Thursday, August 06, 2015

Video of our traveling family

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Planking on the Pyramids, Discovering Dracula in Transylvania and other Homeschooling Experiences

As you know, we have been homeschooling (road schooling, actually) our kids over the last 4 years. This has made it possible for us to travel and minister together as a missional family. Boarding school for our kids was not an option, for personal and financial reasons. So they came along with us and involved themselves in all our projects overseas. And we have absolutely NO REGRETS about our decision to homeschool. And the kids are all happy we did it also.

Although sometimes its hard to produce the proper paperwork for universities. In our case, we were thinking we would be back in USA but are now actually based in New Zealand, where Abigail is attempting to enter the Polytech College called Whitireia.

Yesterday I was on the phone with a teacher at the Polytech who wanted a bit more substantial proof that our Abigail, now 17 and applying for entry, had not been sitting on a couch watching episodes of South Park for the last few years of her schooling.

So I sent her something . . . 


This is Abi "planking" on the Giza pyramids in Egypt. No, I didn't mention Abi's various planking episodes in my email. But I did mention some other things . ..  


In the past 4 years, Abigail has visited many countries in which she took advantage of learning opportunities, cultural immersion, language training, historical studies, etc. She learned from experts in the countries and from daily schooling activities as well as completing directed projects assigned to her by her parents.

Highlights of these recent educational experiences are as follows:

- Abigail studied ancient Chinese history at the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China.

- Abigail studied history and archeology in Turkey at the ruins of Ephesus and Pergamum as well as the ancient cities of Troy and Olympos. While there she read Turkish literature (Portrait of a Turkish Family, Birds Without Wings, etc) as well as ancient Greek mythology.

- Abigail gained computer skills and social media experience through web design and blogging, becoming the "Webmistress" of our family's travel blog

- She studied pottery making in Safi, Morocco and spent time with Saharawis (a nomadic tribe) in the Sahara Desert.

- She studied war history at Gallipoli, Turkey, in particular the New Zealand impact as part of the ANZAC offensive.

- She completed catering and food hygiene training at Freakstock Festival, Germany and Sir Toby's Hostel, Czech Republic
- She studied historical religious locations including educational visits through the Pura Besakih Temple (Hindu) in Indonesia, the Blue Mosque (Muslim), and the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul.

- She studied East/West European reunification at the Berlin Wall, Germany and took a Jewish history tour of Budapest, Hungary (she had already visited Auschwitz-Dachau Nazi camp in Poland as a child).

- Abigail has studied nutrition and is familiar with vegetarian, vegan and raw food diets. In 2010 she climbed the Atlas mountains in North Africa with her baggage on a donkey to attend a Rainbow Festival.

- In Lisbon, she studied the impact of Portugal on the world through maritime exploration. Her text book was "The Worlds First Global Village".

- In New Zealand she has learned some Maori history through museums (Auckland, Te Papa), visiting the Marae in Rotorua and through powhiri ceremonies.

- She has gained agricultural experience in shearing sheep, handling pigs, milking cows, as well as from gardening projects in New Zealand and olive harvesting in Portugal.

- She acted in a commercial for a New York production company to launch an American literacy project called Know How 2 Go It can be viewed online at

- Abigail went to Transylvania, Romania to research the prevalence of bats and the myth of Vlad the Impaler and Count Dracula.

- She studied ancient Egyptian history at the museum at Cairo and on location at the Giza pyramids under the tutelage of Ibrahim Morgan, historian and Egyptologist. Of special interest was King Tut, who was about the same age as Abigail and, like Abigail, had ear plugs.

- At Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, Abigail researched the ancient cave churches and the early monasticism that produced the Cyrillic alphabet. 

- She studied the art and scientific inventions of Leonardi Di Vinci at Venice, Italy. 

- In Spain, Abigail studied the surrealist art of Salvador Dali at the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figures, and the works of Pablo Picasso in Barcelona. 

