Thursday, August 31, 2006

I have decided to follow Jesus.....No turning back. No turning back.

Yesterday, in chapel, I lost it. I know, I know, I tend to lose it more these days but yesterday I totally did.

It had been our turn to present our country to the rest of the SIM International staff. It was expected that we would present something about the NZ office but we really have no idea about that so decided to present Ecuador. I thought I would find it really difficult to see our friends and "family" on the big screen but instead I felt an enormous sense of pride. They were doing such a great job back there, serving the Lord with great gusto and I had had the privilege of serving with them. It was a joy to see them.......and then we sang.

It was the old song "I have decided to follow Jesus". You surely know the one I mean. Anyway I was singing it with great enthusiasm and then came to the words "no turning back" and I realised I was doing exactly that. I was not going back!!! That's when I lost it and couldn't sing any more (I'm such a woose!!!) It hit me...I'm not going back. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next week even. I had visions of myself landing in Auckland airport on Monday morning and I felt my heart sink. I should be joyful as I will get to see family again but I was overwhelmed with sadness and a great sense of loss. It was hard to contain the tears.

Yet, I have decided to follow Jesus and I am glad to do it. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in this world except in the midst of God's will for my life. I have no doubt that this is what He is asking of me now but the finality of it leaves me weeping. Then, yesterday afternoon we had a girly get together which was lovely. There I read Psalm 37 and found a part of a verse where it says".....and the Lord will lead me by the hand" (can't remember the verse number off by heart). I know that He is with me in all of this and I know that my tears don't threaten Him. In fact He encourages them and just loves me through them.

So I will sing:
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shopping! A girl's passion!!

Since being in the USA we have done a bit of shopping and I have LOVED it!!!! The three boys in my life have tolerated it only as long as they get something nice and new as well. I don't mind that as it means I get to buy for them which I just LOVE as well :-)

The supersized Wal Mart was fun although we had to go back twice as in the first couple of hours we only bought for the three boys and the next hour or so was for me. We have managed to stock up our wardrobes and have even coped well with the "casual-professional" clothing status of the office. I have to admit that I have been feeling like I have been dressing up for church everyday. But it has been nice to "look" nice for a change instead of frumping around in capri pants and tshirts all week.

We bought our new computer the day after we arrived (a Mac of course!) and have even splurged out and bought a digital video camera so one day soon I will figure out how to upload a video onto my blog. We've never had a video camera before and this one is really cute so I plan on having a lot of fun with it (thanks Steve for putting us onto it). We've also bought ourselves some nice, comfy sports shoes for an excellent price (the US sure knows how to have a good sale price) so this should be an incentive to get walking when we get back to NZ. At least we won't have a car for a little while so walking should get us into a good habit. That's the plan anyway ;-)
So I found this pici on the web and figured it accurately represents my three boys feelings on shopping. Needless to say all the money has been spent and the suitcases will be well and truly full so no more shopping is on the agenda.......for now anyway!!!!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Wherever I lay my hat...."

So where is home? I remember the words of a song in the '80's which goes something like "wherever I lay my hat, that's my home" and I think this is true of me. Everyone else on the course with us are from a specific place. For example when they are asked "where are you from?" they answer, "Thailand", "India", "Burkina Faso" "Paraguay" etc. But when I am asked where I am from I have no answer. I get stuck! My heart answer is, of course, Ecuador but then could it even be New Zealand? I have no idea.

For now we are at home in the USA. We have laid our hat at the SIM US guest house and this is where we live. It feels like home. We generally know the rules and we can survive. We cleaned our little unit today and washed sheets (just like normal people on a Saturday) so now it feels even more like ours. The crunch will come next week when I have to pack again and tidy it up before leaving. That will be hard. Yet again we are leaving home.

Our next home will be for 5 days in Auckland and then a couple of months in Palmerston North where we will we living with my their home. That might be tough at times but it will be nice to reconnect with them. I am definitely looking forward to the day when I am in my own home, with my own stuff in the right places, and my own rules. That feels a long way away right now but I know the day will come.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Dependence is a life based on prayer."

Yesterday one of our DID's (Deputy International Director) shared on finding the will of God for your ministry and for strategic planning. During his lesson he shared the above statement/thought which really hit home to me. Let me repeat it here....."Dependence is a life based on prayer". I know that I say I am dependent on God for all things but how reflected is that in my prayer life? I have been struggling to answer that question for the past few months.

