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Sunday, September 26, 2010

MOAB Boogie

A weekend of fun at the 2010 MOAB Boogie.  Most of the video is from my helmet cam, so you really don't see much of me.



This was the first year I was eligible to make off airport skydives.  I jumped into Castle Valley & Caveman Ranch.  These were some of the most picturesque and fantastic jumps I have ever made.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Amazing skydiving weekend!

Well last weekend after camp I made my 300th skydive. A wonderful milestone to reach but this weekend surpassed that. Today I jumped four times into a small regional airfair. I made several level 1 open field demo jumps in front of spectators. I have to admit it kinda felt weird to get applause, but to be able to talk to the kids about skydiving made it all the more enjoyable. To top it all of I was able to jump from a very historic aircraft. We jumped a C-47 named Southern Cross. The C-47 is the military designation for a DC-3.

This particular aircraft saw service in WWII. It was surreal to be in a plane that helped defend our country so many years ago. The plane had several patched holes in the fuselage that were caused by damage while in service. Thanks to all of you who served and continue to serve to defend our great country. God bless!

God sent another mini blessing my way, after packing I went to the flight line to talk with the kids about skydiving.  I noticed a father and son who happened to be adopted from Ethiopia.  It was my privilege and joy to talk to them and share my experiences there just a few weeks ago.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Canaan's Children Home Video

This is a short video of the time we spent at Canaan's Children Home in Uganda. Thank you to the Chlebanowskis for putting this video together! Visit their blog: Give. Share. Serve.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Worlds Apart

I still think about my experience in Africa quite frequently. After coming back I had a brief week at work and then I was off for a week of summer camp with the youth from our church. We went to Wyoming and had an absolutely amazing time. God wanted me to take notice of Him. It was not so much a revelation but gentle reminder about how big He is. Central Africa and central Wyoming are worlds apart in just about every way. To see that within a week of each other made the contrasts even more vivid. How beautiful it is to be reminded that He is the same God who moves there who moves here. He is wholly concerned the well being of His children whether they are orphans in central Africa or our youth kids relaxing in central Wyoming. He knows each of us intimately though we may be worlds apart. To top it all off, we were able see the Milky Way Galaxy on a moonless night in its full splendor. Then to realize that the same God who created those worlds cares more about each of us, than we can ever imaging, is absolutely awe inspiring. I think I need these little reminders so that I never under value God's greatness!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lion Chasers Manifesto

The best book I've read in the last couple years is “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars” by Mark Batterson. This is an amazing book that will motivate you to act despite your obstacles. The book examines the life and actions of a man named Benaiah. He is briefly mentioned a couple times in the Old Testament. Benaiah took risks and did not let obstacles stand between him and his destiny. The book really brings this story to life. It has changed the way I look at the opportunities God places before me. Put this at the top of your list of books to read! Here is an excerpt from the book:

Lion Chasers Manifesto
Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.
Chase the lion.

This was my prayer for the missions trip and I want this to be my personal manifesto as well!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another photo album

Here are a couple more photo albums from our trip: Trip Album & Fistula Hospital Album.  Photos of people it honestly catches something more than just an image, they capture soul.  Carrie thank you for the pictures...you're an amazing photographer!

Chasing the jump plane in my wingsuit!

This is my first post that really has nothing to do with the trip.  I am so blessed that God allows me to have some fun that is completely frivolous.  I was recently reminded of the following verse (from another blog post):

Luke 12:48b (NLT) From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

This is something I must take to heart and live by!  I am working on some final thoughts.  I'm gone next week because I am going with our students to summer camp up in Wyoming.  You can't really put a final stop on this experience...it will be with me the rest of my life.  Those thoughts will have to wait until I get back.  God bless!

Missions Trip Videos

These girls were singing so they could hear their own voices recorded. Return Ministries in Kampala, Uganda.

Jenn singing Amazing Grace with the ladies at Canaan's Children Home in Jinja, Uganda.

Singing at the feeding program with Amazima Ministries in Jinja, Uganda

Or just check out VitteeVit's YouTube Channel.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Village of Korah - A short documentary


Our team was blessed to spend time with Sammy.  His testimony is amazing!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My photo album is finally posted!

