Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Keeping Warm(er)

I wrote a post awhile ago about keeping warm here in Kathmandu in the winter.  I think it takes awhile to build up your arsenal of defenses and to know what works or helps.  We are chipping away at it.  The worst of the cold is actually past, it would seem, but we'll be ready come next year!  
We have added to our supply of hot water bottles, and we fill up three every night--one for Isaiah for his bed and two for John and my bed.  
 After I wrote the earlier post, John bought this really nice electric space heater.  The other one I posted is just so bright and barely warms up anything beyond the immediate foot in front of it.  We moved that one into Isaiah's room since he is a sounder sleeper, and this new one, which is little and not bright and absolutely amazing is in Ezekiel's room.  It was a splurge, but it works really well...when we have electricity, which is now only 10 hours per day total, though most of that actually is at night.  We saw a BIG jump in our electric bill, which we assume is from this little puppy, so we have to weigh that, but it really does make Zeke's room feel nice when it's on!

 We had been holding off and not purchasing one of the big gas heaters here, but we finally broke down and bought one.  They are so big and not remotely up to safety standards we think of, but you don't have to deal with electricity issues, and they really heat up a room!  We can't leave it on while we sleep because of the safety hazards, but we've been using it in the evenings, and it makes it much more pleasant!  It did seem sort of silly to buy one at this point in the season, but now we have it for next year, and we actually got it on sale (I guess because it is late in the season)!  Should have taken a picture while it was lit.  It actually does have the dual function to run on electricity as well, if you want.  The back view shows you the full effect of the safety hazard with our gas tank setting in there!
 We also added two more of the big fuzzy "Chinese blankets" to our collection.  We actually found some smaller child-size ones at a department store, and while it seemed hard to top, the kids' ones were even more hideous than the full-size ones.  This is the tamest one I could find.  Most have an odd combo of pastels and bright colors with creepy babies and/or distorted Disneylike characters on them.

I actually added a second one to our bed (mostly because I was waking up with no blanket on me frequently thanks to a cover stealer!), and I found a solid brown one!  Excellent find, in my opinion (though John was underwhelmed)!

 We also continue to bundle up in a ridiculous amount of clothes.  Here is what I'm putting on Ezekiel for the night tonight.
And, here are some fantastic new pants that I got in a package from my parents!  They are much brighter than my usual tastes, but somehow with the cold here, they kind of make me feel happy!  There is also a cup of apple cider in my hand, thanks to a care package from good friends Tom and Alana, and I'm wearing a GREAT and comfy pair of slippers that were sent for Christmas from my parents.  We are well cared for!

The cider is a treat, but warm beverages are a key part of my existence here.  I have never drunk so much tea in my entire life!

And, last but definitely not least, I don't think I included a picture of this in my last post, but it is the highlight of my day--our hot water geiser!  It is a gas heater for our water, so we can take hot showers!  It makes me happy and takes every ounce of self-control I have to shut it off at the end of a shower in the morning.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Parable Kind of a Day

CRASH!  That's how my day with the boys got rolling this morning.
I had started to download an update on the laptop and decided to carry it upstairs open so as not to interrupt the download.  How many times have we told the boys NOT to walk with the iPad open?  They aren't even allowed to carry the laptop yet because, clearly, THEY would have an accident with it.
I grabbed a couple other small things to carry with me, and as I hit the second to last stair from the landing, I tripped on it, and the stuff in my arms--including the laptop--went crashing onto the floor.  
A moment of shock interrupted quickly by bursting into tears.  (Hopefully, nothing to explicit uttered that my boys will repeat later!)
What had I just done?!
I sat down on Isaiah's bed right in front of me and picked up the laptop, popped the battery back in that had fallen out, and tried to breathe.  More crying.  I prayed.  Yes, I prayed for God to please, please (Am I the only one who begs in prayer when desperate?) let it still work.  The frame around the screen had popped open.  Trying to assess the situation through the tears, I gingerly turned it on.  It worked.  Still, the problem of the split frame that wouldn't seem to pop back together, and I noticed that is because part of it was completely dented and not able to be bent or popped or anything back together.
I was crying.  A lot.  Maybe a little hysterical.
Isaiah put his arm around me.
I cried, "Oh, Daddy is going to be so mad at me!"
Isaiah:  "It will be ok, Mommy."
Me:  "Oh, I really messed up, Isaiah.  REALLY badly!"
Isaiah:  "It will be ok, Mommy.  Don't worry."  
Sweet boy.  It is only a "thing."  I know that, but I screwed up.  And, I felt stupid and ashamed and just awful.  And, it is an expensive thing!
I decided to tell John when we saw him at lunch.  

