Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cynthia's Lithuania trip in 2001 17th July, 2001

 I am sharing a couple fun emails we got from our daughter Cynthia on a trip to Lithuania in 2001.   The two e-mails posted are all I have left of that trip but I found it fun and decided to share it.   I have no pictures to share unfortunately.
Mom did clean up some of the spelling.

Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 15:51:14 -0400

In good faith I have kept a rather detailed account of my journey from the States to Lithuania. I fear that what I lack of verbal communication has loosed my pen and so, should anyone become bored with reading this, please feel free to put it down. I not only will understand, but I will never know.

Where to begin? Perhaps on the flight from Pittsburgh to Frankfort. I sat beside a gentleman from Germany, and he next to his friend, also from Germany. Of course the question arose and I replied, "Lithuania".

"What?" They exclaimed, " What is there? It is poor and barren. It is the worst place in the world to visit."

I explained about the job and they nodded in understanding. After all, equestrian sport ranks as highly in Germany as Football does in America.

They warned me of the perils of Polish roads and the misery of travel through East Germany. Once that was settled they promptly fell asleep, leaving me wide awake with trepidation and excitement. After three Vodkas though... just kidding mom......

In all honesty though, I simply could not sleep. I watched movies and TV sitcoms offered, and listened to music, til finally about an hour out of Frankfurt I decided to make myself presentable. Customs did not even look at me. So much for my painstaking care. I walked out of customs practically into the arms of a slender lady with close cut salt and pepper hair. She actually embraced me and so I didn't feel as left out in the crowd of people kissing and hugging around us. To make it even better, Sibylle dumped a six week old Jack Russell into my lap when we reached the car. It was part of a payment for some horses that she'd sold. My first impression of Germany was that it was not unlike Ohio. The six lane "Autobahn" was lined with forests of pine trees and the exits lead to gas stations and restaurants.

Because neither of us had slept much in the last twenty four hours, Sibylle and I stopped and just slept for an hour or so. It was beneath a windmill, which I later discovered, seemed to be a by product of German soil or something. They are metal, wide at the base and tapering up to a the top some fifteen or so feet high. Three blades resembling those of an airplane completes the effect. Nothing like the Windmills Quixote battled no doubt.

The further east that we pushed the more I became aware that I truly was in a different country. In spite of the familiar highway, the scenery began to take on a distinctly different taste. The smell of "naturally" fertilized fields, filtered through the window and the sloping green hillocks were dotted with clusters of village houses one could find in any picture book on Europe. The journey wore on, with views of quaint Villages and modern erections vying for attention along the way.

The driving was horrendous. Everyone travelling at an amazing speed and stopping quite abruptly for backed up traffic. They had little regard for lanes, passing where ever their car fit, unconcerned by the mere inches spared. In fact, often they did not even wait for you to completely change lanes before scraping by. And stopping on the side the road, or even not quite there, seemed to be a National Pastime.
As evening drew in and we close to the Polish border w began to look for a place to spend the night. The village of Nieder Seifsdorf presented herself, only twenty kilometers from the border. We approached a woman, walking her dog, about accommodation. A brief exchange ensued in German. Sibylle told me that the woman professed that there was no place in the village to spend the night, and she had no idea what lay in the villages beyond, having never ventured that far in her life. The nearby village was only fifteen km away. In her ten years of freedom the old lady had never explored that world that had been forbidden to her her whole life. The only change really was that now she could walk her dog after seven at night. Sibylle said that was quite common in East Germany. The people simply did not know what to do with their new found freedom.

A tourist board however boasted a small farm house which took nightly visitors. Let me clarify, tourists who often spent only one night. Windemere. I was struck atthe entrance by the, for lack of a better description, a corruption of a totem pole. A single log about ten foot high had been carved into the flowing face of some guardian, with eyes that curled into flames in the corners and a mouth that seemed ready to speak some damnation at any moment. The sign "Windmere" was set across the body at an angle as though the front was simply to heavy for the bolts to hold. Again the odd combination of modern and quaint facilities struck me.

