Our Congo presentation and why we need the Congo more than the Congo needs us

A couple of weeks ago Stephanie and I joined Gary, Anthony and Joan in a presentation about our mission trip to the Congo. It was on a Thursday night and everyone who was interested in hearing about our trip were invited to come out and listen to some of our stories. The presentation was a way for us to share some of the amazing experiences we had while over in the Congo as well as a way to cloose the loop on the entire trip from a church-wide perspective.

What I mean by closing the loop is that by inviting everyone out and allowing them to hear and see what we did while we were in the Congo it lets them get a better feel for why we went, what we did while we were there and how it has affected us. This is a very important thing to do as the church body gives a lot of money each year to support both short and long-term mission trips, so it’s good for them to see where the money goes and how it gets spent. It also brings back a strong sense of being part of a church community that is doing some incredible things (like going to the Congo) in the name of God, which is also very important.

Before the presentation all of us decided that we wanted to tell our story of the Congo in a way that was beyond just listing out our goals for the trip and how we checked each one off of one by one. Instead of talking about how we helped out the people of the Congo with this and that we decided to put more of a focus on the realtionships we built why we were there and how we’ve realized that we need the Congo (and these relationships) much more than the Congo needs us. Each of us chose someone who we had built a strong connection with while being over in the Congo, which ended up being a pretty easy decision for all of us. We felt like by focusing on these relationships we built as opposed to the things that we did everyone would get a much better sense of what truly impacted us while being in the Congo.

Stephanie quickly chose Sarah, who became an amazing friend of ours during the trip. Sarah has one of the most amazing stories of survival that I’ve ever heard and despite the fact that she has been educated in the United States and could get a job with pretty much anyone she wanted, she still chooses to make her home in the Congo where she is making an incredible impact. She’s super awesome and she has a pet monkey. Like I said, awesome.


Sarah gets ready to translate Gary’s sermon to over 2,000 pastors. No pressure.


Sarah strikes a pose in her house

When it was my turn to present I talked about two guys who made a big impact on my trip, Texa and Zubusu. Texa and Zubusu are some of the most loyal and hard-working guys I have ever met. They both live and have families in Kinshasa, but they always seem to be traveling throughout the Congo helping out the church in any way that they can. Texa was our main contact while we were in Kinshasa at the beginning and end of our trip, which meant that he was there to pick us up when we first arrived in the Congo (I was never so happy to see him) and he also made sure that everything went smooth on our way out. Like I said many, many times while being over there — Texa is my homeboy.


Texa poses with his kids and Zubusu’s wife and kids

Zubusu, my other Congolese homeboy, is one of the best dressed guys I’ve ever met and as Gary puts it so perfectly, “is a beautiful man”. Wherever the president of the church was, that’s where Zubusu was, too. Like me, Zubusu has a serious passion for taking photos and video which meant that he was always running around getting great footage of all the people and places he saw each day. If he wasn’t holding a camera he was usually translating Lingala for us and doing other things that helped make us all feel as comfortable as possible. Like Gary said, Zubusu’s a beautiful man.


Zubusu and Gary at the pastor’s conference before the opening service

After the presentations we showed a video that I was asked to put together as a way to highlight some of what we did during the trip. The fact that I was forced to have something ready to show finally motivated me to edit up some of the hours and hours of video we recorded while being there. It wasn’t easy to squeeze 3 weeks of a trip into 3 minutes of video, but I think that it will give you a good sense of what life is like in the Congo and will also show you some of the experiences we were able to have while we were there. You can view the video below or over here.

As you can see, we definitely need the Congo a lot more than the Congo needs us.

Happy New Year! My thoughts on Times Square and how did you celebrate?

dscn1527-small

I’m going to make this quick because Stephanie and I have some more family to hang out with (we’re running out of time in Indiana!).

We wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year and we hope that you all had fun celebrating and bringing in 2011. As always, it comes up quick and before you know it you’re counting down during the Time Square ball drop. We had a ton of fun hanging with a few of our friends and have plenty of stories to tell now that it’s New Years day.

Of course a few of the stories were captured on video, one of which you can check out below.

