The Top Nine Cities/Towns I Visited in 2009
I’m a little late on some of my top 2009 items, but I thought I would share the top nine cities/towns that I had the opportunity to visit in 2009. It is tough to put these in an kind of order, because I loved visiting each of these places for different reasons. So here are my top nine.
1. Blacksburg, VA
Blacksburg is a beautiful town, home of the Virginia Tech Hokies and a place I lived for thirteen years. This year I was invited back to Blacksburg by the leaders of [nlcf] to celebrate the 20 anniversary of the first church that I re-started. It was an amazing time of remembrance. At one time they had all the people who went into full-time ministry through [nlcf] stand up. And to watch something like 40 plus people stand in a line was amazing. It was great seeing Jim Pace, Matt Rogers as well as my brother Joe, his wife Suzanne and my nephew and niece Luke and Kara.
2. Kona, Hawaii
This was my first trip to this beautiful Island of adventure. I went to what is known as the “Big Island” because a former student at Tech had given me a free plane ticket as well as place to stay. It was a restful time where I went kayaking, snorking, star gazing, seeing a live Volcano and drinking Kona coffee. Enjoyed visiting the first church in Hawaii where my cohort buddy Brian Boshard pastors. Pictures coming very soon.
3. Chicago, IL
I loved my trip to Chicago this past year. I had the chance to connect with Life on the Vine and stay and David Fitch’s house for a week. He’s a great guy to stay with and his family is wonderful. I was greatly encouraged by the people at Life at the Vine and had a great time connecting with a number of the leaders there, including Matt Tebbe, Geoff Holsclaw and JR Rozko. It is a great work of God in the Chicago suburbs.
4. Portland, OR
This was also the first time that I was able to travel to Portland, Oregon. I have always wanted to visit this city because people talk about it all the time. It is the greenest city in the States and has a very Indy feel. They have their own coffee shops – Stumptown Coffee, their own book stores – Powell’s books, and even their own doughnut shops – Voodoo Doughnut. I love that. And this visit was particularly rich because I got to stay with Bob Hyatt and connect with the Evergreen community. I really enjoyed meeting the equipping team there – Dustin Bagby, Sarah Zollner, Chris Leonardo and Tina Lips.
5. Denver, CO
I remember the first time (close to 20 years ago) that I drove into Denver, Colorado and saw the Rockies, I was impressed. This trip was great, not only because of the awesome city of Denver, but the awesome people I connected with at New Denver Church. Stephen Redden, Jason Malec and Norton Herbst (A VT Hokie) head up this missional church. You can learn about each of them here. I had a great time visiting SAME Cafe, a creative approach to the hungry in the city as well as have the opportunity to meet many church planters. Great visit. J.R. Briggs visited this city with me, which made the trip even that much better.
6. Virginia Beach, VA
Those who invited me to speak at a Leadership Training for college students put me up in a hotel at the beach. Having spent a great deal of time in Virginia, visiting Virginia Beach brought back a lot of memories for me. I loved teaching about developing a rhythm of life and meeting some new friends from Turkey, who I took to Bush Gardens. I hope to visit them in Turkey in 2011.
7. Oxford/London/Hope Valley/Manchester/Cambridge UK
I put all of these together, since I visited each of these places in 2009 and wanted to include them all for various reason. I was lecturing at Cliff College (part of the University of Manchester) and meeting with professors at Oxford, Cambridge and Kings College London to consider post-graduate work. I was able to visit some long term friends in London as well as make some new friends at Cliff like Ali Johnson and Ian Burgess. Ali and I were able to attend a Manchester United game, front row seats. It was awesome. In London I connected with Graham Tomlin. It was a wonderful time, though the weather was a bit dreary for quite a bit of the trip.
8. Lodwar, Kenya
This was my third visit to a town that most Kenyan’s haven’t even visited. But I love this place because of the people there and the work that God has others and I doing there. Lodwar has an amazing people like my good friends Bishop Kaaleng and Joshua Lemuya. This past trip, I brought a gifted group of people with me, including a film-maker who made this fascinating look at Lodwar called Lodwar from three angles. It’s fourteen minutes well spent.
9. Philadelphia, PN
While I’ve been through Philly before, this time I took the time to enjoy the city a bit more. I was connecting with Todd Hiestand, Gary Alloway and others at the Well, and we also met up with Laurence Tom in Chinatown. It was great seeing the statue of Rocky, eating some Philly steak sandwiches as well as seeing the wonderful mural’s around the city. The people were great. Gary is now involved in a new church plant in Bristol.
There were numerous other places I had a chance to visit, each of them I thoroughly enjoyed, but these were my top nine from 2009. Thanks to everyone who made my visit meaningful.