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Raising My Babies in a Bamboo Hut (Guest Post)

Lori with IziYup, I really do live in a hut, complete with bamboo walls and a grass roof. My husband and I are Americans living in Thailand. We’ve been here for 6 years working with an organization that focuses on helping the Akha, one of the minority people groups in the area. There are no Akha language schools and no Akha Rosetta stone, so  when we arrived, the only way for us to learn the language and culture was through pure immersion. This is our great adventure: being the only English speakers in a village perched on the side of a mountain in Northern Thailand.

As you can imagine, raising two daughters in this environment presents an entirely new set of challenges for parenting.  Here’s what I have learned as a parent in a foreign land...

To read the rest of this article,  follow this link over to the mommyhood memos where I had the honor of  writing as a guest blogger this week. If you're visiting from the mommyhood memos... Welcome! Here are some posts from our archives that you might be interested in:

On Cross Cultural Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids:

Or if your interested in learning a bit more about the Akha people, our work, or our crazy life in the village, here are a few posts you may like:

Whether you're an old friend or a new visitor,  thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment below and let us know you were here! :)

A Different Kind of Milestone: Noodles and Chopsticks

Every once in a while, I encounter a surreal moment where I think to myself, "Wow, my life is really weird!" Today was one of those moments. I had prepared a lunch of spicy fried noodles with egg and peanuts for Abi's lunch. (As I write, I'm realizing that this lunch, in itself, would probably be classified by most of  our readers as unusual, especially for a 3 year old, but this is normal for us.) Anyone who knows anything about Asian food, knows that noodles simply must be eaten with chopsticks. Of course, the Akha use chopsticks for every meal, but even the Thais, who use forks and spoons most of the time (bet you didn't know this!), ALWAYS use chopsticks when eating noodles. It's just the way it should be! Well, to get back to the story, Abi has been showing a lot of interest in chopsticks lately. At mealtime she always steals one of our chopsticks to play with and ends up trying, unsuccessfully, to stab at her food. So today, as I served up her noodles, I remembered a blog post I read recently about children's chopsticks. So, I threw together a pair of "training chopsticks" and she went to town. I swear she ate more at that meal than she has EVER eaten (at least when feeding herself!)

As I was sitting there watching her eat with as much parental pride as is legally allowed, I realized that the heightened degree of sentimentality with which I was viewing this milestone was not really normal (at least not for the majority of Americans). Most of our American friends will not have pictures of their children using chopsticks for the first time at the age of three. Nor will they forever cherish the first set of "baby-chopsticks" given to their children by their Akha Grandpa.

So, I guess I just thought I'd share one of the little differences about raising a child overseas. What are the milestones and memories that you have cherished from your child's life?

Abi concentrating hard to master the chopsticksSipping the super spicy tom yom goong brothThe obligitory drink of water after a really spicy biteOn her way to chopstick mastery- shoveling noodles asian styleJust bein' cute

Khao Mok Gai

khaomokgaiIt seems to be somewhat of a trend for mommies to post weekly meal plans, recipies and the like on their blogs. And, since my blog has been suffering of late, I thought I'd get on the bandwagon and start posting about some of our favorite meals here in the Vernon household. (Although, honestly, don't expect meal plans... that level of planning is way beyond my wildest dreams at this point!) Since there are so many inexpensive by-the-road style restaurants here in Thailand, we almost always eat lunch out. (Actually, let me clarify, when we're in the city we almost always eat lunch out. However, when we're in the village, we rarely eat out.) Anyway... where was I? Oh yes, inexpensive restaurants! A standard lunch in Thailand will cost you about 25 baht or 70 cents. The lunch pictured here, is actually a bit more expensive and runs 35 baht or 97cents. But it is so delicious that we don't mind "splurging"!

