Life is made of a succession of days, days which quickly fall into a rhythm and seem “normal” even in a life where “normal” moments are a succession of colorful and unexpected adventures, and when we reach the end of the day we can say– “It was just another day in Minneapolis”.
Just another day when…
…We plan to go to class at the Westminster apartments, and we girls pile into the Outback and drive through a pouring rainstorm to arrive later than we wish. We brace ourselves and dash through the downpour to the conference room, and after calling our students find out none of them want class today— “It’s raining, Teacher.” So thoroughly damp we return to the Hive.
…One of the girls was sitting on the front steps of the Hive, loving the quiet of a golden Sunday morning, oblivious to the sounds of the hose running and splashing behind her since she assumed it was the caretaker of the place minding his work. Next thing she knew, a man with a dripping face who possibly had spent his night sleeping on the sidewalk, came down the slope of lawn and past her perch on the step. “Do you have a towel, Miss?” he asked. She looked up, unaccustomed as she is to passing out bath towels in the front lawn on a Sunday morning, she was caught off guard and said the first thing that came to mind, “No, thank you, have a good day.” Carrying his piece of luggage partially concealed in a torn brown paper bag he went a couple steps down the sidewalk but turned back. “Would you have a black bag, Miss”. Regretting her hasty refusal of a towel she told him to wait a little and ran inside to see what the apartments had in the line of garbage bags. A hasty search yielded paper towels, white garbage bags, and some snack items. She returned to the door to find him washing his extra shirt under the hose. Placing the items beside his other stuff she wished him a good day and gave up the idea of the next half hour of solitude and sunshine.
… An ambitious and creative Hive girl decided to make slime with the children while their mom enjoyed her evening English class. She stepped into the adventure equipped with slime ingredients, a plan to execute the experiment outside, and plenty of courage for the endeavor. It is a one-time-in-her-summer experience not to be repeated. The slime was successfully slimy and the chaos in its creation equally successful. To top off the evening, when the girls were leaving, three-year-old M threw the slime on the floor, threw herself on top of it, and the girls had to walk out leaving her mother to cope with the screaming M and the fact that slime mashed into M’s dress is less than easily removed.
…We have a “normal” morning of sitting on cushions and rugs drinking tea, teaching Phonics, and babysitting little folks with huge heart-melting brown eyes. We whirl off for lunch at a city-friend’s house where she has created a picture-perfect tea party with more beautiful food than our small group can consume. We eat, drink tea, go on a walk through “country woods”, then hurry to our next class. At the “next class,” one student doesn’t show up at all but another woman from the apartment complex walks in and asks the teachers to serge a hijab for her–again. This has happened before, but this time she asks for hot pink thread to be used so it will match. It is highly unlikely the owner of the serger will invest in giant spools of hot pink for one hijab, so they reach an understanding–the hijab will be serged, but it probably won’t be done with pink thread. The girls hasten home and two team members fix dinner for the Hivers. Turns out the guys have a local contact who has spent time with them on different occasions. They invited P to join the team for dinner and the evening. Also, a number of visitors arrived from out of state to visit the Hive and different team members and one of them joined the group for dinner. Afterward, the team took a walk and the guys paused on the sidewalk to observe an ant hill war and ended up in a long discussion on intelligent design and evolution with P. Meanwhile, on their walk along the Green Way, the girls were accosted by a respectful “typical American” couple who identified as Mennonite. They visited for a little and asked about our purpose for being in Minneapolis before going on their way. The cultural kaleidoscope of the day is complete with a whirl of spikeball enjoyed by P, the team, and any of the visitors who wished to join. Typical Friday? In Minneapolis.
…Two of our students need to go shopping before Eid, and naturally, English Teacher, when translated, reads as Taxi-on-Call. So, we schedule a time that suits all of our schedules; and the two ladies, their two children and the teachers make their way to “The Afghan Store”. Once there the girls shadow the children around the store attempting to make sure nothing is destroyed while the ladies make up their minds on various items. It’s a variety store, full of hallal ethnic foods, traditional dresses hanging on racks, dishes and tea sets, and stacks of boxes waiting to be unpacked. We had thought of buying naan for the Hive dinner that evening, but the baker wasn’t in. Despite the assurances from the proprietor that as soon as the baker arrives we can certainly have some naan, he never showed his face during our entire hour on the premises. We tried to keep the children happy, and finally their moms were finished and we could bring them home again. The grateful mothers treated their drivers to Gatorade and Twix bars as a thank you.
