Monday, November 30, 2009

Going Back There

I said I'd never go there again.  Flat out told God that He can cross it off His list.  If He tries to send our family there, I will not go.

Never again.

But... over the last years, as I've walked through the process to healing, I've had small conversations with God about this topic.  Still told Him I will not go live there, not with my family, never.  But I've discussed with Him the thought of going back one day.  I hadn't talked about it with anyone else at all, not yet.  Just God and I discussed this, hesitantly.

See, I've not been sure I could do it.  Unsure if I could face these memories.  Then - it is a long ways away.  We have no ties there, no reason to go there - so it was out of even being a question. Until recently.

We're going.  Without the kids.  I hadn't thought about it much when I knew we were going to that area because there were two different ways to fly in to our destination.  We're going that way.

I wondered about it.  Looked it up to see if it was still there, if things were like I remembered them.  Ah, the marvels of modern technology - it is there - like I remembered it.  Exactly like I remembered it.

It is both reassuring and terrifying.  Reassuring because it is exactly what I remember.  There was one, our team leader (that one who had vision problems) who had said I was making it up, that I was too young to remember, that I would have told my parents if that had really happened.  (I did tell you he has some problems with seeing clearly, didn't I?)  But it is there, the place exactly as I had described it, every detail correct.

And terrifying.  It is exactly as I remember it and I sat staring at the computer image stunned and began to shiver.  There it is, the beginning of my nightmares clearly there.  I went to school to pick up my kids still shaky.  Needing a few minutes to grab someone and talk.  Yeah, it is embarrassing to let people see me like that, what I usually don't let be seen, but I was shaking.  Because I am going there.  I had asked God quietly, just between Him and me, for a chance to go there again, to face it.  I just am a little unprepared for it to happen.

I'm going back there.  I want to go stand there again, perhaps walk in and look around.  To take it back.  To stand, look at that place, and say, "You did not win.  You lied.  You did not win.  God was with me, is with me, and has been with me.  He has brought me out, and I am whole in Him.  You do not own me, you did not define me, and you have no hold on my life.  In fact, what you wanted to use to destroy me, God is using to make me more able to bring His comfort and peace.  God had His hand on me the whole time, and He never gave me over to you."  I want to say that.  I want to face that place, defy it, and move on.  Take it from out of my thoughts, see it in front of me, and leave it there and walk away.

And I'm terrified.  Alternating between deep peace, gratitude for all that God has done, and the sheer terror of facing those gates one more time.

I write this and I paused to think.  I've been struggling recently with trusting God.  I do trust Him.  Really.  But I want to learn more.  I want to grow.  I have this restless discontent with my relationship with God - I want to go on, to know Him more.  And I keep banging into a wall.  It's that wall where I say to God, "I trust You, but up to a point.  I don't understand why You let me face so much hurt."  It is hard to get past that wall.  I don't want to just climb over it - I want the wall gone.  Destroy the wall.  Knocked down to rubble.  To freedom.

I asked Him to do that.  I've talked with three people and we've asked Him together.  I believed He would do it.  I did not expect that He would take me to that city... to where I can stand in front of those gates one more time.  Maybe we have to face that together, God and I.  To go there again and see His presence with me.  To walk away together one more time.

I'm going back there.  Will you be praying with me this next week?  Let's make it a group effort.  I'll stand there and face it again; you stand behind me.

I'm not sure what to expect from myself this week.  I just know that I'll be appreciating prayers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rumors in the Wind

They are there again.  Those little rumors.  We've heard them before.  Lived with them swirling around us.

I don't like those rumors.  They leave me very unsettled.  Last time, they got so bad that I asked our director to stop talking about it.  I mean, he left me not knowing whether I should paint the walls and hang up pictures or begin to put things in boxes.  When a friend came, I didn't know whether to ask her to bring stuff with her or take stuff back for me.  Those awful rumors.

I think I dislike moving less than I dislike the rumors.  The unsettledness long before a move comes.

I have no idea if we are moving any time soon.  We may.  We may not.  We could still be here for another five years.  But... as I look at that number - 5 - I think... that is what we had talked about when we came here.  Hmm.....

I have no idea if we are moving.  Honestly, I am not jumping at the chance.  I've begun to be settled here.  Found good friends.  Connected.  It isn't home, but it's beginning to feel like it.

