Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Lost Tenge


I found cornflakes at a local supermarket. They’re kind of expensive. Well, they’re not really expensive, but they cost more than other foods. Anyways, I’m addicted. Not just to the plain taste, but to the simplicity and the convenience. I just got home from a long day at work and I don’t know what could be better than a bowl of cornflakes and cup of steaming green tea. Can you think of anything? Didn’t think so. Cold cereal is something of a commodity anywhere you go outside the US. It is often a foreign concept to the indigenous people. When I went to the Dominican Republic I remember them having corn flakes, but they served it with warm milk. Something about that just doesn’t feed my appetite. Most of the time what local people call “cereal” is oatmeal and I am so sick of oatmeal. There is but one problem with cornflakes. I can eat 12 bowls and it feels as though the crispy little flakes evaporate in my esophagus taunting my hunger and making it impossible for me to feel full. But, enough about cornflakes. This week is exam week. I mentioned that earlier. I wrote two exams today and spent 2 ninety minute periods answering questions and grading papers. I have a mountain of papers to grade. Certainly grading is the fallout of all educators. I have yet to meet a teacher that will tell me he or she loves to grade papers. It is tedious, but I do get to see the minor improvements that my students make and that makes me happy. For those of you who don’t know I teach at an English language center. This means anyone can come to the center to learn English. I don’t teach at a typical school. My students are from ages 10-60. I also get to play with a group of 3 kids on Mondays and Thursdays. Starting tomorrow I am also going to be having this private tutee that will come in on Mondays and Thursdays as well. This means I have to go to the center earlier and don’t have all my “relaxation” time. Life is rough here in the ol’ Republic of Kazakhstan.

Today was a long day. I set my alarm for 8 so I could shower and clean things up before Yelena got here at 9. My alarm was playing Fur Elise and instead of hopping out of bed I let it play and enjoyed the nice tune as I quickly drifted back to sleep. I woke to the buzzer. She was at our door and I was not even dressed. I sometimes amaze myself at my ability to rapidly throw things together. People think I move slowly because I am always late, but in reality I am always moving quickly, the reason I am late is because I get distracted easily. So I threw on some clothes and shoved the mess under my bed. I invited Yelena in and of course, had to make her some coffee. The repair guys came to fix our washing machine. Except not all was well. I once went with a friend to the Mac store so she could have this problem with her computer fixed. Of course, once we got there and she showed them the problem there was no problem. That is what happened today. The repair guys came and viola they couldn’t even fix the problem because a problem didn’t exist...until after they left! I hate the washing machine. Underneath my bed lies a sea of dirty clothes, but let’s keep that between you and me. After the laundry incident I went into Dutch mode and started to clean everything. After all, we were having guests and I have turned into my parents in the sense that I cannot have any mess laying out when guests are coming over. After cleaning I immediately started lunch. I decided to venture into the unknown and make a stir fry with some veggie meat that Steven’s mother so graciously snuck into his suitcase. I ended up throwing a bunch of junk into the pan and making it up as I went along, but it came out tasting quite delicious. We had fun hanging out with the girls as usual. It’s nice to be around people from your own culture and by culture I mean country and generation (age). We also use the time to complain and brag about our students. We show off our students’ abilities and chuckle at their innocent blunders, all in good fun of course. In the little bit of time I had between the guests leaving and classes, I wrote the exams!

I dropped a tenge today. Like a one tenge coin fell off my dresser and rolled under my bed. A tenge (remember it's pronounced ten-gay) is worth quite a bit less than a penny. When is the last time you saw somebody even bend down for a penny? Even the locals wonder why they make those shiny, nearly-worthless coins anymore. As I watched this coin sneakily roll under the bed I decided that it would not be worth the effort of crawling underneath the bed to get my un-prized possession, after all I have bills equaling 2000 tenge within arm’s reach. Then my mind started to wander (as it so often does) to Luke 15 and the parable of the lost coin. Jesus told this short parable in this manner:

“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Some people take the 3 “lost” parables of Luke 15 and tell how Jesus went and saved something valuable like a silver coin, or a sheep, or a precious son. How we are so valuable and Jesus couldn’t help but save a bunch of beautiful people like us. But, I was thinking that the only reason we have any value is because Jesus says we have value, because Jesus’ love gives us value. If we step back and look at the cosmic situation from a culturally independent human standpoint I see it differently. That lost coin wasn’t very valuable. She had 9 others and it was only silver, no gold, and no diamonds. When this world fell into the pain and enticement of sin, Jesus watched a tenge roll under his bed. One tenge, seemingly worthless, and after all He had plenty more tenge within arm’s reach. Quite often, I feel like a tenge, a small, ordinary coin that has seemingly no value. Sometimes I wonder why they even make little coins like me anymore, but then I remember that my owner swept the house and looked in every nook and cranny until He found me. And the coolest part is when He found me, He was excited. So excited that He threw a party. Honestly, who throws a party over one tenge? But, that’s Jesus for you. This Guy is obsessive when it comes to love.

1 comment:

  1. Love this blog. Love you! An inciteful thought for this day when we await the news on grandma. No doubt.