Friday, July 3, 2009

On to Washington DC

I finally arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday June 21st. Tuesday morning we climbed into a bus and headed for Washington DC for a Health Care Reform Rally with Isaiah . Wednesday morning we arrived and in DC. After a quick shower at Gallaudet University we drove down a Lutheran church a few blocks from the Capital and heard some speakers. Then we walked to our Congressperson's offices for a meeting.

My Congressman is John Kline. The organizers consider him a lost cause and did not schedule meetings with him. Instead I visited with the group from Congressman Erik Paulsen. While he is not our Representative his parents live a few blocks from us. We have seen them several times at the state capital when we have been at some progressive rally. They would be at another rally to lower taxes or other conservative agenda. We had a short meeting with Erik in the hallway outside his office. He was on his way to a committee hearing. Then a longer one with his top aide.

After the meetings with Representatives people from Faith Based Organizations from 19 different state met in a park and then marched to the US Chamber of Commerce to demonstrate against the Chambers opposition to health care for all. The security guard was not happy to see us. But what does he do when 500 people lead by a bunch of pastors show up uninvited. After a few speeches we knelt for a long prayer.

From there we walked to Freedom Plaza for more interfaith speakers telling stories on health care and encouraging us to continue to push for health care for all.

Thursday morning the 50 people from Minnesota showed up at Senator Amy Klobuchar's for her weekly Thursday morning open house for Minnesotans. This was the largest Thursday morning gathering that she has had. We 50 people in red tee shirts. Usually she gets a dozen or two of tourist. As people went up to her to get their pictures taken they told her their stories of denied insurance claims, layoffs that lead to no health insurance, and friends that died due to a lack of health care because they worked part time or for small businesses without insurance.

After mobbing Amy's Office we toured the US Capital then attended the big Health Reform Rally in Senate Park by the capital. At 1:00PM we jumped back on the bus and started the 19 hour drive back to Minnesota. Friday morning I was finally back in Minnesota.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Final Blog Entry - WAITING

I was up at 5:15 am on Saturday morning. The NEPA (power) was on so I plugged in my laptop to recharge the batteries. Had a little breakfast. Took my last cold shower from the bucket and waited for Yakubu. I had wanted to get to the airport early (by 7:00) so if they oversold I would be on the plane. Yakubu picked me up a little after 7:00. The Yola airport was a new experience. Getting to the airport early is not normal. So I was plenty early.

I got in one line to get my boarding pass and then another line to weigh my luggage. The luggage people kept my ticket and boarding pass until after the luggage was inspected. I waited in the waiting area then they motioned me to come to the baggage area. I identified my luggage then it went through the machine. No problem so they told me to go get my ticket back. Back into the line for weighing luggage and wait as they write up someones overweight bag. After asking a couple time the baggage guy came up told them to give me my ticket. Now my bag is inspected and I have a boarding pass back to just waiting. A little while after the flight was due to leave they started to inspect the hand carry, go through the metal detector and out to the plane to the next line. Here they checked my boarding pass and told me to go identify my luggage. They moved my luggage from one area another pile that will be allowed on the plane.

At Abuja the domestic terminal baggage area reminded me of a rugby scrum. I was in no hurry my next light was 10 hours later. I waited until most people had left and it was only two people deep. I got a cab to the International terminal for 500 naira ($3). There I sat from about 11:00 am until 6:00 pm when I checked in and went to the departure area and had a some dinner. Three chunks of over cooked chicken with fries for 1000 naira and a some bottle of diet coke for 300 naira. I fairly routinely had bought diet coke in Yola for 100 naira. Three hours later I was on my way to Amersterdam.

In Amsterdam Sunday 5 AM by my watch. Did not sleep much on flight so I am tired. I decided to get a coffee or something and reached for my wallet. No wallet. I had taken it out of my pocket at Abuja because the it was uncomfortable on the hard seats and put it in my small bag. At baggage check-in I had weighed them together and stuffed the small into the big one. I checked my computer bag and did not find it. Oh well. I headed to the gate.

I misread my boarding pass and went to Gate D40. There is not a gate D40. I am in seat 40D. I should be at Gate E7. No problem I have a 5 hours here. I start back. There is a grey haired lady in front of me with a guy who from the back looks like Doug Affinito. So I step up next to Mona and say “Hello”. They are on their way for a Baltic cruise out of Denmark. They have tight connections so we talked a little as they headed for the huge mass of people waiting for passport check. At gate E7 I got out my computer I found my wallet. Oh well. I avoided buying some over-priced airport food.

Finally, I am home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Power Point

I was hoping to be asleep by this time instead I am back at the City Café hoping to download my revised itinerary. Yakubu left for lunch about 2 pm and had a family emergency come up and had not returned. At 6 I decided to walk to the internet and then saw his van stopped in front of his store. As I was about to cross the street two policemen on motorcycles pulled up, one in front of the van and one behind. It was his brother. He left before I could cross the street. I met him at the Cathedral entrance and we went back to the house to rehearse the Powerpoint presentation I wrote on the Water and Sanitation/Health Program. He has never used Powerpoint before but he catches on quickly. I have spent a lot of time this trip as a computer teacher. I think we should have time each week when he is in Minnesota for computer training.

