Monday, January 26, 2009


Well, today we went to the Market to see the food buying process for the kid's former orphanage. They feed 65 kids and that many staff too- 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. It takes a lot of food. But they've got the system down to a science. Today we got to observe the purchasing and gathering portion of it.

Uncle William- the house manager took us around on his usual route today. Every Monday and Friday he does the exact same thing. Here's the Monday plan of attack:

  1. Stop for bread. In this case, it was not there yet, so they pay for it, and then it is delivered to the van later that day.
  2. Stop for sugar, salt, and oil. It takes 50 kilos of sugar and 4 liters of oil a week to cook the food and to keep the food tasting the way it is intended.
  3. Go into the market and walk through a maze of food booths and pay for various items from various people. He goes to the very same people every week. He pays for the very same thing from the very same people and then somehow pays a man to go and get it all and bring it back. I never did see that particular exchange happen, it was crazy how it just sorta happened. We just paid and then walked away without a thing in our hands. I asked William, "how do you know you'll get all the right stuff you just bought and are now expecting to supernaturally arrive at your van?" He said, "It is all on trust." Some of them might not have another customer all week. They know I am faithfully here every Monday and every Friday and therefore, they do not want to lose my business. I never get cheated.
  4. Wander out of the maze and wait for the van to get loaded up by some guy who magically appears from seemingly no where.
  5. Get back in the van and go to another market location for a few other fruits and vegetables.
  6. Go to the super market for what we could not find in the market. (ie, pesticides and such).
  7. Go to the orphanage and unload it all.
Here's a few pictures of the process as we experienced it...

This is the woman they buy some grains and beans from.

She measures out the amount the old fashioned way- with a scale and lead weights. She did show him the total on a solar powered calculator though.

We bought cabbage from this man.

Carrots, papayas, and tomatoes from this man. He already had it bagged up and waiting for us.

Bananas and matoke came from this woman. There are 2 kinds of bananas in Uganda. The long ones which we are used to in the states, and some shorter and sweeter ones which I have never had in the U.S. These ones are the short ones (about 4 inches long each). We found some sets that were so fat and happy they were busting the peels open. These bananas were so dang good and sweet that we bought 2 large extra bundles just to eat ourselves. Oh boy were they good. I so wished I had a blender to mix them up with some pineapple and maybe some coconut milk. Dang that woulda tasted awesome.

Matoke being loaded into the van. It looks like green bananas and tastes a little like potatoes. It is a staple in Uganda and can be seen traveling on almost every road and by the semi full on the highways.

Jim and the head cook, Godfrey, helping to unload the loot at the orphanage.

Fun day. I learned a lot about how Uganda works and how the orphanage operates today. So fun to be a part of the process. There's a few more pics of the kids and such at the market on facebook.

Next post: a cooking lesson with Prossy, our guest house cook. I'll do 3 posts actually, one for each recipe/dish we made tonight: cabbage, beans, and chapati. Such a cool day.



One of the greatest joys of being back in Jinja is the chance to love on my friend Timothy. Everytime he sees me and everytime he calls me on the phone, he only calls me "brotha". I love this guy.

Yesterday I had the chance to join him in his church and to teach to his congregation. He looked at me last week and said, "Brotha, the people know you are in town and they keep asking if you are coming. I told them you are here for another reason, but really... can you come all this way and not feed my people?" Yeah.... um, how do you say "no" to that teaching invite? I'm glad I went, it was so much fun and so out of the "norm" for me. I loved it.

Here's a few differences from our church to theirs.

  1. COW DUNG VS. CONCRETE: There is cow dung intentionally spread on the floor. Yep, the spread it around and let it dry. This keeps the dust down and acts like a natural concrete I am told.
  2. NUDITY IS OK: There are nursing women all over the place. At three separate times I made the mistake of looking in the direction of 3 different women while I was teaching only to find them pulling out their boob to nurse a kid. Boobs are not a big deal in the villages. I am told butts are. But boobs, not so much. Additionally, there are lots of kids, many of which have a shirt and nothing else. Their butts and such are clearly not an issue. If nudity is innocent, then this is where that's true.
  3. SINGING IS LOUD: Praise and worship involves everyone. Everyone sings. Everyone. They dance, they laugh, they sing, they have one accoustic drum. No one sits and looks bored. I think God likes their worship better than what I experience most Sundays with the crowds I'm in.
  4. TESTIMONIES ARE FREQUENT AND SHORT: people in the audience stand and give a testimony of the work of God in their life. Not forever, just a few sentences from a few people to remind one another that God is alive and well in their community. So cool. I think I'm stealing this idea for home.
  5. CELL PHONES: Crazy as it is, cell phones ring in both rooms. In my high school ministry, we fight to keep cell phones and in constant texting from being a ridiculous distraction. I think we lose that battle more than win it. But in Uganda... while I've never seen someone text in church, I've seen a cell phone ring and get pulled out of a pocket on countless occasions.
  6. NOT MUCH TO IT: there is no electricity, no windows, no doors, no sound system, no carpet, no padded chairs (just a few hand made wooden benches), no lights, no coffee cart, no food, no cars in the parking lot, no parking lot, no pretty much anything we have. I don't think we should stop all those things in America, but the practical differences in the communities and cultures are endless.
  7. SAME BLOOD: I love how my brother Timothy introduced me. "I want to welcome my dear friend and brother Brian to come and teach the Word to us today. He has traveled all the way from America to be here with us. He has white skin, and we have brown, but I'm here to testify that the blood is the same. It is the blood of Jesus that makes us one and the same Holy Spirit that lives in Him is in many of you as well." I love people who are color blind.
In my time with Timothy these past two weeks, I have learned more about his family and I got to enjoy them some more this Sunday at his home after church. His wife cooked us a lovely meal and we ate it on the floor of their home. Beans, rice, matoke, greens, some lamb, and even a coke. I love watching his family interact together. His daughters led worship in the service. His sons were helping and cleaning around the house.

