Reaching the Beach for Camp Calumet and Beyond

IMG_3741I spent Friday and Saturday (September 12-13, 2014) with about sixty people who raised over $52,000 for Camp Calumet, our ELCA outdoor ministry here in New England. The activity was a 207 mile relay race across New Hampshire called “Reach the Beach” (http://nh.rtbrelay.com).

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Mandatory Fun Van 2

We were divided into four teams of twelve runners and drivers, supported by two vans per team. I participated in a small group of seven (six runners and a driver) in team: “Mandatory Fun, Van 2.” As strangers we bonded quickly by the common cause (fundraising for camperships for kids who couldn’t afford camp otherwise), by task (running our legs and driving to get there), in outreach (we shared who we are with other teams participating in the race beyond ourselves), in partnership (Thrivent helped our entire Camp Calumet team [https://www.thrivent.com], as did all the donors who supported the runners…THANKS!) and by encouraging support and prayer for each other.

IMG_3762The faith, generosity and commitment of everyone involved in the recruiting, coordination and execution of our running teams in this race was extraordinary. I felt like I gave everything I had out there and yet came home refreshed and renewed (even with sore legs) knowing I participated in something good and helpful.

My vanmates even set up a new Facebook group on Sunday (a day after we parted ways) so we can stay connected as new friends, and we’ve kept our conversations going.  It has been fun over the last few days continuing to laugh, encourage and share this experience – well after it was over.

I got me thinking about our churches. Maybe our ministry sites struggle with using old models of structure, finding enough volunteers to keeping things running like they used to be, and asking for enough incoming dollars to keep the lights on, pay salaries and share with those outside our congregations. Maybe we can call that “decline.”

IMG_3761But I will tell you that after this weekend that I believe the church is strong and as relevant as ever – if we are willing to look in the right places for it and call on the passions of our people to do good in the world to make it a better place in Christ’s name.

 

The last runner on our team shared this experience:

IMG_3760This picture is one of my favorite! Matthew Schmidt and I met for the first time at 11 am Friday morning. We hopped in the van, we all introduce ourselves and realize that this our new RTB family until we reach Hampton Beach.  My team knew I was nervous about running in the sand. We talked about it, they gave me strategies to make it to the finish line. This is Matt giving me a big hug at Transition Area #35 and wishing me luck! He said,      ‘YOU CAN DO IT!’ - Beth Kane

This is what it looked like when she made it to the end:

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I am left pondering: HOW CAN WE DO CHURCH THIS WAY?

IMG_3733Maybe “decline” is not the right word for what we are experiencing in our churches (even in spite of the numbers). Perhaps it is a craving for a model shift, and greater impact on the world around us. I’m not suggesting we turn our churches into running clubs or cause celeb revenue generators. (Though we could learn a lot from those who do those things well).  I am interested in how we clearly articulate who we are and what the goals are, how we support and encourage one another much more intentionally than most churches do, how we partner with others to accomplish the things we do hope to do, how we connect and stay connected in our busy lives, and how we translate our faith that begins with “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:18) so “we love as he first loved us” (1 PeterIMG_3720 4:19). That way faith is not locked in a book or a building but is lived for all to see as we are transformed by the Spirit. We could use more hugs and “you can do it” moments when things get tough, and we should take more time for joyful celebrations whenever we ‘get there’ or ‘get it’ – even in small doses. Maybe we could smile, laugh and be silly a little more than we normally do too. I think our communities and our congregations would be stronger for it.  What about you?

For now, I’m going to start training for Reach the Beach 2015.

Meet our Mandatory Fun Van 2 team:

Heidi Richard

Heidi Richard

Bill Smith

Bill Smith

 

 

 

Pastor Steven Wilco

Pastor Steven Wilco

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Me (at the beach!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Schmidt

Matt Schmidt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Kane

Beth Kane

 

Julie Anderson Beal - our awesome driver!