After watching the Times Square extravaganza, here are a few things that stuck out to me:

1. It’s good to still see Dick Clark on air, but it makes me really sad every time (you know he had a stroke, right?)
2. Nivea was a little out of control with the sponsorship — I’m sure they paid a lot, but wow. Nivea was everywhere and slightly annoying.
3. There were a lot of bands that I have never heard of. Is this because I’m 30?
4. They clear people out of there really quick, don’t they? It didn’t take long for everyone to be cleared out of Times Square after New Years. I know that they’re not allowed to drink in there, so they’re all probably running to the bars for a drink.
5. Antoine Dodson had a lot of makeup on and was rocking some wild looking braids when he was interviewed by Carson Daily. Of course, the more amazing thing is that Antoine Dodson was on the New Years special with Carson Daily and he said that he now earns $50k for an appearance. See the video of him doing his thing over here on YouTube.

So, I guess all I want to know now is how did you bring in 2011? I showed you mine, now show me yours! Add a link to any pics, videos or anything else you have from your New Years celebration below in the comments. Here’s to an awesome year and as always, thanks for reading!

Getting into the Christmas spirit in Indiana

img_0427-large

Stephanie and I (and Frank) are hanging out in Indiana for the next couple of weeks, which we’re both really happy about. Even though it’s way colder than San Francisco and there’s a ton of snow everywhere, getting to see all of our friends and family make it all totally worth it.

We had a heck of a time catching all of our flights to get here (we waited over 4 hours at SFO just to check out bags and get our boarding passes), but we finally made it and it’s been pretty much a whirlwind of eating, meeting up with friends and family and driving (with a little bit of napping thrown in there for good measure). This is really the first time that I’ve been able to hop on my laptop for an extended amount of time, which should tell you a little bit about how busy we’ve been. But, the way I figure is the more I can hang out with the people I never get to see anymore, the better — even if that means sacrificing my beloved laptop time (did I really just say that?).

Both Stephanie and I are having a lot of fun catching up with everyone and telling them all about our upcoming mission trip to the Congo. We’ve got really positive reactions when we tell people about what all we’re doing and some have already donated some cash to the cause. Of course both of our parents are worried about us, but what’s new?

We both hope that you’re getting into the Christmas spirit and if you need any help with your holiday cheer I think that this video might give you nice nudge in the right direction. Now let’s get festive!

Hupfer home remodeling, how may we help you?

barthupheadinwallprogression

One of the things that Stephanie and I talk about a lot is how great it would be to start a business that we could run together. We don’t really know what that business would be exactly, but I’m sure that it would be pretty awesome. I mean, if our friends Holly and Ryan can do it with wedding photography I’m sure that we can do it too, right?

As with most things it’s easier said than done, but thanks to Bart (Steph’s dad) and Shannon (Steph’s step-mom) we had the chance to get a taste of some home remodeling today, which might just end up being something we could really go after from a business perspective. You never know until you try and today was an opportunity to do just that. You see, Bart and Shannon just moved to the Los Angeles area and have bought a house that’s about to get a serious makeover thanks to Bart’s remodeling skills.

Since Bart already has a good idea of the walls he’s going to be knocking out, we all thought that it would be a fantastic idea if we went ahead and got some of the demolition started by kicking a hole in one of them. I know what you’re thinking — kicking a hole in one of their walls might not be that helpful in the long run, but to be honest who cares? Even if we didn’t help out that much it sounded like it could be really fun to try.

So, is home remodeling going to be Hup and Steph’s next big thing? I highly doubt it, but feel free to take a look at the video below and make your own conclusion.

This video begins with our friend Adrienne kicking the wall a few times with no success. Then Stephanie gives it a couple of shots that don’t even make a dent. Finally, Adrienne gives it a couple more kicks that eventually make it through and then Bart follows her up with a few more kicks that end up going all the way through the wall.

After the wall had the hole in it, I thought that it would be fun to get a few shots of me getting thrown though the wall, head first by Bart. Needless to say, I think he had some fun taking these.

