Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear _____,

Mosquito that woke me up at 12:15...  Okay, I hate being woken up by your kind anytime, but that was an especially bad time.  You see, I was dreaming.  I was dreaming that I was home and Mom ad made a delicious chocolate cake.  She'd handed me a slice on a napkin, I took one bite, and then you came whining in my ear, preventing me from finishing my piece of cake.  Diabolical insect, you.  But I had my revenge.  You are now dead.

Baby Theo...  You know what your mommy says?  She says you're so fair you could be my baby.  Not quite...

Mauritanian dish I can't remember the name of...  I never would have thought to combine little round pasta "thingies" with sweetened milk.  Here's to new food combinations...

Sports commentator...  I was wondering why your French sounded different, weird, not quite right.  When I asked, Julien was like, "Oh, yeah, he's speaking with an American accent.  He lived in the US for a while."  That's what I was afraid he'd say.

Basketball, hockey, or football (American football!)...  I never thought I'd be happy to see you, but there's something oddly comforting about your relative familiarity.  You see, normally if I'm with friends here (for instance, if I'm over Julien and Angèle's) and they turn on the sports channel, it's soccer.  And of all sports, that's the one I'm least familiar with.  (Not I really know what's going on with any of them, they just feel somewhat more familiar, by virtue of the fact that my dad watched them a lot when I was younger.)

Julien and Germain...  You guys crack me up with your commentary during aforementioned soccer matches.  "Come on, come on!  Get the ball!  Get it!  What are you doing?  Seriously?!  Come on!  Yeah, that's better!  Nice play, nice play!"  All I can think of is what it would sound like if Angèle and I did the same thing as we were watching TV.

Guy who sat down next to me at the bus stop...  Yes, I'm waiting for the bus.  (What else would I be doing sitting at a bus stop?)  No, I'm not French.  No, not German either.  Take a hint, pal.  I'm not going to be chatty.

Plastic chairs that were hot to the touch...  I went to move you to another spot in the living room, and you were hot.  Like, not just warm, but hot.  Why?  Because you were sitting next to the wall, which is an outside wall, which is painted black, which gets direct afternoon sun. 

Hot water from the tap...  Ow!  I wasn't expecting that.  Must be the black plastic reservoir on the roof got a lot of sun during the day.

Guy pushing a lawn mower down the street...  What are you going to mow?  I mean, it's not like we have lawns here!  Or much grass at all.

Lake Tahoe bumper sticker...  What?  How'd you get on the back of that car?!  TakemebacktoCalifornia!!!!!

Petit Nicolas [audio books I'm using in session]...  Your adventures make me laugh.  But ever am I glad I'm not your mother!  You're a piece of work.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Celebration: Because Grace Isn't Just for October

Here's a story from my lovely friend Brittany.

- - -

"His grace is enough."  So often I have heard and even sang these words unto my Savior in praise...and then literally five seconds later allow my enemy called anxiety to creep up in my heart and completely overwhelm me with fear and doubt.  I so often seek to live in my own strength, and therefore freak out about every small moment in life that I have absolutely no control over.  After all, I'm a teacher, I've learned to ALWAYS be in CONTROL.  I don't at all like the feeling of losing that.  Most recently I have realized how incredibly self-centered that is.

My grace story comes from a series of events.  Not earth shattering moments, but rather the simple day to day moments that I have learned to cherish - the moments where my eyes are opened to His grace.  This morning my sweet first grade souls walked into my classroom, filled with life and excitement for their day.  Unknown to them, Miss C isn't filled with joy for life, but rather filled with anxiety.  For no other reason than being afraid of failure.  Deathly afraid that somehow, someway, I'm not only going to fail at something that day, but somehow fail at life.  I am TERRIFIED that at the end of my life the Lord will be disappointed in me...wishing I would have taken "the left turn instead of the right."

It's in these moments that the Lord has surrounded me in a variety of ways to show me more and more of Himself.  More of who He TRULY is, not who the enemy is conjuring up in my mind that He is.  One of the ways He has shown me Himself is through my students.  These kids bring such beautiful, pure characteristics of who I am in Jesus' eyes.  They love life and live in the moment.  They bring their true emotions (no matter how stressful those emotions may be for the teacher sometimes!) and don't hold back.  When they are afraid, they tell me.  When they are stressed, they tell me.  When they just want a hug of comfort, they tell.  It's been so neat that through this position the Lord has shown me, "Britt, that is who I am for YOU.  In full perfection and unending love, you can come to Me at all times and with whatever is on your mind."

I have also learned the importance of Scripture memory.  My fiancé, a friend, and I have been memorizing the Word together, truly writing it on the tablet of our hearts.  It's amazing how when anxiety starts to creep into my heart, the Lord reminds me of one of those verses and gives me peace: "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are treasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

I'm not called to know it all.  I'm not even called to try to know it all!!  I'm called to love the Lord my God with ALL my heart, with ALL my soul, with ALL my mind, and with ALL my strength.  It is there where He will lead me and show me the path of life, with HIM at the steering wheel and not me.  I am merely a passenger and need not fret for the pilot ALWAYS has FULL control.

So, my grace story?  My grace story is a day to day seeking, choosing to see, and falling into the arms of His unending grace.  I breathe a sigh of relief and the Lord reminds me yet again with a compassionate and tender whisper, "I've got this, My daughter, trust Me, I've got this..."

