Archive for June, 2014

June 13, 2014

I am spoiled.

by mendibpng

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(above) Some of my favorite items from Papindos, a store in Kainantu, which I’m able to get to every couple of months!

One of the things that I feel constantly while packing up for furlough is the fact that I’m living in a place where many of my neighbors are subsistence farmers, or work for a small hourly wage. Their monthly earnings are a small fraction of what I spend on groceries each week.

We’ve lived in one place for four years (well, with trips to the village in between) and it has been such a good thing for our family!! But it means that we’ve collected unneeded items: jars for making jam, empty soda bottles for making guava and passion fruit juice, and other things that we are happy to give away. It is just awkward when I am walking down my hill with a box of empty bottles and people are standing there waiting to take them away, with a hungry expression. I try to smile graciously but end up walking away feeling sad, because of what those empty jars represent. I have money to buy things. I sometimes use it frivolously, like last week when I bought a couple of [expensive] chocolate bars, thinking they would help me get through the transition! On the other hand, I do a lot of meals that don’t require cheese or meat so that I can fill us up with less expensive (and fresh from the market) veggies…but I still have money to buy rice to eat with the veg! And I always have coffee to drink every morning.

It is sobering to put things in the trash, knowing that in a few minutes, it will be someone else’s treasure. I don’t think there’s a cure for this feeling. There will always be a disparity between my wealth and the people I live amongst. I try to be generous and kind…but I have to be very careful to do it in a culturally appropriate way. It can be very complicated–just ask the new people who come, because we say, “Yes, you can do that…but it might be better to do…only, if you do that, this might happen….”

Anyway, this is one of the many stresses of living overseas, but in this particular week, it’s something that is on my mind constantly because we’re trying to go from being people of plenty to more minimalistic living. It means we have to look at each item and decide if we need it, and if not how will we dispose of it? If we’re keeping it, how will we store it? (Having the twins potty trained, out of cribs and done with sippy cups, booster seats and toddler toys is already a huge help.) There are multiple layers to the decision-making! I know that in two weeks, I will be gone from here and I won’t face these things as often but it will still be on my mind, when we get emails from national co-workers dealing with illness or a family death (which is a huge financial output for the grieving family). So my prayer today is, “Lord, give me wisdom because You promised you would give it whenever I ask!” And help me embrace the hard bits because I know it will be worth it to get to the more simple life I’ve been longing for.

June 8, 2014

Furlough Anticipation

by mendibpng

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Along with the grieving comes little moments of anticipation of things we are looking forward to enjoying in the first world.  It’s pretty common that one of the following comes up in conversation in family discussions:

  • seeing family and friends who we haven’t seen in four years (of course this is the TOP one)
  • buying baked goods (like bread) that I won’t have to make unless I really want to!
  • having a hot shower anytime of the day or night
  • being able to buy grocery items at about 1/4 of what we pay here (cereal, peanut butter, cheese, meat, etc.)
  • buying presents for our kids’ birthdays/Christmas right away, instead of planning 6-8 months ahead and figuring out how to ship them overseas…
  • grocery shopping at NIGHT and on holidays (ie the freedom to pop out for something)
  • using a clothes dryer
  • smooth roads
  • going to church
  • being able to eat out at a restaurant. Eating at Portillos first is one of our traditions!
  • enjoying fruits that we can’t get here: grapes, plums, blueberries, pears, etc.
  • taking the kids to pools to swim, museums, parks, and other fun activities
  • catching up on movies, shows and books we’ve missed out on while out of the country
  • foods like BACON and PEPPERONI
  • holding hands in public with Ben
  • highspeed/inexpensive internet
  • sidewalks

While I wrote this, I consulted my family. Noah piped up, “don’t forget to say ‘pizza.’ I love American pizza, and foodwise, basically just meat.” Then Ellie added, “shops…I can’t wait to get new clothes.” This is by no means a comprehensive list but it’s just a few things that popped into my mind. As I use up things in my kitchen, I keep thinking about the new memories we are going to make with family and friends and it is a wonderful feeling. (smiles)


June 5, 2014

Sports Day 2014

by mendibpng

IMG_4380Sports day here in Ukarumpa is a community event. We went to watch Josiah (9th grade) do track and field events, while also catching up with friends. I feel that participating in community events helps ease the pending transition a bit for all of us.

I enjoyed watching the team events the most!
IMG_4927Many of the younger kids got into the spirit and cheered for their sibling’s teams (Alpha is Red, Beta is Blue). Noah (grade 6) and friends enjoyed painting their faces!IMG_5003Ellie and her fourth grade friends sold frozen juice pops to raise money for their girl’s club. It was a low parental effort (all we had to do was transport the freezie pops) and the girls had so much fun!IMG_5322After the high school events finished, the rest of the community had a chance to participate in 4×100 (and other) races. Our twins Jenny Beth (above) and Jacob (below) LOVED being able to run!IMG_5356

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