Tuesday, 31 January 2012

concept of self: input

Here's another post in the series about self-image which began a long time ago (see here, here and here).

I began being concerned about my "body-image" at the ripe old age of seven. A friend had commented, with evident pride, about how skinny she was, and how flat her tummy was. These things were apparently very important!  Studying my own shape in the mirror that night I discovered my tummy to be neither flat nor skinny.  And so began a life-long habit of holding my tummy in. At seven!

What we hear and what we see has a big impact on how we think about ourselves. What have people said to you about your body shape? How has it affected you? What have they said about their own body shape, or about that of others? This also will affect us.

What we see will also has a huge impact. In fact I think it has an enormous impact. While I am in Vanuatu, I never see a full image of myself. We only have a mirror above the bathroom sink. I see my face and torso. That's it. There is not even pane glass in which to see a reflection. There is no television. There are no advertisements. Women rarely wear clothing that reveals one's figure. It is easy to escape the tyranny of image. I don't worry so much about how I look.  Most of the time I don't even know.  As soon as I return to Australia, images abound. There are windows everywhere. Mirrors everywhere. There's even a whole wall of them in our bedroom. I see myself everywhere. I see images of beautiful women everywhere. I am constantly worried whether I am OK. Am I beautiful?

What can help me with this obsession with self and beauty?

Here are some things that I think helped me in my childhood and youth. In the end, I think I had enough healthy input to tip the balance towards a concept of self that was not just about image.
  • A loving family, both mother and father, who did not encourage dieting or losing weight (in fact they actively discouraged it). I did not have to change in order to be loved.
  • I was given activity and purpose in life apart from "finding a boyfriend" and riding off into the sunset. (In this regard, let me say, hooray for feminism and down with the princess cult!)
  • My father obviously loved and was attracted to my mother despite her (and I don't think she will mind my saying) not having the stereotypical skinny figure.
  • I knew I was loved by God.
  • I knew, and I think this is the key, that beauty in God's eyes was not about the way I looked. When you have such "sneaky-close-together-eyes" that you can't even use a binocular microscope (difficult when you are a biologist), bucked teeth, an inherited bump on one's nose (which comes through the "Blower" line, no joke) and knobbly knees, this is a comforting truth. It gave me the confidence and freedom I needed to thrive.
In my next post, I'm going to think about what helps me now (or what should help me now).

Monday, 30 January 2012

Yumi stadi long buk ya Mak - 1

Blong dowlaodem stadi ya (tu pej evriwan):

  • Klik long raet saed blong maos long pej ya antap. Nao klik long toktok ya "download linked file" mo bae stadi ya i download i go long komputa blong yu.
  • Narafala rod: yu prestem "command" mo klik long pej ya antap mo bae stadi ya i open long wan niufala pej long internet browser blong yu, mo afta yu save "save" o "print".

Sunday, 29 January 2012

toktok! January 2012

(click on image to download our latest newsletter)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

door knocking

Here's a post first written on this day last year when we were in Australia. Lachlan was almost two months old and we were getting ready to return to Vanuatu.

Today my eight year old daughter wanted to go door-knocking.

She was sitting quietly outside making crosses by tying two sticks together with string.  She was doing a good job, they looked cute and rustic.  I will keep mine.  I asked what they were for.  She said for giving to people.  I was surprised by how many there were.  She gave one to me, one to the baby and then ran out of people at home to give them to.

So she asked if she could sit outside the house and give them to people.  I said yes.  So she sat.  And she waited.  No-one came.

She asked if she could knock on doors and give them to people.  I said no, she was too young.

So she asked if she could make a poster.  Yes.  She did.  It said "Wooden crosses for free" and then she put our address and started out for the end of the street to put it up.

I explained that it was unlikely that people would walk a long way to come and get a cross.  She looked heart-broken.

We decided to print out John 3:16 on coloured paper and attach it to the cross. Then she put them in people's letter-boxes.

I was amused by her naivety.... to think that people would want a cross or that they'd be happy to be given one.

I was ashamed by my cowardice.  Why didn't I volunteer to go door-knocking with her?  Well I told myself it was because people would think I was using her to proselytise and they'd probably put me onto DOCS!  But was it just that I wasn't willing to go out of my comfort zone?  Was it just that I am gutless... that I don't spend as much time thinking about how to tell people about Jesus?  Was I put to shame by one who is only trying to do what she hears me talk about, to tell people about Jesus?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Talua's Bible Reading Plan

I mentioned in an earlier post that this year at Talua we are following a bible reading plan (download it here) that will guide us through the bible in a year and that is arranged a little thematically.

We used last's years plan.  Smaller passages were chosen for community devotions each day.  Calendars were made up (adjusted for this year), as well as bookmarks showing the readings for the month and with nifty boxes to check.

People are really excited about the idea of reading through the whole bible in a year!  We have been so encouraged.  Some students have asked for extra calendars to send back to their villages.  Someone passed on a request today from someone in the bush for a calendar to be sent out to them.  How did they even know?

It is still January.  It is difficult to keep up momentum in our own strength.  Pray that God's word would produce much fruit this year!

