Thursday, February 9, 2012

If you think you can, or you think you can’t – You’re right! Henry Ford

Here we are!!! Vaka 125 – five warriors who have now been on the island for about three weeks, people that came from all walks of life to share their lives with the people of the Cook Islands. We have walked or been driven around the neat tidy villages with their manicured lawns and family graves out front. We have ventured further inland amongst the taro swamps and trees heaving with mangoes, pawpaws, starfruit and all the abundant fruits of the islands. We can close our eyes and smell the heady fragrance of the frangipani and the gardenia flowers of the ei’s we were shown how to make. We recall with warmth the boat trip across the sparkling waters to a white sandy beach. Unfortunately, tropical rains set in for a couple of days, but as the days and weeks have rolled on with the islands tides, we all recall with fondness the places visited and the wonderful people we have met along the way. The singing of the children in the school, the hip swaying of the dancers together with the sounds of the drummers in the shows and all the singing in the churches will echo in our ears for a long time to come. We have experienced the friendliness and hospitality of the islanders and four of us are now getting ready to go back home. It is appropriate to reflect on our friendships and OUR team- small, but steady and strong. The team that took a hands on approach to touch lives. We came to achieve goals and have experienced that beneath skin, beyond the differing features and into the true heart of being, fundamentally we are more alike than we are different.All my thoughts will be with you this weekend as you travel back to the USA and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all and hope to meet again one day.

Ka Kite, kia orana and kia manuia! Greetings and good luck.

- Connie

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Don’t let your dreams for tomorrow be restricted by the difficulties of today."

A freighter past by the Kiikii as dawn turned to day light. Another day of sun, the sound of surf and sudden showers has begun.After a breakfast of walnut pancakes, the team departed to our assignments. Ardys and Dot again worked at St Josephs school tutoring students in English. Anne, Connie and Paul travelled to TakitumuSchool where they also helped students with their English skills. Annes work at the library was compromised by the presence of computer gremlins. Connie continued her professional support of the school staff and Paul entered part of the teachers manual into the laptop.After dinner which featured lamb chops and spiced sausages, the team watched a documentary which depicted life in the Cook Islandsduring the mid 1900’s.Ian Karika stopped by and gave an energetic history of successful efforts at the Takitumu conservationArea which helped save the Kakerori (Rarotonga Flycatcher) from extinction. Ian then humbled Paulby presenting him with a staff shirt of the Takitumu Conservation area embossed with the Fly Catcher.

We retired to our rooms with the light of a full moon shimmering on the waters of the South Pacific.

Monday, February 6, 2012

We woke up to gray skies which remained overcast much of the day, but the rain had stopped and the seas were calmer. The air was heavy with humidity which forebode a hot sticky day.Leanne treated us with French toast and fruit before we headed out for our bus or van rides to our work sites.Our time at school has settled into predictable patterns. A couple of noteworthy things occurred. At St. Joseph’s Ardys was promoted from Pre-Schoolers to fourth graders. She worked with them all day on reading. That meant she could join the faculty and staff for morning tea. This included not only tea or coffee but also a lovely array of fruit and crackers on which to spread rich, ripe avocado.Dot’s fifth graders are happily coming to reading sessions. They have been encouraged by the stickers she gives them.At Takitumu Connie, Anne and Paul settled into reading classes. Anne saw the first books logged out on the computer system that she has developed. All three had the opportunity to see the children use the library for the first time this year. With a combination of dismay and good humor they saw that much of the organizing work four team members had done somewhat undone in a matter of minutes.Dinner was a nice event with a meal catered by Samantha Puati. The main course was a chicken dish served on rice with a salad. She also made a delicious banana cake. We had an upbeat meeting with James. He outlined a number of interesting activities for late afternoons and evenings this week. We retired to our rooms to listen to the sound of the surf. The sounds of the ocean helped us unwind from a busy day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

During the night their was a ferocious rain storm and the seas were once again boiling in the morning. Ardys and Paul continued their exploration of the island by car.Dot went on her trek with Pa. She had an interesting time and due to the inclement weather plans to do it again next Saturday.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The sun was out and it appeared we would have a lovely day.Paul and Ardys rented a car and did a full scale exploration of the island.Connie and Anne attempted to break some record by circumnavigating the island by bus 3 times in one day. Two clockwise and one anti-clockwise. They were picked up early (island time) by Roratours for the Captain Tama Lagoon Cruise and rode anti-clockwise to pick up all the other passengers at their hotels on the way to MuriBeach. The cruise started out with snorkeling in the beautiful protected marine reserve. The glass bottomed boat took them to Koromiri Motu (a small island) where the crew cooked a delicious meal of fish, fruit and vegetables. They then gave a demonstration of coconut tree climbing and coconut opening. The difference between the water in the coconut and the cream and milk were explained. The crew with the help of passengers did a demonstration of wearing the Pareu.We were tired during the clockwise trip to return all the other tourists to their hotels.Anne and Connie took another trip around the island to the “Whatever Bar and Grill.” They thoroughly enjoyed Engia Pate and her band as they sang native songs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"May the spirit that is in me acknowledge the spirit that is in you". Namaste

