Thursday, December 31, 2009
We've been amused at how many people go out of their way to walk near us just to try out a bit of English. Their attempts are often quite cute! Yesterday a young man tried to carry on a meaningful conversation in English with me. I THINK we were discussing the difference in value between the rupee and the dollar, but I'm still not quite sure.
Our attempts at the local language are just as amusing to others. It's a good experience to learn to laugh at ourselves as others laugh at us. And while people are quite pleased that we're making an effort in their language, they're also often quite amused!
It's very satisfying to buy something at the market or tell an auto rickshaw driver where to go and where to stop without any English involved. Every once in a while there's actually just comprehension at what we're saying and no laughing occurs! And sometimes the words are coming without too many pauses to think first.
Steve seems to be absorbing words quite easily and has no qualms about trying them out on the street. I'm coming along as well, but am suffering an unexpected side effect. Several times a day lately I've had to stop and think for the English word for something! Not that I know the local word for it yet, but there's obviously a traffic jam happening in my brain and thoughts are experiencing difficulty coming through. Guess it will sort itself out eventually!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
-A man walking around the market this morning with a basket kept pulling out a hissing king cobra to be admired. Some people gave him money. I stayed as far away as possible.
-Yesterday I had trouble using a 500 rupee note (about $20) because it was ever so slightly torn. Like 3mm. And several shops refused the bill.
-Hannah and Rachel went into a beauty salon today and saw women getting their arms and underarms (ouch!) waxed while other women were having their skin bleached. You read correctly, bleached! Another ouch.
-My purse is inspected by a guard every time I go into a bigger shop. If I have any bags from a previous shop I have to check them in with the guard before going into the store. Whatever I purchase from the current shop is sealed in bags at the cash register. On the way out I have to show another guard the bags and the receipt at the exit. I need to remember to go back to the entrance to pick up the bags from the previous shop as well.
-Several times lately I've nearly fallen over from beggar children throwing their arms around my waist.
-I did fall over on an escalator yesterday. The handrail was going at a faster speed than the steps and I was leaning too much on the handrail!
-I have to watch my step all of the time on the streets to avoid stepping in something unpleasant or stepping on someone sleeping on the sidewalk. It's kind of handy, however, because I need to be careful to not look men in the eye, but I also keep walking right past people I know.
-Lines/cues are non-existent. If I want to reach a cash register I must remain vigilant and not be afraid to confront people of all ages cutting in line ahead of me. (I'm talking a lot about shopping, huh! It feels like I AM always shopping just keeping our family of 6 fed since I can only take home what I can carry each time.)
-There are carts behind bicycles where men pull the most amazing loads for a few rupees. The other day we saw six men helping the bicyclist get a load of steel pipe up a hill. Steve is continuously fascinated by them and is considering a photo montage at some point!
Friday, December 25, 2009
But the highlight of the evening was a gorgeous 8 year-old girl who sang like an angel in both English and the local one. She's the daughter of one of the original staff who died of AIDS last year. Her life is a beautiful example of the love and support that the staff women give to each other. A couple of older women stepped in as 'grandmas' when her mother died and treat her like their own. She goes to boarding school but spends time with her grandmas while on breaks.
One of the grandmas lost her husband a couple of months ago and is still heavily grieving. She's an amazing woman and it's been hard to watch the pain in her eyes. We're hoping that time with this sweet girl who's also suffered loss will bring her healing as well.
After the party everyone was sent home with boxes of curry for their dinner. The highlight for our kids was getting to hand out the leftover parcels at the end to people living on the streets in the area as well as to some women standing in line waiting for 'customers.'
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I saw a dead body today. I've tried to not major on the more gruesome aspects of life here but this one has had me thinking all day. In coming here I was prepared to see the impact of deep urban poverty. I had seen the occasional corpse on the street when I was here 20 years ago. It's a very sad fact that people die of disease and starvation every day.
This particular body took me by surprise for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was because it was a young man who I don't think had been living on the streets. He had met some kind of violent end right there on the street (near the picture of the main road in my previous post). He was young and strong and 'shouldn't' have died. The other thing that upset me at first was the apparent nonchalance of the people around. There were a number of other young men standing around the body. Presumably they were there to keep traffic away until the authorities took the body but they were joking and laughing like nothing was unusual. Life is cheap here.
At first I was upset for the sake of the dead man but then I realized that the young men standing around have spent their whole lives with harsh realities like the one laying at their feet. Who could blame them for insulating themselves away from it? In six weeks we've already learned to turn a deaf ear to beggars holding babies and street children. We don't want to but there's no other option if you live here day after day. You have to choose your focus of compassion because there's just too much in your face each day.
