Monday, March 26, 2007

The Third week of School

Everyone went off to school today including one of the girls who returned to live at home last year and needs one more year to graduate from 9th grade. We are right now suppoting 24 kids in school. A gift from All Saints Episcopal Church in Verginia Beach has been a big help with school expenses. The Sunday School children and teens had bake sales and sold subs for Superbowl weekend. The proceeds of that was donated for school expenses - just when we really needed them. Every girl in school needs her uniforms, black shoes, socks of the proper color according to level in school - plus they students have to supply everything else - textbooks, paper, pencils. Sometimes they help paint the school. We still may have a few more girls befor the end of March or even into April. A BIG Thank youto the Sunday School at All Saints Episcopal.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Hi. If you want to see some pictures of the girls go to and check out Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito blogging.

A fun thing that is happening is that one of the girls starting school late (she is 10 and in 1st grade) is already showing signs of being a teacher. She is showing one of our kinder kids what she is learning. A E I O U and counting and writing numbers to 10. Spanish is very phonetic - each vowel has only one sound! Most kids learn to read, some very quickly with this method. After they have learned the 5 vowels they will start with the consonant M. ( I CANT PUT TILDES ON WORDS HERE SO BEAR WITH ME) and with that one consonant they can read Mama me ama. Mother loves me. And Amo a mi mama. I love my mother.

We have three in 9th grade and they are taking Algebra. I am rereading and studying Algebra for Dummies and am understanding it much better after my last two months tutoring one of our girls to pass her 8th grade math (which she failed last year). She did pass and I know a lot more math! Still, Algebra is not my forte.

One friend has expressed worry about my crossing the narow foot bridge, I talked about below - but I feel very confident with my cane. It is mauch harder descending muddy, slippery, and steep slopes in the rainy season - I use two canes for that!

Since August we have been working to get therapy for one of our girls - and it looks like she will start on Monday. I will be transporting her. Other good news is that at the grief counseling center the therapist will have 8 small group sessions for our three 8 and 9 year olds who have lost one parent in recent years. Getting this set up and keeping it going is one of my special ministries.

I found out last Saturday that one of our girls who is now living at home has not started 9th grade as she should have because of lack of resources. Yesterday I was able to wave to her and talk to her older sister and if all goes well she will come to the home tomorrw morning, we will get her matriculated and set up with school supplies and back on track only 2 weeks late.

Tia Sue

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Now we are 22!

Today I took a 6 year old (with the reddish hair of vitimine A deficiency) to her local health clinic. The day before our driver reviewed with me how to get from where I was picking her up to the clinic and I also practiced crossing the river on a 2 foot wide bridge made of cement without handrails or steps to get up or down to it. I did well and it was a piece of cake this morning. Although we were at the clinic for 4 hours we say the nutricionist who cave some council, will provide a nutritive drink, got her paracite meds (which are free to indiginas and kinds 5 and under), iron suppliment (also free), we registered her at the health center, transfered her vaccination info to a new health card with her correct name, and she got another vaccination. Her mother has promised to take her and her 11 month old younger half brother there on Monday to do lab work and I hope get a food supplement for him. The girls father died s few years ago from snake bite. I bet you don't get that often where you work.

The sisters with the mouth virus (one has a heart murmer) have an appointment at Children's Hospital on Thursday. Also, Graciela (that is whom I probably mentioned, will come to visit the home for the weekend - off dialysis for two days. She will get to meet the kids and I hope enjoy the visit a bit. . Then, after Easter I hope she can move in quickly so she can get going in school.

We have a new 5 year old who is a handfull but she has a brillient smile. She is in Kinder and is starting a the beginning as she has had no school experience or experience with older sisters as our other kinder girl has.

The three in first grade (all three entereing the grade later in life than usual ) are doing well. All three can write their names and seem to like school.

It is very lively around here with 22 girls 14 in Primary and the rest in secondary, especially in the morning when they are all doing their homework - something I am very involved with. We have girls in every grade from Kinder to 9th with the exception of second. I give a lot of help in math, some in English and some in Spanish - especially reading and reading comprehension.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Now we are 21

Now we are 21 and so far this evening none of the sick girls are very sick - no fevers, rashes or blue finger tips! The 3 sick kids all seem better tonight. We have 21 girls now with a new teen named Loris, age 14 from the Darien region. She will start secondary school, that is 7th grade and we found a place for her in a school where we have two good students - a good example.

Our three first graders, all who for one reason or other are starting 1st grade later in life than expected, are doing well. Sinilida can copy a short sentence from the board and tonight copied, in cursive (which is what they teach first here) the names of many of the other girls. One of the older girls iniciated it and it was a nice interaction. I have found that showing them how to write something or practice something in pre-writing goes very well with practice on a white board or black board (a small one about 2 feet by 2 1/2 feet) really helps.

One of the new girls, now in 3rd grade, who has bot been to school for a year or two, seems to have missed introductory multiplication in 2nd grade - so we are going to start with it after dinner.

Tia Sue

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

School has begun!!!!

