I’m Back From Congo And My Head Is Spinning

Sometimes you just need to start typing and see what happens next. I think that’s what I’m going to do today since my mind seems to be thinking about a million different things at the same time. If there was a better way to organize the inside of my head I would be more than happy to do it, but that’s just not the case. Instead I’m going to ramble a bit and see what comes out. Yeah, that seems like the best way to do things at this point.

First off, I’m just a couple of days back from my trip to Congo, which is a little hard to handle. Not only am I physically tired from the two week trip and the 30+ hour travel home, but the juxtaposition of that world vs. the reality of San Francisco is shocking to the system. We have so much and they have so little. We’re always looking for more and they’re just trying to survive. We have order and infrastructure and they have complete chaos. We’re always trying to squeeze our faith into our lives and their faith in Jesus Christ is off the charts.

Being one place and then hopping into a few jets and being in the other can really make your head spin with questions, which is what I’m feeling right now. I want to make the most of my experience in Congo, but at this point it’s hard to explain what I’m feeling in a way that makes sense to someone who wasn’t there with me. I guess I just need to keep processing and do my best not to forget the people I met and the things that I saw.

Stephanie and I went to Congo together last year and it’s something that neither of us will ever forget, but this year I headed there solo. This makes it harder to talk through, but I’m doing my best to share the experience with her and I’m hoping that the videos and photos that we have will help me tell a better story to her. I know it’s never easy being the one who stays home while the other is out on an adventure of a lifetime, but that’s how it happened this time around and I need to make sure that she still feels like she’s a part of the trip. It’s not going to be easy, but that’s my goal.

I love Stephanie more than anything and it’s been hard to be away from her for so long (SXSW for a week, then Congo for two weeks and tomorrow she leaves for her spring break for a week). We haven’t had a ton of time to talk through what’s been going on in our lives, but tonight we’re having date night which I hope will get us on the same page. We’re not the best at communicating with one another, but we’re getting better and we both know it’s important to let each other know how we’re feeling, whether it’s good or bad.

Heading back to work the day after getting back to the US might not have been the best idea, but it was good to see the isocket crew again. It’s only been two weeks since I left but in the world of a startup lots of things can go on during that seemingly short amount of time. My workday consisted of attempting to explain what my trip was like in the span of a short conversation and catching up on my emails.

From what I could tell things have been going well while I’ve been gone and isocket continues to grow in ways that I could have never imagined back when I was hired as the first employee a couple of years ago. It’s exciting and fun to be part of a team that’s trying to do something that’s never been done before and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help make it happen. It’s a roller coaster, but I guess that’s what I signed up for.

Other than that it’s been great to have warm showers again and to snuggle up with Frank (our Pug). It’ll be nice to have this weekend to get things cleaned up and washed and to have some time to get more of thoughts together. Oh, and the Final Four is this weekend, too which is pretty awesome since I’ve missed all of the March Madness up until this point.

But, until then it’s back to work and I need to get off on the next train station so we’ll catch up later. Here’s to an awesome rest of your Friday and have a fabulous weekend (I know I will).


I Hit My Fundraising Goal For Congo!

[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]I wrote this post last night on my flight back to San Francisco from SXSW. [/box]Just a couple of days before I headed to SXSW in Austin, TX I was blessed with an online gift that put me over my fundraising goal of $2,600. I decided to raise money with WePay which was super easy to setup and a simple way to collect online payments if you ever need to raise some money.

I was also mailed a few checks the old-fashioned way and with those my total is actually over $3,000, which means that my church won’t have to pay as much toward my trip as they had originally thought. This means they’ll have more money for the next person like me who’s planning on going somewhere on a mission trip and needs some support.

Over 20 people threw some money my way and I appreciate every single penny of it. I’m now going to be able to fly all the way across the world, love on some people who need it and I’ll be doing it all in the name of Jesus Christ. If that’s not awesome I don’t know what is.

As I’m writing this I’m on a Southwest flight back to San Francisco (through LA) and I’m feeling a little worn down from all of the action I’ve had over the past few days. Thanks to a small amount of self-restraint at open bars and the morning runs that I intentionally scheduled in the mornings while I was there I don’t feel too bad. Tired? Yes. Hungover? Heeeeecks nah.

It feels good to be able to sit down for a while and type on my laptop without having to ask someone who they are, where they’re from and what company they work for. I love meeting new people as much as anyone, but talking to strangers (and some friends) from 8am-midnight tends to wear me down. Not to mention my feet were killing me from just walking and standing all day. I know, it’s a rough life but somehow I found a way to manage.

Enough about SXSW, I’ll talk about that some other time — it’s time to get ready for Congo and I’m really getting excited about going. It usually takes me a while to get excited about things, but with only 12 hours until my first flight it’s too close not to.

I’ll get back to San Francisco at 9pm tonight, pack and get all my stuff ready tomorrow and then head back to the SFO for the first leg of the 30+ hour trip. I can’t wait to start the adventure and I guess this would be a good time to learn some Lingala.

That’s all I have for now, but there will be much more coming soon. Thanks again to all of your who gave me some of your hard-earned cash so I can make this trip to Congo happen and please keep me in your prayers for both betting ready and while I’m over there.


