Maybe adjusting to constant change leaves me with a little underlying stress (and a craving for sweets) or maybe now that I do not have an 8-5 job I am left with a little more flex time, but regardless of the reason, I LOVE to bake. I love to have dessert in the house. Now before anyone gets worried, Benjamin and I are both working out and getting healthy. My point is, baking is something that I love to do, and the bonus is that I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. It is also a way for me to show some love to our new friends here. I baked a cake for our friend’s birthday. I made heart shaped cookies for our language teacher for Valentine’s Day. I made cookies for my husband to give to his new friends, and of course, I make cookies just for us to enjoy. I am no Martha Stewart or Julia Child, but I find joy in baking.
Lesson Learned: I need to import baking powder.
Rachel-1/ Random overseas illness-0
I knew that it was inevitable. In fact, I was surprised that I had lived in Central Asia for four months without getting sick. So when the inevitable mystery illness came I got to stay at home for a week and a half because I needed to be near three things: an ample supply of drinking water, my pillow and the bathroom. Now that it has come and gone, and I have survived, I feel happier now having gone through it. I am however extremely grateful to feel “normal” again.
Lesson Learned: Don’t stop taking pro-biotics. I am a believer.
When your family lives in different states, it is hard to be there for each other. Time and distance mean that you can’t just show up on someone’s doorstep simply to be with them. Now add to that an almost 12 hour time difference, and then it is hard to even be awake at the same time. As our family and friends go through difficult seasons of life, it is hard to feel like we can “be there” for them. Unfortunately, they don’t make those cute little long distance relationship gifts for people who live halfway around the world. That would require quite a long, cute, curly line.
To say “you’re in my prayers,” may seem trite since every politician says that, but most of the time, that is the only thing that I can do. There is a post office here, but I haven’t even begun to figure out how to mail anything home, not to mention the cost is probably outrageous. But prayer… that is something that I can do. It is easy to say that you are going to pray. It is another thing to get on your knees and carry someone else’s burdens before the God of the universe. To really pray for someone may seem little, but it may be the best thing that I can do. I want to “be there” because I want to fix it and make it better. Most things though, I can’t fix or make better. Only God can fix things or give us the grace to get through.
To our family and friends, we love you and from far away, we will carry your burdens with you.
Lesson Learned: There is power in prayer.
Some days, I go from place to place with no issue, and I feel comfortable here. I feel like it is my new home. Other days, I realize that I am the only American within a 10 mile radius, and I think, “Do I really live here?” And then I see things like a room full of butchered mannequins, and I really question myself. Most of those days, I am not sad. I am just reminded that here, in Central Asia, I am the minority. I became so accustomed to being in the majority for all of my life that it is a little surreal to be on the other side.
As a minority, I consider it my duty to learn the official language of this country. I have been dutifully working on it for three months now, and most days I feel that I have little to show for my efforts. However, just this weekend, I was able to spend several hours surrounded by and eating dinner with local women. Despite the fact that I was only able to put together two coherent sentences, I was complimented on my pronunciation. Heck, I’ll take it. I may not be able to say much, but what I can say, I say correctly. I don’t consider this a matter of pride, but rather I take it as a little encouragement to keep on truck’n.
Lesson Learned: Good grammar and pronunciation are always accepted.
How do you get milk? Grocery store? Farmers market? Special milk delivery service? When my mom was growing up, they still had milk delivered by the milk man. Here in Central Asia, you can buy milk in a box (unrefrigerated) or… you can wait for the milk man to drive around your neighborhood in a tiny van incessantly honking his horn. Upon hearing this honking, you could grab your half liter jar and a few dollars and then run down four flights of stairs. If you did that, you would find a group of women huddled behind this tiny van all fighting to be the next person to get their milk.
Lately, that is what we have been doing. Buying the milk was our first adventure, and we can do that with confidence. Our next adventure is learning to pasteurize the milk ourselves. Suggestions are welcome. My first attempt resulted in a horrible boil-over which caused our entire apartment to stink for a day or two. My latest attempts have had only slightly better results. We will figure it out one day…
Lesson Learned: Who would have thought that finding drinkable and tasty milk would be our greatest challenge yet.