goodbye 2010

Well, I must say I’m not sad to see 2010 go down in the books, so to speak. It has been a year of changes and transitions; highs and lows; curry and daal. We began the year journeying to Colorado and we are ending it in South Asia. It is a year I will never forget and one I would not ever like to relive again!

If I could put a theme on this year for me it would be “Surrender.” I feel like I have had to surrender my will and forgo my “rights,” such as they are. The easy life is not an option; though I know my life is much easier than that of so many people I encounter each day here. Still, surrendering for me is not easy and has been quite painful at times.

Tonight is the final night of 2010. Typically this would mean games, food and friends. But here, it means me, alone, with popcorn and a blog. Our commitments here are different; not only am I experiencing culture shock with the general culture, but also with the church culture. It’s just different here and I’m trying to figure out where I fit in exactly.Tonight it means the Hubs has to “work” in the city and me and the crew stay home.

Along with all the hard stuff, there has also been many reasons to be grateful. In spite of several small illnesses, we are healthy (at least right at this moment). We have a nice apartment that fits our needs right now and sort of feel a bit more settled. Our children are thriving and we are all together. Before we left, we were able to  make wonderful memories with family and friends this year. I can’t complain.

So here’s to my last 35 minutes in 2010 (yay!) and hearty cheers to a Happy 2011!

 

a very fruitcake Christmas

I have now officially spent my first Christmas in another country. It was busy. I cooked a bunch of food. We were around tons of people. We are all tired and I am thankful that today was a true day of rest (aside from the hour and half we spent at our first Indian birthday party, more on that later).

So for those of you brave enough to read on, here’s how it all went.

Friday I made a huge lunch for our family of roasted chicken, potatoes, stuffing, applesauce and green beans. It was so good. I mean really good. I also received my one and only fruit cake this year. Apparently, as gifts people give fruit cakes. Hum. Not sure it’s a tradition I’ll adopt. The funny thing was the person who gave it to me knew I didn’t like them. But I digress.

Then at four we headed into the city for a church service. The Hubs was helping out so we had to get there super early. So it was up to me to occupy my three for the pre-show and during the not-so-kid friendly service. There were many glares and “you are going to be in big trouble if you don’t sit still and stop talking” looks given by yours truly. I’m good at those. Bud managed to break the seat he was sitting in and Princess entertained those around with her dance skills.

Then afterword, they served fruit cake.

We skipped the cake and headed home so the kids could skype with one set of grandparents and open a gift. The next morning (Christmas morning) the Hubs, who was helping out at church again, left very early and we followed behind in a taxi a few hours later. No rickshaws today!!! What a gift. Me and the kids endured each other again for another hour, all the while Boo is asking me in a loud whisper “Is it over yet?” I must confess it’s hard for me to feel Christmassy managing three kids during a church service. But I did my best– I tried to smile a bit more than the night before.

Afterwords, again, there was more fruitcake.

The kids and I opted for some Nescafe that was being served as well. As I was walking back to the table with hot drinks in hand I felt something on my head. I knew what it was  instinctively and confirmed it when I reached up and touched something wet. Bird poop. How lovely. The pastor’s wife helped me clean it out and soon we headed home with some very tired and grumpy kids. They wanted to open gifts, but we waited until we could see the other grandparents and skype with them while opening the gifts they had sent. We then had a dinner of baked beans, very fatty and dry ham, and more mashed potatoes.

The day concluded with our landlord and his son joining us for some dessert in the evening. It was nice to get to know him a little better and the quiet company was nice on such a busy day. We had invited a couple more neighbors, but they didn’t make it over. None-the-less, it was an okay day after all.

Today has been about waking up and watching the Cowboys and taking naps and going to a birthday party for a neighbor we don’t know at all. The highlight (if you can call it that) was one of their guests was a Chinese guy who was determined to have his picture made with one of our kids. Boo was not a willing participant, so right as we were leaving he scooped Princess up and asked his friend to snap a picture. She started screaming and I wasn’t too happy either. I took her before he got the picture. Is it me or is that just creepy that people want their pictures taken with my kids?

