Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bank Account..closed

Today was another pitiful (I would call it) stepping stone in my grown up life.  It was time. Sigh. After moving to Indy, I had made the decision to keep my hometown checking account open juuuuuust in case I needed to withdraw money when I was home or for an emergency - and I think it was also a subconscience descision to feel like a piece of me still existed at "home." 

Who knows--logically the decison was ridiculous...I never used it, and the money was just sitting there idle. I mean, they were spending more sending my parents paper statements every month than I was helping them make. The account became so inactive, they started taking $1 out a month as a service "inactive account" charge. I didn't notice until this month...last time I looked there were $5 more dollars. Like I said...It was time. 

So, I marched in and walked away with $11.75 cash and freedom from good ole German American Bank....Growing up, one step at a time.  Sometimes, I can't help but shake my head at myself.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Encouragement Needed

Alright peeps, I need help.  Since I've returned from Africa, I feel like nothing in my life is exciting enough to blog about! The same with pictures...I haven't gotten my camera out since! What is wrong with me? I need some motivation to start blogging again... HELP! Anyone? Someone?

Or maybe I just need a free evening to relax. The past two "off the cuff" weeks have been filled up once again. I'm going to document below, so I remember them down the road. If you don't read anything else (and I don't blame you), at least read the last sentence...  I received the best news tonight...

Friday June 4 - Thursday June 17

Friday - Ratheskeller with Adrienne to see Blessid Union of Souls. .  Wore some sweet cowboy boots with a dress - totally Miley - and totally not like me to wear a dress to a bar. 

Saturday - Vintage Indiana - Wine Festival Downtown.  Discovered a great new spiced pumpkin wine from Winzerwald Winery down in Southern Indiana. Saturday night, I traveled to Danville to celebrate my "other Pudue half," Sammy's, graduation..a few Busch lights, mini weenies, and pieces of cake later...

Tuesday - Made African-style dinner for a new friend, Monica, from my church group.  We got to know each other and connected both personally and spiritually on so many levels -  Thankful for a new friend to share with.

Wednesday - Drinks with the Jasper gals downtown - from now until mid July (when my best bud Adrienne leaves for grad school) we'll be getting together at a unique venue downtown.  Two menu requirements: beer and fried pickles. So far - Scotty's, Slippery Noodle, Creations Cafe..wonder what Kasie is going to pick for next week?

Thursday - Haircut and Congressional Insight at the Statehouse.  First time in the House Chambers.  Good thing Katie works for Mitch Daniels! Our team got "re-elected!"

Friday thru Sunday - Haley came. Ran the Monon. Were drenched as we arrived at Ratheskeller with Nick, Holly, Creagger and Bart (Best Ratheskeller concoction - Woodchuck and Guiness - TRY IT!) Made an African lunch, although not quite the same as the real deal. Church. Went through videos. Shopping. Trader Joes. Aldis.   Great - relaxing weekend hanging with the sis.

Monday - Dinner and tennis with Mary and Linda. was too hot to play tennis, so we watched Bonanza, ate dinner, then watched the storms roll in with hopes of seeing a Tornado.  Although, I can't wait to finally swing the tennis racket this summer...hopefully soon.  Returned home and watched the four episodes of Desperate Housewives Aunt Mary taped for me...can we say 2 a.m.? OUCH! 

Tuesday - Lunch with Robin! The girl is so full of insight...a snipet of insight over lunch..."We all have a God hole, and we tend to fill that hole with things other than God in hopes they will fulfill us!"  Went to bible study on Tuesday night. Daiva and I danced, and we saw baby Emerson for the first time. Michael led the group, and we talked about angels...Do you believe there are angels among us? 

....Committed to a sand volleyball team...Another fun thing to add to my summer activities!

Wednesday - Haley had a job interview, so she came to Indy AGAIN. We ran on the Canal Downtown, and then joined Adrienne at Creations Cafe for Wed night drinks- If you haven't tried it, I would highly recommend it!  YUM!  We then came home and watched Dirty Dancing - on VHS, mind you.  Dreamed about Patrick....

Thursday - Lunch with Kristen - a good friend from Disney, Purdue, and now Indy -- found out she is 7 mo. pregnant - We DEF needed to catch up. Drinks with Jeremy (JJ) at Traders Mill Bar and Grill. So good to see him, catch up and receive his famous teddy bear hug. We had a nice talk about grain buying.  :) He buys soybeans for a large processing facility in Northern Indiana and sells soybean meal so our Indiana piggies and cows can eat. 

and the best news of the day....

EXCITING NEWS! HALEY GOT A JOB TEACHING IN INDIANAPOLIS AND WILL BE LIVING IN THE CITY - JUST LIKE ME!!!!!! EEEEKKKKKSKSSS! She had an interview yesterday and got the offer today- dang girl! Let the off-the-cuff adventures continue!

