Thursday, September 29, 2011

i heart hartwell

I met last week with a Portuguese language teacher in Marietta. I was elated when she handed me a colorful self-published book entitled “English for Housekeepers: and other professionals”. Housekeeping was one of the first trades we realized we could teach. The hotels and lodges in Pemba need them and have promised to hire our girls once trained. The book is full of pictures and translations. She uses a method called English for a Purpose. It circumvents sentence structure, conjugating, tenses, the subjective and all the other impossibly difficult rules of the English language that are not necessary when learning a second language for the workplace. These women will most likely never use English other than in these circumstance and it makes language for them very attainable
She told me about other ESL curriculum and what works best for her in the classroom. I am ecstatic to have this information and to see the school already taking shape. 
I spoke this week at the Bible Study and stand amazed by these strong powerful women and how blessed I am to know them and to have them praying for me. I am honored to have their covering and intercession. God certainly knows all that we need. He is taking care of every detail and having these women covering me is among my greatest blessings. When they say they are praying for me, I can feel it. They mean it. 
The weekend was possibly one of the most memorable and fun weekends of my life. I got to watch one of my best friends marry a great man who loves her deeply and another sit with big pink tissue paper filled presents around her feet. A wedding and a baby shower. It is beautiful to watch both of them and how they live their lives and how we have grown and changed and yet, not changed much at all since childhood. We have known each other all our lives. We dug up roly polies in the backyard and held hands on the way to Miss Melba’s Kiddie College. Now I am honored to have them in my life, their encouragment and find confidence in knowing that we all have each other’s backs, for life. I got to watch this little community throw fun parties and join in the fun. I loved watching this group of women who have raised children together, most celebrating 40 or more years of marriage, now elated to welcome grandchildren into the world and how well they know to entertain. They have a beautiful sisterhood of long lasting relationships. They laugh together, cry together, and play Bridge. Part of me wants to buy the old house on College Avenue, make a big stack of Ruth Skelton’s Pimento Cheese Sandwiches, and throw a party, Shag in the backyard to beach music and learn to play Bridge, of course. Having community and  girlfriends and doing life together is crucial. Being able to grow up in a place like this is a great gift. 

And yet, I have only a few days left in Western Culture. I guess I will have to teach the Mozambican girls and boys how to Shag and best get busy learning to play Bridge so that I can teach them that too. I will miss this world of mimosa’s and petit fours, draperies on windows and botanicals on walls, silver frames with babies in smocked dresses. And my girlfriends, who used to slide down carpeted stairs in sleeping bags, catch caterpillars, walk beside be with baby dolls on our hips. Yet, I am elated that I get to go and live this new life. It has been a long time coming and I cannot believe it is almost here. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

19 days

Molly and me
i have promised to be open and candid and honest and frequent in writing. i don't have internet at the cabin so that is my excuse. i spent six days with laura in kansas and didn't want to leave. john kept the kids and we got to go out on the town. we picked the nicest restaurant in town and were headed that way but stopped by Wal-Mart first. i started to think about the long lines, overpriced appetizers, electric ambience and asked Laura if we could just go to the Outback Steakhouse across the street instead. i have had many a nice meal and really just wanted to sit across from her and soak up this time together, undistracted. we have never even lived in the same time zone but i am going to miss her deeply. she knows everything about me. there have been seasons when we talk every single day. when john was deployed she called me every night for a year, almost. she would always call after the kids were in bed and she was an hour behind so the hour was always late for me. she would usually make me laugh so hard i would have trouble falling asleep. i was in her wedding. i was one of the first people to see molly ann steen make her debut on this earth. i can give up a lot of things and make large sacrifices but this relationship is one of my dearest possessions. i vividly remember parents of missionaries coming over to Papa Davis' to use the Ham Radio to talk to their daughter in some remote country every Sunday afternoon. i am grateful for Skype and email and texting. i pray that this time draws us closer and i can be the sounding board, confidant and friend that she is to me.

