Saturday, May 23, 2009

2009 Africa Trip Blog

Please go to the following site for our 2009 Uganda, Africa trip

Monday, July 7, 2008

So, was it life changing...

I have been asked this a couple times, was it life changing? I would have to say, “Yes, it was life changing”. How? Well, I am still working through that question so I am going to start typing and see what comes out of it. I was very impacted by this trip on a number of levels and I am still sorting through it all in my mind to try to process everything that we experienced on this trip.

I saw God every day of this trip in all different ways.

I saw God in the hearts, eyes, actions, laughter, and tears of my fellow teammates (team two was amazing).

I saw God in the people of Uganda that materially had so little, though relationally had so much.

I saw God in hearts of those in Uganda that were serving us (the guards, the cooks, the bus driver).

I saw God in the outpouring of love of the local GFR staff there in Uganda who love the people there so much and give so much to see them get the needed help.

I saw God in my son Luke, playing with the children there in Africa and building relationships with them.

I saw God in the smiles of children.

I saw God in the tears of children.

I saw God in the widows that hugged us.

I saw God in a man with AIDS that hugged us.

I saw God in us hugging that man back.

I don’t think I have ever felt and experienced God like I did on this trip. Being a part of this trip allowed me to experience the heart of God that I had not experienced before.

Throughout this entire trip, I saw and experienced Christ’s love more than I have ever before. I saw and experienced this great ability to love – unconditionally. I saw and experienced relationships that were truly amazing.

So for me, this trip turned out to not be as much about what we could give to the people of Uganda (though that was amazing in and of itself), or even what they could give to us (which was also amazing). For me, it was about experiencing a deeper and more personal relationship with Jesus than I have ever experienced before. It’s not about what I have done or what I can or will do; it is only and all about what Christ has done for us. He loves us so much and wants to have a personal relationship with us so much that He died on the cross for us, paying the cost of our sin so that we may have an eternal relationship with Him. That is true love. That is an unbelievable relationship.

This is what I experienced in Uganda – the Love of Christ – a relationship with Christ. What an amazing gift that is to have received. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Pictures...

For more pictures, see the links on the left under the heading 'More Pictures'. Also each blog is in date order (newest to oldest) so if you are viewing this blog for the first time, you may want to start from the bottom up to progress through the blogs as we experienced Uganda, Africa.

Monday, June 30, 2008

We are back in Naperville

Just wanted to post one last blog to let you know that Luke and I made it back safe and sound today. It was great seeing Joanne and Wyatt!!!!

Dinner of choice for Luke and I tonight - Wendy's!!!

Hope you all enjoy the pictures and stories. Be sure to check out the other team member's blogs.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Final Days

Today is our last day here - kind-of bitter sweet. We have spent the last couple days seeing some of the amazing animals and sites of Africa. Below are some of those pictures. What an amazing time we have had!!!! Thank you all for sharing it with us.

I asked Luke what one of his final thoughts were. His comment, "all the poverty; how lucky we are".

We get back to the states Monday afternoon. Look forward to seeing you all.

We love you babe and Wyatt - see you soon!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some great work done today

We primarily worked on the Pastor's house today. We also had a team working on the church doing some final painting.

Everything is very manual here. We needed to move a pile of dirt from next to the church to fill the main room of the Pastor's house so they can then pour a floor. We hoed the pile of dirt (it was pretty hard stuff), then shoveled into a wheel barrel and into small containers where a line of about 20 women would pass it hand to hand to the house to dump into the floor of the house. Crazy work - could have been done in a couple minutes with the right equipment, but a cool process to be a part of.

We also had the opportunity to help out a couple children. One mom brought her child who was sick with Malaria. The child was very hot. We gave the mom some money to take the child to the doctor and get medicine. Literally, in these types of situations, this child may have died without this help. So awesome to be here to help. Another child had some very serious issues. I won't go into the details, but it was very bad. We gave the mom some money to get her to the bigger doctors in capital of Uganda - Kampala. There were more issues than we could help, but was still great to be able to help a few and know that we were making some significant difference.

Below are some pictures from today.

If you ever hear me complain about taxes, just remind me of the Uganda roads. Can you image a 20 passenger bus driving down this road - it does. Relative to driving in Uganda, there are essentially no rules beyond biggest vehicle wins. You may pass someone whether or not there is another vehicle coming. Driving on the shoulders is the norm. Passing someone while someone else is passing you - happens often.

Luke and his friend Mike walking with some African children.

Doing some work - have the blisters to show for it now - guess my computer hands were not as tough as I thought they were.

A snap shot of some of the ladies passing the containers full of dirt hand-to-hand to the pastor's house as part of the floor/foundation.

