Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Work Camp - Middle School Style

For detail on AbFab's trip to Sikeston Check out the official blog.

Our assignment this week was to help out the Missouri Mission . This is a place where men with various problems and addiction can start their life over.

The first task was to knock out the existing counter and drawers that were between the two closets in order to make more closet space. We divided all of the kids and adults into teams and each team was assigned a room.

The man who lived in the room we were assigned to eyed us a bit cautiously. Who could blame him? Nothing like having a group of kids ages 12 to 14 invade your room and start moving your stuff.

Finally we moved everything onto the beds, pushed the beds into the center of the room and began to tape off for painting. Oh and the demolition? Well quickly, I saw the need for some safety rules when two boys started swinging the hammers as hard as they could. I decided we would take turns, three hits and then the the next person could swing three times. I told the kids it was like a pinata. They bought it. The counter and drawers were removed with no injuries.

Finally the paint arrived and the kids attacked (I mean painted carefully).

We painted the entire ceiling and then began painting the walls. My team began with lots of enthusiasm.

This enthusiasm lasted until after lunch, when all the energy was gone. It was a long afternoon.

Luckily the success or failure of any mission trip is never decided on my the first day. By Wednesday, my team was completely different. We started our second room and finished in less than one day what had take us two day to accomplish in the first room. The kids took the lead and I have never been so amazed by a group of kids aged 12 to 14. I was honored to have witnessed the transformation.

Oh and the first resident that we unexpectedly moved in on on Monday, well he made a point of giving the team several packets of Crystal Light and a box of cookies. From a man who entire possessions could be stacked on two beds, the gift was heartfelt and meant so much to all of us.

Here was another Thank you note from another resident. He and his assigned team communicated by leaving notes on his white board.

The week was a challenge for all the kids but especially for the Middle Geek. He finally found a knack for painting and got into the work on the final day.

He also found some great friends, that was his overwhelming response - "Wow, I made some great friends this week."

I was overwhelmed with the attention from the cooks. These two ladies cooked everything from scratch - cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, coffee cake. I brought all of my own food for the Middle Geek (like I usually do) but they went out of their way to make sure he could eat dinner like everyone else. They even found some So Delicious brand Ice Cream so he could have dessert every night too.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we were at the last chapel service on Thursday night where we had communion. I am not sure where my mind was - maybe it was the heat or the exhaustion - but I stood up to get in line for communion and realized that I had not gotten any gluten free bread for the Middle Geek. I watched him hang back and sit back down (He hates standing out in any way) when all of a sudden on of the women who had cooked for us all week, is stand right by him with a slice of his bread. She had run back to the kitchen for it.

There was plenty of time to do lots of fun stuff. We had a movie night, and one night we had a talent show. The Middle Geek joined with a group and they played - Lean on Me. Oh yea he rocked the drums.

We also went to a local park and spent one evening at a swimming pool. There were two diving boards so the Middle Geek worked on his front and back flips.

And is anyone curious about my Indian Visa? Well it was approved last Wednesday. This is a picture of me "discussing" the approval.

Yes she told me several times to "calm down".

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Summer Trip

Because I just happen to have my schedule clear for this week and next (ahem). I remembered that the Middle School Mission Trip was scheduled during the same week.

So I decided to be - that person. You know, the one that calls last minute and says, "Hey I know the sign up for this event is long past, and you have been working hard finalizing your plans, but you know I just happen to be free now and so, can I join you?"

And if that wasn't enough....

"Also the Middle Geek, whom I will be bringing, will not be back in town until later on Sunday, so I will drive us down separate. We will be a bit late, oh that mandatory parent meeting, I will probably miss that, and what is the menu, because my child can't eat anything."

I don't understand why the Youth Misister was not just THRILLED.

But some things are meant to be. So tomorrow the Middle Geek and I will be headed for a week at Work Camp. I will take lots of pics.

And I am trading in a trip to Southern India for one to Southern Missouri.

The Answer: Keeping Busy.

The Question: So what has AbFab been doing with herself since the unexpected change in plans?

I have been determined not to sit around and mope this week thinking about all I am missing in India. I just had on lapse when Cory sent me a short email (that's all they have been able to do. There is no WiFi and just one computer. When it rains, the electricity goes out.) Anyway he mentioned that the students had asked the engineers to teach - or perform- a song or dance. Cory was hoping they would forget. He did get away without singing, but he told me he go video of Kate and Theresa teaching the students the Macarena. Oh what I would have given to be a part...

But enough.

Last week I was an incredibly lucky winner on Houseparty . I won all of the equipment to do your own canning. The package arrived and it had a large canning pot and all the equipment. They sent me four coupons for free cases of canning jars, fruit pectin, lots of other coupons to hand out, reusable canvas bags. It even had a large flip chart to walk you through the steps of canning. There were also recipes for salsa and pepper jelly.

The idea of these parties is that the manufacturer send you the makings of a party and informally you and your friends try out the new products.

I had never canned before but I love to cook and try new things so this seemed like lots of fun. I decided to make the salsa - I have some frozen tomatoes from last season that needed to be used and some fresh cilantro in the garden. I did not want to make the pepper jelly because while I like it, I wasn't sure that it would be enjoyed by the majority. Instead I went through the recipe book (also supplied) and picked out Strawberry Jam.

So I canned 24 small jars of Strawberry Jam, 16 slightly larger jars of salsa, and because there were three larger jars included decided to try pickles.

The verdict. The Strawberry Jam was awesome and a big hit. The salsa was good but I think needed more salt. And the pickles, oh my the pickles were the best ever. I had some small seedless cucumbers from CostCo. I cut them into wedges and chose the easiest recipe of vinegar and salt and sugar. Then I added one chipotle pepper. I processed the pickles for 15 minutes. The next day I put one jar in the refrigerator because the College Geek and I could not wait (He is a pickle pig.) They were only the BEST PICKLES EVER.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Change in Plans

So I bet all of you are here looking for some exciting news of my trip to India. I can hear you now, "Why AbFab must be getting on that plane today. I wonder when she will post an update on her exciting trip."

Well unfortunately you all will have to keep waiting for that update.

In a very sad turn of events, I am not leaving for India today. Instead I am sitting in my very own living room typing out this posting. (sob)

To make a very long story short - Out of our group of eight travelers, there were three that did not get our Visas approved by the Indian government. And yes, I was on of the three without a Visa.

That means no trip to India for AbFab. At least not this trip.

I am truly hoping that I can get approval for the planned December/January trip. There is a group that is planning on returning then to supervise the building of the designed toilets. Everyone please cross your fingers.

In the meantime, the assessment trip must go on.

I transfered school supplies that I had had donated for the school we were visiting - along with coloring books and jump ropes - to the students bags.

I also gave them some of the engineering tools for the assessment - Some hand surveying equipment to determine elevations and diffusion tubes to use to measure indoor air pollution. (This will be used in households were they cook indoors on wood burning or charcoal stoves.)

There they are at the airport. I made them pose for an embarrassing picture. I had planned to make them pose in pictures all week so they got off easy.

And there they are --- walking into the airport --- without me ......

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

World's Biggest Toilet

I came across this during my toilet research....

Check out this .

It can "serve" 30,000 users each day!

This is quite the engineering feat.