Various and Sundry

Here’s a random assortment of things that, by themselves, aren’t significant enough for their own blog entry:
Abi seems to be cutting some teeth. This is way earlier than Benjamin did, but the symptoms are definitely there. Sunday her cheeks were rosy red all day, and she’s had a temperature pretty much non-stop since then. She’s extra cuddly lately, and seems to need more sleep than usual.
Benjamin is doing great since his Tyke Talk appointment, probably partially because of the tips we learned, but also because he’s ready to communicate more. Nicole’s been working hard to help him, and they’ve added about 25 new words to his vocabulary, and are well on the way to 100. He even put two words together, although we weren’t sure if it was intentional, or just an accident.
Alpha finishes up this week, with a Celebration Dinner. We don’t think we’ll be helping out with the next one that starts in January, because we have some other ministry ideas we want to pursue, but its been a good experience. There have been some weeks that I felt like I had to force myself to go, but by the end of the evening I realise I’ve really enjoyed myself and the conversation. And I believe someone at our table has made a decision to follow Jesus, which would be ample reward for our efforts. I’ll be following up this week!
If you’ve thought about doing an Alpha course before, but haven’t — do it. It’ll be totally worth it!
Just when I think I’ve got it all taken care of, something else comes up that has to be worked through. But after numerous e-mails trying to find the right person, I reached another milestone in my transition from being a U.S. employee to being a Canadian one, and got my vacation/personal business/sick time moved over to the Canadian tracking system, thanks to a very nice gal out in Edmonton.
The good news? Canadian employees get 5 extra vacation days! For next year, we’ll have 3 weeks of paid vacation, plus 5 personal business days! That means we could take a whole month off if we wanted!
I got NetFlix’ Watch Instantly working on my XBox — despite their attempts to block Canadian viewers. This is a fairly righteous hack, and I’m pretty pleased that despite being in the technological stone age that Canadian Internet Providers limit us to, I’m able to use a brand new technology. We’ve been watching episodes of Sliders over NetFlix, and I’m pretty sure its some of the best TV of the 90s…
I got to do a little video editing last week — something I haven’t done… well, since Abigail was born. I had a lot of fun watching my little trailer come together as I lined up clips from various sources in Final Cut. I need to do this kind of thing more often, because I frankly think I’m pretty good at it! This is the teaser for our next series at the evening service at church:

What's the plural of pilgramage?

About 10 years ago now, Nicole and I went on our first road trip together. We were 18, and couldn’t believe that my parent’s would let the two of us go alone, in their car, all the way to Cleveland!
Of course, they knew who we were going to visit, and that there would be no shenanigans permitted there, so I don’t think they were that worried.
A decade later, and with a couple little ones in our own car, we’ll be headed back that way to visit the same people. Of course their family has relocated a number of times since then, as has ours. In fact, a great deal has changed. But John and Karen, who’s perfect little family of 4 were all in our wedding, remain a positive influence in our lives — although maybe not quite in the way they used to.
But before we make our last cross-border pilgrimage of the year (we hope!) Ben’s favorite babysitter will be boarding a train, and coming the other way across the border to see us. She remains our only U.S. friend to brave the wilds of the scary Canadian wilderness and visit us from New York — although this visit we intend to do a little less touristy stuff, and stick her with a lot more babysitting!
These two visits should fairly neatly fill up the next two weeks, but I’ll try to schedule in a couple posts to keep the site from going too stale. Besides, I’ve not quite finished with my ranting…

jonandnic dot com Downgrade

jonandnic dot com is just finishing up a move to a much cheaper, but slightly less capable home. While Westhost offered fantastic service for advanced functionality, its over-kill for the lowered ambitions of the site. Instead of $40 every 3 months, we’ll be paying $12 a year to LRE Hosting.
While we finish up the move, a few things may be down, or not working quite as usual. We’re a little tight for space right now, but we should be over these hiccups shortly. Stay tuned!

  • Archives are now working again
  • Photo albums are back, and are new and improved, thanks to iPhoto and iWeb. Check them out!

