Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A little birthday party, money, a Tiffany bracelet ... and a bit of freaking out

It's weird to see the 100-foot firs, the traffic moving between the lines, and the big yards and houses after we land uneventfully in Seattle. The 17 hours of travel take us over 15 time zones. I sleep 4 hours on the second flight.

Day and night are flipped (12 hours), and the clock goes back 3 more hours. So instead of 11:30pm when we land (Singapore time), it's 8:30 on Monday morning. Our daughter-in-love Rebekah picks us up from the airport and drives us home. (Thanks a million for that cheerful smile on arrival!)

Our "short nap" around noon lasts 4 hours. The contents of our suitcases lie strewn in heaps in our bedroom. Usually, we tackle the unpacking before everything else. But we may be gone for a few days this week, so what should we take? When the week's plans fall through, the half-done chore lingers.

For supper, we visit the kids and Kinsey, our granddaughter, who turned two Saturday. (The hazards of ministry: we were halfway around the world instead of being at her party.) She's surprised to see us but happy at her presents, a walking bike, some hair clips, and the most fun of all - squeaky Miss Kitty shoes. With every step, she "peep"s at us.

Once K figures out where the noise is coming from, she runs across the room, then stops and stamps her heels. "Peep, peep, peep!"

On this trip, we couldn't find squeaky shoes in any shops. We'd first heard them on little kid feet five years ago, but they're an old and forgotten trend. Sunday, our last evening in Singapore, a little boy runs past me in the food court, squeaking happily.

I chase after his mother: "Excuse me, where did you find his shoes?" She points me vaguely in the direction of the vendor: "Store here. Straight, then right," and off they go. When W returns from a haircut, I tell him, "We found those peeping shoes!"

We go round and round Tampines Market Center until we find a little shoe store at the back. The man points us to several squeaky shoes. Of course, the one in K's size is the most expensive. But she's our granddaughter. What can I say? [Once we're back in Seattle, I find a few online vendors. Trust me, these are a riot, though they look innocent enough!]

Sleeping beauty
Kinsey cries at bedtime. I pick her up. "Zeit zu schlafen!" I tell her (time to sleep). She settles immediate at the "hi-a hi-a" every German mother knows, accompanied by pats on the back. I put her on her pillow, stroke her eyes, nose, cheeks, and ears in our routine, and she falls asleep within a few mintues. Must be Grandma magic. It sure didn't work for my kids.

We fall asleep ourselves under a warm comforter, in a quiet room, at a decent hour and don't wake until 4am. Not bad! The silence is amazing: there are no taxis and motorcycles whizzing by our windows. There's no air-con buzzing and chasing air over our bed and no streetlights shining in the windows ... this is a different quality of sleep.

Tiffany blue heart bracelet: mine
never comes off
Tuesday morning, I meet my accountability group. One woman is having cancer surgery at the end of the month. We have a special treat for her: a Tiffany bracelet like the one they presented to me for completing my doctorate. It's a reminder of our prayers and love for her.

One gal leaves early to catch a flight to visit her children. The other has just spent three weeks hosting her daughter and grandkids. Our prayer requests are many and varied.

One of my requests is for an opportunity beyond W and my comfort zones. We have to raise our support this fall. We'll be in churches and meeting people to share our mission.

"Wait! You want us to start supporting you now?" ask the WPPRs. They're shocked. "We thought we'd help when you leave next year. We've never supported people at home. W is earning a salary. Why should we start now?"

I explain how the organization works: we're not "double-dipping" with a salary from NU and mission money. We have to gather resources before we can apply for our visas. We need $30,000 in the bank and $4000 pledged per month ASAP. Our budget includes travel to teach around Asia, housing, insurance, food, and ministry expenses. We can't go before our account is topped. Of course we'll be contributing to the cash amount also, but we'll live off the monthly support once we're in Asia.

Here's the link to support us now and later: in effect, we're asking you to "Come with us!" We need your help immediately, in getting ready for the future.

Friends are amazing!
In the evening, we eat supper with dear friends. There's nothing as sweet as talking about God and his ways, is there? Before we part, the fellow offers to help build out our space so we can vacate our house. He's experienced at building, quick on his feet, and efficient at getting the job done.

We accept with wonder and appreciation! This saves W weeks of work and frustration. It moves our timeline ahead by at least a month and gives us more time for itineration. Thanks be to God - and thank you, T.

Once home, we take a measuring tape and pencil into the raw space and mark out where walls and fixtures will go. We are both relieved beyond words.

Raw potential: BEFORE
(I'll post the after later.)
I promised to be honest with readers about the process of going next year. The stress of the impending build-out has been incredible. Our kids asked Monday if they can move into our house at the end of August - their rent is accelerating as their lease runs out. "We'll just be guests. We won't be in your way."

I am an event planner. I can imagine days unfolding. It's not going to be 3 guests, detachedly living in a side room while W and I cook, pack, eat, sleep, work, and itinerate!

I'm as bold and as courageous as I can be, while still being polite. I flat-out tell them and W that I'm not leaving here until the build-out for our new space is complete. The young family can stay in our guest rooms, but they can't move in their own things while W and I are packing up the house. They'll have to share our dishes, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. as the house is emptied. OOOOh, that will be messy.

Can you imagine a kitchen,
dining area, and bath here? I can.
Why won't I move into a construction zone? I've done it twice and almost gone crazy. We moved into this house 20 years ago, before it was finished. A few things are still unfinished. We moved into our roughed-in cabin 13 years ago. Living in construction chaos bothered me so much that I quit going up there for a few years. W all-but-finished it in June this year. Now, after this summer, we won't be around to enjoy it.

I'm adamant. "I'm not doing that again. If everyone understands that I can't move into an almost-finished space this time around, you kids can move in with us. Just don't pressure me to leave before Dad's finished!"

W and the kids look shocked at my determination and my ultimatum. Yeah, I am surprised, too.

However, my closest friends and my life coach have insisted that I clarify this survival item ahead of time. Everyone around me knows how visual I am. It's incredibly stressful for me to live in unfinished spaces. I can hardly function. I wander around in a distracted and distressed fog. It's not like W isn't busy without building! His pace of life is hectic and he's at the end of his energy by the time we move. I understand that. W and I know that the pace of building will slow to a crawl once the crisis of moving is over.

Kirsten and little Zoe,
her toy poodle
But I can't do that to myself this time ... not while we're remapping the future, selling off 20 years of accumulations, and packing up ... with a 2-year-old and grown kids underfoot.

Our friend's offer is a godsend.

Our daughter K and her doggie arrive from Texas late in the evening. Once again, Rebekah makes the trek from the airport up to our place.

W and I fall asleep about 1 a.m. In the morning, he's off on an all-day errand with a friend. K and I have a leisurely breakfast and I take pictures of the gleaming white floor, where W and I will soon place our furniture.

Lord have mercy! This process of life-change is as complicated as I suspected.

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