August 2014 Update

Heading out on our road trip out to the Southwest - in all,
over 3000 miles traveled.
GO WEST

It had been nearly two years since we'd been through Southern California, so this Summer when we headed out West we went the Southern route. It was me and the boys' first time through New Mexico and Arizona, and the 4-hour detour to see the Grand Canyon for 45 minutes was a first too (Alisha had seen all of these on a trip as a kid).
I was surprised at how beautiful New Mexico is - I had
a very wrong impression. No offense to Nevadans, but I
can now say with a fair amount of certainty that Nevada
has the worst landscape in the country.
Having never been to Arizona before, I was a little
disappointed to not see any cartoon-looking cactus on
the side of the road. However, I think Flagstaff is my new
favorite place - I had no idea a city in the forest existed in
Arizona. I didn't even know there was a forest!
Very cool to finally see - it was a little embarrassing meeting
people in England who were amazed that we'd never been
to see the Grand Canyon before.

We got to spend some good time with family and friends - some of which we hadn't seen in two years - and we also camped for a few days up in Yosemite with Alisha's family, another first for me and the boys (yes, growing up in Northern California I had never been to Yosemite before!). What an impressive place.

We were sad not to make it to Oregon this time, but hope to do that on the next trip. Overall, it was a lot of driving but we enjoyed every minute of our visiting and were happy to be back living within driving distance!

We got a very special treat and got to see Manchester United
play at the Rose Bowl against the LA Galaxy with my sister's
family, the Morrow's. The boys were in 7th heaven.

The boys with Morrow cousins Joey and Bradley.
The Crawford and Berry cousins on a hike at Yosemite NP.
Brodie and cousin TJ and I made it to the top of Nevada Falls
at Yosemite - just as a thunderstorm blew in. Not ideal to
summit a rock face with lightning cracking all around.
EMI - EBOLA OUTBREAK

I'm sure everyone has heard of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, so I thought I'd bring you all up to speed on the close connection EMI has to this situation. I'm sure the name Dr. Kent Brantly is virtually a household name by now - he was the Samaritan's Purse (SP) doctor who fell ill with the Ebola virus and was flown back to the US to receive treatment (thankfully, he's largely recovered now).

But Dr. Brantly was working at Elwa hospital in Liberia, the joint SP/Serving in Mission (SIM) hospital EMI designed two years ago. We had a number of teams visit the Elwa project site, and I helped with some of the structural design for the hospital. Actually, the room that was dedicated to treating the Ebola patients was originally intended to be the laundry room, but they needed a secure, isolated place to treat the patients and it was about the right size.
The 2011-12 EMI Master Plan for Elwa Hospital in Liberia.
EMI's Disaster Response team also had a civil engineer lined up to go to Elwa hospital to help with the sanitation requirements for cleansing the rooms after the patients died. Unfortunately, Dr. Brantly became ill two days before our team member was to fly out to Liberia, and once that story broke SP decided to freeze all additional personnel from going to Liberia.

Also, as I read the stories in the news these days, in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, I keep running across the names of all the hospitals I worked in back in 2010-2012 doing the Mercy Ships facility assessments. These hospitals have become ground zero for this Ebola epidemic - and if you'll remember my blog reports after those trips and the stories and pictures describing the state of those hospitals, you'll know why the situation is as difficult to contain as it is. Sadly, those hospitals lack back services like consistent running water, consistent electrical power, and sanitation systems that function properly, if at all. Our reports addressed this and gave a path forward towards reliable water, power and sanitation, but Mercy Ships is still in the process of raising funds and trying to sort out the complicated process of implementing of our reports. Please pray for the people of West Africa, and that somehow God can intervene and spare those countries and even the rest of the world from this terrible illness.

FAMILY

Summer has ended and the boys are back in school. Alisha was not able to find a teaching job, but she's viewing that as a blessing in disguise as her heart really was not in it. She has applied and was accepted to substitute teach, so she's hoping to get an opportunity to do that. It would really help us financially, but we're trusting God in this transition period and he has always provided where there was need. Getting into substitute teaching in the district here can be very difficult though as there are many substitute teachers and long-standing relationships tend to win out. You can pray that she gets her foot in the door somehow.

Soccer season is also in full gear, so our schedule just got crazy with practices and games. It's all good though, as hanging out on the soccer field is a favorite pastime for our family - though we have to admit, the understanding of the game by referees, parents and even coaches here in the US is a bit of a challenge after having experienced the ingrained football culture in England. I guess it stands to reason, since the modern game was invented there!

UP NEXT

I head out to Egypt towards the end of next month...my first time in North Africa!
We had a Colorado office (Int'l Office and USA Office) staff
retreat a couple of weekends ago up in the Rocky Mountains.
We'd never really done anything like that before, and it turned
out to be a great time to hang out together in a beautiful setting.
Not a bad place for a weekend staff retreat, though the
elevation of 9300' was a little extreme.
The retreat center, run by OCF (Officer's Christain Fellowship),
had free kayaks to take out on their pond. Cool place!

Alisha led a P90X ('PiYo') workout with some fellow EMI
staffers each morning at the retreat.
The EMI kids did a water filtration demonstration to learn
more about what their dads (or moms) do on EMI project trips. 
These sand filters are simple to make and were a great
chance for the kids to learn.
The boys are ready for soccer season (Jonah's team starts
 a bit later than Brodie's and Graysen's).
Graysen and his teammate Colin at the Air Force Academy
fields - 28 fields in all were used for this massive
preseason tournament. We spent the whole weekend at
th fields and loved every minute of it.
Lining up for the tournament championship game. Gotta love
the pageantry!
Having a post-game chat. I love coaching these boys!

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