Monday, January 31, 2011


“I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!” (Ode to all of you Elf fans out there…apologies to the rest of you.)

A and I had a long-running argument before we arrived in country that I finally gave up on a few weeks ago.  A knows me well enough to know that I am not the most amazing housekeeper in the world…as long as things are somewhat clean, I am happy. Sorry if that grosses you out, but it is true…and let’s be honest, it is halfway impossible here, given the constant dirt, grime, etc.  Especially with a baby to chase around, making our house spotless is not at the top of my list of things to accomplish in the day.  Yes, I do the dishes and pick up, etc, but I don’t vacuum and mop floors every two days like needs to happen here to keep up with before mentioned dust and grime, especially with a baby crawling around. 

So, that combined with the fact that I get totally stressed when my house isn’t clean and visitors stop over (usually unannounced) A suggested we hire someone a few times a week to help with the housework.  For the record, the irony is not lost on me either…I get stressed about a dirty house, but can’t be bothered to clean it properly…yeah, I have nothing to say. 

So, like I said, A suggested we hire someone to come in. I was nervous about this for a few reasons.  The first being pride...and shame…shouldn’t I be able to keep my house clean?  It isn’t like I am working anywhere else. Well, the question is not in my ability, my husband always reminds me. It is in my motivation.  And I always seem to find more motivation to write, or read books or play with my boy.  So, I got over that. 

I was also worried about confronting someone if they weren’t doing a super job.  I would be the first to cut my leg off if someone asked me for it…nicely put, I hate confrontation. But just rinsing dishes under cold water doesn’t get them squeaky clean.  A certain foreigner’s cleaning lady doesn’t seem to get that point and since I have a little boy who is much more pleasant when he is not sick, I decided not to take my chances on her.

I was also worried with her interaction with us in the house – remember I sit around and play with my kid and read books? I was especially worried about her interaction with little t.  I have known of other women who find more urgency in playing with/taking care of/bossing around the children of the house than cleaning the house itself. I really really didn’t want to deal with that.

Okay, so basically, I wanted an angel to fall out of the sky.  I realized I was asking a lot and being lazy in the process (and I don’t mean by sitting around reading books…I mean by not wanting to train someone myself) but I also had my eye on someone. 

Our friends M and E and family have been here for about 5 years. They are wonderful couple and we enjoy them a lot.  When we came to visit M-ville a few years ago, we stayed in their home and had a great time.  We also met khAla.  Here is your first language lesson…the kh sound is down in your throat – like you are getting ready to hock a loogie (sorry, but I couldn’t think of a nicer wait to explain) so you make that sound as you say the word haul and add an a at the end. So phonetically you say haul-a while you clear your throat (does that sound nicer?). So, anytime you see the kh sound it is clearing your throat.  Anytime you see the A in a word it is the short a sound like in the word haul.  Got it? Good.

So anyway, khAla was wonderful – she did her job well, smiled and was pleasant but wasn’t intrusive. She didn’t make us feel guilty when we sat around in a daze for hours on end (we tend to do that on vacation) she just cleaned around us. She was easy to talk to. She was great with M and E’s kids.  She was like angel khAla.

So fast forward to present day and I begin to give in to A’s persistence that we need some help. I inquire about khAla, but she is already busy with two families and has a new baby at home (her 10th…8 of whom are still alive) and doesn’t think she wants extra hours.  I had the option of hiring ‘just rinse everything off in the faucet lady’ but declined.  A few weeks ago, the two families that angel khAla works for went on vacation and suggested that we use her while they were gone.  I jumped at the chance. 

The first morning she was due to arrive, I felt like a kid on my first day of kindergarten. I wasn’t sure what to wear, what to say, how little t would react, etc. It turned out great.  Little t talked her ear off for 15 minutes and she sat and listed and chatted right back. Throughout the days she has beautifully interacted with him, talking to him when he crawls into the kitchen as she washes dishes. Giving him toys, smiling and chatting away. Even when he turns the vacuum off on her, pulls down a stack of clean dishes, tips over something she has just put away, she smiles and gets after him but always in a gentle way.  She is easy to talk to and respectful of space. 

She does her job well and initiates tasks to happen. Embarrassingly she realized right away that we had mice.  They had just shown up a day or two before she arrived and upon investigating (pulling everything off of shelves), she cleaned everything and put it away. She also suggested that we set traps and even helped remind me by leaving a giant rat trap on the counter when she left…lovely.

Really, we are feeling very blessed and sad that our time with khAla is coming to an end in the next few weeks.  We will see if we can work it out to share her, or if she can help us find and train someone else.  It has been a joy to have her help…except for the giant rat trap incident…

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Not So

In case you are interested, there are two branches of store that I wrote about in the post titled, "And Therein Lies The Answer." The one we shop at is not the one that unfortunately made international news this week...thankfully.

