LIVING with ALS


Into AFRICA

By Mike Rayl

In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verland Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and gotback on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to themain road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followedthe river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Living with ALS

Into AFRICA
By Mike Rayl
In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verl and Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and got back on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to the main road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followed the river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Living with ALS

Into AFRICA
By Mike Rayl
In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verl and Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and got back on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to the main road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followed the river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Living with ALS

Into AFRICA
By Mike Rayl
In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verl and Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and got back on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to the main road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followed the river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Living with ALS

Into AFRICA
By Mike Rayl
In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verl and Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and got back on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to the main road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followed the river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Living with ALS

Into AFRICA
By Mike Rayl
In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verl and Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and got back on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to the main road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followed the river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!
Living with ALS

Into AFRICA
By Mike Rayl
In February of 2002 I went to my father’s house in Maun Botswana Africa to live for six months this is the story of my African adventures…
Well after leaving LAX at midnight Saturday, leaving Atlanta 10 AM for Johannesburg So Africa for an 11 hour flight. We soon will be over the continent of Africa. We will be passing over Botswana on the way our final destination Maun. Flying with a heading of 125 deg. from Atlanta, been a wonderful trip so far. The crew of Delta and SO African Air are great. The food is excellent. It’s been a very relaxing flight. It should be around sunrise as we Passover Maun and the Kalahari. I can breathe much better already. I believe being here will be very healing. Dad says I am going to do things and see things that even millionaires only dream about. I feel blessed to be able to come on this adventure that I have wanted to take for over 20 years. We will be staying at a relative of my step mom Julia. Her uncle is a Major in the National security force of Botswana working to protect the President of Botswana in Gaborone the capital on the border of So Africa.  
 
Saturday Day 7 of the journey sitting on the porch of the home of Julia and Verl (my father and his African wife). A home they built with their own two hands, quite impressive by any standard “Rayland” in Maun Botswana the name for their homestead that was given to them by the government. A large plot that sits near the river many large shade trees make it bareable when temp reach over a hundred deg as it is today. It is quite nice and comfortable with a light breeze unlike the past five days spent ‘in Gaborone the capital in the home of Julia’s uncle Major Macoca of the BDF (Botswana defense force). They live on base in Gaborone in a very nice condo for officers. They were wonderful hosts they promptly converted there dining room into a bedroom for me as all the bedrooms are upstairs. They placed a double bed mattress on the floor for me to sleep on and were quite nice but the house did stay hot throughout the night. Great food to eat and they even prayed for a healing for me several nights out loud I’m sure god heard them as the whole base, very loving and god loving people. We spent 5 days trying to buy a car with no help or transportation as Gaborone is spread out like Los Angeles and you need a car. Before we wore out our welcome we rented a van and drove 600 miles 11 hours to Maun last night in the bush the length of California, along the way are cattle and goats sometime crossing the road as you try to pass, people on the side of the road the whole way here and there in the middle of nowhere waiting for a taxi, bus or someone to give them a ride. I don’t believe there is a more isolated place on the planet half a world away from you, yet it seems very familiar here and more modern and better than expected.
 
This morning the neighbors all came over to meet me all very nice. They were fascinated by me, my laptop, my electric wheelchair and the music on the computer. I feel right at home here. My dad is amazing for a man of seventy years seem younger than me at times. I believe having a daughter 7 and a wife 25 helps to keep him young, they are all so loving and helpful. We stopped at KFC on the way for dinner in Francis town eating in the car.
 `
I saw the Milky Way and big dipper last night as I looked out the window as well as thousands of stars I have never seen before as to much light in USA to see them before. Imagine hundreds of miles without lights other than car lights.
We were heading north and I was facing west. How is that possible you say unless I was driving right? Wrong!

Most of the trip so far has allowed me go within and reflect on my life. After great reflection I realize why I am in the condition I am in physically and what  part  I have had in my body’s   conditon. In the USA there are a thousand and one distractions keeping us from the still small voice within that can lead us to a better life if we take time to listen. I let things distract me.  Over the years I forgot my purpose in life. I forgot that my body is god’s temple on loan to me. By my own words and actions I caused much of what I have been experiencing I believe now looking back. By starting to live right with god I can and will be restored to perfect health. I put it in god’s hands to restore my body to perfect health as he created me and wants me to be so I can be an instrument of love that does his will once again. Very subtle things sometimes keep us from god and all the things and blessing he wants to bestow on us like perfect health, prosperity, love, happiness and success in life. I know now I wasn’t doing my part and am now making it right. I am starting to heal my mind body and soul, Praise God!
 