Julie Anderson Beal –                    our awesome driver!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more pics and stories from the rest of our Camp Calumet teams on our RTB Bring it! FB page here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/292008924319067/306510522868907/?notif_t=like

You can still help send kids to camp next summer                                                          by visiting my fundraising page:

https://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=331562

Here were my legs of the race:

Leg 1:

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Leg 2:

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Leg 3:

IMG_3730IMG_3772IMG_3734I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”       (1 Timothy 4:7)

 

 

Go in peace. Make peace wherever you go. -PGS

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Posted in Camp / Outdoor Ministry, Church & Mission, Thinking About Church Differently | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

“Forgiveness is an unforgiving business” a sermon on Matt 18:21-35

justice.scale.tipped.9/14/2014
sermon on Matt 18:21-35
“Forgiveness is an unforgiving business”

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church
New Canaan, CT

Posted in on Gospel of Matthew, Sermons | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Uganda Journal 2014, Part IV

Along with 26 other pilgrims I went to Uganda July 15-29, 2014. These were my daily reflections:

25 July – God’s Work, Our Hands

Working together with Father Belden

Working together with Father Belden

We had an awesome work day (especially since my arm was feeling better). Our primary job was hauling dirt in large bags from a pile, into a retaining wall. Some in our number dug with hoes, while others of us carried the bags. I carried bags. The heavier ones I swung up with my better arm over my shoulder to make the trek.

It also felt good wearing my Lutheran shirt (the ELCA’s theme the last several years has been “God’s work, our hands” with an emphasis on service). As a voting member at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly last year we were greeted by Auxiliary Bishop Denis Madden, from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.  One of the things he said to us was something to the effect of, “As you near your 500th anniversary, we should find ways to walk there together.” (Luther posted the 95 Theses in 1517 – in Germany, this is the decade of Luther, 2017 will be a huge celebration). As he spoke, there were not many dry eyes in the room. Part of my experience here is doing exactly that, walking with my brothers and sisters in faith.  Are there still divisions and differences between Roman Catholics and Lutheran Christians? Of course. But walking together, especially in service to our neighbors as the body of Christ in the world is exactly the kind of work and partnerships we should be building.  Maybe one day we will be “one as my Father and I are one” as Jesus prayed in John 17. Maybe we already are and we just need to get over ourselves.

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25 July – Late Night Giggles

We are at the point in the trip that anytime we return to St. Kizito, the girls swarm us and want to play games. The younger pilgrims on our trip are particularly good at this, and are making some really great connections. Laughter is becoming a very common sound at St. Kizito and it really is fun. It is exhausting, but fun.

Tonight it started to rain and the power went out, which became the signal to go to bed. J-Jeff and I stayed up and sat under the gazebo with a beverage. Then it began to pour. We sat talking and enjoying the sound of the rain hitting the metal roof.

IMG_4472By the time we got back into our dorm room, all the others guys were fast asleep. As we started getting ready for bed, we both got a contagious case of the giggles. We spent the next half hour or so goofing around with the flashlight and our mosquito nets. By the time we were really ready to fall asleep we had both been laughing so hard the tears were rolling down our cheeks.

This has been a great trip for our friendship. J-Jeff and I often talk during the week and catch up on what we are up to and how our families are doing – but this is the kind of thing I miss. Over twenty years of friendship we have giggled a lot. We’ve been there for each other during some very serious times as well, but somehow I tend to feel a little lighter when we’re together. I’m not sure what I think is going to be harder in a few days – leaving Uganda, or leaving J-Jeff at the MSP airport.

26- July – Not Just a River in Egypt.

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The Nile runs through several countries. Egypt is the most famous, but the source of the Nile is in Uganda. We traveled today to the town of Jinja and Lake Victoria to that source – a four and a half hour excursion.  Once we arrived we took a little boat to a small island. The source is a spring at that location, and we got to put our feet in the water. The spring provides about a third of the water for the Nile while the river also feeds off of Lake Victoria. It takes about ninety days for the water there to reach the Mediterranean Sea.

IMG_4545 (41)We also stopped for lunch which was an experience. We sat there for three hours before being fed, and most of our group didn’t like their food very much. J-Jeff and I ordered fru fru drinks which we thought would be fruity, but were actually licorice.    I like licorice, but they were not what we expected. J-Jeff and I concurred that in future pilgrimages, this place would be crossed off the list.

After lunch (by now it was 5:00 p.m.), it took us six hours to drive back, and we experienced incredible traffic in Kampala. Once again, “driving is hell.” At the very least – it sure is an experience.

27 July – Final Mass at St. Kizito

This morning we had our last worship with the girls at St. Kizito. Tomorrow we leave, and will spend some time at the martyrs shrine in Namugongo prior to going to the airport. The singing this morning was extraordinary. Father Cyril’s homily on Solomon was good too – Solomon prayed for wisdom to govern which he received; he didn’t pray for wisdom to govern his own life which was a disaster. This serves as a calling for us to pray to govern our own lives with wisdom.  At the end of worship, two girls came out to dance – one as Charles (the teacher) and one as Kizito (the student). Charles sang, Kizito danced and skipped across the room (the image being that these martyrs now sing and dance in heaven). Kizito danced to each in our group who were spread out across the room. It was a neat way to bless us on our way. When the dancer stopped at me, she rubbed my fuzzy head to the delight of everyone. The girls roared in amusement, and I laughed hard too.