I also thought about the belief system that has shaped people here. Adam's fallen a few times on steps, etc, and even though he hasn't been seriously hurt, people's reactions are to do a motion that's respectful to the g*ddess of the city, to ward off evil from themselves. Not only are people dealing with difficulties in humanity, they're living in fear of the higher powers that they believe in. Their lives are full of appeasement to avoid catastrophe themselves. What a burden to bear!
I am glad to serve the One who brings peace!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Notice the bamboo stacked around. This area that leads back to the red light lanes is for people who handle the dead. The men here make amazingly elaborate paper mache animals, scenes, etc, that are burned with bodies while they're floated out on rafts onto the 'sacred' river. We haven't been back to the burning sites yet but they are within walking distance. The people who live and work in this area are considered 'untouchables,' just like the women who work the lanes beyond, because of their proximity to the dead.
Monday, December 7, 2009
It's really helpful that we've been through culture shock before. It doesn't stop us from having to walk through it but it does help us to see it for what it is most of the time and not over think things along the way. In the worst moments we can remind ourselves that, 'This too shall pass," and not sink down and wallow! Certain things about life here are helpful, too. I know from past experience that one way culture shock affects me is that I want to stay home and hide. I can't though and feed the family since I have to go to the market most days! Good for me.
Something I've never had to adapt to before, however, is the absolute mass of humanity here. We're here, of course, BECAUSE of people, but there are soooooooo many of them! I've been finding myself longing to just be able to walk from point A to point B without weaving in and out and squeezing through the crowds. It's almost claustrophobic at times. Well, not 'almost' is IS often on the Metro (subway)! Someone who was visiting the business when we arrived described peak time on the Metro this way. "Think of a can of sardines, then squeeze a couple more canfuls into the original can. That's the Metro!"
T, the son of K and A who started the business, has been absolutely awesome with our boys. They've been having a wonderful time keeping each other occupied with active boy stuff. I've been amazed how T can suddenly erupt into rough playfulness in a room crowded with people, but somehow manages not to bash into objects or destroy furniture. It dawned on me the other day that this is a kid who's been raised in a place where he's never had space to walk down the street without weaving in and out. He's developed a real talent of making the most of his circumstances! We'll get there too!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I've had a number of 'lessons' already on where to find food and how to go about it and I still don't know how to do everything yet! Most of our food is coming from a big bazaar nearby where you can buy fresh veggies, fruits, eggs, etc. I have to ask how much everything costs and try to communicate when I don't speak the language yet. It's making me realize that I really need to become and expert at numbers soon! There are also little stalls that sell other things, too, like rice, some noodles, soap, shampoo, boxes of milk, bread, cookies/biscuits, jam, even one stall that has peanut butter. A surprising amount of things actually. But the only meat is in the form of live chickens that they kill and skin for you after you choose it! Steve graciously went and got one and even cooked it a couple of nights ago since we'd had vegetarian meals for a couple of days previously. Last night, however, I was taken to a lovely little shop that's only a short auto rickshaw ride away that has already dead chicken in it! You can purchase a whole chicken, different parts, or even minced chicken or chicken sausages as well. Whew!!!
Steve found soy milk somewhere for Adam this afternoon (took him a couple of hours to locate but now we know!) and Saturday morning I'm getting taken to another market that has mince/hamburger. Things are looking up! There are still a lot of ingredients missing that would be on my shelf in the US or NZ or even Fiji that matter, but I'm pretty happy! You have to go shopping for small amounts often, though, because you can only bring home what you can carry.
I'm not used to the way things are done here yet so just doing daily chores is taking a lot of time. Things are often dirty from the market and have to be cleaned with filtered water. Plus water to drink and brush our teeth with. We have a water filter in the flat we're staying in but that's another chore, too, as we have to fill old 2 liter soda/fizzy bottles. It takes several minutes to fill each one so I have to do that between other chores and not forget that I'm filtering as well!
We wash dishes with hot water hauled from the shower. The washing machine takes a long time since the tub fills quite slowly and then we have to hang the wash out. Things get dirty really quickly and we need to clean a lot. Everything in this flat has it's own dust cover, even the TV remote. Smart idea! I also have to figure out what to cook!
Steve's been taking the kids to school in the morning (an hour and 15 minute round trip). I pick them up at 1:30 and starting in Jan. I will have to go back again at 5 to pick up Hannah until we feel like she's ready to venture out on the city by herself.