I have learned this week that his wife and he have 7 children via natural means and another 5 they have adopted from their community. This guy lives on less than I do and I think he does more with it. He has planted over 80 churches in both Uganda and Kenya. He is a humble, gentle, genuine, honest, sincere, passionate for those far from God, compassionate for those in need, respected in his community.... dude flat out lives like Jesus. If you spend enough time with him, you might think he is Jesus. If I could grow up to be someone, I want to be Timothy.

here's a few pics of my experience in Busaana, Uganda... a small unknown village in the world that God has speed dial I think.

a fresh cow dung covered floor and hand made benches:

a woman who sings louder, has less, and experiences more joy than many "christians" I know. She rocks. I'm gonna see her in heaven and I'm convinced she's gonna tell me everything I missed in this world.

this is Timothy and his family of 13 and a couple little munchkins who followed us to lunch in front of the house that Timothy built from the ground up. This is a sweet family pic:


Saturday, January 24, 2009



"Mommy and Daddy are Muzugu (white). Jake is Muzungu. TJ and Tyler is muzungu."
"Yes, what are you?"
"Yes. Mommy and Daddy love brown."

"Zues is munene and not sileeka." (our dog is big and loud)

"I want to go to America and go to school."

"Daddy, you get soda and ice cream."

"I want to go to America, sleep with Jake."

"When we get home, it's time for susu, showers and teeth and bed."
"And stories and prayers and kissing and lips".
"Yes.. you are right."
[Nightly routine: Take off clothes. Go pee or poop or both- try and keep them from doing it at the same time in the same toilet. Stand in cold water in shower. Get soaped up. Go back into cold water to rinse off. Dry off with towel. Lotion up while attempting not to giggle. Get dressed for bed. Brush teeth. Pick one book each. Read the books with Mommy while trying not to get too silly again. Listen to them point out stuff in Lugandan to one another in the story while wondering what these two kids are saying. Hold hands and pray with Daddy. Kiss everybody. Chapstick. Bed. ]

"caca not coming" (I told you I wanted to poop, but now I'm sitting on the toilet and nothing is happening.)

"Daddy, don't want film. Want ball." (ie: let's stop watching this movie after nap and go play ball outside.)

"Want puzzle."

"Want tickle."

"Want jangu" (I want you to say "yangoo" so I can run to you and you can pick me up and kiss me like crazy when I run to you on command like you asked)

"Want run". (ie: let my hand go so I can run ahead of you... eventually to play jangu some more.)

"And me." (the answer to anything my brother or sister just asked for and I want too.)

"Red for walking. Green for running." (ie: Walk on the red bricks and red dirt covered asphalt roads. Run on the grass.)

"want to go for aeroplane"

"want my konfila" (I want my hat)


"Hey muzungu. I give you Obama price." (because they are friends with him evidently)

"Hey muzungu. You take this one home too. I don't want her." (woman referring to her infant daughter who she probably struggles to feed and care for)

"We like these shoes. How much are they?" (sandals we found and had tried on our daughter)
"Let me see them.... 20,000" (about $10)
"Ha. That is too much. You are giving me muzungu prices. We paid 12,000 for these ones. We will pay you 12."
"Long pause. How about 13?"
"12 or we go."
"ok... 12." (we are getting good at this bartering thing.)



I was sitting in the guest house when we heard this loud noise coming.  Heather says, "Is that a marching band?"  I say, "yeah, sure. It's a marching band. [tongue in cheek]"  I then go outside to check.  And much to my surprise... it is and someone tells me the mayor is coming.

So I run back to get my camera.

When I arrive, just in time for the band to go by, I find out it's not the mayor- IT'S A WEDDING.

So, in honor of this experience (though I have not even officially adopted my only daughter yet)- like a good father- I have started her wedding plans. 

There will be a maching band.

