Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This Is A Library

In my reflective mood today and I am going to honestly process a tension I feel right now, not because there are easy answers, but because it is what’s on my heart, not for good or bad, just thoughts I wrestle with.

In Ethiopia, our family is considered a “down-country” family, even though we live in the North. While we are in Addis Ababa, we have been at the guesthouse with four other down-country families and the girls play until I force them to sleep or come with me on an errand. It has made our time without Jon significantly more enjoyable. 

We have lived for 17 months in Ethiopia and though The Littles remember many people in the USA, they’ve forgotten many of the places and the experiences.

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A tea party on the lawn

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I contracted a taxi to take the girls to eye appointments. It was at the international school that we affiliate with and I watched them, big-eyed and in reluctance enter a setting full of kids. Being down-country can hurt a kids’ social skills, especially if the kids are shy. As I watched their discomfort mount, I took deep breaths and tried to not worry about what they would be like in the future. Shy, home-schooled, down-country, twin. Each of those labels can be a huge strike against them being “normal” or “well-adjusted". I couldn’t get Little A to get on the scale to be weighed (although it was scary, the people at the clinic could only speak Korean and Amharic). As I tried to make the eye appointment fun and begged the girls to cooperate, it made me wonder, “What am I doing to you? Will you be an angry teenager that I robbed you of a normal American childhood?” 

Because we pay a fee at the international school to be part of the homeschool program, we get access to the library.

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The Littles didn’t remember a library and were beside themselves in delight at the idea that we got to take as many books as we wanted. (We have a three month return policy and over 100 book limit). 

Nothing about learning about a library experience was happening organically, but rather, I sat them down, “This is a library, we get to check out books.” and then talk through what it means to check out a book and show how to use the shelf markers. As I scanned the shelves, I chose books focusing on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and just in general, books that are main stream in American culture because I realize how many things, big and little, my girls do not know how to do in American culture. Their culture isn’t American, nor is it Ethiopian, it’s somewhere in between with a delightful smattering of friends across the world, enriching and confusing the issues. 

It’s odd and sometimes I’m saddened by it, but I realize they have a rich and vast knowledge base that they couldn’t have if we did the life I occasionally long for The Littles. And also, there enjoyment for small things is amazing. Like the time they reacted to an escalator like it was a roller coaster. 

I see it in me too. I am ecstatic to return to the US for my brother’s wedding in December but I am also scared. In 18 months, a lot changes. Thankfully, I am a different person than I was a year and a half ago and you have all journeyed through 18 months and been changed by it too. I wonder if I have changed to the point where I am no longer “normal”. It makes me realize the importance of being grace-filled for others and their life-shaping experiences.

We are in between worlds and love both but we are still really new at navigating these (for our family) uncharted waters.



Nichole said...

Amy, thank you for putting this in words and not just letting it roll around in your mind :) your girls are right where God wants them, and He knows exactly how these life experiences will shape them into the young women they will be. praying that this will lead them closer to Him and a life that will bring all glory to Him!
looking forward to (hopefully) seeing you in Leo the end of December?!

Betsy said...

I'm feeling you, girl. Love you guys and praying the re-entry next month goes well and is filled with good memory-joggers for your girls.

sarah said...

This post touched me for some reason. It's not something I can relate with at all, but I just really appreciated hearing your heart. Thanks for sharing about an issue so many of us don't think much about.

fritzmb said...

Don't worry about "normal" -- in the grand scheme of things, there is no such thing as "normal". Just make sure you are where God wants you, doing what He asks, and He will take care of the rest.

sarah.flyingkites said...

This post makes me ache.

I love your heart behind this post and I know that mother ache all too well (different reasons, of course). God has gifted you with much insight, wisdom & the ability communicate. Your girls are precious.

love and prayers!

Anonymous said...

You are special, Amy! Loved the post, you are gifted in so many ways, speaking your heart in special ways that touch our souls. Please dont worry about the girls, I honestly dont remember anything that happened before the age of 5, and I didnt move out of USA. And Im totally fine! Your girls are fast learners, all is well. God has them right where HE wants them. That is what matters.:) Dont let Satan put those fears in you.:) You are loved, all 4 of you! Will be happy for you when your man comes back in the picture! Keep your eyes on Jesus and we will keep you tucked in our prayers!!
Much love,

Rachel said...

Love you, Amy, and I am so glad you posted your thoughts. I really hope we can get together with you guys next summer, to hear more of those thoughts! I have many of the same thoughts and worries and we aren't even overseas yet!! We love you guys and we will be praying!

Justin & Sarah said...

Praying for you Amy. As Christians we all are "aliens" or "pilgrims," on our way to an eternal home. Though your pilgrimage runs on many levels, it is a familiar battle in the heart of every Christian. Don't worry about being "normal." Meditate on the things you know are true about yourself. You are "forgiven," a "child of the king," you are declared "righteous" by our Savior. He promises to supply you with everything you need.

Mindy said...

Plain and simple I love your heart and your ability to share your heart with your words. Thank you for trusting us with your thoughts, fears, joys...everything! It is so refreshing to me to hear about the whole picture and range of emotions you navigate.

I so wish I could see you when you're back in IN! Maybe we'll be wedding crashers just so we can say hi! ;)