The morning skies were clear and the prospect was for a sunny day. The surf continued to pound but with somewhat less ferocity than the previous day.After another delicious breakfast prepared by Leanne, the crew set off for the day.Ardys volunteered to assist with the move of the Cook Island Red Cross to its new facility. Anne and Connie were able to see the new facility when Ardys was left off. This new building is cyclone proof and will be the cyclone shelter for this part of the island including the KiiKii residents.Ardys spent the day going through old files and destroying those that were no longer applicable. She learned a lot about the operations of the Cook Island Red Cross.Paul returned to the Takitumu Conservation area to assist Ian with cutting the trails. He was able to get to the top most point in the area and had a magnificent view of the ocean. He was able to identify the various reefs.Dot returned to the St. Joseph’s school. She continued to tutor students in English.Anne and Connie went again to the Takitumu School. They were treated to a magnificent concert by the students. The quality of the singing is remarkable. A pep talk by the principal Engia Pate followed.Anne finished a book she’d been reading with 5th year students and Connie went about her evaluations and teaching. We were then called to “Morning Tea.” This was a feast of local dishes and fruit.Anne then continued cataloging the library’s collections. Connie continued in the classroom.At 6:30 we all met at the covered area of the KiiKii. A group photo was taken by a fellow resident of the KiiKii.We then traveled to the Raviz Restaurant for a wonderful Indian buffet. We were joined at dinner by Engia Pate her daugter Maggie and son.

It was a full day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You can wait forever for perfect conditions...or you can make the best of what you have got!! African Proverb

Dawn came with the sound of the pounding surf and a low cloud cover, which quickly turned into a rainy morning.At the Takitumu School Connie continued to evaluate curriculum and listen to the children read. Paul Anne also tutored children. Anne adjusted the computer’s settings so the printer and computer were in sync. Anne continued cataloging the library’s holdings.Ardys went to the Creative Centerand assisted a very dedicated team of workers with daily tasks. About 20 mentally and physically challenged persons regularly spend the day socializing, doing art and craft projects (which are sold at the market), playing games for exercise and working individually on word games and puzzles. They receive limited physical therapy once weekly. Progress on paralyzed stroke victims is documented during these sessions. Meals on wheels were delivered by a van to 12 homes today. Dot tutored once again at St. Joseph’s school.This afternoon the surf was still pounding on the shore. Local surfers were exited about the prospect of surfing. They were just like kids in the states who can’t wait to build the first snowman.This evening we all went to the “Flying Boat” for Fish and Chips which were absolutely delicious. James acted as local tour guide and took us to show us where the Rugby Field is where a game will be played on Saturday. Then we went to the Marae of Araite Tonga. In ancient times political functions of the Ariki High Chief and his royal court were conducted.Back at the KiiKii the skies were still too dark to see the Southern Cross. With James help pointing out where the Southern Cross would be found, Ardys and Paul saw the formation later that evening.

It’s been a good day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Actual pleasure of discovery may far exceed our anticipation.

Dawn came with clouds and heavy surf. Leanne got us started on our day with a great breakfast. James described the 3 elements necessary for the preservation of heritage. Those elements are land, language and culture.We then left for our assignments. Ardys and Dot to St. Joseph’s school. Ardys worked with pre-school children in the morning and tutored English in the afternoon. Dot tutored English and again had the opportunity to teach a geography class.Anne, Connie and Paul again spent the day at the Takitumu school. Connie continued her evaluations and spent some time in the classrooms. Anne and Paul each worked with 5 students helping them with reading. Anne worked the balance of the day on the library computer cataloging the library’s books. Paul organized and refiled library materials.The evening was spent at the KiiKii with Ngara Katuke a representative of the Cook Islands Civil Society Organization and her friends Mariake and Piniki. The three graciously and patiently taught the group the art of making beautiful eis and eis katu. Photos of the group with their artistic creations ended the delightful session.We then turned our attention to another of Sam’s culinary delights.

- Paul