Family Feed

Wedding Day

Today is the big day for our family. Our Number One son Sam marries Jenna White. All very exciting. Lots of airport pickups. I got to bed at 3am last night.

In a few hours we host the wedding ceremony. The pig is already on the spit. Yes, we are taking lots of photos and video. Show you in a few days time.

Sam and jenna wine600 Sam and jenna name bath 600Sam and jenna beach

Our eco-friendly $5000 home

In the past few months, we have turned a storm damaged yurt into an eco-friendly, toxic-free, funky home for our family. Last night my wife and three of our kids officially moved in to the house we created from recycled materials. We slept on our new wood floor, lit a fire in our pot belly stove, ate some pizza and watched a movie before we all fell asleep. This morning I woke up to see sheep sleeping outside our window

Elizabeth cello in the yurt

Our home has cost us NZ$5204 which is US$4,287. The only thing left to do is plumbing the bath and sink to the hot water cylinder and installing a wetback in the pot belly stove. And I need to make some more furniture but that can wait a while.

Still a bit more work to do but our house is very livable and enjoyable. A yurt is a Mongolian style round tent, also called a "Ger". Ours was originally made in NZ by Jaia Yurts and was badly storm-damaged when we bought it from an English lady who was moving back to the UK. Much of the frame was broken, the canvas was water-stained and the round ring that holds it together was smashed. But it was worth salvaging and I managed to find the right wood and replicate the broken pieces.

Building yurt

We got permission from the Ngatiawa community, a Christian contemporary monastery near Wellington, to build a small structure on their land. Its a beautiful green valley surrounded by trees and hills.

Tj in yurt

The biggest expense, apart from the original yurt ($2000), was the floor. When we started, we only had a plastic groundsheet but it was summer and warm enough to get away with it. But the weather eventually changed and the family was flooded out while I was overseas on a trip.

Yurt floor and sheep

As soon as I got home, I started to get the yurt off the ground and I eventually found some nice native timber offcuts, enough to make the floor.

Yurt floor sanding

Having sanded the floor all night long, I was still caffeinated and delirious when the sun came up. I never did get it really smooth because the wood was all different sizes but its a floor nonetheless. And it looks rustic like the rest of the yurt.

While I was busy getting the yurt away from the wet ground, Debbie was created an insulation cushion out of old wool blankets that we are finding in charity shops. It took about 15 blankets to make the ceiling. She filled them with eco-therm insulation which is made from recycled wool. It turned out amazing.

Debbie yurt insulation ceiling

For a complete breakdown of how that $5000 was spent, go to

My book - Your help


Last year was amazing. Your gifts enabled me to spend time in Turkey, China, Indonesia, Egypt, and Eastern Europe to equip missional leaders and their networks in those countries. And because we traveled most of those countries in our 4x4 overlander, the whole family could come along for free. It was a great experience. Life-changing, actually, for us and for the ministries we strengthened. And we did it on a shoe-string.

I want to write a book and give you copy. More about that in a second.

In 2012 we will be primarily in Asia, with NZ as our home base. The family is here in NZ now, living in a Mongolian style yurt. It has a dirt floor so its a bit cold at nights but we are building a platform for it. Being homeless is great for getting around on a budget but when winter comes its not as much fun. Bringing the truck (our home) over here will solve a lot of problems, as well as enabling us to continue the journey. From NZ, the next port of call would be Capetown when the time is right to return to Africa.

Yurt jones

We have 2 big needs right now.

1. I am flying overseas today to pick up the truck and continue the journey. I will be driving 4000kms through 6 countries. More details on which countries in my newsletter shortly. I need diesel money - about US$1500.

Paypal account is

2. Our truck is currently in Turkey but we need to ship it home to New Zealand where it will be our Asian base for the next season. Shipping cost is US$4,780. There is a container ship leaving early March which is not a lot of time but if enough of you kicked in a little bit, we could do it for sure.

The book.

Here's the thing. If you donate US$10 or more, I will send you a copy of my e-book based on my 35 country trek, a journey that has given me new perspective on the global Christian movement as well as my own life priorities. I hope to start a kick-starter thing but don't have time right now but if you give to PayPal and leave your email, I will make sure you get a copy of the e-book as soon as it is finished.


Can you pass on the need on your blogs? Facebook? other media? It would be a huge help. And we could also get the truck before winter.

And if you have a larger chunk to donate [God bless you] or want to do a bank transfer then read on for directions.

Continue reading "My book - Your help" »

Happy Thanksgiving

My wife is American so its customary for me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Its also customary for us to cook a GINORMOUS turkey dinner and invite everyone and their dog in to eat it with our family.

01 Turkey Gravy Soda

Yep that really is Turkey and Gravy Soda but its made by some other person named Jones.

This Thanksgiving season, we are in Indonesia, staying at a home for vulnerable youth. Tomorrow there will be about 35 young people, some HIV orphans, others whose lives have been saved from nasty stuff and are full of thanksgiving for a new start. That makes it more meaningful to us. We all have a lot to thank God for.

Hope you have a great day.

Related: Our slow, kind, organic, local, Happy Thanksgiving.

