Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Walk to the Fruit Stand

I thought I'd take you on a walk to the vegetable/fruit stand today.  

The one I frequent the most is right across eight busy lanes from my neighborhood.

We live on the road across the street that runs between those two tall buildings (behind the left palm tree).

If you look to the far right, you can see the foot bridge.  This is what I choose to use most days instead of playing Frogger with traffic.

Here's a better picture of the foot bridge.

Then I go down those covered stairs next to that building construction.

And walk to the corner (where the dirt pile is).

When I cross the street, this is what welcomes me.

Isn't that beautiful?

I love all the colors.

The bags are hanging from the tree branches, so you just fill all the individual sacks you want, and then take them to the blue scale which is on the ground in the front right hand side of the picture.

A man totals up what you owe him; you pay; and you walk home happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lunch at the Painter's

 Doug received a call last week from the man that had painted our house back in March.  

He and his wife invited us to lunch.  

Doug explained that three of our kids were in school, but that Keira, he, and I would come.

We walked about a mile, and were welcomed with this beautiful sight.

We wondered who else might be coming for lunch.

Apparently, it was supposed to be our kids. 

Here, the kids go to school six days a week, either half a day in the morning or half a day in the afternoon.

He assumed that since our kids were in school in the morning when he called that they would be out by lunch time.


Guess who got to take home all the leftovers with a bunch of dishes she has to fill and return :)

We stayed for two and a half hours, and Doug and I managed the entire meal in the local language!  They were a fun couple.

Yeah for progress!

(The truth is, if this were language like French or Italian or Turkish that doesn't change when you travel from place to place, we might be a little further along.  As it is, our language helper speaks one dialect, and he teaches us in his local dialect.  Our friends across the street have a language helper that comes from a town 25 miles down the road, and she uses totally different words for everything.  Then, our friends around the corner, have another language helper from a town an hour away, and they are learning different words for everything as well.  People also mix in Arabic whenever they feel like it, so basically, we have to learn about 3 words for everything, because you never know what dialect you will come up against in any conversation.  It's a slow process...)

After lunch, Doug, Keira, and I walked a mile back to the house, and when we reached our gate, I realized I had left my purse at the home of the painter. 

So, I turned around and got some more exercise for the day.

On the way home, I took a different route, and I happened to run into this house again.

I showed you a picture of it here, but I promised you a better one when I could get it.

So there you go.  That's a typical "yard" here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thanksgiving in the Middle East

Well, it's been six years since our first Thanksgiving overseas.  I love that no matter where you are in the world, there are other Americans to gather with to make it a special holiday.

Another treat was that my kids got out of school on Thanksgiving Day.  They attend a school that has "American" in the title, so they were the only kids in the city with a holiday.  Kylie was sick, and Keira was recovering from her recent illness, so I took Karis and Caleb to the movies.

Our family celebrated the "food part" the next day (Friday) when all the other American kids were off.  But, of course, we're always off on Fridays because it is the Sabbath here.

A couple from a fellowship in Texas came to visit a single lady from their membership, and they brought little happies for everyone PLUS real Thanksgiving/Fall decorations!  It was so much nicer than anything I would have ever done!

The kids went through the line first.

The spread had rotisserie chicken instead of turkey, and the only local food was a pile of naan (flat bread) on the table. 

We played a rousing game of Thanksgiving trivia.

What year did the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade begin?
What character was the first inflatable in the parade?
Which two football teams play a game each year on Thanksgiving?
What is a scripture that talks about "thanks"?

After dinner, we all went to the second floor for dessert.

Pumpkin rolls, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, mousse cups, lemon custard cups, red velvet crinkle cookeis, cheese cake, etc.  A lot of people went to a lot of trouble making these homemade goodies.  I know one lady was cleaning out and cooking pumpkins a month ago in preparation. 

I, on the other hand, bought pumpkins a month ago so we could have some fall-ish decorations.

Each kid had the freedom to do as they chose.

Karis on the left (she loves drawing emojis); and Kylie on the right.

Keira on the left (I drew the face, and she completed the look); and Caleb on the right (he never got around to decorating his, so I took the liberty for painting it for him ;)

I hope the cooler temperatures are coming your way, and I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Can you believe it's December already?

There is no sign of Christmas here. 

No decorations.

No commercials.

No red and green.

No lights. 

No trees.

No music in the stores.

No hint that the celebration is near.

Much like Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Conversation Class

Recently, I had the privilege of substituting at the language center in an Intermediate Conversation class.

I haven't taught in a classroom since Kylie was born (if you don't count a 10 minute Algebra lesson I gave in an African village).

Kylie, in fact, went with me when I substituted, because she said even though I had been her teacher since Kindergarten, she had never seen me teach in a classroom.

I loved every minute of it.  I didn't realize how much I missed it.

The "conversation topic" for the night was "fear."  It was a two hour class, and we covered a lot of ground.  We role-played, teamed up for a game, let them give presentations on their previous class topic of "Utopia," watched two short videos, and just talked.