That said, we are still saddened and sickened by the even that took place at the other branch...I guess I could elaborate, but don't feel like it. Just wanted to let you know (for all you Worriers you there) that they are not one in the same.


I still remember that day vividly…the beautiful sun glancing off the hills surrounding the village made everything seem crisp and clean, even though we all knew that wasn’t the case.  We sat in the cool shade of a stone wall that ran across one bank of the river, giving relief from the sun that along with it’s beauty was mercilessly hot.  The voices of about 80 kids chanted out their lesson as they repeated what the teacher said to them.  While seated among the girls on reed mats under that stone wall, I marveled at the sight before me.  It was my first time in a school in this country and it was both fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.  The small mud building that sat close by housed other classes – it had no windows or doors and the children sat on the mud floor as they recited their lessons….or had been reciting their lessons before the foreigners showed up.  We now proved to be much more interesting subject matter than their reading and math. Despite the attempts by the male teachers that lined the side of the building to get the students back on task, the kids continued to abandon their studies for glimpses at us.  The men didn’t seem to mind too much as they were almost as curious as the kids.

The group that we had joined outside for the health lesson were probably somewhere between 7 and 10 years old.  It was obvious that they were “villagey” as A and I say now – a word we made up to describe the distinct clothes and hair and eye makeup that set people who are from deep in mountain villages apart from those accustomed to a more “civilized” way of life.  They were filthy, I will just be honest, hair matted, hands hard and cracked from years of labor even though they were just children. Their feet, shod with cheap plastic shoes were dirty and had most likely already walked more miles in their short existence than most Westerners do in their entire lives – back and forth a few hours to school, following animals all over the hillsides, a once yearly trip to the city. The clothes that they wore appeared clean, but were worn and dingy. The fabric, very colorful and loud screamed village. And they couldn’t keep their eyes off of us.  For some it was most likely the first time they had encountered someone with white skin.

The community development worker was in charge of the health lesson that day and he did a good job giving an introduction to the benefits of vegetables and healthy eating.  He specifically talked about carrots. He then asked a boy to come up and read something about carrots. 

The boy began “carrots are a vegetable. They are good for your health, they are good for your eyes, carrots help your skin, they give you vitamin C…” on and on he read a whole paragraph about carrots.  After he finished and sat down the community health worked asked a few questions of the group.

“Who here knows what a carrot is?” he asked. All of the students raised their hands. 

“Who here knows what a carrot looks like?” He pressed further. Most of the students raised their hands this time.

“Who here has eaten a carrot?” He asked finally.

Expecting to see a handful of hands go up, imagine my shock when not a single hand was raised.  The worker asked again just to be sure, “Are you sure you haven’t eaten a carrot before?” Dirty little heads nodded…no carrots had been consumed by this group. 

Three years later that instance still haunts me and I think back to it often these days. Imagine. Never eating a carrot…what implications does that have for the rest of your life? What else do you go without? What other things are missing that the rest of the world takes for granted.  I realize that we are talking about the boonies so to speak…I mean, this village is about 2 hours away by vehicle from a bigger town and that is quite far removed for this part of the country, but wow!

Like I said, my mind travels back to that instance as I think about the depravity of this place these days.  We continue to be amazed by the seeming education and wealth of the commercial center that we live in here in M-ville. Compared to our last location, this is far better (better shopping, electricity, running water, transportation, etc.). But in some ways we are living in a black hole. 

As a team we met at New Years and spoke about our vision for the next year and how we felt that the Father was moving in this place.  Several people on the team shared their desire to see ONE person come to be a seeker of Truth in the next year.  ONE...  Notice I didn’t say ONE a week, or a month…I said ONE in the next year.  The more we talked the more it became evident that in some ways even seeing ONE person come to Faith would be amazing. 

A and I got somewhat spoiled when we were in our previous location because the harvest was being reaped quite steadily in that place.  A consistently met with a group of friends and we were always getting news of others that were interested.  I think we kind of came to expect that and even began to pride ourselves in the small (and by small I cannot even begin to express how miniscule it was) part we had to play in that. 

And here we are now asking the Father to move in ONE heart. Obviously we are asking Him to move in more than that, but ONE was the distinct sense that many people on the team felt and so we asked for that. 

How humbling to be at this place…where the black hole is so deep and so wide that we would be happy with ONE.  Do we believe that the Father could bring many more than that? Absolutely. Do we want to see families and tribes come to faith? More than anything! But being realistic in this place means we ask with sincerity and hope for ONE.

I can’t help but think about the school kids who had never tasted carrots when I think about this…oh how much more there is to fill their little bodies than what they are aware of now!  Even more than carrots and nutella and ice cream and and and… there is hope and there is life.  How desperately the people of this place and this land need that!

