” I’m sitting down at the picnic table in the backyard – the sun is late afternoon – filtering down on me through the leaves of the mango trees above my head. The birds are having a symphony above me, twittering and singing and chirping at the top of their voices.
Rusty (the kitty, now with two kittens) has followed me down here and is in the process of rubbing her fur against my pen – which doesn’t work too well when your’e(sic) trying to write!
It is SO beautiful down here, quiet, filled with God. That is something I really miss in Kinshasa; Kinshasa with the trucks ROARING past the hostel, literally shaking it, the horns honking, people yelling, and loneliness. In the midst of over a million people, loneliness.
I don’t think I ever feel lonely here, really, and yet I am alone so much of the time. Probably because I’m right in the middle of my family here.
GOOD BOOKS READ OR READING:
Self to Lose, Self to Find; a Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types – Marilyn Vancil
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The More With Less Cookbook – Herald Press, Scottsdale, Pa. “There is a way that gives not less, but more. More joy, more peace, less guilt, more physical stamina, less overweight and obesity, more to share and less to hoard for ourselves.
QUIET by Susan Cain
The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook – Practices that Transform Us by Adele Calhoun, IVP.
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
When the Darkness will not Lift by John Piper (small and short, almost a booklet) (on psychological health)
Christy by Catherine Marshall
The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) by J. R.R. Tolkien
NARNIA (series) by C.S. Lewis
Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (on creative writing)
The World Book Encyclopedia, hard copy
Feeling Good by David Burns (on psychological health)
Where there is No Doctor – Hesperian Foundation
Where there is No Dentist – Hesperian Foundation
The King James Version, Holy Bible. Also, the New King James Version, Holy Bible. Also, the English Standard Version, Holy Bible. (all my favorites.)
NIV Thompson Study Bible – 1984 NIV and with the wonderful, OLD, Thompson chain link reference notes usually found only in KJV. Kirk bride Bible Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. Possibly out of print, might find in used book shops. My most-used Bible – I love this Bible…
Extending the Table – Herald Press, Scottsdale, Pa.
Living More with Less – Herald Press, Scottsdale, Pa.
Healing Your Emotional Self – Beverly Engel (on psychological health)
Here I Stand – Biography of Martin Luther – Roland Bainton
Surprised by Joy – Autobiography of C.S. Lewis
AGATHA – Memoir of Agatha Christie
A Chance to Die – Biography of Amy Carmichael – by Elisabeth Elliot
Candles in the Dark – Amy Carmichael
No Graven Image – Elisabeth Elliot
Let’s Roll! – Lisa Beamer
Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
Self-Compassion – Stop Beating Yourself up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff (on psychological health)
Finding Calcutta – Mary Poplin
FLOW – the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (on psychological health)
Effective Biblical Counseling by Larry Crabb (on helping others with psychological health)
Unashamed – Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame – Heather Nelson (Biblical theology and psychological health)
How God Became King – N.T. Wright
Legacy – Mary Stewart
Page by Page – Heather Sellars (on creative writing)
Bonding – Brewster & Brewster (on the outreach task)
Language Acquisition Made Possible – Brewster &Brewster
Sleeping with Bread – Holding what Gives you Life by Dennis Linn
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Kisses for Katie by Katie Davis
Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart
Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart
Writing Fiction by Gotham Writers’ Workshop (on creative writing)
Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Volumes 1 and 2 by Josh McDowell
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
The Law of Happiness by Henry Cloud
Hidden Art by Edith Shaeffer
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
What is Family? by Elisabeth Elliot
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Listening to Prozac by Peter Kramer (on psychological health)
All is Grace by Brennan Manning
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (small, short, almost a booklet)
The Message by Eugene Peterson
Radical by David Platt
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
Simply in Season – a Cookbook Herald Press
The Instinct to Heal by David Servan-Schreiber
A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
A Resilient Life by Gordon McDonald
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Orphaleena by Sara Currey
Holy Bible, NLT
The Message by Eugene Peterson
Golden Cord by Amy Carmichael
Patchwork and Quilting WITH Kids by Maggie Ball
The 101 Habits of highly Successful Novelists compiled by Andrew McAleer
Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
To the Golden Shore – about Adoniram Judson
Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge
His Thoughts said, His Father Said.. by Amy Carmichael
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
Laurel’s Kitchen (cookbook, vegetarian) by Laurel Robertson
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer McCauley
Stones of Fire by Isobel Kuhn
The Narnian by Alan Jacobs
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
Hold Me Tight – Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson
Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Spurgeon Gems (clippings from the many sermons of Charles Spurgeon)
A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
Marriage to a Difficult Man – biography of Jonathan Edwards’ wife
The Complete Father Brown Mysteries – G.K. Chesterton
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
Gaudy Night – Dorothy Sayers
Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
Knowing Scripture – R.C. Sproul
Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman
Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks
Jesus Driven Ministry – Anith Fernando
All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling – John G. Kruis
Call the Midwife series, the books, not the video series. or both.
