Friday, September 25, 2009

Nicaragua 2009: Kim's Story

I have not done a post on Nicaragua for a while but I had asked the team members to submit stories that were particularly touching to them during the trip for inclusion as a guest post. Today I would like to tell Kim's story. Kim came on this trip like many of us not really knowing what to expect and afraid of flying, I think it turned out to be a wonderful and terrific trip for her. I know I really enjoyed watching and listening to Kim on this trip, she has a tremendous heart for the children and being a nurse was able to clean and care for some of the children's wounds while we were there. The following is Kim's story:

I heard the voice of the Lord saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?" Then I said "Here I am! Send me." Isaiah 6:8

The trip to Nicaragua was a great experience. I feel God called me to be a part of this wonderful team in spreading the love and word of Jesus Christ. I have to admit I was scared but I didn't let that stop me. I was scared to fly and even go to a foreign place with people that I really didn't know. It was such a bonding experience and now I have 8 great new friends here in Virginia and many new ones in Nicaragua because of it.

It is hard for me to express the emotions and feelings that I have for the trip. No words can truly express what I have seen and experienced during my time in Nicaragua. “The Dump” is a trash dump that some Nicaraguans live in. The photos don’t allow you to have the full experience. The photos don’t allow you to smell the stench or to experience breathing of the infectious air these people breath on an everyday basis. I have to say we Americans are spoiled. I feel blessed for everything and everyone in my life.

If I had to pick another moment of the trip that stands out it is the first feeding station we went to. It was in a remote village and we all helped to prepare the food. When it was time to feed the children they all line up with what ever they have to put the food in, some had nothing. The children with no dish or plate to eat off of are what I remember the most. The fact that, we had to pull leaves off of the trees around and use them as plates for these children to eat off of, has left a lasting impression on me. All I could think of was we throw away paper plates, cups, etc in our country. No more paper plates, cups, bowels or silverware for this girl.

I have to say I miss the beautiful smiling faces of the Nicaraguan people especially the children. I also miss the singing, and wonderful church services we attended. I can’t wait to return and hope all who have pondered the idea of doing a mission trip; have the courage to respond to the call. It will be an experience you will never regret and you will return a changed person.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Drill Bit

Introducing "Drill Bit"....many of you know we have "Lil Bit" and "Bitty Bit"(see Our2Bits), now we have "Drill Bit"!

Drill Bit is very, very active and I hope will use his feet hiking with Croc someday!

Drill Bit does not like the camera!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Virginia AT 09-2009: Guessing Game

At the Punchbowl Shelter - in the picture Darth Vader, Top Dog, Thunderbird, Listener

One of the games Straight Leg and I like to play while on the trail is guessing how many people we will meet along the total hike. There are many factors that contribute to our guesses (or that is what I would like to think), where we are, what time of year it is, what direction we are heading, what is the weather forecast, how far are we hiking, and how many days are we hiking? Is this a popular weekend hike? We only count hikers with packs (not daypacks), we do not try and separate the thru-hikers from the section hikers or the weekend hikers.

I think what it probably all boils down to is; what does my gut tell me? I have found out that my gut is almost always wrong! This hike Straight Leg guessed (and I do mean guessed not estimated) that we would meet 7 hikers, I expertly guessed (and once again I do mean guessed) that we would meet 10 hikers.

When we arrived at camp on Friday I was feeling pretty good about my guess, we had met 5 hikers throughout the day and I was certain that we would meet at least 5 on Saturday. When 2 more showed up at camp bringing our total up to 7 I was not feeling so good about my guess any longer. Sure, I was certain that I would beat Straight Leg but it also meant that I had probably guessed too low like the person that guesses $1 on the price is right....just feels like cheating.

The next day we did not pass anyone for quite some time, then out of the blue groups of 2 and 3 started coming. We ended up passing 18 hikers when all was said and done, almost twice what I had expected. Most appeared to be thru-hikers heading South to Georgia, some were section hikers checking off yet another few miles of the trail. We got to chat with a few, exchanging trail names and hearing little bits of their was a good time.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Virginia AT 09/2009 - US501 (James River) to US60

Just the Three of us at the James River -- Bike, Croc, and Straight Leg

Bluff Mountain - Just two quick observations about this picture...
#1 Straight Leg looks really upset about something
#2 my hair is really out of control

I love educational opportunities -- a 300 year old Chestnut Oak!