I have no idea if we are moving.  I can't see it happening any time soon, but then again, I've been there before in my life and it happened.

Right now, it is only rumors floating on the wind.  Last time the air was filled with rumors, every visit brought a change.  "Yes, you are."  "No, you definitly are not."  "I think you are." "No, no way we will move you."  I finaly decided to paint my kids room.  I did not just paint it - I painted a huge mural on all four walls of their room.  The very next month, we got the decision and we packed our bags.

I have pictures stacked against the wall in my bedroom.  Waiting to be hung.  Now rumors again float on the wind and I am afraid to hang them.  I don't want to take them right back down again.

Why I Had So Many Kids

I was at work last night and took care of a dear old lady.  She talks non-stop.  It is irritating.  Sometimes we have had all we can take and try to ask her to be quiet.

She is only too happy to comply, "Of course.  I can be quiet.  If I know you want me to be quiet, I will not talk.  I can do that.  All you have to do is tell me and I will stop talking.  There is no problem with that.  If you ask me not to talk, I will be quiet.  I can not talk.  I would not want to talk when you ask me to be quiet.  All you have to do is ask me, and I will be quiet....."

Last night, I heard yelling and went to investigate.  She was shaking the bed and yelling, so I asked what was wrong.  She looked at me blankly and said, "I have no idea."

Ok.  Why are you yelling?

"I need to use the bathroom.  I don't know why I need to use the bathroom.  Usually I do not have to use the bathroom, but right now I have to use the bathroom.  I wonder why?"

Maybe it is because you drank that coffee with your family when they visited.

"I don't know.  Would that do it?  But I wonder why?  I don't have any pain, but I have to use the bathroom.  There must be something wrong.  Oh, I wonder what could be wrong!"

I decided I had better distract her, so I asked about her family.  She had been the oldest, so I asked how many kids her mom had.

"Well, there were the four boys, and there were three of us girls."

So seven.  I guess you did a lot of helping.

"Yes, I always was working."

So I asked her how many kids she had.

She looked at me blankly. "Oh, I don't know.  More than the usual amount, I think.  I just don't know.  I mean, how would one figure that out?  I am not sure how many there were, but there were a lot of them running around."

Thankfully, I got her settled back into bed before I started giggling with thoughts of the old woman and the shoe filling my head.

Tomorrow, I have to cook for a family in our church who just had a baby.  #2 was asking me why I cooked for them.  I explained that having a baby is tiring, so that we all cook meals for them to give them a little break in the beginning.

Comprehension dawned on his face and he said, "Ahh... now I know why you had so many kids; you wanted the break!"

yup, that's it.

Only On a Sunday - editing needed!

This Sunday was a potluck, and after the meal, I was gathering up the various books, papers, and pens my family collects.  My eye landed on a notice handed out with the bulletin.  It was about some Christmas gift boxes we are gathering to share.  I had wanted to do these with my kids, but ust hadn't gotten to it yet, so I skimmed it to see if there was still time, and I read this last sentence:

"There are empty boxes still at the church in the entry if you are still wanting to fill one with your child."

I giggled.  I passed it to a lady nearby me, and she read it and snorted.  We decided we had better choose a bigger box if it was going to fit the kids that had been misbehaving after chuch.

"Merry Christmas!  Here's a teenager!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Mixed Up Family

Where we live now is not home to any of us.  Don't get me wrong; it is a nice place to live.  But there is no one on our team who is from here.  So we lead a team of strangers in a strange country.  There are times that it gets interesting.  While most of us are from our "over there" country, there are a few of us from other places.  Our new family is a totally different culture to any we've had before.  Oh, we like them.... but it is new and interesting.

We're learning words and phrases in a language I'd never thought I'd have to learn.  We're eating food that I would have been thankful I never had to taste.  But now that food is "home" to some of our family, so I can no longer turn my nose up at it, but have to learn to try it with a smile.  It is actually not that bad.

At times it gets interesting.  One of my jobs is to help deal with it all.  To help our team adjust, to learn the language, to relate to people, to step in in situations like the problems with the school, to go with people to doctor's appointments to hear, understand, and translate later on.  With the famies we had who had been here for awhile, that part of my job description was not so busy.

