Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Quarter update

What's been going on?

-March/April - I (w/ Kindel's support) pushed hard to prepare for my PhD qualifying exam at the end of April. This was hard. I'm happy that it's over with.

-April 28 - passed my qualifying exam!

- April 30 - Kindel's birthday, she turned 20-something

- May 15 - 17 - short vacation in beautiful Monterey, CA; while it was blazing hot in Silicon Valley (where we live), Monterey was a cool 70 degrees! The water was way too cold to swim, but it was sure pretty!

> May (May and beyond) -
-I will be interning with a start-up in the area. I'll help solve the world's biggest environmental problems while doing some soul searching.
-Kindel will wrap up (teaching) school in the next few weeks. She has taken a summer job as a nanny for some friends. She's excited to have a relaxing summer and have fun hanging out with a toddler.
-My folks are finally visiting! We're excited to host my dad and step-mom in June, as well as my step-dad, mom, and younger brother in August. It's gonna be a blast.

If you think you might come to California, I think you should! Visit us, we'd love to have you!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

End of Winter Quarter

Highlights -

Last week was Stanford's Spring break. My building was going through office renovations over the break, so I stayed home to work on a paper. The paper is a description of the research I plan to do for my PhD and is the basis for my "candidacy" exam on April 28th. The second draft is complete and off to my boss for review. If anyone is interested in reading it, I can forward you a copy when we finalize it. The topic is "abiotic nitrate reduction by iron(II) surface and aqueous complexes". It's a real thriller, let me tell you!

Last Sunday, Matthew Smith from Indellible Grace Music gave an awesome concert at a local church. If you haven't heard of Indellible Grace, they're another group of musicians which I recommend. Their specialty is taking old hymns (greather than 200 years old) and rewriting the music to them. The hope is that hymns (i.e. the lyrics) will continue to be a part of church worship for this and the next generation of Christians. You can listen to samples of their songs at

I also was able to spend more time with Kindel during the afternoons. We made it over to the park to hit a volleyball around and to the bay for a walk. Yesterday, Saturday, we took advantage of the Spring weather and went for a hike. Wow, the hills were clothed with rich, vivid green trees and grass! We're feeling for all of our Midwest-friends and family who are blanketed with snow, and for our family in drought-ridden areas. God has once again been gracious to the Valley by bring such wonderful weather!

I've also been reading through Isaiah, and in ch. 19 God tells Isaiah of a recession which will come upon the Egyptian people. Vs. 10 sums it up: "Those who are the pillars of the land will be crushed, and all who work for pay will be grieved." The beginning of the chapter is vivid with language of judgement and that's why the drought, famine, and recession come. However, the end of the chapter is pouring over with God's mercy, "the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day" (21). What I took from this passage is that God brings about trouble (in the form of famine, recession, etc.) so that we'll find our treasure in him. Those who suffer as a result of this trouble need to hear the good news that God is a burden-lifting-God. He may not take us out of the trouble, but he'll 1) reorient our lives to focus on what's most important, and 2) provide joy everlasting.
- This is also one of the points of John 16. Jesus says that the disciples will have trouble, however He, Jesus, came to make their joy complete. Wow, this is really counter intuitive to our culture.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recommended album

I always appreciate it when someone recommends good, Christian music. I recently bought an album from Sovereign Grace Ministries which I think is worth sharing.

The album is "Looked Upon" by Na Band.

Here are the lyrics from the song "Thy Way, Not Mine". I find the words encouraging because graduate student life has been rough and I need to be reminded that God is lovingly guiding me down on the path. Music has a special way of communicating deep truths.

Verse 1
Thy way, not mine, O Lord
However dark it be
Lead me by Thine own hand
Choose out the path for me, for me

Verse 2
Smooth let it be or rough
It will still be the best
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest

Chorus 1
I dare not choose my lot
I would not, if I might
Choose Thou for me, my God
So I can walk aright

Verse 3
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill
As best to Thee may seem
Choose Thou my good and ill

Chorus 2
Not mine, not mine the choice
In all things great or small
Be Thou my guide, my strength
My wisdom and my all, my wisdom and my all

FYI... This song was originally written in 1857!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The desire to post has been there, but what to write? Maybe a good place to start is a list of some of the most significant things which have happened in my life during the past few months.

