Asia, Auto, Food, Health, Missions, Religion, Travel

Not of this World

I’ve done it, guys. I think I finally have mastered the art of riding side saddle on a motorbike. Hands politely in my lap, balancing carefully as we go around the corners. I’m officially a Southeast Asian lady. 
So far, I think I’ve had my picture taken about 73 times since I’ve been here. This morning, I saw one of the ladies in our nutrition training session trying to take a picture of me as we were preparing to begin. So, I stopped what I was doing and stood still to smile for a picture. Because, if you’re going to take my picture, I atleast want it to be a good one. Then, that opened the door for personal pictures, so some of the other women took pictures with me. 


I forget sometimes that I stand out here. I’m trying my best to blend in. I wear the Lao skirt. I sit side saddle on the back of the motorbike as we navigate the streets of the town. I know their greeting, so I greet the people that I meet in their own language. I fold my hands and bow politely when I meet someone. 

Today, one of the women brought me a Lao traditional basket of black rice (because I had asked some questions about it yesterday), so I took it for lunch. As we were walking from the hospital back to the motorbike, with my Lao skirt on, carrying my Lao basket of rice, I thought to myself, I am blending in. Adopting a few of the customs. Dressing like them. Eating like them. 


Then, I looked up, came out of my day dream, and realized that I am a blonde girl, who is about a head taller than everyone here, and people are still staring at me. Actually, they’re staring at me more than if I were dressed in my normal clothes.

Why?

Because they can see by the way I look, by the way I act, by the way I speak, that I don’t really belong here. Not that I’m not welcome here. I feel very welcomed here. But, by taking on some of their culture and adapting to some of their ways, they’re wondering even more: who is she and what is she doing here? She’s obviously different, why is she trying to be the same?

The Bible speaks about this phenomenon a little bit too. In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul urges the believers to not conform to the pattern of this world. Again, in John 18:36, Jesus reminds us that His Kingdom is not here in this world, but beyond. 

As believers, we are called to be different. The way that Christ lived, the example that He gave for us to follow, doesn’t look anything like what this world promotes. Where we want to hate, Jesus said to love. Where we want to judge, Jesus said to forgive. Where we want to fight, Jesus said to make peace. 

Like me in a Lao skirt on the back of a motorbike, true believers stand out, even in the midst of the world all around us. Why?

Because we don’t belong here.

Standard
Auto, Cars, Craft

Learning Curve

There always comes a time in life where the road meets the rubber. Or in my case, where the needle meets the needle plate. Except when the needle can’t meet the needle plate. Or when you’re learning to drive a standard and having trouble getting the road and rubber to meet. Which would both be the case with me.

Re-learning to drive...

Re-learning to drive…

I take most of our orders for screenprinting and embroidery, especially since January when we hired my dad and I became permanently chained to the inbox. However, my brother will occasionally take an order, without my knowledge. Which is fine. Until he tells a customer I can do something for them that I don’t know how to do. It is at this point that I get a little flustered. Because learning new things is difficult. Especially when you are on a timeline and have someone wanting to pay you to do said new thing to a high standard of quality. Not ideal circumstances to learn. But, no one asked me. Obviously.

Embroidering hats

Embroidering hats

I have finally become proficient at running the embroidery machine. It is a single head with 15 needles and on most days, we get along just fine with one another. But, with 20 hats with puff embroidery thrown in the mix about ended our relationship.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.48.10 PM

Puff embroidery is a new ballgame. It is essentially taping craft foam onto a cap and sewing over it to create a raised effect. Sounds pretty simple, but there are a lot of technicalities that are unaccounted for. So after a few phone calls to a technical support line (me and Juan, the phone operator, now know each other on a first name basis and I have an open invitation to dinner if I am ever in the Houston area) and endless explanations for why my machine was acting up, I got it right.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.48.53 PM

I wish I could say I’d mastered driving in the same way. I can do it, I just need a lot of practice. So, my practice course of choice? A dirt road. Good decision, not much traffic. But, a dirt road that ends with a hill that pulls out onto the highway on a corner: bad decision. I put the clutch in, had the brake down, and when I judged it was clear, I let the brake and clutch off and slammed on the gas. Which resulted in some major gravel slinging and the tires taking off out from under themselves and nearly landing me in the opposite ditch. So, I’m basically as good as I expected I’d be.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.47.47 PM

But, I am getting better. And eventually, I’ll get really good at it. It might take awhile, but I’ll get there. In the words of one of my missionary friends: life’s about the journey, not the destination. So, I’m gonna keep learning new things even when it’s hard and avoid hills in a standard at all costs.

Standard
Auto, Cars, Travel

Jeepers Creepers

Remember how we were talking about how I get weird job assignments, like organizing kindergarten signatures? Well, I think this might top that.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 3.25.56 PM

I always hope that my brother gets a good nights sleep. #1: I have to work with him, so I don’t want to deal with any crankiness. #2: we run a business together, so when everyone is well rested, we are more productive, and productivity = profitability. #3 (and this might be the most important): if he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, he’ll sometimes do “research” and end up buying things we don’t need. Our eBay account is linked to my email address and I woke up to this notification on my phone.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 5.48.33 PM

We have been talking about needing a better delivery vehicle because shoving 15+ boxes of shirts in my Honda is getting a little tiresome. And, we have talked about a Jeep. But, we hadn’t talked about buying one (sight unseen) from an eBay auction. Only a small detail, right? Well, that’s what we ended up with. A 1990 Jeep that was used by the National Forestry department in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 6.05.02 PM

Three other small details that weren’t mentioned. #1: the Jeep is located in southeast Missouri. #2: the Jeep is a manual. #3: neither of us know how to drive a standard. But why dwell on the small details?

Missouri has a reputation around here. I live close to the border on the southwest side, so depending on who you talk to, you’ll get varying opinions. When the man selling the Jeep called to ask if we would trade part of the cost on the vehicle for three feeder pigs, I knew exactly the type of person we were dealing with. So, I spent my morning calling all the local pig farms I knew of to see when they’d have some feeder pigs ready. Unfortunately (or probably fortunately), all the pigs still needed a few weeks until they were ready. Hauling three squealing pigs across the state isn’t really my idea of a great time anyway.

The man selling this Jeep has quite a story. Unfortunately, he is not the most politically correct individual, so most of his stories, I can’t repeat. I’ll summarize: he got hit by a semi-truck while walking near the highway (yes, this is actually a true story) and has continued to fall on hard times and that was his reason for selling the Jeep. When we showed up to his place (with more “over the bridge and past the barn” directions), he informed us that the neighbor had recently killed his son-in-law (three shots: two in the back and one in the head) and was now in prison. He also informed us that he hadn’t seen or heard anything. Yes, this is still a true story. So, obviously, I really wanted to stick around and hear all the rest of his stories. Plus, he had a bathtub in his front yard. I feel like that speaks for itself.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 3.25.44 PM

We’re not tire kickers, so after a few minutes of looking under the hood and firing it up, we were ready to make a deal. While he was getting the paperwork together, he continued telling stories about run ins with game wardens, planting green beans, the time he rode a bicycle to a city 50 miles from there to get a job, how he got fired from said job, and ended up back on his grandparents farm, and is trying to get everything back up and running (the motor for his truck was sitting on his porch). I don’t know how I get so lucky to come across characters like him and why they feel the need to tell their life stories, but all I know is I run into a lot of them and they’re all more interesting than the last. So, moral of the story: never judge a house by the bathtub sitting in the front yard or a Jeep by it’s previous owner.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 6.04.37 PM

Standard