An interview with the super awesome Casi of SanFranciscoNoobs.com

422bb0b3b53b0a6499c7d00c3a9e5d1e_6577351

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m an internet stalker. I’m not ashamed if it and to be quite honest I’ve met a lot of amazing people and have been able to do some amazing things because of it. I mean, I usually don’t stalk for no reason (I stalk with focus!) and I feel like the stalkee to my stalker should probably take it as a compliment that I care enough to hunt them down.

I promise I’m practically harmless and most likey the worst thing that will ever come out of me stalking you is you having to meet up with me for a beer, which is just what happened last week when I hung out with Casi who runs the sweet blog SanFranciscoNoobs.com. Although she initially seemed a little hesitant to meet me in the real world we ended up having an awesome time chatting and getting to know each other beyond our Twitter account and About pages. It was kinda the bomb.

So when I meet someone who’s doing super-cool stuff I like to share it with as many other people as possible, so I thought that I would ask her a few questions so we all could get to know Casi just a little bit better. If you read these and feel like I should have asked her something else, feel free to send over a tweet to her at @SFNoobs and I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to answer it. She’s cool like that.

Here goes…

HUP: Hey Casi — thanks for answering some questions for me and for not freaking out when I randomly emailed you a couple weeks ago. I really like what you’re doing with your blog SanFranciscoNoobs.com, can you explain where it came from and what you’re currently using it for? Also, for all of those who don’t know — what’s a ‘noob’?

CASI: No problem-o Ryan. I’ve been known to have stalker-ish tendencies myself at times. Hence the noob part of my blog name a.k.a. someone who doesn’t know what the heck they are doing and is making every mistake and wrong turn possible. Including being a bit over zealous when it comes to making friends.

Which brings me to one of the several reasons why I started SanFranciscoNoobs.com, to make some friends in my new city. Surprisingly it has worked out great, even though I have scared a few people away. I may or may not have showed up somewhere I knew another fellow blogger was hanging out so I could “accidentally” run into them and become BFF’s. Can you say s-t-a-l-k-e-r! Anyway, another reason I started this blog was to force myself to go out and explore my new City, San Francisco, and squeeze every last drop of knowledge and fun I could out of it. I share my experiences so others can learn from my mistakes, help me through my adventures, and make fun of me (which I highly encourage). This city has so many different nooks and crannies to learn about I feel like I will always be a noob here, even if I’m here until the day I die.

HUP: Just like Steph and I did a couple of years back, you decided to head out to San Francisco as a couple with your boyfriend. Why did you both think that it was a good idea to make the trip?

CASI: My boyfriend (Greg) and I are high school sweethearts, together since we were 16. We have experienced a lot with each other. Learning to drive. Graduating high school. Graduating college. Good jobs. BAD jobs (I don’t want to talk about my stint at a tanning salon). Family celebrations. Family mourning’s. Living with each other. And a million other fun (and not so fun) times. We realized if we could make it through all this always by each other’s side through the good and the bad, why not make a major life changing decision we both wanted so bad. We had visited San Francisco a few times and loved every second of it. The day we graduated college the decision was made.

HUP: I know that it took Stephanie and I a while to adjust to life in San Francisco after moving out here from the Midwest. What has been the biggest adjustment for you since making the move and do you feel like you belong in the city?

CASI: I think Greg and I have suffered the most with missing our friends and family. Everyone we have ever known is someone we grew up with. Having to start completely from scratch was really tough on us. We tried going out as often as possible to meetups, bars, festivals, and other events; but we found it to be tough to work up the courage to put ourselves out there. It was just so much easier to stay home with each other and make plans to visit LA or invite old friends to come visit us. Once I got a job I was finding myself out a lot on my own at events and parties which surprisingly made it easier for me to make friends. I have made a few friends recently that have made this experience a whole lot easier. I think this missing link is what finally made me really fit in to this city.

The first day I realized I belonged here was the first time I gave directions to someone on the street. I told all of my new friends about it and they all called me a noob for being so excited over something like that. Bring it on! Noob fo life! Ooooo tattoo idea!

