Monday, June 30, 2014

Visitors!

We are entering our busy season, the American summer, and we will be chock full of visitors for the next three months.  IMAG0296

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(love how they matched!)

They are such a blessing in lightening our load, playing with the kids, helping with activities and projects and even playing games, one of my personal favorite things to do!

IMG_3544I’ve had a great group of people recently hanging out with my boys and I’m grateful for the help.

IMG_3553I’m also really grateful for the guys who come and just be guys with my boys, who let them climb on them and wrestle and throw them around – I give lots of hugs and kisses but I’m not so great at letting my boys climb on me!

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(can you tell we’re telling time?)

There’s a bunch more great people who I haven’t gotten photos of but I still appreciate you!

Hey – I’m all for making new friends of visitors but how about some of my old friends come and visit me?!? 

Friday, June 27, 2014

H is for Hamburger ~ even in Portuguese!

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For my Afternoon Program, which I do Tues, Weds and Thurs, one room at a time, we are using the alphabet to determine our activities and learning.  This week was H!  H is for hamburger and it’s also for “hora” which means hour and also, loosely, time.  They’ll ask, “a que horas?”  meaning, “what time?” etc.

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There aren’t a ton of words that start with H that were practical for our program so we focused on time.  And hamburgers!  We made out own clocks, so fun!  It took a little trial and error but most of them got it.

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I chalked out a huge clock in our main room and the boys had to pick a number and find their place in the clock.  Then we took turns laying down to form the big and little hands and had the boys lay down to make a time we had called out.  I say “we” because I took a turn laying on the floor being the big hand as well!IMG_3561

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After working up an appetite, we came back into my house for the highlight of the day!

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You should have heard those boys oohing and aahing over how good these hamburgers smelled cooking!  We didn’t have buns so we used regular bread.  I think the part they liked best was that I slathered them in ketchup, or as they call it, “tomate sauce!”  They love it!  I think I could just give them a cup of ketchup and call it a snack!

I really don’t think any of these boys had ever had a hamburger.  They certainly aren’t served here and when they go out, it’s always for chicken or pizza.

Needless to say, they loved it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mozambique’s Dia de Independencia!

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On June 25, 1975, Mozambique became independent from Portugal . 

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I know I love to celebrate the 4th of July in the US so I think these boys should have the chance to celebrate their independence as well!

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Basically, any excuse for a party!

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So me and Alisha threw together a party at the last minute (since I only remembered last night!) and the boys were delighted.  They all drew their Mozambican flag, and we had eggs, popcorn, cookies and soda to celebrate. 

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A great time was had by all!

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This is one happy independent Mozambican young man!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Tramp is Back!

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Large . . .

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Medium . . .

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Small!

No matter what size they are, they love the trampoline!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Vietnam and a few other things I’d like to talk with my parents about . . .

IMG_4849I recently read the fantastic book, The Things They Carried'>The Things They Carried'>The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien about Vietnam.  It actually was about a lot more than Vietnam and I highly recommend it.  It tells a great story and it explores a ton of human emotions in a different way than I am used to.

But it got me to thinking about my Dad.  He was a Vietnam veteran in the Navy.  I’ve always known that.  I bought him a veteran’s hat for his birthday one year.  That’s him in the photo above in the late 60s but I’m not sure the year.

But I never asked him about it.  And for that matter, I never asked my mom about being the wife of a Vietnam veteran either.

My dad was in the Navy so he didn’t see hand-to-hand combat and he didn’t trudge (or “hump” as O’Brien calls it in the book) through the jungles of Vietnam.    So he never struck me as psychologically wounded from his experience.

But, he was a participant in this big thing called The Vietnam War, that was so emotive and divisive and controversial in the 60s and 70s.  He must have been on the receiving end of a lot of that flak the veterans received.  Surely he had an opinion on it.

And my mom.  Her husband was in the military during Vietnam.  His ship fired on the country.  Surely she was hearing all the disparaging talk about the military in that time period.  Surely she knew Jane Fonda went to Vietnam and posed with anti-aircraft weapons.

How did she feel about hearing her husband talked about so poorly?  Did she ever have any face-to-face confrontations with protestors?  Did my dad?

I’m feeling so sad I’ll never know these things now, and so many others.  So many things you just talk with your parents about without even realizing it.  I feel so sad I’ll never be able to pick up the phone and ask either of them simple (or complicated) questions again.

This post isn’t meant to be a pity-party, I’m just processing. 

