This has been a fun-filled week busy with school, friends over to play, library visits, a cousin sleepover, and finally a few days we could actually get outside and enjoy now that the snow is finally melting! And, good news... we still have grass. It looks terrible and there are incredible amounts of weeds throughout, but there is grass, so that was a relief. Amidst all the fun of everyday life, it has been a little emotional for me.
Two things in my mind define this week. On Wednesday morning, I received an email from my friend in Bangkok telling me she had spent the evening with one of our "families" after the father was caught and taken to IDC (Immigration Detention Center). This family has been one that we grew very close to very quickly, and they were extremely hard to leave. They've been through months and months of waiting to be accepted as legal refugees only to be turned down enough times that they were thinking about returning to their homeland of Sri Lanka. Not being accepted as official refugees makes it very hard to live in Thailand because if they get caught by the police, that's it; they go to IDC. Every time they leave the house, they are putting themselves at risk. (How long could you stay in a tiny one room apartment with a family of six?) They risked it only for the most important of things: food, church events, and any chance at an education for their children (they aren't allowed to go to school, but my friend was tutoring the two youngest children).
Hearing this terrible news took a bit to sink in. Usually, I can hold in my emotions fine until I talk to Jeff, then it all comes out. Luckily, he happens to be an incredible listener. I called Jeff on the phone after I walked Jack to school. We both have felt incredibly helpless, knowing that from here, all we can offer are our prayers. After talking with Jeff, I went about with my usual morning tasks, with an entirely changed perspective.
I just called Jeff and was able to talk to him about anything I wanted, for as long as I wanted. Not all wives have that option.
I started making the beds and remembered how immaculately this sweet family kept their one-room home. They had so little, yet everything was kept very tidy and had its own place. Do I take care of all the things we own? And, why on earth do we own so much? Do we really need it?
I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and swept the floor, remembering when this family and others spent the day at my home cooking amazing Sri Lankan dishes for us to enjoy together. They took care of things so perfectly, and were so cautious to wash and sanitize everything in between each step. They wouldn't let me help until I absolutely insisted, because they had just found out I was expecting. Do I really enjoy my beautiful kitchen to its fullest? Do I really appreciate having a stove, oven, counter space, and a microwave? And, for heaven's sake, I have machines that wash my clothes and dishes for me!
What's more, the next day I received word that the mother was having problems with her heart and had passed out. I'm sure it was just more than she could handle. Most women would have hit this point months ago. This woman is as tough and faithful as they come, and hearing of trial after trial was more than my heart could bare. Jane even walked in begging to put on the dress this woman had made for her shortly before we left (it's her favorite). How she got a dress for her daughter and mine out of that little piece of fabric seemed like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes to me. How could someone going through so much even think of doing anything for anyone ELSE?
All throughout the morning, through my tears, I thought of all the little things I take for granted. I have my family, safe and sound. Jeff is not in jail, holds a good job, we're healthy, we're pregnant, we can live in a home we love, Jack can attend school, and my children can run and play inside and out, like normal kids. Not only do I have MY family with me, but all of my extended family within an hour of our home. What more does one need?
I've missed Thailand from the moment we left, but have felt like it was time for us to be back in the States. After all this, I felt like I wanted to go back. I felt homesick... for Thailand. This was the emotional part of my week.
The second event of the week, you will be happy to know, was a positive one. I was able to return this week to playing with the Orchestra at Temple Square. It's been about two and a half years, and it felt good to be back. Attending the Thursday night rehearsal felt just like normal, although as I was trying to mark my music I was consistenly struggling to remember typical musical terms that would normally not have phased me. Rusty? Definitely.
So, Thursday was nice, but Sunday was fantastic. The feeling of walking from the back of the tabernacle onto the stage was overwhelming. How am I so blessed to be able to play with this amazing choir and orchestra? I wondered how I could keep anyone from figuring out that I'm just a normal person, not anything exceptional. I'm average in just about every way (which don't get me wrong, average can be really nice at times), so why am I so blessed to participate in something like this?
I started feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that I could hear such amazing sounds. That I could move my fingers so I could play my violin. That I could see the music to know what notes to play. That I could walk to and from the stage unassisted. That I could be there, doing something I love with a husband (the most important one) and two children giving their full support.
So, this week, I have asked myself at least 100 times, why some people are so blessed, as others go through such trying times. And each time, I remembered something a dear friend said to me years ago as I confided in her how guilty I felt with all of my blessings and so few trials. She assured me that sometimes people are given many blessings, and their challenge is to try and use them to help those who are experiencing trials. For me, this was serious insight.
It's harder here than in Thailand, for me to see everyday opportunities to give. Getting settled, I've realized how self-centered I've become worrying about getting things for the house, planning for Jack's new school next year, and centering everything on my own agenda. This week has been a good one to pull me out of my "me" zone and help me realize how life is good. Not everything needs to be perfect, or to match, or be planned three weeks ahead. It's okay to just be grateful, and enjoy all that our Father in Heaven has blessed us with, and look for ways to use those blessings to the fullest.
In the meantime, I'm searching for ways to help our sweet family in Bangkok as they go through this rough time. To our Bangkok friends, I ask that you please keep us informed and let us know how we can help. As much as I want to be there, I'm not. We are sending prayers your way and know that in the Lord's time, he will send the blessings.
To my Utah friends, thank you for enduring my "spill" this week on all the tears I shed. I promise, next week, I will supply happy pictures of my beautiful children like all the typical "happy mommy bloggers" do regularly, with updates on all the happy "kid" things that occur in our home daily.
And, can I just say... thank you.