Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Meet my friend Saho. Saho is one of the JNRC guests that works with our Artisans group on Wednesdays and Thursdays. He is a multitalented artist who makes a majority of the peace flags that the Artisans group sells. Since I've met him, I don't think that I can remember a time where he hasn't had a smile on his face or a positive attitude. All around good guy. He's been working with the Artisans group since it started last spring.

JNRC Peace Flags

Saho is from Mali and he is here in Italy seeking protection from the war happening there. I don't know the full story of how Saho came to be in Italy, but it is pretty incredible from what I have heard of it. He originally left Mali and fled to Libya, just in time for the turmoil happening there. When Libya became too dangerous, Saho paid a smuggler to take him by boat to Italy. That boat unfortunately didn't make it to Italy. It broke down in the middle of the ocean for several days. The waters between Northern Africa and Europe are pretty well patrolled by various European coast guards, which means that Saho's boat was well within sight of people that could have come to rescue them at any point, but chose not too because of politics and bureaucracy. I don't know the exact number of days Saho and his boat-mates spent adrift at sea, but it was far too long.

Eventually Saho's boat was rescued by the Maltese Coast Guard. You might remember the story from a few months back about a boat of immigrants that was adrift for several days before it caught fire and sank less than a 1/4 mile off the coast of one of Sicilian islands. 150 people died and 250 more are presumed dead. So the fact that Saho's boat was rescued and did not suffer the same fate as the other boat is a huge blessing because it could have easily gone the other way. When a boat is picked up by the Maltese government, the people on that boat are then sent immediately to a mandatory 18 month detention. After detention it isn't clear what will happen to immigrants. Some are deported, some seek asylum, some move on to other countries. I know very little about the detention center in Malta, but from what I can tell it is a hell hole. The next part of Saho's story isn't clear to me, but he somehow escaped detention and fled to Italy.

Italy is sort of a safe haven for refugees because it has a very lax border. Almost anyone can come in, but once they are here there are few options for them. They aren't allowed to legally work, or even legally live here, until they gain actual refugee status from the Italian Government, which involves a long process called commission where they give refugees a "permesso di soggiorno" or Permission of Stay. Saho has been preparing for his commission hearing since he got here and he finally had his commission hearing a few weeks back. Saho was given a permesso di soggiorno of one year, which is the standard amount given to most Malian refugees. Commission hearings take into account many things, like a refugees family ties back in their home country, the state of that country, and the amount of danger involved in a refugee returning to that country. By the Italian Government's standards, the situation in Mali is improving, so they give Malians one year to stay in hopes that they can return afterwords.

The problem with this system is that it generalizes the whole conflict in Mali, and it generalizes every single Malian refugee that is in Italy. To me, it seems like it turns refugees into statistics and forgets the fact that they are human beings. For many, to return to Mali within the year would simply be impossible, which is Saho's case. I went with Saho yesterday to a meeting with a lawyer so that he can begin to appeal his commission decision. It's a long process that will involve somehow proving that Saho would likely be killed if he were to return to Mali. It seems a bit strange to me that refugees are asked to prove that they might be killed so that they can gain some kind of life. Prove your imminent death to live. That seems backwards to me in more ways than one.

I'd love to tell you that Saho's case is unique. I'd love to say that there aren't hundreds, if not thousands, more stories very similar to his. I'd love to tell you all those things, but I can't. There are parts of me that are very grateful to the Italian Government for even allowing people to come into Italy and seek protection, because even that is much more than many countries are willing to do. But there are other parts of me that are completely disillusioned with the system as well. There isn't a single part of the system that is easy for a refugee to navigate. You basically need a law degree to understand the complete in's and out's of the process.

There is a severe lack of humanity in the whole process, which is really what these refugees need when they've come from such terrible trials and tribulations. There is no humanity in letting people sit at sea because of the simple fact that they are refugees. There is no humanity in throwing people into detention simply because they are fleeing persecution by the only means they know how. There is no humanity in turning refugees into statistics in a report. This lack of humanity is why when Saho comes in on Wednesday with his giant, genuine smile, I'll smile back and chat with him as the friend that he is. This lack of humanity is why when a guest comes into the center, the staff and volunteers will smile and try to treat them with the dignity that the world forgot they deserved.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The New "Normal"

First, my apologies for not writing for several weeks. It's been absolutely crazy here at the church and I've literally not had a spare moment. So much has been going on in the past couple of weeks that I don't even know where to start with this post, but I'll do my best.

