Monday, March 01, 2010

Book Review-Scared:A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis

Scared is the story of Adanna, a young girl living in Swaziland, just northeast of South Africa. It tells of her and her young siblings life growing up in an AIDS infected and poverty stricken land. A land where men aren't around to support their families because they have died or are working in the mines. A place where the men that are left think it is ok to use little girls to satisfy their urges. A place where death and sickness are so prevalent there is no family unaffected.

It also tells the story of a young international photographer, Stuart. A man on a mission, to get the perfect picture and save his career. A man who arrives in Swaziland to do one thing but leaves a changed man after living the life with the people.

The book, written by Tom Davis, a man who has obviously spent much time in Africa due to his incredibly detailed depictions of Africa, is an incredibly difficult read. Although the book is fiction, it accurately depicts the plight of the widows and orphans of many parts of Africa. I dare you to read it! You will not be unchanged.

You can even read it free here at the time of this post. It is downloadable to your Kindle, IPhone or computer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm blogging!

Summer activities
Valleyfair
The 4th of July
Our 22nd Wedding Anniversary
Jeff Streucker speaking at our church(Black Hawk Down veteran)
Tornado in Spicer
Sonshine Festival

There. I just blogged about some of the things I've had on my mind the past few weeks but haven't had a chance to post yet. Our family is gearing up for Sonshine Festival this weekend. Everyone is pretty excited. The stores and restaurants in Willmar are already very busy, only to get worse. The city of Willmar, with a population of approximately 18,000 has around 21,000 guests attend the festival each year.

Seriously though, I will be back in the near future to get some of these posts and their photos posted.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just for fun-Snowball the Dancing Parrot

Many of you know that we have an Amazon Blue Fronted Parrot. Chester is 6 years old now and we got him as a baby. He's a member of our family and is quite talented. He says several phrases, can sound like a chicken, laugh, wolf whistle and more. He likes to "dance" by bouncing his body up and down, however, Chester is nowhere near as talented as this bird. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tanzania Trip-May 2009-Part 3

Friday May 22nd
Today Pastor Richard, Wayne, Shannon and myself made one more trip across the channel on the ferry and back. We traveled out to Kamanga village to take some pictures and video of children in the area. The purpose was to help with fundraising as end Time Glory begins to move into the process of raising the money that is needed to begin construction of Phase 1. In Tanzania, especially in the poorer areas and small villages there are a great many who do not want their photos taken. They believe we are taking the photos with an intention to sell them and make money off of them. Having Pastor Richard with us was a great help as he was able to explain to the villagers what our intentions were. We also walked out to visit the village chairman who has been a great help in gaining the villagers support of our project. While there, a woman, maybe his wife, brought out a large feed sack full of vegetables she had harvested from the ministry property. There was maize, sweet potatoes and some kind of nut grown underground. We brought the harvest back to Mwanza where Gertrude prepared the different items for us to try. That evening, at Pastor Richard and Gertrude's home, in addition to the meal, we had maize. The maize is prepared either by boiling it or by grilling it. Boiling softens it some but leaves it quite chewy and it tastes nothing like sweet corn here. Grilling it leaves the kernels quite crunchy and I didn't prefer it but was able to eat it. The sweet potatoes were yummy and like nothing I've ever had here. They looked like a regular white potato looks here and are prepared by boiling. We ate them with butter but they tasted like we had also sprinkled sugar on them. The nuts, that Pastor Richard could not come up with an English word for and none of us recognized, were also prepared by boiling. Then we peeled the shell off and popped them in our mouths. They tasted a bit like a regular potato to me and it seems like they eat them like popcorn over there. Gertrude is a great cook and meals in her home are always a treat.

