Monday, January 24, 2011

A pause

This picture as taken while I was in the hospital and then blown up poster size to be given to me.

Today I will take a break from my memories to share with you an essay my daughter wrote in for a writing assignment. Hannah is in fourth grade and is none years old. She still brings up this event in our lives every now and then and when asked to write about an eventful memory, this is what she chose to write. (I will write it as is without editing it at all.)

Mom's Accident

Hannah Panter

It's October 28th, tow days after Sarah was born. Usually it is calm, but today, total opposite! Mom was in bed resting, Oma was in the restroom, and my brother, sisters, and I were eating a vomitroshious supper. "Blugh!" Noah said. " "This is naa-stty!" "Yeah." Abigail agreed. "Veggies with jello don't mix." While we were sitting at the table complaining. Oma had just gotten out of the bathroom and was checking on mom. "Oh, my goodness!" She exclaimed. Mom's lips were blue! "Emily!" She raced to the kitchen where we were still complaining, and asked us, "Hannah, tell me you phone number, zip code, and address. Quick!" So while I was filling in the blanks, screams were coming from mom's room! First Oma called dad, then 911. Dad was coming in the door just as the paramedic was lowering mom on a stretcher. We all dug our heads into the cough cushions. We ran around the house praying. It was like half a month and mom hadn't come back yet. One day dad explained to us what the doctor had said to him. "Well guys, mom's heart is sort of...kinda...leaking. There's also something wrong with her lungs too. Guys, I just want you to be praying even more, because the doctors told me might even die. In fact, not even might. They said...will." The other half of the month passed by. Mom was still pretty unconscious. It was horrible!We spent another month without a mom. You wouldn't want to be me. Now I know how orphans feel. Sad. Lonely. Two more weeks past by while I was going to school with my neighbor, coming home without the usual "Hello" mom would give me, and baby saying, "Mommy?" But amazingly, we got word mom was walking! Hooray! We put up banners, made cards and even visited mom in the hospital. It was the third time mom got to hold her last baby in two months. Forty-eight days. Dad came home from the hospital that night. And mom was with him. From then on, you know, usually it's calm, but then totally opposite!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An exercise in memory part V

1989 we moved to Punta Arenas, Chile. This was by far my favorite location, although I loved each place we lived for the stage of life I was going through at the time. Punta Arenas and all the surrounding area is beautiful, and there is so much to do if you are a person who enjoys nature.
I remember our first day of school there. They had all of our middle names listed first on the roll at school so the kids thought Jason (Thomas) was black, Jeffrey (Shane) was oriental, I (Kristin) was from Europe, and Joel (Phillip) was a toss up between American or French! We all took to school quickly and I believe I can speak for all of us and say we all had a pretty good experience.
Our house was neat. Once again we were all blessed to have our own room, and I think Jeff even got a space to himself in the basement for a music room of sorts. He and Jason got a pattern to a puppet and proceeded to make several versions of this pattern each. Dad helped them build a puppet stand and this became a regular part of our Sunday School mornings.
We served in all three of the pastorless Baptist churches. They were in three very different locations of town, so we would rotate. Eventually Dad would guide them through joining and becoming one church, we began by meeting on Sunday evenings in one of the fire stations in town. I remember going early to se up the chairs (just so), but not until we had swept up all of the many cigarette butts and ashes.
I loved that God always seemed to locate us very strategically so we could be helpful to mom. We lived two blocks away from a bakery and a physical therapy office (which began working with Jonathan from the time he was just a few months old.) We lived just around the corner from a quiosco (a small, general store type place that worked for small errands.) Two or three blocks in the other direction was a fruit and vegetable store. So we kids, even the young ones, were able to experience tremendous feeling of freedom and safety as we were allowed to roam to these places and help mom out.
I loved our many weekend trips to the beach to go beachcombing and our trips to see the penguins. I remember it was always so windy on these trips it was a challenge to stand upright and breathe. All the trees in the whole area of this region grow sideways as a result of these strong winds. We went to a fort where the first settlers of this region lived. But one of my favorite places was Torres del Paine; a national park where we often went camping. This park had many, many lakes and not a single lake was the same color; and each one was a shade of blue you never knew existed in real life, outside of doctored picture. One of these trips was just Dad, Jeff, Joel and me. Dad had terrible hay fever and spent the whole weekend sneezing and when we played a game of cards in the tent, he placed a handkerchief on his lap and would periodically ‘milk’ his nose. On our way home we stopped at a river to fish one last time. Dad had bought a special lure he was told always worked. And sure enough, he got a bite on his first cast! It was a huge fish. He reeled it in and we saw it right there in the water as we waited for someone to go get the net. But as we were waiting it snapped the line. So we had to try again. As we fished we saw the first fish periodically jump out of the water trying to shake the lure free of its mouth. When we decided to quit and were loading into the car, we looked up, and right there, not even 15 feet away, was a fox crossing the road…with a duck hanging from its mouth!! It was so cool!
I have so many wonderful memories in Pta, Arenas I cannot possibly tell them all. But I remember it as being a special time of family because no one else was around. I remember many good things and some rather awkward things. I had a cast on both feet there (not at the same time) Jeff had a back brace. I got some of the worst haircuts of my life…no, I got THE worst hair cut of my life there…and I think mom did too. I became a ‘young lady’ in Pta. Arenas—awkward. I straightened my hair once there with a perm. Joel would have a tough time with school till they would finally realize he was dyslexic. But I also remember that everyone in town, it seemed, knew Joel; he was a social butterfly. Jonathan was absolutely adorable these years. Jason would graduate and leave home. So many changes, but mostly all for the better and all a huge part of who we all are today.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

