Monday, September 14, 2009

Travels with Dr. Travelbest












San Diego Harbor has so many things to see. Dr. Travelbest recently took a cruise there. Here are just a few. Top (a big picture view of downtown from the bay). Next, San Diego downtown Hilton, opened in 2009, followed by Coronado Bay Bridge. The fourth photo is the downtown Convention Center and lastly, a military ship, surrounded by markings to "stay away".



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mexico Orphanage Volunteer, Jack McCabe guest bloogger




Jack and Dolly McCabe after a recent visit to Mexico by Jack to volunteer at an orphanage south of Rosarito, Baja California. Here is Jack's report.


DOOR OF FAITH ORPHANAGE VISIT

Prologue 1

Whatsoever I do to the least of my brethren that I do unto Him.
Faith without good works is meritless. James and my conscience.
However, biblical Paul and I have been free riding and relying more on the concept of faith.

Prologue 2

A few folks have asked me (Guest Blogger, my dad, Jack McCabe) to write this report describing my brief encounter with an environment quite different from the stateside to which most of us are accustomed.

HISTORY

The background of Door of Faith (DOFO.org) is professionally detailed below from a recent trip by Jack McCabe, P.E.
Based on Prologue 1, I decided to volunteer a week of my manual services, in August 2009 to the group at La Mision, Mexico.

Tourist guides and word of mouth tell of an early mission in the area, of which two walls remain. Having seen walls before, I passed on viewing these two.

PEOPLE

Children
Technically the children at DOFO are not orphans. They have families in Mexico who visit them very infrequently. For various reasons, the government has sequestered these children from their families and given them to the many orphanages in the country, without any funds for their upkeep. I have volunteered at two orphanages (both Catholic) 10 years ago when we lived in the San Diego area.
Children range in age from newborns to highschoolers. Certificates of Achievement for those completing various levels of education adorn the chow hall walls. Locals leave school at about 13-14 yrs of age because of economic conditions. However, according to newsletters, some DOFO alumni have gone on to much more schooling.
While we couldn’t converse because of the language barrier my favorites are a rule-breaking 7 year old named Mickey who was fascinated by my thighs as I sat reading and a pre school, straight haired girl with bangs. Apparently inter-national adoption is difficult, if not impossible.


DJ Schuetze
He is the man in charge. Despite his casual manner he has his mind working in many different fields. He has set up the system in which the day to day DOFO chores are delegated down a very effective chain of command through caring people and he knows the name of each of the hundred odd children for whom he is responsible.
When he is not traveling he presides at an 8 A.M meeting of the missionaries and the local Mexican official overseeing DOFO.
DJ refers to himself as the Bank of DJ. I witnessed him giving cash to the missionaries but he apparently has receipts for everything.
There is a Board of Advisors or Directors which functions as needed.
DJ considers his highest priorities now to be fund raising and training others in nearby and remote orphanage to avoid the mistakes he claims to have made through many years of growth at DOFO.
He is the husband of Lynette. She, with him, is having a home built for them a few very bumpy miles from DOFO.

Lynette Schuetze
She accompanies DJ but, from my limited experience has a background role. For all the DOFO family she bakes and decorates birthday cakes for everyone beautifully.
During my visit she seemed to manage the photography during annual back to school photo to be broadcast to refrigerator doors of caring people around the world.