Tomorrow morning he is picking me up at 6:30 and taking me to the airport. He then will go back to the office and get ready for the first meeting of the new Health Services Management Board. He will present a brief Powerpoint on the WASH Program at the 10 AM meeting in Numan.

Women Lutheran Jr. Secondary School

This afternoon while waiting for my rescheduled airplane tomorrow, Celistina G. Daudu the principal of the Women Lutheran Jr. Secondary School stopped in the office to buy a LCCN Receipt Book. Yakubu was not here so I found her a book and sold it to her. We then talked about the school. She told me it was here in the compound. They meet in the afternoons in the Catherdal Academy rooms. The school has women who were not able to continue school as children and now are going to school. There are 34 women in the school. They are mothers and grandmothers. One lady has three children who have graduated from college now she is going back to school. Classes opened this February. I was surprised to find that the women wear school uniforms. I assume as adults they would not be in uniform. They are proud that they are going to school and proud to show it by wearing the uniform.

They hope to move into the Yola Women’s Center being built out at the Yola Diocese Secretariat. The diocese is currently finishing the walls and will see how much money they have to start on the roof. Some of the women are not able to pay the school fees and may not be able to continue. The school is new and gets little outside support. One of their dreams is to have a computer center in the new building when it opens.

If my plane had not been canceled yesterday I would not have met these school "girls" today. The principal is retired. She was principal for several schools, then she worked her way up to Adamawa Commissioner of Education, then worked for the Federal Government in the Ministry for Mass Education as a Director. Some people ask her why she would go back to being a principal of a small private school. She says it is because she is connected to these women that did not get a chance for an education when they were younger. While the students may not have had a formal education they have still been working hard. One of them is the President of the Lutheran Women Fellowship. She says Hi to Margaret and Carol.

They have been asking for artist to create a logo for the school. The suggestions have been rather boring to me. Things like a women cooking with a child while at the same time reading her lessons. This last Sunday I was seated next to the Dr. Bimba, Chairman of the LCCN Health Services Management Board at the English Service and told him that it could be a man cooking and taking care of the children while the wife studies. He laughed and said that would never happen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I am still in Nigeria.

My flight from Yola to Abuja was cancelled this morning. It was too late to get a car and no more flights out. I discovered I do not have any phone numbers for Northwest (Delta) or KLM. Bishop Edward gave me a name of a travel agent. She sain she would contacted KLM. When I called back she told me to fly to Abuja on Saturday and go to KLM and hope I can get on the Saturday night flight. I asked her for the KLM number she gave me two. I thought it was odd that she had just talked to KLM and now had trouble finding their number. The first number was Air France the second did not work. I called back and got a third number. Some kind of communications center that had no idea what a KLM was.

We decided to call Pastor Amson in Jos. He called a friend and called us back with a fourth number. Thank you Pastor. I got a KLM agent who rebooked me on the Saturday flight and told me how to pay for it at the Zenith bank in Yola. It took a while to find the right teller who knew how to do it. But I paid the 40,975 naira. Then the fourth trip back to the Yola airport to book a flight to Abuja on an other airline. It seems that IRS airlines has 2 planes. If one has trouble they only fly one route and it is not the Yola route. I am booked on Arik. When I get home I will file a claim with my travel insurance and hopefully get the money back.

I will be in Minnesota on Sunday. Then I leave on Tuesday for Washington D. C. with Isaiah for a rally on public health care.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I leave tomorrow.

I am through with my Water work (almost, it will never the through). I have briefed the Archbishop and put packages of information together for the Bishops. I have my airplane ticket for IRS airlines to Abuja. Then 4 hours in Abuja. KLM airlines to Kano, Nigeria. Change crew at Kano (usually) then to Amsterdam. I few hours in Amsterdam then the long flight to Minneapolis. 27 hours later I will be home.

Yakubu has his VISA Interview receipt number. We are in Numan. We are now trying to check the internet for his interview time. There are no times available. He will have to check everyday until they publish times.

I will be bringing back a set of drawings (see picture above)for the re-building of the Jos church that was burned down in last year's riots. The pastor's home has been rebuilt. But the church is in the design and funding phase. Hopefully, the churches of the Minneapolis Area Synod can help with the funding.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Hope The Scale Is Wrong

Yakubu and I went to the specialist Hospital today to visit his Uncle who had cataract surgery. He was already released. So I asked if they had a scale. The director had a standard bathroom scale in his office. It said I weighed 199. I feel that I have lost more than that. But I have not been exercising and not taking long hot walks. Today is the first walk this week and it was only 15 minutes to the City Café to send emails and update the blog. We went out for lunch and had a bowl of spagetti and a piece of chicken. Because of rain and long evenings I have not been able to come here all week.
The person on the left is me in Abuja on April 16th. The person on the right is me in Jimeta on June 11th. When I showed this to some people they were worried that I was sick. Dr. Bili assured then that I was not that I had told him earlier that I was trying to loose weight. Ruth the Head of Department for the Deaf Center signed that Jay came to Nigeria and got thin and Yakubu will go to America and come back fat.

Check below for several other post I have done today.