What does the Congo look like? Here, let me show you some pictures

As I continue tell you all more and more about what Stephanie and I are going to be doing in the Congo during our mission trip, I thought that it might help to show you some pictures of what the area we’ll be staying at looks like.

A couple of years ago another group of missionaries from our church headed over to the Congo and one of them was our pastor Gary who is also going with us on this trip as well. One of the first things that Gary showed us once we said we were in for the trip was his collection of pictures that he took while he was there. I feel like the pictures told a much better story than just reading about the area and the amazing people who live there, so here are a few that I wanted to share with all of you.

I’ll add some more information below each one, but I think that most of them don’t really need captions. You’ll see what I mean.

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This first picture is a little blurry because it was shot from inside the smaller plane that flew Gary into this particular village from Kinshasa, which is the capital city of the Congo. The group of local Congolese were all singing while they were waiting for him to arrive and once he got out of the plane they greeted him like a rockstar. He says that it was very humbling and was so powerful that it literally brought him to tears.

After he was out of the plane he was greeted by nearly every, single of these Congolese who were waiting for him. Not a bad way to start out the trip, huh?

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Some of the Congolese kids struck a pose with Gary after he arrived. The little kid on the left might be one of the cutest things that I’ve ever seen. It’s like he’s on a photo shoot or something.

You can tell by what they’re wearing that their clothes are mostly donated by the United States and other countries. Some of the little boys are wearing women’s clothing (like the kid in the pink shirt that I think is actually a nightgown). I can’t wait to meet these kids and I know Stephanie is super excited to meet them, too.

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This is the church that everyone in the village goes to. Nearly 80% of the Congolese are Christians and when they have a service they go all out.

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This is what the inside of the Church looks like during a service. The girls in the white hats in the front row parade into the service and do different dances during the musical sections. I’m hoping that I can dance right along with them while I’m there.

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This is Paul Carlson’s gravestone. Paul Carlson was a missionary doctor back in the 1960’s and was killed by Congolese rebels after they captured him for being an American spy. After his death his widow created the Paul Carlson Partnership, which is focused on raising money and ministering for the medical needs of the Congolese people who Paul gave his life for while serving.

Since the 1960’s the white missionaries have been evacuated from the area that we’re visiting a few different times due to political unrest, but it seems to be much more stable now.

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This is a hospital bed that’s used for delivering babies. Enough said.

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This is where Stephanie and I will be sleeping while we’re in the Congo. The mosquito nets are needed as the bugs are a little out of control in the jungles of Africa (as you can probably imagine).

Joan, a woman who has been in the Congo before and who is also traveling there with us this time around told me that some of the bugs “sound like helicopters flying around the room” and are so loud they’ll wake you up in the middle of the night. Can’t wait for that.

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All of the electricity in the Congo comes from generators, which makes it really expensive. This is why on any given day the generators are only ran for about 4-5 hours.

This picture is of a solar power project that will hopefully help with this problem by creating a more sustainable energy source. All of our work is all about creating sustainability — we don’t want to create a situation where the Congolese are always relying on us for help.

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This is a class of local Congolese pastors who were taught English by our church missionaries. Helping educate the local people is a major focus for our trip and I’ve learned in the past day or so that both Stephanie and I will be teaching over 20 hours of classes while we’re in the Congo. I’m going to be teaching computer basics (Microsoft Word, Excel, basic functionality and hardware) and Stephanie is going to be teaching English.

The native language of the Congolese is French, so we’ll have translators who will be helping us out. Should be an interesting experience, don’t you think?

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This gives you a good idea of what the local marketplace looks like. We’ll be doing quite a bit of driving during our time in the Congo, including a 2-day trip from the Northwest side to the Southwest. Not really sure what to expect during this part of our trip, so I’m trusting God with that one.

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This is Gary praying with some of the local Congolese kids. What a powerful picture, huh?

The one thing that Gary continues to tell us over and over about our upcoming trip is that we might be rich in resources, but the Congolese are richer than we could even imagine in spirit and faith. Stephanie and I are both looking forward to experiencing this for ourselves.

