Have You Seen? {November 17th, 2019}

Last Week’s Theme: Love Your Neighbor

Open the Gates by Sarah Hilkemann—”I grew to love living behind a fence, barbed wire and broken glass at the top and bars on the windows keeping fear at bay. I craved safety and security, but with risk held at arm’s length sometimes I found people and relationships kept on the other side of the fence too. I didn’t know how to deal with my neighbors’ constant questions, their curiosity invading my personal space and conflicting with my desire for privacy. I often wanted to shout, “It is none of your business how much rent I pay or how just two people live in this home. I have no idea why I’m still single and _____ (insert my age at the time, somewhere between 27 and 32). I know I’m buying foreign vegetables in the market, and that is just fine with me.” I didn’t know how to deal with neighbors who shut off the water supply because my landlady couldn’t deal with their landlady. I didn’t know what to do with the anger and hurt when our trash bins kept getting stolen or I overheard the laughter and gossip about the only two foreigners living in town (that would be my teammate and me).”

Sorrow and Suffering: Traveling Companions {Book Club} by Rachel Kahindi—”Here in Kenya, there are people called Intercessors. We had intercessors back in the US, too. But these are different. In the US, they were people who were committed to prayer. Here, they hire themselves out to pray for whatever you want. The fees vary according to what kind of blessing you’re asking for. Often people hire Intercessors to pray for healing. The Intercessor tells them the fees. They pay, he prays, but – and this is important – the person requesting the prayer must have faith, otherwise it won’t work. We may know that someone has been ill, and we call to check on them. They’ll say something like, “Oh, I was so bad, but the Intercessor prayed for me, and now I feel great.” Meanwhile, the person is still stuck in bed and hasn’t been back to work yet. They aren’t feeling any better, actually, but they have to say they are. Because that’s faith. It sounds absurd. BUT. As I read this week’s chapter of Glorious Weakness, I realized that I harbor similar beliefs. I don’t pay anyone to pray for me, but I put on a façade of things being fine when they aren’t because that seems like how it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to be thriving, right?”

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? by Laura Cerbus—”Last week a neighbor popped over to give my children the toys she had earned through her grocery store purchases. That gesture, entirely mundane and unremarkable in my home context, has filled me with pleasure every time I’ve thought about it since. Our home in the U.S. was a small town, tight-knit and friendly. Many residents, including us, worked for or had graduated from the local college. Within a short time of moving in, I knew all my neighbors in a one-block radius, and many, many more scattered throughout the neighborhood. I would wander outside with my littles with no other purpose than to find someone to chat to. My front porch was my favorite spot — the comfort of my own home, yet in easy reach of a smile and a wave from a neighbor. And then we moved to Melbourne, the second-largest city in Australia, home to millions of people, many of whom are transient. The tall fence replaces the front porch as the most common feature of houses in our neighborhood. After two and a half years in our house, most of our neighbors are strangers to me — I wouldn’t even recognize them if I passed them at the shops.”

When I Would Rather Hit You Than Love You by Joy Smalley—”I really loved the people of my host country before we went. I mean, I prayed for them, I sacrificed for them, I fought for them and advocated for them, I spoke in front of groups for them! It was a God given love fueled by excitement at what the future could be. And then we moved there. For awhile the excitement held through the stressors. The new houses, the new tastes, the new language and the new people all brought with them a sense of adventure and the future still held such promise. I loved the people and I loved their smiles, they were so friendly, and I just knew God would do amazing things. Then we were robbed. Then I was sold eggs for triple the price. Then I was blamed for things that weren’t my fault. Then I was yelled at as we walked the streets. Then we were touched and grabbed until my children would cry and as my language improved I began to understand the words behind those friendly smiles. Sometimes smiles hide the meanest words.”

Neighboring in Your Culture + Hulk Muffins {The Grove: Love Your Neighbor} by Ashley Felder—”It was Christmas time several years ago while we were in language school, hunkered down in a bitterly cold northern China city. I had just spent the afternoon baking and decorating cookies with the kids in preparation to hand them out to friends and attend a cookie exchange party. I had been utilizing the things I was learning in class with my neighbors on a daily basis. (A huge perk of studying the mother tongue in-country!) Gone were the days of repeating “I don’t understand” over and over. I was enjoying the real-life practice and the small steps toward building actual friendships. Our downstairs neighbors consisted of a family of grandparents, parents that I rarely saw because they lived and worked in another city, and a six-year-old girl. By Christmas, I still couldn’t carry a conversation, but I could at least ask and respond to some simple questions. Since we saw each other often, I decided to deliver a plate of cookies to them. I knocked on their door, and once opened, I saw their very simple living room that catered to the grandpa, who had to walk with crutches. I happily gave them the cookies and told them “Merry Christmas” in Chinese. The little girl’s eyes grew huge at seeing the plate of treats she had probably never tasted. I was thrilled to share with them! There wasn’t much conversation to be had, so I quickly left. Whew, I did it! Less than five minutes later, I heard a knock on my door. I was perplexed, since we rarely had uninvited visitors. I opened the door, and there was the little girl. She thrust an apple at me, paired with a nervous smile. Confused, I took it, and she ran away. Then it all hit me—they couldn’t, could not, accept a free gift. Something had to be returned in thanks. And quickly.”

From Around the Web

All the Days Ordained for Me

One Foot in the Air


“What Is It, To Live Between?”

10 Fun Facts About Northern Ireland

Noteworthy on Instagram: Reminders to Adore Him and Learn More about Sharing Your Table with Your Neighbors

Celebrate Well– Podcast from Emily Thomas

Finally, The Invitation From Jesus When Life is Chaos

And Now For Next Week

The theme is…

It’s the time of year when social media posts of holiday treats create longing in our hearts.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

You might have a tiny oven. Or a limited supply of ingredients from your passport country stashed away in your closet. Maybe your kitchen looks nothing like what you are used to, or you haven’t figured out how to navigate the produce available at the local market.

Cooking overseas, especially around the holidays, can be a grand adventure but it can also feel like a headache and confusion and maybe a little joy all rolled in to one.

So help a girl out!

We are gathering tips, tricks and recipes this week as we talk about food and cooking overseas! Get ready to copy down some recipes and ideas from the blog posts this week, and share your own baking and cooking adventures in the comments. Help us build our recipe collection by using the hashtag #VelvetAshesRecipeBox on Instagram!

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