Now, I am busy again.  Not only do I have to help our new family adjust, but I have to help us adjust to our new family.  Then there are always problems in teams.  Two families hit it off really well together.  That is normal.  But they tend to gravitate towards each other and exclude another family.  Likely they don't mean to, but they ignore her.  I have to keep tactfully involving her, bringing her in, insisting that we don't plan things when she is not available.  There are times this clique even in the ministry team irritates me.  We're not all that big that we can't just work together.

I like our team.  I like helping.  But there are weeks that it demands a lot from me.  In two weeks, there will be another event that takes a lot of my time.  In between now and then, I hope to get some normalness at home.

I like our team.  These kids grew up together.  Now they are assimilating the new family's kids.  Honestly, the kids do better than the adults.  They've taken to calling each other their "cousins".  It works.  What else would Auntie So-and-so's kids be called?  It differentiates them from all other people in their world, and none of us have family here.  But I wonder what people at school think when my kids showed up with a new set of cousins who were a totally different nationality than their other cousins.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Office Space

I'm sitting in my new office.  Ahh....

It's not new.  We built it in a corner of the house for my husband two years ago, but he's never used it.  He prefers to work at work, and when he is home, he stretches out on the couch with his laptop on his lap and his feet on the coffee table watching a game while working.

I used to work off the kitchen table in a space cluttered with homework assignments, tutoring materials, dumped stuff, odds and ends of kitchen things, and kid's mittens and toys.  It was hard to keep clean and hard to concentrate.

So I requisitioned the office space.  It was cluttered with various assundry items of a family who used it as a ""quick, guests are coming!  Throw it in the office!" space.  I dreaded cleaning it.  But yesterday, I attacked, and today won victory.

I'm sitting in MY office right now.  Neat rows of books in three shelves behind me.  Files with bills and papers beside me on other shelves.  Dusted off shelves and desk.  A nice light right over me on the slanted ceiling.   I like this space.  Space to think.  Space to work.  Space to lay out my papers and no one messes with them.

Now, just so you don't think too rosily... there is a neat box beside me and a small pile on the desk of "papers to file".  I hate paperwork and filing paperwork.  But it is neat, and in a neat space, I will file things faster because I can think.

My office is green.  A light green.  Not a yellowish green or a bright green, not a baby green, but a nice forest type of green, but light with white trim.  I like it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grocery Store Hero

I stood in line at the store today.  There was a confusion with a price, so the girl working at that register called the manager.  He didn't come.  There was a line up behind her getting impatient.

Now most if us in a line might be impatient, but usually we will control ourselves.  We might mutter under our breathe, but we will wait.

Not this man!  He and his wife complained, critizised, and badgered the girl about why the manager wasn't coming.  After a few minutes, the man began mocking her and pushing forward through the line to get closer to her to complain more.  He was obnoxious.

I was in a different line, so people in my line could have walked away gleeful that they had picked the right line.  In front of me was a young man with a stocking cap on shopping with his wife.  He kept looking over his shoulder at the rude man, obviously irritated.  But as the rude man pushed his way forward through the line  towards the checker complaining loudly, the stocking cap man won my heart.  With one move, he completely won my heart.

He took one step closer to the rude guy, looked him in the eye, and said, "Why don't you just leave her alone?"

Ah....  I don't often see that out in public anymore.  It seems like basic decency and sticking up for people that you are not related to has slipped away.  But it hasn't.  It still exists in people like stocking cap guy.

Then there followed several loud, angry retorts by the rude man and calm, firm replies by stocking cap guy, but with his attention firmly caught, the rude man was no longer focused on the poor checker.  He had a different opponent.

Now I am a crowd watcher, so I've learned how people respond and communicate nonverbally in situations.  I smiled, turned around so that I was side by side with stocking cap man facing rude guy face on, leaned back on the counter, smiled, and crossed my arms across my chest.  Sure enough, the guy beside me turned to a position that was clear that he had sided with us.  Stocking cap man's wife sided up to him on the other side.  Not one of us said a word.  We all smiled.  And stared at the rude guy.

He began to sweat.  He moved behind his wife.  Stocking cap guy laughed and said, "So you are going to hide behind your wife?"

He said, "It was just an opinion, and everyone is entitled to their opinion."

Stocking cap guy said, "and some of us know to keep them to ourselves."

Rude guy began to wipe off the sweat pouring off his face.  His poor wife spoke up and said, "He's sick, you know...."

