Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone! It has been a long time since we updated so I will try to give you a brief overview of the last 2 months.
Our kids continue to grow, grow, grow! Adrianne is now 10 (going on 30 some days). Kevin will be 9 in February and Joshua turned 6 in November. They are all in school this year so this fall has been very different for me. Adrianne is still at a small private school while the boys attend a local public elementary school. Kevin is in the Montessori program and loves it. He excels in the math and science areas so this program works well for him. Adrianne is our straight "A" student and demonstrates so much maturity sometimes it scares me! :) Joshua is our Kindergartner and the family clown! He also has been known to talk at the speed of light!

This is a picture of the Fogg family at my mother-in-laws 60th birthday party. Two of my sister-in-laws are missing from the picture.
As for our current status regarding mission work we are still in the seeking mode. Living Water International said to "look elsewhere" as they were stopping all new hires due to the economy. Two weeks after they said that, the director contacted Eric and asked him to become involved with a new type of drilling technique. Eric flew down to Houston for further training and to spearhead the production of a manual for this type of drilling. All of the training is in preparation for a month long trip to Luanda, Angola, Africa sometime this spring. This trip would only be for Eric, however. Eric will also be going to Haiti for 8 days with my dad through Living Water International to repair hand pumps in January. Living Water is still not making a commitment to us so we have explore other options. HCJB Radio has asked us to apply with them for possible longer term (3 year) positions in Quito, Ecuador. These positions would involve training the local people to build bio-sand filters and teach them proper hygiene. The position sound great, however we need to be fluent in Spanish and currently we are not. It could take up to 6 months for that process.
In the meantime Eric still goes in to work 1-2 days per week and has the phone attached to ear the other days with work issues and water contacts. I have been trying to catch up on things like deep cleaning, putting 10 year old photos in albums and all the other things that get put aside when home schooling. I also have been volunteering at the kids schools and I still home school Joshua 2-3 mornings a week before he heads off to afternoon Kindergarten. Recently I also accepted a position at a local retirement village as an Occupational Therapist. It has been 3 years since I last worked as an OT and honestly I did not think I would get back into it. I'm thankful that I was able to find a position in this economy though. I start after the new year working part-time.
Have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and for you Michiganders - enjoy the snow!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proposal 2

I know this has nothing to do with our hoping to assist 3rd world countries with clean water while presenting them with the "Living Water" but I do believe this is a mission field on its own.

Proposal 2 has been weighing heavy on our hearts especially since we have found out that evangelical Christians are considered the "mushy middle" on this issue! For those of you who do not know anything about the proposal- let me fill you in.

Proposal 2 if voted in would permanently alter the Michigan Constitution and therefore make it impossible to nullify in the future. Proposal 2 would allow the scientists to remove stem cells from embryos for the purpose of "potential cures." This proposal would allow the legal killing of human embryos for science. The proposal would ban any state law that night "prevent, discourage, or restrict research, or create disincentives to participate in the research." In other words we could try to make a law that would put restrictions on embryonic stem cell research but they would not be legal. This proposal gives the power solely to the scientists and the politicians in Washington!

But don't we want to have cures for things like cancer, Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis and spinal cord injuries? Absolutely! Do you realize that to date there have been ZERO cures or effective therapies using our smallest human beings, embryos. Embryonic stem cell research has been legal for several years - including here in Michigan- and yet there are ZERO cures to show for it!

ADULT stem cells and stem cells taken from the cord blood of newborns (which is generally thrown away immediately at birth) have demonstrated 74 different therapies/cures to date! 74!

Why would scientists want to pursue embryonic stem cell research then? Human cloning is the answer. Currently in England scientists are combining embryonic stem cells with those of cows and monkeys in order to create a new species! Weird science is no longer in Frankenstein movies but is now reality. Human cloning would also be a great way to grow new organs. Should we be allowed to kill our smallest humans for the purpose of providing new organs for those already born?

There is currently a ban on human cloning in Michigan, however the co-sponsor of Proposal 2 has introduced a bill to the Michigan Legislature already to overturn that ban. If this proposal passes it will essentially open the door to human cloning because the current ban "restricts, prevents and discourages embryonic stem cell research".

The University of Michigan currently has the 4th largest embryonic stem cell research lab in the United States. It is NOT illegal in Michigan as the proponents of Proposal 2 will tell you. Michigan has to purchase the embryos from other states in order to conduct research which is a very common practice.

The proposal also opens the door to human egg trafficking. In California they are already looking at ways to purchase eggs from women because there is a shortage. Do we need to exploit the poor women and college students who are looking to make money?

The embryos will be discarded anyway - why not use them for science? Embryos can only be discarded if the parents give permission to the doctors to do so. Other embryos can be given up for adoption (Snowflake ministry). Parents also have the choice as to how many embryos they want created in the beginning of the process.

Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."

Please bring this proposal to the forefront of this election by telling your neighbors, family and friends. Furthermore bring it into your churches. It is NOT illegal to bring the information into your churches. Proposals are non-partisan and therefore do not affect churches tax-deductible status.

Right to Life of Michigan has worked very hard to get this information into the churches and have been repeatedly turned down because the issue is Political. Since when is preserving human life, created in God's own image political? Don't let the government scare you into silence, you have the legal and moral right to bring this information to your fellow church goers.

Don't let this election pass without telling someone about this proposal. Don't be one of the Mushy Middle!

If you need more information, yard signs, or brochures please contact me and I will supply you with them. Check out the following web-sites: 2goes2far.com and stemcellcures.com.

Our smallest human beings are relying on you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Well we finally have news - not the kind we were hoping for - but news none the less.

Living Water International finally contacted us and said they are not looking to do anything with the Kenya position until late next Spring.

Eric then contacted another water mission organization who had previously suggested an interim position for him in North Carolina. The position was filled this week.

The kids are excited that they can stay in their classrooms for the rest of this year but Eric and I are still in the throes of disappointment. We now have to re-group and see where God will lead us next.