But I'm really not complaining!!! Just trying to paint a picture for you. We have so much compared to others around. Daily life will be challenging for some time until we get to be experts at the routine. It will always take longer than in our home countries, but we'll get it!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Strikes happen here fairly often we hear and people expect the really big ones to be observed. The buses and taxis that don't take part in them are in danger of getting set on fire, etc, if they go down the wrong street.
Rachel and the boys go to school from around 8:30 and end at 1:30. They get a break for morning tea/snack but come home for lunch. Hannah starts at 1:00 and ends at 5:00. So between us we'll have to make 3 round trips per day on the Metro (subway) to drop them off and pick them up!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
3.The kids in front of a palace built for Queen Victoria. She never saw it!
Friday, November 27, 2009
The are a HUGE variety of smells as you walk along the street. You can literally take a few steps and smell kerosene, another few steps and smell spices, a few more steps and smell, um, something not so nice, another few and it's old garbage/rubbish, and in a few more something completely different.
And the sights.....many of them will break your heart. It's a city that used to be the jewel of the British Empire but it hasn't been maintained much since they left and a lot more people have moved to into the city as well. Every night we are filthy just from walking around and breathing the air but there are many children who never get to come inside for a shower and a soft bed. This afternoon I walked by a portion of road about 100 meters long where for some reason there were around 20 babies and children under the age of two with a few parents scattered among them each with their family's portion of broken cement sidewalk staked out. One baby girl was laying there smiling and waving her arms without anyone near her. The odds are that those sweet little children will never know what it's like to live with four walls and a roof.
It's important to have a clear focus as to why you're in the city or the needs would be overwhelming and you'd accomplish nothing.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Another was this afternoon walking behind Aaron. Five boys who were begging decided Aaron was their best friend, put their arms through his or around his shoulders, and walked with him a couple of blocks. They wanted money, of course, but Aaron good naturedly handled the attention anyway.
Last night we were walking along a road where the traffic was at a stand still. A taxi pulled up on the side road where we were crossing. Since he couldn't possibly pull out into the road ahead of him I, in my western mindset, assumed that he would stop and let us walk in front of him. The Stop sign that was right in front of him gave me that impression, too. Wrong! Hannah reached back and pulled Adam out of the way (my mental snapshot) as he continued forward to get every inch he could into the traffic jam ahead. Adam's hand is now being held every time we cross a street!
If there's something you need in this city you often have to go to a street dedicated to that product to find it. Rachel needed new contacts (cheap here!!!) so today we went to the eyeglasses district. Sure enough, the whole street was full of shops selling glasses and nothing else! The eye doctor came highly recommended but his office was a little dingy cubbyhole in the back. He took out the old kind of apparatus that you have to wear on your face to check her prescription. Looked like something from fifty years ago but he still did a good job and was up to date on topics like laser surgery!
I love the images in my brain of the lovely women at the business! The expressions on their faces and in their eyes are so different from those still working the streets right outside the door.
Other events: This morning I met Steve's brother who's here leading a team from the States! The last sibling of Steve's for me to meet. It's been fantastic to meet the other foreign staff where we'll be working. They're great! We've literally walked miles in our time here so far. There's a subway (metro) through the city but there's a lot of walking to get to it and around the districts once you arrive in them. We've also climbed LOTS of stairs down and back up again into stations. Think we'll all be pretty fit pretty soon!
Monday, November 23, 2009
We had a great morning (why can you never sleep in when you really need to?) showing the kids around the business where we'll be working. It was neat to watch them finally put a face to the place! It was great to meet other staff members who we didn't know and catch up with those we already did. Jarrod from Beachlands (NZ) showed up as well so we've also been able to hang out with him some today.
K and A showed us around the new building and we saw which rooms we get to make livable for us. There's a LOT to be done before we can move in--like making floors out of empty holes in two rooms!!! But we love the location and think it will be ideal for our family when it's finished. It's not a huge area(the priority of the building is room for the business to grow)but since it's a few small rooms on two stories, it will give some space for our family to spread out and it's actually more square footage than we were expecting to have!
Last night a 20 year-old woman died just across the alley from the new/old building when the roof of the makeshift structure that she lived in collapsed. The whole area is quite old and derelict so we're pleased to see all of the work already done on the building to reinforce it, etc. The teams that have been coming to help have done great work, too!
We'll post some 'before' shots of our own space soon.
It's been a bit of a sensory overloaded day of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Right now the sounds is highest in my mind as I still hear loud traffic outside. In the words of our Adam, "People in _________sure love to honk their horns!" Aaron was also impressed to blow his nose tonight and find that things the color black came out. That's kind of the way it is every day here!
