My Seven Years of Silence

I can remember when I started this blog in February of 2009.  I was so excited to begin my new journey as a “blogger.”  It’s not that I hadn’t written anything prior to this endeavor.  My dreams of writing began when I was about eight years old.  It began with a short fictional tale and ranged to silly rhymes, serious essays and even some heart-felt poetry.  I began journaling about my life’s experiences when I hit my teens, and I kept a journal faithfully throughout high school, college and graduate school.

Life took an interesting twist when I graduated with my master’s degree in journalism from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.  I made the decision to reject the traditional career approach which would include teaching journalism or working at a local television station as a journalist. Instead, I accepted a one-year job position in an English-language kindergarten in South Korea.  Up to this point, I had collected quite a list of e-mail contacts from people with whom I shared a mutual desire to stay in contact. As I shared my news with them, they all wanted to hear about my new adventure.  And so began the “Cristina Cobb Newsletters” that I would write at least once a month to tell of my adventures in South Korea.  My first year turned into a second year which eventually became four years before I left Asia to return to the U.S. to become Mrs. Stephen Meier. My writing continued as I converted the Cristina Cobb Newsletters into the “Meier Wire” newsletters.  These newsletters were always sent by e-mail until I decided to try blogging for the first time.

If you took the time to click the link listed above, you’ll see that Stephen and I were already living in Ecuador at the time.  We had two children and we were both working at the Alliance Academy International in Quito.  Besides being a mom and a wife and a secondary teacher (two high school and two middle school classes) while trying to study for my qualifying exams in my Ph.D. program, I somehow managed to find time to write regular blog posts.  Sometimes, I struggled to write something simply to get words onto the screen.  Other times, I could feel my thoughts flow like a fluid stream through my fingertips as my typed words appeared on the screen.  It brought me such joy write about our family adventures and to find an outlet for my journalistic endeavors.

Time went by.  I passed my qualifying exams and was approved to begin the REAL work on my dissertation.  I had another baby.  We left our three year home in Ecuador to move to the “unknown lands” of southeast Texas.  I stopped working to stay at home with my three growing toddlers.  Stephen had his first position as an official head of school.  He would come home and ask me almost every day, “Have I told you that I love my job?”

I kept writing my blog.  Then I had another baby in early 2013.  I began in earnest to complete my dissertation.  The promising doctorate degree in communication always seemed to loom somewhere in the foggy, far-off future.  Sometimes it felt like it belonged in a galaxy far, far away.

During that time, the importance of blogging began to fade to the back of my wishfully thinking mind. I was a stay at home mom.  I should have had plenty of time to write.  But I was tired.  I had so many great story ideas that would come to me as I was changing a diaper, or making a meal or driving my kids around town.  By the time I would find myself sitting in front of the computer, my brain was numbed by exhaustion and the heavy weight of all that I needed to do to finish writing my dissertation.  I. WAS. TIRED.

Yep.  And so I jotted down notes here and there that never quite got far enough to become blog posts.  Hence came my final blog of 2013, which reads more like a bullet list you might find on Facebook.  Okay.  It’s actually a bit too long for a typical FB post, but you get the general idea.  That was when I took a break from blogging.

Fast forward two more years, and I finally graduated with my Ph.D. in Communications.  Since I had so much free time on my hands and I had three of my four children attending school, Stephen suggested that I try a part-time job working in the after care program at school.  We also suddenly realized that we were going to have to find a new home to live in, because the owners of our current home of four years were making plans to sell the property.  The door opened up for us to start hosting international students (most of them were coming from China).  We agreed to take in three teenage boys (one in middle school and two in high school).  We moved to a two story house within a few blocks walk from school.  It had a huge master suite that would work perfectly for our international students to share.

The 2015-2016 school year was now upon us and I was busy taking care of seven kids ranging from the ages of 2 years to 17 years old.  Somehow my dreams of carving out time to write didn’t quite pan out the way I envisioned.  Piles of unfolded laundry and seven sets of empty lunch boxes would call out to me each night.  And, yes, I was still tired.  VERY. TIRED.

The kids grew.  They went to school and learned “stuff.”  We traveled, visited and experienced the Texan culture that surrounded us. We had “Texas-sized” adventures on weekends and holidays.  Our lives were full, but my blog was not.

