Since April 2005, we’ve been keeping you informed about our ministry through this website disciplemexico.org. Since that date, we’ve posted pictures, stories, newsletters and more, chronicling our journey of over 8 years.
Still, amount of information has the tendency to get buried on a website. That’s why we’ve just brought on-line our new Facebook page, Disciple Mexico.org. All of the pictures and all of the newsletters are now available for you to browse on the Timeline, so you’ll be able to look through the memories without all of the digging. What’s more, liking the page will give you access to all of our updates on Facebook and our website, without clogging up your inbox. So hit the link and head over to our Facebook page, Disciple Mexico.org and take a look for yourself. Don’t forget to click “Like” while your there!
We’ve struggled hard to make it work. We’ve tried every option we could think of, but we just couldn’t stay. So we’ve packed up and moved. That’s right, our ministry photos, which were previously hosted on Facebook have been moved, everyone of them, to Google+.
Since 2008, we’d been posting our photos to Facebook and later linking them here at discipleMexico.org in our posts and gallery. However, with the recent changes at Facebook and the lack of support for our plugin that made those photos appear on the site, we’ve had to move all of them to Google+. However, after several days of packing and unpacking, we’re happy to report that the pictures are up and ready again to be seen!
For those of you wanting to visit, they have a new address here at disciplemexico.org: www.disciplemexico.org/gallery. So stop by and take a look, and take a walk down memory lane with us. We’ve also got some new photos posted from the Regional Church Planting Seminars, and don’t worry, you won’t need to bring a housewarming gift.
Ah video, why do I avoid thee so? You speak to so many through your words and pictures. You inform, encourage, and inspire, yet I wait for years to update you. Perhaps it’s because we live in a Latin society, where the idea of complete silence for recording purposes is ludicrous. Or perhaps it’s because the tools that are frequently used to develop you are thought to only run on certain machines, or tend to be so expensive?
Yes, I’d waited over three years to make a new video to update our website About Us page, but finally, after recording, editing and uploading, the newest release is available. You can check it out above or here if you’re receiving this via email. Now, if you’re only interested in seeing the finished product, you can stop reading, but if you’d like to know how I pieced it together, and the free tools that I used to do all of this from my PC, by all means, read on!
It’s true, there are certainly challenges when it comes to piecing together a video on the mission field. One of the biggest hurdles is acquiring the right tools. I put the above video together using free software designed for a PC. Here is the list:
The actual process involved writing out the script, recording the the script via video in its entirety (around 11:00 PM to avoid the noise of dogs, buses motorcycles, etc.), and finally doing the editing, where I added in pictures in order to illustrate what was being narrated.
The bulk of the work was done in Windows Live Movie Maker, but, although it’s easy to use, it lacks some features. One such feature that I particularly needed was the ability to separate audio from the video that I had recorded. I needed that feature to be able to superimpose pictures throughout the narration instead of releasing a complete video of yours truly as a talking head. That’s where Free Video to MP3 Converter came in. I simply ran the video through this software tool, and, viola! The result was an MP3 file, which I was able to use as audio along with the pictures that I had selected to give me the exact effect that I wanted. I then spliced the live video along with the pictures and audio narration mostly via drag and drop in Windows Live Movie Maker to accomplish the finished project.
Was it entirely painless? Absolutely not! Was it quick and easy? A resounding “No” as well. (That’s the reason for this post, so that you don’t have to scrounge cyberspace in order to get the tools that you need to do this job.) Nevertheless, I got the job done on time and without breaking the bank in order to make it happen.
Of course, my experience in this field is extremely limited. I am probably just scratching the surface when it comes to the resources available to make and edit video on a budget. So I leave it open for discussion:
What do you think of our most recent video? Let us know what’s good or what could be better.
Also, if you have experience in making and editing home video, I’d invite you to comment give us some of your favorite tools to do the job. (I’m using a PC, so I’m biased toward tools that run on Windows, but I invite comments from Mac users as well.)
