Monday, July 1, 2019

About Loss and Worth

I love feeding the birds in my garden. I only have a couple of varieties that frequent, but they bring me so much  joy. I have just witnessed a couple of batches of babies, I have begun to recognise individuals, and have named a few.  This will be the last week I feed them, because they need to be wild and free.

Last week I was watching them, and a whole family of sparrows descended at once, and I caught myself thinking, "Eh, it's just sparrows."  Of all the birds that visit, they are the least colourful, most difficult to recognise individually and most plentiful. 

I was suddenly reminded of the verse where Jesus says:   

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care."

God has no trouble recognising individual sparrows. He knows each one and when one falls, he knows, and he cares.

Recently a beautiful friend of mine passed away. She was anything but a common sparrow. She stood out from the crowd, not because she was 7ft tall, (which she wasn't) but because of who she was. 

Mel was this extraordinary person who always seemed to be "saving" people. She had a knack of seeing people through their darkest times and always listening.  She was one of the most empathetic and compassionate people I've known.

She was an optimist who always saw the glass half full, with a wonderful sense of humour and a great full-on laugh!  We didn't agree on everything, but that didn't deter the friendship. 

She was also one of the most determined people I have ever met. I remember vividly a conversation we had when she wanted to have a baby. She was a nurse, so she had an understanding of the medical profession, and the medical profession had told her that she would never have a child. She was hearing all the usual stuff, "everything happens for a reason", "God has a plan" all the religious cliches that get hauled out. She wouldn't hear them. We sat and chatted and she told me that God had promised her a child, and she listed all the reasons and ways that he had reiterated that promise. I told her to just believe God.  

She did fall pregnant and it was not easy. I remember visiting her in hospital where she had to be for the last few months (I think.) It was a long time. I don't know if I have ever seen someone who was so ready to be a mom or so excited. 

What joy Caleb brought her - I don't think any child could have been more wanted, more waited on or more loved,  than Caleb.

Mel, you were never a common sparrow, we grieve your falling, and you leave a huge gap in so many lives.

Every time I see the candlestick you brought me from Israel, I remember you.  
Tonight, I will light it in remembrance of you.

All I know is we will see each other again.
Until then Mel,


Friday, April 26, 2019

OOooo Marelize!! - Cafe de Langues

In my continued commitment to learn Letzenbuergish, I signed up for Cafe de Langues.

For those who don't know what that is, (which was me a few weeks ago, but I signed up anyway), it's basically a "Language Cafe". There are tables set out, each with a facilitator who is a native speaker, then you have a table full of learner speakers with them. The idea is that the learner speakers attempt to converse with one another in the new language, and the facilitators are there to help you if and when you become unstuck with a word, or phrase or grammar, whatever.

On Tuesday evening, I skipped ever so happily down to the commune, brimming with enthusiasm. Imagine my despair when it was two facilitators (really wonderful, friendly ladies) and only two learners, me and one other lady.

We sat at the pub, a nice chilled and familiar environment, we ordered something to drink, they all ordered water, and I joked and said I needed wine. (Note: I wasn't really joking).  I ordered water.  That was when the carnage started.

2 facilitators + 2 learners =  focussed attention! 

I was about to take my first swig of my Spruddelwaasser (sparkling water) when the one lady turned to me and asked me something in Luxish. At that moment, I felt like I was in Std 7 and my maths teacher had just asked me something, and I had no freaking clue what the question even meant, let alone how to answer it.  That was just the beginning...


After 80 minutes, I was toast.

I won't lie - I did not skip enthusiastically home. In spite of the patience and kindness of those two lovely ladies, I felt defeated and humiliated, and wondered what the heck I was doing. It was not fun.

Fast forward to last night which was the second get-together. I tried so hard to think of reasons why not to go: I had to cook (!), I was tired, it was too late.... but there was no good reason, other than that I would have to go through all of that again. So, I went.

Walking down the road, I sent what was probably in hindsight, quite an emotional voicemail plea for prayer to some people. It would be awesome if they could pray that I would just suddenly know the language, but since I am a realist, I asked them just to pray for peace for me.

On arrival, it was again, only two of us, myself and another older gentleman this time. We sat in the pub again, I ordered my drink in Luxish, and although I stammered a bit and needed help, I remembered a lot more of what I know and didn't feel like a deer in headlights.  Dare I say..... I actually had fun!?  God is kind - and I think this episode probably gave him a bit of a chuckle!

