Friday, December 21, 2012
Probably my passive attitude was grounded in the idea that many family members and friends favor the free use of guns and claim a right and need for guns. I've heard say that some sleep with a loaded pistol by their bed. I wish to not insult their opinions which I'm sure are as valuable as mine. I also know that expressing one's opinion too publicly may color the tone of any other conversation and even hinder possible resolutions. But there comes a time when the importance of other conversations falls below the need to resolve the immediate problem regarding guns.
Bits and pieces that I find interesting include the statement that personal ownership of guns will prevent crime because the good people can defend themselves. There were no "good" guns in Newtown to stop the "bad" gun so that situation doesn't confirm to refute this theory. In Portland several days earlier during a shooting in a mall, a legal gun in the hands of a trained individual was aimed at the shooter but the trigger was never pulled for fear of hitting a bystander. Hurray for the wisdom of the legal gun owner but not merits for the idea that "good" guns will stop "bad" guns from killing.
It's also interesting that there are limitations with regard to the types of guns that can be used for hunting and the number of rounds in a clip when hunting, but there are no limitations on the types of guns that have little use but target practice and killing people. Limiting the ownership of automatic guns with clips with a large number of rounds isn't the end of the world.
It is argued that the constitution of the United States gives us the right to bear arms. Indeed it does. It was written at a time when the country was just coming into being and individuals and states were concerned about a central government forcefully taking rights from people and states. That's the same constitution that didn't consider women or non-white persons eligible to vote. We've learned and matured a lot over the centuries. Visualizing the federal of the USA to overpower its citizens is just not in the cards these days.
So the conversation will continue, and I will be back.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
The student leadership here at the university has decided that our campus ministry is not represented properly by student leadership and is considering taking our "student club" status away. The part of this issue that I wish would melt away is the unknowns because we haven't had an opportunity to discuss this face to face.
And then there is technology which is somewhat ironic because as a instructor of technology for pre-service and in-service educators, I should understand the issues and how to solve them. I don't. At least not enough to prevent me from getting frustrated when it takes me 30 minutes, several "force quits" and a complete shutdown and restart of the computer to print two Word documents. Oh, I know it's operator error, but it's still beyond where I want to be.
Now that that is resolved, I find the classroom where I work on my projects, filled with students at a time when it is typically available for my use. So I'm in my office.
Here I am bickering about the small things in life while Easterners are fighting the autumn weather after Sandy the sub-tropical storm destroyed their homes, their infrastructure, their environment and essentially their lives. So take a deep breath, and count your blessings; the sun is shining after another night of downpour.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
We've just started our 16th full day in Tanzania and a packing for our evening flight back to Portland via Amsterdam. Each day gave us greater insight into the conditions of the people, particularly the orphans and children, of this culture. They are victims or at least the products of a country whose government is far from overcoming corruption and a people strongly grounded in very old traditions. "We've always done it that way" goes far beyond an attitude and becomes a part of the rut in which the people with very few opportunities or hopes for change exist. Creativity and resources on the streets don't appear available but the number of people is huge.
Yet there's a glow among the people. Every one of them will either greet you with "Jambo," their equivalence of our "Hello," or will return a greeting if you offer one first. The handshake, offered by most men, starts with a hand clasp like our America handshake, proceeds into a clasping of each others thumbs and back into our American handshake. The youth taught us one where you start by lightly grabbing each others arms near the elbow sliding so the hands meet and become fists. The fists tap each other on top of each other, first one, then the other and then tapping knuckles together. Finally you tap your chest three times with the fist and extend your arm to point to the sky. We have no idea what this means but it was a bounding moment.
There is an ever presence of young men selling their wares ranging from newspapers, to sunglasses, to maps, to jewelry and even washing your wind shield as you wait at a red light. This last unsolicited sales starts with no invitation or approval on the part of the driver. The cost of this 15-second wash with a water-filled rag and hand-held windshield wiper usually gets 200 shillings (about 14 American cents) if you have such a coin handy.
This area is so dry; everything seems to victim to dust. We experienced no rain so we've not experienced dust turning to mud. Interestingly there are several climate changes between Arusha and the destinations of the safaris. The climb to the rim of Ngorongoro Crater is a rainforest probably due to the early mists in the higher elevations. The crater itself is again very dry this time of the year. Around Lake Manyara there are trees and thickets but the lake is low during this dry season.
Because the availability of Internet did not allow us to write daily, we will attempt to recreate our journey in retrospect in this blog over the next several weeks. The intention is to also create a website in Saxowsky.com of this journey.
Sent from my iPad
Monday, August 20, 2012
At 6:00am the first morning the cows and goats paraded by our bedroom with the ringing bells on their neck and their braying to complain about the early morning start. Breakfast was Maasai very thin pancakes, boiled eggs and strong, very strong black coffee. That was about 8:30am so there was time for a walk, bird watching and lots of sitting around and visiting with other guests. Then there more waiting as our local contacts meet to discuss the issues facing the village, which right now are plenty, but that's another story for another time.
Last year there villagers hanging out around the compound almost all the time but this year there almost no one. That's are part of the "other story." Five of the other guests at Gladness' Hotel were from Denmark, a part of a support process from that country. Three others were from Corvallis, a doctor, a nurse and wannabe. And finally there were two local (Tanzanian) doctors who are just finishing up their education. They were the ones who conducted the clinic.
Bird watching is a blast because like Linda our bird authority says, every bird you see is a new one.