The craziness started with the St. Paul's board visit 3 Sundays ago. St. Paul's has been undergoing some  major renovation for the past 10 years, and this visit was a celebration for reaching the halfway mark. Austin worked really hard on setting up things for the board to do and see that are outside of the regular tourist experiences. Somehow I got on the good side of the group and was able to tag along on some pretty incredible Roman experiences. I could write a blog post about each of them, but I don't have time so you'll just have to deal with a quick overview. Tea with the British Ambassador to the Vatican at the highest vantage point inside the walls of Rome, a private tour of the Vatican observatory (which just happens to be located at Castel Gandolfo, you know, the Pope's summer residence), a private tour of the US Embassy's art collection, a private tour of the Villa Aurora with the Princess who still lives there (Yes, I did say Princess), and more food than I care to remember.

Tea Time!
It's a shame they didn't have this during the
whole "Galileo incident"...
These chairs are only 500 years old...
The Princess casually holding a letter from
Marie Antoinette

Fr. Austin, Rev. Jennings, Me, and Bishop Pierre 
Now if all that wasn't enough for one week, the Convocation's Convention started in the middle of the week. Since there are only 9 Episcopal Churches in Europe, spread out over Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and France, they band together to make a pseudo-diocese called The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Convention is held in a different church each year, and this year it was St. Paul's turn. It was really great to meet people from all over Europe and make some good connections. I even got to meet the Rev. Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies. She gave a great talk about the state of The Episcopal Church. Everything with the Convention went off without a hitch, which was a huge relief to the St. Paul's staff. We also had a Peace Party with the the Artisans group from the Refugee center and we were able to sell a lot of their crafts. These parties are a great way to spread information about the Artisans group and the JNRC.

Peace Party for Convention spouses

Now as you can imagine, the church staff was quite tired after such an eventful week. The church closed down for a few days last week so everyone could rest, which was perfect timing for my good buddy James to arrive from Madagascar. James has been with the Peace Corps in Madagascar for the past year and a half and this trip to Rome is the first time he's been off the island since he arrived. You can imagine that he might be a little culture shocked. James, Austin, and I took a trip up into the Italian mountains around Umbria. Just an absolutely gorgeous area. We spent a night in a town called Norcia, which is famous for two things: Pork and Truffles. The Italian word for pork butcher is norcineria, which is derived from Norcia, so as you might guess the pork is ridiculously amazing. Norcia also happens to be the town where St. Benedict was born. There's a large benedictine monastery in the town where they make beer. Beer, Pork, Truffles. Sounds like my kind of place. We also stopped in a small town called Todi, which is where all Italian restaurants in the USA come to get their stereotypical views of the Italian countryside. Ok, thats not true, but its one of the prettiest towns I've ever been to.


St. Benedict

Needs no caption
One of St. Paul's parishioners asked me yesterday how I was settling in after 3 weeks, and I told him that I was doing well, but I hadn't seen what a normal week working with the church was like yet. He replied that I had indeed seen a normal week because "normal" doesn't exist. Even though he may be pretty accurate in that statement, it'll be nice that everything is settling down now and I can get a grasp of what this new "normal" will actually be like without so many events and guests. But it has been an incredible time the past couple of weeks and I'm still in shock about some of the experiences I've been able to have. That'll do for now!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Greetings from Roma! It's been one crazy week here in the Eternal city. Not only was it my first week here in Rome, it was also the week before the Convocation's (Diocese of all the European Episcopal Churches) Convention. If you're not familiar with convention, its basically the Congress of the Convocation (Hopefully next weeks convention is a little more productive than the US congress). Not only is it convention, but the St. Paul's Board of Trustees is convening next week as well, so needless to say there has been a lot of preparation work for these big events.