It took me a while to sort through my photos.  I've selected what I like the most.  I hope you enjoy my photo album!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Final Day

I am writing this entry as I am flying over the Atlantic Ocean on my way home. I have to start this post with my experience of spending the night near the dump at Kore with Project 61 and the children there. I was a little apprehensive about it, but it was unforgettable time. When we left the relative comfort of the guest house where we were staying it was raining. The rain was a bit disturbing because I knew the muck and mire I was about to head into. Our arrival was greatly anticipated. As soon as we were a bit situated in their surroundings their hospitality was on full display. They had prepared a large tray popcorn and cookies for us. Apparently popcorn is a favored treat by many Ethiopians. I am guessing because it is inexpensive and filling. Then I had one of the experiences I had been anticipating since arriving in Ethiopia. An Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

For those of you who don't know, I don't like coffee nor do I care much for the aroma. I knew I had to try it. It starts with the roasting of the beans in a little pan over an open coal flame. Then the beans were pounded in a mortar and pestle until it was a fine powder. I tried my hand at pulverizing the beans. For the full experience I tasted a roasted bean. Then they boil some water. They carefully measure out the proper amount of coffee grounds and added the boiling water. They let the grounds settle in the pot and mixed the coffee with sugar. They gave me a small cup. I have to admit it was actually really good. It was not harsh or bitter at all. I also asked to try the coffee black and even that was pretty good. I have it on good authority from several avid coffee drinkers that it was the best cup of coffee they had ever tasted. I was so thrilled that my coffee experience was as authentic as I could have ever hoped for, and that I actually enjoyed it. I still don't think I am going to become a coffee drinker.

They entire evening was filled with joy. We talked, sang, danced and ate more food. I was hand fed by some of the kids. In their culture to be hand fed by someone is an honor. We shared pictures. They were absolutely fascinated when I shared with them that I jump out of planes. I showed some videos and they were all crowded around in amazement. I was just happy that my frivolous activity brought them some joy. The ladies were getting their hair braided in corn rows. I also shared some of the pictures on my digital camera. They were particularly interested when I got to pictures of the Mercado. When I got to the pictures of people sleeping in the gutter they were eager to add that they used to sleep there. They were most interested in pictures they could directly relate with. Some of the other boys added that they used to sleep in the dump with hyenas. There was no way I could relate with these boys on this level. All I could do I was express how sorry I was. Their response was amazing. They just how good God is, how He loves them and that He brought them to this place. In the midst of what I would consider misery there was real joy and happiness. Later we busted out the glow sticks. They were a big hit! We shut off the lights and they jumped around in utter joy with their glowing bracelets and necklaces. It looked like a rave...not that I have any idea what one looks like since I've never been to one.

Then when I finally thought things were slowing down and we were getting ready for bed we started a movie. The night was not over until a little after one in the morning. I was already running on empty but every moment of was worth the experience. I slept with the guys in the boys room. They gave up one of their bunks for me and doubled up. Their room is very simple. There was a single fluorescent bulb in their musty room with no light switch. They just covered their heads with their blankets and went to sleep. Their living conditions were, we as Americans, would consider far below acceptable. My mind was just full of thoughts of how this is infinitely better than how they were sleeping only a few short months before. I stopped and realized that the next time I lay down in a bed, I will be in my own bed half a world away and they will still be here. This is an experience I never want to forget.

Saturday was filled with our final plans but with a group of 30 it is difficult to make last minute adjustments. Time flew by and before we knew it time was running out. We had a final team meeting just to debrief and talk about all our experiences. It is hard to believe that after all the months of anticipation and preparation the trip is essentially over. The one thing I think we all walked away with is that it is now our responsibility to share this experience with others. Even though we may be gone physically their need is still there. Not everyone will have the privilege to personally have an experience like this so it is up to us to continually advocate for these people, the ministries, and the missionaries who are in the midst of following God's calling.

As I sit here on the plane...only a few rows ahead of me is an American family who is taking their newly adopted son home. I am giddy inside just thinking of the homecoming that is awaiting them in just a few short hours. I can't help but seeing my brother, his wife and their little Jo some two short years ago in exactly the same place. Time after time this last week I met people who are getting ready to meet the child are adopting for this first time or experiencing the new addition to their family. What a joy it is. I don't think everyone is called to adopt but I do believe we are all called to act on the behalf all of God's Children.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

At the airport

Well I'm at the airport in Addis Ababa. Our flight leaves in about 2 hours. This trip was amazing and I'll have a lot more to post when I get home. Thank you for your prayers. Our overnight with the kids at Kore was a blast! God bless!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Hope House

Today will be a short post. Tonight I have the opportunity to spend the night at the dump with Project 61. Only six of us are allowed to go on this sleep over. We will spend the night in their facility. The kids will join us and it will be like a slumber party. I did not realize that this ministry is so new. It has only been in existence for the last 5 months. What a neat opportunity it is to minister to these kids.

Today we went to the A Hope House. This is another HIV orphanage. This is where I left a large donation of medical supplies. Thanks again to St. Joseph Hospital in Denver. Your gift was greatly appreciated. While here we split into two groups. The A Hope House has two different buildings. One for the younger kids and another for the older kids. I went with the group to the older kids. We had fun just spending time with them. We played H-O-R-S-E, finger painted, made bracelets, played games and other fun activities. The kids are just precious. One boy led me around the facility. He was so proud to show me his room and his bed. They just craved our time and attention. It was so sad when they asked when we are coming back and we had to tell them we are not coming back because we leave for home tomorrow.

