Tuesday, May 29, 2007

a trip to kenya and back

May 15th-21st (Kenya)
Hey guys!! Sorry it’s been a while since I last wrote. I was in Kenya for a week, and I got a chance to go to the internet cafĂ©, but it wasn’t working. The bus rides to Kenya were TERRIBLE! I don’t usually mind things too much, but it was supposed to be 9-12 hours…it was 17!! And the roads were crazy bumpy! I have bruises all over my legs from the seat in front of me. And it was soooo freezing cold during the night! But guess what! I survived!

But Kenya was amazing. I thought I would miss Uganda too much and not like it there at all, but it was really great! I still missed Uganda but it was really fun walking around the slums of Nairobi and seeing the kind of neighborhoods that aren’t seen often in Uganda.

We got to stay with different families in some of the outskirts of Nairobi. This was right between the city and the slum areas. I got really close with Pastor Paul’s family. I was really sad to leave them. We filled out sponsorship papers for the center of Babadogo. That day we got 300 children’s pictures taken and their information filled out. Which may sound cool, but it’s not so great because we still had two more centers to do. It’s so hard to turn people away, but we can only bring back so many because we can’t find sponsors in the U.S. very quickly. So we could only get 30 kids at each of the next two centers.

At Gachie there was a little boy named Samuel. He was a total orphan. Both his parents had died from AIDs. And he was HIV positive. He had some mental problems and half of his body was paralyzed. His huge crooked smile shone across the school yard. He was the happiest boy in the school. How does that happen? Some look at the joyful faces and are blinded by the suffering of the children and are discouraged and think they are a hopeless case. They obviously still have hope, how else could they keep smiling? I am continually reminded of their hope and faith through all of the difficult situations these children face. It is so amazing to me the unique and animated personalities each of them have. It is so inspiring.

The biggest adventure happened one day at the church. I was a holding a little baby named Michele and she was passing out on me, she was so tired. So I took her inside the church because it was crazy hot outside. One of the Kenyans we were working with told me she had a really high fever. So we crushed up some medicine for her and put it in water for her to drink. She was doing alright with drinking it even though between sips she would fall back asleep. Then I tried to give her another sip and she wouldn’t wake up. I tickled her and bounced her around trying to wake her up, then I tried pouring more water in her mouth and it just trickled down her lips. Her head kind of rolled back then and I couldn’t feel her breathing, I was most likely over reacting, but time stood still at this point. I thought I was holding a dead little girl. You have no idea how traumatizing that feeling is. Every time I think about it I feel sick. I freaked out a little bit to say the least, and I kind of couldn’t stop crying. I took her to the area where Florence (Pastor Paul’s wife) was cooking lunch and she examined the little girl in my arms. She convinced me that she was just extremely tired, that’s why we couldn’t wake her up, and that she was also weak from not eating. It helped a little, but I also felt that she was just saying this to get me to calm down, even if it was a big deal. So I carried her in a wrap until she woke up, which she did, so that was encouraging at that point. Then I took her into the kitchen area and gave her food, and after that, she was great! So that was a really scary experience, one I wouldn’t mind never having to do again.

May 22nd (Back in Uganda)
Yesterday we went to the village of Lugazi back in Uganda. We set up a medical clinic there. It was really fun because I got to hold a lot of babies. I held a baby named David who was around 2 months old. Right now I am not really sure what illness he is suffering from. Pauline (doctor) told me it has something to do with his lungs not working properly, I am going to talk to her again here in the next couple of days to get the complete details. He has a cough and a lump on the side of his stomach and he can’t breathe. I held him in my arms, helplessly watching his tiny stomach and throat trying to draw in air. I couldn’t even be sure that air was getting inside of him except for the fact that he was still alive. He has (what disease/illness?)

Why am I telling you all of this? I need your help. The only way for this little boy to live the life that God had planned for him is to get a surgery, which no one can afford. Please, please pray that God will miraculously heal this innocent child. Even with faith that moves mountains or prayers that never cease, his death might still be a reality. But I know that prayer is one of the most powerful things we can do. So I beg that you will pray with me that he will survive this impossible trial. You may look at the problem and use that word “impossible”, and with man it is. But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

I also got to hold this little girl named Joy Jackline. She was a triplet, but one of the girls passed away. So now there are just the two of them, Joy Jackline and Joy Lilian. So I got to hold them both at one point too. It was so much fun! …Except that I got peed on. Haha, so that was a little downer to that. But I think that it was probably worth it. Their mom was really cute too, she was one of the only adults who understood english. So I talked to her for a while and she told me she would pray for me and gave me a piece of paper with all her family on it and asked me to pray for her also.

