Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Buzz in J'bad Nowadays

I've been hearing whispered snatches about her lately.
Despairing tongue-clicking alternating with hope-filled envisioning.
Sometimes I'm part of those discussions.  They make my stomach twist.
You see, she turned 18 last Friday.
She had a great day.  The workers at CDI thought an 18-year-old needed a different kind of party than 10-year-old.
They took her shopping.
They gave her spending money and wheeled her around the biggest supermarket in town.

She chose panties with flowers on them for each girl in her group at the Children's Home.

She also picked out fruit and cookies to give to the other kids.  Her birthday treat.

But turning 18 has its drawbacks.  Technically, she's not supposed to live at the Children's Home anymore.  When a spot opens up, she's supposed to move to the adult facility.  If those two words don't make you shudder, you have not lived where I live.  You have not heard the rumors I have heard.  You might think those rumors couldn't be true.  Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

That facility is no place for a gentle, generous, trusting soul.

It is no place for our Sylvie.

So we are brainstorming.  Scheming.  Grasping at straws in a sea of tsunamis.

"What if she could sew cloth diapers and sell them?"
"What if she could completely dress and bathe herself?
"What if she could get around well enough that she could move back to her grandfather's?"

"What if...?"
"We have to think of something..."

We need a plan and we need it soon.

Today, we had a large, Sunday meeting at our house.  Someone challenged us and warned us about rushing into things on our own initiative.

And I realized we don't just need a plan;  we need a sacred design.  Something not from our little minds and finite experiences, but from the heart of a Father who loves Sylvie.

He's not just a whimsical, breathy idea.

He's a nuts and bolt, link arms, let's do this thing, here's my plan kind of Guy.

Would you pray with us that we could hear clearly from Him about that plan?

For Sylvie.

You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail.  Proverbs 19;21

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mixing Work and Pleasure

 They gathered on our suru at 9:30 to decorate, volunteers all.
 The guests arrived shortly thereafter.  The Children's Home is a 5-minute drive from our house.  These children are in the "crawling group."
 But some walked from car to party with a little help.
 The birthday boy was all smiles.  Nial goes most every week to help him walk with a walker, but today he got a lift.
 Party hats looked  sweet on the sweet.

 Dancers entertained with moves they learned at last week's camp.
Guests were enthralled.
 Bo Peep joined in the merry-making.  (I wish I could know what she was thinking--children with special needs are normally hidden away in this country.  Today they were celebrated big time.)
 More fun awaited.  Sonja announced six, special guest stars,
 "Surpreece!"  (That's how the Russian exclamation sounded to me.)
This is therapy disguised as cuteness.
   The workers are tireless. (Calla piggy-backed so many big kids today.)  Kind.(See picture below.) Firm ("No, you can't have a fourth slice of pizza.")
Soft, sensitive, and sensible.
I couldn't admire them more.
 Pizza was served to the boys while the girls took a swim in our little blow-up pool.  You'd of thought it was a pricey water park.  Then the boys had a turn while the girls ate.
No photos for modesty's sake.
Bathing suits are not staples for children's homes.
Three hours after they'd arrived, it was time to go back.  The puppies were napping in a pile;  the sun was getting hotter.  
It's customary to pray after a gathering.  The children volunteered.  Many sweet and appreciative words were uttered.  
Our favorite was this one, "Thank you for this fun day and that we could come to this house and for the swimming pool.  May the swimming pool never lose its air."
Now that is a sweet summertime blessing.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Because You Asked

"Now you have to fill me in with updates on all the VW kids, please."
She's one of those rare friends who is sincerely interested in other people's children.  I know because she asked three times.

So here they are.  It feels like I'm writing one of those Christmas letters.  Only in July.  I've written those letters exactly two times in my life.  Not my forte.  

Bet you're really excited at this point.
Anyway, Zadie has made friends in the neighborhood.  She REALLY wanted roller blades to skate with Fina.  I said no.  Then some friends gave her a pair when they left for Germany.  The amount of cement you see is precisely how much we have.
During my language lessons, Zadie sometimes watches ballet classes on Youtube.  Today she put on some music and gave me a show.
I was absolutely shocked at how much she'd learned.  Go, Youtube!
She and I are reading this book.  It's about civil rights and Black Panthers and Miss Pattycake.  We're both being educated and entertained.

Also, puppies.
Six of them.  I know.  They don't do that surgery in K'stan.
Isabel babies Dibbuns when she's home.
But she hasn't been home much this summer.
She went to Germany with a friend.
Now she's living in a large village teaching English and learning Spanish(that's a longer story) and making Uzbek friends.
I miss her like crazy.  Thank goodness she comes home on weekends.  She and I have travel plans in September before she heads to England for another adventure.
Nial and Calla did some serious climbing earlier this summer.
It was not a trip for powder-puffs like me.
Right now they are both on their 9th day of being counselors at a summer camp several hours away.
My guy is guarding the window.
They've been "on" for all that time.  They come home today, and I'm guessing they might sleep 'til August.