We eat Khao Mok Gai about once a week. It is an halal dish in which the rice and the chicken are all cooked together with many spices like coriander, cinnamon, tumeric and cumin. These spices combined with the fat from the chicken make the rice so rich and tasty. The main dish of rice and chicken is usually accompanied by a cucumber, onion and chili pepper salad with a sweet vinegar sauce. Also, a broth soup is usually included. Mmmmm so good! I'm so lucky to live in Thailand and eat this great food!

Christmas 2008


It has been FOREVER since I posted here... and so out of fear of letting this blog die, I'm finally getting a new post up! I'm really loving the Christmas season this year and so I thought this questionnaire would be a fun easy way to share my thoughts!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper, for sure! Actually, here in Thailand it's really hard to find Christmas themed paper and I'm a bit of a Christmas Nazi, so when ever I see a bin of wrapping paper for sale you'll find me pawing through it trying to find anything remotely Christmas-y.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
I'm from Oregon... so in my opinion real trees are the best! (Again that's part of my Christmas Nazi tendencies!) You just can't beat the smell of a Christmas tree in the living room! Every single Christmas until we came to Thailand I had a real tree. Of course, here in Thailand we have an artificial, but I don't really mind it too much. I'm just happy to have a tree at all!

3. When do you put up the tree?
As soon as humanly possible following Thanksgiving day.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Sometime in January. Whenever I get around to it.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Yes, but not strait; mixed half and half with milk is best!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I can't say for sure... but *one* of my favorites was a Playdoh Diner set. It had all sorts of gadgets to make hamburgers and icecream cones and the like.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Hmmm...no one comes to mind. I guess it would be ME! Paul is always asking for a Christmas wish list and I can never think of anything I want!

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Esther.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, somewhere in storage in the U.S. Unfortunately it's not here in Thailand. One of these days we'll bring it out.


10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Neither. I don't send out snail mail cards because I'm too lazy and I don't send out email cards because it's too impersonal. Go figure!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Can't think of one... generally, if it's wrapped, I like it. :)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
No question about it... White Christmas with Bing Crosby! I've already watched it at least seven times this season already.

13. When do you start shopping?
Whenever I think about it. Usually sometime in late November.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I'm sure I have...although I can't think of a particular instance at the moment. Apparently I'm a bit brain dead today; I can't seem to think of good answers for quite a few of these questions. (This is why it's been so long since I've written a blog here... I'm really this brain dead all the time! It's called being a mother!)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Appetizers. I can do with out the the formal dinner and the Christmas ham. For me, Christmas is all about the finger foods... black olives, pickles, crackers and cheese, summer sausage, etc. And don't forget the sweets... cookies, fudge, candy... you eat those with your hands so they count as finger foods too!

16. Lights on the tree?
Again, this is an area where the Christmas Nazi in me comes out. I am very picky about my tree lights. They have to be interwoven into the branches so that you can't see the wires, not just haphazardly strung. Also, there should be A LOT... this year I used 9 strands of lights on our tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" Or "The Hallelujah Chorus" (which could also be considered an Easter song, but my home church always sang it on Christmas eve.)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Either is fine.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Let's see..."You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Someone and Someone and Donner and Dixen. But do you recall..." Guess not!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
I prefer star. In theory I'm ok with either, but more often than not I think the angels are gaudy and the stars look much nicer.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Growing up, our family opened all the presents on Christmas eve (except for the stockings and a present or two from "Santa" which we opened Christmas morning.) I never thought I'd change, but somehow Christmas morning has become our new tradition!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Trying to make an American Christmas in Thailand. It's hard to make everything "just right" here. We can't even buy proper candy canes! Also, I tried to make some candies that were dipped in chocolate, but the Thai chocolate won't melt properly and is all lumpy! :(

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
No favorites really. My current tree is Silver, White & Blue themed, but those colors were only chosen because I didn't like the yellow, green & red ornaments.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?

If I'm choosing between a Turkey or a Ham dinner, I prefer Turkey. Although,like I said earlier, I don't feel too deprived without Christmas dinner (afterall Thanksgiving was just a month ago!)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Maybe a new watch? I dunno! Sorry Honey...wish I were more help!

