Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PowWow Weekend

I feel like I am just now floating back down to earth because so much has happened in such a short time! Friday, I drove to school thinking that Pete was going to pick Bill up at the church while I was teaching. Bill called at lunch and said that the team had been divided into different flights in Atlanta. I would have to get him at the OKC airport, along with Diane Witten. After getting Sandra (admissions dir.) to cover my classes, I made the trip. I was so glad I had driven the Camry so that all of the luggage for two people would fit.

By 7:00 p.m., Friday, Kelli called. I gave her directions to Gliori's Italian Restaurant, and we all enjoyed spaghetti and homemade breadsticks. Caleb is 13 years old. His voice is changing, and he loves tennis!! Hannah will be 12 yrs. in August. and had her braces removed this year. She is pretty like her mother, and sings in children's theater.

Saturday morning, Kelli took the kids to the Culture Center to register while Bill and I went to the church for choir practice. In the afternoon, I left Bill at home to sleep, and I visited with family at the PowWow grounds. Family came from everywhere! I met some people who said their great grandfather was my great grandfather's brother! They were from North Carolina. There were 60 people who were descendents of my grandfather.

Saturday evening, the Bergeron family ate together and then gathered for the dance. Being one of the honored families, we danced twice. My ninety year old Uncle John and my 87 year old Aunt Edith joined us. Cousin George joined the costume dance contest, and won third place.

Sunday morning, 18 of my family joined us in church. They were from Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, and California. Everyone thought the music was inspirational. The choir made me feel goosebumps because they sang from their hearts. We did, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Peace Like A River". Bill arranged them with trumpet, guitar, piano and drums. After church, we all ate together at Golden Corral.

Galen and Sondra came over Sunday evening to chat and share pictures. They had not seen Kelli for a long time. Galen also shared emails and phone calls he had received from friends.
Galen and Sondra will be driving to Tenn. and Boston, Mass. when they leave here. Sondra is enjoying her retirement!

Noel has arrived at Mayo Clinic, and we are all praying for his doctors!

I have to go to class now, and will write more later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Adventurous Family!

Kelli just called me. She is on the road to Oklahoma from Grand Rapids, Michigan with Hannah and Caleb. She flew in from Louisville, Ky. this morning after covering the SBC Convention. This is her first time to drive so far by herself. I remember when Keri drove from Utah to Texas when she was 18 years old! I guess it runs in the family.

Bill is flying through the night from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Atlanta. The team will arrive in OKC at 10:30 a.m. We got an email from the resident missionary that they had gone where no Christians had been before. After docking and setting up a clinic, other boats began arriving with families who needed care. We heard testimonies via email from men who knew there was a God but didn't know how much He cared about them. They received the message gladly! It was reconfirmed that the hunger to know God and worship is born in the hearts of all people. I have traveled on 6 continents, as well as the Caribbean, Philippine and Fiji Islands. Every place I have visited the people had created some form of worship. God knows our motives, and also our ignorance. He will judge us accordingly. I don't tell people about Christ to get them to heaven primarily--I tell them so that they can enjoy the exciting life that I have had! I have seen the inside of a Massai hut in Africa, and I have been pampered in several 5 star resorts. God is sooo good!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Week Thus Far

SEI began a new session. I started the week teaching 4 classes a day - 2 grammar and 2 reading and writing. However, another student from Taiwan arrived who tested into a level by himself. That meant we had to adjust the schedule! I'm now teaching a 5th class - verbal skills. The boy from Beijing is in my verbal skills class. He did a presentation on how China has changed over the last 20 years. Not only did he talk about how the standard of living has become luxurious, but how the color of clothing has changed. People use to wear only BLACK.

I have been cleaning the house and getting ready for this weekend. Not only is Bill coming home on Friday, June 26th, from Brazil, but Kelli will be arriving with Hannah and Caleb. This afternoon I stopped by FireLake Designs and picked up the new T-Shirts that our family will be wearing in the Grand Entry Dance on Saturday night. In this heat, none of us will be dancing very long!

My student, Fahhad, returned from Saudi Arabia just in time to celebrate his 18th birthday. He brought me a long silk dress that is just beautiful! I had forgotten that today was Fahhad's B-day, so I took the 3 boys in my class to Braum's for ice cream. They all ordered in English.