Saturday May 23rd
Today was the day of the big presentation given by the Engineering Ministries International team members to End Time Glory Ministries representatives. We all arrived upstairs in the hotel just before 10. In attendance were Wayne and Debra, Pastor Richard and Gertrude and Shannon and myself. Though we had electricity all morning at about 9 it went out. We had to wait for the hotel management to go get fuel to start up the generator since the team uses projectors and other electrically powered helps for the presentation. Just as we were all getting a bit impatient and ready to try to do the presentation with all of us crowded around a computer screen, the generator started and the power came on. The presentation was amazing. Each team member stood up and shared their portion of the plan. The surveyors, after spending three grueling days on the property in the heat, rain and sun had surveyed the entire 22 acres. The water engineers had tested several currently used wells in the area, done drainage testing on the property to see how fast wastewater drains away and made reccomendations based on their findings. The architects and designers had made to scale drawings of the plans for the property and each individual building as well as a site overview. Members of the team had gone into the community and priced construction materials in order to give the ministry an idea of the costs to build. Several on the End Time Glory team had tears in our eyes as we watched our dream come to life on paper. There is no way that we can thank EMI enough for accepting the project. It is estimated that the cost to hire professionals, rather than have volunteering professionals as we did, would be in the $80-100,000 range.

We spent some time this afternoon packing our suitcase and getting ready for the return home. This evening, while checking our email, on the now working hotel internet, we discovered that the 22 year old son of our neighbors back home was killed in a motorcycle accident yesterday. Dustin had babysat for us for a couple of years in his teens. I grieve for his parents, Jodi and Denise, and his only sibling, Jacinda as they go through this time. Jacinda graduated high school the same day Dustin died. He left behind a nearly 1 year old son.

Sunday May 24th
Today is church day! We were brought to Pastor Richard's church at around 10AM and arrived as praise and worship was starting. We were warmly welcomed at the door and ushered to the front row of chairs. Praise and worship in Tanzania is truly exhilerating. There are no inhibitions. There is dancing and singing and raising of hands. Clapping, yelling and children all around. Although we could not understand much of the lyrics we knew that this church loves God. Rev. Debra gave the sermon and later Wayne, Debra, Shannon and I prayed over those who came forward. I prayed using a young woman of the congregation as my interpreter for several young men preparing for school exams as well as for a young child fighting malaria and kidney problems. I know that I was blessed by the prayer time far more than they and I wept during my time praying over the child. After a three hour service we were ushered back to the hotel for the afternoon and then to Pastor Richard and Gertrude's for supper and fellowship with friends and family of Pastor Richard and Gertrude.

Monday May 25th-Tuesday May 26th
Today was the beginning of the day that never ends. It began with a cab ride to the Mwanza airport several miles from town. Saying good bye to all there at the airport was difficult. These people have become more than friends to us. They are an extended family and it breaks our heart to say farewell. We weren't just leaving the people but we were also leaving the culture we have grown to love. As the plane left the runway from Mwanza I pressed my face against the window and sobbed, so sorry to leave and already anxious to get back. An hour later we arrived at Kilimanjaro airport where we waited around for 8? hours for our flight out. At around 10pm our flight left 'Jaro to go to Dar Es Salaam and continue on to Amsterdam. A few hours in Amsterdam to shop and wander and stretch our legs and then yet another 10 hour flight but this time arriving in Minneapolis. We were through customs within a few minutes but spent quite awhile waiting on our luggage. Bill and Nancy Allen picked us up in their huge van. We stopped for lunch at a McDonalds then arrived back home around 6pm.

Everyone was pretty happy to see us. The kids were all back home from their different locations and after getting everyone settled for the night, we too, collapsed into our bed. Our Select Comfort mattress felt pretty good after nearly 46 hours in transit.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tanzania trip-May 2009-Post 2

