Friday, September 14, 2012

A Stranger Sort of Normal

I had to chuckle to myself as I cracked the hard-boiled egg open in the compost bowl this morning. I didn't think I'd ever eat another egg again: and here I was, doing so to keep arsenic levels in my system down.

I look out the window and see laundry hanging on the front porch, done yesterday in a black bucket of water, scrubbed with a bar of soap and my hands. They'll be dry tomorrow. After the Philippines, I never expected to be washing things by hand again: and here I am, doing it a couple times a week and actually rather liking the whole process.

When I walk through the grass, I'm not on the lookout for ticks. I'm on the lookout for banded kraits or cobras. When I go to sleep, geckos start chirping, toads that sound alot like ducks start their choruses, and crickets sing. I sleep under a mosquito net, not a thick comforter. I shower with cold water, not hot water. I eat twice a day, not three times. I'm eating rice and vegetables--not enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant.

This definitely is a stranger sort of normal.

Because it is normal.

But still strange, even though I've been here for over a week now.

I was sitting in my little room yesterday, and one of the small girls found my hideaway. Little girls pop in and out of the house throughout the day, bringing us flowers and smiles. This particular one came in and sat by me while I was working on the rest of the Karen alphabet, and watched me intently. She noticed the Karen shirt I was wearing, and told me in broken English that she had a shirt like that too. It was back at the house: "For Sabbath," she told me. She watched me for awhile, and then crawled over to the edge of the plastic mat, reached under and grabbed some of her friends ankles. She disappeared out the "door," and then reappeared. At last, with a big smile, she told me goodbye. I waved, and off she went.

After worship last night, she found me. I was still sitting in the chapel; kids were everywhere, trying to get out the door. She came over, sat by me, and snuggled in close to me. I put an arm around her and sat there for a little while, feeling somehow comforted: perhaps being alone is only relative. It must have only been a few minutes I sat there with her, but at last I needed to head back to the house, so I kissed the top of her head, and she bounded off to say hello to someone else. And I walked out of the door.

Back up the hill, up concrete steps that looked somewhat like a waterfall due to the torrential rain that had begun during worship. Back up into the little pool of light cast on the ground by the porch light. Not the porch light of the home I've known for so long, but the porch light of a new home.

Yes, it is indeed a stranger sort of normal.

Stranger than life. Yet more real than reality.

How am I going to live in that reality? In this normal? Will I be a stranger? I guess you could say that though I'm in a new normal, and while it is a stranger sort of normal, I've been a stranger in that normal. If that makes sense at all.

School starts Monday. I'm a teacher.

This is a stranger sort of normal than any normal I've experienced.

But by God's grace, I won't be a stranger in it much longer.

Hannah and I took a walk on the new property last week, down by the river. It's a different sort of beauty when compared to the rugged Northwest beauty I've been accustomed to... but one has to admit it's breathtaking.

Right now the river is pretty high. I'm told that in the dry season (that we're just coming in to) you can walk across and not get wet above the waist. But it's a high, strong current right now. And very muddy.

Mountains in the distance. I believe those are Burmese mountains.

These leaves just don't look the same in pictures. They look like they got dipped in red paint, and then splattered with black, green, yellow and orange paint by some crazy artist. 

The steps leading up to one of the large buildings on the new property. It used to be a Buddhist meditation center--and plans are underway for it to become a clinic, and set of classrooms for medical missionary students. So different are the purposes it's been exposed to. 

I have to say, I love tropical flowers. I love any type of flower almost, but tropical ones have a sort of exotic loveliness that no others do.

An English to Karen dictionary, and notepad with vocabulary words on it for Monday.

Take as good of a look at that as you can. Those Karen characters are quite the acrobatic feat to write!

Miss Hannah.

Anyone have any guesses as to what I was doing when that happened?

Laundry! This is our laundry room...and sink...and shower...and refrigerator... We'll just call it the multi-purpose room. 

Laundry on the line. It'll be dry by Sunday, I think. 

There is no satisfaction like folding and putting away laundry that you washed yourself and let good Mother Nature dry. None. 


  1. Looks like you're having quite an adventure! I'm looking forward to hearing about school starting. ;) Happy Sabbath! *hugs*

  2. Lots of thoughts going through my mind as i read your blog today. One of them is, I am glad it is you and not me. I remember that humidity in Panama and I don't like it. Another is, that hibiscus looks like my plant here and it always has two to four flowers on it. But I am sure those grow wild and not in a pot. Will be praying for your teaching days ahead. God bless you Heidi.