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DASPMT12PCU

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Not my tree – but isn’t it great! 

Christmas. How can it be Christmas? How did the days go by so fast? Happy three months from your favorite daughter among sons! Can you believe how much I’ve grown? I look taller right? Somehow I’m sure, I look taller.

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The past two weeks have been full, full, full! To get it all in I am happy to announce the first annual “DaughterAmongSons (Probably More Than) 12 Pictures of Christmas Update!” (Or DASPMT12PCU for short). Enjoy!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me – An American Mocha Coffeeeeee* (actually not coffee). We visited some friends in a village not far away and got a chance to hang with their local friends, throw a birthday party, throw a Christmas party, and see some of the sights!

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No Mom- I’m not in America! But it sure looks like it! 
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Praying before lunch.

We also had some time to tell the Christmas story- taking turns so everyone could read different verses in their native language. In one room we read in five different languages! It was such a beautiful fun picture of heaven! Then we sang more carols = CHRISTMAS

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Turns out a girl working nearby played the flute while I played the piano! PTL for sheet music!
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Literally one of the cutest nativities EVER

Back in the city grind and what do we find? Ahem – On the fourth-or-fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me – prepping crafts and a little TVEEEEEEEEE

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Just me, my pal Kate Winslet, and an enormous pile of scrap paper.

At school, we use the week before Christmas as a chance to do some Christmas crafts, tell the Christmas story, and celebrate! I was in charge of three out of four crafts. Knowing what I know about tiny preschoolers, I wanted to prep everything as much as I could so they would have the easiest time possible in making it – and potentially easy enough that the teachers (myself included) would not have to make the crafts for the kids. I prepped well! Annnnnnnd still had to make the crafts for the kids. Oh well. They’re cute and they liked what they made.

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This kid looks unsure if he likes his stocking BUT WE ALL KNOW HE DOES
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So sweeeeet! 

On the sixth-ish day of Christmas my true love gave to me – roommate fun and tiny bunnieeeeeees! I came home one day this week only to hear my roommates yelling “Seng Chan! Seng Chan*!” I came running to the kitchen, worried I’d accidentally locked them out. “Look what we found at the market!” They came running in to show me the two tiny baby bunnies they had bought at the market for pets! So unbelievably cute! (They took them to their villages to keep, so probably best not to get your hopes up for #BabyBunnyUpdates in the future)

*For those of you late to the party Seng Chan is my name here. It’s not like…an alarm or anything useful.

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Why go outside when the adventures come to you? 

I decided last minute to bake some cookies for the teachers at school, but it was (ahem) a rather late evening since I got a late start. (Very last minute). I was also wrapping presents (probably too loudly) and my roommate L. came out to see if I needed help. This sweet girl ended up helping me bag my cookies, wrap my presents, and clean up a little afterward. I laughed at the mess I had made and all she could say was ” Next time tell me you’re making cookies! I want to help and make cookies with you!” Talk about generous and fun on her part- and completely clueless of me. I’m too individualistic for my own good, and figured that, since it was late, L. and O. wouldn’t be interested in helping me. Turns out they might have just felt left out. #ChristmasLearningCurve

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On the (sorta) eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me- three giant Christmas partieeeeessss! The school had a huge Christmas party, complete with several performances by each class at the school, a teacher performance (which I participated in and pretended to know all my lines. Thank goodness we’re using a recording!), teacher Christmas games and a teacher party, only to be followed the next night by a Christmas party thrown for some University students! We’re talking crowds, cookie decorating, ridiculous games, presents, food, kid shenanigans, and so much red clothing. It was a delight!

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Make a santa beard game! Using cotton ball and hazelnut spread. 

 

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me- Waterfalls and angry monkeeeeeeys!! On Sunday we went to my first national Christmas celebration. Here, each village church has a big celebration where representatives from the other churches will come watch and perform and then everyone eats afterwards. There was also a message from a teacher and remarks from the headman, as well as government officials to welcome us. Basically- It was a Christmas program like I’ve never experienced but will continue to experience over the next few days!

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It’s pretty hard to see me, since I’m blending in so well. I’m all the way on the right. The one that obviously doesn’t know the words. With the long blond hair. In the direct sunlight. Taller than everyone else. #BlendingIn!!!!!