Abi: 6-8 Months

Abi just turned 11 months old, so I figured it was about time that I finally post her 6-8 month photos that have been sitting on my desktop awaiting a blog of their own. Also, since this blog is really our digital equivilent to a baby book, I thought I'd share a few milestones and interesting tid bits about Abi's life during those months:

Favorite toy: Other than big people toys (cell phone, laptop, mouse, remote, etc.) which she's not really allowed to play with, she loves the foam letters in the ABC puzzle mat, and also she loves these squirter ball toys that we got in four packs from the dollar store! Her first two teeth showed up when she was: 6 months & 10 days old Her biggest fear: the blender! Biggest hurdle in life: huge gag reflex... even just a pacifier can make her vomit! First foods: Rice cereal, mashed pumpkin and tomatoes and cucumbers in a mesh feeder. Nicknames: Boo, Tomato head, Frog Face, sweetie, sweetheart, sweet thing (or any other variation on sweet-something that happens to come to mind!)Of course, her Akha name is Yeh-mi, but all of our Akha friends have different nicknames for her too, including Bu-Tsa (pretty girl) and Bu-ga (Loved Girl) or just A-mi (Girl). She crawled for the first time when she was: 7 months & 13 days old Teeth #3 & #4 popped through when she was: 8 months & 10 days old
Abi playing with a remote controlAbi chewing on a green beanAbi eating frozen pumpkin cubesAbi exploring the grassAbi Smiling!Abi playing in the waterAbi chewing on Paul's earLori and AbiAbi cryingAbi with sudsAbi chewing on a toyA snuggle moment with dad

Feeling a little crummy

I've been feeling weird all week! Not really sick enough to call myself sick... you know, just kinda head-achy, stomach-achy and all around tired! In fact, I was feeling so odd and "not myeslf" that I actually went out and bought a pregnancy test today! (...which, thankfully, came back negative... we'd like more kids, just not quite this soon!) I think being this way is almost worse than really being sick... it's such a funny no man's land.

On one hand, I feel sick enough to take a nap with Abi during the day. On the other hand, I feel well enough that after lying there for 30 minutes, I feel guilty about not getting things done. On the other hand (yes, in this scenario, I'm a three handed person), when I get up to work on something, I'm just brain dead enough that I can't get anything done! It is a bit frustrating to say the least!

Anyway, I just thought I'd vent a little and if anyone has a sure fire way to beat the "crummies," I'm all ears!

Mister, You Made My Day

"Wawawow-wee! Che bella!" My American girlfriend and I were walking through the market in Mae Sai yesterday when an older farang gentleman walking towards us on the crowded path began passionately exclaiming to us in a language we didn't understand (that is to say, it wasn't English, Thai or Akha). It wasn't until after we had passed him that I realized he was speaking Italian and I did, in fact, understand what he was saying! Excitedly, I said to my friend, "That guy thought we were pretty!"

Motherhood can sure do a number on your self image. It's not that I feel ugly, it's just that I don't really feel pretty! Most of the time I couldn't tell you the last time I had proper shower. My clothes almost always have some baby related stain and now that Abi has entered an extremely "grabby" stage, it seems that every time I see myself in the mirror, my hair is no longer in a tidy and smooth pony tail, but a frazzled mess! I'm really not complaining, I'm just stating the facts: A mom's life is not glamorous!

So, Thanks Mister Italian-guy for thinking I'm pretty; it made my day!

Geek Envy

Hotel @ MIT

I just ran across this page at Hotelchatter.com listing the Top Five Geek Hotels in the World. While I can totally respect the LOTR and StarWars hotel inclusions, I have to say that the Hotel @ MIT has to take the cake. Yes, I assert that it is even geekier than the number one ranked istudio at the Tribecca Grand, because, as we all know, the kings of all geeks are the engineers. I mean, the MIT blankets have equations on them and there are chemistry cartoons in the bathrooms; seriously, that is hard-core geeky.

