Saturday April 27, 2019

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

We all woke up this morning excited to celebrate Anjali’s birthday with friends at the Adventure Park here in Brasov. This place was awesome. There were so many different courses for our various levels. They had a small kids course for the little ones, which was perfect–it was challenging enough to be fun for them, it even had zip lines at the end of each course! All of the kids and even the adults had a great time. Between my ankle and still not feeling 100%, I decided to stay on the ground and enjoy watching the happy faces of everyone else. Anjali was so excited to be here for her birthday and being able to do a course that was for those 12 years and up. Jeff spent time with the kids and then within about an hour or so everyone seemed to go their separate ways using the buddy system, which is when Jeff opted to try one of the black courses. I got some great pictures of everyone having fun and enjoying being outside, even with the thunder and darkening skies.

Lucia enjoying the younger kids’ courses Lewis, obviously having a blast! Can you find Lucia? Jeff making his way through one of the beginner courses. Jason having fun and working hard, or maybe just having fun! Lucia and Elena doing what they do best, being silly and having fun! The birthday girl in her element! Jeff working hard on the black course and surveying what lies before him David and Coen enjoying the buddy system. Jeff was pretty wiped after climbing the wobbly ladder, but he is not even close to being done. Where’s Jeff?

After a quick lunch of hot dogs at the park, we all scurried out into the rain. Our family walked to the closest taxi stand to make our way to the shopping mall. Anjali and I made quick work of our needed shopping items and then a stop in the grocery store before catching a cab home and ordering pizza. All in all, it was a very successful and fun day, but I was wiped.

I am so grateful that God has healed me enough to enjoy this time with my family and celebrate the birth of our eldest child. I could have easily seen myself still in bed, sick and unable to be here, but He provided again. I may not have gotten to do the courses with them, but I absolutely enjoyed my time with friends and family, and this was definitely a gift from God.

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Friday April 26, 2019

Psalm 20:4 May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Anjali! 12 years ago you blessed us and made us a family. I am so grateful that God chose me as your mom, you challenge me every day and I love watching you grow into the young lady you are becoming. One of the most important things I want you to know is that as long as you trust in God, He will always provide for you, and just like in this Psalm, “May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.”

Unfortunately I woke up this morning and felt so incredibly awful. I have never felt so exhausted, absolutely unable to get out of bed. I had a really hard time sleeping last night because my body and my joints hurt so bad. This has to be one of the weirdest illnesses I have ever had. I was in bed until about 3 pm when I woke up after my fever broke and finally felt somewhat normal again.

I felt so bad that I was so sick all day and unable to celebrate Anjali’s birthday, but she was such a good sport. She understood and was so helpful by getting me water, an ice pack, etc. I managed enough energy to take Anjali out to dinner, but Jeff was the real hero today. While I was miserable in bed, he did the shift at the hospital, went to the grocery store, iced the cake, and then managed the kids while I tossed and turned in bed all day long. Thankfully, God relieved my symptoms enough to enjoy a wonderful dinner celebration with the family.

Thursday December 13, 2018

Mark 5:34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Well this scripture today is spot on. I woke up feeling much better. I still was not at 100%, but it was a definite improvement. Not much happened during the day today, but this evening the carolers came back again. This time I got my kids out of bed so they could experience it and it just so happened that I was on a FaceTime with my mom, so I took her out with us too. She got to experience the Hindi Christmas caroling here on the mission with us and it was so much fun! David was pretty tired and only stayed for a bit, but Lucia and Anjali totally got into it and had a really good time dancing around with all of the kids.

A photo opp with some of the big girls here on the mission.

Anjali and Sheetal

Anjali holding one of the nursery kids

Kelly and a blanket monster

Dancing the night away
Lachlan, Lucia, and Rofika
Rofika and Jyotika with Lucia

Lucia with some of the small boys, Danny, Kevin, and Ram Pal!

Lucia and Kelly
A photo bomb by Ram Pal
Lisa and Kelly make a Lucia sandwich

The kids here on the mission are some of the sweetest and most loving children I have met. They have taken in my kids and accepted them as part of their family.

