(please sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday” (traditional American folk melody))
Happy six months to you!
Happy six months to me!
Though six months may not seem like much…
It’s a lot overseas!
Aaaahhhhh the sweet traditional melody sung to commemorate my own achievement of living my life. Sure it may not seem like much (and hey, I didn’t have exactly anything to do with sustaining my own life beyond…actually anything -PTL- real talk) but it’s good to recognize this achievement nonetheless. Speaking of self-congratulatory moments, I’m not one to ignore an opportunity to congratulate myself on things that I received for doing basically nothing– so here are some bonus prize experiences I had this week! Each one felt like winning the lottery in their own way. All of them somewhat random, and requiring zero skill from me- all grace.
Congratulations! I survived my first really bad case of the stomach bug (or virus…or bad food) something! It was terrible! There are no pictures of this. Nor further explanations other than I am grateful for your continued thoughts and supplications and I’m grateful to my team for taking care of me! What a great experience to hopefully never experience again!
Congratulations! I have now taught for three weeks at the local fellowship! We have a great group and have been teaching the very basics of english. Beginning vocabulary, alphabet, and beginners conversation. My teammate and I brought with us a few capable english speakers from the school to help translate when needed and it’s also been amazing to see them grow as leaders and translators! We have a lot of fun playing games, imitating one another, and recently, on a “fun friday” we played even more games, passed out prizes, danced the hokey pokey (which they loved), and realized far too late that I was super dehydrated! Water sometimes isn’t enough people! And cheese is not enough to eat for dinner by itself! Ahhh the lessons we learn in our youth.
Congratulations! We celebrated yet another wedding! Each wedding is a little different than the last, but this one we had the privilege of being invited to see the actual ceremony…well when I say invited, I mean my friends were invited and they kindly brought me along for culture lessons. Woo! The picture here is of the groom waiting to go into the house of the bride. He has a dowry of money, gold, and a car to give to the bride and her family, all of which was discussed and bartered for at the engagement ceremony (hello? America? Can we reinstate this maybe? K thnx…LOL…maybe not. sort of.). Unfortunately, after we arrived, his family quickly realized that most of the dowry was sitting at home, forgotten, so we had to wait about an hour for someone to go get it before the procession could continue! Ah well. It was sort of raining so…good luck overcomes bad luck?
So the groom and his family and friends began their march towards the bride’s house, singing and shouting to announce their arrival! They then passed through three different “gates”. Each “gate” was just a piece of chain or rope held by members of the bridal party. separating the groom from the house. Each time the groom approached the “gate”, the bridal party would shout “No! No! You can’t come through here!” and the groom would then offer/get a drink and exchange some money to finally get to the house. The house was too small for everyone, so for the actual ceremony we waited outside while the wedding continued. This whole time though, the bride wasn’t there, she was inside the house with her family waiting, only able to hear what was happening, trying to figure out when her groom would finally arrive.
Speaking of culture…Congratulations! I had my first uh…I don’t know how to say it in English…Basically it’s a festival named after spicy noodle soup? And each village temple has a different day (though around the same time of the year) to celebrate. You go to your friend’s houses in that village (or even if they’re not your friend you can go. you won’t get turned away…I did not try this) and you eat spicy noodle soup! And you sit and talk and have a good time. The festival itself has to do with “merit earning” as a part of the Buddhist culture. While I don’t believe the same things as some of my friends, I love them and love any chance I get to spend time with them! And I enjoy eating food, so…it was a good day of driving around (until I got a flat tire…congrats!) And spending time practicing language, meeting new friends, helping others practice their English (always a teacher!), and eating way too much soup. Oh well. It’s once a year.
Birthdays and holidays! Teaching! Learning! Studying! Life right now looks really different than it did six months ago. In so many ways I feel like “Yes! I’m using so much of my potential! I have filled up my time well! I’m getting to do all these cool things!” and then in a lot of other ways I feel like “Is this actually a good idea? What does this look like to the nationals? To my team? Why is life still sort of hard?” And then I remember that I’m in a foreign country and six months isn’t really that long and I’m able to give myself some grace.
So…Congratulations! I’m now entering month seven, able to attend and (sort of) participate in holidays and festivals and birthdays joyfully with my team and with more confidence individually. I still make people laugh with my miscommunications (I mixed up the word for animals and occupations today…they were pretty confused when I was like…well I like dogs…), but I join in on the laughter, knowing that it really must sound odd sometimes…this familiar language coming out in such a foreign way, and at times out of no where. But the usual questions-I’ve got in the bag now. And I always like when they ask about my family, because their reaction is exactly the same as it is in America.
“You have four brothers? Just the one girl? Ohhh! Wow!” They laugh, looking amazed, though I don’t have anything to do with it.
What a funny coincidence. Even here it’s worth congratulating –
being a daughter among sons.