Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | December 9, 2018

Glory in obscurity, significance in insignificance

I think all of us would like to do something of significance, be it at work or some kind of project or maybe socially. At the moment we are in the UK and I would be hard pressed to say that what I am doing is of significance. Its lots of time with the children, time at home, visiting people, going to the park, little walks (or runs) in the Great British countryside. Small things- lots of time to think and reflect and be- but not much on a big scale.

I’ve been reading about David in the Bible recently- he of Goliath killing fame. He was anointed future King of Israel, and later held up to be the prime example of a King of Israel; all stuff of great significance and importance. But before that he has to put in long, hard days of looking after sheep, away from the action, in obscurity and insignificance. But here he is being prepared and trained for his giant killing moment. It makes me think…

But maybe I’ve actually got it all wrong in the first place- what gives anything significance and importance? Is it really how many people are affected and say well done or is it a little deeper? Maybe my definition of significance is way out of line with what God sees as significant. And I guess He is probably correct, not me.

Could it be that spending this extra time with my children, loving them well, being with them, serving in small things is not just preparation for something bigger but is actually the thing of significance that God has for me right now?

Last night we went to a community choir Christmas concert that some of our friends ran, conducted organised and put on. It was brilliant- there was a deep sense of community and fun and moments of worship I think (maybe less so when singing Let it Snow). It reminded me that The Most Important Person was actually born into complete obscurity and insignificance, in a small backwater in Bethlehem; in a stable. And yet He was God Most High, used to glory and honour, majesty and perfection. He was willing to go to such depths.

I think I need to take another look at my definitions and values.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | November 29, 2018

Running

I started running over a year ago now and have found I really enjoy it. After more years than I care to mention of absolutely no exercise at all- punctuated by my lovely wife Roz gently asking/encouraging me to get off my backside- I am now engaged in a form of physical activity again and it feels good!

At one point I started training more seriously to run a half-marathon which seemed like a massive challenge, but did something to my knee which put that idea to bed. Currently I’m just trying to run for fitness and enjoyment- the feeling after a run is amazing, I love it. I would like to make it clear that I am no trendsetter here, merely a follower of Roz who started before me, runs more than me and can and has run further.

Running in England is very different from running in Bolivia. In Bolivia we either run early morning or in the evening, when the heat and humidity is bearable. Actually, running in the rain is quite good as well. In England it feels too cold for me to run too early in the morning and then it’s too dark and cold again by the evening. The cold air makes it harder, but it’s nice not to get ridiculously sweaty so quickly.

I have been enjoying running in the woods in England, through the leaves and past the fields and far away. I mostly run around our local park in Bolivia, where I enjoy looking at the burrowing owls or the cactus flowers. Shortly before coming to England I did get to basically go on a run through the jungle where I got to rest at the top of a hill overlooking the jungle with a toucan flying past. That was with my friend Tom- not Autumnal Tom, but ex-rock star Tom.

Running in England and running in Bolivia are two very different surroundings but with the same sensation and feeling- of freedom, of connection with creation.

I like listening to worship music when I run, I like the physical nature of worshipping through running- of connecting to God as I connect to His creation.

It is helping me stay fit, enjoy creation but also meet with the Creator.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | November 19, 2018

Autumnal Golds

We are currently back in England visiting family and it is the first time in nine years we’ve been here during Autumn. It is beautiful; the oranges and yellows and reds and golds compared to the normally bare branches and evergreens we see when we’re here in the winter. I love the sun shining low through the branches- its breath-taking at times.IMG_20181112_144607451_HDR

We are loving it- taking the kids on walks in the New Forest, kicking up the leaves, finding acorns and conkers (sadly our children don’t know what these are really).

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It’s all very autumnal- my friend Tom’s favourite word. Bolivia doesn’t really do Autumn, or seasons in general for that matter. I do enjoy the changing seasons and they feel special because it’s not what we’re used to. In Bolivia we have a rainy and dry season more or less. And a few weeks of cold. So at the moment, we are enjoying a bonus, beautiful Autumn

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Yes, it’s a water colour original.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | November 14, 2018

Welcome back!

I haven’t written anything on this blog for about four years. I don’t really know why; it just happened. I think maybe small children and life had something to do with it, but probably mainly the fact that the extraordinary had become ordinary.

