Around the World: Day 11-Nicaraguan Birthday Party

So finally, I’m posting a write up from the lady who inspired this entire series… My little sister, Deborah is in Nicaragua for 2 years, with Olive Branch. You’ll find more of her adventures on daysofdebi.wordpress.com Thanks for taking us to this party, Deb! 🙂 Love you!

Walk with me? I’m on my way down to the 6th street here in San Carlos! My little friend, Carmen, is turning 4 this month and her mom is having a big party tonight! I am sure they won’t mind if you tag along! We walk along the road, up to where 6th street is off to the side, a little dirt trail. I would not suggest bringing a vehicle down in here…plus its just a short walk! See all the chairs set up in the street up there? Here we are! When we get there, we are greeted with the usual handshake and kiss, and are directed to chairs. We are here about 15 minutes after the invitation said the party would start, but there are only a few other people here. The hostess of the party has not gotten ready yet, and they are still setting up the piñata and sound system.

As the time goes on, more people roll in, they get the LOUD music rolling, and eventually bring out the food. We are served a sandwich with some kind of mayonnaise mixture in it. I heard rumors of chicken in it, but could only taste onion in mine, but it was edible! Coke is mandatory at any party, and later they bring around little bags of popcorn and little bags with candy in them.

The piñata is a riot. When it was the younger children’s turn, they just spin them in as many circles as they are old, and let them hit it like that. But the older children get blindfolded, and as they are swinging at the piñata, someone is pulling at the string that goes from the piñata, up over a pulley, and down to whoever can pull it so that the piñata is not so easy to break.

 The first piñata is a success, a brightly colored ball with cones sticking off the sides to make it look like a star.
 When they bring out the second piñata is when my eyes grow big! The second piñata is literally bigger then the child! The grin on little Carmen’s face as she stands beside it is just precious!

 All the children gather around to take a picture with the piñata before they string it up. It starts to rain and we all try to stand under the porch to keep dry, but there is not room for everyone.

 The little dirt floor house has one room empty that they invite us into, but there are no lights, so most of the people just stay outside. The sound system is covered with a tarp, and a man is sitting under it, I’m not sure how he plans to keep it dry if the tarp doesn’t work, but I guess he can at least keep an eye on the situation!

 As it gets later, people start to leave, but first we take a group picture of everyone. Thank you so much for coming with me to get a small glimpse of the Nicaraguan way to celebrate a birthday! (Since it was just a little four-year-old, they didn’t do the traditional way of smashing an egg in her hair and pouring powder over it…that’s a whole different story in itself!) Next time you are in the area, maybe we can go to a “vela” (Nicaraguan wake/funeral).Blessings, Deborah

Around the World- Day 10: Visit to a Chinese Emergency Room

I knew that Kandace would have a few stories for me… And she didn’t let me down… Her heart has been in Asia for years and she has spent a lot of time there… I remember hearing she had an injury while in China but had never heard the actual version… (Kandace has mastered all kinds of food during her stay there- she made sushi and sticky rice and all sorts of deliciousness for us last summer) This is her story:

[Before you begin, please note: I was in a very small countryside village in western China. Please don’t let this story speak for China or SE Asia, as a whole. In bigger cities, such as Shanghai or Beijing, healthcare is exceptional!]
In December 2012, I had the opportunity to visit dear friends of mine, AJ & Sarah, in China. AJ teaches English at a local university and Sarah is learning the language. Keep in mind that this was my first experience traveling outside of the US. While I visited, the head of the Foreign Language Department at the school where we were wanted to take all the language teachers on a weekend getaway… exploring ancient cities, general relaxation, and the highlight: snowboarding!


The teacher said it wasn’t far (maybe 5 or 6 hours) but we knew that we’d have to travel a ways to find snow-because in this area there was no danger of snow days. (When in a foreign land, one learns to keep their expectations at a minimum.) We got on a bus, and were seated right next to a child who casually offered us a snack of chicken feet. We traveled 10 hours to our weekend get-away. From there we traveled another hour by bus and then another half hour by cable car until finally we arrived at our destination: a snowy mountain resort with 3 trails- equivalent to bunny slopes.

