Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do you guys believe in Lions?

We sure had a blast hanging out with John's folks, Dave and Janet Niemeyer, during their recent visit here to Uganda. The Niemeyers were kind enough to let me tag along on their adventures, which included an amazing safari through Murchison Falls National Park. It was absolutely gorgeous as we made our way though mud, muck, sand, grasslands, and bogs... and we were fortunate enough to see giraffe, warthogs, gazelle, monkeys, water buffalo, countless birds, and even a leopard and lion. The Niemeyers shot the following pictures from our Land Cruiser (in addition to that picture of the lion, which was resting after having killed a gazelle that we saw nearby):

I'm heading back up to Gulu tomorrow on my (Shane's really) recently fixed Honda XLR200. Just a small tweak to the fuel/air mixture in the carburetor and she'll be good to go...

It'll be nice to have wheels again around Gulu. The wells in Attiak were completed successfully, so we'll be scouting out the next project to complete before Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, we've been trying to play as much Christmas music as possible to get in the spirit! (Otherwise, with the weather we have around here, you'd never know it's mid December!)

Much love from Uganda~


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drilling wells in Attiak

I'm writing to you from a closet, plugged into solar power at the Catholic Mission in Attiak, Uganda. Restore Water team (comprised of 6 students and a teacher) and I are here, in hot, dusty Attiak near the border with Sudan, drilling wells for Sister Rosemary. She's one of the most amazing people I've had the honor of knowing. (Click on her name to see a deeply moving CNN's Heroes video of her story). She's been a wonderful friend to John and I, and we live just down the road from her tailoring center that can be seen in the video.

Water4, (you should click on the video at that link) another incredible organization working to improve access to clean water around the world, came to Gulu in May last year with Adrian Peterson, Tommy Harris, Mark Clayton, Roy Williams, and friends with Pros for Africa. Water4 taught us a new system of inexpensively drilling wells, drilled the first well on our new land for Restore Academy, and donated a complete set of tools which we are continuing to use to bring clean water to friends and the local community.

The Pros also held a sports clinic with the students of Restore Academy, a day they won't soon forget! We joined the Pros, Water4, and Sister Rosemary for many of these joint activities which occurred during their trip last year. We're blessed to have such an amazing community, and look forward to their return next March!

Back to Attiak... I'm still sweating in the closet... I learned when I was first here in 2008 that you simply have to let yourself sweat and stink. I nearly drove myself crazy with anxiety at first, as sweating in the States usually means something is wrong (either the air conditioning isn’t working, or you’re wearing too many clothes!). I’m just getting ready to head back to the well, have to bring the guys some oil for the pulleys, but I wanted to pass along a little piece I wrote this morning:

The dust billowed forth as the pickup jostled along the potholed road to Attiak yesterday, pipes and poles bouncing along, red marking rag flapping in the wind. The Young Men Drilling Team of Restore Water, grinning with eagerness, made their way north to strike water once more.

The journey began eight months ago, as the men from Water4 made their way to Gulu and into our lives. A promising new chapter was opened that day, in this redemptive story being lived out in Northern Uganda. Years of war and unspeakable violence have beset this land and its people for decades, and yet hope shines forth in God's providence. You can see it in their faces, hear it in the laughter of children, feel it in the cool cleansing water pouring forth from this healing land.

I awoke this morning to the glimmer of the day’s first light, and the sound of the boys rustling on their dusty clothes. Without a thought of breakfast, we made our way to the drilling site. We stomped the tall grass, offered up prayer, and turned our heads heavenward as the tripod and our hopes rose to meet God’s glowing dawn sky.

We’re at 9 feet now, and the 5” auger has been pulling up full loads of yellow-brown clay. I wish you were with us to hear the squeaking of the pulleys, the clicking of the sailing winch, the laughter of the boys as they yell out “Telu! Telu!” (Pull! Pull!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back in Uganda...


More to come soon...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Autumn Days~

The leaves are bursting with red, orange and gold, and the morning air is turning crisp~ Autumn has arrived in all its splendor, my first since 2007. It's been delightful~ bro's comforting soups, football with friends, and that faint smell of smoke in the air from wood stoves finding flame once more. The homes are warm and cozy, and the mountains resplendent in their white winter coats.

Despite the rain on Saturday morning, my Aunt Debbie and I squeezed one more riding day out of the season, as we rolled along the Sandy River Gorge up the Historic Highway to Crown Point.

I've been managing to keep pretty busy working odd jobs, enjoying the season and bouncing around with family and friends. I've also gotten to do a bit of house and dog sitting; my running buddy Lucy:

Fall in the northwest... a familiar comfort~

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wait what? A year went by?!!!

Well it's been more than a year since may last post... not that I'm a procrastinator or anything...

I've decided to begin writing again, to share some of the incredible events of the last year. The truth is I've intended to, but haven't been disciplined enough to actually sit down and's time to blog.

Thinking of walking through the events of the last year chronologically, I've decided instead to give a bit of an overview, and then just fire off posts of events as I remember them- perhaps a little life lesson here, or funny anecdote there, a story about almost being trampled by elephants in the jungle during a 4000 mile motorcycle Soul Safari... that sort of thing... so the posts may be a little sporadic and random, but hopefully organic :) Please feel free to share thoughts and comments, as the fun part's sharing the journey and reflections!

Brief Recap:

Sigh, deep breath... ready to read a novel? Me neither, so I'll keep it short... promise :) (tangent: Every time I use an emoticon I hear Lance Armstrong's voice in my head saying, "men over 30 should not use emoticons" :0

The plane lifted off in September, the warm northwest summer still aglow. A stop in Chicago to meet up with Kristen, the founder of Purse of Hope, then off to Uganda...

It's absolutely impossible to express the love, pain, joy, and redemption I experienced during the establishment of Purse of Hope in Uganda over the last year. It's really best you just check out the Purse of Hope Facebook page, where hundreds of people are cheering the girls on, offering support, and keeping up to speed with the awesome photos, videos, and news updates. You'll want to laugh, cry, and maybe even dance... :)

So let's just start with that... a beautiful story...