The Life-Giving Phone Call

February 19th, 2018

life-giving-phone-call

I rushed to the emergency room because my friend from Honduras was doubled over in excruciating pain. She needed someone to translate her Spanish into English. Wheeled into a CAT scan and a sonogram, my friend discovered she had a 14-centimeter mass on her uterus, a cyst in her ovary, and the organs in her abdomen were swollen. At that point they didn’t know that her appendix was full of pus and was about to burst.

Meanwhile one specialist after another came in and out of the room, asking questions. I found out that in Honduras, years ago, her last C-section had gone bad. It had opened up, and her intestines had come out of her body. She held her intestines in with her bare hand for 6 hours before she could get an operation to put them back in and sew her up.

After translating for 10 hours with no food, I was exhausted. Another friend from my Hispanic church called and asked if I needed anything. Food, I said. Within a short time, I was eating delicious Cuban food as far away from my friend as possible, since she was not allowed to eat or drink in case she needed emergency surgery.

When I looked into my friend’s anguished face, all I wanted was to take that pain into my own self to alleviate her. I realized this is what Jesus does for us. He loves us selflessly and takes all our anguish into Himself. I saw the cross in a new light, and I felt that Jesus was shining out of my face.

The lab assistant noticed. She said I had a gift, and that she had noticed my selflessness a year ago as I was taking care of another Hispanic woman who was alone at the hospital, in an emergency.

When she pierced my friend’s arm with a needle, I petted my friend’s head and told her that it was all for the best because now she was going to get the surgery that she had needed for years. “Hold on,” I said. “God is providing for you to be healed. Not many hours from now, you will be healthier than you’ve been for years.” Her eyes filled with hope and joy in the middle of her moaning pain.

I called home and told my son to make spaghetti for dinner. I texted my husband that dinner would be ready when he got home, but that I was at the hospital with my friend.

Later that evening, I answered my cell phone; it was my husband. We had been in some recent arguments, and depleted as I was, I braced myself. I didn’t want to be told that I had to go home and abandon my friend who had no way to communicate with the doctors and surgeons. I asked questions of the doctors that my moaning, almost unconscious friend wouldn’t have thought of asking, and I knew enough of her story to be able to add vital information that was needed for making the decision to go ahead with the surgery.

I was pleasantly surprised that the phone call was life-giving.

My husband asked if I wanted him to bring me some food. I told him I had just eaten, but it was kind of him to think of me. I wasn’t sure how much longer I would be at the hospital, because my friend was going to be transported to another hospital for the night, to have surgery the next day.

I was so exhausted from making life and death decisions for my friend, answering social workers and countless other people what her situation was. On the phone with my husband, he gave me the strength I needed by cracking jokes and then staying on the line and not hanging up. I was transported back in time to when we were dating, and he cared and wanted to be with me.

I felt refreshed after the phone call. It was exactly what I needed.

After following her ambulance to the other hospital, I settled her in for the night and went home. The next day my friend got the surgery she needed, and she has been recuperating ever since. I’m exhausted from spending a full week at the hospital, and I’m glad things are sort of back to normal.

Hamlet: Goofy Skits for Your Merriment

February 5th, 2018

Hamlet-goofy-skits

My kids performed some goofy skits to summarize Shakespeare’s Hamlet. My daughter played the parts of both Queen Gertrude and Ophelia. My oldest son was the wicked uncle, Claudius. My youngest son was Hamlet, and my second son was all the other male parts. We produced the following video and summary for your merriment:

Hamlet: The Dramatized Summary

Once upon a time in Denmark, a king named Hamlet died mysteriously. His wife Gertrude married his brother Claudius less than two months later. Claudius’ reputation was so bad and his face so ugly, there was widespread suspicion that he murdered the late king for his throne! The prince, also named Hamlet, was shaken by his father’s death and shocked his mother would so quickly re-marry. He was ashamed of the wedding and showed up in all black.

