Sunday, December 31, 2017

12.31.17 A refugee update

A report from RNZ Pacific informs us that four of our refugees who landed in Yap in 2014 are now in Sweden.

Here is the report as found on the Yap State Government online newsletter:

"New Life In Sweden For Refugees Stuck In FSM
RNZ Pacific // December 29, 2017
POHNPEI, FSM — Four Nepalese refugees who were stuck on Micronesian islands for nearly three years have found a new life in Sweden.
The men left the Federated States of Micronesia in September after being detained at wharves on Yap and Pohnpei as authorities determined their status and tried to find them a home.
The men were among a boatload of Indian and Nepalese men who arrived near starving on Yap in November 2014 and were the only ones given refugee status in 2016.
The group of four spent another year on a ramshackle boat at the wharf in neighboring Pohnpei in conditions which raised the concern of locals.

"Whatever it was, got it triggered and they got status and the ability to transfer to Sweden. They were excited, they were well-dressed. Yes they looked excited and happy and somewhat relieved for sure," he said." 
The men are learning Swedish and receiving training in their new home."

From time to time hear I also hear from some of the refugees that live in India and Nepal. One now has a beautiful little daughter and has also met a friend of mine that travelled to his country. Some are still looking for better opportunities outside of their homelands. I hope that they all are safe and have found new meaning in their lives. It was an incredible opportunity for me to meet so many men determined to make a better life for themselves and their families. These are men who were willing to risk everything on the chance that they might land in a country that would offer them an opportunity to have a safe and productive life. I often think about them and their plight and their stay in Yap. And in particular I send them wholehearted wishes for their safety and happiness and good health. I was told others were going to the Middle East and have heard nothing more. If anyone has any information, I would appreciate learning about their status and well-being.


12/31/17 Happy New Year!

A very Happy and Healthy New Year to each of you and your family.

We are experiencing a real Arctic freeze and it is bitter cold outside. Even our furnace found it too cold to function and we woke up in the morning to a really cold house. The New England Patriots won their last game of the regular season in this frigid air and we are now in the play-offs for the Super Bowl. Who knows?

And despite the cold, Shorty has been a real trooper and goes outside frequently. He still likes to look at neighbor's decorations but does so in shorter time intervals. He still also likes to sit on the porch and in the snow but I don't leave him out too long. Heard the coyotes again in the night, so I keep a close eye on the dogs.

Today we ran around the yard - no long walks in the woods right now as it is just too cold - and he jumped and rolled around in the snow. I am amazed at his tolerance to the cold weather. He seems to thrive in it. Fionnegan and Gunnarr also like to go out and play in the snow but have less tolerance for the cold. Gunnarr seems to want to do whatever Shorty does. Fionn has been happy to stay warm near me!

Shorty follows me around the house as if I might disappear. He sits in the door ways to watch me and if I get up to go into another room he follows and sits in that doorway. Maybe he is just attached to me or maybe there is some underlying unresolved feeling or instinct about being left in Yap. I am not sure but he has been a very good dog. He is a bit ornery and stubborn, but also very responsive to commands. We all are fortunate that he gets along so well with Fionn and Gunnarr and they with him. They all compete for my attention - just like kids.

As the clock ticks down towards midnight, it is a good time to reflect on the events of 2017 and make plans for 2018. Perhaps our plans include being more healthy or helpful towards others. Resolutions are very personal - and made with the best of intentions. What we need are realistic resolutions - ones that we can achieve.

Whatever your New Year's resolution, I hope that you all have good health and enjoy happiness and kindness in your life.

Here is Fionnegan and Gunnarr cuddling up after a romp outside in the cold.

The ice had bent the willow branches until the tips touch the ground.

We make sure the birds have food in this bitter cold weather.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

12/24/17 Merry Christmas

..... from my family to yours.

May you and your family enjoy the blessings of this most beautiful Christmas season.

We are all ready here. Lights are on a tree outside and the banisters on the porch. Christmas trees are decorated - decided to put a small one in the room that the days stay in all day, one in the living room and one upstairs. I love to collect Christmas ornaments from places where I travel, so there are a lot to put on just one tree! My very first ornament that I collected is from Bangladesh from my first visit many years ago. There is also one on my tree from the ornaments from the Christmas trees growing up. And the most recent is one from Honduras.

We had snow last night so I let the dogs run and play while I shoveled. Then it was a Christmas bath for Fionnegan and Gunnarr and a nice towel wash for Shorty. They all smell so clean and fresh!

We are all excited. I put some presents under the tree (most are for the Fionn, Gunnarr and Shorty) and it is taking a lot of restraint for Fionn not to bother them. He sniffs around them but he is not allowed to play with them.

