Frequently Asked Friday: Getting Mail in Nepal — February 5, 2016

Frequently Asked Friday: Getting Mail in Nepal

Recently, on my Facebook page, I asked for some input about things you all are curious about and will cover as many of those responses as I can here on my blog. One of the things that came up there, as well as in many private conversations I have had, is what’s the deal with receiving mail here in Nepal? I probably won’t hit it all today, but I will just share a few things I have learned over the last several months of across-the-world-correspondence.

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First of all, we just have a PO box here. Any mail we receive requires a trip to the post office for pick up which is about 20 minutes away but very near to where we study these days. A heads up that something is coming is SUPER helpful (and gives us something to look forward to!). I know my daughter’s birthday package from my parents is about a week out, and even though she won’t be allowed to open it right away, I am just DYING to go pick it up! It may or may not hold my birthday present as well…so I have double anticipation, I suppose.

I have been surprised by how low some of the costs of things we have received here have been for the sender and shocked by how high it can be as well! Recently, after receiving some light-weight mail, I marveled at the low price, feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t sent more missionaries packages when I lived in America. Definitely going to take advantage of that on furlough.

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We put all paper mail Jo gets on this board! Since this picture was taken it has filled up a little more!

One of the first mailings we received here was a small envelope with two coloring pages, a picture of some of Jo’s little friends, and a map showing where they lived in relation to Nepal. This was such a fun little thing for Jo to open, and finding that it cost $3 to make an MK’s day was surprising to me (and a little guilt-giving…Much apologies to the tiny MK tots we love! Furlough is coming!).

We found out that anything under 5 lbs. is picked up at a window rather than the counter where it can become quite an ordeal as we open it in front of the officials. We have noticed, however, the more Nepali we speak, the more patient and understanding they are about everything. “What’s that? A food something? Yep. OK!” When really I don’t even know what it is. Every time we go it gets a little easier!

Recently, a friend from college sent a manila envelope with a bag of marshmallows and bubbles for my kids as well as their Christmas card. This package, if I remember right, cost $12 to send around the world but meant the WORLD to me and we had a blast with the kiddos in the yard making use of this thoughtful gift!

Another friend from the last church we visited on deputation sent three hand-drawn and water-colored (maybe? I’m totally clueless when it comes to art) to hang in my babies’ rooms. The postage read a $6 fee. I pay $15 for 3 frames and, wallah!, I have personalized art for my kids on my walls that makes my heart swell every time I see them!

IMG_1313.JPGTo me, that’s what it’s all about it. It’s not necessarily what’s in the envelope or package, though I am always amazed by the thoughtfulness and creativity of each one. To me, I see you standing in line at the post office, pushing your toddler in the buggy at Walmart, or your children dumping out your piggy banks to ship my babies some granola bars or coloring books.

I wonder if you look at the calendar for those three weeks, checking your inbox to see if you have received a notification about its arrival. I can’t help but smile and thank God for sweet friends as they snuggle/strangle their recently acquired stuffed animal that just arrived from a VERY LONG voyage to get to their loving arms and sticky fingers.

Just like everything else in this crazy land, receiving mail in Nepal is always an adventure!

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Feeling all the Feels: Family Visits on the Foreign Field — January 21, 2016

Feeling all the Feels: Family Visits on the Foreign Field

I had and have no intentions of abandoning this blog. BUT I took a little unplanned hiatus for my in-laws visit! Can I get a whoop-whoop?! We had a wonderful Christmas celebration with them (on New Years) and an over-all fantastic time. No land-slides or major crises this time! Can I get an Amen?! You don’t have to do that…really. I’ll be happy anyway.

We did lots of things and saw lots of stuffs. There were hugs and kisses and snuggles and squeezes. Lots of laughs and countless calories consumed (Non-essential diets are NOT honored here if you visit us). Games played, gifts given, and good times had all around! Way too much love to be packed into 12 days, but we managed it somehow.

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I wanted to contrast the first day, mid-visit, and last day activities, thoughts, and feelings for anyone who might be interested in the good, bad, and ugly of this life. Missionaries are real people too, you know. And we love our families in a real big way from real far away. When we get them in close proximity, we suck all the life and love out of them and manipulate minutes into years of memories.

