Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lowered Inhibitions

This week has been another week of pujas. One of the days was Diwali, the Festival of Lights. This means lots and lots of fireworks all over the city for hours and hours on end. It also means lots of drums, music, and chocolate bombs (VERY loud bangs). It means parties, lowered inhibitions, and literally watching man after man not being able to walk a straight line down the road.

The other night I went to our bazaar for a few things after dark. I normally feel perfectly safe doing this. People in the area know me and there are lots of others out in the lanes--safety in numbers. I was walking home and turned into the walkway through our building and realized that someone was following me. I assumed it was someone going to visit our neighbors and paused at the bottom of our stairs to let the man pass. He came and stood right up against me and stared instead.

I yelled and shoved him away and ran upstairs locking the gate to our lower level as I passed. I went upstairs inside our house and told Steve, who was working on his computer in our bedroom about my unusual experience. As I came back out of our room the man was standing just inside our open doorway in the kitchen. This is 3 flights up a narrow spiral staircase that most people here never want to climb.

I yelled at him to get lost in his language and Steve came running. He 'escorted' him all the way to the outside lane with the man's arm twisted up behind his back. When they got there one of our male local co-workers was coming inside and lit into the man verbally when he heard what had happened. An old widow that we know was there and contributed to the tongue lashing as well.

I was a bit startled and disgusted, but knew that the man was so stoned/drunk/something that I was definitely stronger and more coordinated than he was at that point. Adam had been sitting in the living room, however, and was fairly traumatized for a while. I think more at his parents' sudden reaction and not knowing what was going on than at the man himself.

I didn't enjoy the experience but knew that I was never in any real danger with Steve so close by. It's amazing how small things can stand out after, though. The creepy way his eyes were bugging with whatever substance he had taken, the way he smelled, etc.

I was safe, but on that very same night thousands of girls up the road weren't. They had no one to defend them. They had to submit to men just like the one that came after me so they could eat that day. Or to further line the pockets of those who 'own' them.


P.S. A favorite verse that applies here, "I know that the L-rd is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me." -Ps. 16:8

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


We've had a couple of fun evenings recently with people native to where we live. One night we had a man that works for FS over for dinner. He has lived in this area his whole life and told us between a mixture of his partial English and our partial knowledge of the local language interesting stories about how 20 years ago gangsters used to violently rule the area and how bombs being thrown at people was not uncommon. He said that the best thing that happened to the district was when bombs got expensive and people could no longer afford them!

Last night we went to a 5 year-old's birthday party. Her mother works at FS. A bunch of us crammed into the small room were 5 people live. We sat on their bed, the only piece of furniture, and the floor and were fed yummy food along with talk and laughter. The very surreal part was when we walked down the cramped stairs of the building to the front door. The rest of the building is a brothel. We walked past customers coming out of rooms and past eight women, one that we personally know, sitting on small stools at the door waiting for more men.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hurt People (from Steve)

One thing I have noticed in life is that there is reciprocation. People that have been hurt by people go on to hurt others.

People are victims of hurt through many different forms; violence, anger and abuse. It can be very subtle and disguised, even just school yard bullying or peer pressure. Society has many forms in which people get hurt.

People deal with these hurts through building up defense systems. For the middle or upper class these defenses systems are easy. We have the money to put security around our houses. We can afford to live in areas of town which isolate us from hurt. Yet the poor cannot afford this. Their life is a battle to defend themselves from hurt people hurting them. People can violate them anytime and there is little they can do about it. So they get hurt and in turn they often breed families that are hurt. And they in turn hurt others.

If we work with poor people we open ourselves to being hurt. When we reach out to those in need it’s going to hurt, yes, it’s going to bite you. It is going to open you up to situations when these hurt people will hurt others, yes even you who show them love and kindness. Because hurt people ….hurt people.

You might be sitting reading this right now and say to yourself, “This is so true,” yet you yourself are a hurt person. We all are! Each one of us is molded and shaped by our past which includes hurt. While we don’t recognize it, we have all built self-defense systems, walls and boundaries to cope with people hurting us. Yet hurt people hurt people. How have we hurt others?