Today they put the final touches on the shower. Julia and dad have taken turns bathing me by hand with a wash basin in the mean time. They are both so loving and great!
 
Dad took and old director’s chair made of metal and converted it so we could put it over the toilet so I can use the bathroom by myself. He is amazing in coming up with a plan of action to many problems like the shower. The plumbing parts they had here were not quite right for the way we were building the shower. They were made for a false wall or drywall or fiberglass to fit in between like in US. Here in Botswana houses can’t be made out of wood but cement blocks or termites would eat them very quickly. The shower was built in the corner of my room and they built a brick wall to enclose it by three sides. The plumbing fixtures were not long enough so dad chiseled an indentation in the existing wall to the outside to place the faucet handles in, it worked great! He had a plan and did it!.
 
Julia is like no woman I’ve ever seen. She and her cousin Wazha mix cement and plaster by hand in a wheel barrel. Julia plasters a wall like most women frost a cake, not afraid to get in there and do whatever it takes to do the job. In addition to plastering the brick wall for the shower they built a large BBQ pit in the front yard under the tree, large enough to cook a whole pig or goat with bricks and Julia plastered them both using wetter cement.

Great News!  Got a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser  4WD ! We were really blessed to find a decent vehicle that we could afford on our limited budget. It does need some minor work but at half the price of what you would expect  to pay . Dad is an expert mechanic that can fix anything is thrilled to have something to play with other than his four computers that he has been working on for over a month. He got a new computer in USA with Win XP and has experienced quite a learning curve as well as compatibility problems. All is well now he has learned quite a bit and now is happy with XP. It is amazing to me that a man of seventy years continues to learn and grow every day a testimony to the fact god is in our lives and all the glory is God’s!
 
Ever see the movie “the God’s must be crazy” if not rent it, it is a total depiction of what life is like here in the bush. Maun is one spread out place like LA but all bush, grass, trees, bushes, with a few houses made of bricks here and there on dirt roads. There are no building codes and the people are poor so you find houses partially finished here and there also. Such a house is a large beautiful  house half finished on the edge of River.
 
Yes I finally made it to the river if you wish to call it that right now it is more like stagnant pond with very little water left it come and goes very quickly. Right now it is a breeding ground for malaria and mosquitoes. It is very beautiful none the less with many black cranes enjoying the water. Julia and the kids in the back of the pickup and I and dad in front really had a blast on the sandy roads that abruptly end or parts have been washed away by the rain days before.  A 4wd is a necessity here and other places where the animals live, where we will be going soon!

Botswana time is such a slow and gentle pace of life most of you I’d imagine would go nuts, I on the other hand relish it!
 
And even though the pace is slow time goes by just as fast as yesterday marked 2 months since we left LAX.
No TV except for those programs on tape and don’t miss it at all, I really like not being bombarded with all the negative media images and ads. Where I lived in Santa Ana we were surrounded by three freeways less than a mile away on all three sides (22, 5, and 55). It was great to be centrally located so you could get almost anywhere in Orange County within 15 min including the beach. You would always hear  the hum of the traffic at night, and only God knows what price I paid health wise. Here on the other hand would be totally quiet if not for the ceiling fan, an occasional sound of a donkey, bird or dog barking. Through my bedroom window the moon rises at night and last night as it raised I THOUGHT OF YOU IN US. It suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the reflection of the sunlight that you were enjoying as you went about your day! Easter I recently discovered falls on the nearest full moon after the spring (northern Hemisphere, fall here) equinox and was a pagan holiday long before it was Easter or Passover week. It is finally starting to cool so much so that the fan makes it chilly in the morning. The fan is on as a deterrent  to mosquitoes, they don’t like moving air.
 
I am healing in god’s time! All to his glory! For several weeks now I have been able to get dressed, take a shower, put myself in bed and out, and I walk at least twice a day around Rayland and exercise by myself.  Everyone here tell me I LOOK BETTER EVERYDAY, SAYING “IM NOT THE SAME PERSON”, I am truly happy and blessed! I’m getting to know the father of my youth but this time he also is a new man being clean and sober, and now knows god.
 
He was always encouraging, intelligent, supportive but now he is a pleasure to know, and is wise in many ways, “thanks be to god!” he is made new.
 
I am taking time to do things that I wanted to do for years, and said that I would do 6 years ago when I became disabled, like type out my many song poems and publish them on my website and enter them in contests on www.poetry.com. One of my poems “Be at peace” is featured on their site and is a finalist. I was invited to perform it at a poetry convention later this month in Orlando, FL where I went on my Honey moon 9 yrs ago this week being married to my recently divorced wife Kat  9 years ago today we were married, at the Hyatt Regency Long beach, by Beverly Hutchinson co-founder of “Miracle Distribution Center” and a Unity Minister.
 