Hacking Time Machine

This past week I was the unfortunate victim of hard drive failure on my 1stgen Macbook Pro. After looking through my local NAS and finding that my most recent backup was done in April, I kicked myself a little bit. I have everything available to me to do regular backups, but like most people I am just too lazy. I decided that I wanted to try and get Time Machine to perform backups to a network share instead of a local drive. A simple terminal command was all that was needed to make my network volumes show up in Time Machine.
defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1
Just changing this preference has worked for many other people, but I get the a message from Time Machine stating “The backup disk image could not be created.” Nothing on google or the apple support forums seems to give any good info on the situation.
Any ideas?

Kid News

So I figured I’d give you all a little break from the ranting and update you on how the kids are doing…

We took Benjamin for an initial visit with a Tyke Talk speech path on Friday. He’s a “late talker” — which apparently isn’t all that uncommon for boys. He has about 30 words right now, and by the time he’s two (just over a month from now) he’s supposed to have 50-100 words, and be able to put two of them together. He hasn’t really hit his vocabulary explosion yet, so they gave us some things to work on with him. Part of his problem, we’re told, is that he’s an independent type (wonder where he gets that from) so rather than asking for what he wants, he’ll try and get it himself.
Fortunately his comprehension is excellent, his problem solving skills are great, and his fine motor skills are above average, so its not likely that he’s developmentally delayed in any way — he just doesn’t see the urgency for talking.
Something else he picked up from his dad (and likely his mom’s side of the family, as well, if his Papa is any indication) is a fascination with how things work. He loves taking things apart, looking at them from all sides, and then trying to put them back together. He also loves anything with wheels… a lot!
He cut a set of 4 or more teeth over the past couple weeks, so he had some high fevers and extra cuddly days, but most of the time he’s a happy kid. He loves his sister, and gives her kisses all the time.
Oh ya, and he got his third hair cut — Nicole did this one, and she did a great job!

Abi is really becoming aware of her world — and aware that its a pretty funny one most of the time. She does her little army crawl all around the house, and moves way faster than you’d think possible for someone her size. She squeals with delight any time there’s any play going on anywhere. If Ben’s laughing, she’s probably laughing along with him.
Something that I didn’t expect, given that she’s a girl, is that she loves horseplay as much as Benjamin did at her age. I always figured having a girl meant you had to be more gentle, but she absolutely loves being thrown in the air or pushed over on the bed and tickled. She doesn’t mind at all if Benjamin steps on her or bumps into her when they’re playing together.
Actually, most of the time, if she’s not hungry, poopy or tired, she’s grinning or laughing — at me, anyway. Nic sees her more, so she might report something different, but pretty much any time I walk into the room she grins at me.

She’s started eating more solid food now — although she doesn’t have any teeth. She likes bread a lot. She eats little pieces of banana, and pretty much any cereal. She has a voracious appetitie — especially at dinner time! We’ve had to start giving her 2 courses of her 5-course meal around 4:30, just to keep her from getting panicky by the time we sit down for dinner.
In between bites of food, she likes to lay her head on her shoulder. It doesn’t look comfortable to me at all, but I guess she thinks the world looks funnier from that angle.
Both kids are sleeping pretty well, now that they’ve adjusted to that stupid Daylight Savings Time switch (which makes no sense to me at all, and if I’m ever President of the world, I’m going to get rid of it) and comfortable in their routines. They detach without problems when we drop them off in nursery — especially if their little babysitter is in there. So, in general, we haven’t really got any major concerns for either of them. They’re growing like weeds, and a joy to have around… most of the time.
I figure I should also take a moment to record all the new little friends they’re about to have, because it seems to be that season of life for so many people we know:

  • Chad and Jen just let us know that there’s going to be a little mochaccino baby arriving in 6 months or so
  • Brian and Melissa are due almost the same time with baby #2
  • Christy and Brent are due any day now with their second
  • Jeff and Kathy are having their first, just as he wraps up the long haul through Dental school, in the next week or so
  • Chad and Nicole are having their second dual-citizen baby who we hope to meet before they return to Asia
  • Pete and Faith are home from Africa having their #3 in December
  • Randy and Amber, who got hitched this summer, are having their #2
  • Jason and Brooke (who are currently blogless) are gonna pop out a little brother or sister for Benjamin’s girlfriend Alivia in about 7 months

We’re excited for all of them — but especially the first time parents, who can’t possibly imagine how much their lives are about to change! (For the better, don’t worry!)