After leaving there we went to the Piaza for some shopping. Surprisingly a guy I met yesterday in a different part of town show up there. When we were finished there we drove through the Mercado.

This is the largest open air market in all of Africa. It was very large and busy. It was interesting but there was really no reason to get out. The market was primarily for commerce, there really was nothing for us to do there but take in the madness. From there we went to the post office. This is not a post office, it is another shopping district. I picked up the last of my gifts and souvenirs.

Well this will probably be the last chance I have to make a posting before we start the journey home. I will finish up blogging about the trip from home home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

God's Plans

We had our schedule for today but God changed that for us. We were planning to go to the New Life Vision Association. This is an HIV orphanage with about 200 children in their care. We arrived at the orphanage to the surprise of the director. They were not expecting our visit. There were no children at the house. They were all in school. There was some sort of miss communication but even that was God ordained. The director was very sorry that the children were not there so that we could spend time with them. He is a very sweet
gentle man and would love to have Visiting Orphans come back. Even though this did not go according to our plan this was still a very encouraging meeting. He seemed very encouraged by our visit. We left the donations we had planned to give them. He is a Christian converted from Islam. He asked us to pray for him that he stays strong in continuing this ministry.

We scrambled for a little while to come up with plan B. In actuality it was always God's Plan A. One of our guides here used to work for another ministry. He made a few call and we made a visit to a ministry called The Forsaken Children. This is a ministry that minister directly to the children who live on the streets of Addis
Ababa.

These children find themselves on the streets for various reasons. Some are run aways, some are sent here to make money for the family back in their village, some are send here on business and never make it back home. Some of the young ladies in under their care as young as 9 years old have been raped. This ministry is their for them. They house some children. They have even reconnected some children with their families who long ago assumed they were dead. When we arrived we received a welcome that very much reminded us of the welcomes in Uganda. We had a wonderful time with the children. We sang songs played games and made personal connections with the kids. This was something that lifted everyone's spirits. Praise God that we followed what He had planned for us all along.

We went out to a nice dinner again. Afterward we came back to the guest house and listened to the testimony of a local man who works with the ministry in the dump where we visited a couple days ago. He told us about the history of those people. It is an amazing story. Our time here is wrapping up soon and I'm praying for many more amazing experiences. It is getting late and I am exhausted.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Orphanage Visits

Today was kind of a hectic day. I think a bit of fatigue is starting to set in for a few. We split into three groups. Each group visited a different place. The group I was in visited the AWA Transitional Home. This is a home where orphans who have been matched with a family go to stay during the adoption process. My niece, Jo, was at this home before my brother and his wife flew here to finalize the adoption. I took some pictures of Jo for her former nanny. Unfortunately she was not working today. I left the pictures with the staff and they will get them to her. Part of the group spent time with the kids there. The rest started painting a seascape mural on two adjoining walls. Our time there was short and we were not able to complete the mural. We got a good start on the major part of the drawings. A group may go back tomorrow to try to complete it. I spent a little time doing both activities. The other group split between Kids Care and Kingdom Vision Orphanage.

Afterward we all met at the Hilton Hotel. I purchased a beautiful hand painted storyboard depicting the story of King David's rise to prominence. This was nice little break and time to refresh.

Then we went to Mother Theresa HIV orphanage. This is a fairly large institution. I am not saying anything bad about them because they are still being faithful to God's calling to love these children. It really makes me appreciate what several of the directors of the smaller orphanages in Uganda said. They did not want a larger
institution for an orphanage but a smaller home that is more structured like a family. From what I've seen this certainly seems to be the better option. The difficult thing about this is it needs more people to run it. Canaan's Children Home is an example where a larger orphanage works but still has a family feeling to it. Canaan's had an open door to the community during the day but after a certain hour, only the orphans in the program were in the facility. Today's orphanage really had a feeling of a warehouse. It was a striking contrast. It may be because this an orphanage with 450 children where nearly all of them have HIV. Because of this it is still is not
treated on an equal footing as other orphanages. The children here looked more sickly than anywhere else we've been. The kids were just as loving and craved your attention. We toured the entire place. The visited the different dormitories for the boys and girls and different age groups. Finally we went into the ward with sick children. There was this tiny premature baby who was born a month ago and still looks like she is still a month shy of normal development. Back in the US this baby would be in the ICU hooked up to all sorts of monitors, here this poor child is just in a crib. Fortunately her mother was there constantly at her side. There were also two tiny frail little malnourished girls who had tuberculosis who struggled for every breath. About all you could do was comfort them with a gentle touch and pray over them. They were literally to weak to move. Praise God for these people who have not forgotten any of God's children.

