Saturday, August 29, 2009

Room Design

Well we have been back from Africa for a week. I thought I would be able to push aside thoughts about decorating my home for several months but one of the blogs I follow has brought those thoughts forward. Chronicles of a Mommy is having a contest in celebration of her 300th post and is giving away her personal design time to 3 lucky followers. I have been followng her blog for a while now and have loved every idea she posts. Definately check her out if you love home decor ideas as much as I do.

What will I have her help me with if I win?

How about my family room. It has been a source of loss for me since we moved in.

The kitchen, I love it but it is sort of blank, would love to accesorize it a little more.

How about just giving me some ideas for things I would love to re-purpose in our house. I see potential but haven't quite figured out what it is supposed to be. Like a mirror off a dresser John got at some job, or the cabinets out of the last kitchen he remodeled.

So much potential. And she said if you have no money to spend she can still help and give ideas. Love that since...I have no money to spend.

Check out her 300th post here and be inspired and sign up as my competition.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Embracing Lawlessness

There seems to be no laws in Kenya. Or at least nobody bothers with them. I sort of enjoyed that aspect of the trip. Nobody seemed worried about getting sued and so they did what they wanted. Isabelle rode on my lap in the car the entire trip, sometimes in the front seat. Dogs wandered the street off leash. There was a chicken wandering on the grounds of a museum we visited (not that charming kind that you know are vaccinated and well cared for by the staff but just a random chicken from who knows where). And don't get me started on the driving. Kenya isn't clean with all the problems hiding, they just let them all run wild wherever they land. Of course there are laws that it would be nice if they followed, actually paying people the minimum wage, not asking for bribes. At one government building there were signs everywhere declaring it a corruption free zone. We asked our Kenyan hosts about it and they just laughed.

Now that we are home I have declared myself to be a little more lawless. Jake and I were running around a lake and ran by a couple walking a dog that was not on a leash. Jake made a comment about it but I told him I was lawless now and didn't care. I don't care that the roads near my house are terrible, people cut me off while driving, our neighbors trash can sits by the curb all week long, grass doesn't get mowed, buildings are only half built, sheds look like they will fall down soon or people store their boats in the driveway all winter long.

Of course John and I have always been a little lawless. We get letters from the city about once or twice a year thanks to a very "helpful" neighbor who calls to let them know what minor infraction we have committed. It is becoming a bit of a challenge for us. What rule can we break next? This week we are thinking about our car in need of tires. They are so bad that we aren't sure we can even drive it to a tire store. (the spare is on the car and going flat as we speak) John suggested putting the thing on jack stands and just taking off all the tires and bringing them in to be replaced. Immediately we knew this would get us a letter from the city and got a little excited about it. Is that wrong of us? If we can't win trying to do the right thing it might be fun to imagine the look on her face when she sees our car up on jack stands with no tires. Maybe I can put my hair in curlers, put on some cut off shorts and a t-shirt with the neck cut out so it hangs over my shoulder, grab a beer and sit in a lawn chair on the driveway next to it. John could put on a wife beater and start working on the van we know she loves so much. Hey, I think we just figured out our Halloween costumes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A peak in my journal

I tried to journal often while I was in Kenya and I thought I would share a few things:

8/5/09--the day we left

Stressed all morning to the point of literal sickness...About an hour into the flight with Isabelle happily watching a video I realized something, I had 8 hours virtually to myself. With her occupied I was free to read magazines, watch the in flight movies, solve sudoku, read a book or simply sit and stare off into space...And I can take this with me into Kenya. No matter what happens I have nothing better to do than experience it.

In Amsterdam on the way there:

As Isabelle played in the play area she immediate began opening doors. She made a quick friend who she informed of our African destination. Turns out the new friend was on her way home to the US after a trip to Africa. This got the mom and John talking. The first of many conversations Isabelle is sure to start.

Arrival 8/6/09:

It is good to know people in high places. It is good to know God in the Highest place.

We arrived in Kenya and got into line for visas. Isabelle was tired so John put her into the carrier and she almost immediately fell asleep. A sleeping child gets you into a shorter line. But the arrival of the Archbishop gets you into an even shorter line. As the workers processed our paperwork the Arch bishop chatted them up. The visas cost half what we had expected and they never questioned them. We collected all our luggage which included 13 boxes of computers and watched the arch bishop chat up the customs officials for a while. When he was done we walked through without having to show any luggage or pay the tax on the computers we were bringing. Although I have never gone through customs before I can't imagine a smoother experience. Thank you Lord.