HUP: Anyone who lives in San Francisco has seen their fair share of crazy things. Can you name a couple of things that have stuck out to you more than others since you’ve called San Francisco your home?

CASI: Every day I see something crazy or different or out of the ordinary in this city. At first I met these experiences with wide eyes, but now they have become the norm. Then there was that one day a few weeks ago I decided to attend the Folsom Street Fair (NSFW). This street fair DEFINITELY stuck out to me. NOT in a good way. There are images engrained in my brain I can never unsee. *shutter*

HUP: You have written a lot of posts over on SanFranciscoNoobs. This might be asking too much, but can you link me to your favorite 3 posts that you can think of off the top of your head? Give it your best shot, I won’t judge.

CASI: Lucky me, I have already done this for ya! On our one year anniversary in San Francisco I wrote a post summing up everything I have done in San Francisco. My favorite things are listed in order from 1-10 and the rest is somewhat a free for all. So, instead I’ll just give you the top 3 things I have done since the one year anniversary post.

1. House of Air
2. Outside Lands
3. Bikram Yoga

Take note that the Folsom Street Fair is not in my top 3…

HUP: I know that one of the things that Stephanie and I love most about San Francisco are the amazing events that always seem to be going on. I’m sure that like us, you’ve gone to your fair share of events, too. Which ones have been your favorites?

CASI: As you may have noticed on my blog I talk a lot about beer. When we moved to San Francisco I found a new love for this tasty beverage and its wide variety and culture. So one of my favorite events in San Francisco of course surrounds the greatness of beer, specifically one brand of beer that has a good variety of brews: The Tour de Fat sponsored by Fat Tire. The festival celebrates two great things in this city, beer and bicycle riding.

I would send you a link to a post I have written, but as you may have noticed from my lack of posts the last few weeks wifi has been scarce since I’m in between houses at the moment. I will update you with a big roundup up post I have been writing during this lull, including pics/vids from this awesome festival.

HUP: Well, that’s all I have for you, Casi -thanks for taking the time to chat with me and please feel free to leave us with some randomness to close out this interview. I know you’re good at that.

CASI: The following question was asked of me recently by two close friends, “How many times do you think you use the word balls in a day?” This was brought on because I have a tendency to throw the words “balls” and “sauce” (that’s what she said) to the end of most words. In case you would like to learn a few of these gems I leave you with this: Thanks Ryan for this awesome-sauce of an interview. Your questions were amaze-balls! And, I didn’t know how to fit this one in, but … sweet-balls.

Showing Las Vegas how to karaoke

5096502148_8b4d6d7529

A week or so ago I had the pleasure of hanging out with Jason Shen and John Ramey in Las Vegas. No, it wasn’t some crazy weekend trip — it was actually for work as we were all attending BlogWorld for isocket (it was my third straight year going). The conference is always awesome and as with the other years I got to meet some really cool people who are doing really interesting things on the internets.

Although the trip is always exhausting it never fails that I walk away with a handful of new relationships with people who are doing way cooler things than I could ever do. For real.

For the last couple of years as BlogWorld comes to an end there is always a wrap-up party that’s put on by the awesome people at TechKaraoke (which is just what it sounds like — tech people+karaoke) and this year bash was at a sweet, Las Vegas concert venue called the Pearl Theater at the Palms and there was a live band to back up all of the singers.

Once Jason and I figured out what the dealio was we got signed up and after about 2 hours of waiting and $20 of bribing we eventually made our way up on stage to sing Brown Eyed Girl (how typical, huh?). What happened after that is a little difficult to put into words, which is why I have included a video and some pics of the epic performance below. Enjoy the show and if you can’t see the video you can check it out over here on Vimeo.

The biggest crowd pleaser of our karaoke awesomeness was definitely not our singing — it was when Jason started doing handstand push-ups on stage while still singing. Let me tell ya, there are definitely perks to going on stage with the ex-captain of a national champion gymnastics team. Just sayin’.

Yeah, this pic is good enough to be posted twice.

5096502148_8b4d6d7529

A HUGE thanks goes out to Renee Blodgett from MagicSauceMedia for snapping and uploading all of these pics. I would be so sad if I didn’t have proof of what happened that night up on stage.

