Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rooftops Roasting on an Open Fire

The "red" in our Christmas Day celebrations!

This is sure to be a Christmas to remember. We have taken "Go light your world" to a new level!  First, our happened upon tradition (2 years running) of going to KFC and getting our picture taken with a local Santa Clause on Christmas Eve was disrupted by the fact that this year, not only did they not have Santa, they had no decorations up. None. You wouldn't even have known it was Christmas. So sad. We did see a Santa at the mall walking around with humongous sunglasses on, but the kids opted out of approaching him for pictures! Ha!

Secondly, due to Christmas Sunday being a busy day for us we decided to celebrate our Christmas on Saturday morning and ending the day by doing our annual Christmas Eve run to KFC. Despite KFC not working out we had a fun day with all of the kids enjoying their gifts and enjoying each other. Barry and I had quite a time finding gifts here this year but in the end, all were pleased and thankful for the chance to get something new. Sunday would entail ch*rch with nationals in the morning, possible visitors in the afternoon and then a dinner/fellowship with the International ch*rch in the evening. We went to bed feeling ready for Christmas day.

While the family slept, Barry and I woke early Christmas morning.  Barry was getting ready and I began food preparations for the days activities.  In the midst of making tortillas I hear a loud POP....and then all the lights went out.  This was a noise unlike anything I have ever heard.  I thought maybe a transformer had gone out, I went outside in the backyard and saw nothing.  I went around the inside of the house and saw nothing.  I then went into our bedroom and asked Barry, who was in the shower, if he had heard it because it didn't sound good.  About that time I hear my neighbor yelling "Mister!  Mister! Hati-hati, ada api!  Ada api!! Mister!"  So I think oh man, a house is on fire!  I then rush out to see my neighbors hauling a ladder to my roof and lifting buckets of water up it!!  MY ROOF!  Just like those old Taco Bueno commercials would say, "Now that was unexpected." 

Just to clear the record:  Even though I have been given the nickname of "Sparky" due to my electrical mishaps, neither I nor my cooking was the cause of the fire! I feel better, let's continue.

I never smelt anything nor had I seen any smoke inside the house.  I run into the house and yell "FIRE!!" like it's my own hair that's flaming.  All my kids had slept in one room together and it was directly under the flaming part of our roof!  I scream to Barry who comes rushing out along with the kids.  We scoot the kids outside and my neighbor is yelling to see if we have a spigot they can use and a hose.  Uhm..the spigot is in the back and the hose is roughly 5 feet long (no joke!).  That and the fact that with no electricity we have like zero water pressure, none of that is going to be helpful.  We quickly gather more buckets, filling them from the "bak" and hauling them outside.

Kids waiting and watching the action...obviously they have had better wake up calls than this.

Now by this time, we literally have the whole neighborhood, and then some, at our front gate.  They have called the "fire department", the landlord, and the electric company I think before we even knew there was a fire.  Which of course was great of them, and it was reassuring to know that we have neighbors willing to not only watch out for us but help out in such an extraordinary way.  So the fire truck arrives...after the fire is put out (with water, which we are very fortunate because you really are not suppose to put water on an electrical fire) and they begin to inspect and make sure it was contained and extinguished.  While I am grateful for these guys and their attempt to help, let's just say they gave me lots of fodder for this posting!

Looking good and saving the day...sort of!

First of all, they arrive in full gear (a good sign) looking quite efficient they climbed up and inspected the damage on the roof and then asked to go inside.  We showed them the attic door which is in the kids bath and then they asked if I had a ladder they could borrow. 

What?  The firemen didn't bring a ladder? 

I thought ladders and firemen just went together!  So after explaining that we didn't have one they proceeded to stand on each others shoulder, 3 men high, and climbed up into the ceiling.  I am so not kidding!  It reminded me of a circus act!  So once the guy made it up into the roof they asked for a flashlight. 

What?  The firemen didn't bring a flashlight? 

So we find them a flashlight and they look around and declare that, "It is good, no more problems."  Uh, ya, thanks buddy.  I'm sure that a less than five minute inspection of faulty wiring is thorough!  After all this I am a little less then relieved and not at all comforted that this ordeal is over.

Here comes the Electric Company...and if you were a child in the '80's that has a whole different meaning to you! LOL
Finally....the electric company has an extending ladder that the firemen can use!
This is about the time that the electric company arrives and so the firemen use their ladder to check the roof again and the electric guys asks if he can come in and check my outlets, of course you can check our outlets!  So he checks them, proceeds to get into our attic (not sure how, I missed that) and messes with something up there and POOF, we had electricity!  Which is nice...but kind of scary!  He smiles at me and says everything is fine.  We want to know what happened, he said, "Some wiring caught on fire but it is okay now, and you have electricity again."  Needless to say I am thrilled that all the outlets didn't fry and fry everything that was plugged in along with it, but having electricity at that point was not at all fact it was down right frightening!  We quickly called the electrician that we always use and asked him to come check it out.  It took him all of about three minutes to declare that it was unsafe and that the whole house would need to be rewired and he was afraid it would catch on fire again.  Lovely.

