Sunday, April 29, 2012

All the Latest from Your Friends, Steve and Cathy

Steve’s news

After Easter I had a quick visit to the US to see my adult children and the grandkids. It was a wonderful trip. I was there for my granddaughter Olivia’s birthday, and took cupcakes to her class at school, and went out for her birthday dinner. My daughter Laura took me to see my dentist, which was a real treat. It’s the small things ;-)

With Olivia, 9 years old

My sister Nancy took me to Huntersville to stay with my son Chris for the other half of my vacation. She and I caught up on stuff during the trip. With Chris, I got to see two of Jim’s baseball games. He was the team’s MVP for one of the games. Chris took me to get a real haircut before I got my driver’s license picture made. We also shopped for some things not available here.

Chris, Kaleigh, me, and Jim
[From Cathy - When Steve got back, I asked him what the most striking thing about the visit was. He said, “It was cold – 58 degrees and I had to wear four layers.” Well, admittedly that was in part because he took only a very light jacket. But he needed three shirts under the jacket to be comfortable. Now that’s proof that he’s truly acclimated to Belize.]

Last week Cathy and I went to the Peace Corps office for two days of in-service training and got re-energized for the coming year. On the last evening we participated in a forum on “site challenges.” [From Cathy - The PCVs who have been disconnected from their original assignments participated. There were 15 of the remaining 35 in this forum who participated. Granted that’s a hefty percentage, and not typical of other Peace Corps installations. They are working hard to repair the situation so that we all can have a “true Peace Corps experience.”]

After the forum, were invited to a dinner event at the ambassador’s residence. He is a very impressive person. [From Cathy - His name is Vinai Thummalapally (rhymes with monopoly). He was Barack Obama's roommate at Occidental Collage one summer! He was SO charming. Went around serving wine and chatting with everyone.]

With the Ambassador (P.S. That's water I'm drinking.)
After the dinner we were hosted overnight by Donna and Barry who are career foreign service people. [From Cathy - Donna is from Goldsboro, so we felt a connection with our home state. Barry, from Oklahoma, looked the part with his crisp black cowboy hat and boots. He is involved with law enforcement in his current assignment. He regaled us with funny, and scary, stories about the goings on in Belize. What a treat to be back in a beautifully furnished home, air conditioning, and – get ready for this – a real bathtub. I took my first real bath in a year. (Bucket baths don’t count.) For breakfast, we had individually-baked asparagus quiche that Barry whipped up. Well, shame on us for not getting a snapshot of them. Here are their Facebook pictures. Thank you, thank you, Donna and Barry!]

Donna and Barry
Now we are back to work. The revision of the training manual for the community health workers is shaping up to be a big deal, and we are really enthused about this project.

Next month we are looking forward to a visit by Cathy’s dad and his wife.

The super big news is that Cathy’s son Jeff and his wife Stephanie have announced they are expecting a baby in October. So that means a trip to North Carolina for us. This will be the first grandchild on Cathy’s side of the family.

[From Cathy – Just a couple other things from me.

We felt our first earthquake on Sunday, April 22. It was such a little rocking sensation, just two separate tremors, but there was no mistaking what it was. One of the pictures hanging on the wall was barely swaying, but that’s about the only visible sign I saw. The next day I found a website (  that pinpointed the epicenter in Guatemala. It was a 4.4 on the Richter scale. At first we doubted ourselves, but the next day when Steve went to the clinic, people were talking about it. I asked our downstairs neighbor Rafi if she had felt it. She showed me a new BIG crack in the wall next to the shower. People here just take it in stride.

Last Friday I gave a short presentation to our Business Organization sector PCVs. It was an hour of tips and shortcuts using Excel as a database. I was pretty skeptical that they would be receptive to such a topic. It had been requested by one of their group, but I assumed that most would be experienced on the topic. That wasn’t the case, however, and the presentation went very well. Some said it was the best of the two days. Go figure?!

I’m working on one of the modules of the CHW (Community Health Worker) training manual in anticipation of our first team meeting next Friday, May 4th (MAY? How did it get to be May?) So far we have Steve and me and another woman from the PC office on the PC side. From the Ministry of Health side there will be two HECOPAB educators, a public health nurse, and the Director of HECOPAB. Yes, I am nervous about how my work will be viewed. Oh, well, you have to start somewhere . . .

Oh, yeah. Last Monday my Zumba class had 30 people!

FuWe Dog is getting big!

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