Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hits and Misses

So do you ever have one of those days where you just feel like you are on a roll? You come up with good ideas left and right?  Well, I have had a few of those lately and let me tell you, it was awesome.  Now, I didn’t find the cure to cancer, or anything that is even brag-worthy probably, but I was pretty stinking excited.  Maybe it is due to the fact that I spend my days with a toddler, try to speak a language I only understand 20% of and don’t get out much, but I thought my ideas were spectacular.

Genius Idea #1

When out with local women I wear a chadArI (burka) because it is safer for me and for them, I blend in and don’t have to worry about sticking out like a sore thumb (for their sake or mine) and honestly, it is kinda fun.  And really, why wouldn’t I when I hear comments like this: “T looks just like one of us when she is with us in her chadArI, people don’t even notice she is foreign!”  That right there is motivation enough. If you want my honest opinions of the burka, read this post:Swimming In a Sea of Blue.
The detail on the front part of a chadArI
Even though I feel comfortable wearing this contraption, that does not mean that here aren’t challenges. Take the picture above, for instance. They are all blue.  Yes, there are different shades of blue and there a few white ones here and there, but for the most part, they all look the same.  The embroidery is different on each of them, but honestly….they all look the same.  For that reason, it is a challenge to go shopping in them. You can lose who you are shopping with quite quickly if you get separated…you all look the same! Memorizing your friend’s shoes is a must!
Knowing that they all look the same, imagine this scene.  You go with 12 other women for a day of visiting. House to house to house you go.  At each entrance, you are greeted by the woman of the house (kissed three times on the cheek) and then she takes your burka from you and puts it in the pile over her outstretched arm.  13 burkas all piled together.  That is a lot of blue.  Upon leaving, the hostess brings the pile back out and people begin to pick their burkas out of the pile.  Sometimes they pick wrong and switch with each other or put it back in the pile. But 99% of the time, these women are able to recognize which one is theirs.  I have NO IDEA which one is mine, so I always just wait till the end and hope I end up with one that fits.  I was convinced one day that mine was wrong and knew that just ending up with the end of the pile each time wasn’t good enough. 
Enter Stroke of Genius:
The mighty safety pin.  
I put a safety pin in a discreet place on the inside of my burka.  Now, I can go to the pile and pick it out immediately.  After two houses on our 12 house tour, all of my friends had this figured out and immediately handed me mine if they found it in the pile.   My burka fit all day and I felt SO smart!

Good Idea #2
I love cloth diapers. I will say that unashamedly.  For us they are the way to go. They take a little work, but they save us TONS of money, they are better for the environment, they are good for Little t…and they make me happy, to be honest. 
When I was pregnant with Little t, a dear friend who also works overseas told me about an amazing cloth diaper company ran by Believers who are passionate about what God is doing around the world.  They give grants of cloth diapers to families working overseas.  We applied and were given 15 cloth diapers by this fantastic company.  We have bought a few other brands of cloth diapers, but they didn’t compare.  When we needed a few more to add to our rotation before we came here, I automatically bought more from this company because they are so great. 
Anyway, angel khAla has a one year old daughter who has constant diarrhea (problem of a large majority of the population here) and she is always complaining about the diapers she uses because they leak and are hard to clean and don’t absorb anything, etc.  She has been drooling over Little t’s diapers for a while.  With her not-so-subtle hinting, I thought about giving her some of Little t’s, but then I came up with Good Idea #2.
I thought about all of the women I have read about in the States who make their own cloth diapers from patterns, etc.   So, I have been doing some research and am hoping to help angel khAla make some better diapers for her daughter.  Not only that, but I am wondering if there would be a small market for them here and a way for her to generate some income.  There is no shortage of little butts around here and everyone complains about diapering options (expensive disposables or rags folded up inside a piece of plastic – no elastic or anything). So, maybe if we could find an affordable way to make them here, people would buy them?  I have written to this wonderful cloth diapering company and their design genius is going to be in touch with me about possibilities.  
This makes me excited because one of the hardest things to think about is what will happen to angel khAla and her family if/when we leave.  If I could help her get her feet on the ground with some kind of income that would be amazing. 
*If anyone makes their own diapers, or knows of places to learn more about that, I would be VERY interested in hearing from you.