8/7/09 Kibera Slum:

I had been looking forward to the slums. I know that sounds strange but I have seen pictures on TV many times and wanted to understand the poverty better. My first impression as we drove in was that it looks just like the pictures. However, the addition of the sounds and smell (although not as bad as imagined) made the experience so much more real. As we walked toward the church we were to visit many children ran out to look at us, wave an say, "Hi, How are you?" They also wanted to shake our hands. As I grabbed the little hands I thought about how dirty they probably were but then I realized I could wash my hands later but they would still be there. As we walked down one bank I could see a huge pile of trash at the end. I realized we were walking toward it and my cleanly self thought about my sandaled feet and not wanting to get trash on them. There turned out to be a narrow path of dirt around the corner, while the dirt probably wasn't much cleaner somehow I felt better about it.

Isabelle fell asleep while we were visiting the church and I carried her sleeping out of the slum. Many women commented on my sleeping "baby". A few asked to hold her, I just smiled and kept walking.

8/9/09 Kitui--

Today we visited 2 different churches. Isabelle(and I) was overwhelmed by a mass of children wanting to see her but when they left she wanted to follow them.

The services were interesting but also a little confusing as we didn't understand alot. In the afternoon we went back to meet the children we will be doing programs with this week. It was a fun experience singing and playing games with the kids.

What I am most struck by today was the faith of the people. I feel like I am learning so much more than I am teaching. I guess I will just trust God to use us as He needs us during this trip.

Some general observations from the first couple days:

--Stars! So many and so beautiful.

--Cold at night but warm in day yet they are often dressed as if it is winter.

--One boy tonight was wearing a pair of pants that are actually part of a skeleton costume, black with white bones on them.

--They love to greet each other and shake hands with everyone.

--The ministers are very well informed about the troubles of the Anglican church and with Kenya as a whole. They are very aware that their job goes beyond simply preaching the gospel, they are transforming lives.

--Everyone knows who Obama is and asks us about him.

--I feel like I am at the cabin or camp.

--Very few bugs

--Everyone is so polite.


I feel almost overwhelmed to try to record all my thoughts each night. There is so much to take in and I would love to remember and be able to share every detail when I return. Yet today I realized I can't share everything and I simply need to take it in and enjoy each moment. I am off the hook to bring all of Kenya home and can simply share my eperiences and passion for the people.

Today we presented the computers to the school. We had an opportunity to meet and interact with the students. I am continually struck by the intelligence and desire for knowledge the people here have. They all desire to improve themselves and Kenya.

After lunch we went to visit the big rock. I conquered my fear of heights and made it to the top. The view was wonderful. We relaxed and enjoyed the view. I am struck by the ability Kenyans have to enjoy the moment. While we might go up, take pictures, breathe a breath and leave; they sit and really experience it. I hope we can take some of this more relaxed attitude home.

Today I had some opportunity to sit with my thoughts. It would have been nice if I had profound thoughts on the meaning of life from my new world view but instead they were simply thoughts about my life...sometimes it is nice to get away from your life to gain a better perspective on how to prioritize it.

Although I got to relax a little it was still another full day. The men set off to work laying bricks while we watched a dvd of Jesus' life with the women. After lunch the children's program. Frankly as we rehearsed last night I was feeling slightly embarrassed by what our plan was for the kids. But I should always remember that God is the one planning the trip not Melanie. The kids loved our puppet show and the bracelets, craft and balls to play with. The teachers, who have never used teaching aids, were inspired by how excited and engaged the kids wee, and the youth, who never usually have anything to do, were excited to be able to help the kids with the crafts and play volleyball with our young people. All around we were impacting them without even appreciated how much.

8/13/09 Thursday

Today Isabelle felt like a burden.

In the morning she stayed back to play with Benzi and Alicka while we toured a farm but then she met up with us to visit an egg laying place and the market where she had to be carried everywhere. After lunch we did some home visits. She attracts so many kids when we go out that we had an entourage going to the homes and it was hard to connect with the people. Then in the evening was a small crusade which she fell asleep at the moment I arrived and therefore I could only sit and watch. And finally she was getting a much needed bath while the rest of the team was meeting for the days wrap up talk. Still much was done for God's glory and tomorrow is another day.