Pictures will be added later

Tuesday May 19th
Today was a bit more laid back. Since we had all been to the property yesterday and the vision of End Time Glory Ministries was shared, now the EMI team could get busy. A couple of the members went back out to the property with two of Pastor Richard's nephews, Alex and Dominic, to begin topographical surveying of the property. That ended up being a three day job by the time they finished. Other team members spent the next several days designing buildings on paper, pricing construction materials in the city, checking building codes, doing water testing and drilling on the property and near it. While the EMI team worked, Wayne, Debra Shannon and I did get a chance to go with Pastor Richard and his wife Gertrude into the city. I personally wanted to go to check out some American grocery stores in town to see what kinds of things are available and for what price. The things that can be bought there look like they run about three times the cost of what they can be bought for back in the US. It is obvious to me that our eating habits will change dramatically once we move but that there are some things we will still buy as comfort foods for the times we need to get over a hump when we are missing "home." Unfortunately, I didn't see any Velveeta cheese anywhere, LOL. We also visited a market where I was able to buy some authentic African fabric. I paid about $1US per yard for gorgeous thick African prints. We also shopped at a couple of the clothing stores Gertrude likes to buy her dresses at. I was a bit bothered by the fact that when I saw a dress that would have fit Star in one of the shops, I had Pastor Richard ask about the price for me. Things are not marked over there. Everything is bargained for. It was a dress I would pay , maybe $15 at Target in the US. The shop owner told Pastor Richard the equivilent of $45US. Pastor Richard explained to me that it was because I was a "mzungu" and that Gertrude could probably get it much cheaper. Although I knew this happens over there, it still frustrates me that we are thought to be rich because we are white. In reality, we are very rich compared to the vast majority of the world but that does not mean we are all stupid or foolish in our spending. I am still very frugal and careful in how I spend my money. I guess this is a simple fact of the African culture I will need to get used to but honestly, can you imagine, if you walked into a Target and they charged white people $20 for something they would charge an African American $40? It just couldn't and wouldn't happen. I didn't buy the dress. Sigh...

Wednesday May 20th
Not a lot happened for Shannon and I today. I know that Wayne and Debra have been meeting off and on pretty much every day with different members of the EMI team. We have seen some preliminary drawings of the layout of the different facilities on the land as well as the building lay outs. It is very exciting to see this coming together. I the hotel, sometimes we have electricity but not always, the water has been on and off due to construction on the new portion of the hotel going on next door and the internet hasn't been working.

Since it has been very difficult to get online here at the hotel all week, Shannon and I did get to the internet cafe this afternoon. We were dropped of fat the place in the van with Pastor Richard as our guide. He then took us inside and introduced us to his nephew Gideon who was working there. We spent a half an hour on the internet and paid the equivilent of .80US for the privilege. It was similar to slow dial up here in the US so we couldn't do much more than check our emails and quickly send one off. After we finished, Shannon and I walked the aproximately half mile back to the hotel by ourselves. There was no shortage of taxi drivers stopping to offer us a ride. I once read a book titled, White Man Walking. It was written by a missionary who traveled through the African Bush by foot. The African people he ministered to were always amazed to see him arrive on foot since , in most situations, white men don't walk. Shannon and I enjoyed the walk but got a lot of stares on the way.

WE joined the Zimmer's at Pastor Richard and Gertrude's for coffee this evening. It was nice to see their two boys Ben(15) and Sharon(11) as well as their new baby daughter Darlene. Darlene is 7 months old and is the daughter to Gertrude's sister. Gertrude's sister, a single mom, has decided to allow Pastor Richard and Gertrude to adopt Darlene. It is obvious to all that Darlene is very loved and will be in capable hands with Pastor Richard, Gertrude and the boys. Darlene had never before seen a mzungu and so we were unable to hold her. We sat near her and allowed her to reach out to us but did not force anything. She will have many opportunities in the future to get used to our strange looks. We also saw several others of Pastor Richard's family who stopped by to say hello and it was great to renew friendships.

Thursday May 21st
Pastor Richard, Wayne, Shannon, myself and Megan from the EMI team went back out to the property today. We wanted to walk the land again and see how wet the lowlands are and whether they can be built on or not. While we were there we saw the surveyors and Dominic and Alex, still hard at work on their topographical mapping. We also had the opportunity to further discuss the adjoining property to purchase and to meet a woman who lives on a portion of it. She is willing to sell her small bit which would fall right in the middle of the land with some stipulations which were all reasonable as far as I was able to understand.