The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer
The Amplified Bible (AMP)
How the Irish Saved Civilization – Thomas Cahill
Humility by Andrew Murray
Lord, Teach us to Pray by Andrew Murray
The Pirate Coast by Richard Zacks
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The Siege of Washington by John Lockwood
The Alexander McCall-Smith Africa short novels (#1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Morality for Beautiful Girls, and all the following books)
Gerald Durrell African animal books
The Art of Beatrix Potter by Enid Linder
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
All of the Jan Karon “Mitford series” novels
Escape from Reason by Frances Schaeffer
L’Abri by Frances and Edith Shaeffer
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom
Letters Never Sent by Ruth Van Reken (on third-culture-kid stuff)
Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax
Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolph Flesch
CHILDCRAFT (hard copy)
Sonlight (classics-based, excellent homeschooling curriculum)(very adaptable to different situations) (time-consuming and demanding in a good way!) (TRULY for authentically “deep love-of-learning-for-learning’s sake” families – others might find it unsatisfactory for one reason or another)
CALVERT CORRESPONDENCE SCHOOL – a very basic, very thorough, very structured but also somewhat classics-based homeschooling curriculum that has been around for a long time. Good for when a homeschooling teacher is first starting to teach and feeling a lack of self-confidence for the responsibility (which is SO much more than just a task!) (If you do this curriculum, concientiously with your child, step by step, not skipping anything, you can KNOW that your child will have received a top-notch education that school year, in every subject. However, it is not onerous for most children and leaves the child plenty of time for extracurriculars of their and their parents’ choosing. Enough flexibility is there, but, not too much.)
getting back to other kinds of books: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
God’s Smuggler by Andrew (autobiography)
The Heavenly Man (autobiography)
Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore
Bruchko by Bruce Olsen
Changes that Heal by Cloud and Townsend
The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart
The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
Death at La Fenice – Donna Leon (a whole string of character murder-mysteries set in Venice)
Seven from Heaven – Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey (memoir. about having septuplets)
In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Turnham (memoir)
Joy of Cooking (classic Western cookbook)
These Strange Ashes by Elisabeth Elliot
anything by Dan Allender
Give Me This Mountain (memoir) by Dr. Helen Rooseveare
Confessions of Saint Augustine
Born Again by Chuck Colsen
The Rest of God – Restoring sabbath to your life and your life to sabbath. by Mark Buchanan
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Joseph Powell
Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
The House on the Strand – Daphne du Maurier
How People Grow by Cloud and Townsend (on psychological health)
for delicious leisurely relaxation, pure and simple : each of the M.M. Kaye India and Madagascar epic novels (The Far Pavilions, Tradewinds, etc.)
the M.M. Kaye murder mysteries set in the late forties and early fifties
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande (on conflict resolution)
The Third-Culture Kid Experience by Ruth Van Reken and Tim Pollock (on third-culture-kid stuff)
The Enneagram by Richard Rohr
Breathing Under Water – Spirituality and the 12 Steps – Richard Rohr
#7 Amanda, 5 years old, kept complaining to the adult monitor that some of the little boys kept calling her a SPIDER (araña)! They kept insisting that they were not! (a lot of these little ones seem to have lisps and slight speech impediments) Several of the other kids chimed right in and they all had a little philosophical discussion about it.
When all the pieces of the bed paraphernalia and mattresses were plopped down in the open “patio” part of those rooftops, my co-worker and I picked up the first of the two bunks, intact, and tried to move it into the family’s tiny, windowless room.
It would not fit through the doorway! Hmmm. Back it went to the open-t0-the-sky, junk-lined patio area of the rooftop.