A mercedes with the wedding couple's name on the plates and a big bow.

Every other identical mercedes that even exists in town will follow the bridal party with matching bows on their cars at a snails pace.

We will make a lot of noise as we go through town.  Forget the horn honking.  Marching band it is.  Only thing they were lacking was a drum major.  We will have one of those with a baton that has fire on both ends.  This I decree.

Better start saving my shillings- er dollars- now.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Well, today is a new day as our friends on the West coast end theirs.

Yesterday we went to the city to see the judge. Now we go back next week to get a ruling. Then it's off to the Embassy for paperwork and visas and passports and then home. Feels like forever. We have had another family here with us and Andrew is headed home today. So it's hard for our kids to understand that his time is now, and our time is later. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Regarding my post yesterday, I had further confirmation of the Obama craziness on this continent. Here are three pics to prove my point:

  • this sign on the road was in like 100 places.

  • this was a bumper sticker on a local car that has been in support of Obama for quite some time. Yes, he's a local hero of sorts around here.

  • all three local newspapers here had his picture on the entire front page. This is the government sponsored one and has reactions from around the world, commentary from people on the street, and even the entire text of the speech. Crazy. I'll post some of the local opinions in it soon. But we're off to go swimming and have lunch.

Oh.. and while in town I found more floor puzzles for my son. The kid is a puzzle maniac. I couldn't bear to watch him do the same puzzle for the 100th time. We now have like 10ish options, one of which is numbers to 25 and is 16 feet long!!! I think I might need to find more as we have still several weeks to go and these are done like 10 times a day in the morning and early evening.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Watching Obama be inaugurated was historic all around the globe.  Watching it from Africa has been quite the experience.  We have the speech DVR'd at home to watch again upon our return to the U.S.  But for what it's worth, here's one American's observations from this part of the African continent.

  • OBAMA CAN DO NO WRONG... YET:  So far, Obama has done nothing other than get elected and he's already the best president we've ever had from the street level East African viewpoint. 
  • THE NEWS ANCHORS ARE FULL OF WHOOPS:  Just after President Obama was elected, the local news congratulated the 34th president of the United States.  Whoops.  They regularly mispronounce names and get their statistics a little screwy, but it's kinda funny actually. 
  • HE MIGHT BE PRESIDENT OF AFRICA ACTUALLY:  His face is on billboards, painted on the side of buildings and t-shirts, and he is a household name. Passing by on the street, it is not uncommon to hear two phrases tossed my way:  "hey muzungu" or "obama!".  When my brother-in-law and I went through the market this summer in Kampala, virtually everyone we talked to asked us about Obama.  I think the average person on the streets thinks Obama will cure the ills of Africa single handedly.   The day he was elected and his inauguration were both declared National Holidays in KENYA!!!!  There is even a parade and concert here in town on the 23rd called the "Obama Concert".   I fear they will be sorely disappointed 4 years from now.  I also pray that president Obama knows that money alone cannot solve the problems of this continent or any other for that matter.
  • HISTORICALLY, THIS IS SURREAL FOR ME:  It is crazy to watch Obama's speech in the presence of my two African kids.  I praise God for what this means for them growing up in the U.S.  Add to that the fact that I was watching it in a guest house with both African and American adults in front of a t.v. tuned to the Aljazeera network (showing the CNN feed) and you get a crazy soup of ideals and opinions and a very cool opportunity for my family and our country.  These are epic days we are living in.  I pray the future is one of unity amidst our diversity.  I pray that those who follow Jesus will lead the charge of change that is rooted in the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  • NEWS IS BIASED EVERYWHERE:  Watching on Aljazeera is funny cuz you get to see what quotes the Muslim press highlights in a speech.  There is no such thing as unbiased reporting- in the U.S or otherwise. 
  • WE LIVE IN A GLOBAL COMMUNITY: I had several posts about the fact that I voted for Obama and some back and forth comments on this blog as a result.  But regardless of who you voted for or why, it is crystal clear to me from this vantage point that who we elect to be the president of the United States is no longer merely a North American issue.  It's a global decision and I voted intentionally in this regard.  Time will tell if that was the right decision, but regardless of the outcome of the future, I have no reservations saying that the actions of the U.S presidency have HUGE global effects.  I cannot ignore this in my influence on the democratic voting process.  I'm praying that we as a people have a global influence that honors God and respects all of His creation. 


Monday, January 19, 2009


I have tried for a while now to focus on supporting the things that are locally owned and made around me. At home, I can't do this with a lot of things. I can try to avoid big box stories, hit up the farmers market, eat at locally owned and operated restaurants, or support my local coffee shop as much as possible. But sometimes time and money make my efforts fall short of my intentions.

In a small town in Africa, this gets a little easier. Here are some of our local hang outs and some pics I can post.