Today is a long goodbye. Once worship was over it was our time to pack up. This afternoon there will be a soccer game and a volleyball match and then evening prayer before bed. A few of us have been asked to say a few words – which I am planning to do.

27 July – God’s Will

P1010401Sister Salome is a very effective leader who brings energy, relationships and determination to hew work. She commands authority without being harsh. She is gentle and caring without being a pushover. The girls at St. Kizito nicknamed her “God’s Will.” “Look out, God’s Will is coming!” they will say, but Sister will tell this story while laughing. She is a real gift to this community.

27 July – The Games

Our last afternoon at St. Kizito featured a volleyball game among the girls vs. the women of our group, and a soccer match between our boys along with some students from Our Lady vs. some local players.

IMG_0506Volleyball was really fun. I was chosen as the referee. Imagine six players on a side, surrounded by the other five hundred girls, faculty, and mzungus all on the sidelines. When we started I tried to get a “wave” going, which they found amusing but it didn’t catch on. What did catch on were the songs, the drums, the cheers, and an absolutely fun atmosphere all underneath a steady drizzle of rain. St. Kizito won the game, but nobody seemed to care.

The soccer match was a little more intense. Sister Salome said that the mzungu team won, but I don’t think she was really keeping score since she and J-Jeff had left on an errand. But who among us can argue with “God’s Will?”

27 July – Last Night

Our time at St. Kizito came to an end with an adoration /sending service for us. Somehow along the way the girls have come to regard “G-Geoff” as the dancer, not because of my moves (anybody could refute those), but because as I listen to the girls sing, I bob my head, sway my shoulders, tap my feet, as I deeply enjoy the beauty of their voices. I’ve tried to move around where I sit, but the last several days I’ve sat in the same section of benches on the side. Tonight, as I entered that section, many requests came: “G-Geoff, sit here” so they could join me in dancing. The electricity was out tonight, so candlelight added to the atmosphere. Father Cyril preached a great message from James 2, about living an active faith.

At the close of the service, Victoria, Matt, Father Belden, myself, Father Woody and J-Jeff were asked to say a few remarks about our experience. All were heartfelt. When it was my turn to come forward, I made some headbobs and shoulder shrugs like I was dancing and the girls erupted.

I said something like this:

While sitting in the dark I was thinking about what I had planned to say, when I remembered Jesus’ words, ‘You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.    A city on a hill cannot be hid. If you have a lamp, you aren’t going to hide it under something so no one can see it, would you? No. You hold it high so everyone can see.  Your light fills this room. Even in the darkness tonight your light shines bright. You have shared that light with each of us. Thank you. You have inspired us by your joy and your faith and your amazing singing. In America it is getting harder and harder for us to be the church, but you have given us hope. Thank you. You remind me of one of my favorite verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, ‘Blessed are the feet…happy are the feet of those who bring good news.’ You bring good news. You have blessed us. You have made our feet happy. My feet are happy. They make me want to dance like St. Kizito did this morning. Thank you for bringing the light, and for making each step lighter. God bless you all.”

J-Jeff talking to the girls in the chapel, after the lights came back on.

J-Jeff talking to the girls in the chapel, after the lights came back on.

J-Jeff concluded the talks by sharing how the St. Kizito community had helped his son Isaiah who was in the hospital through their constant and vigilant prayer, and that even though we would be leaving; our prayers would connect us still.

It was a nice end to the evening. Tomorrow we begin the journey home.

28 July – The Martyrs

We left around 8:00 a.m. for our last day – a pilgrimage to the site of the Ugandan Martyrs. In 1886 the king sentenced twenty-two Roman Catholics (including Charles and Kizito) along with twenty-four Anglicans to be burned alive. Rather than calling out in pain, they sang hymns and invited their executioners to faith. In the early 1960s the Roman Catholci maryts were canonized as saints. A beautiful church was constructed on the site of Charles’ death; while an Anglican seminary is on the site of where the others died (new buildings are under construction to commemorate the location.)

