Goats, the Gospel, and Gorillas

26 Jan

A couple of weeks ago (yes, I am that slow in posting updates) we had a visiting team here.  We have worked with Mary (a vet) a number of times and on this trip she brought with her 2 vet students and also her son.  We spent a week with them going down to the far SW of the country.  We did a goat training and loan distribution in a very remote mountain community of the Batwa.  It was a new community that I had not worked in before, so it was nice to see a new place.  The community built a raised goat house and we distributed 10 goats for them.  Once they reproduce, they will give 10 young goats to a new community to share their blessing with others.

Sometimes for these long trips, Rachel and Nathan stay home.  Since Nathan was on a school break, we all got to go together on this trip which was very fun!

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We also took with us 2 guys that have gone through our School of Ministry.  Michael (red shirt) was in our first class in 2017 and Mike (white shirt) was a 2018 student.  They are both from that region of the country and Mike is praying about starting a Batwa ministry in that area.  It was fun to see our former students in action as they taught and translated our lessons.

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After our goat training, Michael and Mary invited the community to come and hear the story of Jesus as they used an ‘evangi-cube’ to show how Jesus’ death and resurrection offers a means of reconciliation between us and God.

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These Batwa communities border the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.  We have been in that area at least 15 times in the last 6 years, but we have never gone to see the mountain gorillas.  This time we did it!

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It was a really great experience and now we would recommend it for anyone coming to visit Uganda.  It was so much fun to be able to just hike through the forest with a family of gorillas as they walked around us and climbed trees over our heads.

2 Weeks South of the Equator – Part 2

29 Oct

Here are more photos from the second half of my trip through SW Uganda.  We covered over 1800 km from Soroti to Kisoro, Nteko, Buhoma, Kamwenge, and then home again.


We trained another Batwa settlement up in the mountains on keeping sheep and gave out 6 more sheep loans there.  


A few years ago, we helped to start a church near this settlement.  Last time I was there (2 years ago), they had just purchased land for the church.  It was fun to be able to see the progress made there over the last couple of years and I got to preach in the church on Sunday morning (I covered Hebrews 10:1-18, it is one of my favorites to teach).


William was one of the participants that received a sheep loan.  He is also one that I trained 3 years ago on keeping rabbits and he is one of the few who is still working hard and keeping his rabbits.


After Kisoro, we went around to the north side of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to plan a goat project there for January.  While there, I got to go and see Pascal, one of the participants in our first rabbit group that I trained 5 years ago.  His rabbits are still going strong after all these years!


While visiting another Batwa settlement, I came across a goat with some upper respiratory issues.  I suspected it might have some nasal bots so she got a dewormer too.


The road leading north from Buhoma passes through a national park, we came across this elephant grazing on the side of the road.  


2 Weeks South of the Equator – Part 1

28 Oct

I (Daniel) just returned last week from a 2 week trip to the SW corner of Uganda.  The SW is an area where we have worked on various projects since we moved here in 2012.  We try to make it down 2 or 3 times a year.  We would go more frequently, but it is a full 2 days of driving just to get there, so it takes some planning to make these trips happen.  Since Nathan is in school, Rachel decided not to come on this trip so that he wouldn’t miss so much class.  Here are a few photos from the trip.


About halfway through the 2 day drive, we cross the equator going south.  On this trip, I was traveling with Mike, a vet from WA, and Fred, one of my former students who graduated from the School of Ministry last year.


This is one of my favorite places in Uganda.  The road to Kisoro snakes through the mountains and the town is at the base of these 3 volcanoes.  On the back side of these 3 volcanoes is Rwanda.  To the right, there is the outline of more mountains and a 4th volcano which are on the Congo side of the border.  


Our first stop was Rukeri, on the slope of the largest of the 3 volcanoes.  This is a Batwa settlement where we gave out sheep loans in October of last year (on the trip with the School of Ministry students).  The community brought all the sheep to show us.  Some already have lambs that have been given back to the group as their loan repayment and the lambs have gone to other members of the community.  One day, every family in the village will have a sheep of their own as they continue to work together!  


While we were there, we dewormed all the the sheep and their lambs and put on ear tags.  The whole community came out to watch the free entertainment.  


With funding from Mike’s Rotary Club in WA, we started a new sheep loan group for Batwa that have moved out of the slums in Kisoro town.  I have known many of these participants for several years and it is a lot of fun to be able to participate in their lives.  


Before going to their new homes, each sheep was given a dewormer, sprayed for ticks, and given a numbered ear tag.  


To keep everything fair, each participant randomly draws a number that corresponds to the numbered ear tag on the sheep – that is the sheep they get to go home with.

