Monday, August 19, 2013

The 10 Experiment: A Week of Choosing the Simple Life

This past week our family did something different as we wound down the summer...and I thought I'd reflect on it for a few minutes before my life goes crazy at CU...

This summer Ingrid and I both read Jen Hatmaker's book SEVEN where she details her decision to live much more simply as she cut out excess in her life by choosing to eat and wear and purchase far less in terms of variety over various months...her writing about her experience challenged us, made us laugh, and frankly overwhelmed us at times...

One of the things that I honestly struggle with, think about, and then bring up with our family all the time is the massive amount of choices and variety of goods and activities and good old stuff that fills our lives, our budgets, our stores, and ultimately our faith journeys...

It is something that overwhelms me anew every time I travel to the developing world and throws me not guilt, angst, and disillusionment when I re-enter American culture post cross-cultural experience...

I wanted to have our family at least consider how much excess we live with and simply don't need in a culture and everyday life that continually invites, prods, and seems to suck us into living well beyond our needs and what actually causes us to be content and satisfied...

We created some lists of 10...10 things we would choose for a variety of things for just 5 days...our simple way to try and live like others do and be reminded of how much we have when we take away options and least in a small way for a short time...

So here's what we did...

 *Made a list of 10 foods that were the only things we could eat: cheese, frosted mini-wheats, potatoes, water, diet coke, bread, bananas, peanut butter, eggs, chicken

*Each person selected 10 clothing items to wear for the week

*Each family member gave away 10 possessions

* We were only allowed to spend 10 dollars per day outside of necessities as a family

*Allowed to only participate in 10 hours of media time for the week

*We drove only one car for the week

*Recycled everything possible

*Buy clothes at thrift store only

*Picked 10 stores/vendors as viable places to go to

*Observed 10 minutes of quiet prayer and scripture reading per day

*Sought to set aside 10 hours of rest in a sabbath

It was in many ways more difficult than we thought it would be...and the people who knew we were doing thought we were more than a little crazy...mostly because we didn't need to live this way.

Here were a few of the things we observed and experienced:

--not having coffee made getting going more difficult and confirmed a serious caffeine habit

--our moods were crankier simply because we weren't able to eat wheat we wanted to eat

--repetitive lives seem boring and blasé and lifeless

--giving away 10 items is ridiculously easy...we may have been able to do this several times over and still lived the same

--we did more reading and talking without media

--changes in weather are a big deal without lots of clothes (we had a strange summer cold snap during our August week)

--you lose a little sleep and don't schedule extra appointments with only one vehicle

--without tons of options and purchase options we would most likely be thinner and wealthier

--I heard less complaining as the week went on...not sure if that was because we were learning to live with it or because we knew it would soon be over

After our week living 10 was done, we actually broke out of the experiment by going to the newly opened 5 GUYS restaurant here in GR where hundreds of people stormed the place and it offered over 20 toppings for your burger and a soda machine that paralyzed you with hundreds of flavor yes, we are still fully American and not ready for any sort of sainthood status...

As we talked together about the week there was a mix of new awareness of how we live with way too much and a bit of recognition that we would have to do something even more drastic to actually shift our lifestyle and habits for good to how they probably should be...

Doing the 10 experiment was meaningful and productive and something that will be a reference for our family going forward as we continue to think and ask and pray and live with the needs of our brothers and sisters, what is truly healthy in all ways for our family unit, and the call of Jesus to live a life of faithfulness and sacrifice in mind...and I hope that a year, a decade, a generation later living 10 will be simpler and require less change because we resist the cultural mandate for stuff and more stuff because we find that living simply brings a deeper joy and contentment and love as followers of the One who lived a simple life of godliness without very much stuff as He saved us from our junk through His life and death...

Check out the book that started this journey for us and create your own 10 list:


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A NEW SEASON BEGINS: Windshields and Rearview Mirrors...thoughts from Tim Elmore's HABITUDES

Our men's soccer team is welcoming a crew of new players to campus this year...and asking returning players to step up and replace a talented and passionate and successful graduating group...along with my every year welcome week I run for 400 new students at CU, it has caused me to think lots about helping folks to look to the's some thoughts I read and shared with our soccer team this morning...