Good Idea #3
I have become a blog addict. I am amazed by the ideas and experience of people around the world and I am loving reading and learning from others.  One of the things that I have read about a few times is a Frock Swap. I still don’t know a lot about it, but I am interested in hosting one here. Basically it is where people bring items of clothing, jewellery, shoes, etc that they no longer want and trade for other people’s junk. Swapping stuff that you don’t want and hopefully ending up with some treasures.
In November, all of the people in our organization will get together for a conference. This happens every other year and is a really fun time to see other people, relax and enjoy time together.  After reading about a Frock Swap the other day I had Good Idea #3 – a Frock Swap at Team Conference.  Shopping here is a weird weird thing, and like anywhere else in the world, we all have things that we no longer use/wear. So, I am hoping we can get together and make the most out of each other’s junk!  At first I was all excited to have this be a ladies only event – with snack and coffee or something.  But when I told A about it he got so excited about it that I now I feel kinda bad excluding the men and kids, so we will see.  I am writing an e-mail to the team conference coordinator right now and we will see if anything comes of it.  I will keep you posted.
*If anyone has organized a Frock Swap or has been a part of one and can offer advice, please let me know. I would love to pick your brain! 

Bad Idea #1
For every three good ideas, I have to have a not so great one, right?  This is more like a “what in the world was I thinking?” moment that I have multiple times everyday.  The last time we were in the capital, I went shopping in a fabric bazaar with some friends. I was hoping to find fabric to recover some toeshacks (cushions that are like a couch on the floor) that we got from friends.  I fell in love with this fabric.

I am still in love with this fabric. It makes me so happy and it looks great in our dining/family room. 
But our yard is dirt, our son is a human dirtball, this whole country is dirt.  WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!  Every day, I sound like a broken record.  Every day, “Little t, please don’t put your muddy feet on the toeshacks!” “Little t, please don’t wipe that jelly on the toeshacks.” “Little t, please don’t empty your pockets full of dirt on the toeshacks!”  etc. etc.  Poor Little t and poor toeshacks.  They are slightly grungy, though they are holding up well. They will definitely have zippers sewn in soon so they can be taken off often and washed. 
They are beautiful.
They make me happy.
But I don’t know what I was thinking!

And just because I couldn't resist:
No one will break into our house with this thug around!
This is kinda fuzzy, but I had to post it. I laughed so hard when I first saw it. Afternoon entertainment at it's finest!  Does he have the coolest dad or what?!?

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Pr.ay For Peace

I had a rare hour alone a few days ago.  A is in the capital for a week of meetings and training, so Little t and I are holding down the fort.  He had been invited to our German teammates house to play and was thrilled to go over.  I rode over with them (they live on the other side of town) and then walked back home in my chadArI (burka). Rarely do I get out like that in these days, so it was beautiful. The fall air was perfect and the blue fabric enveloped me in a sense of anonimoyit that was freeing. I walked along the streets, through the bazaar and home without prying eyes or a feeling of being uncomfortable because of standing out in the crowd. 

As I walked past the hospital, I prayed for peace.  Knowing that people of every walk of life enter those grounds and the clinic that we run there. I was reminded of how important peace is in that place.  Family members and members of the t-ban themselves are brought in for treatment.  We don’t turn them away, but pr.ay deeply that the generosity and kindness that they experience will stop them in their tracks. 

As I walked through the busy bazaar, bustling with afternoon shoppers, I pr.ayed for peace.  In the middle of a drought, with food prices at all-time highs, survival is a challenge for everyone. I pr.ayed for shop-keepers to have integrity and to think about their fellow country-men as people instead of just opportunities to make a few more cents.  I pra.yed for the shoppers who come from near and far, doing their best to feed and clothes their families when resources are so tight. 

On a side street, a line of vans filled with villagers were preparing to return from the ‘city’ to their humble villages.  Impatient kids fought in the back, babies cried, women sweated under their chadArI’s, while men stood around talking and chewing the fat.  The top of the vans were laden with supplies people had bought during the day, and things they would try to sell in their villages.  I pra.yed peace over these people as they traveled, safety on the roads and for some interaction with Je.sus, even though they are so secluded from the outside world. 

