Thursday, May 25, 2017

Things I see (Vol. 1)

At random times during my life here, I think to myself, "That's different."  

So before life gets too commonplace, I thought I would start sharing things that grabbed my attention during our first year here.

Like, it's really difficult to tell what you bought and what you paid for each item at a store.  
I still read this script really slow, so it would take me all day to translate my grocery receipt.

This truck of mattresses reminded me of Africa.  I think it's still "different" for me, because in America, the products carried by a semi are usually hidden INSIDE a container.

Usually the women here wear long, black abayas (full-body robe type clothing).  
 (Here's a group of 5 women headed to the market)
Because of that, this red Santa hoodie really made this lady stand out in the bread line one night.

 A truck, driving down the road, carrying material for dresses

There he goes!
Get your new, dust-covered material for your next holiday outfit right here!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Garage Sale on Steriods

Well, I've shown you pictures of the bazaar near our house, but I don't think I've shown you pictures of a bigger bazaar in town. 

I have been there over seven times, and I STILL haven't seen the whole thing.  It goes on and on and on.  

Some of the items are used, but most are new.  I find it a fascinating place to go.

For example, we weren't sure we could find roller blades in this country, but here they are.

Who knew this even existed?  We were shocked to see Kylie's name all over the place.  I'm guessing this is "in" in America...

Sports shoes/gear

Overwhelming sometimes.

Well, if you're gonna sell one item, make sure it's a cute shirt...

What in the world?!

One of 6 or 7 toy stalls. 
It's basically hunt and find. 
There's always a man sitting in the shop trying to fix broken toys he's received.
Most of these toys have been owned and loved by someone and now they are up for re-sale.
The one exception is the LOADS of McDonald's toys that somehow make their way over here.

That is Doug's hand, and one giant fish!

Need some pots?

The one thing that does drive me a little crazy is the lack of organization.
It's like shopping at TJ Maxx or Ross, which are also not my favorite.

Why build shelves when you can use the floor to display your merchandise?

I didn't even photograph the curtains, fabric, bedding, children's clothes, kitchen wares, dishes, camping equipment, cobblers sewing shoes, plastic flowers, baskets, food, under-clothes, high heel shoes, carpet, etc. etc.  It goes on and on and on.

Let me know if you want to go sometime, and I'll be glad to take you :)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Party With a Few Friends

This year, for Newroz (March 20), the weather wasn't so great.  Many picnics were cancelled on the actual day and the rest of the week because of rain.  However, the day before Newroz, big celebrations were going on around the country.

We heard there was a shindig downtown and another at a park, so we decided to taxi to the one in the park, and see what was going on.  Caleb was at soccer practice, so it was up to the rest of us to capture the moment.

Well, there were Christmas lights everywhere.

There was a stage with speeches and dancers and singers.

There was a seating area built over the water.

And there were people!


We decided to fit in with everyone else and take a selfie.  It's the rule to live by here.

The focus of the evening was this tower that had wood for a bonfire built on top..

In this picture, taken later in the evening, you can see a man climbing down after making sure all was well up top.

There was also a small bonfire built behind us on a large rock.

Newroz is all about the light of a fire.

I confess that I have been told the story once about why the fire in the mountains is significant, but for the life of me, I can't remember now. 

I saw this framed photo at a recent book fair, and I took a picture of it to show you how the fire is lit in the mountains.

Zoomed in.

There were torches present at the park, as well.

Finally, after a long wait, and a nasty trip to the bathroom (where Keira and I were asked to take pictures outside with a family of 6 one-by-one!), the fire tower was finally lit.

(incidentally, I had pictures of the bathroom, but I think I'll spare you)

Immediately after the tower was lit, there was a huge fireworks display.  
Much bigger than December 31 (since this is their New Year's).

When we first arrived, we didn't know what to expect or that we would be standing in a crowd for over two hours.  We listened to music and speeches in a language that we don't understand all that well, and we made some fun and interesting memories.  A few men came up to talk to Doug, take selfies with him, and get his contact information, but the rest of the evening was just about observing those around us.

However, immediately after the fireworks, we started making our way to the exit.  
It felt very similar to exiting an A&M football stadium after a game.  Moo!  Moo!

After a 30 minute walk, we found a taxi, and we made it home safely.  Happy late Newroz!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Killing Fields

Yesterday's post ran long, and I forgot to post about a mandatory class here that all high schoolers at their school have to take.


When my 9th grader started off the year in Government, I thought it was strange, since that was a senior-level class for me.  I only assumed that the second semester would be Economics.

Silly me. 

Something tells me we aren't in Kansas anymore.

Genocide was her second semester class.

These are just a few of the essay questions and definitions that she had to know for her last exam.