Until we know more,

The Fogg Family

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eric the day after his return

The day after Eric returned he was up at 6:30 am and said he felt great. This picture was taken mid morning when I was in the middle of talking to him.


It has been a couple of weeks since our last update and we have been asked this question many times, "Well"? Appropriate question since we hope to be putting down a few wells soon - I know that was bad. I will try my best to answer that question although I don't have many answers.

Overall Eric felt very positively about his trip to Kenya and said he would be interested in pursuing the position. The issue being that while he and the representative from Living Water Inter. had to deal with some corruption that had been occurring in Kenya which may take 6 months to 1 year to clean up. LWI would like that issue resolved before sending anyone over there.

Hurricane Ike also knocked out power to the headquarters in HOuston so they have been functioning on a generator for the last week. Their biggest fundraiser is also this weekend so they are a bit busy and we are giving them some time to process everything before bombarding them with questions.

That is the best I can do in answering the "Well?" question. In the meantime we are busy with school, homework, piano, soccer and church activities. We will continue to keep you all informed as we know more.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The road home

Monday September 8, 2008 and Tuesday Sept 9, 2008

Good day all,

I have had to write these two days together as indeed they have been. I have currently been up for nearly 30 hours and I am not through yet. This writing finds me homeward bound one day early and not quite sure life’s next turn. The trip went successful, I think, as I was on a “watch and see” mission. Never have I done so little in such a long period of time. I suppose it is necessary to see what life is really like – but I felt a bit like a photographer shooting a National Geographic film with the “Look, but don’t disturb anything so that everyone acts natural” mission. Unsettling.

To bring the story round, we never did make it to Rwanda. We did however locate the “tired” package that had decided to stop and rest in Kenya for a never discovered reason and get a commitment that it will continue on its way this Wednesday. We will never be sure that this actually happens until after it arrives, hopefully in one piece, but we prayed it would. Due to the schedule alterations, we had free time we were not anticipating. We were able to meet with an old past friend of Bruces and he is a passionate Jesus lover with a heart for missions. He is Kenyan and actively sends his people “out” into the world. I heard the most humbling statement from him. “If 3 or 4 weeks pass without being able to lead at least one person to Jesus, I get nervous that I am not doing something right and I have to examine myself to make sure I am going the right way” What a servant of the Lord. I want to be like him.

We headed homeward early because of an act of God. There appears to be another hurricane that is headed for Texas. Bruce lives in Houston Texas and his wife asked him if he could come home early to help attend to the preparations in case it came their way. We had nothing to hold us back, so the flights were changed and I am heading back one day early. I should arrive in Chicago about 4:00 pm CST Tuesday the 9th. We are currently over the Atlantic Ocean, south if Iceland, but I should be long since home by the time anyone reads this.

The next steps will be hard. Holland Custom is creating hard questions that have to be dealt with soon. I have expressed interest in continuing dialog with Living Water about Africa, but it will be some time before I hear anything. Family needs some attention and I have to figure out how God wants to use me in both the near and long term. Life is making so many turns now, that even I am having a hard time keeping up. I imagine that a few decisive decisions in a few hard places will clear things up quickly.

For me, I have to admit that I learned much – but I am not sure I know what to do with it. The information does not appear to fit into our old life and we have no new life in which to place it. I do not want to give the impression that I feel “lost” as I have never been so found – I am just not sure what to do with this new information. I kind of feel like Ben Franklin with his discovery of electricity – great stuff is anybody could figure out how to harness it and then find something to do with it.

I have started a list of life goals that I am working on with Sunshine to help define some of the unknowns. Please keep praying as we seek direction.

I will try to keep you all posted as we continue on our journey,

Eric (8 hours from home and badly in need of a shower)

September 10, 2008

I arrived safe and sound late last night and its good to be home. I was able to sleep and should be over jet lag by tomorrow. I was able to put Adrianne on the bus this morning and am looking forward to waking up the boys soon.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. I will be taking the day in hiding to play with the family, but will be available tomorrow and beyond.

Please continue to pray that we will know Gods will on our upcoming life changes.

Love you all and I will update periodically from here.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

September 6, 2008

September 6, 2008

The well was test pumping today. By Kenyan Law the well must pump at capacity for 24 hours to test how fast the well replenishes. This wastes lots of water to the joy of many children and adults. The well is 1,000 feet deep and is producing about 18,000 liters per day. This is more than expected by almost double and they are thrilled to get it.

I ended up staying with the well for a couple hours before leaving for our next destination. We had to cancel the trip to Rwanda (I am still in Nairobi Kenya) as we have a very expensive shipment for Living Water International that has been held up at the airport. The shipment is from India and headed to Sudan, but it got tired and is resting here. We are trying to figure out what made our package tired so we can be sure it had a good rest to send it on its way. Nothing is easy in Africa.

This afternoon I went to Kijabe Kenya to look around. I visited a school and enjoyed the view of the rift valley. On the way back, we ran across two accidents. The first was a semi-truck rolled over in the road and on fire. No one was around and he truck was just burning away. I could not tell if the cab section was still attached.

Farther up the road we were stopped by a semi-truck that decided to drive off the side of the mountain. The cab separated from the tanker behind and fell 400 feet into the valley. Both people died. The commotion was beyond logic. Another person has told me many times that Africa is a logic free zone, but today was my first experience with the real logic free zone. When a major accident occurs on a small two lane mountain road both lanes of traffic are stopped as the accident is cleared. Since each side did not have opposing traffic, the cars decide they can get ahead of someone else if they drive in the opposite lane until the reach the site. When this happens on both sides of the accident – a real mess occurs. You cannot move any cars in either direction. This must have happened 100 times as the accident was clearing. People were always getting out of line to cut off someone and stopping the flow of oncoming traffic which causes incredible troubles. Police were standing all around but nobody cared.

