Posts by mkmeierfamily

I grew up as an "MK" in Latin America and a "third-culture kid" (TCK) whose faith, work and ministry came together for the first time when teaching at an International Christian School in Seoul, South Korea. I left that position to marry Stephen Meier (also an MK and a TCK) who grew up in Austria and graduated from an International Christian School in Vienna. Together we are always looking for opportunities to serve the Lord at international Christian schools, but we don't shy away from opportunities to serve him in the United States. We are also raising our four children to be global-minded, Jesus-loving and others-serving individuals.

Understanding Hidden Prejudice

I have a hidden prejudice against a certain group of people.

There.  I said it.  I’m posting it online for the world to read and digest.  Where did it come from? How did I discover that it existed within the walls of my soul, influencing the way I acted around this group of people and how I felt about them?

I will gladly tell you about it.  But first, I think I need to just clear the air for anyone who is trying to figure out who the target is for my hidden prejudice.

Smokers.

ashtray

I have an issue with smokers.  When did it start? I think back to my early years, listening to my teachers and parents talk about the dangers of smoking, and all the anti-smoking campaigns I have heard over the years.  Perhaps my perception of smokers was based on the stories I read about people burning to death in their beds from a lit cigarette or forest fires started by someone who was smoking. I’ve seen the litter caused by unused portions of cigarettes and I have endured second hand smoke from people smoking in public places. In my mind, all this added up to the conclusion that smokers are weak human beings who can’t stand up under peer pressure and don’t have the willpower to quit.  They are irresponsible, lazy, messy, rude, selfish and don’t care how their smoking habit affects those around them.

Special note to any smokers or former smokers reading this who are among my family or friends, I DO NOT FEEL THIS WAY ABOUT YOU.

Isn’t it great how the human brain can compartmentalize people and situations separately? Some thoughts and feelings that may seem to be contradictory can be rationalized within our minds based on the category in which we place them.

Somehow, I’m able to reconcile my beliefs about smokers in general by putting them in a separate category from the specific people with whom I have an established relationship.  In this way, I can feel very differently about people I care about, who also happen to smoke.

I would never call my friends or family members irresponsible, lazy, messy, rude, selfish or uncaring.  I KNOW THEM.

I think this is a very important point when trying to understand hidden prejudice.  I’ll explain more in a minute. First of all, I want to explain how I discovered my hidden prejudice toward smokers a certain summer afternoon about five years ago.

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rainonwindow

Here’s the story:  My husband and I, with our four little kids, were enjoying ice cream with his sister’s family at a local ice cream shop in Mobile, Alabama.  As we got ready to leave the store, we realized that it was pouring down rain outside.  We had left our umbrellas in our van which was parked on the other side of the parking lot.  As I stood under the small overhang area outside the store, watching my husband run out to the van, I tried to figure out the best way to keep the kids from running out in the rain. That was when I noticed someone standing nearby smoking a cigarette.

My gut reaction was immediate.  I groaned internally, as I thought to myself, “Great.  Not only are we going to get soaking wet, but we have to deal with this guy’s cigarette smoke, as well.” Every negative thought I had about smokers came to my mind as I picked up my two year old and tried to subtly gather my four year old, six year old and seven year old together so that we could stand as far away from the smoker as possible.  In my mind, he was just another irresponsible, lazy, messy, rude, selfish and uncaring individual.

And that’s when the man did something unexpected. As my husband pulled up with our family van, the man put out his cigarette and came running over to me with an open umbrella.  I was taken aback as he insisted on helping me get the children to the car so they wouldn’t get wet.  It took a couple trips, but when we were done, I smiled sheepishly at him and thanked him.

As we drove away, I realized three important things:
1. I have a hidden prejudice against smokers.
2. Not all smokers line up with my prejudice.
3. My prejudice against smokers isn’t an accurate portrayal of all people who smoke.

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Now I’d like to come back to my earlier point about understanding hidden prejudices. The best way to find out if you have a hidden prejudice, it is to test how you feel when you see a stranger in that specific category.