While the buildings, a house and two barns winging it left and right, were constructed of brick and plastered with a mud like finish, the drive way was adorned with three very shiny, very expensive new cars. Our room was furnished and decorated and well cared for remains from the second world war. The room also had a television and stereo. The view overlooked a well shaded garden, where geese dotted the vegetable rows. Beyond, a church, built in the same fashion as the farmhouse, thrust boldly its spire, to be seen from almost anywhere in the village. Sibylle told me that the churches were not necessarily destroyed, rather they were kept as monuments and historical points, but certainly not as places of worship.

After a good sleep, I awoke to the smell of coffee and fresh bread baking I'm serious. We breakfasted on a delightful fare of cheese, cold meats, boiled eggs and the very best coffee and bread I have ever had in my short life. Though I did not speak the same language as our hostess, her concern for our pleasure was touchingly apparent, and I clumsily tried to express my gratitude and delight in her sweet home.

Well, this is part one my mom asked me to write. I have decided it is too long to write in one night, and rather than kill you in one sitting, I'll drag it out a little. Next time we shall explore the wonders of POLAND.

Incidentally some of you may have noticed the poor spelling and gross lack of punctuation. The spelling is a combination of my inability to spell, not to mention my rather careless typing skills, while the punctuation, which I truly do hate, is due to the German Keyboard on which I am typing. Everything is all wrong, sorry.

24th July 2001, Trip to Lithuania

Lost the e-mail about being in Poland.  This is the last one  GBW

Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 21:57:53 +0200

Dear mother... Sorry about the delay in writing, technical difficulties. But let me continue my story...

It was around half past ten that morning that we finally we cleared to enter Lithuania. The 350 km drive to Plunge was spent half asleep for I still was very tired. But the countryside is quite interesting. It is so different from Poland, one could almost taste it.

There were small signs everywhere of attempts at self sufficiency. Small squares of vegetable gardens and grains struggling for life. Only as much land as a man could till by hand or horse. And for the first time since I touched down in Europe, I saw horses!! Fat, draft animals, chained or hobbled out to pasture. No fences held them. Cows staked out in the middle of tall grass, goats tied in the town squares or back yards. All very fat and content to just stand.

The landscape itself was fairly flat. Small rises here and there, but even the distant mountains seemed like mere hillocks. The land itself was lush and thickly green.The pasture grass as tall as my shoulder in some places.The houses were much like those of Poland, but I noticed the very high acutely angled roofs The eves dropped again almost half way down the sides. The towns we passed through were small and close. Narrow winding roads that had the trodden-dirt-like feel to it that is so typical of poor countries.

There are people everywhere, walking mostly. Very few smiles or laughter. No really animated conversations either. Yet they did not have that distracted look that one might find in, Chicago say. Just people content to remain in their own world.
We reached the farm and I was delighted to find it to quite novelish, (my own word here) The main house was constructed ENTIRELY from wood. It seemed to spring from the very heart of a cool grassy hollow in the earth. Scented by a hundred different flowers, it looked over a grassy area, not a lawn but more, I suppose, a natural garden, ungroomed, except to keep the grass short. This was broken only by a few ancient trees, a large rock and a statue. On the rock were engraved the names of the people who'd lived on the farm and the years they had been there. The statue was of Sibylle's grandfather. He'd been quite something of a hero in his day. A military man and leader, he'd been the highest commander of the Lithuanian Cavalry before his capture and subsequent death in Siberia. From what I understand it is His name that the local workers respect so deeply and why they clamor to work for Sibylle's mother.

Beyond the house, four buildings formed a yard. A house, where I live, opposite a very large barn, and ended by two buildings which I am not sure what they do. I know that the workers take their breaks in the one building, but otherwise it is a mystery. Behind the large barn stands the Indoor arena. On the West end of the arena is Sibylle house and the "Lodge". Both actually are directly attached to and over look the arena.

In the early mornings when I start, and my horse, Lelija, is screaming for her friends, I see a head or two pop into the window, and then disappear. I am sure to return to sleep. And behind the arena, end to end, is the "Mare" barn.

The land spreads in every direction, and ends each time in a forest. It is a very large farm, and I have not seen the half of it. Only the pastures and immediate fields.

