September 15, 2012

[battened down]

Yes, it's been a while. It's always been a while. More than ever, I can appreciate small moments to take a deep breath in. My days of late are stacked end to end with classes, school work, and (assistant) managing the Hope Center. Typically, I would be wringing that last vapors of intrigue from the cloth of the day with my brilliant bride-to-be. Tonight, I am content to slump down after a challenging week. My love, my thoughts, are floating in the sea breeze toward Dakar. I dream that they strain ahead like a kite, pulling me awkwardly from my chair to rattle the table and dangle above a landscape familiar, yet incomplete.

I am learning the folly in expectations, predictions. We hold on, but find sand falling through our fingers. We leave the oars behind for smooth sailing but suffer cruel tides. It is a heavy world that He's got in His hands, but we are resting in His hands nonetheless. And to weather the storm takes vigilance; steps and breaths taken one at a time, evils expected, blessings savored, fires lit and tended, hatches battened down.

January 13, 2012

[Vicariously Excerptuitous]

I was supposed to be doing homework, but instead I wrote a long email to a mentor of mine about the recent changes in my life. Here's a peek:
My biggest lesson lately has been similar-- things are always CHANGING. God loves to see us grow, to mature, to journey, to live our story. After a "foggy" couple of years, I have finally understood His timing. In the past 6 months here, I have met my new best friend, my future wife, my helper. Although her brother was my roommate for 2 years, we became friends through a college church here. I had started to think I was alone in my life experiences, but then we started to talk for countless hours about our individual experiences with YWAM, DTS, travelling, Thailand, true love, missions, social justice, vacations in Europe and on and on. She is studying for a double degree: Voice (she's a beautiful singer) and International Studies. She encouraged me to finish my International Studies degree as well, part of which is studying a semester abroad. So, she'll be in Senegal from August to December of this year, and in 2013 I'll spend my semester abroad in Japan; by that time we should be married and she will come with me! I only started classes yesterday, but I'm excited for this semester. I am taking Japanese, Statistics, Chemistry, and Introduction to Asian Politics. Rachel has been battling some strange, severe form of Tendonitis so I understand how a "little" health issue can dramatically change one's lifestyle. We are praying for healing and understanding, but we have been able to see the good in it: it has been an extreme compatibility test! And we count our blessings: she still has her wonderful voice, she would have dropped out of this semester if I hadn't been able to type her assignments for her, we get to spend lots of time together as I help her with everything from chores to therapy, etc etc!

I have stepped down from some volunteer positions in town, but I will still work 20+ hours/week at fairly new, local Thrift Store / Community Outreach Center. It's a fantastic ministry and I have personally grown significantly just by working at the cash-register! Just this month I received a promotion to Assistant Manager, an answer to prayer because the pay is higher, but I reduced my hours to go to school, so it worked out perfectly.

I am watching other things change and grow all around me. My parents are in the process of transforming their house from a safe-house for troubled teens into a "safe-house" for my grandparents, who are 91 years old and still trying to live on their own! They should be moving in any time now. My brother Ryan has found his dream job in Boise, Idaho, about 6 hours drive from here. He now has 2 cute daughters, and I get to be the cool uncle. Our family tradition for the holidays is to rent a house in a town halfway between our cities so that we can relax, catch up, exchange gifts, play games, ski, etc. My other brother Kelly has found a great job as a manager at a sporting goods store here in Moscow that seems to suit him well. He is spiritually wandering, but seeking, and I pray that I can be the older brother he needs me to be.
PS: here's a link to some photos of the Otto men on an excursion to summit He Devil peak... it only reaches about 3,000m but defines the adjacent canyon as the deepest in North America!

November 19, 2011

[more chapters]

I'm terrible at keeping this updated, but here are a few things:
In January (God willing) I'll get a promotion, a pay raise, a reduction in hours, and a full class schedule at the U of I for International Studies. I have been trying to get out and about, but haven't succeeded since my last backpacking trips. This Thanksgiving week could hold some surprises though!