I really like Mexican food, especially in the summer. I think I'll get a taco salad tonight at Taco Mayo. It's a few blocks from my house. I don't enjoy cooking just for myself!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Train of Life


This is an animated poem with background music that was sent to me by a friend I met in Japan. It's very beautiful!
Wise Old Saying
(from Galen's sage emails)

We will be friends until we are old and senile. Then we will be NEW friends!
Prayer Garden

St. Gregory's University has a new president and he is making changes everywhere we look! There is a beautiful new brick entrance that has been fully landscaped. This summer I have been dodging landscape trucks while they are creating the new Rosary Garden. As the name suggests, it is a huge rose garden with benches that have been encircled by evergreen trees. There is a fountain in the middle. I wonder how many beads will get counted there???

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reflections of Solitude

Like San Diego and other port cities, Yokohama is built on the sides of mountains. From the balcony of my apartment, one could look across valleys and see the ocean. Every morning I would walk down the 50 steps to catch the city bus to go to school. The bus would wind its way up the next hillside for the next 30 minutes. (The bus was easier than taking the subway and walking UP the 103 steps to the highschool!) As the Japanese culture dictates, the clean modern bus was always as quiet as a cathedral. I learned to appreciate the solitude and found myself reflecting and talking to God about the day ahead. It was on one such occasion that I watched a young college student board the bus. Being January, he was wearing a black trenchcoat and Hush Puppy shoes. I had a flashback to a friend I had during college days which gave me an uneasy feeling. This feeling continued during morning chapel and I spoke to my friend, Chie, about my experience. She shared my concern and promised to pray. A year later I was to learn that my friend was recovering from a brain tumor surgery which took place that January. I also learned that Satan had managed to snatch away any faith in God that he had.

Yesterday, Sunday morning, I awoke at 6:00 a.m. I love the cool mornings, and took my breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios out to the patio. As I sat alone in the quiet and felt a gentle breeze on my face, I began to imagine what the world would be like if all true followers of Christ were suddenly taken out. Christians are merely imperfect people who have asked for forgiveness. But -- I also know that the Spirit of God constantly reminds us of our selfishness and gently coaxes us to do what is right in the sight of God. Without Christians, the only people left in this world would be hopeless creatures trying to find their way through life without a compass. There would be no sense of power outside themselves, no guidelines and no purpose. In one word, no inner peace! The men left would be in a depressed state, searching for fulfillment and happiness until their lives ended. God's "super" put together with man's "natural" gives Christians the ability to have supernatural love and forgiveness toward others. That's what makes the world so wonderful!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Galen is on my case. He told me to stop typing the date at the top of my blog. He also told me that he will make sure that I get my picture put on my blog when he comes next weekend. I know that I'm not photogenic, so I usually shy away from picture taking.

Saturday, I was planning to take a roadtrip, but it was so hot that I settled for taking Mom to Seminole and eating at The Catfish Round-Up. She got so excited when I asked her if she'd like to go! She loves the apple fritters that are served with every meal and of course, the gift shop!

Today is Father's Day. Although Dad graduated to heaven in 1995, he will always be with me in spirit. During the sermon, we were all asked to think of some things that would describe our Father. I immediately thought of coffee, cherry pie, golf, practical jokes, suits and ties, and sermons. He was the happiest and most gentle person I've ever known. Everyone who knew him could feel the love of Christ simply radiating from him. He would say, "I have no doubt that God is real. If I've been wrong, I wouldn't change my life because the faith journey has been so exciting!" Dad passed that faith and sense of adventure to his family. When we get together, the stories and the laughter seem to never end!

I divided my Bible Study class into 3 groups this morning for discussion. The lesson was from I John. How can we know the truth? The class decided as a whole that most of the world doesn't want to know the truth. Most of us really don't want to know if we are wrong - especially if we are in a circle of friends that make us feel appreciated. When I taught first grade there was a flag in the hallway. Written continuously in the white stripes were these words: What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular. We are living in a time when Christians must remember those words and stand up for what they have experienced to be truth.

After church, my good friend, Sherry, and I went out to China Buffet for dinner. I go there a lot to please our Asian friends. However, it was Sherry's first time to eat there and she loved it! Sherry has the most naturally beautiful voice! I told her that she is going to sing at my funeral and bless everyone!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Prayer Alert for Noel

Noel just learned that Mayo Clinic has confirmed his appointment for June 29th. Noel thought that it would take a few months to see a doctor there. However, after talking to the senior heart specialist at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Mayo has moved Noel to the top of the list. That is an answer to my prayers!!
Friday, June 19th, 2009

Just for Fun

Galen sent a cute story about a thief who stole some artwork in Paris. The police caught up to him when his vehicle stalled. When questioned, the thief had these excuses: I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh. I figured, however, I had nothing Toulous.