CU SOCCER 2013--Windshields and Rearview Mirrors: 
Tim Elmore's Habitudes for the Journey

Everyone focuses on something—the past or the future. Where does your energy come from? When our dreams are bigger than our memories, we gain energy from the hope that lies ahead. Often, we must let go of the comfort from our past to make progress.

Rearview mirrors are good to glance at, but not to gaze at. Most of the time, it’s best to look straight ahead.

This Habitude is not simply about letting go of the past. It is important to sustain friendships we’ve made along the way. We should be grateful for fun memories and good times. Our past will always help shape our future. But sometimes, the past can hold us back. If our memories are more important than our dreams—we are in trouble. If we prefer to look in the rearview mirror instead of the windshield, we’ll get stuck—and maybe wreck. Holding on to the comfort of our past can keep us from grabbing the adventure that lies in our future.

Here’s a question for you: Where does your energy come from—the past or the future?

On your journey, can you peer out in front of you and become excited about the horizon? Can you gain more energy from the future than the past? Based on our qualitative research at Growing Leaders, the most common reasons students get “stuck in the past” are:

·         They are victims of time. They can’t seem to break free of old patterns.
·         They are victims of relationships. They stay involved with people who hold them back.
·         They are victims of comfort/nostalgia. They fear that their best days are in the past.

In response, we recommend the following simple new habits and attitudes:

1. Replace comfort with curiosity.
Choose to leave the comfortable to pursue the compelling. Hunt for new horizons to conquer.
2. Reject being a victim of your circumstances.
Don’t let anyone control your emotions or your response to life. It is your life, after all.
3. Renew your commitment to embrace opportunities.
Hang out with different people. Search for new challenges that will stretch you.
4. Relinquish the past and create new memories.
Perhaps it’s time to let go of the old trophies and ribbons and go earn some new ones.

***Philippians 3:12-14 (New International Version)

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DR Trip Flights Home

The guys on the CU Men's Basketball team have spent the last two days in church, spending time with the people of Santiago and GO Ministries staff, and debriefing their trip while visiting the beautiful beaches of the DR...later today they will head home with new experiences and a call to live differently because of what God has taught them and shown them over the past week...many of you will have the chance to hear more about this trip in the days to come...pray that God will use it to indeed do transforming work in their lives and that God will continue to grow His Kingdom work in Santiago...

Here is their flight schedule once again as they arrive back in GR tonight:

*Delta #324 departs Santo Domingo @1245 pm…arrives in Atlanta at 6:30 pm


*Delta #1964 departs Atlanta @835 pm…arrives in Grand Rapids at 10:45 pm

Saturday, August 10, 2013

CU Men's Basketball Trip--DR Post #4

A Saturday DR trip update:

Hello everybody this is Jacob Plite, Senior at Cornerstone University. It is currently 10:30 pm on Saturday August 10, 2013. Today was another amazing and eventful day. We started off waking up at 9:00 am. Kyle, our mission leader gave us an extra hour to sleep in since we didn’t have construction work today. It was a blessing to say the least. Our breakfast was excellent, as usual. We had scrambled eggs with bacon and fruit. The cooks here are incredible. After breakfast we got dressed and walked to the local basketball court where they host youth tournaments. The ages of the teams were 13-14 years. Pedro and Ray, two of our mission counselors coached either team.
At halftime of the basketball game we all had the privilege of listening to Edgar Sosa speak to the local kids. Edgar was on the national team that we played two days prior. He was born in Santo Domingo and played collegiate basketball at the University of Louisville. He currently plays professionally in Italy. Edgar spoke to the community in Spanish so we weren’t able to understand what he was saying, but I could tell that his message was genuine. After his speech he signed autographs and took many pictures. I was happy that I was able to get a photo with him. He is a fantastic basketball player but more importantly, he is an extremely down to earth and compassionate guy. I wish him all the best in his future with basketball.