The wrecker at the top of the hill clearing the accident, barely moved the cars off one lane before more cars piled onto the scene. Everyone wanted to be first, but nobody wants to lead. I though of that veggie tale video and wanted the entire country of Kenya to watch it. It probably took 1 hour to clear the accident and longer than that to try to remove the confusion caused by the cars. I am sure that the accident will not be cleared up 100% for more than 4 hours.

Anyway I am back at the hotel I was at the last three nights (The Hampton House) in Nairobi and will be here through Tuesday.

Thank you for holding our family in your prayers,

Eric still in Nairobi

Thursday, September 4, 2008

History lesson

Hello Family and Friends-

This is Renee typing from home. Eric has spotty internet connections so I thought I would update on what he has told me (via Skype) and a little bit of a history lesson.

Eric is finally feeling "up to speed" after having jet lag for several days. He is now staying in a boarding type house with 3 other men from Living Water International. A group of 7 ladies from the states came down last Saturday as well. They are with a jewelry company, owned by Kohl's department store and they donated money for a well. They also purchased several thousand beads from a local bead factory while they were there. Eric has not had to spend much time with them although yesterday his job was to escort them to the mall. Every man's nightmare!

Anyway, much of his time has been spent searching for companies that can provide services for Living Water and of course sitting in traffic!

The well that is being drilled is in the Kibera slum. Here is your history lesson. Kibera is considered the second largest slum in the world. Some argue it is the largest. Kibera began when Kenya was a British Colony. The British chose to give sections of land to the Nubian soldiers as payment for their service in WWI. Nubia was a country that is now northern Sudan and a small part of Egypt. The British allowed the soldiers to build any type of house they wanted. Because the soldiers were poor they built "shacks." Keep in mind the soldiers were not considered citizens but displaced tribes.

When Kenya became independent in 1963 certain forms of housing were deemed illegal by the government and therefore the Nubian settlement was not recognized. The Nubians and their descendants cannot rent "legal" housing because they are "displaced tribes"; therefore the more "industrious" Nubians "rent" their property. Since 1963 several other tribes have moved into the slum due to the fact that their villages are "under developed". This has caused conflict resulting in arson and theft.

Because the government does not "recognize" the inhabitants of the slum, basic water and sanitary issues are not addressed. They are known for "flying toilets". Latrines are very scarce so the method of disposal is to poop in a plastic bag and then throw it somewhere. Usually this means in the river or on their roof.

It is estimated that between 700,000 and 1.2 million people live in this 630 acre slum. Currently the slum is surrounded by government owned land so it cannot continue to sprawl outward, however the population continues to grow. It is located approximately 3 miles SE of Nairobi's city center.

Eric said that there was so much trash in the river inKibera that it stopped the flow. A front end loader and dump truck were brought in to dig it out.

It is hard to comprehend that any person could live in that situation. If you want to see the slum there are several videos on You Tube. In some twisted sort of way I almost wish I had not seen or heard about it because now I have to wrestle with the question, "What can I do about it?"

As for the home front we are doing well. The kids started school on Tuesday and they are adjusting well to the new schedule - better than I am. The boys are also involved in recreational soccer which encompasses 4 out of 5 week days and Saturday mornings. Although I am supposed to have all of this "time" to accomplish things with the kids in school I cannot tell you where the last 3 days went. Perhaps next week I can clean out that closet that was going to get done before we left for Mexico! :)

We so appreciate your notes (Stacey :) ), phone calls, offers to help and of course your prayers.

If you are able- please send my hubby a comment on this site. I know he looks forward to reading them (when he can).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sept 2 & 3 2008

Tuesday September 2, 2008

Wow is all I can day about the traffic. We spent 5 hours in traffic today and covered about 50 miles. The amount of cars, the smell of diesel smoke, the constant stopping and starting was more than anyone should have to take.

The day was not without gain. We met two companies that will most likely turn out to be great assets for LWI. This is a long story, but you will have to take my word for it.

We were stopped on the road for 30 minutes waiting for the president to pass by on his way to the airport. This was no small task for the police to remove literally thousands of cars off the road. The town was thrown into chaos as he was whizzed by at 80 miles per hour with his 12 Mercedes and BWM bullet proof cars. Quite a scene.

I am starting to sleep better and get used to the time change, but I am not willing to have to drive with this traffic.

Tomorrow I will be going to the game park and I am looking forward to that. I will try to take good pictures and post them on the site.

I have not had alone time and will need it soon. Pray for discernment and good listening skills.

Thank you for keeping me and the family at home in your prayers,

Wednesday September 3, 2008

Fun day today. I went to a game park very early in the morning and saw some of Gods great creation. This type of park you get to stand in an open van and drive around to see animals. They are all wild and loose on a 20,000 hectare preserve. The animals are not feed, so the lions eat what they can and so on.

I saw zebras, antelope, giraffe, large land turtle, gazelles, water buffalo, warthogs and several others. We had a good time although it was cold and a bit rainy (not bad though).

Back to the slum today to see the well project and a free afternoon.

Keep you posted.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Journey to Africa - leg #1 - London

Thursday Aug 28, 2008

Well it was quite a day, but in simple summary I left at 4:00 EST for Chicago O’Hare. The car trip went well and I found an offsite place to park that was not too bad.

The flight to London was 8 hours long and left at 9:00 pm CST and arrived 11:00 GMT. I was unable to sleep on the plane and this is quite a feat for me as I can sleep nearly anywhere. I was in the center section of 5 across in the plane, but did not have anyone on either side of me. The seat arm rests would not lift enough to get them out of the way, so it did not matter. The ride was rough as large planes go and I barely nodded off. I did get to see Prince Caspian and I have to admit that was nice.

I left the airport in London as I had an 8 hour layover and took the one hour train ride into town. I went downtown and say MANY statues, Buckingham Palace, the guards, LOTS and LOTS of people, double decker busses everywhere and small taxis. I had a great time. I was exhausted by the time I returned to the airport, but I was able to get a fair amount of pictures.