This young man starts his journey to America with his dad tomorrow.  I know it's tomorrow because the count-down has been pronounced loudly and often.
He's excited to see his sisters, work on the farm, and play with Erika's dog.  Not in that order.

These sisters.

Hanneli has begun a nursing program.  She likes the school, the professors and the students.  I think she likes learning.  She also has a job at a local hotel on weekends where she sometimes studies during late nights at the front desk.

She lives at Erika's and hangs out with her.  She also hangs out with Erika's friend.  Who's a handsome young man.  Who sends Erika flowers.  And holds Erika's hand.  I'm sure that's all.
Erika continues to dress girly and take care of thousands of cows.  Or hundreds.  Something like that.
Erika's friend likes cows too.  That's convenient.

And now you know the skinny on the VW kids.  I didn't forget anybody, did I?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

But Really, It's the People

I saw an ad for a wide-angle lens for sale by someone who's leaving K'stan.  I hope I can snag it.
The panoramas here beg to be photographed.

But my favorite thing to capture is a personality.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

This Summer's Wedding: It Takes a Village to Throw a Toi

 Before we came to Kyrgyzstan, Calla lived with a local family for over a year.  On Thursday, her host sister got married.  The entire village turned out to help.  Most of them were related.

It's difficult to overstate the importance of weddings (Toi) in Kyrgyzstan.  They are the goal of most young girls and every young girl's mother.  They are practically the sole source of entertainment--especially here in the south.  They shore up the economy like no other enterprise.
You can't really say you've experienced Kyrgyzstan if you've never been to a Toi.

Don't worry, you'll probably be invited.
This wasn't even the big toi.  The Cafe Toi at night takes the cake.  Or the naan.  Or the sheep lung.
All of those yummy things.

Here's a quick run-down of the day.

First is the Bride's Toi:
8 AM  Men arrive a bride's parents' house for full meal of soup, salad and osh.
10 AM  Women arrive for similar meal.
11AM-2PM  Bride and unmarried young women get fixed up at salons.  (Calla paid about $6 for her hoo-ha updo.)
2PM-ish  Groom's family arrive at bride's home for a FULL meal.  And then some.
3PM  Groom comes for bride.  Mullah reads from the Koran and marries them.
4PM  Couple participates in several, old, Kyrgyz traditions.  Bride cries.
4:30-7PM  Couple, plus fancy young people, ride around town in limos, stopping at all popular landmarks for photos.
7PM-?  The Cafe Toi--a frou frou celebration with much food, dancing, and speech making.  (I didn't attend this part, but if you'd like to check out one from a few years ago here's the link.  Beware of Toi Photo Stupor though.  It's a thing.
I retaliate. 
The paparazzi never cease.  Until this Mama Bear puts her foot down.  In Kyrgyz.  You should see the idea dawn in people's eyes that my 7-year-old princess actually gets tired of being in the spotlight.
One little building was full of wedding gift tushuks.
I don't know how many sheep were slaughtered, but this guy was putting his heart into his work.
Relatives arrived while we waited for the guests of honor--the family of the groom.
 When the accordion player starts doing his thing, you know something's about to go down.
The family arrived and the bride's representatives were sent out to present the naan to be tasted.  Naan is SO, SO important here.  Like holy important.
Hours of video and drone footage will delight visitors to the family for years to come.  Ahem.
If you get this close to the kazan area, you yourself will start simmering. The kazans are the big pots over wood fires.  Or maybe sheep-dung fires. The neighbor guys were making soup in most of them.  Because that's what sounds good on a 90-degree day.  I saw osh(the rice dish) in a couple as well.
All the ladies tried to get me to go inside and eat, and I did for a short time, but I used picture-taking as an excuse to stay outside under the grapes.  It was a tiny bit cooler.
One village girl had a tube of pink lipstick, and soon all the little females were sporting rosy lips.  I asked them to pucker up for the picture.  Can you spot the male photo-bomber?

And here's the star of the show...
She'd been primped and filmed 'til she was parched and exhausted.  Still, she smiled all bride-like for me before she sat down for a bite of lunch.

Sisters.  Calla fielded a record number of marriage inquiries that day.

Is she nervous?
Then her groom shows up.

And the nerves take over.

We waited outside while a mullah married them. 
With the groom's co-workers--J'bad's police guys.

I stood behind this gorgeous hair.
And now the fun begins.

There was a sacrificial goat running around,
 money flying everywhere,
 and being stuck in fur hats,
She's supposed to cry.
 scarves being tied,
and blessings being spoken.

I was exhausted.  I can't imagine how the people who really worked felt.

But once again, I fell in love with the way Kyrgyzstan does community.  Everyone pitching in as a giant hospitality machine, preserving customs and culture and family.

Indeed, one of the speakers proclaimed, "May we be celebrating a Beshik Toi a year from now!"

You do remember what a beshik is, right?

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