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Archive for Uganda


Soooooo, when you’re in college you think, “When I’m done with college (or  my college culture job) I’ll do so much ‘free reading’ ”.

Well, I am here to say that I’ve been out of that environment for 4 years now and have done very little of that ‘extra curricular’ reading I’d always longed for.  🙂

So, in an effort to be slightly less-lame, though not having a TON of time, I have tried harder in 2008 to do some reading.

I am only posting this as a form of accountability and iron on iron.  I am in NO way saying that I am proud of the number of books that I’ve read (or rather, not read).

I’ll break it down by categories:  books I finished, books I’m currently reading, books that are on the ‘to read’ list and your welcomed recommendations.  This list assumes the Bible.  🙂

1.  Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
2.  Mistaken Identity by Van Ryn, Cerak, Tabb
3.  Beyond the Band of Brothers by Major Dick Winters
4.  Stories In His Own Hand by Ronald Reagan
5.  The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam
6.  Open Water Diving Manual by PADI
7.  Girl Soldier by Faith J.H. McDonnell & Grace Akallo

1.  Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris
2.  The Last of the Just by Andre Schwarz-Bart
3.  The Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney
4.  The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller
5.  Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Braun
6.  A Faith Worth Sharing by C. John Miller (aka ‘Jack’)

BOOKS ON THE ‘TO READ’ LIST 🙂 (in no particular order)
1.  Why We’re Not Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be by DeYoung & Kluck
2.  Relationships-A Mess Worth Making by Paul Tripp
3.  Into Thin Air by John Krakuer
4.  Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
5.  When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey
6.  PeaceMaker by Ken Sande (this would be a re-read)
7.  Chinatown’s Angry Angel: The Story of Donaldina Cameron
8.  The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen
9.  The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
10. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
11. Escape by Carolyn Jessup
12. Awearness by Kenneth Cole


So, here’s to looking back on 2008 and looking forward to 2009, from a literary perspective, of course.



ok, so, follow me on this one…this post has several seperate thoughts that will converge (I hope). 

I am really really sensitve to perfumes and colognes (I wish that most people would not wear them).  Truly.  You know, the guy’s cologne that after one quick hug, it’s on you for the rest of the day.  Bleh.  Or, how about the woman at church that has used such a strong brand that you can barely breath?  Yeah, all of it is not my favorite.  Due to my sensitivity, IF I wear a fragrance (which I use the term loosely), I only wear HEMPZ Pure herbal extract moisterizer: I love the smell and I love the way it feels.  The problem with this particular brand/fragrance is that it costs $22.50 for 18oz.  I don’t use lotion alot.  ANYway, I was pondering this ‘state’ in my life (the state of wishing that people wouldn’t wear perfume/cologne) and I started taking an inventory of the worship team (a group that I meet with at least 2x a week).  To my delight and gratitude, I realized how fortunate I am (and have been for almost a decade) that no one on our team really wears ANY fragrances.  So, every Sunday at 7am and every Tuesday at 7pm, we find other things to notice and laugh about about each other.  🙂

You know how we label people? 
Well, how about the label that we give frugal people…if you use a rubber spatula to get the very last wipe out of the mayonnaise jar then you ‘must have lived through the depression’?  You know, stuff like that.  
I was pondering this today, as I have been nursing the last of my $22.50 bottle of moisturizer (that I’ve had for 7+ months), making sure to get every last drop in the bottle before I open the new replacement bottle.  I was thinking about how my patterns have changed over the years: some good, some bad.  One good one is that I really do use most things until they’re GONE (with the exception of food…soemtimes, you just need to throw it away).  When did this start? I’m not sure, but i do remember one of my college jobs was working for a millionare woman who had no concept of money management (nor did she teach any to her spoiled kids) and the amount of true waste and surplus that I witnessed (as i was barely getting myself through college) was profound to me.  Fast forward to today, I think through the increase in my involvement with justice based work, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to true destitution.  As a result, ‘wasting’ is hard for me to do with a clear conscience (I need only to picture a 6 yr old sex slave who is starved almost to death or the 9 year old Ugandan boy who was forced, by the LRA,  to kill his own brother, escaped and now tries to make it on his own in a war-torn country…and the list goes on).  I guess using moisterizer is a luxury that millions of people can’t afford…so, I scrape every last tiny dallop out of the bottle..not just for my wallet, but as a reminder of all those who have need. 