The next school year would be the first time that Seth would attend school.  He was the first of our children that I would even consider sending into Pre-K 3.  I kept my oldest at home with me until he started kindergarten.  Luke and Grace both started attending school when they were in Pre-K 4.  But Seth was desperate to catch up with his siblings and he really didn’t like being left at home “alone” with mom.  He wanted to be in on the the “education” action.  So, I gave in and enrolled him to start in the 2016-2017 school year.

You would think that this would be the year for me to jump back into writing with a huge splash.  Instead, I avoided the blogging pool altogether by agreeing to teach Spanish at the school my children and international students were attending.  My contract to teach elementary Spanish soon became an agreement to also teach middle school Spanish.  All my classes were crammed into the morning hours so that I could take my three year old, Seth, home after lunch every day to take his nap at home.  I thought I might have time to write during those precious few hours of down time.  However, I soon realized it was the only time I could prepare dinner.  At 3pm, I had to get Seth up from his nap so that we could go back to school for the after school program where I was also working.  Our three international students were involved with school sports or getting help with their homework and our four children attended the after care program with me.   The program ended at about 6pm; which was just in time to reheat the dinner I had prepared a few hours earlier.

It was the busiest year I have ever had in my life so far.  Exhaustion crept into my life like a dense fog that wouldn’t let go.  I found myself working in automatic mode, sleeping less than four hours a night for weeks at a time.  I found I couldn’t write anything worthwhile or creative.  I just tried to survive.  For the first time ever, I started experiencing migraine headaches. Stephen and I attended a weekly Bible study that I barely stay awaked in enough to appreciate fully. If I slowed down or sat down too long, I would fall asleep.  I. WAS. EXHUASTED.

Then, Stephen began talking about a school in China that was interested in him.  In February of 2017 (eight years after I started my blog in Ecuador), he told me that he really wanted to move to China to work at this school.  My exhausted mind could not handle the idea of moving.  My frayed emotions rejected the change in pace it even though we both knew I desperately needed it.

We moved to mainland China in July of 2017.  Stephen and I were both working at the same international school that our four children attended.  Learning a new culture, and new language and getting our bearings in a new country was a time consuming task.  The lack of individual freedom of expression made a constant impact.  The “great firewall” of China kept us from using Internet sites we had taken for granted while living in the U.S.  Any site connected with Google was completely blocked.  Video and audio streaming was severely limited.  All social media sites created outside of China was blocked.  We found ways to work the system, but there were times when we were disconnected from the rest of the world.  It just didn’t seem the time to start adding to my blog again.  I was also a bit paranoid about “big brother” hacking into my computer and tracking my every written word.  It’s not hard to feel paranoid in a country that is constantly adding more and more face-recognition cameras in every public venue and tracks individual cell phone use for its citizens.

Our time in China ended with a door of opportunity opening for us in the middle East.  I finally wrote a blog from my home in B.J., China as we wrapped up our final days living there. Then I wrote a couple posts about our big move to Ankara, Turkey.

And here I am now.  Stuck with the same emotions I have been feeling over the past few years.  The same questions swirl around in my head as I read through the paragraphs I’ve typed so far.  Is this what I really want to say?  Does it really matter anymore?  Who really cares what I have to write about anyway? Insecurities sneak in to steal my confidence and sense of accomplishment.

Then, I remember how much I love writing.  I remember the thrill of painting a verbal picture of a specific moment of time that might catch someone’s interest and fill them with wonder or inspiration.  Now, I don’t think all my posts are quite that impactful.  Some of them are just plain silly.  But every once in a while, I will find something to write about that really shines like a jewel among the rest.  And that’s enough motivation for me.  For those of you who took the time to read this whole thing through, thank you for joining me in this small journey through the history of my excuses for not writing.

Yes, I think I will make it official. This is the end my seven years of silence on WordPress.  Hello, 2020.  I’m coming your way.

Swinging into the Turkish Language

(Visit this page to become a MK Meier supporter)

Learning any new language has its challenges.  From the fall of 2017 to the summer of 2019, our family of six had been submerged in the Chinese language of Mandarin and doing our best to learn a language with a completely different alphabet structure and way of speaking.  Stephen and I did not have the advantage of going to a formal class the way our four children did.  At least 4 or 5 times a week, they would take an hour long class to learn how to read, write and speak in Mandarin.  Our oldest son was most successful in picking up the basics of the language.  I learned how to say a few basic phrases and I learned how to count.  But I could never read more than a few general symbols in Chinese and I wasn’t able to carry on any kind of conversation in that language.