ACCOMMODATIONS: We are staying at a local guest house run by a local pastor. We went to church with he and his family on Sunday. Their church is in a village not far from here. It was 60 or so people in a building made of sticks, wooded slats with a tin roof and a dirt floor. It was great to support the work they are doing.

FOOD: There's not much imported around here anyway and there are no restaurant chains. So eating local is our only option. But it's tons of fun anyway.

  • Breakfasts: We eat all our breakfasts in our guest house.
  • Lunches, coffee, and an occasional ice cream: We have enjoyed revisting a coffee/lunch stop called "the Source" which is run as a ministry to the community by a local church. We are known by name and face here- and were recognized again on day one back in town. We almost can order "the usual". Give us another week and I'm sure we can. We also have enjoyed two new stops: Indulge and Flavours, both of which have good food, java, and local cooks and staff.
  • Dinners: We do about 60/40- home cooked at the guest house and eating out. Lots of places close pretty early for dinner, but we have 3 spots we like. The Nile Resort (too expensive for normal day stuff, but a nice treat once a week while we are here). The King Fisher and 2 Friends. All good eats, all local, and all worth the boda ride to get there.

ART: We have purchased some art from the artists locally here. It's been fun to get to know the local talent and support their efforts.

We have contracted two pieces- one for our stairway (in progress below) and one for our daughter's room from Angelo.

I bought a carved bowl in the shape of a local fish from a carver named Hassan.

I bought another painting from a local artist, Gerald- for our youngest boy's room.

We are having classic African shirts made for our first "family photo" from a seamstress named Maureen.

BASIC SERVICES: I have been getting around via local boda boda (and have the cell of a driver named David saved), buying some supplies from the local market, hiring some local help for laundry, and doing what we can to help those who live in this community daily to get a head a little by supporting their efforts to make a living.

ONE FINAL NOTE ON LOCAL TRANSPORTATION: you see a lot of stuff tied to motorcycles and carried on top of one's head to get it from point a to b. There is no age (young or old) or size (big object or small one) that evidently determines any limitations. It no longer surprises me or shocks me to see the creative enginuity of the African people to get around. I have seen couches, a HUGE live pig, entire stores, piles of people, 20 ft long boards, and much much more tied to a motorcycle or bike. Today I saw an entire family of 5 on one glorified moped. Mom was sitting side saddle in a skirt behind dad who was driving. She had a suitcase behind her and a small child on her lap. Between dad and the handle bars were two more boys, probably age 5 and 3 I'd guess, the last of which had a bungee cord seat belt that kept him firmly on the handlebars and pressed back into Dad and his brother. As I passed them getting ready to drive ahead, I really wished I had taken a pic, but I didn't have the guts to ask permission and I didn't want to be rude. But it was still awesome. If it weren't for US laws, I could evidently fit my whole family of 7 on a harley.


Sunday, January 18, 2009


On some level. Kids are kids are kids. Here's where my African black kids and my American white kids are the same.

  • FARTING: it's funny no matter what continent you were raised on. You might say it's gross and not funny, but it's still funny. (Want clinical proof? The "ifart" app for the iphone was the number one most downloaded program a week ago. Yes, of course I already own it. There are like 20 other options to choose from too. Cuz farting is funny.)
  • TOUCH AND TICKLING: kids like to be touched and tickled. Because black skin does not hold oil like white skin, we have to put lotion on our kids from head to toe each night so their skin stays nices and doesn't grey or crack. It is officially impossible to put on lotion without causing the giggles. Suntan lotion on our white boys produces similiar fun and funny moments if we do it ourselves verses them doing it.
  • ICE CREAM: they'd eat nothing but ice cream if you'd let them. My newest son is so skinny, we just might give it to him in an iv. He is 5 1/2 and wears "pants" as shorts that are designed for a 24 month old so the waist is the correct size. We're feeding him fast and furious and praying he porks up. No more rib counting would be good. TJ, Tyler, and Jake all have a layer of ice cream nicely on them already :)
  • GIGGLES: sometimes kids get the giggles. when this train starts rolling, no amount of parental influence can stop it. Especially my boys Ty and B share the giggles factor. They are going to laugh a lot together.
  • COMPARISON: all kids see what other kids have and believe theirs should be the same. Teaching them that "fair and just" does not always mean "equal portions and privileges" is a parental uphill battle in both cultures.
  • IMITATION: It's super scary, but all kids want to be like their Dad when they are young. They say you have attachment when kids start to imitate you. Well if that's the case, we are attached. Whatever I do, my African children- especially my son- will imitate to a tee. My kids in the states have similar needs and desires to be "like their dad." That's a huge weight and a great privelege.
  • PICTURES: I love taking pictures of both sets.
  • BEDTIME CHIT CHAT: Try this: put any 2 kids in a bunk bed, tell them it's time to go to sleep and stop talking, turn off the lights, close the door and walk away. I don't care what part of the planet you are from, this will not result in silence and snoring. Giggles, laughter, whispers, and chit chat will commence the moment you leave. If you're lucky, they might actually stay in bed.

