Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 is over

Well today is the last day of 2011. We have been in America the last 6 months, and therefore, very little has been posted to this blog. All that is about to change. We will be back in Asia in two and half weeks, and life will be more interesting. It's not that life in America is boring, but it's normal. We enjoy normal, but we are ready to get back to our crazy home half a world a way.

2011 has been a great year for us because of you guys. Your prayers have accomplished much. God has done great things. If you are thinking, "But I haven't been praying," then you are missing out on an amazing opportunity to be a part of what God is doing. The first half of this year was full of firsts. Being in the studio recording the first worship songs in the Tazig language, recording the first scripture in the Tazig language, and P.J.'s first trip to Tazig land to deliver those first scriptures and songs. We are so thankful for the work God has given us and the wonderful partners He has brought us together with to learn from, encourage, and labor together with.

The second half of the year has been a wonderful time with all of you and our amazing families that love and support us in all we do. We have seen God provide as He always does and have partnered together with three new churches! We've been able to spread the news in Illinois, Ohio, and Virginia, about the great need for workers all around the world and share specifically about the Tazig people.

It's been a great year. 2012 is going to be even better. We can feel it.

Friday, June 10, 2011


After our first three years in South Asia, we had a long list of things we were looking forward to in the U.S. On the top of that list then and now was, of course, family and friends, but that was just the beginning of our list back then. We had a long list of things we wanted to do, experience, eat, and see. We couldn’t wait to dry our clothes in a dryer, drink water out of a tap, eat some ribs, go to Wal-Mart (and Home Depot), and frequently visit that beautiful American invention called the supermarket! After three years, we were desperately longing for advanced western civilization.

We find ourselves in a different position now three and a half years later. We have been back here in South Asia for another two and a half years, and we find ourselves ready to be “home”, but not desperate to be there. We have been thinking and talking a lot about this and asking ourselves the question “Why?” What is different this time? Have we just become more South Asian and feel more at home here? Yes, possibly. Is it because we are now living in the place where we feel like God wants us long term and so we have put down more roots and made this place more our home than our previous city? Yes, I think that is part of it, too. This place is our home. We have now lived more than five combined years in South Asia, and our personal culture has changed. Naomi has lived in Asia nearly 90% of her life. Ezra has lived here 100% of his life. They know no other home than Asia. So we have changed, and our kids have grown up here.

Something else has changed as well: Our memory of the beauty of American has become more realistic. When we were leaving the first time, America was more or less perfection in our minds, and as you all know, that is not true.
So, this time there is a shorter list of things we are looking forward to and now there is a list of things we will miss from here. P.J. is going to miss getting a real haircut, a straight-razor shave, and head massage for $1.50. We are both going to miss being able to go out to a nice restaurant and spending only $15-20. We will miss our friends here, and we will definitely miss our work.

Really what I am saying is that we are content. We are content here, and we will be content in the U.S, and contentedness is the best place to be.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Being the Entertainment

On this past trip we went to some pretty remote places. It always amazes me, while traveling around the sub-continent, how people have chosen to live in some of the most remote and difficult places. The set up their villages in the middle of deserts, in nearly barren valleys, and some villages seem to barely cling to the sides of mountains. These places prove very difficult for national infrastructure to reach, and therefore, many villages go without electricity, roads, indoor plumbing, and most shocking of all – any kind of digital entertainment. That’s right, no T.V., no movies, and sometimes even no radio.

So, when two white people walk into one of these villages, village life stops, and all focus is on the living, breathing entertainment that has just entered their world. To the western eye we may seem to be the most normal looking and acting people, but let me try to envision for you what we look like to the 12-year-old villager living in a remote place. Top 10 most entertaining things about two white American men (as recounted to their friends the next day):

10) They were so huge! One of them must have been 9 feet tall!
9) Their skin was so white! One of them was so white it hurt my eyes looking at him (sorry K)! And then they pulled up the sleeves of their shirts… and that skin was even whiter!
8) They slept outside in a tent. Don’t they know that you can get eaten by bears if you sleep outside? (Most South Asians seem to think their countries are crawling with bears.)
7) Then they went down to the freezing cold river and swam in it? That’s a good way to catch a cold.
6) And they washed their bodies with soap. Right in the river! Totally unnecessary.
5) Do you know what they ate? They ate just potatoes and some kind of meat with gravy. They didn’t eat any rice! How can you go to sleep without eating any rice!?! They must have been poor white people.
4) They had a horse with them. It was the oldest, slowest, and most stubborn horse our village has ever seen!
3) One of them had orange hair. No, I promise you it was totally orange!
2) Both of them had hair growing on their chins! What do they think they are--goats?
1) They had hair on their arms! All over their arms hair was growing just like it grows on our heads. The funniest thing was that when you pulled the hair on their arms… they acted like it hurt!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Do You Do With a Slow, Old, Possibly Blind, Stubborn Horse?

If you are considering going on a long trek and buying a horse to save money on porter fees, I would recommend it. You have to be careful though, as not all horses are created equally. Here are a few things you want to avoid:

1. An old horse – Despite the obvious reasons for not buying an old horse (might be slow, can’t walk more than a few hours a day, horse arthritis*, etc) the main reason is you are also buying all the bad habits that have been going on for years! Our horse was allowed to set the pace for 9 years, and all of a sudden he has two Americans behind him trying to get him to go faster.

2. A Blind Horse – This one doesn’t really need to be explained. Horse that can’t see well + narrow cliffs a thousand feet up = not good.

3. A Stud – As a man, it is hard to say this, but unless the sole reason for the horse is to make babies, castration is the way to go. Our horse had always been a pack horse, but he secretly thought he was a stud and strove to make a change in profession.

Unfortunately, all of these things may have been true about our horse (we thought he was blind early on, but we aren’t so sure any more, maybe just farsighted). Despite all his inadequacies, he was with us for three weeks and walked carrying our load for well over a hundred hours. As the end of the trip drew near and we only had three days of walking back to the airport where we hoped the sell him, we thought our decision had really paid off. We thought we could sell the horse and save hundreds of dollars on paying people to carry our supplies. Well… 3 o’clock on day one of our three day descent he stopped and would not move. At all. We beat him (don’t worry P.E.T.A. not that hard), we yelled at him, we threw rocks (again P.E.T.A. not that hard), we pulled on his rope, we pled, begged, prayed, cried a little, tried to reason with him, but nothing worked. So we went to bed hoping he was just tired. Day two: Packed up ready to go at 6 a.m., and he won’t budge. So what do you do? Well, we wanted to take him out. Push him of a cliff? Knock a big boulder on his head? Anything (I have no excuse P.E.T.A. This horse was so bad you would have picked him off, too).
So what did we end up doing? Worse than killing him. We gave him away. The horse won. He was stubborn, and he got his way. We adversely affected another poor human’s life by giving him a horse named Lucky. I feel terrible.

* There may be nothing called horse arthritis.