When I left, some of the "usuals" where in the pub, so I went and said hello, asked them how they were, and told them what we were doing - all in simple Lux sentences. I doubt it all made sense - but they are so kind, and I think they like that we try!

So bring on next month - I should know a bit more vocab by then!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mostly about "My friends dog".

I took a friends puppy out for a walk this afternoon. The weather is still gorgeous for this time of year and I can't say that I mind Autumn lingering - it is my favourite season.

I used to talk to myself in French when I walked alone, I got very fluent with myself! :) It's always helpful when there is no-one to feel intimidated by!

Today I decided I needed to talk to myself in Luxembourgish - I was not good company as I ran out of conversation pretty fast, and I found myself a bit boring too. Let's face it, there is only so much of "The sky is blue", "The sun is yellow" & "I come from South Africa" that you can say.

I eventually started trying to make other simple sentences, like, "This is not my dog."  At this point I was reminded of the Peter Sellers movie... "does your dog bite?.... this is not my dog".  And I packed up laughing and spent at least two minutes trying to imitate his accent.  If there was anyone hidden in the bush, I reckon they had quite a show.

Eventually I tried to say:  "It is my friends dog."  This was fine until I got to trying to figure out how to say "friends dog". I reckon that if I said it in Afrikaans, it would be as close as dammit is to swearing, and maybe no-one would notice. "Et ass meng frĂ«ndin se hond." (I have no clue how right/wrong that is! The "se" is the tricky bit!)  

As I was busy trying to decide if it was easier to say "It's my friends dog" or just "it's my friends" (Dit is my vriendin s'n), I heard a noise behind me and a guy on a bike was just about in my pocket! Does he know what a BELL is!?  He just laughed and yelled Moien, and cycled on and I confess that I swore under my breath - in Afrikaans. (I took Mariaans name in vain.) (Saffers will understand that!) - which was promptly followed by a "Whoops! Sorry Father, got a bit of a fright there."

That was the end of my Luxembourgish thinking, I needed to be more alert, and so I went back to "The flower is red", "The desk is brown", and other random nothings.

OK. Enough rambling now. 

Time for coffee.

Monday, October 15, 2018

An Early New Years Resolution.

I made my New Years resolution early. Like now, in October. I don't usually make resolutions, because nothing makes one feel more of a failure, than not keeping them for even a day, week or month!  However, I am resolute about keeping this.
About a month ago, after I had been to Adem for advice and back to the Ministry to ask if being here 5 years would make it easier for me to work, and after they gave me the same forms and same story, I went for a walk in the forest with Jack as I normally do. I felt deflated (again), I don't really know why, since I had expected it.

Suddenly as I was walking along, without warning, I just had this mini meltdown. I just began to cry - out of nowhere, like really sob. I felt like I couldn't breathe, I felt like I was about to pass out. I have only experienced this once before in my life and it was at a time that I was severely stressed out then. I didn't think I was stressed out now though.

I remembered an article about finding things to touch, and smell and see and listen to, so I did that, and attempted to focus all my energy on not falling apart.

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably only a few minutes, I continued my walk and just cried out to God that something had to change. As I walked it became clear that there was only one real option left: I will have to apply for my citizenship here. That is the only way.

I will never give up my SA citizenship, so it will be dual. However, to do this I have to be able to take what is called the "Sproochentest" - which is the ability to speak, read and write in Luxembourgish up to a certain level.

I have been so focussed on feeling more confident in trying and making mistakes in French, and now to basically start over in another language,  feels like a mountain to me. But hey, it's winter, so I may as well begin the climb. Everything starts with small steps. I have an appointment in Nov to start at the Language school and have signed up for an online course too, with podcasts, notes and a tutor if needed. (I did a few classes at our Commune last winter, but honestly not enough to be of any benefit in this quest!)

I heard a quote from John Cena's book "Elbow Grease" which goes: "If you stick with what you are good at, you will never learn anything."  I am pretty good at puzzles in winter - so this winter, I will learn something new - LĂ‹TZEBUERGESCH.

