Thursday, October 15, 2009

The High Points

Yesterday I experienced one of the greatest things a parent can experience. For the first time, we got to hear the heartbeat of our baby (due April 26). Even though I've experienced this before with Lyla, it was still exhilarating and also a giant relief. Having gone through two early miscarriages, being at twelve weeks and getting to hear that fast-paced thumping of the heart was amazing. Lyla is also very excited about becoming a big sister, though she has no clue what that entails. Her new favorite phrase is, "daddy, mommy! Baby's getting bigger!"

Unfortunately not all things this week have been as fun. Monday night while walking Gunther I tripped over an unused power line anchor and tore a gouge out of the top of my foot. This led to four hours spent at the emergency room waiting to get five stitches. I'm sad to say that I failed to take a picture before going to the ER. Happily, the anchor ended up losing anyways. JEA came and removed it the next day. Take that ya metal piece of junk!

This is the anchor that attacked me

We've been having lots of family fun over the past couple weeks. Vanessa always seems to be the one behind the camera. Guess I need to take more pics. Here are a couple pictures.

I love that this picture makes it look like Danielle has freakishly long legs

Friday, October 2, 2009

Billiam Rizzle Explanations #2

Here is the newest and final installment of Cross Cultural Misadventures. These movies were incredibly fun to make, and we had others planned, but we ran out of time before Todd (Billiam) headed west for deputation.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #4 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In this episode Billiam makes four mistakes. They are all things that would be considered to be poor manners. First, when entering his friend's home, he leaves on his shoes. In many Asian cultures, it is considered very impolite to enter someone's house with your shoes on. Many times, you are expected to remove and leave your shoes outside. His second mistake is playing with his chopsticks. On top of being impolite, there are places in Asia where playing with your chopsticks signifies that you're looking for a fight. His third mistake is hogging the main dish of food. In China especially, when eating from communal dishes, proper etiquette is to only take enough of a dish for a single bite. By taking a lot of a dish you are expressing that you don't trust the others at the table to leave any for you. The final mistake he made was implying that the Japanese are better people than the Chinese. This is a very touchy subject amongst Chinese, who have a deep sense of national pride, and deeply dislike all things Japan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Billiam Rizzle Explanations

I have had a couple people ask me about the Cross-Cultural Misadventures movies that I made for YWAM JAX. In reality these movies are humorous looks at very common mistakes missionaries, and many tourists, make when they are immersed in a new culture. There are numerous things that we, as Christ's ambassadors, try to avoid doing in order to further relationships. That does not mean that we agree that these cultural suppositions are correct. Here is an explanation of the cultural faux pas Billiam has committed to date.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #1 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In episode 1, Billiam starts off on the wrong foot by offering his left hand to his new friend. In the majority of Middle Eastern and Asian nations, there is a stigma regarding the use of the left hand. In many less developed nations the left hand is used in lieu of toilet paper. Thus its easy to see why someone would be offended if you offered them your left hand. It is also considered bad form to eat using your left hand. The second big mistake he makes is the offering of pork to the devout Muslim. Muslims, like Jews, avoid pork as it is considered unclean. In most Muslim nations, the would be offended even if you were to eat pork in their presence. Many missionaries will completely abstain from Pork as not to unnecessarily offend those they are trying to reach. One other "mistake" Billiam makes is not eating what is offered to him. While this is more a matter of being polite than a cultural issue, it is an important step in making friends.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #2 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In episode 2 Billiam quickly learns how little regard many Asians have for "personal space." They also view personal touch very different from us. While it is considered inappropriate for any type of PDA between sexes, it isn't at all uncommon to see 2-3 guys walking down the street holding hands or with their arms wrapped around each other. Billiam's first mistake in this episode is stepping over the food. In many Asian countries the bottom of the foot is looked on as being the second dirtiest part of the body, after the left hand. So, to step over food, put your feet on the table, or to point the sole of your foot at someone, is extremely offensive. Billiam shows a little improvement from the first episode by drinking the butter tea he is given, but quickly takes a step back by showing his disgust. I have eaten and drunk many things I would rather not have, but it is all worth it when new relationships are developed. Billiam's final mistake in episode two is killing the fly that is driving him crazy. In many Buddhist cultures there is a sort of reverence given to all forms of life. By blatantly killing an insect in front of this Tibetan he has shown himself to be someone who doesn't respect life.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #3 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

In episode three Billiam's wife Liz enters the picture. It is she who makes the first error by trying to hug the Muslim man. In many cultures it is considered inappropriate for a woman, single or married, to touch a man who is not a relative or. The same is true about a man touching a woman. The second mistake they make is the use of the thumbs up gesture. In Iran, giving someone a thumbs up is the same as saying, "sit on this!" Hand gestures mean very different things in different parts of the world. For example, in many parts of Tibet, the middle finger is a way of saying something is s0-s0. Needless to say, many foreigners have been needlessly offended by a Tibetan "flipping them the bird." The final straw is when, while fleeing, Liz hikes up her dress and shows a bit too much skin. In most Muslim cultures women are expected to keep covered when in public.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Towards the end of July we decided to take an unplanned trip to Michigan to visit my family. We left Friday afternoon and arrived in Jamestown mid-morning on Saturday, much to the surprise of my parents, who had no clue that we were coming (thanks Jennie). Lyla did really good on the drive up, even though she didn't sleep much. We had a very relaxing, but busy, time in the country. Lyla loved spending time with her aunts, uncles and cousin.  I finally got around to going through the pictures so here are a few highlights.

This is what happens when one jumps on a trampoline in their diaper.