September 19, 2011

[Quiet Waves / September 2011]



Moves down from mountains

Heavy and soft

Speaking in tongues

Rain on trampled grass

Thick fog among leaves.

There are no words


Or calculations

Etched here by crippled hands


But some dare to sleep

While the river flows on.

Frayed questions

Swirl away


An anchored ship



Quiet waves in the tide.

September 16, 2011

[Bringing Sexy Back]

Most of you know I'm a full on Resonate attendee now. Here's why: it gets real.

May 26, 2011

[Somewhere between Heaven and Hell...]

Once upon a time... Dan, Aaron, and I decided to hike the Seven Devils Loop at the top of Hell's Canyon in Idaho. A 30 mile trail threads its way through the granite spires and scarred valleys of the Seven Devils range. The trip challenged all of us in many different ways, but I was completely humbled when my very significance was overshadowed by the majesty I encountered at Baldy Lake. Only a fraction of the grandeur is captured here in this photo! We had slept in that morning; Day 1 was brutal, and Day 2 greeted us with rain and fog. We reached the shore of Baldy Lake just as the sky cleared and the sun hung just above the Eagle Cap Wilderness on the distant side of the canyon. I was immediately stunned by the rainbow that framed the already impressive peaks. I stood motionless, breathless. Knowing I should make camp before dark, I reluctantly turned to go, then I was petrified again-- not more than 20 feet ahead, an enormous bull elk was silhouetted against golden rays piercing the gnarled pine forest.  Eyes like the night sky glared at my pathetic form. I realized then that I was walking on holy ground. My gaze locked with his, I thanked the Guardian for allowing us to stay awhile as his guests. Satisfied, the hulking warrior turned and resumed his patrol. After I caught my breath, I thanked the Creator for this glimpse of His unfathomable masterpiece that is LIFE!

PS: A BIG thanks to my bro Ryan for salvaging my disposable photos!

May 25, 2011

[Tuesday Mornings]

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled, and set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed" - 1 Peter 1:13

May 5, 2011

["I see," said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.]

Just wanted to post this page from Oswald Chambers. I is almost exactly what this last year has been about for me.

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"Look unto Me, and be ye saved." Isaiah 45:22
Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says - Look unto Me, and be saved. The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere. The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is, in effect - Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ. "Look unto Me."
Many of us have a mental conception of what a Christian should be, and the lives of the saints become a hindrance to our concentration on God. There is no salvation in this way, it is not simple enough. "Look unto Me" and - not "you will be saved," but "you are saved." The very thing we look for, we shall find if we will concentrate on Him. We get preoccupied and sulky with God, while all the time He is saying - "Look up and be saved." The difficulties and trials - the casting about in our minds as to what we shall do this summer, or to-morrow, all vanish when we look to God.
Rouse yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter if there are a hundred and one things that press, resolutely exclude them all and look to Him. "Look unto Me," and salvation is, the moment you look.

April 19, 2011

[Training Day]

During these fitfully sunny days of April, one might wonder how one would start preparing for the next in a series of epic summers. I can only speak for myself: a weekend trip to the Frenchman's Coulee at the Columbia River Gorge in Washington provides ample opportunity to sharpen one's backpacking, orienteering, sport climbing, and communicating skills.

(Photographs courtesy of Kristen's cellular telephone)

March 6, 2011

[leavin' tracks]

3 new photos highlight my latest snowshoeing excursion on Moscow Mountain...

March 3, 2011

[another Otto!]

A hearty congratulations to my brother Ryan & his wife Chrissy for the healthy birth of their second daughter!!!

Emilia Belle Otto
February 28th, 2011
8 lbs. 9 oz.
22 in.

February 12, 2011


[Settlers / February 2011]

I have practiced
my stride my walk my talk
rainy streets strolled
windy mountains mastered
sunny forests foraged
by animal teeth animal guts
claws and paws and jaws
raw red meat right off the bone
a good day a good way to die
until late night lights go out
from a sky too bright to hunt by
while the telephone curls up mute
like the city's lips, just like your lips
your hands your eyes
not defiant not antagonist
but gracefully blank
as if nothing in this world
ever had anything to do
with me.

