Sunday, November 22, 2009

Simply enjoying

This afternoon, I decided to take a different road up the mountain, find a coffee shop, and read there. I remembered that this one road not too far from my home went clear up to the top of the mountain, where I used to house-sit and parrot-sit for friends.

I drove up steep, steep roads (perhaps at a 45 degree angle), encountering at times hairpin turn after hairpin turn. I'll definitely take another route down, I thought to myself. This'd be a bit much coming down on a scooter.

I passed unattended fruit stands, where you could weigh your own persimmons and starfruits and leave the money in a box. I stopped to pick up some seed pods to show my kids. I watched huge butterflies flutter by. I wished I had my camera with me.

The road took me past a pristine little garden on the side of the road. There was nothing there. Someone had simply made the little garden so you could sit there and take in the breathtaking view of all of Taipei county, all the way to the ocean.

I drove past a lazy dog or two, a couple working in their vegetable patch, and then, that was it. Dead end.

It's not the way I remember this road. What about the road to the Perkins' home? I wondered. As I drove back, I saw it. There was a little footpath up to my friends' home. I couldn't go up with my scooter. I'd have to ride down again.

I don't tend to look for the lesson in every single encounter in life, but as I was making my way down the mountain, I couldn't help but think that this is life. Sometimes, our expectations are unmet. Sometimes, the purpose of a journey is simply to enjoy just that very moment.

At times, the road might not lead to new things. But then again, it does, if only we'd open our eyes to what's around us.

And simply enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Miss Booysen, where does pasta come from? And cheese?"

We were talking about things we're thankful for again this morning. Says my one kid: "I ate pasta last night, Miss Booysen. I'm thankful for pasta! Oh, Miss Booysen? Where does pasta grow?"

We'd been talking about veges recently, and made a chart of which vegetables grow above ground, and which ones under the ground. I asked them to turn to their partners and come up with an answer. When they shared their answers, most thought that pasta grew on trees. I wonder if it is because there are some strange trees in our neighborhood with these strange-looking hairy, rooty things hanging from their branches! It looks kinda like dark spaghetti!

We decided we might have to go back to the market where we bought veges the other day to watch one vendor make pasta!

Then someone said they were thankful for cheese. Asks one of my most curious little kids: "Miss Booysen, where does cheese grow?" (Although it's more like, "Mith Booythen, whe' doth cheeth grow?")

After talking with their partners, some of the boys figured they knew. "In my belly button!" one laughed. "In my socks!" quipped another. Only boys would think of that!

Some thought it grew under the ground, other on trees.

"No!" another one explained. "It's from a cow!"


Yip. For real. That's what I like about 4-year-olds.

"No! You take the milk. You hit the milk. You get cheese."

So, there! Now we know!

So tomorrow we're writing down question to ask my friend's dad who used to be a cheese maker, so we can e-mail him or even see if we can set up a Skype call...

Kids are so curious! I love that about them. That, and a million other things. But not the cheese some of them are supposedly growing on their bodies.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Eggs come from CHICKENS??"

I've realized that in the busy-ness of work and studies, I'm losing some of the really adorable things my kids do and say by not writing them down. At lunch after church, a friend reminded me of this, though...

Last week, I took my kids to a local market. We have been talking about vegetables. Where do which veges grow? And so on and so forth. So during our visit to the market, we saw much more than fruit and vegetables, of course. We also saw slaughtered ducks and chickens, fresh fish, and a cornucopia of Chinese treats.

Passing the egg stand, I asked something about whether eggs were vegetables. Which led to a simple explanation that eggs come from chickens.

One of my girls had this total valley-girl expression on her face, and blurted out, "EGGS COME FROM CHICKENS???" In her world, they've always, always just come from roughly the same spot as the fruit and vegetables at the local supermarket.

Then, on Thursday, when we were celebrating my birthday by baking brownies in class, I asked again where eggs came from. This time, my most expressive boy jumped up from his spot on the carpet declaring, "I know!" and started doing a chicken dance in the center of the group, making clucking sounds to boot.

I really am enjoying working with 4-year-olds! They keep me on my toes, and they keep me on my knees in more ways than one. Some days, they drive me nuts. But most days, they make me laugh. A lot.

I love that. I really do love them. And most of the time, I like 'em, too.

I suspect the feeling is mutual.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking back

(Some of this is a repost. Some is new.)

I've walked on the Great Wall,
and dived the Barrier Reef.
I've hiked the Knysna forest
and I've soared over the Serengeti plains.

I’ve hung on for dear life on jeepneys in Manilla,
and in matatus in Nairobi.
I've dodged potholes in the Rift Valley,
and gotten lost in Taiwan.

I've explored the back streets of Manhattan,
and have known the freeways of LA.
I've bargained for fuel in the Congo,
and pleaded with police in Mozambique.

I have walked on a glacier in Alaska,
and sailed around islands
in the mid-summer heat.
I’ve camped on the beach in Niece,
and had dinner in a castle in Talinn.

I’ve sat sat in tukuls in Sudan,
and ghops in Korr/Kenya.
I've heard the people's stories
and kept them in my heart.

I've visited around fires in the Bushveld,
and danced around ones in the Maasai Mara.
I've stood on Table Mountain,
on the rim of the Grand Canyon,
on the Twin Towers
and climbed the stairs of Lady Liberty.
I've picnicked under the Eiffel Tower
and walked on the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

I've swum with wild dolphins,
and watched green turtles lay eggs by my door.
I've watched foxes care for their young,
and lionesses teach their cubs to hunt.
I’ve been chased by a rhino and an elephant.

I learned how to love driving in really bad mud.
I’ve been to more countries than I am old.

I've survived a massive earthquake,
typhoons, and floods.
I had a ticket for a plane that crashed.

I’ve sung in the most beautiful concert halls in the world,
and to an audience who could not hear.

I've lived among people in poverty,
and among ones who have too much.
I’ve had tea with Presidents,
and chai with friends
for whom it was all they had at home.

I have always had enough.

I've taken pictures in the rice paddies in Taiwan,
and in the deserts in Namibia, Kenya, and the USA.
I've had my camera confiscated,
and my voice silenced.

Notwithstanding, I've chosen to speak.

I've watched people die,
delivered a decomposed body to a family,
and have seen a baby being born.
I've seen the dead come back to life,
and those who think they live, slip away.

I've cried hard, and have laughed harder.
I have known and been known.
I've been tempted. I've succumbed.
I've resisted. I have known grace.
I have failed, I have hurt.
I have succeeded, and rejoiced.

I have loved, and been loved.
I have been blessed.
I have laughed with strangers
And have made lonely neighbors smile.
I’ve taught adults and kids alike.

I've been called talkative and quiet,
passionate, adventuresome, intense,
even a bit of an activist.

I’ve been mugged and been conned.
I’ve been attacked by a mob
and have stared death in the eye.

I have survived.

And so, I'll keep speaking for those without a voice.
I'll keep asking questions.
I'll keep taking photos and telling people's stories.
I'll keep sharing that which God is teaching me.
I'll keep living life to the fullest.

I'll choose no other way.

Today, I am 41. Last year, I wrote about some of the things I've had the joy of doing in life. I looked at that list again, added some things.

The bottom line? For me, life with God is an amazing adventure! Some uncertainties despite.

This time last year, I was in Nairobi with no idea what was lying ahead. I only knew God gave me total peace about moving on. A year later, I do not regret the move. I still don't know what's ahead after I've completed my studies, but for now, I'll continue to choose to enjoy life to the fullest.

Thanks for being part of my journey.