Whirlwind

This week has been a whirlwind…of pain.  Dun, dun, dun.

Ok, I just wanted to say “whirlwind of pain” but seriously, this week has been, um, out of the ordinary.  Nathan is having a flare up of Crohn’s, giving him more pain than usual.  So, after consulting with the medical personnel here, he is taking some medication that he is not allowed to fly on.  The medical personnel have also advised him to get checked out by specialists while we are in the U.S. and since he is not flying anyway, our countdown chain had gotten a little trim, cutting 13 days off our leave time!  Whew!  So, suddenly we are leaving for the U.S. on Tuesday!

Countdown Chain

I don’t want to make light of what is going on with Nathan’s health, BUT this is nothing like the emergency situation we found ourselves in 7 years ago when we were in language school.  So, all and all, this kinda feels like a Crohn’s walk in the park.  His pain is not too severe and he can function almost normally.

Hopefully, the Doctors in the U.S. can give us a clearer picture of what is going on and we can determine if he needs surgery before this becomes an emergency.  After his last surgery in 2009, we were told there’s a 50/50 chance he would need surgery again within 10 years.

We would appreciate your prayers as we travel halfway around the world with a 2 1/2 year old and then as we consult with Doctors in the U.S.  Thanks y’all!

American Soil

Countdown Chain

According to Elias’ countdown chain, it is 16 sleeps until we get on a big get and go see his cousins (he has a little bit of tunnel vision when it comes to our trip to America.  Most exciting things about our trip according to Elias: 1. riding on a big jet 2. seeing his cousins; although he might change his mind about the big jet after the first 7 hour stretch on one plane).

It has been two years since we last set foot on U.S. soil and so I am excited about the normal stuff…family, food, friends.  But I’ve been thinking about a few other things I’m looking forward to as well:

  1. The moment in customs when the agent stamps my passport and says, “welcome home.”
  2. Being anonymous.  Everywhere we go here, we stand out.  I cannot leave the base without someone saying “Hello, Mister!” to me and I often hear the word “boule” being muttered.  People ask to take our picture all the time and seem completely astonished and almost offended that I won’t let them take a picture of my two-year-old (“But he’s so handsome!”).  So…I will welcome blending into the crowd.
  3. Shopping for leisure.  This is just not something I do here.  With my non-anonymity (is that even a word?) and everyone pinching Elias’ cheeks, shopping is not relaxing.  I never go out to a store just to wander around to see what there is.
  4. Wide aisles in the grocery store.  The concept of making an aisle wide enough for a cart to go through, let alone two, as yet to hit the stores of Nabire.  I am always navigating my cart around boxes and employees.  Thankfully their annoyance that I’m asking them to move so I can shop is usually tempered when they see my cute kid (whose cheeks they want to pinch).
  5. Cold weather.  I might regret saying this the second we step off the airplane and the first gust of cold air hits me, but right now it sounds pretty dreamy to sit in front of a fire with snow sitting on the ground outside.  Also, Elias needs to build a snowman :)
  6. Traffic patterns that make some kind of logical sense.  Indonesia gives me road rage.
  7. Going on a dinner/movie date with Nathan.  I realize that seeing a movie in the theater is not the most important thing in life…but we haven’t done that in almost 3 years so I’m looking forward to it.
  8. Seeing Elias’ reaction to all things American.  He was 10 months old when we left the States and so he has no memory of it.  I’m sure he is going to have some culture shock.
  9. Karson.  Karson falls in the family category but still earns a place on this list because he is our brand-new nephew and I can’t wait to squeeze him!
  10. Buying new clothes.  I’m in a I’m-tired-of-wearing-the-same-clothes-all-the-time-year-round funk and I’m ready to get some new ones.  And bonus: new clothes aren’t all stretched out and holey!

America, my home-country that I love but don’t really fit into anymore, I’m excited to see you again!

Fun fact: two years is the longest we have ever spent away from U.S. soil!  We’re not breaking any records here, by a long stretch, but it seems like some kind of milestone for us.