An exercise in memory part IV

Our first stateside visit was in December of '89. Jonathan was just a couple of months old. I remember Aunt Becky picking us up at the Amarillo airport. She had an ice cream tub full of puppy chow for us to snack on. This would be the first real memories I would have of any of my relatives. My grandparents house in Borger, TX would also become the only thing in my entire life never to have changed. This first trip would last four months (while we were out of school) and would involve lots of visiting, shopping for our crate and eating out. My grandparents owned a Christian bookstore that was part of their home. I loved looking around in it. And they had an intercom to the house and I thought that was so cool.
Some of my favorite thins on this trip? Going swimming at the college, eating at Mr. Gatti’s Pizza Buffet, going roller skating, and playing dress up in MaMa’s old dresses and high heels with my cousin Amy. We would play for hours on the back patio, pretending that we were flight attendants and that the pilots of the plane where our boyfriends. We would go to the park and watch our brothers do tricks on the swings. Someone loaned us a brown suburban. We would load up and drive to Amarillo to go shopping. Amy and I liked to ride in the back facing backwards. I was amazed by WalMart and Toys R Us.
Going to church and visiting the school was a little intimidating for me. I felt out of my element and uncomfortable with my grasp of the English language.
We would also go to DFW area and visit my Mema and then my Papa Bill. I had no previous memories of them before Chile. Joel and I would ride in the back. We would sit facing each other with the side windows to our backs. We would pretend that everything we saw out of the window in front of us was ours. This would entertain us for hours. We would have to take turns listening to each others music, and for some reason my music seemed to annoy the boys (mostly Amy Grant and Sandy Patti.) These trips were fun and in a way a whole lot slower paced than the Dietz side of the family. And on this side, I had two girl cousins, Anna and Abigail, and my brothers had no boy cousins! Yay for me! Mema lived in a cute little house in Arlington and Papa in a mobile home in Irving. He had trains and bar stools that swiveled.
This trip was a fun one. Just long enough. By the time we would head back I believe we were all ready for some routine again. Only we would be moving back to a new city: Punta Arenas, Chile located on the tip of the southern cone.