Lazy Weekend

Today was the last day of Session #6 at SEI. As usual, we all gave our students comprehensive tests and scored them. Class will resume next Tuesday. I left school at noon, and went to Wal-Mart to buy a GPS. I was waiting for the price to go down and it did! I have to practice a piano solo and prepare my Bible study for Sunday morning. Beyond that, I don't have any plans. Wow! Single and free! Next weekend the house will be flowing with guests who have come for the PowWow. I talked to Jason yesterday. He's designing the T-Shirts for the family.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 Continued

Mixed Feelings About HealthCare Reform

Having lived in Japan for 10 years and experiencing socialized medicine, I have very mixed feelings about America changing healthcare policies too quickly without thinking it through completely. In spite of Japan being a first-world nation, the health-care suffered. Yes, everyone had access, but everyone could not enjoy care as we know it in the USA.

My first year in Tokyo, was during the "bubble" economy. In March, I became ill with the stomach flu. I became dehydrated and was admitted to the hospital. I was given a private room for $30 a day. The room was bare except for a bed, a table, and a small refrigerator. We ignorant Americans didn't know I needed a gown and an extra sheet. I also learned very quickly that I was to share a bathroom on the hallway where they kept the washer and dryer for families to wash. Bill didn't know to bring me food, so the first morning that I was able to eat anything at all, a nurse brought me a plate that contained a whole fish, some rice and a salad. I thought I was going to get sick all over again! Fortunately, some "angels" from our church showed up with pudding, jello and yogurt.

Every year, mobile units come to the schools and give the teachers and students exams. I received a letter telling me to come to the hospital because I had a gall stone. The only problem was that I had my gall bladder removed 5 years previously in Miami. Some radiology student had mistaken the empty space for a stone. Duh??

Bill was diagnosed with a hernia and was scheduled for surgery at a local hospital in Tokyo. Since we were planning to come home in the summer, he opted to have the surgery in the States. The American doctor told Bill that he only had a pulled muscle from carrying luggage and needed no surgery at all! That was 13 years ago. Yes, healthcare in Japan is cheap, but so is the medical training. Our friend, Dr. Akashi, sent his son to Dartmouth for medical school and told us repeatedly that America has the best healthcare system in the world! Bill presently pays $585 a month for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He was able to get a routine colonoscopy which revealed cancer and must have saved his life. For those who cannot afford insurance, they should most certainly have Sooner Care or some other form of government assisted program. Everyone should have healthcare. That is a given. However, we must be extremely careful not to find ourselves in a social system which resembles Canada, England, or Japan.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So much has happened in the last 5 days! Saturday, Bill and I took my mother to the mall to see the movie, "Night at the Museum, Battle of the Smithsonian". Mom and Dad had visited Washington DC, and Mom loved the humor! Afterward, we ate at Braum's and bought ice cream to bring home.

Sunday, was overwhelming! Two new couples joined our Bible Study class, and I found myself teaching 16 people. Another couple joined the church during the morning service who plan to join our class. Next week, I will divide the members for discussion purposes, and then bring them back together for "wrap-up". The lesson this week centered on, "How do you know if you are really saved?" Several of us shared that we had been baptized the second time, because the scriptures had been in our heads, but not in our hearts. Therefore, we really had not asked Christ to come into our lives, and were NOT saved!"

After church, we had choir rehearsal for the next Independence Day presentation. Our new drummer is unbelievable. I was in awe when I learned that she has been playing for a year. She gives God the credit for giving her the gift.

After choir practice, the Brazil mission team packed. Bill had some extra space, and took boxes of dental equipment and supplies. One of the members had 100 pairs of flipflops, and 100 pairs of glasses. The team left on Monday morning for the airport and I taught Bill's morning classes at SEI.

At noon, my cell phone was ringing. The plane to Atlanta had been cancelled and the team would miss their connecting flight. The next flight would not leave until Wednesday!! Bill came home. Tuesday, he mowed the lawn again, washed the Camry for me, and washed sheets while I was teaching. When I came home, we went out to Mazzio's.

This morning, we met the group at the church again!! Bill called at 7 pm. The group had made it to Atlanta, and he had been bumped up to Business Class because we are Silver Elite with Delta.

Noel called. He had gotten a call from David. He is in Texas awaiting Parole. We continue to pray for Noel 's heart problems, and for David's release.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

I am becoming a "geezer" for sure. After cooking breakfast and cleaning up, I puttered in the backyard and enjoyed the cool morning air. I propped up two of the tomato plants that had been battered by the last storm and picked up twigs that had broken off of the two oak trees.