Well, I hope that this has given you all a better idea of where we’re headed here in about 10 days. Be sure to keep us both in your prayers and if you feel motivated to help us out by donating some money for the trip, you can do so through our giving page over here or by clicking the widget below.

Also, I wanted to give a HUGE thanks to Molly Zigovits and Kristen Burtch for giving us our first $100 of online donations!

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Kristen and her hubby Alex just had their own trip to Kenya over Christmas.

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Molly (Zigs) is a friend from Indy who now lives near us in Northern California and goes to our church. She’s also an amazing photographer.

Boo yah! We just launched online giving for our Congo trip

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Let me ask you a question: is all of that new Christmas cash burning a hole in your pocket? Are you looking for a great place to spend all of the money Santa stuffed into your stocking?

Well why not help the Hupfer’s go to the Congo? We just launched our IndieGoGo giving page so that you can give us your cash via PayPal or credit card — it’s completely up to you. Our online giving goal is set for $4,000 which will cover our plane tickets to the Congo (and we thought tickets to Indiana were expensive). You only have until January 10th to shell out some dough, so head on over there as soon as you can!

To donate, you can click on this link or on the widget below and you’ll be taken to our giving page.

Thanks to everyone who has already given, who is planning to give online and who is praying for us. Stephanie and I need all of your help in order to make this trip a safe and effective success. We’ve been running around like crazy since we’ve been home for Christmas, but we’ll be sure to keep you all updated as we get closer to when we take off. Have an awesome new years and we’ll be in touch soon!

Celebrating our 1 year anniversary in Monterey, CA

Check out this video of our bike riding adventure in Monterey, CA this past weekend. We headed down there to celebrate our 1 year anniversary and it was so awesome that I’m now too tired at work on Monday to even tell you all about it. That will have to happen some other time.

Remember, you’re rarely ever NOT on camera anymore (so please put away your gun)

I just saw the video below on Mashable.com and it just really gets me thinking about how you’re never not on camera anymore. Especially if you’re a cop that pulls out your gun on a bunch of kids who organized the snowball fight on Twitter. Whoops.


Hey, that’s not a snowball….no fair!

It also gets me thinking about how much of this crazy stuff went on and who got away with it before we could get it on camera and post it for the entire world to see (similar to my thoughts on the crazy chick fight on an bus in SF that was caught on an iPhone a while back). Remember, we’re always watching so be ready to face the consequences of your actions even when you think you’ll never have to.

[image via CityPaper]

Checking out the amazing sign spinners from Aarrow Ads

jumpropecokeOne of the great things about working up here in San Francisco is that I get to walk into the office, which means that I pretty much get to see something that’s interesting, odd, weird, cool, crazy or just down right gross every single day. For some of you out there that might seem like a bad thing, but for me it’s one of the things that makes it awesome to live here in the Bay Area. Pretty much anything goes and just when you think that you’ve seen something that couldn’t possible be topped, it always does — and that’s pretty much the essence of living in SF. After a living here for a while it’s funny how pretty much nothing ever really makes you do a double-take anymore.

Well, almost nothing.

On my way into work each morning I walk past the Moscone Center, which is the HUGE convention center here in San Francisco and every few days there is a new event coming into town that attracts literally tens of thousands of people. Last week the big event to hit Moscone was DreamForce, which is SalesForce.com‘s yearly, global conference. Well, if you’re not into the events and conference scene (which, I’m guessing most of you aren’t), basically what happens is a bunch of people pay a lot of money (or their company does) to go meet, mingle and ‘network’ with others who are also in their same line of business so that relationships can be built and some big deals can go down in an old-fashioned, face-to-face sort of way.

Along with the thousands of people who attend these conferences, several businesses also buy up really expensive booths (usually several thousand dollars a piece) as a way to promote their businesses in hopes of working some serious deals as well. It’s a very interesting sort of business eco-system that has gone on for years and years.

Anyways, these businesses that invest their money into getting some booth space are always trying to find new ways to get more and more foot traffic. Some rent semis that pull billboards with their booth number prominently displayed, some hire booth babes to promote their goods and some have even gone as far as attaching tiny banner ads to real, live flies and letting them fly around the convention center (for real).

