#11 The Nine + a Few Other Things – June 28, 2015

#11 The Nine + a Few Other Things

Both SFG and Ndingi are out for 4 days of midterm break.  Sometimes students have been “retained” because they were not doing well.  Needless to say they were angry and didn’t improve much.  This time the faculty decided it should be voluntary.  Of 270 girls, 9 decided to stay.  Friday morning (not too early) I arrived to find them in one room, all studying.  We discussed what we could work on and decided to do form 1 topics first, even though there were 2’s, 3’s and 4’s as well.  We tackled some hard topics and some easy ones, taking it step by step.  I’m learning more about how to break a complicated question into parts so that when we take on the whole, they won’t get lost.  One student asked me a question I simply could not think through.  Only after I went home did I realize there was insufficient information.  I couldn’t solve it as presented because it wasn’t solvable.

We worked until I could see they were done!  On overload, wanted no more math for awhile.  So I went home, and only when I got there did I realize how tired I was.  Naps are lovely!  In the meantime M had come for her help.  Evidently she knocked my door for 10 minutes and I didn’t hear it.  Must have been really out.

Next day I went back and found the 9 much refreshed and ready for another round.  I asked the girl where she had found the question and sure enough, she had omitted a vital number.  It was still a complicated question, but I think they were getting it.

As always, I find kids are hindered by not having their own calculator, box of geometry tools (protractor, compass, etc) as well as having to share a book.  One girl without a calculator was Joyce from Mji Wa Neema. I asked whether she had spoken to Julia about it.  Yes.  She said my grandmother had to buy it.  Can your grandmother do that?  No.  Later I conferred with Julia and yes, grandmother is very, very poor.  ARGH!  Judy and I have provided money for the children for those needs, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.  But now Joyce has her own calculator, which will be passed on to Lukas in 2 years when Joyce is finished with high school and later to Joseph when Lukas is finished.  The calculator cost a bit more than $9!!!

What’s so sad is Joyce really struggles with math.  I’ve tutored her for years, and she tries so hard to understand, but…..  Although I did see that look on her face for some of the lesson, telling me she understood.  Hope springs eternal.

At teatime, I joined the girls and after telling them how much I admired them for staying at school when they wanted to go home, I asked each why she had stayed.  They mentioned the courses they want to focus on and for 7 of the 9, you guessed it, math was #1 on the list.

I didn’t stay so long that day because I had promised to attend the installation of new officers in the Naivasha Rotary.  Having attended last year, I figured it would not start on time, so went an hour late.  Fortunately I had been given a starting time that was an hour earlier that the correct time, because it did start pretty much on time.  They are a fun group, as is my Menlo Park Rotary group, and they served a great meal, which meant I didn’t have to cook – always a gift to me!

2015-11 Juanita Rotary pic 1

This is Juanita (pronounced here just like it’s spelled), outgoing president.  The large ribbon around her neck is the symbol of her office and contains a name pin of every president since the club was chartered in 2002.

I was sitting at a table of friends and members of Life Bloom, one of whom is the sister of the incoming president, Pauline.  While we sat there, a phone call came from a 3rd sister.  On her way to the installation she was in a matatu accident, but only scratched.  Both sisters were so proud of Pauline.  Everyone was greatly relieved when the 3rd sister arrived and all could see she was virtually unscathed.

2015-11 Pauline middle 2 sistersRotary pic 2

Here are the 3 sisters, Pauline in the middle, uninjured sister too.

This morning I was rushing about trying to get ready for mass when a knock revealed M, wanting to attend with me.  Her 2 older sisters were coming later in the morning to visit, and I had encouraged her to come too, but not at 8:15!  I left her in the kitchen with the paper while I finished dressing and off we went, almost late, but as it turned out, the 7 am mass was still going on and 8:30 mass began at 9:15, which made the 10:30 mass begin at about 11:15.  A 3rd mass has been added because the town, and therefore the Catholic population, is growing.  Masses here are generally 2 hours, but for some reason they didn’t schedule them at 7, 9 and 11.  Even at that they might be squeezed from time to time.  Oh well, I’m not in charge of scheduling, nor anything else.  They’ll sort it out in time.