Even with all that stuff going on, I've been able to get a good feel for what the next year is going to be like, and if this week is any indication of what's in store for next year, it's going to be nothing short of incredible. Austin picked me up at the airport last saturday and took me directly to the place that everyone goes right when they arrive in Rome, The Vatican Supermarket (which happens to be right behind the papal palace). Ok ok, so maybe it's not everyone's first stop in Rome, but it was mine. You actually need a special card to enter, so it's basically the Pope's Costco. We got some fantastic prosciutto and fresh mozzarella for lunch, then headed to St Paul's.

My new home is amazing. It's breathtakingly beautiful and it's close to pretty much everything famous in Rome. I still have no idea how I scored this position, but I am extremely grateful to have done so. My new apartment is in the rectory of the Church, which is just behind the sanctuary. I have a nice little room and I share a bathroom and kitchen with the other 5 people that live on the floor. Most of the other people in the collegio are masters students at a local Catholic University. It seems to be a really nice living situation so far!

The view from my room
St. Paul's Sanctuary
This is literally a 2 minute walk from my
apartment. 2 minutes, y'all!!

In between all the sightseeing and exploring, which there has been a lot of, I've found time to work! My placement here at St. Paul's will primarily be with the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, which is run out of the church's undercroft. It's truly an incredible and hectic experience to enter the center for the first time. Nearly 200 refugees come to the center everyday. The center serves a small breakfast and distributes some basic hygiene supplies, like toothbrushes and soap. It's basically a way for people to come get off the streets for a while and be with people that are experiencing the same struggles and hardships that they are experiencing. Many of the refugees had to leave all of their family and friends behind in their country, so they arrive in Italy and don't know a soul. I cannot even conceive of the sense of loneliness they must feel.

The Artisans Group
I've also been working with the JNRC Artisans group, which is a group of hand picked members from the center that create beautiful works of art. The pieces are sold to help raise support and awareness for the JNRC, but most of the proceeds from the sales go back to the group to help generate some sustainable income. The guys in the group are, without a doubt, some of the most incredible people I've had the honor to meet. Even though the group comes from many different countries, backgrounds, ethnic groups, and religions, they work together with a powerful sense of respect and dignity for one another that is unlike anything I've ever seen. The stories of how many of them came to Italy are nothing short of heart-breaking. I am incredibly blessed that they are willing to let me come in and work with them.

Bowls made from rolled newspaper
Necklace from newspaper
Please keep the Artisans group and all the refugees in your prayers, as they are very much in need of them. You will definitely be hearing more from me on how you all can help support the work of the JNRC and the Artisans group.

It's been an amazing first week and I am very excited to get more involved with the work here. This next week will be a crazy one for St. Paul's with the convention and board visit, but we'll get through it! Last year, I finished every blog post with the words "Sala hantle," which is Sesotho for "Be well." I'm not sure what the correct Italian phrase for that is, so I'll figure that our before next time. Until then, be well!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What do you mean I'm leaving again?

Greetings from the good ol' US of A! Wherever you are right now, I hope that you are doing well. It seems like it was just last week that I left St. James in Lesotho and started the week of traveling to get home, but when I look at a calendar it seems as though that was almost 2 months ago. Go figure, right?

It's been nothing short of wonderful to be home. I cant tell you how nice it is to see my family, even if just for a short time. I wont go into to all that I've done, but you can take a look at the photos below and get the gist of it. Basically, its been a perfect little slice of Americana.

Also, you may have noticed that the title of this blog has changed! New placement = new title! But everything else about my blog will stay the same. You can still find all of my posts from Lesotho in the blog archive.

It's crazy to think that I will be getting on a plane on Friday and head to Rome! What? It's literally been one of the fastest months I've had in a long time. Thanks to everyone who showed me some love while I've been home. It was short, but it was sweet. Thanks all for continuing to support me during the coming year! Much love, y'all!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All Good Things

Daniel, Me & Majoro
It’s hard to believe, but today is my last day here at the St. James Mission Hospital. Crazy! Accompanying today is about a thousand different emotions that I have no idea how to put into words. Don’t ask me how I feel about leaving because that answer changes by the minute. I’m happy, sad, frantic, excited, reminiscent, tired, cold, fulfilled, delirious, blown away, blessed, not ready, completely ready, and many more. Basically, overwhelmed!