I certainly thought it would be forever at the time, then around 6 years ago or so I started having trouble walking then at first having to think about lifting my right leg as I walked, Progressively got worse slowly falling down suddenly losing my balance. In the summer of 1997 after 2 years started using a cane. Then around a year or so later I needed a walker another two years I decided it would be safer to use electric wheelchair most of the time.
 
For years I thought I was exposed to chemicals on the job working as a Refrigeration mechanic, working for two companies Deep Ocean in Santa Ana and California Aquarium supply in Cerritos. I very may have been but my lawyer said we couldn’t prove it so I decided to settle for a small amount after 5 years. Then a few months later I was diagnosed with ALS by a neurologist. Right away I requested an electric wheelchair and got it and Blue Cross paid over $10k for it as the disease is progressive affecting both the upper and lower extremities. People can be gone in less than a year or in the case of Steven Hawking a working professor at Oxford can live 20 yrs or more fathering several children after. ALS is a diagnosis of elimination which lumps several people the doctors don’t know what it is together in a categories of the unknown, with no treatment or cure as of yet, except to find god and get healed or come to peace with the thought of dying one muscle at a time till you can’t breathe and die of pneumonia if you choose like me not to have a ventilator to breath. Thank god I don’t need it and can breathe fine; in fact my lung capacity has increased since arriving in Botswana, without the use of breathing medication I was on in US.
 
I was lead to come here and firmly believe I will be completely restored to perfect health, somehow I knew I would get better if I came here and I have. Many factors involved may go into detail about it later, all I can say is praise God and to him the glory. Many including some of you thought I was beside myself  for even wanting to come here, but I have faith and act on the leading of the spirit. When I saw that my former wife Kat was unable to care for me last year when I was diagnosed with ALS I started to release her from any further obligation encouraging her to go on with her life. Most of us can’t bear to see a loved one go through what we have endured and I respect that  I’m a free man in everyway! 
  Africa is great. Soon as it gets cooler we will go to where the animals are and have pictures of them! Till then…

Praise God! “God is good and works in ways unimagined by men…”
 
Last night on   48th birthday we had a simple and wonderful birthday with my dad and
My sisters, Julia (My dads wife), Wazha (18 Julia’s cousin), Chezda (14 Julia’s sister; means “Light” in Setswana, the native tongue), Khay (12 Julia’s youngest sister), Babette (7 my actual sister). They all help take care of me none ever complaining or saying “I’m Busy ” , when many  times they are when I ask  for a drink of water or Oroso (a orange drink like hi- c). They are all sweet and innocent children of God, my sisters!  They all had a great time blowing up the balloons you will see in the pictures. Dad and Julia adopted her two sisters after both her parents died since they got married. That is the way it is here in Botswana where family is still one of the most important things in life next to god.
 
We had cake and Ice cream watched a video “Miracle Healing explosion” from 1990 (time and space don’t matter because god resides beyond time and space, so one could be  healed watching this  anointing of the holy spirit any time or place.) After watching it I told Julia I felt like “getting up and walking”. I thanked everyone for wonderful birthday and went to bed. We’re having many vivid dreams. I walk in my dreams and was walking to a dance or a club in the neighborhood I grew up when a girl came up to me and pointed to my throat and said “what happened”. I explained how during surgery in 1993 Dr Morris a cardiologist accidentally nicked my vocal cord during an operation to remove a benign growth on my thymus gland the size of a fist, causing one side of vocal cord to be paralyzed effecting my speech to where now I use a machine to speak. (ALS also effects speech so a double whammy there). Would you mind if I put my hand on your throat and heal you? ‘“She said”. I said “no I believe in these things”. Then a man standing behind her said “you can’t what about lawsuit”. The man had a plastic placard around his neck that looked like one that is issued to charitable organizations in LA county so you know they are legitimate (when they come knocking on your door to solicit donations). I said, “Now if you don’t heal me I will sue”. Then she placed her hand on my throat as the man shook his head in disbelief. Her hand was hot and I was out, woke up on a stage performing comedy and singing before an audience. There was a picture of Frank Sinatra behind me and I started singing ( song I wrote and sent to him saying, “I’d give you first license if you sing it” I heard by then his health was failing and would never record again).The song “Only my eyes are blue”. All of a sudden I saw Frank sitting in a chair with a young man standing next to him. All of sudden Frank grabs a 35 mm camera behind him and hands it to the young man all in white like an orderly. He tells him, “follow this new “Blue Eyes” he has to have a weakness and I want pictures of it now!”
 