In the evening we went out for a traditional Ethiopian dinner. The food was very good. It is served family style and you eat with your hands. It is rude to lick you fingers and belching at the table is acceptable. The food on the common dinner plate is very colorful. I tried just about everything that we were served. During dinner a
traditional Ethiopian band was playing. After dinner the music was accompanied by traditional dance. The dancing was extremely energetic and told a story. It was very enjoyable to see how rich the culture is here.



Today photographs were forbidden at both locations so I am including a couple photos of everyday life in Addis Ababa.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kore Dump

Today was the day I was anticipating to be the most impact full day of the entire trip. I have felt that so far we have seen the lucky kids who actually made it to an orphanage. Today we went to a section of town called Kore. While there we visited a ministry called Project 61. This name comes from a reference found in Isiah 61:1

The spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners.

Kore is a district on the outskirts of Addis Ababa where approximately 130,000 people live. The people who live here are viewed as outcasts. The "refuse" of society live in a shanty town right next to a dump. Project 61 ministers to the children of this community. The people who live here, live in extreme poverty. Daily many go to the dump to scavenge for food and supplies. We were able to go directly into the dump amongst the people. It is so sad to see them rush the trucks as they arrive to get the "best" pickings as they dump the trash.

The stench is indescribable. I have a pretty strong stomach and it did not make me feel ill. To see people so desperate for garbage is heartbreaking. This is by far is the worst conditions I've ever seen a person inhabiting. For years I've said that at the point of desperation a person will stoop to any level...today I saw that. A portion of the team split and was able to go into their homes and spend time with the people on a more personal level. Even in this filth and mire the Good News of Christ is reaching the people. We were able to see the children sing His praises. We were able to love on them. I hope they were to the see the love of Christ through us! I made a special little friend today.

Her name is Beza, and if I could take her home I would. Her smile was enough to melt my heart. Another special young lady I met was handicapped and was just so happy that I spent time with her. The day was filled with hugs and kisses.

We did something very special for the kids of Project 61. Before we set out we went to the market and the whole team purchased six sheep for the ministry. They were tied up and thrown them into the trunk of
the bus. Once there, two sheep were slaughtered for the meal. The other four were kept for another meal later. One of our team members was able to slit the sheep's throat.

I have to admit I was a bit jealous. I would just like to be able to experience everything I can, but it was not meant to be. So I was able to document the whole thing. I just set my camera to shoot 7 frames per second and caught every detail. I took about 70 pictures of the slaughter and skinning. First we served all of the children. Afterward we asked if we could try it. They happily obliged and made us a bountiful plate. The meal was absolutely amazing! Of everything I've eaten so far on this trip, this was by far the best food I've had. I enjoy flavorful food, and the meat was extremely well spiced. I am so happy that they will be able to enjoy several more meals.

I got home and took a shower and shaved. I put on my dirty shorts but that was preferable to wearing my dump cloths. This experience was so impact full. It was not fun experience but I do not regret it. Except for the ant. While at the dump I felt a sting in my crotch. I had to wait to get back to the project and find a restroom. I found the little bugger and summarily squashed him. You can learn more about these people and the amazing ministry at: http://www.help4korah.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fistula Hospital

Today was our first full day in Ethiopia. We started kinda casually. Part of the group went to exchange money and then to the market. I went with out fearless team leader, Kari Gibson, on a special mission. Kari adopted a baby girl from Ethiopia several years back. You can read all about her experiences on her blog at: http://mycrazyadoption.com. Her daughter was born in Addis Ababa. Kari did have some documentation on her. We tried to trace her steps in hopes of finding her birth mother. We did find a health clinic and some records that show she was there and received some of her vaccinations. It was just so special for Kari to be were her child and the birth mother were together. Other than seeing the excitement on Kari face this excursion was an amazing trip. We were able to get off of the main streets and into the alleys where the people live. I'm sure not too many white get to see this side of the city. The people were all very kind and curious as to why we where there. I had to be careful to get approval before taking pictures. But when they could see themselves many were happy to pose for a shot. The city as a whole is pretty much what I expected. It is busy, dirty, many street vendors, open air butchers, fruit stands and traffic follows no rules. Addis definitely has much more of a Muslim influence than anything we saw in Uganda.