The electricians checking out the damage on top
 By this time it is lunch time, we have missed ch*rch and there is no way that I can get a dish and dessert done for the evening fellowship.  Now we have the dilemma of whether we leave the house to go to the fellowship or stay  to watch over the house.  In the end, we decided that we would turn off everything and then go to ch*rch that night.  Just seemed kind of weird to not go to w*rship, especially when it falls Christmas.  We had a great time celebrating the birth of the Son and our good friends, the "G's" offered to let us stay in their home while they were on vacation and our house was being rewired.  What a blessing that has been! Barry has stayed most of the nights at our home, first to be on watch for a flare up and then to not leave it empty at night as that just not a good thing here.

So now, by the time I am wrapping up this blog post, the house is completed, all rewiring is done.  We will next have them come and repair the roof where the fire damaged it then all will go back to normal again.  Of course normal here means something else will break, leak, stop working or snap off in your hand or aparently catch on fire.....ahhh....normal is so over-rated! :) 

I don't want to close this post without saying just how thankful that I am that I can place the care of my family into the hands of the CEO.  My thankfulness for His care and protection of my family is something there are not words enough to express.  I know that tragedies are not always thwarted and some things happen with His promises to carry us through, but this time we were spared any real grief and that in itself is gift beyond my deserving.  So.Very.Thankful.

Hope you each had a wonderful Merry Christmas and may this next year be the best you have ever had in terms of your love and service to the CEO and your fellow man!!   Then, CEO willing, Christmas in the great state of Oklahoma next year!!!  Six more months.....not that I am counting!! :)

A neighbor showing them where the flames were coming out.

Not sure who this guy was, but I wanted to show you how the many motorcyclist will often leave their helmets on unless they are going in somewhere and staying

The "stack" of firemen as they stood on each other's shoulders, this is the best pic I could get!
He must have thought it was funny too, he was taking pictures! Ha!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Visitors From the East at Christmas Time

Two weeks ago we got a phone call from our friends who live in Bali.  They might have to travel to "Starbucks" for a visa renewal and wanted to know if they could come up for a visit.  Uhh...YES!!  Then just when it looked like it was not going to happen, they got the call to do their visas and everything quickly fell in place!  They just happen to have sons who are the exact same age as Marshall, Hudson, and Haddon.  So needless to say, my kids were SO excited to have friends come and visit.  It was very humbling that they would spend their time and money to come to "Folgers" for a vacation and stay with us.  Imagine leaving Bali and vacationing in........."Folgers"!  They came Wed-Sun.  A nice Christmas surprise.

You see, at our annual summer meeting the leader who was opening up the session started doing random introductions and happened to interview Barry.  He was asking him get to know you questions,  then he asked what the most exciting thing to do in "Folgers" was, to which Barry replied, "Eating grilled corn by the river where you can watch kids jump off the outhouse into the river!"  The man then said, "Wow, makes you want to go there!" and "Ya, that's pretty much what I heard about your city!"  LOL  Needless to say, after those comments, and our city having the reputation of being the "armpit" of Macchiato, we have not been expecting many visitors.  Campbell lovingly says we are not just an armpit, we are an armpit with deodorant now!  LOL

However, because the CEO is so good and understands our desires, not only this family but two other families have sent their sons up to visit and stay with our family while their dads came here on business a few months ago.  How cool is that?  My boys loved having their friends fly up to visit them.  Again, that these families would pay for a plane ticket for their kids to come see my boys is humbling and such a special gift.  Our family, my kids, are so blessed with the people and friends in their lives over here.   (Unfortunately, the other two boys came during Ram*dan and the corn stalls were not open due to the fasting. Boo!)  Guess they'll just have to come again so they too can join "The Order of the Corn", what we have affectionately dubbed this "Folgers" rite of passage.  :)

While the Basha family was here we went to our Team "R" Christmas party, the farm and orphanage, the water park, and the boys went to the PYP Christmas party.  Busy, but fun times!