IMG_4568 IMG_4579 IMG_4580 IMG_4586 IMG_4588 We had mass outside the Catholic Shrine at a pavilion on a man-made lake constructed for when Pope John Paul II visited in the 1990s. Before worship J-Jeff said a few words and presented Father Belden, Father Woody and myself with vestments made by the sisters at the mother house we stayed at our first night in Uganda. It was a very nice and unexpected gesture. The vestments given to me are white. When I wear them, I’ll think of this amazing trip, my fellow pilgrims, and the wonderful people – including the sisters whose faith continues to shines bright.

(What day is it???) July – The Journey Home

IMG_4596 IMG_4599After a last lunch at a mall (of all and some shopping for souvenirs, we were off to the airport. DELAY!!! Our 6:30 p.m. flight finally got out of Entebbe around 1:30 a.m. I did get to talk to Tam and Mia via Facetime for a couple of minutes and get a number of laps in the terminal in before a long day’s coming worth of sitting. Some in our number decided to nap in the terminal.  We finally got in the air.

J-Jeff and I even got to sit together. We watched a movie and tried to sleep. When we landed we both had sore necks.

IMG_4600Originally we had a long layover scheduled for Amsterdam, and several in our group wanted to take an excursion into the city. After our delay, there wasn’t time for such an outing. J-Jeff was relieved – one less logistical piece to worry about. J-Jeff, Father Woody and I found the Irish Pub and discussed what we enjoyed about this trip and what we might alter for a future endeavor.

(J-Jeff is always thinking about how to get more people to Uganda.)

The second flight from Amsterdam to Detroit was really fun. J-Jeff and I got to sit next to one another again and we watched several movies together including an old favorite, “Tommy Boy.” We were probably obnoxious with our constant giggles.

P1020900 P1020901After making it through customs, we finally arrived in the U.S. and made our last flight to Minneapolis. Upon arrival Tammie and our friend Dave Holtz were waiting for me. It was a great reunion.

I experienced mixed feelings as we all said our goodbyes. This was a great trip, our time together had come to a close. One of the things we discussed in the last few days in Uganda were things we missed and food we wanted to eat when we got home. I mentioned nachos which spurred a multiple day conversation. We spent the night at our friend’s Brian and Larissa Scott in Red Wing, MN before Joe and I would head out to CT on Thursday.

IMG_4602Waiting for me when I got there…nachos! God is good. (So were the nachos.)

30 July – The Pearl of Africa

Uganda is nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Africa’ because of its beauty, lush vegetation, and preserved natural habitat for many animals and birds. I think of it as the ‘Pearl of Africa’ because of the people we got to meet, the joyous culture we experienced, and the new treasures we all enjoyed – many for the first time.

 

drumsIMG_0255We learned to play drums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0278Some got to dance.

 

 

 

 

 

P1010095We met lots of children.

 

 

 

 

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Soccer Match

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My small group

Pilgrims became friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0218 IMG_0227 IMG_0237 IMG_0246We served others.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4487We thought about our faith in new ways.

 

 

 

IMG_4598We became more comfortable with who we are in God’s world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mia in her dress made by Sister Monica

Mia in her dress made by Sister Monica

We continue the journey, even back home…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilgrimage to Uganda, 2014

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Posted in Church & Mission, Discovery, Faith Everyday, Mission Trip Reflections, Thinking About Church Differently | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Change and Growth

 “Change is a constant. Growth is a choice. –Dr. Leonard Sweet

I’ve been thinking about this quote for a few weeks now. I think it is true. So many of the things we perceive as permanent are not really; they may be part of a larger trend or a trajectory that we might predict (or even rely on), but that doesn’t mean they are not going to change. The people in our lives change. The seasons change. The earth changes.

Banff Nat'l Park, Alberta - July, 2014

Banff Nat’l Park, Alberta – July, 2014

We saw glaciers this summer that formed over thousands of years and carved those beautiful landscapes over thousands more. Soon the glaciers themselves may soon melt away, but an ongoing process continues to unfold. The summer is waning, children are back in school (many of whom end the summer taller than when summer started), our Methodist friends will soon be enjoying their renewed building and we will be back to “normal.”

But what is “normal?” Aren’t the constants we so rely on all part of processes like the glaciers, that make their slow but gradual push against us in a way we often take for granted?

Change is a constant. Our lives are constantly evolving; our faith is continually being defined, even Jesus, “the same today, tomorrow and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), meets us in new ways as we encounter new challenges.

