Friday, June 29, 2007

Anyone there?

Hey all .... OK, here I am in Africa. Across the ocean. Far, far away.

And I am feeling a bit homesick and YOU have the power to help me out ... if anyone is out there, reading my blog, PLEASE write me a short comment! Carla is commenting verbally, but the rest of you could write!

Thanks :-)

Monday, June 25, 2007

After Dinner Thoughts

OK, I am back from dinner ... (see the lower-down post for my pre-dinner ramblings) and I am feeling a bit old. The majority of the teachers on this group trip are between 24 and 32, and while I feel in my heart that I am that age, too, it's clear at times that no, I'm really not! They all just went out to a nearby "club" for a drink after our long dinner (it took over an hour for our food to arrive) and I elected to stay behind to email and read and shower and go to bed early.

Even with the age difference, though, I feel there are people here who I will definitely remain in contact with after this trip. It has been so much fun to get to know these people, and we discover similarities in our ways of life and thought as we explore the experiences the trip is offering us. Several of the teachers work at quite prestigious private academies in the States and are determined to go back to their schools and share emphatically their experiences in this, the 4th poorest country in the world. There has been so much laughter and sharing and open conversation among all, the group is bonding so well. There is a couple on the trip who have been together nearly 5 years, and it is the goal (only partially tongue-in-cheek) of the rest of us to get Rob to propose to Jessica while they are here. Jess is all for it, now we just have to get Rob to think it was HIS idea. I will let you know if it happens!

After just a couple of days it feels like we have known each other for a very long time. I think the intensity of the group purpose helps that, but I also think the personalities are just blending extraordinarily well!

Africa Update

Well, today is Monday (I think!) and it has been a very good day. We divided into small groups and my group went out into a very rural part of northern Tanzania to visit a girl who has applied to attend the PHF school. She took an exam in February and has heard nothing since then - due to the logisitical issues, we cannot contact the students who took the test - until today when we drove up to her village. The two Tanzanian teachers got out of the car with a photo of the girl and started asking if anyone knew her. There are no addresses so there is no other way to find her. We managed to find her uncle, with whom she lives, and he got in the car with us and we drove to their home - a collection of small mud-brick huts where she lives with her mother who has TB, her uncle and one of his wives, and 6 other children, one of whom is handicapped. The teachers interviewed her, her mother, her uncle, and some neighbors to determine if her situation had been presented accurately to us - we verify educational progress, financial situation, and family situation (her father died in 2002) At the end, the teachers conferred and determined that her application was truthful, and she was accepted into our school.

We really don't think she truly understands how this will change her life, but we who were priveledged to observe, were teary-eyed, because we know what a difference this educaitonal opportunity will make for her.

I have to go meet the group for dinner now, but will post more soon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jambo from Tanzania

Well, I am in Africa and am experiencing first-hand the frustrations Carla describes. It's a bizarre routine I have had to go to to get logged in to Blogger and I am not able to post photos today. Perhaps tomorrow will be different!

The weather is glorious and the company divine :-) Carla & I are having such a good time catching up. It really does not seem that we have not seen one another for a year and a half, we just fell right into our regular conversational routines. The kids are all taller but otherwise are just how I remembered them!

The teachers join us on Saturday night, then we will be really busy. Hopefully I will figure out how to more easily get in to the blogging system to write frequent updates.

More soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Skogfjorden 2007

Yesterday I dropped Ben at Norwegian Camp - his fifth year there! I remember the first year ... he was only 7 and went for a full week. At the time it was perfectly normal and all good. Now I can't believe I let my BABY go away for a whole week at the age of 7. Every year I take his picture here to see how he's grown. (this smaller photo is from 2004.) This year when we arrived one of the camp leaders came running up to welcome Ben back - it's so fun to see so many familiar faces - and then exclaimed about how big Ben has gotten since last year! It's true, this has been a good year for growing for B.

Here he is with the camp Director, Tove. She has been working at the camp for over 30 years, and is a special friend for Ben. I know she will watch out for him and take good care of him while he's there. Since I will be in Africa while he is there it's a bit harder (for me, emotionally) this year than previous years. I'm glad Tove is there - I really, really like her.

Grandma's Marathon

Another fun year of volunteering! There were nearly 10,000 runners this year, and we went through about 1000 cups of ice at the 3-mile mark. This was a bit high, as the weather was quite hot and muggy. I was really glad not to be running!
Here are my parents, before the race started.
And here is a shot after all 10,000 (give or take) have gone by. I love Grandma's Marathon runners. Granted, I haven't volunteered at other marathons so maybe this is true everywhere. So many runners thanked us for helping out. And so many went out of their way to throw their empty cups into the garbagae cans. Of course the cans couldn't hold all the cups, and many just dropped the cups - as we would expect them to.
But with rakes and push brooms and all the volunteers working together, the entire area was cleaner than when we started, less than an hour after the racers were gone. And we were back home by 9:00, feeling like we had put in a good days' work by our usual rising time!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'll be out and about .....

Well, the next 3 1/2 weeks will be interesting! I will try to post here when I can, but don't know how successful I will be.

Tomorrow the boys & I head to Duluth and will be volunteering at Grandma's Marathon. We have been working the first water-stop in the marathon almost every year for the past 10. We love seeing the runners at the beginning when they are all fresh and still excited! The race starts around 6:30 AM - we get there about 5:30 to set up - and since we are just 3 miles in to the race, everyone has passed us, even the walkers at the end, by 8:00 and we are cleaned up and back home before 9. Then we can decide if we want to drive in to town to see the finish line and partake in the festivities in the city.

When I watch the racers start I always think "Someday I am gonna do this!!" When I watch the racers finish I always think "These people are INSANE!!!"

Then I take Ben to Norwegian Camp where he will take on his Norsk alter-ego of Petter. He stays for two full weeks. He hopes to become closer to fluent in Norwegian. While Ben is there, Ty will be staying with Grandma and Grandpa, working on landscaping their property. He hopes to earn lots of money.

Then, on June 19, I fly out to Amsterdam and then Kilimanjaro International Airport for three weeks of international travel. I am leading a group of teachers - you can follow our progress by reading the trip blog, and learn more about what we are doing. It's going to be so wonderful to see Carla and family again, and do all the exciting things the group will do to help with the development of Peace House Secondary School.

I return July 9 - and will have lots to report and share, I'm sure!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This is in response to the younger generation's viewing of a photo of their mother and me wearing "matching" down vests while camping in our younger days.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Introducing ....

Our guests just told me that Choco has a feline alter ego ... So, ta-da. here is Chococat!!!

Colorado Visitors

My college roommate is in town, visiting with her three daughters for a few days. We went to St. Paul to go on a dinosaur hunt, then hit the Science Museum (hint: 7:00PM on a Friday night is THE time to go ... we basically had the place to ourselves!), then ended our night with rideas at the Mall of America. Today we played outside in the beautiful Minnesota weather, then had a sushi dinner (well, they did, I ate tempura) and once again hit the mall. I feel like I have been given a glimpse into the world of daughters - it's been such a wonderful treat!