I am currently waiting in the airport for my connection to Nairobi Kenya tired enough to fall asleep at the table. Hopefully this will allow me to sleep on the plane as we will arrive in Nairobi at 8:00 am local time and I am sure we will need to be ready to go.

Please pray for strength and health on the trip that I will be able to hold up under pressure.

Please pray for wisdom and guidance as I try to determine what God is trying to tell me in regards to this opportunity. Also pray that the barriers that are hindering be removed.

The family is home and looking forward to school and the first soccer games this Saturday. If you have a chance to drop an encouraging note to my family while I am gone that would be greatly appreciated.

Friday August 30, 2008

After another long flight (9 hours) I arrived with Bruce from Living Water at about 9:00 am this morning. I have not slept in 30 hours or so and I am getting very tired. I took a very hot shower and I feel much better – a ½ nap will be good also.

I had a great seat neighbor, a young girl about Adrianne’s age on her way home. I really enjoyed talking with her.

We have arrived at our hotel, it’s the Fairview Inn (http://www.fairviewkenya.com/) if you want to check it out. It’s very, very nice.

The first impression I have of the place is much like Mexico. Block and cement, rich and poor living in close proximeity to each other with much disconnect, walls and gate, Lots of dirt and trash.

A team is arriving this evening and there will be lots to do as we make preparations for them.

Love you all and I will keep in touch as best I can,

Eric in London (the closest I have ever been to London Fogg)

Eric now in Nairobi, Kenya

Sunday, August 24, 2008

moving in

A home cooked meal sounded really good after restaurant food for a week! Take out the potatoes, cut up the fruit and get the streak marinated! Eric goes to light the grill - surprise!

7 baby chipmunks have moved in! So much for steak on the grill. Anyone for grilled chipmunk?
Just kidding!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home sweet home

11:15 pm Thursday.

4,816 miles and we have returned. Quite a journey and it seems to have just begun.

Thank you for all of your prayers over and for our family. We know your prayers made the difference.

Good night family and friends. My OWN bed calls me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Eric and his new "Friend" at Mustang Island near Corpus Christi, Texas. Sunday, Aug. 17
Capitol building. Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Capital building, Nashville, Tennessee.


Good morning all-

We are just leaving Birmingham, AL. We are heading to Nashville for a couple of hours and then on to Bowling Green, KY to see a little of Mammoth Cave. Home from there.

After our discussion at LWI, the African director suggested we visit Kenya. He randomly threw out that he was leaving for Kenya on August 28 if we wanted to go with him. I am not able to go as all of our kids start school on September 2 but Eric will be leaving from Chicago next Thursday. He will spend 6 days in Nairobi and 3 days in Rwanda before returning home on the 10th of Sept.

Amazing how God works. Nothing like we had planned but He knows best as we remind ourself daily!

Continuing on our journey - The Fogg Family

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homeward bound

August 18

We are currently in a hotel in Lake Charles, LA tonight. After leaving Saltillo we drove 8 hours to Corpus Christi. We then went to the ocean and spent a few hours looking for shells and clams.

On Sunday we visited the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned museum in the bay. After 4 hours there we returned to the beach for a few more hours of swimming and shell finding. We actually stopped at a Sears on the way to the hotel and found some great back to school deals on shoes for the kids.

This morning we drove 3 hours to Houston where we met with the executive director and African continent director of Living Water International. Having met Gary in Holland prior to leaving for Mexico he informed Bruce (African continent director) of his perceptions of our family. They then offered us the position of East African director. Currently they have families in Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan and Ethiopia. The other countries in the east Africa group are Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia. Their desire is to have a couple live near Nairobi, Kenya to assist with the organization and management of these countries.

The offer caught us off guard but we are seriously going to pray about it. We will keep you informed!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

final pictures of Saltillo

Our family in front of the governor's palace (capitol building) in Saltillo.
View of Saltillo from Fort Mexico. The black spot unfortunately is from the camera being dropped.

heading to Holland

Hello All-

Today we are beginning the trek home. None of us are ready to leave although I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed! I also will not miss the roosters crowing at 3:00 am.

Thursday of this week Eric and I each took extensive quiet time to be with the Lord in order to discern if Saltillo is the place for us. We each walked away knowing that Saltillo is not to be our new home. It would be easy to live here with the connections we have made and the American base of support. Saltillo has Sam's club and Wal-mart, all the fast food chains, Home Depot, and 2 large malls. Essentially, except for the language and color/height of the people, you could be in any large American city.

With the bio-sand filter model it is evident that the villages surrounding the city would benefit, but only if the filters are given away. In our case the filters were given away with the idea that eventually a local Christian would be able to create a business building filters. At $25.00 (cost in Saltillo - other countries can make them cheaper)per filter the villages cannot afford the filters and the people who live in town do not need them.

We still know that the Lord has called us to be missionaries and are looking forward to meeting with Living Water International to see what is in store.

Yesterday we painted at a park with the group from Christ Memorial Church. In the evening we attended our third birthday party since arriving. We arrived at 6:00 and dinner was served at 9:00. We left at 10:00 as more people were arriving.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We would appreciate your prayers as we meet with LWI on Monday at 2:00 EST.

Looking forward to seeing ya' all when we return!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Filters, Filters and more Filters

I will start from where I left off last time.

Monday morning we completed 4 hours of rotten board removal and painting on the Pastors house. We ate a quick lunch and then headed back to El Higo for further filter building. Valentin, again was our translator and 6 more families came for training. This time we had 2 more men available to help with the loading and unloading of material so it went quickly. We ate at the Children's home with the 2 other groups from West Michigan.

Tuesday we had another filter build - but this time at the Pastor's home. 7 pastors from small villages came with their families to learn to build the filters for their communities. The company from Monterrey who provided the filter materials sent 4 people to help with translation and to see the recipients of their gift. Eric then took those 4 people to El Higo to see the 12 families that recieved the other filters. It was eye opening for them. The 4 employees are upper class Mexicans and therefore are a little out of touch with the poor - no different than ourselves really. Monterrey informed us then that they are not interested in the hygiene training (one of the main reasons we came down here) so we now have an extra free day. It was disappointing to hear them say it but after theye rescheduled 3 times it was not unexpected.

