Rachel’s Journey.

Summer 2013

Rachel

Rachel and I are nearing the end of a special time. We began two weeks ago in Singapore. We stayed there a couple of days resting and getting used to being together 24-7. We tried a little sightseeing and made some rather serious errors in bus routes, getting lost and having to back track. While this was unpleasant, we learned a lot about each other and have made some adjustments. Traveling with Rachel is much like traveling with Hal. I was the “giddy-up” and he was the “woah”. Just as Hal and I learned to appreciate one another’s pace and rhythm, so Rachel and I are learning.
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Life Long Learning

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No apologies for the absence of entries here.  Since I last wrote, I have been intensely focused on something like my “thesis” project for the imaginary master’s degree I am earning.  As project manager for a complex job we performed, I had a chance to put into practice the many lessons I learned along the way since coming to Cambodia a year and a half ago.  Here is my short list, hitting the high points…

  1. God is good, all the time.
  2. I love Him poorly; He loves with an everlasting love.
  3. People are way more important than products or profits.
  4. When the people are thriving, the product and profit seem to as well.
  5. I have enough time to do everything I need to each day.
  6. The solution to a problem is best found by consulting all the stake holders.
  7. Removing obstacles is usually the most useful way a leader can serve the team.

I am so grateful to be here, for all I am learning and for my fellow students.  I am not sure I would say that I am ready to graduate, but there does seem to be a season of transition ahead.  Stay tuned…and thanks for all the many ways you support me.

Evidence

Each morning I ask God to give me a glimpse of what He is up to here. Rarely does a day pass that I fail to see some evidence that His Kingdom is coming. I could share several from this week, but one was particularly satisfying…

At work, in the production area, I rub shoulders daily with carpenters, fabricators, inventory control and management staff, drivers, installation technicians. These young people are smart, talented and full of untapped potential. It is my privilege to supervise, teach and encourage them. Last week we tested a custom-designed play structure on the project site, checking to make sure it fit into the complex space before we put the finishing touches on it. I stood back in awe as the team of seven worked like a well-oiled machine, resourcefully solving problems and efficiently going about their business, listening to one another with respect. I was so proud of them I nearly burst.
AND…as we finished I realized that they were all wearing their job site safety gear! Hardhats, close-toed shoes, they even had their work uniforms on. I nearly cried. This is the hard earned result of nagging, threatening and practically forcing them to do so for over a year. Firstly, we are concerned for their safety, and secondly, we want the edge that comes with a team that appears professional. (Most construction workers in Cambodia are still working barefoot or with flip-flops, welding and grinding without eye protection and way up high on bamboo scaffolding without a safety harness.) I can’t tell you how satisfying this sign of progress is to me.
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I had someone snap a picture just so you could enjoy the moment with me. Thanks!

Roadside Distraction

 

My work involves a fair amount of local travel so I spend some time on the road everyday here.  Usually in a tuk-tuk, sometimes driving our company car, and occasionally on the back of a motorcycle if one of our more mature (translation:  someone other than our young, crazy-driving males) staff is going my way and I can catch a ride.  The work is demanding and takes all my attention to do it well, so as I am on the road I try to stay on task.  But the lure of the unusual and bizarre is too distracting to ignore at times.  In this climate and culture much of life is lived on the streets, so I get to see all sorts of intriguing or what would be private moments in other places.  Often I wish like crazy that I had a camera and was a good photographer so I could capture these special scenes.

I saw a few things this week that I just have to share, so I did a little sketch so you might see though my eyes.

hitching a ride

I have no idea how far this guy was planning to go, but he was surprisingly relaxed for someone going about 25 miles an hour on a very busy, bumpy road with nothing to hang on to.  What would be considered outrageously dangerous behavior happens a great deal around here. I don’t quite know what to think of it…I am still shocked by it, and feel a little guilty when I find it funny, and hope I don’t ever lose the deep appreciation for each life that makes me cringe at the sight of it.

three pigs

I was on the back of a motorcycle and did a double take when glancing to my right I discovered that I was traveling along side three sort-of dead pigs on their way to the market.  The seller had cleverly laid a pile of hay on top of their bellies and a block of ice on top of that to keep them fresh until he got to his destination. They must have been dead, but the way their little legs and snouts kept bouncing around they looked quite animated and like they were having the time of their lives.  Kind of sick, but fascinating!

consolation

This scene was not so bizarre, but struck me in such a deep way I finally had to take time to ponder why it touched me so.  For the brief moment I observed these two, it was clear that the little one was crying and the adult consoling.  I have no way on knowing what the circumstances were.  Lost teddy bear?  A beloved sibling just gone off to school?  Didn’t want to wear that hot, heavy helmet? Whatever the problem, the child was broken-hearted, devastated and the way the little body freely expressed this suffering was beautiful to me.  Even more beautiful though, was the posture of tender empathy, patience, and regard the adult displayed toward the child.