Monday, 23 January 2012

its deeds are evil

Here's a piece from the Telegraph, 'Why being a christian gets you crucified'. Its an interesting article about the furore surrounding Melinda Tankard Reist at the moment.  But I don't really think it answers the question "why?".  Jesus did.

Jesus said,
"The world cannot hate you, but it does hate me because I testify about it- that its deeds are evil" John 7:7 (HSCB; see ESV)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

how to stop the boats

The Australian newspaper reports (here) that Tony Abbott has announced that if elected, he will introduce tough measures in order to prevent asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat.

Let me recommend a very interesting talk given by Dr. Khalid Koser, an international expert on migration, at the Lowy Institute.  The talk, which was given on 14th December last year, is entitled "How to Stop the Boats".  It deals with the subject of asylum seekers in a very balanced manner; with both compassion and concern for border protection.  Let it stimulate your thinking on an important issue.

You can listen to it on this page.  It is currently the first on the list.

The Lowy Institute is...
"an independent international policy think tank. Its objective is to generate new ideas and dialogue on international developments and Australia’s role in the world. Its mandate is broad. It ranges across all the dimensions of international policy debate in Australia - economic, political and strategic – and it is not limited to a particular geographic region." (from their webpage)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

I'm going to marry you, Mummy!

My third child said this to me recently.

The elder two said something similar when they were around the same age.

They also have wanted to marry each other.

I like that they love each other.  I like that they love me.  I really like that they express this love for each other in terms of marriage. While they obviously don't understand what marriage involves, we must be doing something right if it still has such a positive feel for them.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

treatment of women in Vanuatu

I have been shocked at the attitude to women that I have witnessed here in Vanuatu.

Women have exactly the same rights as men according to law.  But in day to day life, women are treated very differently.  This is manifested in all sorts of different ways.

Statistics show that there are high rates of domestic violence and teenage pregnancy.  Rape and incest are more common than they ought to be, although there are no accurate statistics.

I can give personal testimony to the following sorts of behaviour which together testify that women are considered to have a lower status:  If there are chairs available, men sit on the chairs and women sit on the floor.  Any problem in the home is considered the woman’s fault (and therefore she deserves what she gets).  In public meeting there is more likely to be chatter if a woman is speaking than a man.  If there is a crowd waiting for a transport to go somewhere and when one arrives in which there is not enough room for everyone, the men get on and leave the women behind.  In any sort of queue, the men go first.  Even young boys treat their mothers and sisters harshly with little correction.  If a family does not yet have any sons, baby girls are not welcomed.  Wives walk an appropriate distance behind their husbands.

In my seven years here, five friends have been seriously beaten by their husbands.  Of them, one was knocked out and one was hospitalised.

There are moves to tighten legislation about domestic violence.  There is resistance to this... how else will we control our wives?

It is an issue I have not said much about.  I haven't wanted to offend my friends or to cause them shame.  I know many good ni-Vanuatu men who care deeply for their wives and who are gentle and respectful in their treatment of them.  But, I have come to the conclusion that this issue is serious enough that I need to speak out about it.

These attitudes to women in Vanuatu need to change.

Are you a women in Vanuatu? What do you think? What is your experience? Have I been fair?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

back into the swing of things at Talua

Although officially term doesn't start for a few weeks, we are well and truly back into the swing of things at Talua.

Last week the January short course began.  There are about 15 students for about four weeks who make use of empty accommodation and classrooms before term 'proper' begins.  They are studying christian leadership, bible study, preaching, development and church discipline (among other things) and have some excellent lecturers.

This week pre-term intensive courses began for the BMin students.  Third year students are doing an intensive on exegesis.  The first year students are doing Greek.  Both years are doing further training in computers.

No school yet for us, so we are still feeling quite relaxed in our house.  Matthew begins this year, so once that starts we'll really have our hands full.

Monday, 16 January 2012

a four year old's concept of time

Last week....

Matthew: Mum, how long is it 'til my birthday?
Mum: um... about sixty days.
Matthew: (in complete shock) Sixty?  Sixty days?  But I'll be dead by then!

Let's hope it is just his (lack of) concept of time and not a prophecy.  Today he asked me to make invitations for his birthday party and insisted that I put on them "Come to my birthday party which will be in about fifty years time".

Friday, 13 January 2012

thumbs up for the HCSB

I don't like changing bible translations. I've never had a copy of the ESV. I like my NIV (1984 edition). However, I am, for the moment, using the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

Holman (under LifeWay Christian Resources) is the publishing arm of the Southern Baptists Convention who apparently became fed up with having to pay so much to use NIV text in all their teaching resources so made their own translation (see here for more info). It is supposed to be more readable than the ESV but to have more formal equivalence (that sort of means you can match English words with Greek words) than the NIV. If that is the case, that's pretty remarkable.

I have decided to try it. Glen began using it a while ago to try it out. The Principal heard him reading it aloud while in class and came and asked what translation it was. He said he found it easy to follow and wanted one. Our children also find it easy to follow when it is read aloud. To my mind, if children, and ESL speakers find it easy to follow, then that is a pretty high recommendation.

