Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Now?

Now that we've gotten back from Ethiopia, I have been struggling a bit with the "What Now" mentality. What am I now to do with what I know and what I've seen? I guess I am a little worried that life is going to get in my way of what I need to be doing.

Like a lot of people, Mrs. McGoo and I lead a pretty busy life. Ask most that try and get together with us and they'll tell you, we're always on the go. So it can be easy for us to get distracted with "life" and everything in it. I have been praying that God continues to show me the things that he desires of my life and where he wants me. I feel like I am in a bit of a holding pattern right now to some degree. Still got a little bit of school left and then what...

I have been seeing things a little differently lately as well. While I've never been one to worry about the latest and greatest gadgets and stuff, I've found myself annoyed at things that normally wouldn't bother me. Example...I was annoyed after reading that people stood in lines for hours to get that stupid iPhone. Normally, I'd still think it was moronic to stand in line for a stupid phone or an iPad. Those that know me know my disdain for Apple Nerds. But now it is on a whole 'nother level. My mind immediately goes to this..."these folks can sit in a line for 5 hours to worship the Apple God's, yet can't spend one hour serving our ONE true God." I must admit, this is the enemy working in me to some degree. Who am I to judge?

While there is merit to question how some people can throw away perfectly good money that could go to some great cause, on a brand new phone (even when their other phone is perfectly fine). Yet I am reminded, they do not know. Maybe some do not want to know, but maybe they do not know what is out there.

As I wrote before, I felt very selfish when I was in Addis. Not because of what I had, because I am not condemning what I own or what someone else owns. I felt selfish because of what I have done with my time. I felt that a lot of my time had been wasted. So whether it is spending 5 hours in a line for a stupid phone, spending 6 hours on the couch watching sports, sleeping in until noon on weekends, or whatever, we've all been guilty of it. So for me, what can I do to change that behavior of wasting time?

That is the question I need answering. Only God has the answers for me. I guess I just need to ask.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ethiopia Reflections

Mrs. McGoo and I have been back from Ethiopia for a week now and one might think that we've had ample time to sit back and reflect on our visit. That being said, she and I sat down for the first time Saturday night for the first time to discuss. While I have been home sick (and watching the World Cup), Mrs. McGoo had to hit the ground running and didn't really stop at all this week to reflect on what going to Addis Ababa really meant and the impact it had on her. As we all know, life doesn't stop while we're gone, so it quickly met us as soon as we got back.

We were blessed with being able to discuss our trip with our Sunday School class Sunday morning and I know for me, it was a good way of getting off my shoulders some pent up frustration. Frustration because I hadn't really had a chance to tell people what went on over there as well as what God was doing in my life. Being sick all week forced me to sit at home and not get out much. So I was chomping at the bit to preach the news.

Our Sunday School has grown leaps and bounds in the last six months where I don't really know half the class now. Seems like we've added around 20-30 new people to our class. I was telling a friend Mrs. McGoo and I have been gone so much lately that the "new" people were coming up to us introducing themselves to us and welcoming us to the class. So it has been encouraging to see how God has started moving in our young marrieds class. However, I wasn't sure how my talk about our mission/journey to Africa would be met. Would they be like, "Who is this dude and where did he come from and why is he talking about Ethiopia?" Much to my delight, everyone at least laughed at my jokes and listened to my heart.

We presented to the class a little about the mission trip and the organization we worked with, then talked about what we did while on the trip with the kids and the staff members. Once we did that, we showed them the video that Joe Bridges put together. Let me say that I was fine until the video portion. He did such a good job on it and it brought everything back into perspective for me. Then I told the class a little about what Ethiopia represented to me. Here's my story...