I pra.yed peace over the streets I walked along, houses full of families and all of the ‘life’ that comes with them – hurts and pain and fears, joys and dreams and laughter.  I pra.yed peace over the houses of our co-workers, that the changes Je.sus has made in our lives would be so real and attractive to them that they would be drawn to Him.

I pra.yed peace over every mos.que I walked past.  That the Spirit of Jesus would flood over those buildings and leave a deep longing in the hearts and minds of each man who goes to pray or listen to teaching there.  I asked that every loudspeaker would be invaded with the voice of peace when the call to pray.er erupts five times a day. That one day, the voice of Heaven would call out through the streets of this place, “worthy is the Lamb who sits on the throne!”

I pra.yed peace over the after-school learning center that had children flooding out it’s doors.  For so long this country has been crippled by a generations who have never learned.  Generations of illiteracy and deep voids in critical thinking have caused fear and paranoia to become the norm in operation.  How important it is that empowerment and learning happens in this place.  I pr.ayed for those who are eager to learn and for those who are eager to stop them from doing so. 

I pra.yed peace over the mad.rassa, down the street. Young men poured out the gate, having finished their learning for the day with afternoon prayers.  Such moldable minds in a precarious balance. I pra.yed that their efforts would be positive and their striving would be beneficial for all involved.  I pra.yed for the Spirit to move in power in that place as only He can, using dreams and visions to bring those in that place to Himself.

I pra.yed peace on the homes of our neighbors as I walked by. Knowing bits and pieces of their story and having a deep heart and love for them, I ache for their souls and their quests for fulfillment.  I know that the Peace of Jesus is the only thing to bring that and I begged Him to help me pour that forth into their lives in beautiful ways, His ways.

As I entered my yard, I once again pra.yed peace over it…like I do every morning.  I have this visual in my head of a cloud of peace hanging over our house and it is our hope and pra.yer that every person who enters our gate is enveloped in it as well. That they would see and hear and feel the difference that Jesus makes in us and in this place. 

I beg of the Lord in these days to bring His peace upon this land.  The physical war is nothing in comparison to the war for souls, the war for peace.  Oh what a day it will be when the lion lays down with the Lamb in this place, when the guns are set down and the killing stops. How beautiful it will be when fear subsides and His glory floods the streets.  

I live in hope and longing. 

Until that day, I pr.ay for peace.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Higher Calling

