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MARTIN

 
Adventure in Liberia - Kharma & Chocolate No-Bake Cookies
 

I don't really know much about kharma.  I've never studied it.  Usually, it just reminds me of Maude from "All in the Family" when she'd say, "God'll get you for that!"  So, my main understanding of kharma is that if you sow enough bad seeds, one of these days the Universe is going to turn around and bite you where you don't want to be bitten.  Nobody wants to be bitten, there or anywhere!

However, I must say, that isn't always so bad when you see the right person getting bit exactly where it is deserved.  I know a nasty little Welshman.  He'll remain nameless and you don't need to know the story.  But, when he finally got his comeuppance with Kharma, seriously, there was rejoicing in several countries on multiple continents.

I wasn't raised on kharma.  I had a much bigger dose of the "Golden Rule" in my life.  Regardless of what you believe, I think it's just a whole lot better to sow goodness and kindness.  The world is greatly in need of all of this it can get.  And, I personally think that teachers do a lot of this kind of sowing.  And if the Universe ever comes around with a comeuppance of kindness for teachers, I've found that it takes its good old time in doing so.  But, it does happen on occasion.

I guess the school and location should remain nameless, but I once was a new teacher in a school and my class was stacked with the worst behavior problems I'd ever experienced.  Every day I went home feeling like a total failure.  I didn't know how to handle the situation.  It was perhaps the longest nine months of my life.  I was so busy with the trouble-makers that I never felt I gave sufficient time to the rest of the class that needed my attention.  I did the best I could, but I didn't last long at that school.  I never forgot that sense of failure.

I held on to it for seven years.

Now, I know that I'm not that hard to locate on the Internet.  But, I never expected Adrian to contact me so many years after fifth grade.  He was one of the quiet children that I didn't feel got enough of my time.  However, his school district had the wonderful policy of allowing a high school graduate to receive the diploma from their favorite teacher.  Adrian wanted me to give him his diploma.  I couldn't believe it.  I had no idea I connected with him like that, but Adrian had received some goodness and kindness that he never forgot.  It hit me hard realizing how much influence a teacher really has on students. 

Unfortunately, I lived in Africa at the time.  I would have come back to America if I could, but Adrian's graduation was the same week my art students were showing their work at the National Art Museum in Lusaka, Zambia.  As the art teacher, I sort of had to be there.  So, I had lunch in the summer with Adrian and three of my other students.  Both Matt and Mike were graduating the following year.  And, they asked me to give them their diplomas.  I made sure there was no scheduling conflict and I came back to America for the weekend.  I never got over jet lag before it was time to go back to Africa, but it was probably the highlight of my teaching career.

Matt currently works overseas.  I had lunch with him before he moved to Europe.  I said, "I'm going to have to take partial blame for you making this move."  Matt fired back, "Are you kidding me?  This is all your fault."  I smiled about my influence.  I'm not so sure his mother did.

Like I said, and as you already know, I'm not so hard to find online.  A few of my former students have found me over the years.  Facebook has helped more to locate me.  Each one who searches for me is special.  When I posted that I was going to return to Liberia, I heard from Bryant.  I've not seen him since he was ten, but I know he has grown into a fine adult.  And, he's a teacher out there sowing his own goodness and kindness.

Bryant asked how he could help.  What could he and the students in his Justice and Diversity League do?  Like I said, he's doing his part to help shape the future in a positive way.  It wasn't hard at all for me to give him a suggestion.  One of my favorite things to do with my neighbor kids during the Peace Corps was make chocolate no-bake cookies.  (If you look closely at the photo, you'll appreciate your kitchen a whole lot more.  We used a "coal pot" and hot coals to heat up the cookies.  Actually, that's how everything was cooked across Liberia.  I even baked a cake over coals!  The boy who is seated holds a woven fan that was used to fan the flames to get the cooking started.)

In Zwedru, the only "candy" I ever saw was similar to Hall's eucalyptus cough drops.  That is not candy!  I don't even like them when I have a sore throat and need them.  And, it was so hot in Liberia that when you unwrapped the drop, it was partially melted and entirely sticky.  So, in comparison, chocolate no-bake cookies were a taste of heaven in your mouth. 

As I leave for Africa, I have cocoa powder from Bryant's league and a recipe to make more chocolate no-bake cookies.  I also have a photo of these students to share with the African children I'll meet on this adventure.  I'll sow some cheer, some kindness and more than a few calories as I tell the children about these students in America who wanted to do something special for them. 

Kharma, I'm ready for you to do wonderful things for one certain Justice and Diversity League.

Bryant and his Justice and Diversity League

Copyright 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.