Here is an explanation for mine and Campbell's water slide pic:  At the water park they barely had water trickling down most of the slides, therefore except for the wide green slide, we all got stuck and had to walk or push our rafts down the slides (um ya...that was fun!)  As Campbell and I come walking out of the tube slide, carrying our raft, the lifeguard made us get in it and insisted that he must push us the rest of the way into the kidding.  I was cracking up, welcome to my life.  No wonder world peace seems so far away, people around the world do not have the same solutions for the same problems.  It never ceases to amaze me!  Oh well you have to embrace the differences or they will drive you crazy...and I would

Hope you are enjoying your Christmas season and remembering to focus on people not things, busy creating memories not stress, and loving the CEO even more because of promises fulfilled in the Son!

One last note.  Barry leaves Sunday to get his cast off.  Can you believe it has already been six weeks since his surgery?  Please lift up him and us as we stay behind again, thankfully only until Tuesday.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gift of Giving of Yourselves

I absolutely love this time of year!  Even here, where the Christmas season seems a bit non-existent outside our homes.  Where to the majority of the population December 25th is just another day on the calendar.  I love the reason we celebrate, I love the cold, I love the family traditions, and I love, I mean I love giving presents! :)

The picture at the top of my blog shows the boys in PYP (their International Ch*rch youth group) blowing up 125 soccer balls and unwrapping and trying to figure out the maze of string for the ball string that came with them. (fyi- I looked up the "official" name of the ball string only to discover it is officially called "ball string," so there you go, who knew?!) lol

This year their group is helping the "G" family prepare 125 gift bags for school children in a neighboring area.  The interesting thing about this school is that while it is a public school (all public schools are M*slim), they are allowing a teacher there to offer a course on Chr*stianity.  This does not mean it is warmly accepted or desired, she has experienced pers*cution due to offering this class, but she keeps doing what she feels called to do. 

To assist her, the "G" family offered to prepare gift bags for their celebration of Christmas.  One way they did this was to gather supplies and donations while they spent the summer in the States.  However, the crate that they put the items in has run into numerous delays and although it left in August, it has still not arrived.  Well, that's not necessarily true.  It arrived in Macchiato last week and we were so excited, until they received word that there was a dock workers strike at the shipyard and therefore it was sent back to Singapore.  So frustrating, but also very much on par for the way things are over here.  But the "G's", despite facing roadblocks, set plans in motion to find a factory in "Starbucks, the capitol city" that could send them 125 soccer balls for these bags and miracle of miracle they were ordered, and arrived this week.  Just in time to put the bags together!  Yay, for the CEO!! 

The way Mrs. G explains it is that after struggling with the fact that the gifts and donations didn't arrive in time she felt the CEO saying that he wanted to do something different here.  He said "she" could supply school supplies, but that "He" wanted to supply soccer balls! Can't argue with that can you?   See, the kids here LOVE soccer.  Daily you can see them running around kicking a ball, usually one that is battered and worn beyond belief, or maybe a wad of paper and plastic in place of a ball if they don't have one of their own.  Isn't that just like the CEO?  He doesn't always just give what people need, sometimes he gives what people want so they can experience His love.  All because He is good. 

I thought this story was beautiful.  It reminds me of how very good the CEO is and how He is always looking out for us.  We certainly do not always understand His ways, but I love that we can always trust him to do what is best for us.  See, as much as we believe that our circumstances, life, wants, and needs depend on those around us, the truth is that the CEO is always in control.  His plans will not be thwarted by the actions, lack of actions or the obedience or lack of obedience of others (or a crate that is 3 months overdue!).   I love that!  If something is/is not being done that you are praying for it is because the CEO, in his infinite knowledge and love, has a different plan/timeline than you do.  Don't let that discourage you or cause you to grumble like an Isr*aelite in the wilderness (after all, that didn't end well for them), allow it to strengthen your faith by believing that He works all things for the good of those who  love him and are called according to His purpose. 

I know some of you might say, here we go again with the worn out scripture verses.  But these are not some contrived words of pseudo empathy.  This is TRUTH.  This verse is so often misquoted without the last half, and that is an important part that should not be left out!

Definitions -
 "..for the good.." - That which conforms us into the likeness of the Son.

"...called according to His purpose.." - His children for His purposes, His divine will and plan of redemption. (not our plans and purposes, even with the best of intentions)

So often we focus on ourselves, but there is such a bigger plan in motion!  Yes, we are a part, but the CEO wants to mature and grow us into His Son's likeness, being outward focused so as to draw men to Him.  Now, if you are anything like me, that is no easy task!  I readily admit, this is not something I have conquered.  But being over here and being stripped of so many things that I thought I needed or thought I would do here, I have been humbled in more ways than I care to count.  It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes I can be focused on my plans and purposes while living in a place that so desperately needs people willing to live out His plans and purpose.  To be willing to say, "Okay, I surrender my will.  This '(situation)' is not what I wanted but I trust you and what comes from Your hand is enough.  I will keep doing what I need to do in obedience and trust you for all results!"  (which might mean giving soccer balls instead of toy cars and school supplies)  When we can do this without grumbling or worrying then we are truly maturing and growing into the Son's likeness, willing to be content with what He supplies.  That, my friend is not an easy lesson to learn, but the rewards of learning it are priceless when it comes to living out your daily life with joy.