When M’s 2 sisters arrived they were so happy to see her, the youngest.  The girls are all quite pretty and each has her gifts and knows exactly what she wants in life.  D is the oldest, and loves small children.  She works as a “house help,” saving her money to return to school for Early Childhood Ed.  She wants to open her own center.  The middle sister is at university, a fortunate SFG graduate who did very well on the KCSE and has a sponsor who is sending her on.  She is majoring in social work and wants to work with disadvantaged women and youth.  M wants to be an engineer.  What impresses me is these girls came from such a difficult home life.  Each has a different father, the mother is an alcoholic and is erratic, never gave them the love and support they needed.  Instead of going to the streets as many girls have had to do, these girls supported each other and the bonds are very strong.  We had a lovely breakfast, scrambled eggs and toast, but I had agreed to meet Fr. Kiriti in the early afternoon, so I dropped the 3 off at M’s house and proceeded on to give Fr. K the document he needed to present to the bishop. Only in my haste, I had forgotten it in my room.  ARGH!!!  Run back to get it, give to Fr. K, drive back home in the Sunday afternoon traffic, and miss being broadsided by a matatu backing out onto the road by about 2 Nano-meters.  Anyone who thinks my reflexes are waning at these advanced years should have seen how fast I hit that horn!  Shaking my head in disbelief, I finally made it back home to try to solve today’s Sudoku (couldn’t get it)

2015-11 Magdalene Joseph Julia Lukas Selina pic 3

Had dinner in the dining room with the few remaining residents.  From left, Magdalene, SFG class of 2014.  She is here to take a computer course here in the church compound.  She begins school in September, wants to be in media loves to perform, is a great dancer and singer, and quite beautiful.  Next is Joseph (better known as the Peanut Butter Thief—4th grade) Julia is the matron here and just wonderful.  Across is Lukas, older brother to Joseph, 7th grade and a strong student.  He was the main butt of teasing tonight because he is into his growing boy appetite and can consume vast quantities.  Selina is also of SFG class 2014.  She does the computer class too and will enter nursing school in September.  She has been so good to me and to Julia in her recovery from surgery.  Selina will make a great nurse.

= Margo

#10 Visit to Maasai Market June 25, 2015

#10 Visit to Maasai Market                                                                    June 25, 2015

This morning Ben drove me to Nairobi, first stopping by St. Theresa’s convent to pick up communion hosts for the parish.  Since he had been given that errand, it was a good opportunity for me to tag along.  Ben is good company, knowledgeable and willing to answer my many questions about what I’m seeing, what I’ve observed or anything else.

2015-10 Ben

We met first in 2005 when he was the accountant for Archbishop Ndingi (then) Mixed High School.  He was young, not terribly confident, but very sweet.  Now he is 11 years older, self-confident and still very sweet.  Not long after I began coming to Naivasha, Fr. Kiriti could see Ben was a good man, so promoted him to accountant for the parish.  This was after 2 grueling hours in which I’d tried to teach Fr. K how to use Quicken.  In the end we concluded he was a great priest, but definitely not an accountant.  We were both relieved.

Ben was Fr. K’s right hand man all through the building of SFG, running to Nairobi for supplies, bringing materials to the site from local suppliers, running errands and generally making it possible for a busy priest to run a big parish and still be a hands-on supervisor of the construction process.  Here is Ben at lunch today after our shopping, phone to ear—a typical pose.

Several years ago I made the acquaintance of James Njoroge, one of the market vendors.  He was a nice person, willing to offer us good prices and able to search out items for me that I couldn’t find in the market.  In 2013, when I brought my grand daughter, Maya, to Kenya, he invited us to his family compound, where members of his extended family make many of the items he sells.  Young and old sat around a table, chatting and making little animals for nativity scenes, angel tree ornaments, or hollowing out gourds for the nativities.  Some nativities were in boxes made of banana leaves or corn husks, cleverly designed and very cute.  The only family members who didn’t participate were his very old mother, blinded with cataracts and the young children.  It was such a congenial scene and I’m glad we were able to give them some nice business.

The market is held Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Other days he opens his tiny booth in a collection of such booths, set so close together that customers can pass only single file.

Here is Njoroge, showing his wares to a customer.  Below is his spread.  He now remembers that I always bring my own bags, the beautiful cloth bags I buy from Joyce and which I use at home as well as here.  I hardly have to remind him, “no plastic.”  Ben and I came today with even more bags than we could fill!

