Well, this blog is generally, um, upbeat. It's about my wonderful life living in a foreign country, enjoying the similarities and differences of my host culture. It's about how I fall in love with my children all over again almost every day. Stuff like that. But sometimes I wonder, should I also tell the bad and ugly, as well as the good? This time I will.
About 5 years ago, while living here, I had a rough week or so. Many things had happened related to starting a school here, adjusting to a new harder country and having just come from the "Disney-land of Asia" (Singapore). There were disappointments, there were adjustments, but like a true Campbell Clan, we stuck together. We made it through.
Then something happened, unrelated to school, unrelated to my family, related to the possible rental of a little house on the edge of a valley which fell through, and I fell apart. This strong Southern woman (who was even in the play Steel Magnolias once!) fell apart. I cried for 4 days, and then through an act that only God could orchestrate, my heart was touched, and I began to heal. I am not going to label it a nervous breakdown, but crying for 4 days straight is not pretty for young children to watch, and it was a hard time.
This week I almost felt like I was on the verge of it again. One event happened that so angered me (yes, I'll call it anger, for it was) that it triggered a bunch of stuff inside of me that just spilled out. Later Campbell Clansman was recapping with me and sifting through the mess, and he pointed out some events that had led up to this one big event, which I might not have considered as part of the stress. Yes, they were certainly part of it. A school situation that has been time consuming and difficult. Suddenly being assigned to teach a 1 1/2 hour class each day, which I hadn't planned on doing this year. Benaiah falling down 16 marble steps this week (he was ok, but my heart wasn't.) The govt closing school for a week due to swine flu and homeschooling my kiddos (which has really been a bright spot, but just a change nevertheless). So all that was inside of me, but I just kept plugging away.
And then on our second day of homeschooling, we had finished our work and the girls asked if they could roller skate. I said, "Sure, let's call it PE!" :) They roller skate on the balcony of our second floor (our house is a 2 story apartment, with an outside strip for a balcony on our 2nd level). It makes a mild rolling noise, but less than if I vacuumed the house. A few minutes into the skating, two policemen showed up at my door. My downstairs neighbor (who is a very unhappy, disgruntled, bitter woman who screams at her kids nightly and ran the last tenant of this apartment off) had called the police on me....for rollerskating on my balcony. At one point, I almost pinched myself in disbelief.
There were two gentleman, one brawny soft-faced young man, and an older gentleman who was clearly in charge. They said the word we hear so often, "Yasak!" which means forbidden. About then Benaiah scooted up to the young policeman and patted his very shiny shoes. He began to soften. He picked up Benaiah and brought him to his face and kissed him. I said politely, "I have 5 children, school is closed, they need to play. My neighbor screams nightly, but I never bang at her, I never report her." At that point, the young man shrugged, and the old man said, (and this is where the meltdown began), "Don't listen to her. Let's go." I realized immediately he had taken one look at my blue foreign eyes and had discriminated against me. I was angry. Is this the way it is to be handled? Aren't you supposed to listen to both parties, then consult the law? How can he be serious when he tells me that there is a law against my kids rollerskating on my balcony? (My Turkish friends have since confirmed this is impossible.)
I then called my friend who speaks great Turkish. I took the phone to my neighbor and she told her for me...Sara has been a good neighbor, she's done everything you've asked her to do, this is unreasonable, etc. This lady is so angry at the world. Her house is spotless (and quiet!) but her family is miserable. Yes, there is a Proverb, "She tears down her house with her own hands." Lord, let it never be true of me.
And I just couldn't get back into Normal Sara mode. And it was Annika's birthday. And I felt horrible that I couldn't get a grip and that it would ruin her birthday. And I wondered if I would bounce back. And I called Campbell Clansman and said, "I want to go home."
That night we took Annika out for her birthday. I tried to convince her to ask for Quick China or something expensive and exotic, but she chose our local place...where we go every Saturday. She wanted manti, her favorite. We went early, 5:30. We told them she had chosen this place for her birthday. Soon, the other couple left, and we were the only ones in the restaurant. The girls finished (Annika ate a full bowl plus some!). They started out the door to play outside while we drank our tea, as they always do. Then all the lights went off, and out came a cake with sparklers supplied by these precious Turkish folks. And at that moment, God reminded me that I DO want to be here and I know why I am here and that not only do I love many people here, I even like them.
I won't say I have totally bounced back. But dinner that night, then a study meeting the next night on the sovereignty of God, and even writing this blog post, I believe, has started the process. Thanks for bearing with me.