Brittany C.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

For Fun: Labels

Labels can be funny things...
 
 
"100% naturel honey from a forest of different flowers.  All flower honey is high energy values and helps digestion and other illness."  The English translation cracks me up.  It just...doesn't work.
 
 
It doesn't look like "normal" tapioca (read: the kind we usually get in the States), so I'm anxious to try it and see what it's like.
 
 
This is one of those "What...?!" labels.  Ingredients: cloudy and clear apple juice.  Excuse me, but what exactly is cloudy apple juice?!
 
I also like seeing where things come from.  A lot of food items (and other products) you see in the stores are imported.  It's taken a bit of getting used to, because there are a lot more European brands and products available than American.  So where do the things in my shopping basket come from?  Here's a sampling...
 
 
South Africa
 
 
Turkey
 
 
Senegal
 
 
France
 
 
Ghana
 
 
Thailand
 
 
Italy
 
 
Spain
 
 
Portugal

 
Ivory Coast

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

This...

 
This is (I'm pretty sure) from the very last storm of the season.  So long, glorious thunder and lightning.  Until next year...
 
 
This is what happens when my sister casually mentions something that screams "Fall!"
 
 
This is my neighbor-across-the-road enjoying a mid-morning snack.
 
 
This is what happens when matches get wet.
 
 
This is an everyday sight: clotheslines strung with color.
 
 
This is a regular in the neighborhood.  He likes to hang out on one particular antenna.
 
 
This is Angèle's cure for a sore throat: hot bouye (monkey bread juice), sweetened with honey instead of sugar.  I tossed a cinnamon stick in too, just because I had them.  It was good. :)
 
 
This makes me laugh...the way he has one leg just lazily dangling down.
 
 
This is an avocado that was more pit than anything else.
 
 
This is because quiet moments are good: God, His Word, and a cup of tea.  (Amazing what that can do for the spirits!)
 
 
This is a typical broom.  (So if you're sweeping with one, you have to bend almost double to reach the floor.)
 
 
This makes my heart oh-so-happy.
 
 
This is an impressively long carrot.  At least for here.  (Most of the ones I find are rather short and stubby.)
 
 
This is just in case you've forgotten I love geckos.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The One About Fêtes

Well, after a month of daily posts and almost no pictures...it's time for a change!  I've got lots of pictures that have accumulated over the month or so, and today we'll start with fêtes.
 
The first fête [holiday, celebration, party]: Tabaski.  It's huge here.  People often get fancy new outfits made for the occasion, there are lots of promotions/discounts in the stores, and almost every family buys a sheep to kill.  And eat, naturally.
 
 
Last year, the folks across the street bought their sheep (plural - there were three or four up on the roof last time) several weeks before the actual holiday.  This time, a lot of people (at least on my street) waited until just a few days before.  I was told it because there were a lot more sheep in the city this year, so they could afford to be more picky.
 
 
One last meal, Buster.  (Or whatever you'd name a sheep.)
 
 
Yes, they were taking him out of the trunk.
 
Go ahead, animal rights activists, stage your protests.  (But know that it won't do any good here.)
 
 
I got a picture (through the peephole of my front door) of my neighbors leading their uncomprehending victim up to the roof.
 
 
Getting ready for the big party (notice the big stack of brown plastic chairs)
 
 
Roasting some of the meat
 
Imagine an entire city roasting lamb mid-day...boy, did it smell good on my walk home from church that day!  (Now imagine the smell of the following day or days, after an entire city has slaughtered sheep and needs to dispose of sheep guts...)
 
 
 
- - -
 
Then we had a "Harvest Fest" at a nearby (and largely ex-pat) school.  I hadn't planned on going, but at the last minute I changed my mind.  I went with Marie-Claude and two other girls, and it turns out a lot of my other friends were there, too.  So that was fun.
 
They called it "Harvest Fest", but it was sort of mix-up of celebrating Summery things, Fallish things, and some things the were just plain American.
 
There were...
 
 
Funnel cakes
 
 
 
Lines for games
 
 
 
Lots of food - pulled pork, chicken sandwiches, and corn dogs, for starters
 
 
Snow cones (all those bottles you see are flavored syrups to mix with the crushed ice)
 
 
Toys (prizes? just trinkets for sale?  I'm not exactly sure.) 
 
 
They even had a catch-the-greased-pig contest.
 
Cue the animal rights activists again...
 
 
There were very (very!!) dirty children, due to afore-mentioned contest
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
Jenn (fun friend and former classmate) and I were like, "Hey, look!  We're twins.  We have to take a picture!"
 
A good time was had by all.  Except maybe the greased pigs.
 
- - -
 
Finally, there was our ladies' meeting at church this Sunday.  We ate together before the meeting...
 
 
 
 
 
 
The menu: salad, chicken and beef (both breaded), and an onion sauce served over vermicelli
 
 
I'm pretty taken with this little guy.  Aren't his chubby cheeks just...irresistible?
 
 
And since yesterday also happened to be Angèle's birthday, we finished the meeting (which lasted a whopping four hours!) with singing and chocolate cake.
 
Chocolate cake, my mom used to say, is the only kind of cake.  (And I actually believed her.)