In the afternoon we went to the Fistula Hospital. This hospital deals with womens health issues that I was completely unaware that even existed. I wont go into detail but you can learn about about the fistula procedure at: http://www.hamlinfistula.org. Some women have walked over a 1000 km from Sudan to be treated and all over Ethiopia to be treated. This is pretty much their only chance to once again lead a somewhat normal life. All photographs were strictly prohibited but we got special permission for one person to take pictures and Kari has permission to post about the people and the hospital on her blog site (referenced above). We were able to give each of the patients a special care package. They each received a hand bag with some bracelets, necklaces, candy, fingernail polish and other goodies. Each of us was able to individually deliver these gifts to the ladies. They were incredibly grateful for just someone to touch them and kiss them on the cheek. One lady even got down on her knees in thankfulness praying for us. I have to admit this is the most uncomfortable I've been on this trip.

Watch A Walk to Beautiful, a documentary on Obstetric Fistula and the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.

Bye Bye Muzungu! (Part 2)

A picture of me with Pastor Isaac (Pastor Rebel) from Canaan's Children Home. Read Pastor Issac's story.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bye Bye Muzungu!

Well today was our final day in Uganda. We were scheduled to do Sunday School and the church service. Our flights changed slightly so we had to leave earlier than originally planned. But we were able to teach the Sunday School Classes. I along with two other ladies taught the Jr. High boys and girls. We talked about the fruits of the spirit. They all already knew about the fruits. I hope were are able to further their view of what the that only health trees produce fruits. We had a brief goodbye and it was a difficult one. When you live in an orphanage for four days you start to know the kids personally. There were lots of tears as we left. As we left the compound we could see the village children chasing the bus and in their sweet little voice we would hear the yelling, "Bye Bye
Muzungu!".

The drive from Jinja to Entebbe was not the most comfortable for me. My seat was atilt. But we all made it safely to the airport several hours early. We had a few problems checking in. But nothing out of the normal for what you can expect when traveling in this part of the world. We all arrived safely in Addis Ababa and everyone's luggage also arrived.

I have to admit I was anticipating the Ethiopia part of the trip much more than Uganda part simply because that is were my niece is from. God so far exceed anything I could have expected in Uganda! I can't imagine it getting much better. But I should know never to underestimate what God has in store to teach me. I think this half of the trip will be quite different that the Uganda portion. There we were in a much more rural surrounding and here we are more in an urban setting. We are settled into our guest house here and will be staying in the same place while we are here. Tomorrow the second half of our adventure begins.

Amazima Feeding Program

Today's program was spent with the Amazina Feeding Program. This is a program that goes on every Saturday. This is located walking distance from the Canaan's Children Home. All the local children from the surrounding village are invited to attend. There is no distinction made between Christian and Muslim children. All are invited are invited to attend.

We started with a tour there. They were in the process of building a large playground for the children. It is being built by Ugandans. They feel it is very important for them to build the facility. The children need to see they can do things themselves rather than any time something need to be done a white man comes and does it for them. We actually met with another team and there were too many muzungus for all to participate in the preparation of the meal. So we were able to spend out time loving on the children. Soon after we had a lesson time taught by a wonderful Ugandan man. Again it is important for the kids to see a man set up and do the duty assigned to him. He was very animated and the children were very responsive. This was followed by a feeding line. All the kids received a very healthy portion of rice, beans, and chicken. There was plenty of food left and we were able to eat with them. The food was extremely good, but we did have to eat with our fingers...thank you God for hand soap! All the children are also sent home with a bag of rice and beans to supplement their food for the coming week. There were about 250+ children in attendance. I was able to distribute the cars from Toys for God's Kids here.

Every child left with their own car. Considering their condition I'm certain for many it is the first real toy any of these children has ever owned. They were absolutely thrilled. This was such a personal blessing since this is the donation I was most excited about. The kids were so grateful.

I have to tell you a little about the lady who runs this ministry. She is a young lady from Tennessee. She is only 21 and has been doing this for three years. I can't imaging at the age of 18 going half way around to world to do something so bold.  But there is nothing his workers cannot do if they go out in faith. She also runs a home for 12 girls. She also has a very special ministry to a class of people here who are considered outcasts by society. It is not wise to mention this group by name for fear of sort of repercussions. But you can read about here amazing story at: http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/

This evening we were scheduled to dinner at King Fisher Lodge. We invited the Pastor Isaac, his wife, and the kitchen staff to join us for dinner. It was so nice to serve them, they went out of their way to make us comfortable.

We returned home to a special program of singing and dancing by all the children. Each age group had their own performance for us. Finally Pastor Isaac had a few final words for us. He said they do not house orphans...Canaan is their family. I can't help but look at these kids and see they are they are the lucky one who make it here. Being an orphan is a stigma they need not carry. I have a special kinship with Pastor Isaac. I will never forget him. He is truly a father to the fatherless as God is our father. I love this man!

