21 Years

Still going strong! Yesterday (October 14) was our 21st anniversary. We had about five years of seeing each other at our worst before we married. Before we left for Athens Chris pulled out a book I made on our first anniversary where I wrote 365 things I love about you. I can say that after 21 years I still feel the same and even more! We don’t even know half the time what day, month or time it is, especially during covid and not going to the prison on Mondays and church on Sundays. And I’ve always considered our anniversary in May when he asked me to marry him a few days after telling me he could never marry me! 🤣 If my mom hadn’t said something yesterday it would probably have passed right by without us noticing (That was already about 5 pm!). But everyday together is special so the one day isn’t much different!

Just One Of Those Weeks

I started writing a post on Tuesday, it had already been a rough week for me, little did I know I had a couple more days to struggle through! I guess some of it has just been building up – we have been very busy with building and construction of the cages. We have had many workers on the grounds and a few new workers that probably won’t be working with us again. I won’t rant about that!

I struggle with balancing this culture and the culture we come from. I get aggravated that we are expected to have a mid-morning snack AND supply lunch, but then the voice of reason – not my husband – but the Holy Spirit whispers to my heart that these people may sometimes take advantage but they don’t have much of anything, they are working hard in the hot sun and what is it to us to spend what is probably equal to a few starbuck coffees a week to feed fifteen-twenty workers? I think that biggest part of the struggle for me this week is it has just seemed chaotic with all the extra people around. Every normal week I am ready to fire someone for not doing their job in the way I see fit and on those days the other voice of reason – my husband – talks me down from the edge! The Lord says:

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11

Yesterday was the first time I have really been disrespected by a man (or men) and it was a little traumatic for me. Probably more so because of the stress I already was feeling, but still disconcerting. I got to feel a little of what the women here feel, that they don’t matter. Christian has been sick for a few days, but we had to go to town to the bank and the Dr. The bank is usually his job, and most times he waits in line for thirty to forty-five minutes. If he has to go to the Enquiry desk it can take even longer. I told him I would go in since he wasn’t feeling well and I didn’t want him to have to stand for so long. First line I had been standing about fifteen minutes when five young guys cut in. Now, this is pretty normal for here, everyone thinks they are entitled to be first, no matter there are twenty other people who have been waiting, and since there is such a no confrontation “rule” no one stops this behavior. Christian says he sees the guys do it more to women than the men, and more so because I am a white woman. I let it go, went on to the next line where I stood for about twenty minutes and a guy walks up, gets in line in front of the lady before me. She says nothing. There are probably ten people behind me and that many in front of us, with two tellers taking care of people. Then a guy walks up and shoulders his way in front of me. You know me, I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t stay silent, but I was not rude. I just looked him in the eye and said “I am in line” and he got behind me (still in front of all the others) and proceeded to rub up against my back and push me closer to the woman in front of me. I turned once and glared him down and he eased up a little. FINALLY I get out of the bank just to have to stand in the long line for the ATM. Again a guy tried to cut but I sidestepped him only to have him do the same thing but also throwing in a little elbow in my back a couple of times. With the heat and the stress, I was in tears by the time I got to the truck (after about an hour and a half of bank waiting). I feel for the women here, they do 99% of the hard work and still have no voice and little respect. There is a very big campaign going on in this country against abuse of women, especially domestic abuse here where it is okay for men to beat their wives – wives are their property. If I don’t cling to the Holy Spirit, the hard times, the times I feel disrespected and under-valued and see other women treated the same I will become angry and bitter. I will not be able to love the way God commands me to love. I will be no good for any one.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

Raelee has had a hard time this week also, and most of it (this time) is not her fault entirely. I told our workers and our day guard a long time ago that they had to tell Raelee no sometimes, don’t let her run all over them. But they couldn’t do that, nobody wanted to tell her no, which makes our job harder because she comes in the house and says “Why isn’t dinner ready?” “Sophia didn’t do a very good job getting my clothes clean this time”. That is not acceptable behavior, she gets disciplined and really, it’s not all her fault if all day outside she is treated like the whole world revolves around her. So now, they have a monster on their hands, NOW they want to tell her no and she doesn’t like it so there have been dramatic bawling episodes because some one threw a rock and it landed somewhere near her. Someone told her no. Sophia teased her and told her she was going to take her doctor stuff home with her and we thought someone was killing her by the sounds of her wailing. She has become too spoiled by them and now they want it to change. The boys have been around a lot, and her buddy Zula isn’t as willing to play house or wear her tutus with the bigger boys around – they want to run and hang out without her. Which is fine, but go home to do that and don’t be mean to her. This is where she lives, her home and I won’t have any one being mean to her no matter how much of a pretty princess she thinks she is. That attitude has been cultivated by all the people around us, unwittingly I know, but nonetheless it has. The other night she was heartbroken because the boys wouldn’t do what she wanted them to do and we tried to explain that sometimes YOU have to do what someone else likes to do, that it can’t always be your way. And boys aren’t always going to want to play girly things. It’s fine when they are all riding bikes and such but not with the dolls. So I told her a little secret – do your own thing and don’t even acknowledge what they are doing and it won’t be long that they will come around to play. This is how she interpreted it. “Go outside, inform the boys that today I am playing on my own and ignoring you and you will want beg to play with me later.” No, not even close child! It is a struggle to balance discipline and letting her big personality develop with Christian being able to be an example to these fatherless boys. If I run them home once, they are likely to take it to heart and not come around at all. That is a huge challenge here, it’s all or nothing.

But so far (and it is Thursday) nobody has been fired, (scolded, but not fired)  Raelee is out playing contentedly on her own, Chris is on his feet and one more day until a quiet weekend since it is Christmas. They may not celebrate Christmas the way we do, but they definitely recognize it as a holiday. Sunday we will be celebrating Jesus’ birthday with the children that come and then plan on a quiet day together watching movies!

And in the end, even through all the struggles of this life….Love wins!

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19