writing

Hiking Badger

From a distance, Badger Mountain looks like a barren pile of dirt crowned with cell phone towers. There are no waterfalls, cliffs, or forests—not even a single tree. Yet there is beauty here, and life in abundance, but you have to let go of your expectations of beauty to really see it. (more…)

Going Undercover, Saving Sex Slaves

The auditorium of the old Rexburg Tabernacle is packed. Everyone here has come to hear Tim Ballard speak, the man who founded Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit devoted to liberating child sex slaves. O.U.R. jump teams travel to countries like Colombia and Haiti, pose as buyers for sex slaves, and organize big deals with local sex traffickers. At the right moment, local police burst in with weapons drawn, arresting traffickers and O.U.R. team members. The traffickers are taken to jail, the teams are released, and the rescued children are placed in reputable care. It’s as intense as any sting Hollywood could contrive, but this is completely real, dangerous, and far more rewarding. (more…)

The Uncomfortable Solution to World Poverty

For several months, my wife has been trying to get me to read an essay called “The Solution to World Poverty,” which appeared in The New York Times Magazine in 1999. The author, Peter Singer, presents the idea that if we don’t give all our surplus money to help people in need, we are not living an ethical lifestyle.

I put off reading the essay because I knew it would make me uncomfortable. I was nervous to assume responsibility for whatever knowledge it might contain. Finally, I read it at work during a recent lunch break, and I was right. It challenged me in ways that I’m still working through. (more…)

10 Days in Honduras: An End and a Beginning

As nice as the hotel was, we didn’t get to enjoy it long. I was up at 3:30 a.m., on the shuttle with Bruce and Amanda at 4:30 a.m., and boarding the plane at 5:55 a.m. I need sleep!

Our captain was very funny. “Welcome aboard ladies and gentlemen,” he said on the intercom. “Please pay attention to our lovely flight attendants for safety procedures. Also, please keep your arms and legs inside the aircraft at all times. And no river-dancing in the aisle, as it is very goofy looking.” (more…)

10 Days in Honduras: “It’s a Sad Thing to See This Happen to Your Country”

We had Wendy’s for breakfast in the airport early this morning. We went through security, looked at the little gift shops, bought a few final souvenirs, and then waited to board. We were scheduled to board around 7:00 a.m., and Boris around noon.

When it was almost time for us to board, we said goodbye to Boris. But the next thing I knew, our plane was delayed until 7:30. How awkward to say goodbye to someone, and then be stuck with that person with nothing to say. Then more bad news: our plane was delayed until 1:30 p.m. That meant Boris, who we thought was unfortunate for being in the airport for so long, would leave before us. Will I be stuck in Honduras forever? I thought. No. And I am glad we were delayed because it gave me the opportunity to talk to several remarkable people, who, like the supervisor, had unique stories to tell about Honduras’ social problems. (more…)

10 Days in Honduras: Adventures in La Ceiba

Day 9:

Sunday morning, very calm. I walked down to the clinic and spent some time reading and catching up in my journal. It was nice to take time to be still, alone, not trying to understand Spanish, not trying to make someone understand English. I was away from all distraction. I loved just being still for a few moments. (more…)