Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Literacy is priceless -- E.

I used to wonder whether it's a good idea to introduce books and letters to cultures that don't use them now. Why should an oral/aural society need to change? As anybody who has seen The Gods Must Be Crazy knows, Westernization is a bad thing. If unwanted and uninvited, literacy could be like that bad, bad Coca-Cola bottle.

I think I'm over that now. In the real world, I am learning, just about everybody does, in fact, want to read. Just like everybody who knows what Coca-Cola is wants it. And communities that see their own languages put down in writing, with books published in them and everything, often experience what they would call a much better life as a consequence. (Again, it's all very much like Coca-Cola.)

Here's my son demonstrating the value of literacy. He has recently learned to read out loud, and the quality of his life has skyrocketed.

His sister, valuing her own skills in literacy, does not yet appreciate his.

By the way, I'd like you all to notice the Follow By Email box in the right-hand sidebar. Just as the title suggests, you may enter your email there, and you'll get a notice via email every time something new happens on this blog. I think it's a good idea, anyway. (Thanks very much to my friend Chris for bringing this feature to my attention!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Family -- E.

June 2006
I have just returned to the U.S. after my second REACH term in The Gambia. I intend to study linguistics in hopes that I can apply it internationally someday. Whatever group I end up with, I am excited at the prospects. In addition to the chance to serve in the Kingdom of God, I'll have the added perks of travel and adventure. Can't wait.
(And if Queena will marry me, maybe she'll come too!)

June 2011
Five years later.
It always feels a little weird to have things go the way I want them to. Queena did consent to marry me, and since 07-07-07 we have already had a fair portion of adventure as well as travel (Texas, man!). We may head out overseas as soon as next spring. How did we get so lucky?
I'll say this, though. Do you notice those two young humans in the picture with Queena and me? Those are our children. I am slowly beginning to realize how much of a difference these people make in my feelings about moving across the world. It is a lot more difficult than last time, frankly. Five years ago, if I heard about the personal sacrifice involved in overseas service, I could respond with a casual shrug. But not now. I am beginning to understand that I am asking a lot of my children. Queena and I will be separating them by thousands of miles from their many grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
This is all a part of our pursuit of Christ, and we are not bitter at the things He may ask us to leave behind. Still, it used to look a lot easier.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bedtime -- Q.

Bedtime tends to be long at the Mast house. The routine is fairly simple and follows a predictable pattern: PJs --> Potty/Diapers --> teeth brushed --> Bible story --> two songs --> prayer --> a kid's cassette tape --> nightlight --> goodnight kiss. Of course, Dorie has become the master staller. "I'm thirsty, I want the kitty jammies, not the Minnie Mouse ones, I want a different tape, I want another kiss," and (as the door closes, a whisper from the bed) "Daddy, pray that I have good dreams, not bad ones." Sometimes--many times--I long for the days when bedtime won't take an unpredictable 45 minutes.
Lately I've been noticing the way James gets all giggly, goofy, and cuddly in the evening and the way Dorie will flop around in my arms as we sing and the way she takes my cheeks in her small hands when she asks for one more story.
What I really want, more than the ability to say "go to bed" and they are gone, just like that, is to bottle their bedtime into a time capsule and open it up in 10 or 15 years so that I can experience these 45 minutes all over again, exactly the way I do now, every night.
Great is my joy.

James and Dorie, June 2010