As with anything else in San Francisco, just when I thought that I had heard or seen all of the crazy ways for these businesses to promote their booths, I ran in to a couple of out-of-this-world sign spinners who were hired from Aarrow Ads, a company that specializes in taking ‘holding a sign’ to a whole new level. After seeing them do their thing for a few minutes, I couldn’t help but stop and get some videos of the guys who were literally causing a scene on the sidewalks outside of Moscone Center. Check out these videos and you’ll see what I mean.

p.s. if you couldn’t tell, the company that was promoting themselves was Jigsaw (who were apparently in booth #1112). I thought that I should at least give them a mention since they paid for the entertainment. :)

Follow the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band on the road

revpeytonFor the past week or so, one of my buddies from back in Indianapolis has been followed by a camera every single day so that people like you and me can get a glimpse into the life on the road. No, my buddy isn’t some weird gypsy or Phish fan-boy who has just decided to hop on the road for no apparent reason besides to ‘find himself’. My buddy is the one and only Rev from the Revered Peyton’s Big Damn Band, which is also made up of his pickle-bucket-hitting brother Jayme and his awesome, washboard-wrecking wife Breezy. The three of them make up one of the most unique bands that I’ve ever seen and I’m not just saying that because they’re from my home Hoosier state of Indiana.

Anyways, The Rev and co. have been tearing it up on the road since they sold all of their stuff in a yard sale in 2006 and they just seem to be getting bigger and bigger as time goes on. As long as their van continues to hold up (it’s had some serious issues), there’s no reason why they can’t become a household name here sometime soon.

When you get a chance, be sure to check out all of the Rev’s daily videos from the road and take a look at one of my favorite one’s below(where the band get treated to free Chinese foot massages). Oh, and props to Raidious for shooting all of the vids — they’ve done some great work and I’m loving every single one of these stories.

OK, so maybe Indianapolis *is* pretty cool?

If you didn’t already know, Stephanie and I moved out here to California after living in Indiana for all of both our lives (that’s a long time). Even though we love Indiana, it just seems to be a little more exciting out here on the West Coast and especially here in San Francisco. But, after seeing this video of a couple Red Bull wake boarders tearing it up in downtown Indy’s central canal, it seems like Indiana has at least become a little bit cooler since we moved away from there. Great, now they decide to become awesome…

Now THIS is how you get picked up from the airport! (some fun with our roomie, Nic Engel)

nicWe haven’t talked a lot about the phenomenon that is our roommate, Nic Engel, but I’m starting to think that we should add a new section on this blog just for all of the amazingly wacky things that he does on a day-to-day basis. He’s by far one of the most randomly creative people that I have ever met and he never fails to surprise me with the awesome ideas that he comes up with.

For instance, Nic was coming to pick Stephanie and I up at the San Francisco Airport (SFO) a couple days ago and after we had grabbed our luggage and texted him that we were ready to roll out, he said that he’s be there in 3 minutes to grab us. It had been a long couple of weeks of traveling, a wedding, a honeymoon and lots of flight time, so needless to sat Stephanie and I were both ready to get back to the SOMA Shack (our condo) for some much needed rest. All we were expecting from Nic was a normal, everyday airport pick-up, but of course he had to go and take something that’s so simple and ‘normal’ and kick it up a notch to a level that he was a little more, ummm…comfortable with.

You see, to us we were just getting picked up from the airport after being gone for 2 weeks. But, to Nic we were getting picked up after being gone FOR 2 WEEKS and we were also COMING BACK TO AMERICA AFTER BEING OUT OF THE COUNTRY FOR MANY, MANY DAYS!!! I use capitals because that’s really the only way that I can do this airport pick-up justice.