I'm not a particularly good prayer warrior. I tend to offer up quick prayers at any time of the day, which I guess is not necessarily a bad thing. I have committed myself to pray daily for my blog buddy, Carol, who is living with cancer but then I sometimes struggle with my lack of faith. I have been reading her blog since February this year and at times didn't know how to pray. Sometimes I would pray for a quick and painless death (how faithless is that!!!) but I have grown in my faith, now praying, alongside of many others, for a full and complete recovery. I'm praying too for another blog buddy, Jemmers, that God would bless her with a healthy baby (it's funny how you become attached to someone without ever having met them). I'm anxious for the day when God answers these prayers.

But there are many times when I fail to pray. When I see situations in the world that just seem so big that I begin to wonder if even God could help out. Sometimes even the small things overwhelm me. And then come all those questions that I know everyone has asked at some point in their lives....does God even hear me when I pray? Why is He so slow in answering? Why doesn't He just step in and do something?

Then I have to look at how I pray. I'm not someone who has ever set aside a large amount of time to just pray and sit in silence. My brain goes in a million different directions and I feel like I spend most of my prayer time trying to keep my thoughts under control. But I do want to be a pray-er. I do want to communicate intimately with God, to have a life "based on prayer". I know in my heart that God answers and I desire to learn more about prayer so that when I do pray, it is effective and not self absorbed.

I have been taking a 52 week prayer course on the internet and have made it to week 8 so far. It is run my Eddie and Alice Smtih and consists of short email lessons once a week where the various aspects of prayer are taught. I haven't learnt anything too startling yet but having something to remind me to focus my prayers and be consistent in prayer is helpful.

So the question has to be asked......does your dependence on God reflect itself in a life based in prayer?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A New Ticker.

As you can see I have made a new ticker. This one tells us how long it will be before we hit kiwi soil again. For those of you in NZ the ticker will be about a day out as it is set on USA time but you'll get the general idea.

We have had a nice relaxing day today just hanging out at the guest house, eating yummy flavoured chips and ice cream and watching movies. I even managed to catch up on some sleep which felt nice. Lots of new people have been arriving throughout the day. Tomorrow we are off to church with some friends then it is back for the beginning of the leadership course. That is going to keep us busy for the next few weeks. We are looking forward to hanging out with new people and learning mnore about SIM. Our only concern is the dress code! We've been told it is casual-professional which doesn't seem to fit our, relaxed, jeans and tshirts. Thankfully we bought some new clothes this week. It should be fun!!!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

To Flush or not to Flush.

Okay so I'm really having difficulty with this one. After 8 years of carefully placing used loo paper in the rubbish bin beside our loo I now have the opportunity to flush it. Weird, I know, but it is totally throwing me off!!!! You see, the pipes and sewerage systems in Guayaquil are so stuffed that any little bit of paper flushed could cause a major blockage and a mess in the house. I have carefully trained my boys to not flush as well and now I have to untrain them. I panic everytime I flush that the water will all come flooding back to me. Gross huh?

Now, the other thing we are all struggling with is drinking water directly from the tap, but that's another story.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


When you have lived in the concrete jungle of Guayaquil for the past 8 years, hitting lush, vast expanses of trees and lakes is quite astounding. It seems that large amounts of land are simply "wasted" with just trees and water. I can't help thinking about how many houses could be built there for poor people!

We arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina last night. We are staying in a wonderful guest house run by SIM USA. We have our own little apartment in a large house with others and it is great to hang out and watch English speaking TV. My boys are glued!!!!

Even though we are in the city (I think) we are surrounded by woods and there is no sound at all. Imagine that....silence!!!!! Supposedly we can see deer and raccoons during the day wandering around and even snakes sunning themselves on the road (I will be sure to keep my youngest boy from seeing them). It is unlike everything I am used to.

Disney World was a great time although 3 parks in 3 days was a LOT to manage. We were exhausted by the end of it....all "funnered" out (as we would say). I just loved seeing the boys faces light up at all the magic around them. They are so cute!!! It was money well spent and an adventure of a lifetime. The boys are already planning on visiting again but we're telling them they'll have to pay next time:-)

So now it's time to shop. We're off to a supersized Walmart today so that may take us a few hours!!! Fun though. SHOP! SHOP! SHOP!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Adios Ecuador

One more sleep! Can you believe it? Just one more sleep before we leave our heartland. Actually maybe I should be a little more's just half a sleep before we leave. We have to be at the airport at 4AM so I am hoping to be finished packing and at least resting for a few hours prior to departure.