It was such a powerful image of love; I consider it a gift to have witnessed it.  I receive it as a message from my Father, a little picture of His posture toward those who suffer.  In a country where an abnormally high number of children suffer atrocious brutality at the hands of adults, it was especially heart-warming to see this scene.  My longing for all people here know this kind of love grows daily.  I don’t know what to do to further that, but it is my regular prayer.  It is my prayer for you too.  And as you come to understand and experience such love, I invite you to pray with me for those here.  I am confident that nothing could be more important, and everything else is a distraction.

 

 

Back to Blogging

15 January 2013

Back to blogging…I took a several month break from sharing my life in this public domain (not that I am aware of any public audience) because I was on a particularly personal and vulnerable adventure…exploring a “relationship”.  I am back to blogging because, for now, that relationship will not be my focus.  I am both sad and at peace with the fact that I will remain single for the foreseeable future.

Returning from a Christmas visit to the US, arriving in the middle of the night and waking the next morning in my own bed to the sultry, muggy warmth of a Sunday morning during cool season in Cambodia was delicious and felt very much like arriving home.  Though disoriented from the recent break-up, emotional exhaustion and jet lag, I felt safe.  During the morning church service I experienced deep peace and a sense of being back on the main road after a bumpy detour.  Detours are good and needed when work must be done on the main road.   I am grateful for all that transpired and sense that I see only a small part of what actually occurred, and undoubtably what continues to occur.

Anna fared well in my absence, starting a new exciting job with a women’s fashion magazine, moving into an apartment with her best friend from childhood along with two other young people, and boldly exploring relationships with courage I can only remember having in my youth.  I am proud of her and amazed by her.  And I am particularly glad she is here now, a comfort for me and source of connection to my own history that is so valuable when living in a faraway place.

Though anxious about returning to work for fear of all that might have gone awry in my 18 day absence, I was immediately swept up in a happy reunion of hugs, laughter, smiles and even tears.  The morning exchange of common joys and challenges in the workplace and the mutual regard shared by all the team at BEYOND served to remind me of why I am here and the beauty and gift of work.  A visit to the factory in the afternoon was encouraging, but I quickly found myself sliding right back into the role of manager and my trip back to town was a blur as my head swam with a growing list of what needs to be done now.

I close this brief post with a lump in my throat as I think about the many ways I was loved and cared for while home.  I feel as deeply connected to my friends and family as ever and my heart aches to be in the bosom of that community, enjoying simple everyday experiences together.  As I sort through all this emotion, I simply conclude, again, that being in Cambodia is my path for this season.  I know it, and can do no other.  I attach several photos as a bit of homage to my beautiful community back home.  As always the time was too short and many who are precious to me were missed.  However, what was, was good!

Particular thanks to…

Lisa for the home, in your heart and house

Barker’s and Hagey’s for the lovely evening

David’s family for the warm welcome

Tam, Dan, Myrna and Stephanie for the lunch rendezvous

Chris and Jeff for your faithful friendship

TK sisters for your abiding circle of embrace

Sandy and Bob for the best pizza and apples and laughs ever

Hilary, Ron and family for being forever family

Brother James for selling your car, again, to Rachel

Jeanne and Bill for the snowy and restful retreat

Bill, Mary and Alison for the New Year launch

Susie, Ray and all for the comforts of home shared freely

Tiffany and Art for wisdom and warmth

Andy, Nikki and family for being in it with me

Julie and Harley for sharing your lively selves in good times and bad

Dawn for the always welcoming heart and hearth

Rachel for keeping your heart soft toward your faraway mother

And David, for journeying with me and seeing it all through a lens of love

David and the Davidsons

David, Nikki, Andy, Rachel, Natalie and Alyssa

Tiffany and grandbaby Selah

Tiffany and new grand baby Selah!