Begin by asking yourself, what is your gut reaction when you see a stranger in a specific category?  How do you feel when you don’t have any other information about them beside the category that jumps out to you first?  What if that category is a skin color?  Or people of a specific nationality?  Or people from a specific area of town or neighborhood?   Or people who hold a specific type of job? Like the police? Or lawyers?  Or journalists? Republicans?  Democrats?

I think some of you are already feeling that gut reaction just looking at the words I’ve written above.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that categories of specific people groups should be compared to the bad habit of smoking.  Obviously, those are two different things.  People are not a bad habit.  But when we are talking about how prejudices form, the same principles apply.

What I had to realize is that every experience that I have in life either feeds on the prejudices I have or breaks those prejudices down.

After all, there are plenty of examples to backup my prejudice against smokers.  I still see cigarette butts littering public areas.  I still hear about people starting fires accidentally because they weren’t responsible with their smoking habit.  Not too long ago, when I was stepping off an elevator, a smoker stepping into the elevator blew a huge puff of smoke directly into my face.

FIND YOUR UMBRELLA PERSON

umbrella

However, realizing that I have a prejudice against people who smoke, I can stop those prejudices from influencing my reaction to strangers who smoke by thinking about my “umbrella” man.  Now I can remind myself that not all people who smoke are irresponsible, lazy, messy, rude, selfish and uncaring.  In fact, some are very kind and will go out of their way to help a stranger who is caught in the rain with four small children. 

I am so grateful for that moment.   One moment was all I needed.  Because of that one moment  I was able to have a bright, vibrant example of unmerited grace extended to me from someone I was holding a prejudice.  We all need to find those umbrella people in our lives in order to break through our prejudices.  I can’t think of anything else that will influence our souls in a more powerful and effective way.

BE AN UMBRELLA PERSON FOR OTHERS

I also think this situation can be quite meaningful when reflecting on the racial, political and social tensions we are seeing today.   Whether we do it intentionally or not, many of us fall into a category of someone else’s prejudice. How can we provide an umbrella when there is a downpour of fear, hate and anger raging outside?

umbrellaI want to become that “umbrella” person for others.  Sometimes it’s not enough to just know in my head that I don’t stand for injustice, social inequality or racism.  But I know I can’t fight hidden prejudice with words alone.  I have to do it with actions that contradict those gut reactions that stem from the roots of the prejudice beliefs held about certain people.

I want to go back to my prejudice for people who smoke.  If a group of smokers started protesting against non-smokers (like me) by destroying things, committing unlawful acts and being hateful in the efforts to force me to accept their smoking habits, that’s only going to feed the prejudice I already have for them. In the end, that is never going to change my mind about them.

Also, consider what would happen if that  group of smokers try to win me over with facts and figures to dispel my opinions on smokers and change my behavior toward them?  They could tell me about all the people dying for obesity and abuse of alcohol or other types of drugs.  They could be logical and straight forward, and have some really great arguments in their favor.  But mostly likely, they still won’t change the way I feel.   The reason why logic doesn’t usually help to win over people with hidden prejudice is because those prejudices don’t reside in the logical spaces of our minds.  They get stuck in the dusty, dark places in our souls that we don’t like to show people.  In a debate of logic, the prejudices we have usually ends up builds a wall between our brains and our hearts, and the members of each side remain fixed on the opposite sides of the debate.

What makes the difference?

It only took one man extending grace toward me.  And that’s what being “an umbrella person” is all about.  It’s about grace extended from one human being to another. It’s the grace that keeps the rain of fear, anger and hate from drenching our souls, and brings us together under the umbrella of grace even if we stand on different sides of an issue or platform.

In the end, I have to decide if I’m going to allow my prejudice to grow stronger based on all the bad examples I’ve seen and experienced, or do my best to look for umbrella people in my life.

You can find them, too. And they are out there. I promise.  Sometimes we have to search long and hard for them, because they don’t often show up in the media and they are not usually the ones seeking the attention of the masses or trying to make a name for themselves in social media.