Then I woke up! Saying “praise god” in a surprising loud voice and started to test it saying many other praises to god, then singing an Elvis gospel song “Lead Me Guide Me” only what came out was “Heal Me Guide Me. My voice is healed I believe, only a question of using it and learning to control my breath and practice speaking and singing. “All the glory to god”, god is good, kind, merciful and lives within each one of us.
Today was the original date I was to arrive in US and return from my "Into Africa" adventure. (June 18)
 Today in US my daughter Shellee graduates from HS , I'm so proud of her! Thirty years ago this week I did, our reunion is this August.
 It is winter here now in Botswana and very nice and pleasant...
 We have yet to go out in the bush yet to see the wild animals, but we will soon. Julia's brother was deathly ill and has been here getting well now for several weeks... 
I will have photos of the trip when we go, within the next few weeks now...  life is slow here and I'm just enjoying being with my dad and family, the real reason I came here...
 When I go back I will be staying with my sister Marla and my daughter Shellee and their family.
  It has been a time of regeneration and reflection for me, I am very happy and the joy I feel comes from deep in my soul... I thank god everyday for every one of you and all the abundance in my life and the opportunity to serve him , by serving others, his children, our brothers and sisters, humanity...  "Lord grant us the understanding to find your will for us and the understanding, power, courage to do it..."
The day  has finally  arrived to go out in the Bush to see the wild animals in their natural  environment. In the morning hours before first light  we will be heading for "Moremi National  Wildlife Park"  one hundred miles south east of Maun. Don't let the name fool you it is not a park in the sense that is known to most of you, It is a rustic game preserve where, lions, cheetah, elephants,, zebra, giraffe, antelope and many others live in the wild, since the beginning of time, with no paved roads, bathrooms, gas stations or any other forms of civilized life for hundreds of square miles once you pass threw the main gate, thus the reason for the delay as much preparation is needed in such a trip...
 
My father of 70 years young, Verl, who has lived here in Botswana for 27 years has learned from experience, that one must prepare for any number of possible situations  that may arise on such an adventure, to visit "wild animals"  in the bush of Botswana in a safe manor. Much of the preparedness has to do with the vehicle in this case , a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 pick-up. Everything must be in perfect working order to begin with and then you must be prepared to fix any mechanical, electrical system that may still breakdown. There is no AAA (Auto Club), Gas station or any other vehicle on the road possibly for days at a time without seeing anyone (human), you better be prepared... and we are as is humanly possible.
 
Part of what you take even for a day trip is;
Water enough for each person for three days, plus enough to fill radiator once at least
Petrol (gas)  extra 3 Gerry cans of  20 liters each
Spare parts; fan belts, fuel pump, battery, wire, tire alternator, oil, ect... (anything and everything you have that could break).
Tools, to change out these parts that may break... , shovel, axe, duct tape
Hi lift Jack to help get you out if you get stuck in sand, mud... yes even with a 4x4 one can get stuck in sand, when it  gets up to the dif ( differential, top of the tires) , as Julia and dad experienced on the way to hospital yesterday here even by the house...
Tell a friend where your going so if you don't come back on time have someone look for you....
Food, enough to live on for three days per person.. Julia made beef jerky this week I suppose that is part of what we will take...
So you can see it isn't just a case of hop in the car and go... one must be prepared ... to do it right ... and survive... and to help others that may or may not be prepared, stranded and broke down.

 Well the day finally  Arrived to  go to Moremi National Park to see wild animals living in their natural habitat, and we were not disappointed...
 
We woke up at 4:30 AM to drive  100km,  75km of it a dirt road to arrive at the park entrance by first light , deep inside the bush.
 
Once inside the park another 30km in a sometime very sandy unpaved road  to the left turn off to the road to the Hippo Pool 15km from there, lots of evidence of elephants, fresh poop, for the 30km but no animals did we see except for a bird, squirrel, rabbit here and there.
There were several fallen trees and branches the result of too many elephants and not enough food. They knock the trees down to eat the leaves, there are suppose to be over 120,000 elephants in Botswana, the most of any country in Africa, maybe the world, many of them in Moremi, they are free to migrate throughout Botswana and the neighboring countries. Elephants are protected and considered endangered, but now have done so well they have become a danger to the environment. It's time for the government to rethink their policy towards elephants, perhaps...?
 
