Friday, March 21, 2008

That Sneaky Easter Bunny

Today was a very cool morning. The easter bunny TOTALLY surprised the Pannell house and came early. As Dad and Jude are heading to Mexico and Mom and Merrick to Colorado, it seems ol' Mr. Cottontail was on top of it!

So the kids had small baskets with some chocolate, a new movie and a gift. He also hid several eggs filled with jelly beans throughout the house. It was SO fun searching for them!

What a wonderful morning

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just Beat It

Last night was a great time. My family had a “dance party”. They just released the 25th anniv. Edition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album (am I THAT old???). So the Pannell’s cranked it up last night and went to town. It was SO fun. The kids just laughed and laughed! We had a blast. Merrick can move!!!!

It really made my soul smile. I can remember dancing together as a family as child some 20 yrs ago, and guess which record was on the phonograph??? You got it, “Thriller”. Thanks Mike, for the many memories!


Friday, March 14, 2008

1-16-08 Goodbye Pearl

Last day in Africa. It is truly bittersweet. I did wake up feeling much better. I was able to drink some water and some of Wendy’s magic serum, and even some dry cornflakes! Although I am seriously dehydrated, God is putting me back together! :)

I was determined to go shopping with my friends and bring home gifts for the family. It was fun. We went to a neat little artisan market. Photobucket I was able to find a little something for everyone. Here is Jenna testing out one of the many uses of her beautiful new fabric: Photobucket

Now… is going to be a LONG day. We have to waste time until later. We do not fly out until after 10:00 tonight. So, we sat and waited quite a bit. We went to a place called I Love NY Kitchen. It was very close to good ol’ American food. I jealously watched them devour their pizza and calzones while I ate a scrumptious bagel.

After more time wasting, we went to a really nice Indian restaurant for dinner. It was a great place. From there, our private little cab took us to the airport. That was a very hard ride for me. My stomach was lurching and I started to feel very panicky. I got extremely grumpy. Not sure what happened. A mix of tiredness, sadness of leaving, emotions and general American attitude.

This is my ONLY regret from the whole trip. The last few days I have not been myself at all. I let myself and spirits get defeated, and I am sure I came across like a jerk many times. This is NOT who I am, and I just pray that any I may have affected have the heart and grace to forgive me, and will know who I REALLY am.

But….this was it. In 1 hr we will leave this country on a giant Airbus heading west. I simply cannot believe what I just experienced. I cannot wrap my head around it. God took 3 weeks, and through them, he literally crashed into my very soul! And everything I thought I knew and understood so clearly, God has turned upside down. And as cliché as it may sound, I will never be the same again.

God, I truly thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for the way you brought this all together. Thank you fro a supporting church leadership to send me. Thank you for an amazing wife to allow me to leave fro so long. Thank you for dreamers of faith like Jeff and Greg for making this a reality. Thank you for letting your Spirit change me.

I pray I will take all of this, eventually process it, and use it for the rest of my life. Goodbye Africa. Goodbye Uganda. I will always love you.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

1-14 and 15- 08 "Squatting around the Throne of Glory


I skipped yesterday….well because it was spent in a toilet induced haze!
I am just really ill. I must have been in the bathroom 300 times in the last 24 hrs. I am very weak. Jeff says it is either Giardia or some Amoebic dysentery. OH BOY! I did start taking cipro last night…I hope this will kill something in me!

Today I am still pretty nasty. I did drink a little water and a Sprite today. I could even walk. I woke up and went to get a drink. I forgot where I was, so you can imagine my surprise when I opened the door up to a giant warthog!
The drive home was a little rough, but I made it fine. I even ate 4 crackers, my first food in days! Once on Ft. Portal we find out that the Kenya violence is worse and there is literally NO GAS. So sadly, Jeff and Andrew cannot take us and see us off.

But Jeff found a cab driver in town to take us in a crammed little van for a good price. So, somehow we made it to Kampala that night. We stayed at the MAF house. Once again, I was too sick to join my friends, so they left to eat at the American Club. I called my wife and for the 1st time I really lost my emotions. It was totally unfair to her. SORRY DEAR!

We called Dr. Ellen, and Wendy got me some meds. She is convinced it is dysentery. It was STRONG meds. I took 4000 mgs of antibiotics in one dose. Since we fly tomorrow, she was trying to kill anything in me!