DAY 1: So many things to do, but all I want to do is watch the clock. I clean things I’ve already cleaned and prepare more food than can possibly be consumed. My daughter asks how long it will be until G&G get here. I tell her 12 hours (ok I lied a little..it’s more than that). She says, “That is a LOOOONG TIIIIIIIME!” Ditto, sweet baby. We eat breakfast…lunch… dinner…drink way too much coffee…go to church…watch a few movies. Hubby goes to the airport, bubby goes to bed and the little princess falls asleep on the couch at 5 minutes after 8. I keep checking my phone. Nothing but a plea to put some Diet Coke in the fridge for their arrival. I go to get it out of the pantry which might as well be the refrigerator. It’s already cold. Head back to my cocoon and check my phone repeatedly for the next hour. No word. But wait! I hear our little Maruti-Suzuki-that-could huffing and puffing up the hill to our house. I use all my best techniques to wake my drooling diva, a little worried that she will be a scared sleepy head or the grumpy bear she usually is when woken prematurely. She sleepily squeals at first sighting and jumps (ok…falls…) right into their arms. She spends the next hour showing off her things, chattering non-stop, and playing an endless game of I-Spy in which she ALWAYS tells the thing she spies before Grandma guesses. After catching up and oggling the suitcases full of Christmas presents, we reluctantly head towards the bed. It’s gonna be a great week.

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Mid-visit: How can it be half-way over all ready? Our time is going too fast. We’ve stayed home a lot. Are they bored? They seem happy. Everyone seems happy. I know I’m happy. This has certainly been a stressful year. It sure does feel nice to just relax. I cry happy tears in bed with my husband and whisper my worries that the joy I feel will leave when they do.

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The Final Day: There’s a little less chatter over our coffee cups this morning. They sit half-empty on the breakfast table. I feel a little like that coffee cup and wonder if everyone else does too. I swear I was just full to the brim last night and warm…so warm (my friends in Nepal know this is not a literal warmth). I just know it won’t last. This day will drain me. The memories will remain but will suddenly feel distant. We will fall back into our routines but we will feel that emptiness, the cold for a while. We stay in, silently packing and getting things ready to go. The silence is repeatedly broken by baby giggles and toddler banter…beautiful sounds of oblivion. I’m so thankful they don’t know how many miles it is to America and how long a year is. We pass the time with coffee, snacks, games, waiting for the inevitable. I know they have to go home. I know we have to let them. We will all be happy to get back to normal life, of course, but right now that doesn’t seem to matter. The moment comes for lingering hugs and loose lips sharing all the love we can summon. Teetering between making this a special goodbye for Jo without opening up her eyes to the painful reality of this departure. The nanny takes the baby from Grandma and I can tell she feels a little guilty for doing so. As the car pulls away, I spy a tutu-clad toddler waving and yelling the sweetest sentiments in her best outside voice (it’s the only one she has). IMG_1302

My heart hurts and my stomach does too. It’s pretty quiet on the way to the airport. We help them find their way to the departure door. We pray over a pile of suitcases with hundreds of eyes watching us. Our own fight back tears that finally cascade down my face as we give the final squeeze. I watch them walk out of sight and for the first time in a long time I think, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” My husband hugs me on the long walk back to the car and says, “You know I couldn’t do this without you,” and I remember the answer to the question I asked myself. I smile a weak smile as we begin the quiet ride home.

It had been a great week.

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Tell me about your visits with family after extended absences!
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

How Hospitality Saved my Christmas and Changed my Heart — December 28, 2015

How Hospitality Saved my Christmas and Changed my Heart

Showing up unannounced at someone’s house on Christmas…GASP!

This would be a shocking act in American culture on this holiday and, really, on any day on the calendar. Typically, we aren’t fond of visitors finding their way to our doorstep without a serious heads up.

With some hesitation, we committed this heinous crime on Christmas Day here in Nepal. We gave a friend and his daughter a ride home from church and declared that we would come in and say hello to his wife who was hindered by a headache from attending the special Christmas service that day.

From the backseat, I heard the warning call, “Paul and Amber are coming over. Put some tea on.” Or something like that. It was in my second language, ya know.

And that was it. I didn’t hear on the other end if she became frazzled and rushed, overloaded by the stress of unforetold company. I worried if we had somehow overstepped our bounds. I know she loves our kids and would want to see them but does that still stand on Christmas Day with a headache?

Thankfully, it did. I pushed my worries aside as we shoved our American-size selves into her tiny apartment. We joined her on the balcony where she was  bent over a fire, cooking sel roti, a traditional sweet snack prepared on special days, and she greeted us with HUGE hugs, smiles, and squeals. What was I worried about anyway?