The kids say they love it here already! We've got a LOT to learn but it's good to be here and be on the way!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Tonight was a bit more disturbing, however. We went on a walk after dinner and the seedier, darker side of the city reared it's head. Steve doesn't like it here and I can understand why. As a foreign man it's like he has a big target painted on his chest. He got offered any and every kind of diversion you can think of even though he was walking along with his wife and children!!! Right beside nice shops or restaurants are open doorways into a girly clubs (quickly diverting the boys' eyes!) as you walk down the street. Grandmothers selling trinkets and playing with their grandchildren right outside are not disturbed, that's just life in Bangkok.
It makes me so sad.
But it's also a reminder that that part of the world is very real all of the time, even though most of us don't often get to see it. Women and children are degraded, used, and abused. And men are enticed into things that end up trapping, controlling, and destroying them.
The district that we're moving to is different in ways but has the same rot at the core. It's disturbing and heartbreaking. We're going knowing that we don't have the strength in ourselves to cope with it every day. We'll have to find that in Him. But we know what breaks His heart needs to break ours and move us to compassion to be His hands in this world!
Friday, November 20, 2009
The park was beautiful with walkways, ponds, green grass, trees, and water features surrounded by a panoramic view of the glittering lights of skyscrapers. People were doing the normal park things of walking, jogging, and skating but in addition we saw a couple of outdoor aerobics classes and a Tai Chi class (but we'd never seen it done to music before!). In one pond the fish were obviously regularly fed. They were absolutely thrashing over each other near the surface to get to the food being tossed to them. One girl was putting bits of bread on the end of a little stick and a turtle kept surfacing to eat it right off of the stick! Aaron nearly came out of his skin when in the dusk he suddenly noticed a HUGE lizard (a monitor?) slinking along the grass a few meters in front of him. Stray cats and dogs lived near a statue and people obviously brought food to them nightly as well.
All of these things combined with the Asian flair of the place were neat to drink in and watch the kids' reactions to. But we still haven't figured out the most unusual thing yet! A voice said a few words over a loud speaker, a whistle blew, and everyone in the entire park suddenly stood stock still! For the next minute or so a weird, warped wailing sound (but not the sound of a voice) filled the air while everyone waited. A whistle blew and then everyone walked on like nothing happened!
We're all jet lagged and haven't had enough sleep yet but we had a morning and early afternoon at the legendary MBK. It's a six storey mall that feels like a big outdoor market with hundreds of stalls and lanes, each level specializing in a certain type of product. Steve and the boys spent the most time in the electronic section but all of the kids wisely spent pocket money on clothes that they needed for a fraction of the price they'd find them elsewhere. When asked if they'd like hamburgers for lunch the kids unanimously voted for Thai food stalls instead. Good little multicultural kids!
Tomorrow we'll take a river ferry through the city and see more sights. We're so glad that we stopped here for a few days! This is a very modern yet very Asian city so a good cultural bridge for the kids between NZ and where we're headed! We fly out on Sunday evening hopefully refreshed and ready for what's next with only a 2 hour time zone change to adapt to after that.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Some friends began a business there to give these women a choice to leave the sex trade by training them to make jute bags for export. The women earn twice the going rate for a similar job elsewhere. They receive health care, a pension plan, and childcare while they are at work. None of the foreigners who work at the factory receive a salary so all of the profits can go towards expanding the business. A new unit making organic cotton T-shirts opened in 2009.
There are 170 women working at the factory now. Just a drop in the bucket, however, compared to the ones still working the lanes outside.....
Our family moved to this district to join the work near the end of 2009. We can't think of anywhere else we'd rather serve!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Interesting how these things are allowed in our lives. We had all gotten to the point where even though we're anxious to get going, we had accepted the fact that it could take a while. Some of the different avenues we were investigating could have taken a several months to complete.
But now it looks like we'll fly out 3 weeks from today! Thanks be to our Father!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I've been reminded of last year when we went to Carlsbad Caverns in the US and saw an evening bat flight. As thousands of bats left the cave entrance at dusk a ranger told us lots about them. One thing that amazed me was that when a bat is born it naturally clings to the rock at the top of the cave. If it lets go and falls it will die, but they very seldom do. That's because when they're clinging to the rock that's when they're actually at rest.
We're clinging to our Rock as we wait!