Join me in lifting up these precious kids who will be hearing (some for the first time) about the amazing gift that the CEO gave them on that first Christmas morning.  This is in an extremely impoverished brick makers village, bricks sell for maybe $60 USD per 1,000 bricks and their equipment is very old.  The kids here would never dream that they would own their own ball.  They will be so excited!

I am so grateful for the "G" family.  They are tender hearted and giving, we are blessed to call them our friends.  I am so thankful that they take the time to lead this youth group and offer our kids a place where they can give of themselves and serve others.  We truly feel they are an answer to our prayers as they formed this group at a time (unbeknownst to them) my boys were having trouble adjusting to life here after leaving the International School.  It has been such a blessing to them.

The girls are making dozens of snickerdoodles for the gift bags.

125 un-inflated soccer balls waiting to be aired up and placed in their own string bag.

Marshall trying to unravel/untangle the string bag for the soccer ball, it was no easy task!

Snickerdoodles waiting to be placed on the cookie sheet.  The girls did a great job.

Mr G.  passing out hot cocoa, Hudson was thrilled that they also had marshmallows that they brought back from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  What a treat!  We can't get them here.

Here the group is putting together bags of candy for the kids.

A few of the bags that were filled with the soccer balls.

The PYP group, here in Folgers!  They are great kids, and don't you love that huge tree?  A mall where the "G's" live in the States was getting rid of them and they were able to snag one, so pretty!

Remember, you are most like the CEO when you focus on others and give of yourself, you are least like Him when you are inward focused and dwell on yourself.  For the CEO so loved the world that he gave...
Love = Giving

Monday, November 28, 2011

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Civet Cat (Musang) the "hero" of Kopi Luwak, world's most expensive coffee....and my enemy!

I figured I better get at least on blog post in while I still have the Fall background up! LOL

Barry spent two weeks in Singapore getting a dislocated thumb repaired. He thought he had just strained it but apparently it was wearing away the ligament. Surgically they took a piece of tendon from his forearm and attached it to his thumb by drilling a small hole in his bone and looping it through. Amazing! We were so thankful because the other main option was to fuse it and well, that would be awful! But being two weeks apart was a LONG time, and we were so thankful when he returned. He will go back for a couple days in December to get his cast off and then another month of pt and he will be good as new. The CEO was faithful in caring for us and him!

Okay, so the other night while Barry was in Singapore for surgery on his hand, I waken to hear what I think is our roof as it begins to rain.  Upon waking up further, and listening closer I think, oh, the metal roof is flapping because of the wind.  Then as I fully awaken, I remember that we had the roof replaced and it no longer "flaps in the wind", and I also noticed that it was not raining.

So, now that I have all my senses heightened and I realize, it has happened again.  An animal has gotten inside my roof!  UGH!  Not a feral cat, too big and too heavy.  Maybe a  large rat, or a large lizard, or maybe a large lizard chasing a  large rat!  Or possibly, and most likely, a civet cat.  You know, the one who eats the coffee beans and then....well...uh ya know.....kopi luwak gets made! LOL

It was SO stinking loud!!  I was just praying that as it ran back and forth on my ceiling....ON MY CEILING.......that is the only thing between it and me, one thin sheet of pieced together plywood!  Praying that it would not fall through.  It has happened.  I've heard the stories.  It was all smacking around like it was chasing something and going full speed whacking into the ends of the roof.  I was also praying that it would not wake up the kids, which it didn't thank goodness!  I was hoping that it would find it's way out quickly.  While I am doing all of this hoping and praying I am trying to conjure up some kind of plan if this thing falls through the ceiling!

This past July someone had just told me about the time they lived in this house and a monitor lizard got caught inside and how it eventually had to be killed to get it out, it was running around all crazy and they were whacking it with whatever they could. My mental scenario was not pretty, I had no plan, nothing significant to whack it with, and I couldn't not imagine this having a good ending for it or myself!  It lasted about an hour but eventually, much to my relief, left.  Needless to say I could not get back to sleep for some time.  That was a long night!

The civet cat has been back one time since Barry has been home....there is no way to describe the creepy feeling it gives while running around on my ceiling!  Here is a peek at the critters we've had this month:

The "Houdini" centipede that came out in Marshall's room but manged to get into our NOT crawling out the door....creepy!!  Here he is shriveled after a beat down by hero! :)

The tail of the Cicak (cheechahk), known to you as a gecko, that found his way into Hudson's light socket, but was unable to escape before his head got fried.  The boys gagged trying to get his remains out of there! Yuck!  Barry was gone for this one.  My heroes! :)

Not necessarily a pain to us, but since we were talking about critters, here are a few monkeys at the oil camp in the field across from the home where Marshall's friend lives.  Several were running around like crazy!

