Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the road...

to discovering answers.

Went to the Doctor today.  I really don't like trying to find new doctors, it is scary, intimidating, frustrating.  Today my new doctor, calmed all of my fears, laughed as I joked about what has been going on, and encouraged me in the process.

And it will be a process.

He is setting me up with a Gastrointestinal Doctor to test for this.  Apparently many people have it, and don't know it, and apparently it might run in the family, although most people in my family have never heard of it.  I won't tell you about the testing I will go through...it is rather unpleasant.  But I am thinking to go through some unpleasantries to find an answer isn't such a bad thing.

Thanks for praying.

And we were complaining....

So gas prices are the talk everywhere we go. Even yesterday I cringed as I passed a gas station in Cary that was advertising regular unleaded at $3.99 a gallon.

Then I read this article, and somehow, $3.99 doesn't seem so bad.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pleading Ignorant

I have to admit. In some cases I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of knowing, so I just don't do the research. It is easier to refuse blame, responsibility or guilt for something if you know very little about it.

I realized this earlier this week when I was having lunch with Eddie, Stephen and Don. We were all talking about current events, and some world events, and I realized that I know just a little big about some things, and I fail to be fully informed. I fail, because I have a world of knowledge at my fingertips everyday and I fail to take advantage of it.

I fail to learn more about politics.
I fail to learn more about both the major and the minor and conflicts around the world.
I fail to learn more about poverty.
I fail to learn more about freedom.
I fail to learn more. Period.

I decided this week to change that. I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was born in one of the wealthiest if not the wealthiest country in the world. It's time I start learning, and stop pleading ignorant. The debate now, is where to begin.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Backflashes...

Today I wandered down memory lane.

I didn't plan on it, it just sorta happened. I was looking for a CD and since it wasn't already out I assumed it was in one of the black action packers stacked in my office. I opened one and not only did I encounter my CD/DVD booklets, and some sheet music, but I also encountered that oh so lovely smell....the smell of Africa.

I used to get it now and then, when I wore a shirt, or a pair of pants that were in Tanzania that I hadn't worn yet in the USA. But by now it is pretty safe to assume that all of my clothing has been worn or washed so it doesn't happen anymore. And although you may think it was a smell that caused me to step back, it wasn't. In fact I leaned in closer...

I bent over the chest and took a deep breath, and instantly my eyes closed and I saw Tedi on my back porch, I heard the horns of the cars honking on the street below my apartment, and I had images of the many people I loved in Tanzania. I remembered the friends I made, both international workers and Tanzanians, I remembered the hard times and the fun times. I nearly cried. What a strange 6 months it has been.

Then, I was talking with a co-worker about acculturation and culture shock upon a missionaries return to the USA. I started looking for some info I had dug up two years ago at this time and came upon some of my old papers and essays that I wrote in the acculturation process. It was numbing to say the least. I partly enjoyed going through them, but part of me also wanted to put it in a box and set it aside...my heart wasn't ready to grieve yet.

And so I wonder, how long is it really going to take before I feel at home here in the USA? How many more days, months, please don't even say years, will it be before I understand the society I am living in?

Backflashes. They are good, they remind us of good times, and hard times, of mountains and valleys, they also remind us of where we have been and help us to look forward to getting where we are going. Lord just help me get there in one piece.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Resolutions

When I was in Texas in January my brother and I had a long chat in the jeep as we returned from the beach. We both remarked on how we didn't know our aunts and uncles that well, and how we wished we had closer relationships with all of them, including our cousins. We also wished we had more traditions in our own family. So, in order to make sure our future is a little different, we set some new goals:

1. Always spend Thanksgiving together. I am the host, his family will come to me.
2. Always spend Christmas together. He is the host, I will go to his family.
3. Meet up at least one other time in the year for a "family vacay." (actually though, I am not sure if this last one was a resolution or an idea...I better get some clarification!)

Either way, we are resolute that our kids will no each other, and will know their aunts and uncles and extended family, and not just "know" them, but have relationships with them.

One of the roughest parts of being overseas...

Is being far from family. I encourage you to remember that as you encourage your friends or own family members to work in another land. Although the exchange is incredible, a new culture, a new world to explore, new language, new EVERYTHING...there is what I felt the biggest challenge of them all...being apart from family. Everyone survives, and creates a family in the field they are in, but everyone we know serving in another land could always use a little extra prayer and encouragement when it comes to missing family events and holidays.

I didn't realize this until I left the country. About 6 months later my brother got married. I missed the wedding, and cried almost every day the week before. Technically he got married the year before I left, but his "wedding" was 6 months after I arrived in Tanzania. Long story. Regardless, I missed one of the biggest events of his life.

I missed a LOT of family events in the last two years, and each of them were difficult. This weekend I remembered how awesome it is to just get to "be" together.

About a month ago I called Matt (my brother) to ask what he was thinking about for Mother's Day and although he didn't really know what to do for Mother's day, he had an AWESOME idea. You see, my dad was coming to Texas to help my brother remodel his kitchen. My dad's birthday also happens to be at the end of May. The AWESOME idea: I fly out to Texas as well and surprise dad.

