Plans Unfurled, Change the World: A Poem for Cross-Cultural Workers

sandals on pavement

My son asked for a poem for Christmas, so I wrote one for him, on the theme of travel. That was fun, so I thought I’d try it again, this time on working cross culturally. Here it is—

Hear the call
Like St. Paul?
Kneel to pray
Lots to say
Plans unfurled
Change the world!
Ready, set
Not quite yet
Funds to raise
Counting days
Contacts made
Some unswayed
Goal in sight
Pay for flight
Say goodbye
You can cry
Made it there
People stare
Life abroad
Food seems odd
Language class
No free pass
Verbs agree?
“I drinks tea”
Culture, too
So much new
See the needs
Plant some seeds
Do your part
It’s a start
New friends there
Lives to share
Street-side meals
Sidewalk deals
Furlough trips
Travel tips
Team will grow
Ebb and flow
Who will stay?
Hard to say
Who will go?
Hard to know
Wonder who
Maybe you?
Say goodbye
You can cry

[photo: “Sandles,” by midnightcomm, used under a Creative Commons license]

The Faith of a Bicycle


When we first moved to Taipei, we lived across the street from a park. One day, I was approached by three college-age students who asked me in English, “Do you know Jesus?”

“Yes,” I said.

“OK,” they replied. “But do you really know him?” This was a logical question, because while English has the one word for knowing someone, Chinese has two. The first would be the one in “I know who he is,” while the second means “I know him personally.”

I had the perfect response. Not only was I a Christian, but I was a missionary . . . and I’d been studying Chinese, too. So, I told them, somewhat smugly, in their language, “Yes, I know him. I’m a . . . bicycle.”

I wish I could say that the Chinese words for missionary and bicycle sound just alike, but they don’t. The first is chuan jiao shi, and the second is jiao ta che. I think I must have learned them on the same day, because they are forever confused in my mind. The young people in the park laughed with me and let me correct myself. “Chinese is hard,” they said. I didn’t argue.

Over the years, that encounter became a symbol to me for the good and bad times in Taiwan: Some days I was a missionary. Some days I was just a bicycle.

Flat Tires and Slipped Chains

In an article published by Christianity Today several years ago, John Wilson interviews British author Francis Spufford about defending the Christian faith in a post-Christian culture. Spufford talks about a chapter in his book, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, that gives a summary of the New Testament:

[T]he reason why I have Yeshua, my de-familiarized Christ, saying, “Far more can be mended than you know,” which I think is actually true to the New Testament, is that I want mending. Not flying free, not transformation, but humble, ordinary, everyday, get-you-back-on-your-feet mending, to be at the center of the Christian story.

When the book was being translated into Dutch, the translator sent me an email: “This word mend, I’ve looked it up in the dictionary, and it seems to be the same word you use for repairing bicycles. You must mean something else.”

I wrote back, “No. No. No. I want the bicycle-repair word.” What I absolutely want is to suggest that before it’s anything else, redemption is God mending the bicycle of our souls; God bringing out the puncture repair kit, re-inflating the tires, taking off the rust, making us roadworthy once more. Not so that we can take flight into ecstasy, but so that we can do the next needful mile of our lives.

We all need that kind of mending from God. I guess being a bicycle isn’t so far from being a Christian—and a missionary—after all.

A version of this post originally appeared at

(John Wilson, “Faith for the Post-Christian Heart: A Conversation with Francis Spufford,” Christianity Today, April 3, 2014)

[photo: “Bicycle,” by Esteban Chiner, used under a Creative Commons license]

Newsletters and the People Who Read Them

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of readers. . . .

Now that we’ve reached the end of 2019, it’s time to work on that end-of-the-year newsletter. Or maybe you’re still working on your November newsletter, or your October newsletter, or even a bi-annual summary—since you missed getting out your 2018 installment. (It happens.)

It’s not easy juggling all the demands of cross-cultural work, including the doing and the living and the reporting of it all in meaningful ways to a diverse audience. When you sit down in front of your blank template, whose faces do you see looking back at you? Who reads your newsletters, emails, prayer updates, and blog posts? How do you manage all their sometimes competing expectations?