As we walked back through the village on our way back to the ferry, the school children were just getting out of school. We were followed by quite a few and we heard some English They asked us to take their pictures, they asked if we liked Barak Obama and others, just stood off to the side saying, "Ona(Look), Mzungu(white person)." I tried to greet the children with a wave of my hand or a Jambo(Hello) but we were in a hurry to meet the ferry so didn't take a lot of time.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

End Time Glory Ministries meets Engineering Ministries International-Tanzania trip 2009-Post 1

More pictures will be added to this post later. I'm having some camera problems. Check back.
Friday May 15th and Saturday May 16th
Shannon and I got each of the 5 children off to their places for the day. Only Molly and Evan will be together most of the next 12 days while the others stay with friends or the best places for them. My(Christine's) stomach was a bit upset. I thought it was because we were both leaving all of the kids for so long but found out later it was due to the anti-malarial drugs we are on. We arrived at Wayne and Debra's to load our luggage into Bill and Nancy Allen's spacious conversion van. We would come to appreciate that spaciousness even more on the trip home after being in tight planes for days. The Allen's are an incredible blessing to
End Time Glory Ministries. They have servant hearts and are always looking for a way to help. They took the day off of their jobs to bring the 4 of us to the airport.

At the airport we went through security. That's always fun as we remove shoes and wait while Shannon's CPAP machine is inspected quite carefully. Over the next week and a half we would find the experience repeated many times. Next, Wayne, Debra, Shannon and I decided to have our last meal of American food before boarding our plane. The guys chose Burger King while Debra and I each had a philly sandwich.

The flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam was an uneventful 9 hours. Even though I had brought several books along on the trip, I found myself watching movies on the individual screen. Evan though I knew the children would be disappointed, I took the time to watch the animated film Escape to Madagascar 2. It was funny.

In Amsterdam we had several hours before our next flight. We laid down on some lounge chairs they have in certain areas of the airport and brushed our teeth. After boarding our plane in Amsterdam we spent two hours sitting on the tarmac while an engine that wouldn't start up was fixed or replaced. It was beginning to get a bit warm and stuffy by the time this was completed and we hoped the fix was a good one since we were to be at 31,000 feet and 600 MPH.

8 hours later we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport. Located near Mount Kilimanjaro, the airport is quite a bit different than we had previously been in. Unfortunately, arrival there was after dark. We got through customs, gathered our luggage and proceeded to a van that would take us 2 km to our hotel for the night.

Arrival at the KIA Lodge was interesting. We arrived with a group of about 10 others who were going to be going on a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in the morning. The lodge is made up of beautiful gardens with two room huts scattered throughout the property. The footpaths leading to the huts take one through the beautiful gardens. Arriving after dark we couldn't see what was awaiting us in the morning as we were led by the hired Masaai men who escorted us to our homes for the night.
(We have now moved 8 hours ahead on the clock due to the time change.)

Sunday May 17th
The next morning we woke up to the strange sounds of the native bird population. We ate breakfast then returned to the airport for our flight to Mwanza. After only one hour in the air we arrived at the Mwanza airport to be greeted by Pastor Richard Nzwalla and his wife Gertrude. Both Shannon and I felt happy to be there as we have such a love for the area. As I wrote in our first email home, Shannon and I are truly amazed at the love God has given us for the people and culture of Tanzania. For us to both feel it so strongly truly seems to be a God thing.

We arrived at the Monarch Hotel, happy to be at what would be our home for the next 9 days. Wayne, Debra, Shannon and I had supper and right as we were finishing the Engineering Ministries International team arrived. There were 8 of them and they were exhausted after a 16 hour drive over very rough roads from Uganda. We said quick greetings to them and made plans to meet them officially in the morning.

