About Me

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New Orleans, LA, United States
Family from South Africa, Born in New Orleans, Lived in South Carolina. Married to Annabeth since May 2004. We have three boys (Bolt, Mack, and Birk). Currently living in Uptown NOLA and serving as Lead Pastor of Vintage Church and Camp Pastor of Student MissionLab.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Myanmar Day 1-Saturday March 28th

First let me tell you who is on the trip with me.
Scott and Wendy Duke are the leaders of the sports organization. I have known Scott for a couple of years, but this is my first time meeting Wendy. Jonathan is from Greenville and is currently living in Spartanburg. We supposedly played ball against each other in high school. Sean and Rob are members of Vintage and good friends. Sean is a high school teacher/coach in Chalmette and Rob is a freshman at Tulane. That’s it. I thought we were going to have a couple others, but I wasn’t mad. It meant that we had less subs for the games.

We arrived in Yangon, Myanmar this morning around 8:00am. I have done a lot of flying around the world, but this was one of the most intense journeys. 1hr to Houston. 11hrs to Moscow. 11hrs to Singapore. 2.5hrs to Myanmar. Over 25hrs of flying! Singapore Airlines is great, however they don’t know how to keep a plane cool. Dang it was hot, but I seemed to be the only one that struggled with it. I’m always hot. I probably slept a total of 10hrs of the flight, watched 3 movies, wrote over 5pgs of Vintage notes, and read almost 2 books on my new kindle. Everyone else did great on the trip. Sean had a little allergy issue, but survived.

When we finally got to Myanmar, I got a little shock. Looking on my passport, I found my Myanmar stamp from the trip that I took back in the fall of 2005. I had told the guys that the airport was extremely ghetto and hot. Not the case this time, they had built a complete brand new airport with air conditioning. Our government guide for the week was waiting for us after the passport check (which is not as intense as the one in ATL). His name is Arthur. Arthur served as their guide on the last trip that they took. He is a very friendly and gentle man, which is typical of most people in this country.

All our bags arrived and we went outside to wait for our taxis. As soon as we stepped outside the HEAT SMACKED ME IN THE FACE. This place is HOT! March and April are the hottest months in Myanmar. I think I am going to lose some weight just from being in a constant state of sweat.

Our journey to our hotel was amazing. It brought back so many memories from the first trip. Crazy drivers, no set road rules, driver on the wrong side but driving on the right side. I love it. I also got a quick reminder of the dirt and the poverty in this country. Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia. And from what I have been told Yangon is one of the richest parts of the country. As we drove the streets I immediately began to reconnect with an intense burden over the physical and spiritual status of this country. G you have to intervene with groans that cannot even be expressed.

Our afternoon was pretty chill. We checked into the Summit Parkview Hotel, got some lunch in the middle of town (I got some stuffed chicken meal and some S-prite. That is how they say it), and then rested at the hotel. I am rooming with Rob this week and we decided to not nap like the others. We instead lifted weights at the gym and took a dip in the pool. It was very refreshing.

Around 4, we headed off for our first basketball scrimmage. After almost losing our lives on the road again, we parked in front of an amazing open-air gym. Kinda had a Hoosier feel to it. The gym was packed with kids watching and playing ball. As we entered the gym an immediate buzz entered the room. The Americans have arrived. Let’s play ball.

We played against a pretty decent team. I love their style of bball. Run and Gun. They are scrappy and never stop moving. The first two minutes caught us by surprise. We found ourselves down 8-0. Fortunately, we woke up and after 6 quarters of bball we won 98-78. It was a lot of fun, but man I was tired. In between quarters I connected with a lot of friends that I had made on my first trip. I will tell you more about some of these people later in the week. I also entered the crowd with some clapping and goofing dancing. The gym was packed with spectators and you could see that they loved having us.

The rest of the night was recovery time. Shower, Dinner, and then of course the massage. However, this time it was a little different. Instead of getting a massage from a recliner, we all had our own beds. These little Burmese girls bent us in positions that we have never been bent before. It hurt like heck, but I loved it. We got a full hour, full body massage for $8. Not bad.

Right before we passed out we went to Scott’s room for a little devo time in the Big Book. G spoke to us about having a strong compassion for these people and believing the unexpected and impossible can happen.

What a first day! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week will hold.

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