Thursday, August 14, 2014

Off the Wagon

So I haven’t had the opportunity to rat myself out yet, because clearly there are just so many other things I must tell you about.
Maybe “must” is a strong word choice; “desire to” might be more appropriate.
If you follow me on Instagram or on Facebook, you will already know this, but I feel I must be completely forthright in telling the rest of you that I experienced a slight hiccup in my experiment last week-end.
Things were going along all fine and well, and we were celebrating one week down…and I mean that in my most-excited voice. Can you hear it in your mind?
When about 8pm on Saturday evening, the doorbell rang. We assumed it was a neighbor seeking the PBA to come out and play (clearly they don’t know that the apples do not fall far from the tree and they may or may not have already been in their jammies, cozied up to watch some TV…yes, on a Saturday evening. Don’t judge.)
But just to make sure, we sent the PBA to answer the door. Technically, only one of them needed to open the door; the other one was present to hold Indy. They don’t really both need to do this job, as we have explained to them numerous times, but they are so concerned about the dog running away that they continue being insane about it.
Can you tell it drives me a bit batty?
And really, would it be SO terrible if he ran away? We keep telling the boys that he would come back, but they fail to be convinced.
Clearly our record at honesty has been sketchy.
Anyway, at the door stood our neighbor…with a plate of “meat pies”…this is what he called them.

They looked more like quesadillas to us, but the spices were definitely not Mexican…they were aromatically-Asian.
And smelled ah-mazing…but I probably don’t have to tell you that.
Which makes sense because out neighbor is Chinese. Not Chinese-American, mind you…Chinese. From China. As in they have been here only a few years and have an accent to which I really have to carefully listen to ensure my white-bread, Anglo-Saxon mind understands and responds appropriately.
But I am getting ahead of myself a bit and need to back up and fill in some back-story.
Our neighbors moved in almost three years ago; three years in November, to be exact, lest you care to make a note of it.
I don’t know why you would, but I try to give as many details as possible. (This is not news.)
In that three-year time period, we have had casual conversations on occasion. A wave here and there. Brief exchanges about lawn care. Very shallow, basic stuff.
When their twin boys were born last spring, the wife/mom (whose name I have no idea how to spell or if I am, embarrassingly, unsure if I am even pronouncing correctly; chances are I am off by at least a touch) came over to ask me a few questions about babies.
Because I mean come on! Behold these amazing children which I have spawned…of course I’ll have all your answers!
Plus, I think I was the only one in the neighborhood they had really ever spoken too.
And I lived next door…sometimes you just ask the person closest to you. Think back to when you were in school…did you ALWAYS sit by the smartest kid in the class? Probably not…if you had a question, you asked whoever was closest…someone who may or may not have truly known what he/she was talking about.
That was certainly not the situation here, I assure you…
I thought maybe, just maybe, a friendship might blossom. But no, it never did… they both work full-time and had new twins, so I chalked it up to there not being much room left for new friendships.
But to be honest, I didn’t put in much effort; I was mailing it in, so to speak.
So ever since last summer, our interaction with the neighbors has mostly been a friendly wave, some ooing and ahhhhing over the babies when they brought them out for a walk and
Until July 27 of this year…or, as I like to call it “The Day I Was Convicted To Seek Relationship With Them”.
That was the day in which I heard a teaching which spoke aloud all the whisperings I’d heard for months.
I sat there in my pew and knew what I needed to do next: take those people some zucchini bread.
Because what better way to invite relationship than through food.
And God knows I have PLENTY of zucchini.
Since I know full-well that you really want to know what convicted me, you can check it out on this page. Scroll down to:
Genesis 10 – Tongues & Tribes
July 27, 2014 by Randy Spacht
Fortunately for me, we had not begun the experiment yet. I'm certain you were anxious about my sanity and baking zucchini bread right at the beginning. No worries…I would have told you about this much sooner if I’d had a mental break-down over it.
So because sometimes God needs my help with how things should go down, I had it all scripted in my mind how the bread delivery would go down. I'd told God what I needed, as this visit was definitely, in my mind at least, two-fold:
To build a bridge and possibly begin true relationship with the neighbors,
As well as to confess my lack of knowing without a shadow of doubt their names and absolve myself if that guilt.
So all day I felt my anxiety's not easy to confess a fault.
I’m certain none of you have ever had to do that, but this was definitely not my first rodeo.
But still…a little anxious.
When I saw that both of the neighbor's cars were in their garage, I knew they were both home from work and it was time to go on over.
I grabbed my bread and toddled out the door.
I took a deep breath and slowly blew it out as I waited for the doorbell to be answered. It actually took a minute or two (because why would it be quick... I felt slightly like I was going to vomit).
When the door opened, it wasn't the husband or wife who lives there which stood before me. But a family member visiting from China. Who knows seems to know two words in English.
For my astute readers, I bet during this exchange you can tell what those two words are.
Visitor: Hello!
Me: Hi, I live next door… (pointing to my house)
Visitor: (Head nods and points to my house)
I nod and point again at my house for emphasis.
Me: I made this bread and wanted to share it with you.
I'll confess I was trying desperately not to yell...even though everyone knows that when talking to someone who doesn't speak your language the best way to make certain they understand is to be loud. And speak slowly...don't forget slowly.
He smiled, put his hands together, gave a slight bow, said "thank you" and took the bread.
As he disappeared into the house I realized the exchange was over...going exactly as I'd planned.
Ok not at all.
Days went by and I didn't know what to think...did I offend? Some cultures don't want men talking to women with whom they are not family...
Or maybe they thought it was disgusting and they didn't want to be rude and tell me.
I wasn't fishing for a compliment. Truly.
But I was very-much second-guessing my decision.
I’m sure that you’re shocked.
Then the next week MR. AR was working in the yard when the wife (remember, still don’t know her name so I can’t mention it here) came over and thanked him for the bread.
She said, "The boys…they love it; it was their favorite. My husband asked me to get the recipe."
Oh glorious day...everyone knows that's high praise when you're asked for the recipe!
So he relayed the message (he’s such a good husband) and I copied it for her. I even included a note saying how glad I was that they enjoyed it and to please let me know if she had questions on the directions.
I was trying NOT to make assumptions because CLEARLY I do not know this family near-well enough to accurately be able to discern all their culinary practices.
But I had smelled their cooking through their open kitchen window (more than once I may have stood there and sniffed deeply…don’t judge) and have never noticed anything similar to an American-style baked good.
And though I knew it highly possible that she has, I didn't know if she'd ever baked with any of these ingredients.
And did she know what a "loaf pan" was?
I, the queen of Google searches, know full-well that she could totally Google each and every one of her possible questions. But I had my fingers crossed that she would ask me instead.
Days turned into more than a week and I feared the worst...NOW I had offended them. Surely this wasn't just my insecurity talking.
And then on this past Saturday evening the doorbell rang. Fast forward to then... We sent the PBA to the door blah blah know all this.
Re-read the intro if you’ve already forgotten.
The boys immediately began apologizing that we could not share in this bounteous gift but that they would sacrifice and eat them on our behalf.
My 11yo even ran to the kitchen and poured himself a big glass of whole milk because he heard the word “pie” and assumed it was a sweet treat.
Not one to be easily thwarted, he drank that glass of milk with this savory treat, unwilling to acquiesce that perhaps, he has misunderstood.
But I digress.
Well, Mr. AR and I knew we could not offend the neighbors we were so fresh in relationship building with by not eating their generous this "7 experiment" sounds crazy to our friends; how much crazier would it sound to our neighbors?
We didn't want to risk attempting to explain it.
And we could not lie and say we enjoyed them but had not tried them. (Lying is wrong, FYI.)
So with our consciences remaining in good standing, we divided up those meat pies lickety-split.
We got out good plates and real forks... It was like a little party.

