Well, sorry for the delay there. We moved. Yup. New location. New mission. New church.
Still grieving friends from the old. Still relief in the middle of the grief. We have only just arrived and are sorting our way out around here. It is overwhelming. We'll get there.
So, back to processing the story.... back to where "Dick" comes into the picture. Where life gets really confusing... because as much as I have tried to sort through all what happened, I have no explanation for Dick. I just can't explain him or his actions. I can make some educated guesses, but there is no clear reason. I can draw on what other people have said, what I have observed as I have been aquainted with Dick over the last 30 years. (It wasn't so much that I knew him, but that he was part of my larger community on the field from the time I was a young teen, and I was aware of him and aware of the conversations about him.)
I have never heard any woman say anything positive about Dick. Not once. Well, except that he is very smart at some things, considered an expert in one subject. That is all. Nothing more. From the time I was 12 until now. Women feel awkward around him - I've heard them say he just doesn't relate to women, that they feel like he doesn't like them, that he has a poor view of women in general. I've heard many things.... other women perhaps trying to sort out reasons for what they sense from him.
I don't know what it is.
It actually began before we were married, when Dick first met me. I heard him on the phone talking to someone that he didn't really know if I was going to be ok, that he would rather have a local woman for my husband (as if he had the power to chose my husband's choice of wife!). He also tried that with my parents - phoning them to ask if this really was a good idea; if a girl with very little cross-cultural experience was going to be the best fit for my fiance. It showed how very little he knew about me before he judged me. At that time in my life, I had already lived for extended periods of time in five countries and spoke at least two languages - true, not fluently, but enough to get by in day to day life. My father was stunned and asked Dick if he had even spoken to me about my life. Dick seemed to back off some then, but he was always awkward around me. I thought it was me.... later I learned that most women feel that way with him. What I do know was that Dick and his wife "Jane" (I know, I know, my creativity with naming people does go no farther than "See Dick. See Jane. See Dick run.") .... Well, Dick and Jane seemed to see my husband as "their son" even though he clearly had a family who loved him and many others invested in his life. As psuedo-in-laws, they resented me coming into their lives and ruining the hopes they had of matching him up with a local person "so he could do the work better." This disappointment with me lingered over the years.
In our early marriage, we had very little to do with Dick and Jane. We visited them maybe twice in six years. Life was pretty good. We had some difficult adjustments to work through, Marriage is rough. Cross-cultural marriage is tough. Figuring out a cross-cultural marriage while living in a third culture is even tougher. I would not recommend that last one. But we survived. We survived the birth of a baby, the death of another, and then the births of three more in quick succession. We survived a move, living as students going though Bible school, We had a good life, not without conflicts, but a good life.
Then we finished, and went back out to the field. Re-enter Dick. Again, that odd vibe from him. Thankfully, he went home for our first year on the field for his break, and we had little to do with him that first year. The second year, he appeared, and he and Jane would come by to visit. Thankfully, they had moved a few hours away, but would come for breaks to our house. As guests, they were unusual, but my family is used to many types of guests and we have seen it all. But we noticed that the more Dick and Jane spent in our home, the more conflict there was.
Dick saw himself as sort of a "lay counselor". He thought he was good at counseling, so he would attempt to work with us. Most of the issues then sprung from us not being smart about taking time to rest and have a Sabbath. Our work was in our home, we shared our home with my parents as well as the work, and we also ran a guest house for people coming to town for breaks. For four months, we also shared our home with another family of five. As well as that, I was involved in some crisis medical care. Then there was the teaching Sunday School to a group of kids who needed a lot of care because they had survived trauma. And a teen girls group. And the homeschool co-op. We were just too busy. My husband thrives on people. I handle people, and need my recovery time. I needed recovery time with him, and he didn't quite grasp that yet.
Into this, Dick came and attempted to counsel. If there is one decision I could go back on in life, it would be this one - allowing him to try his "counseling". Dick has no intuition, no concept of relationships outside of book learning, and no understanding of women. I remember one night clearly when Dick sat in our living room and told me, "Well, no wonder your husband is upset at you so much; you don't keep the house clean. I mean, look at those bookshelves - the books are all jumbled and messy on them." This was in the play room that nine children regularly occupied. They still haven't learned to put all the books back spines out lined up by size as Dick does.
I remember being completely bewildered then as well. Huh? We had not even been discussing housekeeping or books. Another time he scolded me that it was 8:30 and my kids were still up and told me that I was not a good mother. Again, in front of my husband. My husband and I had made the conscious decision to live slightly more in tune with the people we worked among. They typically ate at 9 or 10 and were awake at midnight. Dick and Jane's kids were in bed by 7. We put ours in bed by 9 even when they were little and let them sleep in later - much like my husband's family and that culture. We still do. It was not bad parenting; it was conscious parenting. That way, when we visited local friends and they served us dinner at 9:30, our kids were not screaming in sheer exhaustion.
Dick and Jane also frequently criticized my boy's level of energy and why I could not get them to just sit down and be quiet. Since then we discovered we have two boys with ADHD, but two boys who are delightful, loved, and respected wherever we go. But as toddlers, they did have energy. Typically, boys have more energy than girls at that stage anyway, and we had three right in a row.
I didn't catch on to it then, and to be honest, my parents didn't either, but later we saw. Dick constantly cut me down to my husband. I was not good enough, and if there ever was a problem, Dick was quick to tell my husband that I simply wasn't enough, that I didn't do enough, that I wasn't right enough.
If we had caught it then, we could have put a stop to it, but we were both run too ragged to see it.
Another interesting event happened later which showed Dick and Jane's view of me. My husband and I were at their house one weekend, and my husband was involved in a serious crisis. He was able to sneak a quick phone call to them to ask for prayers and that I be told. They decided not to tell me, not until it was over. I was his wife. I had the right to know. My husband asked that I be told. They decided that they were the "authority" here and would not tell me "because we didn't know if you would be strong enough". Another sign that I should have picked up on, but they were the leaders... they were older.... my mind came up with a million reasons why I should continue to work with them even though alarm bells went off in my head every time I was near them. Submit to those in authority, follow the leaders, etc...
I was too trusting to see them cutting down who I was to my husband... and then it got worse. When we moved away from a bigger group of co-workers and to a place we were more alone, we were in a place where my husband's person he confided in and sought counsel from most became Dick. Then the problems really began. Would I say Dick caused them? I think that would be too strong of a wording. I think Dick took existing problems and exacerbated them. I think that his influence began to slowly warp my husband's mind and turn his thoughts against me. But that is another post.