We will wait until the middle of the coming week and call and inquire about our visas. If there's been no progress we'll withdraw this application and resubmit one for one year instead of five since that application may go through faster. We've changed our flights to leave on November 19th and are asking that the visas come through before then!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"No dude, there aren't many flowers because of the pollution, just weeds," she replied.
Adam thought for a minute and said,"That's OK, because weeds have flowers, too."
What a little optimist! The kids have been having a great attitude about going!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
We turned in the paperwork for our business visas last week. We are asking that they be back in time for our departure on the 23rd! We have a pretty right schedule until then of getting things done and saying farewells.
We are all getting quite excited to go!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Here's what two of the guys in our family were up to today. Steve sent this picture from Fiji from the prison this afternoon. This is the second picture that he has in countries under military rule that he's talked a guard into letting him hold a big weapon! Fortunately he usually uses his powers of persuasion for good!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The eldest son of the family we were with is a snowboard instructor at Snow Planet and his three younger brothers are pretty good as well, so our kids each had their own personal trainer to get started. They all had a fantastic time. The girls snowboarded for hours. The boys tried both snowboards and skis and hardly left the slope for the entire 7 hours that we were there!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Next week while he's away I'll start doing our 'pre-packing'. Anyone who's made major moves will understand this! Yesterday I had a lovely lunch with a friend who's spent time working in the family business overseas before. It was fun to talk to someone who totally understood my packing phobia, my reoccurring nightmares of not being able to find a usable toilet, and how my biggest stress in a new place is figuring out how to feed my family!
We had a few lovely dinners this week with friends as well. At one we showed them the video of the business we're going to work for. It was good to be reminded that all of the changes and extra stresses in our near future are so worth it! The sacrifices seem quite small when we think of the story of Freedom that we're going to get to be part of!!!
P.S. The sale on the house in Fiji is supposed to be final on the 21st. So far so good!
Monday, September 14, 2009
I just learned that 'DIY' is a common enough Kiwi phrase to be abbreviated. It stands for 'do it yourself' and pretty much sums up the Kiwi mindset about life. Don't ask for outside help to do the job, don't wast time complaining about it, and definitely don't pay someone else to do it as a matter of pride unless you've given it a go at least once yourself first.
Kiwi's are very down to earth and fun, too. Where else will you have a salesgirl be merciless in teasing you that she thinks you're cheap when you're buying a gift? Or have a guy on a work crew tell you there's an extra shovel available when you walk past and say 'gidday' (good day). I watched these things happen to Steve, though. People tend to look me over more first before they attack with my different accent!
We have lots of meals coming up with people as we begin our farewells. Steve flys to Fiji on Saturday to lead one last team for two weeks. When he gets back there are only 19 days until we fly out!!!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
We ran a 'feel things out' ad in the Fiji Times just to see if anyone would be interested in the house. The market there is still really low not only from the global market crisis, but added to by the governmental challenges that Fiji currently faces. And no one seems to be buying.
But we had an offer on the house the Saturday before we left! Not a great offer, but probably one that reflects what we'd be likely to get for the house in the current times. We scurried around on Monday and had all of the necessary papers signed at the lawyers on Wednesday so he can walk the process out for us in the coming weeks before we hopped on a bus to Nadi that afternoon.
We're not counting our chickens before they're hatched, however. We've been in this exact place with the house before and it fell through. But, we're mildly optimistic that this might be the answer that we've asked for! In the next 30-60 days we'll know for sure. But then we'll need to begin the process of getting the funds out of the country and we could loose a hefty chunk to taxes to do so since things aren't overly friendly to foreign investors there right now. It could take some time and the amount that we'll probably end up with won't be impressive. But at least the house will no longer be costing us money or deteriorating as things do quickly in Fiji.
We arrive back in New Zealand last Friday and have had a lovely welcome from family and friends! We have quite a few things to accomplish in our time here before we move to S. E. Asia but it will probably be a slower pace for us than when we were here before.
The next hurdle for us is to decide when exactly to apply for our visas to work in S.E. Asia. We plan to fly out on October 23rd (the kids and I have to be out of NZ by Nov. 4th anyway) but Steve still has one more 2 week trip to Fiji to lead a final team in the last part of September. Meaning he'll need his passport for that. The visa should only take about 2 weeks to process but this is unfamiliar territory for us so we want to make sure we do it right!
The girls have decided which classes to take this year at their school after we move . The schoolyear has already begun there, however, so we're looking for the books that they'll need for the classes so they can begin studying them now. We have a neat 'friend of a friend' thing happening that could not only make it easy for us to find the books, but to have them at a discount!!!
