Our route across the United States

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Moving

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, but I have a good reason for that. A lot has been happening over the past few weeks, a lot of life changing decisions have been made and I can now say that on August 28, 2011 my wife and I will be packing up, driving across the country and will be moving to my hometown of Cumberland, Maryland.

We have started packing which is an adventure in itself, but the real adventure will be our 8 day road trip. Here’s what it looks like:

Day 1 – Camarillo, California to Las Vegas, Nevada

Day 2 – Las Vegas to Provo, Utah

Day 3 – Provo to Casper, Wyoming

Day 4 – Casper to Rapid City, South Dakota (we are going a little out of the way because we’ve always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore!)

Day 5 – Rapid City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Day 6 – Sioux Falls to Moline, Illinois

Day 7 – Moline to Dayton, Ohio

Day 8 – Dayton to Cumberland, Maryland

I will most definitely be blogging and uploading pictures from the trip because not only will it be my wife and I, our 5 trusty dogs will traveling with us.

Why are we moving to Maryland you may ask? Well, I accepted a job at Cumberland Community Church as an associate pastor overseeing high school, middle school and children. I’m super stoked because we were able to go back and visit two weeks ago and everyone we met was awesome. I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and being a part of their lives. Lots of different ideas are running through my head like starting a weekly podcast, developing a website specifically for the youth and installing a disc golf course at the house we’ll be living at.

Totally random but I’m also really excited to be living where it snows. Here’s to a white Christmas this year.

 

 

The Museum of Death

Last weekend my cousin and his girlfriend were in town so I took them down to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. They had looked up some things to do and mentioned the Museum of Death. It was near where we were so we decided to drop by and let me say, this was one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been in my life. I saw death during my time in Africa, it was an everyday, prevalent thing, but this place was different, this place glorified death.

The first room was the serial killer room where there were pictures, letters, and momento’s from their killings. All this stuff is real and has been collected over the years by the museum’s owners. There are some real sicko’s in this world.

The next room was actually kind of interesting. It was set up like a funeral parlor and showed the process of embalming someone and also how autopsy’s are performed. But it smelled strongly of chemicals and we had to pass through quickly.

After that was the hallway of cult killings. They had items from the San Diego suicides, Waco, and Jonestown. There were also rooms dedicated to Charles Manson and the Black Dahlia.

The most disturbing part came at the very end in the last room, which was set up like a theater. There was a video playing that showed people dying. The lady who owned the museum came in while I was standing there and she said, “this is my favorite clip, if I don’t see this clip at least once a day, it’s not a good day.” The clip was of a person jumping from the 16th floor of a burning building and hitting the ground.

It left me thinking, are these people glorifying death because deep down they are actually scared of dying. Scared of the unknown. Or do they look forward to death as a release of this life. I’m not sure which, if either, but I left that place creeped out and a little sad.

When Bears Attack

A few years ago I was in Colorado with the African Children’s Choir. We were at a camp just north of Colorado Springs for a few days of rest, but when we first arrived we were warned that there were bears in the area so we had to be cautious, make sure we never left food lying around outside, and were told not to be outside at night.

Our second evening there, we had a talent show competition down in the main assembly area of the camp. It was a big pavilion that was open on one end and had a stage and fire pit inside. We had a nice fire, roasted hot dogs and the kids sang, dance and acted. We laughed and we cried and had a wonderful time, but eventually it was time to go back to our cabins to call it a night, it was starting to get dark.

I had decided to give the kids a scare, so I ran out of the pavilion ahead of the kids and went up the path and hid behind a big bush. As the kids came up the path I growled, then jumped out and shouted, “I’M A BEAR!!!!” They all screamed and started running up the path toward the cabin and then laughed when they realized it was me. I stood there watching them all walk up the path when one of the other adults said, “Adam, don’t move. There’s a bear behind you.” Of course, having just scared the kids I didn’t buy it, I wasn’t going to fall for this, so I turned around and there 20 feet away from me, was a bear.

I didn’t move, I just stood there and looked at it and it looked back at me. It lifted its snout and sniffed the air, checking out my scent. I guess it didn’t smell a threat because after a few seconds it turned and sauntered off into the darkness and a few minutes later we heard it knock over a trash can in the pavilion where we had our talent show.