Sister Susie at work

Visiting my sister Susie at work

Rachel, Tam and Dan

Rachel, Dan and Tam (Hals eldest daughter)

Rachel with wheels again

Rachel got her wheels back again…thanks brother James

Hal's sister Myrna

My favorite of Hal’s sisters, Myrna

Hal's sister Sandie and Bob

David and my favorite of Hal’s sisters, Sandie with husband Bob

(Yes, I can have two favorites!)

Beloved friends Jeanne and Bill

Best, best friend from college days, Jeanne and husband Bill

Hours by the fire with Dawn

Warm hours by the fire with Dawn, my dad’s widow…and my friend

Back home…

Wow, it’s been almost two months since I posted.  I am finally settled back into my life here in Phnom Penh after a brief trip to the US to reconnect with family and a few friends.  I felt like my mother who in her later years would say “I can either get ready or go, but I can’t do both”.  It was a lot of work to get ready to be away for two weeks.  As I have assumed more and more responsibility at work, it is not easy to slip away for two weeks.  I ended up working literally right up to the moment that my taxi picked me up to take me to the airport to catch my flight home.
I love flying, even with all the luxuries diminishing with each passing year.  I get into my endurance frame of mind and am watchful in case the Lord has some bit of encouraging for me to do and I often feel refreshed, rather than exhausted at the end of the flight.  Unfortunately my body hasn’t caught on and still rebels against the 17 hours of sitting.  I use my travel pillow more for my behind than my neck.
Being home was simply lovely.  I arrived to find a sunny afternoon in Seattle and took advantage of every glorious moment to get outside into the fresh air and beauty of the Northwest.  But the best part was seeing the precious faces and hearing the voices and looking into the eyes of many I love and miss.   It was a gift of great value and I am grateful.
I have included photos from a few highlights…

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Holding Nikki and Andy’s much prayed for baby twin daughters, this one is Elllie!

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 A hike up Saddle Mountain with Hilary, Ron, Anna and Rachel, nevermind my silly face, aren’t the others gorgeous!

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Rachel and I sailing with my brother James on the Columbia River, exhilarating!

One story must be shared.  Rachel and I were with my sister and her family on the fourth of July and they had planned to attend the local festivities in the nearby town of Rufus Oregon, so we tagged along.  One of the special features of the event was the arrival and set down of a Life Flight helicopter.  After all the kids had their chance to sit in the co-pilots seat and look at all the cool gadgets and telescopic gurney, I made my way over to the co-pilot to express my gratitude for the kind of work he does.  I briefly shared with him my story of Hal’s post-stroke flight up the Columbia gorge to the hospital in Portland, and my appreciation for the phone call I received from the co-pilot after he delivered Hal to the hospital.  I received the call as I was making my way in a driving rain storm via car as fast as I could to be with Hal when he came out of surgery.  The call was reassuring and seemed to me to be above and beyond the call of duty.  As I ended my story this co-pilot, Michael, fighting tears, said “That was me!  I was the one that called you.”  I was taken aback and asked him how he could possibly know that he was the one who was with Hal.  He said he remembered that particular incident clearly because when they got the call, they had just lifted off at a nearby hospital and could not have been in a better location to get to Hal quickly.  He said he remembered thinking ‘that is one lucky guy’.  He had enjoyed his chat with Hal who had, even in the midst of the life threatening situation, expressed appreciation for the scenic sunset flight down the gorge.
I hated to tell him, when he asked, that Hal had died shortly thereafter, but I could  not help but feel that the story was important for Michael to hear.  I also could not help marvel at the great lengths God goes to in order to accomplish His purpose.  It just felt like He had arranged that encounter purposefully.  I had a renewed sense of peace that I am always in the right place at the right time.  I need only to believe and notice what is before me.

