Monday, February 28, 2011

From Home to Home

The other day Gary said, " Jimmy took me to a restaurant that tasted just like the food at home."

That's what we thought of Malaysia...HOME!

Even though America will always be where we were born and raised and hold that special place in our heart, we do feel that Malaysia felt like home.  The way we were welcomed into that country is indescribable.  I was given a book entitled "Honk if your Malaysia."  My mom has borrowed it since she is a much faster reader than I am, but I had skimmed through it and one of the chapter titles was something about the hospitality and I'm here to tell you that Malaysians know hospitality!!! 

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about the traveling from Malaysia to America.

As many of you know, Gary and I didn't arrive in KL together, therefore, our flights returning to America were different as well.  Even though we set to depart 5 minutes apart from each other Gary wasn't scheduled to arrive in Nashville until 4:30pm on Saturday Feb. 19th because he had a 14 hour layover in LA (gag me!). 

Saturday morning (Malaysia time, it was Friday night in America) we woke up, went to our last breakfast in the Sheraton, finished packing, and then just relaxed until our friend Steven Shee came to pick us up for one final lunch and drive us to the airport.  Steven took us to eat off banana leaves, because seriously where in Nashville, TN can you do that?  A sad, but quick goodbye at the airport and the journey back to the states began.  My co-worker, Jonathan, and I had found out the week before that we were on the same flights ALL the way!!  Thank goodness I didn't have to fly solo again!

Gary's flight was scheduled to take off at 4:45pm and mine and Jonathan's at 4:50pm.  Jonathan hadn't eaten lunch so we got him some food and did a little last minute shopping before departure.  Gary and I have officially decided that afternoon flights are by far THE BEST!!  You get to sleep in and take your time getting ready, granted if you did most of your packing before last minute.

Our first flight was from KL to New Dehli and Gary's was from KL to Hong Kong.  Our flight took 5 hours and 30 minutes and Gary's took 3 hours and 45 minutes.  Our 2nd flight was from New Delhi to Chicago and it took 15 hours and 35 minutes.  Gary's 2nd flight was from Hong Kong to LA and it took 14 hours and 30 minutes.  Our 3rd flight was from Chicago to Nashville and it took 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Gary was supposed to have a 14 hour and 30 minute layover in LA, but he got put on stand-by and ended up leaving earlier.  He had to stop by Dallas and he actually ended up getting back to Nashville 30 minutes after us!!  So, what we thought was going to be a long day of going to the airport twice turned into a long day of one airport trip!  Let me just repeat that it was a LONG day!!  I think Gary and I both only slept for a couple of hours on our flights.  I guess it was the anxiety of the long flight and getting to come home to see everyone.  Like I said before, Gary and I have traveled around the world!  Thank you we will take our award now please!

Side note: We had to walk outside in Chicago to get on our plane and it was the first time in 6 months...actually longer than that because it was warm when we a year that I had seen my breath when I breathed (not sure if that is the correct grammer, but you get what I mean).  Needless to say, I was freezing and on top of that I didn't have my sweatshirt on my body, but in my bag.  Also, I had to leave my rolly suitcase to be put on the bottom and stupid me wasn't prepared for all of that so I had to stand outside in the cold and put the tags and stuff on.  Don't worry I took time before all of that to throw my sweatshirt on.  I think my teeth were chattering for half of the flight though.

Jonathan and I arrived in Nashville at about 8:30am February 19th.  When we came out from the gate, there were about 20 people there cheering and clapping with signs yelling for me!  It was a great moment and yes we did get it on video, THANK YOU RACHEL!!!  I plan to put a little video together, but remember I'm SUPER busy so who knows it might be a year before that gets done.  As we were wrapping all the hugs and such everyone started saying we better hurry to get to Gary's gate....wait what??????!!!  That's right, Gary ended up getting back 30 minutes after me instead of 4:30 that afternoon!  It was a major blessing!  All of our bags didn't show up so we trusted that the airport would take care of delivering them to our house and they did a great job!  Everything got there safe and sound the next day!

We went to eat at Cracker Barrell for our first meal back with everyone that was at the airport.  It was a little hard to get to talk to everyone, but it was sooo much fun!  I definitly enjoyed the pork bacon!!  We went to see Gary's grandfather in the hospital and he was actually getting discharged that afternoon, but since he lives in Pulaski it worked out he was in Nashville.  It was good to see him and we can't wait to get down to Pulaski to spend more time with him Christine.  I got my hair cut, just trimmed, so not much different, but man did it feel great.  I think we started unpacking our boxes that we took to our parent's houses while our renter lived in our house, but everthing seems to be a little fuzzy from that day and the couple days that followed...oh yeah because I was a little sick and slept A LOT!!!! 