What a day.

1-13-08 "Goodbyes and Fevers"

It is the last day at the FP Church. I am going to miss these people and this experience of praising God with them. It was bittersweet in church. I could watch Derrick lead worship all day long. I cherished every moment in my prayer group with Earnest, Derrick, Martin Luther and Agnes.

I had the honor of doing the call to worship today. Following this Cheryl shared a prayer for a beautiful little girl named Anna Marie who’d been having serious medical problems but is doing better. It was a great morning.

During the service I quickly began to feel terrible. I was burping up rotten eggs, had a fever and shivers and was sweating. My whole body got tired, achy and sore. I prayed and prayed that I was just tired, as I do NOT want to return to my family feeling ill. I want to go back to OR healthy!

Church was so good. Matt gave the sermon and did a wonderful job. Afterwards, we went and got sandwich stuff for lunch before taking off to the Game Park. I was still feeling nasty. I took some Advil and had a 102 fever.

By the time we took off, I was really sick. I was trying my best to stay positive, but the prospect a few hour drive was not sounding great to me. I just hope I do not miss out on our “vacation” part of the trip.

The drive was okay. Mweya Lodge is beautiful. Photobucket
On the way in we saw deer, elk, birds, warthogs and buffalo. We even saw an elephant on the side of the road!
I skip dinner and go straight to bed. Let’s hope tomorrow is better!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WHAT THE...... ?

Seriously...this NOT a joke. Read this


And if that doesn't work they are thinking armed Knights at the border, or a tower with a yodeling watchman......

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

...more U2

I know that many of you are burnt out on Bono. But, I personally think he is a great theologian of our time. Here are some great quotes from the band.


Monday, March 10, 2008

God is truly a teacher

There is so much in life I don’t understand. There are so many answers I don’t have. There are so many things I cannot wrap my simple mind around.

I still don’t fully grasp why the world is so full of pain, poverty and illness. War makes very little sense to me. Why is there oppression and murder? I have learned to strangely find peace even in the face of these things the more I walk with God. But, I cannot tell you why God allows horrible things to happen to His creation.

Recently, I have been a 1st hand witness to some of these “difficult times”. My wife just lost her Grandpa. He was a grandfather in every way, but to her, he was also more. When she was only 5, Jessie’s dad died. As such, Grandpa Jim was a big part of her upbringing. He was a big part in her life, and therefore, he was a big part of my life.

Often, he could be so fun to be around! Other times I wanted to choke him.  He often shared great wisdom with me when we spoke. Other times all he would speak of was “The Clintons and Queers”. But, I can say with 100% confidence, that my life is much fuller, richer and more interesting and better because he was in it.

Losing him was very hard. It had been awhile since I was forced to look death in the face so up close. We hurt. We cried. We mourned. We knew what loss was. And I am not completely sure exactly what….but I am sure we learned from it.

Even more recently I have been close to another loss. My dear sister-in-law Hannah (who is as close as my own baby sister to me) and her husband Mason have looked despair square in the face. They lost their beautiful baby girl at 20 weeks into a difficult pregnancy. It is just a terrible thing. She was stillborn a beautiful, perfectly formed girl. I can NOT wrap my head around this at all! Why would God allow this? What could He possibly use this for? How can we find ANY good in this? Where do you go from something like this?

I am not sure. I just do not know, but deep inside of me is a whispering assurance that all is going to be okay. Suddenly I think I understand what I am supposed to be learning from all of this: LOVE, FAMILY AND FORGIVENESS are the keys to this life!

We miss Jim. And I am SO glad that we were reconciled in our relationship when he left us. I am so glad we had settled any petty differences that may have existed. How miserable would it be to lose someone in your life and have silly arguments and disagreements still hanging out there? What would that ever accomplish? We can hold on to bitterness and anger as long as we so choose, but it will not ever change a thing! It is meaningless in the end. I have to forgive. Forgiving others…it is for me, not for them. Happy or angry, we will all meet the same end. So why not do something about our situations? Life is fleeting and there truly are no real assurances.

