Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Normally we go through the motions of roasting a turkey with all the fixings, including imported cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies with cans we bring from the U.S. This year we are going away for a long weekend retreat with other ex-pat families from other countries, and we won’t be having a special feast tomorrow.
It’s like the Grinch who stole Christmas, only no one has maliciously taken anything from us. I’m thinking of the scene at the end of the book, where the Whos from Whoville are standing around the tree with no gifts, no Christmas lights, no roast beast. The Grinch, who had assumed they would give it all up, was shocked to hear the townspeople begin singing joyfully around the tree.
“He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
Maybe Christmas, he thought...
doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more!”
That’s what Thanksgiving is really all about. Being grateful for what we do have. Tomorrow we’ll be singing praises to the Lord, each quietly remembering our long lists of blessings. This year I am blessed to spend the holiday weekend with true family, even though my flesh and blood relatives are scattered from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
I’m thankful that we’ve all been adopted into one big family, and for the blessing of calling each of you my sisters.
IRL* Happy Thanksgiving, however you choose to recognize it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I’ve been toying with the idea of a local version that would include soccer, tacos, Mexican Coke, and VW bugs.
How would the commercial sound in your country?
To be truthful, the first four words that popped into my head were potholes, roadblocks, traffic jams, and tummy aches. Can you see what kind of week I’ve been having? Somehow these just don’t make for a very snappy jingle, though.
On Saturday we drove some guests out to a Zapotec village for the presentation of a newly printed New Testament translation that our ministry has provided in audio format. The journey only took us about three hours, but we didn’t travel as far as you might imagine in that time. Not only were there many curves in the road limiting our speed, but also in every populated area we were slowed by a series of “sleeping policemen” or speed bumps.
One of our guests sympathized with my poor dh, who forever seems to be taking vehicles to the mechanic to replace brake pads or some other problem caused by the brutal roads we have. The sad truth, though, is that without speed bumps and potholes, people simply would not honor the suggested speed limits.
A number of years ago, my eldest daughter witnessed a fatal accident when a dump truck attempted to race around a stopped bus. Normally a speed bump would have slowed the traffic, but that day it had been worn down to the point of being useless. What made the incident even more tragic was that the careless driver was the godfather of the child he killed.
As we related this story to our guests, I began to consider what a blessing certain
“inconveniences” can be, just like speed bumps, even though we don’t always appreciate them.
Not having any TV reception for all these years might be considered an unnecessary inconvenience, but because of that “speed bump” I am convinced our family is healthier and happier. I wouldn’t trade all those long evenings of reading aloud for anything. Unpaved roads that are faster to walk than drive also serve to benefit and enrich our lives, though many people might not prefer such a blessing.
Being sick is another kind of speed bump. Just since Women of the Harvest started this blog in 2010, I’ve complained of high blood pressure/headaches, an E.Coli infection, and Dengue Fever. Each time I was forced to slow down. Each time I became more empathetic of friends who truly suffer with debilitating chronic illnesses.
How about you? What speed bumps are you thankful for?
IRL* Potholes, roadblocks, traffic jams, and tummy aches ... happen.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
However, I am extremely blessed by the amazingly perfect tokens that others have given to me. I enjoy having little reminders of loved ones scattered throughout my house. Even non-sentimental gifts like Tupperware and cars make me remember fondly the people who gave them.
This past Sunday dh and I took the kids to a pastor’s house in the city, taking a tiny edible offering (some homemade cranberry bars that took me all of ten minutes to throw together before baking). In return, we were served a lovely chicken dinner with a special “Oaxacan black mole” sauce made from seven chilies (that requires at least six hours to prepare from scratch). When we left, they gave the kids a glass candy dish full of candy, my husband a framed map of Oaxaca, and me a decorative clay vase. It was almost embarrassing.
These things happen to me on a regular basis. People love to give presents. Even when I visit a friend in the prison here, she blesses me with gorgeous painted tin art that she makes. While I may never out-give either the pastor or my inmate –not to mention all our stateside friends—their tokens of friendship do prompt me to pray for them, and I do feel loved.
With that said, I really wish I could think of a gift that would help friends back home remember me, that would trigger a smile and a prayer occasionally. While waiting for inspiration, I do nothing. That’s terrible, I know. Good intentions are worthless.
What I want to know is what you do for your family, friends, and supporters. Do you send them something at Christmas time? Take souvenirs from your host country when you visit them? Or do you order books or other things from the Internet to be shipped to them?
Have you ever given a gift that was not a hit? Dh once gave some friends a wooden tray with colorful wooden fruit, back when he was single and returned from his first mission trip to Guatemala. The recipients treated it like a gag gift and returned it to him as a joke after we got married. Ouch. That makes us want to stick with safe presents like coffee and chocolate.
However, consumable presents don’t leave a lasting reminder that says “We love you” or “Please pray for us” or “Thanks again for your support.”
What do you suggest?
IRL* I’m open to new ideas.