Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Far Side of the Sea

 'If I rise on on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
~Ps. 39:9-10

I wonder how many times I've read these verses and related to them?  They were written so long ago but they sound like exactly what we do in modern air travel today!

Rachel, Adam and I have been in New Zealand for two weeks today.  Steve and Aaron just arrived three days ago.  We've seen Hannah some as she's been finishing her semester at school, but tomorrow she'll join us for a week long holiday.  Looking forward to precious time together!  It was so wonderful to see all four kids laughing and talking at the airport when we picked up the guys.  This weekend we've had Kerry and Annie's Rachel staying with us.  Since she's like a sister from our other home to our kids there's been a lot of merriment around the house.

It's such a strange thing to so quickly be on the other side of the sea these days.  I was soaking up the sights and sounds of NZ and enjoying people that we love here while still trying to get the dirt of my other home out from under my fingernails. I miss people there already.

We are drinking in the peace that this place (specifically Steve's sister's holiday home/bach that she lets us live in) brings to us and I am feeling knots in my shoulders unwind.  Steve arrived just in time to go watch the Rally of NZ with one of his old racing buddies.  Last night we all went to a family pub with friends to watch the All Blacks smash, I mean 'play' Ireland.  It was such an 'other world' experience being in a room packed with people yet everyone respected each other's 'space.'  No random fights broke out, no one yelled at each other.  No one openly stared at us or tried to grope my daughter. This morning we will go w0rship with those friends and others from three years ago.  

Our ears are still ringing without the constant background noise that we experience in our other home.  We're still freezing (but enjoying it!) while everyone else is just chilly.  Every long missed food is a party in our mouths.  The smell of clean air savored.

It's a much appreciated haven that we get to enjoy for now.  Yet the needs of our other home won't be forgotten......... 

The entire FS family taken last month.
The management staff

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Leaving for a while

Well, the day has arrived!  Rachel, Adam and I fly to New Zealand tonight.  Hannah and Steve's folks will pick us up at the airport.  Lots of hugs ahead!  Steve will come with Aaron in 11 days after Aaron's school finishes for the year.  We're looking forward to some time as a family.

There are always mixed feelings, of course.  I haven't wrapped my mind around the fact that I won't be back here until January and that Rachel won't be with us when we return.

When we're in NZ or the US it's hard to believe that this place exists and when we're here it's hard to believe that places like NZ and the US exist.  Living here has become relatively normal so as I've contemplated the coming months it's made my eyes 'fresh' to see what's around me every day.  People often tell us we should post more pictures but it's difficult when we live here and are part of the community.  It seems even more invasive towards them when we don't appreciate constantly blocking men from taking photos of our daughter on their phones!  So here are some mental snapshots instead......

A couple of days ago I was walking with Adam along a back lane.  We came to a neighborhood rubbish tip/dump.  It was about 10 X 20 feet and exactly what you'd imagine: a bunch of smelly garbage dumped there by the nightly street sweepers who had swept up the refuse that people had left in places around the streets.  The rubbish tip is emptied occasionally.

What caught our eyes was a large, reddish cow contentedly eating away on top of the rubbish totally unconcerned by the people walking past.  A number of huge, black crows were using it's back as a perch while a couple of roosters scavenged around it's feet.  Remember this is in the middle of a city!

We crossed a road and came to an area where industrial sized cooking pots are made and beaten into shape by hand on the right.  To the left were about 20 of these which are rented out each day to lungi clad often barefoot men who do backbreaking work hauling loads for hire.

Immediately after was an even more populated area of ancient buildings for housing with narrow lanes snaking in between.  It was the usual hustle and bustle of people coming and going, purchasing things or chatting at little hole in the wall (literally) shops and stopping to bow or place flowers at Hindu shrines.  We passed the sad sight near home of the closest brothel just up the road.  It's one of the lower cost ones where about 8 women in their 30's and 40's sat on little stools outside waiting for men to choose them to take turns in a few rooms inside.  If we had taken a small lane to the right we would have seen other similar doorways.  About 100 meters further up the road we were at the building where we live.