That is why we are here. Please don’t misunderstand me…I don’t say that heroically or pridefully…but I say that as conviction for myself.  It is hard to look at the situation around us and keep thinking straight in some instances.  I mean really, if we have mountains full of kids who have never tasted carrots and we have a city full of people without any who know the Truth, how are we ever going to make a difference?  We wrestle with this every day. There is so much to be done here it isn’t even funny…and yet that is why we are here.  What in the world are we going to do about it to make a difference? I have no idea, to be honest. It is hard on days when I feel hemmed in at home because I wonder how we are making a difference. I need to be visiting my neighbors (a post coming on that soon) and dialoguing more with Andy’s female staff, and talking with the cleaning lady, and being nice to the boys who come to the gate when their ball lands in our yard a dozen times a day (instead of wanting to chew them out because their pounding on the gate wakes up little t), and and and…the list goes on and on and it is overwhelming at times…but we hold on to hope. We hold on to hope that the work that A is doing will make a difference in villages and that the physical needs will be met. That through that work somehow they will taste carrots, so to speak. And we hold on to hope that somehow we will be a very small part of Truth going forth, of light shining in the darkness and that ONE will come to faith.  We stand in hope, confident that His plan is good and His ways are best.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

At All Times

Really loving the lyrics of this song in these crazy days.

At All Times
Vineyard Music
In the mountains of joy, in the valley of tears
I will love You, I will trust You

When the flame’s burning bright, when I’m weary and dry
I will love You, I will trust You

You are my strength and You are my song
Giving me hope and guiding me on

At all times I will sing of Your greatness
At all times I will sing of Your love

At all times I will sing of Your faithfulness
For Your goodness remains

And Your love is the same
At all times

When your guidance is clear, when I can’t see ahead
I will love You, I will trust You

In the summer of life, in the soul’s darkest night
I will love You, I will trust You

You are my strength and You are my song,
Giving me hope and guiding me on

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Little t getting ready for some outside I love those eyes...

Little t and his truck...I am not sure what he enjoyed more - pushing the truck or falling down and getting dirty...

What is that verse??? “God’s grace is sufficient for you, His power is made perfect in weakness?” Yeah, that one.  Yesterday was a testement of that for me in big ways. 

A and I had stayed up waaay too late the night before watching something on the Discovery Channel We now have cable t.v. people. (it costs us a whole 3 dollars a months…and  will blog more about it soon)The first time either of us has ever had it in our house in our entire lives…and we are kinda giddy about it. We started out watching commercials (which are at times more entertaining than the shows themselves here) and then something on the Discovery Channel and then part of a movie.  Needless to say it was late when we made it to bed and after waking up to change a diaper and nurse a baby, I was not ready to get out of bed in the morning.  I finally rolled out after A had told me to 10 times and little t had crawled right over my face 13 times. I decided I was grumpy and I didn’t want to go to our service that morning (Friday is our Sabbath here)…which was wonderful seeing as I was in charge of speaking and leading that morning.  I didn’t feel prepared, or excited about going and definitely not about sharing.  I was moaning to myself about not having a break from the little guy and snapped at him and chewed him out as he tried to escaped while I attempted to change his (very poopy) diaper. 

And then I sat there, wondering what in the world I was doing. An hour before I was supposed to share what the Father was doing in my life and I am chewing out my one year told, muttering to myself about how pointless it was for me to share when I didn’t want to be there and couldn’t control my temper.  A intervened and I was able to jump in the shower 3 minutes before the service was supposed to begin.  It was one of those humbling desperation moments where I knew I didn’t have it in me to speak or lead or even show up at that service. The Father quietly urged me to let the words He had laid on my heart speak to me as I shared them and it was good…a humbling, but uplifting time.

After the service and lunch and putting little t down for his nap, A and I were hanging out when we received a text from one of our teammates.  She said that she would be happy to watch little t for a little bit that afternoon if we wanted to get out for a walk.  A and I had talked earlier in the week about the possibility of asking someone to watch little t while we went on a motorcycle ride on Friday afternoon, but we hadn’t followed through with it.  There are only three other people (besides us) here right now and we didn’t want to stress someone out on their day off.  But here someone was asking us…how wonderful! 

We jumped at the chance and were out the door soon after little t woke up. We dropped him off at R’s house and set off on the motorcycle.  He didn’t even realize we had left as he was having way too much fun watching R’s cat play in the grass as he was in the swing.

As soon as we got on that bike, all of the stress of the day was gone.  That may sound weird to some of you, but it is true!  Motorcycles have always been A and I’s thing.  They have always been A’s thing…from the time he was a little boy. And now they have rubbed off on me! I mean, let’s be honest, one of the reasons we waited so long to have kids was because we loved that so much. I know that this may sound shallow, but in some ways it is true. We have put a lot of miles on bikes exploring a lot of different countries and for a long time we weren’t ready to give that up. Okay, okay, it wasn’t the only reason we waited, maybe not even a main reason, but we definitely were sad when we took our last big trip in Thailand (I was 6 months pregnant at the time). 