Haven't seen a Praying Mantis in a long time!

As Barry and I were driving away from the house I asked him to stop, Out my window I saw this beetle.   I couldn't believe how big it was with it's three horns...crazy, and it was all iridescent shiny like an oil slick.

Trying to put it's size in perspective for you!  Barry said it was surprising how strong it was and it had little barbs on it's legs.

Well, just a taste of life here this past month.  Hope you guys had a fantastic Thanksgiving.  Just know that we are thankful for each of you and how you lift us up.  We need it, and we feel it.  The CEO has heard and answered!!  I will post pics of our celebration soon, but I left my camera at my teammate's house. :(  Going to try to crank out a few more blog posts that never got finished.  Sorry again for the delinquency....I am going to do better!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Three Wedding Parties and a Lady

(And Barry, but I couldn't make it fit and be funny!) :)

What an experience the wedding was, we ended up having a blast and really feeling honored to have been a part of it. I am still chewing on my deeper thoughts about the weekend and pondering them in my heart, I hope to share them with you after I sort through them. Let's just say, I was profoundly affected and had trouble sleeping as I considered the souls of these precious people.

I am going to bullet list some highlights as well as some bloopers for your entertainment. You know, make you smile about some things, make you laugh at me for some others! :)

•Being included in the wedding. What I was afraid might be a form of mild torture ended up being a gift. Being one of 6 couples to meet with the groom's family before the ceremony and escorting him back to the home.

•Allowed to be inside the home for the actual ceremony, this doesn't happen often since I am a foreigner and of a different faith.

•That even though I absolutely did not want to dance, they asked (read: drug me out) to join them. It's always nice to be included.

•I was never asked by them to do something I might not have been comfortable with, they had obviously thought about our role and they made it very easy on us and enjoyable.

•A man asked me to sing karaoke (they always do that here) and I said no that I don't do karaoke and that if I sang he would cover his ears, he replied, "But I think you are such a happy person you must sing!" I took that as a compliment.

•During the night of the nail ceremony the women were discussing my age, they still could not believe that I was 43. They collectively decided that I didn't seem my age because I laugh a lot like a teenager. I was not clear on whether this was a compliment. :)

•At the reception my friend/companion was asking me about weddings in America and comparing them to weddings here. We covered all kinds of ground on the topic and then I made the mistake of sharing "something borrowed, something blue, and a penny in you shoe". I quickly learned this is one of those things that sounds sillier and sillier the more you try to explain it! She was in stitches! LOL Then I thought she was going to spew her drink when I told her about the throwing of the garter. And let me tell you another thing, have you ever tried to describe a garter to someone from another culture? Well, I am here to tell's not easy! I wish I could see what she had pictured in her mind.
•When asked about my dress I had made for the wedding and it's pattern, I quickly replied that I had it made like a traditional kebaya, except that I had the fabric inside cover my shoulders also, that the lace was fully lined except for the sleeves. (Traditional kebayas are normally lined like a strapless dress under the lace, baring shoulders and arms)  Then I found out that since they are Musl*m, they all lined their sleeves! But they were quick to assure me this was okay and not to worry.....thanks! Leave it to me to be scandalous! :)

•During the nail ceremony my neighbor came by and said a phrase in English that sounded like something special was "coming up", so I asked what the special thing was, and he said THIS!! "Oh, yes, this is very special, thank you", was my quick reply!

•That same night as I was about to walk home they stopped me as there was yet another planning meeting. They asked me where Barry was and I replied that he was home (two doors down) because we thought tonight was only for women. I didn't tell them we were under the impression that we were all getting manicures and pedicures...stupid language barrier. :)

Here is a video of the procession to greet the groom to the reception:

A slideshow of the process and weekend. Enjoy:

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is Three Meters Enough?

Four little words. Four words that I was mortified to hear. Four words that seemed to be said in a loud long drawn out tone in a tunnel like something from a movie,"IIIIS THREEEEEEE MEEEEEEETEEEERRRRRS EEEEENOOOOUUUUGH!" Four words spoke into a microphone by my neighbor in response to my answer to his question. So, what was the question he asked? He wanted to know if my material packet had enough material or would I need more. So I answered that my seamstress said that their was enough material for my skirt and the lining of the shirt, but I would need more lace material. She said the lace they gave me was only enough for someone her size. And let me tell you, for all practical purposes, she could be considered a "Who" from "Whoville", she is so tiny! Then he nodded, made a phone call and told me that the fabric would be here from "Starbucks, the capital city" in three days. I thought that was the end of it. Apparently not.