Here's a few places where their similarities stop:
  • SHOWER TIME: our African kids have never taken a bath with hot water. They have been bathed with a hose since day one. They prefer to shower in room temperature water (what comes from the hose here at the equator) in something like 60 seconds total. My American kids use hot water and have to be kicked out they want to take so long.
  • PATIENCE: at some level, kids are kids are kids. They all have short attention spans. However my daughter will sit for hours without moving while you braid her hair and today, both of them sat quitely through a 2 1/2 hour adult-focused service in a village church in the heat without one complaint. Yeah.... I'd have had to take my white kids out back and duct tape their limbs and mouth first.
  • SWIMMING AND BIKE RIDING: my kids could swim and ride a bike without aid or fear by this age. We took them swimming for the first time in Kampala the other day. These are creating great trust building excercises, but it is still a reality of the orphanage limitations. You just don't have the time, space, resources, or opportunity to teach them to do either of these activities. You need a mom and a dad for that stuff.

WANT TO SEE THE PICTURES? be sure to hit up my facebook account link in my blog sidebar. There are something like 100 up there now. At this pace, there will be 400 by the time I'm home with our new additions. They are "friend only" viewable, so hit me up with a request if you're out of the loop my friends :)


Friday, January 16, 2009


Well, this is my second trip to Uganda in 6 months and I'm starting to get it.   Here's why I feel a little bit like a local lately.

  • FRIENDS:  I have friends downtown and around town.  Artists we've bought work from, drivers we've hired, places we eat, people we've worked with in the villages and orphanages, tried and true freinds I've done some life with for weeks on end.  I'm being stopped and noticed by name.  It's kinda fun to live in a small townish context. 
  • BODA CONFIDENCE:  One of the modes of transportation around Uganda is a sea of moped/motorcycles that will take you anywhere you want to go for a fee.  They are constantly asking if you want a ride.  I now know how to tell them no and how to get one via a simple glance of the eye or tip of my hand if the answer is yes.  My claim to fame is today I got a man to bring us 4 boda's to take all 8 of us to dinner without saying a word to him while he was going the opposite way at 20 mph.  He left, went out of sight around the corner and then came back with 3 friends a couple of minutes later.  So each adult piled on and then sandwiched a kid between us and the driver- just like the locals do- and off we went to dinner.  So much fun.  I even got my driver's cell phone # so that I could get him to come back for us when dinner was over.  Woo hoo!
  • BARTERING:  I've begun to barter better.  Sometimes I just pay the full price to be nice or because I want to make an impression after I haggle with them and tell them I'm going to let them win.  But today, when I landed the boda rides, I haggled for the price first.  I was stoked that we payed more than the locals but less than the gullable tourist.  Score.
  • LANGUAGE:  Because this time 50% of my roommates speak Lugandan, I'm learning the language more out of necesity.  I'm enjoying myself and can tell my kids several key phrases or words.  I'm still not anything close to fluent and constantly wish Uganda's national language was Spanish, but I'm scraping away at it.
  • PARENTING:  Being the parent of two local kids who are also known around the community through school and orphanage workers and such has been fun too. They are loved and noticed as we go by stores and shops.   Shannon met their teacher one day.  We've met classmates and neighbors and more.   (Side note:  My daughter lost a tooth today her brother fell and bonked his head while running.  Both were a little tramatic for a few minutes for them and gave us a random chance to comfort them and help them get back to a state of normalcy.  That too makes you feel like you really are the parent these kids need.)
Tomorrow we go to my sisters in Kampala for a day to hang out and get the lay of the land.  We're going to be staying at their house an using their friendship network for the last 2 weeks here- starting the middle of next week.   Should be fun.   Maybe by the time we leave there, we'll be "locals" in two cities in Uganda :). 


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Well, my fourth round of being a new parent has started so much differently than the other 3. TJ was our first and Shannon did the work, and if you ask her, she'll tell you I was horribly unhelpful. Tyler was number 2 and he came via emergency c-section. Dude flipped around in the womb and was out in like 19 minutes from the time of our arrival at the hospital. Jake hung on for dear life and decided to accept the eviction notice while Shannon was in tears at the hospital and he was like 5 days overdue.

Now, the last two [I pray :)] have come to us via adoption at 5 years old. They speak broken Lugandan and broken English. Their accent is so cute I want to freeze them so they don't change. They are a joy to be with. Really, I can't imagine the stuff I would have missed out on if we didn't go through with this adoption thing. I think God would have a long list of stuff to tell me- all regrettable on my part. Thank you to all of you who have and continue to contribute financially and prayerfully and practically to this process. I wish you could be here to see them.

The facebook pics I have posted should tell you that all by themselves.

