15.11.13

7 Quick Takes - So much to say

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

Little bits from around the web that I thought worth sharing. I wanted to include pictures but my internet out here in the Thailand boonies is so slow tonight that's it's not going to happen.

1. Modesty, I Don't Think it Means What You Think it Means

Probably everyone has read this by now because she posted it a few months ago, but I wanted to jump up and down when I read this post by Rachel Held Evans. Mostly because I've been saying the same thing for years and I can't believe that we're still wasting breath debating this issue with each other. There is a world to heal, a creation to redeem, a kingdom of peace and love to incarnate people. Let's stop judging each other based on our clothes and being afraid of our bodies alright?

2. The American Way of Birth the Most Costly in the World

I have lived through this ridiculousness. After one of my home births I had to be admitted to the hospital for a few hours because the placenta didn't deliver spontaneously. I was there for about 8 hours, they fed me once, and gave me anesthetic so the OB could do his thing. The bill was more than $7000! And most of it was for "hospital stay."

It's ridiculous, and sad. It doesn't have to be this way. Having a baby in hospital in Thailand costs about $1000. You could fly here, live 3 months, have your baby, and fly back a month later for less than my nonbirth in the US cost.

3. I have to listen to this arrangement about once a week. It's so well done. My inner hymn loving, close harmony adoring music geek is made so happy by this.



He has a whole lot of hymns he's arranged like this on his channel, but I think this is the best one.

4. Vulnerability is our Best Measure of Courage

I've mentioned before my journey this year in getting better at asking for help. I was really encouraged when I read this post to not keep trying to pretend like I'm not bothered by things or have it all together. It also reminded me to try things before I have them all figured out, something I really have a hard time doing.

5. Our New Found Fear of Risk

Speaking of being afraid, it might not just be my problem.

6. Children are Suffering a Severe Deficit of Play

This article was not only fascinating, but I'm bookmarking it for all the times that I feel like as failure as a home schooler because my kids spend so much time "just playing with each other" while I say stuff like, "Not now, Mommy is working." I often feel like I should be making them do more and learn more, and do it all faster. I don't actually, because, who has time for all that? But now I can stop randomly fretting about the fact that my kids spend a lot of time climbing trees and making up games.

7. Christmas Giving Ideas




Every year people ask us, which means me, if I can give them some sort of card or something to give to loved ones when they make a donation to The Charis Project in their name as a Christmas gift. This year I'm totally prepared, and excited about it. We have cute little doll ornaments dressed in tribal clothing, and hand made cards by women in a nearby refugee camp, and even a NYT bestselling book.

And a bonus, because this is one of the sweetest things in the world. Two little newborn babies, twins, in a bath just after delivery. I'm pretty sure this did not happen in America. They don't seem to believe in gentle birth in US hospitals.


14.11.13

PHFR - The missing updates

It's been ages since I did a PFHR post, and I don't know why because I've been taking a ton of pictures.

So these pictures aren't necessarily from this past week. I have a lot of archives to catch up on from the past few months.

Pretty





I'm so glad that it is so beautiful where we live. I can deal much better with the many ugly things we're trying to improve when I can look at skies like these and get some perspective.


Happy

Kids in trees.





Look closely. The Girl is way up at the top.

This is the Girl's little perch where she prefers to do school work.
Sweet little things from thoughtful children.


Saturday morning pancakes on the balcony.


This guy because he can do stuff now.



Funny

This is called a technologie. It's a common method of transport here, often for lots of people at a time. We live on a hill next to a road so every so often we see one of these laboring up the hill with a pile of people in the back of it.


I do not know this person. She works at a booth in a bus station and asked to hold Dek. So I took pictures of her, taking pictures of herself, with him. It seemed appropriate.


Real

I've nicknamed these stairs Death Trap 1 because they are so steep and I worry constantly about someone falling down them, or worse, falling while carrying the baby. (Death trap two is the very narrow tiled stairs going down from the upstairs balcony. When it rains they are super slick and scary.)

There's been an excessive amount of sick around here the past few weeks. I'm not liking it.



This, is someone's house. A lot of my neighbors live in houses like this.


For more people capturing contentment go here.
round button chicken

11.11.13

Scorpion Eaters

A little while ago we were sitting around a little fire outside in our yard, because it was family night and the kids had asked for a fire. I was just starting a story when Aaer ron yelled, "Everyone get back!"

We live in the land of poisonous vipers, and poisonous centipedes, and all manner of other unpleasantness so we all complied pretty quickly.

