Yes, We Can

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This weekend, my church, Northshore Vineyard Church, launches a shoe drive on behalf of  school children in my former ministry on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  In Honduras, one cannot attend school, even public schools, without paying for uniforms, fees, books, and even shoes. The shoes must be black or brown and closed toe. Due to the rising costs of school attendance, many parents do not send their children to school.

Shoes are a great investment in the life of a child. With a pair of sturdy shoes, they can walk into opportunities such as the classroom that are otherwise beyond their grasp.

We have selected fifty children who are in need. All of these children are from very poor homes. Most live in substandard homes. Many don’t eat but once a day. Many are supported by parents who are day-laborers existing on less than 10-15 dollars wages per week. Many are single-parent homes whose moms juggle selling food on the street with child-rearing duties.

Not everyone lives like the homes pictured below, but an alarming number of Honduran children grow up in homes such as these. In the area where we minister, none have running water or inside sanitation of any sort, and the use of electricity is usually restricted to a few lightbulbs or small appliances. A gift of shoes is a great investment for a mother who can scarcely afford to feed her children.

green houseIf you want to give towards this project, the funds will be used for purchasing shoes as well as paying for shipping. We want to ship in late December, as the new school year starts in early February in Honduras. We are asking for donations of $20 for each pair of shoes. A gift of $25 will help pay for shipping as well.

This PayPal link to my bank account is reserved for Honduras projects.

The inspiration for the title comes from a song recorded by the late Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans legend. Here’s a bit of the lyrics from Yes, We Can Can.

Yes, we can great gosh Almighty
Oh, yes, we can, I know we can, can

And we gotta take care of all the children
The little children of the world
‘Cause they’re our strongest hope for the future
The little bitty boys and girls

We got to make this land a better land
Than the world in which we live
And we gotta help each man be a better man
With the kindness that we give

As far as this small project is concerned, there’s no pressure to give. There’s a world out there waiting for you and I that needs our love and help. We can help a refugee, an orphan, a widow, a neighbor, a Muslim, a Christian, or anyone in need. That’s the sprit of Yes, We Can, Can.

 

The Trouble with Trumkpkins

I wrote an entire post about the popular hashtag, Trumpkin. It’s trending on social media, especially Instagram, as people spoof  The Donald with carved pumpkin heads satirizing his likeness. After I completed my post, I lost it. Poof!

That’s the trouble with trumpkins, I suppose. They are just too good to stay in one place. However, I found time today to reissue the troubling Trumpkin post. Enjoy, and perhaps, you will find time to create a trumpkin, a hellary, or a burning berniehead.

Baby Trumpkinbest trump

Vegas Trumpkin

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It’s a most wonderful time of year, isn’t it? Better than Christmas, Halloween affords time for satire and laughter at the horror of a Trump, Hellary or Burning Bernie in the White House. Personally, I like Sanders’ ideas very much, but he hasn’t got a prayer of winning. However, maybe before I pass on to my heavenly reward, the US will sanely choose single-payer health care. Until then, carve on.

Bono on the difference between Grace and Karma

Bono explains the difference between Karma and Grace. Grace is so hard to define. As he says, It’s a mind-blowing concept.

Grace + Truth

Bono_on_Bono_Cover“It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…

You see, at the centre of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or opposite one.  Its clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe.  I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff.  Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news…

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On a Pier Looking Out (Sundays In My City)

This week, the leader of my prayer group asked us to settle our hearts and minds before the session, perhaps by envisioning a place of peace. Living in south Louisiana, water is a constant. After hearing the news of yet another massacre at yet another school campus, I need such a place to go in my mind. For me, that would look something like the pier below that I viewed earlier this week while walking on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

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Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).

SIMCThis post is linked to Unknown Mami’s blog who hosts a weekly meme, Sundays in My City.

Gumbo Ya-Ya

I am living in the New Orleans area once again. Sometimes, it feels like nothing has changed in the decade or so that I lived abroad. The Saints are losing, the weather is hot, and the last mayor is in federal prison. The murder rate is horrific, as the rate of black young males killing each other is a daily feature in the headlines.

Yet, things are different. Hurricane Katrina was not our demise, as many predicted. Many blighted areas of the city are better than before the storm. The public school system, once on par with third-world countries, is a stellar example to many poorer cities of educational reform.

Tourism is stronger than ever as the Quarter has stayed clean and vibrant, shedding some of the seedy bars and t-shirt shops that sprang up in the 70s. It’s also cleaner in terms of trash. Why, it even smells decent most days!

Another sign of the changing times is the increased racial diversity of the city. The city lost more black residents than white over the past 10 years since the Big One, Katrina. The city still retains a black majority but it’s a thin one.

Yet, it’s not only white residents moving to the Big Easy. Latinos and Asians have had the biggest impact on the cultural scene, especially in terms of food. In fact, Vietnamese cuisine is one of the hottest fads in the city today. The descendants of Vietnam War refugees have carved out a place for themselves with unique fare, often melding our storied cultural recipes with new vigor. For instance, Shrimp Creole is turning up all over the city in a new form, with lemon grass and Vietnamese spicy tomato paste combined with a white roux and Gulf shrimp. John Besh’s recipe is the most popular.

