Asia, Culture, Food, Health, Medicine, Missions, Religion, Travel

Be Nice.

The people here are really nice. The thing I fear the most is getting hit by a vehicle. Nothing is off limits. Walking down the sidewalk, I have people honk at me. No, not people from the street. It’s the people on motorbikes who got tired of waiting in traffic and decided to take a “shortcut”, which means nearly running me over on the sidewalk. I really did almost get hit though. By a van. While I was crossing the road. It was a very near miss. I didn’t see my whole life flash before my eyes, but I saw the highlight reel.

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One lesson it does you well to learn early in life: be nice to people. Because for the most part, they will be nice back. And also because being nice to people sometimes has benefits. Call it sucking up, call it teacher’s pet, or climbing the ladder, for better or for worse, it works. A smile and a kind word can do wonders.
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In the security line at the airport, they took out my tweezers and my fingernail clippers from my bag. I thought they were going to take them. But a smile and a nice exchange and he gave them right back to me. See, it works.

At the visa line, smiling gets you through more easily. In Laos, I was the last one because the 4 workers at passport control were teaching me Lao phrases to use, after I spoke the little I already knew to them. How nice!

But, sometimes people are just nice to you for no reason. As we were loading on the boat to go across the Mekong to visit a village, some health officials from the Public Health Office came with us and happened to be on our boat. One of the ladies seemed really concerned with me. She would look at me, smile, pat my leg. She took pictures of me and kept saying daughter. Then, when we were unloading on the other side of the river, she grabbed onto my arm. And we walked up the river bank together.

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I figured she just needed someone to hold onto because it was a steep climb. But, as we were walking, she said Mama Lao, Mama Lao and pointed to herself. So, she had decided I was her daughter for the day and she was my Mama Lao. Which was fine by me.

When we got to the top of the riverbank, she let go of my arm and took my hand instead. So, we held hands as she led us to the village. The rest of the group was straggling behind us, so it was one white girl plus a bunch of Lao ladies leading the pack. She told me about her daughter who is the same age as me and taught me some new Lao phrases as we went along.

 

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Once we got to the village, she introduced me to the tribal chief, then let me go to look around while she directed everyone else. I wandered around the school we were at, taking pictures of the kids and talking to them. A little while later, my Mama Lao came over to me with a cold water and said drink.
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Now, I have to do an aside: cold drinks are hard to come by here. Even in restaurants, it’s likely you’ll get something lukewarm, maybe cool if you’re lucky. But cold, not too often. So, to have a cold drink out in a village (in 100 degree weather, mind you) is a major luxury.

So, I thought it was strange and special that they had cold drinks for our group. A few minutes later, one of our other ladies came over and said: where’d you get a cold drink?! I looked around and realized I was the only one with a cold drink. Everyone else had regular bottles of water. Except for one person. I spotted her across the way: Mama Lao, with her bottle also condensating in the heat.
Looks like I scored rank. And the benefits are pretty nice.

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History, Medicine, Middle East, Religion, Travel, Uncategorized

Checkmate

We’ve officially crossed into the Holy Land of Israel. I’ve crossed a few land borders: America to Canada, Hungary to Romania, and Germany to Poland. But, crossing from Jordan to Israel definitely reminds you that you’re in the Middle East. The security is tight. Which is good to know. It should be tight, especially in this part of the world. 
They sent my backpack through the x-ray scan, and when I came through the metal detector, I saw it had been held back and two people were discussing it. Not a good sign. They brought it over and started pulling everything out. Apples, phone chargers, my iPad, magazines, a scarf. Then, started the questions: where did you get the scarf? How much did you pay for it? What did you bring with you? What did you buy in Jordan? Finally, after they had flipped through every page of my Glamour magazine and my Bible, they declared I was not a security threat and let me in. 

Jake asked our bus driver where we could get a phone card for our wi-fi and the driver said, Bethlehem. So, we decided to follow a star and see where it took us. 

As it turns out, there wasn’t a wi-fi card to be found in Bethlehem. We did, however, find an inn with an open room. Ironic, right? 