Well I've already surpassed the total number of pictures I thought I would take and have broken all sorts of personal record. At the moment I stand at 1100+ pictures and some video.

Amani Babies Cottage

Friday was a slightly more relaxed day for us. It was a day to process what we have experienced.

The children in school at Canaan's start their day at 7 am. The first thing they do everyday is physical education. This morning I got up to watch the children do their morning exercises. The count and do the ABCs while exercising.  All the teachers here are so amazing. The children are extremely respectful of authority and listen to directions very well. After PE they head of to class. At mid-morning they have porridge. Followed by more classes. They go home for a short time around noon and then they come back for more classes. The young children are done with classes at 2 pm and the older ones finish school at 6 pm. The typical class is very crowded. There are four students to a small desk and a room can accommodate up to 50+. Their classes are arranged slightly differently here. Here at the orphanage the preschool and low elementary grades are taught. There is also another Canaan school down the road a bit. Their older children are taught. They call it primary school. At the moment they have to combine several classes together because of room. Their dream is to have a separate classroom for each level. The current building has four rooms. There is room to double that by building a second floor. After primary school they go to senior school. These students take a bus to class. Learning English is mandatory as it is the official language in Uganda.

Late morning we went into Jinja and did some shopping. I picked up some gifts and souvenirs. I actually came back a second time later in the day because it was my only opportunity to post some blogs.

After that we went to the Amani Children Cottage. This a home for infants and toddlers. We arrived to a chorus of crying babies. The first thing we saw was row after row after row of diapers drying on cloths lines. These precious little ones were very well taken care of.

They all looked very well fed and taken care of. We all had the opportunity to hold the babies. It was sad to find one wall with the pictures of the babies that passed away. The good news is that this orphanage is one of the very first approved for international adoption
from Uganda.

In the late afternoon we were back at Canaan's Children Home to spend the afternoon playing with kids again.

Their joy in the simple things is enviable. Today we broke out the bubbles and silly string. When I return home I will post a large number of photos on my Picasa photo album.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Canaan's Children Home

Today we woke up to the sound of the call to prayer by a local mosque at about 5:30 am. I was still able to get plenty of sleep afterward. The orphanage here is run very differently than the previous two we visited. This is a much larger facility and the children are housed in dormitories. Canaan's Children Home also runs a school. But one thing in common is we were told that the children need to know that they are loved. That is far more important than anything we can do for them physically. A simple touch or hug means more to them than I'll ever know. We were told by pastor Issac that one of the little girls was crying because she didn't believe she could be loved by white people.

When we finally got up the children had finished their morning session and were having recess. We stepped out are were absolute mobbed.

We were able to play with them before breakfast. I stepped into an impromptu game of soccer. The only reason I was any good was I was three times bigger than any of them (I didn't play in the late afternoon game, that was a bit more serious and required a referee). After breakfast we were able to walk out of the compound and into the village. We were able to talk to the people and give out candy to the local kids who are not in the orphanage. I got some great pictures of local life (when I was allowed to...I always asked if it was OK to take a picture).

We were then able to go to the schools run by Canaan. The educate approximately 500 students from primary school through graduation. The school run by Canaan is not exclusive to the orphans. The local children can also attend the school. After school another team member and I were able to ride a boda-boda (a local motorcycle taxi) back to the compound.

Since the school accepts students from the community Canaan's Children Home can make some income to supplement the operation costs of the orphanage. The neighborhood has a large Muslim presence. This has caused some tension in the past. Some time ago the Muslim community burnt down one of the dormitories in an unprovoked action. The police found that the dormitories also housed Muslim children. They asked if they wanted to press charges. The people here at Canaan refused to press any charges because because they said God will treat everyone justly.

In mid-afternoon we were able to take a boat ride on the Nile river. We were right at the mouth of the White Nile as the water flows out of Lake Victoria. We were able to go to mile marker 0, the official start of the river (now I've been on both ends of the Nile). The Nile is the only major river that flows from south to north, and is the longest river in the world (the Amazon is the largest by a huge margin when measured by flow rate).

After we got back, we played with the kids some more. I taught them some stupid tricks at which they were amazed. Then several of us played games and danced with a group of children ranging from preschool to about second grade (for those of you who know my rhythmic disability take note...I was told by a black man that he liked my dancing...or maybe he was amused because he had never seen anything like that).

The evening was capped of with the person testimony of Pastor Isaac. He told us how God called him to minister to orphans and start Canaan's Children Home. Today I listened to a true spiritual giant! I am welling up just trying to relate what he went through. He was sentenced to death by the Muslim ruling party for being a "traitor" (pastor) under the brutal rule Idi Amin. He was the only one to survive a firing line of 42 people (all pastors) and thrown into a mass grave. God rescued him and ultimately brought him home to Uganda to start a home for His children. I just cannot do justice to his story. You can read his full testimony at: http://www.canaanchildrenshome.org/. I am humbled to even be in the same company as this man.