May 23rd
Today we went to Rwenjiri, way out in the bush, to do sponsorship stuff and VBS (Vacation Bible School). In the past it has always proved to be the most challenging village. I’m not really sure why, but it was the same today. It’s just kind of stressful and unorganized with the sponsorship. We only had one translator, so it went really slow. VBS got all of the translators. But I’m not bitter (haha). But it wasn’t extremely bad, just kind of. I think the VBS team had a lot of fun, at least they looked like they were. They made bracelets and played a lot of soccer.

May 24th
Today we went to Kassanda to do a medical clinic. It went really smoothly. I don’t think the village realized that muzungus (white people) were there because there is usually a HUGE crowd wherever we go. So we just had all of the school children come and then some parents and teachers and whoever else heard that we were there. I got to see my little friend named Kato Grace. He has some disease, I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s the same thing as like Simon Birch (If you’ve ever seen that movie). He is like 9 maybe, but is as small as maybe a 4 or 5 year old. He has a little bit of a hunchback and his shoulders are permanantely tensed up. But, oh my gosh, he is the cutest kid I have ever seen! He is an orphan and doesn’t have anyone who would take him in, so he stays at a house on the school’s property where four other children also live with one of the teachers in charge of the house. It was really cool to see the house, because that is something that I definitely want to be a part of here, a place where children can come when homelessness is the only option. So Kato clung onto me the whole day and I gave him a green wall ball and he was so happy about that! We played soccer for a long time and he was enjoying himself to the extreme! It was so great to watch him kicking the ball as hard as he could and all the other kids kicking the ball back to him every time.

May 25th

We went to Kittongo today to do sponsorship and VBS. The VBS was crazy, they were all so into it! I think our group is also getting better with relating it to the Ugandans. All these children get usually is preached at and are expected to keep silent. It was so amazing to see them getting really involved in the stories- Booing Haman and cheering for Esther. And to see Zack with a boy on his shoulders fall dead pretending to be Goliath. We may just be crazy Americans, but the kids are LOVING it! Haha

I made a couple friends while I was watching the soccer game of Americans vs. Uganda. Their names are Prudence and Jane and are probably like 8-10 years old. I used all my Luganda knowledge when I was talking to them (not much to brag about there). Which just made them crack up, I don’t think they’ve ever met a muzungu who knows the language. So I talked with them in luganda the rest of the day. And then almost at the very end I realized that Prudence actually knows a lot of English! And she had just been pretending that she didn’t understand me. It was really funny. Well, I hope you are all having a great week! Love you!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

quick update on hillary

I just got an email from a Justin, who went with Hillary to Uganda last summer. He's there now, filming and photographing some things for International Children's network. Here's what he had to say:

"Hillary's doing great. We remained in Kampala while they were in Kenya, but reconnected when they returned on Monday. Hillary's rocking the whole sponsorship scene, running the program from our end. As far as i know, everything is going really well.

The photo i'm sending doesn't include Hillary, but it's the welcome we got when we arrived at Kitongo. i'm sure you already know, but Hillary is an amazing person and you have a lot of cause to be proud of her. She is very organized and driven and loves these kids in a way that almost seems motherly. She's very incredible and I have a great deal of respect for her."

If you'd like to see more photos by Justin, click here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

a plea for spatial awareness

I have to admit, before I started writing this, I didn't even know how to spell "spatial" but I definitely knew what it meant. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term (and believe me, you're not alone), here's something I found on a figure skating training website...

    “Spatial awareness is knowing where you are in relationship to other objects in your surroundings and how that relationship will change in the near future as you and other objects around you change positions. Having a keen sense of spatial awareness allows you to manipulate or modify your movement to exploit the limitations of your current space. For example, if a skater has an excellent sense of spatial awareness and an excellent sense of body awareness of his jumps then he can successfully execute difficult triple/quadruple jumps even on very small patches of ice."

What keeps Michelle Kwan from accidently whacking Tara Lipinski in the head during a practice session while executing a triple lutz? Spatial Awareness. What prevents Brian Boitano from slamming into the wall while "shaking his groove thang"? Spatial Awareness. Apparently we all have this ability. Read this from another site...
    “Spatial awareness is, very simply, an organized awareness of the objects in the space around us, and also an awareness of our body’s position in space. Without this awareness, we would not be able to pick food up from our plates and put it in our mouths. We would have trouble reading, because we could not see the letters in their correct relation to each other and to the page.”

