Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cockroaches, slugs, and other bugs - A Missionary Life

"Don't eat the cockroach!" That is not a normal "mom phrase". I think that is one of those phrases that a missionary mom says once or maybe twice. Miss K was not quite two years old. She is was in the kitchen in our flat in Asia. I had my hands in a bowl mixing something for dinner. I look down and she is playing with a cockroach and so I say, "don't eat the cockroach." That was all I could do until I washed my hands and moved her and got rid of the cockroach.

I have decided that somewhere there is a list of things that missionaries have to experience. It not normally given as part of the orientation to the organisation or the orientation to the field but it is there. You begin to do things or experience things and other missionaries nod, they know what you are talking about. It is a bit like the bucket list for missionaries. Things like how many bugs in your house or not understanding the person in the market and ending up with 10 pounds of bananas. When you experience those things you know it is just one of the things you experience.

On the top of the list is dealing with bugs. Asia has cockroaches, termites, and mosquitos. Africa has mosquitos and other bugs. I don't know about South America. I am sure they have bugs as well. Somehow I thought moving to England I would be able to skip the bug experience. What bugs do they have in England? And then I moved here. I learned what they have in England.

They have slugs. Miss K one day asked me how many slugs are in England. I think my answer might have been, "too many."

Cockroaches, slugs and other bugs - A Missionary Life

It would be fine if the slugs just stayed in the garden. Wait a second, no even there they cause problems eating various plants. I think they are responsible for the death of my marigolds. I planted nice marigolds with leaves and flowers and within a few weeks nothing was left.

The slugs do not stay in the garden. They wander into the kitchen. They are smart in the sense that they come in after 10:30 at night and leave before I get up in the morning. So if it weren't for the slime trail that they would leave on the kitchen floor or the times that someone goes into the kitchen at night during slug visiting hours, we might not know they came in. There was one that did not leave before daylight but that might have been that he crawled up the tile wall.

Cockroaches, Slugs and other Bugs - A Missionary Life

I have tried salt. I have tried slug pellets. I tried cedar wood essential oil in the water when I wash the floor. I told Miss K that I put cedar wood oil in the water because I had heard that slugs didn't like that. She told me, "slugs can't talk." And if they could talk, we would have a long discussion about where they are allowed. Now I am just trying to coexist. If they are out of the kitchen before down in the morning, I will pretend that I don't have slugs in the kitchen.

Cockroaches, Slugs, and other bugs - A Missionary Life

I can tick the bugs off my list of experiences. Just another thing that you face living and working overseas, bugs you didn't have at home. (I guess we had slugs when I lived in Seattle.)

who loves living life where God has called her and her family and but has not learned to share the kitchen. This was written to be a fun light bit about living and working overseas.

PS - I think all these photos were taken one morning as Miss K and I delivered newspapers. Yes, that is how many slugs we see on a rainy morning.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Heart for God

The other month one of my favourite online Christian book shops had a sale and I bought a stack of books. That along with the Matt Challies 2017 Reading Challenge prompted me to purchase the book A Heart for God by Sinclair B. Ferguson. I was intrigued and wanted to read the book.  It is a short book 11 chapters and just 128 pages but packed with so many truths.

Here are some of my highlights from the book:

Chapter 5 is titled The Ever Present One, he talks about two questions that Moses asked, "Lord, who am I?" and "Lord, who are you?"These two questions define so much of what we should be asking, looking at ourselves and then looking and knowing who God is.

Chapter 9 is titled The Faithful Provider, one of the ways that we can look at the providence of God is through tracing it biographically and the example that is given is Joseph. "What his brothers did was genuinely significant--and hurt Joseph deeply. But Joseph had eyes to see that God was also at work, and that his purposes had been fulfilled not just in spite of his brothers, but even through their actions!" That is knowing God is at work through the actions of others.

Another example in this chapter was Naomi. I have to say that I have studied Ruth numerous times and heard various sermons but reading this chapter gave me some new insights. I also felt that the quote below was a good summary of lessons learned in Naomi's life.

"Naomi discovered this refuge under God's wants through some very dark experiences, and in situations which are difficult to understand. But when we place them in a large context, four lessons become clear. First, God's providences at times are painful and severe; second, through these experiences he may touch the lives of others; third, he brings us to an appreciation of his ways with us that we would otherwise lack; and fourth, he fulfils his purposes through us in way that far exceed our expectations."

Being reminded that at times God's providences are painful is good. I can easily come up with a list of painful times of life but through those need to remember that is working. He is the faithful provider.

The second to last chapter is the book is Let Us Worship God! A portion of the chapter looks at Psalm 92 and is broken down the tone basis, the blessings, the character and the fruit of true spiritual worship.

The last chapter is titled, Remember the Lord. We do so quickly forget and so we need to be reminded.