So we had a fantastic time in Fiji, caught up with many dear friends, and accomplished a lot through the teams as well. It was very hard to say 'goodbye' since Fiji has such a huge place in our hearts, but as much as we love it there we know that where we need to be now is S.E. Asia!
Monday, July 13, 2009
The kids and some team members. Lelai, the director, is on the right in pink.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Our fellowship here had their annual camp last weekend and Hannah and Rachel attended the whole thing. It was special to hear all of the comments by people who have known them their whole lives about how they've grown and matured when we took a bus out for the day on Sunday.
We are counting down until the first team's arrival on Sunday evening now. Steve's been working very hard to finish the second bathroom since the teams will be staying in our house with us. Yesterday was D-day of turning the water on to see if there were any leaks since Steve actually hasn't done much plumbing before. He was delighted when there were only 2 small ones that were easily fixed! I think the bathroom (actually a toilet room and a second shower room-normal for this part of the world) is the most attractive part of the house now. Even if 2 cans of paint that were supposed to be the same color were quite different making the rooms 2 fairly different colors!
We are asking for guidance about what do to about the house. We really, really need someone long-term to stay here if we are to keep it (we never thought we'd still have it but the door has been shut numerous times in the past on selling the place). Preferably someone with overseas connections who wouldn't mind doing maintenance themselves as part of the rent. I'm surprised at how much things that haven't been worked on have deteriorated in the time I've been gone and we can't really manage the house from where we're moving.
The other option would be to put it on the market and hope that it sells. The amount we could ask for it in the current Fiji economy is quite low, however, but at least we wouldn't be in danger of it costing us money.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
On our last day in Suva before we left in '06 I took a picture of the kids with the guard on duty. So, of course, one of the first things we had to do back on our arrival recently was to take another picture. Here they both are!
Then... (this guard was actually a little on the short side!)
(Adam is not being 'cool' with his hand in his pocket. He had taken off his belt to pretend it was a whip earlier and had left it there. He's holding up his shorts so they don't fall off!)
Saturday, June 6, 2009
We were greeted at our house by a long-time friend who had been watching the house and by a cat we had raised from a kitten who has been given away several times but keeps coming back. She was obviously very hungry and I waited about 24 hours saying, 'Go back home, go back home," to her yowls for food before I broke down and fed her. My rationale is that she's been fed here before so........! We'll have to find a home for her far enough away that she'll stay. The boys have absolutely loved having her here now to love on, however. Their pets were a huge part of memories here.
The water also went off about 30 minutes after our arrival. Just like old times!!!
It is really, really great to be here! Fiji still feels like home. Things have changed, though. In our neighborhood which has never been fancy to start with you can tell there hasn't been extra cash around the last few years. Things just look a little more 'tired.' A sign of the current times, I guess.
Being back in our old house is neat, too, although it looks quite different. If I had known we were still going to own it I would have just kept the old furniture and left pictures on the walls! The first night as I sat in the living room heaps and heaps of old memories of the kids growing up here flooded my mind. I can still see the little people they used to be running around the place. Very precious! It's also very special to have our present with Steve connect with our past this way.
We've seen a number of people that we know already and will go to our old fellowship tomorrow.
P.S. Just coming back to add that the first cat's mother showed up at our door as well a little while ago! The kids were thrilled to see her. I gave her a cuddle but was relieved when she seemed happy to leave later!
Friday, May 8, 2009
The North Island of New Zealand is really beautiful. But the South Island is totally different and in places is kind of like a pristine paradise. Because the climate is quite cold (closest populated landmass to Antarctica!) it's not as populated and especially on the western coast the roads take you pass stately mountains, crystal clear streams, and beaches that look untouched by man. Lovely!
Besides amazing scenery some of the highlights of the trip for us were seal colonies just along the highway, seeing dolphins the same way, and a couple of glaciers. It's Autumn so the trees were in gorgeous color as well. The girls got to bungee jump in Queenstown at the place where the bungee was first invented!
Steve introduced us to many fantastic people along the way! We also got to spend some time with Steve's younger brother and his wife in Christchurch, which was really special.
We loved Christchurch Easter Camp! How hundreds of adults worked together to turn a campground into a place for 4000 kids to worship, learn, have a blast, eat, sleep, etc., blew my mind. What a labor of love. And they do it every year!
