The Flighter Side

Every time I think of something sad, I try to also think of the 'lighter side' of it.

Con:  Just plunked down $1800 for air fare tickets to go back to PNG. (Kendal and me)
Pro: Got a great deal on a flight to Sydney at only $525 

Con: It's ironically also a flight FROM Sydney, as we'll be leaving our daughter behind.
Pro: We'll be rejoining our son, and ministry in PNG

Con: We'll be saying goodbye to family and friends in the U.S. 
Pro: We'll be saying hello to our PNG friends

Con: Booking the flight, sets us in an absolute date for the day we say 'bye bye' to our daughter.
Pro: ???  

Help me out there? UM....    oh. 'knowing exactly what day you'll be super emotional and feel like your heart is being ripped out....'  Is that a pro?

I dunno somehow, I feel like I just paid a lot of money to be kicked in the gut.

We are so excited for our daughter to embark on the next phase of her life!
But it's going to be one heck of an adjustment for us....
We're determined to make our time as a family of 3 awesome and fun as well, but it's sad for sure and there's no way around it.

This trip to the U.S. has been pricey, with college tuition, all the flights, etc. But the money isn't the foremost thing on our mind because God always provides.

The emotions of the thing is what is the hardest part.  Kendal and I know we'll be emotional wrecks on the way back to PNG.

I honestly thought I would not be. I mean, I'm so excited and optimistic about this next phase. I get excited whenever there is a new part of life to explore and discover.

But in the past few days, I've been randomly ambushed by extremely strong emotions about the separation... primarily because Sydney is a huge joy to be around.

My wife gets a chuckle out of it. I have these random moments of ... freak out... which I can't fully explain, but I get hyper and wander around the house trying to find something constructive to do, and saying random things like 'without Sydney there then _____ etc. My wife looks at me and chuckles and replies 'I've been processing this for months, it seems like it's just hitting you.' Well yeah. I think it's all becoming real, what with absolute dates set and all. I'll say this even the most manly of men, Chuck Norris, agree, it's okay to shed a single tear over something like your only daughter. But Chuck's tears theoretically cure cancer (we don't know for sure, as he's never shed one) mine, don't cure much at all, except for dry eye syndrome.)

Pray for us please.
This is gonna be hard.


Last pic

On our way to drop Calvin off at the airport to go to PNG. No more family of four pics for a while. 


Fighting to be lighting

I was out with my son looking for a car wash, found a place. It advertised on the road gas was 3.19 p/gallon 3.09 with a carwash
okay that's 10 cents more than the 76 down the street but it had a car wash.

I paid cash, to get a discount which didn't exist at this station, and buy a car wash, go pump, 3.19 at the pump. WHAT? should be 3.09

So I go inside, to the cashier and I explain the issue, she owes me $1.30 she overcharged me a dime per gallon.

Here went the conversation:

me: "the pump charged me 3.19 your sign says 3.09 per gallon with car wash, and I bought a car wash.'
her: "oh I don't know." blinks at me.
me: (still calm) "I know, you owe me $1.30 because you over charged me."
her: I'm sorry sir, I don't know how to make the machine charge you that.
me: (accepting the apology) "that's fine, just refund me the $1.30 and it'll be okay."
her: "I can't do that sir, I'd get in trouble."
me: (starting to get incredulous, but still maintaining calm) "Okay... well, then perhaps upgrade me to a better car wash?"
her: "Sir I can't do that, I'd get in trouble if I gave you a free car wash."
me: (temper is growing) "And you won't get in trouble for stealing $1.30 from me?"
her: "I'd get in trouble for that too, would you like to talk to my supervisor? They can fix this, I don't know how to use the computer."
me: (maintaining my calm but torn between wanting to be angry and wanting to give grace) "Yes then, please, can I talk to them."
her: "They come in on mondays" (three days away and I'm clear across town)
me: (surprised) "Well you know I won't be coming back in 3 days, clear across town to argue over $1.30. Can I have their business card?"
her: "No sir, he doesn't have one."
me: "Can you give me an email address or a phone number?"
her: "No sir I don't know it."
me: (feeling lied to, hot, upset, I decide it's not worth ruining either of our days over, so I accept it and reply calmly) "Well ma'am, I think you should take the time to learn how to work the computer, or take that sign down. And you should know, I won't be returning here."

I realize that if they do this a few times a day, that's a nice little side hustle. But in the off chance she was a single mom, who never said 'when I grow up I want to be a gas station attendant' and who was just trying to get by in life, I decided it wouldn't be prudent or even helpful to read her any 'riot act' or lose my temper on her... not over $1.30 and yet, the desire was there to do so anyway. I fought it down.