Missionaries
About half a dozen young men and women self-called missionaries have each committed to spend a minimum of six months at DOFO. Some that I met have prolonged their stay for up to another 6 months.
Each has his or her own source of support from friends, churches and others. On the job, each could be considered an independent proprietor running their own spiritual business, including all the US, IRS paperwork and the Mexican counterpart.
Some unmarried young missionary girls wear a plain metal ring on their ring finger for a reason they would not volunteer. Some young ladies are fairly recently tattooed.
Chris
She is the wife of Nick, and a native of Dubuque, Iowa. She attended college at Illinois Wesleyan at Bloomington, Illinois. She is very well spoken. After almost a year at DOFO both she and Nick plan to leave in mid-September 2009 for possible temporary non-missionary work in western Canada. As she Nick, and I last parted, she asked permission to hug me. She got a fatherly hug from me.
Nick
An out of place logo for the Edmonton Oilers hockey team decorates a front window of the large DOFO home he and Chris share. He is a green card holder from Canada, whose resume includes varied construction work there. He and Chris are apparently assigned to be the DOFO liaison with large groups of visitors. There weren’t many groups this year. There aren’t many solo visitors like me any year.
Lauren
She is from Ohio and wants to be a nurse. In addition to her missionary work at DOFO she volunteers twice weekly at a local Mexican hospital. She looks to me like my attractive cousin Maryann Scott McGahey did in her early twenties.
Site workers
House mothers and fathers
With hugs these Mexican house mothers maintain order among about 100 residents. I saw minimal punishment of children who tried to enter the chow hall with dirty hands.

Laundry ladies
They wash the children’s clothing in about 8 machines. The children transport it from their quarters, hang and take down the clothes from the banks of almost always sunny and breezy wires.
Kitchen ladies
They spend the day preparing three tasty and nourishing meals for older children with outside jobs, half-day school children with varying hours and others.
Handymen
Landscapers keep the main area vegetation looking good. From time to time someone repairs the pile of many broken bicycles. The repaired bikes are well used and really broken by hard use.
Local Mexican Official
At the morning meetings that I attended, he conversed in Spanish with the Mexican chief DOFO honcho and minimally with DJ.

ENVIRONMENT
Geography
DOFO is 2-3 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, about midway between Rosarito Beach to the North and Encinata to the South. It is just off the well designed Mexican version of the US Interstate
I was told that the population of La Mision is 6,000 souls and that their homes are all visible from a high point on the north rim of the well defined valley. Having viewed the valley from that point at night, I would think the population is less. Many retired and vacationing Americans live full or part-time and own (through locals) or rent in the community. Some commute to their jobs in the US of A.
Climate
The climate at DOFO is idyllic, much like San Diego, about 150 miles to the north. The year-round temperatures seem to remain between about 50 and 80 degrees, moderated by the Pacific Ocean.

Rumors of crime
During the 1970’s, while living in suburban in Chicago, my late mentor, W.C. Pete Kimbrough, explained that the high crime rate in Atlanta was due to incidents among drug traffickers. I liken that to present conditions in Mexico.
Although D J had never ridden the Mexican inter-city cabs, as I often had, he advised against traveling that way on my planned visit. Instead I rode with Christy and Nick on two of their routine frequent international car trips
Sequestered for a week at DOFO I heard of no criminal activity.
Christy told me that she sometimes carried a stick during her frequent solo 3-4 mile jogs to the ocean and back. She used it to fend off the local canines protecting their turf.

Land
DOFO is on what I shall call North Road, on a piedmont a short way up the north slope of the well formed east-west River Valley. As I crossed the river, it was dry. Apparently this is not unusual. A long straight concrete bridge carries the perpendicular coast road over the west end of the river which is tidal at the Pacific Ocean.
The main north-south highway then takes a long, steep west-east route diagonally up the valley side to the south of DOFO . The resultant shifting of the truck transmission gears routinely creates a pervading noise throughout the valley.
Soil
As the ground rises slowly northward from the currently dry river. It seem to pass through an area of semi-moist soil, which, together with pumped irrigation and nutrient feeding tend to produce a condition in which corn, peppers and other crops for DOFO adjacent land owners. Swabbing the tile of my quarters twice during the week produced evidence of gritty material that had not been swept up by previous brooming.
Electric Power
DOFO’s own transformer taps off the adjacent commercial power lines. Power use is minimized using energy saving bulbs, light sensors and other devices. The monthly power bill averages $10,000/month. DJ tells me that the capital cost for solar power would have a 30 year payback period. Joe McCabe has offered to look into the economics of power there with me, if I send him copies of the power company invoices.

