Saturday, July 21, 2007


I got back a few days ago from one of the greatest experiences of my life. I went to Malawi in southeast Africa with three of our teens (Jessica, Rachel, and Shane) and 11 other people from across the country who participated in 30 Hour Famine this year. We flew from DC to Amsterdam, to Nairobi, to Lilongwe in Malawi. We spent most of the week staying in a guest house in a town called Mzimba, and each day we'd go to the local Area Development Project (ADP) that World Vision Malawi was showing us in a village called Manyamula. We went to a maize farm (a.k.a. "corn") where we saw five acres being farmed and 10 more being prepared for farming. In this particular area, the villagers once would harvest their maize in April and it would be gone by July. So the village was literally dying from starvation. They went to World Vision and explained their plight and World Vision asked what they needed. So the villagers got together and came up with a plan for an irrigation system. World Vision provided the funds and supplies and the villagers THEMSELVES dug a resevoir and installed the irrigation system. Now, that village along with three others eat year-round from that maize farm, and they also send surplus maize to local markets. That village is alive because of World Vision.

We also went to see fish farms. One area was essentially a swamp land with lots of excess water. They created another make-shift resevoir with a piping system, then dug 33 20ft.x20ft. ponds. The water from the resevoir gets pumped into the ponds and the ponds get stocked with fish. Three times a year they pull the plug in the ponds, sending the water to the retaining resevoir, and harvest the fish. The village where we went was the model farm for most of that area. Many farmers and community leaders were going there to learn how they operate, and they're taking that knowledge back to their own villages.

One day we went to another fish farm that was just getting going. They had dug three ponds and were waiting for them to be stocked. I've honestly never seen people more exicted and filled with hope than these people were. In most stories about Africa you hear about devastating poverty and heart-wrenching stories of hunger, pain, HIV/AIDS, genocide, and other circumstances they battle on a daily basis. But in Malawi, people were poor but content. They had systems in place to fight hunger and they really weren't worried about anything else. They were sharing their knowledge and their resources with everyone they could. There was no sense of "getting mine" or greediness. The people are all about sharing what they have, what they know, and making Malawi a better place. It was amazing.

We got to see some cool stuff like hippo's, crocodiles, impala's, monkeys, warthogs, and elephants. I saw some of the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen and one of the last nights offered the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. But of all we saw, the greatest experience was seeing how the people rely so desperately on God and on each other that they are left with a great joy and contentment that is not found in our country. Don't misunderstand, I love the comforts and blessings that come from living in America, but I learned great lessons from the people of Malawi and can't wait to get back someday.

Finally, if you're wanting to make a difference in the world; if you're wanting to make an impact that will spread as far as humanly possible, get involved with World Vision. They are the best organization I've ever seen at doing what really needs to be done to fight poverty, hunger, and HIV/AIDS. They don't press western culture or practices on people of varied cultures. Instead, they make themselves available to countries in need and let the people of those countries lead the way. World Vision is there to support with money and resources and, most importantly, inspiration. It's a wonderful organization. Get involved in 30 Hour Famine if you haven't already and watch your money make a dramatic difference in the world.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dude's Night Out

We had our third annual Dude's Night Out last night (and early this morning) and it was, quite honestly, the best ever! A total of 10 of us participated in some form or fashion - mostly high school and middle school guys. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch where we got there just in time to see the entire Nathans Famous Hot Dog Eating World Championship. Joey Chestnut beat out Kobayashi because Kobayashi spewed his last two dogs. They had just zoomed in on his face when he let it all fly. It was DISGUSTING!!! We hung out at the church for a while for the July 4th picnic, then went to see Transformers.

Let me just say this...Transformers could quite possibly be my favorite movie. Cinderella Man may have been dethroned as my #1. It has great action, a lot of humor, a great story line, and incredible effects. Go see it!!!

After the movie we went to the Steele's where we shot off some fireworks and played Cops and Robbers in the dark until 3:00 a.m. After a little Guitar Hero we hit the tents in the backyard for a camp out (only three of us slept the entire night outside - the other pansies thought they heard a "murderer" in the woods and slept on the couch).

My memories from Dude's Night Out '07 will always be seeing Transformers, and Matt Irvine's "Operation Blue Jay." Unfortunately, I can't tell you what that is.

I love being a guy.