There is a constant hum of activitiy here. From around eight in the morning til six at night, there are farm hands putting up hay, or cleaning stalls or village boys mowing the grass. Alina is always surrounded by an army of women and children picking berries of every sort, and collecting vegetables. But other wise they all seem very withdrawn, even with each other. A distrust almost. One of the farm hands, Kazimirius, would not look me in the eye, and I mentioned it to Sibylle in passing, how odd it seemed, since then he makes a point to nod at me, and I've even coaxed a smile or two out of him. Now this is not to say that they don't talk at all, or that there is an uneasy air about the place. It is merely to say, they are completely different from the Africans of my youth who loved to work in large groups. They held yelled conversations over whatever they were doing at the time. Teeth flashing in laughter, someone, if not two or three, always shattering the quiet with loud voices. And if there was nothing to talk about, someone was humming or singing. The difference is all I am commenting on.

Darius, the young man that works with me as a trainer,of course doesn't speak English. We have however begun to have...well, not conversations, communication maybe. He is extremely handsome, in a gypsy way. Shy eyes that are very gray. He is married with twin boys who are three. Our conversations have been about everything imaginable, but mostly about horses. He loves to jump, as do I, so we've compared favorites.His wife is angry because he made a lot more money as a panel-beater, but he said that whenever he was working on the cars, his mind was going crazy for horses. He is twenty nine and has been riding since he was nineteen. Not long by European standards. But he is actually very good. Like any of us needs a little help, but defiantly has a love and feel for the horses. I feel bad that he works so hard to receive his one lesson a day. And often the work is not even with the horses themselves. If he's not helping me, He bucks hay, or helps with other heavy labour, odd jobs, then is allowed to ride at the end of the day when I'm sure that his limbs are like lead for weariness. Long after I have cleaned up and am writing at the door to our house,Darius is finishing up this or that, or checking that the other workers have finished their jobs right. It's after that that he comes and we sit on the front step, watching the last light leak from the clouds. That's when we get to talk. In Lithuanian the answer to "thank you" is "please". The Lithuanian words sound like this " Achoo Preshu." If you say it fast it sounds like a sneeze and blessing. I have picked up a few words. Mostly to do with the horses, and I am still trying to get a working knowledge of the language at least, but it is not going to be easy!!!It is unlike any other language in the world, I'm told. And the rules of grammar are entirely whacked out. Learning the root word is not enough often. There is a different affix for different tenses according to the ending consonant. Also it depends on the ending of the word before it. I can't even explain how in depth this all gets. One example maybe. The names of men, first and last, change depending on the form of address, and the last letter in the name. Darius' name is Darius, but when you address him directly it is Darou, and to write to him, say, it would be Darie. I can't even pronounce his last name so I won't continue with the illustration. But perhaps you see the complexity. And that is just on the males names. On all nouns, though, the affix changes. I have to stop, I am just further confusing myself thinking about it. For now, I'm able to use one word along with gestures to get my point across. Well, I believe that is about all that I can write for now. You are up to date I hope, and no longer think I am still in Poland:>

I love you mum ma, and hope that you are having a blast!!!! Let me know when Ouma is coming so I can write her a special e-mail. Give grandma my love, and a big kiss. Dad and Squashtoo. Keep me posted on Squash's Football thing...

LOVE - ME!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Song by my Daughter Cynthia Weldon


Sung by my daughter while driving!!!!
My daughter Cynthia, Son John and Dog Gimli around 1982 in Zimbabwe

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Durban Castle 1956

This is a letter my oldest brother Jim wrote to mom  and dad from the ship  Durban Castle - the last ship to got through the Suez Canal before it closed to all shipping for about a year.  Mom and Dad, Dick and I went back to Pioneer Livingston Mission in Tanganyika to return to the states in 1957.  I missed my brothers so much.  I was 8 when they left home, so through the years I called them the "Beloved Strangers". 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Making Bricks

To build a permanent house, as mom and dad called it, they had to make the bricks. It looked so fun, but mom would not let Galilee get into the mud to stomp it around. Galilee wished mom wasn't so worried about her not getting dirty.