Muzungu & My Fathers House

I surely do not know where to start to explain today. Today is probably one of the most amazing and impact-full days of my life. I am sad I probably wont be able to post this message for about 4 to 5 days because we do not have internet access where we are staying for the remainder of our time in Uganda.

As I said in last blog post, in the morning we went back to the Return Worship Center, in Kampala, to continue spending time with the children there. We were able to make our time a bit more focused by splitting up into groups. We played games, sang song, put on skits, and yes I even danced with the children. They are all far more capable than me, but like I said before your inhibitions wain in this atmosphere. The children and us had so much fun. Today I learned that I am a muzungu. And we are greeted everywhere in this manner. This term basically means white person. In case I forget I can even buy a t-shirt that reminds me and everyone else around me that I am a muzungu. Pastor Samuel and his team do an amazing job with these children.

After lunch we left for another orphanage called My Fathers House. This home is run by a young lady from Texas named Rebecca. This home has twelve children living there. She has been living in Kampala since 2007. She has a very similar vision for these children as Pastor Samuel. She does not consider her home an orphanage but a house filled with love. She also does not want to see a large orphanage but rather a group of these smaller homes where the children are individually loved. When we arrived the children were still in school. We walked there through the local village and were ultimately greeted at the school in a manner that I know was far beyond our expectations (watch the video). We were treated as honored guests of the highest degree. We entered through an aisle of children singing in celebration of our arrival.

When we sat down we were treated to a very special program of song and dance. Their voices are amazing and the unmistakable presence of the Spirit was evident in their authenticity during worship and praise. Just as the program completed a torrential down pour hit us. In their culture it is considered good luck for it to rain when you have guests. This gave us an opportunity as a team just to love on the kids. Words are simply not adequate to explain what we experienced there. I had a chance to talk briefly with Rebecca. Her ministry is not fully funded. She trusts that she is doing what the Lord is calling her to do and somehow they manage with what they have. The school is very basic but they are getting far more than just a quality education. They are truly loved! They sent each of us on our way with letters they had written and bracelets they had made for us. Life for them is not easy. The young ladies, at the school, live with the constant fear of rape and the contraction AIDS. Rebecca is an amazing young lady and she is being used in a way that leaves me speechless. It was such sad departure because none of us wanted to leave these kids who touched us all so deeply.

Once we left we drove a couple hours, through standard third world traffic, to Jinja. Jinja is located at the very northern most end of Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is the head waters of the Nile river. We are currently staying at an orphanage called Canaan's Children Home. This is quite a larger and secure place. We are blessed to be able to stay here with them. The team is amazing in all regards.

My mind is just a mess of thoughts and emotions right now I hope this makes some sense.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Return Worship Centre

On Tuesday we had a late brunch and were briefed by Pastor Samuel about the Return Worship Center. Samuel runs this orphanage for about 15 children. He explained that being an orphan is a condition of the heart. The children just need to be loved. There are plenty of orphans in this world who have parents. His children are not orphans. His goal is not to create an institution but many homes where children are loved. This was certainly the case once we arrived there. Even though only 15 children live at this orphanage there were about 200 kids there from the neighborhood. We were mobbed by the kids.

The day was filled with lots of hugs and games. I found that you kind of loose your inhibitions when you just love on the kids. We are going back tomorrow for more organized activities. So our first full day was absolutely amazing. I'm sure God has much more amazing
thing in store for us over the rest of our stay.

Thank you for praying for me and out team. The team is very flexible which was evident with the patience exhibited with our luggage. God truly brought together who he wanted on this team.

Team, Flight & Arrival

I am part of a larger team with whom I can going to share this experience. Other than a couple team conference calls prior to departure many on our team have never met. The team composed of people that literally come from all corners of the entire United States. We are a diverse group ranging in age from high school to retired. We all gathered in Washington DC for our flight to Africa. Meeting for the first time was a flurry of introductions. I have a hard time remembering names so my goal is to get to know everyone on this trip before it ends. One thing that immediately unites us is our faith in God. He is calling each of us individually to be on this adventure together. I am currently writing this entry on the plane flying from Rome to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (at the moment we are flying over the southwest corner of Egypt). We will be on this plane for 14 by the time we arrive in Ethiopia. We will be there for a couple hours before we board another plane to our final destination Entebbe, Uganda. We will arrive there approximately 1 am Tuesday morning and then catch up on some sleep.

well we made it safely to Entebbe. Of our 60 plus bags only about half of them arrived with us. I finally got to my room at about 4 am on Tuesday. I slept until 10. The following evening all of our remaining bags arrived.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Check-in

