Saturday, March 22, 2008

Social Service Work

We are blessed with many 11 and 12th graders doing the required 80 hours of social service required of every student in Panama. Yesterday we started with a group which worked with us last year when they were in 11th grade. They are from La Salle a private school and they like to have me speak to them in English. Now in 12th they are back for 8 weeks and each have one or more girls assigned to them. These pictures are from another group of social service students from a different school who were with us in February. In this picture a student is working with Kenia on practicing the multiplication tables.
Here Sinilda is working on reading or math. She is one of the two girls (sisters) who attended school last year as the first women in their family to go to school. Both did well in school and are now in 2ond grade. There is no (or possible only a very small chance) that one of them could skip a grade to bring her up closer to her age peers. This year her older sister is sending her girls and boys to school with money she makes by selling me backets and masks which I then sell to people visiting the church here.
This young women is working with Evelia. Evelia has some learning differences. After 3 weeks she had learned to print the first two letters of her first name - and that is quite an accomplishment.
Here Graciela is improving her skills in writing paragraphs and in understanding what she reads. She is in 6th grade this year and again I am helping her with math. While I was visiting my dad in the last three years of his life I set about reviewing arithmatic and basically I have mastered it up through 7th grade plus a very little bit of beginning algebra. Yesterday I helped Graciela with subtraction with natural numbers (the ones we count with) because she had to understand some properities of subtraction. One is that if you add the difference (that is the answer) to the smaller number you will get the bigger number. This has a special name in Spanish. The second is that if you subtract a 0 from any number the difference (answer will be the number you subtracted from) and right now I can't remember the third one but when I have the book in had I can explain it!

The last week was very full and we received a new girl into the home who is Maria. I will post pictures and introduce her soon.

Tia Sue

Palm Sunday Pictures

Here we are Palm Sunday getting ready to bless the palms outside the front door of Saint Pauls. Read the entry made last week that tells about Palm Sunday without pictures.
If you click on the picture and make it big you will notice that both people have palms and the policeofficer has a pink paper which invited all in the neighborhood to Celebate Easter with us. WE also had a two motercycle escort and at least one of them had his palm and paper on the back.
Here Reverenda Glenda is giving palms to a neighbor and if you look carefully the neighbor who lives upstairs has lowered a rice bag on a rope and Glenda is inserting palms and pink papers. The two youth are members of St. Pauls. The young man in yellow has finished training to be an acolyte.
This young man is happy to receive his palm.

Here you can see the length of the procession. The man at the back is bringing up the rear.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Valentine Mural

This is the mural that the girls made for Valentines Day using the new and old Sizzix (A MACHINE TO CUT VARIOUS THINGS into great designs. They also did a couple of heart projects that I had suggested. That day or the day before they all learned to fold a piece of paper and cut out a heart. We start with magazine pages for practice and then use the colored paper. Click on the picture to see it BIG.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday at St. Pauls and after

Sorry no pictures tonight but I have a lot so they will come later.

Our Palm sunday service began with blessing of the palms and then a procession around two blocks of the community. We had extr palms to give out to people passing by and pink flyers to invite people to our Easter Celebration next Sunday. The youth and many others were very active in giving out palms and many youth and I gave out the flyers too. Taxi drivers were stopping to request palms; one man ran dow srom the second floor to get two; at another apartment a family lowered an empty rice bag on a rope to haul up palms. There were many other similar stories. We had a two motercycle police excort with at least one of the moter cycles with a palm leaf attached to the back with the pink flyer. I have many pictures.

We arrived back at the church and contined the service with a traditional reading of the passion story. We have trained some new acolytes and they (6) ranging from 12 year old or so to one in the tercera edad (older). They will all serve next Sunday.

After the service we had our breakfast as always and gave sandwiches, cookies, and juice to those of us who wouldn't have dinner on a Sunday evening, something that we do every week. There are 3 or 4 of us to make sure this happens for about 15 to 25 people each Sunday.

The third Sunday of each month it is my turn (as a vestry member) to help could the offering money - so we did that.

Then I bought a cell phone card (to add money to a cell phone) for a sick friend so she could make as well as receive calls. I also took her a bulletin and a palm.

Next was lunch and the restaurant was uncharactically packed at 2 PM. I singed up for a table for 1 (frequently I go to this restaurant (Pencas) by myself and enjoy lunch and reading La Prensa, one of the news papers here. Today while witing for a table I started a conversation with a English speaking man and his wife. She had worked -voluntered - at an orphanage in Bolivia. After they got a seat they realized I was alone they can back and asked me to join them and I had a delightful lunch. We exchanged e-mails and phone numbers.

Next on the list was a visit to a nursing home where a member of St. Pauls (almost 88) and a friend (81) live. I took them crosses made from palms. We sang, I told them about the service, we did a short form of evening prayer. They both speak English (and Spanish) but do have many visitors or other people to speak English with. While there I made a new friend Tony Lee, who speaks Spanish and is younger but probably had brain damage or is retarded. He will have to become one of the people I visit.

By now it was 5 so I drove back to Gamboa to visit my friends human and animal (cats and dogs)

Pictures will come soon.

Tia Sue

Another treatment notice

Friday I had an appointment with my oncologist - a wonderfull doctora whom I like very much. I thought we were going to talk more about the "after radiation" treatment - but the tamoxifen treatment (1 pill a day for 2 years followed by a change in medication) began Saturday. The most obvious to everyone side effects are hotflashes, a lot of sweating and suddenly turning red. Turning red is the one that interests me the most so I will let you know when that happens. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm ready for radiation therapy

Today I had two tatoos and a mold made to hold me in the right position for the upcoming radiation therapy. It will start MOnday and then M-F for 6 weeks at 2:30 PM. To celebrate this, after a talk with a friend by phone, I went to Crapes and Waffles (it is here in Panama) and had a passion fruit drink, a super salad and some almond ice cream.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pictures first day of school.