Anyway, we had a great time on the bike. We just rode down the river on the outskirts of town, enjoying the beautiful weather (50 degrees and sunny) the scenery, the chance to be together and talk doing one of our absolute favorite things.  We stopped at a shop to get a few groceries on our way back and then made our way home.  By the time we returned we had been gone an hour, though it felt like it had been a day.  We both felt refreshed and A commented on  how nice it was to have little breaks like that before we were desperate for them.  And it was true.  I realized that given the stress of the morning and my terrible attitude, the break was just what I had needed.  We walked in to find a very happy and chatty little t. He was grinning from ear to ear and told us all about his time.  R said they had played outside for 45 minutes and said that she honestly didn’t think little t realized we were gone.  So, it was a great time. 

Upon return to our yard, the guard was there to meet us.  He loves loves loves little t and smiled big when he saw him.  He took him from me and they walked to our house together. kAkA (pronounced Cocoa…the word for uncle here and what we call the guard) smiled the whole time and talked to little t. Little t talked right back. kAkA told me again about how he had been best friends with the little British girl who had lived here before us and to little t he said, “now you will be my little friend right? Anytime you want to, you just come hang out with me.” He also mentioned that if little t wasn’t sleeping at night and just crying, I could take him out to hang out with kAkA in his room and he would take care of him. I am pretty sure this was his subtle way of telling me that he hears little t crying at night sometimes and doesn’t think it is okay…

Anyway, they played outside for about another hour, little t walking around with kAkA, picking up sticks and rocks, pushing his truck.  kAkA was showing him birds in the trees and showing him a big plane flying over.  I hung out for part of the time and then Andy kept an eye on them while he worked outside and I worked on supper.  When it started to get dark, little t finally came inside for the night, smiling from ear to ear and full of stories. 

The day that had started out so stinky in my books ended on such a positive note.  As I put little t down for bed, I found myself so humbled and thanking the Father for His goodness that day and His provision of exactly what I needed; lessons learned, a little bit of a break and the reminder of friends and people here who love us and are willing to help make life good here.  It just made me be very grateful for the Father’s goodness in these small, yet monumental ways.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

And Therein Lies The Answer

Finest…the name of it just oozes hoity-toityness doesn’t it?  And compared to it’s surroundings the store itself lives up to the assumption.  Set on a dusty street with a canal of open sewage running past it’s front step, the store stands like a gleaming beacon of materialism.   Did that stop me from going in? Absolutely not!  Let’s be honest, in a place where doing your simple grocery shopping is as complicated as it is here, I am going to take advantage of getting it done in one place if I can.   See, Finest is different from your mom and pop shops so to speak.  I can get milk, eggs, veggies, cheese, juice, cleaning products, yeast, toilet paper, chocolate, pens, drinking glasses, socks, shampoo, movies, a crockpot, etc (you get the picture) under one roof while visiting Finest. It most likely would take a few days (or at least a few hours) to accumulate all of that stuff otherwise.  Your juice, milk, yeast and cheese would be at one shop. Eggs at another. Veggies at the stand on the corner. Drinking glasses from the household goods store. Pens at the stationary store. Crockpot from the fancy store downtown…you get the idea. 

Back to Finest...Upon entering the first thing that came out of A and I’s mouth at exactly the same time was directed at my mom.  We both said, “this is not normal!  We don’t usually shop like this!”  But our time in the capital was short, traffic was horrible and lugging little t around is quite the feat. So, we caved to the pressure and put a major dent in our grocery/supply list in Finest.  We were in there for a long time…and were totally sweaty by the time we were done. (another tip – most stores here are not heated and are bone cold this time of year, so we had worn plenty of clothes to ensure we didn’t freeze.)  We should have known from it’s name that it would be different…it was waaaay past toasty in there!

So, we got our shopping on. Got the rice and the yeast and the jam and the cheese, and…a bunch of other stuff. A stayed with little t while mom and I check out the upper two levels (stairs only…we aren’t that fancy here).  We ooohed and awed over the gold jewellery, we gagged at the ridiculous (and crazy expensive) glass sculptures.  Really? Who wants a 2 foot dolphin in their living room? Maybe the same person who wants the tiger, woman with umbrella, seashell, pirate ship. So unpractical! But so typical of the homes of people with money here. The most awkward part of the experience came when we arrived on the third level only to be greeted by 4 mannequins of men from waist to knees wearing boxer briefs.  I don’t bring this up to be inappropriate….but think about it…we are in one of the most conservative countries in the world and there they are…men’s underwear in full view.  We had just arrived in country, but were totally embarrassed by it…  Yet another example of how Finest is very different from it’s surroundings.

