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You know those irritating websites you see more and more these days which have those little boxes on them with advertisements placed by Google? Well, I've just become one of them. No, seriously, I'm trying it out. I'm cash-strapped, earning no money, and it requires very little effort on my behalf, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I have been considering advertising for a while, but have been reluctant. Is it appropriate to put secular adverts on a Christian website? Moreover, am I going to irriate my visitors with their presence? Well, I'm going to do this for a trial period, and see how it goes. I've tried to position adverts so they're visible, but not over-invasive.

The adverts are 'content-targeted', which means Google tries to place adverts that are relevant to the content of the page. Whilst this is a very effective technique, it does have it's drawbacks. How ironic (and dare I say counter-productive) if there were adverts for the Jehova's Witnesses, or Mormons on pages where I talk about my Christian faith because Google, when analysing the content of the page, can't differentiate between Christianity and it's deviations. I know I try to encourage people to think for themselves when it comes to Christianity, but I don't particularly want to roll out the red carpet and point people in the wrong direction, either!

According to Google rules, I can't say anything to encourage visitors to click on these links, as advertisers pay a small amount for each click on their advert. So in Google spirit, only click-through if it's stuff that interests you.

Well, I'll roll with this for a while and see how it goes. And if the advertising bothers you, we'll talk about it in my mansion, after I've become a millionaire (cough).

1 Comment(s):

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i enjoyed the site (seriuosly) and i understand that perhaps at this moment self promotion is bad and may seem superficial, but nevertheless i cannot resist the temptation of inviting you over to my blog to take a look at one thingie and to say what you think. thanks in advance :-) Tuesday, July 11, 2006 8:59:00 AM  

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As briefly mentioned in my last post, I had the opportunity to visit Guatemala at the beginning of this month to attend the first ever Latin Link conference in Central America. The conference ran from 1st - 4th May, but I arrived on Sunday 30th April, and hung around till the 5th of May, which gave me time to see a few more interesting bits and pieces.

See my photos on and videos at the end of this blog.

Though I'd known about the conference for some weeks, I was not sure I'd be going, as I was in a wrangle with LL over whether I should travel by air (more expensive but only a 2 hour journey), or by coach (24 hour journey but cheaper). Well, in the 11th hour, it was eventually agreed that the coach option was infeasable, so I bought my tickets and went by plane.

Visiting Guatemala comes hot off the heels of me visiting Cuba just two months earlier, and I'd hardly got my rucksack unpacked before I was filling it up again. Although Guatemala may not be quite as prolific as Cuba, I found myself very quickly developing an affection for this country.

Chicken buses, indigenous clothing, green grass - sights which I'm just not accustomed to in Mexico City, all enchanted me as I settled into Guatemala. It was also nice to be breathing fresh air again. On all these things though, I'll let the photos speak for the beauty of this country.

Little britain

One of the greatest treats of visiting Guatemala was not just about having the opportunity to visit another country and culture. Within 30 seconds of me walking into a room on the first day and being introduced to the British-born team-leaders, I was being offered a cup of tea. Yes, a real cup - made with PG Tips. I couldn't believe it. In Mexico, they just don't get tea. It's something herbal you drink without milk. So what joy it was to meet other Brits, have a cup of tea and not have people look at you funny when you put milk in it.

Then there was the humour. That sweet British cynicism that's so easily mis-interpreted across cultures. It's funny, cos Mexican's often describe british culture as 'cold' and 'unfriendly'. It's understandable - and I would agree to some extent. But I think one thing they don't get is our humour. I was recounting to my team leaders about how every Sunday our Church in Mexico has a 'welcome' song that we sing at the end of each service. By the second verse of the song (which eveyone knows off by heart), people start turning round and hugging each other, and this is how the service ends. Very sweet I hear you say. How lovely. And compare that to the Anglican 'peace', and the Brits are the misery capital of the world. But multiply this Latin American saccarine by every single Sunday, and it starts to feel a bit much. And that was just the reaction I got from the team leaders when I told them this story. "Oh my goodness" they cried, "that reminds me of the dreadful welcome song we used to sing in Costa Rica". Upon this, they began to bellow out the words of this song in beautiful mis-harmony, recalling 'friendlier' times. It was nice to be back in cynical company!

Getting back on track

Although I couldn't be further from home, meeting other British Christians working in Latin America really helped make me feel as though I could be home. We could relate stories together, and pray for each other. It was also uncanny for me as each of the four team leaders knew my home town of Bedworth in Warwickshire, as they themselves had mostly come from the Midlands area. It seemed truly ironic to be talking about Bedworth whilst we sat in a restaurant surrounded by native central american indians.

However, the retreat was not only a time to relax and take a deep breath, but was also very useful for me from a work point of view. This was my first opportunity to meet Ian Darke, a member of Latin Link working in the field of Christian publishing throughout Latin America. After having only a vague idea of the needs of the Christian Church in Latin America for web development, this was the first time I really had to talk with someone who could give me guidance on where my skills might be in demand in the future. It was also a chance to talk about Milamex, the mission where I currently work, and compare what they're doing with other initiatives within LA.