1. Made new friends - we've been able to hang out and get to know a newer couple at our church. We jive really well and frequent the law school game nights they host. To say the least, they've been very encouraging and are a hoot!

2. Men's group - I've met with a few men from church every during the past 8 months. God has used this group, along with my wife, to help me follow Jesus with greater fervor.

3. Rolan died - one of the guys in the above mentioned men's group was recently killed in an accident.

4. Research adventures - I've narrowed down my dissertation research, been preparing my PhD qualifying exam proposal, and made some progress on that research. The PhD qualifying exam will be in late April.

5. Slacked off on school work to hang out with my wife! Or, had Kindel help me in lab, grinding soil, washing glassware, or taking notes.

6. Driving around snow-packed Vancouver. I had never been to Vancourver before, so the 6 feet of snow seemed "normal." However, all of the natives assured me that snow always melts over night, and the weather was far from normal. Our two days in BC were spent dodging large mounds of snow while we drove all over Vancouver for a wedding which Kindel was in.

One of the funnier moments during our busier holiday season was had at the Denver airport. We had been waiting for our next flight and were perplexed to why we had not started boarding. In our confusion, and while looking at the sunset over the Rockies, Kindel and I realized, at the same moment, that our watches were still on Central Time!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The least we can do in light of the new administration

I think that in light of the imminent Obama administration, the least we can do is let him know that we oppose his promise to sign FOCA his first day in office.

"The Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA):

FOCA would establish the right to abortion as a fundamental right (like the right to free speech) and wipe away every restriction on abortion nationwide.

It will eradicate state and federal abortion laws the majority of Americans support and prevent states from enacting protective measures in the future.

  • FOCA will do away with state laws on parental involvement, on partial-birth abortion, and on all other protections.
  • FOCA will compel taxpayer funding of abortions.
  • FOCA will force faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform abortions.

Please read the expert analysis by Americans United for Life (AUL) and sign the Fight FOCA petition at:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

haven't seen that one...

We've uploaded a number of Kenya photos to photobucket, so drop me an email (preferably) or comment and I'll forward the link your way. Prior to the trip we purchased a new camera and two 4 gigabyte memory cards. The camera took amazing photos when the correct autofocus feature mode was used. I had the wrong mode selected for most of the trip and some of the photos came out fuzzy. Needless to say, we filled an entire memory card.

Here's a little taste of what we encountered:

We saw these lions in Masai Mara, the large Serengeti game preserve in Kenya. We came upon these lions by way of the numerous safari vehicles that had gathered in at this spot. Commercial tourist drivers are in the Mara with tourists every day. They have radios to talk with other drivers in order to make sure their clients get a diverse safari. Basically, it's all about the tips and providing the clients with a good story to take back to their friends and family.

Nonetheless, the lions were amazing to behold! Earlier that morning, they had take down a cape buffalo for breakfast.

A week ago we hosted a bbq at our apartment. We have wonderful friends, and as a result, we had a wonderful party. We're also especially thankful that our apartment was comfortable enough for us to host everyone. Lastly, we're thankful for the strength God gave us in order to stay up well past our bed time! A couple of the evening's highlights... Michael boiled brats in beer and onions, then bbqed them! Steven showed off his amazing thumb muscles... Drew and I are soooo envious! And Adam stole the cooking show by making an amazing jumbalaya.

Our friends love it when we put their pictures on the internet... I'm assuming.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

To Kenya and Back Again (a post by Kindel)

Hi dear friends and family!
It has been a long time since you've heard from us (in any lengthy fashion) about our travels in Kenya and then our return trip home. I hope to recount to you in a detailed and yet concise way. We both really enjoyed our time in Kenya visiting my parents, seeing wildlife and Kenyan geography, and interacting with the locals.