Anyway, back on track. We had a cart full and made it up to the check-out.  After getting all of our things rang up the cashier flashed a look of panic as A passed him a credit card.  He told A “we can’t do credit card transactions at this register…only at that one!” Pointing to the last register in line.  This may not sound like a big deal, but we had just bought a LOT of stuff (and about went broke in the process…not the cheapest store in town) and it would have been a mess to cart it all the way over there and run it through again.  Eventually they got it sorted out…that isn’t the point of the story…

The POINT of the story…sorry I am long-winded today…was a little interaction that took place while we were checking out.  The cashier was quickly scanning things and moving them down the counter to the bag boy who was bagging them…much like happens in any store in the western world.  The difference?  The cashier was wearing a crisp white shirt and tie, dress pants and fancy shoes.  He had a nice watch on and his hair slicked back, for good measure.  The bag boy was in a T-shirt with the store logo and jeans.  

So what? You ask.  So this… The bag boy picked up a bottle of cleaning power (like Ajax) from the counter and it literally exploded in his hand.  The seal had been broken and when it had been tossed down the counter by the cashier, it had weakened the lid.  Then, as if in slow motion, it proceeded to empty itself all over the bag boy, the counter, the cashier, the groceries, the floor and anyone standing within a 2 foot radius. 

It was one of those moments where you think, if looks could kill.  The cashier whipped around and glared at the bag boy…letting what seemed to be a profanity slip as he began to chew him out.  He told him how stupid he was, why couldn’t he do anything right, how worthless he was, how he deserved to be fired, etc. etc. It was venomous and ugly…let’s just put it that way.  I am not sure if he was aware that we understood the majority of what he was saying or not, but he didn’t really seem to care.  He also didn’t seem to care to listen to the bag boy’s (very valid) explanation of what had happened as he tossed him a rag and told him to clean up what he had done.  The three of us (as well as every customer within hearing distance) stood in shock.  What do you do in that situation?  A and I tried to say that it was okay, it was an accident, but it didn’t change anything. The manager came over quickly and barked at both of them to stop talk and start working.  The cashier quickly defended himself and berated the bag boy once again.  The bag boy didn’t have a chance to do the same before he was reprimanded and told to get back to work. 

We left that night and talked about it in the car…how disgusted we were with what had happened.  The irony of the whole situation was not lost on us; the fact that the boys were roughly the same age, and looked as though they could have been brothers.  I realize that I don’t have all of the information here…maybe the bag boy was a horrible person and a terrible worker.  Maybe he did constantly make mistakes, lie, cheat, steal, hit little children, wipe out small countries…whatever else it would take to make a person horrible enough to deserve that kind of treatment…I don’t know…  But really?!?

Sadly, that happens every day in this country, it is just the norm and no one gives it a second thought.  You always have the authority to belittle those under you…the anthem of this place is get ahead no matter what it takes, who you step on, how much you lie, take others down in the process, etc.  It is the classic oppressed becoming the oppressor.  We see it so often and it is so crippling to unity, peace, prosperity, sanity.

So, what does one do in this context?  How can you make a difference in light of such pain and brokenness?  I don’t know to be honest. I am not sure that our treating people with love and respect no matter who they are translates at all.  In a place where ethnic lines are so deep and jagged, where temptation of corruption and bribes reach down to even the poorest of the poor, where security is something no one can possess and spiritual depravity if the condition of the masses, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope. 

But I think about the Word and the One who came to dwell among us.  His interaction with the woman at the well blew everyone out of the water. His challenges to the religious teachers brought silence where they usually had statements of pride. He touched lepers, sat with children, allowed a dirty woman (with the problem of bleeding) to cling to His garment. He brought the dead to life and rose in power and might.  Surely He can bring restoration to the toxicity of life and relationships in this place, can’t He? 

And therein lies the answer.  Finest might make some of us broke, some of us feel good and some of us treat others terribly.  The war in this place goes much deeper than is seen on the news or than is executed by planes and tanks.  Life will come to this place when peace that passes all understanding prevails, when men stop beating their wives, children are allowed to go to school, respect isn’t a foreign word or something you superficially show to anyone with money, or clout or power.  Life will come when truth is spoken, people learn to put each other first, value is given to every living being. Life will come when wholeness is pursued not because it brings more money or power or position but because it brings healing and restoration, peace and unity and understanding. 

It feels like a long way off…but we live in hope that life will come to this place.  (and when that happens maybe we will be able to shop at Finest without going broke)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Please Remember Us

Today we will meet with the national staff to remember F.  F was a girl from England who came to work and do research with our team here in M-ville.  A year ago tomorrow she was found dead in her room in the guest house in Kbl...apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning.  It shook us foreigners (she was 21 or 22, beautiful, spunky, full of life) but it seemed to affect the local staff very deeply as well.  They had a ceremony to remember her and since have continued to talk about her.

As is customary in this culture, on the one year anniversary of a death, you have a remembrance ceremony/meal.  We asked the local staff if they wanted to do something to remember her and they jumped on the chance.  They immediately started planning a program and large meal of fatty soup (ironic seeing as F was a vegetarian...). We have gotten messages from other team members as well as F's parents that will be read during the program.  The local staff have set it up so that the whole program can be taped and will then be sent to her parents in her remembrance (this was the local staff's idea and I thought it was beautiful).

