Friday, April 19, 2019

Like a Boss Pizza Party

 "What kind of cake does he want?" I had Nial ask of Suhrap his longtime friend, aka our third son, over the phone..
"Chocolate, yellow, caramel, carrot...?" I suggested.
I could hear his reply, "Chocolate."
Later he told us that he had just understood the first option, and so he chose that one.
That's the way he rolls--simultaneously proud and humble and not afraid to laugh at himself.
He invariably tells us about situations that he handled "like a boss."
  We totally believe him.
Because he's always so serious.
Their smiles were worth the blurriness.
 These two have been through some highs and lows.  They've weathered them well.  They're soon off to different countries, each of them starting new adventures and adult challenges.
It's more than a little heart-twisting for this mama.
Suhrap, however, seemed unfazed by the coming changes.
   He characteristically jumped into the limelight and glowed for all he was worth.
When we hunkered down in the living room for a game of charades, he was more than happy to act out every other word.
The rest of us rolled on the floor.  Pizza and cake making it difficult to keep up sustained laughter.
Suhrap, may your way always be illuminated by Truth, and may you choose wisdom, justice and chocolate cake over all other options.
Like a boss.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

This is Development

 Basically, there are two ways of giving aid--development and relief.  Relief is providing necessities after or during some kind of crisis or disaster.  It's incredibly important.

We, (and our organization, CDI), focus on development.  Development is helping people help themselves with problems they feel they have.

At times, it's messy.  It doesn't follow "textbook" development plans.  People's immediate needs overwhelm long-term goals.  Relief often seems like a better solution to dire predicaments.

But other times, it's beautiful.
Our colleague has been working long hours to construct this cool chair, hoping to create a prototype that he and others can recreate for the many children with cerebral palsy in southern Kyrgyzstan.  Curt is his go-to-guy for everything from computer help to finding the right size wing-nuts at the bazaar.
Trying it out at the Children's Home
 After he finished, a couple visiting physical therapists and CP experts both praised it and made suggestions for improvements.
Then yesterday a young village couple brought their daughter to Curt's workshop.  The thing is, this is no ordinary couple.  The mother has been dutifully implementing therapy suggestions that CDI workers have shown her.  The father had already been coming for two days (see top picture).  He was learning to make the chair under our master carpenter.  If he constructs one in the shop for his daughter, he only needs to pay for the materials. He could perhaps then build chairs to sell to others.  Or teach others.
See where this is going?
 They are completely dedicated to their darling four-year-old.
 Who wasn't much impressed with all the attention.
 The therapists taught Mom and Dad the correct way to build her walking muscles.
 And then they practiced.
They asked the questions of the experts that parents always ask.
"Did I do something during pregnancy to cause this?"
"Will she ever walk?"
"Do the vitamin shots and electro-therapy that she gets every three months help?"
"If we have more children, will they have CP too?"

The visiting therapists answered with grace, humility, and wisdom.

The entire two hours seemed like a fragile miracle with the efforts of so many people culminating here.
Cultural Interpreters

This is development.
It's beautiful.

Friday, April 12, 2019

True Love

Take note, Guys, if you want to impress your girl.
You don't need to shell out your hard-earned wages for roses, chocolates, seasonal bouquets, or giant diamonds.

The ultimate gift is morels.  Curt gathered in three pounds yesterday at the bazaar.  HEART EYES.

I can feel your angst, gentlemen.  It's stinkin' hard to find those illusive fungi.  And time-consuming.

I have two suggestions:

# 1--Take her hunting with you.  It's a fun date out in nature, and it will feed your souls.  As long as you don't get irritated if she finds one (or eleven) and you don't.  If neither one of you finds any, go out for ice cream and hold hands.

# 2--Nevermind.  Nial just pointed out that the plane ticket price to Jalalabad isn't quite offset by the 77¢ per pound deal from the lady below.
Get your hunting clothes on.

Curt unceremoniously plopped the plastic bagful on the counter.  I guess the romance was lost on him. 
I fried them right up in absurd amounts of butter, and we all rolled our eyes in happiness and luv.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

What's Blooming in Our Yard

Carol Schulte's Tulips

 Grape Hyacinths from Turkey

Cherry Trees.
 Birthday pansies from last year.
Why are weeds so photogenic?

Friday, March 29, 2019

A Brand New Thing

 Just so you know, I knew Sonya before she got famous.
Well, she might not be exactly famous yet.
But just you wait.
Fame is actually not what she's aiming for.  Instead, she wants to educate women in her country about healthy eating and general fitness.  It's hard for Westerners to believe because of the inundation of health advice in our own countries, but there's a decided lack of information here. 

Online, Russian fitness videos abound, but there are absolutely none in Kyrgyz.

As Sonya explains in her first YouTube video, women in villages need to learn healthy lifestyle habits, but it's difficult when that information is not in their mother-tongue.
Sonya decided to do something to fix that.  She has been passionate about health and fitness for a couple years, after transforming her own health.  (When I first met her, she declared that she only ate candy.  And she wasn't really kidding.) She has developed a fitness project for CDI and educates people through Instagram and her YouTube channel.
 Village women may not have running water, but they likely have access to a smartphone. 

In one video, Sonya teaches the finer points of doing a squat.  In Kyrgyz.
These photos document a video she and Calla made in our kitchen. They prepared five different, healthy breakfasts.  In Kyrgyz!
 Our friend, N. is the official videographer.  
Recently Sonya and N. toured the big supermarket in town and explained which products were healthy and why.
You guys, I am so excited about this brand new project.  I've kind of despaired for women here and their health ever since I arrived five years ago. 
Maybe for that reason (and the fact she needed some mature--ahem--input), Sonya asked me to be a consultant for her project.
So she and I consult. 
We get to talk about some of our favorite things.  Mostly food.
And how to make it tasty while still being healthy.  And how to best convey all this and exercise tips to Kyrgyz women.
If you'd like to support the FIT project, let me know, and I'll hook you up. 
N. is leaving soon and taking her fancy camera, so that is a real need.  If you want to be a YouTubing videographer this summer, come on over.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Almond Joy

 I know I show these to you every year.
 I want to be apologetic about it, but I can't.
 It's Jalalabad's gift to you.

 In just a few days, they will be going,
Sweet gifts.  Fleeting joy.
Until next year.

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