No monopoly on generosity

Just wrapped up a two-day game of the classic American game Monopoly with Tee and A.J. – they were back at it this morning before I rose, even purchasing a property for me they knew I’d want. They learned a little about investing for the future (“I’m not buying Boardwalk – it’s $400!” – to quote A.J. early on) and I got the satisfaction of garnering over $9000 after giving away at least half that sum in discounted rents and “keep the change” overpayments. We ended on friendly terms with the promise of a rematch soon.

All this in spite of Dy’s and Arey’s refusal to play me this game over past alleged misconduct…which we won’t go into detail about here. (Hey, they can post too.) It was most rewarding to watch A.J. and Tee bail each other out – and even extend mercy to me on occasion. The faster-and-faster pace of the play rate and transactions reminded me of the “rat race” I’m so glad to have avoided in the day job. What a luxury to be able to sink a few hours together into a simulation with bearings on real life – without any danger of addiction.

As was mentioned this morning from the pulpit, inevitably the game ends and everything goes back in the box. Even the players themselves are ultimately liable to that rule. Good reason to exercise generosity that sustains futures and freedom. – j

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Urbana retrospect

The following is already printed in similar form in the newspaper published by the church we attend. Several others involved there were also at Urbana 06 in various capacities, often with even more exciting stories to tell.

The photo at right is, however, a jdata unblog exclusive. At an undisclosed location not far from our refrigerator, Dy roped Arey and me into helping enter some of the last batches of walk-ons. We were spurred on by the care of one staff director’s gift of malted milk balls (foreground – Dy was most encouraged; I ate the most).

Perhaps now that this chapter of our collective adventure is coming to a close, there will be more frequent and interesting posts from this household. I’ll let you know when my Urbana wristband finally comes off. – j


Our fall went into high gear in September when Dy signed on as Associate Registrar for Urbana. Doubling – and then tripling – her average weekly hours of work with InterVarsity was not a move we made lightly. Dy’s past experience managing events in partnership with teams converged with a strong sense of God’s calling to this crucial administrative ministry. As students and then staff, we’ve seen Urbanas since the 1980s grow many others’ awareness of and involvement in God’s mission.

Dy’s small team of Infoline assistants was stretched before Urbana 06 by the volume and variety of communication with attendees. Several local coworkers pitched in with advance tasks. Planning, adjusting and executing onsite check-in required flexibility to coordinate with a fluid online registration system under development. Most groups and individuals experienced prompt Urbana check-in at dozens of hotels and the America’s Center. The few lines that developed were shorter than expected and characterized by understanding. A larger than anticipated number of walk-ons was one of the more welcome problems Dy and her team addressed onsite.

John’s main role this Urbana was with the onsite “tech team.” He helped setup and support computers and connections used to manage check-in and accomplish necessary data entry. Later in the convention, he supported the scanning and tabulation of decision cards completed by the majority of attendees. As so often in the past, it was exciting to see what God can do with imperfect systems and highly motivated people.

This was Arey’s first Urbana – as a high school student. She volunteered in advance and as Dy’s assistant during check-in. She got to sample the exhibit hall (featuring hundreds of organizations), the bookstore and a few of the evening sessions. After experiencing this sliver of the event, she knows going as an attendee (in 2009?) will be very different. From her perspective, the overall experience of attendees was definitely positive, focused on the tracks, Bible study, worship and seminars more than logistical bumps. “Seeing students responding to everything made it feel great to have had even a small part in the preparation,” Arey says.

Atypical of past conventions and coworkers, we took our whole family to St. Louis Dec. 21st through the 31st. The first few days of setup involved all five of us, and the hotel was just across the street. The arrangement was made possible by a couple of friends who shared a suite with us and kept up with Tee and A.J. while the rest worked much of the convention. “They saw more of St. Louis than we did, and lots of the hotel pool!” John comments. “We all got to attend the evening session on the 30th and caught up with a few friends along the way.”

Urbana doesn’t feel entirely “over” to some, as Dy’s team continues to process financial details in the wake of the event. Recently, John, Dy and Arey spent an evening catching up odds and ends of data entry. We know God’s work of blessing the attendees (and the nations) through the content and challenges of Urbana will continue long after details wrap up in coming weeks. We’re returning to a more regular pace and balance, glad to have a part in Jesus’ use of Urbana 06.