Please be remembering us today and in this time. The testimonies that have been written about F's life by her parents and other team members that can't be with us today are beautiful and very Christ centered...they explain fully that F is in heaven and how she got there.  There are VERY few opportunities in this place to be so bold and clear with these descriptions, but this is one of them.  So, we are really asking the Father to use this time and event.

Our cleaning lady told my friend the other day that she had a dream about F after she passed away.  In the dream, F who was in heaven, came to her and said, "come with me".  The cleaning lady told her she couldn't and again F said "it is okay, it is a good place, you will be safe, come with me." She said that she thinks about that time a lot...

So, please be lifting up today and what comes out of it, as well as our local staff.  Pry that the Father would use the words that are spoken today to draw them to Himself in real ways.  Thanks

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Good Feeling...

An old college friend just caught me on Facebook chat as I was sending messages.  He said he was part of a 24 hour pryr thing at his chrch and wanted to know how they could remember us.  I gave him a few things and he replied, "will bring this before Dad right now." It was such a humbling experience.

I know that a lot of you lift us up on a very regular basis and to be honest we take that for granted at times. It was such a vivid and tangible reminder of that and I once again found myself so thankful that we are not in this alone, but are encouraged and prayed for so often by you.  Thanks for thinking of us and for lifting us up. The circumstances aren't always easy, but we continue to have such peace about being here and we are constantly reminded of Dad's faithfulness.  It's a good feeling, so thanks.

Don't You Dare!!!

My husband is banned from getting close to scissors for...quite a while! Here I thought I only had to look out for one boy...but apparently it is two!

 Little t has developed the cutest little curl in the back and as his hair grows it gets bigger and curlier.  I love it and everyone is raving about it.  A continues to threaten to cut it off "because I won't raise a son with a rat tail!"  Hardly a rat tail and oh so very cute...I keep threatening that he will be in BIG trouble if he cuts it off!  I am trying very very hard to get a good picture of it to show you, but I just can't seem to do it justice.  In the meantime, I am being very careful to keep scissors away from...both boys!

Puts A Smile On My Face...

- Little t interacted beautifully with the cleaning lady this morning (will blog more about her soon). I didn't tell him she was coming so he was a little surprised. Though he sat on my lap most through most of the interaction, he told her hi and proceeded to talk her ear off for 15 minutes (complete with wagging his finger at her) she has passed the likeability test apparently! He really really does well interacting with people here.  I try to go over to the office to have lunch with the female staff that work for Andy once a week.  He LOVES these women and goes from one to the next, crawling into their laps, talking their ears off, etc.  Makes me happy that he is so relaxed with them because then I can enjoy the time interacting with them as well.  They, of course, are crazy about him...but then again, how could you not be?

- We had our weekly meeting at our house yesterday was special to have the team (though small in numbers) fill our little house with warmth and songs and pryr.  It was a great time of fellowship.

- G and M - the two guards who work in our yards (they are not armed so guards is kind of a misleading term, but there isn't another good explanation for them...they watch the houses and yards, answer the gate, go to the bazaar, fill water tanks, shovel snow, etc.) are good friends.  Before this week the weather has been beautiful and they were often seen on their lunch break soaking up the sun.  M - our guard has a chair that he puts in the sun to sit in, G used the day and a few sticks to construct a bench between two tree trunks.  They enjoyed their break in the beauty of the day.

- Overheard recently while watching two of our guards walk through the yard... "you do it" said the younger (50ish) one -G to the older (65is) one - M.  "no, I am not going to, you do it," replied M.  "Fine I will," shot back G as he headed toward the trampoline.  Next thing I knew he had hopped onto the trampoline and was giggling like a girl as he tried to keep his balance and jump at the same time.  M watched from the ground chuckling to himself.  I watched from the kitchen as I did dishes doubled over with laugher! After a minute or so G got off, straightened his clothes and sauntered off to continue his work...with a little grin.

- We are going out to supper tonight!  There a few other foreigners in town and they  have invited us to their compound for supper...we don't get out much, so this is very exciting!

- The fact that little t is just now waking up from a 2 1/2 hour nap...and in that time, I have worked-out, showered, eaten lunch, cleared up from lunch and had time to write e-mails and this blog...Good day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

2010 Recap

I know that I am late, but am finally posting this...

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? Went to Mexico! A always teases me that I have traveled a lot, but have never been to Mexico…but he can tease no more because I have arrived, baby!
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I wasn’t really thinking about new year’s resolutions this time last year…  I have some things in mind that I would like to be more diligent in this year – completing the yearly bible reading, being more consistent with healthy eating and exercise, brushing little t’s teeth every day, communication with family and friends, making friendships here, etc.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yeah, my dear friend Grace had her little boy. Two of my cousins had babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Unfortunately this was a bad year for us…we had six friends from our organization here die this last year. One died from carbon monoxide poisoning – she was 21. 5 others were killed on August 5th when the group of 10 were murdered. It was a painful year.