After the build we took a tour of Innotec's new factory and then drove back to El Higo to drop off a new friend of Adriannes. We ate there and watched the kids from the orphanage break open a pinata and climbed a mountain nearby. Going up wasn't too bad although the cactus were vicious! On the mountain top was a cross with a crown of thorns on it. Several times a year people crawl up the mountain to place their gifts at the foot of the cross. The way down was more brutal. The rocks were very loose so we slipped alot, Adrianne stepped on a thorn that penetrated her shoe and went into her foot. Kevin slipped and was poked by a cactus that caused him to bleed profusely and then turn black and blue. Eric was poked by the same type of cactus and it penetrated his blue jeans. Needless to say we were glad to get down.

Today was a day of catch up. Laundry, emails, house cleaning, car cleaning (I think it drives faster now because we sucked so much dirt out of it!) and then Valentine took us on a tour of the historic downtown Saltillo. He is a history buff so we learned a lot. Another trip to H.E.B. (the grocery store) completed our day. Food prices are higher than in the U.S. Even rice and beans cost more plus they add a 15% tax to everything. I do not understand how people survive when the average wage is $1.50 an hour. Today we also completed a bacteria test on a water sample form El Higo. Bacteria count was high but we were glad to see that there was no fecal matter in it.

Until the next update!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

filter pictures

Valentin and the lady who received the 2nd filter.
The young lady in the pink shorts is only 18 and has a 2 year old and a 1 month old. Both children were conceived through rape. Alcoholism is a large problem in this community of 20 families and therefore causes many other problems.
This lovely lady, Maria, always wears white and she keeps it white! The ladies use wash boards for all of their laundry.


Hygiene training under the palapa in El Higo.
The first loaded truck, right before it ran out of gas. Nearest station is 18km away.
Yesterday was a busy day. We picked up our translator and headed to El Higo in order to build water filters. Valentin (the translator) and I (Renee) walked around the village and invited all of the families to come for training. When the time arrived 6 families came. No men, just children and the women. The men work until 1:00 on Saturdays and then, unfortunately, they buy alcohol on the way home and drink too much. We built a filter while explaining the process to the ladies. They were very attentive and asked alot of questions. The president of the children's home and mayor of a nearby city also came. He had a great time watching and helping. When we completed the training portion we determined to make the filters in their homes as they weigh 250# when complete. No one was at the children's home when we arrived so we had to locate keys for the truck. No easy task. Once located we loaded the truck and drove to the first home. The first filter took about 45 minutes and then we prayed over it and the house. When we got into the truck to go to the 2nd home the truck would not start. Out of gas! We ended up borrowing a sad looking wheelbarrow and completing the next 2 filters. We then towed the truck back to the home and loaded up a different truck to complete the last 3 filters. Our translator had recently had surgery and was not allowed to lift over 5# so Eric and I did all of the lifting. I always wanted defined muscles in my arms. I may get them yet! Of course as the first few houses received their filters other families wanted them. We told them they had to come to the training in order to receive one. We will be going back to offer another training tomorrow.

Today we attended Bible study and church then headed to Arteaga for their market. We wondered the market for an hour. It was a bit disappointing. Most of it was chinese plastic toys with a few food vendors thrown in.


A storm coming over the mountains. It rains here everyday from 3:30 -5:00 and cools the temp. by 10 degrees.
A pomengrate bush/tree in the Pastor's yard.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Today was hygiene training at El Higo. We arrived early to prepare for the 10:00 training. I was then told that the ladies would be coming at 3:00. We rectified that by inviting them to come at 10:30. No one was there at 10:30 so I waited until 10:45. One lady showed up and reported that the other ladies would not be coming because they were so busy.

She was correct except that the children, teenagers and one man showed up. It was quite fun to work with the kids and the senor was very funny. After 1.5 hours I gave them a 10 minute break except they did not leave so I continued on. We covered alot of ground in 2.5 hours.

The rest of the day was relaxing. We finished up cleaning the house in order to move out. We are now back in the first house we stayed in. We will stay here until we leave for Holland next week.
We also took a long walk. We were very winded when we finished. It is taking awhile to adjust to being a mile high. More storms rolled in off the mountains today. We have seen rainbows nearly everyday since we arrived.

We were also able to watch part of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on the Pastors TV.

Tomorrow is more training and building of bio-sand filters in El Higo. 2 groups from Holland arrived today. One from Christ Memorial and 1 from Lakeshore Vineyard. We will be working with these groups a little next week.

Adios mis amigos y familia

A True Mexico Day!

Well today Mexico got the better of us.

I got up early to go to the church and finish painting the ceiling by noon. I had a drop off scheduled at the orphanage in El Higo at 1:00 and a dinner appoinmtment at 5:00. This should have left a 2 hour time frame for the truck to arrive and be unloaded. ( it is Mexico you know).

Sooooo - I got up and finished installing the kitchen faucet in the missionaries home we are staying in. This took longer than I thought so we were running about an hour behind. Not bad so far. I arrived with Doren (the son of another missionary who is the pastor at the church) to work on the ceiling. We had just gotten started (1o minutes into it) when Derek (a man from a 1 week short term mission trip) came to repair the electrical at the church. He had to move our power source and that took 1/2 hour.

Then comes the fun part. 5 minutes more of painting with a sprayer on the new power source and Derek does something in the building. The power dies to most of the church and the rest of the power goes from 120 volts to 240 volts in the plugs. We shut everything down and for the next 3 hours tried to figure out what happened. I will save you the electical details, but the power in from the building was 5 wires off the meter, with several crossed. When certain combinations of things were on in the church, you sometimes had 120 and sometimes 240 volt power depending on which circuit breakers were turned on. To frustrate matter further Derek is not an electrician - just a nice guy who new more about electricity than the pastor. He ended up getting me to fix it and if you know me you know that electricity is not my strong point. There were more things wrong with the church - but I digress. Needless to say I never painted.