Let me clarify, lest you misunderstand me. In the past, the term "geeky" may have been understood as an insult, but in recent years, geeks of the world have become decidedly cool. I became acquainted with the utter coolness of geeks during my college years when I spent most of my free-time with engineers from the Colorado School of Mines Campus Crusade for Christ group. It was then that I began my personal journey towards geekiness and developed the geek-envy that still plagues me to this day.

Back in those Crusade days, my geeky friend, Andy Engdahl, used to wear a t-shirt that had a message on the front written in binary code. My gullible and curious nature always got the best of me, forcing me to ask him what it said, only to be reminded that it said "You are stupid." A classic geek joke! I mention it because that shirt, like the Hotel @ MIT, remind me that there are some things in this world that I will never fully appreciate because I am just not geeky enough (read smart enough!) However, I take solace in the fact that at least I can recognize something that should be appreciated (even if I myself can not!)

Finally, on a completely different note, a blog entitled "Geek Envy" simply cannot conclude without mentioning my good friend Molly Stanberry.

Molly Stanberry

In the past year, Molly's geek levels have far surpassed mine, making her my newest object of envy! Not only is she a female gamer (a title earning much reverence in the geek community), but she has a super-cool vidcast and is quickly becoming a sought after expert in the WoW community. Molly, I watch your vidcasts and am in awe of your nifty WoW lingo and video editing skills, but I fear that you have joined the ranks of things which I cannot fully appreciate because I'm just not geeky enough!

Sola Scriptura

Why is it so easy to forget the importance of scripture in my life? Someone once told me that our appetite for the Word of God functions differently from our appetite for food; if we stop eating food our natural hunger grows stronger with each passing day, but if we abstain from partaking of the Word our hunger lessens until we forget that it's even there. The opposite is also true, however; when we feast on God's word, we begin to hunger and thirst for more and more of Him.

Yesterday, I ran across this conversation and got a taste of scripture so potent and flavorful that it left me yearning for more.

it's far too easy to feel alone

it's far too easy to feel alone

mord says:
We humans are alone really, just stuck inside our brains.

Christina Lutze (photographer) says:
Psalm 139
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me...Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me."

We are not alone even when we think we are. :)

mord says:
I yell with agony as I see the sun rise,
A new dawn begins, as painful mind sighs,
Another day to face, of meaningless time,
Is there no peak to this mountain I climb?
The hills of dispair, the skyline of pain,
I keep a steady pace, but no hope to maintain,
This walk that I'm taking seems to be lost,
I hoped to find answers, but my path has been crossed,
Met by the demon we all know as fate,
He blocks the one route to finding the gate,
The door I want opened to discover a life,
An answer to freedom, without living the strife,
No beginnings to suffer, of things I want dead,
Never, once more will it have to be said,
That life is a struggle, with my syndrome alone,
That alive is unwanted, and death be the home.

Christina Lutze (photographer) says:
Lamentations 3
"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quielty for the salvation of the Lord. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust- there may yet be hope. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most high that both calamities and good things come? Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord...I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You came near when I called you, and you said, 'Do not fear.' O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life."

Hope lies with Jesus. :)

mord says:
Excellent response but Jesus was invented to make Christianity more acceptable, copied from Mithra, therefore hope lies with a fictional character ? ;-)

Christina Lutze (photographer) says:
Hope could never lie with a fictional character, and you are right...if Jesus is not real than hoping in Him is really no hope at all. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" (1 Corinthians 15:19). But I believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be. Each person has to decide for themselves who they think Jesus is...pretend, a practical teacher, a wise prophet, a liar, a crazy person, God, Saviour...whatever you decide is your choice. I won't pretend I can prove to you with facts and historical evidence whether Jesus was or wasn't copied from Mithra. I can only speak for myself and say that I am confident in my faith in Jesus, and that my hope in Him is something I am sure of.

mord says:
Again excellent views, a solid belief in your faith is something to be admired, commended and encouraged.

I have to admit I feel envy ( a sin in itself ) in your faith in Christ, something I've never had, and feel I never will have.

