25 Amazing, random, and/or hard-to-believe facts about Andy

1. I live in Nairobi, Kenya.

A day at Lake Naivasha with friends. Watch out for the hippos!

2. I am married to a wonderful woman, Lesa, who is simultaneously beautiful and artistic and intellectual. I have 3 children: Robbie (14), Avery (11), Sydney (8)

3. My wife, Lesa, is adopted. Her birth-mother’s maiden name was Brown. Pretty sure we weren’t closely related when we got married.

4. I used to think that to be a missionary meant you had to live somewhere without electricity or water, and teach people (who may or may not be clothed) to grow corn, and would have to build your house by hand and carry water miles each way every day. Strangely enough, I’m friends now with quite a few people like that and respect them tremendously… they are the real missionaries, I’m just a poser!

5. I used to think the only people who became missionaries were people who didn’t fit in to American culture to begin with. Strangely enough, I’m starting to find American culture as the foreign culture that I probably don’t fit into anymore!

6. My wife always wanted to be a missionary, but had to give that dream up when she married me, since I had no desire whatsoever. She wrote her own college degree program, entitled “International Ministries with an Emphasis in Fine Arts.” Today she is a high-school fine arts teacher on the mission field.

7. My wife also has about half of a master’s degree in missiology and a Masters in Theater Education. I have just a few hours of graduate school in missions.

Father's day at Grandma Barb's8. I weighed 200 lbs when we left for Africa, June 2007. Three months later I was down to 165 and seem to be stuck there no matter how much I eat. Cause? I’d like to think change of diet, more exercise, but in all honesty it’s probably tapeworm.

9. I piloted the space shuttle. Yeah, you read that right. Space Camp, 8th grade, about the coolest I’ve ever been. But not quite… read on!

10. I doubled majored in computer science and piano performance. People always think that is a strange combination, but in my years in the software industry I met some of the most amazing musicians. I think I declared my major in like 3rd grade, my high school yearbook says I wanted to be a “computer-music engineer and impress the babes”.

11. I did learn how to impress the babes in high school: study some Harry Connick jr jazz ballads, reproduce that and the girls will swoon. It worked for my wife!

12. I was heavily involved in 4-H growing up, doing projects in everything from cooking to electricity to photography. Somewhere there is a box full of blue and purple ribbons collecting dust…

13. I kissed Miss America when I was 17. December, 1992. Jennifer Nettles and I were featured entertainers at a big, national 4-H event in Chicago. I jumped up on stage, down on one knee, with a dozen roses. Miss Leanza Cornett give me a big smooch as her private security force holstered their drawn sidearms. Another friend of mine pulled a similar stunt and actually got her home phone #. I called it a few months later to ask her to prom, and left a message on her answering machine. Of course, she never called back but I wanted to be able to tell my grandchildren someday that I asked the current reigning Miss America to prom.

14. My friend and fellow 4-Her I was performing with that week, Jennifer Nettles, has gone on to win multiple Grammy and CMA awards as the lead singer for Sugarland. It’s very weird to think that I knew her then.

15. I have had a wide variety of hairstyles, for a guy. It started with a flat-top in my awkward middle-school years, grew into a floppy top in high school, a ponytail when I lived in Denver, short hair, then a faux-hawk during the better part of my years as a worship leader in Washington, DC.

16. The most I’ve ever paid for a haircut: $80 (which included highlights, I might add) during my trendy worship leader days (see My wife cuts my hair now, for free.

17. I’m on my 3rd career. My first 5 professional years were spent as a web software developer in Denver and Kansas City. My 2nd 5 years were spent as a Creative/Technical Arts Director/Worship Leader (a position shared with my wife) in Washington DC. Now I’m doing all the above on the mission field, if you hadn’t gathered that already. Funny how God has a way of expanding your mind and moving you from one place to another which may not make sense from the world’s perspective (not moving “up” in the world. but moving broader in scope)

18. I’ve been in 11 different African countries since moving here, only 6 of which I can talk about publicly.

19. We had 7 different homes during our first 3 years in Africa. That’s part of the transition of moving overseas!

20. In high school I shot myself in the thumb with a BB gun. A couple weeks later, as my thumb had swollen to enormous proportions and my mom exclaimed, “What is wrong with your thumb?!?” I had to confess and go to the doctor. Not only had I broken my thumb but the BB was still in there causing an infection. I kept up my piano lessons the whole time.

21. I’ve played the Major General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance and Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore and think Gilbert and Sullivan are still funny.

22. I’ve written 2 musicals, one was a one-act jazz comedy, the other a full length dream-sequence-soul-musical version of the Easter story (in the style of The Wiz, if that helps you understand)

Andy and his piki piki

23. Between me and my 2 sons, we have broken 11 bones, but Robbie has the most variety: arm, collarbone, nose.
24. I’ve climbed 12 of Colorado’s Fourteeners, Mt Kenya (17,000 feet) and would love to try Kilimanjaro (19,000 feet) someday
25. I’ve rafted the Nile, been charged by cape buffalo, attacked by baboons, and still think the most dangerous part of living here is my twice-a-day 30 minute commute through Nairobi traffic on my motorcycle.