My pastor knocked it out of the park yesterday.  He said a lot, I appreciated a lot, but one main thing sticks out to me…how do i represent Christ to unbelievers in my daily encounters?…he used the illustration of 2 Cor 2:14

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”  

After people have been with me, are they left with a
1) pleasing fragrance (like my Hempz lotion)?  or
2) a faint foul odor? (like when you walk into a house that cooked fish the night before) or
3) a raging, gagging stench (insert the worst stench you’ve experienced…my EMT fire fighting friends say that anything GI related is horrendous)? 

the way I love the smell of my Hempz lotion (and nurse it and won’t waste it)…is that the same way that people respond to me because they perceive Christ in me because of my actions/words/tone/vibe/love/compassion/etc? (I doubt it)  OR, do I leave the smell like all the colognes and perfumes that gag me and that i can’t stand?  (probably)

I’m leaving out lots of sermon points, but 2 application points that he made that were SO convicting were (remember, this is about fragrance of Christ to unbelievers)
1) “How ya smelling these days?”
2) “Love them till they ask you ‘why?’ “ 

(dagger in my heart).


MAN PAGEANT ’08….tonight…7pm…Valencia High School.
You’re invited…everyone you know is invited….seating is limited…$7 at the door.
You will not want to miss it…it’s for the kids!
watch the manly promo….
post the manly flier…

Man Pageant…do it!


I’ve been quiet on this front due to a non-stop schedule.  Here’s the recap:

-Threw out my back
-Flew to DC with highschoolers from VHS ICU to Lobby in DC
(it was awesome and there’s waaay too much to say in this post)
-Through the course of the trip we had great conversations about life, purpose, the gospel, etc.
-We met hundreds of people who are helping Northern Uganda and we took part in the largest organized lobby for an African country ever in the history of the US!!!!
-I got sick and lost my voice on Monday 2/25 🙂
2/27 Wednesday
-flew home and got home around 12:45am on Thursday
-was supposed to sub but had NO voice (and had the flu?)
-instead stayed in bed; tried to reply to 100+ emails etc.
2/29-3/2 Friday-Sunday
-went to Kern River on the surprise ‘retreat’ that our worship team threw for Brad’s b-day; we had a great time! That should be it’s own post too.
3/3/08 Today!
-went to the doctor and learned that I have a variation of all the sicknesses that are plaging our nation; I have codine cough syrup for the wretched cough, I have antibiotics for the infection that seems to be running through my body, and I have a follow up appt in 2 weeks for the doc to check on the broken blood vessels in my left ear (which he suspects is from coughing) and he told me to stop talking and rest my voice!
-am in negotiations for a client who is trying to buy a house (trying to do as much on email as possible since i have no voice)
-Mike Butler came over for lunch while I stayed in bed and we watched National Geographic (sumo wrestling and Sri Lanka lizards)

3/4/08 Tuesday
-stay in bed as much as possible and sleep and heal
3/5-3/7 Wed-Friday
-Drive up to SF and attend the funeral of a dear friend’s mom who passed away while I was in DC
-continue to negotiate and wrap up these counters for my buyer
-Attend the Irish Fair down in Pomona…several people from my family will be there and some friends! Should be super fun (if i can make it that long!)
-Sing with Worship Team at church (I hope my voice is back by then)
-lunch with the Harveys who will be passing through on their way home.
-show houses to a client 🙂

-I know that I still have not posted the winners of the 1st annual ‘Cardies’ awards!   EWZ, thank you for the reminder.  I want to present the most deserving winners, so it does take time to decide (since everyone did a GREAT job 🙂 )…and as you can see my current schedule is going to delay it a bit longer 🙂

Hope you all have a  GREAT week!



This past weekend I attended a conference called Arts in the One World.  It was co-presented by CalArts and the Interdisciplinary Genocide Study Center in Kigali Rwanda.  The thrust of the conference was  ‘art and it’s role in social justice and how the two should interact’.  There were people from all over the world (mostly really smart, artsy, PhD type people).  

ICU was invited by the Dean of Theatre at Cal Arts, Erik Ehn.  He is one of THE most gracious, kind, mentally powerful and hospitable people I’ve ever met.  He found me on the internet last year and loved what we were doing in ICU and thusly he made efforts to connect with me.  That was over a year ago and we’ve been to 2 of his conferences and conversely, he and his wife attended our Party 4 Peace in September.  I am really honored and thankful to be included and moreover that ICU was asked to present!  We were the only high school represented amongst colleges and institutions from all over the world.

