It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, but I have a good reason for that. A lot has been happening over the past few weeks, a lot of life changing decisions have been made and I can now say that on August 28, 2011 my wife and I will be packing up, driving across the country and will be moving to my hometown of Cumberland, Maryland.

We have started packing which is an adventure in itself, but the real adventure will be our 8 day road trip. Here’s what it looks like:

Day 1 – Camarillo, California to Las Vegas, Nevada

Day 2 – Las Vegas to Provo, Utah

Day 3 – Provo to Casper, Wyoming

Day 4 – Casper to Rapid City, South Dakota (we are going a little out of the way because we’ve always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore!)

Day 5 – Rapid City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Day 6 – Sioux Falls to Moline, Illinois

Day 7 – Moline to Dayton, Ohio

Day 8 – Dayton to Cumberland, Maryland

I will most definitely be blogging and uploading pictures from the trip because not only will it be my wife and I, our 5 trusty dogs will traveling with us.

Why are we moving to Maryland you may ask? Well, I accepted a job at Cumberland Community Church as an associate pastor overseeing high school, middle school and children. I’m super stoked because we were able to go back and visit two weeks ago and everyone we met was awesome. I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and being a part of their lives. Lots of different ideas are running through my head like starting a weekly podcast, developing a website specifically for the youth and installing a disc golf course at the house we’ll be living at.

Totally random but I’m also really excited to be living where it snows. Here’s to a white Christmas this year.




Are you related to Ansel Adams?

Ha, your name is awesome.

Oh, wow, your name is like that guys, um, um, he took pictures or something.

Did your parents realize this when they were naming you?

Are you related to Ansel Adams?

Everytime I go to a library, meet someone for the first time, visit the doctor, dentist, or optometrist, or fill my name in a form that someone will see I either get one of these questions or any of a hundred or so more asked to me all because my name is Adam Ansel.

Adam Ansel.

Not Ansel Adams.

See, they’re reversed. Someone with the last name Ansel isn’t related to someone with the last name Adams. And no, my parents had no clue who he was when they named me. I was named Adam because I was their firstborn. I first found out about him in seventh grade. But now that I live in California, where the man himself lived and took his famous pictures, I deal with this on a near daily basis.

I try to take it with humor and laugh like it’s the first time I’ve ever heard that and they’re the first person to ever ask me about it (because they certainly think they are).

With the popularity of Facebook I decided to see if there was anyone else out there who was in the same conundrum as I was and sure enough, there were two other Adam Ansel’s on Facebook. The three of us became friends and shared about all the times people think we must be the grandson of Ansel. But Ansel is my last name, it was his first name!

I’m not really complaining, because it is a good conversation starter and can break the ice, I decided I would share it with all of you, so you can share in the situation with me. But if someone who I know reads this and then still asks me if I’m related to Ansel Adams – watch out!

North, South, and some Missions in between

Since I was shifting into a new decade with the approach of my 30th birthday, my wife and I decided to take a little trip we had been talking about for a while. So last Friday morning we jumped in the Cube and headed north on the 101. The plan was to drive straight to Monterey to enjoy the awesome aquarium they had there, but us being us, we didn’t follow the script.

We were cruising at a steady 75mph when Jenny shouted, “there’s a mission in San Luis Obispo, let’s stop!” Now 2 things are important here, 1. We have a goal to visit all of the California missions and 2. We were driving through San Luis Obispo at the time and the exit was fast approaching…

I pulled across multiple lanes of traffic, ignoring the honks, and we made our way to the San Luis Obispo Mission. They were having a 7th and 8th grade Halloween costume dance. I think Junipero Serra would roll over in his grave (which we would see soon enough).

After giving a homeless guy $1 we were back on the 101 and made it another 15 miles before seeing a sign for the San Miguel Mission, so we stopped there too! It was my favorite one, very old, very original, very dusty.

We finally made it to a cool, blustery Monterey around 2:30 and went straight to the aquarium. I’ll spare you all the details, but the jellyfish and sea horses were the best part.

The next morning we headed back south, first stopping at the Carmel Mission (our third in 2 days) which we breezed through because a wedding was about to start. The highlight of this Mission (in a weird, dark way) was that it was the one where Father Serra (who founded all the Missions) died and is buried. After our quick stop we took off down the PCH through Big Sur (which is absolutely beautiful), across some really high bridges and around some seriously windy roads and finally made it to Hearst Castle.


