Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Back from the Future

“A gift opens the way for the giver, and ushers him into the presence of the great.” Proverbs 18:16

I remember when I was in grade school and everyone talked about the “future.” We all speculated on what it would look like: flying cars, video phones, and space food.

Space food is a novelty that is available at some science museums. Flying cars? Well, they aren’t anywhere to be found in my neck of the woods. Now this video phone thing…

Last year we sprung for DSL after it finally became available in our area. This has opened up the vast internet to our very fingertips. No longer do we wonder about things like what kind of caterpillar we’ve found? Or how many hours does a dog sleep in a day? We just go look it up. Takes the mystery out of life, really, unless Google for some reason fails you.

The move to DSL has also made it infinitely easier to upload pictures and email them to The Russian’s family. We’ve emailed and spoke on the phone to his mom and dad for years, but just started emailing his Uncle this past year. He likes to take pictures, and even though we speak different languages, I feel like we communicate through pictures. He would email me some, and I would return the favor.

Then he asked do we Skype? He had a Skype account and wondered if we did too?

Now I’d heard of Skype, probably back in its infant days when the calls were more like CB radio. Does anyone remember CB radio anymore? Daughter of a trucker, what can I say?

Anyway, I started thinking about Skype and consulting with others whom I knew used it. Seemed like a worthwhile endeavor, so I decided to buy The Russian a webcam for Christmas, procuring our spot in the Skype world.

I hooked it up, albeit wrong, on December 23, just to give it a go. I saw the Uncle was online, so I placed my first video call. I could hear them, but not see anything, and I could tell that they could see me, but not hear me. Thankfully they recognized me! Me and the kids made faces and waved and showed them little trinkets around our computer desk, all while they were laughing and carrying on, halfway around the world.

The next day, I changed a setting and got the microphone to work. With The Russian seated in the captain’s chair, we made our second video call from our computer, and lo and behold, their picture popped up too! It was the first “face-to-face” conversation The Russian had had with his Uncle in 16 years! His Aunt was there too, and about an hour and a half into the conversation, his Dad popped online and so we all did a conference video call. Truly stuff of the future, I would say!

Since Christmas, we’ve spoken to the Russian relatives at least a dozen times. We found out that my Hub’s great-grandma was actually Polish. We found out that his Aunt and Uncle have a wedding anniversary the day before ours (their 30th this year). We found out that a lot of language gaps can be bridged with gesturing and drawing pictures on paper even over the internet. And when all else fails, break out the “slovar” – that’s dictionary for you non-Ruskies-in-law.

Even though I now consider my appearance before answering my computer, these video calls always leave me with a big smile on my face, even if I don’t understand half of what was said.

And that, is the joy of giving perhaps the best gift I’ve ever selected in my life! I think I finally got it right for one person, just one time. I think this is a gift that the new might possibly never wear off of. And it is a gift that keeps on giving, until the webcam burns up.

Now, think how big God’s smile must be that he chose the perfect gift for all mankind!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17


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