Nice to have some intelligent disussion on Flickr, have great life. See ya, Mord ( always alone )

Christina Lutze (photographer) says:
thank you for your honesty. i've enjoyed discussing with you also. i want to say that my faith is not something i can pat myself on the back for. credit must be given to God because even faith is from God. He will give us faith if we ask Him for it. also, i don't think doubt is always negative because doubt leaves you searching for answers, and when you find them you are better off than before. if you have a desire to know Jesus then don't give up. Can i encourage you to..."Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7). "If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever" (1 Chronicles 28:9). That verse comes across very harsh, but i think it conveys the impact of your choice on who Jesus is. I sincerely wish you the best.

I'm ashamed to say that if I were placed in Christina's shoes I doubt I would have turned so readily to scripture as she did. I probably would have relied on human wisdom and philosophy in my attempt to communicate these heavenly truths ... and I would have failed miserably!

Today, I've been reminded of the all-encompassing power, adaptability and beauty of scripture, and I'm humbled to think that I needed reminding at all! Thanks, Christina, for the wake up call!

Entertaining Video

I needed an entertaining video to use for my test as we make the switch over from Google Video to YouTube for our Video Hosting needs. I understand some of you have been having troubles with our old videos. I am assured by Google that Google Video will still be supported, so be patient when viewing our old posts, but here's the way new videos will be posted.

OK GO - Here it Goes Again (Treadmill Video)

We really enjoyed this wonderfully choreographed video from Swedish band OK GO's hit project Oh, No where four guys, eight treadmills and one remote control add up to a lot of fun. Some time ago, Lori was reading through some of our favorite missionary blogs and came across this light hearted post from RelevantGirl (Mary DeMuth).

Upbeat sounds, radio mix distortions and beautifully unmatched clothes are reminiscent of bands gone by (where have you gone Room Full of Walters?) and this video should get your feet tapping and your eyes smiling. Apparently, this song was also featured on the Scrubs season six premiere, so you will probably hear more of it soon. (AND, while I'm thinking about it, thanks again Andy Engdahl for Scrubs season three!) Hope you all enjoy...

A Souvenir of Extravagance...

An amazing thing happened to me while we were in Bangkok last week. It all started on the final night of the conference at the banquet dubbed "Cultural Night". Everyone wore the traditional dress of their country; and with over 600 people representing countries from all over Asia it was certainly an amazing sight. We saw Japanese Kimonos, Korean Hanboks and jewel-toned saris, to name a few. Adding to the festive atmosphere of the evening, many of the delegates were generously passing out small trinkets and souvenirs to anyone and everyone, proudly representing their countries!

Pink Sari

Towards the end of the evening, we met a couple from Sri Lanka named Dinesh and Dinu who struck up a conversation with us asking about the Akha clothes we were wearing. Dinu was wearing a beautiful bright pink sari and I told her that I had been admiring it all evening (which I had.) We probably talked for less than 5 minutes before the evening ended and we all headed up to bed.

Lori in her sari

The next morning, Paul and I were sitting waiting for the session to begin when Dinu came and sat down next to me. She said, "I have a gift I want to give you, but it's up in my room. At break I'll go up and get it for you." After the session, she found me and asked if I could go to the room with her so that we wouldn't lose each other in the crowd.

When we got to there, Dinu pulled out the beautiful sari she had been wearing the previous night. This was the gift she wanted to give me! I was awe struck! With tears streaming down my face I told her how I had said to Paul, "If you ever want to buy me a new dress, I want one just like hers!" When I had composed myself, she explained that after the banquet she felt the Lord prompting her to give this sari to me. She didn't know my name or our room number, so she said, "Ok Lord, if I see her again tomorrow, I'll give it to her."