How many of the following might see what you write?

your friends who adore you and have your photo on their fridge
your teammates
coworkers from other agencies
Mom and Dad
supporters weighing their budgets for next year
the nationals you serve
those in your host country who are glad you’re doing what you’re doing
those in your host country who wish you’d stop doing what you’re doing
your college professors
people who like pictures
people who like numbers
people who like stories
your field supervisor
the head of your agency
your high-school English teacher
a children’s Sunday School class
an uncle who said you wouldn’t last
an aunt who prays for you every day
people who read only a couple issues a year
people who read every word, and between the lines
a member-care worker who tells you to look after yourself better
a board member calculating your ROI
the person whose face you see only after hitting “send”

Did I forget anybody?

It’s enough to give you writer’s block. Is that where you’re at now?

If so, here are seven fail-safe steps to get you on track:

#1. To paraphrase a paraphrase of Voltaire: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the honest.”

Chances are, what you’ll write won’t be exactly what everyone is expecting or needing. Not every newsletter is for every potential reader. That’s a kind of perfection that’s impossible to achieve. And what you write won’t be perfect either. The life you’re living and the work you’re doing isn’t perfect, so trying to portray it as such wouldn’t be honest and true.

Not all truths belong in a newsletter, but there needs to be a place for all truths. We all need at least one person to share the hardest details with.

Not all truths belong in a newsletter, but a newsletter should contain only the truth. Perfection? Not so much.

Michael Frizell is no Voltaire, but as an author and educator, he has experience writing and teaching writing. In a recent issue of The Learning Assistance Review, which he edits, he shares about a graduate student who told him that she’d hit a wall while composing her thesis. He passed on to her some advice he’d received years before when he was working on a thesis as a student himself. A professor had told him:

Get a piece of poster board and write, in big letters, “I’m not writing the great American novel!” and hang it above your desk. That way, whenever you sigh and throw your head back, you’ll be reminded to just get it written.

“Of course I’m not writing the great American novel,” you might be saying. “I’m not from America!” Maybe your poster should say, “I’m not writing the great Korean novel” or “I’m not writing a New Testament epistle” or “I’m not writing an Oscar-worthy movie script.” Or how about “It’s not like I’m even writing a graduate thesis”?

So now on to the rest of my list of seven.

#2 . . . Actually, I don’t have any more steps, fail-safe or otherwise. Seven is such a cool, complete, perfect number, but I’m going to fall well short of that. I could try to squeeze out a couple more, but I need to get this post published before the year’s up, and I’m running out of time.

I’m not writing the great American novel, after all. So much for cool, complete, and perfect.

And that’s the honest truth.

(Michael Frizell, “Letter from the Editor,” The Learning Assistance Review, National College Learning Center Association, Fall 2019)
[photo: “Erasmus’ hands,” by Jim Forest, used under a Creative Commons license]

Missionary Memes: Tea Bags and Coffins

Some stories seem too good to be true. Some seem too good not to be true. Both seem too good not to be told over and over again. Here are a couple I’m thinking you’ve heard before.

Used Tea Bags

They very well may be the most talked about items to ever be lovingly tucked into a missionary care package. No conversation about odd gifts sent overseas would be complete without their mention. They’re the bless-their-hearts-what-were-they-thinking used tea bags.

Surely you’ve heard somebody somewhere say they know a missionary who received used tea bags from a well-meaning supporter. But is there truth behind the tale? Or is it just an oft-repeated urban legend, used to caution supporters against giving less than their best?

Australian author Nathan Hobby looked into the issue a few years ago, and reported his findings in a blog post on the topic. He’d come across several second-hand accounts and was rather skeptical, but it was his reading of a comment on another blog that turned the tide for him. A man named Phil, someone Hobby knows personally, had commented succinctly at Backyard Missionary, “We got sent used tea bags in Afghanistan.”

