Confessions of a Rubbernecker

Okay! Okay! I admit it. I am just going to have to come clean and I’m not doing a blog about my laundry again. Did I just hear some of you ladies give a big sigh of relief (Julie)?

I love a good crisis. You know how when you are driving down the highway and traffic is blocked in both directions, one side because of an accident and the other side because of the rubberneckers? I’m causing the problem. Not the accident, the other direction. I’ve now laid it all out there. I am a rubbernecker.

I loved it in the US when something would happen and it would go to 24 hour news coverage. While most desperate housewives were crying about their soaps, I was glued to the tube. If Lisa Patten ever retires from News 2, I will feel like I’ve lost a friend. We’ve tracked many storms together.

Now that I’ve made my true confessions, do you have any idea how hard it was for me to stay indoors the last four days? I wanted so badly to go check things out. I was really ticked when the Mongolian government forced the local TV stations off the air and I had to watch CSI Miami instead of the Mongolians throwing Molotov cocktails. Hey…Bernie was gone, the kids were gone and the dog was asleep. What else is a night owl supposed to do?

If my parents were aware of the riots at the time they were going on, they probably would be surprised to know I didn’t go check things out. I come by this honestly. When I was a little girl growing up in rural Tennessee, it was a big deal if the fire sirens went off. Those were exciting times. You see, my dad was the insurance agent for a large percentage of the town, and it was only right that he should follow the fire trucks and be there to assess the claims and assure his clients that they would be well cared for. Sometimes I got to go with him. Later when I was old enough to drive and hang out with friends, I would run into him there.

Here is a favorite Majors’ family story for anyone still reading. We took a family vacation through New England, including Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. For those of you over 35, you may remember a news story revolving around Senator Ted Kennedy, and the unfortunate death of a young woman at the Chappaquiddick River (if you don’t Wikipedia it). We had a rental car and had taken the ferry over (two of them if I remember correctly). We were in the area and decided to drive and see where this had taken place.

Now Nancy Drew (oops I mean me) immediately became suspicious when I saw that this river was about as deep as the water that stands in your driveway after a gulley washer. I wanted to drive across the bridge as well and see what was on the other side. My Dad, good sport that he is, thought that was a good idea. My Mom calmly pointed out the sign that said “Four wheel drive vehicles only� which our rental wasn’t. I don’t remember if my brother took his nose out of his Hardy Boys mystery long enough to weigh in or not. Curiosity won out over common sense and we drove on over. We probably weren’t five yards from the bridge when we ceased all forward motion. There wasn’t any reverse motion either. The only motion I remember was my Mom's lips saying “I told you so.�

Suffice it to say, we made the last ferry by the skin of our teeth after paying some guy money to pull us out with his winch. As it turned, you could see the thoughts turning as well, primarily something about stupid southerners and not being able to read. All I have to say about the matter is “What in the world was Kennedy doing that night?�

So…hopefully the calm that is over Ulaanbaatar is around for a while, but if you should see on the news that they are rioting again, don’t be surprised if you see a short, red-headed foreigner with a camera in the middle of the whole thing.

The Dryer Gets a Bum Rap

geDryer.jpgMost of my close friends know that my least favorite chore is laundry. When we get to heaven, I really have a bone to pick with Eve. Pain in childbirth and laundry – I’m not sure which consequence of the fall is worse. The childbirth pain is rough, but it doesn’t last more than a couple of days at the most…and it results in more laundry.

Doing laundry is such a long process and the further you get into the process the worse it gets. I don’t really mind the sorting part – that’s kind of like a game. Then the machine part isn’t so bad. But when you get to the folding and putting away, that’s just no fun at all. Probably the worst of all is the socks. I might enjoy the matching part if there was always a match. It seems like ever since I left home as a college student I have had a “sock bag.” The sock bag is the place where the socks with no mates go. Sooner or later some of them turn up. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure there are socks in my bag that has been waiting for a mate since those college days.