Seen and not Heard: Some Clarifications

I think I should probably limit the scope of what it is I’ve been pondering lately. What it boils down to for me is understanding our individual responsibility to Matthew 28:19.
As I’ve said a couple times before, its apparent to me that individual Christians have, in general, relinquished their individual responsibilities to what they view as the church. (And as an aside, I don’t really talk about anything in this topic that I haven’t seen in, or struggled with, myself, so if I sound accusatory, understand that I’m accusing inclusively!)
What I mean by this is that we’ve forgotten how to serve on our own. Most (or at least, many) of us are pleased to be involved within our churches if asked. And somehow we’ve forgotten that being in our church does not necessarily mean that we are making the best use of what God has given us.
Yes, there are lots of good local churches who have an external focus, as well as an internal one, so if we sign up with them, and are obedient, we may get the benefit of their external focus. But we shouldn’t forget that we arrived there only because our “church” told us too.
Our current church, for example, is in great shape. We have a healthy congregation of believers who are actively involved in the church, we serve our community in more ways than I can count, and we support over 2 dozen international missionaries. And serving in one of those capacities can provide great opportunities for individuals to live out the Great Commission. But living it out as a side-effect of being involved in a church is not the same as living it out personally.
What happens when that church organization is absent from our lives? What happens in our day-to-day routine when there isn’t a church staff member directing our attentions? What happens if God sends us to another country where we don’t have the benefit of a constantly available organization to direct and shape our obedience?
Another thing I should clarify is that nothing I’m talking about requires a complete redirection of our lives. Not everyone is called to full-time ministry, and not everyone is gifted for it. I’m a software developer. I have other interests and other skills that I enjoy pursuing, and may one day get to use professionally, but its fairly clear to me that my primary professional pursuits will be technology. And its fairly clear to me that God has blessed me in this area. But that doesn’t give me the right to walk past hurting people and ignore them, just because I’m not a professional minister.
No, in fact, our duty is the opposite. And we needn’t wait around to be told (again) to do it — read Matthew 25:34-46. This, in fact, is each of our primary purpose: Love God, Love Others. And I italicized those two words because that’s whats most important about all of this:
Our primary purpose: Not our local church’s (except that each of us are a part of the Church.) We’re not instructed to wait around until our pastor tells us that its Community Service Day before we do anything about the hurt of those around us. Each of us is expected to take responsibility for it in our own lives. Not because we love other Christians. Not because we love acting righteous. Not because someone at church told us we should. We should do it out of a natural expression of love for our God. Its OUR love for God that compels us to act — not our church who is asking for our obedience.
– Our primary purpose: What we do for a living is not our primary purpose. Hopefully we work at it in a way that is honoring to God, but its what we do when we’re free from responsibility that indicates the leanings of our heart. I can be the best employee in the world, and I can volunteer all my free time at church, and still miss my primary purpose: experiencing the love of God and sharing it with those around me.
When I’m in love with God, I will feel His heart for others. When I feel that, but do not love others, then I have failed at my purpose. I have failed at the two most important commandments in the Bible! (Matthew 22:37-40)
If we wrap our heads around this, it can change how we live our lives, it can change how our churches work, and it can change our politics and our world view. If we truly governed and led with Christian values — not Conservative, not Republican — but actual Christ-like values, where love comes first, everything would change.
In fact, the next biggest challenge I’m struggling with, once we’ve bought into this, is how can we differentiate ourselves from the secular world who is doing a better job than we are at offering this kind of love to the hurting? If it were only Christians handing out sandwiches to homeless people, or running soup kitchens, or doing relief work after natural disasters, then we’d have no problems. But Christians won’t do these things until someone organizes them, and instructs them, so the secular world has picked up the slack. And now, when we do show up to help out, what do we have to offer that demonstrates how great Christ’s love is? When we are no more compassionate than our non-Christian neighbors, and in fact, are comparatively deficient in initiative and personal responsibility, what makes our contributions unique?
We should absolutely go to our churches, participate, help out, contribute to that local family, give and receive instruction and leadership.
We should absolutely do the best we can at our jobs, and function within them with Christian ethics, and seek to honor God and our employers. And we should absolutely give back to God what He has blessed us with.
But what do we offer to “the least of these?” What do we offer to the people to whom we are not accountable?
Its what we do when there’s no one telling us what to do that I am most concerned with.
And when the world looks at us and sees us an ineffective, self-righteous, unloving, ignorant, afraid and stuck in our own little communities, they are not seeing Christ. And you needn’t look very far to discover how seriously we, as individuals, are failing.
If we’re ready to change this, my suggestion is that step 1 is to shut up, and step 2 is to dig in. But that’ll have to wait for another post…

