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