Things here have been hectic today. I think every man and his dog have visited us today and I'm still not packed! We've popped down to the airport to weigh our luggage and found that we have had to take out 12 kilos of stuff we intended to take with us. That was tough. But at least we were able to do it now and not early in the morning with a whole pile of people behind us. I've been through all my hand luggage taking out all lip gloss, toothpaste, hair gel, water....anything that would be considered, even remotely, like gel or liquid (you may have heard about the recent arrest of terrorists). So we are prepared for anything.

So now it is time for some final goodbyes. I have to admit that Ecuadorians are not good at goodbyes. They give you a hug and kiss and then say "But I'll see you at the airport". They just can't handle the finality of goodbyes but as a kiwi finalising that kind of stuff is really helpful to us and necessary. We've learnt how to walk the middle ground. Still it's tough. There have been lots of tears shed already today and I know more will fall once we are on the plane (I've packed lots of tissues). But now it's time for one final goodbye......Adios Ecuador. Gracias por todo. De ti he aprendido bastante. Has cambiado mi vida para siempre. Cuida de mis amigos y familia ecuatoriana. Siempre te llevare en mi corazon.....mi corazon latino.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Our trip home will take us to the USA for 3 weeks. We are having a week's long holiday which will include 3 days at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and then several days shopping in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then we are attending a 2 week leadership course with our mission in Charlotte. Leaders from all over the world will be there and we will get to hang out and learn from each other and those in the International leadership team. The boys will have their own programme with the other kids which will include a little bit of school in the morning and then lots of raucous fun. We are looking forward to it all.
Disney has always been in our minds as a special "we survived leaving" treat. It is kind of like the icing on the cake....placating us after a tough couple of weeks of goodbyes. It's going to be hot there as it is the summer but we can handle anything after Guayaquil's heat!!!! We have done Disneyland in California a couple of times before but the boys were really little and don't remember it. This time we plan on doing all the big rides and ending the days exhausted. What fun!!!! I have my Mickey Mouse ears from last time so I won't make my poor family suffer through buying those again. Not that I wear them, mind you, but they are fun to have.

Now on the post below....I did write and post this on Sunday but somehow mucked up the date of posting so it has been hiding. Sorry about that. I will hopefully get to the internet cafe on Friday to write one final post from Ecuador.
The old place is starting to look quite empty. Yesterday we had our garage sale and managed to sell all the big priced or bulky items which was a real answer to prayer. All that we have left in the house now are a couple of boxes of bits and pieces that didn't sell. I'm hoping to make a couple of phone calls this week to see if there is anyone who wants any of the stuff otherwise we'll just pop it all out the front gate and some little man will find it all and take it home (probably the same one who goes through all our rubbish bags every night!)

Now it is onto scrubbing walls, bathrooms and floors to make it all nice for the owners to take it over again at the end of the week. We have moved into a little apartment beside our house (on the same property) and are living in slightly cramped spaces but it is good to have somewhere to lay our heads after a busy day of cleaning. The farewells are continuing which we are getting very tired of. It's hard to say goodbye to everyone but we know it is important to finish well with everyone. It's just so tiring!

So this week's plan is:

Clean the house and have it finished by Tuesday afternoon,
3 big farewells and several smaller ones
rest for a couple of days before we fly out on Saturday
Watch the season finales of the Amazing Race, Survivor (just love that programme), CSI and ER. That should give us some light entertainment in the evenings.

Tomorrow my blog buddy Carol is going for her 11th chemo treatment for cancer. Do pray for her and her husband Chuck as they face another tiring week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


My lovely little ticker says that we have just 9 days left! It's hit single figures and now it feels like the time is truely flying by. I am busy packing suitcases at the moment and still seem to have a pile of stuff to stick in but the amount of stuff is not dropping in accordance with the number of cases I have left. Hopefully tomorrow stuff will suddenly weigh lighter and there will be more room. I can only but live in hope!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

(Packing, packing, packing!!!! We're doing really well but because we are busy with boxes, brooms and mops I haven't got much time to chat so here is another story I wrote while working with prostitutes. Enjoy. This one always makes me stop and think.)