I am appreciating the difference a new translation makes to bible reading. Different aspects of the story stand out. There are different emphases. I see things afresh or see new things.

There are things I don't like. I don't particularly like the type setting nor the great big bullet points that mark out something or other (if, like me, you don't read the preface to find out about what they mean, they get pretty annoying) and I find some of the expression clumsy. But on the whole, no big complaints from me, but I am not really qualified to assess a translation!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

he can walk!

It's been two months since his first steps but finally he has mastered it. He is so excited.

Here is some video.

Try this (double-click on the picture):

or follow this link (this one definitely works).

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

two great books to read aloud

The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw was a fantastic read for our family.

Imagine you have a beautiful baby, healthy, happy and peaceful.  Imagine one day it starts screaming and screaming and screaming and doesn't stop and none of the usual remedies will work.  And imagine having to put up with the sort of superstitious nonsense people sprout about fairy folk changing your child for one of theirs that they've rejected.  And then imagine that it is not nonsense.  And then imagine that you are that changeling. "Neither one thing nor yet quite t'other".

The dedication in this book reads,

"To all children who have ever felt different."

and it is a wonderful gift from this author to those children.  She uses the world of fantasy to powerfully and sensitively explore themes of prejudice, difference and acceptance.  It is well written and had some beautiful heart-wrenching father-daughter moments.  I thoroughly recommend it.

My daughters really enjoyed it and were able to see parallels in their own situation.  We're not ni-Vanuatu and we're not quite Australian either.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech is written in free-form verse and reading silently is not allowed.

Annie is eleven and everything is changing.  Her mother is pregnant and her Grandfather is growing old.  Her best friend, Max, wants her to join the track-team.  Annie just wants to run for fun.

Annie loves to run and run and run.  Her bare-feet thump in rhythm and set the rhythm of the novel, a novel of life and of change.

Heartbeat is heart-warming and affirming of friendship and family relationships across generations.  Recommended.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

bush kitchen

Many moons ago I promised photos of our completed bush kitchen.  Well it was finished the day afterward so long ago that now it has a beautiful garden all around.  Elizabeth has done a wonderful job of the garden.

Here are some photos.

Can you recognise...
  • island cabbage
  • manioc
  • taro
  • yam
  • capsicum
  • paw-paw
  • beans
  • banana

Monday, 9 January 2012

help with oiling a sewing machine

I've put a new belt into a singer 1507 sewing machine.

It works but it makes a big noise.

The noise seems to be come from somewhere along the shaft that is turned by the large cog that the belt rotates.  We think that some oil would probably fix it but are unsure about where to put the oil and don't want to wreck anything by putting oil where it shouldn't go.  The manual is no help.

Can you help?

Friday, 6 January 2012

read the bible in a year

Designed by Craig DesJardins, these calendars guide you to through the whole bible in a year.  But wait, there's more!  There are two or three readings a day.  You read through each book from beginning to end, one or two and sometimes three chapters at a time.  But the old and new testament books are placed together in such a way as to  help you to make thematic connections between them.   And the Psalms are scattered throughout the year, sometimes emphasising themes in the readings, or sometimes expressing the emotions or thoughts therein.

Examples from the designer's introduction (2011):
  • January 1: Genesis 1 & John 1: in the beginning
  • January 10: John 10 & Psalm 23: the Lord (Jesus Christ) is my shepherd
  • March 5: Leviticus 11 & Mark 7: clean foods
  • June 8: Joshua 2 & James 2: Rahab hiding the spies
  • June 29: 1 Samuel 2:1-10 & Luke 1:46-55: Hannah’s song of praise and Mary’s magnificat
  • July 26: 2 Samuel 11-12 & Psalm 51: David’s fall into sin and his confession of that sin
  • August 8: Proverbs 7 & 1 Kings 11: Solomon’s warning against involvement with foreign women, and his failure to follow his own counsel
  • August 24: Proverbs 30:7-9 & 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19: the Christian attitude toward wealth
  • October 30: Habakkuk 2:4 & Romans 1:17 on Reformation Sunday: the just shall live by faith.
We tried the 2011 plan for a couple of months last year as a family. I was amazed at what can be learnt inductively and the questions that can be answered when reading a couple of bible passages together like that. It allows scripture to interpret scripture.

We are also using the 2011 plan at Talua this year. It will mean that the readings specific for specific days won't work so well (i.e. Reformation Sunday, Easter Day etc) but apart from that, we are hoping that it will encourage students in their personal bible reading and that they will grow to know God better and better as a result.

I'm going to give it a try too, with the back-up of just the New Testament reading if it gets too much for me. So far, I have been struck by the contrast of spiritual birth that gives life in John 3 and the birth that leads to death that is typified in the genealogies in Genesis 5. I also learnt a lot from reading Psalm 8 with Genesis 1 and was forced to think about things I usually skip over.

Why don't you give it a go too?  Jump in and start now, don't worry about what you've missed so far.  Click on the above links to download the calendars.