She shared with us the meal (complete with meat!) that she had prepared for her little family. We felt a guilty but thankful that they would welcome us into their family on this special day. Though we were absolutely full to the brim from the feast at church, we found room somewhere for the smaller feast they offered.

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We stayed and chatted an hour without a word of English and went home satisfied on sweetness and with smiles that just wouldn’t subside. This precious family had saved my Christmas.

I so enjoyed our Christmas celebration at church and just adored how Christ-centered that week had been. Though, I would be lying if I tried to make you believe that this was the state of my heart throughout the week in its entirety.

I had a wandering eye to Christmas celebrations happening Stateside. I longed to be with my family in the house I grew up in taking in the sights sounds, and smells of familiar holiday tradition.

But while everyone was knee-deep in pre-planned Christmas festivities, I was being loved on by precious people whose language I don’t yet fluently speak and enjoying treats they had set aside for their own family…all during my spontaneous stop-over.

I had been residing in the selfish hole where I had surrounded myself with all my wishes and wants that blocked my view of the blessings around me. This family’s gracious hospitality had pulled me out, embraced me, and opened my eyes to the amazing things God has done here and the wonderful people He has put in my life.

I have a new family here. And while they don’t resemble mine in any way and their traditions are much more reserved, I realized the basis of their treatment of us has the same underlying cause of the most precious moments Stateside.

They love Jesus. They have servant-hearts. They love us and they love our kids. Not because we don’t butcher their language on the daily (we do) and not because we don’t make silly cultural offenses (we do). But because they realize the big thing that happened on Christmas, and it changed them.

They live in a culture that doesn’t see what Christ has done. They walk in a world that doesn’t give Him a thought. They realize the weight of what has been done in their lives, and they aren’t afraid to pass it along.

I have seen this family love and serve believers and unbelievers alike. They have learned hospitality from this culture where it plays a big role in daily life and relationships, but theirs has a special touch. It has a touch of Jesus. And I really believe that his open home, open door policy plus a touch of Jesus can really bring a wonderful change to this world that has long forgotten or never known the Christ who came so many years ago.

Perhaps those who wouldn’t look for Him could stumble upon Him over a cup of coffee at my table, sitting on my couch playing Uno, or sharing freshly popped popcorn on the front-porch.

Maybe after casual chit-chat about the latest movies and where I bought the kids shoes, I could tell them what brought us to this wild and wonderful place and the amazing plan we have lived out in light of the gospel.

Maybe the greatest, most life changing moments don’t ALWAYS happen at the altar. Maybe they happen in our homes. So maybe it really wouldn’t hurt to invite someone into the tornado debris and toddler tantrums. Maybe here is where they could meet Jesus.

Announced or not, I can welcome visitors in and introduce them to the greatest friend I’ve ever known.

This year, I resolve to keep my door open a little more often, linger a little longer, and tell my frazzled spazzy self to take a hike in the name of Christ-honoring hospitality. To find the heart inside that loves the people Jesus does. Which is, uh, everyone.

Christ-centered hospitality saved my Christmas. Maybe it could save someone’s life. Jesus takes our measly offerings and does pretty awesome things like that.

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What do you resolve to improve in the New Year for the sake of the gospel?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!

 

Christmas Where I Don’t Belong — December 22, 2015

Christmas Where I Don’t Belong

Before leaving for the field, I often wondered what my first Christmas would look like. I fantasized about what it could or should be. I dreamed of starting family traditions with my little ones and sharing our Christmas festivities with new friends, believers and unbelievers alike.

But just like many things in life, the reality just hasn’t lived up to the hype. I guess I should have known. This is not my home. At least not yet. This country doesn’t celebrate Christ’s coming. And while I would not argue that Christmas is truly a Christian holiday in its modern form, there are comforts that come in the community that shares at least a nod at the King that came to earth as a babe to save the souls of the world.

We aren’t less busy because it’s Christmas. In fact, we are even busier! Learning a language is time and thought consuming. There are very few moments in my day where my brain isn’t being racked for all the grammar and vocab knowledge crammed somewhere within. Walking to school, studying, preparing meals for my family, gift shopping, special Christmas services, making ready for guests…I don’t think my Christmas season has ever been more busy.

We’ve spent hours looking for a tree topper that was never found. Our plastic green toothpick turned Christmas tree is adorned with an elephant puppet. Because…seriously, that’s all we have.