Everyday, I'm learning something new from my students. The Saudi men are not used to seeing women who are not covered, so they naturally observe what I'm wearing. Two of them make a habit of complimenting my clothes. I was feeling a little uncomfortable because there is a beautiful Saudi woman in my class, as well. I pointed out the lovely blue scarf on her head and told her I loved the color. At that point, everyone's eyes went to the floor. So--- I began asking questions. They confirmed what I had begun to suspect ---men would never admire, or compliment a lady openly in their country. After class, Ibrahim asked if he could take a picture with me. I knew that they don't take pictures of women, so I asked if he was sure it would be okay. He said it was fine because I am his "American mother".

One of the grammar lessons talked about family trees and origins. A student asked me what my father's name was. ( Women in Saudi Arabia don't change their names.) When I said, "Greenwalt" he immediately asked if that was German. I said, "Yes, my father's family was German Jew. However, he was a Christian. Everyone looked at me!!! A minute went by, and then they all smiled, and said,"Teacher, it's okay. We like you!" Most of them have been in my home and know that I like them!

After class yesterday, Bill and I went to the Shawnee Mall to finish his Brazil shopping. After going to several stores, we felt wiped out and decided to get salads at the Cattle Co. because it was convenient. If you are looking for a romantic restaurant, I would not suggest that one. It has peanut shells everywhere, and plays loud cowboy music. However, the food is great!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

When we returned from Springfield on Sunday evening there was a message waiting for me on the phone. Anne had gone to pick up her new Lincoln TownCar and wanted me to cover her classes this morning. That meant that I taught 4 upperlevel grammar classes today. Whew!

We left as planned on Friday and arrived at Noel's at 8:30 pm. We stopped, and ate in Bristow, so that they wouldn't have to worry over us. We've learned that the fastest way to Tulsa is through Prague, and then connect to I-44 in Stroud. Saturday morning, we found our way to Evangel University on Glenstone Ave. We traveled on Chestnut Expressway which took us through an older part of Springfield. Since Noel lives in a newer home on the south side, it was new territory for us. The college is beautiful!! Rosslyn Academy (Nairobi) is owned by 3 denominations - So. Baptist, Assembly of God, and Mennonite. Evangel is Assembly of God. It was great to see former teachers, students, and office staff. The Kenyan school has grown to over 500 students and has a new swimming pool. It made me sad to see that the jacaranda trees and the view of the valley from my former first grade classroom is now the US Embassy residential compound. However, it makes sense because the new Embassy and the United Nations Headquarters is only 1 kilo from the Academy.

Bill and I stopped at Braum's for a quick snack and then headed back to Noel and Janice's. By 2 pm we were on our way to Silver Dollar City. I had promised to drive the gang, so Noel handed me the keys to his van. Mark, Noel's son, went with us also. It was late, so we only attended two shows - Gossemer's Magic in the Opera House, and The Jeerks, a group of 5 men from Sweden who dance and play unorthodox instruments. Since we had seen the Chinese Acrobats in Beijing, I had hoped that they would still be there, but the Magic was very professional and entertaining.

After the shows, we went into Branson to take Noel's family out to dinner at Bob Evan's. It has a large gift shop and the best banana and blueberry bread with every entree. The food is so "downhome"! While paying, I was almost tempted to buy a "belly button cleaner" for a friend of mine. Ha!

Sunday morning, we attended church at Lynn Street Baptist. It is a tiny little church of about 20 adults on the north side of town. How Noel ever found this church is beyond us! Anyway, everyone in the church is musical and plays or sings. Most of them are fantastic. I really enjoy listening to one fellow play the harmonica. He's quite good! The other thing I liked is that we sang about 6 of the old hymns---"When We All Get to Heaven" and "I Know Whom I Have Believed". I had almost forgotten some of those songs!

The traffice was light, and we returned home around 5 pm. We drove thru Sonic and brought home dinner. I was grateful to God for the safe trip and another relaxing time in Springfield. Noel seemed relaxed and didn't have any episodes with his heart! I think we took good care of him!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

I will be away from the computer for a few days. Bill and I will be leaving for Springfield afterschool today. I go prepared for whatever may happen. Noel called last night. He has been feeling really bad the past two weeks. His heart beats wildly in spite of his pacemaker being tweaked. We pray that the Mayo Clinic will know what to do. We joked that he shouldn't watch the news for the next 4 years. Anyway, I have talked him in to going with us to Silver Dollar City. We'll go to a show, eat out for his 56th birthday, and then drive back to his house. I think he trusts me to watch over him. He and Galen joke that I'm their "favorite" sister.

