Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


Long post… but if you want the full update with pics…. here you go:

If you would have told me 5 years ago that my family would spend the summer of 2008 in Uganda serving with a team of students and then relaxing with much of my immediate family, I would have told you that you were crazy. But I also would have been wrong. What an amazing experience this has been. I hope we get to repeat it someday. If so, then I hope it’s like the experience I had of the Bugungu Wildlife Reserve near Murchison Falls in North East Uganda this week.

Last Monday at 5am we left in a couple of 4 wheel drive minivan looking things with removable roofs to go on what was an all day drive with our team of 13 family members and 5 other teenage girls from around the world who joined us. The roads went from good to horrible and everything in between and with all of us and our stuff, it made for a significant part of the memory and a very long day.

We were headed for 3 days of fun at the Paraa Resort. I had an idea in my head of what a safari vehicle should look like. Yeah, I was wrong- a glorified toyota minivan was not what I expected. There were those classic safari extended land cruisers, but we did not experience those, but we never got stuck and they went places I never would have expected them to be able to go.

I also had in my head what a safari luxury hotel would look like… and I was right. This place was amazing and we experienced it in all it’s glory!!!! Beautiful rooms with bathrooms that had hot water and constant electricity (what a change from our guest house that was) and a giant wood hotel with gorgeous views of the Nile, a luxury pool with swim up bar, amazing food, and fresh coffee. Oh, the joys of a little escape. I asked Pastor Timothy if he’d ever been there yesterday on the phone and he said, “no”. I think I’m going to have to figure out how to take he and his wife there someday- they so need to see this part of their country. I wonder what part of mine I’m missing out on. Here’s a small collage of the Paraa resort:

Here’s how the days broke down. I have too many pictures, but I’ll post a few here to give you a taste.

DAY 1 on the way up, we stopped at the rhino reserve. We drove off road for like 15 minutes until we picked up an armed guard/guide. Then we drove through the truck high grass and through the bush until we stopped and hiked about 2 miles to the place where the rhinos were hanging out. There are 6 of them there. We saw 5 of them all in one place under a tree. They are watched day and night by armed guards who stay at a distance to keep them safe from poachers. That part was a little unexpected and felt a little “zooish”.

Then we drove through the Budongo rain forest and arrived at the Lodge. It is a beautiful dirt road drive of about 60 miles through rain forest and savanna all the way until you cross the nile by a barge.

That night it poured rain and thunder and lightening. Then the next morning was TJ’s 11th birthday. What a way to spend DAY 2 in an African Safari!!!!

Anyway, it stopped raining at the lodge and we headed out across the Nile and back into the rain forest to see the chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest. However, almost as soon as we arrived, it started to rain- guess that’s why it’s called the rain forest. So 5 adults- myself, brad, mom, dad, and the band of teenage girls all went traipsing through the rain in search of monkeys. (We found out upon arrival that you had to be 15 years old to see the monkeys). We hiked for about 3 kilometer (3 hours) and the rest of the group went on a rain forest tour that lasted about 2 hours. We eventually did see the monkeys, about 150 feet up in the top canopy of a tree eating fruit, but it was like watching ants they were so far away. Our kids saw bugs and bushes and a Mahogony tree that was 400 years old and probably something like 30 feet in circumference. It was HUGE!!! Since it was raining, I don’t have many pics, but eventually I might have a funny youtube vide for you that gives you the feel of what we experienced.

Then, afterwards we drove to Murchison Falls, a section of the Nile river where it all pumps through a narrow rock gorge that is 20 feet wide and falls about 120 feet to the river bed below. It is a massive exchange of water that causes it to literally rain there. Like something you’d experience at Yosemite, times 35.

We then went for a safari drive that evening in the Savanna’s around the Lodge. Here’s some of what we saw…

DAY 3 was supposed to be a boat ride and a drive home, but we decided to pay for an extra night. So instead it turned into a boat ride and then a second trip to the Savanna for our family.

The icing on the cake was the fact that the only thing they had available for an extra nights stay were some suites. I know… bummer. This meant that we moved from dual twin beds to king size beds and bathrooms with tubs. For Shannon and I and our boys, it meant that we “had to stay” in the “Queen’s Cottage” which was originally built for the mother of the Queen of England when she came to visit. It is off by itself about 500 yards down the road with it’s own gated yard, huge porch, and an unobstructed private view of the Nile with Hippos down below. I made sure to get up early and have some tea and watch the sunrise. It was so worth it. If you want an amazing get away experience, spring for the Queen’s Cottage and feel like royalty for a day. Thanks Mom and Dad… we sure did. Here’s the lodge and some shots we took on or off it’s porch.


  1. Brian – okay, if you weren’t a pastor, you could make serious bank as a National Geographic photographer! Absolutely breathtaking photos . . . I especially love the ones with the mama and baby elephants and rhinos . . . too precious! I guess it helps to have one of those fancy-schmancy SLR digital cameras!

    It looks like you and your family had a fabulous and buffed out R&R in Uganda. What a blessing! What a way for TJ to celebrate his birthday – all your boys have wonderful stories to share when they return to school!!

    Praying for traveling mercies and health for your family’s return to SD!

    The Lacangan Clan

  2. Anonymous says:

    Michael says your camera is a beast…and I believe it. But you definitely have a good eye! Thanks for sharing the rest of your trip. We can’t wait for the CD or DVD from the mission trip! A million thanks again for your love and care of my kid and giving him an amazing life altering experience that is overflowing into our home. See ya at JCC! God Bless, Kristen

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