checkpoints along the way. McCall was pretty smokey, due to all the forrest fires in the area, but I was able to spot it and descend us straight in to runway 34. We pulled off the runway and got set up for the next leg- from McCall to a private strip about 30 miles west- Oxbow, along the snake river and closer to one of the bigger fires. Before departing, Scott informed me that I would only be permitted to climb to about 500 feet above McCall's field elevation on this trip. So, as we departed and climbed West, I quickly noticed that, at this altitude, we would be encountering terrain. So, I incorporated the terrain instruction that I had received the day before and we carefully picked our way around the peaks and over the ridges on our way to Oxbow. We found the airport, down in a valley below, that was filled with smoke, so we decided to turn and head to the third airport on our journey- "Council, Idaho". There, we landed and Scott gave me some on-the-spot instructions for planning the next leg of the journey. He and Brian ate some lunch as I pulled out the charts, put together our course plans and determined our fuel needs. After getting a bite of my packed lunch, we blasted off to our new destination. Enroute, we simulated an emergency landing to a full stop at an airport that was along our planned route. We made a safe approach with no power (power was pulled to idle to simulate) and we landed on the first third of the runway and declared the simulated emergency as a success. Then, we took off and got back on course to our destination. As we approached, another simulation happened- an emergency call came in on the HF radio saying that we were needed to assist with a medical emergency at an airstrip another 25 miles South of the airport that we were planned to land at. Quickly, I needed to plan my course and give a radio call back to let them know of our estimated time enroute. I was able to do this quickly and, 13 or 14 minutes later, we arrived overhead of the airstrip, that looked like no more than a dirt road in the middle of no where. This ended our cross country trip and I was allowed to use the GPS to take us back to Nampa. On the way, we flew over the coolest terrain I think I have ever seen. Canyons, streams, formations- I made a mental note to take a road trip over the weekend to see it all close up (FYI- I did this early Sat. morning and got great video!).

Scott and I met at 8:30 am and went over my evaluation. I was evaluated in about 30 different areas and, I'm happy to say that in all but one area, I either meet or exceed MAF standards! The one area had to do with my aerodynamic theory, which I mentioned above. I was overjoyed to hear Scott tell me that MAF would be very happy to have me back to go through there "standardization" next year- a 6 to 8 week process that sounds very fun! I was so thankful to the LORD for this affirming evaluation and grateful for so many that I knew had been praying for me. It's all a bit overwhelming, after all the anxiety, and the fact that my family is not here to share this with me in person.

Today's drive through the canyons and terrain was a great time of worship and praise to the LORD. He is so good and always faithful.

Next week:  Maintenance evaluation- the area that I have more rust to shake off than any other. It will be great to receive direction from the mechanic pro's, here at MAF, as to areas where I need to brush up on.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What's the Frequency, Kennth?

I'm posting an incomplete blog...

Why? I have written myself a note to blog about something that I found funny and insightful, but I don't have the time to fully develop my thoughts... nor am I sure that I can ever fully develop my thoughts... but, I digress.

It has something to do with an airline pilot incorrectly selecting the emergency frequency, instead of the aircraft's intercom, and then proceding to make one of those public addresses to the airfare paying passengers- something like this- "Folks, from the flight deck, this is Captain McStupid welcoming you aboard Jet Blue flight #321. We're now cruising at 38,000 feet and I've just turned off the seat belt sign... blah blah blah...". He went on for about 2 minutes talking about the weather at their destination, the time enroute, etc. ...all of this on the frequency meant for pilots to declare emergencies. Most pilots monitor this channel on a back up radio, just in case the air traffic folks wanna get ahold of you and tell you that they're clearing the skies, ala 9-11.

More on this later.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Breeding Killers?

In light of Virginia Tech... trying not to have a knee jerk reaction, but, are we breeding killers in North America? You have to search for a long time 'til you find a home that has a video game system without a shooting game (not targets, but shooting people). You won't find an arcade without a game where people are targets.

Just a thought. I'm off the soap box now.

Global Symphony

If the world were a symphony, trying to get it's act together to worship the Creator, how would you describe the pieces of the symphony?

Percussion section... Southern Hemisphere?

String section... East?

Woodwind section... West?

Horn section... North?

Your thoughts?

We're getting the band back together!