Our time in Kenya
Our time in Kenya started early in the morning of July 31. We arrived in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 6:30am and were quite ready to get off the plane and be at our destination. I, especially, was eager to get off the plane because I had gotten sick the last 2 hours in the air and was throwing up basically the only thing left in my stomach: water and bile. Not a fun experience. My parents were there to pick us up and we were able to wave and smile and gaze at each other through the glass that separated us while we waited for our luggage. All our luggage arrived and we were quickly off in the car my parents are using this year (borrowed from other missionaries). The first introduction Paul got to Kenya was the driving experience. He sat in the front seat as my dad drove - and it was an adventure with all the crazy driving, traffic, not to mention they drive on the other side of the road! We ran a few errands that my dad had to make for the vehicle shop at RVA and then we went to an American owned coffee shop called Java House. We had a scrumptious omlet breakfast. (After that meal I was feeling quite swell.)

RVA (July 31-Aug 3)
Our first few days were spent at RVA (Rift Valley Academy) to visit with my folks, adjust to the time change (they are 10 hours ahead of California time), and relax. Paul was very kind to me by complying with my method of fighting jet lag. We took a short nap the day we arrived, but other than that we were up in the morning and to bed at "normal" hours. We took a tour of the campus and were able to check out the new cafeteria construction that is still going on there. We played a game of racquetball (which really wiped us out physically) and went for walks around the perimeter of campus (called Guard's Trail). The day we left for the Abedares we had a clear view across the valley to Mt. Longonot (the volcano). For me, it was so great to be back at RVA again (I hadn't been back in 4 years).

Abedares (Aug. 3-Aug 5)
The Abedares are a mountainous region north of RVA. It is known for its moorland peaks, waterfalls, and bamboo forest. Elephants, buffalo, black leopards (very rare), and many deer-like creatures roam the area, but due to the thick forest, they are hard to see. We stayed in a rustic cabin with no electricity for 2 nights. We spent our evenings huddling by the fireplace playing cards and talking. Our daytime was spent driving around looking in vain for animals (except I did spot a black leopard that we all got a look at, but not long enough to take a picture), admiring the awesome waterfalls, and fishing in a stream for trout (which we could see, but could not catch). We were gone from the cabin all day, taking our lunch with us and having a picnic by the stream where the men were fishing. We were able to see a few deer-like creatures and a couple buffalo (not to mention the black leopard!!!!), and I think these sightings only whet our appetite for more animal viewing. Good thing we were leaving for Maasai Mara in two days!

RVA (night of Aug. 5)
We went back to RVA for a night to do laundry and pack for the Mara. Our clothes options for the Mara were very different than the Abedares, because the Abedares were really cold (high elevation ~10,000 ft.) and the Mara was out in the sunny and warm to hot temperatures.

Maasai Mara (Aug. 6-9)
Our first day heading out to Maasai Mara took a long time (6 hours bumping around in a Land Cruiser). By the time we reached our first tented camp (Karen Blixen Camp) for the night we were all pretty hot, dusty, and tired. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the camp was right on the edge of a river, home to about 39 hippos and 2 crocodiles. On top of this excitement, while sitting in their lawn chairs on the edge of the river, we watched all sorts of animals (giraffe, zebra, elephant, buffalo, gazelle (and other deer-like creatures), warthog etc. coming down to the water to drink! We decided NOT to get back in the car to drive around when we could just sit there (unmoving) and enjoy watching the animals! To say the least, we spent 3 hours sitting there enjoying the scenery and wildlife. Our tents were awesome as well. Two things we really liked about the rooms were: 1) the beds were new and VERY comfortable (we slept in a long time the next morning!!) and 2) they had outdoor showers - so we took a shower under the stars that night! Quite a charming and romantic place. If we could do it again, we'd stay there 2 nights instead of one.