But later the night watchmen told him about a ghost they had seen that looked like the dead king. Intrigued, Hamlet stayed up with them. Sure enough, there was the ghost of his father! In spite of the soldiers’ best efforts to dissuade Hamlet, he went out to speak with the spectre. What would he find out but that the king really had been murdered by Claudius! The ghost begged Hamlet to avenge him, then disappeared into the night.

Over the next few days, Hamlet was so bewildered by what he had seen, everyone thought he had lost his mind. Could love for Ophelia be driving him mad? He thought it was the perfect cover-up for plotting to avenge his father, so he feigned insanity.

One day, some actors were performing a play and worked themselves up to really feel the emotions of their characters. Hamlet was impressed and remembered the case of a murderer who was so moved by the play he was watching, he confessed to the crime. Why wouldn’t this work on his uncle, Claudius? Hamlet wasn’t so sure that what the ghost had told him didn’t come from his own imagination, and this felt like the perfect test.

So he had the actors perform a play in front of Claudius that went exactly as the ghost had described the murder. As they got to the part where the killer poured poison into the victim’s ears, the king felt very ill and had to leave. This made Hamlet sure the ghost’s tale was true, and he followed Claudius out of the room. But when he found the king praying, Hamlet didn’t want his uncle’s last act to be so saintly, so he decided to wait for another opportunity.

Hamlet’s mother wanted to talk to him about how he was acting up lately, and the king felt like it would be a good idea to hide behind a drapery in the room to secretly find out what was really up with Hamlet. Ophelia’s father Polonius volunteered to do the king’s spying for him.

When Hamlet was summoned, he confronted his mother about marrying his uncle so soon after his father died. In the heat of the debate, Polonius, who was secretly listening the whole time, thought Hamlet was attacking his mother in his madness and cried out. Hamlet, thinking the man behind the curtain was Claudius, drew his sword and stabbed him. To his horror, he found he had killed Polonius! His mother exclaimed what a crime he had committed, to which Hamlet replied that to kill the king, then marry his brother was much worse. He compared the late king’s handsomeness with the ugliness of the new one. He scolded his mother for marrying the one most suspected to have killed her husband.

When Claudius found out about Polonius’ death, he thought Hamlet was too dangerous to leave alive. Rather than risk the publicity of sentencing Hamlet to death, he banished Hamlet to England but secretly sent a letter to the courtiers to assassinate him as soon as the ship landed. But Hamlet suspected something like this and crept in at night, found the letter, erased his name, and put in the names of the courtiers.

On the way to England, pirates attacked the ship and Hamlet single-handedly boarded the pirate ship. The ship he came on sailed away, and he was left with the pirates. But they turned out to be well- mannered gentlemanly pirates, so they took him back to Denmark.

But when he got back, he found out the death of Ophelia’s father by his hand drove her to such madness and grief that she had committed suicide. Her brother, Laertes had not heard that Polonius’ death was an accident, so he wanted to kill Hamlet. The king thought this would be perfect, so he arranged for a duel between them with dulled sabers. But he secretly sharpened and poisoned Laertes’ blade.

On the morning of the duel, people placed their bets as to who would win, and the duel began. They fenced skillfully, Hamlet was stabbed with the poisoned blade, and he stabbed Laertes with his own sword, dooming both of them. Meanwhile, the queen accidentally drank from the cup the king had used to poison the blade, and she died. Laertes told Hamlet about the poison, and that he didn’t have long to live. So he stabbed and killed Claudius, and then he died. The end.

Missionary Kid: How I Learned to Say Goodbye

January 29th, 2018

missionary-kid-book

I have to admit that John Haines’ book about being a missionary kid is better than mine, so if you’re only going to buy one, buy his. Many of you have read mine, which was written from the point of view of a child. His point of view is of an adult looking back with nostalgia and wistfulness at what once was. I like the processing that he went through in a humorous, stream-of-consciousness style. If I ever re-write my own book, I will stop and philosophize from time to time like he did. The memoir of his life made me laugh and cry as I relived my own experiences.