He jumped on that excuse, "I'm sick....." and muttered something.

Stocking cap guy just smiled and stared at him.  Rude guy kept trickling sweat and his eyes jumped to all four of us lined up behind the cowering checker's back.  We all stared back.  He shut up, looked down, and began to fiddle with his purchases.

The line started up again, and we all moved on.  I whispered "good job" to stocking cap guy as he walked away with his wife.

It is so rare, but when I see it, it wins my heart.  I wish I could have found stocking cap guy's mom and thanked her for raising him to stick up for women.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Raining Blessings

It keeps raining.

We got news that the old landlord decided to let them out no strings attached, no fee, no nothing.  They will get their last month's rent check returned.  Praise God!  (Keep praying for a renter for the landlord - let God bless him for blessing this family.)

With the old apartment, went the beds.  They were a gift from that landlord which he requested back.  Ok...

Today, a friend heard that, and off she went to buy new beds for these kids.  Wow!

We got the house all moved and set up in one day.  Helps when you don't have much, you know.

Now... we need a vehicle.  Either they need a vehicle or we need a small car.  We can give them our second vehicle - it is big enough - but then we need to buy a small car for my husband to drive.  That would give them the time to save money for a better car than they could buy right now.

Off to clean up and help her unpack... but the smiles are staring to stay on their faces and the kids are settling well in the school and enjoying it and being enjoyed by our community.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The First Day

I wish I could post photos. Really wish I could, since this little kindergartner is the cutest thing going! But no photos.

Today we took them for their first day of school. Yeah, and since the staff had been away at a conference, they had little to no forwarning. But they managed. The kids settled in quite well and seem to enjoy their classes. The parents visibly relaxed as they watched the kids and the families come in the school, greet each other by name, and hang out to talk. To watch other adults address kids by their name and the kids know the adults and respond to them.

They relaxed. And said, "finally, we feel stable again." It's been a rough entry to this country for them, and now they are at peace.

Tomorrow, we move them to new housing which will be much better. Where they are, the other renters had been angry at the noise of footsteps (what do you expect with no insulation between floors!!) and would come up to yell and swear at the wife when her husband was not there.

It's time for a new home.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Funding!! Now for a renter....

Wow! Got a call today that the remaining funding for the part of the tuition that they do need to pay has come in from a donor. Wow!

Now we need to pray that someone rents their old apartment before the end of the month so there is no fee.

And pray for me... I'm achy and sore... maybe getting a flu? I hope not. Hoping to just be tired...

Friday, November 6, 2009

When God Steps In

We know He does, but then there are days that He does all at once and wows us.

It is not all over, not all fixed, but it is amazing what happened in one day.

We met for breakfast solemn and worried. We ate, we talked, and we prayed. I phoned to school principal to inform her that the kids were being withdrawn from the school. I was absolutely shocked by the animosity in her voice even though I was being very polite. She tried to tell me that according to the law, the kids must remain in her school while they lived there.

Now, I serve on a ed committee in a school here, so I was tempted to set her facts straight, but I resisted. There are four other legal options open to us I could have told her about. I am not ignorant and you can not bully me into silence and cooperation.

But I didn't. I sweetly informed her that the family will be relocating and we will inform her where to send the records as soon as they are re-enrolled in a school.

Then I accompanied the father to retrieve the kid's belongings. The principal called the teachers who walked in, plunked the items down without a word, and walked out. The principal herself could barely manage to shake my hand before she turned around and stormed out.


But we did not know what to do. We had no extra funds, were in a one year lease, and had no place to move them to. The view out of their window was this school. We could not keep the kids there.

So a friend walked in with news of an ideal, ideal housing solution - for less money. As soon as she said that, my husband phoned with news that our school was going to reduce the tuition to a level this family could afford. We three sat on the floor and cried. And prayed.

Then we got up, went to see the house, and wrote requesting given the circumstances that they be released from their one year contract. So far, all is falling in place. We do need to pray that a new renter is found for the old place so they do not face a penalty. Then it is the transition, and praying for the funding to be raised for these kids new school.

But on Monday, they will start in a school where the day will begin with prayer and where issues will be addressed in a Christ-like manner. The kids are visibly more relaxed, and my kids are delighted to help them settle in Monday morning.

Wow. God worked fast. I'm still worn out from it all!

