One of our own, E, serves in Central Asia. We support his work as a community developer, English teacher, cycling advocate, and Jesus follower as he lives and shares the gospel to his friends.
Happy New Year and greetings from the capital city. I caught the early-bird flight here this morning. Some news items:
1. Work. This week is going to be busy as I have year-end reports to prepare for project donors, new books to get from the printer, video interviews to do at public schools and bookshops, translations about the human body to help with for a children’s science book, NASA creative commons photos to find for our new moon missions / space technology history book, basic excel functions to teach to my distributor, and a bilingual project website to start building with the help of a local web company. I am thankful for my three local colleagues here—the translator / ideas man, the distributor / accountant and the driver. They are a blast to work with and I gain a lot of energy from them.
2. Goodbyes. Maida maida ba dost haem khudahafezi mekunum — piece by piece I’m saying goodbye to my friends. Since I was away for two months on vacation, it’s actually been a bittersweet combination of hello and goodbye, of building back up just to leave. I’m continuing Dari lessons and learning new words after a long hiatus just to have an excuse to hang out with my favorite tutor a bit more, even though these new words I’m learning may not see much use, for example. It’s sad that life will be so completely separate from all these people when I get back to the US, almost like this place doesn’t exist. It’s a strange feeling when you realize you’re in this country and there’s so many different indigenous ethnicities, languages, cultures, facial structures, etc. … nobody is the stereotype we think of—even the old haji with a turban and a white beard turns out to be shockingly funny or much more personable than NatGeo or CNN would suggest. It’s easy to stay in touch with America from here, but not so much in reverse. My departure will be a severance from almost all of the people I know here (some do have email and occasionally can get Internet access). I guess all this rambling is just to say that I am going to miss being here and that I want to finish well.
3. Security. Please continue to remember the situation with the local secret police. We had a brief lull in harassment but it’s started back up again and it’s unclear what the right path is for us to take. We need to protect our local female employees but it’s not as simple as shouting the perpetrator down or even publicly accusing him. We are dealing with a slimy but incredibly clever loose cannon from an unaccountable department of government—one who has info on all our employees and could easily make life even worse for them if we do anything that shames him. So we are trying to seek the best way forward.
4. Benevolence. Recently one of our longtime friends lost his job. We also know many decently sized, multi-generational families who exist on less than $30/month. Winter is in full force and poor people are needier than ever. So we want to hire our currently jobless and very trustworthy friend to oversee the purchasing, gathering, packaging and first-tier distribution of sizable food packages to second-tier distributors (volunteers, friends of ours from the city) who will then give out the packages to families they know to be in dire need. We are thankful to be able to share of our bounty, which is your and our other personal donors’ shared bounties, and ultimately God’s bounty, in a) hiring our friend for a couple weeks at a good wage, b) helping to feed the poor this winter and c) giving our community-oriented friends who want to share a chance to do so despite their own personal budget shortcomings. When they give the packages to the families and they ask where it came from, we are asking our friends to simply give credit to God. Hopefully some hope and light and smiles will result.
That’s it for now — take care,
[Photo by julie ann tingley @ Flickr]