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After that huge struggle, I have been pleasantly surprised as the ease in which I am learning how to speak basic words in Turkish.  It does help that the alphabet is very similar to English, except for a few letters having accents and “embellishments” that change the sound of the letter from the way we pronounce it in English.  Being able to recognize letters, read the words and pronounce them correctly makes a huge difference in the learning curve of a language.

Before you start to be impressed, I will confess that I still don’t even know how to say “you’re welcome” in response to “Thank you” and I can’t ask the simple question, “How are you?” and answer it.  However, I have learned about 20-30 words in the past fifteen days.  So, I’m proud of myself at the moment.

One thing I am very glad to have learned fairly early are the words for “yes” and “no.” For “yes,” you say, “evet” and for “no” you say, “hayir.”

The word for “no” literally sounds like the word “higher.” Now, one might not realize immediately the circumstances in which this word is used in English that might cause confusion in the mind of a Turkish person who doesn’t speak your language.

So, let me take you to the Turkish playground where a small child who speaks English has just asked you to push him or her on the swing.  You give the child a firm push and you watch as their swinging feet move higher off the ground.  The moment of confusion would come when the child requests a firmer push on the swing with the most common command we would hear in English: “Higher!”

So, you push the child even more firmly so the swing continues its course further up and away from the ground.  As the child continues to plead to be pushed “higher!” try to imagine what it must sound like to the ear of a Turkish person.  Soon, you might have several alarmed people in the park thinking you are torturing a child who keeps yelling “No! No!” to you.

swing

But have no fear.  I have come up with a perfect solution.  Before causing any need for Turkish child services to hunt me down, I communicate to that child that if he or she wants to be pushed “higher” on a swing, they should simply request, “Up! Up!” And to get off the swing, they should say, “Stop!”

That will work for now, until I can remember the much longer phrase in Turkish that actually is “push me higher, please.” Yeah, it’s not in my 20-30 word Turkish vocabulary yet.

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

In case you didn’t hear about it on someone’s Instagram, SnapChat or FB post, this past Saturday (August 10) was “National S’mores Day.” I didn’t think about it too much at the beginning of the year when I was creating cute little calendars for my four children to hold onto for the 2019 year.  I was just trying to add as many fun and interesting “celebrations” as I could find for my kids to enjoy.

It wasn’t until the beginning of August as we finished settling into our new home in Ankara, Turkey, that it hit me that there might be groups of people celebrating this gooey and sticky tradition who might be interested in playing a card game to go along with their sweet tooth (as soon as they wash the melted marshmallow and chocolate smears off their hands).

Now, this isn’t a card game that you will find in your traditional stores.  Stephen created the game with the help of a computer art designer, and he bought the copyright so that he could sell the game through the on-line game site known as “www.gamecrafter.com” at the following site:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores
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First, picture yourselves playing this game as your stomach digests graham cracker mixed with chocolate and marshmallow.  As you and your fellow card holders flick cards into a middle pile, you wait patiently for a graham cracker card to be laid down, followed by a marshmallow card and a chocolate card and then finally another graham cracker so that you can slap the deck before anyone else does.  You either hope to win by collecting all the cards in the deck or gaining three coins (one for every s’more that you smash).  It’s a fast pace and fun game for everyone.
smashinsmores_cardssmashinsmores_frontcard(the cost for one deck of cards is less than $7 dollars USD!)
https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores

Secondly, remember that every deck of cards that is purchased is helping our family to regain our financial foothold as we transition into our new jobs as Christian workers in an international school in Ankara, Turkey.

I know I am a few days late to be advertising for National S’mores Day.  We are most definitely more than a few dollars short of living “in the black” when it comes to our financial situation.  We are amazed at the ways in which God has supplied our needs over and over again. Several people have stepped up and given us generous donations to help us with our big international move from Far East Asia to the Middle East.  But we are struggling with debt and the gap in our salary between our jobs that ended in early June and this new one that technically does not begin until the beginning of September.

If you cannot support us on a monthly basis, consider purchasing this fun game that you can play with family and friends, knowing that the money you used to make your purchase is helping us with our moving costs and getting started in this new adventure of learning a new culture and language.

Take a moment to visit the site to find out how to make this fantastic game your own:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/classic-smashin-s-mores

If you are interested in helping us out beyond purchasing our game, you can click here to find out how to help us on a one time basis or a monthly basis.