Shockingly, we pulled it off. Dad arrived Wednesday night, and I arrived Thursday around lunch time to a very shocked father. Within half an hour I had my "work clothes" on too, and my dad, brother, sister in law and I were working away. It was awesome to step back tonight, and see a kitchen with all new cabinets, new drywall, paint, light fixtures and window coverings. It was even more awesome to sit there with my dad, stepmom (who showed up friday), brother and sister in law (and nephew in utero) and take it in together. I wanted to bottle up the moment and save it forever...in case I would one day have to be in a land where I couldn't be at family events so easily.

The last two years being away were difficult, I missed family, but at the same time, they made me realize how much more I need to treasure these opportunities to be together, I never really made a priority to be with family before Tanzania.

It's good to be home. I thank God for the opportunity to spend with family.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

But you aren't a mommy...

So last night I stayed with the kiddos of some friends of mine. They have two young boys and because life happens, mom and dad needed to be in two different places out of town at the same time.

So I had the fun of taking over parental-like duties from about 4:30 PM until 9:3o this morning. Which really means in my mind having a blast and showering their kids with love and fun in their absence. My goal, make it as fun and exhausting as possible so they won't have too much time to think about mom and dad not being around and also so they would collapse in their beds.

So we hit the park, fed the ducks, played on the playground and had a blast. Got really dirty, but had a blast. And if that wasn't enough we stopped at Chik-fil-a for dinner and more play ground fun.

We rush home, and get in the bathtub and off to bed. The night was hysterical, loads of funny things said...but my personal favorite was at the very end of the evening. They were both in their beds and started asking questions about where mommy was that very minute (I must have super powers) and what time daddy's plane was coming in on Thursday, where was I going to sleep, who was going to make breakfast, did I know how to make breakfast, do I know who likes what kind of juice etc. And then the big question...from the 3 year old...

"Miss Pam, what if I wake up in the middle of the night and I need something?"
"Well, I am going to sleep in the guest room where Nana and Papa usually sleep and if you need something you can wake me up and I will help you, or if something is wrong you can yell out and I will come and help."
"But Miss Pam, you aren't a mommy, how will you know what to do?"

Yes. Priceless. I covered my laugh so as to not ruin his confidence and told him that I was sure that even though I wasn't a mommy, between the two of us we could figure it out of he needs something.

Thankfully we all slept through the night and didn't have to test my theory.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How quickly it fades...

I sponsor a Compassion Child in Arusha. Actually since I know the system, I sponsor a child in Unga Limited. It is kinda fun that way. When I write to him I know the people who will pass on the letter, and I also know the people who will make him sit down and write me back. In fact, I know the desk he will sit at and the room he will most likely sit down in. I know the faces of those who lead his program, the pastor, his wife, the Compassion Employees there. I know the ladies who sell vegetables, I know the food, I know the smells, the effect of heavy rains and I know the difficulties of his everyday life.

Today I sat down to write Geofrey a letter, and well, I know a lot of things about Geofrey's life, but today the one thing I struggled to know was Swahili. I tried so hard to write Geofrey in his native language, but it took everything to come up with words. I had to face the fact that I am forgetting it already. It amazes me that after just four months, the language I spent the last two years learning doesn't come to mind quickly, actually it is difficult to get it to come to mind at all. My heart grieves.

It further stresses for me the need to continue learning, growing, and diving in to whatever we are learning, because once we step out of it, we tend to forget what we have learned.

Monday, May 12, 2008

6 weeks.

I move into my apartment in a little over 6 weeks. Words cannot describe my excitement.

Words also cannot explain why I called a doctor today and he was accepting new patients even though last week he was not. I have an appointment to continue seeking out answers to my intestinal issues at the end of the month.

On the gut...

I have had a "gut feeling" quite frequently lately.

It isn't pleasant. And I can't seem to get to the bottom of it.

I don't have worms. I don't have a parasite. I apparently don't have any organisms in my system.

I thought it was wheat. Stopped eating all things containing wheat. It helped. But the last three weeks that "gut feeling" has come by a little more frequently, and well it isn't a pleasant feeling to say the least.

So I am studying more and more about gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Leaky Gut etc. And learning that gluten is in A LOT of stuff I didn't know about, which could be one explanation for my issues since I have been eating out a lot lately and at other peoples houses. It isn't as simple as just removing the bread and pasta, but gluten sneaks its way into a lot of preservatives, sauces, condiments etc.

Two weeks ago (1 week in) I decided it was time to proceed with finding a new Doctor. I called several. SEVERAL. Too many to count really. And, because I am in the USofA I need to go to a "new patient" appointment before I can see the doctor because of my "gut feeling." Cary has recently been noted as one of the best places to live, and apparently loads of new people are also needing "new patient" appointments because I can't get a "new patient" appointment until the end of July. Yes, go ahead, read that again, and yes, laugh with me.