At 6:45pm we arrive for the neighborhood committee meeting for the planning of my neighbor's youngest child's wedding. Immediately we are ushered in, greeted, and asked to have a seat. We do so of course, remembering what culture we are in. No one sits in the middle of the room which has been covered wall to wall with various Persian rugs. Everyone finds a seat along the wall, men on one side, women on the other. I am the only woman there who is not wearing a Jilbab (head covering)which feels slightly awkward in such close quarters. As more and more people arrive I find some to be warm, some to be stand-offish, and others who will not acknowledge me with out my hostess insisting they shake my hand. (In this culture you greet everyone with a handshake as you come, and as you go, always.) So right off the bat I am trying hard, yet feeling very much out of my element. Also, this is the first time I have met my neighbor's wife. The husband has arranged all of this, my helping with the wedding, giving the fabric, etc. through Barry, not me. So I am smiling, speaking, asking questions, and answering for the 1 billionth time how old I am (yippee!) and how many kids I have (these are common introductory conversations here). We sit for what is about an hour and then they serve food. Men first. When the men are finished eating the main course and are onto the fruit portion of the meal, the ladies get up to fix their plates. As we are wrapping up our meal, the men are moving on to the meeting and forming of committees. I found it funny how the men did the planning and the woman only gave their input when it seemed something that the men said might not be right. The women mostly conversed with each other during the meeting while the men hashed out the details of transportation and musicians....using a microphone in the house. Because, you really cannot have any kind of a meeting here without a microphone, lol! But I am getting ahead of myself.

After we ate and the meeting was beginning he began to go over a few details such as the date of the wedding, when family was coming into town, where they were coming from, and then he said "it"...he mentioned that I did not have enough material! SHUT UP! I could not even believe it! Now, my pride is begging me to tell you that I was not even close to being the largest woman there, but really that is beside the point.  Why did he do that?  He then proceeds to ask me my name again, and again says, "Is three meters enough?" As I am picking my jaw up off the floor, restating my name, and trying to make sure I understand what he is saying, he asks again, "Is three meters enough?" By this time the two women around me who speak some English are repeating the question out loud as I am politely nodding my head that yes, three meters more should be enough......what am I a whale? Good grief,!  Toss me a fish and call me Shamu!!  I could have died. Where is the rapture when you need it? :) Since returning from that meeting I have replayed that scene, more times than I should have, in my head. I am trying to figure out why he did it. I mean, I am just one of about forty other women who have material packets and he never mentioned any of them or their material issues. I don't want to assume his motivation, but I am curious I guess.

So back to the meeting, it lasted four hours....four, quatro, empat...doesn't matter what language you say it in, it's four long hours! Barry's leg begins to swell and my ankles have tile marks carved in them. It's about this time that my eyes meet Barry's across the hot crowded room. I meekly cock my head ever so sweetly and mouth the words, "You owe me!" I enjoyed watching him try to remain respectful as he read my lips and his shoulders began to shake from trying not to laugh out loud. I needed that moment, pretty sure it saved my sanity. :)

What I didn't know at the time was that Barry had been dealing with his own issues. It seems that as the men were greeting Barry and asked what he did for a living, he quickly became somewhat of a pariah to some of them. Seems that not all of them were fond of a pr*acher being in their midst.  One man in particular is a "Hajji*" (Someone who has made the pilgrimage, or h*j, to M*cca in Saud* Arab*a) was less than trhilled that we were there.  However, no one is too far from the CEO's  reach as long as there is breath right?  Remember a guy named Saul/Paul?  Lift him up and maybe we will see what the CEO will do!  Let's call him "Johnny Quest" (if you've watched that show, you'll know why!) :)

As we left the meeting and walked home, Barry and I were relaying to each other what we heard as to what our responsibilities for the wedding would be. Seems like we are picking up the father and mother of the groom from their hotel, taking them to a local home from where we will then walk them down to my neighbor's house where the wedding will take place. This may or may not involve holding an umbrella over their head (ha!). This will be on Sunday, October 2 at the reception, at which time I will also be wearing my matching outfit. On Friday we are getting mani-pedis (all of us ladies in the 'hood I guess) and on Saturday the actual wedding will take place, not clear on our role there yet.

Wow, so much to process, and yet I feel in this retelling that I am not doing it justice. Like I didn't mention how I tried to be faithful to the Son's command to eat what is placed before me when I enter a home and did, but it was stinking HOT! I quietly coughed and my nose began to run, so the girl next to me giggles and said, "It's hot, right?" LOL Why yes, yes it is!