So that concludes another culture-filled weekend. I had several thoughts on Christmas, but this post is already too long, so I’ll save them for another post. Merry Christmas too all, and to all a good night.

conversations

Every day, or at least almost every day, I have to go on bit of a trek to pick up Jackson at the bus stop. In order to get to him I have to cross six lanes of traffic and dodge the stray dogs that seem to be around every corner here. It is truly a test of faith for me!

Anyway, lately I have been getting a ride to the bus stop from my neighbor who has her kids in the same school and over the course of a few weeks we have gotten to be friends. She’s a national who has lived in the States before, so at least she sort of knows where I’m coming from and that’s been very nice.

This week we have started talking about Christmas, for obvious reasons, and we came to the subject of Christ’s birth and the real reason we (my family) celebrate Christmas. The whole conversation lasted for about ten minutes but during that time we covered a lot of theological ground and decided that though we did not agree on many points regarding the person of Christ, it was a good conversation and that we should continue it some other time.

It has been so neat to see how our friendship has developed since we’ve moved her. She and her family have been very kind and generous to us because she knew this was a tough transition. I wondered if anyone had done the same for her when she was in the States as a mother of three small children living in a strange country. She has never indicated that that was the case at all–what a shame.

But in lieu of all our neighbors having another faith, this year we are toying around with the idea of using Christmas as a time to invite some of our them over for dessert Christmas evening. It stresses me out a little to be honest because in the back of my mind I have the idea that Christmas is all about me resting, relaxing, eating a big ham and being alone with my family–and having people over doesn’t allow for that. But here, among other believers, I sense that they see Christmas as a time to share Christ (the one whose birth we are celebrating) with others. Quite different than what my Christmas days have traditionally looked like.

So we’ll see how things progress in the coming days. This Christmas is definitely unlike any other–but that doesn’t mean it has to be a negative thing. I’m trying to make a mental shift from being anxious just to get the holidays over with, to wondering what will develop over the next few days. To see what the Lord would have us do here so make this Christmas a true celebration.

blue, blue, blue Christmas

Ok, so maybe it’s not so blue. But it’s definitely different when you take away the culture of Christmas surrounding you on a daily basis. In this culture they embrace other religion’s holidays, but it’s not like there’s decoration everywhere and I can’t just buzz over to Target to get all my holiday needs met. The Hubs is going tomorrow to a market that my maid said I should never go to (she thinks I’m quite delicate) to find a tree and other Christmassy items. Have fun dear.

So our quest to find a tree here continues–a few days ago I called a guy who I thought owned a store close by, about a tree and he told me he’d call me back after he finished his bath. Right. Why did he answer his phone while taking a bath anyway? I guess if you are just using buckets (which we don’t in case you were wondering) then it’s no big deal. But would you tell a total stranger you were in the bath? Gross.

Last year we were packing to move, so we didn’t have a tree then either. It sort of depresses me to think of all the transitions and losses we’ve had this year, so I won’t dwell here. But I will say that having a tree this year will be great–a symbol of settled-ness if you will; something beautiful that will make me feel a little more connected to the world I left behind– the one I’m missing terribly right now.

Moving on. We have had an influx of candy from the US and all I can say is keep it coming. My secret stash of Reese’s peanut butter cups is dwindling.  I shouldn’t complain because it was sent for everyone… but somehow the entire bag ended up in my wardrobe hidden under a bunch of clothes. How did that happen?

Well, here’s to hoping Christmas won’t be too blue and I can, as Boo prayed for me this morning (!), have a better attitude about things. Kids just have a way of putting things in perspective sometimes, don’t they?

URGENT UPDATE: All Reese’s cups are now gone since this went to print. Someone left the empty bag in my wardrobe! Cruel world!! You know who you are…