Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Post -- 13/04/13

When visitors travel all the way from northern Europe to visit the work here at FT, and an unexpected dark cloud passes over Trinidad, we’ll throw in the token line about guests bringing the weather with them. Well, Mum & Dad are due to arrive tomorrow and, the way things have been lately, I’d be glad of even the Scottish stuff. So long as in Scotland it hasn’t rained torrentially for four days straight, only to take a breather in anticipation of this morning’s unseasonably premature south wind, bringing with it yet more heavy rain (which has apparently wreaked havoc in Argentina and Paraguay over the past few days).

Who knows? Perhaps the grass-is-always-greener mentality is setting in after over three years here. I tell you what, it couldn’t be soggier.

Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, with the help of a couple of strapping young lads from the youth group, we started laying down some earth in our front and back gardens, in order to encourage some grass to grow. The job was tantalisingly close to completion last weekend – but instead, it just kept on raining, as Greg Lake might have put it. I’m happy to report that green shoots abound in the spots which aren’t yet under water.

Things aren’t made much easier by the dogs, who naturally have gotten fairly muddy and enjoy no higher pleasure than rubbing themselves furiously against the once-pristine white walls of our new house (we’ll just tell future guests we were going for a cappuccino effect, I suppose).

Anyway, we continue to hear reassuring noises from the northern Atlantic that the weather is not the priority for our guests, so I’m sure we’ll manage. Of course, we’re both terribly excited about seeing my parents, nearly two years since we rendezvoused in the USA, and as a result will not be posting for the next couple of weeks so as to make the most of their short time here. However, there’ll be plenty of details/pictures in a few weeks’ time. And hopefully plenty of sun – the forecast is a lot better.

Oh, and we should be getting our next prayer update out this coming week, so look out for that (and let us know if we can add you to our mailing list).

This week we’ve been getting the house in order for their visit, a bit like last month’s move in miniature. We were inevitably told not to go to any bother but, if anything, it’s incentivised us to organise the stuff we were too tired to deal with on moving weekend. We’ve got a fair few artworks and photographs up now too, definitely increasing the homeliness quotient.

Work for me was a little quieter this week as the school where I teach R.E. in the mornings was staging its school sports week (no mere ‘day’ here, which – and I’m sure this is a complete coincidence – is highly convenient for the teaching staff). Or, at least, they were hoping to stage it; due to the rain, much was cancelled. However, there was just enough of a dry spell on Friday morning for me to stand in the school patio during the closing ceremony and share a thought (interrupted by a brief shower, of course) with staff and students on pursuing prizes of a heavenly nature, based on Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians, Philippians and 2 Timothy. I reckoned it was pretty amazing that the school approached me to do this and I pray that the message will have taken root in the kids’ hearts.

Right, I’m off to get the car washed. Not going to any bother is one thing, but for my old man, an afternoon in the company of a bucket, chamois and Dirt Devil are as much a part of his Saturday as Gary Lineker’s toe-curling ‘jokes’. An unwashed car truly brings shame upon the household. Well, it’s been a fair few Saturdays since I last washed my car – or, to be more precise, had it washed (the shame is palpable, isn’t it?). 26 of them, I would vouch.

  • For safety for Craig’s parents whose route today and tomorrow is Glasgow-Heathrow-Miami-La Paz, where they arrive early in the morning and will spend a few hours re-visiting some of their favourite places before catching a short flight to Trinidad in the afternoon.
  • For a refreshing couple of weeks with them and insight for Dad, who will also be wearing his FT-UK chair hat.
  • For a turnaround in the weather, which, aside from its unpleasantness, is highly impractical (particularly when we’ll have double the usual laundry-load).

  • For a fantastic opportunity this week for Craig to share the gospel with staff and pupils at the local school. 

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday Post -- 06/04/13

Good morning – and when I say morning, I really mean morning. It is currently 7:54 am on Saturday the 6th of April. Now, if this was Craig typing that would not be surprising, but this is Amanda typing right now. (Craig is speaking at church again this week and asked if I could write the blog.) If any of you know me well, you know that I am not only a night person, but I also love sleep more than most things. My free time generally involves lots of sleep and that’s the way I’ve always been. I feel my best after nine hours of sleep – ten hours are a little too much and eight hours are stretching it, but nine are perfect. Actually, it’s gotten to the point that I enjoy going to bed early to get more sleep… that doesn’t mean I’ve gone from being a night person into being a morning person, I am still definitely not a morning person.  But I’ve been challenged this week in a big way and I’m making an effort.

In our girls’ Bible Explorers Club class, KC and I are using a book in Spanish called A Young Girl’s Guide to Making Good Decisions (the translation would go something like that – it’s actually an English book that’s been translated to Spanish). KC taught the introduction over the last couple of weeks, but today was my turn to start chapter two, which addresses important decision #1: getting out of bed. Yes, that’s right: important decision #1 is getting out of bed when we should. Before making the decision to read our Bibles every day or spend time in prayer every day (which are important decisions #2 and #3), we have to get out of bed in good time. Well, I don’t do that. I’m usually running around like a mad woman every morning trying to get out of the house on time and I know that Craig more often than not feels exasperation with me in the mornings when I cause both of us to run late. I used to make the excuse that it is just who I am – I am not a morning person, I am always going to be this way. Apparently, according to this author, that is just not good enough.