Wednesday December 12, 2018

Numbers 23:19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

We had a very nice day today, though it was a bit colder than it has been. Rocky has been a lot to handle–he barks all day long. Jeff has been trying to walk him during the day, but he really just never stops and it is very trying to hear him bark nonstop. The kids had school today while Jeff hung up Christmas lights with Lachlan and Uncle John. They have a lot more to do, but what they got done looks great! I was teaching the kids all day today, which made for a long day. I really love teaching Lucia because she is engaged and desires to learn. But to be honest, David is pretty hit or miss, some times he is fun to teach and other time he fights us on everything. Unfortunately, more often than not, Anjali does not want us to teach her, so it is usually a battle with her. We did, however, get a bit of recognition from her today that she is behind and that she is very overwhelmed with how to get caught back up with everything. She is fully capable of not only getting caught up, but actually being ahead of schedule with her academics, she just needs to apply herself, which she is not currently doing. I really believe that she is looking at the forest and not seeing the trees, meaning she is seeing the big picture of how much she has to do and not able to see that if she takes each lesson one at a time, she would be done before she knows it. Hopefully she will learn this soon–we are trying to show her and tell her, but we don’t know anything and she knows everything. Ughhhh, pre-teens! As with everything, it will pass soon enough and we will be on to another challenge.

I just had to include this picture of Lucia waiting for breakfast to start. She has the perfect expression on her face and pretty much shows how the kids are feeling about getting up at 6:45 every day!

A really crappy thing happened though, I ended up catching whatever Anjali had yesterday. Shortly after our afternoon tea time I started to get real cold, so I headed up to our room and climbed into our bed to sleep. I proceeded to get colder and colder, so I was in there for the night, except for dinner. I don’t know if I have ever been so cold, and it wasn’t even that cold outside. I was definitely ill.

As Jeff and I were walking over to dinner we heard singing and music happening from over by Uncle Rick’s room where we eat dinner. When we got closer we found some carolers singing Hindi Christmas music. The kids were singing along and dancing. It was so neat to experience, I just wish I wasn’t feeling so crummy.

I shared some videos are my Instagram page @sarassimplelife if you want to experience a bit of this for yourself.

Tuesday December 11, 2018

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out

Usually at 6:45 am when we get the kids out of bed for breakfast at 7:00 we hear the complaints of “I’m tired”, “I don’t feel good”, etc. and today was no different. We recently have taken a different approach to the morning, if the kids don’t want breakfast that is fine, so we wake them up and if they don’t come down for breakfast it’s their loss. But I have to be honest, I was quite irritated and upset that Anjali did just that; she stayed in bed during breakfast because she “didn’t feel well”. I know that I may sound mean and heartless, but I really thought her complaints this morning had to do with her just being tired or not wanting to get out of bed. I checked on her throughout the morning and she was either asleep or laying in bed curled up under the covers. By lunch time, I felt absolutely awful. I didn’t believe her this morning and was actually upset that she was “acting this way”, but when she didn’t show up for lunch and was still in bed when I checked on her I realized that she really was ill.

This whole situation reminds me of the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and my kids do this a lot, especially in the morning when they are needing to get out of bed. As a result when they say the “don’t feel good” it is hard to know whether or not they are being honest or just trying to get out of getting up. But this time, she was honest and she was sick. She ended up sleeping all day so I made her some ramen noodle soup for dinner and then she was back to sleep. I always feel terrible when this happens (this isn’t the first time) and I just wish that I could believe them when they said they didn’t feel well, but if I did they would never get out of bed for school or breakfast or do any chores. I pray that I can find some happy middle ground with this situation some day.

Otherwise, today was not very eventful. David and Lucia completed school, Jeff took Rocky on several walks, and we ended up picking up some garbage around the mission. I have also been helping in the office by sending thank you emails to people who donated to the Christmas campaign, a fundraiser that will financially support the mission’s goal of providing a memorable Christmas celebration to the children who call this place home, as well as for those who grew up on the mission and come back to celebrate the holidays. It was a huge blessing to learn that the campaign was successful and they were able to raise the money needed. This was a huge relief for the staff, knowing that their greater community of supporters were able to band together so those who call GSAM “home” will be able to have a great Christmas. God always provides and today was just further proof of that.

