I don’t really know a better way to say it.
But I do know I prefer to start with the good.
First, we celebrated Stephen’s birthday on Saturday. We organized a rest day for the team to enjoy a local cooking class and dinner with our boss while we celebrated!
We started by sleeping in until about 10am. A rare and cherished treat.
Stephen then got to open seven packages that had arrived in the week prior!
Everyone knew him so well, and our cupboards are now stacked full of mint chocolate treats, Reeses, and American cereals! He also got American deodorant & body wash, and some new polos and white tees. Add in some new music and movies, and he was pretty excited.
Katherine & I went together to get him a ukelele, too, so he went to pick one out in town that day. He has been so excited to learn and has spent the last few evenings practicing.
We’ve been eyeing bicycles ever since we moved, so I went ahead and ordered him one for his birthday. We had been faithfully searching for a used one in the local equivalent of a classifieds, but in the end I decided I’d rather spend a little more on him and get what he’d always wanted. He now has a nice bike, where the brakes work, all the gears change easily, and the 19″ frame fits him! It’s affectionately named Chuck.
After we went to pick up his bicycle, which he was so excited about and so surprised at, we realized that we now had two forms of transportation: neither of which I could use.
So we went shopping for a bicycle for me!
That was a fun surprise. I’m a little less picky–my dream bike was just a cute frame with a basket. I didn’t particularly want gears since I don’t use them anyway, so it made it easier to find a simple used bike for me. We bought it from a wonderful little Burmese family, and they did include the basket.
She’s named Lucy.
And now, we both have our dream bicycles! We went for a ride that afternoon that adequately broke in Stephen’s mountain bike and took Lucy for the ride of her life. We’re loving it, and actually got caught in the rain just a few hours ago on another ride. We are really looking forward to biking to work, the market, and around town.
We really enjoyed the day off, and Stephen had a great birthday.
It was good.
The team that has been in town came out to our neighborhood yesterday to teach about good hygiene. The neighbor children that so often fill our porch were there as usual, but this time they were greeted with a lesson in hand washing!
After teaching the importance of keeping clean hands, each child had a chance to practice, and received their own soap to take home with them. The team also taught about brushing teeth and flossing, and were able to use a huge set of teeth to show the kids.
Each child also received a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to take home with them. We also gave out some clothing we’d been collecting for the community. The team was so willing to help, and it was a great opportunity to bless our neighbors, but through visitors, so that we can hopefully continue to develop friendships rather than simply provide for needs.
And through translation, we’re still discussing the garden. There have been repeated miscommunications, but we have pumpkin, okra, and bananas successfully growing. (Sadly our papaya tree fell down during a recent storm.) We’re grateful that it seems to now be understood that they can use the garden freely for their community–not just working for us. We had people out working in the yard when we awoke this morning!
We are really loving where we live. I love walking out the door into big hugs. I love coming home to so many hellos and always having the opportunity to sit down on the porch for a game. I love learning to communicate and having my definition of friendship redefined.
We are nearing the end of our fourth team to visit Partners, and we are looking forward to a full month in the office to develop curriculum, evaluate the teams that have come through, and continue our Karen studies.
And that little stint in the office will be followed by the long-awaited visit from my sister & brother-in-law.
It’s all so wonderful, and we’re excited.
That’s the good.
The bad? The ugly?
Some fellow staff members were recently robbed over night, having their motorbike, three Mac laptops, and two SLRs taken. It shook them up quite a bit, so we’d appreciate your prayers for them as well as our own safety–personally & our belongings here.
Amidst the boxes we received for Stephen’s birthday, one of the soaps had leaked onto some of the candy suckers that had been included. We sorted through and picked out the ones unblemished (or slightly blemished…) and threw the rest away.
And today, as we drove away to meet the team, we passed the neighbor kids with suckers in their mouths.
I distinctly remember one little girl, being held by her dad, with a big smile on her face–eating the sucker I had discarded.
And I guess thats just a small example of how I this town can weigh on you sometimes.
I’m learning much better how to take one day at a time, one moment as it comes. To love the child in front of me; to take this unexpected turn without thinking of the five more that will probably be coming. I don’t know how long we’ll be here, and I guess I know now more than ever that it doesn’t matter. I just live here–for now, and do my best to love well. To stop defending myself, to stop worrying about what patterns this is setting; but maybe just cherishing this moment, this smile, this bike ride, this one new word added to my vocabulary.
But I can still sense the weight of living in this world between.
I can still sense the sorrow that surrounds us and the battle at hand.
We were watching Prince Caspian last night, since Stephen received The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for his birthday. There is a scene where Peter leads the army into attack the Telmarines within their gates. The plan goes awry, and they are forced to flee–but many die. The scene shows many of them locked inside the gates, unable to retreat with the rest.
And for some reason as we watched this, it represented us. It represented the battle we’re fighting, and I began to cry.
I guess that’s the ugly of it: that sometimes it all feels so heavy and I’m just grasping at straws to focus on the little joy in front of me.
Sometimes family and friends feel so far away.
Sometimes the battles feel so big.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”