It’s been almost a year since I left the USA, which is by far the longest time I’ve ever spent away from home. I. Can. Not. Wait to be back home and see all my family and friends! That’s my biggest emotion right now. That being said, I’m totally going to miss this place. While a year is a long time to be away from my family, it’s barely long enough to get acquainted to a new place and new culture. It’s really only been in the last few weeks that I’ve felt like I actually live here and that I’m not just a perpetual visitor. It’s strange to finally start feeling like you really live somewhere and then it’s all over!

'Me Mochekoane, Me & Fiona

There was a prayer that was given to my YASC group at our discernment weekend, over a year and a half ago, called “The Road Ahead” by Thomas Merton. I loved it then, and I still love it now because it’s the perfect way to describe the past year.

The Road Ahead
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following 
your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.

-Thomas Merton

Me, Ntate John & Majoro
That prayer always reminds me that it’s ok to have no idea what’s going on or what’s going to happen. It’s ok to have doubts, fears, anxieties, and troubles as long as I have faith. That’s a fantastic thing to be reminded of when living in a new culture while desperately grasping for any sort of footing. Now, it’s the easiest thing in the world to say I have faith that everything will work out, but practicing that faith is a completely different story. To be honest, it’s absolutely terrifying.

The kitchen staff and Me
I’ve put a lot of thought into where this faith comes from and how I can better practice it. I’ve always been a very independent person. I really don’t like relying on other people because I always picture myself as a burden when I need help. I just like figuring things out for myself. You might be more familiar with this mindset under its alternate title, “Stubbornness.” As you might guess, this approach to life does not work in a mission setting. From the moment I stepped on the plane to leave home, I became completely and totally reliant on other people. It took a while to get over the initial nagging fears, like “Will I have a good place to live?”, “Will I have enough food?”, “Will my co-workers like me?”, “Should I actually be here?”, “Am I crazy!?”, etc (The verdict is still out on the crazy question). I could have spent all year trying to answer those questions, and it would have been a total waste of a year. Luckily, that’s not what happened. I eventually learned that I wasn’t so much relying on others as I was relying on God. But more importantly, I was relying on God by accepting the hospitality, friendship, love, help, and guidance of all the wonderful people that have been a part of my Lesotho experience, thus practicing my faith. That’s a huge realization for a stubborn-headed fool like myself! God doesn’t give us what we think we need, he gives us what we actually need. It’s nice when those two overlap, but it’s when they don’t that we grow and learn.

Ntate Khoai and Me
My office Neighbor, Mapaseka 
Ntate Lekhotla and Me

So from here, I’ll head down to Maseru for a few more days to say goodbye to everyone down there, then I’ll head to Cape Town for a little bit to wrap up everything with the HOPE Africa Office. Thanks so much for reading my blog, and thank you all so much for supporting me through this year! The photos in this post are of some of the people that I've worked closely with at St. James. There's so many more that I'd like to put up, but It'd just be too long.  They’ve all made my year absolutely amazing! For the last time in Lesotho, Sala hantle!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2020 Vision

Just another photo of the unending beauty
First, my apologies for not writing a post for nearly a month! It’s been very busy so I’ll do a quick recap. I spent most of the month finishing up work on the website for St. James, and I’m pleased to say that it is now complete! The official launch will be next week, but you can get an early look at it here. I also spent a lot of time getting the program booklet worked up for the St. James’ 50th Anniversary, coming up in October. That program will be going to the printers soon. Then last week, I spent the whole week in Maseru working a bit with the diocesan offices. There were also two national holidays last week (including the King’s 50th birthday), so I’m not too sure how much “work” I actually got done!

But the real reason for this post is this week’s visit from HOPE Africa and my fellow YASCer Holly Milburn! Holly is the YASC volunteer in the HOPE Africa office in Cape Town, and she’s been jockeying to come visit Lesotho pretty much since the start of our YASC years. She’s made it just under the wire because I’m leaving the hospital in 2 weeks! Holly joined the HOPE Africa facilitation team of Father Chris Ahrends and Patrina Pakoe.

