Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas: Our Turn to Decorate

October and November have been loud and colorful months of holidays for various religious groups in South Asia... Lights, firecrackers, and huge pandals all over (much like last year). 

Despite trying to expend all of Rebekah's energy playing at our Thanksgiving celebration,

We had promised to decorate our enormous 8-foot Christmas Tree we had set up earlier in the week, and she was not going to forget.

Rebekah had previously tried to decorate by herself, 

And she was prepared to hang as many Christmas ornaments as possible.

We started a new Christmas tree tradition by having to fend off swarms of mosquitoes that had made it up to our 3rd floor apartment. And yes, James is using a hand-held electric mosquito zapper--an awesome South Asian invention.

Although the weather is a little different (no chance of snow or temps below 50 degrees), we finally got the tree decorated to make South Asia feel a little more like Christmas once again.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, Expanded Edition

We are celebrating another Thanksgiving overseas today, and after last year's small celebration, many things expanded as we blew out Thanksgiving here in our sleepy slice of South Asia...

We had over 20 adults and nearly 30 children at our festivities!

James started his morning with a couple hours of basketball as a preemptive strike on what would be consumed later in the day.

Smoked meats...

We mean plates and plates of meat (and other foods, but it was hard to get past the main courses)...

Desserts truly meant to do nothing more than kill a person with pleasure...

Finished off with a couple hours of conversation with friends,

Some tree climbing in a neighbor's yard,

And a greeting-card-like family evening of getting our 8-foot tall Christmas tree decorated and looking good.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going Down to the Water

Riding in our car from the airport with our South Asian friend (who is a Christian), 
she kept stating in amazement, "The water is so dirty!" 

And yet the crowds in our sleepy little regional capital were amassing on the shores of every river, stream, and watering hole around our town in order to thank the sun god, Surya, for sustaining life and to ask for long life, healing, and prosperity.

They stand in the water at sundown and sunrise, bathe, and abstain from drinking water in the hope of gaining answers to their requests.

We do not worship every part of nature as containing a god. We worship God who created every part of nature. The desire in the hearts of a billion South Asians is God-given, but "they exchanged the truth about God . . . and worshiped and served the created rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:23).

When we go down to the water with new followers of Christ,
we do not work for possible blessings. 

In gaining Christ, the former Hindu sex worker...

The former Muslims...

Are simply testifying to the Hindu or Muslim villages in which they live that already "new creation has come: the old things are gone, and the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are honored to witness God working in this way in South Asia.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Kristie!!!

I (James) am not sure Kristie remembers this picture from November 2001, just a few days before she turned 20-something!!!

Man, I wanted to hold her back then and not let her go (especially since I was at an airport leaving in this picture)...

Now that she is turning 30-something,
her running joke for the past 11 years has been that I never get her flowers like I did back then--to be fair, flowers were super-cheap in Kenya.

Well, BAM!!! Flowers are super-cheap here in South Asia, too (maybe even cheaper). 

We have been all over the world together since our time in Africa, and I would not trade it for anything. 

Thanks for putting up with me with all my failings...
(such as you making your own birthday breakfast, waffles; dinner, chili; and birthday cake--just let me in the kitchen!!!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Local Friends: Vicky and Smita

Rebekah is not just a little helper at our house.

Last week we visited some friends' house near us and ate some magnificent pork and vegetable momos

Vicky and Smita are a young Nepali couple who we use for language help. 

Smita comes from a Christian family, while Vicky's family is orthodox Hindu. Since his conversion his family has shunned Vicky for his Christian faith, yet he is always very joyous and willing to do anything to help us and others.

Like the average South Asian, when posing for a portrait as a couple, smiles are difficult to extract from them.

But we did manage to get little grins, at least.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our Little Helper: Birthday Cupcake Frosting

Oh, the concentration it takes to help Mama frost the cupcakes for our friend's birthday party.

Rebekah was very upset that she was not able to help Kristie make the cupcakes, due to that silly nap that (thankfully for her parents) always messes up her 3-year-old schedule.

And as she neared the end of her frosting, her project looked pretty good.

But then we began to notice a priceless, yet all too commonly seen, sneaky look on her face,

and soon realized the REAL reason she wanted to help with the cupcakes.

Very nice.

And no, we did not tell those at the party about her escapades 
(although in our defense, she only frosted the small cupcakes the kids ate).

Friday, November 2, 2012

"How Brave Are You?": Sikkim

For the first time in over 1 1/2 years, Kristie left Rebekah overnight and headed to the mountains just north of our little town for a "work trip".

We should not really call it a work trip, though, seeing that tourists come from all over the world, get their special permit to enter the former mountain kingdom, and hike around some beautiful hills.

The adventure starts on the way up as you are confronted with mountain rivers traversed by shady bridges...

Which only a confident local or crazy tourist would venture onto...

(Yep, Kristie fits one of those categories.)

 You see the evidence of the landslides that make travel into Sikkim more 'interesting'.

But the payoff, even if you do not hike into the mountains, is wonderful, with cool weather year-round and afternoon views of some of the highest peaks in the world.