Meanwhile, our children’s mom was trucking!. Excited and happy to be “getting” the bunkbeds and mattresses, she acted like a little drill sergeant, directing her three young ones to move the boxes, bags, piles of dirty clothes and other paraphernalia including a rack of fruit and rice, a bottle of oil – there WAS a tiny, old-as-the-hills rickety gas burner for cooking behind the door of this family’s room. All that stuff had to be moved out of the room, temporarily, to make space for the new beds, which would BARELY fit, theoretically, with only five inches between them and the family’s old, original bed. The door to the home would barely open!
I followed the children’s lead, grabbing some bundles and piles, and taking them out of the room. The kids had started placing the stuff carefully in the center of the tiny narrow hallway, that had other rooms lining it on both sides. As I started to set down my load of junk in the center of the hallway, the door on the other side started to open but, since it opened outwards, it couldn’t get more open than a crack, because all our stuff was in the way! A man and a woman stuck their heads out the crack of the door, trying to see what was going on! There I was, standing right THERE in front of them! Their eyes opened WIDE IN WONDER! ( Sometimes, I look different, to people here! Obviously a foreigner.)
Again sending God a quick prayer in my heart, I smiled as widely as I could and said, “Buenas Tardes!” (Good Afternoon!)
I added, “Sorry about all our stuff in the hallway – we’ll have it out of the way in a moment!”
They kind of smiled, nodded, and closed the door again!
Because the bunkbeds wouldn’t fit through the doorway, we had to spend the next two hours taking them both completely APART again, lugging the pieces into the family’s room, then assembling the beds, drawers, ladder and mattresses en situ!
Meanwhile, it got dark outside. The smell of dirty laundry, old food, and unwashed bodies was overpowering. We heard johns and women coming and going through the hallway. The children accidentally dropped, and temporarily lost, one of the long metal principle bolts to hold the bunk beds together. They, and we, searched the property in the dark for it, for about forty minutes. About three-quarters of the way through the process, the children’s mother decided she should serve us something to drink. Thankfully, it was lemon-flavored soda pop, handed to me in an old metal cup. There was absolutely NO way, that I could see, to politely turn it down so, again, I prayed to Jesus to keep me from catching any germs from the cup and from people’s hands, and I gulped down the sickly sweet fizzy drink and said “Thank you”. I felt nauseous and weak for awhile and sat down; there was no where else to sit except very gingerly on the foot of the old bed. I kept praying, in my heart, and averting my eyes, from a HORRIBLE huge poster that was up on the wall above the head of the old bed. Extremely pornographic. When I wasn’t praying, I kept thinking of our four young children, LIVING in that environment, for their whole lives so far. I’m learning that some things in life are almost too sad to contemplate; instead, I quickly give them to Jesus, trusting Him alone.
It took us forever to get those bunkbeds put back together again. None of us were very good at carpentry or mechanics., As we were nearing the end of the gargantuan, tiring task, little R., the seven-year-old brother, walked back into the room from the darkness outside, and took a huge, deep, exaggerated, leisurely breath of air. A huge grin split his little face, and his eyes sparkled.
“What?”, I murmured to him.
“Now, my room smells like WOOD!” he announced happily!
R. was right. The room now smelled like fresh sawdust, and varnish. We all smiled.
The last washer and bolt screwed tightly into place, or at least screwed loosely into place, and checked, we triumphantly together with the three children carried and handed the two light, new foam-with-fiber mattresses onto the bunks. My co-worker looked at little G., the boys’ sister.
“G., which of the two bunks do you choose for yours?”
Quick as a wink, the answer came; no hesitation for her – she KNEW what she wanted.
“The top bunk”
“The top bunk it IS!” we cried, and she climbed up there, happily and proudly, as her brothers moaned and complained, only a very little, that THEY had wanted the top bunk.
We felt we already had enough relationship and accountability with the children and their mom to then speak, primarily with the mom, for several minutes exhorting the children to keep coming to the outreach, the mom to keep coming to help with the food preparation for all the children, and for her to keep making sure she sends her children to school, and that they work hard in school and on their homework each day. They stayed in intense eye contact with us throughout this “lecture”, nodding their heads also. It went really well, that part.
The mother was in the room with us, several other persons were standing in the dark hall outside, looking in, listening. We were there, the three children were there, and other children were in the small doorway, looking and listening in. My co-worker looked at me; I felt that I knew what she was going to say, and started praying that Jesus would give me the words and use powerfully for good,in the lives of these individuals, what was going to happen next.
“We are going to pray. Lady Ninadesusojos, would you be willing to lead us all in the prayer?”
“Yes, I would!”