Myself and the other adults high-tailed it back up the path to our cabin where we locked ourselves inside and were able to laugh about the experience. We didn’t see any more bears throughout that week, but that was the last time I pretended to be one.

Qui for dinner

I recently became the owner of 3 guinea pigs – Benjamin, Theodore, and Francesca. They are cute and adorable but I forgot that not too long ago, 2007 to be exact, in Ecuador I ate Qui for dinner.

Qui is what they call guinea pigs in Ecuador. They BBQ them and then use scissors to cut them up. I was a bit hesitant but hey, you have to try new things so I bit into the piece I was given and it was super tough and not tasty at all. Not to mention, the guinea pigs who were still alive were watching from the cage nearby, I was eating their friend.

So now everytime I look at my squeaking, cute guinea pigs, I see them BBQ’d on a stick. Maybe I should stick with dogs.

Yaws on my arm

I had recently returned from working in Sudan where it seemed like exotic diseases were waiting around every corner, yet I had been spared, I was back in Uganda completely whole and healthy. Or so I thought.

About a week before I was leaving to head back to the states these bumps arose on the outside of my right arm around the elbow. Over time these bumps grew and hardened, turned black, scabbed, itched like crazy, eventually fell off and left scarring where they had been. They never came back and didn’t really cause any discomfort other than itching. I was just glad they were gone because I didn’t want to get quarantined on my arrival back in the US for being contagious with some strange disease. Well I thought, it was Africa, things like that happened, no big deal, but I always wondered what exactly it was….

Flash forward 6 years and I was in Darwin, California with a group of friends on our way to Death Valley. Darwin was a creepy town but there was a sign pointing off into the hills with a UFO on it and said “Yaw’s Gate ahead”. That piqued our interest so we all began searching the internet for anything referring to Yaw’s Gate. We couldn’t find anything about a gate, but the term “Yaw” turned out to be very interesting.

There’s a disease that occurs in some tropical areas that causes bumps that grow and harden, then turn black, scab over, itch like crazy, and eventually fall off and leave scarring where they had been. It’s called Yaws.

So it took a few years, an adventure to a ghost town in the Californian desert, following the trail of a mysterious UFO gate, and Google to finally figure out that I had Yaws on my arm. That’s pretty cool.

I’ve included a link below to an article about Yaws, but only look if you don’t get squeamish:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaws

Legally Blind in Kampala

If you wear contact lenses or glasses this post will resonate with you. I have horrible eyesight so having my contacts in is a must or I’ll stumble around in a blurry world.

When I lived in Uganda I would usually go into Kampala once a week, usually on Tuesdays and it was a day to enjoy some nice things that Uganda had to offer. I would go to the gym, look around the mall, and eat lunch at a pizza place downtown. I loved Tuesdays, I loved my trips into Kampala, but on one certain Tuesday, disaster happened

At this point I have to stop and thank my good friend Mark, if not for him I would probably still be wandering around Kampala unable to find my way home.

Mark and I had gone into the city together and after working out we both jumped into the pool to cool off. I swim with my contacts in and I open my eyes underwater, making sure to close them before I surface. But something happened that day that had never happened before and has never happened since. When I came up out of the water both, not one, but both of my contacts had fallen out in the swimming pool. The clear, sharp focused world I was used to living in had become a blur where everything ran together into one enormous blob of color. I flubbed my way over to the side of the pool and climbed out and told Mark what had happened. We were supposed to be going to a meeting or something after the gym so I tried to convince him to go to the meeting and I would find my way back to Gaba to get new contacts. It wouldn’t be that hard to find my way out of the mall, catch a boda boda (motorcycle) to the taxi park, navigate through the chaos to the correct taxi, get off at the right stop, pay the correct amount of money and walk the bumpy roads back to my house.

Thankfully Mark realized the nonsense in my thinking and decided to escort me back to Gaba. He didn’t hold my hand, but I followed closely behind him, squinting to make things a little clearer and we made our way out of the mall, onto a boda boda, through the taxi park, rode all the way to Gaba, paid the correct money, and stumbled up the bumpy road to the house. Once in the bedroom I found my spare contacts and put them in and the world was brought back to that sweet clarity.

The lesson from this story: if you wear contacts and go swimming in Kampala, make sure you either have an extra pair of contacts with you or a friend who will be your seeing-guide for the day!