A Big Decision

My previous post I wrote out a prayer that we prayed in church yesterday. Given that I actually prepare the liturgies I should not have been that surprised to find it there but I was. I guess I was surprised by how relevant it seemed to my life. When I put it in the service a few weeks ago it just seemed to fit with the theme, as I prayed it yesterday it seemed so relevant to my whole life.

As most of you know pretty much since we got married Martin and I have been trying to work out what we would do with our lives when I finished studying and then when he finished studying. I finished last year and Martin will be finished in December so the time is near. Initially we said we would go back to Peru but then we started think that it would be good to perhaps go somewhere else to prepare ourselves for that and get some experience in our fields. While both of us are doing jobs related to our fields they are not actually in our fields so neither of us have any experience in them. So we applied to some overseas community development organisations for some overseas work. We were hoping to get some experience in our fields and really learn what good community development looked like. We had been waiting for awhile to hear from these particular organisations and we took a holiday to Central Australia. Whilst there we took a journey to the desert that was very profound for both us which got us thinking that perhaps we could move to Alice Springs instead.

As is often the case with life on our return one of these organisations did offer us some amazing jobs in Indonesia. So for the last few weeks we have been thinking about, talking about and praying about what we might do. Finally we decided. We are going to move to Alice Springs next year.

It was not an easy decision but it feels right. We decided this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we were feeling that perhaps we were spreading ourselves too thin. We are already both very passionate about the issues facing Peru and Australia. As well as both places obviously mean a lot to us as that is where family and friends are. If we were to add Indonesia to that it might just get a little hard to maintain. Secondly, we feel like there are many opportunities for us in Alice to work and develop our skills in our fields and in building community across cultures. And we would like to try and understand more about Indigenous culture and in some small way be part of the journey toward reconciliation. Thirdly, we both feel quite called by the land. For Martin it is much more like home to him than Sydney and for me the desert is something I have been thinking about a lot in terms of the part it plays in my faith. Not only was it the place of Jesus first testing but the place where the Jews journeyed from slavery to freedom and on the way learned what it was to be the people of God. And lastly but probably of most significance is that we feel that we are pretty ready to have a baby. (and I mean next year in Alice not right now). I didn’t want to do that far away from the support of family, most importantly for me the support of my mum. Again initially we were thinking that we would wait til we got back to Peru to do this but it feels like the right time. So while we do still plan to go back to Peru in the long term it seems that as of about March or April 2009 Alice Springs will be out home for at least two or three years.

So back to the prayer. As we’ve journeyed through all this and explored many options and talked them through with many of you I have wondered why it doesn’t just happen. Why do we have to exhaust every option before the right one seems to appear. This prayer reminds me that God does call us to wait and to trust Him; to look and seek in all the wrong places as well as the right ones; to love wherever we are; and most importantly that he is always with us gently guiding us and drawing us nearer to Him.

You keep us waiting.
You, the God of time,
want us to wait
for the right time in which to discover
who we are, where we must go,
who will be with us, and what we must do
So thank you… for the waiting time.

You keep us looking.
You the God of all space,
want us to look in the right and wrong places
for signs of hope
for people who are without hope
for visions of a better world which will appear
among the disappointments of the world we know.
So thank you… for the looking time.

You keep us loving.
You the God whose name is love,
want us to be like you -
to love the loveless, the unlovely and the unlovable;
and most difficult of all
to love ourselves
So thank you… for the loving time.

And in all this, you keep us.
Through the hard questions with no easy anwers;
through failing where we hoped to succeed
and making an impact when we felt useless;
through the patience and the dreams and the love of other;
and through Jesus Christ and his Spirit,
you keep us.
So thank you… for the keeping time,
and for now
and for ever
Amen

Iona Community Worship book (1998)

Tamales

Yesterday Jemma made Tamales. Tamales are a Latin American food, I don’t know which country they started in first, but they have them in Peru and in Mexico. I am having one for lunch and it is really reminding me of Peru. When I was there I ate them a lot. There was a woman who used to sell them on the corner of my street. She would stand there yelling out “Tamales, Tamales” for hours. Often on my way home from work I would stop to ask if she had vegetarian ones. At first she didn’t but after awhile when she saw me she would yell out “señorita, señorita tamales vegetarianas for you, for you.” So I felt I would have to buy them. So they bacame my regular afternoon snack with a cup of tea. Next week I am going to get Jemma to teach me how to make them. Maybe they will become a regular snack here too.

