Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Names

"What's your name again?" little Burmese Esther tips her pixie-like face to one side and sweetly smiles. When I tell her that it's Connie, she asks, "Can I call you Miss Connie?" I say that would be fine, if she wants to. She seems to think about it critically for about five seconds, and then she tests her boundaries: "Can I call you Miss C.?" I giggle a little because I don't think I've ever been called that... though some of my ESL students probably would find that less challenging than Miss Chandler. Sure, why not - Miss C. I will be! Esther broke in the new name over the next two hours, asking me a hundred questions, as eight-year-old pixies tend to do. "Miss C., what is he doing?" "Miss C., can I try that?" Miss C. started to sound more like Missy the more comfortable she got with it, and that too was ok with me.

Later I am in my room and I hear Lian teaching English words to Jo-Lien. "Tank yoo." "You welcome." "Goo' job!" "OK!" I am so impressed by her initiative and his parroting skills that I have to go join them. After a few more words, Lian asks me if she could teach Jo-Lien to call me Auntie Kah-Ni (the way they pronounce my name). Oh, I just love that! She can tell I'm pleased with the choice, so she's started calling me Auntie Kah-Ni whenever Jo-Lien is around. I think he's starting to make the connection, and one of these days I hope I get to hear him say it!

I love my new nicknames. They make me feel like I belong, that I am part of their family.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Conquer-and-Devour is my middle name!

"What do you think it is?"
"I don't know... looks like miniature chickens..."

Hilina and I speculated in a whisper about the little headless bodies that Lian was chopping in half with a cleaver at the kitchen counter. She heard the word "chicken," which she knows, and she looked up at us. "Oh no, no chicken," she said. "Is bahd."

"Did she just say it was bat?!" Hilina gasped.
"No, no," I quickly said. "Surely she didn't say bat. I'm sure she said bird."
And our consciences preferred that possibility, so we accepted it.

A little while later, I was reading in my room and Lian - in classic Chin-Zo fashion - came in and put a dish in front of me with two fried halves of an alleged bird, and said, "You eat," and walked away.

"Oh thank you, but I just ate-" Nevermind, she's already gone. Well, why not, right? It just looked like skinny fried chicken wings. I picked the little bit of meat off one half, and it tasted like the dark meat of a turkey. So, not bad. A little gravy might have improved it. At that point curiosity overcame me, so I just had to ask...

"Lian, this is so good! What bird is it?"
"Ah no, no bird," she said. "Different from chicken... I don' know."
"What... color is it?"
"And it flies?" (flapping gesture used here)
"Yes, fly at night."

Oh my goodness... My mom called me at that moment and asked what I was doing. "I think I'm eating a bat," I said as I inspected my fried wings again, this time realizing there were hooks at the end of each leg. This definitely tops my list of "Weird Things I Have Eaten."

I asked Hilina if she wanted to try it, and she adamently refused as she backpetaled out the door. She said if it was a bird, then maybe, but there was no way she would eat a bat. I figured that would probably have been true for me too, and that's why I have been cultivating my own "eat first and asked later" policy. It's amazing how one phoneme in one word can affect someone's appetite. I managed to find the grace to eat the second half of the bat by myself. Minus the hooks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bittersweet treats

I think I had my first taste of Turkish Delight today at Women's Club. The lady who made it has also made baklava and rice pudding in the past, among other things one just cannot pick up at Wal-mart, and her treats are always good so naturally I had to try it. It wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be... kind of nutty and carmelly, but not in a "Snickers bar" kind of way. Not sure how I feel about it, except that it made me feel rather British and slightly evil, since it's the famous treat of the White Witch in Narnia.

After the Turkish Delight, I had a cup of coffee which was prepared for me by two ladies - a Burmese friend who made it black with sugar, and a Chinese friend who added hazelnut creamer. Again, not sure how I feel about it, because it was, afterall, coffee which I just can't seem to acquire a like for no matter how hard I try, but the sugar and hazelnut was nice... could I have a cup of sugar and hazelnut please? And that would be a liquid sort-of version of Turkish Delight... hmmmm... The bittersweetness of it all is a bit overwhelming...

It was really good to be back at Women's Club. Tea time is so much fun, especially when we haven't been together in weeks - so many hugs and smiles, and even if the ladies don't know much English, they can say, "Hello teacher! How are you!" I had three new students, and five previous students in my little ESL class, and we read the parable of the Good Samaritan. I think they understood it, because when I asked which man had "good love," they all agreed it was the third one, because he stopped and helped, and when I asked which man we should be like, they all agreed that we should be like the third one and "help, clean, give medicine, and take care" of people even when they are not our friends. I love when they want to talk about the story!  And I want so much for them to understand the depth of God's love for them portrayed in stories like this: "That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." I think the Holy Spirit still has some work to do before some of the ladies grasp it, but anything is possible through him.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Road trip photos

I took pictures on the road trip from NC to IN, because I love how much the landscape changes and I wanted to share it with you. It reminds me of all my favorite songs by Rich Mullins, Mitch McVicker, Ryan Richardson, and Andrew Peterson...

- Pilot Mountain, NC -
It's hard to tell by the photo,
but the clouds above were pearly and irridescent.
"Mountains rise up to the sky...
And all heaven sings of God."

- Mount Airy, NC -
"I saw the mountains waking with the innocence of children
And my soul is still there with them wrapped in the songs they brought..."

- Rolling Virginia Hills -
"We'd all swear that it's a precious view
That's seen by such a precious few
And it'll change you just as sure as it is pretty...
And that ain't a bad thing."

- West Virginia Mountains -
"The streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out..."

"The music of the mountains is still keeping me awake..."

- Charleston, NC -
"I ain't lookin for no seven golden cities,
But I know there's a fortune somewhere to find..."

"In the words that you have spoken,
There's a word that echoes still.
And I can hear it in the silence of these hills."

- Crossing the Ohio River -

- Southern Ohio -
"As we drove across Ohio at the dawning of the day
I could hear the tune of truth was in his voice..."

- Fields of northern Ohio -
"You can look sometimes forever til you see
What time may never know..."