I also met a young woman who was extremely kind to me, the kindest of the night by far. She is a young mother who speaks some English and was friends with Jamie who lived in this house before me. She took me "under her wing" so to speak and would translate for me, as much of the meeting involved words in Arabic and in local ethnic dialects that I would never know. She hopes to practice her English with me, I hope to share something with her also :) but her husband will be returning soon and he is from an extremely strict part of the island, so we shall see where this leads. Let's call her "Mocchacino".

As always, thank you for lifting us up, and if your should be! LOL I mean, we need it! There are many wonderful things here but there are many more things that wear you down here,  physically, emotionally, and sp*r*tually.  This is literally "someone else's" backyard, if you know what I mean. We need you to intercede for us. But not only for us, but for them as well. Please don't forget them!  At the end of the day we have peace, hope, and the assurance that we are never alone.  They do not.  They desperately need what we have, they just don't know it yet. Lift up that blind eyes see and deaf ears hear, by the CEO's power alone will it be done!

Okay..this wiped me out. I'm tired. Just wanted to keep you posted on the latest. We are lifting you all up, please let us know how we can pr*y more specifically for you, it would be our privilege.

Here are a few pics of our life and our city:

This is the road where the ladies ran into us, hard to believe we would be hit by a motorcycle, huh? :)

I really miss "Big Trash Pick up" in Okc!

Two for one!  A shirt that doesn't make sense and a man wearing a down coat...on the equator!!

Four people on a motorcycle, and the mom is riding side-saddle, which is typical here.

The girls and some of their neighborhood friends

Aaron, Hudson, and Marshall playing Mario Smash Party.  Aaron flew up to spend the weekend from another part of our island.  They had a blast!

Marshall and his new school laptop.  He has two online courses this year that he is really enjoying.

Hudson taking his first online course, he really enjoyed interacting with other students and likes his teacher.  In his class are 3 kids living in China, 1 in the States, and him in Macchiato.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Steak on a Stone, a Wreck, and a Wedding Outfit

With summer ending and schools all over the world getting back to business, "Folgers" is no different. People come and people go, but we especially like when people come! For us that means that the teachers from the school at the Oil Camp in town have returned and that makes life here more fun. Friendships are renewed, youth group starts up for the boys, and life falls back into a form of a routine. Our friends, John and Kathi G. who are teachers, recently returned from spending the summer in the States and invited us out to dinner. They took us to a hotel restaurant.  Barry and I had eaten there before, but we never knew they had such a fun meal on their menu. As we arrived Kathy said that if we liked steak then we had to try the "Australian Steak on a Stone." Then she told a story about a time that several teachers ordered it at one time and set off the smoke alarm!! LOL

Right away they seated the four of us as a table for 10.  Ten!  All of the tables had "reserved" signs on them so we asked if we could change to a table for four but they said no. By the time we left, all of the tables that seated four still had reserved signs on them and none were ever used...ahhh, such is life in Macchiato.  You quit trying to understand and just go with it, it will never make sense to you anyway.  It just is what it is.  The first thing they do after you place your order for the steak is to bring out a bib/apron for each person and tie it on you. SO FUNNY!! But need this as the steak on the stone will splatter you! Next they bring out the "stone" which is square and is hot enough to cook your raw steak and several veggies on. So you sit at your table and cook your steak to your liking and throw some of your veggies on and grill them as well.    Add to that some fantastic mashed potatoes and that, my friends, was one of the best meals I have had in over two years!  It was SO GOOD! We had a great time catching up, laughing as we cooked, splattering ourselves, and trying to figure out what all the sauces were.  Kathi, if you are reading this...a big THANKS again for such a great evening!  Here are some highlights:

Upon entering the hotel we were greeted with the gigantic Ramadan statue of a man reading the Quran

As we were being seated we heard the banging of this large drum which was to symbolize that the fasting for this day was over, "Buka puasa".

Barry and John looking dapper in their aprons!

The "Steak on a Stone" as it first comes out

Kathy, John, and Barry surrounded in smoke

We cracked up because Barry's steak came out in a wad, but it turned out great

Ta da!!  One perfectly cooked "Steak on a Stone!"

The stones in the aftermath, wish you could see all the splatters that were everywhere!

Obviously, I enjoyed my meal :)
Next, a few Sundays ago we were headed to services at the International church when the inevitable happened.  We knew it would happen one day and we knew that when it did it would not be fun or convenient.  We were right.  As we traveled down a very crowded road, made even more crowded by the people who were out preparing to break the fast that evening, a motorcycle ran into us from behind.  It was two ladies, and they hit us hard.  Both flew off the bike and flip flops and bags of produce, one being oranges, flew everywhere.  We immediately stopped and got out to check on them. 