Hey, look who showed up to help and work. Robert, the father with AIDS that our family supports came to help (see previous blog on more details about Robert and his family). If you look closely at Robert's shirt, you will see it say "Yantra", my past company. I had just brought him that shirt and others a couple days ago. Was great working side by side with him.

Luke and his friend Mike giving some soccer balls to the children at the church

This is the little child that had a bad fever and the mother said had Malaria. We gave the mom some money to get her some medicine.

Lunch being prepared - we eat a ton of fruit here. The pineapple is incredible.

Church in progress...

Some of the ladies on our team feeding the local women and children some peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches. When they got out the food, women and children just flocked around. It was pretty amazing to watch.

This was the water hole that the villager used to use to get their water. Can you image this being your primary water source?

Water wells are now up and running.

Luke carrying the water - very heavy

Here, let me show you how it's done

Look mom, no hands. This isn't so hard...

OK, I dropped it...

By the way, thank you for all the comments on the blogs. We really enjoy reading those and really appreciate the kind words and thoughts. Thank you!! Luke and Gene

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Doing some work

We went to the Namyoya church today to do some work. Basically sanding the plaster walls on the inside of the church and putting the first coat of paint on. The church is really coming together well. We will be back out there tomorrow working on it more and working on the pastor's house right next to the church.

Luke sanding

Gene doing some sanding

Group working in the church

Mixing the primer paint

They were digging a latrine behind the church. This shot shows the progress as of 30 feet down. They will go down to 50 feet.

Luke again making friends

OK, I stated in a previous post that I was out dancing as well - traditional African style of course. So for your viewing pleasure, here you go (key is high knees).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Words can't explain...

I really cannot put down into words all that Luke and I are experiencing here. We love it here. The people are so lovable. There is so much Joy and Hope even in the poverty. We will come into a village and be greeted in a way that you cannot imagine unless you experienced it directly - children smiling, screaming, jumping, dancing waving branches, women doing the same, hugging us, thanking us, just loving us in an incredible way. We have so many times found ourselves receiving gifts from them - incredible - they have nothing, but want to give us gifts, things like baskets, mats, eggs, we even got a chicken (a live one).

There is tremendous need here. Many are just in survival mode. Though what they lack in material things, they make up relationally (we in America could learn so much. So far, it has been an honor to be here. Here are just some random thoughts that I wanted to share with you all around this trip so far that have made an impact on Luke and me.

• Being here with Luke is awesome. He is such a great boy with such a great heart. He is like a magnet with these kids. They love him and he loves them. It is great just setting back at times and watching him interact and play with them.
• Just to give you a statistic, in one village we went through, the head of GFR locally (her name is Ida) said 80% of the people in that village have an immediate family member that has either died of AIDS or is dying of AIDS.
• One of the other local members of the team (Jerome) shared how touched he was with our team for loving the people with AIDS. Not being afraid to hug them and to show them we care. He shared his sister died of AIDS and a very close friend of his has AIDS.
• It was incredible meeting our sponsored family (Robert and his children). Hugging them, praying for them, helping them – just incredible.
• Children smiles – they have the most beautiful smiles.
• As we drive by in the bus, when the children see us as we are passing by, they literally start jumping up and down yelling Mzungu (which essentially means white person). They are so happy just to see us (and they don’t see a bus full of white people very much).
• Getting big bear hugs from the women of Africa.
• See the others on my team being touched by the stories of the people here.
• Being available – just being available to help, love, hug, … It is an awesome experience to be here.

I am not the best in putting thoughts and feeling down onto paper so to speak (or on computer), so check out the other blog spots for more stories, pictures, etc. that are linked off of our blog site (on the left hand side of our blog).

Also, Luke and I received African names today.

Luke's name - Onyango
Gene's name - Munange

One great boy!!!

I am so incredibly proud of Luke. He has been an inspiration to everyone on the team and just continues to make friends everywhere he goes. He loves the children here and the children just love him, and I think three of the girls today were wanting him to stay.

Here are some pictures of Luke with the children from Africa.

He is amazing!!!

Luke out dancing with some Africa children at a school during a performance (yes, I got out there as well).

Luke is giving this group of children a real football (soccer ball). They gave Luke their ball they were playing with. As you can see, they make their own balls.

Another ball for some African children - they were extremely excited to get this ball.

Luke attempts to make a homemade soccer ball for one of the children.

Luke and Dad - stopped while we were driving through a rain forest. A cool animal shot below.

How about a bananna...

Luke and some of the other team entertain the children with a puppet show.

When we step out of the bus, many times the children will run towards us and hold our hands as they take us to our destination. Luke always had kids all around him.

This little guy never left Luke's side today while we visited a pre-school.

These three girls couldn't keep their eyes off of Luke today. I asked them, do you like him, they said, "We Love him"!!