January 26, 2006
Assassination Attempt Made on Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng
In [dis]honor of Google China's compliance with the Chinese government's oppressive will, here's a bit of news that I noticed on the front page of The Epoch Times (in a news stand in front of the building where I work). I found the article online; here's the link:
January 25, 2006
Indian Country Today: Contruction of Seattle Homeless Center to Begin in February
SEATTLE - Forty-five homeless people died on the streets of Seattle in 2005. Each death shows how nightmarish life on the streets can be.
Rhonda Starr, 39, Warm Springs, died of unknown causes in January 2005. Susan Eileen Redhorn, 51, Yakima/Blackfeet, died of an infection in May. Jesse Madera, a 55-year-old American Indian, died of unknown causes in June. Alpheus George, 38, Tlingit, fell onto Interstate 5 in September. Davina Garrison, 43, Navajo, was murdered in November.
All told, six homeless people were murdered; seven committed suicide. Others died of an overdose, heart disease or infections. One was run over by a train, another by a truck.
When Chief Seattle Club opens at its new site in January 2007, it won't be able to give American Indians and Alaska Natives a place to sleep at night because of neighborhood regulations preventing the establishment of a homeless shelter.
But the club will be better equipped to help homeless Native people get off the streets.
January 23, 2006
Rich Fuller: Spirit Guide Me
It's a prayerful, meditative, wonderful song. Check it out.
Copy and paste this URL: http://bobhyatt.typepad.com/bobblog/files/spirit_guide_me.mp3
(I'm working out a bug and had to take down the link for the time being...)
(Let me know if I'm stepping on any toes spreading the word on this. And Bob, if you are reading and want me to serve this link on my server, drop a line in comments.)
The Nerdery Strikes Back
Dan Schrenk's The Nerdery is back and it looks like he picked up a copy of the latest iLife as well as a subscription to dot mac. Am I right, Dan? Apparently there's all sorts of Web publishing goodies packed into the latest iLife. For pro web designers, just don't View Source and you'll be able to make use of it *and* sleep at night.
Looking forward to distractions-a-plenty, Dan!
Link: nerdery.net (leave out the www and you'll be properly redirected)
January 20, 2006
Two years ago, when the Abdi family prepared to immigrate to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Kenya, they were each given birthdates, "January 1" attached to a hopefully accurate year of birth. I can only speculate that birthdays were not traditionally celebrated or that birth certificates were irretrievable or that they were simply not provided in the first place.
Siting in the living room of the Abdi's suburban apartment, the matriarch of the family, Medina, handed me a letter which notified her that her son would be losing his food stamp benefits as their records show he is turning the ripe old age of 5. (Apparently 5-year-olds in the state of Oregon are old enough to be hungry. God knows hundreds of them are. Fortunately she can reapply for benefits and I directed her to call her caseworker, whose name she knew, thank goodness.)
The question of age now up for discussion, Medina fished out her medical benefits summary, which lists all in her household, and yes, their date-of-birth. Having remembered how old the children told me they were, I immediately noticed a discrepancy between the Abdi family's perception of their age and the so-called reality.
One by one I asked each child how old they were and one by one I told them they were in fact two years older than they thought! One boy was ecstatic to learn he was 11, Famo seemed sobered by the fact that she was all of a sudden a teenager, Mahadho laughed to learn she was 24. Having not celebrated birthdays in 2 years, they had been simply reciting the ages they were taught in their first English lessons, over two years ago.
Another delightful lesson in language and culture learned by both the teacher and the students!
January 13, 2006
A Four Banana Night
Add "First Aid Kit" to my bag of tutoring supplies.
I arrived at the apartment earlier than my usual seven-ish arrival. An hour earlier to be exact. I had visions of arriving home around eight with two whole hours to work on web projects for friends. I climbed the stairs to the third floor apartment and rang the bell. I was greeted by approximately three of six children, the mother of those children, and where was Mahadho?1 Oh yes, in the back; here she comes.
