Halfway there

 

The jet lag got me good this time.  I fell asleep in some pretty strange places the last few days, and now it’s 4am and I feel chipper (not my usual).  Ellie got it good too.  She is eating pizza beside me in the dark.  Thank you for your prayers and words of sweet encouragement over our trip.  The evidence of God’s grace came not in a smooth trip this time, but in much laughter and peace through it all.

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9pm: Ellie made a friend, one who did not share her sense of humor.

What was going to be a night on the airport floor turned into a wild goose chase.  We wanted to grab some zzz’s in the airport’s transit hotel, but it was closed for renovations, “but free shuttle take you next terminal for hotel,” they promised.  We looked at our trolley towering with luggage, our two sleeping babies and the clock ticking down to our next flight, and decided it was worth it… even for just 4 hours of good sleep.

So we waited and waited on the shuttle.  Even for just 3 hours of good sleep, we told ourselves.  The shuttle driver seemed not too happy with our boat-sized stroller or anything else about us, for that matter.  He dropped us off at the promised hotel, but it was full: no vacancy at all.  However, there were other hotels, downtown!  We only needed to take one of the many eager taxis outside!  There was neither time nor space for us and all our many luggages to go downtown so we sat on the curb and waited for the shuttle again.  It finally, finally came but there was standing room only and the driver’s face, that familiar sunbeam, indicated there was no room for Fouserts on his shuttle.  So we waited some more.  By the time we made it back to our terminal it was time to check in.

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2am: patiently waiting for the shuttle

After just 2 hours of haggling, phone calls and signatures, Hj was allowed to fly on his expired green card.  It felt like a very long flight to Tokyo, with dozens of trips to the bathroom with Ellie, who was extremely restless.  She spilled more things than I can remember, but the yogurt on the ceiling does stand out.

We got in to Tokyo late, so we had about a half hour to wend our way through security and find our next plane.  One of my themes in mothering is to never be in a hurry but I couldn’t get that across to the airport officials.  There was a good bit of dashing about until we got snagged by a problem with Adam’s boarding pass.  Finally I saw my big old 31 bag being hoisted by a slim Japanese porter and he dashed away, motioning us to follow.  Hj and Ellie bounded off behind him, much to Ellie’s delight.  I was wearing Adam in the carrier, right next to my pneumonia, and together we bounced along at a smooth and graceful pace the half mile to the gate, where the plane was waiting for us.  The only excitement that happened from there to Denver was extreme turbulence and someone in front of us throwing up between 35-40 times.

All we had left when we landed in Denver was relief and gratitude.  We laughed through most of those 30 crazy hours and we still liked each other very much at the end– the miracle is not lost on us.  🙂

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4am: sweet babies sleeping on the airport floor

This week Hj graduated from the counseling school then packed our van Tetris-style with all our belongings.  And now, we are just about to cross the Mississippi River, driving east.  I spent one late night in the hospital and then rested and recovered and took another round of antibiotics.  Praise God, I am slowly but very surely getting better.  We are taking some time off to rest and regroup as a family, visit some of our loved ones, (meet some new babies!) and listen carefully if God is saying anything to us about our next step.  We appreciate your prayers and look forward to seeing some of you soon!

 

Moving is a lot like having a baby

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Today I find myself on the brink of another great big giant move across many waters.  I keep asking myself the pertinent question, “Would I rather have a baby or travel 30 hours with two kids?”  Like as if I could choose.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s that much difference.  Before a big move, I run through the same gamut of emotions that precede labor, the kind of labor that delivers a baby.  Hj finds packing straightforward and easy, which makes me wonder why he doesn’t have our babies.
Maybe the baby is me, and I need to toughen up.  I have been thinking fondly of those little Scripture cards I had handy at my births, to get me through the toughest parts.  I bet I could tape a few to the tray table or the seat back pocket, to get me through the toughest parts of being stuck in a little metal canister with 300 other people for a day.
It starts with packing though.  First, I get rid of half our stuff.  (nesting)  Then I mentally pack and re-pack for weeks, getting more and more efficient every time. (stressing)  A few days before the departure (due date) I pack everything so I am completely prepared for that impending day.  Then I have to dig through the suitcases for toothbrushes, hair brushes and shampoo for a few days before we actually leave (false labor!).
I have explained this all in great detail to my husband, so when he asks me how I am doing, he understands when I say, “in the birth canal” or “ready for the final push.”  He holds my hand, reminds me to breathe, and whispers encouragement.  It all feels so familiar!

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We’ll leave for the airport at bedtime this evening, take a short flight to Jakarta and then spend the night on the airport floor.  I’m sure it will be hard to crawl out of our cozy beds to catch our 6am flight to Japan.  We have an 8-hour and an 11-hour flight before we land in Colorado in all our “postpartum” glory.
All metaphors aside, we would greatly appreciate your prayers!  I was diagnosed with pneumonia and several other things yesterday and ordered to go to the hospital when we arrive in the States, for further testing.  The trip looks a little daunting, but we are expecting grace abundant, just as we have experienced in the past!  God has been so kind and faithful to us in all sorts of different circumstances, and we are learning how to breathe deeply in His goodness.  Thanks for your prayers.

