This has been a full week for us. On Monday we flew to Sentani and drove to Jayapura for our annual trip to the Immigration office. At Immigration we each had our photo taken, and they also like to take our fingerprints (with a little electronic machine). We each got a different amount of fingerprinting done...they didn't even try to take Zach's fingerprints (thanks!), Ariella's were too small to work (though they tried for a while), Zoe's left thumb was used for every print, after one failed try they decided that my fingerprints from last time would work well for me, and they got all of Daniel's fingerprints without too many re-tries. We actually were in and out of the office in record time! We had a late lunch at KFC. The play area was nice, and about half of the things on the menu were available. In the afternoon the girls had a fun time playing with friends who they don't get to see very often.
Tuesday was another travel day, as we flew home. I really enjoy the scenery when we fly!
Wednesday we celebrated Ariella's 3rd birthday. I host preschool at my house most Wednesday mornings, so we had cake and ice cream at preschool and invited friends over to help us eat more cake and ice cream at dinner time.
Thursday we had a non-traditional Thanksgiving. Holidays away from family are hard for me. Some people work very hard to make the same foods and to make the holidays feel familiar. I didn't have energy for that this year. Daniel took time off and we invited friends who are visiting Wamena to go to White Sands (a place with lots of....you guessed it...white sand) where the kids had fun playing and exploring while we talked. Right as we were turning into the driveway to park at White Sands, a family on a motorcycle tried to pass us on the outside of the road. I am so thankful that no one was hurt in the accident that ensued, and that the vehicles were barely damaged. Zoe is still processing with me her thoughts about what happened, how to prevent it (there was nothing we could have done!), and about the people who fell off their motorcycle. Driving in a place where there are no enforced traffic laws can be a little bit scary.
We had pancakes for dinner.
Today--Friday--we decorated for Christmas. I love seeing the kids' wonder and delight at the lights and tree! Daniel found the nails already installed on the porch for hanging lights. Zach looked pretty interested when he woke up from his nap to see the Christmas tree. This will be his first Christmas! I cooked a little chicken with some onions and potatoes in the crock pot, hoping that would feel enough like a normal Thanksgiving meal to seem special.
Tomorrow I plan to bake a pie and take it to a Thanksgiving dessert get-together in the evening.
And that is my week! My emotions have been up and down. I miss family and friends. I miss being a kid and playing games at my grandparents' houses on holidays. Being an adult is tiring and sometimes I feel like a failure at it. I also miss seasons. Fall is gone and some places even have snow, but I'm still living in eternal summer.
The inside of my house looks like Christmas. Outside the rain is pounding on green grass and flower beds filled with blooming flowers including zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, forget-me-nots, impatiens, salvia,and amaryllis. This is a beautiful place to live. I like having a slower pace of life and having time and regular interactions with my neighbors and co-workers. I love that my husband is able to provide much-needed help to people who live in hard-to-reach places and might otherwise be overlooked.
I have been encouraged by these verses from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in the Bible:
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I like that it says to give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances. I don't need to be thankful that I most likely won't see my extended family for at least another year. But while I'm missing them, I can give thanks for the things that I am thankful for: 3 years already with my Ariella, Zoe's growth and thoughtfulness, Zach's new things: a 7th tooth and pulling up, Daniel's partnership in this sometimes-crazy life, my God who loves me, flowers, rain, friendship, hope, health, Christmas decorations, being alive...
When I feel homesick, sad, left out, incompetent, I try to remember to breathe. Breathe in and out...give grace to myself and others, give thanks to God in the midst of my swirling emotions and circumstances...
I know that my feelings of homesickness pale in comparison to the depths of grief that some of my friends are experiencing right now. My feelings of apprehension regarding driving here (actually, I have only ridden along, not driven a car since arriving here 8 months ago) also are not very bad compared to the fear and terror that others are going through. Some people may tell you that God has caused the circumstances that are filling you with grief or fear. I am not so sure about that. I don't believe that God causes evil. What I have written today is mostly about the small details of my life and feelings. I hope that if you are reading this and are in a time of deep pain or struggle, you will understand that you do not need to be thankful FOR the circumstances that are hard. Choose instead to be thankful for something while IN the midst of your circumstances.
Something that I think will help me to enjoy these holidays away from family is to invite someone or some family over to share them with. May I have the eyes to see who else is a little bit down or lonely.
|Decorating the Christmas tree with 2 cute elves.|
|Story time tonight.|
|Some of my flowers in the rain.|
|Birthday girl. :)|