After the game was over we walked back to the mission center to take a quick nap before lunch. We had fried chicken and rice. This chicken put any Buffalo Wild Wings to shame, no lie. After lunch we got ready to go paint another local basketball court just a few miles away. However on the way it started raining heavily which made the court much too wet to paint. Instead we listened to Pastor Nico’s testimony. It was very moving as expected. One thing that has really stood out to me while on this journey is how passionate everyone is for Christ. Pastor Nico has sacrificed much of his life for the kids in this community. He has given them the opportunity to learn about and grow love for our glorious God. I have utmost respect for that man and everything he has accomplished so far.

Once we arrived back to the missionary we had more time to kill since we weren’t able to paint the court. Some of us took naps and the others played cards in the dorm. I was the designated DJ so I played music while playing cribbage on my phone. After about an hour it was time for dinner. On the menu was some delicious pork, fried eggs, and some sort of mashed potatoes that I had never had before, but were quite good. After the meal we listened to Pedro’s testimony. Pedro was a professional basketball player back in the 80’s and still holds two records to this day. One is the most single game steals, 18. And the other is most points scored by a rookie in his first professional game, 28. Pedro is now in his 50’s and still has such a passion for the game. Pedro is the 8th child of 18 children. He spoke of his family and how he has over 100 nieces and nephews back in the states. He wanted us to remember that we always have a home in the Dominical Republic now. Just because we speak different languages, doesn’t mean that we’re not family. He told us that we all have a special place in his heart after this week. Pedro is an incredible man that I will never forget. I wish all of you readers could have the opportunity to meet him.

After Pedro’s testimony we had an hour break before our game against the local club team. We played on the same court that Edgar Sosa spoke at for the 13-14 year olds. It was quite an experience because the court is outdoors and we played at night under the lights. It’s very hard for me because I am still unable to compete due to my injury.  Traveling all this way and not being able to play against the Dominicans is tough to swallow. I am currently six months out of surgery and have two more to go. My coaches are being very patient with me. Too patient in my opinion! But I understand their reasoning. My brothers played a very scrappy game and came out with the win.

After the game we walked back to the missionary for some Dominos Pizza. As you all know, it was fantastic. The Dominicans really enjoy their corn pizza. It was a first for me and definitely won’t be the last. I highly recommend everyone trying it. And that brings us to right now. I just got done eating and am currently in Kyle’s house on his laptop typing this blog. I hope you are all enjoying reading about our life-changing journey. Can’t wait to see you all when we get back!!! Blessings.

Yours truly, Jacob Lee Plite J


Friday, August 9, 2013

CU Men's Basketball Trip--DR Post #3

And here's the newest post from today in the DR via Anthony Allen:

Today was yet another great experience in the D.R. We started out working construction just like we have the past couple other days. It feels great to be able to help out the ministry knowing its only going to help others in the future. It's hard work but working with side by side with another makes it fun, and we can already notice huge improvements at the site. The guys who we work with from the D.R are awesome. They have a constant smile and they seem like they don't have a care in the world. I've never met people who love life as much as them despite all the negative stuff around them. They find a way to always look on the positive side which is truly amazing.                            

We only worked a half day at the construction site and then headed to an area called the "hole". This is the poorest area in all of Santiago and one of the country's biggest spots for drugs and prostitution. I couldn't believe my eyes when we arrived. They live side by side in little 10 by 10 houses with water running through the middle of the street in some parts. These houses are stacked on one another like nothing I've ever seen before. Human waste and trash is all around you. When we finally reached the court where the little kids were it shocked me. These kids were full of laughter and joy despite these terrible surroundings. These kids loved every second of us being down there. They would ride on our shoulders or backs all day if you let them. Seeing the smile on these kids faces alone made the trip all worth it. From there we walked the kids to the church and helped feed about 50 or so kids a meal, and for some it is their only meal of the day. In total G.O Ministry feeds about 120 kids a day 6 days a week, which is awesome. Even though that seems like a lot, hundreds of other kids need food as well. But it's a great start and hopefully that number only grows. It was truly a once and life time moment down in the "hole".                   

