Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow, Sub Zero Temps and Zero Wheel Bearings Won't Stop Us.

After digging our van out of 10* inches of snow for 45 minutes in our Minneapolis driveway, we found the only freeway ramps in town that were open and finally headed west; out of the blizzard in Minnesota and into the -10 to -20f temps of North Dakota.  A trailer wheel bearing issue in Billings Montana caused us to lose a day of planned travel and forced an all-nighter of driving. 

But praise the Lord, we made it to the first event on our West Coast tour in Tacoma Washington with Coyote One Wheelers unicycle club.  Dustin did a demo and shared a message with riders and parents after their club practice.  Students were inspired by the variety and level of Dustin’s skills and were challenged with broadened horizons of what can be done on a unicycle.  We enjoyed connecting with this encouraging community.

Our next and lengthier stop was in the little fishing town of Westport WA.  Here we did an outreach for a local youth group where at least 3 students gave their lives to Christ!  We did a school assembly for 350 enthusiastic elementary students and an evening community event where hundreds of dollars and much caned food were collected for needy people.  Dustin also joined the 50 riders in the school unicycle club, signing helmets, unicycles, shirts and shoes and giving students riding tips and a helping hand as they practiced.  It was a privilege to partner with caring leaders in this town who desire to share hope and love with the students, many of whom face challenging circumstances.

* the storm dumped 20 inches of snow by the time it was over.

Volunteers to show us how to ride unicycles.

This is my Big Wheel.

Ocosta Elementary School Assembly.

Some ramp riding on the X-Deck Platforms.

Dustin's unicycle has a fan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Count it Right

During the three days of 2010 Count it Right Festival, 22,500 people attended and over 6,000 indicated decisions to follow Christ! Millions more throughout the Middle East watched the festival via satellite TV.

It was an exciting year with more activities and performances for the attendees than ever before.  In this country, festivals of this nature and retreat centers of this magnitude don't exist so it was quite a draw for the thousands that came.

We performed twice daily with a prayer time after each performance for individual's needs.  Many were impacted by the message of God's love and care for them.  We also enjoyed reconnecting with fellow performers, organizers, volunteers and attendees whom we have been getting to know over the past 3 years.  As we all parted ways, it wasn't "good bye" it was "see you next year."

We thank God for the way He prepared hears for a great harvest of souls and transformed lives.  He again blessed the vast efforts of the hundreds of leaders and volunteers from the church who organized this festival.  It was a great privilege to partner with them to bring the gospel of God's love to the people of the Middle East.

Check out the video on this blog post of an evening rally in the stadium.

Dustin making his grand entrance on four wheels.

Terry the motocross stunt guy.

Josh airborne 

Big and Burly - it took 2 teams of strongmen
to test the strength of Dustin's structures.

Victor hyping the crowd before crushing an unopened can of soda.

The crush!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sandy Land

Day one of the Count it Right Festival 2010 saw 8,000 people and a ton of activity.  We performed twice with BMX/skaters from Boarders for Christ and two strength teams from the USA and Scandinavian.  Also, performing throughout the day were martial artists, a Brazilian jujitsu team, billiard trick shot artist, an illusionist, dramas, freestyle motocross and music.  There is also a health clinic, high ropes course, arts tent, kid’s zone, zip line, McDonalds and Smiley’s for attendees to choose from.

The gospel was shared multiple times throughout the day and again in the stadium at the evening rally, which is broadcast by satellite to millions throughout the Middle East.  We saw thousands respond to the message and receive Jesus.  We are excited for two more days of exciting ministry here.

The desert surrounding the Conference Center




Packed stadium for the evening rally

Team XTreme - sledge hammering bricks
on a man's chest who is laying on broken glass.

Boarders for Christ doing a 360.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Elk and I in Estes Park

It was amazing to be in the beautiful mountains of Colorado in November and have unusually warm, sunny weather.  We spent the weekend at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park with the Rocky Mountain Conference United Methodist Church and a large population of giant elk.

Dustin shared with 400 junior high and high school students on the topic of Rejuvenation.  He established God as our Creator and the Bible as our “owner’s manual” and guide to true rejuvenation, often contrary to the world’s ideas of how to be renewed.  Through the UniShow, he shared from his own life story how we are often put through the heat of trials, like clay in the Potter’s hands in the process of becoming all God wants us to be. 

It was a powerful ending session to see the student’s line up with their written list of “old things” to destroy in shredders, symbolizing their embrace of a renewed walk with Christ.  We pray God will continue His rejuvenating work in each of their lives.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Kosovo Kid

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Peja area partnering with the active and helpful local church.  We faced rain again in Decan but were blessed with a nice covered outdoor stage still under construction.  When it started to get dark the workers cleared off their tools and material and we carefully swept off all the metal shards to prevent flat unicycle tires.  We set up some lights, blasted some music and the crowd came.  

Our two shows in Peja both went to plan B due to rain.  Our first show was in a theater and we were all excited to perform on a proper stage.  We had doubts that people would find us indoors but the fire dancers performed in the town center and then led the large crowd that had gathered to the theater with a flaming torch.  We heard from local workers that night that we were an answer to 10 years of prayers.  God is doing something new in Kosovo and it is humbling to be part of it.

