Ever wonder what those people east of the Mississippi think of us Montanans? Zach from Chicago would always tell me, but I never really believed him until I read this article a friend sent him from the Chicago Tribune.

It starts off, "Two of Montanans' favorite recreational activities--smoking and drinking--took serious hits this month with lawmakers passing bills banning smoking in all public places and outlawing drinking while driving."

I also like, "Everyone wants to drink a beer when they're driving."

I bet you wouldn't see a couple of guys watching TV outside on lawnchairs drinking beer next to a campfire in their front yard outside the mobile home in the middle of town in Chicago though either. Yes, Jamey, Scott, and I saw just that last Friday when the weather was so beautiful.
I just signed up for this thing called streamload. You can put big files on their servers, and share them with your friends or whatever. So here is a test with the Mexico fundraiser video. With the free account, I only get 100MB of downloads a month, so that means that this can viewed about 100MB / 3.37MB = 29.67 times, so don't hog them all. Click that link, or the image to view it.
Saturday was a blast. The Chi Alpha in Helena organized a paintball tournament, and so we (the Chi Alpha at the University of Montana) decided to go. It was only $25 for the gun, face mask, and 500 paintballs, but the even better part was that if you brought a friend who has never been to a Chi Alpha event, then they got to go free, and you got half off!

Well, I didn't know if I was going to have time to go on Saturday or not, so I was late inviting Pavel and Arthur, but once I figured that I could spare a Saturday, I invited them and they came. Pavel and Arthur are my two cool Russian friends. I work with Pavel. The three of us drove over with Scott and had some great conversations, like how if China and Russia were to ever "rumble" Arthur would go back to Russia and enlist. I hope that never happens.

Anyway, I wore some of my old BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform) from the Air Force, and Pavel and Arthur both wore some really cool Russian camos. We spent the day with about 57 other people in six teams on three different fields blasting each other. Arthur was such a riot, yelling "for the mother land!" and other stuff in Russian while shooting everyone.

Before I end this post, let me tell you how I met Pavel. Last year, I was planning on graduating from the U of M and beginning grad school in Computer Science. However, I found out that I did not have enough upper division credit (i.e. 300 and 400 level classes) to graduate, and so my grad school plans were quashed. I took the opportunity to re-evaluate what I really wanted from school. I came to the conclusion that although a Master's degree would be more prestigious and career enhancing, my passion was really for learning a foreign language. I debated between taking Chinese and Russian. Chinese because J.J. is planning on leading a mission trip to China in 2008 that I hoped to maybe be a part of, and Max xin speaks Chinese. Russian because I had been to Russia, loved the people, and I had two friends with Russian degrees. I decided on Russian.

Not too long into my first semester of Russian, it turned out that we were going to get an intern in my office. The person we got was Pavel, who it just so happened spoke Russian as his first language. I've taken this as a kind of confirmation that God wants me to be studying Russian right now, and what is even better is that Pavel has got to stay in the office way longer than I thought he was, and even better than that I am sharing my cube with him. You might think that is not so great, but it really is, we get a lot of work done, and I get to practice Russian with him.

I am not sure where my future will lead, if I will go to Russia or what, but I am certain that learning Russian is right for right now. It is nice to know that even if my future is unknown by me, God will still give me guidance to get me where he wants me to be. Not knowing can sure be frustrating, but I’m sure He knows best.

From left to right: Me, Pavel, and Arthur.

Talk about the time of the year for birthdays! Happy birthday, Matt! It's great having a friend like you. Thanks for always opening your dorm room for Bible studies. May God bless you richly today and everyday. Oh, and by the way, I still read your Xanga.
I went and saw David Boone at Liquid Planet on Friday. Tot and La Falda originally introduced me to his music the last time he played there. He is really good. Not just a good guitarist or vocalist. He puts everything together well, the lyrics, melody, and guitar. With his music the sum is greater than the parts.

What I particularly like about his music is that while it has Christian themes at times, it is not flat out praise and worship music. While I know that there is certainly a place for music with blatant praise, I think there is a niche to fill with more subtle lyrics. I was listening to Ravi Zacharias the other day, and he was talking about a conversation he had with a friend. Ravi mentioned to him that Billy Graham was speaking in town. His friend responded by saying, "that Billy, nice chap, not subtle enough for me." The point he was making is that Mr. Graham's style of preaching was the gospel plain and simple, and that works. We know. However, there are some people who it doesn't quite reach, or strengthen. Some people have questions at a different level, or are better served by being led to the answer, rather than given the answer. So whereas Hillsong or other praise and worship music has its place and purpose, that shouldn’t prohibit music like this from filling its purpose.

I have no idea what David Boone is like, or what his intentions are with writing music. I don’t even know if he is a believer. This is just the impression I get from his music, I could be wrong, but God uses all things. Rom 8.28.

Thanks to a clever text from La Falda. I now have the coolest esoteric license plates.
So what exactly is a palabrador and why do they call me Cuchillo? I suppose I am overdue for an explanation, to those who aren't "in the know." Well it all started way back when...

(A little more than a year ago, in Mexico)
Someone: Hey Lance what is your Spanish name?
Me: I don't know. They called me Lorenzo back in high school Spanish.
Someone: What would Lance be in Spanish?
Me: Let's go with Cuchillo, it means knife and sounds cool.
Someone: Okay Cuchillo, I hope it doesn't scare the orphans.