January 25, 2011

[Snowshoeing on Mount Spokane]

(Left to Right) Tiffany, Tiffany's Friend, Hilary, Mari, Bridget, Chrisotto

Snowshoeing on Mt. Spokane with some pals!

August 20, 2010


August 20th, 2010

Borah Peak. The highest mountain in the great State of Idaho. Eleventh on the list of the tallest mountain in each state.

We were a raggedy bunch, but full of fire and grit: Nathan and Krista Anglen, Krista's parents Kim and Eva, the Kallstrom sisters Kristen and Kim, and myself. Nate and Krista were the only two who had previously ascended the peak, let alone even see it. The rest of us had to hit the ground running.
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August 9, 2010

[Adventure Is Out There!]

Just a quick post for any followers-- that's me on the bluff above Freezeout Saddle in Idaho!
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July 19, 2010

[IJM Application Addendum]

Application Form Addendum

1) List your experiences living outside of your home nation beyond one week…
> November 2007 – January 2008: I was accepted to the TEFL course at Prague Schools in the Czech Republic; the course was one month in length, and I spent nearly all of my time on campus or completing homework assignments in my apartment. However, I had made arrangements to see friends in France, Switzerland, and Austria before the program began, then France and the U.K. after the program had finished for Christmas and the New Year.
> March 2006 – April 2006: A friend that I had met through YWAM invited me to revisit Thailand, as well as touring Cambodia. She had never been, but she, too, is concerned with social justice issues and planned the trip to investigate the issues in these two countries first-hand. We spent some time in Bangkok, then went up to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to make new friendships and to revisit AYDC (see next entry). While in Thailand, Jenn had me read Tears of My Soul to prepare for our trip to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I was never taught about the horrors of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge until I had read the book. Jenn applied for, and was assigned, a Peace Corps post in Zambia shortly after we returned to the States.
> December 2002 – February 2003: I was accepted into Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training Program in September 2002, the second phase of which was International Missions. My team consisted of 5 other students, myself, and one team leader. We spent 10 days in Vietnam, volunteering at orphanages and covertly ministering, then spent the rest of our time in Thailand, mostly at the Akha Youth Development Center in a village near Chiang Rai. We taught English, gave our testimonies to the villagers, and helped with improvement projects around the Center.

2) List briefly and describe your current and prior commitments to social justice…
My first visit to Thailand prompted me to sponsor 2 children from the shelter monthly as my tithe; the sponsorship provides each child with their food, housing, school uniform, and school supplies. Ever since I received my Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) certification, I have had a heart for working with the elderly and otherwise disadvantaged; I am currently working in a group home occupied by 3 developmentally disabled adults. I have especially enjoyed volunteering at the Hope Center here; I serve as a cashier in the Thrift Store department, but the Center is a unique collaboration of many local churches that also provides a Food Bank, GED Training, and Emergency Assistance programs. In the past, I have also joyfully volunteered as a Teen Mentor, English Tutor, and Barista with Community Christian Ministries and a local church here in Moscow.

3) How did you first hear about IJM?
I was attending a Jubilee concert at the Nuart Theater in Moscow when they showed a promotional video of yours. I have been watching and waiting for the next “big step” in my life, and the video rang true with everything that I had been feeling and thinking. I took a pamphlet, then started browsing your website. No one that I closely know has worked with IJM before.

4) Briefly describe how you see an IJM internship experience impacting your future.
I am hoping to get connected with IJM in every way that I can, and this internship position seemed like the best way to start. The Lord has given me a heart for serving overseas as well as a fascination with languages and communication. If my application process goes well, I would seriously consider a career with IJM. If our paths diverge, I would hope that you could point me in a similar direction.

5) List the dates of involvement, name and location (city and state) of your home churches.

1990 - Current
Bridge Bible Fellowship
960 West Palouse River Drive
Moscow, Idaho 83843

2003 – Current
The Crossing Moscow
715 Travois Way
Moscow, ID 83843