It’s in these times I face myself. Is Jesus really the reason? Have I lost my focus? Is Christmas, to me, tree skirts and toppers, quality wrapping paper, and online shopping with ease?

Do I resent the things I am busy with that take precedence over the holiday traditions that seem so important? The things I am busy with are the important things after all. If Jesus is the reason I moved my family clear across the world, then it stands to reason He is the reason I am here now, removed from Christmas tradition and Christ reverence. The reason I am slaying myself to learn a language that doesn’t seem to want to stick. The reason I am putting myself out there to befriend difficult people, to cross cultural and language barriers to share the Christ who changed my life.

Christmas is not Christ. Christ is not for America only.Tradition and symbolism, while comforting, are not what my life is about. While nothing around me confirms the coming of the holiday season, no sounds of sleigh bells or Santa sightings, every day of my life is oozing of the grace of the once bundled babe indwelling the power of God and taking on the sins of the entire world. He is the reason for the season, the reason for my life, and the reason we’re all here stumbling around the globe trying to make sense of a life without Him.

Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, with the comforts (read: distractions) of the Christmas season, give Christ more than a casual nod. Moving forward past Christmas and into the New Year, resolve to give Him every day of the coming year and every year. His grace isn’t given on one day or in one season. He is good and giving every day. Our response should be the same every day.

Amazed reverence. Willing obedience. Joyful submission. Complete confidence. Reckless trust.

In every season. On every day. Christ is the reason. Come, let us adore Him.

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And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:9-14)

In what ways do you center your Christmas around Christ?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

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Strategies for Saving and Spending in a Cash Society — December 17, 2015

Strategies for Saving and Spending in a Cash Society

One of the many adjustments we had to make upon moving to Nepal was learning to live in a cash society. While there are a few places that take credit (I can think of one!), the majority of shops, restaurants, services, and utility providers accept only cash. When you pay cash for every last little thing, it just seems to fly out of your wallet!

We came to this country with next to nothing, so there is always something that needs to be bought. Jo needs socks. Shep needs bigger pants. Mom needs shampoo. Dad needs undershirts. The trash guys need paid and the water bill is due, too.

Add all those up after a week of language school sans free time, and we have ourselves a pretty hefty shopping list. Putting it on the debit card would feel pretty painless. I could even tell myself its not THAT much, but handing over a stack of 1000 Rupee notes (equal to 10 USD) is enough to send me into a total panic!

Aside from our big monthly hauls, we are always picking things up here and there. There’s a shop for meat. A shop for fruits and veggies. A shop for clothes. A shop for underwear. A shop for office supplies. A shop for toys. A shop for beauty products. And so on.

I have a constant awareness of products around me that we want/need. The fresh strawberries call my name from the side of the road. The shoe shop with the fuzzy boots makes me suddenly aware my feet are cold. I saw a new brew at the coffee shop this week. I have 500 Rupees ($5) in my pocket. The wheels are turning… I wouldn’t swipe my debit card for a smoothie, but I could pull out a few of those rupees.

Separating my wants from needs has become increasingly difficult and sometimes overwhelming for me. If I have it in my head I need a new scarf, for instance, I am undoubtedly going to pass 40 shops hanging them in their windows!

Some strategies that have helped me with saving money in this cash society…

  • Let my husband handle the money. Ask him for money when I need it. Thankfully, he is a generous man!
  • Take the change when he pays taxis. A little bit adds up over time and pays for my needs here and there.
  • Resist the urge to buy a 40 cent snack every time I pass a shop–or 75 cent coffee…let’s be real, that’s the real struggle here.
  • Buy in bulk whenever possible. Nearly 18 lbs. of strawberries on my counter at the moment for which I paid $20. This is why freezer bags are constantly on my someone-send-me list.
  • Be willing to try brands other than the ones I am familiar and comfortable with.
  • Know when convenience is worth the extra $$$ and when it’s not.
  • Make a shopping list and STICK TO IT (even if they got a shipment of Reese Cups in this week!!)
  • Meal plan based on what is in season.
  • Know how much is/was in my wallet at all times. Be aware of what is being spent and where.
  • Shop American brands we like online during sales and arrange for them to be brought or sent. Many times this is cheaper than paying the import tax for clothes we aren’t necessarily fond of. Learning my lesson on that one.
  • Avoid the “dummy tax.” Know how much things should cost. Set a limit on what I want to spend. Know that many shopkeepers will start high because I am a foreigner. Speaking the language is insanely helpful in this scenario.Dave Ramsey probably wouldn’t let me advise anyone. I am just thankful for all the Lord has provided for our family and all that I have learned about stewarding His financial blessings in this wonderful country.