                                                                                  What a house.

                                                            I think I could live there.

I am not a good enough writer to describe Hearst Castle in a manner that would effectively capture what it is like. Go see it for yourself.

Soon enough we were home, having decided to bypass the 2 Missions we would be passing in order to speed up things, and the trip was over. It was a good introduction into my 30’s, but hopefully it’s just the beginning.

2 Poems

I thought I would get back into the Friday routine of posting some of my writings, so for your reading pleasure today you get 2 poems. The first one is kind of dark while the second is more light-hearted.

I wrote the first poem in February 2009. Saddam Hussein’s execution had recently reappeared in the news and it got me thinking about his thoughts. When he was in complete control and had all authority in Iraq, did he ever think about how his life would end? Those thoughts spawned this poem, which I wrote when I arrived at work.

Saddam (written 2/11/09 in Simi Valley, CA)

Did you think it would end this way?

With a black bag pulled over your head. Did you think it would end this way?

With a noose tied around your neck.

When you sat on your golden throne in your palace between the great rivers

When your picture adorned every street corner and business wall

When the statues were erected and the songs of praise were sung

Did you think it would end this way?

Did you think it would end this way?

In a dark, dank cellar.

Did you think it would end this way? Hiding in a hole in the ground.

When you gassed the innocent and massacred the poor

When you threw people in cells for no reason other than your hurt pride

When the torturers whips snapped and pain was inflicted on your command

Did you think it would end this way?

Statues fell, crumbled

Pictures removed, shredded

The soles of the people were on your head

Your demise was rejoiced

Your capture was celebrated

Your death was relief

Did you think it would end this way?


The second poem was written way back in 2002 while I working with the African Children’s Choir. We had a concert in Berkeley, CA and I had a few hours to explore. I walked up and down different streets and saw people who were living life in a wide variety of ways and all of them were accepted. That led to this poem.

In These Streets (written in Berkeley, CA 10-6-02)

Out in the street

Underneath the October sun

With sounds of sirens in our ears

Intrigued by what we see

Long hair     tattered clothes

Dancing in the streets trying to make a living

But not doing a good job

There is life in these streets

Unlike the majority of this land

Beads, strings, books, and clothes

Stop the war!

Free the oppressed!

Vote for peace!

 Even if you don’t agree with them

You smile at them

Because of their enthusiasm and


For what they believe

Yes, there is life

And heart

In these streets

10 years in sunny California

10 years ago today on March 12, 2000 I first stepped foot in California. Little did I know that I would be spending a lot of time there in the years to come. In the 10 years since then I have lived here in southern California for the past 3 and spent a little over a year traveling around California with various children’s choirs. I dug out my journal from that trip so long ago and thought I would post my original journal entry from March 12, 2000. Enjoy!

March 12, 2000

“I LOVE CALIFORNIA! We are here in San Diego. It looks like it might rain. Yesterday I watched the sun rise over the Texas desert and today over the California hills. Just walked to the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. My first glimpse of the Pacific, millions of stars overhead, I let the frigid water cover my naked toes. I have found a home.”

Little did I know how true that last statement would be. California was always a mystical land to me while growing up and now it’s home.

For those who don’t know me, a quick overview

I was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland for the first 17 years of my life. I have a lot of great memories of growing up there and I have a lot of friends from there who have grown up and scattered themselves around the world. I spent two years after high school living in Lakeland, Florida going to college. It was an interesting time and I learned a lot about life and God. While I was home I saw a choir from Africa and my life was completely altered. The next 3 years of my life was consumed with traveling around the world as a sound technician and “father” to children from all over the wonderful continent of Africa. Finally, after years of touring with Africans I moved there and spent 3 years living in Uganda. I traveled around East Africa working with numerous organizations and lots of children. It was the most amazing time, loving these kids and showing the love of Jesus to them on a daily basis. I’ve made friends from all over the world along the way and even though I don’t get to see them much, they are still great friends. In October of 2005 I met my future wife while in Uganda and a few years ago ended up moving to southern California where she was from and I have been living here ever since. We’re happily married now and we’re loving it!