i am having to eat all my words and repent of all the unkind things i ever said about my little hometown. this place is lovely. i sat in "traffic" yesterday on my way "home" from lunch with a beautiful friend. i watched as all the buses pulled out on the main drag coming from the middle school and high school. i had flashbacks of what it felt like for the school bell to ring. i could not wait to get home. school was a huge part of my life and i remember much of it, but i lived for the bell to ring. it is football weather here right now and i have the window open. the air is cool and crisp. when we lived on college avenue i could hear the band rehearsing before the game on friday night in our backyard. snare drums and trumpet serenading me as i shot hoops on my black dirt court waiting on my dad to come shoot with me. in our neighborhood in hartwell, i knew every side road, every crack in the sidewalk and covered them hundreds of times over on my aqua blue Schwinn. i loved riding by the cat house. a white house with a large screened in porch where multiple cats lounged against the screens. there was the house on the corner with the spitting frog. all the schools were within walking distance of my house. i came home every day to a house full of cute little toddlers dressed in Oshkosh and Keds eating goldfish and drinking from Tupperware sippy cups. 

now i am back here for a short, short while and this community has embraced me and treated me like royalty. i had the pleasure of growing up in this community and was allowed to be myself and told i could be and do anything i wanted in life. i was constantly encouraged and given so many opportunities in this small town. i picked at random and did as much as i could; forestry and 4-H, community theater, methodist youth, tennis, and a very impressive basketball career, to name a few. now that i am back here i am finding those same people here cheering me on. they are proud of me and they mean it. they love me and they mean it. they pray for me, out loud. this community is a great gift. the church community across denominational lines has embraced me and given me their pulpits to share my little story. they have written me checks and made sacrifices just to give into me and what i am doing. not to mention i am living in the prettiest house in town. linen curtains, Stickley furniture, seagrass flooring, and a shower big enough for all of us. it is quite the contrast from here to where i am going, where i am told i get a bed and a plastic chair, for which i am grateful.

i keep walking by the two duffle bags that will in 19 days hold all my personal belongings and each time i just sigh and give up and walk away. it is too much to think about. if i had to leave in an hour it would all be there and i would have all i need. i have been preparing for this for a very long time.

 recent trip to SC to see the cousins, McCarley and me
i have my last Portuguese class on Monday and dinner with my favorite somewhere-in-a-foreign-land missionaries who are home on furlough. then on Tuesday i meet with the Portuguese language teacher in Atlanta about getting curriculum for our students in Pemba!! it's going to be great. every single day is full and these next weeks are going to fly by. pray for peace and rest, for me. and know that i am praying for all of you too. i have put all your names, donors and prayer warriors and supporters and friends down in my spiral notebook so i can carry you along with me and lift you up too. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All over the place

I left Hartwell last week and drove to Columbia, SC for a weekend with my cousin and her beautiful baby girl. Now I am writing this from Laura's living room in Kansas. I am here until Sunday. I feel like so much of my life is done solo. Just me on the road, on the go, packing boxes, making lists and phone calls and moving from one task to the next. So now it just feels so good to just sit and rest. And it feels even better to just sit and rest with someone else sitting next to me. Laura is looking up recipes and planning Hailey's 10th birthday party this weekend and I am here writing you. It is a little odd having a whole new following and what was once created as a means to write home to my sister has become a newsletter of a missionary. Who knew? But either way I feel obligated to report in and let you all know what is going on and fill you in on the plan.

The "to do" list is getting shorter and shorter. I have my Visa, Plane Ticket, International Drivers License. Now I just need to get International Medical Insurance and pack all my personal belongings in two suitcases. I also have HAIR COLOR and a cut and good product!!! Thanks to Judy. You are amazing and that blessed me more than you will ever know.

It is almost Fall weather here. I am not sure if it is a blessing or a cruel tease as I am about to enter 100 degree days. But, here and now with the windows open and my sweet friend now asleep on the sofa and the sound of her beautiful baby breathing softly over the baby monitor, it all feels perfect.

I find myself soaking it all up; hot showers, loading the dishwasher, cooking in a modern kitchen with spices and fresh vegetables, artisan cheeses, grocery shopping, a phone call, flipping through a People Magazine at the airport, Target, blue jeans. I am savoring it all, realizing how fast everything and everyone changes, what are my priorities and my real true needs. I have realized that more than anything it is Community. It is all about just, for me, being cheered on and being able to cheer on others. This season of my life has brought out the cheering squad in my life and I am humbled and amazed and honored to have friends like this in my life. As I journey through my little world that often seems solo but is so far from it, I have been daily blessed by all your words of encouragement and hugs and prayers and love. So thank you. I am excited about the days ahead and cannot wait to share it all, successes and disappointments. I need you there to rally and cheer and pray. And I want to do the same for you. It makes all the difference. More soon. XO