Monday, September 29, 2008

hello from arkansas

I'm in AR for a couple days, going back tonight.
I came up to visit Jamey and SHannon Clayberg, Jeff and EMily Nichols and TRisha Lynn. although it's a brief visit, it'd been so long since I saw my friends here i just had to come up before my travels begin again.
I'm going back to Europe next week. I'll be spending time in London, Senegal Africa, Barcelona and then Paris. When I return, I'll then leave for Central AMerica for most of November. I am doing this for tax exemption reasons. I will be volunteering around the school I used to work at for 3 years, and also getting to catch up with many students in Tegus that I used to teach in 7th and 8th grade, many I've kept up with since then through emails and now facebook. ha

I had a great time with the claybergs yesterday visiting and showing my pictures, also a nice homade pizza dinner with Jeff, and now I just got up at shannons and will go downstairs and have some breakfast and then go over to Jeffs to hang out with him the rest of the day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

back in okc

well I"M back in okc and doing well.
arrived in Atlanta on TUesday and made this crazy jetlagged drive to COlumbus an hour and half south. UGH and then drove around forever looking for the hotel, stayed there one night and got up at 4 in the morning to leave by 430am to fort benning. luckily outprocessing didn't take long and we left by 930am back to atlanta, with this other contractor guy who asked for a ride. we all went to the airport and I dropped 'em off, our plan was to find earlier flights home than the 830pm tickets that night. I returned the rental van and never saw anyone else again after that. I DID get a standby flight to dallas, but then tried all day to get out of dallas, but wasn't lucky until the 830pm flight, which was better than the 1030 pm ticket I had. got a taxi home to my folks place and surprised both my sisters the next morning.
since then I've been moving back into my house

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

the first thing I noticed...


when I first walked into the hotel Sheraton Dubai Creek, was the smell of the huge vase full of pink asiatic lilies on the round table of the atrium at the entrance... ahhh.. and then up to my room. The best thing about Dubai is there is huge immigrant work force here and a lot of them are from India. So it always makes for good conversation because I will ask if the speak Malayalam (in Malayalam) and they are surprised to hear it. I also have always had a knack for talking to the little guy as an equal, when they are used to being talked down to etc...

SOOOOOOO, anyway, here I am about to ZONK out,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

thanks air force for the experience, really!


my favorite 3 star general Lindell. ( well I really only know one 3 star general). We had our PMR ( program management review) Friday and our were thanked and given certificates of appreciation for our part in the mission.

home bound...

leaving kabul today at 2pm, I'm so glad it's here finally. mailed out another box yesterday, and will pack my sheets and bedding this morning and send in my final time sheet and expenses for Kabul. (then I will file separately my hours from here on end and travel expenses later).
I should have a hotel van waiting for me at the dubai airport, and then it's my OWN room, a TV, shopping in old dubai, and then all day tomorrow the mall of the emirates!! one of the biggest malls in the world with and indoor ski slope. ha good bye kabul.

Friday, September 12, 2008

there s that feeling of really getting to know people... jsut before you leave

I think part of that is people open up jsut a bit more when they know they'll be leaving soon, you sort of put yourself out there more. anyway, maybe its just been all the time off, ha but I've been hanging out at the shops on base talking to the guys there and sort of letting them practice their English and answering questions about tons of stuff. yesterday one of them brought me a set of "manjamas" is what the US people call the long shirt and pants the afghans wear. so I'm set for halloween or some strange spirit day at school.
i met my student abdull majeed at the gate this morning after breakfast and he brought me a gift of 2 small rugs. I practice packed all my things yesterday so today i'll continue getting everything everything packed and then decided how to take my sheets and blanket, maybe mail them tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

last day of school etc....



these are pics from last day of school, first is our program manager, Col Langford, telling the students what the deal is after we leave ( alpha and bravo groups come back after a week off, and the rest wait until the DLI teachers all get here in a about a month). Then a pic of my classroom before walking out the door and locking and leaving it for the last time....
next a pic of me on the way home with some random wrecked helicopters on the afghan base, and finally me goofing around in sunglasses with a wonderful teacher friend, Mrs. Smith.







the mission I've been a part of.....

this article, Getting the Afghan Air corps To Straighten Up and Fly Right ,was in the Wall Street Journal yesterday and gives a very good explanation of what we've been doing here in Afghanistan. I suggest you follow the link now to read about exactly the things I've been hearing and seeing while here in Kabul. Our very own 3 star Gen Lindell is quoted in the article.
some excerpts;
"With U.S. help, the Afghans have turned a shambles of a Soviet-trained airforce into an Air Corps that, on a good day, can transport Afghan troops tothebattlefield, haul the supplies they need to fight and evacuate the fallen.But the effort has been plagued by red tape, uneven competence and the widecultural gap between by-the-book American mentors and damn-the-checklistAfghanflight crews."
"The Air Corps has 66 fixed-wing pilots and 139 helicopter pilots, of a totalforce of 2,000. Next year, the U.S. will begin sending Afghan pilots to theU.S.for English-language and flight classes. By 2016, the Americans hope the AirCorps will number 7,000 men. The U.S. is building a major Air Corps base inKabul, on a cleared minefield, complete with new hangars, housing, communitycenter, stores, mess halls and a mosque."
the pilots they will begin sending are those we've been teaching English, they are going to the states for more training in Aviation English. Please go and read the entire article. I, of course, hope great things for this country and all my pilot students' future.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

updating...