That happens, doesn’t it? We start something new and it is all exciting and shiny and fresh and then gradually it just becomes background and normal and less exciting. Living in Bolivia has become like that for us now. What once was a crazy situation is now commonplace: we’re no longer newcomers adapting to the wilds of South America. It’s our home now. There is a sadness in this, maybe we’ve lost some of the excitement and sense of adventure, some of the healthy fear and wonder. But it also shows that we’ve made a home here, we’ve put down roots and camped up.

After my self-imposed, unplanned hiatus I’m going to take up writing- well writing this anyway- again. When I was younger I didn’t want to be a footballer or an astronaut or a fireman; I wanted to be a writer. I remember the first (and last I think) story I wrote: an adventure story set on a deserted island for school. It was rubbish. This is a way of carrying on with that ambition in a modest and manageable way.

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What an exciting writing image!

I don’t really have a plan, but please join me if you’d like to.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | December 2, 2014

End of a long journey!

Yesterday I collected Evie’s brand new updated birth certificate. She is now officially a Powell (well actually a Powell Powell. You have to have two surnames on birth certificates here. But doubly a Powell is better than no Powell at all).

This means that we have now completed the adoption process here once and for all! Yes, we have popped the cork on the champagne and celebrated with family over skype and with Bolivian cake and friends here. It has taken three and a half years and felt every bit as long at times but it has always been worth it and we have never regretted adopting the beautiful and brilliant Evie. We can testify that God has always been faithful, constant and dependable- answering prayers, providing encouragement and love at just the right time.

Now though we can start to plan two big events- the first being a dedication service and party with our Church and friends here; the second being a visit to the UK! Woohoo! Our children regularly ask to go to England (to see relatives, play on the beach and see a squirrel being their top three requests. Not necessarily in that order. If we could combine all those three experiences in one trip Evie and Caleb would be well satisfied.) and we can now really think about going.

Last night we went to an end of year show at Caleb and Evie’s guarderia (nursery). Brilliant. The best bit was Caleb screaming an abc song at the top of his voice. He seemed angry about it for some reason. Maybe he’s just passionate about letters.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | October 20, 2014

Intense

Okay, it’s time to get back on the blog after some time off. I’m going to try and write a few shortish posts in the next few days to give you a flavour of how our life is at the moment.

Intense.
This is the word I’d choose for life with a new-born. Sometimes intensely, deliriously happy- like when we got to view Ana-Noemi’s first smile or bring her home and introduce her to her brother and sisters. Sometimes intensely difficult- like when Ana-Noemi is screaming, there is poo or wee somewhere it shouldn’t be in the house, various other members of the family are crying (including us) and we should have left to go out half an hour ago.

But it is never boring. Or uninteresting. I think actually a lot of the best experiences in life are intense- both intensely good and intensely bad at times.

Ana-Noemi is nearly three months old already and is growing well. God has blessed us so much.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | April 2, 2014

The big news!

This is a little late and I guess nearly everyone who follows this blog will already know this but it still deserves to be said (or shouted from the rooftops): Evie is adopted!

We have been in the process of adopting her for 2 years and 9 months. It has been ages. We had the sentencia where the Judge confirmed the legal decision the week before last. She is not quite a Powell yet, we need to request a name change still but the big thing is done.

We are getting used to this- there has definitely been some celebrating (cakes, ice-cream that sort of thing), but I think we more feel relief just now.

Time to get on with planning the big party now…

Thank you Father God.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | January 7, 2014

All packed up

Well Christmas is all packed away for another year. It always makes me feel a bit sad taking down the decorations, removing the Christmas albums from the playlist and realising all the Christmas cake has been eaten. Somehow you get used to having big socks hanging up and a garishly decorated tree inside.

I think I am finally used to Christmas in Bolivia. I realised this when a friend from school who was spending his first Christmas here told me he just didn’t feel Christmassy. Christmas to me now is less mince pies and mulled wine and more big pigs for sale in all the butchers, cider, panetone and fireworks. We’ve even got our own Christmas traditions now. Every Christmas we go to see the lights with the Hwangbos- a family who are very good friends- and eat ice cream. First we go to the cities Electricity provider’s main office- they have a big Christmas display outside. I think it’s maybe a sneaky advertising campaign “Look at all these lights! See how much electricity we can use!” then we head to the central Plaza to see what this years Bolivian take on the nativity is as well as lots of other lights. Father Christmas is here too, frequently to be seen in our local supermarket actually. One time I went he was telling everyone how cheap the supermarket’s panetone were. I’m glad he cared so much about our hunt for a bargain. It took me a while to realise that Evie kept on wanting to go to the ‘big shop’ because she would see Father Christmas and he might give her a sweetie. I think the big shop has lost its appeal now he’s gone again. Christmas wasn’t all plain sailing though, my hunt for brussels was once again sproutless. (Hohoho!)