I found the book easy to read but one that I wanted to read slowly and ponder. It is short and one that I will plan to read again to be reminded of who God is and what he has done.


This is my own review based on the book I purchased.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Teaching Special Needs Children to Work

Miss K has a long list of professions she wants to do when she grows up. She wants to be a doctor and work at Children's Hospital. I think that is because she loves the Children's Hospital except the time when she had to go there to get her tonsils out. She also wants to work at Costa. I like that as she can make coffee for me. She wants to be a bus driver. She wants to work at McDonald's. She wants to be a ringmaster at the circus. We just went to the circus last night and so she decided that was what she wants to do.

The list of places where she wants to work is long and varied. I know that most of these are not possible but some with modifications might be possible.

One of the things that I have found in my special needs parenting is that Miss K tends to stay at a level while a normal child for various reasons moves on. It requires that we push a bit to move her on to age appropriate things.

We decided that this summer we would spend some time focusing on teaching Miss K to work. We gave her a goal for her work, hoping that would be some motivation -- earn money for tap shoes and uniform. She wants to take tap lessons so we decided she can earn some of the money.

The perfect opportunity came -- fill in for a friend's newspaper route.

Some of my goals in teaching her to work are the following:

1. Willingness to work - the fun jobs are easy to fill but the not so fun, every day jobs are just not as easy. I am focusing on the attitude when I say it is time to go. Miss K would rather listen to music or read a book. My goal is when I say it is time to go that she is willing and ready to go. This also applies to jobs around the house.

2. The attitude at work - I have so say for the most part while on the newspaper route she has had a good attitude. One lady told her "thank you" which inspired her to make a card for that lady. She was sad that #18 didn't get a paper for a few days. I have talked about how this is a good job and we are helping people.

Saturday's papers are thick so we use a cart.

3. Excellence in work - Doing a good job, being neat, those are some of the things about having excellence in work. This is more something that we work on with jobs at home. We clean the dishes with excellence.

4. Finish the job - Sticking with the job until it is done is a skill that is needed. Keep going until the end. It could be just finishing that day's job or finishing the time that we have committed to.

I know in many of these ways these are the same skills you teach any child but at least for me I have found that as Miss K learns slower and needs more teaching it requires that I think through these things and have a bit of a plan. While she is old enough for a newspaper route, she is not capable of doing it on her own so I go with her.

I measure based on progress. Are we making progress? In some ways we are, today she delivered all the papers even the ones with cars. For some reason she did not like to deliver the paper to a house with cars in the driveway. That is progress.

I can't say that she is willing to go. That is something that we are still working on.

She does enjoy having a bit of money to spend.

She is showing me the money she earned not giving it to me.

I will say it can be hard work to teach a child to work. It requires patience. It requires a plan. It is worth it.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I did it!

I completed Race to the Stones which is 100km or 60 miles. I walked it over two days so if you do the math that is 50km each day.

I shared a bit about the race here.

Our starting time was 8:45. We got to the start early to drop off our register, drop off our luggage, get a cup of coffee and be ready to go.

This are my feet ready to do serious steps. I had a small rucksack with me that had a bunch of things half of which I didn't use.

The path was clearly marked with arrows and signs saying, "not this way".

This is called the "field of dreams". At this point it is single file. It was raining a bit and we had to be a bit careful that we didn't slip in the mud.

There were pit stops approximately every 10km with food and drinks. The base camp was just over 50km. I made it there in 11:00 hours. Dinner was delicious and the shower refreshing. Then we had small tent to sleep in. The next morning we were up and on our way.

The trail was varied with woods and tree roots, to paths along fields to along the road. We walked along the Thames.

This was Sunday as we were walking. I loved the contrast. The clouds look like it might rain but thankfully on Sunday it didn't rain.

We did our training here and it is full of hills. Somehow I had it in my mind that it would not be as hilly when we did the Race but there were hills. The weather really was perfect for the event, not too hot.

On Saturday at the last pit stop I was tired and just wanted to get to the base camp. I walked through the pit stop, got a drink and kept walking. My friend was going to run and catch up but ended up enjoying a cup of tea. I was afraid that if I sat down I would not get up.

There were times that I was just putting one foot in front of the other. Doing that I had over 75,000 steps each day. One foot in front of the other is progress.

At one km before the pit stop there was a sign "Pit stop 1 km". I decided that km was the longest km ever.

The Race to the Stones did pass by the stones and we got a photo there but the race didn't end there. We had 1.5km to go to get our medal and a hot meal.

I did it. I walked 100 km over two days. I took a challenge, trained and prepared and completed it. I learned "more is in you".

On Saturday morning someone asked me why I was doing the race. I think one of the reasons was -- I wanted to take a challenge that might be a bit different from the normal things I do.