When Nic pulled up in Gloria (that’s what we call our black Pontiac G6) with the windows rolled down while blasting a CD of an African children’s choir that Stephanie and I had got from church, it didn’t really surprise me…but, it did surprise me when he started screaming “WELCOME TO AMERICA!!” while jumping out of the car and looking like a crazy Mexican Mayan Indian warrior  that was wearing a lei and holding two juggling pins. Oh, he was also wearing a red, white and blue “Happy 4th of July!” crown that Stephanie made in her preschool class, which I thought was a nice touch. :)

As the other people who were innocently standing on the curb waiting to get picked up watched in shock/horror, Nic threw the lei around Stephanie’s neck and slapped the 4th of July crown on my head. Then while screaming “WELCOME TO AMERICA — THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY!!” he grabbed our luggage and threw it into the back seat. The tribal markings that he had drawn all over his face and body with green, black and brown markers were also looking fabulous and they definitely added a lot to the overall entertainment value of the airport pick-up and it was good to see that Nic didn’t slack on any of the details (he never does).

I’m a little sad that I didn’t get video of this whole thing, but I did get a good picture of what he looked like, which is probably good enough to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Check it out below and enjoy all that is Nic Engel. Oh, and don’t worry, there’s a lot more where this came from.

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Frank’s second Pug Sunday at Alta Plaza Park in San Francisco

Yesterday Stephanie and I had a super packed Sunday, which included taking Frank to his second ever Pug Sunday at Alta Plaza Park here in San Francisco. If you didn’t get a chance to check out his first Pug Sunday last month, be sure to check out this post that includes a great video of a few the new Pug friends that Frank met during his first outing.

This month’s get together had a little better weather, but a really muddy park for some odd reason. I know that it didn’t rain up there, so that wasn’t the issue. Some people were saying that it was the sprinklers that they had going on that morning, but no matter what caused it, the mud was all around and of course if there’s mud then there’s plenty of Pugs who want to roll around in it. Frank couldn’t help rolling around in some of it himself, which was perfect timing considering that Stephanie and I just gave him a bath earlier that morning. Oh well, so we ended up having to give the little guy an extra bath — as you can see from the pics below I would say that the amount of fun that Frank had was totally him having to go through another one. :)

Here are some of the highlights of the day:

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Lots o’ Pugs everywhere!

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Frank needed a little breather

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This little guy’s name was Apollo and he was SO cute!!

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I love me some Pugs!

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We gave Frank a bath before we came to this — bad idea. (think he’s happy?)

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A great shot of Apollo — check out the size of the paws on this guy

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I had an Apollo obsession…

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View from one side of the park

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View from the other side of the park

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Someone was poooooped after his second Pug Sunday!

Hup and Steph might get married on the Today Show: What should we do for the 1-minute video?

One of my homies that I’ve met over the interwebs is a guy named Chris (twitter: @CarMaxChris) who runs all of the social media initiatives for CarMax. We met and started chatting over a year ago when he commented on one of our posts that talked about me trying to sell Stephanie’s car to CarMax once we realized we were headed out West to live the California life. Well, I didn’t end up selling her car to CarMax, but Chris and I never stopped chatting and keeping up with each other as time has gone on.

I tell you all of this because just yesterday Chris sent me over a Tweet that asked me if Stephanie and I were going to enter the contest to get married on the Today Show, which started accepting applictions on April 15th. After he sent it over I went over and took a look at the application process and after researching it a bit I might just have to say that Stephanie and I would be PERFECT for this contest and if we actually got on there we would take the top prize for sure!

Stephanie has talked about this contest before, but now that I’ve actually taken a look at it we’ve decided to give it our best shot and see what the Today Show thinks about your favorite soon-to-be-married couple (that’s us). The application is a little long, but it should be easy to fill out. However, there is one thing that we’ve been going back and forth on and that’s the 1-minute video that we could need to send in with our application. Here’s what they say we need to send in:

Read the application for full requirements and to find out if you’re eligible to be married on TODAY. Then fill out your application, print it, attach a couple photo, along with a one minute  (1:00) video of why you should be chosen and mail it to us. If you think you’re cut out to handle the competition, submit your application no later than May 15, 2009.

Not a whole lot of time to say something that will catch their attention, but we’re hoping to put together some ideas that will be a little, ummm different that will help us stand out from the rest of the couples. If you have any ideas of what we should include in the short 60 seconds that we’re alotted, please leave them in the comments below. We’ll keep you updated on our progress and get ready to vote for us soon — I know that we can win this thing!

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