I’ve learned something since moving here. The explanation I have always heard is that the socks actually go missing in the dryer. Like there is some kind of black hole there or a mysterious suction device that snags them up never to be seen again. Perhaps they are hanging out with all the emails that have ended up in cyberspace somewhere instead of the intended mailbox. I have proved that is not true. How do I know? Well, primarily because we don’t have a dryer. We hang our clothes on racks to dry. Yet in the last two years, socks have been disappearing at an exponential rate. So maybe the washing machine has actually been absorbing the socks, but shifting the blame to the dryer. We have one of those, so it could be a possibility. Of course, just because I find socks between the couch cushions and under the shoe rack doesn’t mean anyone should take personal responsibility. But to be fair, I must share the conclusion that the dryer definitely has gotten a bum rap.


(This is our current dryer. The photo above is the dryer we wish we had...)



Bernie has been encouraging me to write a new blog, but I haven’t really had very much inspiration until yesterday. I read the blog of a friend in the same situation, who ended up with a positive pregnancy test (congratulations Kellie) to blog about. So, in a panic, I decided I had better come up with something, inspired or not. I’m going to take the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head and see if I can make some sense of them. The common thread that seems to run throughout them is “Perspective.�

Last Tuesday found Jonathan and I spending the first half of the day in the Korean hospital here in UB. From the day he was born, Jonathan has only seemed to have one gear, and that was full speed ahead. That hasn’t changed, and it is that kind of energy that pleases his P.E. teacher immensely. This past Monday, his shoulder took the brunt of that drive in a game of American football. The result is (we think) a contused muscle, and fortunately not a break (we think). So, after successfully maneuvering through the language barriers of the Mongolian system and a Korean doctor we left with four shoulder x-rays, a donated sling, three days worth of medicine and a receipt for our insurance. The whopping total for all this was $43.34.

In our mind, that is quite the bargain. In the US, that would cover the co-pay and possibly the medicine (generic only). It’s hard to imagine that you can get an x-ray for $10. Where perspective comes in is if you look at this from the point of view of, for instance, our language teacher. Her monthly salary is $100. One x-ray would be 10% of her living expenses for the month. Our entire bill would be almost half of her monthly salary.

Three of the past four Bible studies I have taught the girls in our church have required me to look at things from a different perspective. Take, for instance, the story of Abigail, Nabal and David in 1 Samuel 25. David makes a simple request of Nabal. We took care of your sheep; please share some of your food with us. Nabal refuses and David blows a fuse. He has 400 men take up their swords to go and deal with the man. It seems a bit like overkill, doesn’t it? Why in the world is David acting so irrationally? Well, as I backed up a bit, he had been anointed king but not able to take his throne, killed a giant that had terrified everyone else, been chased across the country and slept in caves, and then just prior to this, his mentor, Samuel dies. When you look at it from that perspective, his irrationality becomes quite understandable.

Previously, in 1 Samuel chapter one, I saw the same lesson. Two women married to one man. Hannah is a beautiful picture of what a godly woman should be. The other wife, Peninnah, seems mean and spiteful. It is easy to pass judgment on her. On the other hand, every woman desires to be loved by her husband. She knew she was his second choice. He had probably married her to produce children. Even the most sweet-tempered woman is going to be strained in that situation. That doesn’t justify her behavior, but it helps us understand it. Perspective.

God seems to be teaching me a little something about perspective when it comes to other people. Being the black and white person that I am, I confess that I tend to rush to judgment. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Period. But judgment without perspective more often than not leads to judgment without compassion. I find myself in good company here. Or at least, company. This was the standard operating procedure of the Pharisees.

An older Southern Baptist preacher, Vance Havner, was a favorite of mine. He had a sermon on this. He would say, “Right in the facts; wrong in the conclusion.� It’s easy to be right and wrong at the same time. That was the Pharisees. They expected Jesus to operate "by the book".

Jesus came in such contrast to them. When they expected Him to agree with their assessments, He surprised them by showing compassion. It is so easy to look at fellow believers and accurately determine how they should behave based on Scripture. What is harder to do is to show compassion when they fail to act according to our expectations. This happens all the time in the church. The Apostle Paul calls us to the task of “bearing with one another with love� (Ephesians 4:2).

It’s not as easy as it sounds. A happily married woman with two children is going to have a different perspective from the 16 year old girl with a baby and no husband. Or the woman who has been married for 20 years and was never able to have children. When they don’t live up to my expectations of what Christian should look like, what then? Do I rush to judgment? Perhaps I can feel sympathy for them. But will I take the time and the energy to step back and consider their perspective and bear with them in love?