Meet Haley
Blonde Haired, blue-eyed, strong-willed, hyper-active, bumper and tripper over everything, high-energy, fun-loving, adventure-taking, sugar-craving, kitten-loving, stick-shift driving, daddy’s girl who can get anyone around her to feel energized.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The school my sister fought for

(To share this story in its entirety, it would have taken the space for a small book and much more "Haley's insight" regarding this specific situation.  These words were written from my own limited perspective).

While my sister was in Africa, one of her duties (aside from teaching at a secondary school) was to help out the community by taking part in some special project. They identified a project through conversations with a man, Benedict, from a nearby community, whose vision included further developing a primary school for children and orphans who lived near. Haley and her teammates partnered with the people of the village, empowered them to come together to finish this school, and provided some funding to help with the cost of desks and materials. The village developed a committee whose role was to keep the school going after they left Africa. (Haley explained that the people of the community do have the abilities to develop this school…they just needed a kick start and some creative minds to help start the process). The school was finished with success and the first classes were held – what a great moment for the community to finally have this school for their kids.

To preface the next part of my post, let me describe Benedict for you in a few words. Visionary. Minister. Thief. Money hungry. Power hungry. Dominant personality. Large man.

Because Benedict is a thief and is pocketing much of the money being donated to the school by unknowing beneficiaries, the volunteer crew decided to open a P.O. Box for the teacher, Gardensia, instead, so she could use it not only for personal mail, but for supplies and money sent in from them in the future. This P.O. box was paid for by one of the volunteer’s parents, who came to visit.

Gardensia - The teacher

Benedict became irate with Haley (she was the only one left of the original volunteer crew), because they did not buy him a P.O. box. He called and threatened her not to bring us to see the school or else. After chatting with some people Haley worked with, she decided to take us to see the school anyway. (She is strangely fearless at times, but the only things running through my head were “What!! We are in a foreign country with different laws…why is she risking this!!”) So we went and all was fine. The next day, we left for the morning, and while away, Haley received a phone call from Benedict saying he was waiting for her at the farm. He waited four hours until we returned, so he could speak to her. Talk about a nervous sister right here...I mean...this was the real deal. Not a movie script. Not a fictional book.  Here we go...

Haley, Tyler, Jeremy and I arrived to the farm and were introduced to Benedict. My heart was pounding out of my chest…I could not believe how strong Haley appeared in the presence of this angry man. Mamma Betty joined us (She is the mom/owner of the farm who has a heart of gold and is very well respected) and we listened intently to what he had to say. I was ready with my pepper spray about five feet from Benedict, ready to pounce if he tried to do anything to my sister…

This was one of the most emotional conversations I have ever had to witness. It took all I had to stay sitting with my mouth closed for the full hour. I became frustrated when Benedict told Haley she had no right to bring her American ways to this country and do things like this. Africa was different than America. I shared tears with her as he told her he was going to remove Gardensia as a teacher and send all of the donated supplies with her. (And all because he wanted complete control over a P.O. Box.) Haley was strong, passionate, and logical with her words, and back and forth they went as we bystanders stood by...waiting for resolution. Her words were not making an impression and she, feeling desperate because she was leaving in less than 24 hours from a village she grew to love and a people she grew to care so deeply for, turned to Mamma Betty with tear filled eyes – looking for anything she could do or say. Desperation. I was so moved by this and was angry to see what was unfolding.

A community empowered to come together. A school built for a common purpose. Kids who can now go to school and learn. Many hours of hard work. New school supplies and donations. Freshly painted walls. All heading right down the drain, because of ill-willed intentions and the greed of one man. The law didn't matter. The voices of the community would have been stifled. Nothing could have changed the drive of this one man. The school was one phone call away from being back to square one.

Enter the calm, collected Mamma Betty. A true angel. She reached deep in Benedict’s heart and brought him back to reality, all the while teaching us a lesson of forgiveness. Her calm, soft way of speaking sucked me in and it did the same for Benedict. I will try to quote her the best I can from what I remember...

“Benedict, don’t forget the vision. Think about the children. They are the ones that matter. Going through life, we always have those who want to destroy a vision. These obstacles are ones we all have to get through. You have a good heart Benedict. I know your heart and I know you want what’s best for these kids. Don’t think about the other things going on. Think about those kids and what their future looks like…”

There was much more said, but these are some of the words that struck me.
Mamma Betty

I saw a wild lion turn to a gentle kitten in those few moments of speech. The man melted like butter, and asked us all for forgiveness by the time it was over. Gardensia will remain as the teacher, and the school will continue running. Halleluiah. Praise God. After ending the conversation, Mamma Betty invited Benedict to stay for tea and bread. Like I said…a true angel unknowingly teaching forgiveness.

