Monday, January 30, 2012

It's normal.

Normal. What is it? I question the word's usefulness.  It carries with it so little meaning.  A normal person? A normal life? A normal day? These things aren't.

My Brother thinks it completely normal to spend the day solving Engineering problems and doing statics homework. My dad makes miniature radio tracking devices for a living, which are then used by the Sheiks for their insanely expensive falcons in the middle east, by coon hunters in the Florida, and by policemen tracking down people with Autism and Alzheimer's. Normal.

Sometimes I feel very not normal. Sometimes I'm alarmed at how normal I really am. There are times I wish to be both.

My normal or not Saturday.

1 am. Magdalena's awake and hungry. Bare feet on the warm wood floor into her dark room. She smiles as she feels my hands on her face. We sit in quiet, rocking.

3 am. and 5. and then 7. I bring her into our bed, eyes wide and feet kicking. She twists her tiny body to take in every source of light, then grins as she seems to realize where she is now. The three of us lay there and watch as the day begins to fill our room.

Dorius leaves to go help at the church, setting up for a huge Chinese New Year celebration later that night.  I check the spreadsheet and make a few last minute calls to refugee families scattered across the Salt Lake Valley. "Yes, we will be there to pick you up. 9:30" Get her dressed, the bag refilled with things we will need, and we are off in search of the apartment where the nepalese family lives. Which turns out to be quite difficult to locate. I need to be at the school early, in time to set up for the workshop we're putting on at 10. It's now 9:45 and I am just running up the stairs to knock on the door.

Lots of movement. The door opens. "Yes, hello? You are from IRC?" Yes. "Please, come in. Please, sit" Four sets of big brown eyes now staring at me as I sit on the avocado green couch. The father is still in the shower. The kindness and love filling the room almost makes me smile out loud. A truly wonderful feeling. The daughter speaks English very well, and we talk as we wait for her dad. Her mother beams. Dorius calls--he's going to be late. And her Dad finally appears. We walk down the chilly stairwell and drive off into the now sunny morning.

We arrive to find only one other family in the cafeteria. Soon others arrive, Burmese, Somalian, Nepalese, Eritrean. All parents here to learn about the American School system and how to help their kids succeed in it. The collection of lives, cultures, and experiences in that one room. Dorius and I hook up the projector and begin the workshop. All the while I keep looking at these faces listening to us and wonder what their "normal" has been. All forced to flee their native land and culture,  bringing families and nothing else, now here they are, in this cafeteria with got milk ads plastered on every wall.

"What do you feel is the biggest difference between here and Nepal?" I ask on our way home. "Well there are some things same, some things different." He begins listing the things different. "And what is the same?" A long few minutes of silence."Well, not so very much I suppose. Totally different." He stares out the window.

Home again, we go for a hike with our dog in the sunny clean afternoon. I love living in Utah. Magdalena giggles and moves in the backpack.

Time for the Chinese New Year celebration. Our friend from Shanghai who had returned there last year calls. He's in the church building. Arrived here yesterday. Former students of mine come up to see baby. Hundreds of people are fed and entertained.  Unbelievable it is all put on by "normal" people willing to volunteer time and money and talent.

And that was that. We drove home, another normal day.

So it goes every day. People living. Nothing is really normal, everything is.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch this. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I do not love sitting in front of a computer. I do like sharing. Thinking. Reading. And a good deal many other things.

So I have this blog for when I feel like doing a little sharing. But I can promise it will not be consistent.

Thoughts for today:

1. Mint oreos are good. And totally artificial, so dairy free me (thanks to Magdalena) can enjoy them. In a way I never thought I could. And yes, maybe that bag we just got is already half eaten. Okay there's one left.

2. " Each of us has circles of friendships, and within those lie the portion of the human family whom God has given us to love, to serve, and to learn from." Maxwell

I often wonder what I can do with my life, my time, that will be of the most good. And I have yet to find a one answer. Usually I think of traveling to a poverty stricken corner of the world and establishing schools, opportunities for girls, or clean water systems. And one day I fully plan on doing that. But reading this made me think about what I am doing now --both in serving and learning from-- the people I already know.

Each person our lives collide with, and maybe collide is too strong a word. But each person we interact with on whatever level and for whatever reason, becomes a part of the minuscule percentage of the human population we will ever have a chance to come in contact with. What are we doing with these opportunities?

Magdalena awakes from her nap....