What’s a Comma Worth?

The worth of a single humble comma could mean more than $10 million for a bunch of drivers for a Maine dairy.

“For want of a comma, we have this case,” Circuit Court Judge David Barron wrote about the case.

Read the story here about how drivers say a law exempting overtime doesn’t apply to them because they are solely involved in the distribution not the packing of products.

It looks like legislatures will need to be more attentive to what has become known as the Oxford comma–the final comma in a series. For example: They stirred the milk, berries, and cream. It’s that comma right before the and that we’re talking about here.

Have a great day and watch your commas!


Experience as an outsider

November 4, 1998


Being an outsider from what is considered the norm is, for most people, undesirable.  While most people want to be different from others, they do not want to be an outsider who stands out as someone who does not know or is unaware of cultural norms and values.

In 1995, a friend and I spent two months in South America.  Most of the time I was in Santiago, Chile, teaching English to first through sixth graders at a school.  I remember the first time my friend and I went to visit the school.

My friend Sam and I had purchased nice felt hats at a tourist market and decided to wear them to the school that first day.  We knew that we stuck out as foreigners but the hats did not help at all..  While the hats may have been in keeping with the traditional Chilean culture, we soon realized hats of that sort were not worn by very many people in the city.  We successfully became the object of many stares as we made our way down the street trailing our host.  When we got back from the school that afternoon we stored our hats for the remainder of the trip.  Continue reading

Six Weeks in Asia

 In fulfillment of the International Community Development  Internship, I spent May 14 through June 28 in central Asia.  The seven-member team of which I was a part, was active in various forms of assistance and evangelism in the nations of Nepal, Bhutan, and India.


Our itinerary sent us all across the area of northern India and Nepal and briefly into Bhutan.  The entire internship can be separated into three segments:  Conferences, Trekking/Medical assistance, and Discipleship.


Our conference itinerary sent us to the Nepal-India border town of Karkavitta, Nepal, for our first conference.  Then we took an overnight bus to Kathmandu, Nepal, where we painted at a youth center and lead another conference.  After nine days in Kathmandu, we rode in a bus and jeeps to the Bhutanese border of India where we attended a secret pastor’s conference in Bhutan, an extremely anti-Gospel nation.  During that week we also led a youth conference in Jaigon, India. During the conferences, I spoke (through a translator) on the topics of: “Growing in the Lord”, “Destiny”, and “The Armor of God”.

+Spiritual needs

The Karkavitta conference there was attended by people who had traveled more than three days specifically for the conference.  Beginning on a Sunday night, the conference sessions continued until noon on Wednesday, May 20.  It was a joy to see a visiting Hindu teacher accept Christ while others rededicated their lives to the Lord.

The Kathmandu conference was aimed more for youth of Kathmandu so we spent time of fellowship in small groups and playing sports with them.  This time of fellowship was a good time to get to know the people and showed them that we are real people who enjoy life just like they do.

The final conference we preached was in Jaigon located on the border of Bhutan and India.  Bhutan is one of the most closed nations to the Gospel.  Persecution of believers is continual in this tiny nation nestled in the tropical foothills between India and Tibet. Continue reading

The Importance of Intercultural Communication Skills

Why Intercultural Communication Skills are Important to Me

I have often heard people say, “The world is getting smaller.” Yes, in a sense it is true more people are coming into contact with different people as travel and communication across the globe increases Since each of us will, no doubt, be coming into contact with someone from a culture different from our own, it is necessary for us to be able to communicate.  If we are unable to communicate with other cultures, we will become completely centered on our own culture and miss out on the blessings and ideas found in other cultures.

Intercultural communication is important to me, not only to gain from other cultures, but so I can understand others better.  Each person I meet has different backgrounds and a culture different from my own.  Whether as part of an occupation or in a friendship, understanding differences in culture helps me to be more understanding and enjoy the value of our different qualities. Continue reading

Tri-lingual children’s book teaches selfworth


Tri-lingual childrens book helps bring selfworth to children in three languages.

Ishi, Un Simple Monito (Ishi, the average monkey), published in 2008 (ISBN 1-930992-23-8) is a beautifully illustrated book by Todd Aaron Smith that helps children realize that they are unique, valuable and special.

Written in English, Spanish, and the Mayan language of Quiche, the story is set in the Guatemalan highlands and features native animal characters like the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird and namesake for Guatemalan currency, jaguars, and of course, Ishi, the monkey.

The artwork depicts many features of Guatemala including volcanoes, cornfields, futbol and more.

From what I understand, Smith originally wrote this book for and featured his adopted Guatemalan daughter as a secondary character.

We’ve been able to help distribute some copies of this book in the Guatemalan highlands among the Quiche Mayans.

Part of the Mayan Children Missions Project, this book has the unique feature of being in three languages.

Spanish Language Schools in Guatemala


Michael with teacher Luis.

All language schools are not equal, nor is finding the best place for you as simple as reviewing a few schools online and then picking one. I’ve been there and there’s a lot of info out there, but making a decision of where my wife and I were to spend our next six months or so as we studied Spanish was kind of like diving into a river after talking to others who swam there before. We hoped to hit the right spot and not drown or hit any rocks in the process.

When you’re looking for a place to learn Spanish there are many elements to take in to account: Location, Cost, Perks, Experience and more.

First of all there is the consideration of countries. There are lots of Spanish Language schools in Spain, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and probably every Latin American country on the map. Here’s a list of 90 schools in 14 countries. We wanted to learn Latin America’s version of Spanish and we have plans to be in Guatemala for a while so we chose to study in the beautiful highlands of Guatemala. Once the country was settled, it became a matter of what city: the main choices are: Antigua, Xela / Quetzaltenango, or Panajchel but about 10 cities offer language studies in Guatemala. Private tutors can be found in other places, but you’ll need some sort of contact to connect with them since there’s no central way to find them.

Getting the right teacher is very important. One thing we learned is that in one-on-one teaching sessions, the individual teacher really makes a difference. Don’t be afraid to change teachers if one doesn’t work for you. Usually within one week you can know whether or not you and your “maestro/a” are a good match. If you’re not, change so you can get a better fit and learn all that you can. Continue reading

Ojibwe Language Resources

North American native languages are surviving. One of them is the Ojibwe tongue  which is spoken by about 50,000 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and by about 30,000 people in the US states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota. (Ref. omniglot.com)

Want to learn the Ojibwe language? Here are  some helpful links:

  • A simple site with common words to get you started.
  • great overview of the history of the Ojibwe language. (It gets a bit technical but could be helpful, especially to linguistics nerds.)
  • A list of schools where you can study Ojibwe

How to pick a Spanish Language School in Guatemala

We want to be more effective and actually learn to speak Spanish so, we’re moving to Guatemala to learn the language.

Guatemala365 Web search for Spanish Language Schools in Guatemala

Through our searching we found that picking a language school is about like picking a college. You have to weigh cost, quality, recommendations and more to know what you’re getting into.

We found resources like Guatemala 365 which highlight various schools and has a great search tool for narrowing down schools by region. This was helpful, but it’s hard to tell from a Website what will be a really good school and which ones just had a good web designer. Click for more suggestions on choosing a Spanish language school.