On Thursday of last week, Hiromi and I took Tristan and Carson to the zoo in Hutchinson. If ever things can turn out perfectly, that was such an event. Both boys were happy the whole time--from about 11:30 to 3:30. Of course, the last 15 minutes or so, they were both sound asleep in their car seats--which is a happy time for them and for anyone in proximity to little ones. We carried them into the house at their home without extracting them. They stayed asleep.
The original plan was to leave right after Carson's morning nap, and return in time for them both to take an afternoon nap around 2:00, but we "went with the flow," had a snack before we started, took a leisurely stroll through all the exhibits, bought fish food and fed it to the fish, then went to a picnic spot with playground equipment nearby. Getting our fill of food and play took till 3:00, and then we packed up and headed home.
The hardest part of the trip was getting the double stroller into and out of the trunk of the car. Hiromi practiced folding and setting it up several times before we left Shane and Dorcas' house, and watched to see what it took to wedge it into its spot in the trunk.
Tristan will be three near the end of October, and Carson will have his first birthday this week. Carson used his sounds for "kitty-kitty" for racoons, deer, prairie dogs, foxes, and all sorts of other animals. From his seat in the stroller, we knew when he spied the animals in a display by this utterance.
At lunch, Tristan used a little sectioned plate. During the meal, he casually pointed to one section and said "This is empty." Hiromi reached over and moved a part of his sandwich to the empty section. Just "like that" he moved it back to where it came from and continued to wait expectantly.
"Oh. Is that where the grapes were? Is that what you want?" Hiromi asked, getting more grapes without waiting for an answer. Duh. Grandpa.
Tristan loves grapes, and obviously has diplomatically oblique requests down pat. Adorable. That's what it is.
Today in church we had a visitor from Ch--a. She is a former student of our own Fr--a, who has been an English teacher for university students in the visitor's home country for many years. During share time, the visitor spoke of how she met God through her teacher, and thanked us for supporting her teacher. She also asked us to send more teachers, so more people can find the peace that she's found. The visitor is studying in Colorado right now. She has a son, who accompanied her to Kansas. He looks like he's in the lower grades in school.
Fred Nisly celebrated his 90th birthday today with an open house at King Street Center.
I heard recently that Center has at least 20 people over 85. At least a handful of those are over 90.
We're bidding farewell this week to Tonya and Tresa Y,, sisters who will serve elsewhere for the next year. Tonya is off to Thailand to teach school to the children of Americans in Chang Mai, and Tresa will work in the kitchen at Faith Builders in PA.
Carla M. has already left, along with Mary Beth R. from Plainview, to teach English among the Kleine Gemeinde Mennonites in Oasis Colony in Mexico. They are replacing Floyd and Dorcas M., who taught there for a number of years, but are now moving back to Pennsylvania.
Mary Beth was a former student and a Golden Rule employee. She's very competent. Carla has taught in our Christian school in the past, and has worked for a number of years now as a paraprofessional at Yoder Charter School, which is part of the Haven public school district. She also is well-prepared to teach effectively.
The drawing board Hiromi gave away found a new home in Oregon. The connection with the new owner happened by a circuitous route, but the delivery happened via a fairly direct route.
Duane and Ruth Nisly live in Costa Rica. They read this blog. Duane grew up here and Ruth is a sister to my sister-in-law Judy--Sanford Yoder's daughters. Duane and Ruth's daughter Connie got married recently and moved to Oregon. Her husband plans to work in landscaping.
In Costa Rica, Duane and Ruth spied the offer of a drawing board, and recognized its potential usefulness to their son-in-law. They contacted Duane's sister Janet, who lives here. Janet contacted Connie and her husband and confirmed that they would like to have the drawing board, but they were unsure how to get it to Oregon.
Last Sunday, we had been at William and Elizabeth Hershberger's place for the noon meal, and their grandson was there also, en route between Oregon, where he will be teaching school, and South Carolina, where his family lives. When Janet reported that they would like to find a way to send it to Oregon, I mentioned the grandson's visit here, but I was unsure whether sending it with him would work very well, since his vehicle in a VW, and I didn't know if he was still around. I also mentioned to Janet that William routinely goes to Oregon, to his daughter Regina's community, during the summer to pick blackberries. I didn't know if he had already gone this summer or not.
Janet promptly called Elizabeth to see what she could learn. William was leaving the next day for Oregon and had enough room to take the drawing board along. He was headed to the same region of Oregon, but not the same community. However, someone who lives there (or in Connie's community) goes to church regularly in the other community, so they could quickly get it to the right place.
Before Janet came here to pick it up and take it to William's place, Hiromi put the drawing board together to make sure the parts were all there. They weren't. So he made a trip back to the farm and looked around again in the basement we had tried to empty out last week. He found two pieces near the shelves that still contain the belongings of some of my siblings. He was still missing a few adjustment knobs though. He found those in a bag of parts he had found and tucked far back in a desk drawer, assuming they belonged with the desk. By the time Janet came, it was all assembled and then disassembled for transport.
