Archives For Africa

Last Monday, I shared part 1 of an amazing experience that my friend Jamie Hanson had in Africa. In case you missed last Monday’s blog, please CLICK HERE to catch yourself up!

As promised, today is part 2 and the conclusion of the incredible promise he made to his daughter. Jamie took his daughter to Africa on a work trip and eventually gave his daughter a promise ring and made a dramatic promise to go along with it while looking at a beautiful African sunset. Read on and learn from a great Dad.

From Jamie: While I loved the idea of a purity ring the more I thought about the idea
the more the burden of fathering her through these next few years (13-18) began to grow on me.   I am convinced the most important earthly relationship she will have and that will shape every part of her is with me.  So instead of making the ring about a purity decision for her (although I did tell her I would like her to make this commitment) I made the ring a promise ring. Promises that I am making to her about the kind of father I intend and promise to be to her.



You are my precious daughter and a gift from God, uniquely and wonderfully made, perfect in every way.  I am honored to be your Dad!

You are incredibly beautiful, smart, funny, soft-hearted, and gifted in so many ways.

I promise to always pray for you, protect you, to be present, in the good and bad, and love you for who you are.

As your father I promise to be an example of who a Godly man is, to lead you and our family by first listening to God.  To lead with integrity, passion, adventure, service, and being generous with all God has provided.

Emma, you are my princess and I will ALWAYS carry you in my heart, for my entire life.




Dad’s, this is a GREAT example of being intentional about loving your daughter and creating a lifelong memory that will shape her forever. Why not steal this idea and make an important promise to your daughter? Why not give her an important ring with significance? Why not take her some place dramatic and pledge your love and support to her? It will be a game changer for her.



Doing these things can ONLY BE GREAT and have a GREAT outcome.



Do this! Make it your own! Change the actual promise, change the location, change the ring. As the great NIKE advertising campaign said…. “just do it”

Thanks for sharing this with us Jamie

Press on


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Today is PART 1 of a two part guest blogging post by a good friend who is also a great Dad. Read about his amazing experience and look for the amazing conclusion next week.

My name is Jamie Hanson, father of 4 kids two of which are beautiful daughters (Emma 13, and Lanni
9).  Ever since Emma turned 12 I knew I wanted to do something special for her 13th birthday, something that would signify her transition from girlhood to womanhood….and my part in that transition. I knew I had a work trip to Africa in July so my wife and I decided last fall that Emma would join me on the trip.  (I am a Development Director for International, if you were asking ‘who plans work trips to Africa?’).  We left a day after she turned 13 in late June.



We started our trip by doing work crew together in Ethiopia at a Young Life camp outside of Addis Ababa.  We served kids food, cleaned up afterward, helped  run games, and sat in the middle of a 400 kid Young Life club. It was awesome  and we were blown away.  We then went to Tanzania where Emma got to see
her Dad ‘work’ and she did it right alongside me.  This is where I was blown away.  I saw my little girl sit at banquet tables of adults and have an opinion, I watched her shake hands and start conversations. I saw her take a big step into womanhood…it was awesome!

We then took this same group of adults and spent three days in a Massia village six hours out into the Africa bush where we have Young Life.  Emma watched a goat get slaughtered in our honor, she sat in a mud hut and held babies with flies in their eyes and tears in hers.  Her heart was growing before my eyes.  Lastly, we did a 3 day  safari to end our trip together.  I had pre-planned this portion of the trip but was not prepared for how nervous I was.  I had bought and planned to give Emma a promise/purity ring on this trip.  It was the second to  last day of our 3 week trip and the safari camp we were at sat on top of a hill  that offered the most brilliant and beautiful sunset I have ever seen.

I   had written some promises from me to her on the kind of Dad I ‘promised to be’.  As the sun was setting I took her on a walk and we shared one of the most special  moments of my life together.  I read the promises and gave her the ring. Beat that future fiancée!!!  (setting the bar as high as I could for her
future suitor was a secret agenda item 🙂



While the adventures we had were incredible and we will have inside jokes and  stories that last a lifetime, the best part of the trip for us both will simply  be spending uninterrupted time together.  You may not be able to take your  daughter to Africa (if you can, do it!), but why not just take her camping, or
on a hike, or shopping.  Being with her is the memory that will last for me, not the place.

Jamie Hanson

Part two of this amazing story will be next Monday. You will see the incredible “Promise” that Jamie gave to his daughter.

