Lately Iâ€™ve been getting invitations to speak to youth about the virtues, so Iâ€™ve been trying to recall my own early training on the subject. I grew up in a Lutheran church, and much of who I am can be traced back to those second- and third-generation Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and German immigrants who left the Midwest for the orange groves and sunshine of Southern California. They were Christians who knew how to work, and they believed in using their skills to help people in need.
By the time I was in junior high, I was acting as a â€śbig sisterâ€ť to a shy and scrawny fourth-grader with drug addicts for parents. When I was in high school, our Luther League took Christmas presents to the projects, food to orphanages in Tijuana and hootenannies to folk-song-deprived rest homes. After the pastor urged me to train for a medical program in Honduras, I spent the summer giving inoculations in a village called Guinope.