My wishes are with you all for happy and safe and joyous Christmas. May God bless you and keep you in His care.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

12/09/17 Shorty's first snow

Took Fionnegan, Gunnarr and Shorty out for an early morning walk to be certain they got enough exercise to last threw the snow. They can walk up to five and a half miles, and even though it is cold Shorty wants to go out every day. So I wanted to be certain they walk befor ehte snow it.

Well, it started coming down before we were finished. Shorty notices all sorts of things - bugs in the air, etc, but he seemed to be indifferent of the snow coming down. He shook his coat a few times to clear off the snow but was otherwise nonchalant about the snow coming sown hard.

Later in the afternoon I let them outside to see what he would do. He just ran outside with Fionn and Gunnarr and the white stuff never seemed  to bother him. Here is the video of his first encounter with snow - essentially he was more interested in playing with his brothers than he was curious about the white stuff.

A few more videos of the boys playing together in the snow.

Always wagging his tail. He is happy in the snow playing with Fionnegan and Gunnarr.

Tasting the snow!

Fionnegan and Gunnarr have lots of snow bunnies on their legs and tummies. A warm towel and warm water and a stay it the warm kitchen melt those away!

What do you do after a romp in the snow? Sleep on Momma's bed!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures of Shorty, Fionnegan and Gunnarr playing in the snow. Shorty has adapted very well to living here and to the cold weather in particular. And Fionn and Gunnarr are happy to share their Momma bear with him, at least some of the time! They are a good pack and are never far from one another. Except bath time, then Shorty tries to stay as far from the action as possible!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

11.23.17 Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

This is Shorty's first Thanksgiving in the USA. He is adjusting to the cold, although he is not too keen on cold rain. He now has started to watch football on TV, although he is not a regular viewer like Fionnegan and Gunnarr. Shorty still loves to go for long walks and the four of us walked almost 5 miles after the Thanksgiving Day feast. Then they all took a nap.

I also could not resist putting up a small tree in the atrium for them.  The angel on top is from my recent trip to Honduras.

May you all have a very enjoyable holiday and remember to give thanks for all of your blessings.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

11.11.17 Honduras, last day, part 2. Local scenes and kids

A few street scenes. Here is a drive through for local fast food. They also have McDonalds, Burger King, Chili's, Subway, Denny's and Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast food chicken places.  People everywhere like the taste.

There is a movie theater in the mall next to the hotel.

A lot of overhead wires cross the streets. Hard to take a good picture of the Church.

Back side of the Church. Beautiful dome, Notice the dog on the balcony.

Many local food shops across the street from the hospital. Convenient for the employees and patients. Also a chance to try your hand at the lotto while you wait for your appointment!

A lot of buses serve the city and countryside.

My favorite part of any trip is the kids. It is always fun to interact with them. The gentleman in the picture was also pleased I stopped to take their pictures and show the kids. He was interested in the Blackberry phone (no, I do not have an iPhone). Sadly, I could not understand much of what he was saying. When I was finished and got up to leave, a man behind me said "Thank you" in English. The locals like when the foreigners take an interest in them as people.

They were telling me the little boy in the middle was a "Gringo".

Yes, once you start, everyone wants a picture taken. And they love to see themselves in the picture. I get down on my knees to be level with the kids. Sometimes they stoop down too!
 The baby is darling.

They wanted him to have a solo shot!

And he is calling for his buddy!

Really cute kids.

After this I went to the Diunsa department store for some browsing. The store had just about everything except clothes for adults, or maybe I just didn't find that section. And there was a sale! There was a section for electronics, washers and dryers, household items, baby clothes, bicycles, exercise equipment and of course, Christmas items.  This is where I found the mango ice cream. Yum.

Not really someone who takes pictures of the items in a store, I could not resist taking a picture of the reindeer and polar bear in the tropics.

Yes, those are wearable antlers for all of the parties.

And let's not forget good ole Saint Nick!

A baby blanket for the sport enthusiastic parent.

Lots of bicycles.

And one little one taking it for a test drive. He was really happy riding through the sports section. He has training wheels, but rode this bike like a pro!

Television and other electronic equipment, many with brand names to  which we are accustomed.

After this I went to the shopping mall. Nice place, very similar to those at home. And decorated, too.

This ends my visit to Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Hospital San Felipe. It was a wonderful experience, I am very impressed with the training program for surgical oncologists and the oncologic services offered to the cancer patient.  No where is perfect and it was heartwarming to see what can be done when there are dedicated doctors and nurses and others to make a program work.

Dr. Roberto Jerez, his family, the OR nurses and interns and residents were very welcoming and made for a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. My very best wishes to all of them and I am grateful for their assistance while working at the hospital and also for the personal time they took to show me around  the area and especially for their kindness and hospitality. Mucho gracias.