Unexpectedly, John stopped home to pick up the power cord for his laptop mid-morning.  I said, "I have some bad news."
Isaiah:  "Mommy broke the computer."  
There really is no hiding anything when a preschooler has witnessed it!
After explaining what happened and showing John the dent/crack and a very awkward and humble apology, he said it was just cosmetic, and he said, "It's ok.  Accidents happen."

Now, I don't really know why I was afraid or expecting something so different since my dear husband has shown great mercy for some of my worst blunders, but I still felt such a weight off.  Mercy.  It frees.  And yet, I felt almost embarrassed by it.  I deserved for him to be angry at me--really angry.  Yet, he wasn't.  

I was mad at me, but he had shown mercy.  

Seemingly unrelated, less than an hour later, a repair man showed up to service our water filter.  I had been intending to call because it had been 3 months, but apparently, our landlord (or the person he has working for him locally) had already arranged it with them to come for the routine service and filter replacement.  

I walked inside to point out where the water filter was and didn't notice at first that, as he had slipped off his shoes by the door (which is the usual expectation here), he had slipped on my wonderful new slippers that my parents had sent me for Christmas.  Now, floors here are cold.  Really cold right now, so I understand wanting something on your feet, but they weren't setting by any of the other shoes on or beside the shoe rack.  They were across from there at the edge of the living room.  We had other slippers or flip flops.  These were the nicest, softest, coziest pair (a replacement for which would be difficult to find here).  Um, and yeah, they are ladies' slippers!  I realized it as I heard water gushing and tinkering and went in to see him standing, in these new slippers, in dirty water all over the floor, dripping water all over the tops of them as well.  I was furious!  Who does that?!  I went and grabbed another pair of slippers and abruptly asked him to switch slippers!  He half-glanced and said, "Ok."  OK?!  "Um, no, these were getting ruined!"  "Ok, it's ok."  At this point, I was fuming.  I knew it wasn't just a language barrier because we had spoken English when he arrived.  How dare he?!  "Not ok!  You say sorry when you are ruining something!" 
I tried to calm myself down and explain it must be some cultural thing that I was being insensitive to, but I was ANGRY!
I avoided saying much else to him, and after a few more mildly irritating issues in the exchange, he was done, and the water filter was fixed, and he left.  I had been snippy, and I knew it.

I went to the office at lunch and vented about it to John and another friend, attempting to be quiet, as if that somehow would maintain some level of cultural sensitivity.

It wasn't until we had gotten home, and I had put the boys down for nap time, and I was starting to read the Bible for some quiet time that it hit me.  Hit me hard.  The "Parable of the Unmerciful Servant" (Matthew 18:21-35)--ever read it?  To paraphrase briefly, a king cancels the debt of a servant who owed him heaps and heaps of money, showing him great mercy, only to have that servant go outside and rail on a guy who owed him a teeny fraction of the amount.  Yep.  Laptop.  Slippers.  It is a little horrifying to find yourself smack in the middle of a parable...and not as the "good guy."  

I read these parables, and sometimes they almost seem like merely hyperbole to get the point across.  I mean, they don't really happen quite as obvious as that, right?  I nod at the lesson I have learned from the poor sap in the story who could be so blind as to miss the obvious truth right in front of him.  But, today, as I turned to read that story as it was flooding my mind, that page turned into a mirror.  Oh, have mercy on ME that I would understand the depth and breadth of mercy that I have already been shown. 

If only my biggest failing for the day had been smashing the laptop.