We quickly donned our apparel and trudged the ¼ mile to the top of the slope. I made it down the first time without incident. But round 2… Something went wrong. As I gracefully glided down the hill, I hit a patch of ice and rocks and, in keeping with my gracefulness, landed in a huge heap at the foot of the slope. As I tried to stand, I realized something had happened to my little finger. I took my glove off and stared at my hand as my poor finger defiantly stood up while the rest of my fingers laid down. I hollered at AJ “Hey I think I broke my finger.” He kept snowboarding. “No, seriously, MY FINGER!” Recognizing my panic, he came over to assess the situation. Yep, broken. He called out to our interpreter “We have a problem, Kandi broke her finger.” “Oh, no worries,” she smiled and continued to make her way towards the ski escalator (that’s a real thing, apparently) to make the trek back up the mountain.

Finally we were able to impress on them the fact that we needed help… So they took us to a small room in the lodge where I was surrounded by 5 older soldiers wearing the Communist armband. I was sure I was about to be murdered. (Yay for American media and the teaching that all Communists are bad people.) They were all amazed by this injured white girl and kept trying to touch my finger. They had no pain killers anywhere except a little vile with sugar water to keep my blood sugar up … So I drank that. It didn’t help.

Half an hour later, Sarah and I were loaded in a truck and started our descent back towards the city… The trip went rapidly and I was certain we were going to die as we sailed around curves, blowing the horn as we went (that’s how you drive- forget traffic regulations- just use your horn). We almost hit a biker. A bus almost hit us. I told God it was okay if I would die, because I was sure that would hurt less.

We made it to the ER. There two doctors greeted us and started my registration; however, they wouldn’t accept me because I didn’t have a Chinese name. We made one up and proceeded with book work. They had two options for me: 1) Go back to my own city, which lacked proper healthcare* or 2) Come back on Wednesday for surgery. It was a Sunday.

*Quick insert: the hospital I was at, was considered the best in the surrounding area. Similar to RMH, perhaps. The healthcare in my city was sketchy, at best. Example: the dentist was a chair sitting in a sidewalk, with a variety of small saws, pliers, and other instruments hanging from the nearby shop window.

Thankfully, Sarah is a nurse. She made it known quickly that we would not be going anywhere and that they would be fixing my finger that very day. Apparently the two angry American women scared the doctors, as we were quickly sent on our way to get X-rays.

We trudged across the hospital campus to the X-ray location. The technician was sure she needed to move my injured finger … Ugh… More waiting. After 2 hours, we were sent to the top story of the hospital to see a doctor.

I kept asking for pain killer, but my nurse totally disappeared. We shut the door to my room, but we kept having visitors. People– even patients– felt it very important to come in and stare at us and take my picture. We would shut the door, but here they’d come again. I was annoyed, but after being told that these people will probably never see a foreigner again, I relented. (In the city of 500,000 where we were living, there were 8 foreigners and everybody knew about us. They’d talk to us on the street… Shout hello; try to take stealth pics…the rumor mill works well in these parts).

 Eventually the doctor came and, by this point, I was feeling rather frantic, which makes me rather emotional. The doctor is trying to grab my injured finger and shouting in Chinese and I’m trying to keep him from yanking it and shouting in English… And he’s laughing. And I’m crying… My nurse finally returns. She’d ran to the pharmacy to find some pain meds. The hospital only carried morphine for cancer patients. Anyhow, the doctor determined that my finger was only dislocated instead of broken so he only needed to reset it. Literally as soon as I had swallowed the pain pills – he was ready to set it. He said that most 80 year olds were tougher than me. I tried to fight for more time, but gave in and let him yank away…all 10 people in my room at that point tried to distract me by telling jokes, singing, and crying with me when I screamed. They bandaged it up then and we left.

Several weeks later I went to the hospital in my city for a check-up… the doctor was busy seeing a patient… A dog. I hope he sterilizes and sterilizes the equipment between patients. The checkup cost me only 1 USD.

  Honestly, this experience is the most dramatic thing I’ve ever been through. However, the Chinese people are very friendly and hospitable…it just took me a bit to see it. I would go through it all again in a heartbeat if it meant going back to China. I am absolutely in love with it. I learned that just because people do things differently, doesn’t mean it is wrong. We can all learn from each other.

  
Notice these signs- the last one “go on foot a ladder” means stairs…

—–

Many places in Asia have a different view of “offensiveness” compared to Americans. The head is considered sacred. So touching a person’s head is awful. The feet are bad/dirty so don’t point your feet at people… this is particularly true in Buddhist populations, since the feet are the lowest point of the body and the head is the highest. I learned this the hard way. We were traveling on a train- and since the seats were arranged in groups of 4, I wasn’t able to sit with our group. I knelt on my seat, talking with them over the back of my seat, the bottoms of my feet facing the man across from me. Finally the interpreter said “Ummm Kandi, the man across from you is really getting offended..” As soon as I learned why, I apologized through the interpreter. He replied, as he spit the empty shells from his sunflower seed snack in and all over my shoes, “It’s ok this time since you are an ignorant American.”

