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November 2005
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January 2006

Normal No More

I am feeling so un-normal.

Here I am, sitting in the states. I am typing on a laptop, surfing the web wirelessly, drinking a cup of coffee....and I feel like I don't fit it. Over the last two weeks, we have been able to reconnect with friends, laugh and celebrate with our family, eat too much....and I still don't feel like I fit in. I have been driving on smooth roads, using soft toilet paper, and eating American food....and I feel like I don't fit in.

What is wrong with me?

America just seems so...different. I've noticed that Americans are much heavier than Moldovans (malnutrution is a friend of style). I've observed that American churches are warmer, more comfortable, have nicer music, and sermons I can understand. I've liked American food, stared at commercials I've never seen before, and slept on comfortable beds.

Why don't I feel at home?

I'm feeling out of place. I stare at pictures of Pakistan, a country in which I've never been and I feel a burden. I talk with a friend from Siberia and my heart is warmed. I miss Moldova, my friends, our pastors, our discomfort.

My "normal" is now very abnormal. Strange food doesn't bother me. Squatty potties, foreign languages, and border crossings don't stress me out. And the joy of living amidst everything "strange" is where I want to be.

I just wish I could feel normal again.

So much time. So little time.

We are back in the States for a couple of weeks. Since we were planning to go to the World Summit at the end of the year (4000 college students, gathering together to hear about missions and be challenged to get involved), we also decided to come back early for a little R & R.

Three extra weeks seemed like SOOOOO much. I had dreams and ideas of all the things I would like to do. There were times for meeting friends for coffee, movies I wanted to see, phone calls to make, and things I do while in the States. I even had illusions of finding some swimming lessons for the girls!

Where has all that time gone? How could so much time disappear into thin air, sucked down by all the obligations, doctors appointments, shopping, family, and friends? That isn't bad! But I never realized how MUCH time could so quickly become so LITTLE time.

And we still haven't made all the dinner appointments!

Apple: A Love-Hate Relationship

I am finally getting my brand new Apple laptop fixed.  It has been an ordeal to say the least.

Last week, I was never going to touch an Apple computer again.  I had an incredibly idiotic tech support person.  "No, we can't help you.  You are out of the country."  So once you travel, all warranty stuff is off?  She wouldn't listen to one thought, and basically wanted to make me into a liar.

"So what you are saying," said I, "is that I am simply supposed to lie and say I am presently sitting in Minnesota!  If I hadn't mentioned that I was overseas, you wouldn't know a thing!"

I was ready to give up on the entire company.  But I finally went to the Apple store in the Mall of America, and they sent it in to get fixed.  What a nightmare. 

So now I am a propationary Apple guy.  I doubt now that I will ever totally make the switch.  Both PC and Apples have their problems and I'll just have to live with them.

In heaven, will computers never crash?

Travel Horrors

Travel can sometimes be classified in one of Dante's levels of hell.

After 48 hours, we finally arrived in the States.  After an additional 26 hours, our luggage finally did too.  If it could go wrong, it did.

We left the house at 4 am, Moldova time.  After a simple jump from Chisinau to Frankfurt, our travel plans began to fall apart.  Our plane was delayed from Frankfurt to Amsterdam.  Then delayed more.  Then more.

Finally, we were so late we missed our plane from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, thus the escaped began.  Stuck in Frankfurt, we had to talk to the ticket agents about rebooking.  There were no other flights that night, so they held our luggage (we thought) and we had to hunt up a hotel room in Frankfurt.  "Return the tomorrow morning, and we will get you to Detroit, then to Minneapolis," said the agent.

Next morning: "No, now we are going to rebook you on Continental to Newark, then to Minneapolis.  Luggage?  We have no idea where it is at.  It isn't here in Frankfurt, though!"

OK.  At least we will be in Minneapolis by 4 pm, right?  NOOOOO.  Our plane arrived in the states, then circled...and circled...and circled.  We were flying over New Jersey at 2 pm.  Our next flight left at 3:30 pm.  That is do-able, isn't it? 

Not if you have to circle for an hour!  We finally landed at 2:45 pm, then sat on the runway waiting for another plane to get out of our gate area.  3:00 pm...and then were at the gate.  Can we do it?  It's going to be tight, tight, tight.

But NOOOOO, now the jetway won't work and can't get attached to the plane.  Another fifteen minute delay, and the race began....through passport control, down the concourse....and late.  Our plane left.  Kids crying, dad wanting to cry, and all the family totally exhausted.  We return to ticket counter, and finally.  We were able to get on a Northwest flight, arriving in Minneapolis.  No luggage, forty-eight hours later, slightly tired, but on the ground.  Finally.

Dante needs to add another chapter to his book.


Parenting is tough. 

It wouldn't be so hard if it wasn't that I loved those girls so much.  When they hurt, I hurt.  When they're anxious, I'm anxious.  And I am just beginning to realize the unique pressures of living overseas as a Missionary Kid (MK)!Dec_2005_tallinn_025

Last night, some of the anxiety finally came out.  Natalie hasn't seemed herself the last few days.  She was slightly uptight, not as joyful.  I had been trying to take time to gently ask and probe, trying to find out the source of change in mood.  It all centers around our trip to the states this December.  We are flying out early Saturday morning, for a much welcomed vacation with friends and the a huge conference with 4000 university students (the primary reason).

She's sad about leaving her friends in Moldova.
She's nervous about getting up so early and for the LONG trip (20+ hours).
And she's scared about a plane crashing.

I am beginning to see a little window into what forms a MK.  I never had to think about those things when I was a kid.  I didn't have to process poverty issues (knowing I was the richest kid around).  I didn't have to navigate foreign menus, cold churches, or strange food.  (OK...maybe I did have to navigate strange food.  We went to church potlucks).485

How can we deal with those pressures?  How can I help me girls to adjust to missions life?  How can I help them adjust to American life?  I have so many questions, and very few answers.  All I know is that we all feel pressed to conform to a certain pattern, to fit it.  Perhaps that is why the Apostle Paul challenged the church to resist the conforming pressure the world brings, and to be transformed in Christ's likeness.

We'd appreciate your prayers.