Malaysia

So we are not in Nepal! Not sure if you all caught that at the end of the last blog. We rerouted from Indonesia to Malaysia on November 11th. Our plans changed for several reasons.

Our last week in Indonesia was pretty tough. We were all travel exhausted and the effects of constant transition were taking its toll on our family. I was down for the count, knocked out by something that we thought was dengue. Two blood tests later and I still do not know what I had, but the kids caught a version of it as well.

Picture this:

Hottest week to record in history in Makasar, Indonesia. Constant fevers making it impossible to leave the air conditioned bedroom of the house that we were staying in, that just happened to be located directly next to a mosque who blasted the call to prayer over a megaphone 5 times a day.

Talk about being in a dark spot.

More significantly, Jackson had a noticeable decline in hearing again so we knew we needed to get his hearing tested sooner than waiting until we returned to Thailand in December.

So we booked flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and checked into an airbnb which later would become 1 of 5 Airbnb’s over the course of our stay in KL. Oh yea, before getting to KL we had already stayed in 9 hotel/houses in 2 months time.

We knew that we would be living nomadic for our 3 month forced exit from India, but we averaged a new place every 5 days. Can you feel my pain????

On the bright side, we knew we were making the right decision for our family and we had an ABR (sedated hearing test) scheduled for Jackson at Gleneagles Hospital 2 days after arrival.

Garrett, Gracelyn and myself also had checkups and walked away with 3 prescriptions each. How does Adam avoid this? I think someone needs to create a vaccine from his DNA.

We spent the first 4 days in KL returning to the hospital. Ill explain why in a bit.

But we also spent our time in Malaysia walking through Chinatown to the Pavillion Mall, taking grab cars to Suria KLCC mall and outdoor playground, visiting the Petrosains twin towers, eating donuts, visiting indoor playgrounds, going to the movies and seeing all of the christmas decorations up all over town.

Not sure if I am the only one who has noticed. But it seems everywhere we have gone around the world, marvel characters seem to be there!

Thanksgiving came during our time in Malaysia. At first I did not want to celebrate. Too many expectations to meet or let down during such a transient time. But we made some friends back in Indonesia that happened to be in KL and they invited us to join them! I never expected to celebrate Thanksgiving, and see Christmas decorations everywhere here in Malaysia, but I was grateful for both.

Well, as for the results of Jackson’s hearing test, little did we know our small re-route from Nepal to Malaysia would bring about a major re-route by the end of the month.

We had suspected a decline in jacksons hearing but we didn’t know how significant. Jackson’s hearing is now at a severe hearing loss level. This makes 4 declines total in his 4 years of life.

At this point we have been told that it is time to consider cochlear implants.

Back when Jackson first received his hearing aids we attended a support group for families of children with hearing loss. Many of the children in the group that were Jackson’s age already had cochlear implants. A representative from cochlear came and spoke to the group. I felt compelled to ask questions and take notes, as if this was an inevitable part of our future.

When we found out Jackson has Ushers Syndrome type 2, we were told to check his hearing every 3 months due to his rate of decline, even though ushers type 2 is not typical of progressive decline.

I just had a feeling we were headed this way.

With Ushers there is inevitable vision loss at varying degrees making it even more important to stabilize hearing.

So here we are now, almost 1 year since he received his hearing aids and we find ourselves spending the majority of our time scrolling websites about cochlear implants and discussing possibilities for surgery.

After considerable research and counsel from his audiologist in orlando, we know now that he is a candidate for cochlear implants, that he has maxed out his current hearing aid capability, that his hearing has declined roughly every 3-6 months and dropping and that the window for speech and language development is closing rapidly. Because of this, after great prayer we have decided it is time to return to the U.S and begin the process of pursuing cochlear implants.

Before we left for India we knew that he had hearing loss caused by Usher’s syndrome. At the time, we felt that we had everything we needed to care for him well even in india. We did not expect two declines in hearing while overseas.

It is clear now that we do not have all we need to care for him and our family unit well and thus we will be headed to upstate NY where my extended family is while we pursue cochlear implants for Jackson. During this time we will wait on the Lord to guide our next steps.

Being rerouted is hard. Having to wait is hard. Not understanding is hard. And trying to make sense of it all is exhausting.

Our journey has been one with setbacks and times of riding the wave, it has held changes in plans, open doors and closed ones.

Through it all we have tried to rest in the things we know to be true. The things true of ourselves, our needs, our abilities and limitations. Things we know to be true for the season we are in. And always the truth of who Jesus is and who we are as believers and followers of Christ. He is good, faithful and sovereign, no matter what. “He is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1

It is not our circumstances that makes this true, it’s the calm we experience in the presence of our circumstances. The calm that only comes from the Holy Spirit. The “peace that transcends all understanding.”

