Because we did it so well the last time…

I know, I know.  It’s been a while.  I would apologize and go on about how I plan to keep better tabs on this blog and post witty comments 12 times a week and think ALL THE THOUGHTS and then tell you about them…but we all know that’s not going to happen.  So lets just be happy that I thought some thoughts today and managed to share them with you right now.  Living in the moment and all that.

As many of you know, Sweet Hubby and Patrick and I were in the US for Christmas for the first time in 11 years.  It was glorious.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to be with our families and laugh ’til we cry and eat…Sweet fancy Moses did I eat.  I ate like it was my JOB.  And before you all try to help me out here by telling me that it was just because I hadn’t been in the US for so long and I missed Christmas cookies and such, let me just say that we don’t do without food here in Ecuador.  At Christmas we bake cookies and have cookie exchanges and Christmas parties and office parties…and we eat.  Unfortunately, my brain forgot this convenient little fact, and so I spent the last three weeks of December eating like there was never going to be another Christmas ever and so I needed to eat ALL THE THINGS like RIGHT NOW.  And just when we got to January, and I thought I was safe…Girl Scout cookies showed up.  It’s like the food universe had it in for me.

Rest assured people…I was up for the challenge.  Ice cream to be eaten?  I’ve got this.  Thin mints?  Those puppies come in single-serving boxes.  Check.  Cheese and crackers and dips and chips and hams and turkeys and on and on and on…

Had we just been in the US through December, I might have come off a little better, but we took the month of January for a mini-sabbatical, which is a fancy way of saying “We’re not working, but we’re thinking about work, which is driving us nuts…so we’ll eat”.  Or at least it was in my case.  Plus, we were in Fresno, California in January.  There’s nothing to do there BUT eat.  And we went to San Francisco one weekend and stayed on Fisherman’s Wharf…

We finally escaped this 7-week long food fest and came home on February 11th.  We arrived back home eagerly anticipating seeing all of our friends, being back in our own home and getting our lives back to normal.  This was a great plan, until Dan walked in after work on Wednesday (two days ago) and goes “Honey, I need for you to sit down”.  Now I am not the fainting type, so I thought he was being a little overly dramatic.  Then I noticed that he was steering me to the end of the kitchen that didn’t have any knives within reach, and I started to get a little worried.  He said (and God bless him, he was cool as a cucumber) “Our landlord called today.  He’s selling this apartment and we have to move”.

Did I mention that we’ve lived here for SEVEN MONTHS?  We haven’t even unpacked everything from the LAST move yet (which is going to come in handy, when you think about it).

All I could do was sit there and stare at him blankly.  I could not have been more shocked if he had told me he was uprooting us and moving us to the moon.

I hate looking for an apartment. There has been a construction boom over the past several years, and there are apartment buildings everywhere…with the tiniest apartments you’ve ever seen.  Some of the places we looked at last time were 3 bedroom apartments with 65 sq. meters.  That’s less than 700 sq. feet.  There is more room in the backseat of our car.  The bedrooms followed a strict pattern–one master bedroom that was fairly good sized…as long as Dan and I don’t mind sharing a crib mattress.  The children, on the other hand, don’t even get that.  The other two bedrooms were usually so small that sleeping in them would have involved curling yourself into a ball with your left foot wrapped around your ear and both arms tucked under you in a football carry…and sleeping on a kitchen sponge.  The kitchens were too small for a stove and full size refrigerator, so you make due with a Rubbermaid cooler and a hot plate.  All this for only $900 a month.

When we found the apartment that we’re currently living in, we were ecstatic.  It has three bedrooms that are fairly large by today’s standards, a separate living and dining area, and we don’t have to store the washing machine in the shower.  In short, it’s perfect.

And we have to leave.

We went and looked at an apartment in the building behind us yesterday morning.  It wasn’t too bad.  Large kitchen, big living room, good sized bedrooms…crazy landlady who lives on the second floor.  Back to the drawing board.  In the meantime, our current landlord comes to the office to see us and “discuss our options”.  Our “options” turned out to be another apartment that he owns, in the next neighborhood over.  We went and looked, and Hallelujah.  We’re moving.  As apartment hunting goes, this was by far the easiest we’ve ever had it.

But we still have to move.

I am pretty sure that in the “friendship/fellow missionary” manual that they don’t give you but should, there is a limit as to how many times you can ask someone to help you carry your king-sized mattress that won’t fit in the elevator up the stairs.  Or move your refrigerator.  These are the things that they don’t tell you in orientation.  “Oh, by the way, when you get to the field you become part of the missionary family, and with rare exceptions you’re all you’ve got.  Your annoying but useful brother-in-law isn’t there to move the refrigerator, so be nice to the people you work with.  You’ll need them.”

So, in about a week, we’re going to pack up and move AGAIN.  I swore when we moved here that I wouldn’t move again until we left the field, but you know how things go when you tell God your plans.  Stay tuned.  I’m sure it will be memorable.

Because we did it so well the last time.

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“Why I Have Grey Hair” and other bedtime stories…

All I wanted to do was put up some Christmas decorations in the ER building.  Not too much to ask, you say?  Well, my friends.  Let me tell you a story about the time I almost lost my mind in a Christmas store.

It started out to be a perfectly lovely afternoon.  Javi was lined up to schlepp Sonia and I to the Christmas store to get decorations for our tree-trimming party on Friday.  Sonia’s hubby, driving us to the Christmas store, in the pouring rain, on the 5th of November.  Double hubby points right there.

Sonia and I spent a lovely hour walking around picking out decorations, putting them back, picking out other decorations…it was glorious.  At the end, we had two carts full of crazy fun decorations and all we needed was two trees.