8/15/09 back in Nairobi

Made it back to Nairobi tonight. Exhausted, slightly nauseous from the long bumpy ride and emotionally spent from the week. Now back in civilization, staying in a room that feels like a luxury suite (although it would be sub par for the US), I feel overwhelmed by what I experienced. I have left and will return in another week to a life of plenty. I will be laying by a pool relaxing during the last days of summer knowing that all my needs will be met, that I can easily care for my family and the people of my community will not be begging at my door anytime soon. How do I reconcile that? How do the Nzimbi's live with it at their door each morning? How do Sam and Mwende reconcile their life in America with the lives they grew up in? What does all this mean for me, for our family, for our future? Lord, where are you leading us in all of this? What is our response?

Thank you Lord that you are there in the midst of all that poverty. That you are working, the people are coming to know you, lives are being transformed. I pray you continue to work in Kitui and all of Kenya.

8/16/09 Sunday

We visited 2 churches in the morning. First was the cathedral near the guest house, All Saints Cathedral. We only stayed for part of the service. It was a large church with hundreds of people, it had a large church feel and the service felt comfortable and familiar. The building was beautiful and Isabelle thought she was in a castle. The second service was at St. Francis in the Karen area (named for Karen Blixon from the movie Out of Africa). It was a smaller church like ours and felt very comfortable. Both churches had plasma tv's hanging up front with the words to the music on them.

After the services we headed to the mall for lunch. It was a very nice mall...we then headed to the open air market. It was more than a little overwhelming...As soon as I started looking a man attached himself to me. He was a broker. I was able to just choose things and then at the end negotiate. After choosing several things I went to get one of our Kenyan friends to negotiate for me. I am sure the man was devastated to learn he wouldn't be dealing with a naive American "mzungu". It was so fun to stand there watching Masya go back and forth with this man on each item. Eventually Mwende and her brother got in on it as well. As I waited I was eye balling what I thought I would pay in US dollars for the whole thing and felt $35 would be good. That is almost exactly where I ended up. Jake added a $10 shield and we were off.

Nairobi is an interesting city. It is dirty, crowded and full of poverty and wealth. You can see so much progress, wealthier Kenyans, more diversity of race. progress. The western world has come to one spot in Kenya and the rest of the country is trying to catch up.


Made it to the safari. It feels like a dream. I can't believe we are here in this beautiful resort with these amazing animals sitting right outside our room It is hard to drag ourselves away for bed. We head out in search of the lion, cheetah and possibly rhino bright and early in the morning 6:30am!

Yesterday was the beginning of the vacation portion of our trip. After so much giving the first week it was an adjustment to switch into tourist mode and simply receive the blessings of Mwende's family as they took us around Nairobi. We went to an overlook to see the Rift Valley. Amazing, breath taking. No words. Once there I began experiencing the trip in a new way. Relaxing. Afterward we had lunch at a place called Briarhurst. American food really lifted our spirits. So did briarhurst. It is an old brittish farm/country club that had been owned by one person in colonial times. Beautiful architecture. Today it is a christian nature center. They are working to re-introduce native plants into Kenya, encourage more sustainable farming. It was interesting to learn that the drought isn't just about lack of rain but that because of deforestation the drought occured. It is so exciting to see a christian organization taking the lead in environmental isses in Kenya.

That night we met up with the Nzimbi family for dinner at a chineese restaurant. Turned out to be her parents 35th anniversary (they had forgotten) and the kids surprised them with a cake and a nice anniversary song and kind words. It was so special to be part of it.
at the chinees restaurant
our team
The Nzimbi family, our wonderful hostsHis Grace(Ben) and Alice cutting their anniversary cake.

Isabelle has been so great on the trip. Even on the 6 hour ride to the safari she barely complained. And she was the first to spot an animal, the giraffee. She said she saw it but the rest of us didn't believe her until about a mile later we saw 3 more. We were on the "highway" miles from the park but she thought our safari had already begun.

8/19/09--Kilaguni Serena Sarfari Lodge

The whole thing continues to be a dream. I'm trying to memorize every detail but fear it will all fade from my memory as soon as we leave. As I sit here by the pool I can see an amazing pink flower bush, thatched roof buldings, trees I have never seen before, people from many different European cities, and so muce. Not to even mention the animals we came to see.
John and Isabelle laying on our bed. You can see in the reflection the view from our room.
I have never been on a vacation where I felt so removed from my real life that I couldn't even engage in thoughts of it. How do you return to real life after this? I am thankful I don't have a very busy schedule when we return so I can slowly re-enter American culture and way of life.

