Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Friday with Friends

Part 2 of the mystery meat saga: After I wrote about my mystery meat gift, Thang Ngai returned with a BOWL OF SOUP. It had potatoes, green leaves, and hunks of the bony meat in it! "For me?" I asked. "Yes, for you." she replied and handed me a napkin and spoon. It was pretty greasy and salty, but not bad, and I managed to eat it all... minus the bones, of course. I explained it to Jayne and she's pretty sure it was duck soup!

Thank you to all of you who sent me messages! You are so dear to me, and it was good to hear from you personally. Laura is here now, and we are having a marvelous time together. Thursday night she got "inducted" by meeting my ESL class and partaking in Hilina's famous 10 Fruit Smoothie.

Yesterday Laura, Pam, and I visited Lakeside Park. We walked around the pond and then, as is tradition for Laura and I whenever we visit a park, we "crashed" a wedding! Actually, we just sat on the hill and watched from a distance. I don't think they even reserved the park - there were no chairs for guests, no decorations, no music... and it was all over in a matter of 15 minutes! The wedding party showed up to the park at 2:20, and walked through the garden at 2:25. At 2:30, vows were said and rings were exchanged, and at 2:35, with a kiss and a cheer, the couple was announced as husband and wife.

Then we went to lunch/dinner at Flattop Grill and saw the movie "Letters to Juliet," which was beautiful. Then we wandered around Jefferson Point, the big outdoor mall, for a while, ate Cold Stone ice cream, and listened to a cheesy cover band.

When we got home, we made a pot of peach tea from Charleston, SC, and our happy thought (compliments of Wendy) was this:

So we decided, since it is indeed July, to go ahead and sing some of our favorite Christmas songs... which turned into two hours of singing (the Angnaying Inn has GREAT accoustics). We forgot how much we just love Christmas songs! And so many of them are worship songs and talk about Jesus' return, so it was good to sing them together.

So what adventures will we have today? As I tell my ESL students, "Come back tomorrow to find out!"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Right now... I'm homesick.

Right now? Right now, I am chewing on something that Thang Ngai gave me to eat in a little dish... something that I think is poultry of some sort, bony and tough and cooked in some unidentifiable Asian sauce. I thought I was brave, until I couldn't control the words from coming out: "What is this?" Thang Ngai just laughed and said, "Don' worry, is not hot." Slightly offended, because I heroically faced Rekha's curry sauce... once... I just shrugged and comforted myself with the probability that it isn't something's intestines. Too bony for that. And I'm pretty sure even Asian people can buy cat in Indiana. God bless America.

Right now, with my mystery meat, I'm waiting for the next three hours to pass before my dear friend Laura arrives on my doorstep, hopefully with the red dust of North Carolina still on her shoes. I really miss NC and all my friends there... it'll be so sweet to see a familiar and friendly face and have her nearby for a couple days!

If you are reading this, do me a favor and send me a quick note or email, and tell me a story about life where you are, whether in NC or elsewhere in the world. Maybe it will make me feel a little more connected and closer to home.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

AHA! Resourcefulness...

Who needs cable anyway? Refugees survive on a lot less... or at least they figure out how to be resourceful... This is what was going through my mind when Hau Lun ran downstairs yesterday and handed me a slip of paper with a website on it, then quickly busied himself with hooking up my projector to my computer as I typed in the address. How he found out about a live-streaming site for the World Cup games is beyond me, but apparently his desperation to watch Holland take Uruguay in the last ten minutes was enough to motivate him to figure it out even without access to cable TV.

Today the whole family was ready for game time! Hau Lun rigged up the projector to provide us with a huge, wall-sized picture of the field. Michael loved standing right in front of the wall with his own soccer ball, looking straight up at the action before him. Even though the internet service slowed and stalled the streaming at times, it really just added to the suspense of the Germany v. Spain match. Thang Ngai served Coke and shared a bowl of ginko nuts with me, and we all cheered as Spain took the game with one cool point.