I hadn’t even finished the prologue when I got a lump in my throat and wanted to cry.  It seems that we MK’s have explosively deep emotions that are buried out of sight like land mines. In the book, his land mine was set off by seeing a Moroccan woman who looked so much like his maid/nanny when he was young. It was like he imprinted on her like a mother figure, and then when he moved away from Morocco and hadn’t seen her for decades, he went back as an adult, and the familiar face triggered all the childhood memories. This set off an overwhelming sensation, almost as if he was re-united with his mother for the first time in years.

So I knew by page 4 that I was going to enjoy doing this review, which I agreed to do for compensation. It was the most emotionally satisfying review I’ve done. I wrote notes all over the margins as I pondered why I felt a certain way about what the author was saying (whether grief, laughter, empathy, or whatever emotion was evoked).

The personality (or voice) behind the writing had a detached bluntness and humor combined with the friendliness of a tour guide telling someone the way things are for missionary kids. This is not a religious book, and it is written to believers, unbelievers, and what he calls “innocent ones.” Each category is sometimes addressed separately. The “innocent ones” are not Christians, but they are not against Christians either, so they are taking in the story as impartial recipients.

The author is blunt about everything he experienced as a missionary kid, so I believe that MK’s especially will love the book because he says things with shocking honesty that we would never dare say at the time we were on the mission field.

There was so much MK humor in the book. For example, he mentions “lists of three being a feature of the sermons I grew up on,” and “What better home for an uprooted missionary kid than a boarding school full of missionary kids?” That second quote is from the chapter describing his interesting boarding school experiences.

Many pearls of MK wisdom were tossed out at us throughout the book. Here’s one: “Wandering like the Children of Israel in a land that was not ours, we never got to stop and savor one of life’s most priceless commodities: friends.” As you can see, he uses the language of someone who grew up with what I call church language, and he says things that are profound in a boy-next-door kind of way. The topic itself has poignancy because we constantly had to say good-bye to our friends. Hence the title: Missionary Kid: How I Learned to Say Goodbye.

The book ended in a satisfying way as he returned to the lands of his childhood. I believe that every missionary kid should go back to their motherland at some point in their adult lives to be able to come full circle and heal from all the unresolved grief of having to say good-bye so much in our lives. Last year I did just that, and I felt a sense of completion. I too felt that I had finally come home.

To grab a copy of the book, click here.

Chinese Lantern Festival

January 15th, 2018

chinese-lantern-festival

My family attended a super cool Chinese lantern festival here in Spokane, Washington. Since the people that put on these shows travel from city to city, you could easily find a Chinese lantern festival in a city near you to attend this year, if you wanted this cultural experience.

colorful-lanterns

Since I’m a multicultural person myself, I enjoyed taking my children to see the artistic designs of paper and cloth lanterns of various vibrant colors, lighting up the night.

peacock-lantern

The two peacocks were probably the most detailed of all the lanterns. They were standing in the midst of red roses.

panda-lanterns

The panda bear display was also spectacular. The bears were hanging in a bamboo forest, which was like a backdrop for the scene.

flower-lanterns

Beautiful orange flowers glowed against the dark night sky. They were enormous!

chinese-boy-lantern

Several Chinese warriors lined one side of the path. Their faces, headdresses, and clothing shone in bright colors. My family walked along a dirt path as we saw this whole Chinese lantern display, which was almost like walking through a city. It also reminded me of driving to see Christmas lights, but way more magnificent.

flower-lantern-canopy

Several arched walkways were lit up thematically. This blue one had flowers and swirls. We felt like we were walking down a tunnel.

lantern-tunnel

This was my favorite display–a lot of beautiful paper Chinese globe lanterns. Looking up, you get lost in the beauty of the paper umbrellas and lanterns. My entire family loved this cultural experience!

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