Yes, school started yesterday and only one of our 20 girls was without a teacher the first day. Today, everyone was at school. The three in first grade (two of the three are 7 and 10 and have never been to school before and the other is 9 and went to kinder 4 years agao and then no more school!) are doing well. Sinilda can write her first name and 6 weeks ago she could scarcely copy a circle. It is only the second day but they come home happy and are doing their homework. We will be 21 girls tomorrow with a new 14 year old from the Darien part of Panama (that is the part towards Columbia) who has been out of school at least two years. She will go to 7th grade. It is nice to have the 5 hours of quiet in the afternoon to do things, prepare some teaching materials etc.

We are however having several kids with fairly high fevers that are hard to get down so I made two different trips to the doctor today. I deal with the kids who have something acute or that needs immediate attention, in my opinion.

After 9 days with abundant water we have been two more days without water!

Tomorrow I chair the first meeting of a group at my church which will begin to develop a ministry for people of the church who are homeless or nearly so. My plan is to define who we are serving (for me it is more than homeless men), what things need doing and what we should/could begin with, and find a name in Spanish that is more enclusive than "ministry to homeless men".

Blessings, Tia Sue

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A wonderful water park day.

Thirty three of us had a great day at El Camping Resort water par - about 20 minutes away. This DOES NOT mean they we have a really big increase in kids since yesterday! We invited the staff and their primary school kids and a few other people. Our great driver, Sr. Pancho, finured out just who would sit where and had the kids lined up and then sent them one by one to their seat - or to the lap of someone. WE got everyone in the van and the car. Actually, we were 34 as our cook brought her 6 months old grand daughter! We arrived at 10 (the opening hour) and since we had a group over 30 and had made reservations we received a big discount on the lunch (big hotdog or big hamburger with fries and a soft drink). Everyone had the opportunity to choose thier lunch form those choice beforehand - an experience they don't have very often.

Since a lot of the kids were in primary we staked out a place near the main kids pool area. This is an awsome pool. There are three slids of different hights and lengths, and a structure in the middle with steps and a slide to escape on. Water is shooting out of every possible place - holes in various places. There is also a long pipe running out with a cascade of water falling. Around all of this is a lazy river which has ring shaped flotes. Also some people can float on their own (sy delf for example). Some of the kids swim around it and it is also possible to walk in the water - with the current and against the current. There is a big central pool, a wave pool and three big, high slides of varying speeds.

At lunch time we were served our lunch in the wave pool area. At three we all got a soft ice cream - and again there was a choice of vanilla or fresa (thats strawberry).

There was not once that I had to speak to any kid stearnly. I got us three throwawy under water cameras and divided the kids into three groups to use them. I will develop them tomorrow which will be a lot of fun.

Tomorrow is the firt day of school. We have uniforms (black shoes, white or blue socks - depending on grade - dark blue skirt, white or medium blue shirt - again depending on grade. Until December now life will revolve around school and things will be a bit quieter. They get up at 6AM, eat breakfast at 7:15 after doing chores and personal care, study from 7:45 to 10:30. Get dressed and ready for school and eat lunch at 11. They leave for school at 12 noon. The gilrs in the youngest grades get out of school at 4:30 and home at 5. The other primary get out at 5:30 and the oldest ones at 6:05! They do some homework and we write down what special things esch needs the next day. They eat dinner at 7 and the youngest girls go to bed at 8 and the oldest at 9.

Tia Sue

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Now we are 20

I am a bit more rested today. Since we have had water 24 hours a day for 5 days today we are doing a deep, deep, cleaning - getting ready for school. Tomorrow there will be more work and then Saturday we all go to a Waterpark together. We now have a census of 20 - we admitted 3 new girls today - sisters. The youngest is 5 and will go to kindergarten. The other two didn't go to school last year. The oldest, 10, will go into 3rd grade and the middle one,9, into first grade. She has been to kinder but it must have been atleast two and maybe three years ago. She showed us that she can count to 20! For their welcome stuffed animal there were two bears each holding a baby bear and one elephnat holding a baby elefant. We have four more in paperwork so may have 23 or 24 soon. We could have 30!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Two good full days that have worn me out

First off, if youd like to see pictures of some of the girls go to and see the posting for Tuesday, March 6. Yesterday we had a wonderful blessing and surprise. In the morning, Beni the secretary told me we might have a visit form some extranjeros (foreigners -- myself for example) arounf 10 with some puppets. Just after 10 11 people arived including two clowns. It was a group from Conneticut called Hands of Peace who felt called to take their puppet show to another country and chose Panama. They are from a Non-denominational Christian Church that ministers to students at the University of Conn., but these are older members of the church. They brough a nurse from NYC who gave the girls a talk about handwashing and tooth brushing - along with a toothbrush and a tube of toothpast and some stickers to decorate the handle while the show was setting up. There was a vantriloquist, the two clowns and other helpers, some young people from Panama and a couple of people to translate. There was a strong and visual Christian message and it was well done. One of the clowns confessed that she 'took a shirt' but that is ok!! During each recounting of stealing someones shirt she dripped someting into a plastic bottle. First it turned yellow and then blue, which she said was pritty and that everything was alright. Then she told about stealing yet another shirt and this time the bottle turned black. She was shocked. She promised God she would return the shirts and not steal again. This time the drops turned the water clear again. It was well done, with about 6 or 7 skits and then each of us got a flower made of long balloons.