“New” Lenses

Did you know that it was 7 years ago, January 2009, when we first stepped foot into this country that I now call home?  Seven years ago, all was new, strange, uncomfortable and unfamiliar.  Every experience was a learning experience.  Yes, every trip to the grocery store, every phone call in a foreign tongue, every pump of gas, every step outside my front door was new.

Truthfully, I am SO GLAD do be done with that part of this moving-overseas experience.  It was hard and stressful.  There were lots of tears.  But, man, it was good for me.

Now, here we are, seven years later on the other side of it.  And some of that newness, seeing things with fresh eyes, has worn away.  All that new, strange and uncomfortable and become my new normal.  Today at the grocery store, and put on my “new” lenses and examined the shelves to see what would have seemed strange to me 7 years ago.  Here’s a few of the things that I found:

Big Roll

I’m quite certain I spied some of these seaweed rolls the last time I was at Costco…like two years ago.  And they were advertised with all kinds of health benefits.  But here, they are in the snack aisle along side cookies, wafers and candy.

NKOTB

I can’t even believe this is for sale!!  How long has this been sitting on the shelf?  It looks every bit as old as it probably is…a remnant from the 90’s.  But, this is Indonesia, so it is still full price.  I’m guessing it will still be there in another 20 years.  (Unless one of you want it…I would happily go snatch it up for you!)

Grass Jelly

I am not very brave when it comes to trying new and strange-to-me foods, so I have not ever tried this grass jelly drink, but it is something I remember taking a picture of in 2009 when all was still new.  Apparently, it is quite popular here because every single store carries it.

Epic Quest for Potatoes

For New Year’s Eve this year, we had a progressive dinner on base and I was in charge of appetizers.  Last year, I spent all day making appetizers and they were sure delicious, but I just didn’t want to spend that much time cooking this year.  So, instead, I settled on bread and potato soup, with one little hiccup: I had no potatoes.  And getting potatoes requires a trip to the pasar (the open market).

Here’s the thing: I love the idea of an open market.  I like the idea of wandering from stall to stall and checking out what everyone is selling.  I want to buy things like fresh honey and homemade soap and then maybe the potatoes I came for.  But in reality, the market in Papua is nothing like the little farmer’s markets you find in small-town America.  The pasar is crowded, hot, muddy, stinky and everyone wants to touch my kid.  And so I end up not only carrying pounds and pounds of vegetables, but also my 30 lb child who continual tells me that he wants to go home and screams every time someone touches him.

Pasar

But, potato soup needed to be made, so to the pasar we went, along with two of my friends.  Upon arriving, we discovered that the market was extra crowded, being the day before a holiday.  From the safety of the car, Elias seemed excited about the prospect of the market (“Look at the toys, mama!  Can we buy those?”), so I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be as horrible as I expected.  But once a parking spot was secure and we stepped out of the car, Elias immediately clung to my leg and said “This place is stinky.  I want to go home.”  Sigh.  Potatoes.  We need potatoes.

About five steps into the market, there are now flies swarming around us and the 4-hour old meat that’s been sitting in the sun; three ladies have touched Elias, so I pick him up and he squeezes my neck too tight and grumbles about “those ladies” and says “I don’t like this place mama.”

Need potatoes!

Pasar

Ok, so we find some red tomatoes that I also need and I quickly buy those from a nice Papuan lady thankfully does not try to touch Elias, but she does talk to him.  He proceeds to pretend to hit her (“Sorry! He’s scared.”)  We move on and I find potatoes!  Score!  The market is busy though, so it takes the seller awhile to weigh out my potatoes.  Elias and I stand in the aisle.  I place my body between him and every passerbyer who wants to touch his cute little checks.  He continues to squeeze my neck harder and says again, “I don’t like this place, Mama.  Can I buy that toy?  It stinks here.  That lady is trying to touch me.”

Pasar

Finally, potatoes.

Now, I’m holding three pounds of potatoes, a pound of tomatoes, some onions and a thirty pound kid.  Sweat is dripping down my back and there is mud squished between my toes.

My friends still have a few items on their list, so we wander a bit farther and I find some bananas.  “We get banas, mommy?”  Yep, we get banas.

Pasar

All items checked off the list, we head back to the car.

“We go home now?  Yay!”

Yay indeed.