Can we put an end to the reciprocation of hurt? The walls of defense can be brought down by the healing power of Je3us. With Him working in our lives, and with us being submissive to promptings of the Sp1rit, we will start on the journey to stop hurting others. It will take us time. We will need to constantly review who we are and how we react to others to stop the cycle. And no longer will hurt people – hurt people.


We just had a really fun afternoon watching the Rugby World Cup Semi-Finals with a room full of New Zealanders. The All Blacks played really, really well and we're looking forward to the finals next Sunday!

As I watched what probably are the two best teams in the world battle it out, I was stuck by their absolute commitment to the game. How they were entirely focused on the ball, putting their bodies on the line without thought of the outcome except to get that ball and cross the line. There was one play where an All Black was literally flipping over the head of an Australian player, yet his eyes were on the ball instead of the fast approaching ground below---and he snatched the ball out of his opponent's hands! Wow.

We're told in Heb. 12:3 to "fix(ing) our eyes on Je3us, the pioneer and perfecter of fa1th. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of G-d."

What if we really, truly fix our eyes on Him the same way that the All Blacks completely focus on something as simple as a ball? If we were more concerned with our focus than impacts, pain, and the opposition running towards us? Much bigger wow. And the prize at the end sure beats a cup---no matter how prestigious it is!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Poor at My Door

It's a holiday here. FS is off for 4 days in a row with the equivalent of Christmas Day being tomorrow in this part of the world. So even though we were planning to spend most of the day taking advantage of the time to clean out cobwebs and cabinets, we were having a slow start to the day. I was still in my pajamas when Hannah called, "Mom, there's a girl at the door." We love the fact that while when our kitchen door is open, it's open to the world at large and anyone COULD come to the door, but that they usually don't. It makes a small space seem larger to have the door open to the balcony for fresh air and a view of tree branches right outside. While one side of our building is on a very busy lane, the side with our door is off of a courtyard and 3 flights up a spiral staircase. Not many venture up unless they know us.

But here was a girl of about 12 standing just inside our door this morning. I've seen her before on the main road begging with a pack of other children. Her face, hair, and clothes were all a similar color of grime. She comes across as a little too bold, but it's understandable by the look of never having enough to eat in her eyes.

I asked in her language what she wanted and she said, "My father is dead and I am hungry." I turned to get a pack of biscuits from the cabinet because we do that instead of giving money. Biscuits she would probably eat herself but who knows who money would go to. When I turned back around a young woman was standing there as well with a baby in her arms. Both girls ducked their heads around the door taking in as much of our living area as possible. The thought crossed my mind that they were casing out our house and my mother's instinct took hold. While our flat here is fairly secure, I remember the trauma of our kids waking up in Fiji knowing that someone had robbed the house while we slept. I don't want them to experience that or worse again.

I asked the women how old the baby was. She said she didn't know. I asked again to be sure we understood each other and she said the same thing, confirming in my mind that they were part of a group of beggars because the baby obviously wasn't her own. While I'm sure they were partly just curious to look into a foreigner's house, they also would quite likely tell other desperate people what they saw inside. While we live simply by western standards, we would live like kings to these girls.

Hannah was headed out to buy food for us at the nearby bazaar so she kindly said she'd take them along as well and get them something else to eat. But while she got money and our marketing bag, I shut the door---with them on the other side.

Two things were warring within me. One is that no matter how someone here looks on the outside, and that can be pretty bad, I try to see them each day as who they are in Him. I try to see them as a human being with a soul.

My other thought was that I had just treated those girls not like a person to be cherished. I had treated them like an 'it'.

I thew on some clothes and started cleaning kitchen cabinets with my iPod in my ears to block out the religious chanting on a loudspeaker going on outside. The song began to play:

"Something here is wrong. There are children without homes.
But we just move along to take care of our own.
There's so much suffering just outside our door.
A cry so deafening. Oh, we just can't ignore.

All the people who are fighting for the broken.........keep changing the world."

This is a band that I know is trying to make a difference. After all they've purchased bags from FS with their group's logo on it! But today I thought, "I'm glad they are singing that, but it's not so black and white as in a song."

I don't have the answers. There's nothing I can do but muddle along and figure it out as I go. And I often can't think quickly enough in the middle of something to find a solution. I just wish I'd done a little better today......