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Rachel and me with Michael, co-pilot of Life Flight

I bring that peace and conviction back with me to Phnom Penh, trusting that while it was difficult to fly away again, I am in the right place at the right time.  I believe this and notice what is before me.  I see a staff that needs training and encouragement, a boss that needs support, friends that need a listening ear, a good laugh and prayer.  I just had lunch with one who is grieving over the loss of her friend who was a victim of the Colorado theater shooting incident.  We gathered with some other Americans and grappled with the senselessness and sadness and suffering of all involved, knowing how easily we could dismiss it being here with our own problems.  We let our hearts break as we sat together.  I am grateful to be here for many reasons.
I will bring this to a close with some good news.  Anna is coming to live with me in Phnom Penh!  I laugh when I think back to what I believe Jesus said to me, way back when I was wrestling with leaving my girls to move to Cambodia, ‘there are things I want to do in the life of Anna and Rachel that I can only do if you go to Cambodia”, I had no idea what He meant. I thought He wanted me out of the way.  I didn’t know it partly meant He needed me here so He could bring Anna here. We just don’t know what He is up to, but when we sense His lead we are wise to follow.

Adventures make us more interesting

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The short story…I have just experienced a most delightful and satisfying thirty-six hour adventure!  So much happened that I want to capture details in writing so that I can relive this as a sweet memory in seasons to come. The short story is that I smashed my face while trekking in the Cambodian mountains…but if you have the time, I encourage you to read the long story.

The long story…Two characters figure in significantly.  Eva (pronounced Aay-vah) is an intern here working with us at Beyond Interiors.  She is an engineer taking some time to gain some field experience before she goes on to get her master’s degree.  She comes from New York and has traveled extensively in her short twenty-three years both with family and as a student at Stanford.  She is soft spoken, willowy, gentle and brilliant.  Her main focus during her eight week commitment to us is to research recycled and repurposed materials available in Cambodia, exploring possible end-products that might be used in an interior designer’s world.  Her work and working style are inspiring.

Brian grew up in Colorado Springs, later lived in Portland, Oregon but has worked and traveled abroad for several years now, and while traveling through Cambodia a few months ago, much like I did, serendipitously landed a job offer from Baskets of Cambodia, a thriving Fair Trade woven products company.  His role at BOC is similar to mine, supporting the managing director with a goal of strengthening and staging the company for the next phase of growth.  We celebrated his thirtieth birthday a few weeks back, a small circle of new friends banding together to make him feel duly honored on his milestone day because he just brings that kind of thing out in people.  He towers over Cambodians at six plus feet, but his deferential, kind manner and exceptional language acquisition for one who has only recently arrived make him fit right in.

So while viewing a documentary showing wildlife and forest preservation efforts here, Brian and I picked up on a special eco-tourism project and determined at the end of that evening that we would take a weekend and go check it out.  When we told Eva, she was eager to join us…thus we ended up on a bus at 7:30 in the morning a couple of days ago headed for the Cardamom mountain range on the west coast of Cambodia.

The trip started out well, with Eva and I wondering where the heck Brian was as he failed to meet us at the rendezvous point and it was time to board the bus.  I gave him a call, hoping he was on his way, but discovered that he was still sleeping.  The amazing thing is that he made it to the bus exactly fourteen minutes later, dressed, with back pack loaded and in his right mind!  With still a minute until the bus’s scheduled departure, his apologies were unnecessary and we settled in to enjoy the scenery and one another’s companionship for the next four hours.

Our destination was a particular eco-tourism project touted as Cambodia’s most successful NGO initiated project, having survived for about five years now and being technically has been handed over to 100% Cambodian management.  So it is not surprising that while things often felt confusing and disorganized, there were more than enough helpful and kind people links along the way to get us where we were going.  [The trick is to trust that Cambodians have things figured out even when it doesn’t appear to be so, and then one can relax and know that when the need arises you will have what is required.  This is so much like trusting God that just being here is a course in spiritual discipleship.]

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The bus stopped at a bridge along the road and we were motioned off the bus, so we got off.  Less than two hours later, after a delightful series of non-verbal games with children who were hanging out under bridge we boarded a long boat and headed up river to our destination.  The scenery was breath taking and almost hypnotic with very little evidence of the many rural folk living along the water way.  Because of routine flooding, almost no one lives right on the river bank.  It gives the appearance of a completely natural, uninhabited region with flowering trees, unique species of birds and intriguing openings to the many smaller tributaries that feed the river.  The volume and pitch of the boat motor was just enough to prevent conversation, so we all retreated into a blissful silence of uninterrupted visual pleasure.