Being back has been GREAT!!!  I got back to work with no major issues.  I did forget a few things so I will have to have some refresher courses.  Going back to Highland has been so much fun.  You might remember that I was nervous about going back to the big church, but I have loved being back at our home congregation!  You should have seen me last night, I was just holding one baby after another!!  It was the life!! 

We celebrated Christmas with my mom's side of the family yesterday and it was awesome!!!  It seriously felt just like Christmas and my grandmother is amazing!!  We had all the same foods, everyone was there, my aunt kept her tree up, and it was incredible.  I really felt like it was december and Santa had just traveled the world the night before!  Thanks Grandmother, Mom, Aunt Kecia, and the rest of my wonderful family for making my Christmas feel sooooooo real!!!  Yes, there will be a blog post about that later.

We still have 2 more Christmases to celebrate and one Thanksgiving!!

Happy Holidays,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hi from America!

As most of you know through facebook, I know I know Natasha you hate the dreaded facebook, we are BACK IN AMERICA!! 

Sorry, I have not been feeling well since I got home and have slept A LOT!!  I even stayed home from church all day Sunday because I felt so awful!  Today is my first day back to work and even though I felt pretty good this morning, my head and this pressure, and my nose, and my flim just aren't cuttin' it for me. 

I know I have a lot of catching up to do, but you might remember that we just flew half way around the world...oh wait...actually between Gary and me we flew entirely around the world because he went Hong Kong, LA, Dallas, Nashville, and I went New Delhi, Chicago, Nashville.  We, the Washer's, have officially traveled the entire world!!  OH YEAH!!

Anyway, back to my long lost blog posts that I have yet to do...they are coming I PROMISE!!  Just please bear with me because I am going to be SUPER busy the next...oh...2 months catching up with the whole fam and such, but don't worry blog readers I know you're there and dying to hear all about my life, well at least I tell myself that to make me feel better :).

Ok so enough with the babbling, I just wanted you all to know that we are alive and well and there will be blog posts to catch you up soon...I hope!

Text me later, (oh because you can do that now you know)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am appalled!

I am sitting here looking at my blog, when I should be packing, but I was reading this and I CANNOT believe how selfish that was.  I didn't even mention the many blessings that we have gained while being here.  We have learned SOOOOO much, not only about ourselves and other cultures, but also how no matter where in the round world you go if you are a member of God's family you are welcomed everywhere!  The Wangsa family has been incredible!!  The very first Sunday I was there I instantly felt at home.  I know that this will not be goodbye forever, but see you later because we do plan on returning to Malaysia in the future.  I feel comfortable around them, I feel at home around them, and I am honored to call them family.  It's going to be so different going back home to our big congregation.  Going to a big church makes it easy to get lost in the crowd, but going to church with a family makes you realize how supportive you can be for each other.  It's soooo crazy because if one person is missing we all notice and instantly start asking where they are.  Since everyone is so close the person who is missing has at least informed one person where they are in order to let everyone else know, just like a family.  I love them and I love how they love God!  I am so excited to see how God continues to work in their lives and their ministry.  As I was searching for the LST blog, I came across this video.  This is the family that was here 2 months before I got here doing LST with the Wangsa family.  Of course you might remember that we shifted so he is giving you a tour of the old building.  It was weird seeing that video.  We have heard so much about that family and seen so many pictures of them.  I feel like I know them and they have no idea who we are, kind of scary stalker thing, but our family here loves them.

Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know that we are going to miss these people SOOOO much and some of them are even planning to come to the states and stay with us!!  YAY!!!!!


Monday, February 14, 2011

The countdown continues

I promise some Singapore posts are coming soon, but we have all of the pictures on like 3 different computers, so I am just trying to get everything together and then you will be updated.

But until then, the countdown until we return back to the states is down to 5 days!

I just can't even believe that this is almost over!  I am so thankful that my company gave us this opportunity.  We had already planned on going to India in October before we found out we were coming here, but this just made that trip even more convenient and allowed us to see places we would probably never have seen.

So, this all means we have a full week ahead...

Yesterday, we worshipped for the last time (this year) with the Wangsa family.  We didn't say our goodbyes yet though.

Today, Monday, we are going out with some people from work to eat Durian...remember this video?  We tried some in Singapore too, which you will read about soon.  Let me just say that one little bite caused me to taste it the rest of the night, so I can't imagine how eating more can affect you.  You aren't supposed to get close to someone after they have eaten durian because it smells that bad!!!  YUMMY!  I'm so excited!

Tomorrow, we are going out for a farewell dinner with some people from work!

Wednesday, we are going out either to eat Indian with some work folks or dinner with KC and Irene.  If I have to work OT, which is pretty much a HUGE possibility we will go to Indian with work people.  Honestly wednesday's agenda isn't quite confirmed.

Thursday, there is an LST kick-off party at the church, so this is when the tissue and tears will take place...SAD SAD!!!