Because of that, Hobby declares the used-tea-bag care package “a ‘true’ meme, at least occasionally.” Then he goes on to ponder the story’s popularity:

I’m interested in how such a meme has spread. It would be fascinating to trace it back to its earliest appearance in print. Perhaps it actually was a common practice and a search through old church newspapers of the 1920s or so would reveal pleas to send used tea bags to the mission fields. Perhaps it happened occasionally but spread orally because it epitomized a mindset so well. Or perhaps it began as a sermon illustration by one of the famous preachers of the early twentieth century and was picked up from there. (For anyone who has sat through many sermons, sermon illustrations are a fascinating genre of their own, delivered as if truth, but many of them concocted, lacking specifics, spiritual truth the central concern, not historical truth. . . .)

My own Internet searches came up with several other mentions from a variety of sources. The most convincing to me are the first-person accounts given in the comments of a post by Josie Oldenburg at The Missions Blog (though I’m still waiting to hear from someone I know personally.) I also see where the former director of the USAID Center for International Disaster Information told CBS News about used tea bags given to disaster victims.

The oldest reference I came across was in a “snippet view” from Google Books, quoting a 1962 issue of the Mennonite magazine Christian Living. (Since it’s only a snippet, I don’t have the full context—or the complete sentences.)

. . . America who sent 500 used tea bags to the mission field. It would seem that when we give to the Lord’s servants, we should at least give as if we were giving to ourselves!

Sounds rather apocryphal to me, but it pairs well with a 2017 story about a Mennonite couple who “amassed a collection of more than 20,000 used tea bags” to “send to needy missionaries around the world.” But, alas, it turns out that that one is from the satirical website The Daily Bonnet.

So how about you? Have you ever been gifted with used tea bags? Let us know in the comments here. No “I heard” stories, please. I’m looking for the recipients themselves . . . or at least first-hand witnesses.

And now, moving on, I come to a more serious meme.

Coffins for Luggage

There’s another conversation that those in missionary circles sometimes find themselves in: talking about difficulties on the field. And that often leads to the topic of how, in the past, it was even harder. And then someone will jump in with “You know, it used to be that when missionaries went overseas, they’d pack their belongings in coffins.”

How many times I’ve heard this or seen this written about missionaries long ago. But I’ve yet to find it written about by missionaries long ago.

Being so sure of dying on the field—probably prematurely—that one would carry a coffin on the journey certainly creates a vivid picture. But I wonder . . . did it really happen?

In no way am I discounting the devotion of past missionaries in the presence of very real difficulties and dangers. They willingly went to far-away places, facing a risk of death much greater than we have today. In fact, findings in William Lennox’s Health and Turnover of Missionaries show that from 1825 to 1829, for every 1,000 missionaries in service sent from the US, 35 died each year. And fast forwarding to the early 1900s (approximately 1900-1928), for those missionaries whose work ended during that time, 12% of the attrition was because of the missionary’s death, with an additional 3% leaving because of the death of a family member. And yet, as high as those numbers are, we can see that most missionaries did not die overseas.

Or maybe the missionaries simply left home with the assumption that nothing but death could ever interrupt their ministry abroad, planning to die of old age in their new country after a long, fruitful life. In that case, would it be that important to take a coffin along? Would the means for crafting a box for burial, someday, in even a remote location, be that hard to come by?

Of course, any speculation to the contrary doesn’t matter if even one missionary, in fact, travelled with a coffin. It could be that some, headed to a particularly dangerous place at a particularly dangerous time felt that death overseas was a near certainty, and they took unique steps to prepare for it, including bringing along their own coffins. Even if it wasn’t as common as we’ve presumed, if it happened, using Hobby’s words, “at least occasionally,” then it happened.

So can you help me out here, too? Does your agency have in its annals original records of missionaries using coffins to transport their belongings? Have you seen it written about in a missionary’s journal or autobiography? Do we have more proof than just hearsay?

I’m rather skeptical. But if the stories are true, I’d love to see them verified. Then I just might join in and tell them over and over again myself.