—–

I love the Asian culture and the relaxed, friendly manner and look forward to visiting again. – Kandace Glenn

Around the World: Day 9- You’ve Been in Bangladesh Too Long When…

I met Jody several years ago and although our paths haven’t crossed in a while- I love reading her adventures through her blog followerofthestar.wordpress.com She compiled this list with the help of some on her friends… Blessings to you, Jody as you teach English, impact those around you and enjoy all sorts of incredible experiences! 

You know you’ve lived in Bangladesh too long when…20 signs that it’s time to have a refresher course on American culture.

1.You nod your head to the side.*They probably won’t understand a frontal nod as yes.

2. You lean out your car window so you can give the lady at the drive-thru window your money with your right hand.*In Bangladesh it’s considered rude and unclean to use your left hand for eating or giving things to someone. Seriously, I notice every time someone hands me something with their left hand. If you MUST use the left hand, sanctify it by propping your right hand under it.

3. Eating with your fingers feels more natural than using a spoon. *Spoons were only used for rice pudding and goat milk yogurt. Forks? What are they?

IMG_5681

4. A meal is not a meal without rice. *Rice is eaten for breakfast, snack, lunch, supper and midnight snack.

IMG_5680

5. You can cross a busy street with motos and vehicles whizzing by and hardly even notice them.*Basically just start walking and weaving between traffic. I mean obviously, you don’t step in front of a bus or anything idiotic like that. In Bangladesh and most of Asia, there’s a pecking order to the roads. If you are bigger, you have the right of way.

6. It feels weird to shake hands (especially with the opposite sex).*Shaking hands is very American.

7.  The footprints on the toilet seat are your own. *The majority of the toilets in Asia are squat pots, and the Western toilets you do come across are filthy!!

IMG_5678

8. You say estyle, estar, and busestand.*As far as I know this is essentially Bangladeshi. They have a tendency of adding the /e/ sound (as in set or bet) in front of an ‘s’ if the ‘s’ is followed by a consonant. So sit is said sit, but slit would be eslit.

9. You can ride bike side saddle.*It’s considered immodest for girls to straddle bikes… or even ride them. I mean if someone else is sitting on the seat peddling, I can ride side saddle behind them. And yes, I am talking about bicycles. They believe the same thing about motos (motorbikes).

10. You remove your shoes before entering a house… ALWAYS!!!!*Seriously, you were walking around in who knows what and you want to wear your shoes into my house? I don’t think so!!!

IMG_5685

11. You consider threatening someone with your flip-flop a serious insult.*Feet are dirty. They’re the dirtiest part of you and pointing your feet at someone is very offensive, but if a guy is bugging you, pick up your flip-flop and threaten to throw it at them. That usually does the trick. If that doesn’t work throw it and go find some big brothers to take care of the situation.

12. You speak English incorrectly and simply. (Example: I am eating eggs for breakfast. Yesterday, I go to market. I can not come.)*While teaching English, I tried to speak correctly, but the point here is using the words and tenses that they understood.

13. You call it football… not soccer. *I don’t want to be quoted on this, but I believe America is the only country that calls it soccer. It’s football.

14. It’s totally normal to have visitors at any time of the day.*And visitors mean dropping whatever you’re doing and making sure they have biscuits (sweet crackers) and apples to eat. And answering all their questions: “Where you come from?” “How many brothers you have?” “Do you like Bangladesh?” etc.

IMG_5683

15. You know that if the child is wearing two earrings… it’s a girl.*Due to the scourge lice, girls up into 7th grade will shave their heads. Sometimes the ONLY way to tell if it’s a girl or boy is to see if she has two earings. One earing may mean a Hindu boy.

IMG_5679

16. You feel half-dressed without your shawar and Orna.*Shawar are light-weight pants worn under the dress. Ankles showing are considered immodest. Ornas are either large scarves or small shawls also worn for modesty.

17. You understand and enjoy cricket.*Cricket is even a bigger game than football.

IMG_5686

18. You can tell the difference between Muslims and Hindus.*The town I lived in had about half and half of each. Maybe slightly more Muslims, but they often dressed pretty much the same.

IMG_5684

19. You’d rather sit cross-legged than stretch your legs out.*When I sit in a chair I usually find it more comfortable to sit cross-legged. Often I prefer the floor.

20. You can sleep through the prayer call.*Not just the prayer call, but also the innumerable early buses rattling the house and blowing their horns.