 

After church we went to a nearby waterfall. It was so beautiful and fun! The kids could swim in the calmer pools at the top, and at the bottom we got some sweet pics! Just before we left, we spotted a monkey in a cage near the parking lot. Being the successful and fun blogger that I am, I decided to selfie it up. I historically don’t trust monkeys after I saw this one episode of Oprah where a Chimpanzee bit off his owners face, so I kept a healthy distance. NOT FAR ENOUGH. The monkey starts hissing and screeching and reaches through the bars and grabs my hair! I yelled and had to literally pull my ponytail out of his hand. In the picture you can see his diabolical plan and his hand ready for the snatch. I was quite…ahem…alarmed. (Just glad it wasn’t my face!). The worst part is he didn’t even really want my hair! He sniffed the chunk that he managed to hang onto and then just threw it on the ground! I mean if you’re going to attack me, please just have a reason other than “I despise this human and want to cause her pain.” It would have been at least gratifying for the monkey to be like “I just love this hair. It’s so beautiful and I will keep it forever!” or “I need this.” (These ‘acceptable’ reasons for pulling my hair only apply to monkeys…not humans.)

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I’m hesitant to even take this photo. I don’t trust you monkey. And you know it. Don’t you? 

I don’t have a picture of the actual event but we found a carving that was clearly done by someone who had the same experience as me.

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It’s been a full and fun few weeks, but it feels untruthful to say that it’s been glorious and breezy and perfect. I did get a little frustrated with craft time. I stressed more than I should have about making the “perfect” games for the parties and needing to have cookies made as presents. I should have invited my roommates to help me, and planned in advance! And…today is Christmas Eve and, while I have a lot to do and I’m keeping busy and excited for my time here…I’m missing home. I read in Corinthians today about strength being in our weakness. (It’s 2 Corinthians 12: 9). Paul boasts and glories in his weakness so that Christ’s strength can be seen all the clearer. I think while sitting in my church seats or reading the bible on any other day, this verse is one I agree with and am ready to experience! But now, sitting in weakness and pushing through the next few days, I remember that being weak doesn’t exactly always feel super great. I guess that’s why they call it weakness-who knew? His grace is sufficient for me. And His power is made perfect- that’s what it says. For His sake, and no other, I will be content in my weakness for when I am weak – He makes me strong.

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Oops…Sorry!

It’s the Holiday Season! And Santa Claus is coming to town! Something else aboooout a clock! He’ll be coming down the chimney now! (Try explaining a chimney and living room fire place to children who have never experienced weather below 50 degrees. “Well it’s not really for cooking, it’s to keep warm when it’s cold outside. Like really cold. Imagine you live in your freezer. Oh you don’t have a freezer? Right-you eat what you make and buy everything fresh. Okay. Well it’s like living in a bowl of ice but you want to be warm so you have a fire in the middle of you house of ice. No, it doesn’t melt you just get warm.”)

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Our Preschool tree. The kids are LOVING it! 

We kicked off the past two weeks with another Thanksgiving, this time celebrated at my house! We invited the whole school, decorated, cooked actual American food, and even had some turkeys! We actually got turkeys at the school alive, so the teachers killed them, defeathered them, and got them ready for cooking at the school – fun right!?! It was the freshest turkey I’ve ever prepared – and probably will ever prepare (except if we do it again next year! Eh? Eh?) I was in charge of hosting, cooking the turkey, and buying dinner rolls at a  local bakery. All in all, my responsibilities were super doable! I felt great about it! Almost laid back!…Until I nearly forgot to pick up the dinner rolls. I had to rush over, driving as aggressively as I could (I’m talking 40kph people. I’m talking 25mph. Yes. It got crazy.) I got there with plenty of time to pick up the dinner rolls. Well…actually…Turns out when I ordered them, trying to explain “small, round, bread” the baker pointed at a package of what looked like to be dinner rolls and (obviously relieved) I quickly agreed and ordered the amount I wanted. They turned out to be english muffins.

Oops. They tasted great anyway.

Then while, cooking the turkey, I noticed that the oven wasn’t making it’s usual hiss of gas. Checking the stove and finding it only warm rather than hot I realized I had run out of gas and the fire had gone completely out! A quick call to my supervisor and the providential timing of a friend from school coming to bring extra chairs made the potentially “disastrous” situation one of ease. The turkey cooked in time and tasted great. Still. I guess I should have checked the gas before the big day.

Oops. Rookie mistake. Oh well!