5096502442_a2ab6995c3

5096502326_ede76397c4

Adventures in *almost* trashing a wedding dress with the Gaupers

A couple of days ago Ryan and Holly Gauper rolled into San Francisco after driving across the US for a few weeks, flying to China for a couple more and hanging in Hawaii. If you don’t remember the Gaupers, they are the amazingly awesome husband and wife photography duo who shot all of the amazing pics from our wedding about 6 months back. They’ve been taking some time off to see some of their family, friends and have also been setting up some photography workshops along the way. They’ve been at it for a couple of months and are now finally getting ready to start the drive back to their home state of Michigan so that they can get ready for another crazy-packed wedding season.

Before they took off and headed back home both Holly and Ryan wanted to take Stephanie and I out for a shoot around San Francisco, which we were more than happy to do yesterday (ok, we were giddy like little kids to do it). Of course, with Holly and Ryan there’s never really just a ‘normal’ photo shoot and this time was no exception. When Stephanie and I went home for Christmas Holly told us to have Stephanie’s mom ship out her wedding dress to our place in San Francisco so that we could have a trash the dress shoot. If you’ve never heard of a trash the dress shoot, it’s basically just like what it sounds — the bride gets photos taken of her literally trashing her wedding dress. This usually consists of the bride jumping in water, standing around in something messy or some other type of thing that brides aren’t supposed to do while wearing a pristine, white wedding dress. It’s become pretty popular with brides here the past couple of years and it only seems to be getting more and more popular as time goes on.

We were planning on doing something a little more on the extreme side to Stephanie’s dress (like chopping it up with scissors or covering it in paint), but as Stephanie, Holly, Ryan, Nic and I started running around San Francisco together we ended up spending so much time getting shots of us not trashing the dress we didn’t end up actually doing the trashing that we initially set out to do. I’m totally ok with this as I was honestly a little sad about the fact that we were going to ruin the dress that reminds me of the best day of my life, but I’m sure that it’s just a matter of time before we get to doing what we initially set out to do yesterday. That dress is trashed, it’s just going to take a little bit longer before it happens.

Like I said, we didn’t trash the dress, but that definitely doesn’t mean that we didn’t get some freakin’ fantastic shots. We ended up spending about seven hours driving all around San Francisco and the photos that we ended up getting out of it are really cool. Check out a preview of what we came back with below and be sure to keep an eye on Holly and Ryan’s blog for more photos and video (and the video is HILARIOUS).

Checking out the best surfers in the world at the 2010 Mavericks Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay

There are some really amazing things that can only be found out here in Northern California and one of them has to be the Mavericks Surf Contest. It’s one of the world’s most respected big wave competitions and is held every year that weather permits about 20 miles south of San Fransisco in Half Moon Bay. More specifically, the contest is held in an area that’s known as Mavericks that’s practically built to create massive size waves due to it’s unique ocean floor. Jeff Clark, a local born and raised in Half Moon Bay, was the first surfer to ever take on the once thought to-be-too-dangerous-to-surf waves that can sometimes top out at over 50 feet high.

Jeff Clark, having grown up near Half Moon Bay, learned about Maverick’s at an early age. At that time the location was deemed too dangerous to surf. He spent time watching the break, and conceived the possibility of riding Hawaii-sized waves in Northern California. One day in 1975, with the waves topping out at 10 to 12 feet (3.7 m), Clark paddled out alone to face Maverick’s. He was successful, catching a number of left-breaking waves, thereby becoming the first person to tackle Maverick’s head-on.

Well, today was the day that Mavericks came back to Half Moon Bay (due to lack of optimal weather conditions it was canceled last year) and Stephanie, our roomie Nic, Frank and myself (along with some other friends) all went to see what it was really all about. Although we weren’t able to get super-close views of the actual surfing the day was unbelievably beautiful and just being there to experience it was more than enough to guarantee that we’ll all be back there again the next time it comes around.

Here are a few pics and a video that I snapped at the event. They should give you a good idea of the popularity of Mavericks and just how beautiful Half Moon Bay is during this time of year.

