Saturday

I had intended to write a pretty detailed blog post last night about my experience conducting the questionnaires for the second time. After our full day, however, I ended up falling asleep with Senya while putting her to bed only to wake up bright and early this morning feeling refreshed but surprised that the morning is here. I do want to take a minute to jot down some notes about yesterday, though.

Yesterday’s questionnaire distribution was a pretty impressive experience for me.

60 pupils in Standards 6-8 (grades 6-8) participated at this particular school. As we went through the protocol and the assent forms one final time, I noticed that some of the kids looked incredibly young to be participating. I wondered if they would be embarrassed at the nature of the questions related to sexual behaviors. But the youngest-looking pupils asked some pretty involved questions during the questionnaire. At one point, one young pupil asked:

“what if we only took our clothes off and were naked together and deep kissing, does that count as playing sex?”

At which point, Terry (my good friend and research partner) turned to me and said,

“Lindsay. What if you take your clothes off and are naked and deep kissing with someone? Is that playing sex? Please explain what it means to play sex in detail.”

Oh, man. I knew she was cracking up on the inside. Terry has an excellent sense of humor which makes this job even more fun. So, I plunged in to a concise and precise explanation of what playing sex is–while Terry drew a diagram on the board, and both with straight faces because this is important stuff. We definitely want kids to be able to feel free to ask questions, but (internally, at least) I can’t lose sight of levity when it is present. I think it’s part of what enables me to do this kind of work. Because sometimes things do get really heavy; we got some pretty intense questions related to rape, related to HIV/AIDS, related to condom use, and other serious matters. We decided to have a Q&A after the questionnaires are distributed, and I think that this will be helpful. My experience there definitely underscored the need for an HIV/AIDS and sex education intervention in these schools.

After we finished work, we went to the beach around 3 or 4:00, and we had such a good time. Senya recognizes the beach now, and she gets so excited when we approach our pagoda overlooking the ocean where we always set up our stuff. She squeals and kicks her chubby little legs when we walk toward the ocean. She LOVES beach time. She has some tiny tan lines in the creases of her chubby little arms and legs, and this is possibly one of the cutest things my eyes have ever beheld.

We stayed at the beach through the dinner hour (the restaurant closes from 3-7, so we stayed until we could order our usuals there). By dinner time, Senya was fast asleep, so Collin and I enjoyed a moonlit dinner overlooking the ocean while Senya napped to the sounds of the waves crashing in the balmy sea breeze. That is, she napped to the sound of the waves crashing, and the sound of her favorite Arcade Fire song on repeat, but that was implied.

So there we were, eating some Swahili dishes at what feels like a mythical spot in the moonlight, after a successful and moving day of research, and I felt a warm feeling of love spread over me. Love for Collin, love for Senya, love for this life. I know I sound like a broken record, but it took A LOT to get here this month. That was the uphill climb, and it was grueling. Now here we are, though, on a beautiful plateau overlooking the scenic view of our lives. And I am filled with hope. I will have to see if it’s enough to get me through a final semester of work and school. I really don’t know; I feel like I made it to the end of this semester and my final work conference with my physical and psychological health barely intact. But there is enough hope and good filling my heart right now that it is soothing the parts of my soul and mind that were in anguish this past fall. And I am resting in that.

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16 Responses to Saturday

  1. mam says:

    wow you have your hands full with the research and the questions they ask..but knowing your intelligence wisdom and sensitivity you probably fielded each qt. so well…one thing i think that is so fantastic also about this month is that you are enjooying your little family so much….living in the mmoment, knowing that each one is precious…and relaxing…well, in your way, by doing a survey half way around the world 🙂 how is sen doing with the food? she looks like she really wants to walk in your pictures…

    • Lindsay says:

      thanks, mom! sen is doing great with the food! thank you so much for it. she really loves to eat! a girl after my own heart for sure.

      and yes, she seems like she wants to walk and do everything else, too! she is SO active. you will love to see how much she is doing these days!

  2. Min says:

    Lindsay, you are an inspiration. You are living out the dream of many women: to be successfully doing what you love and enjoying life. I know I am not related to you, but I am proud of you. 😉 and that baby of yours is so darn cute I can hardly take it!!! Sending love, support, and prayers your way! Looking forward to more posts. -m

    • Lindsay says:

      thanks so much, min! that’s so kind and encouraging of you to say! and we agree about sen! she gets many, many, many incessant kisses and squeezes from us.

  3. Sare says:

    Linds- i am so happy for you guys!!!! so happy that you are having such a beautiful time!!!! you guys truly are an inspiration in so many ways!!!! we love you three!!!! and i cannot take these pics!! Linds- you are so beautiful and Sen is ADORABLE!!!!!!

    • Lindsay says:

      thanks, sare! we love you guys, too! thanks for your kind words, sare! we are really thankful for this time; it’s been so special and sacred for our little family.

  4. Jessic says:

    oh man, those tiny little tan lines in the folds of Senya’s chubby little rolls? Forget it. Too adorable.

    And I am glad that you are working so closely with someone who has a nice sense of humor intact. You’re right: that’s so important for this kind of serious and sobering work.

    And that ocean scene you described…Well, it’s good to hear about that kind of stuff. It’s good to hear about the grueling job it was to get to that place, too. Makes me remember that hard times sometimes do end up in beautiful places. Thanks for that:)

    • Lindsay says:

      about those tan lines—right?!?! out of control cute. you are going to have to see them for yourself upon our arrival home.

      and yes, a sense of humor is so essential to both survival and success. i really don’t know where i’d be without my ability to laugh through the best and worst of times.

      and i am glad that the part about how difficult it was to get here spoke to you 🙂

  5. Michele Poplo says:

    Lindsay,

    Your posts are just beautiful! I can literally feel the rest and relaxation you are experiencing. I’m so glad you, collin, and Senya have this time together. I’m praying that God will bless your dreams to stay there for an extended time.

    • Lindsay says:

      thanks, michele! i’m so glad you are reading and that you find it meaningful! thanks for your prayers, too, and all the effort that you’ve put into the coordination of funds and other logistics for the work here.

  6. Rachel Liu-Ballard says:

    lindsay:) i love reading about your adventures, you guys are seriously so amazing. such important work you are doing, it must be so hard at times. i’m glad you have the beach as a respite. i’m sure you are learning a lot as you go along, i can’t wait to hear about it. senya is seriously edible:)
    saying prayers for you all tonight. lots of love.

    • Lindsay says:

      thanks, rachel! aw, so fun that you’re reading! we think you guys are amazing, too. and yes, we are learning so much as we go! i hope we see you soon so we can all share what we’ve been learning and doing! thanks for the prayers and love. same to you!

  7. mam says:

    oh and linds…i definitedly see in one of these pictures that senya has the same shape eyes that you have ….

    • Lindsay says:

      really?!? so fun. i think it’s so cute that she’s sporting the recessive blue. it’s such a surprise!! and now some of her hair is coming in blonde!!! it’s so funny to me.

  8. mam says:

    i thought i saw the blonde recently….at the roots….but again linds the shape of her eyes is like yours….in that picture with her tongue hanging out in all its cuteness…maybe our senya girlwill be full of surprises

  9. judy says:

    Linds,
    I’m so happy that you are getting to experience some reward for your efforts…the satisfaction that the work is going well…and the restful times you get to spend together. Your description of being on the beach in the moonlight with Collin and Sen gives me the feeling that in a small way it’s a preview of what it will be in Heaven when we finish this journey, and can rest in satisfaction and the beauty that God created for us to enjoy.

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