Here's my lessons so far:

  • Photographing my dark brown kids requires lots of creative lighting. I'm constantly changing settings on my camera to not loose facial features in the shadows. I think I need some lessons and to buy a much better flash :)
  • Raising kids that are pre-potty trained is a joy all by itself. I can't fully explain to you the sheer joy it brings me to know I don't have to teach them how to wipe a butt.
  • Speaking of potty or susu... there also is some kind of crazy laughter that goes on deep inside of me when I realize that if my daughter has to go potty, she and her brother are more than willing to drop their drawers and pee in any grassy field available. I love whoever taught my daughter to shamelessly pee in public.
  • Last toilet story: my kids are so skinny they can and do both use the toilet at the same time. Today after rest my son was pooping (caca) and she had to pee (susu) and well, she told him to move over and before we could stop, they were sharing. So nice. Yes, ofcourse I have a pic. No I'm not posting it, but it will come back when they are 16 :)
  • Black people are not all black. Some are dark dark dark black. Some are brown. Mine are mostly dark brownish I have decided.
  • They have black eyes, which do not have pupils. I think pupils are overrated.
  • How does black skin know not to be black on the bottom of hands and the bottom of feet? I bet evolution has some lame answer to that deep question. I'm just gonna blame God. It's cute though.
  • My daughter is not camera shy. She LOVES flowers. She is more girly than I expected since she has grown up in a boy dominated orphanage.
  • My son will take a LONG nap if you just help him get the sleeping part started. Rubbing his back works really good.
  • I'm really really really glad this is our second time in Uganda. Having met our children 5 months ago in a different context is reaping HUGE dividends.
  • I need to learn some Lugandan fast. I'm working hard at it. I don't want them to lose this piece of their heritage.
  • Some more phrases I have learned:
    • Wait= Linda [lean dah]
    • Let's Go= Tugende [too gen day]
    • Sit Down= Tula Wansi [toola wahnsee]
  • Shannon and I have decided that we are going to keep the following phrases in our everyday language with them in Lugandan indefintely.
    • Let's Go= Tugende
    • I love you very much= Nkwagala Nnyo
    • Thank you= Webale
    • Come Here= Jangu Wano
  • I think California should have fewer cars and more "boda boda" drivers who are waiting for me on any corner to take me places for a few shillings. Oh... and the zero rules about what or how many people you can fit on one is fun too!

  • Money spent turning clubbed feet into walking feet is a gift I'm not sure you can actually quantify in financial terms. Our orphanage fixed these village kids two feet and it opened an otherwise spiritually closed village on Lake Victoria into a fruitful missions field. What a miracle. What a joy to see two kids that 6 months ago could not walk, now be almost fully healed.
  • My kids are deathly afraid of water. We have a lot of work to do to teach them to swim.

Finally, an update on bonding. It's going GREAT!!! They now both search for our hands, actively cuddle with us, and pass out kisses. We are still praying for some more eye contact from our son, but beyond that... we are VERY VERY ENCOURAGED! Keep up the praying!


Monday, January 12, 2009


Well, today was day one of the Berrytribe legitamately going Tribal.  Our kids are now sleeping in their bunk beds in our room and so here's the scoop. 


  • Shannon and I started the day with our last few hours of "just us" time, doing some shopping and hanging out downtown.  We found a local artist we liked and contracted him to do two paintings for us:  one large one for our family room and one smaller one for our daughter's room.
  • Then we went to the orphanage and grabbed our kids.
  • They wanted to go to our room so we went back and did some puzzles and stories and then we headed downtown for lunch.
  • After lunch we swung by a local seamstress shop and hired her to make coordinating traditional African shirts for us to wear in our first family photo when we get back to the states.
  • Then it was naptime.  The orphanage has nap time so they went straight to their beds and were instantly quiet.  Amazing.  Our daughter went straight to bed and fell asleep. Her twin brother however just layed there until I invited him to sleep on me, and in a matter of minutes, he was out.
  • Finally, we did return to the orphanage today one last time to get the kid's some exrtra clothes, say our goodbyes, let the kids give their friends some suckers, and then pass out hugs and kisses before it was time to leave.  
  • Then we had a local Ugandan dinner cooked by our guest house, some play time, our first bath experience, and then bed.

  • Our daughter is affection motivated.  Our son is task oriented.  Sounds like text book men and women stuff, but it's 100% true for them.
  • Our kids will share everything, unless they feel threatened, which will bring out the animal inside.
  • I need to learn more Lugandan, so I can know what my kids are saying about me behind my back :)  It's also really hard to parent when charades is sometimes more effective than words.  Time to get creative. 
  • I am famous.  :)  Three separate times on this trip, someone from the community has stopped me on the street downtown by yelling, "Pastor Brian! Is that you?"   Totally weird.  Guess we met a few people with great memories last summer.
  • Ugandan's are genuinely nice people
  • I wish I had a bigger budget, house, and 500 arms.  It's hard not to bring all the kids home.  
  • My son is as skinny as a twig and eats like a horse. I think he has a hole in his foot it squeezes out while he runs. 
 Ok.. that's all for now.  13 new pics up on facebook.