In the San Jose, CA area I'm finding that people are rude, incompetent, selfish, inconsiderate. It's always been this way, but I've been around the opposite for so long that it's a bit of a harsh awakening. I fully believe in being the CHANGE I want to see, so I go around being polite and talkative, and I don't dismiss people when they say 'hi'. And I don't act all creeped out by strangers greeting me, instead I return it.

Yesterday at a theatre, the cleaning guy as we left said 'you all have a good day!' and I replied 'Hey! Thank you! You too!' and it looked like I caught him off guard in that I noticed him and acknowledged him, and so he replied "You're welcome!", in a surprised tone like "hey, I'm not invisible!"

I walked into a Walgreens and the very young cashier had no idea what to do with me.

After waiting a long time for a very old lady to pay in pennies and gather her items, I was finally at the cashier. It was one of those movie moments where the lady was counting out pennies and it took forever. My patience was thin already, because out in the 100 degree weather was my wife and daughter with our lunch, in the car, waiting for me.

her: "How can I help you sir?"
me: "I'd like to get these batteries"
her: "Will that be all"
me: (curtly-with that tone of -I'm in a hurry-) "yes"
her: "That'll be 10.91 sir."

I hand her a 20, she realizes she has no ones to return to me, calls her manager over, while she does that I say:

me: "here's 11 dollars."
she blinks at me and pauses
her: "What's this for sir?"
me: "hand me back the 20 I gave you and take this."
she blinks at me again and then looks at her supervisor and says
her: "I don't know what you want me to do."
the supervisor begins to say 'give him his 20 back. and 9 cents., but I didn't hear him saying it and spoke over him.

me: (as if speaking to a young confused child, with a gentle calm voice trying not to sound patronizing) "Hand me back that 20, take this 10, and this 1."
her: "No sir it's all okay, I'm just going to have Russ get me more ones if you don't mind waiting."
me: (very direct without anger) "That's the point, I do mind waiting. I'm sorry but I need to be going."

At which point I took the 20 laying in her confused palm, dropped the $11 and said 'keep the change, have a nice day.' and left.

I felt instantly guilty. I wasn't rude, I wasn't angry, but in this day and age, being curt is taken as confrontational and angry. It's not like I left her saying 'gee what a lovely person that was! Christ must be flowing through them! I think I want to know more about this Christ! I think I'll go to church on Sunday!"

It is so hard to be polite and share love and grace in the face of all of this.... what do I even call it, "unapologetic ineptitude"? "total self-centeredness?". I mean just trying to teach my daughter to drive on these streets I have to tell her 'people don't care about you or the law, they do insane things all the time, so watch out, constant vigilance!"

I keep thinking about transition and culture shock and how Christ must have had a huge "culture shock"... when He became human.

We must have seemed so crass and unloving to Him.

I try to be a little bit of light everywhere I go. It isn't easy. But you can see when others are trying as well. Now that we're in the U.S. for a short bit, the words to an old gospel song ring true in my ears:

"This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me with heaven's open door and I can't feel at home in this world anymore."


Not the best

For our friends not currently visiting their home countries, a few reflections:

1. fidget spinners are a thing. I used a pencil when I was a kid.
2. chromebooks are very popular now
3. there's a million shows to watch but for some reason within 10 minutes of turning them on I fall asleep.
4. people seem to be chasing after the 'best' of something. The Best Ice cream, the best burger, etc. We seem totally fine with the 'worst'. I mean, we've been without real ice-cream for so long that even bad ice cream seems good to us. People want to direct us to the 'best' of stuff, often. Like 'oh you're hungry for pickles? the best pickle joint is D.J. Jazzy Pickle! You can get three toppings for your pickle there for free!' And I'm like 'yeah, just a kosher dill in a jar will do, I've been away from Vlassic for years, let's start me out slow.'

I so appreciate all the people loving on us right now, and trying to help us re-acclimate. The incredible amount of variety here is almost paralyzing. I know as Americans we value variety, it's the spice of life. But my reaction to it is, I won't go buy a jar of pickles until I've googled it, or I'll go on full impulse and buy the first one I see. It's a coping mechanism. We're simply not used to incredible variety. I mean, even our neighbors have the same furniture, dishes, housing materials and food as we do, so we're not really surrounded by variety in many ways, except culturally, but even that happens here in California.

So when you ask me "So what pickles do you want on your sandwhich? Dill, sweet, bread and butter? spears, slices, whole, quarter?' All I hear is "...dill?...blah blah blah blah
' so I respond 'Dill would be great! Thanks.'

That doesn't mean I don't love it here, I do. I love all the choices, just having a hard time choosing.