Archive for September, 2009
A couple of years ago, we were back from Central Asia visiting family for a few weeks. I went to the grocery store in my husband’s hometown of about 4,000 people. At the checkout, the checker asked if I wanted to use my ‘Brookshire’s thank you card’. I said, “No thank you. I don’t have one.” She went into her usual spiel about how much I would save today, on future visits etc. I again said, “No thanks.” What? She doesn’t want a thank you card? But everyone has a thank you card. This is so wierd. Maybe she doesn’t understand. Another round, this time more patronizing, trying to convince me of the value of a thank you card. Ears are perking up further down the line. No one can fathom why I wouldn’t want a card. I mean, its one of two grocery stores in town. Everyone has a thank you card. Another customer just couldn’t stand it and let offers for me to borrow theirs. “Ok. I’ll use yours.” Anything to just get my groceries and go. Finally, to alleviate the stress of all who wanted so badly for me to apply for a card, I let them know that I lived in Central Asia, was only here for couple of weeks so it didn’t make sense to apply for the card. Case closed. I finished checking out in peace.
I walked out to the car with the high school aged checker who had waited patiently through the whole ordeal. Speaking very slowly and just a little louder than normal said, “Maam, I just want you to know that your English is really good.”
Baba was on call, well that wasn’t good. But, we wanted to make the best of it so we made our first day trip to see Grandma and Grandpa. We packed lots of fun into a few hours and it helped in filling the void of Baba’s absence. I don’t think we will ever adjust to the stark contrast between our own lives and the situations Baba walks others through as a hospital chaplain. Just one of the things he did during his 24 hours on call was help a family take their loved one off life support and say a final good bye.
While we were at a football game.
I’ll post more about Baba’s job later- I’m not sure I have the words to articulate my feelings yet. Back to our good weekend, N got to see his first football game. He was in absolute awe of the band and drill team and it was a treat to see his childlike delight.
Equally fun was riding the go-cart with Grandpa and catching bugs in a new bug catcher.
The fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was closely rivaled by the fun we had when JT came to visit on Sunday. JT is Baba’s cousin which in N’s eyes elevates him to superhero status. But, JT is so cool, he would have been elevated to superhero status just by simply being JT. I mean, really. Who takes time out from studying for law school to :
Give bike lessons,
receive a lesson from a two year old as to how to change a baby doll’s diaper,
and even watch Sleeping Beauty! I think he is a superhero! He’s definitely a super cousin and we’re grateful for his role and N and J’s lives. Come back soon JT- I can’t guarantee that you won’t be giving bike lessons or changing doll diapers but I can guarantee that we won’t feed you hot dogs again!
It has already been established that N loves superheroes. In fact, he thinks he is one. To reiterate this, here is a picture from this week’s superhero escapade.
N wanted to have a Batman party for his 4th birthday. In an effort to prolong the string of superhero birthdays that is about to ensue, I convinced him to have a pirate party for his 4th birthday, saving Batman for his 5th. We struck a deal and pirates it was. Not long after, our conversation went something like this:
N: “Mom, you know God can walk on water.”
Me: ”Wow N, you’re right! He is so powerful He can do anything!”
N: “I want to have a God party for my 5th birthday and everyone can wear God suits.”
Me: “Ok. That’s a great idea. What’s a God suit?”
N: “You know. It’s in my bible. I’ll show it to you. God has a cape and everything!”
Leave it to a 4-year-old to remind us to celebrate the Superhero of all superheroes!