Dali museum

- She studied the architectural achievements of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain, in particular the Sagrada Familia. 

- In 2012, Abigail completed a 5 month modern apprenticeship in hospitality and tourism in Prague, Czech Republic under Matthias and Carrie Schwender, owners of Sir Toby's Hostel
- She gained experience in bookkeeping, accounting and budgeting both at the hostels and with social enterprise projects.
- She has learned the crafts of pottery, sewing, knitting, spinning wool, crochet, and clothing modification. She also learned the art of piercing and tattooing from Portugal's first and leading tattoo artist, Paulo Matos.

- She studied alternative building methods through participating in the construction of straw-bale houses, geodesic domes, yurts and helping to construct a self-build motorhome from an empty truck shell. 

Abigail has just turned 17 years old and has become a capable, reliable, hard-working, young adult. She has now been to over 40 countries and gets on fabulously with people from any culture. We are very proud of her and expect her to excel in whatever she puts her mind to. 
Abigail has suffered from Type 1 Diabetes since the age of 7 but that has not stopped her adventurous spirit or her nomadic exploits. She always wanted to sky-dive, a desire that was fulfilled last year when she jumped out of a plane in Queenstown. I call her the world's most adventurous diabetic.
I understand her education has not been normal, at least for the past 4 years, but we believe it was exceptional and productive and has helped shape Abigail into the spectacular and individual person she is today.
I will be happy to send more information if needed.
Andrew Jones
(Father of Abigail)

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to resource missional entrepreneurs without creating charity cases

Prague. Yesterday I spoke to a group of Christian business professionals and Foundation leaders from USA about how to resource missional entrepreneurs in Europe in a sustainable way, ie, without creating eternal charity cases. These people, all of them very friendly,  are part of a European tour organized by Fred Smith of and Lee Behar of The Maclellan Foundation.

image for the gathering presentation

I talked a little about what we have been doing in the past ten years in Europe and some of the best practices we have observed from other groups that we collaborate with. I thought the presentation was a little too heavy on the strategic side and lacked some warm human stories. Oh well. After I spoke, my good friend Sasa Flek shared about the Bible21 project.

But here is my presentation. And if you happened to be in the audience, then please accept my humblest apologies.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Egypt: Capital flight, again

The Exodus provided Bob Marley with one of his greatest songs but the actual event in Egypt, which occurred around (1312 BCE), some cost the country some serious coin. When the persecuted Hebrews left Egypt, they took took gold, silver, clothes, as well as significant human resources.

And now it's happening again! Not with the Hebrews, mind you, but the Coptic Christians who are fleeing the country.

Bob marley exodus

According to one source, $US500 million leaves Egypt each week, a potentially fatal siphonage that started with the Revolution earlier this year. I am curious to know how much of that money is connected to the flight of persecuted Coptic Christians.

So I asked Wally, one of my Christian friends who lives in Cairo, to give me the skinny.


TSK: Wally, I know a lot of wealthy businesspeople are leaving Egypt, and some foreign investment is drying up, but how much of that capital flight is Coptic Christians leaving Egypt to escape persecution from fundamentalists?

WALLY: My guess is much of the capital flight is in the form of Christians who are leaving Egypt at a fast rate...because they were traditionally blocked from government and the military, Egypt's believers moved into business...their strong values of honesty and the like saw them thrive and dominate the sector (such is the Christian reputation for being above corruption that believers usually have the job handling finances in government and private companies/agencies)...anyway, as they relocate they're taking their finances with them.

TSK: What's up with all this violence?

WALLY: I think you are all aware that anti-Coptic attacks have happened with increasing frequency in recent years - and things have accelerated post-revolution...with 80 dead [this year] and multiple churches attacked and destroyed in many parts of the nation (including Cairo)...a recent attack in Aswan saw the local governor side with the attackers prompting sit-ins by local Copts in Aswan demanding his removal...the protestors in Cairo were targeting the state tv offices because, in addition to the church attacks, state tv has been broadcasting anti-Coptic propaganda which the Copts say is inciting hatred against them...