Today we interviewed the mother and socialworker of three girls we will welcome tomorrow. The two oldest, 9 and 10 did not go to school last year - the oldest will go to 3rd grade and the younger to 1st. The youngest just turned 5 and will go to kinder. After they left the director called one of the primary schools where our girls attend. We discovered that the new director is the nice man who was sub director last year and so knows us. We have a place forr each of the girls!

Tia Sue

Monday, March 5, 2007


Check out to see wonderfull phots of the mural in Colegio Episcopal. It was posted today, March 5th. Colegio means a highschool. Colegio Episcopal is one of 5 schools the Episcopal Church of Panama has here and they are high quality.

Getting ready for school

I am wiped out because I took our youngest to the dental clinic at children's hospital and the entire visit took from 6AM until 1PM!!! She is soing to have a proceedure that requires anesthesia to remove the viral caused growths on her lips. The dentist, who speakes English, says she is seeing this a lot and thinks it may be because poor families share tooth brushes. Her older sister, from whom I bought some outstanding baskets and a terrific head mask of a toucan says the little one is the only one in the family to have the growths, which are a virus. It is a beautiful summer day here in Panama and the girls go back to school next Monday - so we are busy buying new shoes for everyone ( about $13 a pair). We have to prepare the uniforms too, white shirt and blue skirt for primary with short top blue socks, light blue shirt and blue skirt for the first part of secondary school and dark blue knee socks. We don't have anyone in the second part of secondary this year but they where white shirts and blue skirts and white socks and a blue ribbon like tie around the neck. We had a bit of rain last night but it is hot and windy today. We still have water flowing from the taps!!

Tia Sue

Saturday, March 3, 2007

5 hours well spent.

My favorite book store - Hombre de la Mancha - had a 50% off on everything in the store sale today. They open at 9 and I arrived at 9:15. There were some people there and they were coming in steadily. I combed the store for 4 hours - I think I looked at every book in the children's section. After I got started with check out it took an hour for them to check out the books. What a great addition to our library. Our library right now consists of 4 bookcases and I think it is time to really think about building on a room to be a library and to provide some more storage. Anyone interested???

Tia Sue

Praise God from who all blessings (water) flow

WE have water. We woke up this morning to running water and the driver reports that the two storage tanks are full. All the girls went to the swimming pool yesterday and swam and then showered and washed their hair. Today they are all taking turns washing their clothes and we are washing dishes, floor, cups, cleaning the mop heads. One of the first things we did was to fill all the containers that we use - for future use.

Blessings, Tia Sue

Thursday, March 1, 2007


To day, as promised we all went to EXPLORA, a science museum here that is very interactive and lots of fun - and there were some new things too. The last time we went was in 2003 or 2004. The museum is mainly physical science (sound, light, stars, energy...). As a preparation, the kids read a number of short books on sound, tools, storms, energy and related topics. They had a form to fill in with two things they learned from each book and worked in groups of three preparing it. The monitora (child care worker) who was working with them today is very good at doing these things and she had the kids who haven't yet learned to read draw a picture in answer to the question. While they were there they had 11 questions to answere related to the exhibits. We were met by our special guide - who was great. He showed them all the locations where they could answer the questions. An example of the questions: In the Wall of Colors, how many colors can you make? They shown different colored lights (red, yellow and blue) on the white wall in various combinations and the kids cast shadows that were different colors and they could mix them. Other exciting things included the echo tube - when speaking into it what you said was echoed back. There were also a bunch of cumputers that could connect with the web amd also ones that had Scolastic's Magic School Bus programs, speaking Spanish. These were lots of fun and included puzzles and scientific stuff too. The older girls liked being able to search for things using Google. True, we have access to the internet here but with more supervision and less time.

A big bonus was that they now have a planetarium! It is a half sphere that is maintained by air being blown into it and seating is on the floor but we had a nice private show and learned about a number of constalations we can see from here. It was very effective and they were ooing and ahing about it.

There was a demonstration of electrical energy. The hairs on our arms stood straight up.

We are still without running water. A bit came up to us briefly last night, enough to fill the toilet tanks (I could hear it) but not enough to come out of the faucets. We get water in containers from a gas station and also a nearby fruit seller. If there is not enough for a good shower for everyone tomorrow we will go to the swimming pool in the afternoon, swim and then all can bathe and wash their hair. We will send our 'laundry worker' to a nearby place to wash clothes in machines. I hope they have water. It is a question of pressure. If this were the rainy season we could collect a lot of water here - enough to use the smaller semi-automatic machines.

OH, a couple of our staff and a few of the kids have seen a crocodile in a small stream at the foot of our hill. Today as we were driving out we could see three men looking at something in the stream - it was the croc and we all got out of the van to see her/him - basically brown and about 5 or 6 feet long, and almost our neighbor.

Tia Sue