On our last day in Peja we had our last full show of the tour.  Though we had prayed hard for clear skies and dry ground, the rain had covered the basketball court outside the high school where the show was supposed to take place, where all 2,000 students could watch.  Instead teachers selected 100 students to see the show inside their tiny gym.  It seems God allowed less distractions for those 100 select students to clearly hear of His great love.

Between shows it was so refreshing to have a chance to drive up into the mountains of Peja in the misty rain and see the fall colors and visit a waterfall.

Our last event was a follow-up at the church in Ferizaj where we had done an outreach the week before.  We shared testimonies and a bit of unicycling and dance during this low key evening.  It was very exciting to see again the two 14 year olds that Katie had prayed with the week before.  Another young man attended who was very interested in what we had shared and asked for one-on-one discipling.

Kosovo is not only the newest country in the world it also has the youngest population in Europe with 70% being under the age of 30.  We thank God for an amazing tour in Kosovo and we are already looking forward to returning someday!

Shawn from South Afristraliguinea

freshly swept stage in Decan

beautiful falls outside Peja,
we're on the edge of a BIG drop off

street art

Dustin's unicycle art

the Peja High School gymnastics room

a monument to Kosovo's independence
bowling with the team on our last night in Kosovo

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rain won't slow us down!

Our Kosovo tour continues to be so refreshing and obviously directed by God.

In Ferizaj we had amazing support from the local church for our outreach.  They organized a great team to help with set up, crowd control, acquiring contact info from the audience, our meals and accommodations and follow-up.  It was a blessing to work with them and we look forward to being part of their follow-up event to connect with many we met at that first show.  The power in the city went out in the middle of our show but the fire dancers held the crowd with their stunts until the kind municipality allowed us to plug into their generator.  This show was a highlight for Katie because she was able to share more in depth with two 14 year old boys who then made commitments!

Our show on Mother Teresa Boulevard in Prishtina was super cold but good connections were made and we shared truth with crowds and individuals.  On Sunday Dustin had the opportunity to give his testimony at church.  His words ended up connecting quite well with the content of the teaching that followed.

Gjilan and Kamenica greeted us with rain but we were able to find covering for our performances and most of the audiences and somehow, divinely, over 100 people gathered and thoroughly enjoyed each show.  Despite the rain and cold we are so thankful for what God is doing through this tour, above and beyond what we had hoped.

Dustin helps with sound check

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Make sure you have stamp

After a great tour in Bulgaria we took a 9 hour overnight bus ride through Macedonia to Pristina Kosovo.  The Bulgarian border officials had some trouble deciding what to do with Dustin because he appeared to be in the country illegally.  The officials on the Turkey/Bulgaria border had not entered him into the system and did not stamp his passport.  After some questioning and delay for the entire bus, one of the officials declared "We are good police, you can go...make sure you have stamp next time."  

Upon our arrival in Kosovo we had some great orientation and great food.  We have a super host here who has a big heart for the people of Kosovo.  He has organized a full line up of venues for us and is very enthusiastic about our partnership with him.  We are the first international group to come to Kosovo and share a message of true Hope and Love through creative outreach performances.  We feel extremely privileged to be here in the newest country in the world (only 2 years old)!

On our first performance day we did 2 shows at a preschool for the cutest 3-6 year olds ever.  Though we made our message very simple, we know they, as well as their teachers, thoroughly enjoyed it and heard about God’s love.  It was actually quite special to share with these precious children who need to know that they are known and loved.

Next we shared with students at a gypsy camp.  Their eyes were full of the heaviness of the world but they were well behaved and seemed to drink in the Prodigal Son parable about God’s love.  That same day we visited a city with a large Turkish population and did a spontaneous show on the sidewalk near the city center.  Several hundred people gathered and seemed totally into the performing and message.  We had great conversations with many who stayed after wanting to talk.

God has really blessed our events and kept doors open and we look forward to the rest of this amazing tour.

"Happy Kids" children's center

with some Roma gypsy kids

NATO, European Union, USA, Kosovo
we see the US flag almost as much as the Kosovo flag

getting some "help" from the audience...
and a few laughs

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good Times In Bulgaria

We can hardly believe that we started out this TACO tour nearly 2 months ago in the scalding heat of temps over 100F/40C.  The temperature dropped quite a bit during our second week in Bulgaria.  One show was rained out where it was impossible to set up in the beautiful town square where we had received permission to perform.  The band, however, did a simple acoustic set outside under a café awning.  We handed out flyers of the band StoryBox with the Prodigal Son story and though Dustin was just sitting in the café chatting with some Bulgarians, his flyers with his testimony were high in demand among the small audience the band drew.

Dustin did great keeping the message clear and succinct while, during some shows, his message was translated into Turkish and then into Bulgarian.  We again had very attentive and helpful hosts who have been busy preparing for us, transporting and serving with us and will be busy with all the follow up once we leave.  We know and trust that though we didn’t have huge crowds, God drew those who did attend and He will use the truth we shared to make an eternal difference.  He is worthy to be proclaimed, regardless of the results we can see!

making the jump in a village near Razgrad, Bulgaria

Katie's smokin' "Joyful, Joyful" dance

in the shadow of  Bulgarian kahn Asparuh

singin' in the rain

watch out for those potholes!
a disco parking lot in Razgrad