I Love Asia — But My Lungs Don’t

Last night was a rough night for my 6-year-old buddy and me. We were both up late croup coughing and sounding like seals. After getting the Asian equivalent to Vicks, ‘Megascent Oil’, slathered all over our feet, chests, and upper backs, we went to bed with high hopes that we’d be able to sleep through the rest of the night without coughing. He finally fell asleep, but I was kept awake trying to understand the phenomenon behind why after rubbing menthol on my feet did my cough go away and all I was left with was a minty sensation in my mouth. I can’t seem to grasp the concept.

Belinda and I joke about whether we’d prefer to have functioning lungs, or toned legs. As we jog in the early morning, huge trucks filled with produce and/or people drive by leaving behind black clouds of love for our lungs to enjoy as we run by. Breathing is bad in pretty much any urban area, but for whatever reason, specifically in Asia.

I was facetiming with a friend in California the other day, and we talked about the joys of the California DMV and getting our cars smogged. After living in Asia for so long, I really don’t mind all the hoops I had to go through in order to register my car in the state of California — at least I could breathe and run there.

What are some things you ‘put up with’ because you like the end result?

• Sore muscles because you know you’ll finally get that 6-pack if you keep pushing? Yeah, me neither…

• Working 12 hour shifts, because it feels so good when you stop?

• I wouldn’t know, but…giving birth, anyone?

What about things you enjoy doing, but suffer the consequences for later?

• Partying hard?

• Eating cheese and ice-cream, even though your lactose-intolerant body hates you for it?

I think as believers, it’s hard to view painful situations and circumstances as a beneficial thing, especially while you’re stuck in the thick of it. But when you’re finally able to take a step back and analyse the situation, it’s so much easier to see God’s goodness and how the results — whether it be a softened heart or just becoming more like Christ — make the ‘pain’ so worth enduring.

In the same way exercising and the pain that comes with it: shin splints, fatigued muscles, and cramping, (in time) bring about a ‘hot bod’, God materializes the ‘yuck’ in our own hearts because He loves us and wants us to better emulate His character. The process for both spiritual and physical is painful, there’s no denying that; let’s be honest, if it doesn’t hurt or make you break a sweat, you’re probably doing it wrong. I frequently question if it’s actually doing any good, but I think that’s why God designed it so others are the first to notice and will point out when they see growth.

So, for now, I’ll put up with dysfunctional lungs. It reminds me of how much God loves me and is willing to work through my rubbish with me.

Plus, I mean…Ryan Gosling:

Qualifications To Be My Honeybee

Filipinos love to joke around. Because I am white, single, and don’t understand a word of Visaya, I end up being at the brunt of a lot of jokes. I can’t understand most of what they say though, so I don’t mind. I think God prepared in advance for me to have this lot in life, because he chose for me to be be born into a family with 5 men.

The ongoing joke since I moved to this country, is that I’m getting old and must get married soon. I’m already 22, after all. The purpose being that we can marry and live happily together in my cave in the Moffit basement and I can continue to homeschool the children. Husband = I get to stay in the Philippines. It’s a win-win situation, apparently.

In order to dodge the men that are thrown my way, I have come up with a running list of qualifications. Because I’ve become so picky, the entire church congregation has been recruited to be on the lookout for Mr. Right. Here is a meager sampling of some of my qualifications:

  • Must be higher than my waist.
  • Must have 50% of his teeth.
  • Must be single. As in unmarried. Apparently, having a girlfriend doesn’t place him under the “unattainable” category. Sheesh.
  • Must be between the ages of 22–50.
  • Must not be crazy.
  • Must be able to moonwalk.

Apparently, I ask too much. Those first two are the clinchers. What started out as an inside joke in the family, grew to include pretty much everyone I’ve met since moving here. As we would drive down the main road, the girls would point out different men in town, letting me know they fit my qualifications, to which I would add even more to my list; to make sure they no longer qualify. After the dramatic death of our fridge, a few delivery guys showed up one day to drop off the new one and take the old away, when Lang came running into the classroom to tell me that my husband was downstairs. That was when I added the “Can’t have a high-pitched, nasally voice” rule.

What got me was when (6-year-old) Neo started joining in on the ‘husband quest’. I was teaching in the school room one afternoon when the exterminator came in to scope out a job, as he was walking out the door, Neo tapped my leg and whispered, “I think he would be a good man for you to marry.” That’s when I added the classic, “Must not get high for a living” rule.

Good grief.

Because the good people at my church are taking their job so seriously, more seriously than any of us anticipated, I now expect every time we get together to be given a phone number of someone who qualifies, or asked a question about myself; either for themselves to know, or to be passed on to a possible suitor. I couldn’t tell you anymore.

One Bible study, we were all standing around visiting and eating dinner, when I got asked by a male in our group what my waist size is. By the way, weight questions are considered fair game in polite conversation here. As soon as he asked, all the conversation in the room died down so everyone could hear my response. So I told him. 26. This resulted in teetering and snickers and a conversation I didn’t quite catch. I still don’t know… I’ve narrowed it down to two options though:

I) They don’t measure waistlines in inches and I gave them a barbie size measurement for myself.

II) I’m a way bigger size than any of them and that’s hilarious for some reason.

I think I lean more toward the latter. I’m latina; my hips don’t lie!

I Love Kids, But…

Missionaries wear many different kinds of hats. The hats they wear usually have less to do with their actual abilities and more to do with the tasks they have no choice but doing {but have no qualifications, or sometimes not even a desire to do}. Things like: public speaking, grave-digging, delivering babies, suturing, putting dislocated limbs back in place…all in a days work. Ya know. The usual.

For the past 5 months, I’ve been wearing the ‘teacher hat. It’s not something I necessarily feel qualified to do, and I learn daily that it’s not something that comes very naturally or easily for me. Homeschooling is not an easy undertaking!

Last week, I was given a ‘single mom of 4 hat’ to wear on top of my teacher hat. Again, not really something I feel qualified to do. Although, we all go into a parenting situation thinking otherwise. Am I right? Doesn’t everybody think being a parent will be a piece of cake? I’m 22 years old. I definitely could be a mom; but not quite for the ages I was watching — a 6 year-old boy, a pre-teen girl, & two teenage girls. I’m not sure many people are qualified to “mum” those ages. Yes, I now use ‘mum’ as a verb. There’s just so much it encompasses!

{Giant chocolate trophies in Heaven await any parent to survive parenting ‘teenagerdom’}

Very soon into my career as a single mom, I realised it’s a good thing I don’t have children of my own; because I would not make a very nice mother yet. I learned some things about myself last week — all of which lead to a very dark, not-very-nice side of me:

  1. I have zero pity on children who get themselves stuck in sticky situations. Consequences, young human. Life is full of ’em. Get used to it.
  2. I can be easily coerced with back rubs or dessert. (Well, I might have already known this one already…)
  3. I do not have nearly enough grace to be a parent yet; which is perhaps partly why God has chosen for me to not yet procreate. He knows what He’s doing…
  4. I have no shame in having a child write flattering statements about me as a punishment for being snarky toward me.
  5. Lastly, I love kids…. but I sure am glad I get to give them back to their parents at the end of the day. 
At least we survived the week without mom and dad...

We survived with minor injuries.

...or did we?

…or did we?