I left 15 minutes late for El Higo to meet my truck. I was low on gas and prayerfully the gas station I stopped at took credit card (most do not). Gas here is government owned and there is only one station, Pemex. I get to my corner to turn towards my destination and there is a semi-truck rolled over on the corner. Another delay. I get to El Higo without further incident and wait 3 hours for the truck. Nothing.

Now you have to see El Higo. Its 200 people who live in conditions you would not put your dog in. It is in the middle of nowwhere. There is nothing! Dirt, dirt and more dirt for 15 miles in all directions. I have no idea what ever possessed anyone to stop and make camp here, but there they are. Phones are out of range, the people at the childrens home were gone and all I could do was pick up trash (about 100 pounds) while waiting.

Finally I could wait no more and headed toward home. When I got within cell range, I recieved a message from the company that the truck might come at 4:00 now and then get loaded and drive the 1 1/2 hours to El Higo. After a long, nearly comical 1 hour of Mexican communication sytems troubles, I finally got to speak with Jose from Santrol who said the truck had still not arrived (it was 5:00 pm). We rescheduled for tomorrow.

We lost our dinner date in all this - had to cancel.

By the time I arrived back at the church, they ended up with the power back on, I never did find out what happened. I painted for 1 hour before coming home very frustated with all this.

There is more.

After dinner, Adrianne wanted to swim in the above ground pool outside our house. The pool had been shocked several days earlier and needed to be vacuumed very badly. I looked for 20 minutes for the parts to clean the pool when we found an outside shower area attached to the side of the house we are staying in full of pool stuff. I started to look in the closet and thought the smell would overwhelm me. The area was stacked full of plastic toys, the pool cover and who knows what else. It was a mice condo! After chasing mice out of it, we emptied the whole thing, threw away the ruined things and washed the area. While trying to throw things away we located the pool supplies to clean the pool. By the time we were done it was late, I still wanted to clean the pool for Adrianne, but the pool filter runs on an extension chord that is 15 feet to short to plug into the house. I gave up.

We learned patience today. The car ran fine, we were able to get gas, we ate and were safe, the church ceiling did get painted although by others and life went on.

Not the day we had in mind and I never even mentioned Sunshines day and her 45 minute project of cleaning the microwave and the 1.5 hours of time she took to attempt to reach me about the truck delivery. Her translator called at 9:30 last night and said he could not translate for the hygiene training. He called back 30 minutes later and said he now could.

Today (Friday) is the hygiene training at El Higo.

We will see what the day brings,

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This is the house where we are currently staying.
The boys were very hot. This was taken at the church. The little girl, Cale, is the daughter of the missionaries whose house we are staying in.
Adrianne painted this mural on the wall of the childrens room in the church. Some one then outlined it in black.

Today plans changed again. I am learning to be fluid. I'm told we can't be flexible because eventually you will break over time. Our training in Monterrey has now been moved for the third time to next week due to a hurricane in Texas. Long story. We hope to build 20 filters and provide training to a small village near the childrens home on Friday and Saturday. In the mean time we are continuing to help paint and clean the church.

I (Renee) have decided I will conquer this Mexico driving! I bravely took the wheel yesterday and got in my defensive driving mode. One mile down the street there is a construction zone. It is down to one lane going my way only. No one cares if it is my way! 2 cars were headed straight toward me so I politely stopped to let them through. A car passed me on the left and motorcycle on the right and then laid on their horns as they narrowly avoided a collision with the wrong way vehicles. Eric definitely handles the driving better. I felt bad that he has done most of the driving until I found out that I need a copy of my marriage license to drive our vehicle. If I were to be pulled over I need proof that I am married to the registered owner of the car. I don't feel bad anymore! :)

Currently we are making fly traps. They have huge issues with flies here.

Next time we hope to post something about our actual mission of clean water. Pray that God would open the doors before we leave next Saturday for more opportunities to present the filters, hygiene and the gospel. We have alot of interest but scheduling seems to be a problem.
Mexico time vs. America time.



Monday, August 4, 2008

Childrens Home in the Mountains. About 1 hour northeast of Saltillo.
View from the Children's Home. The orphanage currently has 11 children. They will soon finish the 2nd home and have 11 more kids.


We have had a couple of busy days here so we have not taken the time to update our blog. Here is a quick update.

Saturday began slowly with cleaning and putting together equipment for Carl whose mission home we were staying in. At 2:00 we decided to head to the orphanage in the mountains for a couple of hours. Turns out it was a God appointment. The Pastor who was going to drive us there was ill so he gave us directions. It took us about an hour to get there. When we arrived the couple who heads up the mission teams was just about to leave to pick up several people from the Monterrey airport. She ( Rebekah) was completely stressed out and crying. The last thing she wanted to do was drive 1.5 hours to the airport. Eric offered to drive instead and the kids and I dug into cleaning out the pantry. We were there for 7 hours because the flight was late and then the van was leaking diesel fuel on the return trip. Not every gas station in Mexico sells diesel so it was a long journey back for Eric. The kids and I had a good time playing with the local kids but boy was it hot and the dust storms were nasty. On our way back to Saltillo we found out that we had to move from our current mission home to the home of another missionary couple because a team had arrived early. We were stripping beds and cleaning at 11:00 and then we moved into another house that was really lived in. The couple did not know we would be staying in their home so they did not have it prepared. Needless to say we were up late.

Sunday we went to the Saltillo International Church. It is an English church so we met several ex-pat couples who are here with Innotech and GM. They invited us to a BBQ where we spent the entire afternoon. One of the couples has their home 3 miles from our home in Holland and knows some of the same people we do.

Today we painted the bathrooms of the church and helped with VBS. The kids had a really good time with VBS. It is their 3rd one this summer. We were all tired so we ate at McDonalds and then took a short swim.

