Friday, July 28, 2006
SHORT SKIRTS AND HIGH HEELS(written in 2002)
Did you automatically think of "prostitutes"? Funny how that happens isn't it. All those preconceptions and misjudgements come flooding back in an instant. They're things that I've been learning to deal with over the past 4 years.
Twice a week I visit a national health centre where currently working, registered prostitutes come for a 2 weekly health check. It's a great place to go! These women are some of the most amazing that I have met in my life. I work alongside the psychologist, facilitating an orientation programme for the new comers, outlining their legal rights, the risks in their jobs and also their sexual health needs and precautions. I must be one of the only missionaries who carries a condom in their pocket at all times!! For many varied reasons these women have entered this line of work. For many it is the financial strain of being a solo mum to several children. For some it is that their husbands or partners have forced them into it. For others it is an informed choice. It doesn't matter why or how they come to be prostitutes. What does matter is that at some point in their "career" they have been made to feel that God couldn't possibly love them!
Now we all know that that's just not true but when seemingly godly people have told you that every day it's hard not to believe it. Many have taught these women, on a regular basis, that they are sinners (aren't we all?), that they could never be accepted by God nor loved by Him because of the lives that they lead. How vicious are the lies that come from below!
The God that I love and serve is a God of mercy. He is one who is seeking a relationship with us all and He includes prostitutes. He is waiting for them, loving them, accepting them in all conditions of health, strife, fear and work. It doesn't matter to Him what they do for a living. It does matter to Him that they become a part of His family and that's where I come in.
Many times I have been asked about my opportunities to witness to these women and my usual response goes along these lines....that I believe my job in this workplace is to love these women unconditionally, to accept them just as Christ accepts them and to show His love and acceptance to them through my own behaviour and actions. I've come to realise that's now not enough. Now I have to get bolder. I need to speak those words of Christ's love and acceptance to them and invite a response. I'm not sure how to go about that given the secular nature of the Government Health Cnetre but I'm going to try. I would hate to think that when I leave for home assignment in just a few months, that I will be known as a smiling face who loved them but gave them no hope of a life beyond today and all the pressure it holds. It's a good thing to evaluate our ministries in the light of eternity.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Yesterday Guayaquil celebrated 471 years since it's foundation. 471 years!!! It never ceases to amaze me just how long this country has been around. NZ has just celebrated it's 166th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of Waitangi (an agreement between the British Crown and the indigenous of NZ). That makes us still babies!!!
Once I went to the archeological museum and I couldn't get over the fact that I was looking at pots and artifacts (and there were a lot of pots!) from way before even the discovery of NZ. That's a very weird concept.
So Guayaquil partied away all of yesterday. Actually our neighbours partied away the night before but I think that was so they could sleep off their night the next day. There were street parades with floats and school bands and thousands of people out and about. We have friends staying with us this week so we popped into the newly opened McDonalds down the road. I think all of Guayaquil was there as well although I have to admit that the people making the food and serving it did a good and quick job. We don't usually go to McD's but we do have to go to anything new. My hubby did well with all the people. He hates lots of noise and fuss but you know me, I thrive on it. Surprisingly enough, he was the one who suggested it and he didn't complain even once!!!!
Our friends are leaving tomorrow so then we can get back into the packing. We sold our bed yesterday and that goes tomorrow so we'll be on the floor. Lots of stuff is walking out the door and that kind of makes things sink in a bit more. This weekend will be a tough one as we have our farewell at church and it looks like our cat will finally be going. Please pray for us as some of us are finding all this change and unsettledness really tough.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
I went grocery shopping (and yes, it did make me feel better!). As I wandered around the shop I would tell myself off for picking up items that I wasn't likely to use all of in the next couple of weeks. Like coconut. As I picked up a pack of coconut, justifying how I would use it, in my head, I suddenly found myself saying, out loud, "put it down Richelle. You don't need it!" I immediately obeyed, putting the coconut down and quickly moving to the next aisle. I have to admit I did this several times with several different items. I'm sure my friend, who was with me, thought me to be quite mad. Or maybe she didn't hear it (which I hope was the case).
I have also done this on the computer. I have been surfing, looking for houses to buy in Auckland. All of which sends me into a panic at the high cost of them and the lack of funds we have to even consider buying one. But I just firmly tell myself to " Turn it off. Stop looking and stressing. God will provide!" And I know He will. It is kind of exciting to see how He provides all that we need, just when we need it.
Now, if only my children were as obedient to my voice as I am!!!!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I guess I should be feeling good. We're getting on in our packing having now completed the kids rooms, school room, wardrobes, games box and our desks. All for a total of 22 bags of rubbish!!! We're on schedule but I've had enough.
I've had enough of being stuck inside with bags of rubbish. I've had enough of hour long temper tantrums from my kids. I've had enough of having to decide what to take, what to sell, what to give away and what to biff out. I've had enough of seeing our suitcases filling up and being worried about having to cull the list of things we want to take evenmore. I've had enough of grumpy husbands. Actually he hasn't been the grumpy one but he has been annoying me nonetheless :-) I've just had enough!!!