-Jody Byler

IMG_5682

 

Around the World: Day 8-North Africa and Respect

My cousin has spent years in Africa. Recently she has moved to North Africa. I knew she has a wealth of experiences. Bless you for sharing.. 🙂 She writes:

I sometimes think that I could write a book about cross cultural experiences, the funny thing is when I sit down to actually write a paragraph about the topic my mind goes blank, and I find I have trouble pin pointing a certain area to focus on, since it is so broad, and I have had too many different (and sometimes surprisingly similar) experiences. Enough preamble, let me get on with it.

Cultural experience, let me go with one that is recent, and that is living in a “male-dominated” culture where gender lines are clearly drawn, I didn’t realize how different it was until I moved from east Africa to north Africa, and found that even a friendly smile or a hi, or a simple conversation to anyone from the opposite gender is no longer acceptable, as I was used to it being. The lines between the genders are much more boldly drawn than I have ever experienced, and it is now seen as respectful for my husbands friends not to greet me extensively, anything more than a nod in my direction is crossing the line of respect in a friendship between men. It is quite the opposite in America where even hugging your friends wife, is acceptable, and anything less than a greeting and sincere interest can leave the woman in tears thinking her husbands friends don’t like her. Even in East Africa, it was quite appropriate to have a friendly handshake, and the appropriate greetings with my husband’s friends even if I casually meet them on the street. Here I was surprised to see my husband’s friend on the street one day, but instead of the greeting I was used to, I was ignored since my husband wasn’t with me. Before you think that this culture is cold and unfriendly let me add that within the same gender friendships are deep and greetings are lavish and affectionate.

Here is a pic that I think best illustrates my thoughts:, it is a typical evening in the park, and you can see the gender lines are kept in place even when relaxing/ socializing, sorry it is a little blurry) :o)

IMG_5703

 

Around the World: Day 7- Sudan; Cattle Camps

I was so SOO hoping that Aunt Ella would share about her visit to the cattle camps. She returned home with so many stories and I listened wide eyed… Stories about these nomadic people and how their life revolves around their cows. The cow provides everything- including a place for games (young men jump over the cows) And the fact that these people weren’t used to the clean soap smell and covered their nose whenever they caught a whiff of these Americans… Am I remembering correctly? 🙂 Anyhow… I’m still fascinated… Bless you and your family for the sacrifices you’ve made to reach people in all different walks of life! Love you!!

Rhonda had shared many stories about the cattle camps in Sudan, but nothing prepared us for what we experienced.

After making our own trail thru the brush, with our vehicle, and wondering if we were on the right path, we finally broke thru into a clearing. This was the cattle camp: as we disembarked and surveyed the area, all we saw was an open field and a pond of water off in the distance, where the cows were wading to cool off from the 100 degree temps. We were warmly greeted, but there was no house to invite us into, no chairs to offer us, so our host set off walking, to show us a glimpse of life in their world.

A few of the children had on some rags, but most of them were completely naked. They would look at us with curious glances and shy smiles and then quickly return to the task at hand. We soon realized the only source of water for them was what the cows were standing in.

IMG_5758

Our minds were having trouble absorbing all we were seeing.

After our tour, we spread a blanket under a tree and continued to observe life here. Some of the ladies were busily working over a fire, preparing the evening meal. A few pieces of clothing were hanging on the branches of some nearby trees. They have no closets, or cabinets, but they do not need them, because their possessions are minimal, only the basics. However, this makes it easier for the nomadic life, as they move from place to place to try to find water for their cattle.

There was smoke coming from piles of ashes around the camp, and a small naked child was entertaining herself by playing in the ashes, with no one showing concern.

As the sun was beginning to set, you could hear the cow bells as they came in from the distant fields. Stakes were driven into the ground, where the cows were roped for the night. They seemed to know where they were to go, and without much coaxing from the one leading them, they stopped obediently by their assigned stake.

IMG_5755

Rhonda & a co-worker had quickly erected a tent like structure for us to sleep in for the night. It was approximately 2.5’wide by 5’long. This was for 2 of us. Needless to say, we had to lay on our sides to make it work.

IMG_5756

It was quite dark by the time the evening meal was served. Rhonda encouraged us not to eat any of the food. Those of our team who were accustomed to food from this culture ate enough so that our host did not know we had not eaten.

We showed the Jesus film, powered by a generator, on a makeshift screen; a sheet hanging on the side of our van. Everyone gathered around sitting or lying on the ground. Our team was the only ones with the luxury of having a mat. It was quite a surreal experience, to see hands raised in response to the invitation to come to Jesus, here in the open field under the light of the stars.