Kathy took one of the soccer balls out among the children and after they freely kicked it around awhile, she divided them into teams with a couple sticks for goal posts. After watching for a while we were impressed by the skills and the ability to not fight or argue. It's not the first time they saw a soccer ball but to have new one was very exciting.
Remember how hot the dark continent is reported to be, and we believe it. It's cool enough that the locals wear jackets and even we put on long-sleeved shirts. The skies are overcast and we even had rain most of last night. There were sun breaks today and hints what we might see some of Kilimanjaro, but no we only saw some lower slopes.
Now we're back in Arusha sitting at a hotel to get WiFi and trying to catch our breath after the first whirlwind days. Knowing about this place we should be more consistent with our emails and blogging.
Sent from my iPad
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Sunrise is monotonously predictable in this area, as are sunsets: 6:00AM and 6:00PM year round. The shock goes both ways for those coming from Tanzania to a part of the world where the sunrises and sunsets vary up to 10:00PM and 4:00AM; and for those coming from areas where the day's lengths vary along with sunrises and sunsets to a place where there is no noticeable variation.
For those of you who wish to continue to feel connected, as you watch the sun shine down on you at 8:00 in the morning, know that we are probably taking picture of the same sun at sunset of the same day.
We are hours from heading to the airport to escape this heat. Drink lots of water and stay in the shade.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
There's not simple or single answer but I suspect watching a huge bull elephant lumber along amid zebras and wildebeests as a leopard watches quietly from a distance or walking the path where Mao TseTung farmed as a kid may have something to do with it. Someday it may be the dirt path where Jesus walked and talked. Or it may be that after building playground equipment, teaching English or computer or basic hygiene the hugs from the children are worth more than anything in the world. Or maybe somewhere in our impressionistic years it was slipped into our being that helping others is the reason we were born and we should strive for that goal. Or maybe somewhere in our being there's a loose cog.
Or maybe it's a combination of things including stories like the one of Rachel Beckwith which aired on NBC Rock Center August 14. Rachel learned that there were children in Africa who didn't have clean water so for her 9th birthday she asked that instead of presents and a party, she wants to help get clean water to African children. Two weeks later she was killed in an accident but her wish has generated nearly $1.3 million water which has allowed the digging of more than a thousand wells with clean water. Maybe some little thing that I don't know will grow may balloon into something huge, or maybe it will affect only one child for a short time, but without doing something nothing will ever happen.
It's not about location, it's about people and our hearts are softest when it comes to children. In a couple days we will be among those children with medicine and hope. For us, that enough "Why."
I have chose this as the theme of my picture taking and video production for this upcoming trip. We'll see what develops!
Monday, August 13, 2012
The five of us are packed or will be by tomorrow afternoon with our individual personal carry-ons and seven bags with supplies for the village and several agencies working with orphans and vulnerable children in Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. The immunizations are complete, the tickets and papers are in order and everyone is very energized. Persons who traveled with last year's team have delivered greetings and gifts for one-year old friends from that past trip. Others have delivered items to be taken to family back in Africa.
We can project what we will be doing and forecast our days, but that would be folly as every day brings an expected treat or variation. The trip is unique to us even as a second time and may be unique to some of you. We invite you to join us on this blog as we find opportunities to write and to connection to the modern Internet. Thanks for joining us.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
It might sound a bit out of the ordinary to dispose of a loving one's remains 37 years after her death, but it now seemed appropriate and so that's what we did.
Taanya was born August 25, 1973, in Ketchikan as a Tsimpshian Indian of Southeast Alaska. A month later she became a member of the Saxowsky as Taanya Rhea with brother Darron and parents Gail and Denvy. A half year later Marc became a second brother. On December 19, 1975, Taanya died of spinal meningitis and was cremated. In June of 2012 the family agreed to dispose of her ashes around the Yellowstone Park where three major river basins originate.
The first stop was a tributary to the Snake River. The parking area was empty and we walked to the green bank of a wide slow flowing river. Darron took the first handful of ashes and gently cast them onto the water. Marc, Gail and Denvy followed doing the same. Each seemed to quietly step back as if remembering the two-year old we knew decades ago.
The river was named the Nez Perce after a tribe of native Americans who avoided the US military under the leadership of Chief Joseph when they were to be moved to a reservation. This in itself was a needful connection.
At the baptism of Jesus, it is said a dove appeared. In our case, moments after the last ash started down the river an elk appeared in the river with a calf still spotted. Her appearance, of course, attracted a crowd with cameras. She carefully and patiently stood in the water watching the gathering crowd before she invited her calf to follow her from the far bank. After she gave the all-clear they crossed to our side of the river and headed up the bank toward us. Moments later after passing the crowd they trotted through the same grass we knelt in minutes earlier as we sent Taanya on her way. This appearance transcended coincidence and the mother/child relationship left a lump in our throats.
Halfway between Yellowstone Lake and the Upper Yellowstone Falls we repeated the same ritual. Again the river itself was spiritual and moments later we were observing both the Upper and then the Lower Falls knowing that at some point the ashes would pass over those falls and travel on to the Atlantic Ocean via the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and the Gulf of Mexico.
While in the Green River basin south of the park, we were looking for an appropriate stream when we realized we were soon to leave that drainage that ultimately lead through the Grand Canyon and into the Pacific Ocean. At one stop the banks were too steep so we drove on but within seconds we found a turnout with a small gentle stream of clear mountain water flowing through a grassland. This time everyone including Dominic, Riley and Angelmary lay ashes into the stream. They too wanted to be a part of Taanya who would have been the aunt they would never know.