Water
The children and guests of DOFO are provided with bottled water and there is local well water which other residents use for other purposes. A large municipal main serves to irrigate farms across the road closer to the ocean.

Public Works
The roads on the south side of the valley, in the older and eastern part of La Mision are probably better asphalt paved and maintained than the hard soil, deeply grooved roads within 3 miles of DOFO.
Local crops
Adjacent, irrigated downhill farms downhill and across the road from DOFO produce many acres of corn, peppers and other crops.
DOFO site crops
An employee of DOFO is involved in the production of prickly pears for eating on site, not the variety used to make tequila.
Onions- Irrigated conditions for the growth of onions are excellent halfway up the hill. Conditions for growth of previously un-weeded growth adjacent to the onions are equally good, based on my unrewarding experience trying to remove them.
Ornamentals-There is about ½ acre on which are grown small palms and other plants.

Three hillside levels of activity
The higher elevation, accessible by steep path, the minor overgrowth of which I pruned, displays a white cross which is sometimes illuminated at night.
The middle elevation, accessible by steep grooved concrete road, has housing and facilities for visiting groups. I collected heavy, skull sized rocks, wheel barrowed and placed them along the washed out shoulder of the road to prevent further scouring of the soil under the concrete slab.
The lower elevation, at main road level, has the older buildings, the new nursery and pens for chickens, ducks, a swan, pigs, sheep, goats and horses.
The common area is well planned with wide concrete walks and pea-graveled areas. It is usually populated by residents careening around on roller blades and bicycles. No training wheels here. During school hours the house-mothers read to and otherwise cajole the younger children.
Arrows pointing to the functions of various buildings around the common area are black on white, lettered in English for the benefit of American visitors. While I was there DJ met at length with a California couple who would like to help DOFO.

ATMOSPHERE

With a fairly flexible timetable meals are served after a school type bell is sounded and the children wash their hands at a community circular sink with sprayed water. No evidence of H1N1 flu here.
While the kids are normally fractious, there is a no urgency atmosphere
Nobody up-tight, even when minor injuries occur and the hurt cry
The ]pace is not slower but no urgency is apparent except for the careening children on wheels.
The needs continue to be met routinely as the lives of the children continue unabated.
As a passenger between DOFO and California I was reminded of the 1990’s when the economy was sluggish. Current construction shows evidence of the international boom and bust. Many new hotels, subdivisions and houses have been built. However many hotels, subdivisions and homes have been half built. They stand unoccupied with no sign of the investments needed to complete them.

FOOD
Eggs were often served fresh or as leftovers. Ham often accompanied the eggs.
Soft tacos are a staple. The children have learned many ways to eat them.
About once a day each child had about a half glass of milk at his or her assigned eating place in addition children could dip out various mealtime beverages from a community vessel.
At each meal, the adults were presented with a tumbler full of either forks or spoons, never both, and never knives. I saw no knives during my visit.
Meal clean-up
As each diner finished, they took their soiled plastic plate and dumped any residue into a bowl. They took their plastic tumbler and dumped plastic plate to the initial cleaning station where they were rinsed and stacked. Thorough cleaning was done later in the kitchen.
After a recited religious prayer in unison and exit by most children, the clean-up crew cleaned the 10 tables and put the twenty benches on the tables They then swabbed the floor well and washed out the swabs well outside.
While I saw no chores lists I was assured that they hang in each building housing children.

Library for books
I was told that there is a room devoted to books and that it is in need of organization. I thought better of offering to straighten books with Spanish titles.

Shop for keeping tools
Missionaries use the washing machine there to do their wash and apparently the wires outside to dry the wash. My guess is that it was used at one time as housing for a handyman/vehicle mechanic. It seems to have become a storage area for pharmaceuticals, vehicle liquids and other stuff. The shelves could be organized to provide more room for more stuff.