Well this is my first post made from on the road. I am waiting to board my flight to DC. Check in was a fiasco. First they did not have all the e-ticket information to get me checked in. The kind lady finally was able to get the information she needed and checked my baggage all the way through to Entebbe, Uganda. So hopefully I will see them there. I was still overweight and there was nothing they could do. I had to take some items out of one of my bags. I took out some liquids because they are quite heavy. I gave it to the information counter here at DIA and they will give it to a local homeless shelter. Thanks for the prayers I am on the road. God bless!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ready … Set … GO

My bags are all packed. One more nights sleep and then I set out. I had to reduce the items I am taking with me. I was significantly overweight with my luggage. Now I only have one bag a bit overweight. Any donations made that I am unable to take with me will be given to a local ministry to help people in our community in need.  I was a little anxious earlier today but now I am more at ease.


Once again I had an unexpected encounter that was a blessing. I was at Walgreens printing some family pictures to share and the guy at the register was an Egyptian who grew up in one of the world's largest orphanages. He grew up in the Lillian Trasher Orphanage in Asyut, Egypt. He is a Christian because of the love and care he received while there.

Packing and Supplies

Departure is less than 24 hours away and I am officially over the weight limit for my baggage. I received some incredible items today. Thank you so much to everyone at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver! Your extremely kind gift of all the medication and medical supplies will go a long way. Once again God's timing is perfect ... today I had my semi annual dental cleaning. My dentist gave me a box of toothbrushes and some toothpaste. The personal donations of hygiene and school supplies is amazing. Also to those of you that gave directly to the orphanages monetarily...Thank you! I am expecting to pick up another donation this afternoon. I am trying to keep my personal items to a bare minimum.


Ethiopian airlines is quite strict with their carry on weight restrictions, so I can't redistribute too much weight there either. Please pray that God arranges a encounter with an airline check in agent who allows me to take all the supplies provided without charging a penalty for being over weight on my check in luggage.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Perfect send off concert

Last night I got to go see the David Crowder Band in concert. They are absolutely amazing! It was so enjoyable to be able to sing along as loud as you want and not be able to hear yourself. For a reserved person like me that is about as much as I let myself go. Worship is so much more gratifying when you can remove yourself form it. Thank you Lord for the perfect concert to send me off on my trip.

My three favorite concerts, that I've attended are: David Crowder, David Crowder, and David Crowder.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toy's for God's kids

For those who doubt God has this all figured out ahead of time. Yesterday I had a providential encounter with another wonderful ministry. I received an email from a lady in the small group I attend asking if I've ever heard of Toys for God's Kids. Their mission is to provide handmade, sturdy, attractive, wooden toys free to God's children everywhere. In God's perfect timing he decided to have an article published this last weekend in the Denver Post. Sure enough this article ultimately made its way to me. I contacted the ministry and informed them about my upcoming trip to Uganda and Ethiopia. I arranged to meet at their workshop. I was able to learn a little about why they do this. They have made over 289,000 toys to give away. So in a matter of less than 12 hours I had 445 toy cars.

Watch NBC Nightly News Making a Difference segment: 1 2 3


I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! To see their excitement in knowing where these toys are going was a blessing in itself. Now that blessing will be carried and delivered to those who probably have never even owned a toy. I must add the cars are absolutely amazing. This is a huge shout to everyone who is involved with Toys for God's Kids. Thank you so much for what you do! If you would like to like make a huge impact on a child by a small action on your part I hope you consider giving to this cause.

And here I was starting to worry if I'm going to have enough items to fill my bags. Oops...my bad.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Uganda & Ethiopia Missions Trip 2010

Welcome to my blog. This is my first attempt at anything like this, so I hope you find it interesting. My hope with this blog is to keep you informed about the missions experience I am about to embark upon. On July 18th I am going with a group organized by Visiting Orphans to Uganda and Ethiopia. Visiting Orphans is a Christian non-profit organization that seeks to help orphans in their distress. I was invited to go on this trip because of the connections I made through my brother and his families amazing adventure. They felt the calling of God to adopt a little girl to add their clan. Through their faithfulness I am now an uncle for the fourth time. I am blessed that they listened to God's call.

Jo, my adopted niece, and me in Branson

I also know several other families, at church, who have adopted multiple children. Those families have also been blessed with kids from China and Ethiopia, and with special needs. I think over the last several years God has been telling to more closely look at the plight of the orphans. There are 147 million orphans in this world. That is a disgustingly large number, but no so large that if the body of Christ took on the challenge we could make a huge dent in that figure. My reason for going on this trip is first and foremost to do my best to show the love of Christ and let them see they are truly God's children. I am excited to see what God has planned to teach me.