2015-10 Njoroge

2015-10 Njoroge's wares

I knew what I wanted this year and spent very little time “grazing.”  The market is very colorful with probably several hundred vendors, all grabbing at me, “Please Mama, just look at my beautiful things.  No need to buy (right!) Just please come look.”  It’s so hard to shake off someone whose goods I don’t want, and over the years I’ve learned to walk by such a display quickly so I don’t get cornered.  As always I try to remember what items our donors have liked and try to get into their space, but since I myself don’t much like “stuff” it’s hard to know.  Nonetheless, I do love going to the market.

Here is the “shop” of a lady from whom I bought beautiful wooden bowls.  Her neighbor kindly pulled out this tiny stool for me to sit but when I’d finished my bowl purchases, in insisted I must buy from her.  “Remember Mama, I brought you the stool.”  She didn’t have much I wanted but I bought a few things, more out of guilt than desire.

2015-10 Wooden bowl lady's wares

The first few years I went it was held outdoors in a square somewhere in central Nairobi.  Only Ben or Jecinta could guide Judy and me there.  We would blindly follow along, not wanting to get lost in the crowds.  Now it has moved to the upper garage of a big shopping mall and can proceed, rain or shine.  It’s not as nice indoors, particularly when the dancers begin.  They are fun to see, but the drums and the singing reverberate off the walls and ceilings until I really needed to leave.  Ah, nice to get outside and away from the loudness.

Back home I didn’t even unpack our bags.  I sat down on the bed to read my email, and within 5 minutes a real African rain poured out of the sky.  I was so glad we had made it back because while I love those rains, I don’t like being on the road in them.  I hadn’t realized how tired I was, but I fell asleep on my bed immediately the rain and slept through M’s knocking my door.  Only later when I talked to Julia did I learn she had come.  Alas I had forgotten.  She’ll come tomorrow and Sunday I’ll have a visit from her and her 2 older sisters.


#9 School and Math Teaching

#9 School and Math Teaching      June 24, 2015

Yesterday I said I would write about school, then got so sleepy I cut it short.  Also, I happened to re-read #8 (after the fact) and noticed I had left out a very important word when talking about M.  I failed to say it is M’s mother who is the alcoholic, not M!

I have been going to SFG every day, sitting in on some classes, not doing a lot of teaching in class, but taking 5 girls at a time to the library for special help.  The form 3 and 4 teachers have chosen the 5 lowest performers in each class.  Sometimes I work with them during class time, but I do hate to take them from class, so I like to take them for ½ hour at the end of the lunch break.  With such a small group, I can address everyone’s questions.  I can see the smiles of understanding and when I don’t see them I ask the non-smiler where is the point of misunderstanding.  And I don’t stop until I see that smile.  Whether they retain it is another point; I’ve learned that well enough, but again, I try to explain WHY we do what we do and show them short cuts that keep them from getting lost in the morass of computation.  I’ve been observing teachers and trying to show them how to be more efficient and cut down on the repetitive re-writing of equations.  It’s hard to change those habits of a lifetime, but they do seem to see the benefits.  I’m concentrating this year on showing the students how to take less time to answer a question, doing it thoroughly and carefully, but also efficiently.  We’ll see.

M came again today after school.  She brought an exam and a few questions from her current lesson.  I’m so impressed with how fast she learns.  She didn’t have a whole lot of things to ask about, so I suggested maybe she wouldn’t need to come tomorrow.  She would have none of that!  I may have an afternoon visitor every day!

She tells me next week she will go to a music competition.  As I’ve written before, competitions are a big thing here.  She sings in the school choir, but also performs solo.  She told me that last year she had gone quite far in the competition, but the principal at the school where she was then could not provide the transportation for her to return the next day to compete for the finals.  This year I believe she will be able to stay because her guardian can support the transport.

We talked about her possibly joining the parish choir.  As I’ve said, there are 3 choirs here, all fabulous.  She would love to sing with them, but the rehearsals end well after dark and I would not want her walking home alone.  However I know some of the people in the choir and will ask whether a responsible person with a car would be able to take her home safely.

Tonight was Rotary night and upon arrival I was pleased to see my old friend Fr. Makerios.  He’s an Egyptian priest, but belongs to a Canadian order of priests.  He came here some time ago and proceeded to found St. Theresia’s center for Abused Children.  I’ve written about it in the past, but just let me say that it is an A-1 program, a beautiful building, wonderful staff and they do a fabulous job with those children.  He came to Rotary, along with a volunteer also Egyptian who did a PowerPoint presentation.  Part of it was heart-breaking, with pictures of the physical abuse some of the children have experienced.  But I’ve been there and seen the results of the counseling, love, good food and medical care they get.  Those children are transformed in time.