Hondurans flocked to the city after Hurricane Katrina as roofers, laborers, and yes, cooks. Their food trucks became increasingly popular after the storm, so much so that restaurateurs lobbied to shut them down. As most immigrants do, they were quick to improvise. A large community of Hondurans live near the New Orleans International Airport. Businesses operated by Hondurans are  often multi-service centers: cafes, grocery stores and places to send money home to relatives. Don’t get me started on the wonderful new world of pupusas, platanos, and tamales. They are here to stay, I think.

The city is famous for melding cultural influences into great food. Gumbo, the famous dish of our region, combines French, Spanish and African traditions.  What about jambalaya? I love jambalaya in almost any form as long as the spice doesn’t overpower the celery, green peppers, shrimp, sausage and or whatever other magic is thrown into the rice pot.

Oh, but they are the naysayers who hate to see the city or the nation embrace new immigrants. Immigrants bring crime! Immigrants won’t assimilate! Immigrants want to change the laws! (Can we hear the Trump bandwagon, with echoes of Alabama’s Wallace fear-mongering?)

Well, in New Orleans at least, it’s the people who have been here for generations who are murdering, selling drugs and committing armed robberies. Most immigrants I have encountered in this city acquire English quickly, usually the main language of the second generation. They are usually hard-working, entreprenurials and family-oriented.

Have we learned nothing from the xenophobia of previous generations?

Who built the Irish Canal in the upper Garden District? The abused, hated, and vilified Irish who moved here over 100 yearas ago rarely could find other work than ditch-digging and other menial labor. New Orleanians do not like to face the facts why the Irish left so few descendants here. They died like slaves digging canals that even free black men refused this work.

What about the  Italian Central Grocery who gave us the fabulous muffaletta? The immigrants ate those olive loaves on the wharves of the Mississippi River because carrying cargo on their backs was often the only work they were allowed to take. Little by little, Italians purchased cargo from ships and sold it on the streets of the city. Then, they opened restaurants all over the city, but it started with carting it on their backs over a century ago.

Yes, we need immigration reform. No doubt it’s needed. But let’s not kid ourselves. Our city, our nation and our world profits greatly when we accept each other, learn from one another, and yes, eat at each other’s tables.

I have no doubt that the presidential cycle will produce no end to what we call “gumbo ya-ya,” which means everyone talking at once. I hope that some of the ya-ya will be intelligent, cogent and helpful. We need to find a way to welcome immigrants and refugees as we seek a path of immigration reform.

Covington Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning, the yard between the courthouse and police station fills with vendors. These folks offer fresh food, prepared foods, plants, and even seafood. In the middle stands a gazebo where local musicians play a fiddle, guitar or the like as shoppers browse and sample the wares.

I go almost every week. The diversity of the products as well as the people surprise me. The shrimp come from an old gentleman who is a native of Vietnam. His English is poor, but the Gulf shrimp are big and fresh off the boat. The Italian cookies and artichoke pies are made and sold by Brazilian immigrants of Italian descent. The fresh beef is raised on a farm owned by an American and oddly, his Costa Rican wife.

Did I mention the pralines? The coconut pralines were the best I have ever eaten even if the price was outrageous: $3 per small praline. By the way, she was the only African-American vendor at the market. In this part of the world, diversity is good, as long as we keep a respectable quota on the darker members of the community.

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Covington Farmers Market has directional markers on the state highway running through town.
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Musicians take center stage at Market every Saturday.
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These pupusas on the grill were made by a couple hailing from Honduras and El Salvador. Yum!
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Samples of pralines from the Praline Lady. Oh, my! They were divine.
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Serendipity wine owner from Bush, Louisiana, looks happy, as any wine lover should be.

Join us for Sundays in My City, even if my offering is a Saturday affair, at Unknown Mami’s blog. SIMC

The Dog in St. Tammany Parish (Sundays In My City)

The Dog has been a big part of my life since I moved back to the US from Honduras nearly a year ago. He’s longer needed as a guard dog, but I have tried to give him a somewhat meaningful life as a companion animal. Since the US is more calm in many respects than Honduras, we actually take long walks in our parish (county in other parts of the nation).

He has a calmer persona than the machissimo attitude he portrayed in Latin America. If he were running for office, I think his new attitude would go further in the polls long-term than the loud stuff he used as his signature style in the past. Another thing to note, I don’t think he would approve of laws in the South that prohibit hunting with dogs for most of the season. He takes it personally when he can’t pursue to the end a deer, squirrel, or gator run or even the occasional lunge at the annoying gringa in the neighborhood.

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The Dog at Fountainebleau State Park
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The Dog at Bogue Chitto State Park
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The Dog at Hunting Lodge
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The Dog behind English Tea Room
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Shop in Covington, Louisiana. No dog in picture because he’s not interested in weapons. The Dog can’t get a hunting or fishing license, either.

The pSIMCost is linked to Sundays In My City, which is sponsored by Unknown Mami.