“I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” (Ps 63:7-8)
The sun’s powerful rays have just catapulted over the ridge to the east and it’s filling the room with warmth. The birds have been singing chipperly to eachother for an hour, and in case that sounds a little too peaceful, a band of monkeys are playing basketball on our tin roof. Not the Jafar monkeys (Lion King), but the Curious George ones called “bandars” who sneak into our balcony and tear our garbage into bits, then strew it along the neighbors’ walking path below. There’s at least 12 of them and they sure are happy that spring has sprung.
The smell of coconut is rising from the kitchen. For two months our two year old Little Man has been dealing with an ever changing set of rash, hives, eczema, scaly dandruff, and fungus around his ears that creates open sores. I’m not wanting to be graphic, but it has been so hard to watch him itch and swell and sniff his running nose… and not know what to do about it. By the time we returned home a couple weeks ago we’d seen three doctors (two in our country and one in Thailand), and the last one had given the best diagnosis. We’d seen a pediatrician and dermatologist who said little guy had a fungal infection on his scalp/ears (and gave shampoo and cream to treat it), and allergy-related eczema over the rest of his body. We couldn’t think of anything in his diet (or body care) that had changed so we just started using sensitive shampoo, cream, and hydrocortisone cream when he needs it most. It looked significantly better for a week, then got worse again and it was all I could think about—I was frustrated and feeling helpless. At home we’d go in for a simple allergy test. They don’t have those here on the mountain. I couldn’t think of what could be affecting him.
I’ve also always been a food allergy-snob. I’ve never had allergies, neither has Tyler, and when I’d here of other children who had them I just thought that I could refuse food allergies by choosing to eat everything anyway. Well… apparently it doesn’t work that way.
Several nights ago at dinner I served fresh penne carbonara to Husband and Little Man who started gobbling the cheesy, eggy, bacon-y mixture up. As our Little Man gobbled excitedly and kept asking for “mo pasta!” his cheeks, lips and eyes started turning red and swelling up and his nose started running. Hives were covering his head and face as we watched with our mouths hanging open. “OH…”, we looked at eachother, “his allergies are in his food!” And it was either pasta, eggs or dairy.
So we decided to cut out dairy and eggs (I tried plain pasta the next day and he did fine). He has immediately (three days later) started to clear up and almost all the hives and itching are gone. But in lieu of horrific allergies I now have a new challenges: feeding my child dairy, egg-free meals in a land where there are very few substitutions.
In America I would not be going down a different aisle of the grocery store exploring soy, coconut and almost products. Bazillions of them. Here I am calling around asking if anyone owns a goat so we could try to make goats’ milk yoghurt. No success yet. There’s boxed soy milk but little guy won’t touch it. So I finally found cans of coconut milk and coconut cream and went to work trying to make coconut yoghurt (takes 24 hours instead of 12 and has to sit right by the radiator to keep culturing). I put it in the fridge overnight and this morning pulled it out with a huge sense of accomplishment. Tasted sweet but slightly sour, and thickened some (though not as much as I would have liked). I need to be a little forgiving for my first batch of homemade yoghurt!
So despite my emotional trauma over having to create a whole new diet and cooking style in a foreign country, and on top of a mountain, I’m thankful for these little daily victories. Warm sunshine. Singing birds. Tin roofs and winding mountain paths for walking to school. A whole new set of cars from our friend’s sweet son. Warm, cinnamon coconut rice for breakfast, and coconut yoghurt to top it off. And finally, dinner at our house tonight for a bunch of friends who know and love us and keep us in community.
I may not be a Super Mummie but I’m still making it! And my sweet little boy is happier and a little less blotchy with every passing day.
Thank you, Father God, for giving us more than we need in each day, and for filling our home with your presence.