I don’t have any pictures from today. I need to work on taking more photos. We are just enjoying the moments so much that we are forgetting to take pictures to capture them. Oh, well. Here is a picture of our Christmas tree that now has a few gifts under it for our family!

Tuesday October 16, 2018

Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

First day teaching went really fast, but was a ton of fun. Our driver picked us up at 9:30 am and drove us to the first school. Our kids really loved playing with the younger kids, which is where we were this morning. It was perfect. We started with the 3-4 year olds and sang songs and played games. Then moved on to 4 other classes with kids aged between 4-6. My children were totally engaged and loved singing the songs with little ones and seemed to really be enjoying themselves.

Here are some pictures of the school.

We were then fed a wonderful traditional Thai lunch and then driven to the primary school where we would be teaching kids that ranged from 7-12 years old. I think our kids started to get tired by the end of the day. We were starting to hear whining and complaining from all three of them and they really did not seem to engage with the this older group of kids. But all in all it was a fun afternoon. We ended our time with the primary school kids by playing a fun old school game from when Jeff and I were kids, Red Rover. It was super hot outside, but the kids absolutely loved playing this game. They were all laughing and having a great time.

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We did learn a few things after this first day of teaching. We learned that the little kids (3-6) we will be singing songs and playing games and the older kids we will need to take several breaks during our 2 hours session.

David is doing so much better and the antibiotics seem to be working!!! This is such a huge relief. He is on day 4 of his 5 day cycle of antibiotics. We actually all seem to be on the mend, though still not 100%.

After arriving home we were planning on making our Mexican dinner, but we didn’t have the lard needed to make the homemade tortillas, so we postponed to tomorrow night. Thankfully Nana agreed to go with Jeff and I to the evening market to get some food for dinner. It ended up being a wonderful dinner that included some chicken poppers, waffles, spring rolls, and meatballs, and a coconut smoothie for me! This will not be the last time we do this. It was so much fun to walk down to the temple and pick out dinner from all of the vendors. Dinner was amazing.

Monday October 15, 2018

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Today we got up and we were going to take the bus to Nan. It was a holiday today so there was no school. David’s hives continue to get better and while they are still there, there have faded quite a bit. I am holding out hope that the antibiotics seem to be working. As for me, I don’t feel too bad, but my stomach is just not tolerating any food, but in Thai culture it is very rude to not eat when food has been prepared for you, so I am powering through and loving all the food even though it is destroying my stomach!

We wanted to travel to Nan with the hope of finding some new IPods for the kids (their music players have become obsolete and we can’t download any music on them), but we had no luck. Instead we were able to eat some pizza (which the kids loved just being able to have just plain old cheese pizza) and picked up some items to make Wat and his mom a Mexican dinner.

Now we were not able to get some of the necessary items to make an authentic Mexican dinner, but we are going to do the best we can with what we have, especially since Wat specifically asked for a Mexican dinner. So we gathered some chicken, onions, seasonings, cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Some things that we were not able to find included tortillas, green chilies, jalapeños, pinto or black beans, tortilla chips, bell peppers. We decided that we would attempt to make some homemade tortillas out of the rice flour that he had at his house and hope for the best.

However, by the time we got home from Nan it was too late to start dinner. Timing was not on our side, so we opted to make dinner tomorrow night. Tonight was just a quick dinner of homemade chicken nuggets and French Fries that Nana (the housekeeper) made for the kids. It was amazing and a nice treat for the kids.

I apologize for the lack of pictures…we just haven’t done anything worthwhile of pictures in the last few days, as we have just been trying to recover.

Sunday October 14, 2018

Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Today is day 2 of David’s antibiotics treatment and I am so relieved that it seems to be working. His hives are still present, but they are not appearing as swollen or red or hot to the touch. I am hopeful that this is a sign of recovery for him.

As for the girls, we seem to be fighting with them (because they are fighting with each other) every night and every morning. It is getting truly exhausting. What is even harder is that there have been a couple of times that when they finally decide to get along and have fun it is when they are supposed to be going to bed. They need to get the rest and they are keeping their brother awake who really needs the rest because he has been so sick.

We had another day of just being around the house and basically trapped in our room because that is the only place there is air conditioning. We worked on preparations for this week of teaching the kids at the schools and our kids at home.

