Monday, November 21, 2011

Singapore - Part II

Sorry for the break in these posts. Nothing says "Welcome Home" like a week-long cold. However, I'm so thankful that it held off until I was back in Cairo! Now that I can breath and sleep through the night without waking up coughing, I thought I would share a few fun memories of the week. They are random and completely out of order. Thanks for humoring me so I have them for longevity:

- On Thursday, Levi and I were headed home from the zoo when the taxi driver decided to be chatty. He was nice and Levi was playing with the "Cute"s (stuffed animal sugar gliders he got for himself and Caleb) so we chatted. He asked where I was visiting from and I told him Egypt. He looked at me like I was crazy. I explained and he shook his head knowingly. "Yes, you have the Obama accent. It is easier to understand than the Australian or British accent. You open your mouth really big." Um, thanks? Then he said I didn't look American. I looked "European, you know, like Venezuelan". Hmmm.....

- The boys were awesome! Everything we did, they asked if I had done it before or seen it before. I think they found it funny that their normal was new to me. They had a ton of questions about Egypt vs Singapore as well. Do we have ______ in Egypt? Can you ______ in Egypt? However, I think that my favorite moment with them was Thursday afternoon. Jennifer had to leave for a girls' weekend and I was watching the boys until Justin got home. Jennifer had been gone for about three minutes when they decided they missed her and wanted to make her cards. So we went to the school room and made her "I miss you" cards. What is it about four year old hearts that is so adorable? I don't know if you got them, Jennifer, but your boys were really trying to make beautiful cards for you! :)

- One thing I loved about time with Jennifer and Justin were separate "expat" moments. Most revolved around food. With Jennifer, it was in a grocery store. We stepped into the grocery store in Singapore (where everything is imported). As we walked among products from America, China, Thailand, etc I caught myself singing along to the song - Feliz Navidad. I got so tickled! Then a few nights later, we were running some errands for some things I can't find in Egypt. As we were waiting for the light to change so we could cross the street, she pointed out the girls next to us. Apparently Singaporeans love their corn. They had a styrofoam cup of corn they had bought from a street vendor. Corn! Then the next night, I was with Justin and the boys in a 7-11 and something caught my eye. Instead of an Icee, there was a mashed potato machine. I asked Justin about it and he said they are in most 7-11s. Again, I got so tickled! I think it had become normal for Justin but in that moment, he just laughed with me at my surprise. I mean, you go into 7-11 to grab something really quickly and grab a cup of mashed potatoes on the way out.

- On Wednesday, Caleb woke up ill so that changed our day's plans. I wandered over to the Botanic Gardens and spent a few hours there. It was stunning! Flowers, green, and water everywhere! There were several areas that I loved but my favorite was probably the Orchid Garden. So many varieties and colors! When you live in the brown of the desert, you forget how vivid nature can be. I told Jennifer that I was going to feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she lands in Munchkinland. This was the first time that happened. I seriously have more pictures of flowers than I know what to do with. The whole time I thought about my grandmother. She loved flowers and she would have enjoyed this one. I can only imagine all she would have had to share. Even now, she would have loved it!

- Stateside, I tend to not wear anything sleeveless because I didn't like I arms. After three months of covering up, I got to exercise what my Cairo Jen calls "The Right to Bare Arms". It was glorious and I didn't think about how they looked once!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Singapore - Part I

***Up front I have to share that my computer is being difficult so there are no pictures on this post. I'm so sorry! Check out facebook if you would like to see some of them.***

One of the things you come to learn about working in Egypt is that nothing is predictable - nothing. So when Jen walked into my room two weeks ago and said "Welcome to Egypt - we have all of next week off." I wasn't entirely surprised. Thrilled, but not surprised. So we started talking about what to do with our days off and within a day or two, my plans completely changed. Originally I was going to spend the time at an oasis but within a matter of hours, I was booking a flight for Singapore. My lovely friends, Justin and Jennifer Willerton, agreed to open their home to me for the week. Six days later, I was on a plane to Singapore!

When I got there, the Willerton family were waiting for me at the airport. We went outside and all I could say was "Oh my goodness!" over and over again. It was SO green and SO clean! If that was all I could take away from this trip, that would be enough. Thankfully, that wasn't all there was.

I loved spending time with the Willertons. They are such an amazing family! The boys are so fun and respectful. I enjoyed them so much! They were generous, playful, and sweet with their time and energy. I loved every moment with them. As sweet as they were, I enjoyed their parents even more. I told Jennifer that I really enjoyed seeing them be "Justin and Jennifer" this trip. The last time we were able to spend time together, the boys were 18 months and just over three years old. They were in hard core Mom and Dad mode. Now I got to enjoy watching them be a couple and having conversations with them. We were able to talk about expat life, challenges of our individual homes, and catching up on what is happening in each other's lives. They carry Jesus with them and it is so evident when you are with them. It is restful and rejuvinating.

One thing that I deeply love is seeing a diversity of people living and working together. That is Singapore. Nations, religions, and races all intersecting in this one city. Though they do not agree on beliefs and come from different backgrounds, they all live together. I think that we are better for being in places like this. We are stretched to examine our beliefs about all sorts of things. We are stronger in ourselves and our relationships.

And yes, it was GREEN! I never thought I would say that I loved a hot and humid place. However, it was so different from other hot and humid places I've been. It made for some of the deepest and most varied shades of green I've ever seen. I couldn't get enough of it! I never really considered myself an outdoors girl but I enjoyed soaking up every moment of sun I could get. Whether is was Night Safari, the zoo, the Botanic Garden, the sky walk, or just around the city, being outdoors was a joy. It did my spirit good to walk in gardens filled with so many different plants, zoos filled with life, and rain. It is a place full of life!

On the day before I left, a friend asked me if I was excited about my first trip out of Cairo. I told him I was excited about the trip but not necessarily about getting out of town - I'm doing fine. I thought about that conversation as I walked through the gardens. I needed this - green, outdoors, diversity, and most of all, friends that held a common history. Singapore was a gift.

Up next, fun moments in Singapore.....