Holly and I

St. James' vision team
This visit from HOPE Africa was a continuation of the vision process that we’ve been working on since last October. It’s been really great to see how the whole process of coming up with a new vision statement actually works. In previous visits we (HOPE Africa staff & St. James Staff) developed a vision for the next 7 years (2020 vision) of the hospitals life, and this visit was about turning that vision into a strategic plan that will let the hospital fulfill its vision. It’s quite a time consuming process, but I have to give credit to the dedication of the facilitation team from HOPE Africa and the hard work that the admin staff here at St. James have put into creating this document. During my year, we’ve gone from not having a clear vision for the hospital to having a well-written, thoughtful vision and a “road map” on how to make that vision a reality. It’s great to see this all come to fruition.

And on top of all that, it’s just been so great to have a friend come and see the hospital! There’s unfortunately not going to be another YASCer coming to take over for me when I leave next month, so it’s really nice knowing that at least one other person that I know has been to the hospital and seen where I’ve lived for the past 8 months. It’s comforting to have someone come here and experience all the ways that this place is amazing and have them fall in love with it as well. That may seem silly to some of you, but it’s just nice to have that bond of a shared experience.

There's no water!
Yesterday afternoon, the HOPE Africa team and I took a drive to one of the nearby health centres, Auray, so that Holly could get a better feel for the Mantsonyane area. We traveled a bit further to one of the dams that crosses the Mantsonyane River. Lesotho is in a severe drought currently, as you can see from this photo. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this river is no more than a small stream. Winters are normally dry here, but never this dry. We’ve not seen any rain since early April. And it’s not snowed once, which is highly uncommon this time of year! We are all praying that the rains come soon.

Auray health center

A bridge over troubled rock

Chris and Holly 

A real Mosotho
We also journeyed into Ha Chooko, the town closest to the hospital, so that the team could get a feel for what living up here is like. Ha Chooko is full of little shops that sell pretty much anything you could need. Holly got herself a nice Basotho blanket, which was the final step in her conversion into a Mosotho! These blankets are worn my pretty much everyone here in Lesotho. It is simply a must have. It’s incredible the number of ways that these blankets are used. Everyday wear, ceremonial dress, baby carrying, warmth during the cold Lesotho winter, sun block in the hot summer, a handy bed for anywhere, and so many more. They are the definition of “multipurpose.” The company that makes them has the best tag line, “Arranda. The fashion name in Blankets.”

My time in Lesotho is coming to an end! I only have 2 weeks left here at St. James, and only a weekend left in Maseru. Then I’ll head to Cape Town one last time to meet with all of the HOPE Africa staff before heading home to the USA! It’s been one of the quickest years I think I’ve ever had. Then again, maybe not! Until next time, sala hantle!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Baby Per Day

Mthabiseng (Right) &

The maternity ward has always been in high demand here at St. James. With out a doubt, it is the most used service that St. James provides to the Mantsonyane community. The current maternity ward opened in 1982. It has space for 10 mothers including a labor room, nursery, antenatal care, and care for c-section patients. The maternity ward is run by two of St. James' staff nurses, Mthabiseng and ‘Mamokhalemele.

Expecting mothers show up to St. James sometimes months before their delivery date. They are housed at the expecting mothers lodge while they wait for the arrival of their child. The lodge is always busy. On average, 40-45 babies are delivered every month in the maternity ward. That means at least 1 baby is born everyday at St. James! That’s not counting the babies that are born at the 6 other health posts run by St. James. I can only imagine how many babies the St. James staff has delivered in the past 50 years! It’s got to be a staggering number.

Expecting Mothers Lodge

St. James' only incubator
St. James got its first incubator in 1986. This may seem pretty late, but up until that point St. James was not connected to a reliable power supply. Today, the maternity ward only has one incubator. The two babies in the photo were born premature back in late May. They’ve spent the first month of their lives in the incubator, but I’m happy to say that they are doing well and will be able to go home soon! Luckily, no other child has needed the incubator while these two have been in there. With only one incubator, the maternity staff often has to make very difficult decisions about which babies need the incubator the most.