Our eldest daughter leaves to help social enterprise

Our eldest daughter, Elizabeth (17) left home this week. Wahhhh!!!! We dropped her off at Heathrow airport where she flew to Austin, Texas. We must be getting old. We will also lose our son this week as he flies to Edinburgh. Wow. 2 children leaving the nest in one week.


For the next 5 months, Elizabeth (Liz) will be helping a social enterprise start-up called Sweet Notions which was started recently by some dear friends of ours - Shannon Hopkins and Jessica Stricker. Sweet Notions, based in Houston and London, helps change the world through recycled fashion accessories.

sweet notions

Its not easy to lose the first kid but we know she is in God's hand and we are VERY VERY proud of Liz in wanting to spend her youth on transforming the world rather than pursuing more selfish endeavors. You can pray for Liz and support her in her first 2 months as she gets set up and sorted out. After two months, she should be able to support herself.


This is Liz walking out the door for her adventure - WITHOUT mum and dad. Has this happened to you????

Related: Christian social entrepreneurs measure success by a different yardstick (Baptist Standard), Whatever happened to the girl who started the emerging church network?

Merry Christmas from TSK and family

Merry Christmas from our family. Hope you have a wonderful holiday. We are spending our Christmas in the ancient town of Silves, Portugal, where we are waiting for some paperwork and some funding so we can get into North Africa. Actually, its a great place to be for Christmas and quite warm, compared with the rest of Europe right now. Although this week we have already had flooding, an earthquake and a small hurricane that was sucked open our motorhome door until I locked it. Pretty cool, actually. (Nothing to worry about Mum!)


Silves is a beautiful old town, unspoiled by tourists. Except us, that is.


Silves, in the south of Portugal, is the ancient Arab town of Xelb, once called the "Bagdad of the West". It has been vandalized through the ages by many famous people including Crusader King Richard the Lionhearted [of Robin Hood fame] who got sidetracked on the pilgrimage to the holy land and decided to console himself with a spot of violent looting in Xelb. All for the glory of God, of course. I think he really lost the plot, don't you? Our Christmas shopping, on the other hand, was quite timid and not a window was smashed. And since our Christmas spending limit was 5 Euros, we didn't really walk away with much loot either. Although we did take a few photos . . .


My Christmas treat was a retro haircut from an arthritic Portuguese barber. What an experience, despite the fact that my mullet has gone back to ground zero! It took him over an hour. Not bad for 5 Euros. And that photo that Debbie took was worth the admission.


Dang that haircut makes me look so incredibly HANDSOME! Oh yeah, and I have a beard now, in case you didn't notice. I think I will just BLEND into Morocco.


Donald and Alana have been accompanying our family during our travels. Yes, 9 people in a truck can be a little crowded, in case you were wondering, but we often spill out into tents so its not as bad as it seems.


There has been a lot of flooding lately with the stormy weather which means an occasional 4-wheel drive moment to show off for the camera. Our truck kicks butt! Really. Try doing that in a Winnebago!


Anyway, Merry Christmas. Have a great one! God's richest blessings on you this season.

HPV and our family in the news again

My wife and daughter Abigail are the lead story on the Orkney Today website. This is related to an unwanted HPV jab a few months ago that made the news. This time, a member of Scottish Parliment is upset that Scotland has no minimum age for consent for medical treatment and sexual health services. Our story is the one she is using to push her case. God speed!!!

Heres how it looks in today's newspaper. Click on it to enlarge.


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Family update

Debandsamatcafe Tamara Tamaracooking Debandtamarastromness
We are all enjoying good weather and are preparing for our first summer in Orkney. Sam has a part time job working for one of the cafes across the road. Tamara is only 6 but she is becoming a great chef - She just made something yesterday without a recipe - just threw in all kinds of ingredients and it worked out. Tamara and Debbie took a horse and carriage ride yesterday through our town of Stromness as part of a Victorian Day at the museum. [Click thumbnails to enlarge].

Willy Wonka Party

This is a record of our Willy Wonka birthday party last week and in particular, the media, food and games we created for it in the few hours before the party. Maybe it will be helpful to others doing the same thing.

AndrewaswillywonkaThats me on the left, dressed up as Willy Wonka. I welcomed people at the front door with a rolled out red carpet. This was the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed birthday party for our daughter Elizabeth, who turned 15. It was a great time and exceeded expectations. It was done on a budget and done quite well. So . . . I thought I would blog some of the links that were helpful, the games we invented, and, for non-geeks,  some of the hacks I used to get Willy Wonka media like fonts, .mp3 and video into our home. I use a Mac, btw and cant really recommend the best tools and programs to PC users.

There are plenty of Willy Wonka video clips out there (youtube, etc) but importing and reusing can be a challenge. I download them with the Video Downloader 2.0 which is an add on to my Firefox browser. Then I open them up with MPEG Streamclip as a Quick Time movie, or, as DV footage for iMovie. If you can find some movies in .mov or .mpg format, (I search for them on Google) then you can download them directly as QT movies and use them as fodder for your video wallpaper. Some of my downloads needed editing to get the credits and words out of them which i did in Quicktime Pro (costs a little but its worth it). When you are all done, make sure the movie is in "loop" mode and play it on your TV or, if you have a projector, shoot it on the ceiling or a wall.

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