Their Utopia presentations were insightful into the culture.  To see what was "perfection" to them in a society was interesting.  In all presentations, money was not needed because everything was free, and all presentations said oil would be nowhere in their land.  I guess they see it as a big problem for their current homeland.  And as for money, in a place where SO many people are not getting paid, this is on the forefront of their minds.

(As a side note, our language helper who went back to work in September in his field of engineering, still hasn't been paid for one day of labor, even though he says he's "sure" they will pay him eventually.)

Back to class.

After the "fear" game, where they came up with 23 fears, we brain-stormed a longer list of fears, and I wrote them on the board so they could copy down any words they weren't familiar with and ask any questions they might have.

It should be interesting for you to see that many of their fears are the same as yours, but it's also interesting to see some of the ones you would never think of...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Grocery shopping

After sharing with you about my rice dilemma, it occurred to me that even though I shop in a grocery store, you might not realize all the differences between here and there.  

This week, I only got a few pictures, but maybe I'll get some more in the future.

In my rice post, I can't believe that I forgot to show you the bins of rice that greet each person as he walks into the store.  

I guess they have become common-place.

And even though I've shown you pictures of all the spices in the bazaar, I thought I'd let you see that they are also available in the grocery store

Long rows of all types of nuts and seeds are available, too.

Vegetables have to be weighed, priced, and tagged with a bar code by a man in the vegetable department. 

Can you imagine how humiliating it might be, after you are done shopping, to arrive at the cash register and the checker has to stop his whole line so that you can run back to the vegetable section and get all of your veggies "tagged."

Yeah.  That would "never" happen to me...twice.

Cheese and yogurt are plentiful here.  I still feel so blessed to be able to walk down an actual "cheese" aisle.  In Africa, decent cheese was often hard to come by.

There are so many different kinds, and they all have foreign names.  I want to try them all, but I also hate to buy one that tastes awful that I'll never finish.

Then, at the deli, they have all of this.

I don't know if these are cheeses or kurds or a combination of both, but I also wish I could taste-test these as well.

In Africa, I made milk from powder so I would have some to cook with, but for the most part, we stayed away from drinking it. 

Our last year there, we did start buying boxed milk off the shelf, but I was never a fan of that either.

I like going to the refrigerator section of the grocery store in America, seeing Bordens or maybe HEB-brand milk, grabbing it cold, taking it home and enjoying a nice, tall glass of cold 2% milk.

Here, there is a "milk aisle," but it's in the middle of the store...not the refrigerated section.

I promise to get a picture for you.  There are boxes and boxes of all different brands.

I think I've seen at least 14 brands of milk, and then you have to fish through the whole, low fat, skim options of each of those brands.

I decided to take a picture of a recent milk purchase for you.

After I get it home, I tear open the top of the box to reveal the 12 milks that I have purchased.

Then, I take them all out and store them above my refrigerator...not in it!

Two by two, they go into the refrigerator to get cold so someone (not me) can enjoy a bowl of cereal or a glass of milk.

Milk is usually one of the first drinks I have (besides Dr. Pepper) when I land on American soil. 

Enjoy a cold glass of goodness for me today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Camping in the COLD

Well, I confessed to you at an earlier date that I am, in fact, a "glamper" even though I survived a night on the mountain back in June.

So when my family was invited to go back to the same mountain for a night of camping, I, of course, declined.  However, my three older children and my husband could not be stopped.

I felt I was being a pragmatist by declining because I saw the forecast that said it would be below freezing when the sun went down.  I didn't think that "Keira" needed to be out there in such cold weather, so I declined on her behalf.  (I was so thankful to have her as an excuse).

Apparently, they had a good time. 

They also said they weren't as cold this time as we were in June because they were better prepared with the right clothes and enough blankets.

Still, I'm glad I could stay home and pray for them while sitting in front of a heater.

I'm told they went caving again.

They also hiked up a very tall mountain.

They said the view at the top was breath-taking.

I did not like hearing there was a sheer drop-off at the top.  Yikes!


My kids inherited a love of rocks from my father and my sister; therefore, wherever we go, someone is always looking for and collecting "cool" rocks.

This is what happens to your son when he has a pocket full of "cool" rocks and then he takes a spill down the mountain.

Glad you guys had a fun time!  I loved hearing your stories!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Worship in the Park

Last Friday, we had fellowship in the city park with two other families.  

It was early in the morning, so there weren't a lot of people there, but there were some.

We set out our blankets, and Doug led us in worship.

Our voices, resonating through the park, made me smile.  I thought about people who could hear us and what their thoughts were.  

What is that music?
Where is it coming from?
Those people sound happy to be singing.

I know some drew near for a little while to look.

How great to honor Him in a place where He used to be worshipped and will be once again someday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dust, Rain, and Celebrating Doug

We finally had some much-needed rain the first week of November. 

It was one night.

It was a small amount.

But it helped clear the air from the dust storm that had blown in the same day.

This was our porch area the morning after the rain brought the dust down.

 It looks like it ran down the walls, too.

(This part of the world has no shortage of dust, in case you were wondering.)

It gave Keira and I a chance to play in the water. 

We got the hoses and squeegees, rolled up our pants, and made it all shine again.