Our second day we left Karen Blixen and drove into the Mara game park. We spent the day picture hunting animals while making our way all the way down through the park to our next tented camp (Sekanani Camp - where we stayed 2 nights). One of our exciting finds was a group of 3 cheetah lying under a lone tree in the middle of nowhere. Due to exciting viewing, we didn't get into our camp until about 6pm (the sun sets at 6:30 and it is dark by about 7pm). Our new hosts were a little worried about us, but were quite glad to see we had made it safely. We soon learned that we were their ONLY guests that night - so we received lots of attention. Dinner was quiet and relaxing. The dining area was lit with lights placed inside ostrich eggs. My dad was enthralled with the idea and made a mental note to look for some eggs of his own. It really was quite charming and peaceful. Both here and at the other camp we had Maasai escorts to and from our camp at night - since wild animals were not barred from coming into the camp. The guards were friendly and helped us with our water heater and electricity when each night they went berserk on us.

On our last full day in the Mara (Friday) we went on a leopard hunt. They are hard to find because they are mostly in trees and can blend in so well that you can easily miss them. We talked with some tour vans (those guys drive the Mara every day and know where to find stuff) that gave us directions on finding some quite a distance from where we were. We decided to go look for it and took off across the savanna. I have to comment on the landscape - it really is breathtaking and so easily missed when engrossed in looking for animals. Many times I was forced to stop and just take it all in - quite awesome! Just as we were arriving near the river where the leopard was seen, it started POURING rain. It was a downpour! The dust and dirt immediately turned into slippery mud and we were all over the road! The rain made looking in the trees for the leopard very difficult - and we didn't see anything (but that doesn't mean it wasn't there!). On our way back we got stuck in a huge ditch/rut. Thankfully, my dad was able to rock the car back and forth until he was able to get us out of there (remember, it was still raining a LOT). We eventually drove out of the rain and hit drier ground (so goes the rains in Africa). We noticed a group of about 12 tour vans and figured they were all looking at something exciting. We started to go over to them, but crossing the ditch near the road ended up stalling our car and killing the engine. When my dad tried to restart it, there was nothing there. Our battery was fried. Thankfully there were many vehicles around to pull us out of the ditch and in the process were able to jump-start our car. Since our mechanically competent men knew that the battery was no good, we decided to skip out on looking at the 20 some lions (which the tour vans were looking at) and head for the home of some missionaries we know who live just outside the park (and very close to the camp we were staying at). We had a bit of a time finding a road to their house (it was one of those situations where you can see the house, but can't see how to get there) but once we found it (via help of a local Maasai, who through offering to help and then jumping on our car took us there, despite the fact that we insisted we didn't need the help) we met the missionary families living on the compound with our friends and tried to get a new battery. The town near them didn't have one so we got back in the car and drove very quickly to our camp. We didn't get there until about 7:20 - which was after dark and which also made our poor hosts even more nervous. We were all happy to be back after such a long, eventful day.

We left Sat. morning with a visitor in our car - a son of one of the managers there who needed a ride to a town on our way. We stopped in a town about 2 hours out from the park to buy a new battery (we had started the car by pushing it down a hill). That done, we felt better and headed home. It was great to be back at RVA and out of the bumpy car. What a great safari we had!!!!

RVA (Aug. 9-18)
We spent the rest of our nights at RVA from there on out after the Mara. Paul picked up a new hobby of woodworking. My dad was the wood shop teacher last year, so had access to the shop as well as lots of knowledge and skill that Paul tapped into and learned from. His first pieces of wood work will be hung in our apartment soon, with enlarged pictures from our trip (he made two very nice picture frames). I got into walking around campus just about every day and tried to convince either my mom or Paul to join me. I also spent time with my mom while Paul was in the wood shop. We made some cookies, played games of Yahtzee, and she even let me cut her hair! We had a fun time together and I'm thankful for it. Paul and I also got to help my parents with their jobs/responsibilities around campus. We helped set up apts. for new staff coming in and cleaned our very dirty safari cars (we took one to the Abedares and one to the Mara). We seemed to fit right in to the life there, as one afternoon my mom and I were walking up to visit a couple that were my class sponsors when we saw a truck go by with a bunch of Kenyans and furniture. The truck stopped in front of us half way up the hill and to my surprise Paul got out of the truck and was holding a clip board and was obviously giving the men directions! I soon learned that while my dad and he were heading to the wood shop, my dad had 3 people come to him at once and ask for help with 3 different things. Since they all needed immediate attention, Paul was put in charge of one job - directing the men to houses where they were delivering furniture - while my dad went to deal with the other two requests.