Yesterday Little t and I took a bag of apple peels over to the goat neighbors…for their goats.  We made applesauce and (obviously) didn’t need the peels so we took them over to share. It has been a busy few weeks and though nearly every day I have told myself that we need to go visit these neighbors, we haven’t.  Little t was thrilled to go and so happy to see his little friend, Pete, and the goats again.
The situation is always semi awkward and yesterday was no exception.  They always invite me in the house for tea…which usually means we sit there with the t.v. blaring and they watch and we drink tea. I would have less of a problem with this if I didn’t have a very active and very curious toddler in tow who isn’t really into drinking tea or watching local language religious or cooking programs.  He would much rather go play with the goats, walk around the yard, etc.  In theory this sounds fine, except that the yard is not safe – piles of scrap metal (that they collect and recycle) uneven footing and very ornery goats who butt anyone who gets close leaves me on edge.  So, as much as I would like to relax and chat with a cup of tea in hand…I can’t.  I go back and forth between following Little t around while saying I will come in the house in 5 minutes and sitting in the house and worrying about him as he takes off out the door. 
That was a huge rabbit trail…
The other reason that it is always slightly awkward is the interaction between the grandmother and Little t’s friend, Pete.  Pete is a year older than Little t and very sweet. He is quiet and shy and doesn’t have a lot of friends (all of the other kids in his yard are 10+ years older.  His parents have a tragic story and his dad isn’t in the picture.  His mom is very sweet and works very very hard while the grandmother sits in the room and drinks tea and watches t.v. 
The grandmother is very very hard on Pete. Yesterday was no exception. Tea was brought out and Grandma handed Little t two pieces of candy.  Pete reached for one off the tray and after smacking him (hard) on the head she said, “don’t you dare take that candy, I’ll kill you!”  The first time we visited and I heard her say this, it shocked me, but now it just makes me sad.  Yesterday she also told him not to be mean to the cat by saying, “if you poke the cat with that stick, I’ll cut your hand off.”  Point taken. 
I hesitate to share this because it sounds extreme and 99.99% of me knows she loves him deeply and would never do anything to hurt him. But the part that kills me is the hurt and frustration and rage in his little eyes every time she reacts that way.  Several times yesterday, he burst into tears and after hitting her, flew out of the room in a three year old rage.  My spirit just ached for him and my eyes were opened to a very real problem in this country. 
See, this isn’t just a random thing that only happens in this family.  Many families have exchanges like this and they are toxic. I am beginning to see that much of the brokenness and dysfunctionality of this society starts in the home.  There is a definite lack of peace and unity in most families and I am beginning to believe that it affects children to the core.  From a very young age they are not treated with dignity and respect and much of that rage (along with a broken and volatile religion) makes prime breeding ground for hurtful behavior later on in life.  The husband was beaten by his father, he in turn beats his wife, who takes it out on the kids, who take it out on other kids, and the cycle goes on and on. 
Someone in our organization encouraged me the other day to begin thinking about what I wanted to do outside the home “because being home all day with your kid in this environment will drive you crazy”, he explained.  I agree that it is not easy to be at home all day…and I do mean all day – there are no malls or parks or playgroups to go to…it is us in our yard or in the yards of neighbors. The more I thought about this, however, the more I disagree and really and firmly believe that home is the most important place for me to be. It is important for my family that I am at home and able to create a stable and peaceful environment here. It is very important for Little t to have the input of his Momma. But I also am coming to believe that it is important for those around us as well.  Not only because of the cultural ramifications of so few women working outside the home in this place, but because there is HUGE work to be done in homes and families in this place.  If I do nothing more than display love and patience to my son, my husband and those around me, I have conquered the world. 
A and I felt early on in our marriage that one of the reasons that God was calling us to this part of the world was to be a light in dark situations, especially when it came to family and marriage.  And we still feel that way.  If all of our projects failed tomorrow, but we were able to be examples of treating each other with love and respect, of firm but gentle discipline for our son, of honesty and integrity in our home and relationships, we would have no regrets.  SO MANY homes and families and marriages here are built on broken and crumbling foundations.  I am not saying that we are perfect by any stretch, but we have one thing figured out.  We have prioritized Chr.ist as the cornerstone of our lives, our marriage and our family and HE makes all the difference. 
In a deeply broken world we long to bring the hope and fullness of Chr.ist into the lives and homes of those around us.  That means pra.ying peace over our house every morning and pra.ying peace over every house that we visit every time we go.  It means braving the potential of fleas to invite Pete to come play at our house.  Seeing his eyes light up at the toys and the chance to run around in the yard made it worth it.  He is not accustomed to sharing and neither is Little t, so we have a long ways to go, but he soaked in the time and we did as well. It means going to visit neighbors when I would rather stay home and enjoy the quiet of the afternoon.  It means making a priority of teaching our son love and respect and patience, putting others first and a heart for the lost. 
This can be a frustrating and emotionally draining place…and that is putting it lightly.  The constraints of security and culture make progress hard to come by.  More and more each day we are being convicted of our role of Hope and Truth in this place. To be a family that is an example of the change that Chr.ist has made in us.  I really believe that there is no higher calling.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You Just Never Know...

Some days I find myself wondering if this is real life or a weird weird dream. You just never know what you will find in your yard.  Some examples:

- One night I had hung some laundry out to dry before I went to bed. It must have been windy during the night because the next morning some of the clothes had blown off the line.  Later angel khAla came in with a pair of A's boxers...that she found in the compost hole.  

- Another morning we found a pair of little girls pants in the garden and figured that they had blown off the line in the neighbors yard (they hand their laundry on our shared roof-top. I took them over to the neighbor's house (the first time I had met these neighbors) and they laughed when they saw them. They said that two of the little girls had gotten into a fight and had started pulling each other's clothes off and tried to throw them over our wall.  One of the girls had succeeded and the other was missing their pants.  I wasn't quite sure how to respond, so I chuckled a little bit while the family howled with laughter.  