So, as Americans, we MUST have this ability. I mean, we're gaining weight at an alarming rate (present company included) so the food is getting from the plates to our mouths. But, I don't know if it's the effects of global warming, a depleted ozone layer, the war in Iraq, or reality TV...SOMETHING is causing a decay in our Spatial Awareness and I can no longer sit idly by.

The following is my offering you you. My experiences and tips, from every day life, for reclaiming your awareness of the space around you.

Your Car is Not an Island
Last summer Leslie, Courtney and I were driving to a movie theater for the opening day of Pirates of the Carribean II (or is it aye aye?). We came to a stoplight and sat there for about a minute, casually talking about our week when suddenly…WHAM!!!! We hear this loud noise, my seat breaks, Courtney’s glasses fly to the back of our SUV, and w’re now sitting in the middle of the intersection with cars criss-crossing around us from the opposite turning lanes!

When the police arrived, they gathered information and this was the quote from the driver that hit us. “I don’t know what happened. I was just driving along and then all of a sudden I heard a loud noise!”

Spatial Awareness Tips:

1. Um, yeah…about that noise? That’s the sound of your car totaling another car. If that noise keeps happening, you might want to seriously consider public transportation.

2. You are NOT the only one on the road. If you look around you’ll see other automobiles. They might be different shapes or colors, but they are still cars and they have other people in them. Sometimes they’re in front of you…Try not to hit them. Sometimes behind you…Try not to suddenly stop in front of them.

3. It’s okay to let someone go before you. In fact, it can actually feel quite good. You may feel uneasy at first with the fact that they will get to the next intersection five seconds before you, but if you’re lucky, they’ll get stopped at a stoplight and you can catch up with them. Be careful though. Don’t run into them!

4. Your blinker is not a deflector shield. It is not a license to maim. It simply means “I would like to change lanes now, if you would be so kind as to allow me.”

5. If you’d like to carpool with the person in front of you, just ask them. Don’t pull up so close to them that you can read their bumper sticker, read their odometer, and take a sip of their mocha frappacino.

6. If you’re the front car in a long line of cars in the left lane on the highway, don’t assume it’s your responsibility to police the speed limit. While it’s commendable to try and right the wrongs of the world, you might think of another area. Trust me, it’s much more enjoyable seeing the smiles and waves of needy children you’ve helped feed than the waves you get from enraged drivers.

Shopping is not a Sobriety Test
When I was a kid, we used to play this game at school between classes. When it was time to pass to the next class, we’d try to walk in a straight line down the hall without veering to the left or to the right. After a while, I learned a few things. If you try to look tough, and just bull your way through, you end up approaching someone who really IS tough and you face severe consequences. I learned the most effective way to be successful at this game was to appear oblivious and distracted…to look like a complete idiot that had no clue where he was going or where he came from.

If you can’t visualize what this would look like, just take a quick trip to Costco. There you’ll find a large number of the spatially challenged, wandering aimlessly down the aisles. Those in their path are forced to dodge and dive, hoping to evade their lethal shopping cart leaving in its wake a path of destruction.

Spatial Awareness Tips

1. When walking, some have found it helpful to use the open eye approach. Just a thought.

2. Your shopping cart doesn’t have eyes. It can’t see around the corner and tell you, “Hey, you’re about to jam me into this guys shin! Stop!”

3. Remember, when you’re pushing a cart, you can’t walk as close to someone in front of you as you could if you didn’t have a cart. If you happen to impale someone in the ankles with your cart, don’t treat it like a speed bump. Stop and apologize.

4. I know you REALLY want to get a little food sample at the grocery store, but not everyone does. Make sure to leave room for people to get around you. I promise not to steal your little cup full of tater tots on the way by.

Your Cell Phone is Not on a Party Line
Yesterday, I took Courtney to the doctor’s office. While we were sitting there waiting for her name to be called, a cell phone rang. No big deal, it happens all the time. (Mine even went off in church one time when I forgot to silence it. How embarrassing!) The man answered his phone and proceeded to scream his conversation at the top of his lungs. While the rest of us made new doctor’s appointments for the sudden epidemic of bleeding ears, he shared with us his whole schedule for the week, his gossip about someone at his office, and his reason for his appointment. DUDE! I did NOT need to know that!!! It’s bad enough that people aren’t aware enough to keep their voices down below the decibel level of a jet engine, now with hands free technology, they can look like they're talking to themselves with their little Lieutenant Ohura communication device hanging from their ear.

Spatial Awareness Tips

1. As much as your Aunt Beulah’s goiter is interesting to you and whoever your talking to on the phone, I don’t really want to hear about it while I’m eating in a restaurant.