We did have a visit from Jung Jung (Wat’s cousin) who came to say hello and ended up playing with Anjali and Lucia for quite some time. It is really fun to watch them play with Jung Jung as if they had known her forever—they are so comfortable and at peace. It makes my heart so happy that my children are so open and welcoming, and are just as welcoming as people have been with us.

We also found out that we will not be teaching the monks any more this month, but we will begin teaching with them again in November on Thursday and Fridays, and 2 Saturdays before we leave.

Saturday October 13, 2018

1 Peter 2:19-23 “For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

I am writing this late into the evening, but I need to remember to have David read this scripture tomorrow. This poor kid had been so uncomfortable for the last two weeks and has complained very little. He really has endured these hives with strength and grace. We know these are not life-threatening, just irritating and uncomfortable.

Today David woke up still covered in hives, so we are almost positive that these are not related to any food allergen. So the only thing that Jeff and I can deduce is that he is having a reaction to an infection (be it viral or bacterial). David also was complaining this morning that his throat hurt really bad and that it was painful/difficult to swallow. So after doing a little research we found out that the medication we brought along for Traveler’s Diarrhea is also used for a variety of bacterial infections, including Strept Throat. Now I will say that the doctor at both clinics said that this was not an infection because he didn’t have the fever to accompany the hives; however, my kids are weird, and very rarely have a fever to indicate that they are ill. Jeff and I made a decision o give David the medication that we had with us to see if that made any difference for him. We shall see….

Today was also day of remembrance here in Thailand; two years ago today King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand passed away, and today the country honored him. There were ceremonies in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and other cities. Thai people wore yellow as a way to remember him. I learned that in Thai culture, the days of the week are associated with a specific color and King Bhumibol was born on a Monday, which happens to be associated with the color yellow, so today, most people that we saw were dressed in yellow. I learned today about King Bhumibol and how revered he was and still is amongst Thai people. It was wonderful to experience and learn about such an important part of Thai culture that never would have been possible if we were not here. Our host family has been so gracious in trying to share and explain the happenings of today.

Wat is out-of-town for the weekend, and while we missed him, it proved to be a great opportunity to allow everyone time to rest and heal.

Friday October 12, 2018

Matthew 10:8 “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”

Today we woke up to find that David was having difficulty walking because he now has hives on the bottoms of his feet and on his hands. His feet and hands are incredibly swollen, so we headed straight for the clinic again this morning. Jeff took Lucia to school with him and Anjali stayed home because she seems to have been affected by the same stomach problem that Jeff and Lucia has yesterday, and to add on to everything, so do I. I almost wanted to laugh, but there was no time for that.

I took David to the doctor, only to be told that he was having an allergic reaction to something and that we needed to figure out what it was. Neither Jeff or I are convinced that this is an allergic reaction, but we figured we would rule out a food allergy. David ate nothing today except a Nutella sandwich and Annie’s Mac and Cheese (our wonderful friends at church sent a box of goodies and who knew this would come in so handy!) We read up on food allergy hives that they only last for up to 6-8 hours after the food is consumed, so if he ate nothing but food that we knew he wasn’t allergic to and if he still had hives in the morning, we would know that they were not caused by food.

On the plus side, Jeff and Lucia seem to be doing better. So after taking David to the clinic and getting he and Anjali set up with some homework for the day, I headed off to the temple to teach the second half of the day. Teaching today was fairly uneventful, but still the same—a few monks seem interested in learning the language, but others are falling asleep and don’t seem to care. I have resolved to teaching those that want to learn and if some want to sleep during the lesson, so be it. The ones that actually want to learn are doing well and seem to enjoy the lessons.

On our way home from the temple, Jeff, Lucia, and I stopped off at the pharmacy and picked up some ice packs for David’s feet and hands, as well as some more of the oil we’ve been using to help with the hives and Aloe Vera gel to help sooth some of the tenderness. At this point I want to do anything I can to help ease some of his discomfort. Once I got every set, Jeff insisted that I go and lay down to rest, since I was no affected (though not as severe as Jeff) by the same stomach problem he and Lucia had (and Anjali currently has). This is just getting overwhelming.

The only pictures I have from today are the ones that our friend Katie sent of Anjali’s hamster, Gumdrop. So here you go…