Well, it's off to class. I'm teaching advanced grammar this session. My students are learning to write active vs. passive sentences. Today, they will write passive progressive. Yesterday, I was teaching the difference between "I am interesting." and "I am interested." That seems to be a mistake of many foreign students. I also taught two of the boys the word, "flirt". They think that if they sweet talk me, their grades will go up. I have no idea how "flirt" is translated into Arabic, but the class just started rolling with laughter when they looked it up in their electronic dictionaries!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yesterday, I took tacos to my mother's apartment for lunch. I went a little early since I am teaching from 1 - 3 pm this session. Mom's friend, Shirley, joined us. She planned to stay and play Mexican dominoes after I left. Noel had called and said that his heart doctor at St. John's has run out of options. He has referred Noel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnasota. He is now waiting for an appointment.

Bill and I are leaving afterschool on Friday to drive to Springfield. The Rosslyn Academy reunion is this weekend at Evangel College. We have no idea where that is, but have been told that it is on Gladstone Avenue. We have been sent a list of people who will be attending. Several of my Junior Rosslyn Singers and Dancers have now graduated from high school and are in the States. Bill also saw that many of his former band and choir students will be there!

We planning to go to Silver Dollar City on Saturday evening. We're hoping that Noel will feel like letting us drive him there. We also enjoy his church on Sundays. It's the only church I know that has more music than preaching! They always have at least 4 specials, and the pianist makes the piano dance!!!

Thunder and lightening woke me up early this morning. There is just something about a warm summer rain! It makes me think of Glorieta because we never had summer rain in Southern California. My brothers agree that summer storms are exotic and romantic!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

In spite of enjoying my classes so much, I have to admit that I really enjoy the weekend. Friday, however, I think I pushed myself a little too much. (I must be feeling my age.) After class, Bill and I met at the pool and swam for over an hour. We usually limit ourselves to 45 minutes. We're always hungry after swimming, so we went to the newly refurbished Arrow Cafe on Hwy 9 and I ordered breakfast. I couldn't believe all of the sausage gravy, and pushed it aside. After dinner, Bill mowed both yards and edged. I finished a job that I had wanted to do since Spring came. I put plastic bags on the ground in the front planter, and then spread cyprus mulch chips over them. Now I won't have to weed and the chips hold in the moisture. I worked as a secretary at the Kaibab Bark Plant in Arizona for 3 months when Bill and I first married. I hated the job, but I learned a lot about bark. While there, I worked with several men who were polygamist and lived in Colorado City, Arizona. I also watched the manager steal the company blind! He was a large man, and one night someone put a sign on his door that read, "Porky Polyg". I got a job in the public school as quickly as possible!

Saturday, Bill and I took a drive to Thunderbird Lake near Norman on Hwy 9. It takes 20 minutes from our house. We didn't realize that it is so popular! They have horses, camping, and all types of boats to rent. We stopped for lunch at the Clear Water Grill. It was so relaxing! There is a tri-level deck that leads to the marina. We sat at a table with an umbrella where the mist would blow on us. I had mushroom/chicken and Bill had clam strips.

Sunday was very interesting! Ted, our new student from Japan, said he wanted to come to church with us. I called his homestay father, Chris, to discuss the possibility. Chris said that Pastor Larry had officiated at his sister's funeral and he wanted to bring Ted. (His sister was in her 20's.) Ted also wanted to stay for choir practice. We are preparing for June 28th, the Sunday before Independence Day. I will be playing a military version on the piano with a snare drum of "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" and then a very jazzed up, "Peace Like A River". After choir, we grabbed lunch at Braum's before I had to go to a jewelry party with the Saudi Arabian ladies from school.

I was so amazed!!! I had only seen the Saudi women with their scarves wrapped around their heads. At the party, where there were no men, these ladies were wearing cocktail dresses and had their hair done and make-up. What a shame that there were no men to appreciate how gorgeous these women really are! It was so enlightening because we discussed many topics that would not be appropriate in class. We talked about their weddings, their feelings about shared wives, breast feeding and many more subjects. Deena confided in me that she would like to get her doctors degree in botony research fron OU when she finishes our English school, and then she would really love to immigrate to the United States. I will pray that God grants her desire. I can sense the emotional and spiritual prison that she lives in each day.