Check back tomorrow for more photos from the second half of the trip!

Goodbye Grahams

20 Jul



17 Jul

It is almost that time again.  We are in the home stretch now, getting ready to finally head back to Uganda.  We are excited to get home and dive back into ministry with our friends there, but we are also sad to say goodbye to life in Portland.

We bought our return tickets – we are heading out on the 8th of August.  We have a couple of weeks left to say our final goodbyes.

Part of the process is packing, re-packing, and carefully weighing each bag to make sure we can fit all the most important things, like shelf stable bacon bits of course.  We have also had a lot of friends and family ask if there is anything we need to take back with us.  Things often slip our minds, so we put together an Amazon wishlist to help us keep track of all the last minute items that we want to make sure to take back with us.

I am posting the wishlist here in case you want to help out with something.  If you make a purchase off the list, it will automatically check it off the list so other people don’t accidentally double buy something.  Please let us know if you need our mailing address.  There are some items on there specifically for our ministry and there are a few personal things on there as well.

Thanks so much to all our friends and family who have made this furlough a real treat for us.  We appreciate all your love and support.  We are planning a little goodbye get-together for the 5th of August – details to be announced soon!  We would love to see you then.

Roadtrip 2018: North Carolina

24 May

Our 9th state on this trip was North Carolina.  We had 2 stops there, both right around Charlotte.

First up, we stopped for dinner with Tim & Paula – both are vets who have served with CVM long-term in South Africa and also in Soroti.  As we were talking, we realized that we actually live on the same road that they lived on when they were there 18 years ago!

Then we spent 2 nights on the south side of Charlotte with our friends from Fuel Uganda.  We have worked with them several times when they come for short-term trips and they are one of the partners that we work with in our Batwa ministries.  We had some good chats with them thinking through some future ministry possibilities and we ate some really good barbecue.

Wednesday morning came very early and we headed back to Portland.  Nathan loved the plane rides, of course.  And he got to fly the plane again…


Roadtrip 2018: Virginia

22 May

The drive through West Virginia and Virginia was beautiful.  The weather was perfect, the rolling hills and the green trees made the hours of driving quite pleasant.

We spent our one night in Virginia at a 200 year old farm owned by Jack & Mary who have served with CVM for a number of years – Mary has done a number of livestock projects with us in Uganda so we had some good time with them to plan some more projects for next year.  Nathan’s favorite part was the horse (and also the dogs, the cats, the snakes in the tree, the cows, the wild turkeys, and the donkey).

A few minutes away in downtown Salem we stopped off to greet Rachel, the immigration lawyer who helped us get Nathan’s visa last year.  She did a fantastic job for us, so we wanted to stop by in person and thank her for all the hard work.


Roadtrip 2018: Kentucky

20 May

After a short 7 hours in the car through Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio; we arrived in Maysville, Kentucky on Thursday evening.  We met up with Rachel’s parents and all of the brothers and sisters, spouses, and children for 3 fun-filled nights on the southern bank of the Ohio River.

The occasion: Granny Ann’s 100th birthday party.  It was fun to be together with the Kentucky family to celebrate Rachel’s grandmother.  We ate a lot of good meals together, visited some Amish stores, and walked down by the river.

We head out of Kentucky on Sunday afternoon.  The rest of the family flies back to Portland but we continue on to another state: Virginia.

Roadtrip 2018: Michigan

19 May

Sunday afternoon was a long drive around the southern edge of Lake Michigan up to Grand Rapids.  We spent 3 days enjoying time with friends that we have served with in Uganda at one time or another and who now happen to be in and around the Grand Rapids area – Steve & Tanya, Jennifer, Ben & Christina, and Dave & Veronica.  It was fun to see these friends in their native habitat after having spent so much time with them in Uganda.

Plus, Nathan got to spend some time on the beach at Lake Michigan, he caught his first fish, and he tried out paddle boarding!

Next up, a 7 hour drive down to Maysville, Kentucky for the big party.

Roadtrip 2018: Wisconsin

15 May

Roadtrip 2018 has begun – heading through 9 states in 12 days.  First stop: Wisconsin.

We flew into Chicago on Saturday and headed up to Grafton (north of Milwaukee) for a night with our friends David and Kelly.  Kelly and Rachel taught together when they were living in Mexico City.  They made it out to our place in Portland before we left for Uganda and even came out to Soroti to see us last year.  This is our first time visiting them in their place.

Sunday morning we spoke at the 2 different churches where Kelly is pastoring.  After our double churches, we had a picnic on the shore of Lake Michigan before jumping back in the car for the next leg of the journey; Wisconsin through Illinois and Indiana to Michigan where we will spend our next few days…