April 27, 2008

It didn't die

The little plant that could

Some friends gave me a beautiful, small, yellow rosebush for my 30th birthday. I was pretty bad about watering it regularly, and it lost all of its buds and flowers. I wasn't too devasted because this is a regularly occuring pattern in my life. I like to say that I have brown thumbs.

Nevertheless, I trimmed the dead parts, repotted it with plant food...and it grew back! It now has three buds that look like they are ready to burst. It's very exciting and a great sign for the decade to come! The only problem is that aphids are aggressively setting up residence on the plant (I'm perplexed, this is an indoor plant - how the heck did aphids find their way to my room?).

Kindda fuzzy but full of Aphids

April 16, 2008

Plane crashed - a neverending cycle

You may know that there was a pretty bad crash in Goma, Congo yesterday few days ago.  Spectacularly horrifying photos are still available on the web.  It blew my mind every time I saw someone, on the metro, reading the feature story this morning - I couldn't help but stare at the paper with intensity, in effect scaring more than one metro rider.


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you've read about my "interesting" plane rides in the Congo more than once.  I didn't want to bore you with yet more stories, but I came upon this article, and just had this overwhelming need to share:


By Jim Kavanagh

(CNN) -- A missionary family from Minnesota is glad to be alive and together after surviving a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the father said Wednesday.



Barry and Marybeth Mosier were on their way to visit their son Keith, 24, in Kinsangani, Congo, with two younger children when their plane crashed on takeoff Tuesday in Goma. At least 36 people died as the plane plowed through a market and burned. Most of the people who died were on the ground, according to the U.N. mission in DR Congo.


April Mosier, 14, managed to escape quickly, her father said from Goma.


'April raced ahead, and she got to the front of the plane as one of the first people, I think,' said Barry Mosier, 53.

The girl encountered a man who was tearing through an opening in the fuselage, Mosier said.


'He was pulling parts of the plane in or pushing them out, trying to make a hole. And she told him -- she speaks Swahili well -- she said, 'We've got to get a hole in this plane, or we're all going to die.' '


When the hole was big enough, April tried to dive through it. She made it with a push from the man, and other passengers followed, he said.


Meanwhile, Mosier said, he and his wife were carrying their son Andrew, 3, in the shoving 'mass of humanity' trying to escape the burning plane. They got out through the opening in the fuselage. The child's leg was broken in the crush of people, but his parents didn't realize it until later.

April became separated from her parents and was whisked away to a hospital, convinced that her family was dead, her father said.


'Outside the plane, she was wandering around. ... It was total chaos,' he said. 'People were screaming and yelling because the plane had landed on this market. All of a sudden, out of the blue, all of these people who were just standing there are now dead.

'So there's parts of bodies and people burning and people screaming and yelling, and she was out there by herself.'

About 25 minutes later, the Mosiers were reunited at the hospital.


'When we saw each other at the hospital, I can tell you, it was a grand reunion,' he said.

The Mosiers, who have been Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in Iringa, Tanzania, for eight years, went to the church office in Goma to let Keith and other loved ones -- including two other grown children in the U.S. -- know that they were all right.


While there, someone noticed that Andrew's leg was swollen, and the Mosiers returned to the hospital. They learned that Andrew's femur was broken near the hip, and he is now in a cast that reaches from his toes to his rib cage, Barry Mosier said.


'He doesn't like it very well, as most 3-year-olds wouldn't,' Mosier said.

The family will recuperate in Goma for a few days before deciding whether to resume the trip to Kisangani, where Keith Mosier has been a volunteer missionary for two months, Barry Mosier said.

'But flying here is not a popular thing to talk about just now,' he said wryly.

Andrew has made up his mind, his father said.

'He says he doesn't want to ride in airplanes anymore,' he said.


Marybeth Mosier, 51, suffered a black eye and bruised ribs, said her husband, who added that he was unhurt.

'We couldn't believe that our family of four could all escape a plane that was crashed and on fire, but by God's mercy, we did,' he said.


Mosier said he believes the family made it for a reason.

'I think the Lord has a plan for us, otherwise we wouldn't have survived,' he said. 'He still has work for us to do.'

And that work just might be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


'We actually came here with the idea of seeing if we could move here to Congo, so it's been kind of a rough introduction,' Mosier said.

'I think we'll keep praying about that. We know that the safest place in the world to work is where the Lord wants you to work.'


I know I should feel incredibly grateful not to have died in a plane crash in Congo.  But all I can think of are two selfish and insignificant things:


1-How uninformed is this family for wanting to visit Congo with 'the idea of seeing if we could move here to Congo, so it's been kind of a rough introduction,'.  I mean really?  Congo is a wonderful experience, but would you really want to move your whole family there?  And dealing with civil strife, gun shots, police harassment, and food shortages?  Really, really?  You are that dedicated to spread the good Lord's name around?


2-It's sad to see Congolese people trying to put out the flames with water from shallow plastic buckets.  It's seems so futile, discouraging and disempowering.  It's amazing how generous Congolese people can be, with the little resources they possess.