In the meantime, I will also do my best to become an umbrella person for others. I hope in some way, my article has provided a bit of an umbrella for you, the reader.  Know that you have intrinsic value beyond your skin color, your nationality, your job or your social status.

selfworth

 

 

 

 

Preparing a “RAFT” while the ship is sinking

David C. Pollock was a sociologist who did various studies on children in internationally mobile communities.  He labeled these children as “third-culture” because their parents’ home culture and language were different than the culture in which they were currently living.  These children often balance speaking different languages, adjust to different climates, and learn different cultural norms outside of their home. For some of these families, this cultural adaptation happens again and again during the course of their childhood so that many different cultures impact the way they view the world.  This process has both its positive and negative affects on the way these children eventually identify themselves as adults.

Part of his studies focused on the negative impact that comes from the losses these transient children (and adults) experience as they often are relocated to new and different cultures.  Pollock created a strategy using the acronym, “RAFT” to help people process the emotions of leaving people and places they love and to be able to transition to their new location.  This building of a RAFT includes a plan to help deal with the emotional loss of separation and to be able to connect well with a new location.  IN this plan, you take the time for reconciliation, show appreciation for meaningful relationships, and make time for those important farewells while getting prepared mentally for a future destination.

raft

It’s a great plan….if you have the time to do it.

But what happens when you don’t have the basic ingredient to this plan? What if there is no time?  It’s as if someone says, “The ship is sinking!” and everyone around you starts to abandon ship before you even know what is going on.  In the midst of it all, someone says, “Oh, yeah, build this raft! Hope you make it!  Bye-bye!”

The first example that comes to me is a recent experience I had living in mainland China.  There was a national campaign in 2018 to remove as many foreigners living in the most heavily regulated cities.  Foreigners were arrested, questioned and detained if there was anything out of order in their paperwork.  After that, 90% or more of those foreigners who were “detained” (a.k.a. sent to Chinese prisons), were deported.  Specifically, whatever belongings could be brought to the airport by co-workers or friends was all that they had to take home with them. They were sent directly from the detention center to the airport on their final day in China.  There was no chance to say good-bye or even make sure that all personal belongings had been retrieved.  A friend of mine, whose name will not be disclosed to protect her privacy, taught her students for the last time before Thanksgiving.  As she wished them a “Happy Thanksgiving”, she had no idea that would be her last interaction with them.    She spent Thanksgiving Day in a police station and was sentenced to be in a detention center for five days. This turned into three weeks in jail which ended in a one-way flight back to America.  She was also informed that she would not be allowed to come back to China for at least three years.

How does one build a RAFT in the aftershock of being pulled away suddenly from a place you call home?

And what about our situation now?  In early March, everyone thought they had plenty of time to prepare for end of the year goodbyes. But the coronavirus that has spread so stealthily across the globe has also infected end of the year plans and cancelling any hope of being able to reunite in a normal school setting.  Teachers now face the tough reality that they already gave the final hug and last high five to their current students for the year.  Some might be reunited at the beginning of next year. Others will be moving on to a different location. The U.S. embassy in Turkey encouraged its citizens to consider leaving Turkey now or face the possibility of not being able to find any open flights in the summer time. For those teachers not returning in the fall, this means having to pack up their entire lives, skipping all the heartfelt goodbye moments to leave early while still trying to finish teaching their students online.

How does one build a RAFT when it feels that a huge strip of time was ripped from our hands? How do we stop the clock of life which seems stuck in fast-forward at present?

As someone who grew up as a “third-culture” person, I wanted to offer a few insights that I have learned over the years.  There is a lot I have learned especially after getting married in 2005. I have made five major international moves with my husband and four children in the past fifteen years.  So, I’ve had a lot of experience with both good and bad closure.

When you are left building your RAFT at the last minute or trying to build it after the fact, here are some things to consider:

R = Reconciliation.  The “R” in RAFT was what Pollock was saying needed to happen within interpersonal relationships that have been broken between yourself and others.  That is still important, but there is a new dimension added when you have a sudden departure from your current location.  It important to realize that you need to reconcile yourself to the situation that caused you to have to leave early.  Recognize the hurt and pain you feel.  If there is anger involved, find a way to deal with the anger.  Finally, find a way to make peace with your situation.  Know that God is in control and he will help you find a way to make closure happen in the future, if it didn’t happen before.