Growth is a choice. The question before us is how do we perceive the change we discover around us? Is it something we keep at arm’s length or deal with directly?  Are we moving too fast or too slow? Do we learn from our experiences – both good and bad –   or do we shrug them off and try to recapture a changelessness about ourselves that does not really exist?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the symbols for change is a triangle. A triangle is also a symbol for the Holy Trinity. As we consider the changes we see around us we can also take a step beyond ourselves to see God at work: shaping, guiding and nudging us forward in ways we have missed until now or have yet to fully realize. Asking, “What is God up to here?” provides a good place to begin to discern which direction we might go or might already be headed.

My hunch is that we hinder or welcome growth in our lives depending on how we perceive the changes we discover around us. Changes can be viewed as either threats or opportunities. Even the hardships we face in our lives provide an opportunity for greater self-reflection. Change will come. Growth is optional. My invitation to you is to meet those changes with the courage and openness to grow along with them.  You may discover something wonderful in the process.

PGS

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace… I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 14)

Posted in Church & Mission, Church by Perception, Discovery, Faith Everyday, Thinking About Church Differently | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My Uganda Journal 2014, Part III

23July-HippoHillCamp (8)PART III

Along with 26 other pilgrims I went to Uganda July 15-29, 2014. One of them is my good friend, J-Jeff Reither who invited me to join his congregation: The Church of St. Anne’s in Hamel, MN on this very special mission trip.

These were my daily reflections:

 21 July – Sidelined But Not Out

IMG_0300Today was another work day. Since my arm was still hurting me, I decided to go with Emily (from my small group) and Chris to help in the Mayire Health Center for the day (the rest of the group was carrying large stones at the work site at Our Lady of Guadalupe). I had mixed feelings about ‘not working,’ but the decision not to carry those large stones was later confirmed as a good choice by J-Jeff who told me he would have been worried about me the whole time because they were heavy.

IMG_0319I enjoyed the health clinic. They handle a lot of malaria treatment and deliver somewhere between 20-30 babies per month in addition to hosting an occasional dentist and part-time counselor.  Our day was pretty slow, but a few women came in for prenatal check-ups, and a couple of students came in who were feeling sick. Emily is a pediatric nurse, so it was she who really shined throughout the day. Chris is interested in medicine as a potential career path. Me, being the clumsy mzungu who hurt his arm a couple days ago was interested in the rest of the work this little health center provided for the community.

IMG_0323Nurse Angela was our host. She not only showed us around but let us help – showing us how to record the patient’s data, and Emily was invited to participate in the check-ups. Angela is hoping to return to school for a further nursing degree in the next couple of years, and is planning her wedding with her fiancé for once she completes school.

IMG_0326It rained a bit in the afternoon, and the group did laundry out on the patio. It was a good bonding moment. A week ago many of us were strangers, now our group of both men and women were scrubbing their delicates by hand next to each other and laughing. I thought I was particularly good at washing socks! While it was raining, the cloud cover meant no well water, so water was filled in Jerry cans from some other source – I’m not sure where that water came from; while we were doing our laundry the sisters sent some of the workers to retrieve the water for us – nothing comes easy here.

After laundry, a few of us walked through town to a well that runs on solar power. This well provides the water (while it is sunny) for the St. Kizito school up on top of the hill.

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IMG_0335IMG_0338IMG_0329Tomorrow we head out for three days to Queen Elizabeth National Park. I’m taking a break to write now while I pack up.

The rain has stopped and the lush green colors are extraordinary.

If there has been a day I’ve been a little homesick it has been today – Mia’s birthday. I hope she had a good day. It is also Sister Monica’s birthday today (she is making Mia a dress). We are going to have a party for her – so at least I’ll still have cake! Happy Birthday Mia. Your Papa loves you.

22 July – The Long Drive Out West

Today we drove from St. Kizito school to the Hippo Hill lodging area in Queen Elizabeth National Park. We left around 9:30 a.m. with an estimated time of arrival around 5:00 p.m. Our true arrival time was closer to 8:00 p.m. It was a long arduous drive, but not without its merits.

IMG_0355 IMG_0357 IMG_0358 IMG_0362We stopped at the equator for some food, souvenirs, and pictures.

We took brief breaks  at gas stations to buy snacks and use questionable bathrooms.  IMG_0364 IMG_0368 IMG_0371We also took a brief respite at Lake Mburo National Park and saw a herd of zebras. The last hour of our drive was very bumpy and uncomfortable, but we saw our first elephant – so all is forgiven. Tomorrow we take our safari. I’m so excited.