5. What countries did you visit? Wow, I feel boring on this one this year! Only A-stan and Mexico.  2009 was better – Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, U.A.E., A-stan…that sounds more like my life!

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you didn't have in 2010? More consistent devotional time… I am bad, people. I know that I am put in that category of missys (even though that isn’t what we are…we are here professionally, remember?) that are supposed to be super-spiritual…but it just isn’t true.  I want that daily time, I NEED that daily time…it has to happen.

7. What dates from 2010 will be etched upon your memory, and why? I can’t think of the specific dates right now...just the events.
- The day we bought our house.
- The three days (in January, Julyish and late August/early September) when we looked at each other and said, “we have to go back” and knew that we would wind up here again. 
- The days right after those that sent our world tumbling down and us wondering if that would be a possibility. January - really struggling with little t and feeling like we couldn’t even parent him well in the States, how in the world would we be able to do it here!, July – security gets terrible and our sending org questions our ability to be here and then August 5 when our friends are killed.
-  August 5 will forever be etched in my memory. We were in Goodwill on our way home from speaking at a large conference (we had had a great week and were excited about what was next…we were actually talking on the way home about booking our tickets to return here). In Goodwill A took a phone call and I will never forget him saying “yeah I know them, why? They have been killed?!?” The color drained out of his face and he blindly grabbed a rack of clothes to steady himself on. When we got out to the car, he didn’t talk for 5 minutes as he started off into the distance before telling me about our friends. When we got home that night, A looked at me and said, “I hope you like our house because we aren’t going anywhere, we can’t go back there after this”. It was a very painful day.
- The following day, August 6 was just as painful. We were quietly and internally dealing with the news the night before (we had been told it was still confidential so we hadn’t shared it with anyone) only to wake up to calls and texts from family who had heard the news…suddenly our small bubble of grief and safety was burst open and the wound became much bigger and more painful as we had to share with others, answer questions, justify everything, explain unknowns, etc.  I remember feeling alone because noone around us really understood but everyone had questions, reasons we shouldn’t go back thoughts and opinions on the matter, etc. It was a painful.
- A week or so later our very dear friends Daniel and Renee came to visit. That was a day of healing – to sit and be honest with them, to talk and cry and vent and scream about what we were feeling and going through. 
- A day in late August where we met with our boss in Colorado Springs about future direction.  We were tired and went into the meetings knowing that our hearts were telling us we needed to return, but knowing that the murders of our friends and security were major strikes against us…our boss looked at us and basically said, “we believe the Father wants you there and is leading you in that way. What can we do to make that happen because we are behind you all the way.”  We were in shock but our hearts were so full of peace and thankfulness and joy.
- Three days before Christmas A talked on the phone with the parents of his good friend G who was killed…that was another painful day, but one that brought much healing…I could tell from a distance that their conversation was very good for both ends and just had a sacredness to it. 
- Our last time in Blairsburg with our chrch family there was a good day. There was such a sense of peace and the Father’s presence as we left. 
- I could go on and on…it was a big year for us…even though we only traveled to A-stan and Mexico! J

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year? Learning to listen and wait in big ways…we worked through a lot of uncertainty and grief. We healed and grew in a lot of ways…there was just a quiet steadiness to what the Father was doing and I am proud of us for not getting impatient and rushing it, but believing that in His time He would show us the way and He did…and here we are!

9. What was your biggest failure? Interaction/communication with siblings.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No, I had a pretty healthy year, thankfully.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Our house – and we love it…and can’t wait for other people who work overseas to be able to use it…so a shout-out to you all…if you need a place in central Iowa for when you are home, let us know!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My mom’s…she was just amazing on the trip.  She took everything in stride, she smiled through everything, she was so helpful. It was just a joy to have the time with her.  There were a lot of things she could have had a terrible attitude about, but she was wonderful.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The people from Kansas who protested soliders’ funerals…not okay at all.

14. Where did most your money go?  Baby, house, coming here.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Seeing old friends again…it was SO fun to catch up with people and share my family with them…I really enjoyed it. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2010? I couldn’t come up with one…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Happier, thinner, about the same (not worried about being rich, though)

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Enjoyed little t in the first few months instead of just stressing about him…tried to make it possible for him to spend more time with my siblings. Went on dates with my husband. Spent more time with good friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worried about little t, tried to justify how we felt the Father calling us to people who would never really get it anyway.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We had family Christmas before we left the states and had a lot of fun. We spent Christmas Eve and Day with the team here and unpacking boxes.

21. Did you fall in love with 2009? I came to love and appreciate A in so many new ways this year…don’t know what I would do without him.  Little t stole my heart this year as well…what a guy.

