Thursday, July 4, 2013

So, What To Do About These Holidays?

Three days ago, I glanced down at my phone and realized it was July 1st. I have no real context for time here, days smear together, one sunny morning and rainy afternoon after another. The rhythm here is consistent, seemingly unhurried days that have flown by. 

You know what comes soon after July 1st? July 4th. Growing up, July 4th was like a bonus holiday, a fun time to picnic and watch fireworks but we didn't have a set plan and it was not a huge deal. In Jon's family, July 4th is a BIG, multiple day deal and since we have been married, we both look forward to July 4th in Michigan, laughing, eating, spending time together with family we don't often see and swimming in Lake Michigan. Rich in tradition, July 4th with the G's rivals most family Christmases.

So, it's here. Our first holiday overseas. We already missed a cousin's wedding (ironically, enough, at a beach we go to with Jon's family in Michigan for the 4th). I didn't let myself think about it much.

My initial plan was to let the 4th pass, unmentioned and then stay off Facebook a few days so I can't see you enjoying watermelon and little kids enchanted by sparklers. I can't buy anything red, white and blue here and it would just make us unnecessarily nostalgic even if I could scrounge up an American flag (which I can't, by the way). It is cool and rainy here, so even the weather doesn't point to the hot, humid days of July. My thoughts changed after reading this article yesterday.

After reading, I realized my mission field mindset on holidays was actually a bit like my "let's just sneak out in the night" goodbyes. Potentially very unhealthy. 

So, we celebrated. 

Not in a way that stirs up sorrow, but in a way that celebrates where we come from and can appreciate the fact that our lives are enriched through two cultures events and holidays.

The Littles made a new friend as they spent hour digging a hole together.

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And then they just sat and chilled with him, like old African men. The Little boy is scared of me. :) 

We made cookies. Which is a big deal here. Sugar and butter can't be bought here in Injibara and I am sort of a food hoarder about precious resources. Whereas Jon's theory is, "we have it, let's enjoy it now!"  Mine is, "Oh, but you don't know what kind of day we will have done the road, when we REALLY WANT it." I got through that and we even crushed up some chocolate brought from the USA. Not just any chocolate, cadbury eggs.

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When I told The Littles we were going to make cookies in honor of 4th of July, Little J responded, "Oh, I LOVE Ethiopia." 

We celebrated as we told The LIttles about American independence, explaining that we are excited to learn more about Ethiopian Independence Day. We looked through pictures of July 4th's of the past and celebrated our families while we talked about how incredibly rich our lives are here.

A few faves that put smiles on our faces and made our hearts squeeze.

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  And it was good. We made a new tradition of colored rice (glad food coloring made it in the suitcase). Although blue rice is hard to eat.

The sun has gone down here, the rain set in and there are no fireworks but we are peaceful, thankful and joyfilled.

Now all of you go and eat something grilled for me and have your kiddos light an extra sparkler for The Littles.  :)


Peggy said...

This brought tears Amy. Not only is it eloquently written, but I was chastened and humbled by your Godly attitude. It is so easy to take what we have for granted and moan about what we don't, but you chose to not do that and God blessed your choice with peace. Like Zach Bertsch said the only better place than in the center of God's will is in His presence. For now, this world is our home and you have chosen the very best place to be here....the center of His will. We love you guys and pray for you every day.

Rachel Pieh Jones said...

I echo what Peggy wrote - I'm in tears. Thank you for sharing this link and for sharing this day. I love it. Happy fourth and happy celebrating and happy September 11 (I think that is Ethiopia's day and it is also our youngest's birthday)!

Holli said...

Happy 4th!!!! This is our 7th year not really celebrating..... It was my favorite holiday growing up (besides Christmas Eve)...... I didn't even tell my kids as they don't even know what it is..... You have inspired me that tomorrow we will celebrate!!!! Funny enough one person did tell me Happy 4th of July- and it was a Brit!
Lol about the boy being scared of you!!!!
Praying for you all!!!!

Anonymous said...

Love and prayers to you Amy and family! It reminds us not to take all these "things" for granted. God Bless Your family! Pat

Mindy said...

Amy, this completely touched me. I'm SO proud of you and the choice you made even though it was so difficult. You CHOSE joy, you CHOSE thankfulness.

Now, I'm going to light up our grill and put an extra steak on and enjoy it for you. Love you so much sweet friend!!! Praying for you always...

erica said...

I echo what the others wrote, and I'll tell you what I'm gonna do........I'm gonna sneak 4 little American flags in your luggage before we bring it to Ethiopia next week. You may not get them for a few weeks yet, but you'll be able to spend the next American holiday in style. Hugs and blessings to you all! :)

Todd ~ Teresa said...

Love your optimism. The rice flag is quite creative. We spent the 4th T, M and B and took in Wolcott days.

Mindy said...

Erica!! What an awesome idea!!!