And with that, all we can do is the next right thing.

Yes, you heard me. I just quoted Anna from Frozen 2. But in all fairness, we saw the movie twice while here in KL and those songs are now engrained in my mind. And confess, I may have teared up during that scene.

So the next right thing for us looks like heading back to India, packing our bags and heading to the US.

Please pray for our family as we try to repack and transition once more.

Indonesia

10 years. We have been married 10 years! What better way to celebrate then heading to

BALI!!!

Bali is a place that we would never have visited had we not already been on this side of the world. So we decided to spend our first two weeks of Indonesia in Bali before heading to an island in Indonesia called Sulawesi. We saved up some birthday money since Garrett, Adam, Jackson and Gracelyn all had birthdays in the past 3 months and decided to stay at a hotel with an awesome kids pool and slide. They were so pumped. The day after we arrived it was Jackson’s 4th birthday. We had so much fun celebrating and enjoyed the hotel staff as they helped us celebrate Jackson too.

The beach was a close walk from our hotel and we got to see so many sea creatures just wading in the shallow waters.

The kids had so many questions about Balinese culture. every where we turned there were statues and gargoyles and temples.

In fact, we were all so intrigued that we decided to rent scooters one day and travel through town to visit a place called Puja Mandala. In one location, side by side are 5 different places of worship including a Hindu temple, a Mosque, a Buddhist temple and both Catholic and Protestant churches.

As intrigued as we were by the various religions and presence of endless puja stands every 5 feet, there was one place that captivated the kids attention like no other.

……Pirate Bay.

Our kids have had quite the cultural experiences this past year. As much as we hope to have deep probing question and answer sessions with them about what they are seeing, how it makes them feel, or what they think, we know that they are kiddos. In one breath Garrett will ask us, “Do they believe in Jesus” and before we can get an answer out, he’ll shout, “What! A pirate ship!!!!”

All these things for some reason reminded me of a passage of scripture in Luke 2:15-20, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherd returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

I don’t know why I keep thinking about this passage when I think about my kids and all that they have seen and witnessed this past year. Maybe I am storing all these realities up in my heart, and maybe they are too. For example, walking through Bali there were so many offerings on the ground made of flowers and straw, leaves and incense. The kids would sometimes accidentally step on them or knock them over. We asked a local about their significance. The reply was that the offerings on the ground are to ward off the evil spirits and the offerings up high on the temples and statues are to encourage the good spirits. Of course there is so much more to it than that.

Every space available had a temple or statue and offering and it appeared that a great deal of motivation behind the daily rituals was that of thanksgiving and fear, all to appease the spirits. Do not get me wrong, I am by no means an expert on world religions. I only understand as much as I learned by seeing and asking questions.

But witnessing these practices caused me to reflect in thanksgiving on the freedom I feel that I have in my faith in Jesus Christ. I have stored up this treasure in my heart that daily I know that I can not earn His love or appease His wrath. There is only one God and one mediator, Jesus. My righteousness is in Him alone. He was the ultimate sacrifice and nothing I do or do not do can add to what He has already done. In Psalm 51 16-17 it says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O god you will not despise.” It is by realizing that I am broken, and sinful and in need of a savior that brings me to my knees daily, thanking the Lord for His grace and unconditional love.

I am also so grateful for the chance to see so many different people, cultures and worldviews, stuff that I had only read about, I have had the chance to see firsthand. And Bali had so much to it. I am so grateful that we had the chance to visit Bali both in tourist areas and local living. I surprised myself how much I enjoyed the food! But one of the coolest things we did was visit to a Luwak coffee plantation. It was there that we learned that Luwak coffee has a special backstory. The coffee beans are eaten by a furry little animal kind of like a raccoon or cat. The animal then poops it out, processing the bean even further. Which is then dried and crushed. The sight of Garrett taking part in the process made me laugh since he has always had a fascination with helping us make our morning coffee. We all enjoyed a spread of various different teas from the plantation. My two favorite were mangosteen and lemongrass. The avocado tea was surprising as well. Later in the day we hiked through some rice paddy fields. It was invigorating to take in the culture, the outdoors, the agriculture and to see our children’s faces light up with intrigue.

Our last day in Bali was Halloween! Still can’t wrap my head around what time of year it is while we are over here in the tropics. Adam and the boys had a fishing date while myself Gracelyn and a friend of ours went out to the local grocery store to find some unique treats for our trick-or treating evening planned at our friends house. Early the next morning we were back at the airport and off to Sulawesi, Indonesia.

I wish I could share more about our time in Sulawesi. Unfortunately, I fell very sick on day two. So sick that I was tested for dengue fever twice. I still do not know what I had, but I never want it again. The upside was we celebrated our beautiful first born’s 8th birthday, AND I got to have another Starbucks!

See you in Malaysia!……