A few mornings ago, one of the stray momma cats that hangs around here (until she is 'encouraged' to leave the yard) was howling like crazy on the top of the wall between our yard and the ‘goat neighbors’ yard. She was driving Little t crazy. He kept asking me to get her down so he could hold her. I kept explaining that she is nasty not tame and it wasn’t possible. He wouldn’t have it and kept pleading with me.  After not being able to take it anymore, I went over to see what her deal was.  Hanging from the barbed wire on the top of the wall was a stomach (yes a stomach) of some animal.  Intestines, kidneys and other goodies were hanging there…ripe for the picking. Momma cat was having trouble, though, because the boys in the yard were throwing rocks at her every time she got close…so she sat there and yowled her nasty flea-bitten head off!  They must have gotten distracted by something because she darted in and with one big yank came away with a kidney (about her size). She ran along the wall until she got to a safe place and happily enjoyed her meal.  Throughout the day, it slowly disappeared. The mystery of what it was and where it came from still remains…bizarre.
     - The kids that Little t likes to play with decided one week that they would begin coming to play at 7:30 a.m. We don’t do mornings well…so imagine our surprise (and hurried attempts to put presentable clothes on) when kAkA showed up at the door to tell us that the kids had come to play. We were still in bed reading books and they were ready to take over our house!  We kindly asked them to come back later. 
-   - When the kids did return, we were reminded of how naughty they are.  At one point in time, all six children were in Little t’s bed pretending it was a boat.  Later, I heard sounds coming out of our bedroom and found three of them (plus the doll) in our bed.  I laughed hard and then shook my head.  They never cease to amaze me with the stunts they pull (walking across the table instead of walking around it eating every scrap of naan I have in the house, trying to break toys, and major major sibling drama).  They are great kids, but more than a handful! I find myself shaking my head each time they are here.
There they are...this gives a whole new meaning to the song "Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed"!

This is the naughtiest girl.  She had kicked all of the other kids out and was pretending she was Little t's mom.  
    - Five minutes after A left for work a few mornings ago, he returned to tell me that the neighbors had decided to tear the wall down.   I thought maybe that meant that they would start in a day or two…nope it was 7:30 a.m. and they already had half of it in a pile in our garden.  The next few days we got to know our neighbors a lot better as there was no wall between our yards…a piece of fabric brought some privacy, but there were usually 4 or 5 little faces peeking under it.  Several times I walked outside, forgetting to cover my head, only to be met by the shocked faces of 4 or 5 men who were working there.  Back in the house I would go.  Shaking my head the entire time at the craziness of this life I live.

     - Little t was utterly fascinated with the wall construction project and spent a LOT of time in the garden with kAkA watching the men work, shouting orders to them, singing them songs and blowing them kisses. They were completely amused with him and he was thrilled to have such fascinating work going on in his garden! 

     -  And the absence of the wall brought an influx in our rabbit population.  We put our rabbit in our teammate’s yard so he wouldn’t escape. Imagine my surprise when upon returning from that yard I saw TWO rabbits in the garden and thought I was losing my mind!  It took me a few minutes to realize that they were different rabbits.  Since then, they have decided not to leave and we now have three rabbits running around the garden.  This is a dangerous state of affairs and we are looking into the future with trepidation. Who knows how many rabbits we will have in a few months at the rate we are going!
-   - One of the funniest and most common sights in our yard these days is Little t and our rabbit (Romeo) playing tag.  They chase each other around the yard and Little t laughs and laughs.  When he actually catches up to Romeo, he pets him and then gives him kisses on his ear.  The explosion in the rabbit population has been slightly traumatic for Little t.  One of the neighbor’s rabbits looks very very similar to our rabbit, but Little t can’t figure out why he isn’t as friendly.  He chases and chases the rabbit, smacking his little lips and saying, “bunny, bunny!”  Only to be snubbed.  Poor kid. 

That is just a taste of the bizarreness that goes on in our yard…who knows what next week will bring!  Life is never boring, that is for sure!  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh Little Boy...