Monday May 18th
This morning after breakfast Wayne, Debra, Shannon and I met with the EMI team where we did formal introductions of all 12 of us then Debra shared the vision that End Time Glory has for the property. An orphanage made up of home like settings rather than institutional, medical clinic, church, school, bible school Christian radio station...the vision is big but God is bigger. Then we all traveled by ferry to the property. This was a process as we waited for vehicles to load, then people packed in between them with no seating on this trip though the other ferry has some seating. It is 30 minutes across the channel of Lake Victoria over to the village of Kamanga. Then 15 of us piled into an 8 passenger 4 wheel drive vehicle to go to the property. The first couple hundred feet on the main road was good but then we turned off onto what looked like no more than a rutted foot path. The driver got hung up on big rocks just trying to enter the path and it wasn't better from there. The ruts in the road ran between the tires and were often several feet deep. In places the van leaned dangerously to one side or the other and there was some nervous laughter emitted from some of the passengers. It was determined after this trip to the property that future trips would be made on foot.

The 22 acres of property that is currently owned by End Time Glory Ministries was more beautiful than we could have imagined. It was previously farmed but is currently mostly covered in tall grasses. There are two hills on the property, one which Debra has dubbed Glory Mountain. These hills make designing tricky but will end up making great dividers for the different portions of the ministry. The purchase of another 12 acres adjoining the land is already in process. From the top of Glory Mountain can be had the most incredible view of the southern shores of Lake Victoria.
After a couple of hours walking the property and visualizing it, we all made our way back to the ferry. On the ferry Pastor Richard pointed out the property as we could see it from there. Some enjoyed the view, some rested and some just visited. We returned to the hotel to order lunch/supper then met upstairs with the EMI team to further discuss ministry issues. This was the opportunity where the EMI team threw out questions of Wayne and Debra about how they wanted things built, what types of facilities and helped to decide how to put together the seperate building phases. As we discussed toilets versus squatty potties Pastor Richard joined us. We all laughed as Brad, the EMI team leader expressed his happiness that Pastor Richard was joining us as we were "just a bunch of Mzungus(white people) trying to decide what Tanzanians would want."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Holy Ambition by Chip Ingram

This morning as I was doing my mail route a program came on the local Christian radio station called Living On The Edge. Chip Ingram is the preacher and today's message was a good one, especially for me, right now, as Shannon and I prepare to leave for Tanzania in a couple of days.

The message was titled Holy Ambition. Although I didn't hear all of it I want to share with you a few things I heard him say that caught my attention.

God has created, in each one of us a hunger for a particular ministry. What that means is inside of each of us is a magnet that draws us to a particular need. For one it may be Chinese orphans, for another it may be teen moms, for another it may be African Civil War refugees and for yet another it may be the starving people of Haiti. Chip said that most likely, as we listened to his message a particular thing came to mind. It is often something that makes our heart beat a little faster and the butterflies in our stomach increase. You might have that vision as you read this.

For Shannon and I, our hearts beat faster for the orphans and widows of Tanzania. The thought of hungry, homeless children, with no adults to hug them to sleep at night breaks my heart. Widows, mainly due to AIDs who have young children but can't afford food for them because they can't get a job because the children are too young to be alone. Or widows who do choose to go to work, knowing that leaving the 5 year old home to raise his two younger siblings is better than watching her children starve to death.

When I look back, I remember, even as a young child, being drawn to these people as I would watch television infomercials of young malnourished Ethiopian children with flies on their faces while an unseen announcer tried to convince me to send in my money to help. I wanted to help too, but found the idea impossible with a $3 or $4 per week allowance. It seemed like the cost of monthly sponsorship was always just out of my reach to do alone. By the time I was a teen and had some money, I was going through the selfish stage of thinking my money was better spent on the newest record album rather than a starving face I'd never see again.

Now...well, now I've grown up. In my middle age I have finally found my focus. It is such an amazing thing. Shannon has described it to others as follows. He says he used to just go through the day to day of life, kind of wondering why he was here and what he was supposed to be doing. You know, that feeling of, is this all there is? Don't get me wrong, life was good, we were Christians, but something was just... missing. After Shannon and I separately, but at about the same time, finally realized our calling, it all just made sense to him. Life seemed to be more worth living. He had a purpose.

Chip Ingram did say, that when you realize your vision, your calling, it may not mean you are supposed to sell everything and move to another nation. It may not mean you are to quit your job to go work at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center but it may mean that you are to pray, that you are to financially support others who are doing the work, or that you are to do some volunteering.