After greeting Famo and checking over her knee in a completely non-helpful way and after being given all of the donated food that they thought was weird or icky (a jar of pimentos, blueberry jam, multiple bags of Tim's Cascade Style potato chips) I was confronted with Isha, or rather Isha's foot. I've kept a supply of bandages in my bag for a while now, which means that every week a child or two comes to me with a cut, blister, or some other "owie" needing that all-important BandAid and more-important sympathy. But Isha's foot was a different matter all together. The cut was deep enough to bleed plenty (the dried blood around the wound testified to that). But it was too big for a regular BandAid and not deep enough for stitches. I asked if the alchohol and cotton I left for Famo's and Mahadho's infected ears was still around. "No," was their reply, "I'll be back in twenty minutes," was mine. And off to Rite-Aid I went, just across the street on the corner of Murray & Allen.
I returned twenty minutes later with extra-large BandAids, a firstaid tape dispenser, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and a small tube of Neosporin. Twenty minutes after I bandaged Isha, the tape started to fall off. (I can't imagine why. It's not like she attached her feet to big plastic cups with socks and started walking around on them as if on stilts. Oh wait. She did do that.) In any case, before I left I made sure the bandage was secure and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped with firstaid tape. I'm sure they lasted at least 45 minutes. I told them to call me if the cut got worse.
Mahadho and I did manage to work on calendar terms a bit. "Thank-you" to my new insurance agent for sending out the 2006 calendar of Scenic America. But really the theme of the night was the wedding videos sent from a Bantu group in Atlanta, Georgia. The dancing and music inspired even the smallest child in this tiny suburban ghetto apartment to shake her hips like I've never seen hips shaken before. The only way I can describe it is Electric-Hula-Belly Dancing. We watch these tapes almost every week but they finally decided that I should have a copy too and so they commissioned me to make three copies of the two VHS tapes, "One for me, (Teacher), one for Mahadho, and one for 'Mahadho mom sister'". I'll bring my VCR up north this weekend and use Seth's VCR to dub the copies. And laugh. A lot. I'm not sure how I would feel if my nieces learned to shake their hips like that.
Regarding Famo, I'm thinking crutches might help. So I broke out the Spanish-English Picture Dictionary and showed her what crutches were. She said, "Teacher, you get for me."
Finally, Mahadho's cell phone account needed tending. A fellow Bantu in Idaho had added a second line to his T-Mobile account and given it to Mahadho. For months her number has had an Idaho area code and we have been unable to change it, not having the account owner's last four SSN. Last week, I made it as clear as I could to Mahadho that we needed this information before continuing. And apparently the message got through. This week she had a 503 number. One problem: it was a number from McMinnville and long distance from Beaverton. So armed with the account owners last four SSN, I called T-Mobile (T-Mobile: "Who are you?" Me: "I'm the English-Speaker") to get her a local, really local number. I also sorted out the billing situation, took off a $10/month TXT-messaging add-on, and made sure a copy of the bill got sent to her address. And it worked. I actually got all of those things. Mahadho and Medina were thrilled.
As I rose to leave, Mahadho went for the bag of bananas on top of the fridge and pulled off four. Four bananas for teacher. A way of saying thanks and reciprocating for the bandaids and video tapes and the phone issue and perhaps the English lessons too. Usually I get two. But tonight was different. Tonight was a Four Banana Night.
So. Anyone know how to procure crutches?
January 12, 2006
Is it January or what?
A downpour of good intentions, goals, and resolutions flood my mind. And then there's the rain. Lots of it. Downpouring, sprinkling, misting, showering, whatever, it's always raining. Yesterday, there was an afternoon sunbreak. I threw open the blinds and basked in the sunlight. We watched trees and other debris drift down the brown waters of the Willamette. If rain is cleansing, we won't see the shine until Spring.
I am haunted by a thought that has recently risked surfacing amidst a life, full and busy and distracted. Let me share it with you in hopes that one of you may help me find my way.
I've told you, I think, about Famo. Famo is a young 12 year old girl who is here on refugee status. She is Bantu Somali. I know her because every Thursday I come to her house to tutor her older sister in English. Famo often joins in the lesson. Famo has not been going to school for the past 5 months. Why? Because she does not have the use of her legs. She cannot walk and she has nothing and no one to assist her.