More educational opportunities

Just thought it was cool

We love fires

Some of Straight Leg's Ink

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On the Trail

Old picture from our last hike but Straight Leg and I are back on the trail!


I am so glad that I am hiking this weekend because I am going to need the time to sweep the cobwebs out of my head from two days of mind numbing engineering learning. Engineering is such a fun field to work in but I have to admit the knowledge part of engineering fell off the excitement wagon years ago. Although we had and engineer from NASA speak at lunch today and I have to say it was fascinating. Check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day website for more of what we talked about. I am telling you, it was pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hiking into the Engineering Future

Off to an engineering conference....I know what you are thinking, "ooh, ooh, me please, can I come!" I just have to say there is more exciting things than hiking through the wilderness, enjoying the breeze, watching the wildlife. I mean who would not want to sit in on 8 hours of "Engineering Law" and "New technologies in concrete", I mean really riveting stuff....right?!? And as a bonus it is my birthday!

Oh well, I will do my best to not die from boredom and if I do not return send out the search party.

On a brighter note, Straight Leg and I purchased a new hiking tent today. Feast your eyes upon this awesomeness, it is a Golite Utopia 2+:

Straight Leg found it on Ebay for less than 50% of new and it weighs in at a mere 3 lbs 10 oz total!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to Hiking

So back to hiking, I have had an absolutely wonderful time writing about my experiences in Nicaragua and I have a few more posts to do, so I will work them into my usual hiking posts.

I was thinking today about why I love to hike and especially why I love to hike in the mountains...what I came up with surprised even me. When I really started thinking about it I decided that there are multiple reasons, each one unique and each one felt profoundly:

1. The thrill of the challenge - hiking is not easy. There are many times you are tired, hungry, and thirsty....but when you complete what you set out to do there is such a great sense of accomplishment.
2. The workout - I am an endurance junkie. I love just about every type of endurance sport....I love watching the Tour de France, the Hawaii Ironman Triathalon, I love running and biking--and hiking.
3. The solitude - when was the last time you sat down and took 30 mins or more with nothing going on? No TV, no computer, no books....nothing but your thoughts. We just do not do it in our society, we are always busy, always on the go. When you are hiking there is no reliance on time, you rise with the sun and go to sleep when you are tired. When we become still and just listen we can better hear God speaking to us, working in us. I love being still and knowing He is God.

4. The beauty of God's majesty - it is the same reason my wife loves the beach so much. I look at all that is around me, the complicated intricate beauty, with awe and wonder. I can't imagine how someone can look at this world and all that is in it and deny the existence of an intelligent designer. There are so many things showing the touch of His hand, His immense love, His sense of humor (just look at a platypus if you don't agree).
So we are planning our next hike, Straight-Leg and I are planning to hike about 22 miles. We were thinking about trying to do it in one day with limited gear but felt a more leisurely hike would be more appetizing. So we are breaking it into two days, barely 11 miles per day, although we have a long drive down and back but all in all should be a very relaxing time.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 11

My wife's blog:

Thank You

Thank you to the men who ran up the stairs, rather than down.

Thank you to the many many workers and volunteers that searched for days.

Thank you to the city who united together in a time of great tragedy.

Thank you to all those who remember.

May we all remember the importance of each day and how fragile and unpredictable life can be.

May we all choose to live this day--each day--in order to have no regrets.

May we all go to sleep tonight knowing we have loved those in our lives completely, utterly. May we forgive those who need forgiving, ask forgiveness of those we have wronged, and accept the Forgiveness that will completely erase and remove--as far as the East is from the West--all our mistakes.

May we come to know God's love that gives us life, and life abundantly!

May we wake up tomorrow and choose to live life fully, completely. And may we wake up each day afterward with the same determination.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Nicaragua 2009: Final Thoughts

Wow, what an incredible journey! It really helped me review what I experienced and process through talking about it. I may post a few more things about the trip here and there but here are my final thoughts.

1. I want to go back. I miss the children and the people....I miss working for the greater good, it was amazing. There is such a great need in Nicaragua and I cannot ignore that (I know there is great need in other places, but I have to focus somewhere). Not to say that I will not go to other countries, but this is where my heart is right now.