No elephants during all 45km to hippo pool, we are all surprised... only fresh evidence of many recently being on the road, and thousands of  downed trees and branches along the way...  very eerie... Many places where trees fell right in the road previously and a new road went around it, instead of clearing the trees...
 
Half way to the hippo pool from the turn off we  started to see small herds of animals. First a small herd of antelope appeared, out of this harsh environment of fallen trees, appeared perfect specimens of nature, pristine, beautiful in everyway... Then appears a herd of Zebra seeming to pose, stopping in the road to look at us, one could see that a few among them were expecting little ones, any time soon... as dad, with his digital  camera in front driving also, and Julia with a 35mm riding in the back with Kay and Babette, as lookouts, rushed to take a photo, the zebra started to move on back into the bush...  Soon the hippo pool started to appear through the trees on the left, don't know how deep it was but it appeared to me to be a hugh lake, unlike its name pool, i was pleasantly  surprised.  There were several hippos in the water  and after they (Dad, Julia, Kay and Babette) all got out of the truck and headed up the look out tower, soon discovered 3 hippo in the grass nearby the truck. Dad (Verl) and Julia proceeded bravely and quietly to sneak upon them and take a photo which is the first of many  photos on the website taken that day. 
 
They were soon discovered, as evident of the startled cry from one of the hippo. The hippos shortly made safe retreat into the pond... and Verl and Julia back toward the truck in haste... After snacks and taking in all the spectacular beauty, awe and reverence.. we went in search of more wild animals, we had the bug now enough success to wet our appetite for adventure... little did we realize, at the time, a perfect day was unfolding, just as god planed it...

Leaving the Hippo pool heading back to the main dirt road 15km away, about 5km out, we  heard a scream from the back of the truck, Babette saw 4 Giraffe off to the right. They are so tall and hugh and yet blend in to the bush and trees making it somewhat difficult to see at first. They were quite a distance away, and hidden from view with trees in our line of sight. To get a closer look we went off the dirt road, the only time we did on our trip, into the bush, with dried grass several feet high. Dad was saying how this is how people get stuck and your not suppose to do this, create new trail, we quickly turned around and got back on the road. Before we did I saw one of the most beautiful sights of the whole day, a giraffe running , they are  so hugh, tall, yet so graceful, it was thrilling to see, even more so as it was running away ,not towards us... Sorry no digital photos of them, i have the memory of it and perhaps Julia got a few with the 35mm... We will have to wait and see...
 
Having now seen giraffe we continued to the main road taking a side road off to the left, on the open plain away from the trees. We saw elk, antelope, and something that looked like a lama and more zebra on the open plain. We got to the main road where a cement pyramid shaped marker was, as any regular  sign would surely be destroyed, and in the opposite direction was the Kwai river loop, we decided to venture there...
 
We drove in the bush for a long time, and many times we came to a fork in the road with no sign... we chose the way as we felt that any road lead out along the loop anyway... after what seemed to be a long time... with no sign of animals... water appeared on the left... it was the Kwai river. Moments later across the river from us was a family of baboons, with little ones. On this side of the river were crocodile getting some sun, laying in wait in the grass, they always retreated to the water when they heard us approach. Then in the water appeared several hippo. As we followed the river around the bend, Finally ,were three Hugh elephant, luckily (I thought) on the other side of the water... we stopped and took photos, they proceeded to move away. Then no sooner did we move on the road when more baboons were right in front of us playing and having fun till we showed up... headed for the bush shortly after checking us out.
 
That was the spot , it was worth all the 50km or so driving around till we hit the jackpot... We were all very happy.. The water came to an end and we ended up joining the road we started on... we made it back to the main road where the marker was, and stopped to have lunch at the campground, picnic area, where to our surprise was a cement picnic table. Julia had made fried chicken and potato salad, as we ate, spider monkeys  played in the trees above us ... After lunch being satisfied by the food and all the animals we had seen, we went back to the south entrance of the park and made it home to Maun before dark, knowing we had a perfect day...
 
Have to hand it to dad (Verl), he did all that driving on dirt road, all day long, where you have to be on the ball, the conditions change so much, suddenly, from sand, to clay, potholes, divits, dips, bends... ect... It went smooth, but it could of not been the case, if we would'nt of been prepared for anything, something probably would of went wrong...all of your prayers helped, the day unfolded perfectly... we thanked god...
It is very cool at night here now (10 Celsius last night) being winter here in the southern hemisphere. I will arrive back in USA just in time to have experienced 2 summers in one year...looking forward to seeing all of you soon!