One of the men who had come to  help as a missionary had a plan - he made a row of boxes on two long planks.  Small boxes were all formed with divider strips making little boxes all along in a row, with no top or bottom. When the mud was mixed, it was poured it into the boxes. When the mud had set and was firm enough not to lose shape, the box was gently lifted up, leaving the bricks on the ground. None of us were not allowed to touch the wet bricks or play anywhere near where they lay drying.  They made so many, it seemed there were drying bricks everywhere.

Then one morning the men began to carefully pick them up and pile them on top of each other like they were making a wall. It looked like a long house, with an empty tunnel right down the middle. The tunnel was not tall enough to stand in. Four rows of these houses were made. Then the men mixed up mud and spread it all over each house. Galilee again really wanted to help but mom was very careful to keep her away. The comforting part was that none of the kids were allowed to work, only the men.

There were piles of wood that had been  collected for the upcoming fire.  When the houses were all ready, wood was laid down from one end of the tunnel to the other, and a fire was lit on each end of each of the the houses.

Mom and dad called them kilns. Galilee liked that word.  Everyone was fascinated by the fires. Men were hired to tend those fires day and night for ever so long. During the long nights the men carved all kinds of things.  Galilee remembered most the three legged stools they carved, to sit on.  They also carved long stirring spoons for the heavy three legged iron pots that  they cooked in.  They built a fire under the pots and had long metal hooks to lift the lids and stir the food cooking inside and to get the food to eat when it was ready.

Beginning to take the cooked bricks out to use
 Then after what seemed like forever, the fires were allowed to die and weeks and weeks later, finally the men began to break the mud off the kilns.

Galilee, who had loved it all, was of course eager to see the cooked bricks. They didn't look like the gray bricks of mud any longer.  Now they were a lovely creamy color.  She loved the smell of the cooked brick.  The smell was quite strong as the mud was removed and the bricks could be seen.  They were still slightly warm so the bricks were lifted off a layer at a time, slowly, so the warm bricks wouldn't break.  She wished she could have that smell all around her every day. It was wonderful.

Laying the corner stone.
A foundation had been made while the bricks were baking. Now, work was started on the house.  Galilee didn’t really enjoy that part much. Maybe being told to move, don’t touch, you are in the way, and go back to the house so often made it not as fun, as she so wished she could help.

For her, the big excitement of making and burning of the bricks, was over.  The building of the house meant when it was done they would move into a brick and stone house.  Galilee liked that but it seemed to take so long she almost forgot that would ever happen.  However, life was so interesting every day she  didn't have time to think about passing time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Starting School and The Python

The time came to go to school under a new teacher. The Cogburn's had come, with their 2 children, a boy, Terry, who was Dick’s age, and a girl just older than Galilee, named Melody. It was so fun having someone her own age to play with.

Of course, mom would not let her go to Melody’s just any time. She had to be invited with a set time to go and time to leave. However, Melody could also come to her, so it was that they spent quite a bit of time together one way or the other.

Then Galilee found out Mrs. Cogburn was going to teach school. She was so excited to begin school. Even now she took the Bobbsey Twins books and pretended to read the words like her brothers did, but she wanted to really be able to read.


Galilee did find it hard to settle down to sitting at a desk quietly without moving around for such a long time. And no talking? This was almost impossible. Mrs. Cogburn had to teach 4 different grade levels and so  Galilee had to sit quietly until Mrs. Cogburn could help her. The glow of learning to read dimmed as the discipline of a class room was enforced.

Galilee was always squirming and talking without permission. Mrs. Cogburn thought she was just being naughty but Galilee was not trying to be difficult. It just was hard to remember all the rules all the time.

Then, after the fire Galilee had started sucking her thumb and Mrs. Cogburn told her big girls didn’t suck their thumbs. Mrs. Cogburn brought a baby bottle to class and told her babies suck baby bottles.

Of course, Galilee thought Mrs. Cogburn was being unfair but mom was behind whatever Mrs. Cogburn said. This school and learning was beginning to make Galilee very unhappy. Galilee was finding growing up wasn’t all fun.  

There had been reports about a huge python having been seen on the hill between the Cogburn's house where they went to school, and Galilee’s home. Everyone walked back forth on the path, and they keep a watchful eye out for awhile, but no one saw it and soon the rumor of the snake was forgotten. There were enough other snake sightings on the station.