Our families are the greatest gifts we have. This means immediate and extended. How often do we take the time to appreciate every minute? How often have I put my kids’ requests off so that I can read one more chapter, send one more email or deal with one more phone call? What is more important to us, our jobs and one more sale or the fact that our kids and family just want a sliver of our attention? Each day is a gift. It is up to ME to make the most of them. It is also up to me to make time and peace between those God paces in my life!

And through this all, I have learned that nothing gives strength or brings healing like love. Grandma is hurting, but she has great strength and she WILL be okay, because she has love! Hannah and Mason are reeling in pain. But in time, they too are going to be okay, because their life, in spite of everything, is filled with love.

I do not think we will ever grasp the plan God has for us. He is God and we aren’t. But I do think he gives us wonderful glimpses of his wisdom if we are looking. We get these glances in the laughs of our kids, in the hugs of friends and family, in the kisses of our spouses. We can grasp a sliver of “the meaning of it all” in the days we spend with no cell phone playing on the trampoline, and in the times when we are blessed enough to comfort or be comforted. We even get to see some of God’s greatness in pain, death and sorrow.

We serve a mysterious God. But he is a GOOD GOD nonetheless. I am so grateful that he teaches us. I want to be a good student. I am trying to learn. And I understand that only I can make this life what I want. I can forgive and love, or cling to anger and rot away. I can love my family over all, or I can compromise the greatest gift I have. And, I can love unconditionally, just like I have been given.

Sin List

this was an interesting article I found this morning. Read it

"NEW" sins huh? i was sure the Bibel had that covered......

1-12-08- The Kid's Hospital


Today started off as a slow day. It was really nice. We woke up a little later than normal for breakfast. After the food (I have never had more “Spanish" Omelettes in my life). We settled our bills with Morris the innkeeper. I so much enjoyed our stay here. The entire bill, even with gift basket souvenirs was only about $260 for the entire week!

Eventually we went to “Missionary Headquarters”, aka the Cash home. After hanging out with the family awhile we went to our last lunch at M.O.M. I will miss the beautiful people, amazing service and Mirindi fruity drink!

Next we ran into town to get cookies for our plans of the day. This is the 1st day I am NOT excited about. We plan on visiting the Children’s hospital. I did to get to drive in town, which was VERY cool!

I did not want to visit the hospital. I LOVE kids, but I cannot handle children in pain. I am very weak here, I know. I knew it was a wonderful thing to do, but my insides were screaming to run!

It was VERY hard when I got there. The place was terrible compared to wheat we call a hospital. Dirt was everywhere. There were no windows so flies were quite prevalent too. The “beds” were rotten and torn up old mattresses. The air was dead and stifling. This is not to put doen the workers here. They were doing the best with what they had, it was just hard. And of course, there were lots of sick beautiful kids there. Some were battling diarrhea or malaria. We met an 8 yr old who still breaks my heart. She was dying of AIDS (both her parents died from the disease). She had the saddest and most empty eyes I have ever looked into. I had to leave the room several times.

The last kids were the worst. Thieves had burned their hut, and the 2 baby boys got trapped in. Their entire bodies were burned horribly. One lay there moaning in pain. It was the worst thing I have ever seen. I felt very helpless. I couldn’t take it. I left and broke down in the courtyard. God, please be there in that place!!!!

It was very good for us to go. We gave them cookies and made them smile. We sang them songs. I feel that we lifted many spirits, but it was very difficult. I struggled with why my life is so blessed. I praise God for a healthy family. I have never known pain like that.

Bless those kids oh Lord.

more from Uganda

I apologize for my sporadic postings on Uganda. I vow to get these finished for the 1 or 2 of you who actually care! 2008 has been a really hard year so far. This last week my family was visited again by death. A dear family member lost a child at 20 weeks. We are all in mourning. Please pray for her, and forgive my lazy posting.

So…here we go:


After Breakfast, Matt and I walked to the Cash house. It was a great morning. We spent some time at their house cleaning up all the equipment from Camp. It was nice and relaxing. I also wrestled with the Cash boys.

Much later, we headed back to the church property at Kagote. We set up the HUGE screen for the Jesus Film that night.. It was a very hot and sunny day.
Next, Matt and I got picked to go do some more door knocking. I was glad to go, but it was HOT! And just like yesterday, it was a blessed experience. One lady had us into her tiny little hut. She was so sweet. She shared her faith story and how excited she was to have a church nearby.