IMG_5759

With our hearts full of the love of God for every people, every tribe, & every nation, we crawled into our tent for the night.

Sounds now fill the camp; men singing to their cows, babies crying, mothers giving directions to children.

I do not know how much we slept that night, but the peace of God was our rest.

The camp was stirring early in the morning; the cow dung that had been spread out to dry in the sun, was now gathered into piles, to be burned, by a young lady, on her hands and knees. Ashes from yesterday’s fires were rubbed on the cows and over the faces of those tending them. This helps keep the bugs away.

IMG_5760

A lady with a bucket caught a cow’s urine. This was used to wash the cooking pots. Now it made perfect sense why we were encouraged not to eat the food.

With day light upon us, and no toilets, we asked Rhonda for advice. She laughingly reminded us that is why we wore wide skirts. The only semi-private place was behind the van we had driven. However, when we went there, the van driver mistakenly thought we wanted into the locked van, and he came running to unlock it for us.

Our lives are forever changed by this experience.

Who would have ever imagined that when I started praying Ps 2:8, years before, that I would actually get to experience a small part of that world; “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.”

-Harold and Ella Horst

Around the World: Day 6-Kenya’s Culture Summary in Acrostic Form

Carolyn Rodes is in Kenya teaching school and enjoying life there. She made an acrostic out of the word CULTURE and pulled in a lot of things that is part of her world now. I’m especially curious about the omena dish… those little fish eyes make me wonder if I’m hungry or not.. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Caroline and blessings on your time there!

IMG_5766

Compound living; Close neighbors…Chickens in church…
Chai (tea) and Chapatis (greasy tortillas)…
Corrupt government; dishonesty…
Carrying large loads on your head…

Unusual food~omena (small minnows), uji (similar to porridge)…
Undernourished and unclothed children in the slums…
Undesirable drunks whom you come in contact with…
Unpleasant odors from unwashed bodies…

IMG_5767

Living in Luo Land…
Learning the Luo Language…
Letting the natives teach you their way of thinking…
Lovable children with beaming smiles…
Lack of punctuality…

Tuk tuks and piki pikis…
Trying to accept the challenges that come when the power goes off (AGAIN) and your cake is in the middle of baking, you are trying to finish your laundry, or, or, or, or…
Taking TIME to visit the natives…
Thrilling adventures on the road…
Torrential downpours during rainy season…

Unique sights as you travel…
Ugali and sikumu wiki…
Unspoken superstitions…
Using different currency…

IMG_5765

Realizing that different methods are not always wrong…
Rough roads with LOTS of potholes…
Ridiculous driving habits…
Recognizing many souls who are in need of a Redeemer…

IMG_5764

Enjoying the gorgeous flowers and all the beautiful scenery in Kenya…
Eating with your fingers…
Establishing friendships with the native people…
Expectations are changed; world perspective is altered…

-Carolyn Rodes

Around the World- Day 5: Liberia- One Day of Beauty; Birth and Death

Kendra has been in Liberia with Christian Aid Ministries for several years now. This is one of her emails. With her gift of words- I have no trouble entering whatever scene she’s writing about. This one particularly tugs at my heart… Thanks for sharing, Kendra!

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appearance for a little time, and then vanish away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. James 4:14-15

So true. I had my Saturday planned. I would do some sewing and washing in the morning, my friend Mamie (pronounced ‘mommy’) was coming to visit, then she and Heather and I would go to the market, and the evening was free.

Mamie Tehme is a girl who used to live at one of our sponsored orphanages and I learned to know her at youth retreats. The plans were that she would come in the morning and leave late afternoon. But due to some issues, or maybe just Liberia, she was still not on the road at 12:00. And I knew the drive would be more than an hour. So I called Heather and we decided to go do our shopping without her.

Immediately after I got off the phone with Heather, my phone rang again. It was Tracy. She was frantic. “Kendra, my friend that gave birth to twins just few days ago died! The ones you gave the baby bundles for. The pa called me and said the babies are crying and crying. No food for them.”

Just the day before Tracy had stopped in my office and asked for two baby bundles for her friend that had just born twins. A boy and a girl. I still had a few bundles left from when my aunts and uncles and school families sent some over for me so I was glad to help her.