Can't believe how big he is getting!

A just said to me today as we snuggled and laughed with Little t before we laid him down for his nap, “I love this age, it is so fantastic! He is so fantastic!”
I couldn’t agree more. 
I have decided that a boy this special needs his own special blog post once in a while. Or maybe it is just that my blog and writing needs to lighten up once in a while.  Or maybe it is simply that there are many friends and family members back home who miss the little fart and love hearing about him.  Either way, this is another one of those posts where I am going to shamelessly brag about my kid. 
Little t is 21 months old now and loving life.  99% of the time he wakes up happy and 90% of the time he stays that way all day long.  He has turned into a singing, dancing, tamborine playing, copy-cat socialite.  He is constantly singing something and usually bopping along as he does.  His tambourine ended up in his bed one night and he sang and played to his hearts content (and our deep deep amusement) for about an hour before falling asleep.  He goes out to the chowkidar’s room and will put on concerts for kAkA.  He particularly likes to find the most ridiculous Hindi music he can and then sing at the top of his lungs to that.  The women A works with get a kick out of his visits because they always involve singing and dancing. He loves singing along in chu.rch and will throw in a dance move or a twirl for good measure.
He is still quick to pr.ay at the table and now says ‘eesus’ followed by a string of jabber with his eyes squinty closed. Then he says ‘men’ as the throw his hands up in the air before digging into his food. 
Speaking of food, he is still much pickier than his momma likes to admit…or to cook for.  He is a very happy man when he eats pancakes, scrambled eggs, naan, chicken, hot dogs, meat (of any kind, really), apples, peaches, oatmeal and anything covered in curry (yes, you did read that right).  He is s.l.o.w.l.y. learning to try new things…but 99% of the time he refuses to eat what we eat and we have to resort to pancakes or eggs or naan. We make a BIG deal about that 1% when he tries something new. It is a constant battle that I hate, but he is definitely not wasting away, so I guess it could be worse. 
Little t has decided that wearing diapers is a trend that he is not fond of.  He would much rather go without a diaper all day than keep one on.  For as many times as he has gone without, he has had very very few accidents.  He has yet to actually go to the bathroom in the toilet (his little potty chair or the big one) though he sits on them countless times every day and watches us all the time.  I think he mostly gets what goes on in there, but it just hasn’t ‘clicked’. We tried making a ‘psssing’ noise when we sat him on there the first time and now he does that every time he sits on the pot…or sits his baby/stuffed animals/trucks, etc. on the pot.  One day I asked if he wanted to have a tea party and he got all excited.  I said I would get the tea pot out. I did and put it on the floor.  I turned around and heard him making the psssing sound.  When I turned back around he had his pillow pet sitting on the tea pot and making the sound like he was going to the bathroom.  Silly boy!  I think the first time he does go in the toilet it will kind of click.  Even now, if he has to go when he doesn’t have a diaper on, he will say “owie!” while pointing to himself, but then won’t do anything while he is sitting on the toilet.  The other day he was saying that a lot while I got him ready for his bath/swim in his tub.  I kept putting him on the toilet and he wouldn’t do anything.  Finally he sat down in the nice warm water, let out a big sigh and pooped in the water!  So that was the end of the bath, and obviously we have a ways to go!
"HI! Let's be friends!"
Little t is VERY social. He has loved having our British teammates back because he LOVES their kids and follows them around everywhere.  He plays really well with the local kids here and that is really good for him. (Though it totally wears his momma out!)  Once a week he spends an hour or so with our German teammates while A and I take a break/go shopping in the bazaar.  He has come to really like this couple (they are wonderful and he would be crazy to not really like them) and talks about them a lot.  He loves to visit the office where A works and is the life of the room.  He will open the door to a room and very dramatically say “HI!” before going around and shaking hands with everyone in the room.  We went to a party at the UN the other night and he did that.  Wriggled out of my arms as soon as we entered the room and said, “Hi!” to a roomful of people he had never met.  He then proceeded to go from one to the other and chat with each person.  He went crazy when we visited people for Eid (the big holiday we just celebrated here). Not only did he LOVE all of the snacks/cookies/candy, but he loved seeing new people, playing with new kids, etc.  Right now our neighbors have knocked down the wall between our yards down to build a new one and Little t is fascinated. He wants to be watching all the time and talks and talks to the sons who are working there.  Every time we walk by he says ‘HI!’ and blows them kisses.  He is also very into talking on the phone and has very intense conversations.  He frequently laughs at his own jokes.  He will jabber away and then just crack up…doing this full body belly laugh at whatever he just said. It is very humorous.
Little t and Romeo the rabbit