One day, Dick and Galilee were tearing down the hill as they always did when going home from school.  Dick stopped abruptly right in front of Galilee. Dick had done this before to tease Galilee. She had hurt her lip bashing into her brother’s back. So, having seen him stop in time Galilee side stepped Dick and tore down the path to reach the house first. But, halfway to the house she was aware Dick was not catching up with her and stopped to see why. 

He was just standing, like a statute, staring at the path before him.

“Hay Dick”, Galilee called, “Why are you just standing there?

Dick didn’t answer and Galilee started back. But only a few steps back and Dick suddenly came tearing forward and grabbing her arm pulled her along beside him.

In the house, both of them panting from the run, Dick told Mom that he’d seen the python.

Galilee was most disappointed she had not seen it. She had leaped over it and was glad she had not stepped on it and made it mad.

So once again, everyone on the station was on the lookout. They went up on the hill looking for it’s hole but a long time went by and the python was not sighted by anyone. Then one day, some men came running to her Dad.

“Bwana, Bwana. Bring the gun. We have found the python. Come quickly and shoot him Bwana.”
Dad grabbed his gun and went with the men. There on the path was the python. One shot ended his life.
The men stretched out the dead snake. It measured 13 feet long. Dick tried to lift it up by the tail, and could only lift up about 4 feet of tail. It was very heavy.

Galilee felt a bit sorry they killed the python but she was very scared of snakes and was glad that this one, at least, was not going to grab her.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Galilee's first pet

Every day was exciting, and sometimes a little scary. Galilee was six now, and felt very grown up. Here, in this new place, instead of looking out for poison ivy, she had to look out for snakes. There was no lake,
and no snow in the winter. But, there was something different every day.

On her 6th birthday she had been given a doll. The doll's body was white but the head was a chocolate brown.  Friends of her parents, had given it to her mom and dad, for her before they left America. Mom had saved it as a surprise present for her birthday. The funny thing was, that when they received the gift, the doll was all white.  Something happened while it was in shipping because  when they unpacked it in Africa the doll's head had changed color. 

Galilee loved it instantly and named it Ruthann, after the girl who gave it to her.  It's eyes opened and shut and when you bent her she cried.   This became her very favorite doll.  Because the head was a chocolate brown, all the children she now played with wanted to hold it too.

The kitchen that burnt down was never rebuilt. Rather, an addition was made on the back of the sleeping house.  Galilee liked being able to go to the kitchen without having to dress and go outside.

Some more new people came to live in their ‘station'. Galilee learned that the place they lived
was called a mission station and the people that arrived were called missionaries. Her parents, and the other families, had come to share the news about God’s love for them.

Her mom and dad were very busy. They were both studying K'lungu. Dad said it was a tonal language.
Many words were spelled the same, but the meaning depending on how you said it. Dad said it was inflection. Mary thought it was like music.
One day, a man brought a baby antelope to the door.  The mother had been killed for food. The men didn’t want to deal with the fawn and thought the people on the station might buy it. Galilee just loved that little one and named him Pokita.

One morning, when we went out to his pen to feed and play with him he was gone.

Galilee had never lost a pet before and was crying. Mom said he was a wild animal and shouldn't be kept in a pen.  Maybe he got away. 

But Galilee heard her brothers say probably  he'd been stolen for food.  She thought, "I never want another pet, only to lose it."

Soon, a new excitement helped Galilee to not be so sad. Her Dad and the other men decided they would make bricks so they could build stronger houses. The grass houses had some problems. 

One night all the men were gone from the station. They had to take all the guns to the Government offices in Dodoma, to be registered.

That night a Lion came and walked around and around and around the house. The people warned mom of  sighting of a lion in the hills so Mom had put boards up at the two entrances and pushed something heavy up against the boards, but there really was nothing to prevent the lion from pushing through the grass walls. No one slept much that night. Finally, the lion went away without getting in but no one knew, while he was padding around outside, if he would get in.  So, Galilee thought it would be better to live in a house not made of grass.  She just didn't know how long she would have to wait.