not a WHOLE lot going on, just passing time. the days are really nice because we are off after lunch because its ramadan.. So I've been hanging out with Haji or Sheffie at the rug shop on base where all the sellers there at the stores will sit at a picnic table outside and play cards or just hang while they are fasting and waiting for 6:30. So if I'm bored in my room after lunch I can go over there and kill some time before my 4pm gym time.
With Ramadam here, it is not polite to eat or drink in front of muslims while they are fasting. They wake up at 3:30am to eat breakfast and then do not eat or drink the rest of the day until 6:27 pm. They are supposed to be on the best behavior which means no lies during business, cheating, looking at a woman, no sex with the wife between those hours either, no gum or toothpick, etc etc. this happens for 30 days, I think they have 24 more days.
So I was sort of crawling down behind my desk at the back of the room yesterday as if checking a plug in on the computer, but actually I was hiding that I drank from my water bottle. It's easy to show respect for them and their religion because I expect the same from people who know I"m Christian. For example people around me who use the Lord's name while swearing, and I can state I'm a Christian and offended by that, and then they have the choice to continue swearing His name or not. It's like that conscious choice to offend someone or not. you either make the effort or not depening on your character I guess.
The AMerican culture is sort of stuck on having the personal freedom to do what we want, and this sadly affects the Christian culture in America. for example "I dont' have to attend a church every Sunday" "I dont' have to make an effort to dress my best to worship God at my church, I'll wear, or let me kids wear, whatever.." "I don't have to speak to my neighbor, they'll think I'm a weirdo if I invite them all to church or bring up the subject at all" . along those lines anyway, and I"m not saying we DO have to do all those things, but when you see the devout muslims here doing their 5 prayers a day, and avolutions in washing their hands and feet, and the time the entire community goes to the mosque every morning and night, it's interesting to think where do Christians compare to that sense of duty of worship and prayer. Obviously the muslims' faith is legalistic and you could say it's all just a bunch of motions, but then why should Christianity be on the far other side of the spectrum where "we don't HAVE to do anything." SHouldn't there be balance? SHouldn't we feel like worshiping God weekly, daily? shoudlnt' we want to appear our best when worshipping in His house, with other believers. SHouldn't we look forward and desire the company of other Christians to encourage each other, increase our faith, take comfort in being part of a community? well these are just ideas I'm always thinking of when conisidering different faiths and cultures. And as usual differing between what is American culture and what makes Christians stand out as Christian culture that is DIFFERENT.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

praying mantis


last week there was a praying mantis outside the door of our school on the cement and I mentioned it to the students. And why it had it's name because of the way it looks like the hands are held in front like prayer. Anyway, we discussed how they said it in their language, and in Dari it translates as "rocking insect", in Pashto it means "broken fingers", and in Turkmen it means "camel keeper".

Monday, September 01, 2008

winding down with teaching..


recent pic of me in class, you can't see their faces but that is sadiq and abdul behind me. They are hilarious to have in the class room, and they are learning English. This pic shows how I sit in front of the first desk facing the class with my instructor text open and going through the lessons. lots of fun. and then on the back wall I've hung a cheaper afghan wool blanket since I packed up my room to send home stuff already. 6 boxes yesterday mailed! yeah just two weeks left. Today begins Ramadan here so we are out of school all day and will go back tomorrow for half days from now on, which means we don't return after lunch.
We read an english paragraph about International culture yesterday in class about Ramadan. It explains that is was a time of fasting, and that you stay at home with family for prayer and contemplation. Of course they had to ask what contemplation meant. I gave them an example about how they will sit at home and pray and contemplate about God, and what God has planned for their future, and how they can best do God's will in life...etc and they say some things in Dari,and then Abdul comments, Mr. Reusser I think you are not far from being muslim, maybe one more year in Afghanistan, and everyone laughs. I smiled and told them no, we believe and pray to the same God, but we come from very different directions with different beliefs (Jesus, Son of God). It's a comfort to work with people so open to discussion about religion, although theirs is a strict legalistic part of life therefore why not openly discuss. It definietly reminds me of my college friends where the topic of faith is easily brought up in conversation, and yet why is that not so with all people we associate with daily? Perhaps it's easier here because the students let me know just where they stand when we speak of culture differences, and it's always based on their religion. So I let them know where I stand based on mine without confrontation, just a sharing of ideas. and that's always a start which is all God asks of us sometimes I think.