IMG_5693

I told Tracy we would be there soon. I called Heather again with the change of plans and we grabbed baby formula and bottles and headed to Tracy. She met us on the road and directed us to the place. Crowds of people were gathered around the tumbledown matte house. (It really was tumbledown- while we were there someone leaned against the door frame and it fell down.) We walked up and asked where the babies were. They had not come back from the hospital yet, but within five minutes the father and two aunties with the babies came walking down the road. Upon seeing the bereaved father and the babies, two women threw themselves on the ground and began wailing, and the rest of the crowd started sniffling. The aunties who had the babies came and handed them Heather and I. A little boy to Heather and the girl to me. I’ve seen many tiny babies here but these were close to smallest I ever saw. The next thing I noticed was how dirty the babies were. I don’t think they had ever been bathed.

IMG_5699

The story we heard was this: Baby girl was born on Wednesday morning (not sure where). The boy had to be delivered C-section and they drove all over town trying to find a hospital that would take her. ELWA Hospital had no beds, Benson Hospital had no beds, and two other hospitals had similar excuses. Finally they got the mother in at Redemption – one of Liberia’s worst hospitals. The boy was delivered sometime on Thursday. On Friday, when some of the relatives went to see the mother they could tell she was not doing well at all. She died that night.

IMG_5695

We instructed one lady to fix bathwater and another to bring some hot drinking water. When the water came we fixed bottles for them. I doubt if the boy had anything to eat prior to this. The girl must have had water or something to keep her alive. The boy drank eagerly and had his 2 ounces down in a few minutes. My little girl was a different story. She held the bottle in her mouth but acted like she didn’t know how to suck. I gave up after a bit and let her sleep like she wanted to. The air was sticky and heavy and the people crowded around only heightened the heat. Someone brought the wailing girl, the deceased woman’s only sister Lovetee, to the doorstep where she continued her sobbing until someone finally calmed her down.

IMG_5698

(notice Rebekah compared to the newborn size onesie)

When the water was ready, Heather bathed her little guy. He’s a strong little fighter – he screamed the whole time. My little girl was a different story…..she tried to cry a few times but it was a mere whimper. She was easy to bathe. Her back fit right into my hand and I could support her head with one finger. We were so thankful for the baby bundles and had fun dressing them in in new, clean clothes. Baby girl looked much better after her bath and it was just what she needed to get her awake and hungry. She sucked on my finger and when I tried the bottle again she drank it right up. Praise God!

IMG_5697

We had a bit of a trying time finding someone to care for the babies. The father wanted us to take them, but we tried to explain to him that we cannot. I was asking around the crowd of people, trying to find out who would be the one responsible for the babies, and they brought the aunt who was still teary eyed. “This is the one who will care for them,” we were told. Heather and I were not at all satisfied. The girl was no more 16, had no children on her own, and was grieving the loss of her sister. It wouldn’t work. Finally, a neighbor lady, Cecelia, agreed to care for the babies. We gave her instructions on how to feed them and promised that we would be back soon to see how the babies were doing.

I handed the the little girl over to Cecelia and said, “I will call this girl Rebekah because she is very beautiful.”

“And we will call this one Isaac,” said Heather. All those seated around seemed very pleased with the names.

Life here is cheap. And unfair. If this would have happened in the States almost anywhere, someone would have immediately taken the babies and provided them with the best care possible. They would have been looked at like they really are – precious and one link to the mother who died. But here – no. People don’t want to see the babies because it reminds them of their sister/mother/friend who died. To some they are looked at as the cause of her death. And there are plenty of children everywhere – why would you care about some that aren’t your own? It’s cruel but it is true.

We were worried about the babies because of these facts and Tracy was very doubtful about the neighbor woman. But when we stopped in on Sunday and Wednesday night everything seemed to be fine. So we pray it will continue that way. (Obviously the way we dressed them after bathing, a onesie and a receiving blanket, was not warm enough. 🙂 Because when we came on Sunday they were in fleece sleepers and heavy blankets and caps again. I am sure all the women were quite appalled and I can see them as soon as we left ‘rescuing’ the babies and bundling them up properly. Poor babies – but I guess they are being taught to be Liberian from the start – cold unless you are sweating. :))

By the time we left the twins house, it was mid afternoon. Heather and I went on our way to do our shopping at Harbel. After the babies experience I just was not in the mood for entertaining yet, and I tried calling Mamie to tell her that it was too late to come today, she should try another day. I couldn’t get through. A few minutes later my phone rang. It was Mamie calling to tell me that she is in a taxi and on her way. ‘Be flexible or miserable’ we say. Sometimes the miserable part looks easier……

Because of terrible traffic conditions Mamie did not arrive until 8:00 that night. It was obvious that I now had an overnight visitor. And it was fine, really. Mamie is lots of fun and easy to entertain. We had a good time catching up, looking at retreat pictures, and just talking about life.