It turned out it was just a little scorpion who had crept close to the warmth of our fire.



So Aaron, being Aaron, rather than kill it, caught it and fried it up so the kids could taste it.




Who wants to see the video the kids took of a snake eating a Toukay(big gecko) while hanging in front of the kitchen window?

5.11.13

What I See

We decide to eat lunch in a sit down restaurant near the border the day we renew our visas, rather than a street stall, mostly because we also need a bathroom. Six ladies and one girl, in coordinating tribal shirts, seat us and bring our dishes, ice, drinks, menus, etc. The girl, maybe 13, maybe older, she sits at a nearby empty table and watches us eat. The restaurant isn't very busy. Most tables are empty. I glance at her as she watches us, in between juggling baby, toddler, and food. She just sits, and watches. It's a school day. I wonder if she goes to school. I wonder if she ever gets to eat the same kind of food my kids are pushing around on their plate and probably won't finish. We've ordered 4 different meat dishes to go with our rice. Not a lot for 7 people by American standards, but probably extravagant for many here.



Does she sleep in the house behind the open air restaurant? Does she push some chairs together after the customers go home and sleep there?

In the street there are two very thin Burmese girls. They each hold a baby or toddler on on a hip and they follow us around with their hands out pointing at their mouths and saying over and over again, "Hello. Hello. Hello."

They followed us to the restaurant door, and they follow us again as soon as we leave. Aaron gives the kids some money to gives to them.

I know that giving money to beggars almost always compounds the problem. I know that it feeds a system that is damaging to people. But it feels better than doing nothing. I want to talk to them, but I can't speak Burmese. So I smile and bow and walk on as they press up behind with their hands still out until we get into the car. I blink back tears and swallow them down as we move on away from them.

This is what my bathroom looks like.


This is what my other bathroom looks like.


This is my neighbors bathroom, as seen from my living room window.
They stand behind those barrels of water and bathe by pouring the water over themselves from a bucket.
I didn't realize it was their bathroom until one day I happened to look out the window and saw a little boy standing naked in the yard throwing water on himself. Another time it was a woman with a sarong wrapped around her body for modesty as she bathed.

Our neighbors on both sides live in teak houses on stilts with broken bamboo walls and a tin roof. Their water is in tanks like ours, but they don't have it running into the house and out of the tap. They have electricity. We can hear their radios blasting all day and night.

Are they poor?

I'm not sure.

I have a nicer bathroom. The person who built this odd house we rent took care with it. They made it beautiful. They could afford to build something nice on a property the same size as the neighbors with the tin roof. We could never afford a house this size in San Diego. We pay less than a quarter of what we paid to rent our last house that was half this size.

But are they poor because my stuff is nicer? Or are they poor because even if I lived in their house I would have so many more options than they have thanks to my education and connections.

Do they think of themselves as poor I wonder? They are better off than many, many others around here.

A friend who works with another organization here in this city tells me about a family that was trying to sell their one and a half month old baby yesterday. The social worker they work with told them about it. She went to meet with the family. They wanted her to take the baby to the children's home her organization runs and give them some money. They needed 1500 Thai Baht, roughly $50US. Of course that didn't happen. She wouldn't give them money in exchange for taking their child somewhere safe. There are laws here. The police don't allow that kind of thing if they find out about it.

She offered instead to help the family to get food if they would keep their baby and not try to sell it. She said they were happy with that suggestion, and that they moved in with some people in our little village. She doesn't know for sure yet if it's the house with the bathroom I showed you above, or the one just down the hill from it.

My heart squeezes in my chest. I can't imagine trying to sell a baby so new, so tiny. I can't imagine ever being at the point where that would be an option for me. It would tear me in two. I think I would rather die.

Dek at about the same age.
Fifty dollars. Fifty freaking dollars. I have had shoes that cost more than that. How could anyone give up a child for less than a days wages in the US for the average person.

But is she a bad mother? Maybe. Probably not. I don't know.

Is it better for that baby to be with her still rather than in an institution? Probably.

It's overwhelming all of this, and I don't know how to think about some of it yet.

One of the reasons I haven't posted much recently is because I still don't have a framework in place to understand things. I want to understand what I see before I talk about it. But that's not so easily done, and I know I don't understand a lot of it. I don't want to impose my worldview on a culture and situation I only see the surface of. To do so gets in the way of finding workable solutions.

So I observe, and try to reserve judgement, and try to build a framework that will help me navigate all of this with compassion and wisdom.

I realized I can at least tell you what I see.
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