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Recetnly my wife and I both turned 50. About a year and a half ago, we started planning an epic adventure for our 50th year. We started planning an unforgettable trip to Africa where the pinnacle would be the climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now, we are NOT big hikers or climbers. We wanted to do something big, crazy, fun and out of the box. So last week, me, my wife and our daughter made this huge trek to the other side of the world!
Through Young Life, we were connected to some great hero’s in Tanzania who are reaching out to the very poor. The first half of our trip consisted of serving these folks in a poverty stricken village. It was awesome.


The second half of the trip consisted of this crazy attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. The adventure was HUGE. The stress was massive. The victory would be epic!

On this climb, we travelled through 5 different ecological zones starting out in a rain forest on our way to the summit of 19,341 feet. Kili is the tallest free standing mountain in the world. The views were spectacular and the effort it took was massive. What an incredible thing to share with my family.


Night 5 was our “summit attempt.” We left our base camp at 12:15 am and hiked all through the night. Freezing temperatures, gusty winds, isolated in your thoughts, seemingly endless assent through the night.

sun rise

Then, after 6 hours of hiking, the sun began to rise over Africa. We were near the top! As the air got warmer and thinner, we could finally see our final destination.

We made it to Uhuru peak, the “rooftop of Africa.” The highest point on the continent. What an accomplishment! And further, what an experience to share with my wife and daughter. During the final ascent, there were struggles for all of us. Our guide referred to this final ascent as “entering the battlefield.”

There is no replacement for your presence when your family is in the middle of a battle. We now share a deeper bond than ever before because we fought through a significant battle together.


I couldn’t miss the opportunity to have a little wardrobe change on the summit. I wanted to let Africa know that we have a few “rules” involved if you want to date my daughter!

There were many take-a-ways from this adventure:

1. I can do more than I thought I could. (and so can you)
2. I don’t need to be afraid of trying something big (neither do you)
3. When alone in my battle, God gave me strength to press on. (and will also to you in yours)
4. Embarking on a HUGE adventure with my daughter was HUGE for both of us.

Disclaimer: Do not be intimidated by this African/Kilimanjaro adventure. Start small and plan a very attainable adventure. It will do wonders for your relationships if you would stop long enough to take your loved one’s on some kind of adventure.

Press On



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Africa or Bust!

Alan Smyth —  January 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

Here we are at week #3 since my 12/30 New Year’s Resolution post. In that post I spoke about the three things that young women have said impacted them greatly. The last two weeks I have written  about loving your wife and living out your faith. This week I would like to further share about the #3 item in the “BIG THREE” of impacting your daughter, taking her on trips. I say “further,” because I have already shared thoughts on this topic in this blog. For some background, you can go to our archives and look for blogs entitled “Father Daughter Getaway” and “New York City.” Something I believe in greatly is taking your daughter on trips of all sizes and types as she grows up. No better way to communicate to her how valuable she is to you than getting away together.

My friend Stu has three daughters. He has done a masterful job at intentionally taking his daughters on meaningful trips. When they each turned 13, they went anywhere in the USA his daughters wanted to go. Then, when they turned 18, he took them to Africa! Here is what Stu says about this trip:

“High school senior year, we took a dad/daughter trip to Africa. I pulled them out of school and traveled to Africa for a month. Not “hotel Africa,” but “dirt floor Africa.” I pulled them out of school because in their senior year, they are really done anyway. I had to fight with the administration a bit, but they couldn’t disagree that the experience was worth more than the school they missed. The time was priceless!  Thirty days alone with my daughter; seeing the needy of the world. We also did a bit of fun stuff on the way, but 80% was visiting the poor, staying with people doing remarkable work, and giving our lives to the ”least of these.”


These times were amazing because we talked about the things we saw, as well as life in general. My daughters were about to leave for college, and I had this unbelievable time to connect with each of them for a chunk of time. We traveled as friends, not father and daughter, because after all, they were 18!

It’s easy for dads to say, “Oh I couldn’t do that,” “I don’t get that much vacation,” “That’s too much money,” or “My daughter can’t miss school.” To all those things I say, “BS.” You are men, and you do whatever you want most of the time. Take out a loan. Take a leave from your job. I’d take a second mortgage on the house, for the experience these trips have given to us as dad and daughter.”

From Alan-If this thinking is new to you, don’t be intimidated with Africa. Start with a day trip to a water park or sports game. Then progress to an overnight somewhere close. Start small and finish big! Trust me, it’s well worth it!

Alan Smyth

Stu’s story along with many other great dad’s stories appear in chapter 7 in the Father / Daughter book, Prized Possession.


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