Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The quiet

Hi folks. I missed you, so I thought I'd mosey on over here. 'Tis that time of year, that post holiday season when in Michigan the cold is almost unrelenting and its cloudy and the days are short. Everything seems to be in hibernation. I call this time the Dead of Winter.

A number of you have told me that we have become a part of your lives during the past four years. That is so kind, it's hard for me to believe it. It's an honor.

Around our new digs in Grand Rapids, our days have morphed from jumbled into a nice routine. Our adjustment to Michigan weather and culture has been quick. Hannah and Noah are doing great in school. Renita and I continue to visit with friends and family, and meet with folks about future vocational configurations. We remain uncertain about next steps, but we are seeing signs emerging from the fog. We are eager to pass any news on to you.

Thank you for paying attention to this blog these past 42 months. Thanks for sticking with us as we make our way through this time of transition.

Our quiet back yard in the Dead of Winter. Too cold to have coffee together on the deck.

Our trip to my parents' house Sunday. 100 miles in two hours, even with the storm. In Liberia, it might take three or four hours on a good day. The reason I show pictures like this is because some of you are not Michiganders, and don't see this much.

Back home, part of the routine is shovelin'. Hannah is a chip off her ol' dad, who's a chip off his ol' mom. We love the task. No humidity!

Inside, the Reeds are a bit subdued. Noah online.

Hannah, back inside, reads in our cozy living room.

My lovely betrothed at work completing today's emails from the bedroom.

And from a puffy but getting-it-together Yers Trooly... thanks for meeting me here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Preparing for The Blog Sleep

Weather: Moderate snowfall the past few days with temperatures in the mid 20'sF. Steady winds bring wind chills down to 7F. About four inches of snow currently on the ground. Wet roads turn to ice, making driving hazardous.

For the twelve of you who follow this blog regularly, it looks like our post day is becoming moree irregular. In Liberia, because there is a 4-5 hour time difference, I could get up on Monday, figure out what to write, put it together, and still post it by the time it was Monday morning in the US. Here, by the time I'm ready, the morning has passed and so I figure, "aw I'll let it go until tomorrow." I know a couple of our readers are in other countries, and the post time is different anyway, but I alwways thought of Monday morning EST as my posting deadline.
To be honest, I'm thinking it will be soon time to put this blog to rest. Its reason for existence was to invite you to join us on our journey to Liberia, to explore what happens when people of these two different cultures work together-- or not-- on following Christ. We certainly remain affected by Liberia, by the effects of our presence there. We are changed forever because of it-- but those changes are on the inside of us, and not all that apparent. I could continue writing regularly during this transition, but it seems I would be writing mostly about the activities of the Reed family: "We went to the store. We bought a TV. We got a Christmas tree. We went to school. We came home."
Or even worse, I could write about me: "My feet are cold. I programmed the new TV. I've gained 12 pounds in three weeks. I'd like to get a bird feeder. I'm a little depressed. I'm waiting on God. I cry occasionally when I think about some people I left behind. I cry occasionally when I think of the people who continue to support us. I win most inner battles with the temptation to be petty, childish, gluttonous, withdrawn-- but the battles I lose are the ones that do the damage." I say I could do that, but then I'd have to title it something else.
I do not believe this part of our journey, or my journey, is served well by the medium of a blog. This "limbo time" drives me inward for a time, not outward. As I figure out what I'm doing here, and pause in this waiting place, my day to day is spent internally, in places not accessable by camera. And words seem to trivialize the holiness of the trip, to make it about me, when it is actually about Him. Better not to write at all than to mislead anyone into thinking "The Reeds in Liberia" was actually about the Reeds.
And yet, the twelve of you who follow this blog regularly do so for a reason. I know you are there. I don't want to communicate to you that this part of our dance with Him-- the in-between time, the limbo time, the waiting time-- is less important or less valuable than other times. The fact is, this time is maybe the most important of all. The fact is it feels too raw, too vulnerable to display on schedule every week. Its not done yet. Its not ready for posting yet.

So, dear and loyal friends, we are not quite finished posting here, but we just may be a bit more irregular. When it is time, we'll let "The Reeds in Liberia" sleep. God willing, there will be another blog-- when invites us to the next dance hall.

