Sunday, September 27, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
1. This habit has been deeply engrained into my psyche and is now a knee-jerk reaction.
2. I function with a high level of phlegm.
I honestly just forget that it is not socially acceptable unless I'm in the middle of a cardio-vascular activity. There have been many times at church when I'm walking between buildings that I'll let one fly without thinking. In a dress.
You can imagine my exuberance when I read Heather's blog about Finland being a spitting culture . We arrived and I experienced it for myself. She was right. People--young and old, rich and poor, unashamedly spitting left and right. Oh the freedom; oh the bliss. I was in spitting heaven. The other day a little girl got out of her car and hacked a big one right in front of me, luckily missing my shoes. I wanted to hug her.
Then on Thursday we left Finland and arrived in London. We were standing at a proper crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn. My nose started to tingle with drippiness, so without thinking, I emptied out both nostrils with a good 'ol farmers blow. That didn't feel like it did the trick, so I finished the job by spitting. My head lifted only to meet the eyes of two women in front of me whose heads were turned watching me. They stared uncomfortably as I slowly began to remember that I was not in Finland anymore. After a few awkward moments basking in their looks of shame, I wanted to mouth to them I'm from Wisconsin (and my mom taught me how to farmer's blow) or --if that didn't suffice--I just lived in Finland. Soon their punishing glares were over and the light turned. I crossed the street and said to Colby, "I just got a blog post idea."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
…But we are back in Iceland with VISAs.
Here’s a recap of what we had to go through in the last 3 days:
1. 1. Three hour train ride from Jyvaskyla to Helsinki, Finland. Colby’s backpack broke. Had to shop for another one in the Helsinki mall and transfer everything into it.
2. 2. Got to the airport. Got into the slowest line at Czech Airlines. Finally it is our turn at the check-in counter. We find out we are only allowed to check 80 kilos and we are required to check our strollers (which we have never had to do). We open up all the suitcases and try to carry on as many pounds as possible. We are charged for the extra weight. We are NOT happy.
3. 3. We trudge through the airport—Colby carrying a heavy backpack and dragging two garbage bags full of clothes, me -- a backpack stuffed with 20 pounds plus my other carry-ons, and Haley carrying the camera bag. We all have our winter coats on (we had to bring them in case).
4. 4. Arrive in Prague. Only have 45 minutes between flights. Run to next gate. We look like a scene out of Home Alone.
5. 5. Get to Heathrow Airport in London. At Border control, Haley is nearly in tears, frantically grabbing herself because she is about to wet her pants (we had just gone to the bathroom on the plane). Hold on Haley, we just have to answer 20 questions first.
6. 6. Go to Baggage Claim. They have lost our double stroller (the double stroller we had paid 80 dollars to check). Colby goes to try to locate it, leaves me with all the luggage, and Darcy wets her pants (she had JUST gone to the bathroom on the plane).
7. 7. We emerge from Baggage Claim to meet someone from our company…Darcy dripping with urine, Haley upset because she had just lost her new Hello Kitty bracelet, and Colby and I with bags under our eyes.
8. 8. One-hour drive to our hotel in Gatwick. We arrive, take everything to our room, and then realize that we are so hungry we won’t be able to fall asleep. Colby goes to find food. It takes almost another hour.
9. 9. Next morning, Colby gets up early to get directions to the Embassy. The wireless internet isn’t working. He figures something out, we chug breakfast, and catch the Gatwick Express to downtown London.
10. 10. Walk for an hour. Arrive at the Embassy 45 minutes early. The woman at the counter looks confused, and says, “I’m sorry. You don’t have an appointment for today. I have you down for Monday morning. And today we’re packed full.”
11. 11. Colby looks like he is about to hurt someone. He gets assertive. “I’m sorry, there must have been a miscommunication. We agreed on Friday and we have flights to Iceland tomorrow morning.”
12. 12. Clerk responds (with a perfect British accent), “Ah, sh*#... (head in hands). Okay, out of the goodness of my heart, I’ll try to squeeze you in today.”
13. 13. Find out we need passport photos. We get a map and run for 15 minutes until we find “Snappy Photos” where we have a quick photo shoot. Run back and get in line.
14. 14. They call our name. Find out our credit card will not work and we need 112 pounds CASH. This time Colby goes alone and sprints to the nearest “hole in the wall.”
15. 15. Get what we need. Go to Kensington Gardens where I lay on the grass for an hour trying to recover.
Monday, September 14, 2009
We met the Pauls in April of 2008 at our interview conference. They were pure-bred Californians deciding whether to serve in Indonesia or Finland. Since our church was doing work in Indonesia, I tried to persuade them to go to there. They decided Finland. We went back to our separate coasts, packed up our lives, rented out our homes, and reunited in August in Richmond at our training center. For 9 weeks we shared meals together, sat together every day for our sessions, and bonded through the whole experience. We said goodbye in October never thinking our lives would intersect again. However, our surprise trip to Greece allowed us to spend a week together, and there we decided the contingency plan of going to their town in Finland if we didn't get VISAs. Here we are. It has been a wonderful month of doing life together here. The whole first week, Heather and I just kept repeating, "I can't believe we're here; this is so surreal." Their four-year old girl, Delaney and the girls have had a blast together. She is into princesses and ponies, so what could be better? This has been a rich blessing to be together and we're thankful to God for this opportunity.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The moment came at the perfect time. We were at the home of Irma, an amazing Finnish woman who glows with the presence of God and who owns a lovely piece of property in the outskirts of town. We had just sat down for afternoon coffee with her and our dear friends here, the Pauls, when Darcy busted in the front door from playing outside screaming, “I have to go POO-POO!” Colby got up to help her when I heard his phone ring. My stomach immediately dropped and the Finnish fancy cake I was chewing on suddenly made me want to vomit.
This was it. It had to be. We had been waiting for 13 months and 9 days to get a residence permit and today was the day we would hear the decision. I made eye contact with Heather and we both tried to politely listen to the conversation that was happening around the table, both knowing that something monumental and life-altering was happening in the other room. I was nauseated with nervousness.
I excused myself and entered the bathroom where Darcy was loudly trying to get Colby’s attention because she needed to be wiped… and Colby was hiding in the shower with one hand plugging his ear, trying to hear the person on the other end of the phone. He was smiling with a giddiness that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and I leaned into the phone just in time to hear the words, “You have been approved.” It was almost visible—the weight that I watched lift from Colby’s shoulders…the burden that had been there for so long that I had begun to not even recognize it.
He continued to talk on the phone with our representative from Iceland, and I made my way to the closest chair in sight and collapsed in it. I watched him pace back and forth around the living room, laughing, glowing. We made eye contact. He moved the phone away from his lips and mouthed to me, “It. is. over.”
I couldn’t believe it. I sat in the rocking chair in a state of shock for a long time. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if anyone ever wiped Darcy. Poor child. All I could hear were the words, “It is over.” All I could see in my mind was a long and painful road that we had finally--hand in hand--come to the end of. Not just us, but many that have traveled this road with us were behind us cheering and smiling. I didn’t know what to think. For so long we hadn’t known WHEN this would end, WHERE it would end or if it WOULD ever end. And now it was over. This journey was finally over. And it was finally beginning...
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
(Cuddling in bed reading this psalm to my girls in pajamas):
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Haley Jane (furrowed brow): "Well...why does He only hold us with His right hand? Why doesn't he hold us with both hands?"