(Nathan Hobby, “Used Tea Bags for Missionaries: Notes on a Meme,” Nathan Hobby, a Biographer in Perth, June 11, 2014; Phil, at “Used Teabags Are a Fading Memory,” Backyard Missionary, August 3, 2007; Josie Oldenburg, “Six Pitfalls to Avoid when Welcoming Missionaries on Home Service,” The Missions Blog, May 25, 2018; Scott Simon, “Best Intentions: When Disaster Relief Brings Anything but Relief,” CBS News, September 3, 2017; Christian Living: A Magazine for Home and Community, vol. 9, Mennonite Publishing House, 1962, at Google Books; Andrew Unger, “Generous Mennonite Couple Sends Used Tea Bags to Missionaries,” The Daily Bonnet, November 20, 2017; William Gordon Lennox, The Health and Turnover of Missionaries, Methodist Book Concern, 1933)

[photo: “DSC_1968,” by Sarah Han, used under a Creative Commons license]

Surviving? Thriving? How about Striving?

“Are you thriving?”

It was during our first term on the field, and our pastor asked me this question in a Skype chat in front of our home congregation. My answer? As I remember, it was in the neighborhood of “Well, I’m not sure we’re thriving, but, uh, hmmm, something, something, something, not always easy, but . . . uh . . . we’re doing fine.”

Thriving is a big topic when it comes to living and working overseas, as in “Don’t just survive, thrive!” It’s a great goal, and there are many who reach it, including some whom I know well. But I’m afraid that thriving was something that eluded me during my time as a missionary. And experience tells me that I’m far from alone. A missionary who came back to the States a few years ago told me that while he had hoped to thrive, “just” surviving was a more pressing need most days. Any amens?

But let’s say you’re able to put a check mark in the survival box, but thriving still seems out of reach. Where does that leave you? Is there another alternative?

Earlier this year, Anisha Hopkinson wrote here about what success looks like overseas. Struggling, she says, is not the same thing as failing. In fact, “struggling” is another way of saying “endeavoring,” “going all out,” “making every effort,” “plugging away,” “trying your hardest,” . . . and “striving.”

Maybe it’s because it rhymes, but I think striving is a great third way.

Survive. Thrive. Strive.

There’s a lot of “striving” in the Bible, even though it’s not always rendered that way in modern translations. One of the biblical Greek words that carries the meaning “to strive” is agōnizomai. Occurring eight times in different forms in the New Testament, it comes from the root agon, representing an assemblage of people coming together to watch athletic games. Therefore, agōnizomai means “to labor fervently,” “to fight against an adversary,” “to struggle for victory” or, literally, “to contend for a prize in a competition.” (And, yes, this is also where we get our English word agony.)

Here is how agōnizomai is used by New Testament writers, as presented in the American Standard Version:

Strive to enter in by the narrow door. . . .” Luke 13:24

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. . . .” John 18:36

“And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things.” I Corinthians 9:25

“. . . I labor also, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Colossians 1:29

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers. . . .” Colossians 4:12

“For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God. . . .” I Timothy 4:10

Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal. . . .” I Timothy 6:12

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

The metaphor of an athlete straining for a prize is fleshed out by Paul in I Corinthians 9. It’s an image applied to the whole of our lives as Christians, not dependent on a location or vocation or station in life. It is the entire practice of following Jesus, and the reward is the crown of eternal life.

We often hear that our time here on earth “is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” But I’m thinking it’s actually more of a steeple chase. That’s the race where competitors run around a track fitted with hurdles and water jumps. Today’s steeplechase, though, whether on foot or horseback, is a somewhat sanitized version of the original races. Long ago, riders aimed at a church steeple on the horizon, the only structure rising above the trees, and took whatever route necessary to get there—navigating streams, rocky bluffs, fences, and bramble-filled gullies. Sounds like discipleship to me.

“Are you thriving?” If I were asked that question again, on or off the field, I think I’d have a better answer now. It would be something like this: “No, I can’t say that I’m thriving. But I am striving. Living life is often hard, but I’m striving. Working at my job is often hard, but I’m striving. Transitioning between cultures is often hard, but I’m striving. Sharing the good news is often hard, but I’m striving. Practicing what I preach is often hard, but I’m striving. Fixing my eyes on the steeple in spite of all the trees is often hard, but I’m striving. And I hope to keep striving until the end. Pray for me that that will be true.”

[photo: “Cross Country,” by stephrox, used under a Creative Commons license]

An Open Letter to the Kind People in My Host Country

Dear neighbors:

When my wife and I and our four children stepped off the plane in your country, with our 12 carry-on bags—and all our plans, enthusiasm, expectations . . . and naiveté—you welcomed us. In fact, the customs agent greeted us with a smile. And during the following years that we lived among you, we lost count of your kindnesses.