  

We moved on to Jerusalem and found the card we needed there, then headed south toward the town we would stay in for the night. As is normal, I was sitting near the back of the bus, with my headphones on, so I had no idea where we were at. It was dark outside and dark in the bus, so to be honest, I didn’t care where we were. 

Apparently, in this darkness, we crossed from Israel into the West Bank (a shortcut to get us where we needed to go)  What I also didn’t realize was that when our bus came to the border to enter back into Israel, we would be checked. Again. 

Jake passed back my passport to me from the front of the bus and I was ready for the standard check. As the woman boarded our bus, she passed by a few people, not taking one look at their passports and picked one of the women on the bus to ask a couple questions to. There was a man behind her who followed and as he came closer, you could see his gun, not hanging casually by his side, but finger on the trigger and ready for aim at a moment’s notice.

The woman passed by everyone else and came right towards me. Immediately, she started firing questions at me. Where was I going? Where had I been? “Do you have a weapon, maybe?” How were all these people on the bus related? Were we all from the same church? The questioning ended with a search of my backpack. The very same bag that had been searched earlier in the day. So, out come the apples, scarf, snacks, cords, books, and everything all over again. Finally, she was satisfied and exited the bus without looking at anyone else. 

Are we there yet? 

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Farm, Garden, Medicine

Pinky Promise?

How often do I even write anymore? Not often enough. I have the stories to tell, just not the time to get them written. Well, I guess I just haven’t been making the time. In between delivering t-shirts all over the tri-state area (we literally drove around 500 miles just in delivering last week), it’s hard to keep up with much. The garden is coming up nicely, though. I’ve managed to get almost all of the “small” garden planted, which are mostly root vegetables and tomatoes. I have a couple rows left to plant, then it’s time to move on to the big plot. That’ll be for potatoes (mostly sweets) and squash, melons, peppers, and any other random seeds I find in my collection. The last to be planted in the small garden were the carrots. I ordered an abundance of colors (carrots come in red, yellow, orange, purple, I even found a black variety) I like all the different colors because they all offer different phytonutrients. The motto for my major in college was: “Eat a Rainbow”, so all the different  colors are important, people! But, in my effort to get just the right blend of seeds, I missed the staple: a plain old orange carrot. So, who do you call when you need something? Mom.

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Everybody always tells me I look like my mom. Which I do. And sometimes I act a lot like her too. We both share a love for too many details, cantaloupe, and digging in the dirt. Here we are picking green beans together last summer. (By the way, the greens that are on my side of the picture that look like fronds are the tops of the carrots we grew last year, they were pretty huge)

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Anyway, back to the matter at hand (it’s a pun, you’ll see) I called her to see if she’d stop by a little store in town to get some carrot seeds. Harmless, right? Well, apparently, as she was walking out of said store, she was looking at some tomato plants and tripped, catching herself with both hands right before she face-planted into the concrete. I’ve talked about how graceful I am, so this is just a testament to where I get it from. She decided when she got home that her hand was just sore from the fall and it would be better in the morning. Wrong.

Post Fall: Day 1

Post Fall: Day 1

She woke up to it looking like a blown up surgical glove and after some coercing from me, we headed to the emergency room. Where we spent a beautiful Saturday getting seen by doctors and nurses and sitting in waiting rooms.

Peace, Love, & Pinkies

Peace, Love, & Pinkies

The verdict: she broke it. The bone on her pinky finger was smashed together in the fall, so she got a cast on her right arm. And, she got to sign her name with her left hand, which looked like the work of a first grader. (See previous blog post where I had to arrange first grade signatures on notecards for a comparison)

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The good thing about spending the day with your mom in waiting rooms is that it leaves a lot of time for photography. Actually, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a well arranged selfie. The ER seemed like just the right place.

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Her original cast was white and after being seen by the orthopedic surgeon, she got a permanent blue cast (now decorated with flames due to the artistic talent of my cousin), which she will wear for four weeks. No surgery necessary. And no pinky promises. At least for awhile.

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