Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Now, for some of you, the thought of me at my parents' house probably evokes an image of me sleeping in, watching movies, taking long walks, and having all manner of time on my hands.You visit your parents for vacation, right?

Well, in my case that is not exactly how things are going.

We are all working very hard around the Fritz house, seemingly around the clock. We're excited, a little stressed, and working to focus in one direction at a time.

Here's what we are up to...
1. Trying to get their rental units filled with college students. I just made this web site about the housing: We have three units empty now, which has never happened. Apparently the housing supply went up drastically this year for students at the school they have been working with for several years.
2. Working to put together the necessary planning documents, communication tools, and raise funds for the ministry we have already started. More about that will come soon, but in brief terms my dad has already begun working with social entrepreneurs to cultivate good leadership practices and effective structure for their organizations.
3. We have a consulting appointing starting this evening in Seattle, so we're headed back there. We're going to go camping in the Cascades this weekend with Allison. Yay!

And actually that's not it, but since we are leaving in just 20 minutes for Seattle, I need to get moving. I have data on my phone, so hopefully can keep up with things even while gone, but we shall see. For those of you praying for us, thank you so much. We need it. I feel confirmed that I did actually need to come home, as I thought, for more reasons than I even knew. It is really good to be here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Deep Creek

On Saturday Jenni brought me to Deep Creek Lake where my friend Deb, her awesome family, and several other friends were spending the day on boats and jet skis. It was great because it was a way for her to only need to drive me half of the distance back to Maryland, and also because we were able to have a wonderful, wonderful summer day. Here are some pictures:

Getting ready to go out in the boat!
My wonderful friend Deb modeling for me during a game of kub.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pittsburgh Visit

Last Tuesday, my sister Jenni and her new roommate Tina came to Baltimore to pick me up and take me back to Pittsburgh, where Jenni is now living. She graduated in May from Grove City (my alma mater as well) and bought a great house. It was a very short trip and I was disappointed that I didn't get to see my other family members in Pittsburgh (sorry Bakers, hopefully I'll see you in the next few months), but we had a really nice time and I'm glad I got to see her and the place that is now her home!

Here are some pictures...
Jenni's house from the back. The bottom floor is a separate apartment and she and her roommate Tina live in the main house upstairs. I stood next to the garage to take this picture.
The first baking Jenni has done in her new kitchen. Isn't she cute in her new apron?
We went out in Pittsburgh for a nice Italian dinner. It was great food and a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Beauty of Home

After just a week, I am still basking in the lovliness of being home after almost a full year overseas. This week I have had meals with many of my closest friends, seeming to slide back into normal life here in Maryland. Last night a good friend made a dinner and about ten of us shared our hearts as we caught up on what we have learned thus year -- how we have seen God at work, and our hopes in our next steps.

As I have been away I have come to understand the ugly side of how America is perceived. I realize that I needed to learn to see my culture through the eyes of outsiders, and am interested in how I might be led to share my findings.

But as I talked with my friends during our evening together, sharing for hours about the situation in Israel an Palestine and our implication in the conflict, I was extremely encouraged as I experienced some of the most beautiful qualiies of my people. I was met by openness, love, a desire to learn, question after question, and unsolicited commitments that these friends would share the things they had learned.

My friends are action people who know their influence and desire to do right. We are all ignorant about many things, but when we seek to understand and when we look to act on what we learn, the ambitious American spirit is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Things I'll Miss About Palestine and Israel Part 2

Here's the promised Part 2 of the things I'll miss...

The International People
I really like spending time with people who are from different places, and the reality of the culture of the Land is that people are from everywhere, or from there and have lived elsewhere at one time or another. It's fun to meet people all the time from so many places, which helps me to constantly think about my cultural assumptions, leading me to learning opportunities about myself and others.

I really missed my car. I mean really, freedom of movement is one of my favorite things and highest personal values. But I really enjoy walking as well and often took the opportunity for the hour-long walk home from work. I know that with the distances in the US and fast-paced lifestyles it just isn't as possible to be a full-time pedestrian. I'll try to keep walking when it makes sense though.

Pace of Life... Work/Life Balance
This is one of the things that I think I learned most about while overseas -- in England and then even more in Palestine and Israel. I'll note here that I think we are crazy in our expectations for ourselves and others in American culture. This is from personal experience, but I think it is a cultural reality for most middle-class Americans. And I'll write a full post about this soon.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Things I'll Miss About Palestine and Israel Part 1

Now that I'm home with some time on my hands, I'm looking forward to getting caught up on the last few things I wanted to write from Palestine and Israel. I'll continue to share some more thoughts in the coming weeks/months as I reflect.

These are some of the things I wrote down as I anticipated leaving which I knew I would miss about life in the Land. Since I want to keep it short, I'll just put the first two today, and then I'll share a few more tomorrow.

The challenge of faith... needing to be so intentional... needing to rely so much on Jesus!
For me, it was spiritually very challenging in Israel and Palestine. Because there are so many strong opinions everywhere, I felt very guarded for much of my time there to share faith related stuff. This was silly, but still real. I also struggled to see so much religiously-based conflict everywhere. At first, I almost didn't want to be labeled as a person of faith. Later, though, I started thinking about Jesus, and came back to understanding, with new enthusiasm, that he didn't like religiousness either. I remembered how unbelievably hard and how opposite of human tendencies his commands are, and came back to the belief that His way is the only way. We must be humble to the point of death (Phil. 2), courageous in reconciliation, bold in faith, and committed to trusting Him, not ourselves, for the power to act in accordance with His will and for the results. In some ways, although learning these things can be incredibly exhausting, the battle can be more meaningful than the sometimes artificially easy way it can be for me to be "faithful" at home. (Please ask me if this doesn't make sense to you, I'd love to discuss!)

My friends
I was so blessed with wonderful friends in the Land. It's amazing how people can become like family -- trusting and taking care of each other in such a short time. I will truly miss my friends and am thankful that I really expect to spend significant time with many of them in the years to come. Some friendships are like that... you strongly suspect that they aren't just for one season.

Real, Yummy Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables in season, for great prices. Tomatoes that are really red. Apples that are normal sizes and flavorful, persimmons, pomegranates, figs, dates, orange juice squeezed in front of you. Amazing, healthy, affordable, always available. Heavenly!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another fun video from camp

At camp a few weeks ago the kids could choose what to learn during one of the time slots each day. While I was doing "circus skills" others were making this movie. I thought you might enjoy it.