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the flowers of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the unbelievers run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

-From Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 6:28-33

In the past, whenever I heard those verses I always tended to focus on one word: need. I've heard enough sermons on this passage in my life to remember the lesson that God provides for all our needs, but I've always been left with the vague impression that His provision applies only once we've hit a certain level of destitution. Even then, that provision is only what we "need" and nothing more. But as I read this passage today, all I can think about is God's amazing extravagance. By no meaning of the word did I "need" that sari, but the Lord poured out his extravagant love for me and fulfilled the desires of my heart. Today, I feel like a lily of the field adorned in God's finest!

Funny :: Beware of things made in October

October! The greatest month of sports is upon us. Football, basketball, hockey and baseball's fall classic. How sweet it is. I want to commemorate the kickoff of this month (and the launch of the newest addition to The Vernon Journal media suite) with a commercial that has had a special place in my heart for many years now (yes, it's because it celebrates a Yankees champoinship). Enjoy!

Fried Rice :: Asia's Leftover Casserole

Bowl of Fried Rice

As a kid I remember eating fried rice from the Chinese restaurant in the food court at the local mall. I loved it, but it always baffled me. How they actually accomplished the "frying" of the rice, I could never figure out. Eventually, I concluded that it must be done in the same way that french fries are fried at McDonald's. But the thing that I never could understand was how they kept the rice in the fry baskets; wouldn't it just fall through the holes?! Even as an adult (having realized that "fried rice" does not actually mean "deep fried rice"), fried rice still held a certain sense of mystery for me. Somehow this simple dish had become an exotic secret of the far east that I would never understand! Let's face it, I'm a product of America and America just doesn't do rice!

Having lived in Asia for over a year, rice is becoming a little less mysterious. A couple weeks ago as I was scraping the cold-leftover-lunch-rice out of the rice cooker so I could make a new batch of rice for dinner, I thought to myself... "What am I going to do with this rice! There's not enough to eat for dinner, but there's too much to just give to the chickens." (Honestly people, I'm not making this up! How weird is my life!?!) Anyway, I had seen street vendors make fried rice before so I thought 'What the heck, it's worth a try!' Well, it was a success and has since become my one of my favorite dishes. The best part is that it's not just good for leftover rice, but leftover anything; I can throw almost anything in and it tastes great! It's one of those meals that works no matter what I happen to have on hand.

So with out further ado... Here's my Super-Easy Recipe for Fried Rice (for those of you out there who still think it's an exotic secret of the far east!)

Ingredients:
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • Palm oil
  • 1 egg
  • A little bit of meat, sliced thinly (optional)
  • Salt (Soy Sauce or Fish Sauce also works)
  • 2 tsp. pork or chicken bullion (cubes or powder)
  • 1/2 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • chopped green onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • about two cups of left over rice

Directions:

  1. Make sure all your ingredients are out, chopped and ready.& Once you start cooking it goes quick.
  2. Start with about a 1/4 cup of oil in your wok. Turn on your flame, and while you let your wok heat up a little, spoon the oil up the sides of wok.
  3. Throw in your garlic and stir for just about 10-15 seconds
  4. Crack your egg directly into the wok and stir to scramble.
  5. Stir bullion powder into the mixture (and salt if you're using salt)
  6. Throw in meat (if you're using meat), stir until cooked
  7. Stir in the onion and tomato. Don't let them cook too long or they'll get mushy.
  8. Throw in the rice, green onion and cilantro, stir until heated through. If it gets dry and starts sticking to the wok too much, add a little more oil.
  9. Garnish with some leftover cilantro and a lime wedge

So that's how it's done, folks. I know there are a few things I use that aren't commonly found in a standard American kitchen (like wok, palm oil, lime wedges, etc.) so experiment and see what works for you! Enjoy!

Sunday School Teacher Dismissed

A few weeks ago, upon receiving the letter from the Church council citing 1 Timothy 2:12, an 81 year old woman named Mary Lambert was dismissed from her role as Adult Sunday School teacher in a small Baptist church in Watertown, NY

Since then, there has been a media frenzy, with news sources as far away as China, & Quatar covering the story. As expected, the blogosphere has responded in force. A simple search from Blogger.com's front page yields hundreds of results, most of them condemning the Christian church for being backward and sexist, decrying the injustice and inequality of this situation. Christian blogs, not wanting to be left out, have joined the discussion as well and lively conversations about 1 Timothy 2:12 and the role of women in ministry have ensued.