Before I go on, I need to clarify a few things for you about the "rules" here when something like this happens.  First, no matter who is at fault, the person with the better vehicle pays.  I know what you're thinking, those are my thoughts exactly, but that is not how it is done here.  Secondly, if you are driving a car, you are expected to load up the injured in your car, take them to a hospital and pay their fees.  Lastly, when an accident happens you will often find yourself surrounded by a crowd, maybe friendly, maybe not.  The crowd being the numerous people on the street, buyers, sellers,
passersby-ers (?), etc. all of whom will have an opinion of whose fault it is and what you should do.

Oh, did I mention that Barry was to pre*ch that night?  Or did I mention that as we were about to walk out the door I noticed that my phone needed charging so I decided  not to bring it with me but leave it charging?  I didn't?  Well, that is an important part of this story because what I didn't know was that Barry was out of "pulsa" (minutes) and decided not to bring his phone thinking that I would have mine.  Ugh...not a good time to be without a phone!

So, back to the story.  The crowd immediately gets the driver and mover her off the road, she is obviously in a daze, her bell must've been rung, because they hit us without any use of their brakes.  This is not a road you can go fast on, it is really crowded.  We think she pulled out and just ran straight into the back of our van.  I am checking on the second lady, picking up oranges as I go.  Before I can even get my bearings, they have loaded these ladies in our car, with my kids, and telling us to go to the hospital.  By this time the ladies have their senses back.  We are trying to figure out where the closest hospital was they would like us to take them to, but we also need to let someone at the church know that we are running late and why.  So we asked if they would ride to our house (which was nearby) with us because we needed to call someone and explained our situation.  They reluctantly agreed, mind you, these are M*slim woman in a car full of this is during their holy month where things in that department are a little tense, if you know what I mean.  So we get our phone, call the ch*rch and explain we will be late, and take them to the Sanders house so that we can have help negotiating the price.  Steve talks them down to about $45 USD,we pay it and then they decide to just go home and not the hospital, so Steve took them home so that we could get to ch*rch and he even shared Truth with them. :)  What else do you do with a captive audience?

If I am 100% honest, I had a bad attitude about this ordeal.  We were headed to the service, Barry needed to get into a mindset  to pre*ch and I was praying for the CEO to refocus his mind, to bind the enemy who tried to stop him, and also to get my attitude of resentment in check.  You see, I still struggle with my American mindset and my "rights" as I perceive them.  I have the right to say, "No, we won't pay you, this was your fault not ours.", or "No, that's a lie, we were not stopped when you ran into us, we were creeping along with the rest of the traffic on that road and you did not look and therefore rammed into us, damaging our vehicle.",  "When you hit from behind, you are at fault!"  And last but not least, "You want me to buy obat (medicine) for your busted lip?  Get an ice pack on it and take a panadol (Tylenol), no one uses meds for a busted lip."  Wow, just keeping it real here, but that sounds ugly doesn't it?  The truth is that sometimes these people are not easy to love....but then again, sometimes, neither am I.  And I know someone else who paid a price far greater than $45 for something that was not His fault either.  What if He had had the same thoughts I did and acted on them?  I (we) would all be in a world of hurt with no hope.

So in the end the CEO taught me a valuable lesson and in the end I chose to look at it as though we paid $45 for two people to get to hear the Truth.  It doesn't look so bad in that light and now they are responsible for what they will do with what they heard.  Hopefully, they will receive the Truth.  Who can get mad about that?  The enemy didn't win the battlefield of my mind that night, now to just stay on guard for all the other ways he tries to distract me from my purpose here, he's sneaky, but not in control!

Finally, on our way to Ch*rch we were re-living all that had just transpired, and who we thought hit where and how,suddenly Campbell looks out the back window and says, "Hey look!  There's  a lip print on our back window!"  And sure enough, there it was, lipstick and all! Which is totally not funny.....but was kind of funny later.  (Sorry, it was raining when I got out to get a pic!)

Last but not least, as R*m*dan is winding down, the wedding preparations will begin.  The date is set for October 2.  For those of you not on Facebook, Barry volunteered me to work on the neighborhood wedding committee...needless to say, I was thrilled!  (Right!)  This ought to be very interesting.  Anyway the father of the bride stopped by to give me the material for my matching wedding clothes.  Yes, I said matching.  :)  We asked about the pattern, he said there wasn't one (okaaay)  but was so cute as he tried to assure me that the gold material was to go under the lace as a top, not for a head covering.  Good to know! LOL

Here is my neighbor's house.  This is obviously not a typical home here, so I imagine this is going to be some kind of shindig.  They have been making improvements and adding outside lights to the house all month.  You will be amazed as how they transform it for the wedding.