On Sunday the question was, "would you do it again?" I am not sure that I would. It took quite a bit of time to train and prepare. Most Saturday mornings we were out for 4-5 hours walking. It also took quite a bit physically and emotionally.

I decided that I can go the distance. Now I need to work on the cardio to be able to run so my next goal is a 10K run. I can walk 10K in about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share some of the lessons that I learned as I reflect on the walk.

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Monday, July 31, 2017


Have you heard of the word hygge? It is a Danish word that is one of those words that cannot really be translated into a single word. It means cosy, comfort, soothing things, creating intimacy and warmth.

I know summer seems like the wrong time of year to write about hygge. The days are long with the sun rising at 5:00 and setting after 9:00. The sun is shining and the sky is blue. The reason that this is on my mind is I just finished reading, The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. My reserved copy finally came in for me at the library. I think I must have reserved it months ago.

I think I heard the term about a year ago. About the same time I read an article online about Norwegian winter and the attitude that helps to fight winter blues. My summary of this is it is the attitude and instead of dreading winter, embrace what you can do at that time of the year and enjoy it.

I was interested in hygge as our winter is grey with short days. I wanted to read about this and see if I could get some ideas to help during the short days of winter. The book was easy to read with lots of pictures. A bit of a picture book for big people. The photos were warm and cozy, candles, fire in the fire place, hot drinks.

So what did I take away from the book. Hygge in Denmark is about comfort and creating it together. Some of this can take time but it is about the atmosphere.

What can I do to help during our short days?

Enjoy candles -- tea lights -- when is Ikea opening? I have a nice tea light holder that was a wedding gift and it is nice to light that in the evening. Twinkle lights are also nice touches. Those can be battery operated so it doesn't depend on finding a main.

Hot drinks. In my book coffee is to be hot. Iced coffee is not coffee. Coffee might not always be the best choice for the evening but hot Ribena or herbal tea would be fine.

Warm blankets and throws - I have a nice fuzzy blanket that is my hygge blanket. It had a soft warm feel. I might need to find a few others.

I am almost looking forward to winter but first I would enjoy a few more summer days. Today is in the 60's so I am sitting with my hygge blanket.

Have you heard of the term higgle? How do you enjoy winter?

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

13 Years

Miss K's birthdays always seem to take me back to all those memories. This year was thirteen. Thirteen years ago in Asia a baby was born. It was soon after her birth that she was moved to the NICU because of her breathing and while there the doctors began running tests. There it was determined that she needed stomach surgery and then later she needed heart surgery. I wish we could go back and meet the doctors that were taking care of her. I wish the heart surgeon who was willing to take the risk in performing the surgery after the complications with the heart catheterization could see her now and all that she has done and become. 

Traditional Birthday Pancakes

Birthdays are important and the biggest celebration of the year. She looks forward to her birthday for 364 days. 

The chocolate cake has become the family birthday cake. She helped me pick the candles for the cake. It worked this year that happy birthday is 13 candles.

Blowing out the candles. It took a few blows but she got them all out.

One of the challenges is figuring out gifts are somewhat age appropriate and yet things that she will enjoy. She had been using a 3 wheel scooter and we decided that it was time to go with a 2 wheel one. I found a cute Cath Kidson cross body purse that was the right size for her. She loves the story of Heidi and so we got an audio book of that. She was excited about her gifts.

She is a teenager. A few months ago she was talking about when she turns 13 she was going to get Facebook. So far she has not asked for that (don't remind her). She has been asking to sit in the front seat.

This morning she asked me if she could have a mobile phone. I asked why and she said, so she could call and text. I asked her who she wanted to call and text and she said me. Life with a teenager.

She keeps us laughing and on our toes. Thank you for 13 years.

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Monday, July 10, 2017


I shared last week just a bit from my study of 1 Corinthians. I am continuing that study and have made my way to chapter 9. I am now at less than seven days until the race/walk. That has been on my mind so as I read these last few verses in chapter 9 I did some thinking.

"Do you no know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? 
So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. 
They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run 
aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep 
it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
II Corinthians 9:24-27

I am now writing to myself as one who needs this discipline. At times I think I have a long way to go in applying this.

As I read these verses, the first thing that I see is that we are running to receive a prize. We need a goal. As I have trained for the walk, I had a goal of doing the walk. I think the same is true in discipline. We need a goal.

"So run that you may obtain it." Get out there and do it. There were may weeks that the weather was not perfect for walking, but we went out and did it. It felt good when it was done.

"Exercise self-control" - This is an area that I need to work on and improve. Self-control is from within. I need to be working toward that goal.

All that we are doing should be done for the glory of God. This is not so that we can be proud and boast of what we have accomplished.

This has given me some things to ponder.

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