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Do you have money saving strategies that help you steward God’s money?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

5 Things My Children Need to See Me Do — December 14, 2015

5 Things My Children Need to See Me Do

It is a well-known (but often understated) fact that mothers have a strong influence in the lives of their children. The following 5 things are just a few of the “better caught than taught” behaviors I feel strongly need to be modeled for mine.

  1. Loving Daddy
    Yesterday, I asked my daughter, “How do you know that Daddy loves me?” She replied, “Because you kiss him whenever you want!” (Has someone showed her Sweet Home Alabama, or what?) She notices and needs to see this sweetness and affection shared between the two of us. My kids must see me respectfully encouraging his leadership in quiet submission and loving him in the quiet, less noticeable ways. The ways that change my home and give my children their perspective on marriage. My daughter talks often of getting married and having a family. I’d like to think it’s because we have so much love and so much fun in our house! More than anyone else, we are forming her views on the world and on marriage and family.
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  2. Working
    We take advantage of  the affordability of house help here because it frees me up for language study and family time, provides an in-home Nepali speaker, and gives us influence on an unsaved or newly saved person. But I don’t want my children to think that the only person working in our home is our house helper! Some jobs are only mommy jobs and I will do any job that needs to be done at any time. My kids need to learn that habitual laziness is not acceptable and that hard work won’t kill ’em!
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  3. Reading my Bible
    I remember seeing my mom every morning, sitting by the small lamp light, coffee in hand, reading her BibleWhile she never drew attention to this habit or forced it on me, she encouraged me to read the Word by her faithful testimony. I want to do the same for my children. These days, it’s so easy to just read on a device. However, my children need to know that I am reading my Bible and not scrolling through my Facebook feed. And that can only be evident with the Holy Bible in written form (English…Nepali…or both!) open before me.bibles
  4. Giving
    My children need to see mommy as a giver of all that has been given to me. This can be complicated in missionary life where our income comes from the gift of others, we are sent care packages while on the field and spoiled like crazy when we are on furlough. When the plate is passed, my hands need to be putting something in. When I am presented with the needs of others, my heart needs to be stirred into action. When we partake in the gifts God has given us, we need to share them. My life needs to be an overflowing fountain of the grace of God seeping into the lives of those around me. The people I know need to live better for knowing me and my children need to be more generous for observing my giving spirit.
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  5. Forgiving and Asking forgiveness
    This is so big and has presented itself so many times over the past several months. I have to model forgiveness in giving and receiving. When I am wronged, I need to display a spirit of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be deserved or requested to be given. And thankfully so. Tensions have run high around our house when we have been under the great stress of an international move, natural disasters, and economic crises. My attitude and tongue have gotten away from me, and I have had to ask for forgiveness. It is difficult to admit wrong, but my kids need to see this. They need to know that mommy is imperfect, saved by the grace of God, doing my best, making mistakes and in need of grace. They should understand the love and forgiveness of Christ by what is modeled in our home.10384896_10154735939250511_8065171325237398765_n

    I can’t control who my children turn out to be or even if they choose to accept Christ and serve Him with their lives. But I can control what, rather WHO, they see in me. Always praying that He will ultimately make the difference in their lives, and that, just maybe, He would use me to do it. I can think of few greater honors.
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What behaviors do you believe you should model for your children?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Confessions of a Missionary Hoarder — December 10, 2015

Confessions of a Missionary Hoarder

During my 30 Day Blogging Challenge I shared with you the temptation for missionaries to become materialistic on the mission field. I am following up that post, where I shared all that I am learning through that struggle, with a closer, more humorous look at my hoarding habits.

I’ve always considered myself a minimalist, though maybe more in theory than in practice. My husband, who finds joy in throwing things away , turned me into the puzzled person standing in her closet saying, “Where’s the shirt I bought to match this skirt? Oh yeah…I took it to Goodwill.”

But the mission field has changed me. While I don’t think I could qualify to be featured on the disturbing reality show, I think it is safe to say I am a hoarder. But I fall into a whole other category…

My name is Amber Taube, and I am a missionary hoarder.

I buy clothes and shoes 2 years ahead of time, and panic when my kids grow faster than expected. In case you were wondering, yes, we are expecting a flood.