A video and a pic of people who got caught in the aftermath of the 30+ foot waves that were swelling up at Mavericks this morning. Some of the people were actually swept out into the water and had to be rescued by medical staff. Some suffered broken bones and minor cuts, but most only had to suffer through being soaked for the rest of the day. We were literally just about to head into this area when the waves hit.

Can’t say that the people weren’t warned. These signs were posted everywhere on the beach.

What was left on the beach after the waves hit and cleared out a stage and several tents.

A view from a top the cliffs at the Mavericks in Half Moon Bay.

This was view from the opposite side of the beach where we were when the waves got the people wet. There were a ton of people watching the competition from over here. It was amazing to see how many people came out for the event considering that it was only announced a couple days before it happened. Also, most people weren’t at all scared of climbing all over the cliffs as long as it gave them a better view. I guess that they’re all used to hiking and aren’t too worried about falling hundreds of feet to their death, but for some reason it still worries me and Stephanie. Maybe we need to suck it up.

The sun was out in full force, which made for a beautiful day in Half Moon Bay. That weird looking tower with a ball on it in the upper right corner of this pic is part of the Pillar Point Air Force Base (which no one except press was allowed to enter today).

Frank loved hanging out at the beach, but we probably walked over 5 miles altogether, which is like running a marathon for a Pug. Here you can see him getting some much needed rest while we were checking out the surfers. He had no trouble getting up and down the cliffs and got to meet several other dogs that were also hanging out at Mavericks (including a few Pugs). People really love their dogs in the bay area, which makes is completely normal to bring them with you to outdoor events like this.

Here’s another view from the other side of the cliffs. The surfers were grabbing their waves right around the area to the right of cliff in this pic. Unless you had some binoculars or a serious camera lens (which several people had), you pretty much had to rely on people’s reactions to know whether or not someone had actually caught a wave.

This is a shot of the rest of the coastline, which I thought almost looked too beautiful to be real. If you look in the bottom right corner of this pic I snuck in a guy who was chilling on the side of the cliff. He was pretty high up there, but didn’t seem to be too worried about it. Like I said, it’s something that they’re used to.

After walking a couple of miles back to the car (part of which I carried Frank after he started panting like he was going to die) it didn’t take Frank too long to crash. He was so tired that he fell asleep on Stephanie’s 7-up bottle which was in our cup holder. I thought that this was way too funny (and cute) to pass up taking a picture of it. Frank’s just like us — he’ll go and go until he practically passes out, which he obviously did today.

Have we ever told you how much we love our roommate?

Our roommate Nic (facebook) really outdid himself with this Christmas photo that he worked his magic on. It’s the final (and best) photo in a 3-part series that was aimed at adding a little more ‘flavor’ to the Santa Claus of old by suggesting new ways that he could become more awesome this year.

This photo in particular took him an entire night to set up. You can’t really tell, but the stuffed animals are hung from his ceiling with fishing line, he’s holding on tosome ribbon that he bought and he’s riding on his bed whose blankets are rolled up to look like bags of presents. Amazing.

Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any better, here’s the caption that he added to the photo:

DEAR SANTA

I HAV SUM IDEAHS FOR YOU TOO MAKE YOU AWSOME IN TWENTY ONE SENTUREE USA

3. RAINDEER = OUT!

BIG DOGS AND LITLE PONEYS = IN!

Yep, this is why we love our roomie.

Ice skating at Pan Am Plaza in Indianapolis, IN

It’s been about 10 years since I had been ice skating, so we felt like it was about time to give it shot. The video was taken at Pan Am Plaza in Indianapolis, IN and man, did it end being a lot of fun. Some of our friends and family came along with us, too which made it even more entertaining (as you’ll see).

Check out the video below or over here on YouTube when you get a chance and here’s to the beginning of an amazing 2010! Stephanie and I (and Frank as long as he can still fit on the plane) head back to San Francisco tomorrow, but it’s been so great to see all of our friends and family the past month while we’ve been home. We’re extremely blessed to have all of the amazing people that we have in our lives and we can’t wait to see you all again!

Next Page →