So right now,  I am off to my favourite coffee shop, laptop and materials in hand, where I plan to bury myself for a few hours.
Image result for new years resolution
If you are the praying type, remember me - I will also take thoughts, vibes and smoke signals. 
Thank you.

The resolution is to take the test by the end of April 2019.

PS. I know you are probably all sick to death of me moaning about not being able to work, but in spite of what it may look like, I am not on holiday here.  This is my life that I am living, and in my life, I have always worked because I love it. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Having a day.

I was just sitting here, innocently doing my puzzle, listening to Magic 828 radio online, and out of the blue suddenly I had this thought:-  "What am I doing here?"

Maybe it was brought on by the Saffer accent of the Radio station, maybe by the family thread on Whatsapp chatting, maybe it was waving at the plane overhead believing it may be my niece who is arriving on the Continent as I type....  maybe even that we won't be home to stand arm in arm as we sing our anthem against the All Blacks on Saturday....I don't know what brought it on. I do know that being here was (and is) a divine kindness to us to fulfill a dream of living in Europe for a while so that we could experience other cultures and travel. - and it's such an amazing experience.

But between travelling and visits, I add no value here  (other than being a wife!) I do nothing but keep myself entertained. I could be at home, with My Girl and my family, instead of sitting here waiting for the next holiday or visitor.

Again - must stress that I am not unhappy. Just purposeless.

I fear this may lead to being unhappy sometime.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Photographs and Memories

Wow... 5 years in Luxembourg and in our house here. Time has flown. Before we set off we said that we would aim for 5 years and see how we felt after that.  Last night, I reminded My Man of this conversation, and we both felt it is not time to come home quite yet. It feels as though we just arrived.

Just this morning I was reminded on Facebook about the day our suitcase broke on the plane coming over. I was whisked back to that day. It was so hot and the hill up to our house seemed endless, and the pavements so narrow that in places the suitcase couldn't even fit on them. I remember a car driving passed us and bumping My Mans elbow, I remember putting up the fence and the horrendous blisters My Man got from doing it, but our hounds were arriving the next day and we had to find a hardware, find a fence, have it delivered and then work out how to put it up, all in one day in a language we didn't know. It was awesome and we did it.

I must confess that for all of the fails of social media, I do love the FB Memories. I have had the odd person make "flyby" comments about how many photo's I take / how often I post on FB, some seemingly random. At first I thought that perhaps it was too much, and went on a bit of an introspective journey. Then, I basically thought, (excuse me but) "Stuff it. It's my FB and you are free to hide, delete or ignore my trivia!"

The way I see it now is that in a few years time, FB memories are going to remind me of the day I first ordered my dustbin bags in French, or the day that I saw that guy in the bus with purple laces, or the day we first went to the Winter Burning or first Carnival, the Yellow Duck Race or that Wednesday morning I discovered the market in the square, or the day I first saw a deer in the snowy forest. These were all epic to me! You think you will never forget moments, but you do - sometimes I can barely remember what I did last week, let alone 10 years ago!

So I will keep posting my little bits of trivia, like exciting new bus routes or tasting Foie Gras for the first time, because I never want to forget a moment of anything we experience here, good or bad - I want to keep being reminded of this epic adventure long after it is all over.

So, here is to the halfway mark, to our Fathers kindness, and to the unfinished journey yet to be enjoyed.

Cool Runnings.
Peace be the journey.  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday morning metaphor

This morning I sat on the balcony, eating my breakfast, as I do each morning, (when it isn’t sub-zero temperatures!) I looked out at my flower boxes which, just 2 weeks ago, were an over-flowing mass of colourful pansies, but today, there are perhaps 3 or 4 flowers in each box. I got up and looked at them carefully, thinking that this weekend I need to whip them out and replace them with something new and less messed up.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed by my ninja-pansies. These little survivors had weathered the mother and father of all storms and hail, and despite it, managed to creep back and blossom. How could I now just rip them out and replace them!? I can't. I won't. 

I began to consider that these pansies were a metaphor for our own lives. One day everything is beautiful, and then suddenly, it’s not. We feel hailed on, tossed about and knocked down, and we fear that we may never see the light of another beautiful day. Like the pansies needed time, sun and rain to recover, sometimes we need time, help and friends to recover, and then to blossom again.

We are loved. We are irreplaceable. We are unique. We are worth fighting for. 

Today - be a ninja.