I currently have 8 bags of chocolate chips in my pantry. The Nestle Toll House morsels only get used on occasions deemed special enough for these tiny pieces of gold. I used the bag my mom brought in July on the 1st of December, if that tells you anything. I don’t plan on using the bag of marshmallows until I hear the trumpet sound…or I get another bag, whichever comes first.

We have a goodie cabinet on lock and key. And when some careless soul leaves it vulnerable, and my vulture toddler finds her way into the stash, I nearly shed a tear to see the evidence of THREE opened packages of graham crackers on the floor. Doesn’t she know I was saving those!? …For…something…I’m not sure what.

And when my 1-year-old mess machine dumped the entire bag of decaf coffee on the floor, I grounded him until his third birthday and returned all of his Christmas presents. I didn’t really do that, but I may have if they had more than a 2 day return policy here… Have I shocked you yet?

I probably have enough baby food to feed that monster baby for a few weeks should we completely run out of food. But I’d rather feed him a piece of old bread off of the floor (or ALL that decaf) than crack one open in haste.

I have at least 6 Bath & Body foaming hand soaps resting in my bathroom cabinet. And us adults are the only ones allowed to use it. The rosewater anti-bacterial stuff is better for the kids, right? That’s what I keep telling myself anyway when I think about how much fun my kids would have with the foam. Probably too much. My daughter is obsessed with “making her hair pretty” these days with whatever she can get her hands on, including ALL of the detangling spray I’ve been saving since her baby shower anxiously anticipating the arrival of her gorgeous locks.

Have you contacted the Hoarders casting agent, yet? Maybe they can fund our first church plant!

Of course, I am exaggerating…a bit. And if we had cooking gas right now I would have made a few batches of cookies and sometimes I nearly bathe in the foaming hand soap.

I am really so thankful for the sacrifices made of those who support us, fund my hoarding habits, and enable me by sending me great stuff worth hanging onto until the moment I can truly savor the sentiment. Now, does anyone know a good therapist in Kathmandu?

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What I’ve Learned in 30 Days of Blogging — November 30, 2015

What I’ve Learned in 30 Days of Blogging

I have learned many things in this month I’ve dedicated to blogging. And now, because I’ve somehow lured you here again, I am going to share a few of these things with you!

I have learned that blogging is a DISCIPLINE! I can see that those who run great blogs really have to make a full-time job out of it! Thankfully, I have a better job and this is just fun for me (is that weird? maybe it’s weird…). A commitment to blogging every day was intense and was quickly a source of regret. Daily blogging will not be a regular thing for me!

Sharing on a blog often puts me in a vulnerable position. Sometimes it was so hard to put myself out there. The posts I struggled to share the most were: We’re not in Kansas Anymore and Flexibility and Feelings of Children. But there were many I almost took down immediately!

I have realized that I have more time on my hands than I thought. What was I doing with it before? I enjoyed fewer moments on social media which can be a source of discouragement for me, and I also let some things slide that I thought were important that I realized I held too high and enjoyed a break from!

Facing my thoughts and feelings head on and confronting them with the Word has been a challenging, therapeutic, and transformative process.

God showed his goodness to me in an all new way in that He would use something He was teaching me to influence another person’s life through written word.

I have incredibly supportive friends, family, supporting church staff and members, and husband. I had some friends who read every day! My mom was “that mom” who made sure her friends were reading daily along with her. I heard many an encouraging word from pastors wives and had a couple posts read in church services or printed in a bulletin. Finally, my husband reminded me to write, helped with kids and housework to give me writing time, and patiently waited for me to finish up posts when he wanted to watch a movie or head on to bed. All of this support encourages me to carry on with my real job…missionary mom…and do my best for the glory of God in this country.

To sum it up…blogging every day has been challenging, rewarding, fun, and terrible all at the same time! Thanks for following me on this weird and wild journey of sharing the crazy thoughts that go through my head as I live my life in this strangely amazing place! I’m so thankful for all that the Lord has taught me through it, and I look forward to continuing to share what He continues to do in and through me, my family, and the Lord’s ministry here.

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Have you tried to start or maintain a blog?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

Materialism on the Mission Field? — November 29, 2015

Materialism on the Mission Field?

I have found that materialism is a real temptation to a missionary on the foreign field.

What I have seen as tempting is not necessarily stockpiling goods (though I did a bit of that today in preparation for the coming holiday). Rather, it is a focus on the presence or absence of material things.