So that may not be exactly how it went down, but sometimes memories get a little mangled in my head, unless they're numbers or something like that. Anyway, so onto Los Palabradores.

(About a year ago, back in Montana)
Me (wondering to myself): You know self, Mexico was really cool, but don't you wish you spoke more Spanish.
Me: Yeah!
Me: Why don't you do something about it.
Me: Ok. You know I heard somewhere, maybe on a movie or something, about someone playing Scrabble when she immigrated to the U.S. in order to learn the language better. Why I don't I look at getting a Spanish Scrabble set.
Me: Good Idea! Check this out.
Me: Cool that's cheap! I'll take one!
(About a week less than a year ago)
Me: Hey guys want to play some Spanish Scrabble!
Jess, Dan, Rachael: What the heck? Sure!

So we played Spanish Scrabble as we had time, usually once a week. Then we discovered the best place to play in all of Missoula. Fiesta En Jalisco, the greatest Mexican Restaurant in town (across from K-mart on Brooks), actually here you go. It's the one on the south end of town. They have cool Mexican waiters and waitresses who love to speak Spanish with you, and give you tips on making words, not to mention the food is always great. So on with the story.

(Jess, Rachael, Lance playing some Spanish Scrabble at Fiesta En Jalisco. Dan wasn't there because he hates Spanish Scrabble.)
Jess: We need to come up with a name for our Spanish Scrabble club.
Rachael: How about (says something which I can't remember now)?
Others: (ahh, mumble)
Jess: Or what about (says something which I can't remember now)?
Others: (maybe)
Lance: Palabra something-or-other.
Lance: How about Los Palabradores!
Everyone: Yeah!

Okay, so I admit to making myself the hero of this story in my memory. I think we all do that a bit. We then went on to make t-shirts and other stuff on www.cafepress.com. So there you go. I hope you've enjoyed story time with un palabrador. Oh yeah, and they played happily ever after.

Happy Birthday Rocky. Sorry I'm a day late, but things have been hectic.
I’ve been back from Mexico for almost a week now. I have wanted to write about it sooner than now, but I have been so busy with the rest of life that I haven’t gotten around to it. It is probably for the better however, since it has given me a chance to process my thoughts and feelings. First, let me just start with the story.

We left on the 19th of March early in the morning. About 12:45. Prior to that most of us had watched the Easter play at the Christian Life Center, which incidentally, was really well done as usual. The little girl singing while Jesus hung on the cross served as the climax of emotions. Our plan was to drive east on I-90 until Butte, where we would take I-15 south to St. George, Utah, where New Life Christian Center had so generously allowed us to crash in their church. Plans, however, don’t always work out as planned. We broke down in Deer Lodge after only a couple of hours of driving. The suburban lost its fan belt. We really tried, but nowhere within a three hour drive had fan belts at 2:30 in the morning. The night crew at Wal-Mart in Helena was exceptionally unhelpful. So we ended up getting a couple of hotel rooms for the girls while Dan, Rocky, and I slept in the suburban. We wanted to be hard-core missionaries -- and save fifty bucks. I must mention how helpful and friendly the gas station attendant was. He offered us tools, gave us free coffee, and even offered to put us up when he got off of work, but that wasn’t until six in the morning.

The next day Dan, Rocky, and I got up at eight to catch Napa when it opened. We bought a new fan belt, put it on, and it smoked and squealed. I guess there was something else wrong, like the mechanic said on the phone the night before. So we asked him for help, and he told us that the tensioner arm pulley was ceased, and gave us some free tips on replacing it. We asked to pay him, but he said not to worry about it. So after a $25 part and 30 minutes of work, we had the suburban running as good as before. Krysty bought us breakfast, we picked up the rest of the girls, had breakfast again, and were back on the road. It is really amazing that everyone kept a great attitude though all this, and really took the whole thing in stride.

We arrived in St. George late Saturday night. Originally we were planning on getting there around 2:00 PM, but as I mentioned, plans don’t always work out as planned. The pastor was really nice and came and opened the church for us at midnight or whenever it was we got there. After a brief sleep, we were back on the road. We were planning on meeting up with Art and Joyce in San Diego around four in the afternoon after doing some shopping. Then we’d follow them to the hotel in Tijuana. We got to San Diego a couple of hours early, but by some weird chance, Jess saw Art and Joyce filling up at a Costco gas station while we were driving around San Diego, and we weren’t anywhere near where we were planning on meeting them. Crazy.

Art and Joyce are a wonderful couple. About ten years ago they sold all there stuff, and moved down to Mexico. The orphanage, Nueva Esperanza Hogar de NiƱos, is the product of their sacrifice and faithfulness. They have great stories of all the things that God has done to make the orphanage possible. Like, a stack of sheetrock showing up on their door step with no way to get put up. Then that same week a team from Utah called, and offered to help with something. They said they were good workers, but didn’t know what they could help with since they were all professional sheetrockers. Art decided let them come down.

Wouldn’t that be a good name for a band? The sheetrockers. Or maybe a sailing team. Anyway.

We went to Wal-Mart and In and Out burger. The number of people in those places made me appreciate the sparse population of Montana. After buying food, water, and a CD player for the kids, we drove to Mexico. That night we got to shower, and sleep in beds.