We are back up north and are taking a bit of a breather before we head to Fiji for June-July. We are here mostly during the week and are speaking at various places on the weekends. We're looking forward to our time in Fiji where we will lead a number of short-term teams from New Zealand. We look forward to catching up with old friends as well! It will be the boys' first time back since we left and I think will be an important time in all of the kids' lives to reconnect with the place they lived for most of their lives before we move on.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I wanted to make a quick note about comments made on things here. I've received a couple in the past weeks that ask specific questions from people that I don't personally know. Blogger doesn't give me the email address of the person asking the question. If this is you and you want me to respond, please put your email address in the question. I'll answer you but won't publish the comment with your personal information in it. Thanks!
Friday, April 3, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
-Even though we'll be in a prostitution district it does not make our kids a target since it is only for locals (no foreigner would go there). In fact, their skin color is really a protection.
-Follow basic safety rules like the kids don't go anywhere alone and are not out and about after dark.
-Their kids have done well!
We know that we are meant to do this and firmly believe that when a family is called to do something that there is a plan for the whole family in it. We've been thinking individually specifically about the country we're going to for years. About six months after the kids and I had moved to the States from Fiji, I felt strongly that the girls needed to be back overseas before they left home. That it was important for them personally in the people that they were to become. Even while we were in the States the girls really had a heart for the poor and although they adapted well there, they truly are 'international' on the inside. We are tremendously blessed to feel called as a family.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The cycle of poverty in a place like where we're moving is something that our western minds have trouble comprehending. And I'm probably not qualified to really explain except from the small bit that I've observed! But I'll try.
Not getting an education doesn't just mean that you have to take a lesser job, it literally means a lack of options altogether. There would be absolutely no jobs whatsoever available to you except something involving manual labor. And with millions of others like you around also wanting those jobs in an urban setting, they would be few an far between. Imagine some of the basic things you learn even in Kindergarten like cutting, pasting, and coloring. If you've grown up with almost nothing to your name and no education, you don't even know how to do that. You don't know how to add or subtract so when you do earn some cash or get some by begging, you don't know if the money you're getting back from the person you're buying food from in a market is correct. You also don't know how much the money in your hand is worth to start with!
Education opens a radically different world even if it doesn't lead to what we would consider a 'good' job in America or New Zealand. But I'll have to expand on this in years to come as I learn and understand better myself!
Monday, March 23, 2009
The big event of our week was Hannah getting her learner's permit to drive. She studied very hard (with the help of Dad) and had to learn things in meters instead of feet, etc. We're proud of her!
Heather enjoyed speaking at a ladies' breakfast on Saturday morning down in Beachlands and we spoke nearby where we are living on Sunday.
We borrowed a little ATV from Steve's nephew that wasn't running. Steve and the boys have been enjoying the project of getting it back in running condition and it went for it's first test run tonight.........
Monday, March 16, 2009
While the kids were sitting in some hot pools a few days ago we noticed Adam deep in conversation with an older German tourist. I asked him later what they were talking about and he replied, "Oh, you know stuff like where I'm from and how long I'll be here. Oh, and I told her about the prostitutes." Hum, not something you would hear from most six year-old mouths!!!
I can't really criticize what did or didn't come out of his mouth, though. When we were having our garage sale in Phoenix someone was asking why we were selling everything in the house. Without thinking the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "We're moving to _____ to work in a red light district." The look on the lady's face was priceless!!! Hum, Steve probably has his script down but maybe the kids and I should work on one!
It was great to meet Steve's sister Vera when we stopped by her work as we went through her town on the way home today. Hopefully we'll get to have a longer visit soon. Only two more of his siblings to go!
The boys cuddle sheep dogs in Rotorua
Friday, March 6, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
We stopped at the doctor's office in Beachlands on the way home yesterday. We didn't tell the kids until shortly before the visit because the purpose was shots in preparation for moving to S.E. Asia. Not too long ago Adam would cry if the word 'shot' was even mentioned. When he got his last shot it took 3 nurses to hold him down! We all had to get Typhoid shots so fortunately the other kids all bravely got theirs first (and the nurse was very good with a needle!) and Adam received his without TOO much trauma. Steve and I each needed several injections so while the nurse was giving us those she discovered that Adam actually needed one more. I called him back in from the waiting room and it was over before he could blink! The other kids say that he bravely walked back out and announced that he'd had another shot. Hopefully this good experience will pave the way for better ones to come. The kids are finished for moving for now but I still have more in my near future.
We had our first language lesson this afternoon. Someone who used to work in a country next door to where we're going and lives in our area has graciously agreed to teach us. I was comforted to learn today that the language is a fairly logically arranged a bit like Spanish or Latin. We have a loooooong ways to go, though!