8/20/09 Isabelle's favorite things (she listed things she wanted me to write down)

1. seing the giraffe
2. the elephant she loves
3. the baby elephant
4. seeing the hippos
5. the alligator
6. the fish
7. and the...wilder beasts
8. the water buffalos
9. the 3 water buffalo heads
10. the zebras and the dead ones
11. anelopes
12. wart hogs
13. birds
14. line of elephants
15. lion
16. ostriches
17. stork.
18. hyena

Back in Nairobi:

It was a harrowing and adventre filled trip back.

We did a little more safari in another park where it was open plain. You could see so many different animals all around. Then we visited a Masai village. Toursit trap doesn't begin to describe it. Disappointing especially at $20/person. After that we headed to another resort for lunch. They wanted $25/person for their buffet lunch and none of us wanted to pay it. Had we realized we wouldn't have another opportunity for 7 more hours we might have reconsidered. We began heading toward Nairobi and just when we were cruising along, just a mile or so from the main road to Nairobi, the truck broke down. John said it sounded like it threw a rod in the engine. Although it could have been a very scary thing to be stranded in the middle of Kenya with our luggage in the heat of the day and no other cars in sight, plus our driver walking around trying to find a cell signal, yet I felt calm. There was no fear only peace and a sense of adventure. Our driver did get through to the other truck which dropped off the other half of our team and came to get us. Our driver found an empty bus and hired the guy to drive us the rest of the way back to Nairobi. While it was comfortable the driver had a jerky driving style. Combine that with bumpy roads, no lunch and you have me slightly delerious by the time we arrived back at the ACK guest house. Yet here we are safe and sound protected by God, resting comfortably in his loving care.

8/21/09 Home--5am

I can't believe we are back. I have been awake since 1am. I started crying then. There are so many reasons. It is over, the let down, the processing. Where do I put this information? Not only does my brain not have a file for this experience and information, I don't even know what catagory it goes in. Maybe I need an entirely new file cainet for this trip, with many files and many catagories. I will be sorting through for months. I am also crying because I am afraid. I am afraid I will go back to my same life, that our family will pick up the same habits and routines and the trip will be meaningles. What if we experience all that and we don't change? Yet, how are we supposed to change?

I didn't want to leave Kenya yet I don't want to go back. I hope that changes. I loved the people we met. I loved the caring, the relaxed schedule, the beauty and he ugly of Kenya. Yet it was hard. I was constantly off balance for 2 weeks unsure what was next.

Oh that is so much and just a smatering of what I could say about the trip. Another post of random stuff later.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We're Back!

We made it back. I am so glad to be home. I am so sad to be home.

Initially I walked in and felt like I didn't recognize it but it quickly felt comfortable and relaxing. John's mom had bought us a few groceries and made us a dinner but we all agreed we really wanted a pizza instead. We will have the dinner for lunch today instead. I had 108 emails (mostly facebook stuff and ads I could delete). I didn't know what to do. It was the middle of the night in Kenya and I was feeling a little delirious but wanted to stay up until at least 9pm to start transitioning, plus Isabelle had napped in the plane and was wide awake.

I was asleep moments after getting in bed at 9 but was awake at 1am and couldn't get back to sleep. Even though it was only 4 hours my body knew it was 7 or 8am in Kenya. How does it know? I did stay in bed until almost 5 but now I will be forcing myself to stay awake all day today so I can sleep all night tonight. Then again maybe I should just follow Isabelle's lead in the jet lag transition and take a week but sleep whenever I want. The trouble is I have a meeting on Tuesday night that I need to be awake for so I would like to be mostly transitioned by then. Plus that is our anniversary (yes I have a Vestry meeting at church on our anniversary evening)so I would like to have some energy afterward to spend some time with John. Although we might have to have a lunch date instead of a dinner date.

