I had been at the hospital most of the day when Sarah came running in the house saying “There are millions of termites in the soccer field. You need to come see!” I went out not really expecting much when to my surprise I saw what looked like wiggly smoke coming out of a 10 foot by 10 foot section of the field. As I walked closer lots of termites were crawling out of newly formed termite holes, and then taking off into the cloudy sky. I have never seen anything like it, and the video above does not do the experience justice. It was incredible. These are the same termites that many of the people eat after frying in a skillet, and if you are truly African you eat them raw from the air as Annie’s friend did last week. We always have to be careful with the cracks in our doors in windows because masses of termites try and crawl in toward the light in these first rainy days of the rainy season. As the smoke of termites finally cleared and dissipated, the girls proceeded to run around the field and slide in the mud. The messier the better!
I’m taking a break from watching the monkeys play on the trees outside our kitchen window to write a bit about our crazy kids. This week we watched Coco as a family. The Spanish, the Spanglish, the painted concrete walls and big metal gates, the music, the way even the grandmother was drawn, with her apron and her tough square body type, made us all feel nostalgic for Peru, nostalgic for speaking Spanish and for our friends and our life in South America. Sarah reported the next morning that she had lain in bed “feeling very sad about missing Peru” afterward. Annie said watching the movie “made her feel like home.” We bought the soundtrack and sang along loudly in Spanish. A part of our hearts are with Latinos, and it made me remember again how important that has been and will be in our kids’ development.
Speaking of part of kids’ development, I’m teaching A Tale of Two Cities now, and as we discuss corrupt governments, wealthy people who don’t care, poverty, oppression, and worrying about providing food for your malnourished children, I see that most of my students understand. They have seen it firsthand. My students are, for the most part, grateful on a level that first world students will not experience. In a similar vein, Sarah had her birthday party last weekend and we played games with water, had chocolate cake and popcorn, and played some music for musical chairs. Her presents included a candy bar and a used stuffed animal. Every party participant expressed many thanks and enthusiasm for the simplest pleasures.
Annie’s birthday party, delayed a week because of Dad’s call schedule, was Friday night. Her friends came over to have pizza and outside games, but the rainy season may have arrived on March 1st, and it was raining like crazy. Annie and I went to the school gate to pick up her friends. On the way down, we saw many fluttering insects—I have heard them called flying termites—think dull brown, overgrown dragonflies. One girl squealed, “Ooh! The termites are here!” and squatted down to pick one up. Soon all six were holding a wriggling bug by the wings, watching it squirm. I smiled to myself, thinking “Only a group of missionary girls would react this way.” Then, one of the girls ate one. O.K. There you go. Wow. We got home and turned on some music while I finished preparing the pizza toppings. Every girl was dancing and singing unashamedly to Toby Mac. The third culture kid experience combined with a Christian family culture makes for a pretty awesome group of kids. We love getting to spend time with this unique group.
We went to a new friend’s house to have an 80s party. Basically we sit around, play a few games, while we try to be the first to name the song and the artist as it comes up on an 80s music playlist. Talk about living the the past . . . it is a nostalgia festival. The surprise is that when we arrived there was a new pet owl! Peter is a big bird fan, and the girls are not too far behind.
This past Saturday morning the Titchies (grade schoolers) had their water play day on the upper field of the RVA campus. It was a blast!
Christmas can be a hard time in the hospital. I don’t like working Christmas because I miss being with my family. But I like working Christmas, because it is often such a sweet time with patients. It is a really sweet time to be with them and somehow show them that God loves them by our own actions toward them. We went caroling as a missionary community in the hospital on Christmas Eve. Our family went to the maternity ward. The maternity ward is great because most everyone is happy there. Everybody has a new Christmas baby, and all mothers like to share their new babies with the world. My daughters were quite smitten by all the “cuuuute!” day old babies. Joy to the world during this Christmas season! For unto us a child is born!
I should have written this post a month ago. Pinewood Derbies have changed since I was a cub scout. RVA has a school wide pinewood derby divided into grades for the competition. And even better, the adults get their own category. After 4th grade, adults are not allowed to help, so our kids made all of their cars on their own. Peter was convinced he was going to win. He researched the internet to find the best design and weight distribution. I counseled that he should do the best he could, but that there were people here who had been doing it for years. I wanted to prepare him for a possible loss despite his confidence. Well he was right! He won every race he competed in. The girls went for originality with Annie making a derby car with her friend in the shape of a roller skate, and Sarah made a car in the shape of a swimming pool with someone in an inner tube in the middle of it. (I know that is a little hard to imagine.)
Here is a video of one of Peter’s winning races. His is the black streak of speed!