They were at Rotary to request support to install a solar system.  Their monthly electric bill runs about $1500, which their budget can’t support.  They use much of it to make sure the children have warm baths and showers.  There are 64 children currently in residence, so that’s a lot of hot water.  After the presentation there were many questions about the home, the program and the proposed solar project.  Then one of the members, one of 2 mzungu members of that club announced that a foundation he is part of, which runs a rescue center for homeless kids gets a lot of contributions and that foundation would cover the costs for Fr. Makerios!!!!  $50,000!!!!  Wow, I almost fell off my chair and so did Fr. M.  It was a great evening.

Tomorrow I am going to Nairobi to the Maasai Market.  It is an overwhelming experience, with a huge variety of goods and many, many vendors, each of whom is my best friend who will give me the best price.  Because this is not a place for me to go alone, Ben, the parish accountant will take me.  He does much of the bargaining for me, but they all know he is buying for me.  They ask why is he trying to talk them down from their ridiculously high initial offer, when they know it’s for a mzungu, all of whom are known to be rich.  He has to explain that I’m not rich and why I buy the items I buy.  Some understand and come down.  Some do not.

It’s hard to think of going to that market without Jecinta, the wonderful parish social worker who died 1 ½ years ago.  We all miss her so much.  She would always go to the market with me and she could bargain like no one else I ever saw.  Sometimes I’d be embarrassed at how low she got them to go.  Sometimes I’d say, “Jecinta, that price is OK,” but that would make her mad – well not mad, but she loved the bargaining process, and didn’t like my interference.

I promise to take pictures for tomorrow’s post.  I have searched all of my 10,000 photos I’ve taken over the past 11 summers for a picture of Fr. Makerios’s center, but I can’t find any.  Can’t imagine I would have deleted them.  Must have been those pesky gremlins again.






# 8 Visitors at Home and at School

# 8 Visitors at Home and at School                                                         June 23, 2015

Last weekend was non-stop visitors, one of whom was a young girl whose face I recognized but I couldn’t put her in context – what was her name?  Finally she reminded me she was the younger sister of an SFG grad.  I’ll call her M because some of the story is sensitive.  M’s an alcoholic who had a number of children, not all the same father.  She’s just a sad case. She didn’t feed them properly, clothe them, or love them.  They were left to fend for themselves.  M’s older sister was taken to SFG on scholarship and did very well, but M wasn’t so fortunate.  But she is very resourceful, very determined and she knows what she is and what she isn’t going to do.  She took a job as a house girl, just to have a place to live and food.  In time she found the lady of the house to be a critical nag, so she left.  Fortunately an agency found her and found a lady who would take her in.  I’ll call her L.

So here were L and M at my door.  I know M from her older sister and from having her in my tutoring group 2 summers ago.  She didn’t come every day and I learned she had run away from where she had been staying.  She was 16 and not about to be pushed around.  So when L took her in, was kind to her and took her back to school it changed her life.  She is now in form 3 at the day school right next door to the children’s home.  The students there come from very poor families, which is why they attend a day school instead of a boarding school, here seen to be far superior.  Yet this school performs very well.  M is doing beautifully, but has struggled with math.  When she saw my car outside the gate, she convinced L to come with her to visit me.

I always liked M and knew she was very bright.  When she admitted math was hard for her, we set up some dates for her to come for help.  She arrived right on time, every time.  If I offered her food or water, she gratefully accepted, but she never asked.  We’ve probably put in 5 or 6 hours and she told me today when she showed her teacher all she has learned, the teacher was mightily impressed.  There is nothing like 1-1 teaching.  The student can’t help but learn.

2015-08 goat

After I had to send her away because it was dusk and she has a good walk home, I decided to give some food scraps to Fr. Mwangi’s goat, which is being fattened up in our enclosure.  I have become his nearest and dearest friend.  Whenever I appear, he thinks he has died and gone to goat heaven, which will probably happen fairly soon.  He looks up, hoping for some choice morsel.  Just now I went out to get his picture and seeing my camera, which he mistook for a tasty treat he strained at his leash.  I was sad to disappoint him.