Sunday, January 11, 2009


Tomorrow is the first day we bring our kids from the orphanage back to the guest house to stay with us... FOREVER!  From then on, they are with us until we go home to SD.

I'm not sure who it is bigger for, us or them. 

  • For Shannon and I, it means the full time responsibility of caring for 2 more kids is never again negotiable.  They are our responsibility in raising them to be kids who love and serve God.  What a ride this thing called faith is.
  • For them it means they will never again return to the only place they've ever called home.  So as not to induce fear in them that we might leave them there at the orphanage, we have been told we cannot take them back until much later in life to visit.  So since they arrived in the orphanage at only 1 month old, the kids will leave behind all they have ever really known as home, the "moms" who have loved and raised them, the beds they have slept in, most of the friends they have, the safety of their walls, and so much more will all be left behind.  Shannon and I may swing in during nap time to say hi and give them some status updates to the "moms", but our kids will not go back.  
I feel a lot of pressure to do this right.  The phrase, "You only get one chance to make a first impression"  has a whole new meaning in this context.  I'm praying daily that what I've learned in the last 11 years as a dad will give me some wisdom as we take on two more.  I'm praying for strength and discernment to avoid mistakes and Big Grace when I inevitably fall short.  Good thing God is bigger than me.

Keep praying.

PS: facebook adopton process updated with 14 new photos.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


We made it and we have officially met our kids.

  • THANK YOU to all of you who have been and continue to pray for us.
  • THANK YOU for your kind notes and comments.
  • THANK YOU to all of those who have supported us financially in a mutual sacrifice we are making together.
  • WE could not do this without the investment of all 3 groups above. THANK YOU.
By way of an update, I'll be brief but try and be thorough. We've been asked not to post pictures of our process while in Africa. In addition, dates, times, names and locations will be left out of the posts for the sake of the process in the next month. Here's the highlights, minus those details thus far:

LEAVING HOME. We left our boys in the care of my Dad for the first few weeks and then Shannon's Mom the last few weeks. Before we left, we did one final order of business. We took our last all white family pic. (minus Zeus ofcourse)

SPEAKING OF PICTURES: you can find a beginning picture set on my facebook, but it's limited in viewing capacty to "my friend list". If you want them and don't have facebook, you can either open an account and click the link on the side of this page and then add me as a friend or you can wait for a month and I'll post them here when we get back in the states.

BERRYTRIBE OVERHAUL. Shannon and I have been calling our family the Berrytribe ever since we used that as our first e-mail address. Never did I realize it would be foreshadowing for the future. Our family is distinctly more tribal as we adopt two kids from a Literal African Tribal community. Too funny and so much fun. Meeting our kids has been crazy scary too. I think all 4 of us are just trying to figure it out and start living like the family we feel confident that God is calling us to be.

THE SYSTEM: We are at the mercy of the courts, judges, and people in power regarding our formal process. We have to meet with a judge, then wait a few days for their ruling, then have the ruling filed, then go the the US Embassy and get our passports and visas for the kids along with a special letter signed. Keep praying that this process is not delayed anymore than it already has been. We are still on track for an ontime departure, but we received a 10 day delay right off the bat on arrival day one. Conseqently, we can't afford a second one of those. So, pray that the system's wheels are well greased so we can bring these precious kids home.

MEETING DAD: We met the kid's biological Dad who has been brought in from 8 hours North for the trial portion of this process. Mom is not around and abondoned the kids and their dad at birth. It's a long story we're trying to learn for ourselves which deserves a whole post in the future once I get all the facts sorted out. It is by far the weirdest part of this process. We have no judgement to cast and pray that the view from this side of heaven is one of unity and partnership with God, not failure and condemnation. We are here to help these kids grow up into God's design according to His Will and in a way, we are partnering with their Dad to do this. That is a complicated emotional, physical, and spiritual process. Keep praying.

LESSONS IN LANGUAGE: We have begun learning a little bit of their language and teaching them some of ours. Here's the highlights
  • thank you = Webale (wehbaley)
  • I love you very much = nkwagala nnyo (enkwahgalah enyo)
  • come here = jangu wano (yangoo wahno)
  • and my first phrase I taught my girl: When I ask, "Who's little girl are you?" The answer is, "Daddy's" She's already got it down just 1 1/2 days into it. That's my girl. She gives me kisses too!


Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Well, if you follow my blog, today's the day.  Shannon and I are off to adopt.  Very little sleep in the last few days and lots of mixed emotions, but we're pumped and headed out so if you are they praying type, here's a list of how you can pray for us.

MY KIDS HERE IN THE STATES: Please pray for safety and emotional and spiritual protection over my children as they stay with grandparents who are taking care of them in our home for the month we are gone half way around the world.

