An Incredible Day 1 on the Ground in Uganda

Our first full day on the ground in Buloba is just now coming to a close. Everyone is in bed, probably fast asleep at this point (it’s about 10pm here), and hopefully gaining enough energy to last the full day tomorrow down in Buloba. So, I know this post is going to take forever to load on some slow connection but I just couldn’t eliminate any more images than I posted here. In total I think I took about 5,000 images, and for my repeat readers here I tried to make them as unique as possible so I didn’t just show the exact same thing as last time. Keep in mind as I write this post I am barely able to keep my eyes open, so I know it’s going to packed full of typos, but it will just have to be so this time.

A small note about the timing of everything over here. I always get questions about when I will be posting, because the timing seems so odd. I post in the airport and all that and then… nothing, for what feels like days over at home. We arrived last night into the guest house from Entebbe airport at about 1L30am and we were all asleep about 2am. No way I could post last night, and then today, we got up at 6am (yes that was about 3-4 hours after we went to sleep) and headed out for the day. We got back tonight in time for dinner, then I did a quick edit of the images and here we are at about 10pm. From this point forward, I will hopefully get to post around this same time for the next few days. Today’s photos ended up being Amy Frye day just because of the specific interaction I was able to capture, but each had their turn in the camera spotlight.

Today was great in so many different ways, and as we met after dinner to discuss the days events we discovered how tired we all actually are. Today was to be our orientation day to understand, yes, we are in Uganda, and it ended up being a day crammed packed full of God’s love. The day started off with a walk over to Gaba church where we were given a detailed tour of the Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM) buildings facilities and classrooms. The guest house is located on Lake Victoria, in Gaba, basically right next to Gaba Church and ARM. The shot of Amy below with arms wide open is shot on the balcony of their office.

Next up was a trip into Kampala for some administrative duties, and lunch, and then we headed out to Buloba. I’m grateful that since this is my second trip the ride and culture shock going into Kampala was basically minimal for me but those who hadn’t been were trying to comprehend what they were seeing, hearing, and smelling. When we arrived in Buloba we had the customary (i.e. extended) greeting and prayer at Buloba church and then we proceeded to visit the well and haul water up from the old well. For those who hadn’t been yet, doing this routine of going to the old well was and will continue to be a very important part of our welcome to Buloba. There just isn’t anything other than the experience of carrying 50 pounds of water 2-ish miles, which can explain why the other well was so important. It was pretty impressive to see Amy carry 50 pounds of water up these hills, but if she can do it I’m not sure who couldn’t.

After that we watched Emile do her water experiments with the local ladies. Through a simple process of making water into a chlorine based water with a solar panel and some salt, she showed the ladies how they could use this water to disinfect various pots and pans, bathrooms (per-sa), and do so in a very simple and inexpensive way. We did spend some time visiting with the children and meeting some of the sponsor kids before heading back to Kampala for dinner, and then here we are.

A quick explanation of some of the photos below. The first shot was for Bart, who seems to have a facination with the roosters here between wanted to eat them and keep them as a pet. That photo is standing at the gate of our guest house looking out to the main road in Gaba. Amy is not actually calling rain to fall in the next shot, she is directing the boys singing hymns about 50 feet below here. The shot of John Dow with the Water Buffalo, steer, cow, thing (it was big and had horns and looked like you could probably eat it) was John saying as we are watching the explanation of the bore well, check this cow out, and the shot of the shot of Emile is her performing the experiment for the ladies.

All in all a fantastic day, and an overwhelmingly exhausting one to boot. If all goes well I will post again this time tomorrow, but power is very limited here it seems, and I may or may not have a battery, time, or the energy, so if not tomorrow, the next day. Thanks for all your prayers. It is greatly appreciated by all the team members.

Walking Water from the Seepage Well in Buloba Uganda

Water is life. In Uganda, just as it is all over the world, water is something so precious that amazing attempts are made to not waste (or spill a drop, see also pics in this post). I was quite amazed at the attempts made to not discard water, any water, even if it was full of mud and rust. It was almost something akin to Bear Grylls looking for water in Man vs Wild, but without water, we can’t live, and in Uganda there are some of the most resourceful people in finding water that even Bear would be proud.

From my non-scientific observations I identified basically three sources where people could get water in Bulboa. They get water from what I would call a seepage well or natural runoff, collection from a rain barrel or cistern type system, or a deep water bore well like Living Water International (LWI) drills. The easiest and most convenient method is to use water collected in a rain barrel since you don’t have to go anywhere to get the water. This is great, when and if it rains, but think about putting a medal barrel (that can and does rust) on the end of your house and letting it sit in the heat, uncovered, and you get the idea. Obviously the deep water bore well is the best and safest method for collecting water, and from what I could tell, Buloba has two such wells. One on the other side of the main road opposite the Buloba Police station and one about 500 yards or so past Buloba church (the well Cornerstone helped drill). If anyone wants a clean source of water they have to go to one of these two wells and haul it back to wherever they want.