2. Mobile phones have become commonplace enough now that you don’t have to tell people where you are. “I’m in the store! I SAID I’m IN the STORE! I’m in the…YEAH! THE STORE! With my CELL PHONE. No, I’m not selling my phone! It’s my…”

3. If you wonder if your phone call is annoying those around you…it is.

4. A call on your phone is not an excuse to stop driving, wander aimlessly, hold up lines, or other random acts of Spatial ineptitude. If you’re like me, and you can’t do two things at once, pull over, step aside, go outside, or call them back later.

My brain is racing with more examples that I run into each day (literally), but that will have to wait for another time. I need to take this call… “Hello? I’m on my laptop. LAPtop! Yeah, I’m sitting in traffic….SITTING at a STOPLIGHT! I’m…I’m…what?”

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

wow! your support is amazing!

Many of you have emailed me asking how you can support Courtney and Hillary for their mission trips this summer, so I thought I'd post it here.

If you'd like to help Courtney for her work in India, first read the letter that she sent out describing her trip. Then you can click here, print out the response card, and send it in with your donation.

If you'd like to help with Hillary's work in Uganda, you can learn more about her summer in Uganda by watching her video. This is the response card that came with the video. If you feel like giving, just print it out and send it with your donation.

Our family would like to thank you so much for the amazing support you've given the girls thus far. Several of you have said things like, "I'm not really someone who would feel comfortable traveling to third world countries, but I'd love to help someone who is willing to go." Your sacrificial giving truly humbles us and reaches way beyond what we could ever do on our own. Thank you so much!

Monday, May 14, 2007

greetings from uganda! the first days...

Hey everyone!

I arrived in Uganda safely on Thursday morning. We haven’t done very much so far….this group has mostly just been playing four square and soccer. But since this is my third time here, I get to do way more fun stuff!! I got to see the choir practice on Friday!! It was amazing! They have so many new songs that I just can’t wait for everyone to hear when they come to the US!! It’s kind of tough since I am in charge of a lot more on this trip, but I like the challenge. It’s been fun! Especially since we haven’t been doing much, it gives me something to keep busy for the time being. It could possibly be an overload once we get things rolling, but that’s alright.

Yesterday we bought the medicine for Lugazi (the first village that we are going to for the medical clinic) And today we have just been at church. And it really has been all day- like 10 to 3!! Haha

In Uganda they have a whole different time system. When they say they will be here at 9, then it is most likely 10:30-11. I joke with them about this and they don’t think it’s that extreme…but it is. They just can’t face the facts. It’s kind of funny because I am used to it and I don’t care at all, unless it gets in the way of me getting to see my kids, but the team I came with are still trying to get used to it.

At church today, we taught Sunday school. And I got to see the kids that we sponsor!! It was so much fun!! Grandma, Peter was so proud of that Bible that you sent him! He keeps it in it’s box when he isn’t using it so that it won’t get ruined! It’s so cute!! And I was so excited to see Yvonne and Julius today!! I’m so glad that I’m going to be here for about four months because I don’t think I’ll be able to leave them so soon!

Tomorrow we are leaving for Kenya for a week. I keep telling myself that I know I’ll love it there….it’s just a long time to be leaving Uganda. But I know I will love it there anyway, it wll be a whole new experience….so I’m looking forward to leaving bright and early tomorrow. Or else maybe late afternoon…

I know you probably are wanting an “I miss you sooo much!” well…that’s not exactly going to happen…I DO miss you all so much but I love being here too much that there is no room for homesickness!

I love you all!
Mom, I hope you had a happy mother’s day without me!

Julius, Yvonne, and me

Aww, my little boy, Bruno

Julius and Tony

Matsiko Choir...coming to the U.S. next year!

Yvone and Timothy dancing

Peter, Vivian and Mable

Saturday, May 12, 2007

i'm going to india!!

Photo of our India team from GFU. I'm in the upper right

Namaste! ("I see God in you") I can't believe it...I'll be leaving for India in exactly one month from today! This year has been a crazy adventure. Last summer I heard about happy home for the handicapped in Shimoga, India, and wanted to take the first plane out to visit them. God had a different plan for me, however. I ended up applying for a George Fox University "serve trip" to Kolkata, India (Calcutta). 14 students were accepted and I'm so thrilled to be a part of this team (pictured above). This semester we have been busy raising financial support and meeting weekly to start preparing for what we will we be doing in India. This whole experience is so new to me, as I have never even traveled out of the country! I'm so excited to be given the opportunity to go to India:) I love my team and I can't wait to see how God will work through us in this poor country, and how our lives will be changed from this experience! I'll keep you posted as much as I can.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

a safe landing

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The team took off on Tuesday evening from Seattle. Apparently there were some rule changes with what they are allowed on the plane, so they had to frantically repack some things to make it all work out. The team is not only taking their own items, but are taking packages for ICN as well. Hillary packed two FULL suitcases, most of which is stuff she's going to leave there when she comes home. Clothes she's going to wear while she's there, but leave for the teachers when she returns. Books, clothes, and coloring books that she found at garage sales, etc. She had to leave some of it behind, but we'll take it with us when we go later in the summer.