Seen and not heard

So I debated long and hard about whether or not to write this post, or relate this story. I wanted to use it as a logical next step in our (yours and my) on-going conversation about effective Christianity, but Matthew would seem to suggest that it would be best to keep my mouth shut.
I wouldn’t want a blog post to destroy the effectiveness of the effort, but I don’t think I have any right to continue my ranting if we’re not practicing what we preach… So, comments are closed for this article. I don’t write it seeking reply or affirmation, but as a bridge between the previous posts observing some problems, and any follow-up posts I might write proposing solutions. Plus, I couldn’t shut up about how mad Tim Horton’s made me, so that kinda blew my ability to be discrete.
There will not be another self-congratulatory post like this again. Only our commitment that I won’t rant on this site about problems that we are not willing to work to resolve. When I say things like “Christians need to roll up their sleeves and dig in,” we desire to be a part of that effort. And when I say things like “Get out of your church,” I mean to do just that.

This was the scene in our kitchen last Friday night after the kids went to bed. We made 24 lunches — good ones, ones that we’d eat and feed our kids. We searched high and low for biodegradeable, disposable coffee cups, getting no help from the grocery stores, that sell only plastic or styrofoam, and no help from a certain coffee shop who hides behind ridiculous corporate policies. We finally prevailed upon a friend to nab us some from church.
Aside from that, there was no mission, no organization and no team. No instruction and no one in charge. Just a Biblical mandate and a desire to understand how we, as individuals, are supposed to apply it to our lives.
Saturday morning, I drove up to Toronto and picked-up a friend who lives there. We loaded up our back-packs with the lunches and some coffee, and took the subway downtown. We walked for about 5 hours, sometimes finding clumps of homeless people together, sometimes walking for blocks without seeing a single one. Often we’d pass someone, or nearly pass them, before we realized they were there — the down-trodden have become so invisible in our big cities.
Some of them were happy to see us, eager to talk and share our company for a few moments. A few were barely coherent, mumbling to themselves, but accepting the gift. Some didn’t get up from sleeping on the sidewalk, under a tattered sleeping bag or blanket, so we set our brown bag lunches down beside them and continued on. A few declined our offer, or accepted it grudgingly when we explained we didn’t bring any money to give them.
All of them were desperate for something.
I’d like to say we did this strictly out of the kindness of our hearts. But my motives likely weren’t that pure. I think I did this because I’m a little upset — if you haven’t picked that up from some of my posts lately:
I’m upset because if you look at the organizations and the people in your communities who do this kind of thing regularly, I think you’ll find that many (if not most) of them are non-Christian. Secular organizations are leading the way in a ministry that every single Christian should feel compelled to do — no matter where they live, or what their lives are like.
I’m upset because individual Christians have relinquished their personal responsibility to their confused definition of “the church.” We think the church is the building we go to on Sunday, and the staff and volunteers who work there define it, and we’ve totally forgotten that each of us is the church.
That listening to a sermon and joining a small group… that’s not living like a Christian. That’s living like a follower — a consumer! Living like a Christian means that we are each servant-leaders. We each have a mandate to live out Christ in our lives. We can’t wait for a pastor to pull together a missions team — we’re already on a mission.
I’m upset because I’ve been waiting around for someone to tell me what I’m supposed to do here. I’m upset because someone, over a year ago, told me that they didn’t think I was fit to serve God, and I actually believed them. I actually gave credence to a flawed human being, with questionable motives, over what I know the Bible says to do. I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me “OK, you can come out of timeout now. Here’s what I want you to do.” And that’s not God’s instruction for me at all.
I’m upset because everything I’ve ever needed has been provided for, and even though I’ve attributed those blessings to financial obedience and a willingness to serve, its never occurred to me that just obeying isn’t enough. If I went to work and did only what I was told, I might keep down a job, but I certainly wouldn’t be where I am in my career. If my boss expects initiative from me — if I expect it from the people I work with — how much more does our God, who’s blessed us beyond what we can understand — expect it from us?
I’m tired of useless Christians. I’m tired of the people who leave their church just to use their faith as a bludgeon. But I’m just as tired of people who don’t leave their church at all.
I’m tired of waiting for someone to tell me that God wants to use me, and how. I’m tired of people who won’t serve unless they’re asked. The Bible doesn’t say “Go to your church leaders and ask permission to make disciples!” The Bible doesn’t require an organization supporting or defining your efforts. If you are called to a place of leadership where your ministry is a facility for the ministry of others, then that’s great. But if you’re not, you’re still called to ministry! Right now!
That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to accountability. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek both God and Godly council. It just means that we have to get up off our butts and stop waiting for someone to call us by name to a specific task. We’ve already been called by name, and our task is clear. Why is the secular world doing a better job of behaving like Christ than we are?
I don’t know about you, but I’m of the opinion that if Christians want to make an impact on our society, we need to stop yelling at people, and start serving them — and serving with them. To quote a late-90s Christian rock band: sometimes God’s children need to be seen and not heard.