23July-HippoHilHutThe place where we are staying is very nice. There is a large pavilion where we gathered for dinner, and we have cabins with running water and our own bathrooms!  My roommates are Frank (from my small group) and  J-Jeff. We were told not to go outside at night – the hippos come out and are dangerous. I’ve been humming the Hippo song (from camp) quietly to myself…

In the beginning God made the seas.

God made the forests and the trees.

God made the mountains way up high.

Above it all God placed the sky.

God’s fingerprints are everywhere,

just to show how much God cares.

In between God had lots of fun,

Made a hippo that weighs a ton!

 Hip Hip Hippototmous.

Hip Hip Horray, God made all of us!

Hip Hip Hippototmous.

Hip Hip Horray, God made all of us!

 It is such a silly, goofy song, but I think I’ll still stay inside tonight :).

23 July – Safari

 We woke up a couple times last night hearing some snorting – could it have been the hippos???

IMG_3263 IMG_3267After an early morning wake up of 5:30 a.m. – we ate breakfast and started our safari.    J-Jeff and I got pictures with a happy birthday sign he had taken Sister Monica’s birthday party so we could each take pics with elephants in the background (Mia’s birthday was the 21st, Becca’s was the 22nd).

IMG_0393We saw so much in only a few hours:

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Eight Lions (ask Sister Salome sometime about the “bed & breakfast”)
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Many kobs and bison and kobs

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Over forty elephants! Wow!!!

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23July-Safari-Elephants (3)

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warthogs

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and hippos!!!

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After our return to camp, we had lunch and then a hike down to one of the crater lakes. People could purchase a small plot to harvest the salt from the water. The conditions were horrible. The salt level in the water was so high that it burned the skin, but people had to wade waist seep in it to trudge up the salt from the mud below. Life is a real challenge here.

We had a good small group tonight processing what we had seen – both on safari and at the crater lake. We also started the conversation about what happens when we head back to the United States after all the things we have experienced. Tomorrow is the long drive back to St. Kizito in Bethany.

24 July – Driving is Hell

IMG_3303Today we drove back to St. Kizito. On the way out of the park we saw eight more elephants.  We also ran across some baboons that stopped us in the road for a few minutes, but after that brief engagement it was another grueling nine hours until we were back on the St. Kizito campus. The last two or three hours were particularly uncomfortable for me. My arm hurt. My legs didn’t quite fit. My back ached. I felt miserable while realizing that since I sat in the front of the bus, I had more room than most. The infrastructure in Uganda is interesting – mostly it is dirt roads, but there is one major thoroughfare between urban centers. There is rarely a posted speed limit; speed is controlled primarily by speed bumps. Sometimes those speed bumps come as one large mound to traverse, other times four to six little bumps are in the way. In any case, it seems that the speed bumps are spread out just far enough for uncomfortable passengers to start finding a way to doze off only to be jarred awake again…

Driving is hell.

IMG_0359Mityana was amazing at night. The motorcycles (boda boda) darted every which way. Lanes were created for vehicles that appeared to have no room to proceed. Yet we managed. Richard, our driver was wonderful. When people would pass by us or see us in our bus they were cheerful and would wave. The children shouted, “mzungu, mzungu, mzungu!”  That cheer never gets old – even when the ride in the bus has long lost its novelty.

We came back to our dining area at St. Kizito’s to a nice chicken meal and drinks that were waiting for us. A bottle was set close to the edge of the table. As someone was talking and backed into the table, the bottle fell from the edge. IMG_0344Instinctively, I grabbed for it (but with my bad arm). As I clutched the falling bottle I felt two things: a sharp pain from my fingers to my shoulder, followed by sweet, sweet relief. My self-diagnosis of my arm is that somehow I had popped my elbow both out and now back into joint. The muscles are still a little sore but my arm feels lie I’ve regained its full range of motion.

Driving might be hell, but tonight I’m going to sleep well. It was worth it. I think I’m going to be OK. Thanks be to God.

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“But who do you say Jesus is” sermon on Matt 16:13-18

question-mark.28/24/2014
sermon on Matt 16:13-18
“But who do you say Jesus is?”

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church
New Canaan, CT

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“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer” sermon on Matt 15:21-28 (the onion sermon)

onion8/17/2014
sermon on Matt 15:21-18
“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer”
(the onion sermon)

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church
New Canaan, CT

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