We also got to play one more local basketball team who was very good but fortunately we got the win in double o.t! They were great guys. Overall this experiences has gotten better and better with each passing day and is truly a life changing event. These people down here spoil us and are a joy to be around. This has been one of the coolest experiences of ours life's. We are all truly blessed individuals!

Anthony Allen '14

CU Men's Basketball Trip--DR Post #2

Here's another post from Wes Hudson about Thursday in the hearing the reports...Kyle Bradley from GO shared this with me about the team of guys so far...

It's an impressive group and easy to invest in. We're having a blast!

Here's the report from Santiago:

Hello from Santiago, DR coming from Wes Hudson. Today has been a great day to say the least! As Shane has told you in the last blog, we are doing construction and today we did just that. We started early once again with everyone waking up around 8 o’clock to eat breakfast. This morning we had eggs, sausage, and PB & J, again another delicious meal the hard working cooks have been spoiling us with. Man do they know how to cook! After breakfast we met back up around 8:40am to talk about the second part of the mission statement that GO ministries has. Today it was about redemption, restoring, and renewing. Kyle our main leader had a great talk about these three topics and how important they are not only in the ministry but also in everyday life for everyone! After the talk we were off to another hard day of work. When I mean work this is hard labor and a great way to understand really the difference between hard labor here and in the United States. We worked for a good 2 ½ hours today. During that time we accomplished many things like trenches finishing the cemented walls and continued working on the cistern that was started yesterday. The cistern is going well and being dug semi quickly! Good thing we have so many hard working Dominicans, teammates, and coaches! During our hours of working I have noticed that our team gets extremely tired in this heat and hard labor but then I look and notice the people that do this way more than we do! The main construction guys are Luis and Felix. They are constantly working and never taking any breaks and it makes me really appreciate how many things that I truly have been blessed with.

When we got done working we headed back for a fantastic lunch cooked by our famous cooks. Again supplying us with great food. Today for lunch we had chicken, rice with beans, plantains and bread and butter. It was delicious! After lunch Luis shared his testimony. This testimony truly spoke a lot to me during this time. He had gone through so much and has gotten so far since he has turned to Christ! He is a very awesome person even though he won’t agree with that because he is one of the most humble people I have ever met!

Now that we were done with lunch we got a quick little cat nap and then headed off to Los Perez to play with some local kids. This was a great experience! Right when we arrived you could see the excitement on their faces and how much they loved seeing us to come acknowledge them. This was definitely changing just by seeing them being loved by others and being played with. This was a lot of fun! We played basketball, held the kids and swung them in circles, and watched the young phenomenal kids play baseball. Wow did they love to sit on our shoulders! This was a nonstop thing throughout the hour we were there. It was great!

After the hanging and playing with the kids we went back to the dorms to take another nap before dinner. After the naps we had a great dinner that consisted of mashed potatoes and fried cheese. This as well as the other meals were awesome! After dinner we had to gear up for one of the best experiences and toughest teams we have played and definitely the best we will!

Gametime! We rode our bus to the Santiago Metros stadium to play against the Dominican Republic National team. As we arrived the metros were still going through practice, so we sat and watched a little bit. After their practice we finally got to suit up and get on the floor. As we got on the floor we continued to look smaller and smaller as their players walked out on the floor. It started at 6’3” then 6’5” then 6’8” then to 6’10” and yes I’m going to say it 7’1”! We looked at them and just said oh well we have to figure how to play against. Then we started layup lines and man, I think they may have springs in the floor because everyone was getting up and throwing it down! Then the buzzer sounded and it was time to play! The game started out great for us! We got off to a quick start with a nice alley-oop from Alex Lyle to Ben Lanning!! We thought we were in good hands and got a quick lead and our biggest 11-7. Boy did that end quick! They went on a 14-6 run to end the quarter to finish 24-17. We were still in good hands and had a lot of confidence then the second quarter came along and our legs started wearing out and the work we did previously in the day took a toll on us and couldn’t buy a basket. We ended the half down 20. The second half started a little rough but hung with them for the most part and then they just blitzed us in the fourth. After the game we met up with the guys and they were very classy and humbled themselves so well! They were so nice to all of us and thanked us for playing! Can you believed that thanked us?! One of the highlights of the night was the dance routine they had at center court, which they included us in as well. They start off with a beat and then everyone gets a chance to get in the middle and do a little dance. Of course I was selected along with Mike, Travis and Coach E. The best dancer of the night goes to Coach E for sure!! He has some moves!
After the talking we rode back home to shower and again we get spoiled with another meal of tacos. The tacos were great!

