My Kinda Christian: Sr. Linda Fuselier and 300 Chickens

my-kinda-christian-logoI thought I’d start an irregular series of posts called “My Kinda Christian.” These posts will probably consist of folks and groups that I think represent the best tradition of the Church. Who knows who might show up?

I was prompted in this direction by an email update I got recently from my first-grade teacher – not “a” first- grade teacher, but MY first-grade teacher. Sr. Linda Fuselier, SNJM, taught me first grade at St. Ignatius School in Sacramento in 1969 (or there abouts).

For the last 20 or so years Sr. Linda has been very involved in HIV/AIDS work. She worked in Washington, D.C., for a little while with crack-addicted babies who were also HIV positive. She was a member of the Catholic Network on HIV/AIDS Awareness. She worked on this issue at the United Nations. She worked in the rural South with men with AIDS who were not getting healthcare because the stigma was too great.

Now, Sr. Linda is in southwest Uganda. Through the Volunteer Missionary Movement,  she is working with a school and an orphanage where many babies are infected with HIV. She’s living at the Yesu Ahuriire Community – a Catholic charismatic renewal community in Kamara, outside of Mbarara.

Below is an excerpt from one of Sr. Linda’s letters. (I’ll run more excerpts in the future.) For now, let me just say, Sr. Linda Fuselier is MY KINDA CHRISTIAN.

On May 10 I moved to my new home in Karama. It is about 8 miles into the country from where I lived last year! It is a charismatic renewal center.  On the grounds there is a community of about 30+ members who are mostly in their 20’s with a few 30 or 40 year olds and 3 children aged 2 and under!   This community takes care of hospitality, maintenance and daily prayers! Maintenance includes gardening and caring for the banana plantations.  I think we also have 15 cows and 30+ goats as well as 300 hens laying eggs!!! I think there are hired workers for the animals.

On the farm is a second community of 4 Koreans from The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus of Kottengnae who do marvelous ministry in Korea as well as around the world.  At our place they have 24 HIV orphans.  In time I hope to be working with them.
Also, we have a school called Ahuriire: Ugandan School for All whether they are of any race, sex, creed, tribe etc. Here I am helping to create a resource room and counseling room of which I will be engaged in.  There are about 80 students in the school. Some of our students are boarders in a girls’ dormitory and a boys’ dormitory. Others walk from the nearby villages. We are in our second term as of May 23rd when the children began returning to school. Registration takes about a week before all return with their supplies, mattresses and uniforms as well as tuition.

Last week I was engaged in posters that need to be displayed for school officials and parents as well as visitors. Basically, the posters tell of class assignments, credentials, heads of departments, prefects, extracurricular responsibilities of teachers, class timetables etc. I thanked God each moment in knowing how to print!

There is no computer, copy machine, pencil sharpeners (razors are in sight everwhere). I also spent time making learning materials.  My favorite project was the slide film for the television box made with cardboard and branches of a tree that role with “film,” handmade pictures created of ball, book, girl, boy, etc, at least 50  identifiable objects for the children to name in English. All students are expected to speak English. The baby class are children of a pre-school level ranging from 3-7 years old. They still are transitioning from local language!

There are no texts, or teachers manuals, crayons or paper. All students copy examples and exercises from black board to copy books. There is a copy book for each of the  subjects. In the baby class, all work for the student is drawn in by the teacher! In the other classes all copy from the board. There is a lot of rote memory work.

There are no learning centers in the classroom as there are no stores for teachers to buy learning materials.  In the capital city there is a book store on par of Barnes and Noble or Borders. The cost of materials and books seem to be higher than what I would pay in the States.

I bought a suitcase and filled it with learning materials and books for the resource room that I am creating for the school. The resources are both for the teachers and the children.  It is a place where I am helping the children who fall behind or just need extra help and encouragement.

My latest purchase was a “floor bear” that holds 3 children to s it and read. I am in the process of getting supplies for my sand tray and art therapy counseling room. It is exciting to createnew opportunities for the children and teachers.

Bee Dreams: ‘Anthers Bright with Pollen’

In the deep mid-winter, it’s nice to think about bees. Below is a photo by California photograher Kate Kunath. It’s from her photo series Stung: Beekeeping in the 21st Century.

bee_california_kunath1

The apiarist in Kunath’s photo is Jeff Anderson of Oakdale, California. Below is a little more about him from Sharon Levy’s article The Vanishing. Her writing is luscious and warm.

Just down the road, Jeff Anderson and his three assistants methodically pry the lid off each of hundreds of hive boxes to check the health of the colonies inside. As the day wears on and the March sunshine warms this little-used ranch road in California’s Sierra foothills, more and more bees take flight.

Wild buckthorn bushes lining the road carry clusters of tiny white flowers, their anthers bright with pollen. Bees work the blossoms, packing the yellow grains into smooth depressions on their hind legs, specially designed to carry this fuel (pollen is a high-protein food) back to the hive. On their travels, they transfer pollen from plant to plant, flower to flower, fertilizing the blossoms and allowing them to set fruit. This ancient partnership of pollinator and plant is essential to life as we know it. One-third of the food we eat comes from crops that need animal pollinators, a role often filled by bees but sometimes by butterflies, beetles, birds, or bats. Bee-pollinated foods include squash, tomatoes, peppers, apples, and pears. Unfortunately, the honeybees surrounding me are members of a threatened tribe, whose loss would have a dire effect on farmers, not to mention everyone who eats fruits and vegetables.

It’s cold and clear in Washington today. The sun is low and the shadows long and sharp. For now the bees are tucked away inside their hives eating the rewards of a spring and summer of hard work. Their primary job for the next few months is just to stay warm–and focus on the queen. I like that. Maybe I’ll try that too. Stay warm and focus on the Sabbath Queen: “Come, let us go to receive Shabbat the Queen.”