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Poppy Elizabeth

Poppy Elizabeth Sands was born on Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 3:47am. She weighed 7 1/2 lbs and was 19 inches long.

We did make it to the hospital (I was worried about the hour drive), but we didn’t have much time to spare! We left the house at 1:30, got to the hospital around 2:30, I was in the assessment room (where they make sure you’re really in labor and decide to let you stay) at 3:00, and she was born before 4:00. Myka and Emery came to meet Poppy on Monday evening, and we came home on Tuesday. The last couple days have been filled with cuddles mostly, but also two trips back to the hospital for our follow up appointments.  I am looking forward to not making that trip quite so often!

Everyone is doing well. I think Stephen might be the most tired, poor guy. He is doing an amazing job keeping up with things around here. Packing Myka’s lunch for school, getting her on the bus, cleaning up, cooking, holding Poppy so I can rest… I am so glad he is around! I am also very grateful for friends who have stepped in and helped in so many ways. Having a supportive community not only makes life easier but makes it more fun too.

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community = limited

Community can be defined different ways, and I consider my extended family, friends who live on the other side of the world, and even people I only know on the internet to be parts of my community.  But there is something about the people you can touch, eat with, and live with.  Video chat is amazing but it’s not the same as being able to hug someone or talking face to face.

We live in a compound in Saudi Arabia. My tangible community is limited to the people in the compound or people Stephen meets at work; it is very easy to only spend time with people I like and simply avoid anyone else. I cannot drive here (no women are allowed to drive), so I only go out with my family, in a taxi we’ve arranged with friends, or on the compound bus on a weekly grocery trip. Being on the bus is the only time I have to interact with people I haven’t specifically chosen to be with. Before we moved here I would have been around people at church or MOPS (a mothers of preschoolers group) or when taking a class at the gym. Those are great ways to meet new people but could also put you right beside someone smelly, rude, or overly friendly.  For better or worse, that doesn’t happen to me here. Sometimes I miss it and the people it would bring into my life, but it also makes each relationship I have here a bigger part of my community.

About a week from now, four of our friends will live farther away from us.  One couple is moving to a newer compound about half an hour away.  We’ll be moving there eventually (sometime this fall), but we have to wait for the construction of new units to be complete.  The other couple is moving to Doha, Qatar which is a 4.5 hour road trip or a short plane ride away.  Right now they are a short walk away.  The ladies come with me on our weekly bus trip and help with Myka and Emery.  They stop by some afternoons just to sit and talk and drink iced tea.  I will miss them immensely.  In fact, thinking about it has me tearing up, and that doesn’t happen too often.

However, that is the nature of where we are and this kind of work.  People come and go a lot.  We get plenty of practice in saying hello and goodbye.  Being intentional about community, about really having people be a part of our lives, means not holding back even if people are going to move away. It means getting out of my comfortable space – being at home, having my few friends – and building relationships that could be quite short.  But who knows…maybe some of these friendships will last a lifetime.  I hope so.

I pray that I’ll be open to new friendships, that older friendships will continue even with distance between us, and that my children will behave on our bus trips.

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My sister-in-law writes about community and life in her blog Texas Schmexas (schmexas.wordpress.com). With a new baby girl at home she doesn’t have as much time to write on the blog and has asked several people, including Stephen and me, to contribute. So I started thinking about community and what it means to me.

Here are some of the things that came to mind:
Hospitality, build friendships, share life
Help and be helped
Because I love God, he loves me, I love the people around me
I bake too much and we need to share or we’ll get fat

We live in a compound in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.  There are many nationalities living here in the compound, often language is a barrier, and sometimes cultural differences seriously strain relationships (like loud music at ungodly hours…I’m not friendly when I can’t sleep or you’ve woken my children up).  There are no Christian churches here.  When we have moved before, finding a church was always a first step in building our new community.  But we’re figuring out what building community looks like here.  We focus on inviting people into our home, often for meals.  I send baked goods with Stephen to work.  We are kind and friendly to the workers here on the compound.  We have taught our children to be friendly, smile, and wave.  And we are finding where our boundaries are.

I’m excited to start being more mindful and aware of how community looks in our life here.  And I’m thankful that doing so will keep it as a priority when so often I can let it slip to the background, content to be at home with just our little family.  Plus, I really like baking…

I’ll post links to Schmexas when we write something over there.  Go read some of her past posts!  She is a brilliant thinker and a beautiful writer.