Lyla with great grandpa and grandma Jolman

Monday night we went to a Whitecaps game. Lyla, as usual, loved every minute of the game. She seems to think that every team is called the Jacksonville Suns, which she loves to chant while pumping her fist in the air. She does the exact same thing when we're watching a game on TV. 

Beware the two-headed monster!
Tuesday night we had an impromptu birthday party for Lyla. It was good to see relatives and family friends we hadn't seen in a while. Lyla enjoyed the party atmosphere.

Thursday we were able to visit John Ball Zoo. I was amazed at how much it has improved since I was a little kid. Lyla loved watching the penguins, wolverine, and snow leopard, all of which we can't see at the Jax Zoo. 

Lyla & her cousin Patience
Friday Lyla went blue berry picking with the girls. While I wasn't there I could tell how much she enjoyed in by the blue stains all over her hands and face when she came back to the house. 
While we were there Lyla also got to see baby cows and learn how feed chickens. 

Friday, August 28, 2009


One of my new responsibilities at YWAM Jacksonville is working on promo videos. This week we filmed the first one and had a great time in the process. Here is the final result along with a behind the scenes look.

Cross Cultural Misadventures #1 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Feeling old

Last week Wednesday, Lyla turned two. I can't believe time has gone by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the very first time. She's such a little person now that it never ceases to amaze me. Last night we to a Jacksonville Suns game for a friends birthday and she was cheering and dancing and talking about what was going on. It was so much fun.
The Sunday before her birthday we had a Tinker Bell/Neverland theme party for Lyla. It was about as exciting as a two-year-old's party can be. In addition the the never-ending fun of dressing like a pirate and eating great food, the giant tree in our front yard came crashing down in the middle of the party. How many people can say a tree fell down during their birthday party? Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was minimal damage done to the house. Enjoy the pics

The tree in this picture is the one that fell down a few hours later

Friday, July 10, 2009


I have discovered that parenthood sometimes leads one to do some strange things for one's child. We have begun potty training Lyla. Unfortunately, many times when she wants to go "poo poo potty" she requires some extra encouragement/support. Take these pictures for example. Every time I would take my hands away she would grab them and wrap them around her again.

On the bright side, I spend a lot of time laughing and having fun with Lyla. Here's a short video with some of her recent highlights.

Lyla Summer Fun 1 from Aaron Herrema on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

SOFM Pt. 2

Picking up where we left off… The third objective of the School of Frontier Missions (SOFM) is to impart missions strategy to the students. The SOFM stresses that the goal of missions work is to see a church planting movement started. With this foundation set the SOFM looks at how different methods/approaches can be used to foster a church planting movement. The primary topic covered is Church Planting Principles, which takes a look at how to start a church and train leaders in a way that will lead to exponential growth. We also cover oral Gospel presentation, Business as Missions, spiritual warfare, and basic healthcare to give students training in a few different areas.
The fourth objective is to help the student grow in the area of personal and team relationships. We cover topics including spiritual disciplines and inductive Bible study to enhance the student’s personal walk with the Lord. We work through the Sharpening Your Inter-personal Skills seminar to improve teamwork, and also cover spiritual gifts so the students knows how they fit best within a team.

Here are a few pictures from the 2007 SOFM.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Florida Heat

What a fun week it was! Last Tuesday we went to a Jacksonville Suns game with some friends from church. Lyla really enjoyed it. She watched the game with rapt attention. The only thing she found more interesting than the game was Southpaw (below right), the mascot. She thought that it was Wags, the dog from the The Wiggles (below left) . The game was a bit of a dud, but Lyla was very entertaining.

Friday we went to the Jacksonville Zoo. When I asked Lyla what animals she wanted to go see, she told me she wanted to see the giraffes, otters, and snakes. She got her wish as we stopped to see all her favorite animals. When Lyla decides to pose for a picture she is the cutest thing on planet earth (ok, she's always he cutest thing on earth). She wraps her arms around whoever is near her, smiles really big, and says, "cheese."

The 4th of July was packed full of fun times. We started our day with a birthday party for Lyla's friend Noah, who just turned one. As with most children's parties, this involved chasing Lyla around as she tried to get her hands on everything. After the party we headed over to our landlord's house to relax in his pool. Lyla tried out her new pair of floaties. She is such an independent little girl. As soon as she figured out that she could stay afloat without our help, she preferred to be left to her own devices instead of having us hold her. After a lovely dinner of grilled foods (after all, it was the 4th of July) we headed over to enjoy our friend's firework display. Lyla wasn't really sure what to think of it. She went back and forth from saying, "ooh, that's cool" to screaming, clinging to my neck and saying, "it's ok, daddy's got you."

Yesterday was Vanessa and my sixth wedding anniversary. Sometimes its hard to believe that so much time has gone by and other times it feels like ages since we sat on a train in Thailand talking about what we felt Father was calling us to do. It truly has been an amazing six years. I've been blessed to have such an incredible wife. She is sooooo different from me and that is exactly what I need. She is my biggest encouragement and also the one who gives me a good kick in the pants when needed, which can be quite often. I think that all we've gone through together, from our time overseas, to walking through the heartache of losing her brothers, to learning how to be parents has drawn us closer together than I ever imagined possible. I probably don't say it enough, but I am so thankful that Father brought her into my life.

I was reading in the bathroom this morning (yes, I'm a bathroom reader and I'm proud of it) and I came across this quote from CS Lewis that I thought was spot on.
"I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a good bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity."
It seems like to many Christians, especially in the U.S., have forgotten that Jesus calls us to "Take up your cross and follow me."