When we arrived there was no welcoming committee and as we wandered up the unpaved village street it felt very much like we had been dropped onto a movie set where people had been directed to just carry on as they usually do.  Only the occasional faded sign about a visitor’s center and a few nods indicating that we should keep going cued us that we were in the right place.  Rather than producing anxiety though, we felt instantly charmed, adventurous and like we had discovered a well kept secret.  When we reached the visitor center at the far end of the village, we were greeted by a precocious young Cambodian woman who simply stepped out of a bamboo building, looked at us and said “Sheila?”  The reservation call had actually worked!

After an informative orientation to the eco-tourist project, we made our choice of a guided day-long trek to three waterfalls the following day.  It turns out that our lodging was about 15 minutes by motorcycle outside the village along the river.  So before we left the village we went along choosing some snacks to tide us over until dinner.  We munched on battered and deep fried slices taro root, something that tasted like gelatinous pond water wrapped in pyramid shaped banana leaf packages and something that looked and tasted much like I remember the flattened Hostess Twinkies that I used to find in my lunch sack, only with green instead of white filling.  Oh yes and a little bag of “ingredients:  assorted dried fruits in assorted vegetables oil”.

So after a quick zip on the back of a motor taxi, and I do mean back since Eva and I were both on behind the driver (one can’t afford to have much of a behind here), we crossed a beautifully hand fashioned swinging foot bridge over a serene river tributary into a magical world of bamboo huts surrounded by mega Bird of Paradise, Impatience and Hibiscus, butterflies, singing cicadas, spiny iguanas and hidden hoo-hooing gibbons.  It was such a contrast to the dirty crowded noisy streets of Phnom Penh that I found myself resistant to give into its nurturing, soothing allure.  I have developed the tough outer shell required to live in a city…did I tell you that last week my handbag handle was slit with a knife by a guy on a motorcycle while I was sitting in a tuk-tuk and I successfully wrestled it out of his grip before he sped away?  It was not easy to be present in the moment and let it have its way with me.  My sensitive companions and I quietly walked the grounds, stood on large flat stones on the river bank and just breathed.

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We shared a simple dinner with other guests from Belgium and Australia, laughing at our common western-world idiosyncratic sophistication that seemed so ludicrous in light of the practical simplicity of our surroundings.  It was good medicine and as we carefully tucked our mosquito nets in and listened to the light rain on the thatched roof I couldn’t help but just lie there and smile.  My only regret was the two beers I drank with dinner that were inevitably going to require a middle of the night trip to the bathroom and the flashlight that I got for a dollar at the market was already temperamental.  Oh well.

As usual, I awoke just at dawn, dressed and crept out into a private world of beauty.  It was the third of June, Hal and my wedding anniversary.  It would have been our thirty-sixth.  One of his favorite songs was You Belong To Me, with lyrics ‘Fly the ocean in a silver plane, Watch the jungle when its wet with rain…’ So I walked in the rain-wet jungle and had a lovely hour being grateful for our many years of shared experiences and how he taught me to enjoy such moments.

Brian and Eva were soon up and ready to take on the day.   One of our greatest concerns was the warning from our trekking guide that almost everyone comes back from the trek with leeches on their feet and ankles.  He reassured us that part of his duty was to pick off the leeches if we were not comfortable doing so ourselves.  Are you kidding!  I was far more interested in discussing how to avoid getting the leeches on me in the first place and that resulted in the recommendation of some local leech deterrent remedies.  So after a quick breakfast, we set off a bit early to see if we could find the ingredients in the village market.  We felt giddy with success when we arrived back at the visitor center with tall football (aka soccer) socks, a packet of tobacco, a lime, soap shavings and bag of salt.  We mixed all this together with a little water in a plastic bag, rubbed it on our feet and calves, put our socks on over our pant legs and then saturated our new socks with the ugly brown concoction.  We didn’t even care about the amused looks and outright laughter we got from villagers as we headed out.  As it turns out, either the remedy worked or the leeches were on holiday, because not a single one did we encounter…and had we, it would have been the least of our problems.

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This mountain range is one of three in Cambodia and the other two are nearly inaccessible unless you have well over a week to invest.  The rest of the country is, as one foreigner described it, a redundant flat landscape of rice paddy, palm tree, rice paddy, palm tree, rice paddy…  While that pattern has its subtle charms, the hilly, green vistas afforded by our trek were unbelievably beautiful.  With overcast skies and light hearts we traversed grassy plains and water-buffaloed meadows, dipping down into valley streams with shaded tunnels formed by lush trees.  The sounds and sights were intoxicating.