How about a God party? A dear friend was recently on a life changing trip to Ethiopia. She and her husband were there to pick up their new son. They had prayed faithfully for and diligently navigated the journey of adoption. After seeing him in pictures for months, can you imagine holding your son for the first time? While in Ethiopia, she sent this email:
“I just wanted you know that Sunday in the middle of the night (while lying in bed wide awake and jet-lagged) the Lord reminded me of your story about N and the “God Party.” I felt like this was such a good description of how we were feeling, and then when I woke up and read my daily Bible reading, it reminded me again of your story, as the Psalm asked us to celebrate the Lord’s goodness together. Then, fast-forward about 12 hours to the Ethiopian church service we attended. Actually, I don’t know if that’s the word…we literally walked in the door during a worship song and they ushered us up onto a huge stage in front of about 500 Ethiopian Christians, and then asked us to say something into the mic. M usually takes care of these types of things for us, but after he finished, they wanted me to speak as well. Of course, I had to tell them the story of N, and how he wanted to have a God Party, and how I felt like we were having a God Party there, together with them. I wish you could have seen a video of it, not because of what I said, or because it was funny to see them translate Batman party and Spiderman party after me, but so that you could’ve seen how your son ministered to the faces I saw in the audience! Just wanted you to know how neat your son is!”
I am humbled by the thought of hundreds of Ethiopians cheering over a God Party. I want a 4 year old’s level of enthusiasm! In Acts 2, ‘everyone was filled with wonder’. Sometimes, I think we lose the wonder. Take a minute to pause from the busyness of everyday life and ask God to open your eyes to the wonder. No matter the circumstances of this temporal life, may we never forget our reason to celebrate!
You know, I’d like to have a big God Party right here on my blog. Take a second to email me a story of God’s power, love or faithfulness poured out over your life and I’ll post them in the weeks to come.
This summer, our church had a monthly night where all the kids came in their pajamas to eat pizza and popcorn and watch a movie. It was a close race in our family as to whether the kids were more excited about the pizza and popcorn or about seeing Mr. Larry and Mrs. Debbie. Wrap it all into one and you have family movie night. Each month, there was a ‘feature family’ who gave announcements and introduced the movie. We happened to be the feature family when the movie Herbie was showing. We couldn’t pass up the chance for a good craft. So, off to Home Depo.
We bought two large sheets (maybe 4 x 8?) of foam insulation, PVC pipe and paint. Next, we made a Herbie car out of the foam, using the PVC pipe as supports.
One of Herbie’s sides was a clean, rebuilt and cared for car. The other side was dejected, dirty and forgotten.
We used this to share the salvation story with the kids- a savior who sees us clean, forgiven and redeemed for His glory.
It was a fun night and I’m now a fan of insulation board. There are many things it can be used for- building forts, mounting wall hangings, making Herbie cars, and oh yeah, insulating houses. Easy to paint, light weight and inexpensive. definitely a good find.
Go Herbie go!
That’s what J was when she locked herself inside the house today. N and I were outside planting fall flowers and catching frogs. I knew something was wrong when I heard banging on the door from the inside of the house. I immediately remembered my friend Becca who had a similar thing happen to her child. I’m thinking she called her husband to come home and unlock the door, if I remember correctly. My husband works an hour away. He usually doesn’t have cell phone reception in the building. No chances of him bailing me out of this one.
I kept trying to get J to turn the lock but it was simply too high. I don’t know how she managed to lock it in the first place. After she gave up in frustration and began to become upset, I knew I needed a new plan. Why not just call Baba and see if he could help me think. The message I left went something like this:
“Baba, just wanted to let you know that J managed to lock herself inside the house. I know you can’t help me do anything but think clearly. So, call me back and help me think clearly if you get this.”
When I hung up, N looked up at me from the porch where he had been sitting crossed legged, watching the whole ordeal. His imput would have made me laugh, had I not been near panic. In a bored, patronizing voice he said, “Mom, why don’t you just call the police.”
We’ve done our fair share of that in the past year but those are stories for another day. Good idea N, good idea. But, I wasn’t ready to resort to letting the police break a window, yet.
I went to the front of the house, hoping Baba had been careless and left the garage door unlocked when he left for work in the wee hours of the morning. No luck. Darn. He’s just to dependable.
Next, I went to the front door and checked to see if there was any way it had accidentally been left unlocked. Again, no luck. But, a plan began to formulate.
I called J over to the front door and had her climb up on the windowsill, just next to the door. From there, she could reach the lock! After an extreme coaching session where I yelled and cheered like an idiot, trying to keep a 2 year old engaged in this strange game, she finally succeeded!
I swept her into my arms and held her tight and praised her for her good work in unlocking the door. Rookie mom mistake. A little too much praise.
