Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from Juarez, MX

We're back, despite over half the team coming down with stomach flu at the end of the trip. Here are some pictures from this amazing trip:

Details to follow later, but we fed almost 1,000 people who might not have had a meal otherwise. There's been a lot of scary news about Juarez lately, too, so it's easy to see that these people really needed and appreciated the help.

P.S. I got the head cold instead of the stomach flu -- one more thing I'm thankful for...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving for Mexico

Some of you may think we're headed to Cabo or some exotic location, from the title of my post. Quite the contrary, we are headed to Juarez, Mexico for Thanksgiving this year.

"Change" has been a big theme in the media and political spectrum this year, but we've been planning to return to help the poor in Mexico since we last helped out 2 years ago. We are working to Change peoples lives as best we can. We would appreciate your thoughts and prayers, as there have been over 1000 homicides in Juarez this year.

For those interested, here are some specifics:

  • Sunday - Travel day. Please pray for our time together, the blending of our team, the safety of our bus, and calm hearts for us as we go into a place very different than Boulder County.
  • Monday - Bethel Orphanage and Agua Viva Senior Men's Home. We will be spending the day loving the kids and these "grown up" orphans. We will share a meal together, share the Gospel, and mostly provide a visit in Jesus' name. Please pray that we would be bold and not timid and make the most of sharing with these sweet new friends quickly.
  • Tuesday - Bethel Orphanage. There is something wonderful about spending two days in an orphanage. To be able to say to the kids on Monday, "Hasta mañana" is simply the best! We will play soccer, basketball, football and other games with the kids this day. Pray for us as we leave part of our hearts behind as we say, "Adios" to our new friends on Tuesday afternoon and believe that God is with them always.
  • Wednesday - Brother Ray's Feeding Center/Church. Today we will worship with Mexican brothers and sisters, we will help feed 200 people and minister to Jenny Tapia and her small band of servants who work faithfully in this place each week.
  • Thursday - Loma Blanca Colonia ("White Hill"). Today we will serve a big Mexican feast to the colonia. We may have 400 people. Please pray that we have enough food, that there be a real sense of peace and calm on this place, that we will not be stopped by the poverty that we see and instead see this neighborhood with the eyes of Jesus. We will also share a puppet show with a theme of "Do Not Be Afraid, God is Always with Us!" Pray for strength and good relationships on the team because today we will begin to be very tired.
  • Friday - Loma Blanca Colonia. Today we will have a health fair for adults and kids. We will share the importance of good spiritual, nutritional, emotional, community health. We will also be doing a mini "Operation: Christmas Child" and deliver shoebox presents to the kids.
  • Saturday - Travel Day. Again pray for safety and for sweet reflection on all that we've seen this week.

I would encourage you to make a difference this Thanksgiving. Help out in a food kitchen or invite those without family over for Thanksgiving dinner. We have so much to be thankful for, even in these tough economic times.

Vaya con Dios!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

FLL Rising Stars!

This was our first year in First Lego League, so we had no idea what to expect when we started the season. The plan was to learn how to build a robot, program it, learn about climate and have fun!

The season started on September 5, and our team was able to meet once a week for about 2 hours. We tried to split the work up during each meeting, with some focused on research and some on building or programming. We made sure to rotate the work, so everyone got a chance to experience every aspect of the project. We also attended a Rookie Booster event, which helped get us on the right track and build some confidence.

The Regional Qualifier tournament was held yesterday at Monarch High School. It was a blast! There were 24 teams, so it was a very active place. It was fun to talk to the other teams about their experiences and see all of the different designs to accomplish the same tasks. The boys were a little nervous at the beginning, but they acted with gracious professionalism and most importantly: had fun!

Thankfully, our first competition run was absolutely perfect for the tasks we had programmed. We scored 120 points and, too our complete amazement, were in first place for the first 2 rounds! Our 2nd and 3rd rounds had some alignment issues, so our scores were considerably lower. Since they take the best of three rounds, our first round kept us in 5th place!

We were even more surprised during the award ceremony, the judges awarded our team with the FLL Rising Stars award! From the FLL site, this award is given to "teams that the judges notice and believe will soon be among the best and the brightest. The Rising Star Award recognizes a team that the judges believe stands out and that we expect great things from in future Challenges." Of particular mention, the judges thought our use of our robot arm and captured buoy to activate the storm mission was particularly innovative.

I'm very proud of our Hurricane Buster Bots team: David, Connor, Drew and Caleb. I look forward to next year!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008