I'm going to make a concerted effort to be less grumpy today and will pray that the Lord will give me the extra strength and patience I need with my boys...all three of them. Perhaps I'll go shopping. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. And it's sure to pull me out of my grumpiness.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Your Personality Profile
You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.
You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!
Robust and dominant.
When you go for something, you go full force.
You tend to take control of situations easily.
And in return, you get a ton of respect.
You Are a Green Apple Jelly Bean
Of all the flavors, you're the most complex and the most real. A little sweet, a little sour, and totally tangy. People can't describe you, but they love you!
You Are a Boston Creme Donut
You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.
Does it say something about me when all my personality types relate to food???
Sunday, July 16, 2006
It's a big, ugly word isn't it? It's one I've been considering a lot of late.
The other day Caleb broke his glasses so it was a quick trip off to the glasses shop to ask them nicely if they could fix them for us, which they did. While there I was poking around the shop looking at different frames and came across a cabinet full of Chanel sunglasses. I thought they were reasonably nice and had a peek at the price. To my horror I saw that one pair cost $1,100! That's US dollars to boot!!!! I immediately began to wonder about the people who would actually buy them. There must be someone who has a lot of dough to spare. Certainly not me that's for sure.
Nige and I have been talking a lot about our expectations for when we return to NZ and set up house. It would be so easy to fall into the trap of buying new things, making a perfect home, and slipping into a NZ routine but we don't want that. The last time we were back in NZ there seemed to be an obsession about houses (buying and remodeling), furniture, gardens and having everything perfect. Most of our friends have their own home, if not two or three and we don't even own one! Our dream is to own our own home but we have nothing to do that with and the area in which we will be living is one of the most expensive ones in NZ. But we know that "the Lord works all things together for good for those who love him" and that's certainly us. We will just trust in Him. He has ALWAYS provided what we needed, when we needed it before and we know that this time will be no different. It's just tough, sometimes, to keep Him in mind and not be overwhelmed by all that we need when we set up house. I'll keep working on it.
Until then I will enjoy my two new pairs of sunglasses that I bought yesterday. They cost me just $4!
Friday, July 14, 2006
Okay so last night we had a treat! While shopping Nige found 2 yummy looking T Bone steaks!!! He LOVES his meat so convinced me to buy them. When we got home, and had the kids safely tucked up in bed after a sandwich, we cooked them with wedges with sour cream and had a feast.
You can't go wrong with 2 T Bones for just $3. Now that WON'T be happening in NZ!!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I've never been someone who thought they would homeschool but having survived it for the last 6 years I'm really pleased with myself....and my boys. We have been blessed with fabulous materials from the NZ Correspondence School and have had some amazing support from staff there. I have watched as other homeschooling friends have struggled to find a programme that suits their family (the choices seem endless) but with the NZCS we have had it easy. Every year they would send us a box of schoolwork, art and science supplies, books to read etc. It was always a little like Christmas when it arrived. Then the work would begin!
The boys have grown in their ability to self start. In the beginning (when they were little) I would sit over them and watch as they formed every letter or sounded out every word. Now, I leave them to it and they come to have their work marked. They are quite independent which has been great to see and foster. In fact there are times when they don't want me to help them at all.
Yesterday we cleaned out the schoolroom. We found lots of really cool work they did when they were smaller and even managed to find some missing schoolwork that we have hunted the house for (having 3 boys in the house means that nothing is ever found very easily!!!). We have taken lovingly painted pictures off the wall, packed up tapes and readers and have left just a small amount of work out for them to work on in the next few weeks. I think we are all keen to finish! Since we made the decision, last year, to return to NZ we have all struggled, at times, to keep up the motivation to study. As every homeschooler can attest, there are good days and bad days. I firmly believe that EVERY homeschooling parent deserves an apple!
So, we arrive in NZ in September and within 2 days the boys are back into the public school they attended in 2003. They are really looking forward to being with friends and in an environment they are familiar with. I am looking forward to having them out of the house for a whole 7 hours!! We are even going to teach them to walk to school by themselves!! I sure am going to miss them though and will be keen to be on top of their homework and stuff. It is a whole new adventure for them (and me). Watch out world....here they come!!!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
It's time to meet the youngest member of our family....Hine. She is 18 months old and an absolute delight. We got her as a baby (just 6 weeks old) from another missio family and we have loved her ever since. Now it is time to prepare to say goodbye to her. This is the hard part!
Last week we undertook to pray and ask God to find a home for our car and He answered. This week we are praying for a home for Hine (which means girl in Maori). Last night a friend came round and said that his mum was looking for a cat. Could this be the answer to our prayer? He called her and she was delighted so it was set that she will leave us either this weekend or the next. She's off to Manabi to live on a farm, roam all day and hunt rats and other things. She loves to do that here so it will be a real treat fo her. We know they will treat her well and love her as they are animal people. We are planning on packing up some of her treat things...a nice woolly blanket that she snuggles, her food bowl and food and bouncy balls.