Boycotting Tim Horton's

If you know me, you understand the severity of this sacrifice.
Tim Horton’s corporate policies put protection of their brand above their communities. A call from their head office confirmed that they won’t even allow restaurants to give empty coffee cups to an organized effort to feed homeless people.
So, I won’t be giving them any more of my money. As much as I enjoy their coffee, and hate to pay a premium for Starbucks and the like, I’m not going to buy coffee from an organization that puts their empty, disposable cups above their social responsibility.
PS: If you think feeding people is more important than cardboard cups, drop Sheila at Tim Horton’s Customer Service department an e-mail:

Effective Christian Leadership outside our Churches

Last week I wrote two posts about some problems I’ve observed. One was about neo-conservatism in U.S. politics, one was about Christians in general. Some people liked one post a lot more than they liked the other, which is curious to me, because I felt I was writing about the same thing: a general self-righteous uselessness among those who claim the name of Christ.
Yesterday I posted a speech by the President-elect about religion. In it, he talked about his own, and about how he perceived was the best way to reconcile his belief system against his role in politics. And what it boils down to is fairly simple:
You can have faith without reason — but you cannot lead without it.
For a disappointing majority of Christians, their faith is not a rational one. Many of us believe what we do because of routine, because of emotional experiences or because we were raised that way. When pressed to defend our faith, we have no more useful answers than someone defending their favorite sports team — people don’t like the Leafs or the Habs, the Giants or the Packers for intellectual reasons. They may say they have some, but when it comes down to it, its just a stubborn belief that they are right.
For a disappointing majority of Christians, a stubborn belief that they are right about their faith is sufficient to get them through life. Sure they may occasionally get into a debate with someone about it, but they aren’t likely to persuade or be persuaded. At best, it’ll escalate to an emotional yelling match between two uninformed, irrational believers.
But that’s OK, because afterward they’ll go home, and continue to live their routine out until they die, having had little-to-no impact on the world around them.
However, should a Christian decide to go out into the world around them (Matthew 28:19-20), and try to lead or try to reach, they’ll find fairly quickly that an unquestioned, irrational faith is useless to anyone who doesn’t share it. They can shout what they believe at the top of their lungs, but without reason behind it, they’re no more useful to the world than a crazy person standing on a street corner predicting the apocalypse. In fact, you need look no further than a few influential sites on the Internet to discover that Christians are generally seen as ignorant and backward.
We have allowed the passionately stupid to rise as leaders within our ranks, simply because the volume of their ranting seems to hold conviction.
An irrational, thoughtless faith may be useful within our community, but if we want to lead the world with it, we’re going to have to answer with more than “do this or you’ll go to hell!” We’re going to have to provide some reason behind the principles we believe in.
This may seem a little scary — and that’s OK, because it is. The reality of life is that not everyone will choose Christ (Matthew 22:14). We have to accept the fact that not everyone will decide to believe what we do. But if we desire to be in leadership — if we want our countries to behave as Christian nations — we have to be able to lead those who don’t share our beliefs. If we can assume that the Bible contains principles useful for instruction and useful for government and leadership (and it does) then we need to discover the universally applicable reasons behind those principles.
We cannot lead our countries (our employees, our families) without reasons behind our convictions. It is not enough to say “the Bible says so!”
The good news is, I can’t think of an example of a Biblical mandate that doesn’t have a rational explanation behind it:
The Bible says not to steal… because stealing is corrosive to a community.
The Bible says not to commit adultery… because adultery destroys families.
The Bible says not to murder… because murder kills people, duh!
But it goes beyond the obvious. In the Old Testament, God’s people were apparently inexplicably commanded not to eat pork (Deuteronomy 14:8). Maybe this seemed like an irrational commandment, until you realize that pork is the hardest kind of meat to make sanitary. Is it possible that God gave that instruction to His children to protect them from disease and infection? In the Old Testament, God commands his armies that to defecate in their camps would make those camps ceremonially unclean. Is it possible that God told His kids that so they wouldn’t poop where they slept and ate?