What makes your heart beat a little faster? What makes you get butterflies? What are you thinking about right now as you read this? Pursue that dream. It is God who placed it within you. Turn it into a Holy Ambition.

To listen to the full broadcast of Chip Ingram's message go to the Living on the Edge website and click on listen online. You are wanting to listen to the Holy Ambition broadcasts.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

We want to wish all of the moms out there a happy day.
And don't forget to visit or phone your Mom as well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Food" for thought-Chicken Ala Carte


As Shannon and I prepare to leave for Tanzania in the next couple of weeks I am reminded of the street children over there who don't eat even this well. In His name, I hope to be just a small part of the solution soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting the toothpaste back in the tube


The past couple of days for our homeschooling science/bible adventures we have been talking about the tongue. The tongue is one of the most powerful muscles in our bodies. What I mean by that is that with the words spoken by a tongue, wars can be started...or ended, emotions can be damaged, self esteem can be ruined, dreams can be crushed and it goes on and on.

We tried a couple of things. One experiment we tried was to each brush our teeth well, with a toothpaste that contains sodium laurel sulfate. Then take a quick swig of orange juice. We discovered that two people in our family have the gene that is more sensitive to detecting bitterness than the others. Everyone in the family except Evan and I said, "Tastes like orange juice after brushing your teeth," while Evan and I were spitting and sputtering over the bitter taste in our mouths.

I also had the kids each take a travel sized toothpaste tube and squeeze it out onto a plate. Then I told them I'd give $10 to the first person to get all of the toothpaste back in the tube. I could see right away that Evan might be able to do a pretty good job of it so I added a time limit of 2 minutes as well. The girls had paste toothpaste while Evan had the gel. It was what I had on hand. Evan immediately blew on the end of the tube and started dribbling the gel back in the tube. He did a pretty good job, but not within the 2 minutes and he never did get it ALL back in there.

We talked about how our words are like that. Once we speak them we can't take them back. We can apologize and try to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but when it is all over there is still a mess left behind. I hope my children got the lesson. I know it sure hit me between the eyes. Maybe someday when I grow up I will be better about keeping my mouth shut when I should too.

"So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire." James 3:5

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My favorite day of the year is here!



I am looking forward to two services of church in the choir then visiting with extended family in the afternoon. Happy Easter everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Watch Out! Collin has a drivers license now.

Today Collin took his behind the wheel test for his driver's license. He passed. Shannon and I are more thrilled than he is as we are tired of playing taxi. What a perfect week for him to get it. He is on spring break and working full time. Now he can drive himself. The nice thing is, the neighbor also works at the same place during the same hours. The boys are already smart and trying to save gas by taking turns driving and carpooling each day.

Stay off the roads...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Both of us are going...and check this out!

It has been decided that both Shannon and I will be making this trip to Tanzania in May. It is so important for both of us to be there, if possible as there will be so many important decisions being made. I never thought Shannon and I could pull together child care for 5 children for us to do something like this but God pulled it together. In just a few hours, care was arranged for everyone. We still have some finalizing of those plans to make but friends and relatives have stepped up to help us make this happen.

Also, Engineering Ministries International, East Africa branch is who will be working with us to do the engineering and design. Check out their website but make sure you also check out the specific page relating to our project. It is so incredibly exciting for us to see this in print online!

Please pray for us as the details come together. Prayer for our children to have a peace as we prepare and while we are gone, prayer for the entire design team to pull togethter as needed and prayer for finances. This trip is going to be around $5000 total now that we are both going.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Superstar

Brag time for momma..if you don't like it you can skip this post.
Collin is in the school play tonight, You Can't Take It With You. He is playing Martin VanDerHoff, the grandfather and owner of the home the family, including grandchildren, live in. He has a bunch of lines and we are hoping he can pull it off. The only other acting he has done is a few lines here and there in church children's plays and once in the Night of Music he had two lines so this has been a pretty big challenge. Here is a photo of him with one of the girls at their final rehearsal yesterday. . West Central Tribune Photo by Gary Miller