Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Most of what I know about the Impossible, I learned in Indonesia

I knew  my life was over when I stepped on that plane to head to Indonesia. No more pizza. No more air conditioning. No more comfort. 

But I slept in air conditioning my first night at a guest house in Indonesia (and woke up for the first time to the sound of the early morning mosque call to prayer). I ate pizza a couple of weeks after I arrived (and watched in amazement as our friends a few months into language school made the order, in Indonesian, over the phone). 

And I had my first Indonesian massage (for just $5!) a couple months after arriving. Once I figured out the words for “softer, please!” I soaked in the comfort.

With such low expectations of life, it was easy to see the possibilities. At first, I was amazed at what I could buy in the huge city of Bandung where we went to language school. Pringles. Oreo cookies. Even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (for three times the American price and clearly melted and refrozen a few times in a crystallized clump).

And then reality set in. The five days Brad spent in a Bandung hospital for dengue fever. The mud that my mind became as I tried to absorb the fast-speaking, tongue rolling jumble of words spoken by neighbors. (Why couldn’t they speak as slow as my language instructors spoke?) And the difficulty of getting around with no car, no motorcycle in congested roads during torrential downpours.

And suddenly the stores seemed emptier to me—nothing available, the foreign replacing the familiar.

Everything seemed impossible. 

Then three years in, I became a parent. As the baby kicked inside of me, I knew life was over. Again.  I would never be able to do anything once the baby came. Soon Saturday morning sleeping-in would disappear. And changing diapers would consume years of my life.

But even though that’s all sort-of true, at least true for a time—more and more freedoms (and so, so many joys) come with the milestones. My children learning to eat on their own, use the bathroom on their own, put on their own clothes. Oh, the possibilities!

Indonesia and my life since arriving here has been that mixture of the impossible, then the possible and sometimes during those hard periods, back to the impossible. Will I ever get sleep again? Will our electricity ever work? Will the store ever sell juice that isn't moldy? 

And yet how could I ever live without enjoying snorkeling, perpetual summer, and the adorable way my 2-year-old daughter speaks? How can I savor the specialness of a life lived overseas, of life with my little kids that I know will someday end?

In the midst of many tear-soaked and laughter-filled days in Indonesia, I’ve learned that the impossible sometimes can become possible. That hard things can turn into miracles. That prayers can change things, change others, and change me. That tiny airplanes can save lives.

That a tired, messy Mama can be part of things and people that will last forever. 

photo credit, AGeekMom

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