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At the first two waterfalls we stood in the spray and even put our heads under its rushing waters, taking a little refreshing shower as the day heated up.  Eva and Brian proved to be the perfect trekking companions.  Long spells of quiet were interspersed with interesting and thoughtful conversation.  I felt privileged to be privy to the well articulated and highly personal world views these two shared.  They opened themselves to me and one another as they opened themselves to the experience we were having.  They were also good listeners and I had conversationally relevant opportunity to share my own story of God’s faithfulness and transforming love – the recounting of which is my greatest joy. As we trekked along, some of the trail was muddy from the rain the night before and I had foolishly opted to wear my Toms, rather than lug my wide¬-soled tennis shoes along.  I had a couple of slips and fell, but no harm done, we carried on.  At our third waterfall and turnaround point we were provided a lovely lunch that was packed in a natural fiber woven container, lined with a banana leaf, filled with hot rice, layered with another banana leaf and topped with a delicious egg, onion and teriyaki pork slice.

While we ate we asked the guide about swimming in the pools below the falls, but he said we could not because crocodiles were in the area.  Ok then, and as it turned out the skies changed from overcast to dark heavy clouds and it began to rain.

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We had perched ourselves on some large flat rocks about twenty feet from the river bank at the top edge of a huge waterfall for lunch and as the rain began we packed up and began making our way back through the river bed to the bank.  The rain drops hitting the surface of the river obscured the bottom of the shallow river bed and I was keeping a careful eye on the guide ahead of me, following his footsteps, but not careful enough.

As I took a step forward anticipating a solid rock beneath my foot, there was just nothing and I fell face forward onto a jagged rock protruding from the surface.  Because of the water bottle in one hand and the other hand being used to control the swing of my little bag so I could see, I did not have time to use them to break my fall and my nose and upper lip took the full brunt of my weight against the rock.  I collapsed from the blow and was immediately surrounded by Brian, Eva and our guide to help me up and assess the damage.  It seemed perfectly logical to use the rushing clear river water to wash the gushing blood away and try to see what had happened.  By the looks on their faces I could tell that it was worse than my traumatized mind and body wanted to admit.  They escorted me out of the river and applied pressure to the area until the bleeding stopped and then dropped some iodine onto the wound, realizing that the river water rinse might not have been such a good idea after all.

Despite the accident and concern about the seriousness of my injury, our trek out through the pouring rain was glorious.  We marveled at how the former trails had transformed into streams of rushing muddy water, and the tunnels of shade were now low hanging soaked branches needing to be parted so we could pass, we found ourselves laughing with the pure wonder of it all.  It was impossible to keep my temporary bandage dry and consequently my wound started bleeding again, so as the rain let up, we were happy to encounter a lovely couple biking on the trail who had fresh first aid supplies.

As we circled around to redress my injury, sweet Eva took on the primary care giving role and lifting the soaked bandage, proceeded to faint at the sight of it and fall backward over the bikes and into a muddy water-filled rut.  All attention turned her direction as we instantly thought of head injuries, spinal cord injuries, seizures, and of course…leeches!  Once she was revived and determined fine, Brian took over the wound care and off we went again.

It was a collective decision that upon return to the village I needed to head straight back to Phnom Penh and have a doctor look at my face.  The biker couple had planned to leave that afternoon and offered to take me back, so I had an emergency evacuation in the cushy comfort of a Lexus SUV leather backseat.  I phoned ahead and arranged to be seen at the exclusive SOS clinic that caters to foreigners thinking that only they should be allowed to work on MY face.  The irony is that the on call emergency physician was Cambodian with the most gentle thorough ‘bedside manner’ I have every encountered.  And his skill appears to be just as exceptional as I examine the three tiny stitches he made just under my big Caucasian nose.  As he checked my eyes, skull, ears, teeth, sinuses, jaw, swallowing, etc., I became aware of how very nasty this could have been and was filled with gratitude for the minimal damage.  We even laughed at the way my decades of having to pluck upper lip hairs had prepared me for the pain of the injection of anesthesia he shot into the wound before cleaning and stitching.