When things work out wonderfully like this, getting rid of things feels very good. Thanks to everyone in the chain of people who helped make it happen.
Recently I heard someone spoken of whose "parents were absolutely crazy--both of them." The person describing them caught herself and said, "Oh, I forgot, people here don't say things that bluntly." She reformulated the analysis with more nuanced and gentle words which I can't remember exactly. A pity, since it was quite entertaining.
A little later, on a different subject, she triumphantly pointed out, in something I had just said, that I was "doing it." I had just described a father as being more directive in the details of his older children's lives that some fathers are. "You mean more controlling," she said, "not the way your dad would have done it."
Earlier, I had also heard this: "Why didn't he just say, 'Don't vote' " (in relation to a discourse on Christians and government). "He came so close several times." I don't know if my attempt to explain was convincing.
I've been doing some thinking about how "we" talk, and Hiromi and I have puzzled together over the matter. Hiromi observed that speaking plainly has many merits, and it often creates problems when people assume that being less direct equals being more Christian. As a non-native-English-speaker, he is not well-prepared to understand nuances, and really appreciates very direct words.
Hmmmmm. Recently, right on the heels of catching a lot of displeasure (or angst at least) over some of what I've written, a writer I admire (Dorcas Smucker) mentioned my blog in hers and recommended that others follow it, describing the words as being very carefully chosen and profound. I giggled when I read that, given the incongruity of the messages I've been getting. I do, of course, like to hear the affirmative messages better than the other kind, but I know I need to listen to both kinds. The Stat Counter I use for the blog saw an immediate spike in hits per day after Dorcas' blog post, notwithstanding the fact that I had just posted some particularly unprofound content and I lay no particular claim to well-chosen words. Writing is a crazy world sometimes.
lauds simple, plain speech in a pleasurable, easy-to-read format.
I've also been giving thought to what we teach students about writing, and how we go about doing it. For years I have accepted the wisdom of teaching primarily essay writing in high school, with writing of research papers required also. Nevertheless, I have ventured farther into other kinds of writing than some teachers do, and have felt justified in doing so, given the emphasis outside of composition class on essay writing for current events and literature.
I read recently pointed out that many Christians trained to write and think in "essay" terms are poorly prepared for a debate format. In essence, they can make an assertion and defend it when a single voice is heard, but they are less able to give and take in a rapid-fire exchange, where assertions are regularly and promptly challenged, with little time to prepare a well-crafted response.
The writer of the article focused on how the instant ability to fact-check via smart phones affects the credibility of preachers. He emphasized the need for preachers to do their own fact-checking carefully in advance, in the process also preparing themselves for the kind of challenges that might come up in a debate format. In short, he was suggesting that preaching in "essay style" may not be all that is needed in our day. He was furthermore suggesting that our schools include more training in functioning well in an argumentative setting.
I'm still pondering this, and would be glad for further input, especially from people who understand our setting and values, and understand what might be possible or needful in similar settings.
One more excellent article
deals with spiritual formation in the lives of students. The four situations the author wants to prepare his students to face are these: "1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor 2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident 3. The year when they don't feel God's presence at all 4. The day when their fiancèe breaks off the engagement, even when they have remained abstinent." He sees each of these as "pivotal moments along the way that constitute 'make or break' tests of their faith."
The article made a lot of sense to me.
School starts this week on Wednesday. Before that, on Monday evening, my Food Production students come here for a tour of my garden. It will not be me proudly showing off my garden--way too many weeds for that. I plan to prepare tempura for them to taste, utilizing garden vegetables.
After the big tomato canning event on Saturday, and having spent the day at school on Friday, and picking many bushels of tomatoes on Thursday--after coming home from the zoo, tomorrow must be a big clean-the-house day. Thankfully Doris plans to come and help.
Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable. Let's put aside the technicalities of whether they are true vegetables for the moment. I love them plain, with no more than a little salt, creamed in tomato gravy, chunked and canned and eaten cold, cooked and strained into a smooth drink, added to soups, or constituting the main ingredient in soup, adding to many main dishes, and in sandwiches of all kinds. It's probably a good thing that I really like tomatoes, since our garden has been outdoing itself with production that requires gathering all the pails I can find--in any size--filling them with tomatoes in the garden, and hauling them to the house with the dump cart pulled behind the lawnmower tractor--two loads worth.
I want to can some tomato soup yet, dehydrate some tomatoes, and can whatever is manageable. Otherwise, I think there are a lot of giveaways in my tomato future.
It looks like next week may be the hottest week of the summer so far. After that, we have prospects for a major cool-down, unless what looks likely now according to Weather Watchers fails to develop. We've had blessedly moderate temperatures most of the summer. Right now we'd love more rain, and the heat next week will tax our ability to cope, but we're thankful for access to groundwater when we need it for irrigating.
I heard myself sighing last week when someone mentioned the start of school in the near future. Summer seems so short
is what I was thinking--not I dread the start of school
. I'm very conscious of my need to hear from God about how to apportion my time and energies, in order to accomplish His purposes.