Thursday, November 24, 2011

Better Late than Never Thanksgiving!

Our Salvadoran American family will have its traditional, one-day-late, Friday night Thanksgiving celebration here in Turkey with British, Mexican, Belgian, Brazilian, and Turkish friends. Being far away from home and family makes it important to create our own traditions. Every year my daughter and I make homemade decorations. Our guests write what they’re thankful for on red, yellow and orange paper leaves to hang on our Thanksgiving tree. I have happy memories of our past Thanksgivings in Turkey, and some disasters behind me as well, such as the year I burned holes in all my tablecloths with candle place settings! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Most Urgent Thing We Can Do: Rest!

The moment I’d been looking forward to all day was finally here.  I was just sitting back to put my feet up and listen to some soft music when the doorbell rang.  It was a repairman, who arrived to install our new hot water heater at JUST the moment I was planning on spending a 10 minute mini-retreat to focus on God’s presence.

I felt exasperated as I answered the door and showed him to the bathroom. Should I wait until the installation was over to take my mini-retreat? Or should I sit down and listen to my soft music anyway, despite hammering, drilling noises in the background?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pet Peeves and Blessings

My daughter points out the electrical wiring hanging off our
living room wall. Should I  hang flowers on it?

Recently my car broke down on a busy street while I was driving. The transmission suddenly stopped working, and the car wouldn’t move, no matter how much gas I gave it. A kind Turkish amca (uncle) offered to push it, but I was scared to death he’d get hit by another car. Two weeks and $350 later, the very same thing happened again to my husband.  Only I was away at a five day retreat, and it was the first day of the Sacrifice Festival, which meant all repair shops would be closed for four days.  I couldn’t believe it when he called me.  All these years I’ve been the one at home alone with the kids and things breaking down while HE travels...
Yesterday was my first day back home after an amazing retreat time and the first business day after the holiday. A tow truck finally came to transport our car to the shop, but it broke down, so my husband had to wait for a second truck. Then our hot water heater broke, so repairmen hauled it away to fix it. The whisk I used while cooking dinner broke in my hand, and when I laid down next to my daughter to kiss her goodnight, her bed partially collapsed.  (I’m really not THAT overweight!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

People over Projects

Our Visit to Zehra

Effective Cross-Cultural Servant

I still smile as I remember 60 year old Roy, a gray haired gringo in jeans, cowboy boots and plaid shirts in Monterrey, Mexico.  He spoke Spanish with a strong American accent, and he looked more like a Texas rancher than like the Mexican professionals he worked with. I was back in America after two years in the Middle East, and Roy invited me to speak on Middle Eastern culture and Islm to his young professionals group. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but with youthful zeal and ignorance, I judged Roy at first glance.  He looked and sounded just like an American. Surely he hadn’t had much cross-cultural training. 

I was wrong.  It didn’t take long to see how much the Mexican young people in his group loved him. A young woman told me “Oh, I just love Roy. He’s like a second father.  He’s one of us.  Anytime I stop by his office, he’s ready to set aside his word and talk to me.  He never says, ‘I’m busy.’  He just puts aside his work and smiles.” To her his accent and cowboy clothes didn’t matter.  What mattered was that he had time for her.