Friday, August 28, 2009

The Whining Chair

I designated a chair in our basement/playroom as the whining chair this morning since whining has been a theme this week. Caleb spent the better part of the morning sitting there. After his last exodus from the chair he started complaining yet again. I said to him, "Caleb, if you want to whine you have to do it in the chair," thinking, of course, that this would stem the complaints. Instead, he gathered a couple toys, clambered into the chair and whined softly to himself while driving his motorbike up and over the chair back. Maybe we all need a whining chair now and then.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Interesting News Piece on Vietnam

Click here for an interesting news piece on Vietnam. A friend sent us this clip several weeks ago and I am just now getting around to watching it. Believe it or not, the footage of traffic and flooding made me a little "homesick" for Ho Chi Minh City.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Pusher

We just got back from Michigan where we celebrated my grandma's 75th birthday. We also had a chance to see many of you at the "homecoming" open house my parents hosted. It's always good to catch up. Thank you to everyone who came.

I borrowed a book from my mom and started reading it this morning while Caleb slept and Nathan lay on our bed with his thumb in his mouth watching a Baby Einstein video. It isn't really a book book. It's more like a devotional. It's a collection of Puritan prayers called The Valley of Vision. This morning I read a prayer addressed to the Trinity. The following caught my attention:
O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of grace thou hast exhibited Jesus as my salvation, implanted faith within me, subdued my stubborn heart, made me one with him for ever...thou art willing to help my infirmities, to show me my need, to supply words, to pray within me, to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication.
Maybe I was not properly pensive this morning, but this made me chuckle. A story immediately flashed to mind. I spent a year teaching at a school near Beijing, China before I graduated from college. Food and housing were provided by the school as well as transportation once each week into the city and a small (VERY small) stipend for other expenses. I learned early on that there were certain things that my budget couldn't cover--like taxis. To accommodate, my roommate and I figured out how to use the bus system.

It is difficult to describe a Chinese bus (circa 1998) for anyone who has not lived overseas. Imagine a metal box with worn tires and black exhaust. Now fill the box with so many bodies that seated passengers are forced to lean out from open windows and those standing jockey for breathing space. Buses such as these require three staff--a driver, a caller (who shouts from a window to attract passengers and to warn off other motorists), and a pusher on the ground. The pusher has the most strenuous job. It's his duty to ensure that every willing passenger (and an occasional passerby) are wedged, crammed, shoved, shimmied, and otherwise helped onto the bus. His job is made doubly difficult by safety standards which won't allow the bus to move if the doors are not properly closed.

A fellow American teacher was waiting patiently at a bus stop for just such a bus. When the contraption pulled up to the stop already bursting at the joints, she balked and said she would wait for the next one. The pusher would have none of it. He grunted and led her by the elbow to the step which was the only space left. She stood as far inside as she could get. Unfortunately, the pusher miscalculated. American derrieres are not as compact as their Chinese counterparts and the safety doors could not close. The driver furiously kept pressing the lever and the doors opened and closed again and again on the same obstruction. My friend made a valiant attempt to flee, but before she could maneuver she felt two hands firmly planted on her bottom. The pusher gave it his best and finally the doors wheezed shut.

This was the image that came to mind when I read Puritan prayers this morning. I must say that I'm thankful the Holy Spirit is just as determined as that Chinese bus pusher. There are days when I need a good shove from behind--a little help to get on the bus.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Up and Running

Phew! Our shipment arrived from Vietnam and (several new parts later) Daniel finally has my computer back up and running. Now I have no excuse for neglecting to write except, of course, a grassy lawn, sunny days, and two little boys.

I thought I would include some pictures below of our new home. We feel so blessed to be living here. Our unit is part of a complex that is reserved for missionaries temporarily living back in the States. When we arrived, it was fully furnished and decorated. There were dishes in the cabinets and a few staples in the refrigerator. The couple who take care of our unit and function as landlords even found a fun cowboy quilt for Caleb's bed. It was a nice touch especially given his latest Toy Story phase (for a while he dragged his Buzz and Woody dolls everywhere). I didn't get pictures of the boy's room because they were napping, but here is the rest of the house.

Front entrance/Living room

Kitchen/Dining room

Basement/Family Room
(This was before all of the boys' toys arrived. Imagine a LOT more clutter.)

Our Bedroom

There is one extra bedroom and the room that the boys are sharing. There is also a laundry/storage room in the basement, but I can't imagine you would find that very interesting. As always, our home is open to friends passing through. We would love to have you visit.