Newsletter Update, Summer 2009

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It is finally out! I had to brave crazy traffic today as I made my way to Ras Beirut for some errands and a stop at Costa Coffee. I needed to get away from campus and nothing breaks writer's block like a field trip. Below is a copy of my current newsletter, "hot off the press", in JPG form. I am also attaching a link for the original PDF if you want to print it.




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Open Source Counseling :)

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Today I made a contribution to the Bento template exchange with my contact/counseling notes database design. It hasn't made the listings yet but when it does I'll post a link. Until then you can click here to download it (.zip format). Perhaps you might find this useful if you use the Bento software and don't want to create something like this from scratch. Below is a sample screen shot (w/o real data) on what it looks like.









There weren't a lot of resources out there for database creation for what I do and since I already used Bento for fundraising, prayer support, and other work related tasks I thought that it would be perfect for managing a case load. I hope to tweak it a bit in the future but for the moment it meets my needs. As with anything that is created with Bento it can be easily edited and customized to your specific needs. This template is tailored to my program here in Lebanon but the concept and idea should work anywhere, specific items such as some of the drop down menus and reports would need to be personalized to meet the requirements of another location.

:: EDIT ::
As of August 28, 2009 my submission has made the Bento listings. You can access it by going to http://solutions.filemaker.com/database-templates/detail.jsp?serial=2550335

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Prayer Updates and Misc. Info

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Hey folks...

  • I am still working on my newsletter, I've had some minor setbacks in working on stuff like that as I've been sick for the past few days. After consulting with some doctor friends in the US it appears that I am dealing with a mild case of dysentery. If you have been getting my email prayer requests there have been a few changes in my symptoms over the last day or so. I am now on an antibiotic and making sure I remain (never had an issue though) hydrated.

  • Please pray for one of our students, "H", his sister was killed this week during a family dispute. As of the writing of this post he is unaware of her death. We'll be addressing it with him on Friday.

  • We are currently "losing" one of our house mothers, which isn't really a bad thing. She got married earlier this year and will be leaving us to start a family of her own. While she will be missed we are quite happy for Elizabeth and the journey she and her husband will be making together. We are in the midst of a search to find a new house mother to supervise Elizabeth's unit, a search that hasn't been too successful so far. The children return for the school year at the end of September so we have about a month left to bring a new house mother on board. Please pray that the right woman would be found for this position.

  • I also have a new email address that you might get an occasional email from. It is primarily used for professional correspondences but I might at times (and accidentally) use it to send out updates or other items of information. It be from me (kahlilpfaff) "at" kidsalive.org.


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Climbing Gear So Far

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So, today was day two of testing out some of the new climbing gear (more below) and figuring out some problems for the kids.

While I was on vacation about $300 of the support I needed for climbing gear came in, so I took some time on Saturday and visited the climbing outfitter in Borj Hammoud. I got 3 harnesses, carbabiners, and the Gri Gri...the bulk of what I budgeted for. I still need to get 1 more harness, and one more locking carabiner to make up the minimum equipment. There are some smaller items I'll get as $$ allows, the rope and crash pad are still on the list too.

Saturday I took one of my older residents and tried out the GriGri and new harnesses by letting him climb. After he finished I solo climbed the two routes, self belaying with the GriGri. Today I returned to the wall and climbed the two routes twice, self belaying both times. The 5th time I climbed today was a learning lesson...don't self belay with only an ATC. I was only about 2 meters off the ground when I realized I didn't have control of the rope and my hand was slipping, requiring me to move or get my rope secured (on the 3rd, more difficult route). I tried to pull up the slack (easier on the GriGri) but the ATC's positioning and amount of free rope made this difficult. As my finger slipped off the hold I pushed off so I could clear the wall and land on my feet (hopefully). Not a bad fall but a good reminder that the ATC is a good belay and rappel device, it shouldn't just be used alone...next solo climb will involve the GriGri. I am also learning more knots and safety techniques that will help as I set problems and challenges for the students (the kids have it easy, they're anchored by me...but in order to set the climb up for them I have to be off the ground without a partner at times).

There are three routes on the wall that Putt Putt allows us to use, two of which have ropes on them currently. In all fairness the routes are probably rated 5.7 and 5.6, unsure of the third yet but it looks like it could be a 5.8 or possibly 5.9. After I send the third group of students up the wall I am going to get some tape and flag some new "routes" for them to use, hopefully making the climb more challenging. I may set up some dynos for the kids to try and plan on doing some exercises with blindfolds. If I can get a rope set up on the harder route I think that will provide some challenge for them as well...there are tons of smaller holds and the start is a bit difficult.


Well, I am off to finish the first episode of season 6 of No Reservations and spend some time on the roof later this evening.

*Editorial Comment*
I took a calculated risk using the ATC as described above, as a self belay device...something it clearly isn't. When bouldering in the gym in Virginia I would take falls occasionally from 12-15 feet off the ground...onto the ground with no rope. If the ATC experiment didn't work for me and I fell I was well within my comfort zone and skills-set to take the fall. Had I a real need to go higher than 4-5 meters with the ATC I would have used a backup system of a prusik loop or autoblock...or better yet, have a partner belay me. Don't try this at home and do as I say, not as I do ;)


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Zzzzzzzzz

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Just got back from a brief vacation to Africa to visit some dear friends. Will be updating the blog soon with prayer requests and some more photos. Climbing day #3 for the children is around the corner and the third camp for the summer begins next week when a team from the UK arrives.

As far as current prayer requests please pray for Lebanon. If you've paid any attention to the news lately it is getting a little "warm" here now, rhetoric from Israel and Hizbollah being the concern at the moment. So far there is nothing to be concerned about but the climate can change quickly in this part of the world and prayer never hurts.



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