This is a typical school - all public schools are apinted like this. This is not a school where any of our girls go. It is in the middle of banana plantations in Bocas del Toro. If you click on the picture it will enlarge. Most of the primary school girls lined up for the usual picture. Starting at the left: Graciela (6th), Sini (2), Chochi (2), Karla(1st).Guisel (4), Estefani (2) Eni (4) Evelia (1st), Johana (5th), Dona (6th). Missing is Kenia (6) who was washing the lunch dishes.
Here are Guisel and her little sister Karla with a Evelia in the back seat of the van. The are the last kids to be delivered to school because if they were the first group they have too much free time!
Yanitcia ready for 10th grade.
Yeri ready for 10th grade.

Missing are the Jr. high kids - I'll post them later.

Monday, March 10, 2008

First day of school

Sorry no pictures tonight! Today was the long awaited first day of school. All our girls go to school for the afternoon session after doing their homework in the morning. That session, vespertina, starts at 12:30 and ends at 5:30 for primary school and 6:03 for secundary school. All of the primary girls in regular classes - the majority - went to school in their new uniforms (donation), new shoes, and with one notebook and a pencil or pen depending on the grade. Many of the girls have the same teacher they had last year - which is good in all cases. For the first time in their school carera Johana and Kenia will be different classrooms - in 5th grade. Both of these girls are excellent students.

The Jr. High girls didn't have school and probably wont all week because the parents of the morning session had a big demonstration and blocked a major highway - so classes are cancelled at Leon A Soto Jr. High at least until next week.

We have two girls entering 10th grade (highschool or segundo ciclo) The have new uniforms and also. Both said that the first day was good. They were in different schools last year and are good students. Yeri, now 15, has been with us since she was 18 months old and so has spent her entire school carera with us. Yanitcia, also 15, started first grade with us and also is a good but somewhat rebellous student. She has a gift of drawing.

After several years of looking I found dry erase pens in all the basic colors. Since the K to 2 kids get home an hour earlier than the others we had fun with them - having the kids write the name of the color. Just by having this short fun activity I now know the Estefani and Chochi (second grade) need to practice writing the letter Z (in cursive - they write in cursive from the start), practice woords with Y and LL which make a very similar sound and start to learn the words that start with B and which start with V (which basically have the same sound in spanish. Vaca is cow and verde is green.

Hope to post some pictures tomorrow or Wednesday. We still don't have internet at the home.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Visit to Bocas - part 3

This is the school where Graciela went to school before she got sick. Other of the family have attended here as well. SHe has one younger brother who goes to 6th grade here this year.
Let me introduce Roberto, Graciela's brother who is one year older than she is. He is 17, is going into 10 th grade, likes math and received a years average in math of 92.
Graciela's older sister who is 34 and did not have the opertunity to go to school. Her kids are in school though.
The very best thing that could happen for Graciela is that a relative give a kidney. The family nad I had a talk about it in the airport. The first thing I told them was that we each (most of us )have two kidneys that that giving on to Graciela would not mean that they would die. We talked about that imn detail and about what the first steps would be to give this gift of love to her. Roberto is interested to see if he is a match and he asked me to take this picture of the book I gave them. Click on the picture to make it bigger. Pray for them both.

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Meet Crystel

This is Crystel in the blue dress. Her sister Johana is trying to have her close her mouth for the picture but she didn't get the idea. Although her cerebral palsey is mild and she hears and understands she doesn't talk.

You may remember that I have talked about Crystel, a now 5 year old with mild cebral palsey. I have know her for two years. She was in a special school of kids with CP last year and will start again next week when school starts here. Her sister Johana lives with us at the home and another sister is in 12th grade this year and I hope will go on to the U. All three girls are part of my ministry of education for girls. After a lot of talking on my part and showing her much older half sister (with whom she lives) how to help her learn to be independent she now dresses and undresses, feeds herself, walks up and down stairs with no help, can get on and off her bed, play, run etc.

Our Swimming Party

Here are several of our girls enjoying the wonderful pool at Tia Norma's house in coronado.
Graciela enjoying the hamock and the gazibo. For lunch we had fried chicken, rice with chicken - later they had ham and cheese sandwiches, cookies, burundanga (junk food).
Our cook, Sra. Elvira and new childcare worker, Sra Maria.
Evelia in the shallow pool with a beach ball. It was punctured by a spiny plant later.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Girls' home is my home again

After more than two months away (look at an earlier blog to see why) I have returned to live in my little room at the girls' home. I have my bed and pillows all set up and the room is full of stuff much of which I am going to move to an alternate place more accessinle to the girls and staff. More later.

Wonderful Swimming and Picnic

All of the girls and much of the staff went to Coronado where Norma, a long time member of the board, has a beach home - a bit off the beach but a wonderful place to have a picnic and for the girls to swim all day in tje kidney shaped pool. No picts because I could't get them to load up tonight. We arrive about 10 and by 10:30, after reminding them of rules of the pool and rules of the house (e-g- if you walk in the cut grass you must rinse your feet). Everyone was very cooperative and we had a really great time. I will try to post some picts tomorrow but I am not going to stop writing because the up load doesn't work.