Friday, January 14, 2011

An exercise in memory part III

August 16th, 1985 (my Parents 16th wedding anniversary) we arrived in Chile. We would begin a stint in Temuco, Chile that would last till December 1988. I will only address memories in this time frame in this blog. I was 5 years old when we arrived, and it is at this point that my memories begin to take on more flesh to them. I will not bore you with every single memory I have of this time, but I will highlight a few. I would like to say, that despite the usual sibling arguments,I had a very happy childhood. I am keenly aware that I was privileged to experience so many things that other children my age were never exposed to.
When we first arrived at Temuco, we stayed in an apartment located on the bottom floor of a school building. The ‘Colegio Bautista’ was a very large school that would hold many memories for me in the years to come. Not only did I go there for K-3rd; but this was the location where all the missionaries would meet for one out of the two annual meetings, so it had a feeling of a family camp ground to me.
The fun thing here is that when classes let out, my brothers and I could go anywhere on this enormous campus. To the play ground, the covered gym like patio, or the many cool places where we could hide in a game of hide and seek.
After this short stint we moved into a rental house for a while. We called it the ‘Prieto house’ (that was the name of the street.) My first and worst memory here was that we had not gotten our crate yet. We had no window coverings. My parents but newspapers on the windows; one of the pages in my room was a front page picture of a boy, about my age, who had been bitten by a brown recluse. It was the stuff of nightmares. I don’t know why I didn’t tell them it was there, I’m sure they would have changed it.
This was also the house we were living in when we bought our TV. I guess it had been a while since we had had one, because I came home from spending the night with some other MKs (missionary kids) and was shocked and so very excited! I told the rest of my family to keep it quiet and not to tell my brother Jeff (who had also spent the night but hadn’t made it home yet) anything. I suggested we see how long it took him to notice the TV. Everyone agreed. So, of course, the minute I heard the gate…I ran outside screaming at the top of my lungs that we had gotten a TV!!
This was also the year that I began to notice some things. I knew my family believed in God. I believed in God. I believed in Jesus. But I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I were to die, my Parents would go to heaven, and I would go to hell. I was aware of the fact that their life was theirs and that mine was mine. I was solely responsible for my life alone. I was petrified. I remember asking my mom every night before I would go to bed if she thought I might die that night. I was very worried. Finally one night she asked me if I wanted to talk to my dad about this fear. I said YES. Well, he was in the tub, but I would not wait, I had business to take care of! We talked and I understood my need to personally acknowledge to God my short fall; to recognize the work that Jesus had done on my behalf; and I had to personally accept that free gift and then willingly surrender my lie to Him as Lord and Savior of my life. I was so relieved! This was October 5th, 1985.
We would then move into what is still my favorite house ever! The ‘Massmann house’; it was amazing! It was an old country style home. It was very large and we each got our own room. The yard surrounded the whole house and in the back there was a little ‘hill’ that was fun to roll down. This house was on a dead-end street and it had a guard’s station so I was allowed to freely roam the street. It was here I learned to ride my bike; an activity that I would love to do for years to follow. I would ride up and down the street while pretending to be a news journalist.
One year we had a hurricane type storm although we were inland. The winds were unbelievable. Well, because our whole yard was fenced in by a 6 foot rod iron fence, my parents let us go out and play a little. We would go to one end of the yard run a little, jump, and the wind would carry us the rest of the yard! It was a blast. Joel and I would have to run to the inside corner of the house just to breath!
This yard also had a huge pine tree in the front yard. The limbs stretched about ten feet in every direction, but they didn’t actually start until about six feet of the ground. This created a shelter of sorts. It would become a favorite play spot for me.
It was also in this house that my Mother experienced a miscarriage, and then later another pregnancy resulting in my youngest brother, Jonathan. I was almost ten when he was born. He has Downs Syndrome. He has proven to be one of the best things in my live. He has taught me unconditional love, a joy for life and all of its experiences. He has taught me to appreciate the things that come easily to me and to work hard at the things that do not. He is a masterpiece of God and has the ability to teach the world so much about what really matters. I love you, Jonathan!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Exercise in memory part II

Mom and Dad surrendered to the call to missions. I don’t remember many details of this next phase in my life either. I know we were in Richmond, VA for orientation and I remember one day of preschool lice classes there. I also remember there being a man who could talk like Donald Duck, but that is all. We also went to Costa Rica for a year for language school. My memories there begin to get a little clearer, but not too much. I remember a few days at Little Lights, my preschool. I remember eating rice and beans with every single meal (and I loved it—I still do.) I remember the rain being punctual every day and that you could outrun it or simply cross the street to the dry side. I remember walking to school every day while dad would tell us parts of the Lord of the Rings. I remember getting a new baby doll for my birthday. She had beautiful black STRAIGHT hair. I told mom and dad I would take perfect care of her…a few days later they scolded me for finding her on the floor :(. But by far, one of my absolute favorite memories of all time was Christmas.
We had nothing at all to decorate with. Mom has always made Christmas in our home very beautiful, and very special. We bought a tree and then we bought lots and lots of paper. We made all the ornaments for the tree. We made a fireplace for the wall with a fire and even the silhouette of a black cat off to the side. We hung some of our socks over the ‘fire’. I loved it. It was very special. I must mention, I do not remember it, but Jeff has never let me ‘forget’ the boy I was found hiding behind the couch with kissing.
I seem to remember no one in my family really caring for Costa Rica, but I have no bad memories that have stuck with me from that period of time. And as I have already mentioned, I was and still am very fond of the black beans and rice :).

