Sunday, August 20, 2006

It Takes a Village

Sometimes it does! And when many people work for you, you can turn into an amazing person!

This lovely woman pictured is Anne Gatobu. Many years ago when she was in Kenya, she was given an opportunity to come to America and study. This opportunity came from a women’s group called PEO. I am proud to say that my mother, wife, and mother-in-law all belong to chapters of this organization that raises money for women from all around the world to increase their education. Anne asked her husband Gatobu if she could do this, and he said "of course" and came to Colorado with her.

Now, they have many funny stories about their first impressions of America and the language barriers. Gatobu tried to barter for a jacket at Wal-Mart; he started a note "Jambo!" (which means "Hello") to an overweight woman who took it as an insult; and when he heard the phrase "dressing on the side," he thought he had to remove his clothes to eat salad. Anyway, they are wonderful people and I was introduced to them as my future wife’s brother and sister on our first date. I was a little confused, since my wife couldn’t be much whiter and Gatobu is as black as coal.

But this weekend we celebrated Anne’s second doctorate! After receiving a doctorate from the Iliff School of Theology, she received another from Denver University in Philosophy. It’s not just that I’m proud of her, as we all have become close over the last 10 years, but it’s how this all happened: The support of my in-laws, my wife, various members of our church, the Kenyan connection of people here in Colorado, Anne’s classmates and professors, and the hard work and caring determination of Anne herself.

When Anne spoke Friday night to thank so many people that have been involved in her journey, I was blown away. But things were even more amazing when Anne started to describe the 350 page dissertation that she wrote about abused women in Kenya. She spent countless hours interviewing, learning and comforting brave women who were willing to share their stories to help others in need. Anne’s work will certainly be published, and I’m sure it will be absolutely astounding to read.

As I listened, I couldn’t help but feel like I can do more. If this woman can find a way to help people she doesn’t even know from so far away, what can I do? What can we all do? How can people get involved in SOMETHING to make this world a better place?

I have been asked to write a Christmas play for the youth of our church, and I’m really looking forward to it. My wife and I were discussing it this weekend, and we both feel that it should revolve around tolerance and forgiveness. There are too many people that are completely ignorant in this country. My boss told me a story of one of his idiot neighbors who actually asked him the question, "If you have an American and a Guatemalan, and one of them has to die, who do you kill?" Well, my boss is a Buddhist, so of course he asks why anyone has to die. I said, "Well, that depends on who will contribute to society better. I mean, if the American is Charles Manson and the Guatemalan is someone like Shakira (I know she’s not Guatemalan - it’s an example), then the American is toast!" Do Americans really think like this? Anyway, my wife and I were joking that the Christmas play will be called, "It’s a Buddhist Christmas, Charlie Brown." Not really, but it made us laugh!

My long winded point here is - do something! I know that a lot of you do, and I am very happy that I know you. Some of you partake in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure and other charitable events, which is awesome. In fact, my friend Wendy is co-chair for the Race for the Cure in Colorado and we’ll certainly be volunteering to help out again this year, and my friend Tom always participates and raises money. Also, my friend Bill Cross in Chicago is co-chair for the Annual MS Slugfest, a softball tournament in the windy city coming up on August 26. You can make a donation by clicking HERE, or mail something here:

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Greater Illinois Chapter
Attn: MS Slugfest / Bill Cross
910 W. Van Buren, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60607

Thanks for reading. Peace out, yo!

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