TSK: I heard the Copts were armed also . .

WALLY: The official story is that some Copts were armed and shot at police, killing three and prompting the army to be called in...the armoured personnel carriers driven into the crowds were driven by people who 'stole' them and not soldiers...and no live ammo was fired at protestors...26 died (including the three military police)...

TSK: But . . .

WALLY: But . ..  the truth (as confirmed by video footage, photographs of the scene, eyewitness accounts from independent Western witnesses and locals of both Coptic and Muslim stripe and physical evidence such as bullet casings) is: closer to 52 died (and likely 0 soldiers) with many bodies delivered directly to families and not taken to the Coptic hospital and some bodies apparently dumped in the Nile to hide the scale of the ammo was fired in addition to blanks, snipers were used (given very accurate head shots in many shot dead), the APCs were driven by soldiers (don't know if it was a direct order but I suspect so) as evidenced by video footage showing soldiers looking out of the top of the APCs and one soldier whose APC stopped in its tracks trying to get out and being set upon by angry Copts (after he killed some of their number) only to be protected by a Coptic priest (in a powerful christlike act) and led to safety...also, state TV broadcast a message saying Copts were killing soldiers and loyal Muslims should come to the scene and help the troops...some responded and Copts who found themselves on the wrong side of the groupings of crowds were set upon by the Muslim civvies and taken into side alleys to be dealt with (fatally, we can presume)...

TSK: So how can we pray for you all?

WALLY: I went to a prayer meeting last night and it was good: we prayed for believers - that they would not desire revenge (before the attacks one Copt told me his people were ALREADY so angry they believed they needed to take matters into their own hands), and for the national military council running the country.

TSK: Hey Wally, I would like to talk more. And maybe some readers have questions for you also. Talk soon. Thanks for your perspective.


Related: TSK on Coptic shooting and meeting Bishop Damian and I am following Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad - he just passed day 50 of his hunger strike and his family are worried.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Choosing leaders wisely

Seeking david dont settle for saul

This is part of the presentation I am working on for next week in Prague. Sometimes we choose poorly based on appearance. Sometimes its the law of preferential attraction that forces our hand and we end up settling for the familiar.

It takes faith to notice Galilee over Jerusalem, David over Saul, Jacob over Esau. But choosing character over ability is essential for long term success.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Old kindles and outdated iPads

Hey. If you have an old model Kindle or an outdated iPad, and you need a good reason to upgrade, here's that excuse you are looking for:

Our kids are homeschooled and lugging around paper books is sooooooo early 21st Centrury. We want to migrate to ebooks and ereaders and reduce the books in our backpacks.

Can you help us? Let me know if you want to donate one and I will give you the address to send it. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Innovative worship

Innovative worship church survey american congregations 2000  2010

"The edges and images of congregational vitality continually shifted over the last half of the twentieth century". David A. Roozen.

From "A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000-2010" [PDF] which claims to be the largest national survey of congregations ever conducted in the U.S.HT: Faith Communities Today, TJ

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Goodbye Steve Jobs

Apple steve jobs

I can't begin to tell you how my life is different through Steve Jobs. We will miss him!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Everyone loves bubbles

We are having a great time. Here's a few of today's images from around our truck at Freakstock Festival, Germany.
Abi at truck bubblesFreakstock 2011Truck muscians freakstock
Related: Coolest stuff from Freakstock 2010, Freakstock 2009 and 5 Christian T-shirts you see here at Freakstock but will never see in the Bible Belt . . . including this one:
Christian t shirt

At Coptic Monastery

It's been an interesting few weeks in Czech and Germany. Some moments and images below, like visiting getting a tour of a Coptic Orthodox monastery,
Monastery coptic
painting the roof of the motorhome,Painting roof
and blowing bubbles at Freakstock Festival.
We are off east today, heading through Austria and Hungary to get to Romania and Bulgaria. Appreciate prayers for the journey.