I went to as much of the conference as I could: watched movies on genocide, watched plays on Eastern European socialism, listened to updates on Rwanda (10 years after the genocide), listened to think tank discussions on art/activism/responsibility etc…it was intense and I have about 45 pages of notes.  This post, however, is not to extrapilate on the conference….it’s more to share a consequential pondering. 

On Sunday night, debriefing with a friend who had also gone to the conference, I was asked the sincere question, “Sam, what is your relationship with art?”.  The thought process that ensued was a very revealing one and I was so grateful to be asked a question that forced me down that road.  I sat and thought about my upbringing and my examples and my past with ‘art’.  Through it, I realized a new level of profundity about my grandmother and how her heart beat for God and how she desired to express it in her family, in her work, in her humanitarian efforts….through creative writing, painting, sculpting, drama, speaking, photography…through all the artistic means that God gave her.  As I looked back, I realized that she made it ‘normal’ to 1) see or feel something deeply and to 2) then translate that through an artistic medium so that others could partake in the joy or sorrow of the depth.  She had 11 children (my mom being one of them) and as I look at all my aunts and uncles, there isn’t a single one that doesn’t possess some really evident artistic expression.  I also see it in all the grandkids.  It’s amazing how she quietly shaped something in each of us, something that is deep inside.

Once again, I am humbled by and grateful for God’s mercy to us and that He created us with artistic means to honor, worship and adore Him (and that He gave my family a matriarch to model it). 


This week was filled with lots of subbing.  There is a particular group of 8th grade students that I am so discouraged by: by their disrespect, their excess, their lack of morality, but mostly their general lack of fear and gratitude.  For the first time in 3 years, I punished the whole class for continued behavior on the part of about 2/3 of the kids.  So, going from the shameful reality of the public school system into the theatre to watch War Dance……..well, wow….perspective.

War Dance is a film that documents the story of kids from Northern Uganda who compete for the 1st time in the Ugandan national dance competition.  They are the underdogs and favored to lose, but their spirit of perseverence and excellence and their deep kindness and gratitude is a stark and inspiring contrast to the 8th grade class at La Mesa Jr High (and the Ugandan kids were all survivors of child soldiery and/or being orphaned by the LRA crimes).

PLEASE go see this movie…you will be so amazed and moved.  I don’t know long it will be in select theatres, so check the theatre list and plan to see it.  It’s worth it.  I’ve still got thoughts swirling in my mind.


7th grade science at La Mesa Jr High…all those terrified little 7th graders on their 6th day of Junior High.  Man, I have missed them!

There was definitely some variety to the 6 different periods, but all in all a pretty predicatable crowd.  Of course we had some class discussion and here are some highlights:
Q-Who is totally freaked out about being in junior high?
A-Usually 2 or 3 kids would raise their hands.  I commended them for being truthful and accused the majority of the rest of the class of being untruthful…about 60% percent of the rest of the hands would go up.  🙂

Q-What has been better than you thought, now that you’re here?
A-The food.  There aren’t any bullies.  I haven’t been jumped by the 8th graders.  The classes seem shorter.  The homework isn’t hard. 

Q-What has been worse than you expected?
A-Having to wear sleeves (especially when it’s hot).  The lunch line is so long.  The 8th graders call us scrubs and won’t let us in the quad area. Overwhelmed by all the classes and the different teacher’s requirements.  Too many people on campus-can’t find their friends.

Their priorities are ridiculous, but that’s an American 7th grader for you. 
Here’s the cool and ironic moment…one of my students has been in the States for 2 years and is originally from Uganda!  🙂  That accent is unmistakable!  I asked him to come in at lunch (if he wasn’t busy) so that I could talk to him and ask questions etc.  He came in happily and I spent lunch listening to his story and how his mom has been here 7 years earning money to send back to Uganda to put them through school etc.  His perspective on the 7th grade experience and life in America was vastly different from the other kids.  He was so sweet and kind and aware.
I ended up giving him a copy of Invisible Children to give to his mom…he said that she’s always looking for ways to support Uganda.  I’m hoping to build a relationship with this family and invite them to ICU stuff and to COC stuff.  There’s more, but I need to get going. 

You never know what you’ll encounter when you go to school!  🙂