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Friday, July 30, 2010

Father, Long Before Creation

In honor of my recent trip to Asia, I thought I'd post a translated hymn written by a Chinese brother or sister. God is at work in Asia, revealing Himself as loving and steadfast:

Father, long before creation
Thou hadst chosen us in love,
And that love so deep, so moving,
Draws us close to Christ above.
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us
Firmly fixed in Christ alone.

Though the world may change its fashion,
Yet our God is e'er the same;
His compassion and His covenant
Through all ages will remain.
God's own children, God's own children
Must forever praise His name.

God's compassion is my story,
Is my boasting all the day;
Mercy free and never failing
Moves my will, directs my way.
God so loved us, God so loved us
That His only Son He gave.

Loving Father now before Thee
We will ever praise Thy love,
And our songs will sound unceasing
'Til we reach our home above.
Giving glory, giving glory
To our God and to the Lamb.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Prevailing Purpose

Already the end of July!

I am Stateside this week and still fighting major jet lag, but today already seems better than yesterday which was way better than the day before. My time in Asia ended a few weeks early so I could come back and spend some time with my grandma who hasn't been feeling well for the past couple of months.

It's nice to be home, but there is major stuff to be done! Since I left early, I will need to pick up on my Master's project this side of the Pacific, which will entail more work than I had anticipated. There's a detailed MedSend application to complete, some presentations to prepare for, support to raise, and a garage sale to pull off sometime this fall. That's on top of classes which start in a month and work which I hope starts sooner!

I wasn't able to travel around in Asia, like I had planned, and some things I wanted to accomplish while I was there never happened. I have to pick up where I left off from 2 months ago, plus add all the new stuff I have to catch up on while I was gone as well as all the things that need to happen in preparation for what comes next.

Plans don't always work out as we want. There are usually plenty of twists and turns in the road. But God has a way of working out exactly what He wants from all of our messed up intentions. Already, I can see how the unexpected events of my summer are working for my good and for God's glory (Romans 8:28). And that makes all the inconvenience of not getting my own way a very little thing, indeed!

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Heat is On

It's a heatwave here in Asia-I think someone may have forgotten to let them know it's summer and they can turn off the furnace. Temps have been up in the 100's this week, and one night at 11 I went to bed with the outside temp reading 89, with the inside temp being a good deal warmer. So what do you do when you insanely do some impromptu hiking up a giant hill in the middle of the day right after lunch and don't have a hat?

You let nature provide!
The air was so muggy and hot it felt like wading through a bowl of re-fried beans. But we were rewarded with a beautiful view of an Akha village and a little shade through a rubber tree grove on the way down the hill.

Akha houses have 3 levels - the ground level below the house is open and this is where firewood, motorbikes and other non-perishables are stored. The second level has the main floor of the house - kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, etc. The third level is a loft that houses the stored grains.
On return to the village, I was so soaked in sweat I figured I wouldn't be any worse off for making a quick visit to the pigs.

On the way home our van overheated when it ran out of water (call it drought conservation??), so we cooled off in the stiff wind that was blowing on the side of the road. Overall, a very nice day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Top 10 Things I've Learned in Asia

Yesterday marked the 1 month anniversary of my arrival in Asia. Okay, not that it's exciting, but the past 30 days has given me plenty of new experiences to glean some important take-home messages from. Like the time I accidentally ordered squid for dinner, or had to find my way around the domestic airport with no English help. So, I've decided to compile a list of the 10 most important things I've learned since my arrival.

10. Just because it looks like you're buying milk (which is not refrigerated and comes in shelf-stable packages) in a plastic water bottle does not mean it's milk. It could be soy drink or yogurt. Even if it is milk (or soy or yogurt), it could still deceive you by being peanut or apple or corn flavored. The moral of the story is to taste it before you dump a big chug in your morning coffee and take a swig.

9. Walking down the sidewalk makes you a traffic hazard. Your white skin and light hair will cause motorcyclists (on the street or the sidewalk next to you) and taxi drivers alike crane their necks around for the best possible gawking opportunity. This is also true in the supermarkets. Asian shoppers will invariably glue their eyes to the contents of your basket as you pass, curiously trying to decipher the impossible, strange puzzle of what white people like to eat.

8. Saying the same thing over and over again in a language the other person does not understand does not help that person comprehend your meaning. I know, as the sender and receiver of such repetition.

7. All kids speak the same language, regardless of their words.

6. A Praying Mantis on your wall could mean that it is waiting to feast on the baby Geckos that have hatched somewhere in your kitchen cabinets.

5. Dogs are a conundrum. They are ardently loved by their owners, but are allowed to run free on the streets amidst the endless variety of cars, tractors, bikes, and motorcycles. As a result, they have better traffic-sense than I do.

4. Banana flower soup? Corn ice cream? A street vendor's fried dumplings with mystery filling? Try it; it might be delicious!

3. Just because you don't speak the language doesn't mean people won't be warm, friendly, and hospitable. You will still be invited home with them for dinner.

2. Just because you are staying in a very nice, new apartment complex in town doesn't mean you won't be awakened daily by a rooster's crow at 5:30 am. Your neighbor may just be housing a flock of chickens on the balcony next to your bedroom window.

1. There is probably a good reason for the way things are done, even if you don't understand. It's wise to remind yourself of that occasionally.

(The aforementioned residence of my faithful poultry alarm clock: they live in the coop under the press board by the outer wall.)