As I lay in bed reflecting on the day, I remembered once again that it was Hal and my anniversary.  I recalled a time early on in our relationship when he was looking long and lovingly into my face with all its blemishes, scars and wayward hairs and I self-consciously said something like ‘don’t look so closely!’  I remember his reply.  He said with great love ‘I find your face…’ (I thought as he hesitated, don’t you dare say beautiful…I’ll know you are lying!) But he continued ‘…most interesting’.  The way he said it was so full of love that I have cherished his words.  So I ended the day saying to him in the dark…’Well dear, my face just got even more interesting.  Happy anniversary.’

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Back to work

So after Anna left, I went back to work and my boss, Bronwyn is back from the US and things have taken a decidedly different tack.  Bronwyn is hard driving, decisive and has abundant energy.  She created this business from nothing, and she sustains it with sheer will.  It is something to watch.  I admire her.  And I have been working my behind off (see my glamorous design job photo post) trying to stay on top of all the issues that I didn’t even know were issues before she returned!  Thus the blog silence.

I finally have an ounce of energy to write and I need a little light hearted humor, and thinking you might too.  I share a couple of funny things with hopes that they are not those ‘I guess you had to have been there’ stories…because none of you have been here, with the exception of Anna, bless her heart.

I came home the other night to an almost 100 cockroach invasion into my home after a particularly big monsoon rain.  I feel like this little place is my sanctuary and felt so violated when coming home, opening the door and seeing the place literally ALIVE with the crawly things!  I started spraying them with bug killer and after using up both cans (I could hardly breathe) I called for Situon, the one who helped me get the mouse out of my bedroom.  She came and we declared war, her casually, and me maniacaly.  She is my hero, swatting those guys with her hand and stomping them with her bare foot!  Her technique is to stun them and then to collect them in a plastic bag, don’t ask me what she does with them after that (see photo post).  I could tell she was mildly annoyed by my need to thoroughly smash the guts out of them with my shoe.  It makes such a mess and she is the one who mops the floors after all.  I know God never wastes anything so I am always looking for the ‘why’ in any unpleasant experience.  In the end I would say that I lost a good bit of my fear of cockroaches, for which I am grateful.  I was much more casual about their occasional appearance for the rest of the evening, just keeping an eye on where they headed and killing them at my convenience.  I think I even let a few go.

What I have NOT resolved yet is why He allowed me to pick the only top in my closet the next morning that had a big ole roach inside (I know because I carefully checked all the rest later) and put it on completely, buttoning it up, and as I walked away from the mirror that big thing crawled on to my neck!!!  I am seriously not happy about that one.  If it were not for my faith that He wastes nothing I would be plain mad.  Do you think I will ever see how He uses that one?

Yesterday one of our junior designers, Sonheng (see photo post), was working on a project with me when a client emailed us back responding to a company sign we designed and presented to her via email.  She said in her email “the color and position of the letters is great, but the font is yuk!  Could you please redo?”  I checked with Sonheng and he confirmed he understood and would get to work on a revision.  So nearly an hour later I looked over his shoulder and it went like this:

Sheila “It doesn’t look like you’ve made much progress, what’s the problem?”

Sonheng “I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the font called ‘yuk’…maybe we don’t have it.”

Sheila “A font called what?”

Sonheng “A font called Yuk; the one the client wants”

I couldn’t help it, I started laughing so hard I couldn’t tell him why.  And even after I tried to explain, no one really thought it was funny.  Maybe I need a break.

Speaking of which, I am getting a break.  I am going to make a very short visit to the US and see my girls and extended family.  I am much in need of connection and this short visit is the best I can do with the heavy work schedule here.  Today I had confirmation that I need a break:  I have had itchy and burning sensations in my feet since I got here.  I thought it was probably a little fungus I picked up what with all heat and sweat and walking around bare feet, so I treated it with OTC ointments and sprays.  No relief, I tried home remedies (see photo post).  Then my fingers and hands started to itch and burn. More treatments as a result of internet search.  Then today my eyes started to itch and burn.  That’s it…I went to the doctor thinking I had an overwhelming fungal infection and was going to need liver-damaging oral medication to get rid of it.  Alas, after an extended exam and conversation with a no-nonsense German physician, she told me very firmly, you DO NOT have a fungal infection.  She basically said that now that I know that I DO NOT have fungus, the symptoms will probably disappear.  I’ll be darned if she isn’t right!  What I do have is …me.  Lord help me, I’m a lot of work.