Today has been one of those "hard" days. The kind where you just want to lie on your bed and think about anything but what you have just done. Then kind where you just want to hide from the world and it's cruelty.

Today I helped tell a woman that she has AIDS. It's not a regular part of my job. In fact I haven't done it before but today was different. This woman required "special" treatment. Not only is she supporting two young daughters through her prostitution she is also both deaf and mute.

The news we had to give her was horrendous, made all the more difficult through an inability to communicate (on both sides).

We tried everything. We yelled at her (just in case she could hear). We tried sign language. We tried reading and writing, drawing, even charades. All to no avail. We became incredibly frustrated at our inability to give her some life changing news and she became frustrated at "hearing" something she would rather just ignore. In the end we believe she could lip read hence the news was given to her in this way but trying to keep her eyes on us was another thing. How seemingly easy it was for her to look away; to shut out the message that was being given to her and all the long term affects that it would have on her life.

I've thought about communication a lot today and I can't help but wonder if sometimes God feels like I did. There are many times in our lives when He wishes to tell us something and yet we choose to ignore Him. We choose to not see His lips, His handiwork as He communicates to us about every aspect of our lives and His purpose for it. Yes, there are times when the message is beautiful, soft, a delight to receive. In those times it is easy to have open ears and eyes....but what about those times when the message is a little more difficult?

Effective communication requires a willing communicator and a willing listener. Too often we are willing to communicate but how often do we actually take the time out to listen, to really listen to the One who desires to communicate with us in so many loving ways. Take time today to sit and listen. Be sure to use both your eyes and ears to hear all that the Lord wishes to say to you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A difficult weekend.

This has been a hard one. It started on Friday when we were called to say that our friend was going to come in the hour to collect Hine (the cat). By then it was already 9:30 PM and my boys were already tired after a long day which had included haircuts....never their favourite activity! We made up a nice comfy box for her to sleep in and then cuddled and kissed her for the last time. Now, those of you who aren't animal lovers probably think we are quite strange but, as I have said before, this was like leaving behind a family member. Our friend arrived and we said goodbye as we put her in the box and taped her in. It was tough! She was quite calm which surprised me. Then the tears and howls of grief began. The boys were so distraught that they were, literally, throwing themselves on the ground, crying their broken hearts out. It was hard as a parent to watch on helplessly. Our poor friend didn't know what to do!!!! He had never seen such a strong reaction over an animal before!!! My hubby and he took the cat down to get a taxi and set them on their way to Manabi.

On Sunday morning we got an urgent phone call from our friend. We paniced as to what the news would be but he was just calling to say that she was eating and investigating the house and chasing rats!! YAY!!!! She was happy!!!! We were so pleased and I think knowing that has helped us all. I am really proud of my boys and how they have handled this difficult adios. Lots of preparation has gone into it all and that has been extremely beneficial for us all. Next was the farewell from church.

We knew this one was going to be really hard as we would be saying goodbye to friends of 8 years or so. The sermon was on being a friend and how Jesus is the ultimate friend indeed. Then came our special bit. The young people performed a mime about being a light to the world and gave us lit candles with the Ecuador flag on them.
Then our close friend presented us gifts on behlf of the church. As she hugged me tight she told me she had prepared something to say but she just couldn't get the words out. I know what she wanted to say....I wanted to say it too but the tears were getting in the way!

More speeches and prayers and then the young people performed a really funky dance which was really cool. We ate our favourite meal together, had a humungous cake and said goodbye. It was a special service that none of us will forget.

In the evening we visited a house church and had their farewll to us which included lovely words of honouring of us, more pressies and yummy food. We're going to be HUGE(R?)by the time we get out of here!!!!

The other night Isy asked when we would be saying goodbye to another friend. My hubby replied that it would be in a week or so. Isy said that was good as he had had enough of goodbyes. Poor thing. I thnk we are all feeling that way.

This was a tough weekend but a very special one. Last night we met a new christian who honoured us by saying that because of us and our work he had come to know the Lord and that we would never know the full impact of what we had done for the Lord here in Ecuador. May that be so!!! We take heart in that.

PS...I managed to upload the picis which is great! Here is one of Isy's final day at his chef school when they presented him with his proper chef's hat. Cute huh?