So... Jake and Elwood Blue (the Blues Brothers) go to church where James Brown is the preacher, and Jake (Jim Belushi) has a vision- the vision is to get the band back together. Ah yes... and then comes the rest of what is arguably the best movie ever, with the best car chase ever on film.

So... here's a stretch, but, when our Creator brought Adam and Eve on the scene, wasn't the original intent to "get the band together" and establish worship to our Lord? Ok, we agree. Now, here's the jump: When God established the covenant with Abram (essentially saying, "I'm gonna bless you so that you bless others"), wasn't HE saying (in a way), "we're getting the band back together"?

Road Trip stuff

So... Here are a couple of things that have happened while on the road, telling people about why we're taking the show (the family) on the road (to France and onto Africa):

>We ate "dandelion salad"... yep... real dandelion. If you eat it with mashed potatoes, it's really not that bad.

>We caught up with friends of ours whose marriage, the last time we saw them, was in bad and getting worse. Believe it or not, we caught up with them by accident, at a church where people were giving testimony to what God was doing in their life. What had God done? Shown the world HIS amazing ability to resurrect a failed marriage by bringing them back together, stronger than ever! Very cool.

> We've seen our kids (who've been skeptical about making visits to other churches) make new friends and most always say, after every visit, "I had a really good time! I'm glad we came." That's very cool, as a parent.

Seriously... Who wants to write a book with me?

Ok, folks. I've asked before and I'll ask again: Who would like to make a few dollars with me on the side and write a book? I'm simply looking for someone willing to reveal to the world their shortcomings and embarrassing moments where they probably should have been fired from their jobs! We'll combine them, along with the lessons we've learned, into one funny and inspiring book (at least, that's what it'll say on the back cover).

Here are a couple of mine:

1) The "Anna" incident: As a youth pastor in TX, I hit "play" on the VCR (for those of you who remember what that is) at the back of the church and then went to sit with my wife, Alace. However, in the darkness of the room, I had accidentally slid into the wrong aisle and was sitting next to, and had my arm around and pulling close, a teenager! Where was Alace? Sitting in the aisle behind, yucking it up with the rest of the youth group.

2) The "Rachael" incident: As a youth pastor in PA, I was a director of several retreats where I had to show up early and stay late. At one such retreat, I was wrapping things up and getting on the road. Hoping to see where our church's youth group was as well as say affectionate things to my wife (one of our groups leaders), I decided to give her a call on her cell phone. Upon hearing "hello" at the other end, I thought it'd be cute to ask her "Hey honey... what are you wearing?", to which I heard a startled voice yell- "STEPHEN STRAW- THIS IS RACHAEL!!!" What followed was a mix of anger, confusion, and dismay. Alace picked up the phone, while watching Rachaels' face get redder and redder and said... "Honey- what did you just say?" ...needless to say, I had some 'splainin' to do.

3) The "Heather" incident: Long story short (Heather's last name is Storey, so... pardon the pun), Heather was in the church van and about to sit down on a bag full of sandwiches. What did I do? Well, it's logical... stop Heather from sitting down, which, from my location, at the van side door, meant lunging inside and pushing on her backside to stop her. Hmmm... youth pastor pushing on a teenage girls' butt. Not good. By the way- a teenage boy simultaneously acted to stop this at the same time. What did he do? Grab the bag of sandwiches! Now... why didn't I think of that!?!

4) The "Blue Chair" incident: Summary- I had the youth group split up into about 10 groups of 7-8 and do a spray-painting project in the church gym. Problem? The unforeseen problem of poor ventilation in the gym. Suddenly, we had a lot of "happy" teens. Church was never so fun! the way... I apologize for the global warming problem that also resulted from this night back in the year 2000.

5) The "Big Red" incident: Summary- Our church's van was nicknamed "Big Red". One evening before youth group, I took our student intern, Big Dan (that's funny... "Big Dan" in "Big Red"....) out for a taco at Taco Bell. I got antsy in the line at the drive thru. We decided to go inside, so I threw 'er in reverse. Problem? I didn't see the small sports car that had pulled very close to the back of the van and the sound of a crumpling soda can was the next thing I heard. Bummer.

6) The "Chinese Firedrill" incident...

7) The Youth Conference fund incident...

8)..... the list goes on and on.

So... who's in?