In fact, I challenge you to find a single instruction in the Bible for which you cannot find a principle with sound reasoning for society at large – Christian or non.
See, God doesn’t expect us to follow stupidly, or blindly. He, in His grace, has arranged a path to salvation that can be achieved without any kind of intellectual challenge. But with equal grace has given us a Way that withstands the examination of all our intellect.
Would it be ideal if, instead of leading non-Christians, we could convert them all to our belief system, so that they’d do exactly what we tell them without question? Maybe, maybe not. But the Bible says that won’t happen anyway. So if we desire leadership — if we desire for Christian principles to be applied to the government of our countries — we’re going to have understand why those principles are valuable, and be able to communicate the reasoning behind them.
Reason transcends religion and irreligion. Fortunately, our God is a logical one, and our faith a reasonable one. (Acts 17:2-3)
This means, you’re going to have to question your faith — other people certainly will! You are going to have to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling! Its not enough to believe irrationally! If you want to teach, you have to understand!
This means that if you’re opposed to gay marriage, you’re not only going to have to find a part of the Bible that teaches against it, but you’re going to have to understand why it does.
This means that if you think we’re supposed to be at war with Iraq, you’re going to have to find a Biblical reason for it AND you’re going to have to be able to explain the logic behind that mandate.
If you’re for the death penalty, you can’t just say “an eye for an eye,” you’ll have to explain why that works — and why it works better than the alternatives.
And if its a matter of religion for you that every American is entitled to have a gun in their house, not only should you find a verse that says something along those lines, but you’re going to have to understand that verse well enough that you can communicate the principle apart from the religion.
And if you find those things challenging, then you begin to understand how your faith might be useless to the world around you. How being a conservative does not guarantee that you are the right person to be in government. How saying you’re on a mission from God might not hold any water for the people outside your church body — in fact, it might make you look a little crazy if you follow a God that cannot withstand even a little intellectual cross-examination.
Fortunately, that’s not the God we follow. That may be the God we’ve communicated for the past few decades, but that’s not who He is. Its my firm belief that when God said He created us in his image, that doesn’t mean we necessarily physically look like Him. It means that He gave us, above all other creatures on the planet, an ability to think, to communicate, to investigate and to understand. We are more than just the sum of our parts because God wanted people He could walk with, talk to, and reason with.
If you choose not to reason, and prefer to follow blindly, that’s OK. He’ll accept your child-like devotion, as perhaps being the best you can offer. But if you want other people to follow what you believe, you’re going to have to communicate a God who is relevant to their lives — who’s teaching is useful and practical, that stands up to examination, and in that investigation, reveals itself to be divine.
I am discovering that this is a difficult challenge. It actually means that we, as Christians, have to question the things we shout at people. It means that no part of our faith should be taught to others until it has been understood in our own lives. It may mean that some of the principles that we have come to accept as religious (or near-religious) guidance are not actually in the Bible at all (I’m looking at you, capitalism!)
It definitely means that we are not going to be really effective in leading in our communities, countries and in our world, until we have sought God’s heart — not just His Word. It may even mean that our faith isn’t useful to others until its been tested.
It also means that we’ll never, ever make it. That God’s work will always be completed by God, and not us. No matter how effective we are at communicating what we believe, it will never be us who causes life change. But we are responsible for planting seeds, for demonstrating His love and leadership. If we sow seeds of discord, of fear, of hatred or intolerance, than that is the God we are communicating to our world. And we fail as His ambassadors.