My favorite example of this brings us back to the story of my friend who was deported from China.  She was one of my son’s teachers.  The summer after her deportation, we were able to meet up with her in the U.S. and spent an afternoon together.  It was a special time of closure.  She told me that several of her students were able to connect with her through social media or even in person since she had left. She was also able to connect with colleagues and friends from China after some time of being back in the U.S.  She told me how she found peace with God’s timing for the circumstances surrounding her departure from China.  Her story reminds us that reconciliation doesn’t always come when we expect it, but in small moments that arise over a long period of time.  Sometimes building a RAFT is a work in progress that you will continue doing long after you move to your new location. 

A = Affirmation.  The “A” in RAFT was finding ways to appreciate the special relationships that you are leaving behind.  When the departure is sudden, it is no longer possible to show this appreciation in person.  Social distancing does not allow for the traditional methods of showing appreciation.  We think of banquets and concerts and gatherings where a large group of people can reflect over all the wonderful people in their community. These traditions have been dashed amidst the concerns that everyone maintain a safe, social distance from each other.

This doesn’t mean that affirmation is impossible.  It’s just a bit more complicated and a lot more remote. Even when your carefully planned events fall through, don’t close yourself off to creative alternatives. In the end, you might find that the process of appreciating people through online or distant methods become more meaningful on a personal level. You might be surprised at how meaningful these new ways of affirming people can become in this present situation.  

F = Farewells. The “F” in RAFT is a tough one.  When thinking of an actual raft, the A’s and R’s are the piece of wood, but the farewells are the strands of rope you use to pull the whole raft together.   One of the most painful things to hear is, “I didn’t even get to say good-bye.”  In the same way that you need to find new ways to purposely affirm valuable relationships in your life, you should also find different ways to say, “Goodbye.”  This applies to those who had to leave early and those who got “left behind.” If someone special to you had to leave before saying good-bye to you, find a way to connect with that person even after they’ve left.

Pollock emphasized planning events in which you can say, “Good-bye.”  But sometimes, even the most well-planned events can fall through. Sometimes, there is no time to plan those events before the departure.  Don’t let yourself think that just because the departure has already taken place that you can’t say goodbye.  The most important part about farewells, regardless how sudden or planned they are is to remember that goodbyes NEVER have to mean the end of a relationship.  To wish someone a “farewell” is simply to wish them a good journey in their future.  It is simply the closing of a chapter, not the ending of a book.  Look for the opportunity to rise in the future for meaninful moments of connection and farewell.  

T = Think Destination. The “Think Destination” in the RAFT is like the paddle or the rudder to your raft.  Pollock was specifically talking about focusing on the new location where one is moving so that it is possible to emotionally disconnect from the past and keep moving down the path of life.

However, let me suggest that we take this concept and go one step further in thinking of our destinations.  I believe if we think about our final “destination,” it should fill each one of our hearts with hope.  Why is that?

Because I believe that if we are all part of the same family in Christ, our final destination will be together again.  We will be in a place where there are no more tears, no more separation, no more goodbyes or farewells.

As you walk down the path of life that God has given you, “think destination.”  As you remember all the wonderful places you have lived and all the wonderful people you have met and those special people who have taken a small piece of your heart with them, “think destination.”  With every tear that falls, “think destination.”  With every smile at a happy memory you hold, “think destination.” As you reconcile the pain and sadness with great joy and gladness, “think destination.”

I have to be honest.  Sometimes I get really homesick.  But I am homesick for that final place when all our sorrows will be erased and no virus can ever separate us from the ones we love.  Time will stand still and we can all worship our Savior and Lord together.  What a glorious day that will be!

Links to Global Organizations that Work with Global Families:

Families in Global Transition:
https://www.figt.org/

Global Nomads Group:
https://gng.org/

 

 

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

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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.

Turkishalphabet

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
smashinsmores_deck

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.

OASIS_LOGO

 

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).

asphalt blue sky clouds countryside

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

cropped-world-map.jpg

 

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.

turkeyflag.jpgOASIS_LOGO

Meier Family Deliveries of 2013

Date: Monday, June 10, 2013
Location: Lake Jackson, Texas

Once again, I find myself scrambling to catch up after many months of silence.  My writing endeavors have been limited to reminder notes for the daily basic things of life and random posts I’ve managed to put on Facebook.  I have to admit that only about 50% of the witty and charming ideas I have thought of putting on Facebook actually make it there. Usually, my thoughts hit on something especially “Facebook” worthy at a moment when I cannot access my computer.  By the time I’ve actually sat down and logged in, I can’t remember what I had wanted to post several hours (or days) earlier.

