Sunday, April 19, 2009

BAD COP, GOOD COP. GOOD WINS!

Oh the realities of traveling in the developing world! Heading to Dar es Salam, Tanzania yesterday we ran into the president of the country's motorcade. Like the driver was supposed to do, as soon as the lead motorcycle approached us on the two lane highway, he pulled off on to the left sholder. (The drive on the left side of the road here). A few moments later a wish of 10 or so SUV's blur past and on their way. After the route was cleared, we pulled back on the road.

A mere 200 yards or so down the road a police man pulled us over. Ordering our driver to get out of the vehicle, they went behind the vehicle and it was clear the officer was very upset! He was accusing us of blocking the president's motorcade and passing stopped vehicles during a presidential motorcade. After 45 minutes or so of heated discussions and the realization that our team was not going to bribe him, he insisted on raising the stakes and made us go to the police station in the next town. There he took our national staff in through the side door for further "discussions" and attempt to force the driver to sign a mia-culpa document! Well these were totally false accusations as the 5 of us in the vehicle testify to and can prove it. But he was facing either a severe beating or years in prison for this "hiddious crime"! After two hours of delay, it was agreed that the driver would return on Monday to appear in court so that the "visitors" could make their international flights.

He was released on condition of appearing in court - and of course, having his drivers license and vehicle doucments confiscated until the judge ruled on this case. We were about 1,000 kilometers from Arusha - so this demand was going to be costly, especially as he would need to bring our lawyer in order to get some form of justice.

We drove just a couple kilometers further under a cloud of doom until we reached the project we were supposed to visit for lunch - now hours late. We were discusing this incident with the staff we were told that this police officer was recently transfered there and already had a reputation of being a "trouble maker".

Come to find out, the project director is the head of security for the province. The chief of police is also an active member of the congregation! One phone call to the chief and another to the national level "fixed" the problem. The chief himself came to the church to get things straightend out. The driver would stop by the his house to pick up the confiscated vehicle documents on his way home! All charges were dropped! PTL!

The corrupt cop will most likely not be around that town much longer. In his zeal to make a buck or to "do one for the president", did not realize what he was doing. This was a very visible way that God demonstrated His grace. Trumped charges an all we were able to walk away praising God... and making our flight home!

This is normal life - their daily bread - in many countries. Prayer every time you get in the car is more than "keep us safe", but it is also "deliver us from evil"! Evil has been defeated! And we know in WHOM we can trust!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Uganda - Beautiful, Facinating, Complex

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa... the source of the Nile... a beautiful country that can produce anything! It is a lush paradise that grows whatever you plant. There should be no hunger in Uganda, but there is. HIV/AIDS has devastated the country. UG has made great strides in reducing the new incidences of infection... but now it is growing again, but within married couples! So marriage could be seen as a risk factor. Extremely sad.

The dictatorship and wars has destroyed communities' economic productivity. Cities that used to have many factories and jobs, now are just barely surviving. Mostly on reselling things brought in from elsewhere.


Lake Victoria - the source of the Nile river.



Cemetaries in the yards are common in Eastern Uganda. HIV/AIDS has been devastating. Now almost 40% of the new infectons are within marriages.



Project that is growing citrus, tomatos, passion fruit, papayas, bananas, beans, corn and cabbage for the children.
















Spring protection and source we developed to provide 10,000 people safe drinking water.






















































Sunday, April 12, 2009

Move over Mario Andretti, WE can change a tire in 2 hours!


In Africa, everything has thorns or bites! As is "normal" around here, we picked up an acacia thorn in our tire. We were 5 handy men... we can handle ANYTHING! ;-)


Pulling the spare, we discovered it was flat too! Someone else had found the thorns too, but forgot to fix the tire. No problem, we are in Arerti, Ethiopia - a town of 20,000 people. We ran down to the local tire repair shop - no Goodyear Shop - only a pile of old tires, a canvas tarp and a compressor. What else do you need?


Well, there was no electricity, and had not had any all day, so the compressor did not work. Ugh! Hey, we are guys... so we will figure it out. Aha! The well we put in 2 years ago has a Deutz 5 cylinder diesel generator. But it is about the size of a tiny car. It also puts out 44o volts. Guess the tire repair guy would not appreciate it if we fried his compressor! Also forgot to say that it was over a mile away! That won't work. So off we were, trying to find someone that had a generator.
It happened that we were near a school and a couple pastors from the church we work with are also teachers here. And yes, they did have a generator we could borrow. A horse drawn cart came to our rescue, taking the generator and our two flat tires to get repaired. Sorry Toyota, your new Hilux 4x4 pickups are less reliable than the old fasioned horse! Needless to say, we did make it back to Addis - 2 hours later than expected. Hey given the situation, not even Mario Andretti could have beaten our time in changing the tire!




Friday, April 10, 2009

Palm Sunday Mass at the Basilica in Rome

video

Seems impossible, but posting this Palm Sunday Mass at St Peter's Basilica in Rome now seems anti-climatic! But being with these beautiful children in Ethiopia has been more rewarding. Here is more of Rome as I promised. It is out of place, but I have had no or pitiful internet connectivity for the last 5 days, so please accept it as it comes.

Ethiopia's Hope

The beautiful children are the hope for this great nation! Given an opportunity, they can be who God created them to be! Enjoy their smiles...

































































Ethiopia - A Culture of Desperation

Yesterday in Harare, the antient walled city built 1,500 years ago near the Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia borders, I experienced a clash in cultures. Ethiopians are loyal to family and say "I will die with my child". Recently a new culture has surfaced. The culture of desperation. Some mothers see themselves forced to throw away their babies. (Sound eerily familiar?) This beautiful days-old little girl was abandoned in the streets. A prostitute in the house next to where we were had picked her up and taken her home.

Was the mother HIV+? What was the desparate situation that pushed her to abandon her baby? The Compassion project we visited found that nearly 75% of the caregivers that went for voluntary counseling and testing proved to be HIV+! What made this comunity so much worse than the national average of 10% or so? We were told that there is a large military base there. No wonder! It is sad that those who are there to "protect" a country are in fact "destroying" it! But it is beautiful to see these children and adults have a second chance through our HIV program.

I wished there was something I could do for this precious little one that born innocent - now will be forced to live a life of desparation herself! My prayer is that the local church will be able to somehow reach out to this "new mother" that will be raising her and lead her to the Feet of Him who transforms lives! Then this precious little one will have the opportunity to reach her God-given potential even though she was tossed out like garbage by her birth mom.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rome in Six Hours Flat!

The Colosseo


















The Vatican Guard














San Pietro (Saint Peter's) Basilica where the Pope gave Palm Sunday Mass today








River Tevere





Piaza Navona in evening lightThe Pantheon

Sidewalk cafe at night.

Stay tuned. More Rome to come!

This ain't Rome, they are speaking German!





After being snubbed by American Airlines yesterday in New York JFK, we ended up in Zurich Switzerland instead of Rome Italy! How did that happen? We were forced by air traffic to make circles over the ocean for 40 minutes before they allowed us to land. Geoff and I ran to another terminal making it there just before take off time. The plane was sitting there at the gate, but AA staff would refuse to let us on! There were about 15 of us there in the exact situation, but they would not listen. They even confessed they were sending the flight to Rome with empty seats! So much for customer service! They knew full well there were that many of us were delayed, but could care less! Thanks to Maryln we got on Swiss Air to Zurich later that night, then on to Rome. But the Pope would have to do Palm Sunday mass without us! Thanks American Airlines for taking away that once-in-a-lifetime experience!