I spoke

This has been a rather discouraging week, linguistically speaking. We have been in Central Asia for three and a half months, I have been in daily language classes for three months, and this past week, I hit a wall. I couldn’t remember simple words. I couldn’t remember verb case endings. I froze when my teacher asked me a simple question. Suffice it to say, I have been frustrated enough that I was losing sleep over my apparent failures as a language learner.

I knew that it was just a phase, and I knew that God wouldn’t bring me half way around the world only to leave me in this state. However, knowing something and believing it are two different things. Over the last couple of days, I have been trying to put faith into what I know. God is good, and He will provide for my needs.

Today came, and I had a short list of things that I needed from the bazaar. I have learned that we are usually able to get what we need through a series of hand gestures and with the help of phones (for calculators or translator apps), so I wasn’t worried about my inability to speak. Today, however, God gave me a clear mind, and I extemporaneously spoke.

(Background info: we try to frequent the same shops in the bazaar and to get to know the people. One shopkeeper is particularly jovial, loves that we speak English, and loves even more that we are trying to learn his language. It is with this shopkeeper that I spoke.) After stumbling over greetings (They have about 20 greetings or questions that they ask. I only know about 3.), I asked for some margarine and negotiated a price, and then the shopkeeper asked where my husband was by pointing to his ring finger and saying something about a second person. While I didn’t understand everything that he said, I was able to without much difficulty speak about two sentences to him. Translated, I said something like, “My husband? He is at home. Usually, he comes with me, but today he is at home.” Sound simple enough? While it may be simple, that was monumental for me. Granted I did make one or two mistakes, but I did it without help. I did it in a reasonable amount of time and not the 5 minutes that it normally takes me to string together a sentence, and I spoke to someone who I am not paying to talk to me. I am elated, and I am grateful that our trials in this life are light and momentary in comparison with eternity.

Lesson Learned: Be faithful. Do not grow weary in well-doing.

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Cheeseburger Soup

IMG_2619

Pinterest has been a Godsend here in Central Asia. I couldn’t bring any of my cookbooks because they are so heavy so I have been relying heavily on Pinterest to feed myself and my husband. I saw that I had pinned two different Cheeseburger Soup recipes, so I decided to combine the best of each and make my own version. Here is what I did:

Meat

  • 1 lb Ground beef, lean

Produce

  • 3/4 cup Carrots
  • 3/4 cup Onion
  • 4 cups Potatoes

Canned Goods

  • 48 oz Beef broth

Condiments

  • 1/4 cup Ketchup

Baking & Spices

  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Basil, dried

Dairy

  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 2 cup Cheddar cheese, sharp grated (plus extra for topping)
  • 1 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. In a large sauce pan, brown beef, drain fat and set aside.
  2. In same pan saute onions, carrots and spices with 1 tb of butter until softened (approx. 10 min).
  3. Add broth, potatoes and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small skillet. Add flour; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add 1 1/2 cups of milk, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Turn the heat down, and then add the 2 cups of shredded cheese. Once the cheese is melted, add the mixture to the soup. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. 
  5. Serve it up and top with more shredded cheese, bacon, pickles, whatever you want!

For two people, we ate on it for three days. Benjamin said it was good enough to put into the rotation, but he would like it to be a bit thicker and a little more spicy. Next time I will use less broth and a little more red pepper flakes. 🙂

Lesson Learned: Pinterest is not a waste of MY time. It keeps me fed!

Beach Boys

Beach Boys

One day at a time, I am conquering my fear of public transportation in Central Asia. Despite the fact that I now ride the bus, taxis still frighten me. Today, I had to run straight from a language class to a Doctor’s appointment, and due to the shortness of time, I had to travel via taxi. I was stressed because I was sure that I was going to be late, I wasn’t 100% sure where I was going, and I didn’t like how I was going to get there. However, my stress was relieved once I was seated in a strange man’s car, and he just happened to be listing to American oldies (even though he really didn’t speak English). I heard the Beach Boys. Oldies music, especially the Beach Boys, eases my mind and spirit because it is the music that I grew up on. God is good to provide the small things to make me feel comfortable. From there on, the ride went very smoothly, and I arrived at my appointment on time.

Lesson Learned: I wish that every taxi driver played the Beach Boys.

Newsflash

This past week all of my dreams came true… at least all of the dreams that I have had for the last 8 months. It has been that long since I packed up my precious KitchenAid mixer and my Ninja blender (both were gifts from my mother-in-law), and I have been longing for them ever since.

I have jokingly said to my friends that the real reason that I got married was so that I could register for a KitchenAid mixer. Let it be known that I would not trade my wonderful husband for 100 mixers, KitchenAid or otherwise, but the fact still remains that for most of my early adulthood, I longed for THE mixer of all mixers.

Back to 8 months ago when I had to pack up my beloved kitchen appliance. It sat lonely in a box for 5 months until the exciting day when I removed it from its box only to pack it carefully in a suitcase. It made the journey halfway around the world and was freed of its constraints only to sit lazily on a kitchen shelf. Alas… no converter could be found to transform this unusable appliance into a home chef’s dream machine. Until, last Sunday my same wonderful husband went out and hunted down a converter so that I could be reunited with my mixer and my blender. Between the three of us, we have made cookies, brownies and smoothies, and this is just the beginning. I have plans for homemade bread, pizza dough and cinnamon rolls.

Lesson Learned: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, even when it comes to appliances. Also, when freezing bananas for smoothies, it is best to peel the banana first and THEN place it in the freezer.

Culture Shock

Personal Space

Despite the calendar rolling over and the fact that we have been here nearly three months, I have not experienced culture shock yet. Of course, I have had sad days when I missed my family and things like that, but thankfully, I have not faced the dreaded shock of intensely disliking my new culture. But when I do… I can tell you what will be at the root of it. The people here, nice and kind in all other respects have a dog eat dog mentality when it comes to waiting in lines and public transportation. The rule is trample or be trampled. While waiting in line at the grocery store, let’s just say that you better be breathing down the neck of the person in front of you.

Take today for instance. While perusing the local grocery store, I happened upon a woman with the longest hair that I have ever seen. Quite literally. It hung inches from the floor and no doubt would have dragged on the floor if it were not matted and gnarled into a flat almost burlap like shape. It took me a second to realize that it was hair. Later, when I went to stand in line at the check out in the same grocery store, I found myself standing behind the hair lady. She had an interesting musk to put it kindly, and since I was born and raised in America and  have a healthy respect for personal space, I gave her a wide girth. A man came up behind me and decided that I was not standing close enough to her, so he stood close enough to me that his person was brushing up against my butt. Going further, he looked at me, said something in a language that I do not speak, tried and succeeded in cutting around me in line. I was aghast. Fortunately, another line opened up at that exact moment, and I was rescued from a potential angry outburst.

Lesson Learned: Choose your place in line carefully, and once it is chosen, protect your space.