So, when I think about writing for my blog or attempting to work on re-writing the first few chapters of my dissertation, it usually becomes a fleeting thought that never quite materializes in during the busy, awake time of my day.

The last time that I attempted to update my blog, I was still pregnant with my fourth child.  We were expecting another boy.  We had decided that his name would be Seth Adrian Meier and we were hoping that we wouldn’t have any major complications in giving birth.  We were also praying for God’s provision since our health insurance doesn’t cover maternity costs. We made our final road trip to Florida over Thanksgiving break and returned to Lake Jackson, Texas to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s and to await the birth of our son.

FamilyPic FamilyPic_cousins

(Cristina’s side of the family took pictures in Gainesville, Florida)
White – Philip’s family / Red – Cristina’s family / Black – Anita’s family / Black with design – Tim’s family

Christmas_MKMeier1 Christmas_MKMeier2

(Christmas / Maternity Photos – December 2012)

Now, we are nearly half way through 2013, and our fourth child is nearly five months old. The months in between have brought many adventures our way.  If I were to summarize the highlights in a series of Facebook posts, it would probably look something like this:

*New Year….Baby on the Way.  We can’t wait.

(39 weeks pregnant)

*Luke had a blast at his firefighter birthday party. I can’t believe he’s four already.  I’m glad I didn’t go into labor today.

birthdaycake birthdayboy

*Uh-oh.  I found out that I do have placenta accretta and will not be allowed to go into labor naturally.  They are going to schedule a c-section for January 17.

*Praise the Lord! Seth Adrian Meier was born with no complications.  My placenta came out without any problems.  I am looking forward to going home in a few days. I am grateful for my mother being at home with my other three kids.

Seth_waves Seth_unhappy

Seth_mommy

*Jared enjoyed celebrating his “half” birthday at school today. He’s five and a half today (January 25).

Kids_withbaby

*My mom went home after her three week stay.  I miss her already.

Mommy_baby

*Grace keeps getting ear infections.  She might need to get tubes in her ears.

Grace_sick

*Valentine’s Day is so busy! I’ve spent so much time making valentines for all the kids in Jared’s kindergarten class and in Luke’s Cubbies group that I hardly have time to make anything special for my family.

Valentine's Day1 Valentine's Day2

*We’ve been discovering the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s celebrate missionaries worldwide.  I might even try to make some Irish soda bread.

StPattysDayFamily IrishSodaBread

*Grace is the first in our family to start seeing a chiropractor. I never would have guessed that these adjustments would work so well to help clear the fluid in her ears.  The ear specialist agreed that she doesn’t need ear tubes and that her hearing is perfect.

SweetGrace

*We enjoyed Easter with the kids this year.  No one was sick this time around.

EasterFamily EasterTrio EasterBoys EasterEggHunt

*Grace turned two years old!  She loved being dressed up as a lady bug for her lady bug birthday party.

Grace_birthday

*Seth is 100 days old today (April 27)! It’s the only time I dress up in my Korean hanbok to celebrate the occasion.

Seth_100Days

*BCS had a successful auction and was able to raise a lot of money for the school.  Several scholarships were donated so that more students will be able to attend in future years.

BCS Auction

*We celebrated Stephen’s birthday at school today (May 1).  Jared’s kindergarten class came to his office to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.  Jared made a birthday cake for him all by himself.

Stephen_birthday

*Another school year is quickly coming to an end.  Jared graduated from kindergarten on May 21. We are so proud of our eldest son.

Jared_graduationpic

*The weather is finally staying warm enough to bring out the pools.  The kids are excited about this summer.  Jared is already planning on what he wants to do for his sixth birthday.

Summer_banner

So, there you have it.  That is a rundown of the most important events that have happened this year so far.  I look forward to adding more posts in the future.  I hope all the writing ideas that formulate as I’m driving or folding clothes or making dinner actually get typed at some point in the near future.