After an hour or two, we hit our last house. It was the 1st home where the people were visibly downtrodden and defeated. “How are you” I asked the folks on the porch. The man of the house answered, with a blank expression, “I am here”. No joy. Only apathy. I asked him how his family was. “Somehow fine” was all he could muster. We soon learned why. After they talked with us, we asked to pray for the family and he said “my daughter very sick. Cancer in her face”. So we called her over to pray over her.

I was not prepared fro what we saw. Her face will forever be burned in my memory. She looked like a normal little beautiful girl, somewhere between 6-9, but the right side of her face was HUGE and disfigured by a gigantic tumor. It was terrible. She sat right next to me and I began to pray. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit, as I am sure He prayed that prayer for me. I’ll never forget her. I wonder today how she is, and what God is doing in that situation.

At 4:00 a very pink Matt and I returned to the church site. We hadn’t eaten since 8:00 am and we were famished. A few locals started to trickle in. They came right into our group like we were best pals. I guess we are!

So anyway…long story short, we plugged in an Ipod to the speakers and started blaring some tunes to draw more in. The heat was a distraction. Many were waiting for more shade to arrive. But, eventually they came. We preached and sang. We taught and played with kids. We set up volleyball net. And, after much fear due to faulty VCR’s, God got the film started.

Once going, Cheryl had sent us some amazing BBQ sandwiches (God bless her!), so we sat under the pavilion up top and ate like pigs in the dark. It was here we could first see the size of the crowd. It was HUGE. Several hundred were there. It was wonderful listening to their reaction to the scenes on the screen.

Afterwards we prayed with anyone who wanted to come forward (that was amazing for me) and we broke things down and headed home.

Just before midnight I settled into my bed at the View. What a day!

Monday, March 3, 2008

1-10-08 "Knocking the Doors"

Well….It was only a matter of time. I awoke today to the “Rwebisengo Runs”….all I can say is thank you God for Rafiki toilet paper!!!!! And, thank you God that it seemed to go away pretty quickly. Today we are going to start ministering to he local community here in Ft. Portal. Tomorrow night we will preach at the new property and follow up it up with a showing of the Jesus film in their native Torro language! So, our plan is to go door-to-door (though many of the homes have no doors), invite folks, tell them about the church coming in to the neighborhood, encourage them, and pray for them.

We met in the morning at Jeff’s place, where he and Derrick gave us more history lessons on the history of religion in Ft. Portal. To be honest, after the talk, I felt a little helpless. There are SUCH GREAT hurdles to jump here! These families here face MONUMENTAL tasks daily!! We should be praying for them without ceasing!

After the talk, we went to The Gardens Restaurant for lunch. I was still feeling quite green, but was starving. SO I ordered a grilled, shredded beef sandwich. It was SO SO SO good!
The best meal I have had here by far! While we ate, they washed Jeff’s car (using green river water). It was nice to dine with friends in the sun and enjoy the day.

After the food, we headed to Kagote to pray at the church property. We prayed fro the outreach we were about to begin. And then we got into “teams” for the task at hand. I have to tell you….door to door ministry is probably my GREATEST fear in the world! I can preach to 200 with no problems, but one on one I get scared to death!

My team consisted of myself, Greg Woods, Sunday and Bright. We took off to conquer our “neighborhood”. I was scared to death though I tried my best not to show it. It was AMAZING! The African teens were unreal at approaching people. The locals were amazing! They were so loving, welcoming and gracious. “You are most welcome men of God” they would say. It was very humbling. “Give us a word from God”. They would invite us in, hold out hands, and treat us like friends. We would talk and share. We read some for the Bible and then we circled up and prayed for their families. It touched me SO DEEPLY! In fact, I would say this day was the biggest blessing to me on the whole trip. I was amazed at how open and hungry for truth these beautiful people were!

It was just a wonderful day. Greg and I were “prayed over” in an interesting manner (I am still not sure if we were cursed or not). We also met a tiny little opposition from the 7th Day Adventist school of thought. But, it was wonderful. As we headed back to the property we met another of our teams. We walked back together. Patrick held my hand all the way. It was cool.

Praise you holy name for today Father! Give me the courage to always be so bold in your name!