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2008-06-30

A brief apology, followed by an update.

So. How am I supposed to begin after being so entirely lame at updating my journal here on UnderTheOverpass.com? An apology seems in order. If you've been checking back at all during the past two years, and have been disappointed that there hasn't been any new, fresh content, I'm really sorry.

Now that we've got the sappy stuff out of the way, let's move on.

Danae and I now live in Sisters, Oregon, after having moved north from Santa Barbara last year. We've not really been in Oregon much, though, as we've been out of the country for 5 of the past 12 months. We've been in Belize, Ecuador and Uganda, seeking to learn more about what it means to serve the "least of these" in our midst. The experiences have changed, moved and affected us in huge ways. I'll do my best to give brief but substantive updates.

Belize
For two months last summer we were living and working with a small organization called Path Light International (www.pathlight.org). We actually lived in a tiny jungle bungalow at their rain forest compound (the compound was previously owned by a Environmental organization and was completely "off grid"). It was incredible.

Path Light's primary endeavor is education, focusing on a scholarship program for students who are entering in the equivalent of high school. In Belize, a large part of the education is subsidized during what are called the primary school years. Path Light works with students to help cover the expenses of secondary school, which often can't be met by their families: school materials, transportation, uniforms etc. We spent a great deal of time helping to figure out logistics (it took 8 meetings and nearly 8 weeks to get the uniforms figured out...) for 14 students who were entering into high school.

Ecuador
More than 1.1 Billion people in our world don't have access to clean water. More than 2.6 billion in our world don't have improved sanitation or hygiene. The result is more than 5000 child deaths per day from preventable water related diseases. Think about it: People are dying in our world because they don't have clean water--something you and I flush down the toilet without even thinking about it.

As Danae and I began doing research into some of the world's biggest areas of need, Water became a focus for us. We decided to dig deep into the issue, and actually live in places affected by these needs. We teamed up with an organization called HCJB, and visited some of the communities they've been doing work in for more than 30 years. It was incredible to see lives transformed through something as simple as clean water. HCJB also works with local leaders to help educate and equip people with improved sanitation (pit latrines or flush toilets) and hygiene knowledge.

Uganda
Like Ecuador, our purpose in being in Uganda was to try and discover more about the issue of unclean water and how it impacts the lives of the poor around our world. As some of you have heard / seen, for more than 20 years Uganda has been plagued by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Much of the northern areas are in shambles, and we heard from many people that the region has probably been set back by nearly 50 years because of the violence and mayhem. Because of the LRA, much of the limited water infrastructure of northern Uganda has been utterly destroyed. As people return "home" from the IDP (internally displaced persons) camps, many tens of thousands do not have access to clean, safe water. The result is disgustingly high infant mortality, disease rates, and death. In one of the communities we were living in, there were three funerals in the course of one week.

We were working with an American NGO called Life Water International (www.lifewater.org) and a Ugandan NGO called Divine Waters. Both are working diligently and to great effect to bring sustainable solutions for clean water, improved sanitation, and adequate hygiene to regions in northern Uganda. As we lived in rural Uganda for 2 months, it was astonishing to see what can be done and is being done to love some of the many billions who suffer from these needs.

~

In other news, Danae and I are beginning seminary this fall at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. We will be taking courses via distance for the first two terms, and then spending summer of 2009 in Vancouver taking intensive courses. Hopefully, we'll be able to complete our master's degrees in two to three years. Our hope is to one day become college professors, and thereby help college students grapple with some of the realities of being followers of Christ in our world. Service unto the least of these, as a core component of Faith in Christ, will shape and inform the courses we hope to teach. We'll see what the Lord has in mind!

I think I'll wrap it up here, so you can get on with your day and I can get to some other things I need to get done. Thanks for caring, for checking out UnderTheOverpass.com, and for taking the time to read this journal!

Grace and Peace.

-Mike.

If you'd like to learn any more about what Danae and I are up to, check out www.yankoski.com





Comment Author Comment Text
Lonnie

Member Since:
2008-06-11

Mike and Danae,

I see that boredom is not an issue in your life. It is so good to get an update. I've yet to read all the goody on yankoski.com, but will do that soon. I just wanted to thank you for re-entering the picture. Hope to hear more. I know you'll be busier yet but hope you will add a line now and then to undertheoverpass.com.



God Bless You Both, and please greet Sam with the same.



Lonnie

Posted: 2008-07-05 11:39:20
Barron

Member Since:
2008-07-18

Yo Mike!

Thanks for taking the time and teaching the lesson. I just quit my job and went into street ministry full time. I've been there too. Check out our website @ www.outtopastor.com. We try to feed folks at least once a week with our mobile truck as the Lord provides and leads. Please remember us and those we serve in your prayers. If you ever come thru Ohio please call us so we can break bread brother.

Lovin the Jesus I see in ya,

Barron Seelig

servant

Out To Pastor Ministries

Springfield, Ohio



Posted: 2008-07-18 02:56:06
Dfirmin

Member Since:
2008-09-20

Hey Mike,

I finished your book today as part of a class project for my school. The Book was Moving and really made me think about ways that i can get involved with the homeless community. I am only fifteen but i plan on going down to the local mission sometime in the next month with my class to serve meals to homeless men and women. this book Changed the way I think about the rest of the world. -thanks



Danile Firmin

Posted: 2008-09-20 14:09:01


Member Since:

Mike,

My son read your book several weeks ago and I just finished it. I can't seem to write fast enough to get my thoughts on paper. Anyway, here goes...not only has my son, Tommy, read your book, but after that he was given videos of the Invisible Children to view. I don't have to tell you about them. Tommy has been telling anyone who would listen to watch these videos. He's also begun collecting books to help with the schools for schools drive that they do. But it doesn't stop there. Today, friends of ours, who moved 4 years ago, were in town for a visit. Get this, their daughter who is a Stanford graduate is doing work with a group in Uganda helping facilitate medical needs. Her father, Dr. "Tex" Kissoon, is world renown in his field of pediatric medicine. He has and is working with hospitals in Africa training personnel for better medical care. The reason I'm sharing all of this with you is that we were telling Tex and his wife about your book this very afternoon. And this evening I decided to go online to see what else I could find out about you and what you were doing today. Now... get this...Tex and Janice reside in Vancouver, BC. Imagine my excitement when I read that you and Danae are planning to be in Vancouver this summer. I believe that somehow we need to get the two of you together to talk. Let me know if this is a possibility.

Janie



Posted: 2009-01-24 22:08:38
Jennifer S.

Member Since:
2010-01-05

Hey Mike!



Nice to see you back on here. I'm the girl who hunted your email address down and emailed you back around June of '08. Don't know if you remember it or not, but you emailed me back a few times. That was nice of you...and I never came back to this website until today. I saw that you had started using the site again and I just grinned from ear to ear. That's awesome. I was just telling someone about your book this morning and thought I'd come check out the website again. Glad you're back. :)

Posted: 2010-01-05 05:32:40
 








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