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Entries in Family (14)


Tanzania Mission, weekend off

Despite the weekend off, we still got up at chicken-thirty. The rooster that crows outside our door will become Lucas’ birthday dinner on Monday. I’m looking forward to sleeping past 6:00 AM on Tuesday.

Today we wandered back over to the Italian-run orphanage and chatted with folks for a while. So strange to banter back and forth with Europeans in Swahili. Then we played football with the little kids who all know our names by now and linger on the road and call our names while we’re napping (they know we have a real soccer ball).

The kids know us now and shout our names from the road when they want to play.

The rest of the crew went to Ruaha National Park while Karissa and me stayed behind. We wanted to go check out the churches tomorrow so we’re going to the Katoliki Mass at 8:00 AM and then the Lutheran service on the other side of the village at 10:30 AM. When in Rome…wait, didn’t the Roman’s throw Christians to the lions? I get very confused. Though I’m especially excited for the Lutheran service. I’ve been hearing their choir practice all week and they’re ridiculously amazing.

A previous visitor with Global Volunteers spent a few weeks here and then went home to Boston and raised funds to bring the Pomerini Choir to the US for two months (40 concerts). The concert proceeds paid for the piping to bring water to the village. Before 2008, women and children would walk 5 km each way to fetch water, going back and forth several times throughout the day as needed for cooking, washing, bathing, etc.

Tomorrow get to hear the choir for free. And enjoy water anytime.


Next stop: Africa

I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Seriously. I have a wonderful wife, healthy children, I live in a state free from war, famine, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, and my problems are so few I feel as though I exist in a perpetual state of karmic receivership.

With that in mind I'm taking my family on a journey that I am affectionately calling Operation: Sleep Better at Night. It's a mission trip to Africa. Tanzania, to be precise. Or the village of Pommern to be even more precise. Don't bother looking for it on GoogleMaps, unless you have the coordinates you won't find it. (Here's a map if you're curious as to where we'll be for the better part of June. Click to enlarge).

My goals as a parent are pretty simple:

  1. To prepare my children for the world.
  2. To prepare the world for my children.

With that in mind we signed up with Global Volunteers. Leesha, will be putting her medical skills to use helping to deliver babies and do well-baby and maternal care while the kids and me will be doing...whatever is asked of us. Swinging hammers. Laying bricks. Teaching in the schools. Basically anything and everything else. We're also hauling a ton of donated medical supplies.

There's a remote chance that I'll be enlisted to blog about the experience for our hosts via an Internet connection 35 miles from Pommern, but either way you'll get the full report when we get back.

And in case you're wondering how someone gets to Pommern from Great Falls, Montana, it goes like this: Great Falls to Seattle, Seattle to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro to Dar el Salaam, and then a 10 hour drive to Iringa, followed by a 90 minute drive to Pommern. Roughly 45 hours of travel.

The journey reminds me of that Toto song that goes, "I know that I must do what's right, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti..."

I'll post more tomorrow as we prep for departure.


I took the plunge, literally

If you're going to jump from the banister, you might as well throw on a cape and Batman jammies.Yup, I finally did it. I hired a personal assistant.

Why, you might ask? Because every boxing match needs a referee, every play needs a stage manager, and every circus needs a ringmaster. Plus in addition to keeping the lions out of the clown-car and the clowns off the trapeze, I really need someone to field (and prioritize) my calls, my inbox, handle my travel arrangements, and otherwise free up precious time so I can spin more tales of woe.

And of course, having a very busy family, I needed someone who can interface on that front as well. That's a polite way of saying that I need someone who can appreciate the other creative spirits who haunt my writerly abode.

So how did we know this person was the person? What exhaustive, executive, nanny 9-11 vetting process did we employ? We'll, let's just say the clincher was when this particular candidate peered over our second-floor banister and said, "We really should drag out a few mattresses, a bunch of pillows, and jump off this thing." Sold!

She won't start until March, but here's how everyone celebrated.


Something in the blood, part II

A while back I posted side-by-side images of my daughter, Haley and her great-grandmother. The similarity was striking. Now I'm back with an image of my great-grandfather, whom I had never seen until this morning. This is the man I point to whenever someone asks, "How'd you get the last name Ford?"

Born Min Chung, in 1850, my grandfather immigrated to San Francisco and settled in Tonopah, Nevada where he later adopted the very western-sounding name, William Ford. The rest, as they say, is history.

This photo was taken around 1920, when he was 70 years old.

A HUGE thanks to Sue Fawn Chung (yes, we're related) and the Nevada State Museum.