2. If you want an experience to help deepen your walk with Jesus I fully recommend going on a missions trip. If you want a relationship with Jesus let me know, I can help you there....or go serve as a translator (it worked for Miller).

3. I love the church we attend! I love the leadership, I love the people, I love the ones that took this journey with me and became my great friends through the shared experience.

4. There are faces and experiences that I hope will never fade from my mind, both good and bad. I want to look back and remember these people and experiences, I want these memories to help to shape my future and temper my actions.

5. If you have the desire, I want you to experience what I have experienced.

6. If they have the desire, I want my family to experience what I have experienced.

7. I want to walk more like Jesus walked, I want my love for people to drive my passion.

We are already planning our next trip, it should be around spring break the first week in April. If you would like to get involved let me know. There are many, many, many ways to help out.

1. You can go.

2. You can pray for us. Pray for health, for protection, for finances, for time off from work, etc....

3. You can donate items that are very useful:
  • Beanie Babies
  • Hair ties
  • Plastic cups and bowls (not the disposable kind)
  • Clothes for the Children
  • Bracelets
  • Crayons (I cannot tell you how many children lined up to receive ONE crayon)
  • Anything small (and relatively light) that can be easily packed and carried in luggage
4. You can support us financially

Any support or help is so very much appreciated, if you have items or want to donate please send me an email at, leave a comment, or send me a message on Facebook and I will email you the address.

Dios te Bendiga,


Nicaragua 2009: La Chureca (The Managua City Dump)

On Wednesday we went to La Chureca, I think John described it aptly when he said, "words alone can not describe just how bad this place was....It is probably the closest thing imaginable to 'hell on earth'!" What we saw and experienced there changed my perception of poverty, it destroyed my idea of need. Growing up in a military family I thought I had seen poverty, we lived over seas and traveled to many places including Korea and Bali where I visited and experienced how some of the poor in these areas lived. Even with these memories I was completely unprepared for what I experienced at La Chureca. I had never seen young children, the same age as mine, running around barefoot through trash, rusty metal, broken glass, and medical waste.

The following is what Kelli saw and experienced at the dump that day and later at Masaya where we went to "recover":

"The dump was excruciating to me. It felt like someone took my heart out and stomped on it and didn't stop there. They then picked it up and put it in a blender and turned it into liquid. It hurt my soul and mind. I will never be the same because of it. The kids have no choice, it seems to me that a parent would find a way, any way out or make another choice than to have their kids in a place like that. There should be NO reason to raise kids in a place like that! God knew that I was hurting deeply after that. I wanted to grab all the kids I saw digging in trash and take them home with me. I physically felt like I could not walk and by the grace of God, He walked me out of that place."
Once out of the dump and at Masaya a rain storm came raging across the lake that fills the old volcano. The wind was incredible, in fact I would say it rivaled some strong tropical storms I have been in, and was really driving the rain. The rest of the team got under cover and joyfully watched Kelli.

"During the storm I felt like God was washing me through and through. He cleansed my soul and spoke to me. The wind was not pushing me down or knocking me over. It was picking me up and surrounding me like arms would. I felt like fingers rubbing my back letting me know that it would be okay. That those kids would be in Heaven and have a wonderful, clean, place next to Jesus. Right next to Jesus, not down the block or around the corner, but right next to Him. That Jesus is wrapping His arms around them day and night and that He is looking after them when no one else is. I felt like if I let go of the rail I would have be whisked off the Heaven. I felt that as long as I held on to the rail I would stay on earth. That is why I had one hand up and one on the rail. I really wanted to be with Jesus in Heaven at that particular time. I wasn't thinking about anyone or anything just Jesus. I was thanking and praising Him for all He has given and not given me. I didn't feel like I was even there for a minute. I felt kinda like on another dimension (if that makes sense). It is something that will always be special to me and I can't wait to get to Heaven to have it again."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nicaragua 2009: "It's the Kids Man!"

Nicaragua 2009: Pictures II

The Girls loved getting their hair "done", the hair ties were a huge hit!

The Beanie Babies and candy were also a big hit (surprise, surprise)!

People also loved the Spanish New Testaments!

The Children were fascinated by the Evangecubes, they were such a great learning tool!

More than anything, the children loved it when we sang and talked with them!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nicaragua 2009: Video #2

Ok here is the long video of the entire trip, there are pictures (and some video) from the trip. You can also view on YouTube at