We weren’t refugees, we didn’t arrive on your shores having been forced out of our homes, we weren’t stranded. We had chosen to come. You didn’t find us naked and bloodied at the side of a road, but still you were often good Samaritans to us. When you saw us sitting on the curb, so to speak, facing roadblocks or not sure where we were headed, so many of you did not simply walk by on the other side.

For this we thank you.

To our language teachers who patiently, ever so patiently, led us through vocabulary lessons and guided us on the nuances of your culture, laughing with us but not at us, thank you.

To the food-cart vendors who listened to us practice the names of what they were selling and cheerfully rewarded us with wonderful tasting snacks and meals, sometimes putting something extra in with our order, thank you.

To the policeman who loaded up our family in his patrol car and took us home after we got lost on a walk, even though we ended up being only three blocks away from our apartment building, thank you.

And to the people near our home who didn’t think the worst of a family, who, for some reason, was riding in a police car, thank you.

To the young workers at Subway who bravely came forward to serve the foreigners wanting a turkey sandwich with “that” and “that” (no, not “that,” “that“) and some of “that” and “that” and “that,” thank you.

To the cab drivers who regaled us with their political insights while taking us where we wanted to go, and to the one who found my son’s billfold on the sidewalk and drove up and down the street until he saw another of our sons and gave it to him, thank you.

To the man on the street begging for spare coins who accepted our friendship and allowed us to pray with him, thank you.

To the hairdresser who loved to trim my daughter’s hair and then proudly styled it as if she were a Hollywood starlet, thank you.

To the university professors who partnered with us, introducing us to their students, and to those students, who listened to our stories and served us many, many cups of tea, thank you.

To dear friends who let us join them in celebrating the birth of a child and mourning the death of a parent, and who shared in our joys and struggles as well, thank you.

To the produce seller at the day market who told my wife when fresh strawberries would be coming in soon, thank you.

To fellow passengers who confirmed that Yes, we’d gotten on the right train, thank you.

To the young professionals who let me join their Bible study in a cafe, sharing my hope that it could someday become a house church, who read the Bible with me in their heart language even though it would have been much easier for us all to speak English, thank you.

To the lady who collected our recyclables twice a week and to her young daughter who taught us what they could take and what was simply trash, thank you.

To the Christians in the church plant who let us worship with them when we first arrived, helped us find an apartment, and blessed us in so many other ways, thank you.

To those who made all of our visitors from overseas their honored guests, thank you.

To our family doctor who treated those visitors when they got sick, at no charge, thank you.

To the surgeons who skillfully operated on our son’s heart for eight hours, thank you.

To more doctors, and nurses, who cared for another son when he severely burned his hand and spent 42 days in the hospital, to the specialists who performed the skin grafts, and to the therapists who guided us in his care, thank you.

And to the lady who saw me at a store on the day of your biggest holiday and asked me if I had plans—I told her No and she invited me to her house for a celebration with her mother and brothers and their wives and children and didn’t retract the offer when she found out how big my family was, saying that she wanted to show us hospitality because that’s what someone had done for her years before when she was an international student at a university in Texas, with no plans for Christmas—thank you.

We thank you all for so many acts of grace, large and small, for seeing us as neighbors, for making us feel at home.


Your grateful friend

[photo: “Post Office Shoot8,” by Bryan Pearson, used under a Creative Commons license]

If you have your own neighbors to thank, please join in in the comments below.

Standing Up Crooked Together


Standing Up Crooked

There’s a tree near Colorado Springs that I admire. It’s a pine tree sitting on the property of The Hideaway Inn and Conference Center, where my family and I attended MTI’s Debriefing and Renewal several years ago.

This tree is surrounded by other pines, but this one’s different. While its trunk starts out on a vertical path, after several feet, it breaks to the side at a ninety-degree angle. Then, over a few more feet, it makes a slow curve, working again on an upward climb.

Near the end of the retreat, we were told to find a place to be by ourselves, and I knew where I wanted to be: sitting in front of that tree. I must not be the only one who appreciates it, since there’s a bench facing it close by.