Friday, we are going to lunch with Steven Shee and he is going to take us to the airport.  The crazy thing about that is, the Shee's are the first people I met from Wangsa and they are going to be the last ones we see. 

So, even those this week might be a sad one, we have a lot of scheduled events to keep up busy! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shout Out!!!

If you have followed my blog for any length of time you may come to realize that I love linking up to other people's blogs.  Well, this shout out is a special one because this blog holds a little special place in my heart.  I mean honestly you all hold a little special place in my heart, but I don't think that I have linked up to this blog yet and it's one that is worth reading, especially if you just couldn't get enough of my India posts.

A couple of guys from our home congregation, Highland Heights in Smyrna (not to be confused with the Highland Heights in Lebanon), hit the road air a couple of weeks ago for a month excursion in India.  I'm not gonna lie, I was a little jealous that they get to stay for a whole month, but honestly reading Tim's blog has made me feel like I am there with them.  He has an amazing way with words and has taken great pictures and video so far!  His co-traveler is Harry Anderson, who is an old pro to visiting India.  They have only been there a couple of weeks, but just like any India trip I have heard or read about, they have already experienced enough to last them a lifetime.  Keep up the great work guys and bring those souls to Christ!!!

Happy reading,

P.S. I actually follow a couple of other people who have been to India recently:
Emma - a girl I knew in college
Mrs. Sewell - FHU first lady, while I was in college

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let the Countdown Begin

Sadly ummm Gladly ummm Undecidedly, Gary and I will be returning to the states on Feb. 19.  I am super excited to be home to see our families and celebrate all of those holidays that we missed weren't with them.  However, to use the word excited to be going home just doesn't really fit this situation.  We have to go back to the "real world."  We have been pampered over here!!  I haven't done laundry or cooked a meal in 6 months.  I haven't driven a car, I haven't paid an electric, water, or car insurance bill.  We have paid off some of our small bills since being here (thank you per diem) and once we go back we have to start spending US dollars again.  When we first got here we would buy something and think "Wow, that's only $10."  But now we have the "ringgit mentality" and don't necessarily think how much something is in USD.  I wonder if when we buy something when we got home we will say, "Holy Cow that's 30 ringgit!" (which is $10).

So, for my family I will start the countdown.  People have been asking on here when we are coming home and such and if you remember I did countdown to when I left to come here, so I guess it will only be fair to do the same for going home.

For me: 10 DAYS!!!!!!!
For Americans: 11 DAYS!!!!!

Remember we are 14 hours ahead (since daylight savings), so it's already Wednesday afternoon here.  I know it all will equal the same once I'm there, but it's fun!

I arrive on Saturday morning at 8:30am and Gary will be in around 4:30pm.  Yes, we had to have different flights since my company paid for mine and we didn't even come together.

See you soon,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sleepover at the Sheraton

Gary and I wanted to do something fun with the  youth kids before we left, so we decided to have a big sleepover.  A few Fridays ago the party started at about 8:30! 

We ordered pizza

Some might have had eyes bigger than their stomachs

We played group games
Jun Ai had the right idea.  Use those glasses, girl!  At one point, Gary ran downstairs to get some of the other people that had arrived and I was the only one in the room without glasses on (Gary had his contacts in and the other 2 guys he went to get didn't have glasses on, but like I said they weren't there at this point), needless to say, they all could use their glasses for a prop for their paper...Jun Ai is the only one who obliged :).  If you're wondering what this game is...we picked a category (church people) and wrote a name on a piece of paper.  Then you switch with someone and put it against your forehead.  You have to ask yes or no questions in order to figure out "who you are."  It is quite fun and I did win!!!

A closer blurry look at Jun Ai!

We played several more group games like "I'm Going to the moon," a math game (tsk tsk if you just thought about how asians are good at math...don't worry Gary said that when they announced the game) that's not really a math game.  I'm not going to give it away in case I ever want to play with any of you.  The game we are playing the picture above is Bop It.  It is a new version that has really fun options like say it, pass it, etc.  For all of those Gilmore Girls watchers this was not used because we were bored or there was any tension :).  We also played "big fish/small," "who, what, huh?" and "ping piang ahhh" (not sure how to spell it) and then we played a combo of the three.  I think Jun Ning was going to add more, but it was getting too much for people to handle!! 

We had crazy fun camera time...

Our group shot!
Top: Jun Ning, Zach, and Hua Feng (I love his model pose)
Middle: me, Gary (watching TV), Jun Ai, Chee Hoe, and Idy
On floor: David and Samuel

Then it was time for bed...
Since there were only 3 girls we took the big bed and guys spread out on the floor in the living room.  I heard that they had a little trouble sleeping because there were snorers.

The next morning we got up and had pizza and whatever else we could find for breakfast!  Some went home and some of us went to the bread making fun at Gan's house.