About 15% of births are C-section deliveries. There were 2 C-section deliveries this week. The woman in the photo had her baby earlier this week. She’s doing well! The child doesn’t have a name yet. Traditionally, children aren’t named until they return to their village. The second C-section happened yesterday. Dr. Mack, one of our new doctors from The Congo, performed the surgery. He invited me into the operating theater to photograph the procedure, but I respectively declined.

Mthabiseng with the new baby!

Dr. Mack in the Operating Theater

Time sure is going quick! I only have 7 weeks left here in Lesotho, and there is so much to do in that short amount of time. The website will be finished by the end of the month, and then next month will be very busy. HOPE Africa will be making a visit, and I’m pleased to say that Holly Milburn, the YASCer in Cape Town, will be joining them. Then after that, I’ll head down to Maseru for a week to work a bit with the Diocesan Offices. After all that, it will nearly be time to head home! My mind isn’t processing that yet. Sala Hantle!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mercy Flights

As I’ve said in countless other blog posts, with the remoteness of the Maluti (name of the Lesotho mountain range) mountains, travel to St. James or other hospitals is often very difficult for many Basotho. So imagine that you live in a village that is hours away from the nearest hospital and you are having a medical emergency. If you don’t make it to the hospital very soon, you will most likely not survive. Travel by regular modes of transportation (car, foot, or horseback) will take too long. What are you going to do? It’s a scary thought, but it’s a reality that many Basotho face everyday.

Unloading a patient
Fortunately, there is another option. An airlift! Mercy flights in Lesotho are provided by the Mission Aviation Fellowship. MAF is an international non-profit missionary group, with it’s Lesotho branch based in Maseru. This group provides medical airlifts to critically ill patients in remote locations and also brings the flying doctor program to isolated regions of the country. With the small size of Lesotho, a plane is able to get pretty much anywhere in about an hour. While this is still not as fast as calling an ambulance in a big city, it’s infinitely faster than the other available options.

The St. James’ airstrip was built back in the late 1960’s. While it is far from a “smooth surface,” it’s practically a paved runway compared to landing strips in some of the more remote areas of Lesotho. The flying doctor service has played a huge part in St. James’ history. There were several times during the past 50 years when St. James did not have a resident doctor for a long period. To give one example, St. James was without a doctor for nearly two years, from March of 1971 to January of 1973.  During this time, St. James was visited by flying doctors, who were brought in by MAF. But these visits only happened on occasion, and most medical care was provided by St. James' staff nurses. The hospital’s matron (head nurse) even performed a surgery via instructions from a doctor in Maseru on a short wave radio! While that’s an extreme example of the ingenuity of the healthcare system here, most remote medical centers that rely on the flying doctor service still operate the same way today.

I might have been standing too close...

Yep, definitely too close. (Do I regret it? Absolutely not)

While working on creating a history of St. James, I came across a very cool aerial photo of the hospital complex from the late 1960’s (roughly the same time the airstrip was finished). I was determined to recreate this photo to show St. James after 50 years. So one day when I heard the plane buzzing the hospital, which the pilots do to alert the staff to make sure there’s not stray cattle on the airstrip, I ran outside with my camera to speak with the pilot. I explained that I wanted to recreate this old photo of the hospital and that I wanted him to take me up in the plane to do so. I of course did this as smoothly as possible, concealing an inner giddiness not unlike that of a 5-year-old boy who has just seen a fire truck speed by. The pilot entertained my idea out of politeness before shutting it down for the half-baked idea that it was. Needless to say, my inner child was crushed. But the pilot was kind enough to take the photo for me! A few days later, I got an email with some very cool aerial photos of the hospital today. The hospital really has grown a lot in the past 50 years!

Click for a full screen version

Thanks to all the folks over at MAF who work very hard to save the lives of countless Basotho. If you are interested, their website gives some statistics on how many flights they make a year. Even though the American healthcare system seems dysfunctional at times, don’t take for granted the blessing of having emergency medical care minutes away, no mater where you are. That blessing seems like something that we could not do without, but people do indeed go without it everyday. 

On another note, I've finished my fundraising for Rome! Thank you so much to everyone who donated and made my YASC experience possible. There are other YASCers preparing to head out next year that have not met their fundraising goal yet. So if you didn't get a chance to donate toward my year, you can certainly donate towards theirs. Sala hantle!