We still are unclear about whether or not this is where God wants us to be. There are definately needs here for clean water in the local villages but there are several organizations that could be trained to make the bio-sand filters and distribute them through the churches. We are continuing to pray that God would make it clear.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Recent pictures

Kids at the Texarkana Post Office and Federal Building. Half in Arkansas and half in Texas!
Eric , kids and the king. Wax museum in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Eric and Adrianne playing in the pool in Saltillo, Mexico. August 1.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We have arrived.

Hello All-

We have arrived. Safe and sound and not too much worse for the wear. We left Laredo this morning around 10:30. It took awhile to get our visas and car permit after crossing the border (and making a wrong turn). We stood in line for 2 hours and then when it was our turn it took another 30 minutes to process the paperwork because everything had to be hand entered instead of scanned. I'm sure this is the first of many "patience teaching" moments to come.

We realized our own ignorance as we were attempting to read the road signs. My dictionary did not have most of the words in it so we took pictures of the signs and asked our hosts when we arrived. The toll road was in excellent condition although there were alot of Texas armadillos! For those of you who don't know what a Texas armadillo is -think shredded tires strewn everywhere. As we were going down a small mountain the truck next to us blew his tire, but thank goodness it remained intact.

The exchange rate is 10.25 to the dollar but not if you pay in cash at the gas station. Then it is 9.5 to one. The toll rates are posted on the booths but they add to them - we have to figure that out yet. $11.75 posted means $13.00. We have alot to learn!

Currently we are staying in a mission house next to the governors home. Needless to say crime is non-existent in this neighborhood. The proprietor grew up in the Upper Peninsula but has lived here for 26 years. He has German Shepard puppy that is as tall as Joshua and greeted Joshua with a lick to his face. From chin to forehead!

We will be staying here for 2 nights and then moving in with a pastor and his family for 7 nights and then back here for 6 nights.

It is a good thing that Eric is a defensive driver. Our host was not very good at giving directions and did not know the names of the streets. He gave us landmarks instead. It was quite an adventure to get here. This city has a population of 690,000 and I think we saw all of them during our tour!

It is late and we must rest. Look for pictures soon.

We are now minutes from crossing the border. Yesterday we spent most of the day in San Antonio at the alamo and by the riverwalk. It was beautiful. 90* but overcast for half of the day. At 1:00 the sun came out and the temp went up to 103*. Drove 3 hours to Laredo to a place called SteppingStones. It is set up for missionaries who are entering or leaving Mexico and they also set up mission adventures for teams who work at orphanages and pass out water and tracts at the border. It is very "remote" by our standards but a cute place.

We have a 4 hour drive once we are in Mexico. Pray for safety if you would.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another day closer!

Another day closer to Mexico. We spent a fair amount of time today on the road. Left Sulphur Springs and drove to Austin where we took an hour to tour the capitol building and drive around the city. From there we drove to San Antonio where we are currently in our hotel. Another 100* day today so the pool was a big hit with the kids. After an hour in the pool we ate dinner at the local Olive Garden. We met 2 young soldiers who served in Iraq there. One of them lost his right arm and the other his left leg in a roadside bomb. It does make us realize the price for freedom that others pay on our behalf.

Tomorrow we hope to visit the Alamo and then head down to Laredo for the night. We hope to cross into Mexico Thursday morning.

We will try to post more pictures tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hot Springs Arkansas

What a nice day we had. The car AC was working better today after we prayed over it and we drove to “Hot Springs” AR. What a nice town. We walked all around the downtown, toured an old bath house, rode the “ducks” – it’s a boat/bus for tours. It was HOT – the air was about 100 and the humidity was high. Makes for uncomfortable people.

The hot springs were very interesting and the water was hotter than I thought – about 140 degrees. The 48 springs give about 1 million gallons per day. The place also had some very nice buildings and was the boyhood home of Jim Dobson and Bill Clinton. What an irony. We also went to a wax museum and enjoyed the air conditioning more than the figures.

We ended up driving to Sulfur Springs Texas and staying at the Best Western. Its very nice, has a pool and the kids are currently swimming. We ate at a 1950’s diner called “Broadway CafĂ©” – it was fun.

Note for Ben Fogg – We went to see the USS Razorback submarine – you would not believe the stuff they can put in such a small space. I have pictures for you.

The evening was perfect – 92 degrees and no bugs. The family is settling into a driving routine and things are going smoothly.

Please pray that God prepares the way to allow us to know if Mexico is where He wants us.

Thank you for your prayers,


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pictures of the first 2 days

What a great looking bunch!

Little Rock Arkansas

Very early morning,

Its 6:14 am CST and we just got gas and took a 2 hour nap at a truck stop in Osceola, Arkansas. I forgot about the bugs! When we pumped gas there were 2 inch cockroaches all over the place. Winter may not be everyone’s favorite, but it kills bugs DEAD!

Only Sunshine and Kevin were awake when we crossed the Mighty Mississippi near 3:00 am.

Overall things are going very well. The car is running wonderfully and is getting about 22 mpg average. We had a great send off. We started the day taking out trash and getting ready to go. We went over to the airport for the plane unveiling and about 20 people showed up as well as the Holland Sentinel. I included a couple pictures of the plane. Stop by the hangar to see it anytime.

Family volunteered to take the kids to the lawn tractor pull at the fair for a couple hours so we could finish the errands and that was amazingly helpful. Thank you Ben! We had a nice prayer send off from the Fogg’s and from Dwight Beal who stopped over to learn how to run our lawn mower.

Sunshine left the house spick and span as she hates returning to a dirty house. It looks nice and smells good also. The basement started to dry out this week and that is a great relief.

We have been vey blessed and cannot wait to see what God has in store for us. Pray that the meeting with Living Water International that is scheduled for August 15 can be rescheduled until Aug 18 as it conflicts with our current schedule (or that our schedule would change).

