a day of unknowns

Husband was just asked about 15 minutes ago to go with Epaenatus to a village that we've never heard of before. He looked at me, I said of course!, and he became a blurred figure from that point on. He came running in with his backpack about 2 minutes later, stuffed with what he thought he'd need, grabbed some snacks and clean water, and was out the door. You know it would have taken me at least 20 minutes to pack a backpack if I didn't know where I was staying. (oh yeah, I forgot to mention, he doesn't even know if he'll have a bed. That would've been my first question: "Will I have a mattress, sheets, pillow, and comforter? Because otherwise, I'll need extra time to pack my sleeping bag and a pillow.") I mean, this whole situation if full of What Ifs...what if the place is cold and he'll need longjohns? What if it's really warm and he'll need short sleeves? What if there's no food available? What if he has to sleep with 3 men in a twin sized bed? The questions are endless!

But also, there's the What if he has a chance to meet more of our people group, the MahPah's? What if he has the opportunity to share about the boss? What if someone is ready to accept? What if he meets a person of peace and we are able to go back to that village? Even as detail-oriented as I tend to be sometimes, these are the questions that are plaguing my mind right now.

Of course, I'm not the one on my way to 24 hours of who knows what. In a way, he's kind of like Jack Bauer...


Our trip to get our scooter was interesting. For one thing, the scooter is not in the best shape, and only starts when husband gives the kickstart a big whack. We actually had to walk it over to the nearest mechanic to get fixed. The workers started taking apart our scooter on the sidewalk in front of the shop, along with several other scooters and motorcycles already being worked on. In a small area, there were probably 10-15 guys working on all these parts. They sat husband and I on a bench to watch them work. All of a sudden, a huge truck rolled up and honked loudly. In a flash, the work area was empty. We're talking tumbleweeds could have rolled by. It literally took about 5-10 seconds for these workers to grab all the pieces and run them into the shop. Thoughts of everything from attacks to arrests to drive-bys popped in our heads, and so we followed suit and hopped out of the way. Turns out, the shop is not allowed to work on the sidewalk, and the police will come around and confiscate anything they are working on outside. After the police man left, the workers came back out, along with the scooters, and started back up again. These are the before and after shots.

We also walked through the big Wednesday (aw, Big Wednesday reminds me of my dad!) vegetable an
d fruit market, which was so impressive. And we saw a few parks as well. But the main thing is that not only did we end up with a scooter, we also were passed down a gas heater, and got a mixer (finally!) and a skillet.

Anna and I at the rose garden.


disappointments and opportunities

Today was interesting, as most days in a different culture tend to be. You never know what to expect. In a way, I was disappointed, because I was headed over to Naina's today to teach her English. That is something I learned at our retreat - how to teach ESL classes that convict, using bread, among other things. I had prepared a lesson and everything, sent money about it, and husband and I were off to their home. When we arrived, Naina was making lunch, and her inlaws were in town. So instead of teaching Naina English (I saw her for a total of about 10 minutes), we ended up spending the entire afternoon speaking with Deepak's mom, sister, father, and Epaenatus. Deepak's mom is the reason Deepak feels he can't outwardly follow our boss, and now I see why. The woman is a grump, is strong-willed, and very devout. The darkness just oozes from her when she talks. We did get to have some great conversations about our boss, though, which hopefully planted even the smallest seed. Who knows, maybe she will see that we are normal and nice, and be more open to the idea of Deepak and Naina following our boss.

Something so exciting is that Epaenatus told us that he has shared with so many people the change in his life! He says his fiancee has accepted the truth as well! We are going to his village possibly next week for his (and hopefully her) immersion. Talking with him shows how much he has grown, which is incredible, especially considering he doesn't even have bread. It goes to show how the HS can guide us. Not to diminish the importance of bread, but Epaenatus has the boss with him constantly now, which is truly evident in his life.

We will be going to Ctown tomorrow for two days, to pick up, among other things, a scooter! Husband is beside himself. A couple is leaving, and we're getting their hand-me-down scooter. And we're having a coworker family come to visit us this weekend to discuss and plan how to get volunteer trips to come this summer (ahem!) so it should be another busy week for us.