Believe me it felt like one.
So all this to say: yeah, we tried them. And we would do it again if given the chance.
And they were ah-mazing.
Ah-mazing. (So much so that not only did I ask her for the recipe, but I asked her to teach me how to make them. So yeah...I'm totally trying to finagle an invitation into the house.)
I'm certain that their ah-mazingness had nothing to do with the fact that we'd been on 7…because the PBA were right there beside us inhaling them.
To be crystal clear…the PBA inhaled them; we did not. This is telling: we honestly did NOT inhale as we may have done just a week prior. We ate slowly. Lingering over each and every bite. Thankful for this blessing.
The blessing of this food and the blessing of a confirmation that I hadn't messed anything up.
Yet…give me time. I am fairly certain there are many ways I could unwittingly offend a person from another country. 
Stay tuned for details.
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  1. Quit beating yourself up, especially since you ate something to amazing! Now, if you'd fallen off the wagon for something that sucked, that would be different.

    1. I know...I'm mostly frustrated that after an exchange of food that has gone both ways, I still don't know there names! :)

  2. I go through most of my days talking to people whose names I should know but don't. As long as you never have to introduce them to someone else, don't sweat it. :) I am enjoying the fact I can picture this since I have actually seen the elusive neighbors and their twins.
    Let me know when you learn how to make those pies. I'll be happy to try them. :)