Hanging out in Istanbul

We are taking a week's holiday and we chose Turkey. We arrived in Istanbul yesterday. Amazing, wonderful, historical city. The people are REALLY REALLY friendly and I totally recommend all my friends to come to this country to visit and enjoy. Last night I went out with my son, Sam, who is with us for a few more days before leaving us to study filmmaking in Wellington.

Watch out, Peter Jackson!


A few days ago, Turkey announced that they are handing back to the non-Muslim minorities a billion dollars worth of buildings that were confiscated since 1936. The Christians will also be allowed to reopen their Seminary that was closed in 1985. FANTASTIC! This is a great move and one that will no doubt speed their journey into joining the EU.

I hope the churches, who have 12 months to reclaim these buildings, schools, cemeteries, etc, will use them wisely. I bet other countries will offer to help them think through what could be done to repurpose some of those buildings for ministry in the 21st century. I know I have some ideas . . . .

The Hagia Sofia, of course, will remain a musuem. It was taken a long time ago and thats all water under the bridge. Bummer!

Istanbul hagia sophia

The World's First Megachurch

Istanbul: This morning I did a tour of the world's first megachurch. The Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofia in Turkish), opened in 537AD. The original name given to the first construction of this church (360 AD) was "Megalo Ecclesia". Translation: MEGA CHURCH.

Andrew at hagia sophia

Hagia Sophia is one of the Top 20 largest churches in the world if you measure the square footage but only has room for 10,000 people. Its so tall that some people say you could stand the Statue of Liberty under the dome without a problem and there would still be room for Notre Dame. It's now a museum and no longer functions as a church. In fact, when the Moslems took it over in 1453, they covered up the mosaics with plaster and paint. But as a museum the images are allowed and gradually the mosaics are coming back into public view.


Last year I took my family to a different kind of megachurch - Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Seating for 46,000 but not nearly as grand as the Hagia Sophia.

I used to be quite harsh in my critiques of modern-day megachurches but have since softened and become quite ecumenical. One book that opened my eyes and made me repent of some of my biases was Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America's Largest Churches (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Going again.

Blogspot has come a long way so I am restarting this old blog so i can play around in the Blogger playground again. Yippeee!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

UPDATE: this blog has moved to

This just came in from Blogger Forum:

"You are ranked #3 at Blogger Forum's Top Ten Blog*Spot sites this week.
This is the first time you have been in the rankings.

Well thats great. But the thing is, I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO STOP THIS BLOG and people just dont listen to me when i tell them that . . .

Tallskinnykiwi doesn't blog here anymore. is the location now- and you will notice I have changed blogging engines over to Typepad.

Nothing against . I love Blogger and have appreciated the push I needed to learn some html, having a voice, being trackable for my parents, and everything else that this blog has done for me in the past 2 and a half years.
I should say also that I was quite effective as a Blogger evangelist (evangelist for Blogger) having encouraged many (probably hundreds) of people to start blogging and even made up templates that i was hacking into back in 2001.
Let me also say that many of the bloggers do a much better job than me. They are more vulnerable, more regular, more polite and many of their sites look far better than mine did on blogger.

Why have I moved?
Because I wanted my domain name to point to this blog but that has been impossible for 3 months, ever since they stopped allowing upgrades to make them pointable.
Besides that, Typepad seems more powerful and i can categorize my blogs into different areas - making them ideal for content management.

And maybe i moved so that i can have the excitement of starting over, with a new program that stretches me to learn and master, and to start something new that I can water and watch it grow into something.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Come over early to my new blog.

What the heck. I already have my new blog home. I just haven't moved my stuff into it yet. But why dont you come on over anyway and take a look around. The address is and it will be my new blog. Please change your link from this one to the new one. See you over there.
. . . Oh yeah . . I think I will leave this old blog here as a museum piece and resource for those that want it. I may also import it into my new one. If I can figure out how (no success yet!)