This year my parents came to spend Christmas with us which was brilliant. We had a really good time with them; the children loved it. Despite the heat, the noisy cicadas and the annoying mosquitoes, I think Mum and Dad had a good if different Christmas too.

Here they are!

Here they are!

At Church we celebrated Christmas by playing musical chairs and our good friend Roberto spoke about Jesus. Simple and true.

A role reprisal!

A role reprisal!

This year I got to go to the ladies prison with others from our Church and take meals on Christmas Eve. This is something El Jordan organise called Christmas on the Streets where Churches have the opportunity to take meals out to people who would not be able to celebrate Christmas. It was a privilege to be part of, amazing and challenging at the same time. The best things often are.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | December 9, 2013

Patience

Patience is a virtue. Well actually not, it’s a fruit of the spirit. It’s not something that some people magically have and others not, everyone can have patience through the Holy Spirit.

We are studying the fruit of the Spirit at Church at the moment and I preached on patience yesterday. I’m sure when I was younger I imagined that people preaching were quite sorted in the things they were preaching about. It never seems to be like that for me.

I find being patient hard. One of the biggest things we have to be patient with is Evie’s adoption. We don’t know when it will finally be complete and cannot make any plans about visiting the UK until then. The only thing that helps in the waiting is taking our eyes off the situation and putting them on God. On His character, His promises and His word.

Romans Chapter 8 helps a lot with this. It talks about hoping for what we do not yet have and waiting patiently for it; about the Spirit helping us in our weakness and about God working for the good in all things. Roz and I need to keep on coming back to this again and again.

However what is probably even harder than that for me is being patient with my children day by day. At school I think I can be quite patient, with other minor irritations okay, but with my children it’s like my patience reserves are super low and when they disobey my frustration rises immediately. Knowing I was preaching on patience has either made this more noticeable to me or I am just more impatient with them than normal. Which is slightly ironic.

But here looking to God makes the difference as well. When I think of how patient He has been and continues to be with me it shows how mean and petty my own impatience with my children really is. And, because patience is fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit, not a virtue that I don’t have, I can grow in this.

Posted by: Thoughts and pensamientos | November 28, 2013

New youth group

Our Church has just started a new youth meeting (or Culto de Jovenes) on Saturday nights. I think we’ve explained before, but here jovenes includes anything from 16-30+. I still get addressed regularly as joven in the markets when I’m buying fruit and veg even though I thought having three children disqualified you automatically.

Our first one was last weekend and was great, well attended, well organised and fun. Pedro, Maykol and Franklin, three of our enthusiastic worship team (well actually the entire worship team while David is away) did a great job of running it.

I went along to share a short message and so naturally joined in with all the games played. This brought a few things home to me.

1. I am not really a joven anymore.

2. I don’t really understand youth culture in Santa Cruz.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the games, it was more the forfeits. We played Musical Chairs (I was thinking that maybe the youth were a little too old for this but they didn’t seem to think so) with forfeits. These forfeits involved a kind of blind date style where the person had to choose someone to marry and give reasons as to why they didn’t want to marry other options. All without knowing who they were choosing. They then had to walk down an aisle of the rest of the young people with their chosen partner. This was all expected and normal. Obviously a bit embarrassing for the people involved, but I guess that was the point really. Other forfeits involved saying you were an animal from the zoo and doing a dance.

Apart from the games though there is a serious side. We hope and pray that this youth group/meeting can draw our young people together and help them worship God. Our Church has loads of children under 12 but as they get older than 12 they get less involved with Church; we have a number of families with teenage girls who are pregnant, it is easy for young people to get involved with gangs and many of our young people have failed some grades at school.

The hope is that we can help them connect to Jesus, He makes all the difference. And at the least they can act out a marriage ceremony.

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