…As for the story of the naan for the Hive, the baker was in a couple of weeks later on another day of shopping at the same store. The girls seized the opportunity to get some of the fresh naan and carried it to the counter to pay. But on reaching the counter the guy insisted they could not pay, “There is no charge. You help our people, and we show our appreciation for what you do, by giving you this.”
…We show up to teach English class at J’s house and are welcomed by her sweet daughters. We go in and Teacher pulls out her teaching materials. J says she is fasting because it is before Eid, so we opt for a “small class today”. A couple minutes into the class J goes over to a cushion and curls up and goes to sleep, so we spend an hour or so with her girls playing games and coloring before we leave. So much for a thorough class with adding new words and introducing concepts tonight.
…We girls are graciously invited to more than one Eid celebration thanks to our students. There is more food served than we can ever eat, and our hospitable hostesses want to make sure we don’t leave their homes lacking anything. So, we eat naan, rice, meat, fruit, and more rice, and drink Coke and tea, and eat more rice, and more nuts; while trying to visit in broken English with our hostesses. The sadness in their eyes is unmistakable; as one so fluently said– “Eid in Afghanistan good. Eid in America no good.” They miss their family and homeland, and nothing here can outshine the memories of what they once had. The children sparkle in their festive outfits, and the joy of the present. They are living in this moment and are enjoying the food and fun of their holiday.
…We pray for our classes, especially “the Westminster class” which could also be called The Drama Center. There are the days when the students with children in tow show up late, the children are wired or tired and nothing is better than tearing around making as much racket as possible while fighting with each other and antagonizing the American teachers by clambering up on the kitchen counter with three or four little friends, dancing around and making faces because Teacher specifically said to ‘Stay off the counter’, and they want to know what she is going to do if they don’t listen. When Teacher and babysitter lift one after another down, it turns into a game. The mothers are present and seem not to be bothered by the fact that their children aren’t listening, so Teacher may resort to the “ignoring-the-trouble-maker” tactic as there seems to be nothing else to do. This might also be the day when the women choose class time as the ideal opportunity to catch up on community gossip, visiting in Pashto of course, and then when class schedule changes are discussed so as to make things more manageable for the teachers the women are not open to the idea. The teachers sink down exhausted on the couches after the last goodbye hugs and wonder what they have to show for the past hour. But, on the bright side, some days are good days. The racket of the children while the teachers teach and the women study tends toward happy, the ladies seem to be understanding the concepts, the teachers feel a measure of accomplishment, and, after the goodbyes are said, the teacher sinks onto a couch with a heartfelt “Thank You, Jesus”.
…We as a team sit in the Hive living room, Bibles on our laps, physically hungry, spiritually thirsting with an intensified longing for more of God for ourselves, while praying for the salvation of our Afghan friends. The prayer and fast days are invaluable, a powerful refocus point when we realize again why we’re here in Minneapolis and plead for the power of God to work among these people. It is far too easy to fall into a rhythm of teaching while enjoying the friendships and adventures, forgetting the tragic truth that the students we love are bound in darkness and time is short. It’s heart-wrenching to realize the destiny of our friends unless they hear and believe the Truth. We are only a very small part in God’s grand scheme, privileged to be here with these people “for such a time as this”, begging for God Himself to do His work in His way for His glory. -Monica Bauman
We did receive the minimum amount of funds that we had requested to purchase the Roseville house, however due to zoning regulations we were unable to purchase it. Basically, the only option that we see at this point is purchasing a multi-family home such as a quadplex. The few quadplexes that are available are very expensive or need substantial work/repairs to be usable for our team. Pray that God would open this door as He sees best and that he would give us wisdom as we make decisions such as where to purchase and how much to spend.
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