Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sarah and I are getting married September 4th!

I just wanted to let you all know that after lots of prayer, planning, and petitioning, Sarah and I are planning to get married on September 4 of this year in Daytona Beach, FL!

Sarah just left this past Sunday. It was great to have her here with me. We spent two nights with my host family during training and then spent ten days at my site before spending two nights on the beach. Sarah fit right in, walking and talking with me as we walked around and participated in meetings and project workdays. They even gave her a nagwa (local dress) and a Ngabere name!
We also talked to the country director right after we got here and he said that he would grant us permission to marry as long as she could handle the life here. During the meeting we also presented our health plan, financial plan, and work plan, as well as discussing how her work will not impede my Peace Corps or Thesis work. After being on site, meeting the people, getting sick and getting healthy again, going to community meetings, and getting a better grasp of our daily routine and marital support options, we are excited to get married.
Her work will be in the school, teaching english classes, and tutoring. She will also help me in my environmental health presentations, where her work will be especially effective in reaching the women and children. This will be a great application of her English degree, tutoring experience, ESL and Global Health classes, and her heart to serve others. I´m also excited to have her apply her English major by reading my Quarterly Reports and Thesis!

Thanks for being a part of our story!

Kevin and Sarah

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fourth Month on Site

Good morning!

I will do my best to be coherent, but I admit my mind is elsewhere as I await the arrival of my fiancee Sarah here in Panama City this afternoon. After not seeing her for almost six months, I am truly grateful for the chance to have her visit. She is on a plane from Tampa to Miami at the moment. My host family already gave her a Ngabere name, so you'll have to ask her what her new name is!

The past month or so has had its mix of good and bad. A prime example is watching my first Vikings game as they beat Dallas 34-3, only to hear through the phone that they weren't able to make it to the Super Bowl. At least the Twins will sign Joe Mauer, right?

I don't know if you heard it on CNN or not, but Panama has 10 new graduates of English 101. After conducting their oral interviews in English, our group celebrated with chicken, rice, kool-aid, and dominoes (playing dominoes, not eating dominoes).

On a sad note, my cheap Digicel international calling plan ended on January 15th. The price per minute rose from 3 cents to 15 cents, so I apologize in advance for not making as many phone calls. If you want to chat, email me and we can set up a Skype call!

I have been a proud engineer, seeing the people of my community become better engineers by the day. In two communities, we used a surveying device made of PVC, clear plastic tubing, and water to survey the entire acueduct system. Using the data, I can enter the numbers into a computer program to make a nice spiffy map of their system, complete with horizontal distance, vertical distance, flow, and pipe diameter. During the surveying process, they taught me how to communicate to friends far away by yelling at the top of my lungs in different vocal patterns. We also celebrated a long days work by playing baseball. Ground balls are a bit tricky on the uneven terrain.

Our community also organized wood pit latrine workdays. The owner who wants the latrine built would get the materials ready and cook food while the workers would work all day and eat the food. It's great to see everyone working together to make these beautiful works of art called latrines.

A representative from the Ministry of Environmental Health came and visited our site last week. We were able to have a great discussion on Community Organization and Participation and were able to lay out how the Environmental Health Ministry, Peace Corps, and the community can work together to improve environmental health.

A member of our own community working for a government agency put together a workday on organic fertilizer. Everyone came with a big sack full of ash, dried leaves, rice husks, horse manure, and even a fermented corn drink. They were making jokes all day on how they couldn't believe the alcoholic drink was better off in the ground making compost than in their stomachs.

Another current project is writing solicitudes for the latrine and aquaduct projects. We will be soliciting help from the district representative, mayor, and two government agencies. Next up will be putting together material and price lists.

The last highlight was our Comarca Regional Meeting. We got caught up on our different projects and even had time for an organic coffee and wine tour. I highly recommend it!

Ask the audience: Vote for your Top 5 photos from my Picasa albums-the link is located on the right margin above. I'm going to submit photos to make a Peace Corps Panama Photo Calendar. Leave a comment below with

1) The Album Name
2) The row and column of the photo

Thanks for reading! I'm off to spend two awesome weeks with my fiancee! Goodbye!