22. What was your favorite TV program? We got really into the Apprentice…A was convinced he could win the show…and we watched the Office…and when we were at A’s grandparent’s house we watched a lot of HGTV…totally addicting!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Hate is a strong word…no, can’t say that I do.  I take it back…I currently hate the washing machine (that yes, I am in love with) for stopping midcycle when the electricity went out…that is a lot of very wet clothes…thankfully it rinsed them before it stopped!

24. What was the best book you read? Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah….oh my goodness…it still gives me goosebumps…  also, Not For Sale by David Batstone. It is about the global slave trade and will infuriate you, make you sick, humble you, convict you. I really believe that every person needs to read it while asking the Father what they should be doing in light of it.  Read it, I dare you.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? That I would pay more money to listen to Aaron and Nikki Petersen sing than I would Selah…true story.

26. What did you want and get? A House.  We used some money being passed down to us that needed to be invested to buy an hold house in a small town in Iowa.  When we got married, we started talking about getting a house to have for when we were home in the States. So, we just keep looking and waiting for the right thing to come along.  In January or 2010 we actually found our house and the price was right (dirt cheap – all we could afford) and we got it.  It was such a blessing to have our own place to be and we look forward to our kids having a stable place to return to when we go back to the States to visit.  Also, we wanted it to be available to other people who work overseas when we are not there, so it is available if anyone  needs it.

27. What did you want and not get? To be completely back in shape after having little t.  I am a pretty athletic person, so I didn’t think it would be hard for me to lose the weight and get back in shape…but I was wrong.  Still working on it , unfortunately. Really looking for effective and creative ways here, cause I don’t get out much…

28. What was your favorite film of 2010? I don’t even know what films came out last year…but films we watched that we liked…Australia, Blindside…there was another one, but I can’t think of it now.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 28. We were in Illinois at the cabin that my Dad’s family has (where his mom lived before she passed away).  We had been very very busy for a few months and were tired of traveling, so we almost didn’t go, but it was such a great and relaxing time.  We just soaked in the quietness and beauty of the lake, went out on the boat, spent time with my Aunt (she took us out to eat on my birthday – thanks Aunt Jane!) watched movies, and just chilled. It was really a great few days and we were so glad we took the time in the end. 

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I can’t really think of anything…I am sad that A and I didn’t get to have a night or weekend just to ourselves without little t before we came back here, but I can’t say that it would have made it immeasurably more satisfying…just would have been nice.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2010? Blah… I don’t really spend money on clothes (only will shop thrift stores, sales, etc.). I especially felt that way this last year when we knew we wouldn’t be there long, had just had a baby and wanted to lose weight and get back into shape. So it was just kind of take what I could get and it worked, I was clothed and that is what matters right?  In my more selfish/materialistic moments, I really wanted to rush out and get cute stuff to wear, but didn’t.

32. What kept you sane? A and our parents…and the Father’s still small voice.  I can’t really describe it, but it was a year of Him quietly speaking and moving and it was very beautiful to be in tune to that.  We never felt rushed to make decisions, we never had monumental moments of learning or growth or even knowing what was coming next, but it was a constant abiding.  It was hard at times because the big booming voice is always more convincing, convicting and trustworthy, right?  But there was such a steadiness to is that was so beautiful to be a part of.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? I would have to say the war…it was a very odd feeling to have been here and then to be home and see what the general public in the west is told and what they believe and how that dictates their reactions, decisions, etc.  The more I saw both sides, the more I struggled with the idea of the conflict in general…I get the arguments for both sides…I have heard them all enough.  But I also get that this is people’s lives - humans we are talking about here and I think that gets lost too often on both sides of the fence.  So, I was stirred in my thoughts and beliefs about that more than anything, I think.

34. Who did you miss? People who work here with us.  It was hard to be back in the States, to be honest. We were traveling a lot, we didn’t really fit in (part of us never settled too much because we knew we wouldn’t be there long) because our lives and experiences are so different…we just see the world very differently – for better or worse.  Not that we didn’t enjoy our time in the States, it was wonderful, but there were times (like after our friends were killed) when we struggled to find people who could relate on a deep heart level.  I also missed my dear friend Steph a lot, she has been such a huge influence and encouragement in our lives and missed spending time with her.  I also missed family. Our families are so spread out, so it was hard to be in the States, but not spend as much time with my family as I would have liked.

35. Who was the best new person you met? Tara L. I had heard about her a while ago and had been stalking her blog for quite some time, so it was awesome to finally be able to meet her.  I so appreciated being able to spend time with her and her husband, it was one of those connections where you “get” each other right away and A and I were so thankful for that at the time (and still are). We really admire Tara and her family for the work they do and the sacrifices they make to bring hope and healing to the people of Haiti – good work friends!

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010. I think I learned a lot about the value of life and how much our Father loves people. I also learned a lot about His unchanging nature and was really blessed and challenged by that this last year.
37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Again, couldn’t think of one.