And maybe preaching just a little – if you’ve got questions for your parents, ask them.  And if you’ve got things you need to say, tell them.

Monday, June 16, 2014

US vs Ghana, then and now

So tonight is the big rematch of US vs Ghana in the World Cup.   It sure brings back memories!

Four years ago, I was in London, watching several World Cup games with my good friend Chris.  That included watching the US lose to Ghana.

Now I’m not a big soccer (futebol over here in Moz) fan so I wasn’t too bummed about the US losing.  It’s not like it was my Chargers or anything!

And two things made it even easier.

1.  Being a long-time resident of Africa, one thing I love is that in spite of certain wars and hostilities, there is a great sense of Africans being one together.  As mentioned, there are enough wars and violence to contradict that statement, but in day to day life, Africans feel much more solidarity than, say, Europeans.  In my humble opinion. 

Case in point – The English busting out the anti-German WWII songs in the pub when they were having their turn at one another.  And the widespread view that if one’s own country couldn’t win the Cup, they certainly didn’t want another European country to win it!

But with Ghana, it seemed like all of Africa was pulling for them!  They were the last African team in the race (as per my often faulty memory of four years ago!) and all the other African nations wanted them to win.  As a semi-Mozambican after all these years, I was kinda pulling for them myself for the same reason!

2.  On the way back to Chris’ place after watching the US lose to Ghana at the pub, we were in Waterloo station I believe and came across a young man looking very similar to the man in the photo above (that I stole off the internet to give you a visual!).  He was standing looking at the overhead train schedule with his country’s flag draped down his back.

I went up to him and congratulated him on his country’s win.  He asked if I was American and of course I said yes.  He kinda teared up and shook my hand and said he was so sorry for my loss.  He was so humble but boy could you see he was bursting with pride!  I will never forget the image of him standing there with his flag.

I do love sports and the unique way they have of bringing perfect strangers together.  But, it’s four years later, the young man in the flag is no where around to arouse my sentimentality.

Go Team USA!  It’s payback time! Smile

The Birthday Boy!

DSC_0836Afonso is loving this cake!

These boys love their birthdays!  And they love when someone else has a birthday too cuz they all get a sweetie, or in tonight’s case, cake!  What a treat!  With 34 boys, I don’t make a cake for each birthday but they do all get sweeties (candies!).

Tonight, they got to have cake because two kind visitors, Jerome and Daniel, bought them some at the store, not even knowing we would be celebrating a birthday with it.

DSC_0833Daniel left this morning (hi Daniel!) so he wasn’t able to join us but Jerome came up for the fun.

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Praying for the birthday boy Afonso, sometimes aka “trying to get in the photo!”

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Some good night hugs before bed – cutie pie patooties!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

F is for Festa!

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We’re going through the alphabet in our dorm for the Afternoon Program and I decided for F we would have a Festa – a party!  No particular reason, it just sounded like fun.  And these boys love fun!

DSC_0801So we decorated the house with balloons and streamers, put on really loud music and danced and made balloon animals and swords and face painted.  It was chaos, but happy chaos!   Felizardo made his own eyeglasses to be like Mana Laura with her giant green glasses that no party should be without.

Then the boys went in the main room and played with bubbles while we set up the tables and chairs for the craft, which was painting a flower with forks.  I am seriously considering framing some of them, they turned out so good!DSC_0814

Then the part they were all waiting for – food!  Since coming home from school, the tantalizing smells from the crock-pot were practically making them drool!  So we had chicken (frango), beans (feijao), Fanta and Fizzer candy and fruita (apples) and a little cake, not because it starts with F but what party would be complete without some?DSC_0813DSC_0821

They were thrilled!  I was tired!

And we did it three days in a row!  Whew!DSC_0809

Friday, June 06, 2014

D Day and my visit to Normandy–a repost in honor of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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In 2010, I had the honor of visiting Normandy, France.  I had always wanted to visit there on the anniversary of D Day and see the WWII sites and especially, the beaches of D Day.

I arrived on July 4th, (the next best date) on an overnight ferry from England, which made it extra special. I walked to the Peace Museum and  got the last seat on an eight person guided tour of the beaches (they are very spread out and not very accessible without a car).

5159448437_0514b425de_bIt was such a humbling experience to visit those beaches and see what the men faced.  My limited imagination was helped by having watched The Longest Day in preparation of my visit.  It was sobering indeed.

My visit to Normandy was very special for a number of other reasons as well.  I certainly have never felt as proud to be an American when in a foreign country as I was there in Normandy, France.  I was surprised by that, given the reputation the French have for not liking Americans (sorry my French friends!).

