Welcome HOME

We’ve been in the US for three months now, and still occasionally feel the jolts of reverse culture shock. I’m finally slowing down enough to put my thoughts to paper. 

Welcome

A few weeks ago our sweet friends threw a “welcome home” picnic for us. It was fun eating meatball sandwiches, sausage soup, salads, and cake with our close group of special people.

Several times different ones came over and said something to the effect of: “I know this isn’t really home for you…but…we didn’t know what else to call this party.”

To which I said, “You know, we call everywhere that we are at ‘home.’ We call hotels ‘home’, we call friends’ houses ‘home’…it’s the best way for us to appreciate wherever we’re at. And it’s easier just to call everywhere home without having to be specific. ” 

This is true..mostly. We do really enjoy this new home. But, we still feel the jolts of realization that we aren’t really AT home here (or maybe, anywhere).

I feel like I need to tell everyone where I am going, and what I am doing. Sitting at a ladies event, I got up to go to the bathroom, and felt that I should announce to the table that I was going to go to the bathroom (I stifled the urge). When going to the store I almost head over to my neighbors’ house to tell her that I’m headed out (she’s my sister-in-law so it’s not TOO weird).

I feel weird in situations where I would be expected to use my left hand. I still juggle my purchases to my left hand so I can pay with my right hand, or accept whatever someone is giving me with my right. Try paying a toll with your right hand!

I find it strange that Americans have such nice cars, but they let them get pretty dirty. Asians will wash their cars EVERY DAY.

I go to Wal-Mart, and find it incredibly weird to see people in their bathing suits (whaa?) or sweatpants and t-shirts. I know, I know it’s not weird, it’s Wal-Mart. But in Asia you dress up to go out, anywhere. I still ask Michael before going out “are you sure if it’s okay if I wear my jeans and a t-shirt?”

I’m relieved when I can enter a room, and not have to work it. In other words, in Asia I would walk into a room full of people, and have to shake hands and greet everyone. It was good and connected me with everyone, but I would also get tired of it. Here, I like the anonymity of walking into a church service, sitting down, and doing MY thing. 

It’s tempting to get comfortable here, to adapt and adjust, and to live it up here in this US home. But, my otherness reminds me to live in such a way that says “this world is not my home.” Even if we call everywhere home, it really isn’t. 

A blog I love to read, written by my long ago friend Jen, says it best.

Bowties and suspenders

Bowties and Suspenders

Sometimes their dad goes off to work in a helicopter. When he comes back, after a few days away, the boys are so excited that they put on their fancy clothes to go meet him. This picture brought to you by Third Culture Kid moments. PS Abby and Heather, their shirts are from you, thanks!

Christmas

Christmas was:

EARLY morning opening presents by candle light.

Special treats for breakfast.

Trekking through the mud in our dress clothes to go church. Good thing for rubber boots.

Lunch with friends who do not mind if we dine shirtless.

A ramshackle Gingerbread house

Often things in our lives do not go as planned.

I have been planning to post here on this blog for quite awhile.
I have composed lots and lots of posts in my head.
Most have them have been deep thoughts, things that take my little brain a long time to wade through. I still find myself slogging through it all; I still haven’t been able to write my thoughts all the way down on paper with a good intro and a nice application at the end. Maybe I will be able to soon. It’s a good place that I’m in: thinking, feeling, and working on believing truth. But, it takes time to process.

So, what does that have to {loosely} do with our ramshackle gingerbread house?
When we bought our beautiful Gingerbread house kit at Ikea visions of spices, and family time, and beauty, and Christmas rainbows danced in my head.

Reality though is a stove top metal box oven with uneven baking temperatures, guests that stop by at the crucial baking moment, a shortage of gingerbread dough, and a rain shower. We love a good seasonal rain shower because it almost feels like being snowed in. But, the cozy rainy humidity quickly soggified our gingerbread house, and it sagged and fell apart before our eyes.

Yes, our gingerbread house will never make it onto Pinterest. Yes, things happen. Yes, life doesn’t go as I plan. I choose to believe, though, that this messy deep waters life can glorify Him. And that His name is still Love.

So, what do you do?

So, what do you do when you run out of LPG AND karosene, and it’s several days before more is set to arrive from the bigger town?

Well…we decided to have “fun” camp fire style.
And it was fun, for a FEW meals. It was a good time for the gas to run out, because it got down to 66F a few nights. It felt just about right to huddle around a fire, talking, and enjoying each other.

After a few times though, it was just plain work. It takes a long time to cook over a fire. Twice long as over a stove. It takes time collecting wood, getting the fire to the right temperature, and then poking it and prodding it to maintain the right temperature.

Michael had to get up at five to get the fire started so we could eat by 6:30ish.

Now we know how our friends feel, and why they don’t eat three square meals a day, and are sometimes too tired to always boil their drinking water.

Case Study

Early one morning my friend showed up with a baby. She said the baby was born about 12 hours before, but his face was still all grey.

I unwrapped the little bundle of baby, and slowly became aware of the fact that he was incredibly small. His skin was icy cold. I read. In my books that if a baby is still grey after several hours, he may have a problem with his heart or lungs.
What would you do?

I realized we needed to start by getting him warm. I didn’t have any more hats around the house, but remembered my fuzzy socks. I cut off the top of the socks, and made a little hat (a very, very little hat).

The I found out that he was a month early, and finally checked the chapter on preemies.
I read that a preemie should always be kept warm, preferably inside of a shirt. Since no one was offering the inside of their shirts, I made up some hot water bottles, and for several hours we took turns, keeping him warm.
He eventually started losing his grey color.

I still wanted his family to take him to the doctor to make sure that he didn’t have a heart problem, and need to be on oxygen.

His family decided not to take him to the doctor, but I’ve heard that he’s doing well now.
Maybe he was just dangerously cold, and needed heated up.
What do you think?

Children’s Day

We hosted a Children’s Day.

I painted a million and a half (give or take a few) faces. That’s me in the middle of the big swarm.

Our team cooked enough noodles, and rice for each child.

We played games, though the kids didn’t get into them as much as I thought they would. I need to brainstorm, and find games that they can play as a team…individual games don’t go over at all.

We gathered together, sang LOTS of songs, and read.

Even though there are many differences between their cultures, kids are still kids, and have fun hanging out.

Machete

Our neighbor is a master machete modifier.
He has a knack for creating machete handles out of basic materials…trash even. Can you guess what he made this out of?

I’ll let you see it even closer. What do you think?

Did you guess machine oil bottles? He melted oil bottles, swirled the colors together, shaped it, and then carved the soft plastic. Crazy right?

I swore it was painted wood. But, Michael saw it with his very own eyes, and he doesn’t lie to me.