Monday, December 08, 2008

When Change is Status Quo

Sorry this post is kinda late. Fact is, I'm still in a highly introspective condition these days. So introspective, in fact, I forgot what day it is. The Reeds are living a through paradoxical period with accompanying natural tension. We are in transition, yet in a holding pattern. We are waiting to move, yet we are moving while we wait. We are looking forward for the show to begin, fully aware that the show must go on. It is like rounding a gigantic corner with no definable corner; we just keep turning hoping our destination will emerge while in the meantime needing a sense of normalcy. Sometimes that paradox and tension and introspection gets me down.

And I'm really missing two thirteen year old boys who live a long way away. I can't even get in touch with 'em.
So let me just free associate and ramble.

The kids started school on Thursday. A great, urban, Christian, college prep school called The Potter's House. We're apparently eligible for the Free Lunch program. (Don't know if that is good or bad.)

We will be moving out of our friend's guest cottage soon, into a duplex which we'll be in until April.
After three and a half years, the dry air is reintroducing me to two old foes: cracked feet and boogers. ('Tis true: there are no boogers in Liberia.)

The night we left Liberia, armed rogues broke into the houses of two FACT members and stole the market money. About $200, all of which would have gone back into the market for improvements.
We got hold of Vera by cell phone a couple days ago. She sounded great. She says Niki is doing well, and adjusting to her new diet: less food, less protein, and plenty of Bulgar.

We are more used to the enormous wealth and privilege this nation, city and state enjoy. I know that compared to other times, people here are struggling. I understand that, like adjusting to the climate, "bad" or "good," "rich" or "poor" is determined by our point of reference. So relative to my Liberian friends, Michigan is more healthy than they can imagine. Relative to past glories, Michigan is in crisis. We are more able to sympathize with fellow Michiganders who are frightened about the future.
I'm thankful for Diet Mountain Dew, but I've still gained about ten pounds in the last two weeks.

Shoveling snow is still invigorating. Especially when your kids do it.

Noah, digging through a few inches of white stuff on a very cold evening.

Hannah says Hey!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Reeds in Limbo

So Now What?
Ok, Renita told me it wasn't a dream after all. Maybe not, but this doesn't feel quite real either. Like "don't get too settled."
We've already adjusted to the cold and snow. It is not so bad and beats the hoo-ha out of the humidity of Liberia. Last week, I wore the same tee shirt for two days. That would have been two hours in West Africa.
The Reeds are in transition. We left Liberia and people we love because we are looking for a place where our kids can go to a good school and Renita and I can devote more daytime energy working with the people in a developing country. We do not know as of yet where that will be.
We want to keep those of you who are interested informed about what's happening in our lives as we follow this God of ours around His world. A blog is a good way to do that. But this blog is called "The Reeds in Liberia." The transition is out of Liberia, through Michigan USA, and into Someplace Else.
So regarding the blog, here's the deal. We'll use this blog as home base for the transition. There are still a lot of pieces of the Reeds in Liberia anyway. I'll still post regularly, because frankly, we are doing a lot of reflecting these days. So visit us here. When we know where we are going, a new blog will be born, and we'll get together over there. Ok? Ok.
Oh, and this PS: Some of you are suspicious that, because we did not mentioned what happened to the deer, that perhaps, well, er-- maybe we ate it. Not so! The deer found a nice fenced home, thanks to our LEAD friend, Allen Gweh. However, there seems to be a monkey in that yard, and judging by what happened last time the deer met our monk (the monkey tore the deer's tail half off), the deer will need some time to figure out friend from foe. But she's safe from the coal pots of men. Now a few pics.

This morning. Hangin' out at our lil' guest home away from wherever. Nate and Kris Vander Stelt are putting us up-- or putting up with us-- until the end of December.

Outside, it just ain't the same as what we've been used to...

...but its pretty... ...just the same.
Hannah and Noah tossing loosely packed frozen crystals of water.

Meanwhile, 5150 miles away, boys on the beach of Buchanan watch the fishermen...

...while FACT holds a community meeting, complete with a role play...

... and LEAD's James Hillary teaches another business class...

...and MPCHS's Grace Boiwu sits with a group of women in Johnson Town...

... and somewhere in Foster Town, Trokon, Enoch and Eastman are together, missing us maybe as much as we miss them.