She went to church with us in the morning and because of transport issues stayed until Monday morning. 

 
Sunday evening we went to the beach with Josh’s. She was in total awe and fear of the ocean and couldn’t even keep her eyes closed when we prayed, for watching to make sure the waves wouldn’t come up and wash us away. 🙂 She got used to it though and till the end of the evening was having a wonderful time. She even tried flying Josh’s kite and did better than myself, I do believe. And then back at the house we taught her how to play Uno. She loved it – that might have been partly due to the fact that she won twice. 🙂

 
And so it is. This is Liberia. My feet are covered in dirt and dust and my dresses get visibly dirty. We eat rice and potato greens and fresh pineapple. Children call my name from all directions with requests varying from wanting to fry grasshoppers for me to wanting me to take them to the beach. The wind blows but it’s hot dry air. I watch for snakes and “homeworks” (a weed with tiny seed that sticks in your dress and has to be pulled out by hand) when I’m walking. There are ants in the sugar. The nights are humid and starry.

But when I think about it- when the real Liberia gets up against you- The dirt, the heat, the ants the children, the rice, the smiles….can’t help but love it.

-Kendra Joy Good

 

Around the World Day 4: Culture and Haiti

Today, we hear from Ben who does a great job at expounding on cultures and how to best adapt to whatever culture you find yourself in. He should know- he’s been on most of the Continents already!  Thanks, brother!

Whenever you go to a different culture, the natives there often- speak a different language, eat different food, do things different from the way YOU ARE USE TO etc. This gives us two choices: one is to judge and compare (which leads us nowhere and often will prevent us from connecting with them in a way that we can minister to them or even perhaps enjoy the trip.) Second choice is: To go with an open mind, and ask God how He sees the people, culture, and instead of judging them see what you can learn from them. There is always something you can learn or appreciate about a different culture.Honor them by asking questions and learning why they do it ,is often interesting.

image

Culture is part of the beauty that God has created!

Body language speaks more than words in other nations. Example: I moved to Haiti after the earthquake, and worked in the slums of Port Au Prince. Their language was different, the way they did things was different and it was known as a dangerous part of the city. I saw people come and loved them, and was amazed as people who were known as dangerous  softened up to these foreign missions, because of the love they showed through their body language.

People are people wherever you go, all created by the same God. They may look different, act different, talk different, etc. But there is always a language every person understands and that is body languages.

One more thing 🙂 a smile, a touch works the same to any child in any culture. The same way we feel when we feel God giving us a smile or touch. *editor’s favorite thought

Another thing I learned: Don’t give handouts to the poor, it will make them beggars and view people as someone who gives handouts instead of a friend. Better to teach them a trade so they can provide for themselves in the long run.

As someone said it is better to teach a person how to fish than give a handout.

-Ben Stoltzfus

 

Around the World, Day 3: Snapshots from the Dominican Republic

My Dad’s cousin Joyce has two daughters who have moved to the DR, married and made it their home. I enjoyed learning a few things about life there. Praying for your family as you continue to minister!

Bread is a main stay of a Dominican diet along with rice and beans. I asked why this bread is orange colored, but never got an answer. When we were told we were going to tour a bakery this is not exactly what I pictured. We were taken down into this dark basement room. The dough was mixed and shaped into this flat bread and the trays put into this oven. The oven has a kind of elevator in it- that the loaves are continually in motion going around and around until done. If the electricity is off, a man has to crank it by hand. He has to sit right beside the oven so that is a very hot job. When the bread is done it is dumped into blue plastic barrels and then onto a table to be packaged in long plastic sleeves. We have seen motorcycles loaded with bread–a long stick behind the driver with sleeves of bread hanging out both sides.

IMG_5738

The outreach at La Mayita–David–our son-in-law -is pastor of a church of the brethren in Los Toros. About a year ago they decided to start having children’s ministry in La Mayita once a month. La Mayita is a town that has formed when the government moved people down from a mountain town, so they are closer to the road and hopefully can make more money. So far most of their income is from shelling a bean that is similar to our soybeans and if they can get enough people in the family to help, they can make maybe $5 in a day. Anyway David’s church has to hire a truck to haul–generator, benches, chairs, people to La Mayita and that costs about $15 so they could only do it once a month. While David and Jewel were with us for 2 months this summer a church here offered to sponsor the cost of hiring the truck so now they go out once a week. Jewel soon realized that talking to kids about Jesus who are hungry for physical food didn’t work real well so they have also been taking food along. The youth from their church have really helped with this project. Also while David and Jewel were here this summer she got sponsors for 20 kids from La Mayita to be able to attend the school that their church has in Los Toros. When Jewel was interviewing parents about sending their children–mothers asked her if they could also attend as they didn’t know how to read.