We’re headed back to Muna with the AU Chi Alpha Team for a week of ministry. For the first two days, Kelly and the kids will join me as we minister in the Sunday School and Sunday night services, sharing crafts and teaching with the kids and stewardship training for the adults. On Monday through Thursday, the family will be returning to Mérida while the team and I will continue to involve ourselves in construction, general labor, outreach, and evening services. Pray for us as we seek to make an impact.
While I have you, I’d like to mention a the changes we’ve made to our Contact Us page. We’ve updated our VOIP phone. The new number is 814-746-4952. You can call us via your US based land line or cell for the cost of a US long distance charge. (If you happen to be located in Erie, PA, it’s a local call.) Also, check out the other options to communicate to us through email, IM or Skype! So visit the page, and drop us a line, however you choose to contact us. We’ve got our ears on!
Well, not really, but stops and starts made putting together an introductory video something of a long-term project. Originally started as a response to a request from Glad Tidings Assemblies of God in West Lawn, PA for videos from the missionaries that they support, we decided an intro video could serve our website guests as well. We made two versions, one to be shown on a Sunday Morning for the church and one to introduce our family and ministry here on discipleMexico.org. So here, without further ado, is our very own introductory video. (Click on the flash player to the left to launch it or here if your are receiving this update via email.)
In addition to this new video, we’ve totally revamped our About Us page, adding this video as well as descriptions of our individual callings. And, for those of your who have yet to friend us on Facebook, you can check back to keep abreast of our current status. Just a few new ways that we’re trying to keep you connected to what’s happening here in the Yucatan.
OK, for those of you looking for something more profound, I’m sorry to disappoint. This post is devoid of deep thought. Instead it focuses on the technical side of my portfolio here in Mexico.
Part of what I do here in Mexico deals with maintaining my website, and the website of our Missionary Fellowship. Maintenance has a lot to do with staying current, and when the web management software that you use tends to upgrade every three months, staying current can be a challenge. I use WordPress as the engine that drives what we do at discipleMexico.org and today, I completed the upgrade process to the brand new version 2.5
Part of my reasoning behind the upgrade is to ensure the security and stability of our website. There are many languishing installs that are currently succumbing to hackers and spammers and losing their status in search engines because of it. Problems like that can hurt non-profits like us who rely on a low-cost web presence to promote their message. It pays to be current.
The other part of my reasoning lies in taking advantage of new features that the software provides. I’m on the lookout constantly for step savers or ways to extend what I offer. I was particularly interested in the WordPress 2.5 gallery feature. If it worked, it would allow me to ditch my another process and help me get pictures up more easily, and perhaps more frequently. Of course, that was only if it worked.
The first upgrade, a 5 minute process performed through WordPress Automatic Upgrade failed to produce the brand new uploader which is the heart and soul of the new gallery feature. Without that, my new time-saver was dead on arrival. OK, time to trouble-shoot, an hour of trying this and that proved fruitless. Only a complete reinstall of the software, this time manually installed, allowed me to access the new uploader.
OK. Step one solved, now on to the next, producing a gallery. I looked for examples to see what this new tool was capable of. Would it fit the bill for my site? A quick tour of the Internet proved promising, but my first gallery was a flop. With no navigation, the supposed gallery seemed unwieldy and useless. It looked like I was going to be tied to my third-party solution. Still, something in me said that there was a solution out there. Others would not have been able to get the results that they had achieved without software mature enough to deliver.
A deeper search revealed that the gallery feature relies not only on the new uploader, but also on a new template called image.php, available in the default theme. Part of the problem of heeding the upgrade warnings that WordPress sends is that many of the new and improved features are poorly documented. Tags were a case in point a few releases back. This time the photo gallery has proven to be the winner.
Sure enough, copying the image.php file to my current theme did the trick. With a few tweaks and a few bug fixes, I achieved success. My first WordPress native gallery was born. I’ve posted it below. It’s a conglomeration of some prominent images characteristic of the Mexico that we have experienced. It’s not exhaustive, but it displays a bit of what the WordPress gallery can do. I hope you enjoy.
