We have been so incredibly blessed from all sides here. From dinners out to special gifts to quality time with family and friends. Promise adores her Lola Con and her Papa Jim and can't seem to fall asleep at night without a huge hug and wave "bye-bye" from them. And then there's her cousins. Baby Levi has become Promise's competition as she tries to catch up with his fast crawl and frequent walking. Ben loves to give Promise hugs and says, "I love you, Lady Bird". And Grace is the apple of Promise's eye....at 5 years old, Grace has become a mentor and BIG sister to Promise. She goes ecstatic when Grace is around. Wanna make Promise smile and laugh...get Grace!
The West has been good to us. In Oregon, there is no sales tax, so buying necessary toiletries we can't find in the Phils, organic baby food, diapers and even clothes has proven to be cheaper here than anywhere else. Because of the economic depression in the USA, consumer competition is high and prices are alarmingly low...like the jars of organic baby food in Canada are $0.72 while in the Phils (if you find them....which is almost never), they are roughly $2.00 per jar (that's why I don't buy them!). Here, in no-sales-tax-Oregon? Well, they are $0.59! Now I normally make my own baby food, but to be honest, when traveling and staying in other people's homes, I find it very difficult and somewhat rude to raid the fridge for appropriate mashing items. Thankfully Promise's first two bottom teeth have arrived and she has begun to eat food right off my plate without preparation. She is growing up so fast...right before my eyes!
In addition to buying awesomely priced baby food, I bought a dress. I haven't bought a dress in over 3 years. I think the last time I BOUGHT a dress was way back in 2006 with my sister-in-law. I bought two for $9.99. Serious sale. I wore them out. I had borrowed clothes, worn hand-me-downs and loved it! I hate shopping and trying to find clothes for my odd shape is somewhat depressing. But I found a dress and it was almost 50% off. :) Ahhh...the simple pleasures of the West.
Access to stuff is not limited here. We're not buying, buying, buying, but I have to say, the temptation to spend what you don't have is pretty intense. Alas, we're doing well on that front here. I am happy to have a new dress, though. :)
Time is passing quickly here and in less than a week, Tim, Promise, and I will say goodbye to my side of the family for another year. To be honest, I have been struggling with this. I am thankful for the wealth of security and safety we've felt here....the comfort and the plenty. But, to be honest, this is not what I miss when in the Phils. No, I can live contently without stuff. But I look at the support, care, concern of our family....the joy, openness, and hospitality felt from our family....the growth in relationships between Promise and her grandparents and cousins....the peaceful and gracious discipling of my mom and I wonder, "Why would we ever leave!?" Why would I want to raise Promise void of her grandparents and her cousins? Why would I want to strip her away from the peaceful security of her extended family living in a peaceful environment? Am I just that selfish? To strip her grandparents of the opportunity to be hands-on in her spiritual and relational development....and the support in parenting I have received here has been substantial. I realized just how much I crave that support....I love learning from Ruth, my sister-in-law....she is an incredible mom full of creative ideas and motherly wisdom.
There is just no comparison to the love and support we have felt here. I feel spoiled and lavished upon.
My director at MMC warned me of this before we left the Philippines....she said, "You're not going to want to come back, ya know!?" Well, I DO want to return to the Phils. I DO want to finish the work the Lord prepared for us there and I DO know that it is where we are called to for now. But I go with some deep reflection....some sadness....some questions....some fear....but no regrets. I wonder, though, how long we will really be away and where we will end up next....what lifestyle Promise will have to adjust to.
Still processing. I know I could not live in the West for an extended period of time....I just couldn't do it. I know God has called us to a vagabond life. I know He will sustain us. I know there is a cost. I am just learning to relinquish my desires of what I think is best for my baby girl knowing that God is way smarter than me. He has always been faithful....
Sorry for the ramblings.