While I'm usually all in favor of a good discussion on the roles of women in ministry (having been a female bible student the subject is not unfamiliar to me), it seems to me that there are many other issues surrounding this situation, which are not being addressed by anyone!

According to statements released by the church board and the pastor, it seems that Ms. Lambert's dismissal didn't really hinge on the "women shall not have authority" argument. In fact, the church openly states that currently 55% of the board members and 87% of Sunday School teachers are women. It turns out that the 1 Timothy 2:12 argument cited in the dismissal letter was simply the scapegoat reason that they used on advice the of legal counsel who were doing everything in their power to avoid a messy lawsuit.

If I've just lost you with the whole lawsuit thing, let me backtrack a bit to explain. The pastor explains in his statement that this story actually began months ago, when a small group of parishioners, "unhappy with new members [and] changes that were being made" in the church, "decided to forgo the mechanisms that [are] in place for dealing with conflicts or disagreements within the church and elected to hire a local attorney and aired their grievances in a letter to the Watertown Daily Times." After an official "reprimand" from the church board and an encouragement to settle church matters within the church, "several of those individuals continued to engage in activities the Board viewed as detrimental to the church family."

I would say the real issue at hand is this: The state of the Christian church, in which parishioners bring legal action against their church, change and growth in the church is so violently rejected, and it's considered normal for a long-time member of the church to go to the local newspaper to air his/her complaints instead of working things out with the church directly. Let's talk about Matthew 18 and the way we can work out differences in love, instead of displaying our dirty laundry for the world to see. Maybe it's not nearly as controversial or exciting as 1 Timothy 2:12, but it's obviously needed.

The press wants to make this whole thing about "women's roles in the church" where the church becomes the big bad "chauvinist" wolf. Like I said before, I'm all for discussing "women's roles in the church"; it's an important and intersting topic! But as a Christian community let's call apples "apples" and discuss all the issues surrounding this situation, instead of simply reacting to the "spin" of the press!

So, those are my thoughts. Hopefully they'll stir things up in the blogosphere! Any comments?

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My Super Cool New Ringtone

I just put O-Zone's Dragostea Din Tei on my cellphone. In the past I haven't been too particular about ringtones; if it let me know my phone was ringing, it was good enough for me. But this song has changed everything! Everytime my phone rings, I just want to dance! I'm even in danger of missing the call, because I want to keep listening to the song. Don't worry though, I'm still a "people person" at heart and can't stand to miss a call!

Dragostea Din Tei is a Romanian pop-song that came out a few years ago; I don't know if it ever became popular in America, but we hear it everywhere in Thailand. If you don't know it by it's proper name, you've probably heard it called the "Numa Numa Song". You can hear the song at the O-Zone MySpace page . By the way, if you're curious about what the lyrics mean, you can find the "real" translation by clicking here.

Regarding Space Travel and a Prostitute

The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy

Since we've gotten to the field, I've become one of those people that devours books, especially what Paul and I call "candy books" or books that are just for fun. Lately I've been reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series, by Douglas Adams. It originally started out as a British radio comedy program in the 70's, quickly progressing to the book format, then becoming a British TV program in the 80's. Just recently, it was made into a movie. The story centers on Arthur Dent, an Earthman, who's planet was casually demolished to make way for an interstellar by-pass. What follows are his adventures traveling through space with only the pajamas on his back and a towel to his name, meanwhile encountering all sorts of odd things (like the space ship powered by Bistro mathematics) and narrowly escaping horrible fates against all probability. This British comedy series is a must-read for any sci-fi nerd or sci-fi nerd wanna be!