Her lameness has perplexed me these many months. She has regular doctor's appointments but all I see as a result of them are prescription bottles of ibuprofen. First with 200 mg, then 400, now 600 mg tablets. Why isn't she coming home with an appointment for surgery? Or a wheelchair. Or even crutches? Where are the X-Rays? Mere pain medication? I don't understand it. As a refugee, she is entitled to free medical of any scale or magnitude, including surgery, for up to 5 years. I cannot ascertain why she has not been healed by medical professionals nor why she has not received assistive devices to enable mobility out of her apartment. Perhaps she has not learned to ask properly. Perhaps I live in a world of entitlement and cannot comprehend this situation. Or, perhaps God is waiting for me to act.
Meanwhile, I have been faithfully listening to Bible verses of some half-dozen 4th grade girls every Wednesday. One by one, they come to me and recite Matthew 11:4-5:
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
This verse haunts me. It chews and nags and eats away at my calm. I am reminded of how the good news is preached in rural areas of the world. Through prayer and healing. Through prayer and healing. I am reminded of how the world is shrinking. Rapidly. And how the rural villagers of the world are now my neighbors. And I visit them every week. And I have something they do not. I have the power of Jesus Christ. Yet I am reluctant.
I am reluctant. I remember my schooling. Learn the language first. Learn the culture first. You can't communicate with someone until you understand their cultural values. And words define worlds. I don't know Mai Mai. I got "Cs" in linguistics and never took language learning. I have a hobbyist's interest at best in linguistics and language. And I am not the only one with the gospel who has access to these people from Somalia now living within a 5 mile radius of not only my house but my church's building. But I don't know if anyone else knows what to do either. Certainly I have no idea what to do except teach them English phonemes and give rides to the local Goodwill or Fred Meyer. (And procure mattresses, fill in checks, read mail, and donate shoes.) But I don't know how to heal Famo. Or do I?
I am haunted by the way my ministry has become increasingly disconnected from the Spirit. I am disturbed by my own willful powerlessness and lameness. I know she could be healed. I know that Kathleen and Shawn and I could go over there and pray for her and she would walk. I know she would. Or at least I strongly suspect. But I resist. There are powers and spirits holding power over that family and that group and we would be mounting a war against them—a war that would take time, effort, and discipline to fight. And faith. I am haunted because it seems like my life has little room for the miraculous working of Jesus. And no one seems to care or take notice that I am not the only one in the Church whose life has come to this.
I go over to Famo's house this evening. What will I do? Will I act? Will I pray for her? And what will happen if I do? I have no answers to these questions nor any expectation that I will do anything worth mentioning. Perhaps these things take time. But shouldn't healing be an urgent matter? Where is my sense of urgency? I know the hot embers of my faith lie in wait for a wind to come and ignite a sleeping Amber into flame and fire. But when will that be? How long will Famo have to wait before I regain my courage?
Or will I ever?
Live from the Office Window: Fire Across the River
Just noticed giant plume of black smoke coming from a building across the Willamette. Yep, it's a fire. We can see the flames from here.
Looks like the fire department has arrived. Smoke mixed with white steam is now present.
KGW has a live feed but you have to register first. By the time I registered, got through the friggin commercial, all I got was the Alito hearings.
News says it's a house apartment up in flames on 13th and Taylor (SE). I'm at SW 1st and Salmon and have a pretty good view from the 5th floor of my building.
Update: Link via KATU
Update #2: Here's an interesting tidbit: VJ discovered/realized that she had taken a picture of this building because of it was kinda funky. Here's it is before it burned: Link to vj_pdx's photo of the apt on Flickr.
January 03, 2006
First Cousin Once Removed Due in July (and other family news)
My cousin Erin's got a bun in the oven. Exciting news. This one and my future niece or nephew will probably be born about a month apart. Number Three is due beginning of June and Erin and Bernie's Lil' Peanut's due in July. Babies babies babies.
In other cousin news, Deborah (sister of Erin) brought her hubby-to-be to meet the Portland Himes day after Christmas. Jens fit right in and good times were had by all. We give him the coveted Family Stamp O' Approval.
In unofficially-adopted-family-member news (her picture is on the family picture wall, after all), Alex has been in town for a little over a week now and there has been much marathoning-of-togetherness taking the form of Lord of the Rings movie trilogy marathons at Mom and Dad's, the putting together of puzzles, the eating of sweets, and other homeplace-hangout-happy-fun.
We have also enjoyed having Grandpa Doug around who has fully partaken as well in LOTR movie marathoning, puzzle-solving, the eating of sugar-free sweets and pies and other homeplace activities. Good times.