5 minutes later, we were back to fall flowers and frogs and I heard a banging on the inside of the door….
Below is our absolute worst travel experience. We were reminded of it last week when we used our voucher compensation money to travel to Atlanta for the weekend. I would definitely rather not have had this experience than a free trip to Atlanta. I have only told this story once without tears coming to my eyes. It was horrible, both physically and emotionally. I’m sorry that we put our children through this and hope that we are never again in such a situation. Here is the letter I sent to the CEO of the airline we were traveling on and refered to in last Tuesday’s post. The letter is kinda long so only read it if you like horrible airline stories….
August 21, 2008
Dear Gerald Grinstein:
I am writing to request compensation for an extremely difficult travel experience on Delta airlines.
We purchased 3 adult tickets and 1 infant ticket online through www.expedia.com. After the purchase, we were issued an itemized receipt including a line for the purchase of our infant ticket. We also called Delta to confirm that the infant ticket was in the system and we needn’t have a paper one sent prior to our travel date. The Delta representative looked up our tickets and assured us that we were ready for travel.
Upon arrival at the airport in T. for departure, the Delta agent informed us that we needed to purchase a paper ticket for our infant. Even though we showed her the itemized receipt, she asked that we re-purchase the ticket and write Delta later, asking for a reimbursement. She insured us that she would bring us a receipt for this ticket prior to takeoff but in actuality only delivered a sloppily hand written boarding pass and no receipt for our transaction! Her laziness and incompetence cost us 6 hours of time on the phone with Delta representatives and internet representatives. Eventually this issue was resolved but not without much wasted time and frustration.
The last leg of our flight from I to D was flight xxxx on May 14th from NY to D. Because of bad weather, our plane was diverted to A and finally H. We sat on the tarmac in H for four hours in the middle of the night. During this time, our family was in D waiting to pick us up at the airport. Adequate information was not given to those in D waiting for the plane to arrive. This caused my family the inconvenience of driving 3 hours to the airport, spending literally an entire night in the D airport before driving 3 hours home in the morning without us. This inattentiveness to customer service is inexcusable.
The wait on the tarmac was so long that the airplane ran out of both food and water. With both a 1 year old and a 2 year old child, no running water is a sanitation risk that I am not willing to take. I repeatedly asked to be let off the plane but no care was given to the request. I even threatened to call 911 and let the police know that we were being held against our will but this did not initiate an appropriate response from the flight attendants. Our children eventually ran out of diapers and I shredded airplane blankets to use as diapers. No. I did not plan for 12 hours extra delay for a flight from N to D when I packed our bag. These extremes of discomfort simply because of another’s neglect to complete one’s job are simply inexcusable.
Once we were finally able to disembark from the plane, the apologetic captain and crew deceitfully informed us to wait at the desk for a Delta agent to help us make alternate plans. The captain and crew were probably already in their hotel rooms, asleep for the night by the time the angry and agitated mob of passengers was informed by a security guard that we would have to go to another section of the airport to wait until the Delta agent came on duty in the morning. Not only were we stranded in the airport for the night, the airport staff refused to unload our luggage. This was a tremendous problem as we were still without diapers and at this point, my 1 year old had urinated and defecated all over herself and her stroller. I personally don’t recommend the use of airplane blankets for diapers. After 30 hours of travel, our children would have been exhausted under normal circumstances. Again, the circumstances that led us to this point of extreme uncleanliness and discomfort are inexcusable.
I found the highest ranking employee at the H airport and pleaded for him to allow us to have our luggage, explaining that my children needed new clothes and diapers. He insisted that even as the highest ranking employee on duty that night, he did not have the authority to get our luggage. His picture is attached to this document. Once again, this was absolutely inexcusable.