P.S. Dadto3: husband is asking you to email him, because he doesn't think he has the right email address.


girl time

This weekend, my best friends back home are getting together. The Fam, as we oh so affectionately call ourselves, is made up of 8 unique girls who are in some ways all completely different, but in some ways, the exact same. Since we are spread out everywhere from Oklahoma to South Asia, we usually only get together, all 8 of us, about 3 to 4 times a year. Our abs always hurt after time spent together just because we laugh so much. Anyway, I'm really wishing I was there right now, just for the weekend, to laugh and talk too much and play who knows what games (real or made up - you never know with the Fam) and to even run amuck (although, without Beth there this weekend, there probably won't be too much amuck being run). I'm working on keeping myself really busy these next couple of days so I don't dwell too much on the fact that I'm missing another get together with some of my favorite people in the whole world. This picture is of them at my wedding, so it's a bit dated, but it's the only one I could find without myself in it.

On to some better news, Hannah is spending the weekend at Priya's house, bonding. Priya has had yet another impending wedding fall through, and she's devastated and really seeking peace. Hannah is hoping that this weekend will be a time where Priya can finally see that our money is not the same, and that our bosses aren't the same. The 3 of us had lunch this week, and Hannah and I shared with her about the prince of peace, but Priya's heard it all before. She's to the point where she needs to realize he's the only one. Please join us in sending money that her heart will be softened to the truth.


bringin' home the bacon

I still can't believe it. When I went to the one guy in town that sells frozen meat, I ordered my kilo of boneless chicken, and then after paying, asked almost as an after though, "Do you have any bacon?" And guess what...he did! Actually, "A lot of bacon," were his exact words. Buddy, you don't know it yet, but you have just found your number 1 customer. I bought what looks like 2 big, wide slabs of bacon. And while we were out of the country, I bought a ham in hopes that not only would it still be good once we got home, but that we were allowed to bring animal meat from one country to another. (the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes) There all that beautiful pork sits in my fridge, like slabs of cholesterol-injected symbols of endless possibilities. What should I make? I'm almost tempted to not make anything just so I can continue to become overjoyed when I open the fridge and see the pork right there, beckoning me. Almost.


Night Bus Ride

Let me start off by saying that when a trip starts off by you noticing the “Hill Sickness Bags,” you know you’re in for a real treat. For the next 4 hours as we plummeted down the mountains, at the mercy of a lunatic and brake-happy bus driver, we heard those bags put to good use. Luckily, I think I only heard 3 people getting sick, which I think was the reason the music was turned way up until we made it down the mountain. I’m very grateful for that music. I was close to losing it, and I never get motion sick. So much for being able to sleep while I traveled.

Day 1: Arrival to the New Country

Why do I call it that, like I’m a pilgrim? We arrived at the guest house at 6am, grabbed a few hours of sleep, and were on our merry way to the Camp by 10am. On the way we made a pit-stop. Two words for you: Cheese. Burger. Two very juicy, luscious words indeed.

We were warned to keep our expectations low regarding the beach and the facilities we were staying at. Seeing the beach I grew up around, my expectations didn’t have much further to drop, and I wasn’t let down. This place is NICE. Granted, it’s not Hawaii or Destin or Cozumel, but it’s a beach. It’s equipped with blue water, a salty ocean breeze, and palm trees a-swayin’. I can’t believe we get to spend the next 7 days here!

Day 2: New Year's Day

New Year’s Eve was cool. From our building’s balcony, we watched the activities on the beach, as the people lit many paper lanterns on fire, sending them into the air. There were fireworks, as well, of course, making it an even more beautiful view.

After preparing for the new arrivals the next day, we spent New Year’s exploring a bit. We found a great coffee place, a not-what-I-was-expecting seafood restaurant (although it was right on the beach, making for more beautiful views) and a mall! There was a Burger King in there, and when I bit into that long-awaited Whopper, I think I heard a choir of angels.

We were also able to see Chronicles of Narnia. The movie was great, but the most memorable moment happened before the movie started. The country we were in is actually a kingdom. Before the movie started, during the previews, everyone in the theatre had to stand up to a salute of the king!
The city we are staying in is famous for its immorality, which is why all of our free time this week will be during the day. Unfortunately, we were out late last night, and were able to view the magnitude of the sins. On the way home, I reached a point where I just had to close my eyes because I was crying and my heart was broken. Sure, it’s one thing to hear about what goes on, but to see it with your own eyes is completely heartbreaking. To think all of the suffering, ridiculing, torturing, and dying our boss did for these people, and they have turned their backs on him. If only they would turn to him, he is waiting on pins and needles to forgive them and offer them eternity. It’s a love I don’t understand, a love only he could offer. So needless to say, I am not going out after dark again, and after only 2 days, he has shown me to be grateful for the modest city that he has placed us in for the next 2.5 years.