I don’t know what trauma caused the tree’s shape. Maybe it was a storm, maybe a disease, maybe the blade of an axe. Or maybe it was more of a heart thing—a promise unkept, a hope deferred, a joy shattered.

Regardless of the cause, the reason I admire this tree is that though having faced trouble, it still reaches upward. It’s “persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed;” wrecked, but not ruined. No, not ruined at all.

Can you identify with this tree?

Have you ever had your feet knocked out from under you because of some tragedy?
Have you ever tried to take hold of something beyond your reach and fallen in the trying?
Have you ever been bent to the point of brokenness?
Have you ever been laid low by the realization that you are the cause of someone else’s pain?
Have you ever wrestled with God, refusing to let go until you get a blessing, and walked away limping?

While I admire this tree, I also feel a tinge of sorrow for it, because even surrounded by fellow pines, it seems alone. Most pines stand up straight and tall. That’s part of their pineness. This tree is no less a pine, but I wonder if it feels that way sometimes.

That’s not how it has to be.

Standing Up Together

In another part of the world, there’s a strange cluster of trees, not far from the town of Gryfino, in Poland. These more than one-hundred pines are much like the one in Colorado. They are all bent in the same way, in the same direction. The grove is called Krzywy Las, or the Crooked Forest.

Theories abound as to what happened to the trees. Some think it was caused by heavy snow or unrelenting wind. Some say it’s the result of tanks flattening young trees during the German invasion before World War II. Still others believe (and this seems to be the most accepted explanation) that the trees were intentionally bent by people, wanting to used the curved wood for building ships or for making furniture. The trees were then left untended, they say, due to the war.

I’m glad that the trees have each other. C. S. Lewis famously writes in The Four Loves that Friendship happens when one person says to another, “What? You, too? I thought I was the only one.” This Friendship is defined by Lewis as a kind of love. It is more than simply Companionship. He says,

Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).

In the forest, companions occupy the same plot of ground, but friends share their wounds, their vulnerabilities, their breaks, and their bruises. They peel back the bark to show the twisted wood beneath. They give up their striving for long, uninterrupted lines. “What? You too?” must always come in response to someone else’s revelation. How many Friendships have been avoided because no one was willing to be the first to speak?

Lewis goes on to warn that a danger of Friendships is that they can become clubs that exclude others, leading to “a wholesale indifference or deafness” to those outside. Even in sharing one’s woundedness, there is the temptation to leave out others whose hurts don’t reach the level of ours.

The club of those hurt on the mission field should not be a club that extols suffering. Rather, it should be one that extols honesty. Anyone can join. All it takes is a willingness to speak what is all-too-often hidden. It is the kind of honesty that so many have prayed for.

Have you ever been the answer to someone else’s prayer?

I hope you can find friendship and community among the crooked trees of the forest, whether it be at a debriefing, during a retreat, over a cup of coffee, via email or phone conversations, in the pages of a book . . . or possibly through a blog.*

All are welcome in the Crooked Forest. If you’re not yet able to stand, then come and sit in the shade. If you can’t even raise your head, then come and lie down and be watched over. If you can stand but your past keeps you from standing up straight, then come and let’s stand up crooked together.

(C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, Geoffrey Bles, 1960)

[photo of the Crooked Forest outside Gryfino, Poland: “Krzywy Las w Nowym Czarnowie,” by Artur Strzelczyk, used under a Creative Commons license]

*I hope A Life Oversees can provide this kind of place for you, but there are other great online communities for missionaries, as well. In fact, I’m not the only one who’s expressed this idea in this way. After I wrote this post, I was over at Velvet Ashes (a site for women overseas that many of you are familiar with) and saw that Amy Young, also a contributor to this blog, curates a weekly blog party called The Grove. In her introduction, she uses a collection of trees to represent a missionary community (thus the title), and she even alludes to Lewis’s ““What? You, too?” I really didn’t read Amy’s post until after I wrote this one. (Honest!) Anyway, I wanted to protest my innocence and also give a shout out to The Grove. My ideas may not always be unique, but I’m in good company.