The next morning, the Delta agents finally came on duty. We were supposed to go to a hotel and come back at 2 PM the following day for a re-scheduled flight to D. We went down to claim our baggage and call a service bus for the hotel that Delta had arranged. At this point we discovered yet two more negligent acts committed by Delta airlines. When we called the service bus for the hotel that Delta had booked us in, they were full and would not accept us. This caused my husband to have to go back upstairs and stand in line again to be re-booked in another hotel. Secondly, when we finally got our luggage, it was soaked. Not just wet, it had clearly been unloaded from the plane and left outside in the rain all night long. Our luggage sat in the rain all night long while we sat inside the airport in discomfort and unsanitary conditions due to the desperate need for more diapers. This is inexcusable.
We were supposed to arrive in D at 10PM but instead, we arrived at a hotel in H at 6AM. Exhausted, dirty and indescribably disappointed with Delta airlines.
I am asking for a $400 credit for each of the 4 tickets we purchased for future use on Delta airlines. Delta has credited us with $50 vouchers but this is laughable in light of what we experienced. Money can never compensate for the discomfort our family went though during this experience. I am simply asking for a gesture that demonstrates a sincere desire to compensate for the negligence that caused this horrible experience. I have copied an Attorney on this document so that he can be fully aware of our correspondence should we need to take further action. Please compensate us for this negligence as I am not going to allow this issue to rest until we are fully compensated. I desire to pursue this matter simply because I do not wish a similar situation on anyone else.
Thank you for your immediate attention.
I read a book last weekend while we were on our Atlanta getaway entitled Watchman Prayer by Dutch Sheets. My first conclusion after reading this book was that I should pray more. My second conclusion was that I should read more. I’m trying to do both. There were many encouraging stories in this book pointing to the power, effectiveness, and necessity of prayer. Here is a story taken directly out of the book about how prayer changed a tiny village in Guatemala. I don’t want to just stop with the ‘wow’ of what God has done in other places. I want Him to do these things in our midst, too. Maybe I should be praying instead of typing a blog post.
“In the 1970′s Almolonga was idolatrous and economically depressed. Alcholism was rampant; poverty and violence the norm. Families suffered terribly due to the depravity that ruled. The gospel did not prosper; persecution of Christian leaders was common.
In 1974, a series of five-hour prayer vigils began, and shortly thereafter God began to move. Deliverance and healings began to break forth, even ressurrections from the dead. Conversions began to take place at such a rate that 90 percent of the 19,000 people in Almolonga are now evangelical Christians.
The revival has impacted every area of life: families, businesses, even the produce of the land. Now nicknamed “America’s Vegetable Garden, ” the fields produce three harvests per year with five pound beets, carrots bigger than a man’s arm and cabbages the size of basketballs.
Crime disappeared so much that, in 1994, the last of the four jails closed. The revival continues to this day.”
Sheets, Dutch. Watchman Prayer. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2000
Believe for the things that seem impossible. Ask for the huge carrots and cabbages!!
This was our favorite dessert in Central Asia. It was also a social experience as it took 2o minutes to prepare and ordering it meant a few extra rounds of cay (tea) and conversation. It is the best chocolate dessert ever created – still hot, cake on the outside and molten lava hot, syrupy, chocolaty goodness on the inside. It was always served with ice cream on top, a cup of powdered sugar and a cup of cream. I wanted to score the recipe before we moved back but was never able to get a clear explanation as to how it was made. Recently, I found a very similar recipe on the back of a Bakers Chocolate box. Surprisingly similar. Surprisingly good. Surprisingly simple. So, I’m sharing the love today. Make yourself a chocolate suffle, but don’t get carried away or you’ll end up like me- having to buy new jeans!
POUR into 10 greased (4-oz.) custard cups on baking sheet.
BAKE 13 min. or until cakes are firm around edges but still soft in centers. Let stand 1 min. Run knife around edges to loosen; invert onto plates. Top with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar and raspberries.
TIPS Don’t cook it too long, I usually take it out around 11 min. You want the middle to be runny consistency of chocolate syrup. I like to serve it in the ramkin it was cooked in so that it stays piping hot. Also, you can prepare it one or two days early and leave the mixture covered and refrigerated in the ramkins until you are ready to cook them.
Our favorite chocolate suffle place was a restaurant on a peninsula in a tiny village overlooking a bay. The view was amazing and the beaches pristine. Why in the world they had such a good chef at this place will remain a mystery!