About 3 years ago, I lost my job. Not knowing what to do, we fell to our knees and asked God to guide us in what direction we should go. Throughout it all, I felt his push for me to go back to school. It went against everything that "the world" tells us. 'THE MAN SHOULD TAKE CARE OF HIS FAMILY' is one of the things my pride kept telling me. Fortunately for me, I have an incredible support system in place with my wife. She encouraged me to follow the Lords desires for me and to not be afraid of what He had in store for me. I looked at it from the worldly perspective and my wife from God's point of view. So I decided to go trust the Lord and go back to school. When we decided this, we thought, "OK God, now how exactly are we going to pay for this? Not only do we not have money coming in from one half of the family, but now we've got to pay for it." We got on our knees, like we so often do, and told God that if it was his will, he would make it happen.

One day after church, I ran into the soccer coach at the University of Memphis. In talking with him, I told him of my desire to go back to school and we were following the Lord in it all and trusting that he would provide, since we did not have the means to pay for it. The coach looked at me and said, "Well, we're in the market for a new soccer manager, so if you are interested, we'd love to have you. It would pay for your school." I remember looking up at the sky after that conversation and saying to God, "You really do have your hand in all of this." Come to find out that not only did it pay for my entire schooling, but books as well.

Then came time to pick a major. I chose Sports and Leisure because I LOVE sports. I thought that I would work for a athletic dept or a pro sports team. God had other plans. Throughout my time working in this department, I've found that God is wanting me to go more towards the Leisure side of the major. Now I know what you are thinking...Leisure? You major in laying around? Not exactly. Leisure is the side that is more Non-Profit related and Youth Organizations. So think Make-A-Wish, Special Olympics, or YMCA. Or, Missions...

Anyone that knows Mrs. McGoo or has read her blogs, they'd know she was and has been on fire about going to Ethiopia for a mission trip. I, on the other hand, was a but apathetic about it all. I remember asking her why Ethiopia? Why did she have to pick the most expensive trip instead of going to say, Uruguay or somewhere else in South America. She looked at me and said, "Kelly, because this is where God has placed in my heart...I want you to come with me."

I've always had a longing to go to Africa and especially recently, but that is because the World Cup is going on. I told her that I was looking into going on a study abroad trip with school. As luck would turn out, I got accepted for two trips. One was called the Great Western Trip and the other was a trip to England to work for some professional sports teams. I chose the Great Western trip and put the other as my secondary choice. When it came time to find out about the trip, I got a phone call from the leader and he said that the trip had been canceled. Then about 30 mins later I got a phone call from the leader of the other trip telling me that my application was perfect, but since I didn't put them as my first choice, they selected someone else. So there I was, left without a trip. Enter Africa.

We started raising money for the trip and again, I asked Mrs. McGoo how would it be possible that we would be able to raise $6000 necessary for the trip. She looked at me and said, God will provide. We were quickly humbled by the generosity by so many. People that we weren't even that close to donated support. I remember rubbing my eyes one day realizing that we had met our goal faster than anyone else on our team.

I say all this to explain to you that I was not overly shaken by it all. Until I stepped foot on African soil. It immediately all made sense when I got there. God had been preparing me all along for this trip. I said before in another blog that my senses were attacked when we got their. It smelled, pollution was everywhere, the smog overtook your senses, and it was so dirty. Yet when I got to the drop in center, I saw the children. I saw the beauty that was in their eyes and the beauty of the culture. It all made sense to me. This is exactly how God sees us. Broken, nasty, messy, dirty, smelly, and yet in it all, he still loves us.

I realized then how selfish I had been. I've lived my life, believing in a God that has taken care of me, yet done nothing to take care of others. I felt so small. I've been given it all, yet have squandered so much of my life. I just couldn't stop thinking about all that I have taken for granted and how I have envy in my heart for things that I do not car, new clothes, new this, new that...

Since I have been back, I have had a little more clarity with my life and where God wants me. I love helping people, love kids, love major is Sports and why not put all these things to work for God's purpose. Without getting into any details, because I don't want to get ahead of myself, but God has some stuff working. Hopefully I can expand on it more later, but rest assured, He's working.

I say all this back story to show how it wasn't me asking for something and God delivering in a week or a month. This has been God's plan now for going on 4 years. It is pretty neat to look back and see Him working in us and knowing where He has us is right where He wants us. I can honestly say that I have renewed faith in him saying, "Trust Me."