She says, and probably most normal people would agree, that the way in which we start our morning affects the rest of our day. If we start it rushed and late, we spend the rest of our day catching up with ourselves. If we wake up early enough to get everything done in a timely matter, we now have control over our day – until something outside of our control throws a spanner in the works. Also, we should do it because that’s what Jesus did – he got up early in the morning to pray with His Father. She makes the point that if anything is really important to us, we would sacrifice for it. She illustrates her point by talking about athletes who get up at 5am to make it to practices because they love their sport so much.

I have no idea what it is like to love a sport so much that I would sacrifice sleep for it. I doubt I ever will – and I’m okay with that. I do have the desire to have a less stressful, rushed morning, and therefore day, so I could relate to that point. And I couldn’t argue with having quiet times in the morning – the fact is my quiet times are always sporadic because I can’t quite plan them into my day well. More often than not, they get cut because I have something else that I need to somehow fit into my day, so getting up early to do them would be better.

In reality I was shocked that getting up early, or at least on time, was my topic at all and as I was reading the chapter I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit was saying over and over again, “I’m speaking directly to you, Amanda, right now.” My first thought was something along the lines of, “This is not happening…” and then I thought, “Well, I can’t really teach something that I am actively choosing to ignore.”

So, on Tuesday night I set my alarm clock for 6 am (I normally don’t even set my alarm clock, instead letting Craig nag me awake). I probably was awake at about 6:15 on Wednesday morning – ughhh. Something the author mentions in the book is praising God when we get up for the day He’s given us and for helping us get up. I thought, “This is not cool – how can I praise God for a morning when the sun isn’t even properly up yet and I feel nauseous and have a headache from being up at this ridiculous hour.” But I pushed through it and had a quiet time and got ready for work and probably got out of the house, well, about the same time as before. But at least I had a quiet time, and having started my day with God really did make a difference. People had been telling me that for years and somehow I chose to believe that they were all wrong.

Thursday morning, however, was even harder than Wednesday – and I found my quiet time frustrating. I am a perfectionist. Unfortunately, an odd quirk I have on the traditional perfectionist is that if I can’t do it perfectly I would just rather ignore the issue. I would rather live in a disorganised house than clean it and not be able to get it looking like something out of Martha Stewart’s magazine. I would rather wear wrinkled clothing, then spend time ironing and not get all the wrinkles out (I feel very strongly about that one). And I find a less-than-perfect quiet time frustrating, and would sometimes rather chuck the whole endeavour in than persevere through the times with disconnected prayer or passages I don’t understand – anything less than an absolutely fantastic connection with God. But who gets that every day? I know that nobody does – and while I completely understand and accept that concept, the frustration of anything less than perfect sits on my chest and feels stifling. So, by Thursday morning, I wanted to throw in the towel.

But, my alarm was already set for Friday morning and I couldn’t lie to the kids on Saturday by telling them something that I didn’t believe or practice, so I got up on Friday morning too – and you know what, I actually beat Craig out the door (kind of) and, for the first time since we moved here, was the one to reverse the car out the driveway as we left for work. And I got up this morning as well – to write to all of you.

My thoughts on this whole process are somewhat mixed. I am not convinced that getting up early in and of itself is the best thing for me. I definitely need more sleep than most normal people and I am worried if I am stretching myself physically.  Also, it is not something I enjoy doing. The author talks about how when we get up early, we have more time to achieve the things we want to do in life. Well, what if sleeping is something I want to do in life?!?! Me in the morning is definitely not me at my best. But, I have been doing my quiet times more regularly – and just the act of doing quiet times in the morning has made it easier to turn to God when things come up during the day and I guess that’s the most important point than anything.  Also I can start to teach this chapter this afternoon to these girls without feeling like a complete hypocrite – bonus!

I intend to keep at it this week and hopefully one day it will become a normal habit for me.  I know I’m not there yet, but one day…maybe. I am definitely sleeping in on my day off on Monday though; it’s decided.

Craig is speaking tomorrow and the church is starting a new series on Nehemiah, which is exciting because I enjoy the book of Nehemiah. I know Craig has enjoyed going over the history of Israel at this point in the Old Testament and he’s planning on giving a historical overview to start with. Also, since finishing the one-month series on the Passover in Youth Group, we’re starting a series on Joseph tonight.

And Craig’s parents leave in one week to come and see us! Yes!!!!

  • For the new series being started in the church on Nehemiah and Joseph – that people would be able to see what God did through these two men and how that applies to our lives as well.
  • For safe travels for Craig’s parents this week, but also for Rachel Peebles who is coming out to visit the Foundation and who leaves from Scotland this week as well.
  • For my endeavour to get up early in the mornings - and the lesson the girls are going to hear this afternoon on it.

  • For progress on our ID cards this week – Craig picked up his permanent residency visa on Monday (praise God!) and submitted his ID card application the same day that my problematic application was sorted out. So, we’re hopefully going to pick up the finished product on Monday.
  • The chance to host our fellow missionaries for lunch last Sunday afternoon – first dinner party in our new place. It was a huge blessing to finally be able to do that.

¡Que Dios les bendiga!

Craig & Amanda