As I was feeding my friend, the goat, I noticed some little boys outside the gate, using the spare tire cover as a drum.  I wagged my finger (no!), but they were a bit clueless.  Approaching the gate, I noted one of them was Joseph, 10 years, living at Mji Wa Neema.  Joseph is a typical impish, mischievous kid, but when he saw me he and the other 2 stopped the drumming.  I rumpled what little hair he had and said, “Joseph, please don’t bang my car”, adding, “or the peanut butter will be gone!”  OOH!  That’s a threat.  Previous readers will remember my blog of several years ago about “Joseph, the peanut butter thief.”  Honestly he is so cute; he could melt the Antarctic ice shelf!  Hmmm, maybe he is responsible to global warming.  No, I guess not, but he is really cute.  He looks up with his big, innocent brown eyes and you know he is up to no good.

At SFG today, we again had visitors who wanted to see the school.  They had been told that it was a very nice school, run in an efficient and organized manner.  This school had a bus, a very nice one, something Ruth, our principal covets.  Evidently the visitors were very impressed with the buildings, which are nice by Kenyan standards.  I went out to meet them and talked to some of the girls briefly.  Kids are all the same here, shy but curious.  They had been rewarded with an outing for being the top performers in their school.

Uniforms here are 1 of 2 styles, pencil straight, always too tight across the backside, or pleated plaid.  Ours, designed by the students about 4 years ago, are a combination of both, stitched down about 4 inches below the waist, then flaring into a pleat with a flash panel of red and white.  Whoever makes them didn’t quite get the picture, but the girls seem to like them.  Many have commented that our girls look “smart,” which means stylish.

2015-08 girls 3 skirts 1 trousers

I’m falling asleep over the computer.  Time to pack it in.



#6 A Good Teaching Day

#6 A good Teaching Day                                                                           June 18, 2015

I didn’t do any math teaching today.  Rather I observed other math teachers and was so pleased with what I saw.  One was Nancy, who teaches one of the form 4 sections.  She is experienced, smart and well organized in her presentations.  I had gone to her class yesterday, where she talked about something that we don’t teach in the US and with which I have struggled over the years as I’ve worked out all the problems on the KCSE.  I sort of got it last year, but then it slipped away.  This time I finally understand, rather than just mechanically following a formula.  YEAH!  I do love it when I learn something new and learn it well enough to be able to explain it.

As always, when I observe a teacher, I see things that perhaps could be changed or improved.  So as I sit there, I make a little list, otherwise I forget.  After the class is over comes the part where I have to be very diplomatic.  I don’t ever want to be the gracious white lady who comes here to set the natives straight.  I hate that attitude and really try to be totally collegial.  Fortunately, I could begin by telling her I thought she had done a great job with a difficult topic.  The girls did seem to “pick it”, as they say here.  Then, “I do have a couple of ideas.  Are you interested?”  No one would say, “No, mind your own business!”  They are much too polite, but I sensed her assent was sincere.  She liked my suggestions and afterwards had a great talk about our teaching philosophies.  In the past she has seemed a bit aloof, not quite ready to accept this mzungu lady, but today I think we broke through the ice.  It helped, of course that I had had to consult her about that question, clearly acknowledging her expertise.

The other observation was a young student teacher, who is fabulous, despite being there for just 1 month.  In both cases I suggested short cuts that reduce the drudgery.  And because the whole math curriculum is focused on performing on the KCSE at the end of 4 years, I addressed the issue of not enough time.  I don’t know anyone who could do the complicated, multipart 24 questions in 2 hours!  So if one can shave 20 seconds here, a minute there, etc, 1 maybe even 2 more questions could be answered.  That appealed, particularly to Nancy, because her performance is judged solely on how her girls do.  She was very accepting and I think that’s when we became colleagues.  I had consulted her for her expertise and have shared my expertise with her.

Some years ago I realized that the focus of writing a math exam is very different from what we think.  We think it’s to get the right answer.  In fact, it is not.  The purpose is to convince the reader of your paper that you know what you are doing, which has led to the correct solution.  It’s an explanation, not a solution and as such, the writer needs to show exactly how he/she arrived at that correct outcome.  It’s a different focus.  With each of them, I could see the eyes light up with understanding.  Yes, that’s true.  When I say it to the students, “The purpose of writing an exam is not to get the right answer,”  – pause for dramatic effect – it definitely gets the students’ attention.  Then I finish the idea.