What else is he up to these days?  A family gave us a rabbit for Eid and he and Little t have become good friends.  They chase each other around the yard and Little t gets so excited to see him.    He loves drawing and coloring, books and his trucks.  He would watch t.v. all day if we let him (we don’t) and interacts with whatever is on the screen.  He loves to help me in the kitchen when I am cooking (making bread is his favorite).  He gets pots and pans out and stirs and puts lids on. He insists I put them on the stove and then wants to check if they are done.  We worried about cannibalistic tendencies for a few days when he insisted on putting his baby doll on the pressure cooker all the time…but he seems to have gotten over that fetish!
He makes a mean garlic and tomato soup.  On another subject - this is his old man golf outfit. Hilarious!
We have heard that maybe it is just a thing for this age, but I keep joking that he has a few little twitches that drive me crazy.  We use old 1.5 liter pop bottles for our filtered water. He can’t handle if there is one in the house without a lid on.  He will point and cry and whine until we find the lid and let him put it on.  He also can’t leave the bathroom without seeing what is in the washer…don’t ask me where this came from, but he throws a huge fit if we don’t let him look inside before we walk out the door.  I think they are just little control issues, but things like that (there are others I can’t think of now) drive me nuts.  Part of it is that he isn’t communicating as much as we all would like, so he doesn’t have words to express what he wants...even though he very definitely knows what he wants.  
His language is coming along though. New words include: helicopter, oatmeal, birthday, Iris, Isaac, apple, water, hair, door, window, dump truck, bunny, counting (1,2,3,) using up and down, etc.  
His comprehension amazes me. He was looking at a photo from Thailand the other day.  It is a little boy riding a water buffalo. He pointed to the buffalo and said, “cow, moo.” 
He pointed to the cow’s mouth that was full of grass and said, “cow, nom nom nom” as he acted like he was eating and then licked his lips (what he does when he talks about eating).
He pointed to the boy (who was barefoot) and said, ‘shoes, no.”  Accurately stating that the boy didn’t have shoes on. 
He pointed to the boy and said, “cow, up”  Yes, the boy was up on the cow. 
A few weeks ago we had chu.rch at our friend’s house. After, she took Little t out behind the house to show him the baby kittens that were there.  All day he talked about the kittens.  Two weeks later we were at the same house and after chu.rch Little t made a bee-line for the door and walked right back to the same spot saying ‘meow’ the whole time (he hadn’t been there in those two weeks).  He went right to the spot and then said, ‘oh no, Momma, meow meow no!”  And he was right, the kittens were gone.  He was so sad and kept repeating it over and over again, ‘meow meow no!”
The day the majority of our team was returning from their summer breaks, I was busy getting supper ready and telling Little t about it as I worked. I said, “tonight, we are going to have some people over for supper, that will be fun, won’t it?”  Little t shouted a very convincing NO!  I told him that it was okay, these were our friends that we were going to have over.  He threw his hands up in the air and with a big smile on his face ran around the room clapping and saying, “friends, yay!”  And he did in fact have a wonderful night with his friends!
Two days ago Isaac (our british teammate) turned 9. I told Little t that we were going to his party for his birthday and we were going to sing to him.  I started singing happy birthday and he started joining in.  Now he walks around singing birthday birthday, Isaac. He especially sings it when he sees Isaac.  Speaking of Isaac, the two of them have the best time.  They play and wrestle and laugh. It is really fun to watch them interact.
This morning as he was singing happy birthday angel khAla asked when Little t’s birthday was and I told her.  I told her that he would be two.  I then turned to him and said, ‘You will be two on your birthday!’ as I held up two fingers.  He put up his two fingers and marched around saying ‘two! Two!’  So funny!
Wow, this is really long.  As you can tell, we are loving this stage of life and it is so fun to spend every day with this ball of cuteness!
This was in anticipation to  his father pouring a bucket full of water on his head. He hates it, as you can tell!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Foggy