A couple months before we left I read this by Edith Schaeffer from "the Tapestry"

"Morning brought cold sunshine to light the white ice and snow-covered islands with sparkling brilliance..The beauty...of the Finnish people (over the) next ten days, in sharing whatever there was to share, filled us with much emotion. Miss Anderson apologized for the fact that since the war, most Finns were eating only two meals a day. Breakfast consisted of porridge and milk, bread made with dark rye flour, a bit of cheese, a berry sauce something like jam but with very little sugar, and coffee. The next meal came at 4:00 pm, with boiled potatoes, a small amount of meat or sausage or fish, and some pudding and coffee. Vegetables were almost nonexistent and too expensive for ordinary people. Beets ground up in vinegar sauce were the only vegetable we had during the ten days. But the Finnish people had nothing different after ten days, as the stayed on in the same situation!"

The entire time we were in Kitui this passage kept going on in my mind. While the lack of water, the dry dusty landscape, the poverty, the pit toilets didn't seem "that bad" while I was there, I knew I would leave and return home where I would take a long hot shower, casually flush the toilet after every use and be able to get in bed without washing my feet each night. They are all still there. Still without water or plumbing, still covered in the dusty red clay.

This passage by Schaeffer didn't continue on in the book I have so I don't know what, if any, conclusion she drew about this story. It was in a book I have titled "The Charm of the Simple Things". (bought it at Angie's garage sale) It was put there to draw me to simplicity. Certainly that is something I have been thinking about alot this past year as well as while on this trip. How much less I really need and what is really important. Certainly that is something I experienced on this trip. Seeing people so content in their life, not that they didn't know they were poor, and sharing themselves with us. Appreciating what we had to offer and then giving us so much more.

I will be spending the next several weeks wading through all the lessons I learned and wondering how this experience will change me, change our whole family. This is just one of many lessons to consider as I process.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


You cannot make this stuff up. I am sitting on the deck of the resort we are at looking at a watering hole where zebra, elelphant, warthogs, water buffalo, wildebeasts, a hippo, giraffe and now ostrich have all come up to drink. We barely need to get in the vehicles to have an experience but we did manage to come across some lions this morning and one was feeding on a water buffalo. Amazing. Beyond my wildest dreams that I would ever actually do this and yet here I am.

It was a little shocking to transition into the vacation portion of this trip but now that we are here we are all enjoying it. The first week was amazing in such a different way. It was a time of giving and experiencing the poverty of living in a 3rd world country. It was wonderful but emotionally draining. It is a relief to have time to process it and relax before returning home. I won't share all the details of what we have done since I am sure you are all reading the trip blog. Instead I will share with you how much I love the toilets back home at the gas station.

Oh how I love public restrooms in American let me count the ways:

I love the plumbing and sewer systems that go to each of them
I love the fact that there is a toilet seat on top of the toilets
I love that there are actually toilets
I love the air fresher that sprays into the room periodically
I love the toilet paper that is reliably in every stall
I love the fact that they flush every time.
I love that they flush repeatedly without a long period of refilling the tank.
I love that restroom I used last spring that had cracked tile and needed to be cleaned.
I love that restroom I used years ago that only had a curtain for a door.
I love that there is running water in the sinks and always soap and a towel to dry my hands with.
There are no pit toilets.
I never have to squat over a hole.
I never have to hold my breath or breath into my sleeve.
I never emerge from a stall with my eyes watering, coughing and gagging.

I actualy found myself excited yesterday when we had flushable pit toilets. A flushable hole in the ground. But then reality came when it didn't actually work. but there was toilet paper! My standards are changing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Looking Straight Ahead

My throat hurts. Really. I don't want to talk. I just want to lay down. But I am up at the crack of dawn because I can't sleep. I need to choose the right drug this morning that will take care of it and I need it to clear up within the next day so I can move on. I don't want to spend the next few days as a whiner pants. Even if I do keep my whining to myself. I don't even want to listen to myself whine for the next few days. Please pray for my sore throat.

Today is the day! I thought I would do one more post before launching into a day filled with new experiences.

My morning prayer time with God brought me this message that I am taking to Africa:

Proverbs 4:25, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you."

As the day has come closer I am already starting to wonder what will be for me when we get back. And I know while I am there I will think about that and might begin to worry about our finances, I am already worried something will happen while we are there that we can't get back for, and I am sure there will be things happening there that will distract me as well. Yet God is asking me to simply "look straight ahead". To look at what I am doing, what HE is doing right in front of me and be part of that. No looking back home at what is happening. No worrying about the future and what is to come. I will fix my gaze directly before me as I step forward on this path he has laid out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I think I am just about done packing. I will need to throw in our daily use toiletries in the morning but then I think I can zip them all up and head on out. Can you believe it? We should be quite the horse and pony show schlepping all our stuff through the airport. Here is a little preview:

This is the checked toiletry bag. I also added towels. You can see the bags I showed the other day, with many added things to them, and the fancy new hats I picked up at REI so that we can all be shaded from the sun. The ones for John and Jake even have a bug repellent in them.