While I didn’t teach any math, I did teach Mr. Muchero’s form 4’s in social studies.  They are currently studying forms of government and in particular he wanted me to talk about the US form of government.  Well, the fact is that I don’t know much about it.  Whatever I knew in my US history/government class at age 18 has greatly ebbed away in the intervening 61 years.  Did that stop me?  Of course not!  I let them ask me questions and many of them were very good.  They weren’t so much about the form of our government, but more about what is it like in the US.  Is there poverty in the US?  Oh, yes.  That always shocks them.  Kenyans think all Americans are rich.  Why?  Because only rich people can afford to come here for Safari, which is what most tourists do.  What is the cause of poverty?  Primarily lack of a good education.  That gave me an opportunity to compare our universal education system to theirs, which leaves out so many, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each system.  I talked about homelessness and that so many of the homeless were vets.  Why?  I talked about the trauma of war and PTSD.  I showed them my amulet from Another Mother for Peace, from the 60’s anti-war movement.  “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”  I wear it often.  I’m not sure why, but I like it.  I talked about why so many vets come home traumatized, particularly after Viet Nam, when they were drafted, regardless of their proclivities.  I think I made an impression there.

The book has pictures of 3 US presidents – George Washington, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.  Well, I couldn’t resist a little education on the latter 2.  But I did admit I was more than a bit biased in my response.  They asked about corruption.  In the newspapers here, there is hardly anything else but corruption.  If The Nairobi Nation is to be believed, there isn’t an honest politician ANYWHERE in the country.  That may be close to the truth.  Maybe honest politician is an oxymoron, but I can’t totally believe that.  Maybe I’m just naïve.  Nonetheless, I assured them that Kenya has no corner on that market.  Corruption exists everywhere and it will continue until the people decide they’ve had enough.

I have to say it was fun to present my totally biased, one-sided view of the US, but honestly I think they got a more realistic picture of the complications of our country than they had.

Last night I attended my 2nd Rotary meeting here in Naivasha.  There were a number of visitors, several of whom were mzungus.  I had arrived late, so I didn’t hear the introductions, but not 2 words were out of their mouths when I knew they were Americans.  That in itself is unusual, but then it turned out that I had met one of them several years ago at the Ashland home of my friend, Jan Boggia.  Her companion was a woman whom she has known since they were 8 years old.  That tops Judy’s and my friendship.  She was 15 and I was 14 – my first year in high school – when we met.  The lady I had previously met, Anne, has a small foundation which does much the same thing as does Kenya Help.  Not only that, but her friend, Mary, lives in Portland, where I grew up, she attended Portland State, where I taught briefly and taught at Forest Grove High School, where I did my first year of teaching and met Jim McAuliffe, whom I married the day after school was out.

In the course of the meeting they talked about the need for libraries and I told them about the African Library Project, based in Portola Valley, CA and what a wonderful job they do.  ALP requires 20 sites, each with someone to run it, to move into a country.  Then they will send a shipping container full of books, help set up the libraries and train the personnel.  They are currently in a number of African countries, but not yet in Kenya.  Naivasha Rotary will look into it, perhaps partner with other clubs to try to get it going.  Getting ALP into Kenya and Naivasha in particular, has been my dream for years.  While I’m on the topic, go to their website, see what they do and donate your good quality books, particularly children’s books.  Give them a donation too, because it costs a lot to ship here.

Just as I left home for the meeting it began to rain and by the time I arrived it was pouring.  Thus I was wearing my favorite fleece jacket (known here as a “jumper”) with the SFG badge covering up the KQED logo.  When I got home, well past 8 pm, I looked around for it but couldn’t find it.  OH, NO, did I leave it at the meeting?  I quickly tried to call the president, the only phone number I had.  No answer.  ARGH!  I did not want to drive down there again.  I’ll have to get up early and go before school.  Sure enough I was ready ½ hour early, (no small effort on my part), grabbed my water bottle and backpack and hustled out to the car.  Opening the door, there was my black jacket, lying on the back seat.  Couldn’t see it last night.  So glad I hadn’t contacted the president and set her looking for my jacket that wasn’t there.

As you might sense, I am happy here.  I’ve been here 11 days and already I’m thinking how soon I have to leave.  I feel so lucky to be able to come here, to know so many warm, loving people and to see first-hand, the differences between the west and the developing world.  Tell your kids to study math.  See where it has gotten me?