Prior to the particular well being drilled by the church everyone in the immediate area of Buloba Church had to walk down to a runoff water source, which is still being used. This runoff water would be something like if you took a small (I emphasize small) flowing stream at it’s lowest point, and made a small dam with a pipe coming out for the water to flow through. This water source by my estimate is a little less than a mile away from the church, so when you needed to get some water, you walked the two mile round trip with a 40 pound plastic water can. This is, in a nut shell, what we did one the first day we arrived at Buloba Church.

Everyone from our church has heard this story many times before but there is just something about it that gets lost when you put it into words. We walked down to the runoff well with our cans and met several people and kids along the way that were doing the same thing. For some, this water source is still closer than going up to the deep water well by the church so they walk down here. Unlike what I was expecting, this water wasn’t visibly dirty, and on this day, didn’t have any particular smell or oder, but we were told that it is for the most part an unsafe water source (think about drinking water out of the Cahaba or Chattahoochee River if you live down here… some days that might be ok, but I probably wouldn’t take that chance myself).

So this was our walk down to the seepage well about a mile away. Sounds easy now, but several of the guys had the skin on their hands torn from the weight of water jug by the time we got back to the church making their yellow bottle handles mixed with a little American blood while the kids ran past us with their appropriate size water can. I’m glad we took the time to see and experience what people do just to get “clean” water when what we do is turn on the facet. The road to the seepage well goes by the new deep bore well, so these shots below stop there first and then end up at the runoff water. I will do a separate post with photos about the deep water well at some point down the road so to speak.

I was continually amazed by these kids. Doing incredibly hard work with a great smile on their face, always glad to see a Mzungu walk down their road.

Pacific Coast Sunset in Orange County :: Friday Feet

Sunset on the Pacific Ocean




This is hardly where I spent most of the day on Friday, but then after Catalyst West Coast was over I was so exhausted I decided to drive over to the coast to watch the sunset.  I ended up down near the Balboa Peninsula on the PCH and walked out to the beach just in time.  I have been in Southern Cal for 4 days, it has been cold and cloudy the whole time (after it was 100* the day before I got here) and late on Friday the skies just opened up.  It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had witnessed in a long time and I will make it my Friday Feet post for this week.

For those looking for Catalyst West Coast images… I will start to post some of those when I get back. I am on my way to the airport right now, thanks to everyone at Catalyst and Mariner’s Church that made this week such a inspirational time.

Gulf Shores Bike Trail to Beautiful Sunset Beach

Gulf Shores Sunset

Branyon Backcountry Trail

Bike ride

Bike ride

I would like to say that every day is filled with a bike ride and a walk on the beach, but at least, today, it was.  We use to spend quite a bit of time in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Perdido Key, but haven’t made it down here in the last 6 months.  This is our absolutely favorite time of year to be down here.  The beaches and parks are usually empty, the temperature is still pretty nice.

After getting some work done at home we drove down to a bike trail in Orange Beach that is easy to find but not on many maps or searches.  The Hugh S Branyon Backcountry Trail, which starts and runs through Gulf State Park, is a paved trail that have several different 1-2 mile sections that runs through the sand dunes and some beautiful nature areas.  We have driven by several times in the past but never stopped to ride the tail.

Of course no day would be complete down here without a walk on the beach.  We made it over to the sand just in time to see the sun set.  I walked a few miles down the beach and then we had dinner at a restraunt there on the beach, The Hangout.

I am always amazed at the beauty of the beach and the ocean.  I have seen it so many times, in many different states and countries and it still has some magical, almost mystic quality.  A place that for one reason or another allows you to remove the routine of life and the busy world around you and leaves you with sand and water… but a lot of sand, and an unreal amount of water.

I think people are attracted to the beach because it represents life.  Water that is living, breathing, and a constantly changing yet every time you go to the same beach, it looks relatively the same.  Taking a walk a few miles down a nice white sand beach (especially in January) is a spiritual thing, and I will take a walk any chance I get.  Here are some photos from the day.

Rainy Day Pumpkin Carving for Halloween :: Friday Feet

Carving Pumpkins for the Fall in Alabama

Pine Needles in Fall

Today was a cloudy, cold, rainy day, something we haven’t seen here in what feels like years. It was a great day to stay inside and get some work done, so eventually, I went outside to take some pics for my Friday Feet post.  If you are not familiar with my Friday post it is just a simple photo of my feet, wherever I happen to be on Friday.  Today, I went for a walk around our house (in the rain) as I usually do later in the afternoon and took this photo below.  I like simple photos.  Photos with only 2 or 3 elements and 2 or 3 colors.  The pine needles have started to fall in large numbers now and these bright tan needles were all over the place.  It gave me a photo with two colors and two subjects.  You can still see a lit bit of green grass beneath the needles hanging on to the 70 degree weather we have had as of late.

If you have a blog, and a camera (doesn’t have to be anything super duper, even a cell phone camera will do) join me in the Friday Feet post.  Just post a photo of where you are and include your feet, then just link over here or leave a comment on this post so we can see your post as well.