The party turned out to be everything and more! The food tasted amazing (courtesy of my teammates who are awesome cooks both in the local food and American food) and we even had a time of thankfulness, prayer, and song. It was so sweet to listen as each teacher stood up to explain something they were thankful for. Of course I got a turn too! I wanted to say “I’m thankful for friends.” Turns out the word for friend and pig are almost identical. Yeah…after some good laughter I just said “I’m thankful for studying the language.” And sat down.

Oops.

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When life gives you bananas make muffins with turkeys on top!! 

Then other day I saw a Mom come to pick up her son at school with the coolest pants on. When her legs were together it looked like she was wearing a light teal, mid-calf skirt, with a cinched bow around her waist. When we walked you could tell that it was actually just wide legged pants. I loved them. I quickly asked someone how to say “I like your pants” and then, just as she was passing by and before I chickened out, I reached out to point at her pants and tell her that I liked them…

Er….unfortunately, I did this rather aggressively, pointing at her pants excitedly, which made her practically jump out of her skin and look around her legs with the fear equivalent to nearly stepping on a porcupine. Luckily my language teacher was standing nearby (luckily…or embarrassingly) and she helped clear it up. Turns out cool-pants mom didn’t even speak very much of the language I’m learning so she was ULTRA confused with everything I was saying. Not to mention completely overwhelmed at my western excitement over a pair of pants.

My poor language teacher. After the cool-pants mom left, my language teacher reached over to gently say, “Usually we just say, excuse me…I like your pants.” she said this a thousand decibels lower than the volume I had used and I laughed and had to shrug.

Oops.

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TOO EXCITED FOR THE CULTURE!!!! BRINGING IT WAY DOWN BUT NOT IN THIS PICTURE OBVIOUSLY!!!!!!!!

Don’t let all the “oops” moments fool you though- I’m not as new here as I once was.* I mean I still get myself in a ton of “oops situations” (like….a lot. Almost daily with my roommates when I say something crazy like “I go with my pig to the market!” Oops. Meant to say friend…) but there are a lot of victories happening. I had a conversation with a guy at a smoothie store. It didn’t get deep, but I managed to tell him and the store owner how long I’ve lived here and where I work, mostly in my new language. I’m building friendships with some locals here and making plans to visit the villages around the city with them. I can drive with 4-5 extra bags on my motorbike and not crash! A friend showed me a super cool french restaurant that feels like it’s straight out of New Orleans, complete with a western pop music soundtrack to match. This is a victory people! And with the holidays coming I’ve been so encouraged by my little family here, as well as by so many people back home. You guys rock!

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Look at all the things I can carry on my bike now!! So many things!!! 

My current state of mind can be summed up in the picture of the soup below. It only looks unappetizing because I have obviously already eaten it…

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This soup only looks unappetizing because I already gobbled it up! For more info…keep reading…

This soup was delicious. I love the food here. It’s simple and satisfying and tasty**, and so far I’ve only eaten one or two things that I didn’t really like. Right as I was finishing up, my supervisor’s seven year old daughter turns to me and says, “You know, I think my favorite part of this soup is the ants.”

The what.

Cue laughter from my supervisor and confusion from my dear seven year old friend who has been eating ant soup her whole life. Yes, my friends, though I have been somewhat dreading eating bugs, and unsure of my ability to do so, it turns out, I too, like ant soup. It was, perhaps, providential that I had already basically finished the soup. I probably would have eaten the soup even if I had known, but at least now I can be sure. Most foods here, when I’m unsure about what it is and ask, most people very wisely tell me to just eat it and not worry about it. To which I say “You are absolute right I completely trust you this is delicious please don’t tell me what it is.

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Happiness is having dinner with new friends and filling up your house with thankfulness. 

The holidays are hard. The oops situations, though hilarious, can be a little tiring. But I’m trusting the process and trusting my Father. I trust that even my mistakes will be for my own good. I trust that every victory I have is only indicative of His work in my life. I trust that hard situations will last for a little while, but joy comes in the morning, and all of my pain (big or small) will not be wasted.

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This is a new restaurant a friend showed me. Am I in France? Am I in South East Asia? Am I in New Orleans? What is happening? And why are they playing Taylor Swift?

*Obviously

**Is it the MSG? Probably- but who cares! It tastes amazing! (Hope I don’t regret this statement later)