I was so thankful for his submissiveness, not only for Haley’s sake, but for a community and teacher who would now be molding young minds within four strong walls… I was so proud of my sister and will not look at her the same after seeing her tackle this battle – an emotional fight for something so worth fighting for. I can only image how I would have been in that situation....curled up in a ball begging at his feet crying probably!!  She's one tough cookie with such confidence, drive and passion. Go Haley Go!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Slow Food - Africa Style

First off, it's great to be back Blogging again - I feel like it's been ages since I've written, and man what an exciting past couple of weeks.  My goal is to describe different aspects of my African Adventure in my next few I'm starting today.  So much to report.... here we go....

So....I've heard quite a bit of talk lately about the slow food movement and the importance of growing your own food and eating local, yada yada, which I think is all fine and dandy if someone chooses to do that. I cultivate a lovely garden myself and you really can't beat fresh lettuce or tomatoes you've had a part in growing.  It's the closest thing I have to kids right now.  (Clapping! Something I can take care of all by myself!)  Apparently this is a new concept to many people - but I, like many of my neighbors and relatives back home, did grow up eating from a garden and collecting eggs and it was just a way of life.  Seems this "new concept" has really taken off again...haha.  People have really discovered something that is going to change the world...right?!   Growing up this way, I understand the work that goes into eating from a garden (and a chicken coop) and I also understand why many people don't have the time, patience or resources to do it anymore.  It's hard work, folks. I'm thankful for my ability to grow my own food, but I'm also very thankful for our food system, the choices we have, and the knowledge we have to make the choices we want.  This became even more evident after my trip to Africa...Let me describe one very fun full-day event...

A family my sister got to know during her time there invited us over to prepare and eat a meal with them.  This was so nice of them to offer, so we kept our bellies empty and our minds open.  Let me preface by saying that the whole process of preparing the meal and eating took about 7 hours.  We started at 4 p.m. and finished eating at 11 p.m.  It was honestly one of the most memorable parts of my trip.  Africans are currently living the slow food movement -- growing majority of their diet and buying minimal ingredients to accompany.  The foods are limited and include flour, rice, kale, beans, corn, fresh fruits, eggs, cabbage and chicken (on special occasions). Some special food is grown occasionally, but the above list about covers it...hence our dinner on this night! for the pictures...

Here is the hen that gave its life so we could be nourished. Haley bought this hen alive for $7.  Yes, chickens are very expensive to buy and eat in Africa, and they don't come shrink wrapped. Their eggs are a valuable nutrition source too.

If you want chicken, you have to kill it you can see, slow food is not easy.  Not gonna lie, my heart was racing at this point.  I'm not a heartless person at all and love animals, but I believe some animals are God's food sources for man's nourishment.  There is a certain sense of respect you gain when you kill your own food.

De-feathering.  Notice the women are doing the work and the boys were behind the camera.  I tell ya...

Nangella helped me butcher and keep the edible parts of the coo coo (chicken in swahilli).  This included the head, feet, back and eggs.  It is considered rude if the woman of the house is not allowed the honor of cooking for her guests and her family. Before this point, we had to wait for Nangella to arrive before cutting up the chicken.

Ready to be cooked over the fire!

Haley rolling and preparing dough for Chapatis.  These are an african favorite made with flour, water and oil. Chapatis are considered to be a special treat due to the use of vegetable oil, which is very expensive.

Chapatis cooking after being rolled out.

Then we milked a cow for the milk to use with tea for dessert. Each family owned a couple cows for milk.

 My version of bull riding - african style.

Haley cut down some bananas from their trees in the back yard.

Our stove.  My chicken is in that pot. We constantly fed and blew the fire to maintain a strong flame.  There's no leaving this oven!

A top view of Sarah in the kitchen.  She is working the Ugali, which is a flour and water mixture.  You also see rice and kale here.  The cooking process reminded me of camping, but much more complex.

We all sat down to eat together.  In reality, it was really dark in here.  They lit the table with a lantern.  We couldn't really see what we were eating, but MAN WAS IT YUMMY!

Chicken, Chapati, Ugali and Rice

The cooks.  Nothing like dirty feet after a long day of cooking and eating.

During our time cooking and talking, I learned so much about living, preparing food, and eating the African way.  This was a great experience I was glad to have been a part of. I'm not going to lie, eating this way is a lot of work that I prob would not want to do every day, but was definitely well worth it in the end.  The companionship we gained while preparing the meal together and then sharing it as family and friends could not be beat.   Now that I'm back in America, I'm secretly glad I don't have to kill my own chicken to eat it and I'm glad I'm not confined to the few staple foods I grow myself.  Let's see, that would mean my diet would consist of tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, kale, and onions....I'd be getting really creative real fast!  As for those people who want to grow and eat all their own food...all I have to say is...Good luck!!  

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