Even thinking about her leaving has hit us all hard. It makes life seem so final here (which I guess it is). But to have her leave is like leaving behind a member of our family. That is surely going to be a sad day.
Monday, July 10, 2006
YUM YUM! Today was the day of Isy's buffet. He has been waiting for and planning this day since he began his chef's school in February. He was so excited!!!
The whole family pitched in to make it a great success. We were planning on serving 16 people but in the end there were only 10 of us but that was still a nice number. As you can see from the picis the emphasis was on desserts! Kiwis have such sweet tooths (teeth, if I was being grammatically correct!)
After stuffing ourselves with rice, salad, garlic bread, pizza, meat fingers AND chicken cordon bleu we then ate chocolate fudge cake, strawberry cheesecake, ice cream and peach cake, custard squares and fresh fruit!!!! Those that had room swigged coffee which I'm sure helped with the digestion. The rest of us just wallowed around the house and chatted. It was a nice afternoon.
We took the camera down to the chef school today to show them his buffet prowess and they were really excited. We are going to treat them to Pavlova next week so more cooking is in store. Hopefully I can find cream that doesn't curdle when whipped!
It was nice just to hang, and eat, with other missios who are good friends. We are sure going to miss them.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
We've just sold our car! We ran a three day classified in the local newspaper and it has sold after just the first day! I know I should be excited (my hubby is thrilled) but I'm feeling kind of sad about it. That car has served us well these past three years and has meant that we have had a greater feeling of safety in this city then when we were using buses and taxis. And now it's gone!
We got the price that we wanted for it as well and it really is just another way that the Lord is showing us that He has and is going before us to prepare the way for our return to NZ but it's still sad.
Nige is off with our friend, David, to sign the paperwork and then tomorrow morning will be the transfer of money, in the bank. Then it's just a matter of handing over the keys and we will be carless. I keep telling myself that's a good thing but it makes me realise we are really leaving.....and soon!
On another front, today is my shopping and movie day. I saw "Las Bordadoras" which is a lovely French movie then I hit the supermarket. I managed to spend another wack of money on groceries but this time it was all with a purpose. We are having the missio team for a buffet lunch on Monday and, literally, everything I bought today is for Monday's lunch. Isaac has been attending a chef school for the past 5 months or so and has been keen to make a buffet for everyone. There'll be 16 of us all together and a whole heap of food! I'm pretty sure we'll be eating leftovers for the next 5 weeks!!
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
RAFTing Home Together.
Nige came home from an International Council meeting in the USA, in April, with a DVD for us to work through. It's called "Exit Right - Enter Right" and is produced by Interaction International (see their website http://www.interactionintl.org). It introduced us to the concept of RAFT which has become a key theme for us in this current time of transition.
RAFT stands for:
R - reconciliation. Making sure that your relationships are right before you leave, ensuring that there will be no regrets or hard feelings with others.
A - affirmation. Affirming those people who have made a special impact on your life.
F - farewells. Saying goodbye to places, people, possessions and pets.
T - think destination. What are the expectations you have for the new place you are going to.
We watched a short DVD together as a family where these concepts were outlined and then we individually worked through worksheets identifying people in each area that we wanted to focus on. Surprisingly enough it worked really well! The boys both got into it and identified people that we had forgotten about or pets that they specially wanted to farewell (needless to say we will be visiting all our friends houses to say goodbye to their pets as well!). The whole process has helped us focus our jumbled thoughts and feelings and given us a clear strategy to leave Ecuador well. It has meant that we have intentionally thanked some people and purposefully said goodbye to others (there is still a lot more of that to come). But so far so good!
I think I will encourage other missios and internationally mobile families to use this great resource.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Yesterday Nana passed away. She is now safe in the arms of Jesus. After battling pneumonia for a couple of weeks she finally took some rest. She was 86 years old.
We have been expecting the call for the past 10 days. Everytime we talked with family she was getting worse and it became a matter of days. It has been a hard week. We have asked God to let her live just a few more weeks so that we could be in NZ with family when she finally did need to go home but then we realised she was suffering and prayed that she would go quickly and painlessly. Now we are left to grieve in a place where no one knew her and with no family to share with....just us.
I guess for us the hard thing is that our boys don't really remember her. They were both so little when they last saw her. Isaac announced the other day "I wish I had known her more" and that broke our hearts. She was a woman of faith who, along with her husband, prayed faithfully for her family everyday. She wrote us letters regularly and never forgot the boys birthdays or Christmas. There was always a NZ bank note tucked into a card somewhere.
Her funeral will be on Wednesday (NZ time) so we are going to have our own celebration/memorial service at the equivalent time here in Ecuador. We wish we could be home with the rest of the family but will make a special trip, when we do arrive, to her garden to visit with her. That's her special place.