Saturday, October 18, 2003

will be released on Dec 1.2003

I am waiting for some new software so that I can create/recreate the blog. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Friday, September 19, 2003

The new address. Eventually, the one address you will need to track me will be Dont go there now - I am waiting for Blogger to ALLOW me to upgrade to Blog-Plus so that my domain name (which I already bought) can point to it.
The Tallskinnykiwi site will direct you to all 7 blogs that I write to.
Yes. 7!!!!

But in the meantime, Ballad of a Thin Man is the personal blog site that I am using and have been using for the past 3 days.
It is on a journey and will fill up with time. No rush. Feels good to have an empty blog again - like being born again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

OK. I promised i would stop this blog and start another. i actually stopped a long time ago, as you may have noticed. I have started another blog called . I decided on the name yesterday and now here it is. Really basic. No frills. But i have made the shift to xhtml, RSS feeds, comments and am about to sign up for blog-spot plus (once i get some money in the bank).
I also get to start a new blog. This blog was fun but it has too wide an audience for me to be as personal and vulnerable as i want to be. It has executives going here to find latest news, and at the same time it gets printed off in Australia for my dear old dad to read in his nursing home. Much better to have a number of blogs for different purposes. Which I am doing and am about to release their different addresses. Give me a week or so. in the meantime, if you still want to track what God is doing through me and my family and my friends, then switch over to . This site will still be here and will be revamped as a resource /history site. It will also redirect you to where you may want to venture yet. but know this - that I will not be writing to it on a regular basis anymore. Well, not much anyway.

Oh yeah. the link is Ballad of a Thin Man

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Jonny Cash in heaven

Jonny Cash in heaven: "It's a sad day in Tennessee, but a great day in Heaven,'' said Merle Kilgore, best man at their wedding. ``The 'Man in Black' is now wearing white as he joins his wife June in the angel band.''

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Another year later

Sep 11 - Anniversary of that tragic day. Here are my blog-thoughts from last Sep 11 that I called "One Year After".
Snippet = "One year after. My writing pours out and joins a stream of words that started a year ago and today will rise to flood level. There is much to say. We can say it now. A year ago was a time for silent mourning. For reflection. Asking questions. Pointing fingers. Weeping. Feeling guilty, angry, saddened. . ."
Blogger pro is finishing up - I am not sure how that will affect the new blog that I am about to release. I was thinking of a switch to Movable Type but really wanted to honor blogger for 2 and a half years of blogging pleasure with their software. Coop has some thoughts on this. In the meantime, my "blog this" bookmarklet is not working.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

digital projectors

The skinny on projectors: Toshiba now offers a new portable digital projectors like mine but with a detachable document camera. That means you can write on paper and have it come up on the wall, overlaid if you like it that way. I am a big fan of my projector, even though it is bulky and the lamp life is short.
If you need to buy a projector, try to get one that is 1100 - 1500 lumins, 3000 hours lamp bulb (mine is only 1000).
The new wireless projectors do not carry video as well as they should and are not worth the extra expense.
Buying used? Check out VJ Central where VJ's sell their old stuff - but watch out for heavy bulb usage - it costs $300 - $400 for a new bulb!!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Home again in Prague. Its been a hard 3 months on the road - with the families and community - at times I felt like Abraham!!!!
But we are all back now and trying to settle in to the Giant Peach. Tell you about is soon, and my birthday which was yesterday.
Yes, i turned 40 years old - i used to feel old, and now i have the age to prove it!!!

Monday, September 01, 2003

ferry to france

On a ferry to Calais, France today.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

I wrote a review of some new worship books that you can read at Christianity Today: Books and Culture. They asked me to review the books and I took them with me on my travels for a month - the result is the Road Test that you can read. Hope I wasn't too harsh. Just trying to be honest and real. Lets wait and see what the response is.