Jesus declared of Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives. And recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden.� As long as there is a church remaining on this earth, it is our place to continue that mission. The challenge is when some of those people are in our churches. It’s hard and it’s messy and it would be so much easier to write them off (judged and sentenced) than it is to press on with compassion.

When you think about it, the only ones that weren’t recipients of Christ’s compassion were the Pharisees. He had a different perspective. That is the perspective I want to learn to take. Maybe, just maybe, God is working in me to make me less like a Pharisee and more like His Son.


A Tribute to Don Rulison

Fighting the good fight all the way to the end

Click to read more ...


More Than 12 Days This Christmas

Nine Christmas parties and two New Year's parties later, tonight we officially wound up Christmas. Here's a recap of what this past month has held.

Bernie had the privilege of leading the Christmas Carol Candlelight Service with the small International Fellowship that meets once a month for communion. It was nice to forget for a little while how few of us here really celebrate as we sang the carols that are very precious to all of us.

Renee' had a wonderful time with about twenty other ladies at a Women's Christmas Party. Someone even brought stuffed mushrooms that almost tasted like Grammy's.

Bernie, Renee' and Cori enjoyed an International Christmas Dinner with other friends from the mission community here. Jonathan hung out with friends.

We hosted three Christmas Open Houses this year. The first was with our teammates that were able to make it into the city. We had this a bit early as Nghia and Anhoa Pham and children were going to be spending Christmas with his family in Vietnam. They were concerned for his mother's health as she had suffered a stroke in August. Our prayers go out to their family, because in spite of his mother's condition, his father preceded her into the presence of the Lord just after the New Year began.

The second was with our school. Last year we only invited classmates and our two teachers. This year we were a bit braver and invited the principle, the dean of students and the school cook. We invited 12 people and they all attended. They were a bit unsure about the interesting food, but after watching Jeff and Jonathan mound their plates full, they finally took the plunge and tried everything.

The third was with the youth group and we had a living room full of teenagers eating and playing games and sharing White Elephant gifts.

The Saturday before Christmas Bernie, Renee', Cori and her friend Honorah went to Darhan for a Christmas celebration with the Mongolian church leaders. That evening we had a dinner with the rest of our team.

Details about the Christmas program at church can be found on a previous blog. Christmas Eve we introduced the church to a Candlelight service where we lit the Christ candle of the Advent. There weren't many of us, but it was a special time and everyone had a sense of His presence. We even shared our family favorite Christmas song 'Born to Die' for the first time in Mongolia.

Christmas morning the cinnamon rolls turned out perfectly and were followed by a time together emptying our stockings. We confess to some disappointment that all the presents that had been ordered weren't at the Post Office when Bernie made one last ditch effort late that afternoon. We had a nice dinner that evening with Dennis and Marilyn and Kirsten Hewitt.

New Years Eve we spent at the Maves? singing Happy Birthday to Miriam Liberda, who turned 2. We finally convinced her to blow out the candles, but she didn't seem to be very happy about it.

New Year's Day saw Bernie, Jonathan and two friends from language school learning Jonathan?s new game "Puerto Rico" while Renee', Cori and our friend Shauna taking a walk in the freezing cold to the movie theater. Rumor had it that there was an American movie showing. The rumor turned out to be true, but unfortunately it was sold out.

While walking home, we stopped by the store. It seemed strange that they had boxes stacked in front of liquor aisle, especially on New Years. It made sense when we read the headline of the UB Post the next day. 12 people have died and over 100 were hospitalized by drinking poisoned vodka.

This is an interesting side note. As a result, all liquor sales in the country have now been banned indefinitely. It is amazing to be out at night. The streets seem deserted. Traffic is manageable and crime is down significantly. Bernie's teacher's husband is a police officer and they are all delighted at the change it has made in their jobs.

The next day the Christmas decorations came down and were stored for next year. And today, not only did Bernie's new computer arrive with the short term team from California, but there were slips for five boxes containing our Christmas presents. Yeah!!!

So, that?s it in a nut shell. Hope this newsy blog hasn't bored you too much. The only way the holidays could have been better would have been if all of you could have joined us.