Yesterday Deborah and I did our annual carving of our pumpkins.  I won’t tell you which one is Deborah’s but I will say that one of her degrees is in Political Science and she likes to do these fancy jobs.  I am more the fly by the seat of my pants pumpkin carver and just get out the knife and start chopping away.  Anyone else carve a pumpkin recently?  Let me know so I can check it out.

There is another busy weekend planned starting tomorrow and Sunday.  On Saturday I will head out with ARM (Alabama Rural Ministries) to work on a house and then on Sunday our church is hosting their annual trunk or treat.  Have a nice weekend everyone.

Cardiovascular Walking Continues and a New Theme

Today was one of those days where you get a lot done, but not necessarily in the places you intended when you got up. I started off as I normally do checking my email and rss reader and came across an email that I meant to look at regarding a new theme.

Of course, it was something I had been looking for, for a while now. Something that could showcase a few photographs and a little more graphic based than the other one. So, I stared coding the customizations to the new theme and once you get into the code, then you see how long it will take. This one was not the easiest code to customize, but it works for now. So, I hope you like the new theme across all my blogs. Comments are welcome.

I did manage to get in a little guitar practice and some walking. Not my full 4 miles, but I did get some walking in today. Deborah received her Birthday present from my mom today, a beautiful new double budding rose (red) and some planting dirt. Her birthday is Wednesday but it needed sunlight.  Last on the list today is to watch Dancing With the Stars tonight. If you don’t watch this particular show, it is one of the only shows we actually watch on national TV, but Deborah is quite the dancer and we do enjoy watching the competition.

Theme Change

Walking on the Beach is My Favorite Exercise

coldplay is what's on my ipod

All the bad weather stayed well north of us today and left us with the most beautiful Saturday we could have asked for. Partly cloudy, 82° with a slight breeze, and enough humidity to remind us we were actually on the coast. Probably the nicest weather we have had since Deborah and I started coming down here more than a year ago.

We had breakfast at one of our favorite morning diners, Waffle House, then went over to a local public beach access point so I could get in a good walk on the beach. I was going to walk to where I knew the beach was blocked by a pier construction, then walk back. The pier was about 4 miles away, with a nice state park beach about 2 miles from my starting location.

Walking is Great Exercise

I have walked on this beach many times before, and sometimes it can be a fast walk, sometimes, very slow. It depends on the tide and how deep you sink into the sand. Today it was a slow walk that really works the legs, especially since I was walking in my jeans for some dumb reason.

I walked the 4 miles to the pier, then back 2 miles to the state park pavilion and decided I had had enough at 6 miles. I text Deborah who was happily knitting at my starting point and she came and picked me up. It was a 6 miles walk that felt like 10, but it was good exercise and I enjoyed it very much. Nothing relaxes the mind like a beach, a walk, and an iPod.

Flipper’s is Now Opened

A new restaurant opened that we were hoping would be good, since it is right near the boat. It has been several other establishments prior to Flipper’s but it opened yesterday and today lunch was good. I had a grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich with sweet potato fries, both of which were GREAT. Deborah is going to try out their hamburger for dinner. Hard to mess up one of those but we have been to many places that did.

Nature in View

Today with the walk on the beach I had an hawk or eagle fly over head, dive in the water and catch a fish with its talons. It flew within about 50 feet of me, I could almost see what kind of fish the bird caught. He flew off across the beach, road, and back to his nest I guess. Beautiful bird. No dolphins yet today, but there are some really loud party goers two slips over and if I was a fish I wouldn’t be anywhere near this place right now. Maybe later.

Cold Day on the Beach in February is Empty and Fun

Sunset at the Marina

Some days a cold day on the beach is better than a warm day inside. The beaches, in most parts of the country right now, are completely empty, but put a nice cool breeze and January into the mix and you get this (see beach image below). Not only is there a rare February thunderstorm in the distance but the only visible moving object on the beach is a tiny little bird in the very center of the image. The sunsets at the marina are always so dynamic and each one is different. The thunderstorms here made just enough of a hole in the sky to give us a great sunset today.

This image was actually taken by my cell phone. I am really amazed at the quality of images that can be taken by a cell phone these days. Not that it is worthy of publication but for just sticking a phone up in the air, its not bad.

Gulf Shores in January

This weekend we did spend the day on the beach (see all the photos below) but we came down to be on Laughalot. We did enjoy the peace and quiet that the marina always has around this time of year, and of course on the beaches too.

We have several favorite beaches down here, some are in Florida, some in Alabama, but depending on the time of year, you can usually walk several miles in either direction and enjoy a quiet walk. As is customary for me, I try to get in about 5-7 miles while I am on the beach, here I am on my way, yes, it is cold. I don’t look all that thrilled but I really am glad to be there, even if the weather is a little harsh.

Scott going for a walk

Of course, DK has here own way of keeping warm, stay in the tent, don’t move much and have a ton of layers on. We do have some larger shots of the tent area on the beach but this close up gives a better idea of how cold it really is down here today.

Deborah's Beach Tent

It still made for a very nice sunset at the marina and we had a great weekend on Laughalot.