Everyone is enjoying this great experience! We all need to take some time to look back and really think about how blessed we truly are and how many great people our in our lives. Being here has changed so many views on life and has really made me look at how special life is and the smallest impact that we can have on anyone! God bless!

Wes Hudson, Senior, Class of 2014

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CU Men's Basketball Trip--DR Post #1

Hello name is Chip Huber and I work as the Dean of Student Engagement at of the best parts of my job is helping to set up cross-cultural ministry trips and prepare our students for life-changing experiences in other cultures...I have had the privilege to take several of our athletic teams overseas in the past few years and am really excited that our men's basketball team has the chance to serve and learn and get to know the Dominican people and join what God is doing in the DR...the guys are working with a great ministry called GO MINISTRIES ( and we have a long term investment as a university in the DR over many years...several times throughout the trip different players and coaches will be sending me an email that I will post on this blog site...keep praying for them and it will be awesome to hear what God is doing in and thru them in the's the first entry I received tonight:

This is Shane Moreland coming live from Dominican Republic. The past 24 hours have been really eye opening. We got into Santo Domingo, DR at around 1:00. We were a little hungry so we stopped and ate some chicken and French fries at a local store. After eating, we were on our way to Santiago. On the way to Santiago we drove through the capital of DR, Santo Domingo. Seeing thousands of stores and mini shops on the side of the roads was a real eye opener to the hard work of the Dominican culture. Right away, you can tell these people don’t have the blessings and opportunities we have in the United States. But they make up for it through hard work and dedication. Another thing I noticed is that if you owned a store or shop, chances are you live above or in your shop when its time to close for the day. The three-hour drive to Santiago was beautiful. There were mountains everywhere in sight and people were walking everywhere. When I say walking everywhere, I mean it. A lot of Dominicans don’t have any means for transportation so they have to walk to get what they need. Seeing all this in four hours really makes you feel blessed and grateful for what you have. Once we arrived in Santiago, we got settled at our dorms where we would sleep, eat, and hang out at.  All the kids were really excited to see us. For dinner we had chicken, rice, bread, pineapple, and papaya. If you wanted to make a PB & J, there was jelly and peanut butter too. We have been drinking water and pineapple juice. After dinner, we got the chance to go to a professional basketball game and sit up close and personal. We saw the Santiago Metros play against another pro team. I wish fans in the United States were like the fans in DR because man, do these people love their team! They were going nuts and dancing after dunks and three pointers. The Metros won easily.  After the game, we headed back to the dorms, had a quick snack (bread, PB & J, salsa and chips). We were pretty tired from the long day so we showered and went to bed right after. The water isn’t hot in the showers so everyone has been taking cold showers. It isn’t that bad though because of the DR heat.

The next day was a big day for us because we were scheduled to work construction at our site. We woke up ate breakfast. We ate eggs, DR potatoes, and DR sausage. After eating, we were on our way to the site, which is only 10 minutes away. We accomplished and completed many tasks such as cementing walls, digging in trenches, moving rocks with our hands, sweeping dirt out of the building, and many other jobs. We are scheduled to work 6 hours each day in 3-hour increments. We got done with our first 3 and went back and ate lunch. We ate chicken, rice, beans, fresh fruit and potatoes. After lunch we all were dead tired and took a nap before our next 3 hours. We woke up and were on our way to the construction site. We do many of the same things as the first 3 hours but we got so much done. We really did a great job.

I am glad that our parents and Cornerstone University let us have the chance to go on a mission trip. It has only been 24 hours but it has been one of the best experiences of my life.

-Shane Moreland, junior, class of 2015