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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Nuts & Haircuts

Today has been a full day. It started early, with a Skype call home to wish Mom a happy birthday and Rachel was on the call too so we covered 3 countries and spanned the globe. It was frustrating as always, though, to try to talk because the picture kept freezing and it was very pixelated. I know we shouldn't complain because it's free communication but when you miss home and family, being able to see them clearly makes it a little easier to bear.

I rushed to get a bit of breakfast, picking out two large handfuls of peanuts from the small bowl of granola I poured. I don't know why it is necessary to dump a bucket of peanuts in the granola, as any nutty granola I've ever had saw nuts as a condiment rather than the staple of the dish. And since I don't like peanuts and I'm trying to keep my fat intake down, I pick out as many peanuts as I can. I hate to throw away food but I have to make some adjustments since I don't prepare the food myself.

Speaking of food, I'm so thankful for Luda & Shahin, a young couple who oversee the supper line at the caf, because they always make sure I have a cheese-free option to eat. On Wednesday, I went for lunch and was told that the caf had completely forgotten about me. I picked through the offerings and came up with grilled (think raw heated) cabbage, a patty (that I later realized was eggy & cheesy), the requisite salad, and bread. I do enjoy salad and bread but it is the same 3 ingredients every lunch and supper, 7 days a week. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.

So I took my plate of food and sat down at the table, trying hard not to cry. I spent the last 20 or so years learning how to cook simple, healthy vegan food so it was difficult to find joy in what was staring up at me from the plate. It had been at least a week since I'd seen steamed greens (which are super cheap here). I reminded myself that I wasn't starving and that the most important thing was to keep a smile on my face. So I did, even when I was told we hope you're not too salty! at the end of the meal.

One of the dilemmas I've been struggling with lately is how to address matters in a Christian way. If someone chooses to play secular music on Sabbath afternoon on an organized Christian trip, do I say something? If someone forgets to prepare a simple meal that has been part of the rotation for several weeks now, do I say something? If someone tries to make me feel like I should be praying more because I'm struggling with being far away from all that's familiar, do I say something? If someone says I shouldn't be upset with limited food options because they forgot to make something, do I say something? When did Jesus address things and when did He let them go?

A dear friend cut and styled my hair this afternoon. She used a hairdryer with the diffuser attachment to straighten and curl it into shape. The hairdryer was blowing out very hot air and there were several times when it was uncomfortably hot on my face. I sat there, stone-faced, not saying a word even as I wondered if it was possible to get burned from a hairdryer. Thankfully, the air would only blow for a couple of seconds and then she'd shift it to another spot away from my face. But as I sat there, I began to think how this experience was mirroring my experience in life.

People may say things or try to persuade me to do things that are not kind or based in the Bible. I have a high tolerance, low-conflict, personality though, so I often won't say anything, even if the situation is making me very uncomfortable. I know my values but I don't know to what extent we can place our values on other people in public situations without causing a confrontation. What worries me is twofold. I will drive people away from Jesus with my set of standards and I will allow myself to be pushed around because I don't stand up for myself. Both are not ideal.

What did Jesus do? He spoke plainly to the religious leaders, gently to the common folk, and kindly to the outsiders. He defended what was right even as He overturned perceptions about Who God is and what He expects us to do. Jesus was not a pushover; He had a character that was molded by God. But He knew when to speak and when to be silent. Was He more often a speaker before His trial or more often silent? Something to study out.

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