Monday, January 05, 2009

Reminiscence and Progression

I guess it is because we are into a new year that I have been remembering past times a lot lately. Some of those milestones this coming year are:

- Being married 40 years this coming August

- Living overseas for close to 30 years

-Being with CBF 3 years longer than we served with FMB

- Both of my children being in their "thirty-somethings" now

- Having four grandchildren that won't stay little much longer

Then my sister, Sharon, wrote (in a thank you for remembering their anniversary) that it was kind of bittersweet to be married that long. You are thankful for all the years past, but
on the other hand -- ALL those years are past!!

That is so true. But she and I, too, are grateful for all those years, and neither of us would ever consider letting the number of past years that have gone by keep us from living the present to the fullest.

I cannot let the past paralyze me. Afterall, those definitely were not WASTED years.

Remembering is valuable, too. It gives a foundation to the future and helps me remember from "whince" I came. I have learned some beneficial lessons in the process, too.
(at least I hope that I have)

But there comes a point where I need to accept things that cannot be changed and move forward. For example:

When we first came to Macedonia, some things seemed so backward to me (not "backward" in the sense of inferior or wrong, but just a change from the "known"). Things seemed reversed.
The Macedonian alphabet gave me problems:

The letter "P" is "R"
The letter "S" is "C"
The letter "N" is "H"
The letter "V" is "B"
(I could go on --- but you get the idea)

Another example is that in Macedonia we celebrate New Year's before Christmas
(January 7). It is not necessarily wrong -- just different from what I have always known.

So my point is that there are some things that just aren't going to change - like the Macedonian alphabet and the date of Christmas here, so I need to accept them and move forward.

There are things, situations, circumstances that NEED to change though.

We need to confront the mistrust, bigotry, hatred, selfishness, greed,
oppression, poverty, despair, and inhumanity that we see all around us - and to the ends of the earth.

And we need to replace it with love, humility, compassion and hope that we have within us to give. We need to be "light" - as Arville said in his Christmas Message - where we are.

So whether I celebrate Christmas before or after the New Year is not the important thing, but that I celebrate the "light" within me does matter.

It makes all the difference!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Eve "FEST" at the Kindergarten

What a wonderful day New Year's Eve was at the "Future of the Family" kindergarten.

We had 2 special, added events at this year's celebration:

We read stories from some of the BOOKS that were sent to us by the

Fifth Street Elementary School (Heather Goodhue) in Jasper, Indiana


The biggest part of the children's gifts this year was


sent to us by a very special Knitting Group in Jasper:

"Tuesday Knitters".

Members of this group are - Ellen Vonderheide (godparents to our grandchildren), Mary Ann Schroeder (Ellen's mother), Sally Klem,Doris Oeding, Charlotte Schneider, Carol Becher, and Sandra Aronoff.

Thank you so much ladies for these beautiful gifts!

Here are photos of the "storytime" and the caps and mittens:

I know the children wonder about me sometimes. They probably go home and tell their parents "stories" about what the crazy American teacher did every day. Yesterday, one of the books that we read was "Baby Penguins" and I finally got some of them to mimic me - walking like a penguin. What FUN!!!

Here are some photos of the children in their hats/mittens (aren't they beautiful? - the caps & mittens AND the children!!):

I know that I say every year --"These are the most beautiful children!!" Well, it is true again this year. Just look at these adorable faces!!

After we read stories, there was music, of course. Is there ever an Albanian party where there isn't music???!!! The children danced, recited poems about the new year, ate cake, drank juice, and posed for pictures.

New Year's Poems

Yumm -- delicious cake!!

Are we bored yet? When is the dancing going to start?

How about NOW?!?!

Habibe Joins In

Some of the boys quickly got tired of the dancing.

Here are a few pictures of the special guests that visited us during the party.
Belinda is Advije's daughter & One of the First children to attend the kindergarten. She loves school so much that she came to the kindergarten on her first day off from 3rd grade.
And then we had another special guest: Endrit - Agim's nephew. You will notice, Ellen, that he has one of the hats!! Isn't he adorable?

So we say, "Good-bye" to 2008 with these last few photos.
When I was reading a story to the children at the beginning of the party, I mentioned that when they came back from their January vacation, we would be reading more of the books that the Jasper school sent us.
One of the children started to cry. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "We HAVE to go on vacation? Can't we come to school for our vacation?" My, how they love school!!!

Habibe made me promise to put a big THANK YOU note on my blogpage. She wanted me to tell you how very much she appreciates all that you do for "her" children - she has 240 children now.
She wishes that she could tell each of you in person, but promises to make you something special to eat if you ever get our way.

I join Habibe and saying, "Thank you for making such a difference in these young lives." I think you can tell how very happy they are by the looks on their faces.
(Everyone tells me that I need to include my photo ocassionally so that folks will know who is behind the camera. I am always too busy taking pictures to remember to get in any of them, so here is the "token" photo for this blog entry.)