On another note we installed “Skype” on our computer yesterday. This allows for voice over internet provider. We do not have video on our laptop – sorry. We are looking for someone to test it out with. If you have Skype on your computer please give us a lesson on how to “get connected”. I assume you need to make an appointment to insure each person is at their computer. If you are interested – let’s chat. We are on the road for the next three days, so it’s hard to do an appointment, but we can page your computer to see if you are there.

It is now 2:00 pm and the kids are having a great time in the hotel pool. It is 100 degrees today. We ate breakfast 60 miles from Little Rock at a greasy spoon restaurant. They do like their butter! We then drove around downtown Little Rock, toured the capitol building and a few other historical sites.

Time for lunch! Enjoy the photos!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two days before departure

Less than 48 hours before we leave! I am currently typing this from the deck overlooking Lake Michigan at my in-laws house. It feels good to stop and breathe for a few minutes.

Just when we think we are prepared to leave, something else pops up or one of the items on the “do list” takes three times as long as we anticipated. We are planning on leaving town Saturday evening and driving through the night to Arkansas. We are hoping that this will take off some of the stress of driving 2200 miles with 3 kids by having shorter driving times during the other 3 days. After stops in the Hot Springs, Texarkana and San Antonio we hope to arrive in Saltillo on Thursday (31st) in the afternoon. We will have a few days to rest up and then start hygiene training and bio-sand filter building. We will also be helping the local pastor with VBS and working at the local orphanage. Our plan is to return on August 21 but just 2 days ago we were returning on the 15th, so we are trying to be flexible (Eric is fine, I’m trying!)

We took the last 2 days to clear some of our schedule while in Saltillo in hopes of preventing burn-out. We also wanted time to “focus on God” in order to determine if Saltillo is where He wants us to be. It seemed that 4 different organizations in Saltillo decided they could use us while we were there and suddenly our schedule was very full. We enjoy hard work but don’t want to “blast in, do a few water projects and blast out” without forming relationships.

Also this past week I (Renee) found out that my trip to Central Asia has been cancelled. The missionaries there found out that the government has denied their visas along with 6 of there 8 staff members and is beginning the process of shutting there organization down. Last year 90% of the missionaries were kicked out of the country but they had high hopes that they would stay for awhile yet.

In the meantime our meeting with Living Water International which was moved twice and then cancelled has now been re-scheduled for mid- August on our return trip home. We met with the executive director today here in town and he asked us to stop in Houston for further discussion of possible projects where we can be used.

Eric has finally finished the T-33 jet fighter plane! PTL! It looks nice but wow did it take some hours to complete. It will still need to be mounted on a post and installed at Park Township Airport- but that can wait until we return.

Our basement is finally starting to dry out which is a relief. I have been scrubbing mold off the concrete floor and everything is still piled on the benches down there. Lord willing when we get back I can put it back together again.

A friend has loaned us a laptop computer for our trip so we hope to update you as we go along. We may even figure out how to upload pictures. J

Thank you from the bottom of our feet (heart seemed to high) for all of your financial and prayer support. We really appreciate it – more than you know.

We will keep you posted!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Family and Friends-
We are so humbled by the support we have received since announcing our trip. We are so blessed and we thank you so much.

We are continuing to prepare for our trip, (now 2 weeks away), to Saltillo, Mexico. Plans seem to change on a regular basis but the dates have remained relatively the same. We are scheduled to leave on July 26 and return around August 15.

Originally we scheduled a meeting in Houston with Living Water International. The date for that meeting was changed twice and then cancelled by them recently. We were disappointed but just found out that the Executive Director will be in Holland 3 days prior to our departure and we will be able to meet with him them to discuss options. We are unsure about a sending organization yet, although several non-profits have suggested that Eric work for them as their "salesman". Imagine that! Eric a salesman! :) Although we are flattered at the offers that is not where our heart lies at this time. We truly want to "do missions" as a family unit in another country.

During our time in Mexico we will be meeting with a mission agency that strictly works in Mexico who is interested in providing clean water for its country as well. We are staying with an American missionary pastor who has offered to be our tour guide and introduce us to the "right" people.

We have also been invited to a sand-making business and a rotary club in Monterrey to talk with them about the different options for clean water.

Eric is continuing to work with the painters of the T-33 for the Park township airport and continues to meet with people interested in assisting with clean water projects.

Renee will start her pediatric therapy observation next week to prepare for a possible trip to Central Asia this fall.

The kids just finished a week of VBS at a nearby church and soccer camp in the evenings and they are looking forward to camping next week.

Until the next update...........

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


We are continuing to prepare for our trip in 4 weeks to Mexcio. We just received our international driver's licenses. It is important NOT to smile when having one's picture taken for such things. I think both of us look like prisoners!

The trainer's training for me (Renee) has been put on hold until we can determine how long we will be in the country. The amount of time that would need to be invested in order for me to train others is not something the leader wants to take on if we are leaving in 6 months. Lord willing my pediatric shadowing will begin soon. The "key" people are on vacation currently and therefore I have not begun that either. In the meantime cleaning up the water in our basement has kept me busy.

Eric has been diligently working on recruiting people for a water symposium this Friday here in Holland. The symposium will involve several mission organizations and businesses who are involved in or hope to be involved in bringing clean water to 3rd world countries. He also just finished the majority of organizing work for the display of a T-33 airplane on the Park Township airport property.

We are anxious to "get going" on our journey but the Lord knows when it is best so in the meantime we wait while enjoying summer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Exploratory Trip

Yesterday we found out our housing in Mexico has come through. It looks like we will be leaving on July 25, driving down with our kids, stopping in Houston for a meeting with Living Water International and continuing on to Saltillo.

We hope to spend 10 days - 2 weeks in the Saltillo/Monterrey area exploring and meeting with some business men whom we made contact with recently. They would like for us to present the different options for clean water to their business partners.

Lord willing we will come away with an answer regarding whether we are to "set up camp" in Northern Mexico or look elsewhere. He continues to meet all of our needs as we wait on Him.

Join us in prayer as we seek to follow his direction for our lives.
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