An exercise in memories part I

True to the name of this blog I have made the conscious decision to be more intentional about remembering. And, of course, that has had me thinking back to some of my earliest memories. I am fortunate enough to have been born into a large (by today’s standards) family. I am one of six siblings (five still living.) I am the only girl. I am the middle child, but I also qualify as a firstborn (in personality) due to being the first and only one of my gender. I do not have any memories of being alone as a child. As a matter of fact, when I hear my children talk about their memories and especially when I hear my husband talk about his memories, I realize just how few memories of have of my very early childhood. I do not know why I did not retain many of these memories; perhaps it was the timing of my families move to a foreign country and all the other things my brain had to deal with, such as learning a new language. Regardless, the memories I do have are like a trailer to a movie. They exist in scenes that are in no particular chronological order, nor are they particularly significant events. They are just what I remember.
I was born in Greeley, CO; but lived in Windsor, CO for the first five years of my life. I remember taking a nap one day with my mom, and waking up in time to pop some popcorn and feed it to the birds as we waited for my older brothers, Jason and Jeff, to get home from school. I remember wanting so badly to play with my big brothers and I remember three of these special occasions. Once I played G.I. Joe with them and some other kids from the neighborhood. I was one of the girl team members and I had been kidnapped and taken to the sandbox (which my dad built me in our back yard.) The other Joel were going to rescue me. I did not realize that I played in my box most of the time just waiting for the ‘rescue’, I was just happy to be a part of the game. Another day I was Jason and Jeff’s detective agency secretary. I would stay in their room, answer the phone and cook them food while they were out solving cases. I am beginning to see a pattern here—I was really gullible. One day I actually got to go to a friend house with my brothers. I believe the boy we were playing with was an only child. I seem to remember he had a lot of toys. But the event that made this day memorable was that he didn’t seem to want to interrupt play time and had an ‘accident’ and I thought that was odd since he was older than me.
Again I do not know why there are the memories my mind has locked away to remember, but they are. I do also remember always choosing ‘Clap Your Hands’ as my pick to sing on the Sunday evenings where we would sing from the hymnal as people picked songs. I loved that song.
I remember going to my Mama and Papa’s with J & J without my mom and dad. Mama painted me up like a clown one day and on another day they took us to the store to pick out any candy we would like. I chose marshmallows and J & J picked packages of bubble gum. They then proceeded to chew multiple pieces at once and blew a bubble so big it got stuck all over their faces.
I do not remember much about these first few years. I do not remember my younger brother Josh at all. This saddens me. He was born when I was almost 3 and died a year later. I wish I had some memory of this. I also do not remember my younger brother Joel being born either. Somehow my memories of him begin when he was about two. He is in most of my memories from then on. I had a love-hate relationship with both Jeff who was 4 years older and Joel who was 3 ½ years younger. My oldest brother Jason has always been (in my memories) the peace keeper with me. He was probably too old (6yrs older) to really do much with me. Yet I do remember his last year at home feeling particularly close to him as he let me tag along with him quite often.
I also have a younger brother, Jonathan. He is awesome, and I will discuss him in a later post since he was born after these memories took place.
I do not remember these years, but I know they were important ones. My family when through a lot these few years. My parents surrendered their lives (and our) to the call to missions. They would embark our family on a truly unparalleled adventure. Now that I am a mother of five myself, I can only begin to appreciate the magnitude of the decision they made. Their belief and commitment to God is something I will always admire and strive to live up to. They were willing to leave all their comforts and family and friends and to take their five children to an unfamiliar country on an unfamiliar continent that spoke an unfamiliar language, to minister whole-heartedly to an unfamiliar culture without any promise of how thing would be for them or for us. Those next 14 years of my life would prove to be some of the best of my life. I thank God for calling our family to missions, and I thank mom and dad for being brave enough to go; and to lead us by example in how to take up your cross daily and follow Christ.