 

 

 

Urgent Need for MK Meier Supporters

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June 2019: MK Meier Kids Preparing for our big move from the Far East to the Middle East

UPDATE FOR AUGUST 2019: We need prayers for financial support.  We are so grateful for those who are praying for us already.  We have seen God work in amazing ways to provide the money that we need to move to Turkey.  However, we are still struggling to get back into the black.  We have had to borrow money that we need to pay back as soon as possible.

PRAY THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE THE ADDITIONAL FUNDS WE NEED BEFORE THE END OF THE MONTH TO COVER THE MOVING AND SETTLING COSTS WE HAVE ALREADY SPENT AND THE MONEY WE HAVE HAD TO BORROW FROM OTHERS.

Please read below to become a financial supporter:

1) WRITE A CHECK AND MAIL IT.

How? Do NOT put our names anywhere on the check! The money is processed through the organization in a tax deductible format by the U.S. government.  Although we will receive 100% of the money you sent this way, it cannot have our name on the check.

Write “OASIS” on the “To” line.  On the bottom of the check write our project number so that they will know who the money is for.  Do not put the staff member’s name on the check (per IRS requirements).  Our project number is 004250.  Mail the check to the OASIS office in the United States. Mail the check to:  OASIS, Finance Dept., 3790 Goodman Rd E, Southaven, MS 38672.  Donors are mailed a receipt after they make a donation.  This receipt has a tear-off portion (and a return envelope) if they wish to make another donation.  

2. DONATE ONLINE: http://oasisis.org/donate

 How? Choose the “Donate Now” button.  When the new page opens, you can choose a specific amount of money.  If you are interested in a monthly recurring gift, you can choose “Monthly” and the money can be pulled out at a designated day of the month for you.  

Under the word, Designation, choose “Staff Support.”   A box will pop up that says “Staff Name or Project Number.”  This is where you can type in our names and project number #004250.  Complete the billing information.  Donors can use either a debit/credit card or a checking account. After you complete the donation information, select “Preview.”  Review the donation and choose “Donate.”

3. MAKE A PHONE CALL.

How? Call the OASIS Finance Department, any time between 8 -5 (Central Standard Time), Monday through Friday, to make one-time donations or to set up a recurring donation over the phone. Make sure to have our project number on hand: #004250.   The direct number for Kim Ponder is 662-892-4332.

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The MK Meier Summer Travel Plan 2019

We are getting ready to hit the road in less than 12 hours and we hope to connect with as many friends and family as we possibly can while making our summer trip from Portland, Oregon to Gainesville, Florida.  If possible, we would like to make stops in some of the states in between…such as California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Alabama. If you see that we are going to be in your area, feel free to send us a text message.  (Our summer phone numbers are listed below).

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Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

General Summer Travel Plan:

June 17- 24 – Visiting in Portland with Stephen’s mom

June 24 – travel to Klamuth Falls, OR (5 ½ hours)

June 25 – travel to Reading and then to Sacramento, CA (6-8 hours)

June 26 – visiting a friend for lunch in Sacramento, CA and travel to Hawthorne, NV (5 hrs)

June 27 – Travel to Hoover Dam, roam the route 66 road to Grand Canyon Village (10 hours)

June 28 – Travel to Salida area (visiting Four Corners along the way) (9 hrs)

June 29 – Visit with friends in Colorado Springs and travel to Amarillo, Texas (7 ½ hours)

June 30 – Travel to Dallas, TX (6 hours)

July 1 – Travel to Richmond, TX (5 hours)

July 2 – Visit with friends in Richmond and travel to Lake Jackson, TX (2 hours)

July 3-5 – Visit with friends in Lake Jackson, TX

July 6 – Travel to Semmes, AL

July 7-9 – Visit family in Alabama

July 10 – travel to Gainesville, Florida (8 hours)      

July 10 – July 28 – in Florida

July 29 – Travel to Ankara, Turkey (flight at 7:30am!)

 

Contact Information for News and Prayer Supporters:

E-mail: crcmeier@yahoo.com

News Updates: https://mkmeierfam.wordpress.com/

 

Phone numbers: (Summer 2019 only)

Stephen – 941-401-6009

Cristina – 941-401-6065

From the Far East to the Middle East

Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: June 24, 2019

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Another school year is completed for the “MK” Meier family living in mainland China. A flurry of selling, discarding, and packing intermingled with as many final goodbye meetings that we could cram into the schedule for the first two weeks of June. As we prepared for our summer break, it was more than just a preparation for summer activities. We were preparing to leave China behind us for good.