Days 3, 4, 5, 7 (&8): Retreat Time

There are several reasons we as a group took this trip: retreat, workshops, equipping, sharing, and governmental (our visas say we have to leave the country every 6 months). I can’t tell you how great it has been to experience p&w in English, and to be able to understand the words from the encouraging speaker each day. Husband led the p&w time, and the room we were in was covered in tile, so we sounded great, like we were singing in a giant shower. This week was not only well-timed, but very well thought out, because I’m so excited to get back to the mountains and work more with our people. The different workshops we’ve had to choose from have been so helpful, and I’m brimming with ideas to take back with me.

Day 6: Fun Day

Our day off! As a group, we took a boat out to an island where there were many activities to do. We snorkeled, rode jet skis, rode on a banana boat, hung out on our boat’s decks, and swam in the ocean. One group of people decided to take a swim to the other side of the island, which was about a 45 minute swim. Several of us walked to where they’d be swimming, which only took about 3 minutes. Our initial plan was to stand there in the water and shout as they all swam up, “What took you so long?” But one of the guys saw some bamboo and string laying around, and suggested we make a boat. So the seven of us got to work, constructing a bamboo raft. About the time we saw the swimmers making their way over, the boat was finished, and we put it in the water to see if it would float. We flipped it right-side up and ta-da! It floated! We all cheered, and there were several boats of people around us who, unknowingly to us, had been watching us make the boat, and they all cheered too. Someone paddled the boat out to ‘rescue’ the swimmers, but those guys were hard core and wanted to officially swim up on shore. We wanted to take our bamboo boat out to the real boat, which was on the other side of the island. The 7 of us hoisted the raft on our shoulders and walked over the island like a bunch of natives. All we were missing was some chanting and grunting. The real boat was a swim away, because it was too shallow for the boat to dock on the shore, so we pulled the raft up to the boat and docked it by tying one of the strings to a life preserver. There it sat all day, in its life saving glory.

Day 8: Elephant Trekking

During some free time in the afternoon, we decided to go elephant trekking. A group of 10 of us found this place where you could ride elephants through a jungle. It was so much fun. Our elephant, Chong, was great. The ‘driver’ would get off of Chong every now and then to smoke or take our picture, and Chong was so obedient. Our driver would grunt “Hah” and Chong would follow. While he was sitting on the elephant, the driver pulled leaves off of trees and made us this little grasshopper. I asked him how to say “grasshopper” in the language, which he told me, so every now and then, I’d hold it up and say “Tikatin seedon” and the driver would laugh. After a while, all the drivers cheered and laughed when I said it, so I’m thinking I was fooled, and Tikatin Seedon means something I would never say in English.

After the ride, they took us to this gargantuan elephant who if you wanted to, would grab you in its trunk and lift you up several feet in the air, parallel to the ground. Who’s gonna pass that up? Also, husband sat on this elephants tusks and was lifted off the ground. Fun stuff!

All in all, the trip was fantastic. As much as I loved eating steak and burgers, sipping a Vanilla Latte at Starbucks, or lounging at the beach with a book, I was ready to head back to our home. It was a great morale booster, and I feel that much more equipped for the job after taking several workshops.


practicing patience

I'm dying to post about our last couple of weeks, but we're still stuck here in the capital trying to find a way back home. We've been here since Sunday night; it's now Wednesday afternoon. Husband has spent 8 hours, stretched over 2 days, at the train station trying to get us tickets. Everything from them not letting us buy without our passports (which has never been a requirement before, and a friend of ours was there on the same day and they didn't ask for hers!) to the train being sold out to them not being able to guarantee a train will be running in a certain leg of the trip due to weather, has kept us from being able to leave. Finally, our tickets were delivered today, so we can head back tomorrow. We should be home tomorrow evening (but in this country, you never know), and I can post about our adventures then.