IMG_5735

When Jewel first talked about taking the youth of their church camping –I thought what a strange idea. Many have outhouses and cook over a fire outside already so why go camping? Earlier this year when Tim and I were in the DR we went camping with them and I now know why. Everyone was so excited! We pitched 10 tents–several for the boys and several for the girls and then several for married couples. The kids enjoyed many games of volleyball, holey board, horse shoes etc. They also went swimming in the river. Everyone pitched in to cook–spaghetti, plantains, chicken, hot chocolate. And now they count on Jewel to bring hot dogs to roast over the fire.

IMG_5737

Our experience in the DR has been very positive and we are humbled by the examples of sharing and giving by those who have so little of the things we often take for granted or think are important.

Blessings—Joyce Sheeler

Bonus pic:

Our 2 year old Granddaughter Amber is will to help with daily household chores 😉 Mopping the floor and laundry… Editors note: notice the laundry lady’s flip-flops 😂

IMG_5740

Around the World: Day 2 ~Nicaragua~ Traveling Stranger

My Cousin Sarah has moved to Nicaragua while her husband continues his medical training. Your thoughts here challenged me, Sarah! Blessings to you!

The traveling stranger seems to always be someone else. It is the newcomer, who carries a story and knowledge of another culture, entering my familiar circles. However, these days I am the stranger.
Our group consisted of four Nicaraguans (two nurses and two nursing students), three doctors from Spain, and one American…..me. My desire to learn Spanish and to work alongside my husband got me into this set of circumstances, and I was coming to realize that the passion in my heart did not prepare me for how foreign one may feel. Yet I knew this feeling was good for me. Did the others around me realize our uniqueness too? They sure did.

IMG_5705

We split into two groups to go from home to home giving medication and education out in the countryside surrounding León, Nicaragua. The one nurse, a jolly man named Carlos, called out to the group of doctors, “Presenting the group of Spaniards!” Then he gestured at me, part of his group and exclaimed, “Presenting the group of Americans!” Everyone laughed and I had to grin too…We were an interesting bunch.

My little group walked up to a home where the man of the house was resting back on his horse cart with a pillow. He immediately arose to welcome us. Carlos happily seated himself, and the other nurse and I sat down on the cart too. Our host soon brought us some warm corn on the cob, cooked over their leña (firewood.) The rich flavor of the corn was a pleasant surprise—no butter necessary!

It did not matter that I could not understand every word spoken. I did understand that Carlos was happy to rest awhile here in the breezy shade and chat with these folk in the relaxed Nicaraguan manner. Eventually we discussed health and education and traveled on our way.

At times I could feel the curious glances of the doctors from Spain…who was this strange lady in a scrub top, cape dress, and hanging veil? One of the doctors could speak some English, and, in a mixture of Spanish and English, we had an enjoyable conversation as we walked the sandy road. Later I overheard her telling the other doctors why I was along and what I was doing here. For some reason, humans retain the ability to know when they are being discussed even across the barrier of culture and language. And, no, the unnerving feeling does not change.

As we walked and talked, Carlos acted as tour guide and rattled off the names of the volcanoes rising in the distance, the titles of the communities we were in, and identification of the agriculture in the fields beside us. And I couldn’t help but think: After two and a half months of living here, I can name one of the volcanoes correctly, and my home is on this Nicaraguan countryside. I am becoming familiar with this place! But as I bumped back to town on the public bus, the words to a well-known song circled in my head…“I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger…”

And the truth is I am a traveling stranger. Every day. Every hour. This world is not my home: I am headed to a heavenly city. Ah, what joy! What delight in the thought!

But what about my neighbors, what about those stylish doctors, and what about the Nicaraguan medical team who so cordially welcomed me? They are traveling too; albeit perhaps unaware.

IMG_5706

Paul’s words to Timothy are a comfort, revival, and source of strength for me to keep pushing heavenward and to be about the work God wants me to do. Really it is okay if every day I am living a cultural experience and frequently feeling like I’m on an adventure. I am a traveling stranger.

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God…For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast… in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” *Selections from II Timothy 1: 6-14. NKJV.

-Sarah Martin