OUR LEGAL PROCEEDINGS IN UGANDA: Please pray for God's Divine provision as we move through the court process in Uganda. We are told that it is methodical and chaotic and unpredictable and well, lots of things. We could certainly use prayer that one of those things is that it is smooth this time.

ATTACHMENT WITH OUR NEW KIDS: We are adopting twins: one boy and one girl. They are 5 1/2 years old. Please pray that they develop a healthy parent/child bond with us on a miraculous level. Pray that God connects them to us in ways we would only dream about. The experts say that this is the MOST critical component of a healthy adoption process. Please pray that we gain it quickly.

PROTECTION OF OUR FUNDS AND MY COMPUTER: As silly as this may sound, my computer and our money are both critical elements of our plans in Uganda and our communication with the states. Please pray that neither of them breaks or are stolen or anything like that. Pray for God's supernatural protection of us and our temporary stuff.

THOSE WHO ARE COVERING FOR ME AT CHURCH WHILE I'M IN UGANDA: Please pray for the students, staff, and adult volunteers who are covering the many roles I have while I'm gone. Pray that God uses this time to advance his Kingdom in Encounter. Please specifically pray that God would strengthen and provide for my partner in crime, Sarah, so she does not bear the brunt of this weight. Pray that others stay healthy and remain faithful to the commitments they have made.

PEACE: please pray that God's peace and provision would continue to flood this process as it has been doing thus far.

we'll keep you posted as best we can from around the world.  Pictures to come :)


Sunday, January 04, 2009


Ok, so the Wii has now been a part of the Berrytribe for 2 weeks and the honeymoon is over. It's been fun, but now we are leaving for a month and the kids are here with the grandparents and we need a plan that is easily manageable for everyone. So, last night we talked with our boys and came up with a plan of attack for the school year. We're calling it "wiibucks" and the trial run starts tomorrow.

Here's how it works:

  1. No Wii before school in the morning.
  2. No Wii after school until homework is done and rest time is over.
  3. To play the Wii after your homework is done, you must exchange a game controller for Wiibucks. (A laminated ticket like the ones I made below)
  4. Each kid gets 6 total wiibucks per week on Monday- each wiibuck card is good for up to 20 minutes of play.
  • Three of them are Wii active bucks, which are only good for a game you play while moving and standing up.

  • 3 of them are Wii free play, good for any wii game we have, active or not. (like mariokart for example)

OK.. there ya have it. Might come home in a month and find out the idea needs a total revamp, but that's our initial plan.

  • Weekends are up for discussion based on the weekend plans.
  • Wii bucks can be removed for bad behavior and earned back for good behavior.
  • Wii bucks cannot be saved and rolled over, once the week is up, they are up.


Friday, January 02, 2009


Hung Becky's letters today. The guest room is now officially hers. Tomorrow I build shelves and finish her desk. Now we need to go get her. Time to have a daugher.


Thursday, January 01, 2009


Well, we polished off 2008 with a night on the town for the second time in our post kids married life.

One set of Grandparents were still in town and they offered to take our kids for the night. They took them to jack in the box, then to ice skating in Alpine, and then home for a movie so they could stay up past midnight.

Shannon and I got all dressed up and went out to dinner with the Phillipsons at a super nice restaurant in La Jolla called "Georges". The wine rack there is the largest I've ever seen. The grub was great. We all had the 4 course meal which let you pick a cold starter, a hot starter, a main dish, and a desert. Each of us chose different deserts to share and the waitress tolerated our ignorance on just about everything on the menu - proving that we all live on the other side of the tracks.

After we totally gorged ourselves, we rolled out of the restuarant and not wanting to beat our kids to bed, we found a movie that was starting at 10:40 and rolled into the theatre. We chose to see "Yes Man". Yeah... "No Man" is what we should have said. We followed the nicest dinner in the world with the dumbest movie in the world. We are clowns and this movie was lame.

But, regardless, we had a great time. A fun final memory for all to cap of a life changing year for the Berrytribe.



I go to a place that cuts your hair for a measly $8- they inflated the price from $7 when I got here 4 years ago. I tip her, so it ends up costing me $10.

Myself and my boys go like 1x a month or 1x every 6 weeks. To save money, I bought a pair of clippers and tried having family cut my hair, but it turns out kinda ghetto each time and it's all falling out, so I can't even cover up ghetto anymore. I have cut my kids hair from time to time to save money, but again, I do it kinda ghetto too.

My brother-in-law cuts his kids hair and even his own hair. He's the man. I can only do this if it's gonna be buzzed which TJ and Tyler do from time to time. I think I can safely cut billy's hair in the future.

Which leads me to the point of this post. While getting my hair cut, this guy was paying the barber to use trimmers on his head and make it bald. It was like 1/8 of an inch long before he sat down. I swear. Dude must be rich. He comes in like once a week or something. I almost offered to cut it for him for $7 a week. Even I can't screw that hair cut up.

here's one rich white kid keeping our economy going.



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Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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