5160054646_8d581da6c8_bPart of my guided tour included a visit to the American Cemetery right above one of the beaches.  We were greeted by this lovely French couple who had a large basket of roses.  They were giving them to Americans along with a small paper identifying an American serviceman’s grave for us to lay a rose at their grave in honor of Fourth of July.  They actually had tears in their eyes as they thanked me for the sacrifice of my country to help liberate France decades ago.  If you can read the man’s t-shirt, it says, ""Thank You America – France Will Never Forget”  Whew, who had tears in their eyes after talking with them!

5160056244_6512a99a19_bThis is the rose that I placed.  It made it very personal.

Another special encounter I had was while in Caen, the city nearest Normandy beaches, and was looking at a bombed shell of a church, very near the Abbeye aux Hommes, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century.  I was standing in the circle you see in the photo below, taking photos of the church.

A woman who appeared to be in her 40s approached me, she looked like  a New York business commuter – skirt and suit coat and tennis shoes!  She asked if I was American and was determined to communicate with me.  With her French, my Portuguese a little English and lots of hand motions, I believe I understood what she was saying.  She was trying to turn my attention from the bombed church above to the “castle” below.

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She told me the story of how the Allies had bombed much of the area in the beginning of liberating France but the French had marked special buildings with larges Xs on the top so they wouldn’t bomb them.  The church that was bombed is only about 100 yards from the grounds of this historical Abbey where William the Conqueror’s’ remains were laid.  Amazing.

But then she took my hand and shook it vigorously and said many times, “Thank you, God bless America for your help in our war, thank you!”  Now this woman wasn’t even alive during the war!  And yet the sense of gratitude for America seemed genuine and she wasn’t trying to sell me souvenirs!  She hugged me and jog-walked away while I went on to visit the Abbey.

I met many people who expressed appreciation toward America during my visit to Normandy.  I was so touched.  And, as I already said, proud to be an American.

5159452367_1156149167_bAnd proud of our World War II veterans and the great sacrifices they all made.

It makes me proud of our military, all of the branches and all of the troops from before WWII until today.

“Thank you for your service.”

It hardly seems enough.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Children’s Day 2014 ~ TOYS!!!

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The Amazing Spiderman in Sunglasses made an appearance during our Children’s Day celebations – how cool is he?  DSC_0735

Ever tried keeping 34 little people calm and entertained who have been waiting since 6am for their pressies and it’s now 2:30pm???

DSC_0721Undoubtedly, the highlight of Children’s Day is the TOYS!  A great big dorm toy – a new trampoline!  And the Room Gifts, being checked out here by a group of curious cuties – new skateboards, soccer balls, notebooks and pens and cars for each room!

Delton checks it out and declares it a winner – SCORE!!!DSC_0730DSC_0748

And then, the gift bag of toys arrive!!!  Igor has a little lamb, whose fleece is white as snow!  Thanks to my friend Jody for her sweet donation of her childhood stuffed toys!

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Who doesn’t love bubbles?  Or new PJs for that matter?DSC_0759DSC_0752

Budding photographers with their silly fake cameras that were a fav!DSC_0773

 

 

Seriously, can he BE any cooler?DSC_0771

This serious and sweet boy came and gave both me and Alisha two of his cookies each right before I snapped this shot – heart-melting!

 

DSC_0742Ah, a fizzy drink – one of the highlights of the snacks part of the present!  Ibraim is digging his strawberry Frozzy!10365418_10154168980090632_8538131329546110995_o (1)Here’s me, chosen to cut the cake the visiting group from the city brought!  I like to ham it up for the kids, here I’m pretending I’m going to eat all the cake myself.  Come to think of it, I didn’t even get a piece!DSC_0789

Why yes, it does get cold in Africa and earmuffs are required!  Or at least desired when received in donations!  They were a HIT!  So were these new pjs they are checking out!  Time to brush teeth and . . .

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And at the end of every really big day in a child’s life – sleepytime!  There is no photo of me but I was doing the SAME thing shortly thereafter!

A heartfelt thank you to RockHARBOR church in Costa Mesa, California for their generous support of my boys at Children’s Day.  The students at the Jane Ryan Elementary School in Trumbull, CT also gave donations to help by the snacks and drinks that were part of the boys gifts, so sweet!  Spar Stores of South Africa made an amazing donation of chocolates to our center and the boys loved their choccies!  And thank you to all my regular supporters who bless me so that I can bless my precious boys!