So for me, trusting the Lord means starting small and dreaming big. My goals are to begin to pray more for my wife and how I can continue to be a man that puts the Lord first in our marriage. Pray for my family. Pray for my friends and begin to expect greater things from them. Pray for my community and start serving more in it. Once I can get those tackled, the rest will follow suit.

Here is the video from our trip to Ethiopia. Got the embed code to work. I love the song Joe put with the video. It hits me right where I need to be.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday Pics from Addis Ababa

Wednesday - the end of the school year celebration - we traveled over an hour outside the city with about 80 children to enjoy some larger areas of land to play in and experience the "end of school year" program that the staff and children had put together. Team Ethiopia put on ACTIVITIES & GAMES once the program was completed that afternoon and after lunch was served. Here is a glimpse of the day in pics:

Excitement about the day was even present in the kids from a bus window as we drove past!

A few pics of the local life on the way to the park


Teeth Kelly and the Nursinator

The kids choir

KC delivering a message on Zacchaeus

There were supposed to be bottles there...they moved them from me

The food for the day at the park. A TON of food

The Staff

Liz taking in some food and culture

Mrs. McGoo posing with the kids

Tom getting a photo opp

Jon and our resident kickball official

Getting some shade while the football match was going on

Leading the cheers for Team David

Jon scores. Brother Joe celebrates

Joe taking a break for celebrating

Team David relishing their win

Both teams take a photo. I think I got stuck in that position for an hour

I get the feeling he enjoyed that more than I did

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tuesday Pics in Addis Ababa

Kara teaching about David and Goliath. KC Playing Goliath

A whole bunch of Davids

Nega watching over his kids

Getting some sun

Biruk and I leading in "Nega Says"

Nurse Boonie patching up Telihun

Bonnie, Ruth, and Liz trying to cheer up Hannah

Grabbing a bite at Paradise

LAST CALL. Dawit is serving. You got ID?

Mrs. McGoo with three of my favs at the Halfway House

KC and Teeth Kelly getting ready for patients

Desse and Mandela. Smile!

My favorite photo of my wife

My future's so bright...gotta wear shades

A Nation Celebrates

Thought this video was pretty cool. World Cup fever has hit. Unless you're that guy that is asleep with the drool on his face while watching golf or nascar.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Few Pics from Monday in Addis Ababa

Here are just a few pics from our first day at the Drop In Center

One of THREE 'puna' (Coffee) ceremonies by Fitula the house mom

The Drop In Center kids singing us a welcome song

Mrs. McGoo teaching the kids 'Nega Says' (Simon Says)
(You can see the area and surface that these kids work with playing games everyday)

The Drop In Center kids showing off for the camera
(Asrat, Yared, Tamrot, Sintayehu, Addisu, and Tamrot)

Trying to help the little one spike it on the boys

Kalaab (GREAT KID) and Mrs. McGoo

Playing 'Nega Says'

Kelly and KC using Ruth in a demo

Little Nati getting those teeth cleaned

Liz offering up some comfort for little Nati


Lately, I've been bloggin' about our trip to Africa, but I have to take a one day break to post some pics of our incredible win today over Algeria.

Thank goodness for the World Cup right now because this is the worst time of the year for sports. Golf, Racing, and's what I like to call the black hole of sports. I will say this, they are good for when you come in from working out in the yard and you need a good nap. They'll certainly put you to sleep.

Anyway, Landon Donovan scored in injury time to give the Yanks the win and move them on to the knockout stage. From everyone I talk to, read on message boards, blogs, and facebook, they were screaming as loud as I was. My voice is completely gone and looks like it might take a day or so to recover. That was the most incredible game I've seen in some time. LOVE IT. The Beautiful game. I love the national pride. I also love that it is actually a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP...unlike a lot of our other American sports that call themselves "world champs" yet they only play in leagues in the states.

The Beautiful Game.