*List and briefly describe the 8 stages of genocide.
*What was the Holocaust?
*What symbols did the Nazis put on homosexuals/Jews during WWII?
*Why were the Armenian Christians, Jews, and Kurds targeted?
*Why were the Rohingya Muslims, Yazidis, and African Americans targeted?
*How were the Tutsis classified by the Hutus? 
*What happened in Cambodia after the Vietnam conflict?
*List 2 ways Nazi Germans killed Jews during WWII.
*Give 2 definitions of genocide by 2 different researchers or professors.
*How many people were killed in the Ukrainian famine?
*Which genocide is illegal to talk about in the country which such genocide occurred?
*What does "Anfal" mean?  Who led and carried out the campaign and why?
*What 3 forms of discrimination did the Armenian Christians face during WWI?
*Which group entered India and created Hinduism?
*List and describe the Caste system.
*Define polytheism, monotheism, animism, and atheism.

I actually learned a lot helping her study.  George Santayana was right, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Our earth seems to be in a vicious cycle, so maybe a study on genocide isn't so bad.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Whole New World

I know I've written about the kids' school before here and here, an awards ceremony here, and a science fair here, but as the year goes on, I get more and more insight into the school.

For example, when a teacher is absent...nothing.

Do you think this is what it looks like?

Seriously, the kids have an entire free period un-monitored (except for the cameras in the classroom).  The kids have told me that sometimes if another teacher has a free period, that teacher will come in to sit, but what happens the next period and the next when no teacher is available?

When I taught school, faculty meetings with the principal were held after school, and if a parent wanted to meet with me, it had to be during my off-period.  At this particular school, if the principal wants to meet with her high school teachers, she calls them all out during a period during the day, leaving all 9th through 12th graders with no supervision.  Sounds marvelous, right?

If a parent wants to come and talk to a teacher, the principal will call the teacher to the office even if they are teaching.

But, to be honest, teachers are not respected in this culture.  The kids treat them terribly.  No one listens.  They talk while they teacher is talking.  They sleep.  There is never a moment of silence.  And no one studies or does homework.  Over half of one of my kids' classes is failing and they don't seem to know why???  I never saw it this bad in the States, but it may be present there and I don't know it. 

 I have heard that classrooms are different these days.

When my children attended school in the States, saying "No" to drugs was an important theme.  My then second grader came home with a poem that said:

If you're asked 
to try some pot,
just say, "NO,
I'd rather not."

If you're asked
to drink some wine
say, "No thanks,
I'm feeling fine."

If someone asks
you to smoke,
say, "I don't want
to cough and choke."

With other drugs,
like cocaine and crack
say, "I'd rather have 
a healthy snack."

When you say, "NO,"
you will agree
how great it feels
to be drug free.

He asked me what pot, crack and cocaine were.  I guess you have to get educated sometime.

The funny thing is that here, we have seen students from their school out smoking hooka/shisha, and at the school teachers and students all smoke together between classes.
Flavored tobacco smoked in a hookah, usually mixed with molasses or honey and often fruit pulp or dried fruits.

It's a Whole New World.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Life in a Taxi (Vol. 1)

I ride in a lot of taxis.

After 8 months of taxi riding, I finally decided to take pictures to entertain you with the "inside" of the taxis.

I started taking pictures in September, having Keira (mostly) pose for me so you could see some of the interiors.

This is the one time all six of us rode in the back.  Usually Doug rides up front, but this particular time, we had a male guest with us, and we allowed him to ride in the front. 

It's generally a good practice for females not to ride in the front next to the driver.  We've even ridden with 5 and 6 girls in the back to avoid a female getting in the front seat.

 Below is the first picture I took for you because it's the most common way taxis are "covered." 

In houses, the people like to leave stickers covering the drains and window panes, so they will always appear "new," but the irony is that they never take them off to see the "new."

This idea of plastic in the taxi is also to keep the taxi looking "new" and protect it from dirt and dust.


 Some use material.

You can even see the seat belt covered in plastic behind Keira.

 Some just cover the seats and benches with material.

Or pleather.

And, of course, there are non-working screens in many.

I'll have more to show you when I write "Life in a Taxi (Vol. 2)"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Birthday with Legos

I'm a little late posting about Caleb's birthday.

It was in January.

Caleb asked for only one thing.  So he pooled his money with money from both grandparents, and he had this box sent here.  It didn't arrive till February, but that didn't dampen his spirits.

In less than 24 hours, Caleb had constructed his tower.

And a rather tall version of Tree Beard.

Watching Caleb construct those creations while Lego pieces were scattered all over the living room floor, gave me some thoughts about people who know and follow Yeshua. 

These are a few ways I think we are similar to Legos.

We all need a good foundation.

We need to stay connected.

It helps that some of us are more colorful than others.

Even seemingly insignificant pieces are Significant.

And if you've ever stepped on a Lego, you know that sometimes people/life (or legos) hurt us.

Here's to not stepping on any "Legos" today.