How I Taught The Congo About Computers And High-Fives

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]I’m going back to Congo in March and need your help! Check out more about what I’ll be doing and donate some of your cash over here. Thanks for being awesome![/box]When I went to Congo last year to teach a computer course at one of their local universities I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve trained hundreds of people how to use software over the years, but I’ve never officially taught students in a classroom setting.

The outside of the university

I’m using the term “university” loosely, as it’s not what most of us Americans would think of when hearing the word university or college. The university that I taught at consisted of three cinderblock rooms with no electricity, bathrooms or anything else that we’re all used to having inside of our schools.

Even though they had a few computers on hand (that our church donated five years before) none of of them worked, so before I could teach them anything on the computers I needed to fix them. I hadn’t fixed a computer in probably ten years, but it all came back to be and before you know it we had fifteen of them up and running.

Somehow this generator powered my entire classroom

Of course I also needed electricity in my classroom so we used an old worn-out generator that pumped in the juice I needed to power my projector, computers and the mobile phones that all of my students kept trying to plug in whenever they had the opportunity.

Even though most of the students had a mobile phone, getting a good charge is still a luxury in Congo. I even used it as motivation to answer questions during my class. Want to get a charge? Answer a question correctly and you’ll get yourself a couple hours of talk time.

The students never missed a chance to charge up their phones during class

Before going to Congo I had never spoken Lingala (a Congolese trade language) or French (the Congo’s educated language), so I used a translator who had trouble speaking English, but could translate everything I said into French. His name was Remy and he wore a suit every, single day. Up until then I had never used a translator and Remy was more than awesome. I have to admit, it was hard to begin with but we figured it out together and got into a groove in no time.

My translator Remy and I were a good team

Remy always looked good — check out that suit!

Mix all of this with the fact that the students didn’t even know what a mouse was, how a keyboard worked or how a computer even turned on and you have a situation that could go from bad to worse to horrible in no time. But, God helped me pull it off, the classes went better than expected and I ended up bonding with the students in a way that I could have never imagined.

The students couldn’t get enough of the computers

This is one of my best students, Karl — he would help me teach the class, too

I even taught them how to high-five, which they loved. So much, in fact that we all did a high-five fest at the graduation ceremony once our classes were finished.

When I received my certificate for the class I taught I surprised my students with a little bit of Lingala I learned and screamed out “Nalingi Bino Mingi”, which means “I love all of you very much!”. The students went crazy and the only reaction I felt was appropriate was to high-five as many of them as I could as they screamed in excitement.

Check out the video below for how it went down. [view on YouTube]


I’m Going Back To Congo (And Would Love Your Help)

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]I’m going back to Congo on March 14th and would love your help! Keep on reading for more details on why I’m going and here’s some info on how you can donate/get involved.[/box]

Ok, so here’s the deal. As some of you might already know Stephanie and I were blessed to be able to go to Congo with our church on a mission trip just a little over a year ago (you can see some pics, videos, etc. over here: http://www.hupandsteph.com/congo). It was incredible to see what God was doing in Congo and how much of an impact we could have in the couple weeks we were there.

Personally, I fixed a ton of computers, taught 80+ students how to use them and created relationships with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Also, just by being there and traveling all the way across the world to love on the people of Congo I made an impact in the lives of more people that I’m sure I’ll ever realize. I still keep in touch with many of my students (thanks to Facebook) and ever since I got back from the trip I couldn’t wait to get another chance to go back over.

I’m Going Back To Congo!

Well, a few weeks ago I found out that I’m going to get that chance in March (March 14-28 to be exact) and I’m super excited to go back. Really only the one thing I’m not excited about with this trip is that I’m going without Stephanie, which will be hard for us both. But, this is how God’s plan for this trip is coming together and we’re both happy that I’m getting the opportunity to go back and I’m sure they’ll be another chance for us to go back together again. I’ll be doing more of the teaching and technology repair while I’m there as well as continuing to build on the relationships that were started on my last trip and creating new ones.

Can You Help A Bruthu Out?

Just like with the last trip, I’m going to need your help with some fundraising. I still find it extremely ironic that it costs so much to travel to such a poor country, but I guess that’s how it goes. Anything you can do to help me out with the cost of the trip would be awesome (you can donate over here on this page)  and if you can’t give anything, that’s fine, too. Just please be sure to keep me in your prayers while I’m over there. Congo is still very unstable country and even though we’re staying with a good group of people who keep us safe, we still need all of the support we can get.

What I Need The Money For

In case you’re wondering and for transparency sake, here is a detailed list of what the $2,600 I need to raise is going to be used for:

– Outgoing flight to Congo $1,850
– Domestic flight in Congo $520
– Visa $200
– Insurance $35
– Reimburse the Congolese church for their costs to host me $900

Total Cost of Trip $3,500
Church Contribution (25%) $900
Total Money Hup Needs To Raise $2,600

All Donations Are Tax Deductible

All of the money you donate to my trip goes straight to my church and is fully tax deductible. You’ll be emailed a receipt so that you can write it off like a muthu.

Thanks, You’re Awesome!

If you have any questions of need anything, please click the Contact Organizer button and send it on over. Thanks again for all of your help with this and I can’t wait to get back to Congo!