It is tempting to find comfort in goods both vital and superfluous to a typical American’s existence. Chocolate chips and marshmallows might not seem like a big deal to you, but I can’t deny that there was a HUGE smile on my face when I opened a care package containing these precious ingredients just in time for a Thanksgiving feast.

The problem does not lie in my love of these sweet morsels. I cross into dangerous territory, however, when I allow my happiness to rise and fall with what is on the supermarket shelf or waiting at the post-office for my prompt pick-up.

If there is any seed of discontentment inside, it will be well-watered with the steady-flow of complaint when faced with a lack of some item I’ve dubbed necessary.

While it is not wrong to desire things that make me feel just a little bit more at home, when they cease to fill my cupboards, I am forced to face myself.

Am I the puddle who cries over spilled milk and empty boxes of fruit snacks? Or am I the glue that holds my family together, shoots for two into the dustbin and says, “Well, that was fun!”

I want to be like Paul who finds his happy place despite a time of going without.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Here, Paul expresses gratitude for the gift of love provided by the church of Philippi. He notes that he had not received such care for some time, but not to send them on a guilt trip. Rather, he wants them to know that he wasn’t hurting or pining for this gift that didn’t come. Though it may not have been an easy lesson, he had learned to be content. He had even learned to suffer with grace and contentment.

But how did he do it? Through Christ-supplied strength! When the support came, and when it didn’t, he knew he would be okay.

When the supermarket shelves are fresh out of whatever it is I think I really need at the moment, so will I. When the comforts of home just don’t find their way to my mailbox, I can be content.

But not because I am some super-human missionary woman that doesn’t have natural feelings. But because I can learn through Christ-supplied strength to face the day with the things I think I need to face it…or without.

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Have you found contentment in Christ despite the familiar pull of materialism?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

Always the Foreigner, Never the Friend — November 28, 2015

Always the Foreigner, Never the Friend

I have feared that no matter how much time we spend in this country, how fluent I become in the language, or how comfortable I become with my surroundings, that I will always be viewed as the foreigner and never truly be “in” and considered a friend to any person outside of the expat community.

I’ll never speak like a native. I’ll never have dark skin. I’ll never look good in traditional dress. I won’t get the inside jokes or know the little songs and stories that children grow up with. Culturally, I am coming from a totally different planet. No matter how much I adapt and adjust, I will never truly belong.

I desire and ask God for a close friend of national ethnicity. I know that I can learn and grow so much in this context if I develop deep and meaningful friendships in the midst of the enigma that is culture and language adaptation.

But will this person ever look at me in the same way I look at them? Will I be their friend…or just a foreigner with new and fun things with which to introduce them…just the person who tries really hard but will never really get where they are coming from?

Can I find common ground with someone whose life resembles mine in so few ways? Is it possible to bridge the gaps between our worlds and create an atmosphere where a budding relationship can thrive? 

For this reason, I love what the Word says about friendship.

Friends…

  • are friendly (Prov. 18:24)
  • love at all times (Prov. 17:17)
  • comfort and edify (1 Thess. 5:11)
  • encourage to love and live better (Heb. 10:24-25)
  • live selflessly and sacrificially (John 15:13)

So we don’t have to have the same skin tone and cultural background? Phew! That’s a relief! I don’t have to get all their jokes? Well that makes sense because, well, let’s be honest, I don’t always get my husband’s.

And the biggest-and maybe the hardest- thing I am learning is that I can be a friend without being a friend. Someone doesn’t have to welcome me into their inner circle for me to be friendly and to love, comfort, edify and encourage them. I can live selflessly and sacrificially to their benefit without them inviting me into the intimate parts of their life.

I have never really felt as though I had to try to make friends because I could always find someone like me, who appreciated me and understood where I was coming from amid the plethora of potential pals I had to choose from.

That will never be my reality here. But that doesn’t mean that the months and years of sowing seeds of friendship won’t eventually pay off. And I hope that when they do, I will have everlasting fruit in the form of new sisters in Christ for the time and heart invested.

It’s certainly not an easy or rewarding task investing in people who don’t want much to do with you or only want what they can get from you…which is basically the reason I don’t like Twitter, but that’s besides the point…really.

So I’ll never be a Nepali… but I can be a friend to many, and maybe a few will be my friends too!

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Have you ever been put into a situation where you had to bridge cultural or social gaps to be a friend?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

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