New Nursery construction
The new nursery should be available by the end of this year.

Religion
DOFO is Christian, non denominational. Evidence of religion that I observed includes the following:.
Chanting of a verse before meals
Chanting of a wall mounted bible verse (changed weekly) after meals
Bible reading after dinner led by Nick and attended by 8-10 girls
Bussing of all children to church on Sunday
Sayings nailed to trees around the site by Nick.


What I Did There
Knowing only my age (81) and health condition(good), the folks at DOFO had no Work List A for me when I arrived. After a few hours with a little help, I prepared Work List B which included the following activities:
Finding, wheel barrowing and placing large rocks to replace sand scoured from under the side hill concrete road shoulders.
Work List C included the following
Cleaning dust from long, heavy wooden benches around the common area and then painting them a special color selected by Lauren.
Finding suitable ply-wood, sanding it down, drilling screw holes in and test staining two pew supports to replace those missing from the Meeting Room.
Pruning the steep path between the middle level and the white cross on the top of the hill.
Weeding around many onions, cactus and other plants.


Deer weed

Growing wild at DOFO is a plant named deer weed. The habitat for this shrub is similar to that of the Torrey Pine; a strip adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.
I have researched the plant in the past and was pleased to encounter it again.

DOF store
One room in a building is dedicated to retail selling of baseball caps, tee shirts etc to visitors. The material is also for sale on the internet at Door of Faith. http://www.dofo.org/index.php

CLOTHING
Think San Diego for weather. Think dozens of red sweaters worn by local school children having their group picture taken.

SHELTER

On the relatively newly built mid-level there are constructed about a dozen 40’ square stucco buildings with architecture continuing that of the original buildings on the lower level. Each building has about 25 bunk beds, and there is a separate kitchen and eating area . Visiting groups from various churches are encouraged to live in this area to pursue expansion projects for Door of Faith.
A multi-bridged gully runs through the original, lower level of the orphanage area.
On the east side there is a common area, separate original buildings for the boy and girl residents, the kitchen and eating area, and housing for the various adult permanent and transient personnel.
On the west side of the often dry waterway are well constructed, stucco painted separate buildings serving as quarters for the volunteers and for on-site Mexican workers.




Jack McCabe
9-5-09





Friday, September 4, 2009

Pat Brown takes you on trips near and far







I have traveled with Pat Brown. She's one of my favorite travel companions.



If you'd like to go with Dr. Travelbest's friend on a trip to a nearby place or one far away, here's your chance.



I went to Oregon in June 09 and that blog is here, too. It's quite a wonderful place to visit. These are picture of Southern Oregon, near and on the Rogue River.




You can travel the Columbia River Voyage of Discovery with Pat Brown


Join TV personality, Pat Brown, next spring and experience the intimacy and luxury of a small-ship as you journey along the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River. You’ll marvel at the sheer magnitude of the geologic forces that shaped this region, from the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge to the golden coulees of the east; the history of Lewis & Clark, the early pioneers and Native Americans; the tremendous engineering feat of the 8 locks and dams that tamed this mighty river. You’ll cruise round trip from Portland, Oregon aboard Cruise West’s 96-passenger Spirit of ‘98, which has the flexibility and spontaneity to explore nature’s unplanned events. Your 7-night cruise includes all taxes and port charges, gratuities and shore activities.

Dates: Cruise departs Portland, Oregon Sat. June 12, 2010 and ends in Portland, Sat., June 19, 2010.
Fare: $3,399 per person based on double occupancy in category A cabin. Price does not include air to Portland.
See number below for a complete itinerary and details.




Save $1000 per couple when you book your cruise by Sept. 30th


In addition, Pat is leading several day trips to interesting places closer to San Diego. DayTripper Tours 619-299-5777 (contact #) If you book one of her day trips by 9/15 and give them the "Pat Brown discount code" PB135, they'll take another $5.00 off subject to availability. This is not the cruise, but local day trips around San Diego.