Our three kids bowed their heads; their mother copied them. Several adults in the hallway took off their hats and bowed their heads! The children clustered in the doorway, copying everybody else, bowed their heads.
I prayed. I felt the Presence of Christ there with me, with us. A tremendous happiness filled my heart!
We said “goodbye”, shaking hands all around. The children and their mom said “thank you” over and over again. The children hugged us, over and over again, and accompanied us out of the property and half-way down the street, waving, and waving and waving goodbye.
We walked home.
We labored the various heavy wooden bunk bed parts off the roof rack of the taxi, the two new twin mattresses, the wooden drawers and ladder. Children- LOTS of children, most of whom we DIDN’T know (our ministry is constantly getting requests from moms and grandmas to take more kids – sadly we don’t have human and material resources to take more than we already have – around fifty. Our number fluctuates, as often our children as young as six are removed by their parent in order to make that child work full-time and, as many of our kids get into their adolescent years they don’t stay, with us, either. We are keenly cognizant of the value of that window of opportunity and presence, that is given us as a gift, with each child. Sometimes that window is short.) were milling about excitedly calling and trying to help. Various women, curious as to what was going on, approached. One older woman, hair dyed platinum, stood by the doorway, watching like a hawk and calling the other women and kids, a bit bossily, by their first names and in a familiar manner.
That’s why I thought she might be G., M. and R.’s grandmother – when we first arrived and were doing greetings, I’d shaken her hand and a few seconds later, because of the way she was interacting with persons there, I asked her if she was the children’s grandmother. VERY taken aback, she looked at me and said, “NO! Oh NO! I’m the LANDLADY!”
“Oh, so very nice to meet you!”, I responded. My friend, carrying a headboard in front of me, was laughing quietly, her shoulders shaking as I followed along behind her carrying the other heavy wooden headboard. “Psst, NinadesusOjos,” she whispered to me, she’s the “madam” of this establishment!”
(shows how much I know…….not…) How embarrassing. At least she didn’t get too mad when I called her the gramma.)
Excerpts from “Candles in the Dark” by Amy Carmichael:
(from the Introduction:) “Her power to help those in need came from HER TIMES OF LISTENING TO HER LORD. ‘Sometimes,’ she wrote, ‘it is as if another Hand were turning over the pages of my Bible and finding the places for me.’
“God needs those who are ready to lay down their very lives to lead others into true soldiership and a true following of the Crucified.”
“The best training is to learn to accept everything as it comes, as from Him whom our soul loves. The tests are always unexpected things, not great things that can be written up, but the common little rubs of life, silly little nothings, things you are ashamed of minding one scrap. Yet they can knock a strong man over and lay him very low.
It is a very good thing to learn to take things by the right handle. An inward grouse is a devastating thing. I expect you know this, we all do, but it is extraordinary how the Devil tries to ‘get’ us on the ordinary road of life. But all is well, if only we are in Him, deep in Him, and He in us our daily strength and joy and song.” – from p. 2, excerpt from a personal letter to someone.
We went to visit family in Guatemala, and during our time with them we went to this place where people had made these by hand in a tiny room with very simple tools and ingredients. We watched women and men and teenagers making these and I noticed how absorbed, peaceful and joyful each craftsperson seemed to be as they worked to create these items of beauty and usefulness for their fellow human beings.
I think there’s something healthy, satisfying and joy-producing about each of us MAKING things with our hands, hearts, brains. The things we make will be completely different one from another. Never compare yourself to others in this and never believe the LIE that YOU can’t make something beautiful and useful for God.
I think God made us each differently one from another, so that there are many different ways of “making something” beautiful and useful to our fellow human beings. Often we think of artists and craftspersons and maybe envy their abilities to create and restore objects of beauty and use. There are many other ways to “make something beautiful for your God”! One of the most noble and challenging is parenting. If you are in the health professions and doing it for God you are helping to make HEALING for people. If you are in a teaching profession and doing it for God you are “making” young people or older people stronger, fitter and happier through offering them priceless knowledge and helping them to apply it in their lives. If you are in finance , business or some other profession or occupation that contributes to society, and doing it genuinely for God and if you’re giving to other aspects of God’s work from the money you make then you also are “making something beautiful for God”. I think one of the greatest things about post-modern life is the way people of all ages and backgrounds can, if they want to badly enough, change their occupations and professions, receive further education or training, self-educate or train throughout every day they live, or add occupations and professions onto the ones they already have.