It's fun to be here with my international friends during such an international event. We all understand soccer (er, I mean, "futbol"), and can even talk about it together despite language barriers. I loved seeing the SocceCable screen show the fans in Madrid, too, because it reminded me that this is something we are all experiencing together. Hau Lun was quick to inform me that the final between Spain and Holland is on July 11... so I'm sure we'll be watching it on our makeshift movie screen!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Beauty and Power of Song

"Songs are a precious resource for the Christian communicator. Songs can teach. Songs can help us remember a message. Songs can help keep the message accurate, because rhythm and melody, like writing, stabilize a text. Songs can help us party and also can help us cry, and throughout our lifetimes we will need to do plenty of both. Songs can help us witness and help us worship..." - Miriam Adeney, Kingdom Without Borders

As we waited on our picnic blanket for the fireworks show to start, Jayne opened her guitar case and propped her instrument on her knee. Pam and I flipped through paperback praise song books, looking for favorites and ones we knew by heart. We played with harmonies and thought we were enjoying our own private worship service, but after a couple songs, we realized it wasn't quite so private...

"Hey, can you sing that one again? It's one of my favorites and I haven't heard it in a long time." The man reclining on his own blanket behind us explained that he had been a youth pastor once upon a time, and that his youth group sang the song a lot, especially at summer camp. Funny, I remember singing it at summer camp too. So we were happy to sing it again.

A few songs later, an older man was riding by on his bike and slowed down. He started to hum along with us and crept closer. When the song was over, he introduced himself and said, "I'm a believer of Jesus Christ too!" Interesting... we hadn't said a word outside of our songs. We invited him to sit with us and sing (we could really use a bass line). And he did.

A woman nearby commented between songs, "It's amazing that you are singing so many songs from memory! I haven't seen you look at the song book yet." Oh, but you should know how dear these songs are to us...

More people passed by, slowing down to listen or patting their thigh to the rhythm of the songs. I noticed others around us on their picnic blankets, that mom rocking her child to sleep to our tunes, this dad bouncing his kid on his knee to the beat. I didn't observe a single negative response - no one got up and walked away or tried to drown us out or shut us up. And we weren't trying to organize a choir or push an agenda, we just sang out of the joy in our hearts and offered it as a gift of hope and encouragement to those who had ears to hear. I hope it was a blessing to them.

The next night we wanted to do it again, so we toted the picnic blanket and guitar out on the pier at sundown. We sang songs from the songbook until it was too dark to see, and then kept singing a cappella or the old songs Jayne knew how to play by heart... everything from "Amazing Grace" to "Deep and Wide."
Again, people heard as they passed, tapping out the beat, humming along... one man stood at a little distance and gazed at the stars, smiling and listening. He said our music made an otherwise pointless trip worthwhile for him. We saw people on the shore taking pictures of us, and it occurred to us that sound travels well over water, so maybe God was amplifying our songs to the whole beach front!
We sang songs that reminded us of sweet times of fellowship, awesome times in God's presence, sacred times of worship, and all the times we've experienced His faithfulness to us... which are as numerous as the grains of sand on the shoreline. When we ran out of English songs, we sang in Swahili, Mai Mai, French, and Spanish. Each song propelled us into another and for hours - yes, hours - we lifted our voices to the starry heavens, to the natural rhythm of the wind and waves around us...

Monday, July 5, 2010

South Haven, Michigan

An ideal break
A good vacation
A perfect getaway
A wonderful holiday

Is set near
The Sea
Clear Blue Sky
Gentle Breezes
Beautiful Sunsets

Includes some
Suntan Lotion

Needs picnics of
Cheetos and Crackers
Homemade Chicken Salad

Has time for
Reading books
Singing praise songs
Sharing life with friends

Is because of
Our God
Who loves us
Delights in us
Likes to give us joy.

~"A Good Vacation"
C.L. Chandler