Today, I had a meeting with the school board to lodge a formal complaint. I must say I was impressed with the way the board reacted and am fairly confident that there will be action taken. But even with the action, we can not keep the kids in that school.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More School Trouble

We had another incident with our team member's kid in school. He is being removed from the school this time. Once and they gave it another chance. Twice and that is it. Also, the principal got upset at the kid (who was attacked with a knife) for running home instead of running to her office.

It is enough.

What we will do, we don't know. Not yet. But pray for us as we meet with the parents and attempt to come up with a solution.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Connecting - what a blessing!

I went away last weekend. A reunion of sorts somewhere where I used to be for three years.

I will admit I was nervous. I was always shy. I struggled with interacting with people, not knowing if they really liked me or simply felt sorry for me. Didn't help that I was at least ten years younger than the average age of the others. So I was nervous. I was a mess when I was there. Don't know that I am not a mess right now, either.

But reconnecting with this place has been a big plus in our lives. Real support. Real encouragement. Real prayer. Realness.

Still, I was nervous. I was going without my husband, and he is the outgoing one.

But it was amazing. Wonderful. Fun. Thankfully, my favorite people showed up. And hmm... ten years made a big difference at 16, but is almost nothing at 37.

Oh we had fun! Stayed up way, way too late eating cookies and drinking coffee. Laughing at old jokes and new. Crying together. Sharing. Doing dishes. Admiring ourselves all dressed up. Laughing over what it takes to get "all dressed up". Praying. Singing. Listening to awesome messages. Playing volleyball in the worst torrential downpour ever. Rolling in the mud after volleyball since it really didn't make any difference anyway. Fun.

I thought it would be a rest and I'd come home refreshed.

I came home refreshed spiritually and emotionally, but wiped physically!

But what a gift! I still smile.

What made me smile the most, though, was not all the fun. Not even all the connecting, although that was a blessing.

It was the ministering. See, I was messed up when I first went there. Really messed up. I still am. But I am learning about God as He walks me through my mess.

It was the chances to minister.

I took the blogs I'd written about losing my daughter to the friend who just lost hers. She's passing them on to others she knows.

I took my article about living through abuse and gave it to one woman who knew me - just to let her celebrate what God has done. She came running to see me before I left wondering if she can share this. She works with the new girls, and she needed something like that. She wondered if she could tell one girl it was me.

I took my pain of the silence of the mission team near me here and shared it with a seasoned missionary who works in an area like ours. To hear her assessment, to hear her listening... it was healing. She left me with her contact information, an ear to listen.

To hear the women who had it all together - or so I thought when I was sixteen! - stand up and talk about how hard it has been to be wives of the leaders. That it was most often in their homes that the attacks have come - physical, emotional, spiritual... all sorts. A sudden clarity and a feeling of being a part of others... life for us got so much worse when my husband became the team leader. And worse when we stepped into finishing a Bible for a country that did not have one.

I know that I still stand responsible to God for my sins. I do.

But I also know that we are under attack.

And the last years were tough to deal with. Silence from our mission base only hours away. Concern, but condemnation from our "here" pastor who was appalled that we would even suggest any of this was anything more or less than personal sins which we needed to search our hearts and confess. He was actually horrified when we said that we feel like we are under attack right now since we have taken on finishing the Bible project. Horrified that we would blame it on anything but our own sins.

I sin. I know that. I do. I am responsible for them, too.

But, we are also under attack. The devil is doing more than roasting marshmallows on the end of his spiked tail over the fires of hell. He's alive and active in this world and decidedly ticked about what we all do.

It was good to have that acknowledged. To be reminded that we all need to be praying for each other.

But what has me dancing with delight after years of silence and condemnation is that with reconnecting to this place, we have support, prayer, support, love, connection, and a knowledge of what we are going through.

If I wasn't drifting off to sleep from a few days of acting like I was still sixteen, I'd be dancing!

As it is, I have bruises up and down the insides of my arms from playing volleyball with all my heart.

(and I made the flights home without much fear! Yay!)

If you've joined since I made that offer a year ago to let you see my story, an article I wrote, you can still ask. I'll send it to askers, but won't post it here.

He's Home!

He is! Yay!

So nice to have him back, but all the adrenaline of the last month goes, and we are sleeping on and off all day. Exhausted.