This is a carry on with extra food, prescription drugs we can't loose, extra books, craft stuff for Isabelle, food,etc. and an extra pair of underwear and our toothbrushes in case we loose some luggage.

Carry on backpack number one with books, coloring stuff, passports, food, and some toys. Anti bacterial stuff and wet wipes. My Dramamine and of course I could do 17 hours of Sudoku.

Possibly the most important bag we bring. The dvd player. Also the dvd's and John will add his laptop. plug adaptors and power converter and some of the money (don't tell anyone where it is.)

Isabelle and my suitcase with everything we are going to wear for 17 days.

John and Jake's suitcase. The shoes around it still need to be added. I am seriously concerned that this will be over the 50 pound weight limit and will cost us an extra $50. At this point I am prepared to pay it if necessary.

But that is not all, oh no that's not all. We are bringing a Tenor Sax that we are selling to someone in Kenya, a stroller, a Kelty child carrier our camera bag (with more money in it, shhh) and Isabelle will have a Dora backpack for her baby, stuffed animals and the blanket we cannot live without.

I know it is an obscene amount to bring, I really like to travel with as little as possible, but I really feel I need everything we are bringing. We are talking 17 hours with a 4 year old!

Wish us luck trying to get all this past he airline without an extra charge. :)

Seeing Sam

Sam and Lauren are Isabelle's birth parents. Over the past 4 years we have come to love Sam and Lauren as members of our family. Sam has been in Iraq since February. Each night before bed Isabelle prays for him to be safe. I like to think he is going to be fine but I would be lying if I didn't occasionally worry about him. He has kept up his facebook a little and posted a few pictures and we get info from Lauren occasionally but it isn't the same as seeing him in person.

He has known for a few months that he would get a 2 week leave in August. Of course we knew we would be gone for most of August and began to worry we would miss him. He was worried about the same thing over there and was working hard to get back before we left. Not only to see Isabelle but to wish us well as we go off to Kenya. Since Sam lived in Kenya as a child he is extra excited for our trip and wanted to hear about where we were going and give us a few of his favorite restaurant recommendations.:)

After getting delayed in the Kuwait airport for a couple days he finally made it to Atlanta this morning and got a connecting flight to MN still shaking the sand off as he arrived. He and Lauren came right from the airport this afternoon to see us. It was so great to see him back safe and sound. So fun to hear his stories from Iraq, even the slightly scary ones. He has lost a little more weight and looks like the skinny teenager we met 4-1/2 years ago. Thanks Lauren for sharing him with us first before getting time alone. Thank you Lord for keeping Sam safe, continue to protect him through the rest of his deployment.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pamoja 09

Only 3 days until we leave for our trip to Kenya. As I have shared in the past it has been 10 years of passion and dreaming to bring us to this point. I can't believe we are finally here and actually doing this. I have recently been telling people, and may have said this on the blog here, that we aren't just stepping out of our comfort zone but we are taking a giant leap into the abyss of non-comfort zone. It is a step of craziness. Well just when you need it God brings in a response to your fears.

Last Sunday a former intern at our church and personal friend was in town to preach. He and his family moved to Kentucky last fall to start a new church. They moved to a place where they knew nobody and were starting a church simply with the members of his family, lots of prayer and faith. And now almost a year later they have a small growing group excited to help them get a new church off the ground. As he was sharing with us he compared church planting to standing on the edge of the grand canyon and having God ask you to take a step forward. You begin to take the step in faith and when you finally commit and move your weight forward suddenly a little more land appears under your feet. But just enough for that step.

As I thought about our non-comfort zone abyss lying before us it was encouraging to be reminded that God will not let us fall into nothingness but will be there to catch us and keep us safe. We don't know what is ahead of us but Praise the Lord, He does.

I created a blog for our team to share stories from the trip. I started us off by posting the testimony I shared at church this morning and someone added a post about the packing party we had after church today for the computers we are bringing with us. You can check us out here and check back throughout the next month for updates on our trip. Here is a picture of most of our team taken this afternoon.