Stephen and I have felt for quite some time that this would be our final year living in China.  As we prayed for God to show us where he wanted us to go next year, the opportunity presented itself for Stephen and I to work at an international school in Turkey, and we found our hearts being drawn to that opportunity. Although we do not know very much about Turkey, our research has shown that it is a unique Middle Eastern Country with a mix of European and Asian cultures. Unlike many other countries with a heavy Muslim influence, Turkey operates as a democratic government based on European models rather than an Islamic one.  This will be change from us after living for two years in a strictly communist environment.

Where will we be working?

We will be working at the OASIS International School of Ankara (http://oisankara.org/) which has been established since 2004 and teaches primarily international students living in Turkey with a few Turkish students who hold dual citizenship. We are currently processing all our paperwork in order to get two year working visas for Turkey. Through the OASIS branch of the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS), we will be entering Turkey as educators and staff members for the international school.  The “M” word is generally discouraged when describing what we will be doing in Turkey.

What will we be doing?

After eight years of leading different schools as the headmaster, Stephen has agreed to be the middle school principal at this school and I (Cristina) will be the high school guidance counselor. Although Stephen was offered a headmaster position at more than one school within the U.S. for next year, we felt very strongly that God was sending us to Turkey. Based on that choice, Stephen was willing to accept the position as middle school principal for the next two years. Stephen loves being an administrator and whatever administrative position that he is given, we know he will thrive.  We are excited to see what God will do through him as he becomes part of the secondary administrative team at this school in Turkey.

We are also excited for me (Cristina) to step into this new role in which I will be helping 10th through 12th grade students finish high school well and prepare for college.  I spent several years studying third culture kids (TCKs) in their transition between high school and college and observing how the use of social media either helped or hindered their development from teenager to independent adult. These studies were used to help me earn my doctorate in Communications.  I am excited to be able to interact with students in a similar capacity once again.

Our children have not quite grasped this big move yet, but we are looking forward to what they will learn and experience, as well. Jared will be in middle school as a seventh grader.  Luke will be in fifth grade, Grace will be starting third grade and Seth will be in first grade in the elementary part of the school.

What do we need?

We are looking for both prayer and financial support for the following trips:

1) Praise that our trip from Beijing, China to Portland, Oregon was smooth and we did not lose a single one of our nineteen suitcases and six carry-ons.

2) Prayer for safety as we travel from Portland, Oregon to Gainesville, Florida by car for about 7-10 days of travel across the U.S. (we own a vehicle that we plan to use this summer)
*CLICK HERE: Our summer travel schedule is provided.

3) Prayer for smooth travels and provision for all our travel needs.  We cannot send any of our belongings to Turkey in crates because we’ve been told that large packages get confiscated and/or stolen.  So, the only way to bring everything we need to turkey is to carry it with us on the plane.  We are estimating that we will be carrying an extra six to eight pieces of luggage along with the 12 pieces of luggage that we will already be carrying with us. Each extra piece of luggage will cost us approximately 200 dollars.

If you are interested in becoming part of our financial support team in helping us GET TO TURKEY, please click the link below.  NICS has provided a U.S. tax deductible way for you give both on-line and through the mail.

Follow us on Facebook as we take pictures of our summer road trip across the U.S. Pray with us as we prepare to move to Turkey. Stay connected so that we can continue to communicate as friends and family in body of Christ.

BECOME A PART OF THE MK MEIER FINANCIAL SUPPORT TEAM.

Where in the world?

Date: February 13, 2019
Location: Mainland China

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Work Beyond the 2018-2019 School year

“Two to three years.”

That was our verbal commitment when we decided to pack up six years worth of “life in Texas” and move to the far east.  We somehow managed to whittle away all our prized possessions down to what would fit into sixteen large suitcases and twelve carry on bags.  Somehow all the bags arrived at the final destination and we still had all four of the kids who boarded the plane with us at the beginning of the flight.

Much as happened since we landed in this country on the “other side of the world.” With twelve to thirteen hours separating us from the western hemisphere, sometimes it has felt like we are on a completely different planet.

As we moved into the second half of our second year in mainland China, Stephen started looking for new locations where God might be calling us.  After much prayer and deliberation, we decided that God was calling us to serve him at an international school in Ankara, Turkey for at least two years.

Look for our posts from Turkey starting in August of 2019.

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