Redeeming Love

From the other end of the galaxy, literarily speaking, of course, comes another book I just finished. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a re-telling of the Book of Hosea set in the California Gold Rush of the 1850's. Sold into prostitution as an orphaned child , Angel's hardened heart is patiently and lovingly restored through her unexpected marriage to pioneer-farmer Michael Hosea. In the past, I've avoided romance novels (unless you count classic romances like Pride & Prejudice), thinking that all contemporary romance novels were either trashy or unintelligent; neither of which I was interested in reading. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was neither. It was written with the skill of an award winning author, and told a beautiful, honest love-story without sullying the mystery of intimacy. While this book is marketed to women, Rivers captures the male character so amazingly well, I think that either sex will be entertained and edified by this book. Hope you get a chance to pick it up!

More Fun with Language

I'm always whining about how difficult it is to learn a tonal language, especially a tribal one without classes, books or cds. (See, don't you feel sorry for me?!) Tonal languages are notoriously difficult to learn for ....well, anyone who's native language is not tonal.

Anyway, my last post reminded me about another funny language compilation. I say "funny", but I'm sure that if I were learning English I would call it "infuriating!" All these homonyms make me wonder how the English language has made it all these years without tones to differentiate between them. See for your self...

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
  • I was proven right that I had the right of way

(Click here to read more "Reasons why the English language is hard to learn.")

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Fun with language

In my recent desperation to overcome a serious case of writer's block, I did a google search on "tips for writing". Somewhere amidst the flurry of clicks, I ran across this silly page about How to Write Good. While it didn't automatically cure my writer's block, it did give me a needed break from the somber post I was writing. Just "follow these tips, and you'll be writing gooder in no time!"

A few of my favorite are:

  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  • Parenthentical words however must be enclosed in commas.
  • It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  • Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  • Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake
  • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors - even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  • Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

Finally, in honor of my high school writing teacher, Mrs. Trow, who made us write excruciating papers without a single "to be" verb....

  • The passive voice should not be used.

I love these things! Does that make me a total nerd? Oh well!

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Hey I Knew Those Guys

I'm out of it for a little while and everyone starts getting delusions of grandeur. -Han Solo (Listen)

Times change, people change, the world is moving quickly, but this is just strange... (whispering) I know famous people.

I guess it's the way things are, eventually you know enough people that someone becomes famous, but it seems that overnight a number of people from my school days have gone off and become famous musicians.

The most notable (because of the label, Epic Records) is The Fray, who are apparently taking the U.S. by storm with their album How to Save a Life, but also quickly climbing the list are The Films who are climbing charts with their hit Black Shoes.

I can't say much about these releases of either of these bands since I live half a world away, but the last I had heard from these guys they were playing for different bands and, for that matter, had different names (Google can be unkind if you have a very common name). However, their previous bands, Fancy's Showbox and Tinker's Punishment were both amazing, so I am certain that their new projects must be quite impressive as well.

But who am I to say? My favorite bands were the Smiley Kids and Trump Mother Jones, and they didn't get very far. I guess timing and luck play a part in the whole famous thing too.

Watercolors by A.Rosa

I wanted to take a quick moment to plug my favorite watercolor artist (who just happens to be my sister-in-law, Aimee.)

Cosmo by A.Rosa

Her works have recently been posted on Cubegallery.com, which provides emerging artists with the opportunity to sell "fine art reproductions" of their original works.

Of course, I've seen Aimee's paintings before and have always loved them. But when I saw all of her works posted together, I was amazed at her talent and said to myself "I didn't know watercolor could be so enchanting!" I guess I've always secretly thought of watercolor as "watered-down" art. (Listen carefully, to hear the collective groan of art lovers everywhere at my admitted ignorance!) However, these pieces are so bold and beautiful, and posses a unique elegance... much like the woman who painted them.

As I mentioned earlier, you can purchase Aimee's prints from Cubegallery.com for very reasonable prices, so check it out! Also, for those of you in the Great Northwest, you can view and purchase both originals and prints at the Bend Summer Festival and the Bend Fall Festival.

Keep up the good work Aimee! I predict that in no time at all we'll be saying, "I knew her when..."

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