I wasn't sure how to explain why we need to go to NZ to the women of FS, but yesterday morning I gave it a shot.  They never like it when the foreigners go away for a while.  Their world is totally here and they can't imagine being so fickle as to come and go.  When I sometimes take my turn to teach at the morning devos I still have someone translate for me.  I have OK conversational language now but that's still beyond me! I can think of what to say alone in my own home, but get muddled when in front of them. Since I knew the women wouldn't like us leaving, however, I wanted to tell them directly in their language.  I wrote it out beforehand and read it to them before the day started.

I looked out on all those faces that we love and was sad to go but overwhelmed with joy at the same time because they were sitting there free from the chains of the trade.  I chatted a bit with the new girl that I talked about a couple of posts ago and loved looking at the open smile on her face and the sparkle in her eyes.  I am so grateful that she isn't experiencing what many of the other women have.  Some of the older ones will never sparkle like her again.  They are making the most of the lives that they have but they are still emotionally scared, physically scared from beatings and struggle with disease every day that they picked up in the trade.

But they have Hope!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ties of Love

"I led them with cords of human kindness and with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them."
                                                               ~Hosea 11:4

Steve's mum handed me a card with this verse on it last time we were in New Zealand.  I found it in my Book again recently not long after I read this:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
                                                                    ~Matt. 11:28-30

Since then I've been thinking a lot about yokes.........

The truth is the yoke doesn't always seem easy or light.  It's often heavy and cumbersome.  But if I believe that my Father means what He says, I have to believe the above verses.  And that makes me consider what it is that sometimes makes that yoke weigh so much.  And why do I try to carry it anyway?

The answer I've come up with is this------Myself and my own expectations.

I have pretty high expectations of myself and sometimes that's colored by real or perceived expectations of others as well.  These can become a heavy burden that my Father hasn't put on me.  I frequently forget that I'm not super human after all and expect myself to perform at the same level as everyone around me, whether I've been given the same gifts or grace that they have or not.  

Heavy, tiring yoke.  I still have a lot to, "....learn from me (Him)."  

I am, "Fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 129:14)," to carry the yoke that He has for me.  The rest?  I just want to lay it down.  

It's hard when it looks like good stuff, though!  It's difficult to give myself a break when I'm living among the poor and no matter which way you look at it their lives appear harder than mine.  

My sister-in-law gave birth to my niece when she was only 24 weeks pregnant.  I can't remember how many times the doctors told her and my brother that their precious firstborn may not survive the night.  When I finally got to see them (and my niece) I remember expressing how agonizing that must have been for them and that I didn't know if I could have done it.  She turned to me with a look of amazement on her face and said, "Heather, I could never do what YOU do either!"  

Different yokes for different folks. :-)

I'm in the process of figuring out exactly what my yoke is in the different contexts of my life.  And the key to that is obviously communication with and time in the presence of the One who gives out yokes, or "ties of love," anyway.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


"Every year, you will trade a little of your perfect skin and your ability to look great without exercising for wisdom and peace and groundedness, and every year the trade will be worth it. I promise."

                                                     --Shauna Niequist

I've thought of this quote a number of times this week since I turned 44 on Monday.  40 slid by since Steve and I had just gotten married but somehow forty-FOUR sounds, uhem, more impressive.  I was slightly distracted by the fact that I spent part of the day in the hospital with Steve who had a minor operation (No it's wasn't THAT minor operation! And he's doing very well, thank you.). That's how my 30th slid by since I was in the hospital because I had just had Aaron by C-section the day before.  

Maybe it's the twinning of the 4's that makes me stop and think.  The next twinning for me will be 55!  

Anyway, the above quote is oh so true.  Would I go back?  Absolutely not!  It's that 'groundedness' that my spell check doesn't recognize as a real word that clinches the deal for me.  There are times I'm not as comfortable in the mirror as I was when I was younger, but I'm so much more comfortable in my own skin.  Even if it's not as firm as it used to be!  

And maybe as the outside gets less and the inside gets greater and more connected to Him, the truth that my skin on this earth is not my real home becomes more apparent. Someday I'm gonna shed this skin and that's just fine--------because that's when the REAL fun starts!  

I do think that when Shauna said the above that she must have been younger than I am now, however. Because the truth is, "....your ability to look great without exercising," and DIETING is closer to the truth for me now!!!