Sunday, July 03, 2005

to market, to market, to see a fat pig

I first saw the father. He turned around and scolded his daughter for not keeping up. I followed his disapproving glare down to the blond little munchkin carrying a plastic bag heavy with produce, struggling to keep it from dragging on the cobblestone street, as well as two other large brown paper wrapped packages. I looked back up at the father. I was incensed. How could a father expect his little girl to carry so much when he wasn’t carrying a single thing?!

As I moved through the crowd I got closer to the wee little thing. She was as blond as blond could be. Behind her little spectacles were eyelashes as light as her hair. Poor sweet darling.

And then I heard something. She was singing. As her father trudged ahead of her, leaving her to carry all the market produce, she was singing.

la, la, I’m shopping, la, la, I’m at the market, la, la, la, I’m shopping with Daddy.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

vietnamese spring rolls

There we all sat together with a feast of condiments waiting to be made into Vietnamese spring rolls before us. While little 5 year old Esther sat beside me instructing me in the fine art of Vietnamese spring roll preparation, I took the opportunity to capture on film these ladies I enjoy so thoroughly from my mother’s Bible study here in Hannover.

To my left were Winnie and Catherine, both lovely African ladies who had followed their African husbands to Germany for business or study. They were commenting on their disappointment in German sweet potatoes. They are entirely too watery. When you cut a good sweet potato, you should be able to tell that it has a rich, thick sap.

On my mother’s right were Mag and Nora. Our instructors in authentic Oriental cuisine. Both Mag and Nora are of Chinese origin having been raised in Malaysia. I actually met Mag before everyone else. I was coming home for my Christmas break during my freshman year in college. As I boarded the plane from Paris to Hannover I noticed a little Asian woman as pregnant as could be with a little boy and tons of bags and a stroller to worry about. When we landed I helped her carry her stroller down the plane’s steps and helped her set it up. I had no idea that the next morning I would see this same woman at church. A month or two later my special little friend, Esther, was born.

And then there’s wee little Sarah. When I arrived back in Hannover last Sunday I sought her out. “Sarah, I saw your twin when I went to Prague International Baptist Church. She was sitting directly in front of me. I would have said hello for you but she left before I could talk to her after the service.”

“It couldn’t have been my twin.”

“No, no, I’m certain that it was. She looked just like you, well, from behind anyway. Tiny, African, as cute as anything.”

“I’m certain that it wasn’t. I don’t have a twin ... But she could have been my triplet.”

I love her sharp wit. She proceeded to tell me that she recently met a man, who when they were shaking hands he said that he thought that he had met her before. “Really? Where?” she asked. “In Egypt,” he responded. It seems that the world is blessed with three Sarahs.

And then there were the newcomers, Kate and her 12 year-old daughter Sarah. Kate’s family has recently been assigned here in Germany with the British military. I think they have 7, 10, or was it 19 children?

Over the years women have come and gone. International ministry is known for people coming and going. I thank God for each family God has brought our way. And I pray that when they go back to their homelands they carry the light they have received here back home with them.

Friday, July 01, 2005

cover letter and resume

After a breakfast of horse-food, plain yoghurt, and tea in a quaint, antique-filled cafe downtown, it was off to work. I had much research to do on the internet, a cover letter and resume to write, and a future to plan. After I graduated from the course in Prague, I felt God calling me to prepare myself for His long-term plan for my life.

This past year I have devoted myself to preparing for the Foreign Service Officer Exam by picking up the occasional Economist or U.S. News and World Report magazines at Barnes and Noble, writing graduate papers based on U.S. foreign relations, reviewing my old history books, and studying up on the unknown world of management. All this climaxed in April when I finally took the exam I had heard so many had failed. I left the testing facilities incredibly confident.

“When will you know the results?”

“Late July.”

Instead of waiting, twiddling my thumbs in Savannah, for the results, I hopped aboard a plane to Europe to study in Prague and visit my parents in Germany. As I neared the completion date of the Teaching English as a Foreign Language course, a question began to surface in my mind.

Where did my deepest desire lay? ... in serving my country ... or serving my God? Representing the United States ... or representing Christ? I knew the answer immediately.

Serve God ... that was the ultimate desire of my heart.

Why such emphasis on the Foreign Service then? Was God testing me ... even before I knew whether or not I had passed? Was the Foreign Service to be my Isaac? Isn’t it possible to do both ... serve God and country? Oh, absolutely, dear Reader. But I began to reevaluate my motives for entering the Foreign Service. I realized that this was not the career I desired. It was not what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I discovered that all along I was only thinking of the Foreign Service as something to do before the ultimate plan.

The desire God has placed on my heart is different. I LONG for women all over the world to know and love God with all their souls, hearts, minds, and strength. I desire to enable them to lead their children in the ways of Christ. I want to teach them to love and respect their husbands, to become his helpmeet, enabling him to be all he can be for the Lord.

So, what was I doing sitting around working towards something so temporary when I have the ability to prepare myself now for God’s purpose for my life? So I have committed myself to partner with my parents in prayer and action to see this come to pass. Every night we meet together and I share with them what the Lord is teaching me and what has been accomplished during that day towards that end. Before we retire for the night, I lay any documents or notes I have made throughout the day on the table and we kneel and pray over them. I am confident that when I return to the United States I will have a clear path laid out before me.

i need a holiday

“I need a holiday,” I said under my breath.

“What?!! You need a holiday?!!”

My father and I stared at each other, eyes wide in shock. We hung our heads, slumped our shoulders and kept walking.

My mother still stood, incredulous, in the middle of the pedestrian path where she had made this interjection.

“What do you mean you need a holiday?!”

Almost to the corner now, my father and I could barely hold it in much longer. We motioned for my mother to come to us and get away from the bike path. Laughter started to spill from the corner of our mouths. Tears welled up in our eyes. Soon the guffaws burst out.

Realizing by our reaction that a joke had just occurred, she began to laugh too. “What is it? What just happened? Why are we laughing? I want to know!”

It was difficult to laugh and talk at the same time. “Did you see the woman with the stroller that we passed a few minutes ago?”


“So you didn’t see the shirt she was wearing?”


“It said, ‘I need a holiday.’”

My mother’s eyes widened as she realized what had happened. “Where was this woman when I said ... what I said?”

“She was walking right by us at that very moment.”

Her fears began to crystalize in her mind as she pieced together what had happened. She ran behind a bush and collapsed into one of the benches in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

Through our own tears, we tried to console her. “Maybe she was German and didn’t even understand what her own shirt said.”

“But what if she was one of the British mothers?!”

“No way she’s British! Did you see her? She actually looked in the mirror this morning!”

In the end we felt a little sorry for this young mother taking her baby out for a walk. Raising a baby is hard work. Why shouldn’t she have a holiday?!