These days are busy and full and that is good…but I find it hard to sit down and try to put thoughts into words or feelings.  I begin and guests show up at the door or Little t wakes up early from his nap.  In the evenings I struggle to keep my eyes open long enough to jot down the goings on of these days. 
More than that though, things just seem a little foggy and maybe that is why I am more prone to silence in these days.  
We as a family and as a team face some big decisions and potential for big changes in these days.  Inwardly this makes me groan because for once in our lives I would like to go for more than a year without wrestling through big changes and transitions…but apparently that just isn’t how we roll. So, we are at this place again of seeking Dad’s direction for our next steps. 
We don’t know what this all means at this point in time and that is hard.  It could mean stay here in M-ville for the next 10 years, or move somewhere else in this crazy country, or move to another part of the world.  Honestly, at this point in time we feel clueless.
And that is hard. 

Have you ever been in that place of quiet? That place of waiting for Dad to give you a nudge or direct you…hovering where you are while the clock ticks and (if you are like me) you grow impatient.  I find it hard to connect with the day to day when I am waiting and seeking direction for the future.

I have been reading through a devotional called Streams in the Desert. I have really really appreciated September's readings as they have been about perseverance and suffering. I find it relating a lot to what Dad is doing in our lives in these days.  Last night the reading was about Abraham and how he waited in faith for God to move in his life even when it looked like nothing was going to happen…for years.  I was struck by his faithfulness in the waiting time…and how that built character and prepared him for what he would face in the future. 
It have me hope in this time of waiting and decision for us.  I was encouraged that even though the waiting and unknown is hard, it is growing patience and perseverance within us for the things to come. (Am I the only one who cringes at that thought??? That there is potential for even more challenges down the line in order for us to put into practice what we have learned now?)
I am totally in love with the new Shane and Shane album which comes out soon. But then again, I am totally in love with all of their music, so this is really no surprise.  A got it through a special early release for my birthday, ‘because he knows people’ (aka went to the website to get the special early release! : ) 
But this song…I can’t stop listening to it and it has become the pra.yer of my heart in these days. It just so sums up how we are feeling about this time in our lives in ways that I can’t begin to express.  Here are the lyrics…and I HIGHLY recommend the cd when it actually comes out in a few days (for all of your peons who don’t actually ‘know people'!)
Without You 

I can walk through the storm 

I can walk by faith when my sight is gone 

Just as long as you are here with me. 

And I can gain everything 

What do I have if I don’t have the King? 

Oh I need to know you are here with me. 


Here I am, Calling out Father, 

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? 

I don’t wanna go without you. 

Here I am, can you talk a little louder? 

So I can hear you, 

I wanna hear you 

I don’t wanna move without you. 

Even though I believe 

You’ve taken up a home inside me and will never leave 

I still need to know you’re here with me. 


Here I am, I’m calling out Father 

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? 

I don’t wanna go without you. 

Here I am, can you talk a little louder? 

So I can hear you, I wanna hear you

I don’t want to move without you.

If you are presence goes, I don’t wanna stay 

If your presence stays, I don’t wanna go 

I need you

So yeah, that pretty much sums it up…we are so longing to feel His leading in these days.  We love life here and selfishly (because we love it and are sick at the thought of leaving…and even more sick at the thought of moving again) would love to just be able to stay here for the next 5 years or 10. But if this isn’t the best place for us, we want to leave tomorrow. Because I am not super smart, but I have learned over the years that the will of the Father always brings blessing. Always.  It may not be easy, the blessing may not be what the world would call blessing, or it might be a long time coming after I obey…but it is always there.
So, we are calling out to the Father and pleading that the fog would lift and in time He would give us clear direction about what is next for us.  Because truly, in His will is our peace.
I was going through our photo album from Lal (in the excitement of planning our trip there in November) and found these and loved them...hence the random landscape shots.