We're spending this evening with the older brother and sister of the kids who our friends will get to know first in the city we're moving to. They are in university in New Zealand now. It will be nice to meet them and have that connection!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Steve’s sister and her husband are very generously letting us stay in their batch/cabin. It’s obvious why this area is popular for holidays since there are numerous beaches around, quaint villages to explore, and trails to hike. The weather has been amazing since our arrival, too, and we have spent a lot of time outdoors.
Heather’s been homeschooling the kids and Steve’s been busy organizing things for our time here. We have quite a few places lined up already to share about our future with. The trick is going to be not to over commit ourselves! We have also heard of a retired couple just up the road who speak the language we need to learn and might be willing to teach us, so we wouldn’t have to drive to Auckland (an hour away) for lessons.
Hannah has been studying the road code/driver’s manual here in hopes of getting her driver’s license before we move, not for there but just towards the future. It’s been very cute to have her reminding us how exactly to handle the intersections here, etc. Cute for Steve, but actually helpful for Heather who is trying to learn the different driving rules anyway!
We have been overwhelmed by the hospitality offered to us since our arrival!
-The amazing corner of Creation we are staying in complete with a veggie garden already planted by Steve’s sister and her husband
-Thoughtful things like meal ideas, spices, books, and caterpillars to hatch from Steve’s niece
-Welcoming us to the area by inviting us to dinner a couple of times already, inviting our kids to fun things, even a party on Saturday night for teenage girls to meet our girls (even though what she has is teenage boys) by a wonderful lady who lives up the road that Steve grew up with.
Heather and the kids look forward to meeting many more Kiwi friends!
Friday, February 6, 2009
We think this season is going to be very good for us. We are getting to practice adapting to a different culture, but not one as radically different as the one we’re going to. Good practice. We are blessed to be staying at Steve’s sister’s batch/cabin which is just a short walk from a beach (we never even got that in Fiji!). There are numerous hiking trails around, too. Basically we’ll be spending a LOT of time outside and it is still summer here. What a wonderful blessing for kids who will be living in the confines of dense urbanization later this year to be able to run free now! We ate cockles at dinner tonight that the kids dug up on the shore this morning. Neat experiences!
Other little things are good, too, like the fact that this morning I hung laundry outside to dry for the first time since Fiji. Good preparation!
We’re looking forward to a visit from good friends from Fiji who will be passing through on Monday. Then it’s back to homeschooling on Tues. We’re getting acclimated now but soon we’ll kick into gear meeting lots of Steve’s friends and visiting different Fellowships on the weekends to share about where we’re headed. It’s been great to have a few days to get over jet lag and relax after packing up house in Phoenix and sad farewells. If you're one of those people, we'll miss you and please stay in touch!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
It stirred our hearts especially since these are exactly the sort of girls that we are being sent to minister to. I think it gave me just the motivation I need to finish up our packing to get ready to go!
We sat at a table with a couple of men who have started something called Chosenlist.com. Chosen List is a 'clean' alternative to Craig's List. We were horrified to learn that around 50% of the business done over Craig's List is prostitution and pornography based! You can actually solicit a teenager over Craig's List.
We are enjoying a visit from Terry's folks this week! We still have heaps to get done but we think are on target to get it all finished before we fly out on Monday afternoon.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
When the van was given to us when the kids and I had newly arrived in the States it was like a big hug from our Father, a reassurance that he indeed cared for us and would provide. It was several months from that point when we finally moved into our own house and since we had just left everything familiar to us we used to joke that the van was our 'home in America!' This week the way the van sold felt like a reassurance also, that we are on the right track and that He is blessing us. We also know that the prayers of many are going before us as well!
Steve has been working very hard to try to get the Harley finished. He's encountered many obstacles in the form of finding the parts necessary to get the bike running and parts not arriving after he's ordered them. Earlier this week he decided that he'd given it a good go but that he just didn't have quite enough time to finish it AND get it sold before we leave. He put it on Ebay and within hours he already had a bid on it for more money than he's put into it! He's had numerous questions from others about it as well so we're hoping it will go for a decent price at the end of the auction. Another blessing!
We've had other little blessings along the way of time with friends and family. Things are moving along well for our departure. Terry's folks arrive on Friday to spend a bit of time with us before we go.
We leave in a little over two weeks................!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
We only have 4 1/2 weeks left in the States and a long 'To Do' list to get through before then. We also need to get in as much homeschooling as possible since the months ahead hold interruptions in that department. The kids had some time off of school this week but their parents still had lots to do! We took a day off and went exploring outside of town a bit this week, however.
Our crazy kids!