I haven't heard from Hillary, but her flight reached its destination and I assume she was on it. I don't think there are two many things in this world capable of keeping her off that plane. Now, getting her on the plane coming back? That's another story...

I thought you might be interested in Hillary's itinerary for her first month in Uganda. The schedule may change, but here's what she and the Corban College Team have planned:

May 10th: Arrive in Uganda. Meeting with the team and setting up.

May 11th: Kenya Embassy for VISA and US Embassy to check in.

May 12th: Get Medical Supplies and break out all of the gifts, items and equipment for the various outreaches.

May 13th: Attend church in Kampala

May 14th – 21st: Trip into Kenya

May 21st: Arrive back in Uganda

May 22nd: Travel to Hotel and set up

May 23rd: Medical clinic at first village

May 24th: Sponsorship team & Vacation Bible School at 1st Village

May 25th: Medical clinic at 2nd village

May 26th: Sponsorship team & Vacation Bible School at 2nd Village

May 27th: Medical clinic at 3rd village

May 28th: Sponsorship team & Vacation Bible School at 3rd Village

May 29th: Depart to Kampala / Laundry and rest day

May 30th: African Village Shopping / Visit Kabaka's palace

May 31st: Visit the source of the Nile and the falls

June 1st: Lusaka School visit for Sponsorship updates, pictures and Pen Pal information for next year

June 2nd: Day with the Choir: practice and performance

June 3rd: Church and Corban Team farewell in Kampala

June 4th: Corban Team Departs for home. Hillary stays for 3 more months.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

hillary packs up for uganda

We decided to set up our own blog because our family will be traveling on various adventures this year. This is a photo of Hillary when she was in Uganda last summer with Yvonne, one of the children she sponsors. She's spending the whole summer there this year and will be updating us on what she's doing. We'll really miss her, but she'll be doing a lot of great work with the kids there. If you'd like to learn more about International Children's Network or supporting a child, go to www.icnchildren.net

Chances are, you're here because you already support Hillary in her work, but if you'd like to be given that opportunity, we invite you to watch the following video:

If you're interested in getting involved Click Here, print out the form that came with the video and send it with your donation.

Uganda Photos (click on photo to change)

welcome to our blog!

We're not exactly sure what we'll be writing about, but we're sure it will be interesting... TO US!

Our newest posts will always be located at the top of the "Table of Contents" to the right, but you can also find posts by topic in the section below it.

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Just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of the post you'd like to respond to, and follow the directions.

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the latest on the sells

As of May 27, 2009...

Wow, it's been almost a year since we've updated this. Our family had a wonderful experience traveling to Uganda two summers ago, which prompted us to keep a journal on this blog. You can read our daily journal from our month long trip

This year brings new adventures. Our eldest daughter, Courtney, after graduating from George Fox University with honors, left for her third trip to India to spend nearly a YEAR to work at Happy Home for the Handicapped in Shimoga, India. You can read about her first trip to India and the impact it had on her life here. She'll also give us new updates from her current trip on this site (here). As of this writing, she is just starting to settle in and is very excited to be there. She has been looking forward to this for a long time!

Meanwhile, Hillary spent all of last year
touring the western U.S. with Matsiko, the choir of children we grew to love as our own in Uganda. She journalled about her experiences in Uganda if you'd like to see what that was like. At some point during this tour, she felt led to join the U.S. Army. Quite a big decision, and one she didn't take lightly. After moving through Basic Training with flying colors, she is now at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio training to become a combat medic. It's a very intense training, but we're sure she'll do well. Our whole family was able to travel to South Carolina to watch her graduate from Basic Training. What an awe inspiring experience!

Leslie is having a great year of teaching 5th graders. She's also in a Master's program, which takes a good chunk of her time. She's still finds time to read a TON of books. Literally, a ton!

Curt was overwhelmed by his experience as a first time overseas traveler and kept up his journal here (you can also read his random posts on everyday life here). The busyness of life and keeping track of his traveling kids has slowed down his writing, but he hopes to begin writing on a regular basis again soon.