Congo is heartbreaking.  If she were a member of my family, she would a breaktaking-beautiful, generous, and edgy younger sister who always ends up with abusive boyfriends.


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April 13, 2008

Super Productive

It's weird...There are days when I do absolutely nothing (unless you count sleeping and watching TV 'doing something'), and others when I take care of all my errands in a half day.

Yesterday, I biked for a couples of miles to the coffee shop to have a latte with a friend (1). An hour later, I was biking uphill to pick up nuts from the hardware store to fix my bikes (2), stopped in my pottery class to pick up a little flower vase I glazed last week (photo to come) (3), rode by Target to pick up a large plastic flower pot (4).

When I came home, I gulped some microwaved Pad Thai and a toast with blue cheese(5), knocked a couple of holes into my new plastic pot with my roommate's drill (6), repotted my rose (7), repotted some wild flowers (8). I also checked on my rosemary and oregano in the backyard and they didn't die over the winter! I think the profusion of fallen leaves covered them up from frost. So I add removed leaves, added soil and plant food, and watered them (9). I planted a gerber Daisy from a pot into our front yard (10).

I took out the recycling, down two sets of stairs, and through the garage (11) and found that my old roomate has left some speakers in the garage for a year. I hulled the large, heavy, speakers up two flights of stairs, tested them with copper wire that I cut and connected to the main audio system (12), and hulled them one extra flight of stairs to clean them and remove the crap that had accumulated on them this last year (13). Then, I had a nap...

Finally, I rode my bike for an hour uphill to Georgetown to my parents (14), and watched some cable show on reconstruction surgery for a girl with a genetic defect. Ahhhh! Such a productive day!

April 11, 2008

It's a Small World After All

I was catching up on the news on CNN and reading about this American lady who went back to Senegal to live and raise her grandchildren.  She retired, but found that young girls, who had dropped out of school, ask her to teach school.  She set up a school, and also taught them to cook, and bake.
I suddenly realized that I add ordered food from her while in Senegal!  It's crazy...

KAOLACK, Senegal (CNN) -- After the sudden death of her 26-year-old daughter left five grandchildren in her care, Viola Vaughn searched for peace.


More than 1,500 girls are involved in Viola Vaughn's program in six locations; about 1,000 are waiting to join.

Though she was a native of Detroit, Michigan, Vaughn had worked in Africa for most of her life and considered it home. So she and her husband returned there to raise their new brood and 'watch the coconut trees grow.'

'But the universe had other things in mind for me,' says Vaughn.


She couldn't have imagined those plans would include both further tragedy and the motivation to provide educational opportunities to hundreds of failing schoolchildren.

Soon after their move to rural Kaolack, Senegal, in 2000, Vaughn's husband -- jazz musician Sam Sanders -- died of black lung. Amid her grief, she found comfort in her grandchildren, ages 4 to 12, and filled her days home-schooling them. Her success soon garnered attention from the locals.


'There was a little girl that my granddaughter played with. This little girl kept coming around and wanting to be taught with my grandchildren,' recalls Vaughn.

'I went to see this child's mother, and her mother said she had already failed school once, that she couldn't pass because she wasn't smart enough. Well she was smart enough to come find me. And I said, 'OK, I'll help you.' '

Within two weeks, Vaughn had 20 girls in her house who were failing school and asking her to teach them.

Vaughn learned that the regional pass rate for girls was low because it was rooted in the economic need of young girls to work at home. They begin missing classes, then failing exams, often ultimately failing or dropping out of school.

So in 2001, Vaughn turned her grandchildren's bedrooms into classrooms and began supplementing girls' education.

'I found every one a girl younger than she and said, 'You're responsible to make sure she learns.' I taught them how to teach each other.'

It worked. In two years, the group of girls had grown to 80 -- and they were succeeding in school. With a grant, Vaughn was able to hire teachers, and the program continued to expand despite her attempt to set a limit of 100 girls.

'The girls wanted to take it to 10,000,' says Vaughn.


To keep their '10,000 Girls' education program going, the girls asked Vaughn to teach them to bake. They began selling cookies and juice and were able to buy books and supplies.

Soon after, they got their older sisters, aunts and cousins -- who had already failed out of the school system -- involved in baking and selling goods. The entrepreneurial element of the program was born.


'They were supporting their cause,' says Vaughn. 'It was something remarkable.'

Today, in addition to a pastry shop and catering business, '10,000 Girls' runs a sewing workshop and the girls export their handmade dolls and household linens overseas.

Half of the funds from these projects go back to the girls; the remainder supports the education program, no longer in Vaughn's house.


More than 1,500 girls are involved in Vaughn's program in six locations; about 1,000 are waiting to join.


'We have girls who were told they'd never get through high school who are at university now,' beams Vaughn. 'We hope that if we get 10,000 girls out there, 1,000 girls will come back to Kaolack and work. It would revolutionize the whole region.

'Here I am, retired, and this is the best job I have ever had in my life.'


It's such a small world.  I remember ordering this great spinach dish, and perhaps a pecan pie from her!

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