I was reading the blogs of some other missionaries, specifically an interesting series of posts on “God’s call to the fools,” when I came across a little tool that measures the level of education that it takes to read and understand a certain website. Some that I tried required an elementary level education, others a high school education and so on. Imagine my surprise however, when I found what it took to read and understand disciplemexico.org. That’s right, the blog readability test said that it takes a genius to understand the things that I say.
This leads me to two conclusions:
I have a very intelligent reader base. Congratulations then to those who have subscribed and regularly struggled to understand what this rambling missionary writes.
It seems like the one thing that we can count on in life is that there will be change. We change from one year to the next, from one pant size to the next, and sometimes even from one car to the next. Our tastes change, our hobbies change and we find that those around us change as they too go through this same process. Well, things are no different for this missionary.
It seems like just as I was getting used to keeping all of my thoughts together on my Blogger powered website, Blogger.com decided it was time for a change. They rolled out their new version, which was about to render much of my previous work useless. So, instead of following along blindly, I decided to launch an upgrade of my own. We’ve moved disciplemexico.org from Blogger to a self-installed version of WordPress.
Now, many of you will simply notice the updated look (comments please) but behind the scenes this means that disciplemexico.org is now fully self-contained. I won’t have to wait for Blogger to recover from the latest server failure or hack in order to serve up the latest news, and you won’t have to wait for the various third party plug-ins that had to load in order to bring you what was disciplemexico.org. I’m hoping that this is a win-win situation for all of us.
In the conversion, there have been some things that have yet to be cleaned up–the occasional picture in need of resizing or apostrophe needing to be replaced. Please let me know when you encounter this. As far as functionality, everything should be up and running, but if your encounter problems, please let me know right away. We want to continue to bring you the latest from our family and ministry here in Mexico in the most convenient way possible. Thanks for joining with us in the journey!
100 posts that is! We’ve crossed the 100 barrier, and to celebrate, we’ve changed our look. We’ve got what we believe is a much cleaner, much less “out of the box” look with more emphasis on Mexico, especially on the area of Merida where we are going to work. Of course, all of the features and content that you have enjoyed are still around. So if you’ve been enjoying our RSS feed or our updates by email, maybe it’s time to stop on by and give us another glance. By the way, thanks for your support and thanks for making us one of your stops on the web.
If you have been on the web reading blogs for any length of time, then you probably have been seeing icons like the above, or perhaps little “chicklets” with the letters “RSS” on them, and perhaps you’ve wondered to yourself, just what is RSS anyway? Well, wonder no more, this missionary has taken it upon himself to let you into the RSS secret.
RSS or Really Simple Syndication is for people who want to stay on the cutting edge of information, but don’t have time to browse to several sites in order to get it. RSS, allows that person, probably a person much like yourself, to “subcribe” to a “site feed” or special file of information that is coded especially for news readers. The news reader is set up in such a way that you can receive and organize information from several sources all in one interface, usually web-based. The reader also shows which feeds have been upated recently, so you can tell at a glance what you need to pay attention to.
Are you sold on the technology? Do you want to know where to get a newsreader? Well, Google offers a one as does Yahoo, but I am especially partial to Bloglines as their reader works both on browsers and handhelds.
Why do I spend such time talking about RSS? Because we’ve spent such time making this site thoroughly accessable via RSS.
Want to get all of the latest information that is generated from disciplemexico.org? Click on the feed icon on the sidebar of this page in order to or here in order to add this site to your list of feeds (The feed icon is the orange symbol displayed on this post.)
Want to track a certain topic that peaks your interest like Prayer or Mexico? Click on a category on the sidebar and then the feed icon at the top of the following page in order to subscribe to that specific theme.
Are you a commenter but hate loosing track of your conversation? Subscribe to the comments individual posts that you comment on by clicking on the link that is available at the bottom of every post page in order to keep up with what’s being said. (Just click on the “Read more” link in order to reach the post page.)
Sure the setup may take a few extra minutes, but once you’ve started using RSS and newsreaders, you’ll wonder how you ever stayed informed without them! Go ahead give it a try, and of course add disciplemexico.org in the process.