Saturday, February 1, 2014

Are You My Orphan?

As I hear the bell ring I let out a tired sigh. Part of me wished that you wouldn’t show up today.  It is cold and snowy, the kids are crabby and I just want to stay in my pajamas. As I let you in to do some work in my house, I think about the way you haunted my fragmented sleep last night.  Even though the heater was on in the kids’ room, I shivered as I sat to nurse Zara.  And as I shivered I thought of you and the people you now call family.  I thought of the way the wind whips around the hill where your house is. I thought of the 5 inch gaps that surround the window in your one room dwelling.  I thought of your thin clothes that are insufficient for fighting off the stinging cold. 

I am not sure how exactly I got tied up in your story, but I am pretty selfishly sure that I wish I wasn’t.  Every story and plea for money that you share becomes even crazier than the one before. They both tick me off and break my heart at the same time.  They tick me off because in all honesty, I don’t want to be burdened by your problems and the seemingly impossible task of finding a solution that will both empower you and bring justice to your oppressors. I would much rather hole up in my warm house for the winter and pretend that I didn’t need to worry about the cold, hungry and lonely souls around me. Because that is just messy. And I don’t like messy. 

But the non-Grinch part of me hurts for you.  I hurt every time I see your body quaking from the cold when I open the door. I hurt every time I tell you I won’t give you another loan…because I don’t know what that no means for your wellbeing tonight. I hurt when I see you hungrily eat a piece of naan and wonder if your belly is ever full.  I hurt when I think the pressure that sits on your thin 13 year old shoulders; to work or plead or beg for money to feed hungry mouths and fill greedy hands.  I hurt when I think of your loss; your mother who has died, your father who is absent, your three young brothers living elsewhere.  I hurt because I want to give you the world, but at the same time I don’t want to give you anything.

I don’t know how to reconcile where we stand these days.  As much as I want to pretend that you don’t exist, my heart can’t and won’t let that happen.  It has a lot to do with the fact that my Holy Book says that there is no better way for me to spend my life than by helping people like you.  It is messy, painful, costly and thankless work. But my heart won’t fully rest until I am in the middle of the mess.

I know the answer to the question before I even ask it.  Are you my orphan?  You are.  You have the potential to help me more than I could ever help you. And so we will continue to walk this bumpy messy road together.

God's Water

Sometimes when we are juggling our crazy kids, and crazy travel schedule and crazy life, we look back and wish we had take advantage of when things were a little easier.  Why didn’t we travel more before we had to worry about teething and diapers and the messed up sleep schedules of four people instead of just two? 

One of the biggest things we have learned while living overseas is to get something when you see it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen something in the bazaar and thought, “I think I would really like that…I will go home and think on it and come back to get it if I still feel that way in a few days.” That never works, because that thing is always gone. Always.   So, we are trying to integrate thing thinking into other areas of our life as well. We are learning to take advantage of opportunities when we have them, no matter how crazy or exhausting they seem in the moment.  I know it is cliché to say that our days are numbered, but we really feel that in this place.  We count it a unique gift to be able to be here and we don’t know how long that will last.  So, we are working on seizing the day.

For a while I have kicked myself that we didn’t seize the day when we lived in Lal. We had the opportunity to visit Band-e-Amir and we didn’t take it. We were tired from traveling to the village so much and tired of being sick, and tired of our staff….so when the staff trip happened we said no thanks and stayed home to sleep in.  But looking back, we were sad we didn’t take advantage of seeing this place that so many rave about. 

Fast forward to two months ago and we found ourselves in Lal again.  We had a great time re-visiting that place that was so foundational in our growth and introduction into this land.  After two weeks there, we loaded up into a LandCruiser and took off across the mountains with 40 of our staff (and their kids) in search of Bande Amir. 

Band-e-Amir is a chain of seven lakes that are literally in the middle of nowhere. They are not man-made…they are a Gift from God. Only God knows how they got there. Only God knows how deep they are. Only God knows how he lined the lakes with Lapis Lazuli (obviously how they became so blue in color). Only God knows all of the healing properties that the waters hold.  Our staff reverently reminded us of these things on our way there. 

The trip was not easy. One car broke down…in the middle of nowhere.  We crammed a bunch more people in and kept going.  A long long time later we arrived and were met with breathtaking views of the bluest water we had ever laid eyes on.

We made our way to the bazaar area and found a tea house to camp out in.  We felt very spoiled to have a whole room for our family. Because of my gifting in attracting fleas, we spent a LONG time dousing our room and all of the cushions, etc. In flea powder and ourselves in bug spray.  God still does miracles because I walked out of three nights in that place with only one flea bite. 

The next few days were spent hiking, exploring, swimming and spending time with our staff.  We had a fantastic time and are SO glad that we too advantage of the opportunity to go.  It was so much fun!  I will leave you with a few photos of the beautiful place.

The sunset view our first night there

You can rent paddle boats to take out on the water

Little T and A.P. Marvelling at the beauty of the water. 

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The Little Lady got worn out with all the hiking

Little T and Mr. Renee feeding the fish

Little T in his happy place

The son of one of our staff members. He and Little T became fast friends

The beauty was really unbelievable

We went to another one of the lakes to swim in the frigid water. Such a fantastic adventure!