The Alice/Desert Journey reflections (finally)

Before I get on to Alice and the desert journey I just want to say how good is this weather. I am writing this post on my front veranda. I am in jeans and a T.Shirt and I am so warm. The sky is so blue and through the green leaves of the big tree just out the front it looks so beautiful. This is what the weather was like in Alice in fact. Perhaps we brought it back with us.

So, we had an amazing time in Alice and on our desert journey. Quite profound really. I love mum and Keith house. It is just so beautiful sitting on their veranda and looking out over the white gums and the blue skies and red rocks. Even though I have only been there twice it feels so homely and makes me feel so relaxed. I think being beside mountain ranges that are millions of years old helps get one’s life in perspective.

However most of our time was spent on a journey through the desert. There was twelve of us, mum and Keith; Steve and Miriam; my mum and Keith’s friend’s Anne, John and Jeremy (who lives in Alice as well); two people we didn’t know at first Yvonne and Cam; Martin and I and John. They were all wonderful people, very different people but all really open to everything and cruisy with whatever happened (which was very important because we never really knew what was going to happen).

John was our guide. He is an indigenous elder, and it was his country we journeyed through. I think it was John who really made the trip for all us. He certainly was what made it for me. He took us to pretty remote places that we just never would have gone had he not been there. We went to the most majestic gaps as well as across never ending flat plains. He found us wild honey in the trees and water in the most unbelievable places. Most memorably inside some rocks we would have just walked past never knowing it was there. It really makes you realise how his people survived. He also always found us great camping spots, in river beds (not flowing obviously) and under the most magnificant ranges. It is such special experience waking up and emerging from a tent to just look up at a burning red rock on a crystal blue sky.

Sometimes it was really easy, cool, shady, still and stunning. Other times it was really hard, hot, windy, dusty, flies everywhere (not to mention we were filthy and my skin was coming up with eczema). However, it was good to have the hard times to make the easy times more special. I think that really is one of the lessons that desert teaches us. And as I have been reflecting a lot on Sabbath Economics ever since the TEAR conference I began thinking about how the desert does provide for the needs of the people but it does not provide in excess. To survive one needs to take care with what is there and use it wisely. It needs to be shared. It was in a place like this that God taught his people how they were to live in times when there would be abundance. For thousands of years indigenous people did do this and many still do. We don’t, I certainly don’t.

So Overwhelmed

I have been wanting to write about being in Alice Springs and our desert journey but since been back I have been so overwhelmed by all I have to catch up on at work as well as my life that I haven’t got to it. Hopefully soon. Holidays are great but it is pretty stressful coming back. Not to mention kind of sad. I miss been on holidays and been with my mum and my sister.

Also kind of miss not really being up to date on the news and what is going on in the world. Driving around today and listening to the radio was also pretty overwhelming. I know they do that on purpose and I am trying to ignore it but not succeeding very well.

Good thing about being back though is my home which I love and seeing some lovely people like Jem again. Also started pilates which makes me feel good.

Melbourne

I am actually in Alice Springs at the moment. I am very happy to be here, weather is perfect and so are the views, but I am going to write about Melbourne as I didn’t managed to do that while in Melbourne. I will do Alice and the desert trip on return.

So Melbourne. We had a great time there. My main agenda was to get into Gem’s world a bit and meet her friends and see what she does. Everyone was so wlecoming and kind so I felt I was able to do that. Gem and the Urban Seed people are doing some great stuff. I also got to catch up with David which was second on my agenda. He very kindly had us for breakfast at his house one morning which was good and we spent many an hour walking around Melbourne drinking coffee and wine too which I thought was very David.

The final thing on my agenda was to see Melbourne and little bit of Victoria. Neither Martin and I had been before so we were keen to see the sights. So we went down the great ocean road and saw the twleve apostles. They were spectacular and it was really interesting to read about how they were formed and see other places where one day there will be more apostles. We spent the night in Port Campbell. My dad who was with us decided we should stay somewhere a bit nice and kindly helped fund that so we did. The place had the nicest view and a spa which was just divine. We came back via the Otways National Park and did some short walks. In Melbourne itself we visited St Kilda. We didn’t see any cake shops which upset my mum greatly but we had a great time at Soul Mama. We also took a ferry along the Yarra to Williamstown. Apart from that just a lot of wandering around town eating and drinking coffee in the many exciting streets of Melbourne.

All in all a lot of fun and so good to catch up with my family and friends.