However, I didn't realize the walls were dirty until I looked at these pictures, so I guess I still have some work to do.


It was a drippy day, but nothing could keep us from celebrating Doug's birthday.

I picked out a new restaurant that none of us had ever been to over by the Consulate.  I had seen it one day on a taxi ride, and I carefully memorized how to get there.  Somehow, with our language abilities, we made it back.

The kids were in school, so only Keira and I treated him to lunch.  Keira thought the mint lemonade was the best.

Thankfully, Doug's birthday was on a Wednesday, and that happened to be a day when Doug wasn't teaching and none of the kids had evening activities.

I don't know if Doug got any say-so about where to eat for dinner either because the kids were excited to choose.

Burgers won.

We love Doug.  
We love celebrating Doug.  
I am so glad he is my husband.
And he is an awesome Dad, too.

Happy Birthday, Doug

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Mountaintop


It's always a nice treat to get out of the city, and we've only done it twice in 8 months.  So when someone with a car offered to take us, we were all up for it.

By the way, we are very close to purchasing a vehicle, so hopefully soon, we'll be able to leave the city anytime we want.

We went with two other families to hike, picnic, and study the Good Book together in the wide open spaces of His creation.

For my girls, who don't get to run free outside, this was such a fun excursion.

The weather being cool also helped.

Keira is such a trooper and pretty good at hiking, too.

How many people who live in the city never get to see this?

But we can't always live on the mountaintop.  We have to go down below where life is.  Right?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Queen of Hearts Needed Tulle

The kids' school had a Halloween dance the Friday before Halloween.  It was for all students 7th thru 12th grade, so both girls got to attend.

I showed you a picture in an earlier post of Kylie's face with hearts on her cheeks (I've put it below, too).  That was her make-up "practice" day.  There is a girl who lives near us who loves to play with hair and make-up, and she came to "practice" on Kylie.  That's why her eye shadow is two different colors.

The day of the affair, the hair and make-up girl and her sister came over, plus a couple of others.

I have no idea what went on upstairs, but for some reason, it took over FOUR hours to do hair and make-up for the three that were actually attending the party.

Must be a girl thing.

Just not THIS girl.

The one time I did go up there, the room itself looked pretty "made over."

Here's a shoe picture from outside.  I always love these.

It's a simplified picture of the 6 girls that were at the house.

Karis got her outfit together in under an hour.

Kylie had been working on her skirt and collar for the previous two weeks.

Allow me a minute to fill you in on the skirt. 

I bought the elastic in the market and the cards at the store, but Kylie still needed black and red tulle.  I didn't know the word for "tulle" in this language, so we went on a hunt.

We walked to a street that had a lot of fabric stores, hoping we could find tulle somewhere, and then ask, "What is 'this' in your language?"

We found some tulle with beads all over it.  We asked, "What is this called?"

He said, "Chulle."

I smiled. 

Easy enough.

He had no "chulle" without beads and said that no one sold "chulle."

I had seen a bridal store before on our way to the city center (On July 2nd, I showed you a picture of their dirty gown outside their store), and I decided to take a chance there.

It was 7:30pm, and I knew it might be closed, so we hurried.

We had a good chuckle walking down "butcher row" as we observed all the sheep bladders and intestines laid out for some blessed patron.  Eew!

We walked up to the wedding gown store just as a lady was locking the door.  We asked her in broken language if she had any "chulle" for sale.

She kindly unlocked the door and let us in.

Instantly, the smell of sewage slapped us in our face.

It was awful!

And the floor from front to back was covered in water.

Something must have broken, and what an unfortunate pipe it must have been.  Ugh!

All the mannequins had been put on tables.  Dresses had been pinned up off the ground.  But I couldn't help but think how the smell was seeping into the material of each and every dress in the building (including any tulle we wanted to buy).

We told her we would like some red and black tulle.  She said she might have red and white, and we said that was fine. 

At the same time, another lady entered, and they talked about what we wanted.

We stood in the water, trying to breathe through our mouths while we waited for them to come back from their treasure hunt.

They came back with a lovely red prom dress.

One lady held it high so it wouldn't touch the water, and the other lady lifted up the skirt and started cutting off a layer of tulle under the skirt of the dress!!

I protested, but she insisted.

Interesting, to say the least.

Red tulle down.  Now for the white...

Please tell me she wasn't going to cut tulle off a wedding gown!!

She didn't.  She came back with what must have been left-over scraps from veils.  They weren't straight or clean.

We took the "whiter" of the two piles she was offering, and then we discussed the matter of cost.

I asked her how much, and she said, "Whatever you think."

I said around $15 dollars in their currency.  They laughed.

I pulled out the equivalent of $25 and made it seem like that was pretty much all they were going to get, and they took it, albeit reluctantly.

I thought they were kind of upset about the transaction, but nope...

They both pulled out their cell phones and asked if they could take selfies with us. 

Then we waded to the front of the store where there was better light and took some more selfies.

After our mini photo session, we left wondering what had just happened, and at the same time, hurried home to wash the sewage smell not only out of the tulle, but also out of our hair and clothes.

Otherwise, this picture is what other people might have looked like after they got a whiff of us.