Nakuru Game Park (Aug. 12)
We took a day trip to the famous Nakuru Game Park. It is famous for it's rhino and flamingo population. We saw both! We got some great close-ups of the rhinos and Paul and I enjoyed running next to the lake scaring up with flamingo. We also did some shopping (i.e. bartering) in Nakuru.

CURE Children's Hospital (Aug. 13)
After making cookies, my mom, Paul and I went down to the local children's hospital to visit kids who had undergone bone surgery and their moms who hang out in the hospital until their child was ready to go home. We brought them cookies (which they loved!) and joined them for their "spiritual hour" where they sang some songs, shared, and listened to a short devotional given by staff there. It was an eye opening time to see these people who were so happy and thankful when they had so little.

Bus Trip/Little Lambs (Aug. 15)
One of the RVA student experiences is to ride in a school bus through the tunnel that is on the road to the school. The buses fit with only inches to spare on either side of the rear view mirrors. The road into RVA is very steep and very twisty. Paul braved the front seat as we road in a bus with my dad to the top of the hill (RVA is in the middle of the hillside overlooking the Rift Valley and the road to Nairobi is at the top of that hill) to get it checked with a professional. I had to look away many times because it seemed like the bus was about to go over the edge of the turn. We made it to the top and back down again (thankfully!!).
Later that day we came back up the mountain (in a car this time) to visit the AIDS orphans at a daycare center called Little Lambs. We played games with them and enjoyed listening to them recite their memory verses and sing us songs. I handed out a book to each kid. The books were made by my students from last year. The kids were VERY excited to receive their own book. One little girl didn't know she could keep it and when we were leaving tried to give it back to my dad. When he assured her it was hers to keep, she gave him a huge hug and smiled. We left the group of about 35 kids sitting on the grass reading their new books.

Nairobi/Kitengela Glass/Airport - Goodbye Kenya (Aug 18)
We left RVA around noon and spent the day in Nairobi. We saw tea and coffee plantations along the way. We experienced the newest and biggest mall in Nairobi. We drove way out of town to a glass factory where they make blown glass objects from recycled glass. We got to stand very close to the furnace and watch the men make a bowl. Too cool! We did a little shopping and then headed back into town for dinner.

We ate dinner at Java House - talk about great food! Then we drove to the airport getting in the last few minutes of visiting before my parents dropped us off and we were back into traveling mode. As we sat for the last 3 hours in the airport, we found a spot to watch the Olympics on TV. We got on the plane for London at midnight and were both so tired we fell asleep and slept almost the entire flight!

Home Again (Aug 19)
We flew into San Francisco around 1:15pm and got all our luggage and jumped on the BART. We switched trains 3 times with out last leg of train ride on Cal Train. Once we got into Mountain View I was stationed with the luggage near the parking lot of the train stop while Paul walked over to our friends' apt. to pick up our truck we had left there. Unfortunately our adventures were not over yet. About 15 minutes after Paul left me he called me with the news that the truck was NOT THERE. I thought he was joking. We quickly started to realize that the idea of a stolen vehicle could be reality. Thankfully, it was not stolen, but had been towed the day before. Paul spent the next hour and a half walking over to the tow-truck place (which thankfully wasn't too far from the train station, since he was on foot) then to the police station (a good walk from the tow-truck place) to finally getting permission and paying the appropriate people to get the truck released. We didn't get home until after 5pm. We got a few groceries and went to bed by 7:45 as you can imagine we were exhausted.

I started work the next morning and Paul went to school too. Since then, we have been working the rest of this week and have enjoyed the lazy weekend. We are glad to be home but have fond memories of Kenya. Paul told some friends at church today that he'd like to go back. I have no problem with that! :)

Love to you all,

Paul and Kindel