It was a fun night with some super fun people that we are going miss greatly! 

Different Cultures

Disclaimer: This post is not saying that I am angry or upset with anyone who might have been involved, it's simply a story I thought my blog readers would find interesting.

With that being said, you all know that we were in Singapore last week for Chinese New Year.  I still haven't updated on all of the fun we had, but hope to do that very soon. 

Well, this story actually begins here when I read this.  I had heard from other people that the Asian culture is very honest when it comes to health and weight.  I have also heard people say things to others since being in this country, and just like sometimes in the US, I feel embarrassed for that person.  I'm not super easily embarrassed, but when someone calls someone out in a crowd of people I might get embarrassed even if it wasn't directed toward me (you know that feeling I'm talking about).  I posted a comment on here and I'm not kidding you the VERY next day someone said something.  We were sitting around the table with a group of people I didn't know very well at a church we don't normally go to and one of the ladies said, "Kimberly you have (insert blown up face and arms out body language here) since the last time I saw you."  I have no idea what my face looked like, but I simply said, "Yeah, what can I say I like the food here" and Gary added, "that's an office job for ya," just to ease the tension a little bit more because it got quite silent after my comment (note: Gary's was a nice comment and didn't upset me, just in case you were wondering).  My eyes teared up a little, but I was able to re-gain my composure and move on and act like nothing happened.  By the time Gary and I got home I was over it enough to not cry.

BUT THEN...this last week we went to visit A LOT of houses and meet A LOT of different people for the Chinese New Year.  It was the first day of CNY (Thursday) and we had already been to a couple of houses, I think, and this was one of our last stops.  Just a little CNY's tradition to take the owners of the house (if they are older than you) a bag of two mandarin oranges and wish them a happy and prosperous year.  So, when we got to this house we were looking for the oldest lady.  She was back in the bedroom.  A little background on this lady...she is older and, I was told that, she suffers from dementia.  My grandfather has that so I know sometimes they might say some crazy things.  She didn't speak a lick of english so someone was translating for her.  I gave her my bag of oranges and she said some things about CNY and then looked at me and giggled and said something else.  The person translating laughed and said, "Do you know what she just said?"  and I kind of smiled and said, "No, what?"  and she replied, "She said you were fat."  I held my composure together for about 5 seconds to wish the lady a happy new year again and walk out of the room.  I then lost it and could not stop crying.  I know that she was a sweet old lady and didn't mean any harm by the comment, but at that moment in time with not enough sleep, being super emotional, and who knows what else was going on, it just hit the wrong way.  I really really tried not to make it obvious that I was crying, but once Gary started being super sweet and rubbing my back and telling me it was ok there was no going back.  One of the cousins, that I had met the night before, came over and asked if I was ok and said, "Come on let's get out of here and go outside for a minute."  Remember there a TON of people I don't know at this house right now and here I am a blubbering idiot.  I got up and walked outside with her, only to be followed by some other people.  They kind of talked to the cousin for a minute and she managed to turn around and go back in.  We found a bathroom to hide out in for a few minutes until I could regain my composure.  She didn't even ask what was wrong or anything, which I have decided is the best thing to do in a situation like that.  She just started talking about randomness to get me laughing.  This particular cousin is from Australia, but her mother was raised in Singapore.  She was telling me how her mom always hurts her friend's feelings by the comments that she says.  So, that was my opening to fill her in on what just happened.  She comforted me and told me that I was beautiful (the exact words I needed to hear) and just re-enforced the fact that this culture is different than the one I am used to.  This is not saying that Americans can't be harsh when it comes to certain things, but usually it's not people that you don't know saying things about you.  Anyway, once I went back out to the party the person who was translating did come over and apologize.  I was not mad or anything, it was just the wrong time to say something, I guess.  Anyway, nothing else was ever said about it.

I felt that my American friends and family should A) Be forewarned that I have gained some weight since being here and B) Know that you don't have to point it out once you see me.  I know I don't need to give excuses, but moving to a different country and not having the comforts of your normal routine can have some bad side effects (for some people).  On the other hand, Gary has the time to work out during the day and has gained weight in muscle. 

This story reminds me of this.  I just love that JC!!

Anyway, I didn't write this for you to all write a comment about how I'm not fat.  I wrote this to remind you that when you are traveling you have to remember that some people were raised differently and might say things to hurt your feelings when they don't mean to.  So, do your research and learn as much about the culture as you can before you go.  If you do that hopefully you will be able to blow it off and not have a break down in the middle of a celebration!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sorry no Singapore updates this week.

I am working from Gary's laptop this week and it's kind of old so I'm having issues getting pictures and such onto the blog, so hopefully as soon we get back to Malaysia and THE MAC I can update you all on our week in Singapore.  Just know that we are having lots of fun!!!!