Have You Dug Your Grave?

Some dead Russian guy painted/drew this picture.

If we, as Jesus-followers, are, ourselves, dead and alive only in Christ, I'm wondering if we've dug our graves yet?

I like the scene in Band of Brothers where Sgt. Spears tells another soldier, Lt. Blithe, that the reason he cowers in a foxhole in the heat of the battle is that he thinks that he's still alive... that he has any chance of getting out of the war alive. In other words, if he'd start functioning with the thought that he's already a dead man with nothing to lose, he'd start having some success. Hmm.

So, if we'd just get our fears out of the way by "digging our grave" and burrying ourself (only through the grace of God), we'd start taking some chances for the Lord. We'd start "living life outside of the boat".

Ben and I

You're not going to believe this!

I was sitting at my desk with the TV on a sports station behind me. I noticed that, in the next segment, the DC area sports station was going to have a segment with Ben Olsen and the viewers should email their questions into the station. So.... you can guess the rest.

In the next segment, they got to the end of the interview with Big, Bad, Ben and they said, "well Ben, we asked our viewers to post their questions and we have time for one. It's from STEVE from your home state of PA. He'd like to know, 'what's getting the most play on your IPOD?'"

YESSSS!!!! I (indirectly) asked Ben Olsen what he's listening to on his IPOD!!! Can you believe it?

Oh yeah.... Ben's been listening to Cold War Kids.. I had just been checking them out that day as well.

I'm serious... me and Ben have a connection. It's eerie.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vamos United!!!

Vamos United.
Esta noche,
Te-ne-mos-que ganar.

Ben Olsen

Ben and I (part I)

(my imaginary interview with D.C. United soccer standout, Ben Olsen)

How would your opponents describe you?

If you were not a professional athlete, what would you be doing?
I'd be great in a boy band, but now that I'm getting a little older, maybe a teacher.

What is your recipe for a successful sports team?
A lot of talent, luck, and the ability to buy into a team concept.

Is there an athlete from another sport whom you'd like to meet?
Jason Kidd- he inspires everyone around him.

What do you always take on vacation with you?
My girlfriend, Megan.

What CD is currently in your car?
Postal Service

Where do you go when you have time off?
My favorite restaurant in D.C. is Pasta Mia.

Do you have any special talents off the field?
I'm a great slow dancer. Ask Megan.

What did you like about playing with Freddy Adu?
He is great. He has brought a lot of great exposure to the club and the league but I think there is also a lot of pressure on him.

How did you handle being sidelined for a year? Did you pick up any new hobbies?
It is important to find another outlet when you are sitting on the couch and can't run. So, I started painting.

What do you like about Washington fans?
Their loyalty.

What is the last book you read?
"The Best American Nonrequired Reading," by Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith.

Thanks for your time, Ben

I always have time for a friend, Steve

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God is Good... All the Time!

A couple of things have happened lately, while flying, that have reminded me that God is good….

First, if you remember back to the end of January, our good 'ol President gave is State of the Union address. The next day, he traveled to Wilmington, Delaware to give a follow up speach in the morning. It just so happened that I was headed that way doing some of my patrolling in the Cessna 182.

Well, if you aren't quite up on what the airspace issues surrounding a traveling President are, it goes a little like this- DON'T GO NEAR THE PRESIDENT! Ok, it's a little more technical... you see, when, as a pilot, you are getting ready to go flying, among the many things you incorporate in the pre-flight stuff is a check on "TFR's"- Temporary Flight Restrictions. You can do this using many different websites and reading about the TFR for the day that you are flying assists you in knowing if you should be avoiding any areas- like, where the President is.

Wilfing (Part I)

Britons waste online time 'wilfing': study

A web user browsing search engine Google, December 2006. British Internet users spend an average of two days a month surfing the web aimlessly, or "wilfing" as the activity has been dubbed, according to a study.

British Internet users spend an average of two days a month surfing the web aimlessly, or "wilfing" as the activity has been dubbed, according to a study released on Tuesday.

More than two thirds of Britons admit to wilfing -- short for what was I looking for? -- while a quarter say they spend 30 percent or more of their time on the Internet surfing without any purpose.


WILF- What was I looking for?

another good variant on this...

WILF- What was I LIVING for?

good question as you brush your teeth (twice daily... and floss)