"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving in Central Asia

Although I missed my family very much, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my dear friends who kindly included me in their day!
We started the holiday with a wonderful brunch.
The highlight of the brunch was homeade cinnamon rolls with a rare treat-cream cheese frosting!
15 month old Will saying "please" for the cinnamon rolls. He loved them.
Later in the day, we traveled over to some friends' house to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with them. We were so thankful for the time we got to spend with them and two local families! Anna and Katie were posing here in front of the treats we took with us: applesauce, corn, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and brownie with peanut butter.
This was my first time to try pumpkin pie!
You can see my students keep my days exciting and fun!
The street outside their house.
Me and my students!
The "writing" below was made by Potato Chip, Michael's friendly kitty, walking across my keyboard.
The ladies at the party!
Anita, my new little friend. She's so sweet!
This picture is actually from today-Scott's bouquet to Wendy on their anniversary. And yes, it really is bigger than Will! Happy anniversary, Scott and Wendy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Teacher R&R

It's hard to believe week 11 of school is starting! The kids have done great, and I have loved working with them. Frankly, I'm learning at least as much as I'm teaching!

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the break from routine this weekend. I had the opportunity to meet with 5 other homeschool helpers/teachers (3 from the city, 2 from out of town). Some friends kindly hosted us at their "guest apartment," and we had a blast together!

We ate out at a little cafe which offered "pizza"-and it was quite good, though it had a sour cream sauce and the tomato came in slices on top! We dined early, because it's not considered proper for women to be out past about 6 o'clock!Then we traipsed back to the apartment, and (this probably won't surprise anyone) talked for a long time! It was really good to get to know each other better, and to share about our teaching struggles and triumphs. We laughed so much!!

Then it was time for some games. The picture below was a game that caused a lot of laughs! Yes, that is paper taped to my friends' foreheads (I had some too). On each piece of paper was the name of a Bible character; but the wearer had no idea which character. We each tried to guess our name using yes or no questions. We also played 4 on a couch and "The Dictionary Game."

The next morning we woke, ate a leisurely breakfast together, and traveled to the international church. It was so wonderful to spend time with my fellow teachers!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Holiday Visits

Friday, October 26 was a holiday here. The day started not long after daylight with the sounds of children's voices in the street. They were going from gate to gate, dressed in their best and chanting a poem that wished their neighbor a blessed holiday. In return, they would get candy or gum! It was great fun to hear their happy chattering and to see them dressed in holiday garb.

About 10 am, my students Anna (10) and Katie (7) came over to my host family; Anna to go visiting with me and one of my host sisters, Katie to play with my 7 year old host sister Fatima. The girls were also beautifully dressed and had even curled their hair!

All the pictures in this post were taken with my little video camera, and the quality may be questionable. ;)

However, there was still much to be done before we could leave. It would be considered a shameful thing not to be prepared for guests on any day, and especially on a holiday, so a beautiful table of fruit, cookies, salads, breads, etc. was prepared and laid out.

At last, at about half past eleven, we were ready to go. My host mother and sisters, as well as myself, had dressed carefully, as befitted the holiday. Going a little way day down the street, we visited a neighbor's house with a new bride, or "kellin." Here, in a long narrow room set apart for the women, we sat with about 15 other women around an elaborate dusterhahn (tablecloth). Shahlo, my host sister, leaned over and whispered to me that the family probably had not slept the night before due to the preparations. Dozens of fried pastries, sweets, and cookies crowded fruit, tea, sodas, and other treats. It was hard to see the cloth for the food!

A few minutes after we sat down, the bride came in. She was richly dressed in velvet and heavily adorned with her wedding jewelry. The young woman (she was probably younger than myself) wore a traditional hat, and over it, a delicate lace veil. Holding this veil over her face with both hands, she carefully bowed five or six times to the group of women to show her respect, before slowly backing out of the room again. Apparently, brides do this all day for dozens of guests.

Then it was time to go on to other visits. It is only polite to stay 10-15 minutes at each house. Here things got a little uncomfortable for me, because my host sisters weren't in agreement over who I should go visiting with. It was nice to be so wanted, but a bit uncomfortable as well! Thankfully, it was soon resolved and I set off with Anna and Maryam (14) to visit some of her classmates.

It would take far too long to sum up all the adventures we got to experience that day! To sum up, I got a fun view of a Central Asian schoolgirl's life. The girls let me take pictures of them, although one girl cast her eyes down modestly as I did so. They then raced over (giggling) and saying "Show me! show me!" They asked if I had any eyeliner I could use; thankfully I did have some in my purse (see Daddy, that's why I carry so much in there! :) ). Then, almost like little girls at a slumber party, they carefully applied it to each other's eyes, laughing and joking the while.

Although our hostess (left) wouldn't look at the camera, she loved having pictures taken of her.

We drank tea together with exaggeratedly polite manners, chatting politely about nothing. That reserve quickly disappeared when it was time for desert!

These girls loved my makeup!

It was a very full but wonderful day. I was so thankful for the adventure, for the friends God is giving me here, and for the hospitality people have shown.