Matter

IMG_6129My favorite author wrote, “There are no bad children– only bad relationships.”  I don’t know about you, but I  ask myself a lot what is going to matter when I get to the end of my rope, if it’s not relationships.

What is going to matter when my body is done buried underground, and all I have left are my soul and my spirit?  I sometimes ask older people about their regrets and their joys, and so far no one ever wished they had spent more time on Facebook, may it rest in peace.  They always mention their kids, though.

A life is made up of years and years are made up of days and at the end of the day I ask myself, “What mattered today?”  Whatever mattered in my day is going to count toward my life.  I read a book once that said the way to waste your life is to waste an hour.  That terrified me, because I do not want to waste my one wild and precious life, the one Jesus died about.

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We drove to a neighboring island on Sunday afternoon, across the big bridge and then through miles and miles of towns.  I was holding one sleeping baby and Hj was holding another sleeping baby and with our free hands we were holding hands.  Instead of feeling like the luckiest woman alive, I was feeling the weight of the world.

I watched the Muslims on their way to mosques.  I thought about the video that just gutted me.  I remembered the women in the windows, again.  I felt sick about it all: the heaviness, the darkness and deception.  Then a little sleepy voice said, “Mommy? Drink, please.”

And I said, “What in the world am I going to do with my life?”

IMG_6180Let me start right here.  Let me get you a drink with my whole heart, undistracted.  Let me look into your glorious eyes while I nourish you.  Let me gaze into the one who chose me above all others, and let me hold your hand again and remember the miracle.  Let me love you, all your quirks and all your goodness, and let me not regret a single minute.  Let me live a life that sighs in satisfaction at its end… “ahhhh….”

The heavy burdens don’t fall off easily, because I’ve glimpsed the depravity of man.  The evil tries to distract me, keep me up at night, torment me, worry me.  What good does that do? And so what if I rescue the perishing and then shoot dagger eyes at home?

By my God, I will sow truth, love and hope in my own house first.  I will plant the seeds of kindness deep into my family, sturdy plants that can take a beating and survive.  I can be distracted by a million things today, so let it be a wink, a coo, a giggle.  Don’t let me save the world without loving it first, and don’t let me love the world until I love my own.

Remind me that rescuing the world really starts at home.

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Overheard on a Tropical Island

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“In Indonesia, we don’t take baby out of house for 1 year; too dangerous for baby’s health.”  -about 20 people have told me this (and I always feel like the best mom!)

 

“His face and your face is same! Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V!”  -outgoing teenage girl

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“Your little girl has creepy eyes!  Just like a tiger!”  *shudders* -little boy in Sunday School

 

“Oh, look!  Your baby has nose like you, already sticking out!” -several strangers (thanks)

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“Let me show you how to feed your baby.”
-helpful person

 

 

“In Indonesia baby boy doesn’t wear that clothes.  Looks like for girl.”  -helpful person, II

 

 

Speaking of helpful, there are also the signs.

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From the village

Dog

Dog

This week I’m spending in the village. Before we went I had imagined a primitive small little town with flocks of goats and tiny houses with tin roofs, sleeping on the floor and eating the strangest food. I was wrong. We are in a beautiful house, I spend the nights on a mattress and the village is huge! At one point my roommate asked me if I wanted the code for the wifi. I declined. One thing they do have here is loud music at 5:30, dog for supper and lots of Indonesian hospitality food.

According to my friend Penn Clark it is good to do whatever the natives are doing when on a mission trip. So at house church I eagerly stirred my spoon full of sambal in my chicken soup. Then I heard the natives saying: wow, that is spicy! I looked at my soup and knew that this was gonna be burning hot! Normally the natives tell me that the food is not spicy at all. I did eat it, with a runny nose and lots of cold water in between bites.

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Hot dog

These last couple of weeks I have become a preaching machine! Meaning that I have preached a lot. I guess that’s what you get when you are with a small team. It forced me to dig deeper in the Word of God and learn a lot. 

After I preached at church I told the congregation I would love to spend some more time with them and get to know them.  The pastor took me up on it. He is taking us to every church member’s house to visit and pray. As soon as we come into a house they pull out their jars of goodies varying from toasted soy beans, boiled peanuts to dried banana and then when we leave, they empty the jars in plastic bags for us to take along.

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One time the host asked if I wanted cola. I cheered up and said yes, I love coke! Here it was a cold coconut milk soup with sweet potatoes, green beans and jack fruit. We visited about ten houses yesterday and will do some more before we leave. I politely took whatever they gave me and this morning I’m running like the dog on the menu for supper. I can’t wait to get back to my family and start our last days in Indonesia. God is good! 

Written on August 4th in the village