Saturday, October 23, 2010

Prince Michael

The families I live with love Disney movies. They will watch one Disney movie over and over again until the video tape is worn out, and then they'll keep watching the parts they can get to play.

Their favorite right now is Sleeping Beauty, which happens to be one of my favorites too. The boys just sit on the coffee table, transfixed by the magic and charm, the color and the music, the danger and humor. And they love Prince Phillip. They want to be Prince Phillip. I don't know what exactly it is about him, but I've known lots of little boys who want to be like him. They have imaginary sword fights, they ride their trusty steeds, they save the day... and they dance.

Yesterday, Michael ran up to me and in his typical adorable way, threw his little arms around my legs and buried his face in my lap. I bent down and kissed the top of his head and returned the hug. Then he took both of my hands in his and started swinging my arms around and humming. I realized he was humming the song, "Once Upon a Dream," from the forest scene in the movie, and that he was trying to dance with me - something very few men have ever attempted with me. So I sang the song in my best Briar Rose voice and Michael giggled and danced with me.

So I've dubbed him my little "Prince Michael," because his is becoming a very good little prince. He is about as charming, heroic, and gentlemanly as an 18-month old can possibly be. And some day he will meet a beauty who he will dream about, dance with, and fight for... and they will live happily ever after...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Youth Night Kodak moments

I don't have any pictures to post today, but I sure wish I did. Last night's Youth Night was full of Kodak moments, such as...

- when the girls raked a big pile of leaves together and then the guys dove head-first into them... and promptly got buried alive by the girls, who were upset that the guys stole their idea.

- when the boys v. girls soccer game turned into more of a tackle-football game.

- when one of the volunteers actually had three of the boys reading science books for fun.

- when the kids sat down at study tables and asked for help from their "favorite" tutors... and every tutor was picked by some kid.

- when one volunteer spontaneously started a game of "duck, duck, goose" that everyone got in on.

- when the adults all helped herd the kids on the bus at the end of the night, hugging the kids and telling them they loved them, and then stood by and waved good-bye as they drove away.

We actually have a great, strong core group of about eight voluteers who come out to help now - thank you to those of you who prayed for that! They are such a blessing because they are full of energy, really smart, really fun, and they really do love the youth.

As the "director" with lots of helpers, I find myself not needing to do a whole lot, so I have been praying for opportunities to talk with the youth more personally. Last night, my favorite time was when I was in the kitchen, and kids came in to have a snack or drink. They aren't allowed to wander around the house with such things, so while they munched, I got to be Auntie Connie and ask about their homework, their day, their friends, and their life. I'm really enjoying them, and so glad for the time we have together.

And next time, I'll try to take some pictures!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Packages, packages!

This has been my jackpot week for packages! Every day I have been pleasantly surprised by a new box with my name on it beside my porch door.

First came my mom's package of purple pajamas and pumpkin cookies (which the boys just LOVED)... and tea!

Then came Zoe's handcrafted quilt and pillow set... the material was a pattern of tea cups and tea pots!

Today the box said "From the Vincent Ladies," and contained homemade cookies, some fun crocheted pieces, chocolate, and a tea mug... filled with tea!

Anyone sensing a pattern here? :) My entire room motif will be ruined if I ever turn to drinking coffee!

Thank you to all of you wonderful people for cheering up my week. It was tons of fun to be surprised and get to open new things made or bought just because you were thinking of me - I feel so loved!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Supergirl Vs. Culture Shock

At training in Illinois, we talked about an inevitable monster that would take the best of us eventually - Culture Shock. I naively thought this monster wouldn't find me... that I had bested him with sheer cleverness by staying stateside in a major all-American city. Sure, I'd be completely surrounded by internationals, but they are from so many different countries and cultures that I didn't feel like I'd feel steeped in anything too much... it would just be like participating in a "World Cultures Festival" every day, and who wouldn't love that?

Last week, I noticed I was getting irritated by one of my friends going on and on about what "they" do in "their country" that is so much superior to the way "we" Americans do it. I was puzzled by my own feelings, because I have always been so fascinated and open to learning about other cultures before, yet now I suddenly feel offended and this urge rises up in me to defend my own culture. I know my culture doesn't do many things right, but there are certain things - especially hygenic things - that make more sense to me in America than in many other places. And it's the way I've always done it and my family has done it and all my friends have done it, and I don't want to be told it's all wrong! I try to be sensitive of others' cultures, so why can't they do the same? 

Over the weekend, I got totally sick from food poisoning... it was awful. And even though it only really lasted 24 hours, for three days the smell of garlic and fish and curry wherever I went made me wish never to eat another international dish again.

Yesterday I got flustered (ok, I just broke down and cried) everytime anyone questioned or criticized me about the way I did things. I know that is vague, but it pretty much touched on every aspect of my daily routine, including the fact that I microwave leftovers instead of putting them in the oven.

And last night when I was tutoring my favorite kids (international by ethnicity, but fluent in English), I got mad because they kept talking at me in Arabic (which they know I can't speak) and laughing. Why would they do that? Don't they know that is so rude?

And this morning I got frustrated because I heard my families hanging out in the living room and I went out to sit and visit with them, and they thought I was trying to leave the house, so they got up and opened the door for me and scolded the kids for being in my way. I just wanted to be with them, and couldn't seem to even communicate that to them!

I have never felt so out of place and disconnected, and as I thought about all these symptoms today - irritability, inexplicable weeping, sickness, homesickness, patriotism, exhaustion, hostility toward other cultures - I could here Jim Miller's voice in my head saying, "It's gonna happen - just recognize it for what it is." Culture Shock. Somehow the monster found me - in the home of Vera Bradley and DeBrands Fine Chocolates! How did it find me?

Of course, my training also taught me that I have two choices at this point: I can be critical and withdraw, or I can take a deep breath and get back to learning - observing, asking questions, engaging. It's not easy - my spirit's been a bit bruised this week and my tummy is still recovering - but I know God put me here, and I know the people I love, love me too. And as inevitable as Culture Shock is, it is also possible to overcome it - to grow and become stronger through it, if I keep following the Lord. So pray for me as I face the epic showdown: Supergirl Vs. Culture Shock!