One upshot of this time in Guatemala has been a slight re-prioritising of my tasks in the short term. I had been planning to invest some months in improving my programming skills to launch a feature-complete website for Milamex later in the year. I have now re-juggled this a little, to provide a feature-limited version by about August this year, and work on building in back-end functionality after its launch. This is now the plan I am currently working on, and it was in part thanks to the retreat which gave me the space to re-think my game a little.

Returning to Guatemala

At the end of the week, Chris and Nikki Adlam, Latin Linkers working in Antigua invited me back to visit again some time. As Mexico borders with Guatemala, apart from the arduous 24 coach ride, it's quite easy to go and visit. It may also be an opportunity at trying my hand with working with street children, a project they are involved with in Guatemala City. Although I think God has given me gifts in web development that I am currently putting to use, it can feel a bit dry stuck in an office, away from the real world that is crying for God's help, so this would be something that might be good for me to try out. Besides which, I could also climb the local volcano dominating the skyline of Antigua that I didn't get chance to climb this time.

As throughout Latin America, Guatemala has massive social, economic and moral problems. It feels good to be working with charities that are trying to combat these issues, and helping to share the message of hope that comes with the Christian gospel. But also Guatemala and its people is a beautiful country to visit, and if I get chance to take Chris & Nikki up on their invitation, I will.


Below is a selection from some of the many videos I took during my stay in Guatemala. For the best file-size to quality ratio, I've used quite recent compression formats, so ensure you have QuickTime updated with the latest version.

3 Comment(s):

Blogger Martin said...

Strange thing to notice, but heard a bit of The Police "Message in a bottle" on that last video. Did you get much in the way of English music down in Guatemala, and do you get much back in Mexico, or is it mainly local, or Spanish language music? Thursday, May 25, 2006 2:03:00 AM  

Blogger Tim said...

Yeh, strangely, music from North America, Europe and England is everywhere. One of the most annoying tracks I heard from Europe being played when I arrived last year was the Crazy Frog - there's just no escape it would seem, anywhere in the world. I regularly hear artists such as Dido, Coldplay and Robbie Williams on the airwaves too. But perhaps most popular of all is the Beatles - people just can't get enough of them here - still - 40 years later. Take the John Lennon statue in Cuba, as just one example. I told my lovely Dentist in Mexico recently that my uncle was from Liverpool, and she had to touch my arm, as though somehow in doing so, she was touching the Beatles.

There's plenty of Latin American music too, both traditional and modern that you hear in the streets, but there is a strangely dis-proportionate amount of English music played here, for a continent that otherwise has little cultural relations with Europe. Thursday, May 25, 2006 10:21:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree that there is a big choice of singers now but as for me i appreciate Robbie's collection. it's really great, unusual and passionate Tuesday, July 11, 2006 9:06:00 AM  

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A friend gone home

This is a quick update to reflect on some tragic news which I received today. A fellow Latin Link volunteer working in Peru, and someone I knew a little as a friend, Steve Corbin, died in the early hours of this morning.

According to news which came by email from our head office, Steve was collecting a football which had landed on a rooftop, when he fell and injured his head. He was taken to hospital, but died in the early hours of this morning.

I know this is one of those things you always here when someone dies, but my immediate thoughts go to his family and close friends. I know what it's like to be out in Latin America, living in a more dangerous part of the world, and having family back home worrying about me, so I pray fervently that his family know God's peace at this time.

At about 22 (I'm not sure exactly), Steve was an exciting and passion lad. Not only did he have a bit of bling with the ladies from what I remember, but he was keen to share the Gospel, and serve God. He was full of potential to grow in his faith and God's service, and you're left wondering why someone with so much to offer was taken from us so soon.

He sent his latest email newsletter only last week, and it felt like he was very close to us, as he enthused (as I do) about what he was getting up to.

Yesterday he was with us, and just like that, he is now with God. It is comforting to know he is in the care of the one true loving God, but hard for us here on earth, who have to come to terms with this great loss. Life is so fragile, and it's this fact which is playing around in my mind the most at this time.

For those of you who pray, please pray particularly for his family and friends, who must be suffering immense grief. Please also pray for the other Latin Link volunteers, as we come to terms with this news over the next few days and weeks.

God willing, I'll be back in touch again shortly with an update and photos on a visit I made to Guatemala last week: a trip which I didn't think was going to happen until two days before I left. But at this time, please remember those in prayer who I have mentioned above.

God bless.

4 Comment(s):

Blogger St said...

Sad news Tim. Will mention to church at appropriate time. Tuesday, May 16, 2006 2:32:00 AM  

Blogger Caroline said...

hi! Sorry to hear about Steve. Prayers are with you and all involved..
Cx Tuesday, May 16, 2006 11:52:00 AM  

Anonymous Martin Peter Clarke said...

Tim - tried to email you from your Contact link. Said I would in St.Paul's 2005 if not before! I'm sorry for your loss of Steve. And, I have to say it, jealous: He's made it. I look forward to meeting him! But not yet as I obviously have things to do! Including learning to rejoice in a grim world! Regards, Martin Thursday, June 07, 2007 7:33:00 AM  

Anonymous Martin Peter Clarke said... Thursday, June 07, 2007 7:34:00 AM  

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