So I have a new patient appointment currently scheduled for July 26th. And I will resume calling other physicians in the area this week and hopefully get something sooner. And I will also go very bland, basic, and boring with eating in hopes of not having that "gut feeling" quite as frequently as I have had it in the last few weeks.

If you don't mind, I would appreciate your prayers over my gut.

Score!

I have to say, I feel like I deserve a pat on the back for this one...actually there are two things.

I have discovered that I am either picky or cheap. Or both. Let me explain...

I am slowly, and by slowly I mean VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY slowly gathering the items needed for my apartment. Fortunately I don't move in until the end of June, or I would be in serious trouble. Fortunately I also have patient friends who are enduring this process with me.

You see, I just can't seem to throw down the cash. I have some cash saved up and I can't seem to spend it, one for fear that it won't go far enough and then I will be out of luck, and two because I refuse to spend money on something I am not "in love with."

Add to that, the fact that I am in the USA, the land of a million choices. I feel compelled to view all of my options before I take the plunge, and well, in Raleigh, there are way too many options! And I feel like I am making rather permanent decisions, I mean really, if I am buying a couch I want to buy one that I will like for many many many years to come, and well, when you are picky, cheap and unable to throw down the cash...that becomes difficult.

So I find that I spend way too many hours during weeknights and on my days off "window shopping." I am fully prepared to make a purchase, should the deal arise, and well, that rarely happens because I am rarely able to find a deal that would motivate me to throw down the money.

Well this weekend I went to a department store because I was told they were having a huge sale on kitchen stuff. Let's face it folks, I needed to go, cookie sheets, muffin tins, bread pans etc. are not currently in my stock, and even a gluten free girl bakes cookies once in a while, especially with the lovely gluten free alternatives!

So I went, and I will say I scored.

I took the plunge and obtained the following:

Two Cookie sheets
cooling rack
muffin tin
bread pan
cake pan
9 inch cake pan

Price Paid: $15.00 Original price: Over $50. Yes. I think I did well.

While I was there I saw some shams. Liked them. A lot. I REALLY liked the duvet cover, but the duvet cover was insanely priced. The shams were as well, but in the wrong way, because the original price on the sticker was $7. I thought it was odd, liked the shams, but passed on the shams and went on my way.

Today I decided I really liked the shams. I figured I could get a different duvet and piece together my bedding. I went back and they were still there so I picked them up and on the way grabbed a few other things. The cashier rang up the bill and I was shocked by the price, it was WAY higher than in should have been. Then I noticed, that although the sticker said $7, they rang up for $75. OUCH! I pointed out the sticker price, and yep, you guessed it, I got the sticker price! So I am now the proud owner of a set of pillow shams and thanks to someone else's sticker making mistake I spent $14 on two pillow shams that apparently really cost $150. Yes. I am very proud of myself. So proud I bought a shower curtain too.

Progress folks. This is progress. Work with me and laugh with me.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Speechless

My friend Gwenn posted this link of pictures on her blog. And really, I am posting them on here mostly because a little awareness never hurts, and well, I can't get the images out of my head. I will warn you though, it is a website with images that are disturbing and sickening and make me ask a few questions:

1. Why are there places like this in the world?
2. What are we going to do about it?

Now I don't know anything about the organization that has these images posted, and I can't say anything for what they do, but I can say I am thrilled about the what the Haitian Children's Home is doing to try and bring some hope.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Noisy America.

Did you ever notice that just about everywhere in the United States there is noise?

Restaurants have the clanging of dishes, the buzzing of customers in life changing conversation, and of course, we need to have the background music because it wouldn't be the same without background music.

Coffee Shops have that lovely whirrrrrr of the machine...yes I don't know the technical name of the machine...but I don't drink coffee so I think I should be let off of the hook. Also, every coffee shop I have been in also has background music, and it isn't soft.

The Libary. Most often noise in the form of a printer. However I heard music in the library too, someone had their ipod turned all the way up and I could hear their headphones.

Stoplights. The horns are honking, engines purring, radio's blaring music through open car windows (the weather is lovely here by the way!).

The park. Dogs. People. Again more music from radios.

I have recently found myself starving for extreme quiet. I find myself longing for a chair next to a little table on my soon to be apartment patio with a glass of water, a book, a journal and a pen. In addition to all the external noise I encounter in the USA, there is a lot of noise in my head and in my heart and it would be so much easier to sort through that noise in my head and in my heart if there wasn't so much noise going on around me.

I used to find noise calming. As a kid I always went to bed with the radio on, it was soothing, even now, as I beg for quiet, I can't fall asleep without the hum of the fan. Lately though, I am finding the noise to be annoying, distracting, and frustrating.

When did America become so noisy?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Sabbath????

Only 3 weeks in and I already missed one.

And I will say, it was still an awesome day, but I am beat. Praise God I don't have anything on the calendar tomorrow and can take tomorrow off. The eyes are burning, yet I am blogging, you can tell where my priorities are!