All.  We.  Needed.  Was.  Two.  Trees.

We found the tree that we wanted, asked the salesperson if they had two of them and when she said yes, we went to the register and purchased them.  And that’s when the fun really started.  The cashier sold us the two trees.  We paid for them.  She gave us a receipt that showed that we had purchased two trees.  Then she sent the stockboy to get the two trees.  He came back and said “We don’t have them.”

She asked when we needed them.  Theoretically, we NEEDED them when we PAID for them.  But we can be reasonable.  How about tomorrow.  Can you get two of them from other stores (the Christmas store is a chain–there are probably 25 or 30 of them here in the city) and have them here tomorrow?

Nope.

She disappeared for a while and came back and chirped “OK.  They will be here on Saturday.”  She then turned around to walk away, as if the matter was settled.  Sonia stopped her and said very nicely “No, we need them Friday.”  The cashier turned around, looked at us and said “Que pena”  In other words…

“That’s too bad.”

I had to walk away.  While I really had no qualms about telling the cashier what I thought of her answer, I didn’t want to get all gringa and embarrass Javi and Sonia with my gringa-ness (again) so I had to walk away.  Sonia is much nicer than I am about these things, and besides, if we had to call Mike, our HR guy, to come and get me out of jail…he was NOT going to be happy.  He wouldn’t be surprised–he’s been HRing me for almost 11 years–but he wouldn’t be happy.

It soon became apparent that there were no trees of that size to be had.  OK, fine.  Still being reasonable here, although it’s getting dicey.  Next to the register was another tree, about the same size as the one I wanted (and of course twice the price).  I asked the cashier if they had two of them in stock.  Glory Hallelujah, they sure did.  Fine.  Give me a store credit for the two that I purchased that you don’t have, apply it to the purchase of two of THOSE trees and tell me the difference.

Can’t do that.

Let me get this straight.  You sold me two trees that you don’t have.  You can’t get them here when I need them, even though you knew before I purchased them when I needed them.  And you won’t give me a store credit to purchase two more trees that you DO have, that are twice as expensive?

Here, Sonia.  Hold my earrings.

At some point, the manager and I had a conversation that went something like this…

“Why.  Are you selling.  Trees.  That.  You.  Don’t.  HAVE?”

“Well, señora, we might be getting them in…”

I had to walk away again, because inside my head I am screaming “You can’t sell things that you MIGHT get in stock!  Someday I MIGHT have a horse–I can’t sell you one NOW!”

Sonia did some of her fancy footwork (it really is amazing how she can sweet-talk the sales lady and pray that I don’t lose my mind all at the same time and not even break a sweat) and FINALLY, the manager came, worked her manager magic and I walked out of there with two trees, courtesy of a store credit.

THAT, my children, is why I have grey hair.

The Twelve Days of (an introverted) Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A cup of coffee and a good book.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…FIVE HOURS of SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE! Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Ten favorite authors, nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Eleven fabulous bubble baths, ten favorite authors, nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a cup of coffee and a good book.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…Twelve brand new journals, eleven fabulous bubble baths, ten favorite authors, nine glasses of red wine, eight classical CD’s, seven non-twinkling Christmas lights, six friends who don’t talk, FIVE HOURS OF SILENCE!  Four hours in a library, three lovely candles, a two-hour nap and a CUP OF COFFEE AND A GOOD BOOK.

 

 

Showing up.

We did it.  Again.  Last week the Extreme Response staff, along with a team of 45 people from the US and Canada, and our dogs and cats and kids, gave about 8,000 people a little bit of Christmas.  Sometimes we refer to what we do as “being the hands and feet of Jesus.”  I have been known to use that quote, but I’ve never been entirely comfortable with it.  I did some digging (because clearly The Google knows what I am thinking better than I do) and found this quote, that sums it up beautifully.

“Being Jesus doesn’t mean that I am always at the center, always doing something, always making something spectacular happen. Being Jesus simply means that I show up to be “part of” something. Maybe being Jesus isn’t so much about making it happen as it is letting it happen.”

I haven’t read the book, although I intend to go find it for my Kindle when I’m done with this post.  I just love the words. The thought.  The idea that all I have to do is show up, and God already has it planned.
     80 people showed up last week to be part of something.  They brought their gifts to the “manger”, to be used as He saw fit.  Beanie babies, bouncy balls, toothbrushes, combs, hair clips, paper airplane kits…they tolerated my cooking, no water, no sleep, each other, our staff, fireworks at 3 in the morning, dogs barking, horns honking…and they did it all with a huge collective smile that made me excited to jump out of bed each morning and see what the day would bring.  This team is hands-down one of my all time favorite Christmas teams ever.
     I could ramble on here, but I know you all just want to see pictures, so here you go.  Merry Christmas!
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“Maybe being Jesus is simply seeing people as they truly are.”
Jim Palmer, Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live Your Life

A Different Kind of Christmas…

The View from the Mountaintop

A Different Kind Of Christmas

“The lights around the Christmas tree don’t burn as bright
And all around the world it isn’t a silent night
Outside I hear the voices sing the sweetest sounds of caroling
But somehow there’s a sadness in the song
In our hearts we know that something’s wrong

It’s a different kind of Christmas
In a different kind of world
Even though it looks the same

Everything has changed
It’s a different kind of Christmas…”

 

I love Christmas.  It is hands down my favorite time of the year.  As I type this, it is the 27th of October, and by the end of this week at least one of my Christmas trees will be up, the mantel will be decorated and Christmas music will be playing all day (at least until the Sweet Hubby gets home.  He’s Scroogey.)  I love the lights and the decorations…

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